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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with olive oil

31Jul 12

Courgette Carpaccio

Courgette Carpaccio
Courgettes
are great versatile summer vegetables, and right now they are at the height of their season in the UK. They are a good source of potassium, folate and vitamins A and C and, as we all know, the best way to get the most vitamins and nutrients from vegetables is to eat them uncooked. I had always cooked courgettes until I discovered that they are also quite nice raw, in salads and even in juices!

Sliced very thinly, drizzled with a basil, olive oil and lemon juice dressing and topped off with Parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts, this courgette carpaccio is a light and appetizing starter that’s really easy to make. (Also try these courgette and leek fritters!)

Courgette Carpaccio
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 small courgettes, washed and dried
  • 100g walnuts
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 packed handful fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the courgettes very thinly and arrange on a large serving plate.
  2. Grind the basil leaves together with a large pinch of coarse sea salt and the garlic using a pestle and mortar.
  3. Add the olive oil and grind together again.
  4. Put this mixture in a clean jar, add the lemon juice, secure the lid and shake vigorously.
  5. Drizzle this basil dressing over the courgettes.
  6. Sprinkle the courgettes with walnuts, cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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27Jul 12

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)

SalmorejoSalmorejo is a wonderful Spanish dish, from the region of Cordoba, usually served as a starter and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg. Basically, it’s a cold tomato cream, and its main ingredients are tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.

It’s one of my favourite summer dishes, so easy to make and really delicious and refreshing on a hot summer’s day! But don’t confuse it with gazpacho, the Spanish cold soup made with tomatoes. Gazpacho is thinner, contains less bread, more water and additional ingredients like cucumber and red or green pepper.

I would say you drink gazpacho, but you eat salmorejo. You can also spread it on toast, with some Serrano ham on top, so if you want to do this you could make it a little thicker – by adding a bit more bread and a little less water. (For a hot treat, try this cream of tomato soup.)

Salmorejo (Spanish cold tomato cream)
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
The Spanish dish Salmorejo is a cold tomato cream made from tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic and vinegar and garnished with Serrano ham and hard boiled egg.
Ingredients
  • 1kg ripe plum tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 4 medium thick slices white bread (loaf or sliced)
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 hard boiled egg, finley diced (for garnish)
  • 1 large handful Serrano ham, finely diced (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and rip into pieces.
  2. Blend all the ingredients for the salmorejo, except half the olive oil, the ice cubes, the salt and the garnish, in a blender.
  3. Add the ice cubes and liquify in the blender.
  4. Strain the salmorejo through a conical sieve to remove any solid pieces.
  5. Blend again, adding the rest of the olive oil and salt to taste, until it has a smooth, thick consistency.
  6. Serve immediately in small bowls, topped with diced eggs and Serrano ham.
  7. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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21Jul 12

Asparagus and Cream Cheese Ravioli

Ravioli with Asparagus in a Tarragon Cream CheesePasta – a soft and sensual art in creation and consummation…

Home-made pasta offers a world of discovery.  Try making this asparagus and cream cheese ravioliAsparagus is in full season from April to June. So why not take advantage of the season and also try this asparagus and cheese pudding?

What you need:

  • 500g strong pasta flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • Semolina flour for dusting
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • A little olive oil
  • 80g butter
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to season
  • 425g ricotta cheese
  • 1 large handful of fresh tarragon, finely shredded
  • 90g parmesan cheese, finely grated, and some to sprinkle when you serve

What to do:

  1. Whizz the pasta flour and eggs for about 30 seconds in a food processor.  Let it rest for a couple of minutes and whizz again for a short time, forming dough.  Remove and knead by hand for a couple of minutes until smooth and elastic.  Wrap with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for one hour.
  2. When ready, split the dough into 4 balls, re-wrapping those you’re not working with.  Press one with your palms to flatten it a little then pass it through your pasta machine on the widest setting.  Fold the dough in to the middle from both sides and run it through again.  Do this twice more until your pasta is the width of the machine.  Dust the dough with flour and change the setting on your machine to one thinner.  Keep working the dough through a setting at a time until the pasta is 1-1.5mm thick, in long sheets.
  3. Wash the asparagus and cut into thin pieces. Fry them in olive oil, a little of the butter and the garlic.  Season well with salt and pepper and let cool.
  4. Mix and mush the ricotta, parmesan, asparagus and 2/3 of the tarragon in a bowl.
  5. Lay a pasta sheet out onto a flour-dusted surface and place generous single teaspoons of the mixture onto it, 5cm apart along the length.  Brush water onto the pasta around the filling and gently lay another pasta sheet over the top of the first one.  Use the little finger side of your hand and gently press the pasta together, cupping your curled hand around the filling pressing out any air and sealing the pasta sheets together.  Crinkle cut in between the ravioli to separate them.  Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.
  6. Cook the pasta in gently boiling water for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining butter and salt onto the drained pasta.  Garnish with the rest of the parmesan and tarragon.

1 hour to prepare plus chilling time, 10 minutes to cook

Makes 4 servings

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18Jul 12

Rich Shepherd’s Pie with Red Wine Stock

Rich Shepherd's Pie with Red Wine Stock

Have a go at this rich shepherd’s pie with red wine stock, using the best of the season’s lamb. (For a a more vegetarian-friendly aubergine bake, try this baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pesto.

What you need:

  • 450g minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 2 aubergines, cut into small cubes
  • A generous splash of Worcester sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100ml red wine
  • 90ml lamb, beef or chicken stock
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 floury potatoes, King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled and cut
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water for around 15-20 minutes, checking to see if they are tender with a sharp knife.
  3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, make the pie filling:  Dry fry the lamb mince in a hot, wide and high-sided pan, until browned all over.  This will take around 5 minutes.  Transfer the lamb to a sieve over a bowl to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, add some of the olive oil to the frying pan, and sauté the onions and garlic together for 4-5 minutes until soft.
  5. Combine in the carrots, aubergines and the remaining olive oil (see how much oil the aubergines absorb when they cook!) and cook on for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Add the drained lamb back to the pan, splash over with the Worcester sauce, pour in the tomato purée, add the pinch of sugar, and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes, stirring the ingredients well.
  7. Now pour in the hot stock and the wine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir, and bring the liquid up to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 6-8 minutes.  Add in the chopped tomatoes, the fresh parsley and thyme.
  8. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them, pat them lightly with kitchen paper and mash them.  Add in the milk and butter, combining the ingredients together.
  9. Transfer the pie filling into a large oven proof dish and cover over with the mashed potato.  Use a fork to create plough lines, and bake the pie in the oven for around 20-30 minutes, until the lamb filling is bubbling and the potato turns golden brown.

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 40 – 60 minutes to cook

Makes 4 servings

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10Jul 12

Spinach with bacon and pine nuts

Spinach with bacon and pine nutsA starter that brings four flavours and textures together:  It’s soft, salty, crunchy and sweet.  Go on, try it…

Spinach with bacon and pine nuts uses soft and subtle spinach, brought to life by the saltiness of the bacon, the crunch of the pine nuts, and the sweetness of the raisins.  If you can find a good cured Parma ham, or Spanish Serrano ham to cut into chunks to replace the bacon, they also work really well in this dish.  We often make this dish as a starter, or as a side dish to accompany lamb, beef or pork.  Spinach is in season in the spring.

If you like this combination, I would also recommend these mini-pancakes with mozzarella, spinach and pine nuts.

What you need:

  • 1 kg freshly washed baby spinach leaves
  • 100g small bacon cubes
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

What to do:

  1. Cover the raisins with water in a bowl to soak for a little while.
  2. Wash the spinach thoroughly under running water unless you have bought it prewashed and ready to use.  If you are washing it, pat it gently dry afterwards with kitchen paper.
  3. Heat 250ml water on the hob in a large pan, and when it reaches the boil, add the baby spinach leaves, season with salt, cover the pan, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  Alternatively steam the spinach.  It’s best to cook it for just enough time to soften it, but without overdoing it, so as to keep the nutrients it contains as alive and effective as possible.  When cooked, remove and drain the spinach and set it to one side.
  4. Drain the water off the raisins, and pat them dry on kitchen paper.
  5. Heat the oil in a shallow, heavy-based frying pan, and fry the bacon pieces on a medium to high heat for a few minutes, moving them about as they cook.  Add the pine nuts and keep stirring as you cook for another few minutes.  Now add the raisins and do the same for another couple of minutes.
  6. Add the cooked spinach to the pan, mixing all of the ingredients together.  Taste a little of the dish and add more salt if necessary, then grind over with a little black pepper.

10 minutes to prepare, 15-20 minutes to cook

Makes: 3-4 starters or side servings

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29Jun 12

Paella Valenciana – Rabbit Paella with Spring Onions

Paella ValencianaPaella Valenciana is a Spanish dish from the coastal region of Valencia. During certain fiestas in Spain, the whole village congregates in celebration, and a feast is cooked up for everyone in a gigantic paella dish (which can be metres wide)!  Everyone is there.  The kids play and the grandparents sit and talk in the sun.  I’ve been to a few of these events over the years, and I love both the community feeling, and watching on as the paella is cooked over coal.

One of the secrets of making good paella is this – when you add the stock, stir everything once, then don’t stir it again for the rest of the cooking time.  This way you can create a pretty arrangement of all of the ingredients and they stay in place.  This is particularly effective with seafood paella such as this prawn paella with chorizo.

What you need:

  • 400g rabbit, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 400g chicken, roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 250g green beans
  • 150g fresh peas, removed from the pod (or substitute with frozen peas)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 400g paella rice
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground paprika, sweet or smoked
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt

What to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a paella dish or large, flat-based frying pan.
  2. Add the chicken and the rabbit, browning the meat all over on a fairly high heat to seal in the juices.  Fry like this for 4-5 minutes, turning the meat as necessary.
  3. Add the onions and the green beans to the pan, and on a medium heat, cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, the saffron, the sweet paprika and the salt, and fry for a few minutes before pouring in about two-thirds of a litre of the chicken stock.  Stir immediately, just once, and bring the stock up to the boil.  Add the peas and then turn down the heat and simmer until the rice softens – this could take 20-30 minutes depending on the rice you are using.  Don’t cover the pan with a lid but do keep an eye on the dish and add more stock if necessary as it absorbs and evaporates during cooking.  Don’t let the pan run dry because the rice will then stick.  At the end of the cooking time, you are aiming for all of the stock to have been absorbed into the dish, leaving the rice soft, moist and full of flavour.
  5. Season lightly again all over with salt and place the cooking dish on a mat on the table to serve once sat down together.  Enjoy with wine or beer and a hunk of baguette.

20-30 minutes to prepare, less than 45 minutes to cook

Makes: 4 main courses

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28Jun 12

Slow Cooked Spring Lamb Shanks in Cognac

Slow-Cooked Spring Lamb Shanks in CognacAn aromatic infusion of lamb that will melt in your mouth…

I first tasted slow cooked spring lamb shanks in Cognac in Northern Spain, just a stones throw from the farm where the animals were raised.  We ate it in the spring, when lamb is in peak season.  The meat becomes so soft that it falls off the bone, and it melts its aromatic Cognac infusion onto your palate.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, replace step 3 by cooking the lamb in a covered casserole dish in the oven.  Cook at 170ºC for about 3 hours, checking that the lamb is thoroughly cooked before serving.

What you need:

  • 2 lamb shanks on the bone
  • 350ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 200ml Cognac
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tomato, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
  • 2 whole laurel leaves
  • 1 tsp Demerara sugar
  • A generous pinch of dried oregano
  • A generous pinch of dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to season

What to do:

  1. In the morning of the day that you will be eating the dish, heat 100ml of the oil in a frying pan, season with a generous pinch of salt, and fry the lamb shanks for 5-10 minutes until golden brown all over.
  2. Transfer the shanks to the slow cooker and switch the cooker on to the low setting.  Sieve the oil from the frying pan over the lamb and add the remaining oil.  Crumble in the stock cube; add the cognac, onion, tomato, garlic cloves, laurel and sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with oregano and parsley.
  3. Stir to coat the shanks, put the lid on the pot and slow cook on low for 8 hours.  Turn the lamb over half-way through the cooking time.
  4. Remove the lamb shanks from the pot and pour the sauce into a heavy-based frying pan.  Put the shanks back into the slow cooker and put the lid on to keep them warm.  On a medium to high heat, reduce the sauce on the hob by half to intensify the flavour.
  5. Place the lamb shanks into wide and shallow bowls, pour over with the sauce, and serve with creamy mashed potato and Spanish-style green beans.

15 minutes to prepare, 8 hours 10 minutes to cook

Makes 2 servings

Note: I just love lamb, so one of my favourite Italian dishes is Lamb and Linguine Bolognese.

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22Jun 12

Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel (Spanish Omelette with Sorrel)

Spanish Omelette with SorrelWe spent Easter in Spain, in a small village in the northeast; where the hills are like bulbous ferrous rock, and the villagers weave deep familial roots through the generations – including ours. It’s a beautiful place. My daughter is half Spanish, and one of her favourite foods is Tortilla – Spanish omelette.  Here’s a seasonal version for you: Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel.

There’s a little restaurant that we always go to just before our long journey home. It’s called Ben y Ben’s, and we love it because they lavish us with tea, glasses of red wine, pancetta, olives and best for our little one, tortilla de patata. We cut it into shapes: circles, squares and triangles and then pop a piece of olive on the top – that’s how she likes it best. When we were there at Easter, they came out from the kitchen with a very special omelette. Laced with green, the Tortilla de Patata with sorrel not only looked pretty, but tasted really good too. Sorrel grows wild in May and through the early months of the summer in England. If you’re going to go hunting for it, make sure you know for certain what you’re picking; or if in any doubt – buy it from your local market.

Also try this classic spanish potato omelette.

Tortilla de Patata with Sorrel (Spanish Omelette with Sorrel)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Laced with green, the Tortilla de Patata with sorrel not only looked pretty, but tasted really good too. Sorrel grows wild in May and through the early months of the summer in England.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion
  • A good slug of extra virgin olive oil
  • 280g Desirée potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 100g fresh sorrel, thoroughly washed and finely chopped
  • Salt flakes to season
Instructions
  1. Finely slice the onion and place to one side.
  2. Peel and wash the potatoes. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut into quarters and then work your way through each potato, slicing off small roughly shaped thin pieces from the top. Do this as quickly as you can to prevent browning. Once sliced, pat with kitchen paper to dry.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a 20cm diameter non-stick frying pan until just smoking. Put the onion and the potato together into the pan and coat them in the oil, moving them about. Now turn the heat down to its very lowest setting, season with salt and fry the vegetables slowly for around 20-30 minutes until soft. Move them about as necessary and don’t let them brown.
  4. Once soft, add the sorrel to the pan and soften for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Turn the cooked vegetables into the bowl and mix together. Add some more oil to the pan and heat at medium before carefully pouring the omelette mixture back into the pan. From this point, no stirring! Turn the heat back down to its lowest setting and cook very slowly for around 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen the edges of the omelette gently with the spatula from time to time.
  6. It’s time to turn the omelette. Place a plate that matches the size of the pan over the omelette and turn the pan over to release it onto the plate. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and then gently slide the omelette back into the pan, frying slowly on the other side until thoroughly cooked.
Notes
Cooking time may vary from between ½ to 1 hour

 

 

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21Jun 12

Grilled stuffed mushrooms

White button mushrooms are one of the most widely consumed mushrooms in the world. They are available in shops all year round, but those who like mushroom hunting can usually find them after rainfall from late spring through to autumn. I love mushroom hunting, but I’m never sure if the ones I’ve picked are edible! So for safety I prefer to use the cultivated ones.

I love them; in pasta sauce, in risotto, in pies, in soups, in salads… they are so verstile. This dish is inspired by some “tapas” we had in Spain this Easter: grilled stuffed mushrooms made with Serrano ham (Spanish dry-cured ham), garlic and parsley. I brought some ham back from Spain so I used that for this recipe and added some sun-dried tomatoes for a personal touch. They are so delicious and easy to make, you should try them!

Little tip: They make a great appetiser for this mushroom risotto recipe.

Grilled stuffed mushrooms
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
This dish is inspired by some "tapas" we had in Spain this Easter: grilled stuffed mushrooms made with Serrano ham (Spanish dry-cured ham), garlic and parsley.
Ingredients
  • 12 medium sized white button mushrooms
  • 50g Serrano ham (or any dry-cured ham), finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Olive oil, for sautéing
Instructions
  1. Clean the mushrooms, cut off the tips of the stems and dry if necessary.
  2. Remove the stems, making sure not to break the mushroom caps. Leave the caps aside.
  3. Finely chop the mushroom stems and mix them with the chopped garlic, dried tomatoes and parsley.
  4. Sauté this mixture in a little olive oil on a high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the chopped ham to the mixture.
  6. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture. (There will usually be a small amount of mixture left over).
  7. Cook the mushrooms in a grill pan on a medium heat until they are light brown and serve.
Notes
What are "tapas"? Tapas are typical in Spain. They are small portions of food, anything from some simple olives to a dish of paella, served to accompany a drink. In most parts of the country tapas are ordered and paid for separately, but in some provinces, especially Granada and Almería, the tapa comes free with each cold drink you order.

 

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13Jun 12

Spanish Noodles with King Prawns and Clams (Fideua)

FideuaClams are best of season in January and February in the UK, but you may be lucky and find some in the first half of March too.  I love this combination of seafood and noodles, a little like a noodle paella I guess.  The garlic and the fish stock bring wonderful flavours to the dish. 

Spanish noodles with king prawns and clams is a slightly anglicised variation on a dish from the Spanish region of Valencia, where sun and seafood are abundant.  Be sure that your clams are fresh, properly prepared and checked before you cook them – if in doubt, ask at the fish counter.  You can also substitute the clams for mussels if you prefer.

What you need:

  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g very fine, short noodles (Fideua)
  • 400g king prawns, peeled
  • 350g clams in their shells, cleaned and prepared with any that are open, or come open with a light tap, discarded
  • 6 spring onions, or 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • Generous pinch of dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ L fish stock
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Twist of lemon

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and on a medium heat, fry the onions for a few minutes.
  2. Add the prawns and the garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are really soft.
  3. Add the noodles and the dried parsley to the pan and continue to fry for a few minutes before pouring in the stock, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the clams and bring the stock up to the boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed into the dish. Add the fresh parsley, (saving a little for the garnish) stirring it in on the heat for another minute before tasting, and if necessary, adding a little more seasoning.  Add more stock to the dish as you cook if necessary to prevent it from becoming too dry.  Scan the finished dish for any clams that have not opened during cooking, and discard them.
  5. Squeeze over the lemon, serve into dishes and top with the fresh parsley garnish.
  6. Enjoy with a glass of Spanish white wine and baguette rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

Ready in less than 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

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