Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Yet another use for rotisserie chicken!

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
4 slices bacon
1/2 iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 small avocados, scooped into chunks
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
pepper to taste
splash more olive oil, if needed
1 tbs. chopped chives, to serve

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool, then crumble. Do do throw out the oil in the pan.

Put the lettuce, chicken, avocado and bacon in a large bowl. Add the mustard and vinegar along with a good grinding of pepper to the skillet and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and toss to dress. Drizzle in more olive oil, if needed. Sprinkle with the chives, to serve.

Serves 3-4

Basil Pesto

This classic, multi-use sauce can also be made with wild garlic or ramps when they are in season from March to June. Delish!

2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped
4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
7 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt to taste

Put the basil and Parmesan in a small food processor and blitz to grind. With the motor running, gradually pour in the olive oil until you have a smooth sauce. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve over cooked and drained pasta.

Pantry Paella

This is a wonderful way to use up any pork leftovers.

pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbs. regular olive oil
3 scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups paella or risotto rice
2 cups chicken stock
8 oz. raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
1 cup squid tubes, sliced (defrost if frozen)
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked pork
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Drop the saffron threads into a small saucepan and add the sherry. Place over a low heat and warm, not letting it come to a boil. Leave to cool.

Heat the oil in a large, wide pan and cook the scallions for a few minutes.  Stir in the garlic and the rice. Pour in the chicken stock and the saffron-infused sherry. Stir gently to mix, then leave to simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp, squid, pork and peas. Season well and continue to simmer until the shrimp and squid are cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4

 

Bourbon-Glazed Ribs

A classic summer supper, with these tender ribs, it’s all about the sauce.

24 pork spare ribs or 2 racks baby back ribs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
175ml bourbon
2 tbs. yellow American mustard
2 tbs. tomato ketchup
2 tbs. soy sauce

Cut the ribs into sections of 3-4 and place in a zip-lock bag. Tip in the remaining ingredients and squelch everything together well. Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the ribs in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, turning half way through. (Or, grill over a medium heat for a total of 20 minutes, turning often.)

Tip the remaining marinade into a small pan and gently bubble to reduce. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and serve with the sauce.

 

 

Double Chocolate and Pumpkin Seed Cookies

The subtle crunch of pumpkin seeds in this delicious cookie makes all the difference.

5 tbs. butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanila extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch fine sea salt
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

Heat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Tip in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt. Combine into a stiff dough, then fold in the chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds.

Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, drop onto the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Salmon Fish Cakes

If you fancy tartar sauce, by all means, serve it alongside these lovely fish cakes.

For the fish cakes:

1 1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 lb. canned salmon
1 tbs. melted butter (if the potatoes don’t already have any butter in them)
fat pinch cayenne pepper
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
salt and pepper

For the coating and cooking:

2 eggs
scant 1/2 cup matzo meal (or other bread crumb)
scant 4 tbs. butter
2 tbs. vegetable oil

In a large bowl, tip in all the ingredients for the fish cakes. Gently mix together with your hands, then form into 7 – 9 palm-sized patties. Place on a baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes.

When ready to cook, beat the eggs in a shallow, wide bowl and sprinkle the matzo meat into a large plate. One by one, dip the fish cakes into the beaten egg and then into the matzo meal. Return to the baking sheet.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and fry the fish cakes until the outside is golden and the inside is warmed through.

Serves 4

Apple Pork Chops with Sauerkraut Slaw

Acid is so important to how food tastes and here the tartness of sauerkraut complements the juicy pork chops perfectly.

1 1/2 cups sauerkraut
1 Gala apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tsp. caraway seeds
good grinding black pepper
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. chopped fresh dill or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tbs. vegetable oil
2 pork chops
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
4 tbs. apple juice

Tip the sauerkraut into a colander and press out as much liquid as you can, then leave to drain for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the apple, caraway seeds, pepper, olive oil and dill. Set aside.

Season the pork and add the vegetable oil to a heavy skillet. Cook the pork for 5-6 minute per side over a medium-hot heat, or until cooked through. Or grill the chops to your liking. Remove and cover in foil. Add the cloves and apple juice to the skillet and bubble into a rich syrup. Serve drizzled over the pork with the sauerkraut on the side.

Conversely, you can grill the pork and reduce the cloves and apple juice in a small saucepan.

Serves 2

 

Beef and Beans with Pasta

What’s better than a comforting bowl of pasta? The fact that everything is cooked in one pot!

1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 medium carrot
1 medium celery stalk
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 x 14oz. tin beans, drained – red kidney, cannellini, ect.
2 cups beef stock
1 x 14 oz. chopped tomatoes
2 tbs. ketchup
2 tbs. red wine (optional)
1 tbs. Italian herbs
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
1 2/3 cup macaroni
grated Parmesan, to serve

Put the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in a food processor and whiz to a chunky rubble. Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the veggies until soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned.

Add the beans, beef stock, tomatoes, ketchup, red wine (if using) herbs and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then tip in the pasta. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, adding more stock if necessary. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan scattered on top.

Jumbo Chili Sauce

This savory sauce is good with so many things, but it is especially delicious with roasted duck.

12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 red or green chilies, deseeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
zest and juice of lime
3 1/2 cups (lightly packed) cilantro leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil

Tip the peppers, chilies, garlic, lime zest and juice, cilantro leaves and salt in a small food processor. Blitz, then pour in the oil with the motor running to make a thick sauce. The sauce can be keep chilled for up to a week.

 

Pronto Pig Feast

Here is a double quick, double pork supper!

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
4 thin, streaky slices bacon
6 pork escallops (medallions cut from a pork tenderloin)
1/3 cup Marsala
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add the pork and cook for 4-5 minute on each side, depending on how thick they are. Remove and cover with foil. Tip the Marsala and butter into the skillet and bubble to reduce.

Pour the sauce over the pork, crumble the bacon on top and scatter with chives to serve.

Serves 2

Cod and Cannellini

Creamy cannelli beans and tender cod are perfect partners in this speedy and super supper.

3/4 lb. cod, regular or smoked
small sprig parsley, stalks removed and leaves chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. peppercorns
1 celery stalk, halved
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup white wine
2 x 14oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. chopped chives, optional

Put the fish in a large skillet with the parsley stalks, bay leaves, peppercorns and celery. Pour in the water and wine and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with foil and simmer in the poaching liquid for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove to the foil and keep warm.

Keep about 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid, then drain off the rest. Add the beans to the skillet, warming them in 1/3 cup reserved liquid for about 3 minutes, adding more liquid  if necessary. Turn off the heat, add the oil and most of the chopped parsley, then lay in the fish. Stir everything together, breaking up the fish a little. Check the seasoning, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and chives, if using.

 

Mexican Chicken Salad with Black Bean Salsa

If you can’t find jicama for this wonderful salad, you can use sliced water chestnuts.

For the dressing:
1 ripe avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbs. lime juice
1 garlic clove. peeled
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
good grinding of black pepper

For the salad:
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 scallions, sliced
1 jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups torn romaine lettuce

For the salsa:
1 x 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1/3 cup diced green chilies
1 tbs. lime juice
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Begin by making the dressing. Tip all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and and mix until smooth. Check the seasoning and set aside.

Stir together the salsa ingredients and set aside.

Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and spoon over the dressing. Toss well. Spoon the salsa on the top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Swedish Salmon

This lovely and fresh sauce complements salmon any way it is prepared.


4 salmon fillets
3 tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tbs. light brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 tbs. white wine vinegar
3 tbs. chopped fresh dill

Cook the salmon to your liking by grilling, broiling, baking or pouching.

To make the sauce, stir together the mustard, sugar, sour cream, vinegar and most of the dill. Season with salt.

Serve the sauce spooned over the salmon and sprinkled with the remaining dill.

Criss-Cross Potatoes

Here is a fun and attractive way to serve potatoes.

4 baking potatoes
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. fine sea salt

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut a diamond pattern of grooves into the top of each side, slicing not more than 1/8″ or so.

Put the cut-side up potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender and golden.

Serves 4 – 8

Steak with Bagna Cauda Butter

Grilled steaks gets the star treatment with this savory, anchovy and garlic flavored butter.

10-12 steaks such as rib eye, fillet or New York Strip

For the butter:

1/4 cup anchovy fillets
14 tbs. unsalted butter, softened a little
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
freshly grated black pepper

To make the butter, place all the ingredients in a small food processor and whizz to blend. Spoon out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log shape. Chill to set.

Season the steaks well and cook to your liking. Cut the butter into fat coins and place atop each steak.

Serves 10-12

Garlic and Parsley Hearthbreads

Somewhere between a herby focaccia and garlic nan, these easy breads are ideal for a beginning bread maker. Foolproof!

3 1/2 cup white bread flour
1 package rapid-rise yeast (1/4 oz.)
1 tbs. salt
1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups warm water
5 tbs. olive oil
3 large of 4 small heads garlic
extra-virgin olive oil
bunch flat-leaf parsley

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir the oil into the 1 1/3 cups of water and add to the bowl. Stir to combine into a soft, but firm dough, using more water if necessary. Knead until smooth and elastic on a lightly floured surface, 5-7 minutes. From into a ball.

Lightly oil a clean bowl. Put the dough into the bowl, then turn it over in the oil. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the tops off the garlic cloves, making sure they remain whole. Place them in foil, drizzle with olive oil and scrunch up loosely. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until soft and golden. Remove and allow to cool a bit.

Place the parsley leaves in a small food processor. Scoop out the garlic and add. Season and whizz together. Add enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide it in half and roll each half into a bulky oval. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a tea towel land leave to rise for 25 minutes. Heat the oven to 400°F.

Poke your fingers all over to make dimples in the dough. Brush with the garlic paste and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Chicken Fajitas

Delicious, Dazzlingly Easy and Do It Yourself!

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 small onions, peeled and cut into thin half moons
3 bell peppers (orange, yellow and/or red), deseeded and cut into
strips
8 soft flour tortillas, warmed, to serve

Optional accompaniments:

grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream
corn kernels
avocado
iceberg lettuce, shredded
fresh cilantro
hot chili sauce

Over a shallow bowl, cut the chicken into strips with a pair of scissors. Toss in the oregano, cumin, salt, olive oil and lime juice. Leave to marinate.

Warm the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok and cook the onions over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Tip in the bell peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until everything is softened.

Add the chicken with the marinade and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with warmed tortilla and the accompaniments of your choice.

Serves 4

Golden Sole with Tarted-Up Tarter Sauce

Here is a simple seafood supper with just the right amount of crunch and a piquant sauce for the side.

1 egg
dash garlic-infused olive oil
sprinkling of salt and good grinding of pepper
1 cup instant polenta
4 sole fillets
vegetable oil, for frying

For the Tarter Sauce:
scant 1/2 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tsp. baby capers, drained
1 dill pickle or 5 cornichons, chopped
3 rings jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Beat the egg with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Put the polenta in another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the egg, then coat with the polenta. Place on a wire rack to dry a bit and repeat with the remaining fillets.

For the sauce, stir together all the ingredients.

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the fish for 2-3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and crunchy on the outside. Serve with the tarter sauce.

Risotto Bolognase

Rich, meaty bolognase sauce is a natural fit for this creamy and delicious risotto.

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery stalk, halved
1 garlic clove, peeled
handful fresh parsley
6 slices bacon
4 anchovy fillets
3 tbs. butter, plus 1 extra, to serve
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup Marsala
14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. whole milk
8 cups veal stock
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra, to serve

Heat the oven to 300°F. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovies in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

Heat the 3 tbs. butter and oil in a heavy Dutch oven and cook the paste for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the meat and cook until brown. Add the Marsala. Process the tomatoes until smooth and pour in along with the tomato paste, milk and bay leaves. Add 2 cups of the stock, clamp on a lid and put in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and discard to bay leaves. Heat the remaining stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

Stir the rice into the sauce. Add a ladleful of the stock and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock until the rice is tender. This should take about 18 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining butter. Serve sprinkled with more cheese.

 

Banana Muffins

You can use butterscotch chips, chocolate chips or white chocolate chips in these lovely, easy and moorish morsels.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (2-3 ripe bananas)
1 cup butterscotch, chocolate or white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 400°F and line 12 muffin cases with paper liners.

Stir the eggs into the oil. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Gently fold in the oil and bananas, then the chips.

Divide between the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Cheesy Chili

Serve this chili with cornbread and a tossed green salad.

2 chorizo sausages, cut into fat coins and halved
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water, to rinse out the tomato can
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 x 15oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
handful of cilantro, leaves chopped

Heat a heavy-based saucepan that comes with a lid and add the chorizo. Cook just long enough for the juices to start running, then stir in the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When the beef has cooked, add the cocoa powder, oregano and tomato paste. Give it a good stir, then add the tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce and beans.

Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bubble until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves 6

Speedy Scalopine

Here is an Italian-inspired recipe that is nearly instant to make and a lovely way with pork, as it is just kissed with a hint of spice and drizzled with a lemony pan sauce.

2 tbs. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. mixed spice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
shake cayenne pepper
1 pork tenderloin, cut into thin cutlets
2 tbs. garlic infused olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Put the flour, mixed spice, salt and pepper into a resealable bag. Add the pork and shake to cover.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over a medium heat. Cook the pork for 2 minutes per side or until cooked to your liking. Remove to warmed plates. Add the lemon zest and juice to the pan and bubble until syrupy. Drizzle over the pork and serve,

Serves 2

 

Spring Chicken

Fresh and flavorful, this has all the lovely elements for a Springtime supper.

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or lardons of bacon
12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
1 leek, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding black pepper
1 cup dry hard cider or white vermouth
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
large handful shredded romaine or arugula
2 tbs. chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until they begin to color. Add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Turn them over and tip in the leeks, celery, garlic, dried tarragon, salt, pepper and cider or vermouth. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and bubble 10 minutes more. Add the mustard, romaine or arugula and the fresh tarragon, if using.

Serves 6

Slut’s Spaghetti

This deeply flavored dish is known as Pasta Puttanesca in Italy but as “Whore’s Spaghetti” in England. Too funny!

3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes or 1 red or jalapeño chili, deseeded and minced
1 lb. spaghetti
1 x 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups drained black olives
2 tbs. drained capers, rinsed
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Tip the oil into a wide, shallow skillet over a medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook for 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon until they have melted into the oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes or chili and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions in boiling, well salted water. Remove a cup of water from the pasta, then drain it and add it to the skillet. Toss well and add more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Serves

4 – 6

Cottage Pie

Everyone loves a cottage pie. This version uses already cooked meat – it’s perfect for left overs.

For the topping:
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tbs. butter
1/4 cup milk

For the filling:
1 tbs. olive oil
few sprigs of parsley, minced
1 large shallot or small onion, minced
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1 small to medium carrot, peeled and minced
1 cup left over cooked meat, cubed
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup milk
2 tbs. heavy cream
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. shredded cheddar (optional)

To make the topping, put the potatoes in a saucepan with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft enough to easily mash. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. Set aside.

For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy-based skillet and add the parsley, shallot, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook over a gentle heat until soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the meat and a little more oil if necessary. Sprinkle over the flour, stir it for 2-3 minutes, then tip in the tomatoes and bubble over a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and cream and season well.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spoon the filling into a baking dish, top with the mash and sprinkle with the cheddar, if using. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serves 4

Spiced Nuts

This recipe appears in Nigella’s Christmas book where it is titled “Seasonally Spiced Nuts”. They are so delicious, they should not be limited to the holidays.

4 cups mixed nuts of your choice
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. light brown sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, needles finely chopped
Maldon or other sea salt, to sprinkle

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over a medium heat. When hot, tip in the nuts along with the garam masala and celery salt. Push them about for 3-4 minutes to toast lightly. Add the olive oil, brown sugar and rosemary. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes to coat all the nuts evenly. Tip onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Pork and Apple Hot Pot

To make your own apple pie spice, stir together 1 tbs. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1 tsp. allspice.

3 tbs. oil
3 onions, halved sliced
6 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. apple pie spice
6 boneless pork loin chops
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups sharp apple juice

Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a heavy oven-proof pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and add the bacon. Cook until crisp then remove. 

Put the flour and apple pie spice in a plastic bag with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops and shake to coat. Shake off the excess and sear in the pan, adding more oil if needed. Remove the pork and add half the onions, bacon and apples to the pan, followed by half of the pork chops. Repeat. Pour in the apple juice. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours until the apples are tender.

Italian Tomato and Pasta Soup

Here is a fresh and delicious way to use tomatoes. Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to amp up the color and flavor.

6 large, ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs.
3 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups cold water
1 tsp. kosher salt or 1/2 tsp. table salt
good grinding of black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
sour cream and chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic cloves. When they start to sizzle, remove them and discard. Tip in the onions and cook over a medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, or until softened.

Drain the tomatoes. Peel off the skins, roughly chops and remove the seeds. Add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes to softened. Pour in the cold water and add the salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Puree with a stick blender, then tip in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender. Ladle into bowl and serve with sour cream and parsley on top.

Serves 4

Greek Lamb Chops with Lemon and Potatoes

This dinner party-worthy recipe is a jot to make and the oven does all the work.

12 lamb chops
3 large, white skinned potatoes, skin left on and cubed into 1″ pieces
3 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
2 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
2 lemons, zested
handful fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the lamb into a large roasting tin, then tumble in the potatoes. Drizzle over the oil, scatter with the mint, red pepper flakes, salt and lemon zest.

Cook for 45 -55 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked and the potatoes tender. Served sprinkled with the parsley and/or dill.

Serves 6

Salmon and Sushi Rice with Hot, Sweet and Sour Asian Sauce

Not just for salmon, this piquant sauce would be delicious on most any seafood.

2 1/2 cups sushi rice
1 lb. piece of skinless salmon fillet
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 red or green chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbs. minced ginger root 1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs. sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. lime juice

Cook the rice following the package directions.

Sear the salmon in a flat griddle or skillet for 4-5 minute on one side, then 1-2 minutes on the other side, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Remove to a large piece of foil, wrap and set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together. Scoop some rice into a bowl, top with chunks to the salmon and spoon over the sauce.

Serves 4-6

Peanut Butter Hummus

Peanut butter replaces tahini in this wonderful version of the classic chickpea-based dip.

2 x 15oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
3-5 tbs. olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1/3 cup regular peanut butter
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 – 1/2 cup Green yogurt

Place the chickpeas, garlic clove, 3 tbs. of oil, peanut butter, lemon juice, salt, cumin and 1/3 cup yogurt in a food processor. Blitz to a nubbly puree. Add more oil and yogurt if the mixture is not creamy enough. Check the seasoning, spoon into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Serves 10

Cuban Cure Black Bean Soup

This winter warmer is undeniably cozy.

2 -3 chorizos
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1x 425g tin black beans, drained
1 large tomato, chopped
150ml chicken stock
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro, to serve

Cut the chorizo into 1/4″ coins. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until they give up their pink oils. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the white part of the green onions along with the cumin. Stir together for a few minutes, then tip in the black beans, tomato and stock. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stir in the chorizo, then ladle into two bowls. Give each a good squirt of lime and scatter over the reserved green onions and the cilantro.

Serves 2

Roasted Seafood

The oven does all the work for you here. Feel free to swap in other types of seafood – scallops, chunks of salmon and mussels would be lovely as well.

1 1/2 lbs. white-skinned potatoes (about 3 baking potatoes)
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 small red onions
1 lemon
1/4 cup regular olive oil
12 small clams in their shell, soak in cold water and discard any that are opened
6-8 baby squid, tubes cut into rings
1 1/4 lb. raw large shrimp
3 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the potatoes, without peeling, into thick slices and each slice into quarters. Tip into a large roasting tin with the garlic. Quarter the onions and the lemon and add to the pan, then toss everything with 2 tbs. oil. Roast for 1 hour.

Arrange the seafood on top of the veg and splash with 1 tbs. of the oil and the wine or vermouth. Season well and roast for 15 further. Discard any clams that have not opened. Drizzle with the remaining oil and serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 4

 

Toad in a Hole

Little sausage patties are used in this delicious version instead of whole sausages. Serve with onion gravy or English mustard.

1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb. sausages
1 tbs. goose fat or oil
4 sprigs thyme

Heat the oven to 425°F. Whisk the milk, eggs, flour and a pinch of salt together and set aside.

Squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings and form into 12 little patties. Heat the oil in an oven-proof roasting pan and brown the patties on both sides. While the patties and the pan are still hot, pour in the batter and transfer directly to the oven. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and the eggy middle is set.

Serves 4-6

Sweet Corn Chowder with Toasted Tortillas

Warm, fragrant and nourishing, this soup is wonderful.

6 cups frozen sweet corn, defrosted
3 scallions, trimmed and halved
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup semolina
5 cups hot vegetable stock
lightly salted tortilla chips
2 cups grated cheddar
2 long red chilis, deseeded and finely chopped

Place the corn, scallions, garlic and semolina in a food processor and blitz to a mush. Transfer to a pot and add the stock. Season, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the tortilla chips on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the cheddar and chilis. Bake for 5-10 minute, or until the cheese has melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the chips.

Serves 6

Sweet Saffron Rice

This versatile and vibrant rice will complement so many entrees.

1 1/3 cups basmati rice
1 cup superfine sugar
1 pinch saffron threads
1 1/4 cups water
2 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

Cook the rice following the package directions or your usual method.

Put the sugar, saffron and water in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Without stirring further, bring to a boil and bubble until the syrup reduces and thickens. Add the cloves and cardamom pods, then take off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes.

Stir the raisins (if using) into the cooked rice then toss in the syrup before serving.

Serves 8-10

Short Rib Stew for Two

Fabulous comfort food for two, but easily increased to feed more.

2 meaty short ribs
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped’
thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red chili, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
stalks from a small bunch of cilantro
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbs. beef dripping or olive oil
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 cup water from a recently boiled kettle
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 tsp. maple syrup

Take the ribs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Put the shallots, ginger, chili, garlic, cilantro stalks, cardamom pods, turmeric and cinnamon in a small food processor and whiz to a paste.

Heat the oven to 300°F. Heat the drippings or oil in an oven-proof casserole with a lid. Add the paste and cook for about 5 minutes over a medium-low heat. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute, then add the water and salt and stir well to combine.

Add the ribs to the casserole, bone-side up, pressing down so that the liquid covers them. Bring to a bubble, clamps on the lid and transfer to the oven for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook another hour to reduce the sauce. Leave to sit for 10 minute. Stir in the maple syrup, check the seasoning and serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.

Serves 2

Chicken in a Pot with Lemon and Orzo

Here is happiness in a pot!

1 chicken (approx. 4 lbs.)
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots
2 medium leeks
1 tbs. olive oil
2 lemons
2 tsp. dried tarragon or thyme
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes
6 1/3 liters cold water
1 cup orzo
6 tbs. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
fresh grated Parmesan, to serve

If time permits, allow the chicken to sit on a cutting board for abut 40 minutes before cooking, then season well. Peel the carrots and cut them into 3 lengths, then into batons. Cut the leeks into 2″ rounds. Heat the oven to 350°F .Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch Oven and add the chicken, breast-side down. Brown over a high heat for 3-5 minutes then turn breast-side up.

Take the pan off the heat and grate the garlic and lemon zest around the chicken. Add the tarragon or thyme and give it all a stir in the oil. Scatter in the vegetables, followed by the salt and chili flakes then squeeze in the juice from the lemons.

Pour in the cold water and bring to a boil. Clamp on a lid and transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Take the pot out of the oven and sprinkle in the orzo, pushing it under the liquid and give everything a stir. Cook for another 15 minutes, by which time the orzo should be plump and tender.

Let the pot stand uncovered for 15 minutes, then stir in 4 tbs. of the parsley. Using 2 forks, gently pull the chicken away from the bones and discard them. Stir everything again and ladle into warm bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the Parmesan.

Serves 4-6

Pasta with Anchovy Sauce

Called Bigoli con Salsa in Italian, this savory sauce is perfect with any type of pasta, but works especially well with long, robust pasta such as bucatini.

2 large onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, finely chopped
1 tbs. butter
tiniest pinch ground cloves
1 tbs. water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 lb. bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or linguini
1 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat for abut 10 minutes, or until you have a golden mush. Add the brown sugar and let the mixture cook another minute. Add the anchovies and stir until they begin to melt, then stir in the butter and cloves followed by the water. Gradually add the milk. When it has all come together, remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in an abundant amount of salted water according to the package directions. Remove 1/2 cup of the water and drain.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and add enough of the reserved water to make a sauce. Sprinkle in most of the parsley, then spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Serves 8

Pink Picante Shrimp

If you don’t have pink peppercorns or can’t find them, simply use white one.

1 tbs. pink peppercorns, plus more to crush to decorate
1 tbs. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds, or seeds from 8 pods
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 egg whites
1 1/2 lb. raw, peeled and cleaned shrimp
2 tbs. vegetable oil

Crush the peppercorns, salt, cardamom seeds and paprika in a mortar and pestle until you have a nubbly mixture. Or you can grind them in a spice grinder.

Hand-whisk the egg whites until they are foamy, but not stiff. Dip the shrimp in the egg whites, then toss them with the peppercorn mixture.

Heat the oil a large pan and stir-fry the shrimp for 5-7 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove to a dish and sprinkle with more crushed peppercorns to serve.

 

Serves 6-8

Split Pea Soup and Frankfurter Soup

You can use either green or yellow split peas in this hearty and warming soup.

1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. ground mace
2 1/4 cups split peas
5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
8 hot dogs

Peel the onion, carrot and garlic, then cut into rough chunks along with the celery. Put everything in a food processor and blitz to finely chop.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and add the veggies. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, or until soft but not colored. Stir in the mace. Tip in the split peas and stir in the oil for a few minutes before adding 5 cups of the stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick.

Cook the frankfurters on a griddle, cut them into pieces and add to the soup.

Serves 6

Chocolate Chip Chili

Who knew that chocolate does a wonderful job at enhancing chili?!! This feeds a crowd, but can easily be cut in half or a third. The oven does all the work for you making it ideal for entertaining.

3 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh red chili, deseeded and minced
4 tbs. vegetable oil
seeds from 3 cardamom pods
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. dried chili flakes
10 chorizo sauasges, sliced
3 lbs. cubed beef
4 tbs. tomato paste
4 tbs. tomato ketchup
4 x 400g cans red kidney beans
3 x 400g chopped tomatoes
4 tbs. dark chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 300°F.

In an oven-proof casserole that has a lid, cook the onions, garlic and fresh chili in the oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cardamom pods, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chili flakes for 1 minute. Add the chorizo and cook until their oils run, then stir in the beef.

Add the tomato paste, ketchup, beans and chopped tomatoes. Swirl out a tomato can with water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and stir in the chocolate chips. Clamp on the lid and bake for 3 hours. Check along the way and add more water if needed.

Serves 12

Cranberry and Soy Glazed Cocktail Sausages

These savory morsels are just the ticket for your holiday drinks party or any other time of year.

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
4 tbs. cranberry sauce
5 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. dark brown sugar
juice of 1 clementine/satsuma
juice of 1 lime
50 cocktail sausages

Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir together the chili sauce, cranberry sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, clementine juice and lime juice in a roasting tin. Add the sausages and toss well.

Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once, until the sausages and burnished and sticky.

Lamb with Rosemary and Port

This effortless supper for 2 is a jot to make and delicious to eat.

1 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp.Worcestershire sauce
2 lamb steaks
1 tbs. butter
1 sprig rosemary, needles finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup port

Mix together the olive oil and Worcestershire sauce, then brush the mixture over both sides of the lamb. Season well.

Heat a heavy skillet over a medium heat and cook the steaks for 3 minutes per side, or to your liking. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Add the butter to the pan and when it has melted, stir in the rosemary and garlic for a minute. Pour in the port and bubble into a sauce. Transfer the steaks to serving plates, add any juices that may have accumulated from them to the pan, then pour the sauce over the steaks to serve.

Serves 2

 

Irish Oaten Rolls

When you fancy fast, fuss-free and fabulous rolls for supper, here is your new go-to recipe!

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats, plus a little more for sprinkling
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup Guinness or other stout
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey

Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a jug, combine the Guinness, buttermilk, oil and honey. Pour into the dry ingredients and combine. The mixture will seem runny at first, but it will soon thicken and get mouse-like.

Using a spoon or a 2″ ice cream scoop, drop 12 rounds onto the baking sheet. Dust each with some oats and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Italian Roast Chicken with Bell Peppers and Olives

 

This is an adaptation of the original recipe which calls for roasting a whole chicken, then cutting it up to serve. By using chicken thighs, the cooking time is reduce to half.

6-8 chicken thighs
3 leeks, trimmed and cut into 3″ logs, then halved lengthwise
3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, deseeded and cut into strips lengthwise
2/3 cup pitted olives
1/4 cup olive oil
4 rosemary sprigs

Heat the oven to 400°F. Tip the leeks, peppers and olives into a roasting tin. Toss in the olive oil and roast for 10 minute.

Nestle in chicken amount the veg, season everything well, add the rosemary sprigs and roast 30 minute more, or until the veg are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Emergency Brownies

Brownies anytime are a treat, but when you need them FAST, here is your recipe!

4 tbs. butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs. golden syrup or maple syrup
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 tbs. cocoa
1/4 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks

Heat the oven to 325°F. Put the butter, sugar and golden or maple syrup in a saucepan and warm gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.

Fork together the flour, cocoa and salt, then beat into the saucepan. Whisk the egg with the vanilla, then stir into the pan. Finally fold in the walnuts and chocolate.

Spread the batter into a 5 x 7″ aluminum pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are coming away but the center is still a little soft.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool 20-30 minute before eating.

Serves 2

Spicy Sausage Patties with Lettuce Wraps

These meaty morsels are bursting with flavor and are perfect served wrapped in crisply cold lettuce leaves.

1 lb. good-quality pork sausage meat
1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 green chili, deseeded and chopped
1 red chili, deseeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
2 scallions, finely sliced
2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbs. vegetable oil
iceberg lettuce and/or pita breads, to serve

In a large bowl, mix together the sausage, ginger, chilis, garlic, lemon zest, scallions and cilantro. Form into small, flat patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the patties for about 3 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Remove them to a warm plate and serve with lettuce and pita bread.

Makes 16 patties

 

Linguini with Chili, Crab and Watercress


This quick and satisfying pasta dish is full of goodness and flavor.


2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 scant tbs. Maldon or other sea salt
1 large red chili
2 lbs. undressed crab meat
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 lb. linguini
handful fresh parsley, chopped
handful watercress leaves, roughly torn

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

With a pestle and mortar pulverize the garlic with the salt to make a smooth paste. Add the chili and crush again. Tip in the crab meat and olive oil, then mix gently.

Salt the pasta water and cook the pasta according to the package directions. drain and tip into a large bowl. Add the crab mixture, parsley and watercress. Toss and serve.

Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course.

 

Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers

 

Reminiscent of the classic Chicken Marbella, but using pork, this wonderful recipe requires and overnight marinade, so plan ahead and enjoy.

1 pork shoulder, diced for a stew
1 1/2 cups dry white wine or vermouth
3/4 cup pitted prunes
scant 1/2 cup pitted olives
1 tbs. capers
4 tbs. dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes
good grinding of black pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Put the pork in a large freezer bag and add the wine, prunes, olives, capers and their juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and squish everything together well. Chill overnight, then take out of the fridge 1 1/2 hours before cooking.

Heat the oven to 325°F. Tip the pork and marinade into a heavy-based casserole that comes with a lid. Add the stock, cover and cook for 2 hours. Check half way through and if there seems to be too much liquid, remove the cover and continue cooking.