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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with olive oil

11Jun 12

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes 

We’re heading towards the summer; and that’s when crab is in the peak of its season. You can get hold of fresh crab from late spring, right through the summer and into early autumn. These ginger and coriander crab cakes are a delicious way to enjoy this tasty seafood, complemented with plenty of ginger zing, lime zest and coriander burst!

If you find yourself near the Cromer coast this summer, make sure to buy plenty of the infamous Cromer crab, which is often served in the shell, ready to eat. Just squeeze over some lemon and tuck into it right there gazing out at the waves. For another idea to enjoy the season’s fresh seafood, take a look at this crayfish rice with mango recipe. Serve the crab cakes with a mixed salad and a beer topped with lime.

Ginger and Coriander Crab Cakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These ginger and coriander crab cakes are a delicious way to enjoy this tasty seafood, complemented with plenty of ginger zing, lime zest and coriander burst!
Ingredients
  • 420g cooked crab meat, ready to eat
  • 2 spring onions, chopped as finely as possible
  • 110g mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp juice of a freshly squeezed lime
  • 3 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • A splash of Tabasco sauce
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g breadcrumbs, dried
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil to fry
Instructions
  1. Mix the crab, onions, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, coriander, Tabasco and ginger together in a large bowl. Season very generously with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Create 12 crab cakes using the palms of your hands.
  3. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs into another small bowl. Dip each crab cake into the egg and then cover in breadcrumbs on the top, bottom and sides.
  4. Heat plenty of olive oil in a frying pan, on a medium heat; and shallow fry the crab cakes in batches. They will absorb quite a bit of oil, so add more as necessary. Cook each patty for 2-3 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown.

 

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05Jun 12

Lamb’s Lettuce Salad with Serrano Ham and Apricots

Spring Salad with Serrano Ham and ApricotsLamb’s lettuce salad with Serrano ham and apricots is a really simple salad with few, but very tasty ingredients.  I like the subtle play between the sweetness of the apricots and the saltiness of the Spanish ham.  Both are balanced wonderfully by the creamy texture of the avocado and the subtle freshness of the lamb’s lettuce.

Lamb’s lettuce is said to contain around three times the level of vitamin C that a common lettuce contains.  This salad makes a good light lunch or supper, but if you’re feeling ravenous, you can always eat it with a big hunk of buttered bread, or as a starter to a more substantial meal. (For more lamb’s lettuce salads, try this seared scallops with brittle Parma ham recipe.)

Lamb’s lettuce is in season through Winter and Spring.  It is a hardy plant that doesn’t rely solely on insects for pollination.  The wind helps to carry and drop the seeds, and in certain eras, it was thought to carpet the British countryside in swathes.  I love it for its softness and appearance – those rich green floral-shaped leaves make any salad look beautiful.

What you need:

  • Pack of lamb’s lettuce, ready washed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 pack of Serrano Ham
  • 12 soft, preserved apricots
  • 1-2 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
  • 4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar

What to do:

  1. Open the pack of Serrano ham about an hour before you want to eat it, letting it come up to room temperature.
  2. When you are ready to make the salad, arrange the lamb’s lettuce on the plates, covering almost the entire surface of the plate.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and the skin and slice into strips lengthwise.
  4. Tear the soft apricots roughly in half.
  5. Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, runny honey, sugar, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl with a teaspoon.
  6. Arrange the avocado on the lettuce in a floral circle and dot the apricot pieces in between.  Roll the ham into the shape you like and space it out over the top of the salad, making sure that all of the ingredients are visually balanced.
  7. Drizzle over the dressing in a spiral pattern, or serve the dressing in a small bowl on the table.
  8. Season the salad all over with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

15 minutes to prepare

Makes: 2 servings

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04Jun 12

Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation chicken salad

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee coming up in June, I’m helping my neighbours to organize a little old-fashioned street party, and I’m going to make a Coronation Chicken Salad. The original Coronation Chicken dish that was invented for the Queen’s Coronation banquet in 1953 included whipped cream and was served with a rice salad, but I want to make something lighter and crunchier.

So I’m going to use this recipe that I tried out last summer, replacing the cream with healthier Greek yoghurt and including celery to add a bit of crunch to the creamy texture of the sauce. Apricots are in season in the UK from May to September, but you can use dried apricots if you can’t get hold of fresh ones. (I also recommend this warm chicken salad with garlic and tomato bread.)

Coronation Chicken Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Coronation Chicken Salad with Greek yoghurt and celery to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken (about 1.5kg), poached and cooled
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100g fresh apricots
  • 100ml red wine
  • 175ml mayonnaise
  • 175ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Watercress, according to preference
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Remove the meat from the bones of the poached chicken.
  2. Peel the apricots and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. While the apricots are simmering, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and lightly fry for about five minutes.
  4. Add the curry paste, tomato purée, wine, bay leaf and half the lemon juice.
  5. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about ten minutes.
  6. Drain the apricots and purée them in a blender, press through a sieve and leave to cool.
  7. When the curry sauce has reduced, remove the bay leaf and leave the sauce to cool.
  8. Mix together the apricot purée, the mayonnaise and the cooled curry sauce.
  9. Fold the yoghurt into the mix, and then add the chicken, chopped celery and the rest of the lemon juice.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and serve with watercress and white baguette.
Notes
I used poached chicken because it's really tender and succulent, but if you prefer, you can use roast chicken (or the leftovers from a Sunday roast). If you're using dried apricots, you only need 50g, but you'll need to soak and boil them to make the purée.

 

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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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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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03May 12

Curly Asparagus Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Medjool Dates

Asparagus SaladA little inspiration for a way to enjoy the first of the spring season’s asparagus…

Curly Asparagus Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Medjool Dates combines lengthy ribbons of peeled asparagus with sweet dates and crunchy peanuts, topped with a well-matured and hard goat’s cheese and drizzled all over with a balsamic reduction.

I have two other variations for this salad: sometimes I use toasted pine nuts and parmesan in place of the nuts and the cheese.  At other times I use toasted flaked almonds and drizzle it over with a lime butter, topping off with lime zest and fresh coriander.  All three variations are fun to make and yummy to eat.  Enjoying asparagus raw is a great way to maximise on the nutritional benefits of this wonderful vegetable.

What you need:

  • 450g fresh asparagus (thicker stems work best), thoroughly washed
  • 60g honey-toasted peanuts
  • 50g Medjool dates, stones removed
  • 7 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
  • 60g hard goat’s cheese
  • Salt flakes and ground black pepper to season
  • Extra virgin olive oil to dress

What to do:

  1. Lay a single stem of asparagus on its side on a chopping board.  Grab the tough end, and using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, shave off ribbons of asparagus from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough end that you are holding.  Repeat with the rest of the bunch.  You won’t be using the tough ends so put them aside to compost.
  2. Reduce the balsamic vinegar on the hob until it is thick, sticky and very viscous.
  3. Arrange the ribbons of asparagus prettily in a medium-sized salad bowl, then drizzle over with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the salad carefully with tongs.
  4. Chop the dates into thin strands.  Put the peanuts in a small sandwich bag and bash them on a wooden block with a rolling pin to break them up.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped dates and peanuts over the top of the salad and toss it again very gently.
  6. Use the same peeler to shave off some goat’s cheese curls directly off the block.  Drizzle over with the balsamic reduction, season with a little more salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

20 minutes preparation, 10 minutes cooking

Makes 3-4 servings

Note: For a hot asparagus dish, try this scrumptious asparagus and cheese pudding.

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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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15Apr 12

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Herby ButterJersey Royal Potatoes come into season in April.  They are chock-full of fibre and contain vitamin C, amongst other nutrients.  They are delicious cooked very simply in well-salted water to bring out their natural flavour, but today I’m going to share this minty Jersey Royals with chives and lemon recipe with you, which is just one of the ways of enjoying this distinctive seasonal gem.

Look out for potatoes with a papery-thin, flaky skin and try to buy them unwashed, washing them yourself quite carefully so as not to remove all of the skin, which has a lovely flavour and also contains many nutrientsJersey Royal new potatoes are best eaten within a few days of buying them.  Serve this herby salad dish warm or cold, at your spring barbeques, or to accompany grilled meat and fish like this grilled trout with tarragon and lemon butter.  And why not make some home-made lemonade to go with it?  Fresh tastes of spring!

What you need:

  • 1kg Jersey Royal new potatoes, washed gently to remove any dirt and left whole
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped, plus a couple of sprigs for the cooking water
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, cut into 1cm strands
  • The juice of 2 fresh lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season
  • A little olive oil

What to do:

  1. Put the washed, whole Jersey Royals in a large heavy-based saucepan.  Put the large potatoes at the bottom of the pan, and the smaller ones on the top.
  2. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour the water over the potatoes, almost covering them.
  3. Season really well with a few pinches of sea salt, add a couple of mint sprigs and a swirl of olive oil before covering the pan with a well-fit lid and simmering the potatoes gently for around 20 minutes.
  4. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, take a mixing bowl, put the butter in, and then sprinkle over with all of the herbs, the lemon juice and zest.  Stir the ingredients together and leave to one side.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked (check one or two for tenderness and firmness with a sharp knife – and try not to overcook them), drain them, mix in the herby butter to the pan, then season again with sea salt and grind over some black pepper before serving.

20 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook

Makes: 4-6 servings

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05Apr 12

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Toasted Pine Nuts

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Pine NutsAn incredibly fresh and healthy accompaniment to any meat or fish dish that you are preparing – steamed spring vegetables with toasted pine nuts are particularly delicious alongside herb crusted salmon with salsa rosso.  In fact, I sometimes eat a big bowl of this and nothing else for my supper, when my body is calling out for greens, greens and more greens, as it often does! 

Asparagus and broccoli are in season in the spring in the UK.  They are bursting with vitamins and minerals, as well as flavour, when you dress them up in a little tasty topping.  Also works well as a starter. You can add Parmesan cheese to top it off at the end, but that is up to you!

What you need:

  • Bunch of fresh asparagus tips
  • Large handful of pine nuts
  • 12 stems of broccoli
  • 30g snow peas
  • 2 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil to fry the nuts and to drizzle over the dish
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
  • A hearty drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar

What to do:

  1. Wash and prepare the asparagus.  Bend each stem, and if it is really fresh, it will break naturally to give you perfect tips.  Lay them to one side.  Wash the broccoli and trim off the ends. Rinse the snow peas.
  2. Prepare your steaming equipment and steam the prepared vegetables for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender but retain a slight crunch (if you like them al dente like me).
  3. Whilst the vegetables are steaming, toast the pine nuts in a little olive oil over a medium to high heat on the hob.  This should only take a few minutes.  Sprinkle them over with a pinch of the sea salt, remove them from the heat and leave them sitting in the pan to keep warm.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked, drain them and then serve them into pretty bowls or side plates.  Top with the pine nuts, and then drizzle over a generous helping of olive oil and swirl over with the balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle all over with the fresh basil and season well with salt and pepper.  Cover the vegetables in the topping rather than just the centre.

Note: For a change, try substituting the balsamic vinegar for the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.

10 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Makes: 2 generous servings

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14Feb 12

Leek, potato and cod stew

leek_potato_and_cod_stewLeeks are in season in January. They are rich in vitamin C, iron and fibre. Leek, cod and potato stew is inspired by a Spanish dish called Porrusalda, and is part of the tradition of Basque/French cooking which includes a lot of fish, and very often cod. You can ask the fishmonger to prepare the fish for you, or do it yourself – or if pressed for time, grab a bag of cod pieces from the freezer section in the supermarket. I make this recipe and then freeze half for an easy meal on a night when there’s no time or energy to cook. It’s a simple, heartwarming recipe for the winter months.

What you need:

  • 4 leeks, washed and cut into medium sized slices
  • 1kg of sliced potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 300g cod – fresh, frozen or dried and cut into small-sized chunks
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Stock cube to taste (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley or coriander to garnish

What to do:
1. Prepare the cod and cut into small chunks.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based deep pan and add the garlic. Fry for 1 minute then add the leaks. Fry for a few minutes then stir.
3. Add the potatoes and fry for five minutes until just beginning to soften.
4. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to the boil. Add the stock cube at this point (if you are using one).
5. Add the cod pieces, reduce the heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 45 minutes.
6. At the end of the cooking time, taste for flavour and add salt/pepper if desired.

1 hour to prepare, 45 minutes to cook
Makes 4 main courses

A little more about leeks…
The leek is the national emblem of Wales.
They belong to the same family as onions and garlic but are more subtle in flavour, delicate and sweet to the taste.
It is said that the Emperor Nero thought that leeks would improve his singing voice, so he ate loads of them!
There are records of cultivation going as far back as ancient Egyptian times.

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