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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with tomatoes

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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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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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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04May 12

Authentic Mexican Guacamole

Guacamole

In the US and parts of Mexico, record sales of avocados are recorded around the 5th May.  The Cinco de Mayo festival commemorates the battle of Puebla between the Mexican army and French forces in 1862. It is celebrated most strongly in Mexico in the state of Puebla, and in some other regions to a lesser degree.  It is a national holiday in the US where the date has become a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, more than a commemoration of the famous battle.  Authentic Mexican guacamole is made by the bucket-load around this time; portioned out on the streets at the festival, and made in countless homes and communities to share in celebration together.

Guacamole is said to have originated with the Aztecs as far back as the 16th century.  The name is derived from an Aztec dialect and literally means ‘avocado sauce’.

Avocados are said to be one of the true super foods, containing a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  So if you make up a whole load of authentic Mexican guacamole to celebrate this May, you’ll be filling your body with wonderful goodness at the same time. (Also try this avocado and mango salsa with corn chips.)

Serve with a nicely chilled Mexican beer; in the bottle, with a little lime juice squeezed in, and a segment of lime sitting at the top of the bottle.

What you need:

  • 6 large ripe avocados
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped as finely as you can
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 8 mild chillies, finely sliced
  • 2 bunches of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp water
  • The juice of a lime
  • A generous pinch of salt to season

What to do:

  1. Crush the coriander, tomatoes, chillies, onion and salt into a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.  If you don’t have one, the round end of a rolling pin in a small bowl works just as well.
  2. Put a little water into the mixture.  Chop the lime in half and squeeze it over the bowl, catching any pips with the palm of your other hand as you squeeze.  Add the avocados, mashing everything together.  Stir in a little more water if you feel the guacamole is too thick.
  3. Serve with nachos to dip.

Less than 30 minutes to prepare, no cooking required

Makes 8 portions

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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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