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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Main Courses

31May 12

Comforting Carrot, Coriander and Cumin soup

Carrot and Coriander SoupWhen out of the UK for a few years, I was missing those wonderful Covent Garden soups, especially my favourite – carrot and coriander.  So after a fruitless search to uncover them on the supermarket shelves, I decided to get making my own version which I call comforting carrot, coriander and cumin soup, and I’m so glad I did.  I like the alliteration, but the flavour’s even better, because nothing beats fresh home-made soup!  Carrots are a delicious root vegetable packed with carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

I’ve given this traditional recipe a little extra kick with the addition of cumin.  I like to make mine pretty intense for extra comfort, but you can vary the amount to your own taste.  I’ve kept the cumin content moderate in this recipe for you, so add or take away as you wish.

What you need:

  • 500g fresh carrots, washed and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.2 litres of vegetable stock
  • 1 large bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped and some kept aside for the garnish
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

  1. Add the oil to a large pan and soften the onions and carrots together for a few minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in the ground cumin, salt, and ground pepper.  Stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring the liquid to the boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
  4. Add most of the coriander and blend the ingredients into a soup to the texture of your choice. I like mine a little rough, but it’s just as yummy smooth.
  5. Serve in pretty bowls topped with a coriander garnish.

20 minutes to prepare – 20-30 minutes to cook

Makes 4 servings

Note: In general, carrot and coriander make for a great combination in soups. If you want to add a bit more protein, try this bacon, carrot, butter bean and coriander soup. It’s a bit heartier, so keep it in mind if you are quite hungry.

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20May 12

Succulent Scallops and Spicy Chorizo

Succulent Scallops and Spanish ChorizoThis succulent scallops and spicy chorizo recipe is one of the fastest, easiest and tastiest dishes I’ve prepared. You’ve really got to try it. Rich in omega 3, and low in calories, scallops are in season now. Their soft succulence, combined with the rich spice of the Spanish chorizo is a heavenly combination. With the zest of lemon and the freshness of parsley your taste-buds will be zinging! This is a perfect starter for a special occasion. Add your splash of sophistication by serving in scallop shells. But hey, they taste just as good eaten from a beautiful bowl.

 

You will find fresh scallops in fish markets in January, or for those pressed for time, grab a bag of frozen ones from the supermarket, they taste great too.

You can find chorizo in most supermarkets. If you find one labelled spicy, go for that. You don’t need to add any oil to your pan, the chorizo has plenty. As you cook it, the paprika and oil release to create a wonderful rich colour in the pan. If you have any leftover, try chorizo braised in red wine.

What you need:

  • 100g chorizo sausage
  • 400g halved scallops
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

What to do:
1. Cut the chorizo into thin slices.
2. Put a frying pan on the heat and when hot, fry the chorizo dry for a couple of minutes only, until beginning to crisp on each side. You will see the oil released in the pan.
3. Put the chorizo in a bowl, then fry the scallops in the wonderful orange chorizo oil for around a minute each side.
4. Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, squeeze in the lemon juice and sizzle for a few seconds.
5. Serve in the thoroughly washed scallop shells or in small bowls sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley.

Note, if you are buying scallops in their shells, be sure to find out how to prepare them before cooking first.

10 mins to prepare and cook
Makes 8 starters or 4 main courses

A little more about scallops…
Do you remember Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus? It depicts the Greek goddess Aphrodite rising from a scallop shell! Could eating scallops be an aphrodisiac?
The logo of the petrol company Shell is based on the scallop shell.
Most species live in tropical waters, but several live in polar waters. It is the muscle part that we eat.

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04May 12

Mexican Chicken Mole, Puebla Style

Mexican Chicken MoléThe 5th May is a special day in Mexico.  Mexican pride and heritage are celebrated in the Cinco de Mayo festival, when Mexican chicken mole, Puebla style is often cooked up communally.

Puebla is one of the three states that claim to be the founder of mole.  There are myths and legends surrounding the origin of the dish.  You can find out more if you want to because they are rather fascinating.

For some people, mole might be an acquired taste because it combines many interesting flavours such as chocolate and chicken. These two ingredients might not normally go together, but in mole and in this chicken thighs with a chilli chocolate sauce recipe, they are absolutely fantastic!

What you need:

  • 400g chicken breast pieces, skinless
  • 400g chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 dried ancho chillies, torn into 3cm pieces
  • 700ml hot chicken stock
  • 30g sultanas
  • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp almond flakes, toasted
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 15g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Twist of black pepper
  • White rice or enchiladas to serve

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil on the hob in a cast iron-style casserole dish.  Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes on a medium to high heat, until the onions begin to soften.  Sprinkle over the cumin, coriander and cinnamon and stir in, cooking for a further minute.
  2. Add the garlic and chilli to the pan and fry on for a couple of minutes until the chilli softens.  Stir in the chicken stock.  Now add the tomato, sultanas, sliced almonds and orange zest to the pan and combine.  Bring the sauce up to the boil.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for around 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it with 2 forks.  Put it to one side.
  4. Add the chocolate to the sauce, and let it melt.  Whizz the sauce with a hand blender until smooth.  Reduce the sauce over a medium heat for around 20 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and serve with white rice or in enchiladas.

15 minutes to prepare, around 45 minutes to cook

Makes 3-4 servings

A little more about ancho chillies:  Ancho means ‘wide’ in Spanish.  These are dried; deep reddish brown chilli peppers about 7.5cm wide and 10cm long which have a sweet, hot flavour.  When fresh, they are called poblanos.  Anchos are flat, wrinkled, and heart-shaped.

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02May 12

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda BreadI’ve given this classic soda bread recipe a little twist with the addition of walnuts, which I think work really well with the wholemeal version of the bread and are incredibly tasty in combination with cream cheeseIrish brown soda bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon would make a perfect light supper for those of you celebrating St Patrick’s Day, and whose tummies were heartily filled at lunch time with a roast welsh lamb with garlic and rosemary recipe.  Irish flour is traditionally made from soft wheat so, if you can’t get hold of the real thing, you’ll get a more authentic result if you use a pastry or cake-making flour, as this is also made from soft wheat.  I have heard it said that Guinness can be used in place of the buttermilk, but I’ve never tried that!

What you need:

  • 175g wholemeal flour, self-raising
  • 175g plain or cake making flour (soft flour where possible)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1-2 generous handfuls of chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 generous handfuls of raisins
  • Tub of good quality cream cheese
  • Packet of good quality smoked salmon slices

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Mix the 2 flours along with the walnuts, raisins, the bicarbonate of soda and the salt, in a large bowl.
  3. Create a well in the centre of the flour, pour almost all of the buttermilk in, then quickly but carefully, bind the mixture together using a large fork.  Add the remainder of the buttermilk if necessary to form dough that is neither too sticky, nor too stiff in consistency, working the dough as little as possible.
  4. Take a baking tray and lightly dust it with plain flour.  Mould the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it before placing it onto the tray.
  5. Bake the dough in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until the loaf gives a hollow sound when you tap the base.  When cooked, turn the bread out onto a cooling rack.
  6. Serve warm if possible with the cream cheese and the smoked salmon.  Delicious!

Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine, or a Guinness if you prefer!

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes to cook

Makes: 6 servings

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25Apr 12

Duck Fillet Stir Fry with Noodles

Duck Fillet Stir Fry with NoodlesI am sure that you have all tried a chicken stir-fry before, but have you tried it with duck? My recipe uses a meat that not many think to use very often.

Duck season runs from September to the end of February in the UK.  Duck fillet stir fry with noodles is a succulent, tasty, speedy, and low fat recipe – what more could you want?  It only takes 10 minutes to make, and is fit for a special occasion.

What you need:

  • 250g mini fillets of Gressingham Duck
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 100g broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 300g straight to wok medium noodles
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cashew nuts, unsalted, whole

What to do:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large wok or heavy-based frying pan and stir-fry the duck, broccoli and carrot for about 5 minutes on a high heat.
  2. Mix the hoisin and soy sauces together with the honey in a small bowl and leave to one side.
  3. Empty the packet of noodles into the frying pan with the duck and the vegetables, cooking them for 2-3 minutes, until they are piping hot throughout.
  4. Add the cashew nuts and continue to stir fry until the duck is thoroughly cooked. You will know it’s done when it is brown throughout, with no pink areas.  Once cooked, pour over the honey sauce, stir it in, and sprinkle over the spring onions.
  5. Serve in pretty bowls and eat with chopsticks!

10 minutes to prepare and cook

Makes: 2 main courses

A little more about the Gressingham duck…

There are many varieties of wild duck in the UK, but perhaps the most renowned and desired for cooking these days is the Gressingham duck, which is a crossbreed of wild Mallard and Pekin.  It’s well known for its high proportion of breast meat and great flavour.  At the right time of year, you’ll find Gressingham duck in most major supermarkets and in some independent shops.  It’s a domestic duck that differs from all others.  Whilst most breeds live in nature and across continents, the Gressingham duck is a recently developed breed which is produced exclusively by one company in East Anglia.  It has rapidly developed a very high reputation for quality.

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18Apr 12

Yellow Thai Fish Curry

Yellow Thai Fish CurryThis curry uses cod and potatoes as the main base; simple, humble ingredients that when mixed together with the curry spices, make a tasty dish.

Cod is a good fish to put in a curry (like this green fish curry with coconut milk and bramleys) because it has a subtle flavour, and it’s soft and falls apart nicely into the texture of the curry.  Cod is one of Britain’s most sought-after fish, and although stocks are declining somewhat, they are still plentiful throughout the cold months of the year. This also happens to be when caught fish tend to be at their largest.

What you need:

  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 medium to large potatoes, skins on, sliced into thin chip strips, then chopped into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp Cock Brand yellow Thai curry paste
  • 250g cod pieces, ideally skinless, but if the skins are on, you can remove them easily during the cooking process.  You can use fresh or frozen cod.
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 240ml water
  • 2-3 125 ml pots of natural sweetened yoghurt
  • 500 g of Thai rice

What you do:

  1. Fry the onions with the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat for 7-8 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the curry paste, stirring in well, then add the potato cubes.  Try to coat all of the ingredients in the paste gradually as the paste softens in the heat.  Cook like this for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.  As the curry paste is quite dry, you may find that you need to add a little more oil as you go.
  3. Add the cod pieces, coat in the paste, and fry for 3-4 minutes before crumbling in the stock cube and pouring in the water.
  4. Bring the liquid up to the boil, then turn down and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and tender.
  5. Whilst the curry is simmering, cook the rice.
  6. Once everything is ready, take the curry off the heat and gently stir in the yoghurt.
  7. Serve the curry and the rice together, and enjoy with a glass of crisp dry white wine.

10 minutes preparation time.  About 45 minutes cooking time.  Ready in under an hour.

Makes: 2 main courses

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09Apr 12

Roast pork with apples and cider

Roast Pork with ApplesPork fillets are tender and succulent, and in this roast pork with apples and cider recipe are cooked fast. This means that you can prepare a roast from start to finish in less than 45 minutes, and it’s delicious!

What you need:
2 x 350g fillets of pork
3 x large cox apples, core removed, skin on
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
20 Cloves
40g butter (plus a knob of butter to grease baking tray)
1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
225ml English cider
2 tablespoons crème fraiche (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
2. Cut slits into the pork fillets and insert the garlic slivers inside – do this all over the meat.
3. Push cloves into some of the spaces between the garlic, around 5 cloves per side of each piece of meat.
4. Butter a baking tray and scatter with the sliced onion.
5. Melt the butter in a bowl and stir in the cider. Lay the pork over the onion on the baking tray, and brush the meat all over with the cider mixture. Then season with salt and pepper.
6. Cut the apples into wedges, toss them in the cider and butter mixture and place them in the tray around the outside of the pork.
7. Place the tray in the hot oven on a high shelf and roast for 25-30 mins, or until the pork is thoroughly cooked (roasting time will depend on the thickness of the pork).
8. When cooked, remove the pork, keeping it warm by wrapping it in silver foil, then put the baking tray on the heat on top of the cooker, add some cider and stir loose the apples and onions to make a wonderful sauce, let the liquid reduce by about a third – this should take about 5 minutes.
9. Add the crème fraiche (if you are using it) to the cider, apple and onion sauce, let it warm through on the heat, taste and season further if necessary.
10. Carve the pork into nice thick slices and serve with the apples.

1 hour to prepare – 45 minutes to cook
Makes: 4 main courses

Note: If you enjoy my recipe, I also recommend this spiced roast ham or pork with juniper berries.

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29Mar 12

Baked Salmon with Red Pesto, Red Peppers and Tomatoes

Baked Salmon with Red peppers and TomatoesBaked salmon with red pesto, red peppers and tomatoes is a low-fat, nutritious meal for two.  You do not need to add any oil; the salmon will bake in its own juices, along with those of the vegetables and the lime.

Roast Salmon with vegetables is also quite tasty as the veggies provide a perfect complement for this light dish.

Salmon is regionally seasonal, following a complex series of migrations as the fish move from river to river throughout the year.  It’s fascinating stuff!  Make sure to look up when Salmon is in a river near you.

What you need:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded then cut into long, thin strips
  • 4 garden tomatoes cut into halves or small cubes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh basil to garnish

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Place a large sheet of aluminium foil over your baking tray, enough to comfortably wrap around all of the ingredients, sealing in the cooking juices.
  3. Lay the salmon onto the prepared tray with the skin side down; spread the red pesto over the top of each fillet.
  4. Arrange the red peppers and tomatoes all around the outside of the fillets, squeeze lime juice over everything, and sprinkle over the lime zest before seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Wrap the aluminium foil around all of the ingredients, creating a parcel effect, and bake in the oven for 25-45 minutes (depending on the size of your salmon fillets).  When the fish is opaque throughout, it is cooked. Check that there is no translucency to the middle part of the salmon fillets before serving.  You can also remove the foil from the top of the fish for the second half of cooking if you want to add a little crispness and don’t mind losing some of your cooking juices.  If you do this though, be sure to create a tray effect with aluminium foil (with folded edges to each side) plus a separate foil cover at the start, so that when you remove the cover, the juices won’t escape.  Both methods are very tasty.
  6. Serve the salmon over the vegetables. Pour over the juices, and top off with a sprig of fresh basil.

20 minutes to prepare – 25 to 45 minutes to cook

Makes: 2 main courses

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27Mar 12

Lamb Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

Lamb Roast with Garlic and RosemaryLamb roast with garlic and rosemary is a mouth wateringly tasty meal that is served up traditionally in some Irish households on St Patrick’s Day on 17th March.  The festival coincides with the very beginning of the lambing season in mid march, so this may well be your first taste of spring lamb this year. (If you really like this meat, I also recommend spiced skewered lamb.)

What you need:

  • 1 leg of lamb on the bone, about 2kg
  • Lamb trimmings and chopped bones (fresh from the butchers)
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, halved horizontally
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half
  • 20g butter, softened
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Take a deep roasting tin and lay in the chopped bones, trimmings and the halved garlic bulb.
  3. With a sharp knife, make plenty of deep slits into the leg of lamb, inserting the garlic cloves and the small sprigs of rosemary into them randomly all over the joint.
  4. Rub the lamb all over with the butter and lay the joint over the bones in the roasting tray.  Season well with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 1-1½ hours or until the meat is cooked to your liking.
  5. At the end of the roasting time, take the lamb out of the oven, grind over a little more salt and pepper, cover it loosely with tin foil to retain the heat, and remove it to another tray to rest.  Resting the meat relaxes it so that it has a softer texture.
  6. Whilst the joint is resting, make the gravy by placing the tray with the bones of the lamb over a medium heat on the hob and reducing the cooking juices until they are caramelised.  This should only take a few minutes.  Strain away any excess fat and pour in about 360ml of cold water.  Bring the mixture up to the boil, then reduce the heat immediately and simmer for around 5 minutes.  Strain the gravy mixture through a large sieve and pour it into a gravy boat to put on the table.
  7. Serve the lamb with creamed potatoes, parsnips and carrots, and a green vegetable of your choice.

Enjoy with a customary pint of Guinness, or a full-bodied red wine.

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 1-2 hours to cook

Makes: 6-8 servings

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26Mar 12

Moules Mariniere

Moules MariniereMoules mariniere brings back memories of holidays in the south of France and close to the Spanish border where moules frites (mussels and chips) and mussels in Asturian cider are very popular.

British Mussels are in season in February.  If you’re lucky enough to find good ones, you will soon be making succulent and tasty mussels in a white wine and cream sauce, which you can enjoy as a starter, or as a main meal with nice hunks of granary bread, chips or a mixed salad.  It looks stunning in its presentation and is sophisticated to the palette.

Moules mariniere is most fun prepared in company, sampling the white wine together as you cook.  I use a splash of good white wine from the bottle I want to drink with the meal rather than a cheap cooking wine, which I believe improves the flavour significantly. Try this recipe with a very well chilled oaked chardonnay.

What you need:

  • 1.75kg fresh mussels
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15g butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 100ml white wine
  • 120ml double cream (substitute for light crème fraiche if desired)

What you do:

  1. Wash the mussels thoroughly, removing and binning any that have opened and don’t close when lightly pressed in your fingers.
  2. Remove the beards from the mussels – these are the tough and fibrous strands which stick out of the closed shells.  Rinse the mussels once again.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pan (which needs to be large enough for the mussels to reach only half way up the pan) and fry the shallots and the onion until soft.
  4. Splash in the wine and add the mussels.  Turn up the heat at this point, cover the pan with a lid, and steam the mussels for 3-4 minutes.  Whilst the mussels are cooking, move them about every now and then by gently shaking the pan; there’s no need to remove the lid to do this.
  5. Pour in the cream, add the coriander, and remove from the heat.

10-15 minutes to prepare and cook

Makes: 4 generous starters or light main meals

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