Black Pudding Meatballs

Don’t be put off by the addition of black pudding in these beef-based meatballs. They are fantastic.

For the tomato sauce:

2 tbs. olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. sea salt flakes

For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. black pudding
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
very good grinding of black pepper
2 tbs. old-fashioned oats
2 eggs

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy pan with a lid. Cook the onions slowly until softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, parsley and thyme, then tip in the tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Fill the tomato can 1/2 full with water, swish it around and add to the pan. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

For the meatballs, crumble the beef and black pudding into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and, using your hands, gently mix everything together. Roll out walnut-sized meatballs and set aside.

When ready to cook, drop the meatballs in the sauce in concentric circles. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer 15 minutes more. Check the sauce for seasoning and serve.

Serves 4-6

 

 

 

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

Chocolate, Tahini and Banana Bread

Tahini adds a sophisticated huskiness and a lovely velvety texture to this complex and delicious quick bread.

2 medium, very ripe bananas
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup tahini
1 egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
3 tbs. soft brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
generous 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a standard loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

Beat the bananas to mash, then add the oil and tahini. Add the egg, sugars and vanilla extract. Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the banana mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips. Spread in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then wrap the bread in parchment, then foil and leave for a day before slicing.

Pappardelle with Cavolo Nero and Nduja

Nduja (pronounced N-Do-Ya) is a spicy Italian salami paste that is perfect paired with hearty greens and pasta.

1 large, floury potato, peeled and cut in 1/2″ cubes
1 lb. Cavil Nero kale, rainbow chard or baby spinach, trimmed of stems
1 lb. pappardelle
4 tbs. butter
1 cup nduja
3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Fill a large pot with cold water and salt with abandon. Add the potato and bring to a boil. When boiling, set the timer for 10 minutes, then tip in the pasta. When it comes back to a boil, add the greens and cook according to package directions. Scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet or wok and add the nduja. When it melts into a sauce, add 2 tbs. of the cooking water. Tip the pasta, potato and greens into the pan and toss everything together, adding more cooking water if needed. Drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Serves 6

 

Creme Caramel for One

Who says eating alone is boring? This fabulous dessert is the most delicious solitary treat with just the right amount of wobble in the middle.

2 tbs. caster sugar
2 tbs. cold water
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. caster sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
150ml whole milk

Heat the oven to 300°F.

In a small saucepan or butter warmer, bring the 2 tbs. of sugar and water to a boil. Never stir the caramel or it will seize. Instead, swirl it around in the pan every few minutes until the mixture caramelizes. Watch it at the end, this often happens very quickly.

Pour the caramel into a 200ml ramekin, or other oven-proof dish and swirl a bit up the sides.

In a jug with a spout, stir together the egg yolks, 2 tsp. of sugar and vanilla extract. Warm the milk for 40 seconds in the microwave, then gradually pour into the jug. Using a tea strainer, strain this over the caramel. If there are any bubbles on the top, spoon them off.

Place the ramekin in a small baking dish. Pour water from a recently boiled kettle to come up 1/3 of the way. Cover with a little square of foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

Leave to cool completely, then chill for at least 6 hours. To unmold, run a palette knife around the edges then dip the ramekin in a dish with 2″of hot water for 5 seconds. Put a saucer on top and flip the ramekin over.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts

This is equally as good in a non-gluten-free version simply by using all-purpose flour and regular baking powder.

1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. rice flour (or other gluten-free flour)
1 cup ground almonds
2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 large, very ripe bananas
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, at room temperature
125ml vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces

Heat the oven to 325°F and line a 2lb. loaf tin with parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.

Peel the bananas and mash them in a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla and Greek yogurt, then add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the oil and the sugar. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then fold in the chocolate and walnuts.

Spread the batter in the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin.

Serves 10-12

Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce

The title says it all: homey, comforting, easy and fabulous.

1 chicken, spatchcocked or cut into peices
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
2 fat garlic cloves, grated
2 tbs. softened butter
75ml dry white vermouth or wine (or 75ml chicken stock)

For the sauce:
300ml heavy cream
4 fat garlic cloves, grated
good grinding of black pepper
sea salt flakes, to taste
3 tbs. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbs. finely chopped chives

Start by making the sauce so that the garlic can infuse the cream. Combine the cream and garlic in a saucepan with the pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce and bubble for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Put the chicken or chicken pieces in a roasting tin skin-side down. Sprinkle with half of the salt and all of the grated garlic. Rub in gently then leave to sit for 30 minuets.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pour the vermouth in the bottom of the tin. Roast for approx. 45 minutes until the juices run clear and the skin is golden. Transfer the chicken to either a carving board or heated platter to rest. Add the pan juices to the cream sauce.

While the chicken is resting, bring the sauce back to a boil and add most of the herbs, simmer gently for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring it regularly. Taste and add salt to taste. (If the sauce fails to thicken, combine 1 tbs. soft butter with 1 tbs. flour and stir into the sauce.) Transfer to a warm jug.

Cut the chicken into pieces if spatchcocked and place on a heated platter. Top with some of the sauce and the remaining herbs.

Serves 6

Crab Mac ‘N’ Cheese

There are few words to describe this. We are forever indebted to you Nigella!!!

1 cup (packed) grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/8 tsp. Aleppo pepper or hot paprika, plus more to sprinkle
250 whole milk
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tbs. butter
1 fat clove garlic, grated
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
7 oz. conchigilie rigate pasta (or other large shell shape)
100g mixed white and dark crab

Stir together the cheese and set aside. Stir together the flour and spices and set aside. Pour the milk into a jug and stir in the tomato paste, then set aside.

Melt the butter in a smallish, heavy-based saucepan over a lowish heat. Stir in the garlic, then whisk in the flour mixture to make a foaming, orange paste. Take off the heat and gradually whisk in the tomatoey milk until completely smooth. Put back on the heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce. Take off the heat and stir in the cheeses. Cover and leave until the pasta is ready.

Cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling, salted water. Using a spider, ladle the pasta into the sauce and stir to combine. Fold in the crab and serve sprinkled with more Aleppo pepper or hot paprika.

Serves 2

Spaghetti with Chard, Chili and Anchoves

Although the recipe indicates spaghetti, I only had linguine. Believe me, it was equally as wonderful.

1 bunch rainbow chard
3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovies fillets (from a jar or tin)
3 fat cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
125ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
7 oz. dried spaghetti
2-3 tbs. freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus more to serve
drizzle of olive oil, to serve

Strip the leaves from the chard, then roll them and finely slice. Cut the stalks into pieces.

Heat the oil and anchovies in a large pan until the anchovies start to melt in the oil. Take the pan off the heat and grate in the garlic cloves and add the chili flakes. Put the pan back on the heat and turn it up to medium. Tip in the chard stalks and stir well. Add the water, cover and cook 5-7 minutes to soften the stalks.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente.

Add the chard leaves to the pan with the stalks, replace the lid and cook for 2-4 minutes to wilt. Turn off the heat and leave until the pasta is cooked.

Use tongs or a pasta fork to transfer the pasta directly from it’s pot to the pan with the chard. (You need to add about 4 tbs. of the cooking water to the sauce and this is an easy way to do that.) Toss everything together well and add the cheese. Spoon into warmed bowls and grate over more cheese, then drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serves 2 heartily