Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts

This lovely and last-minute pasta is a great supper on it’s own or can be served as a side to the entree.

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 lb. cavatappi, fusilli or other short, curly pasta
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 lb. frozen spinach
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
3-4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (either toasted in a dry skillet or the oven)

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook over a lowish flame for 8 – 10 minutes, until soft. Add the allspice and spinach and stir to defrost and melt in the spinach.

Cook the pasta according to the package direction in a large pot of boiling and salted water. Reserve a cupful of the cooking water, then drain. Tip into the pan with the spinach and add the feta, stirring it to melt a bit. Season everything and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.

Serves 4

Japanese Shrimp

Here is a wonderful, fast and simple supper for two. Using frozen shrimp is the key.

2 tbs. water
2 tbs. sake
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. wasabi powder or 1 tsp. wasabi paste
2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. frozen, raw, shell-off large shrimp
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a small jug, stir together the water, sake, salt, lime juice and wasabi.

Heat a wok or skillet and add the olive oil and green onions. Stir fry for a minute or so, then tip in the frozen shrimp. Cook for about 3 minutes until they start to turn pink and loose their frozen glaze.

Add the liquid from the jug and bubble everything together for 2-3 minute to make a sauce.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves 2

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

The grated zest of an orange is what makes this marvelous chicken sing.

2 tbs. regular olive oil
12 chicken thighs (bone-in and skin-on)
1 3/4 lbs. chorizo sausage, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 1/4 lbs. baby white potatoes, halved
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
grated zest of 1 orange

Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the oil in a shallow roasting pan and add the chicken, turning to coat and ending up skin-side up. Season well. Nestle in the chorizo and the potatoes, then sprinkle over the onions, oregano and orange zest.

Cook for 1 hours, basting after 30 minutes with the pan juices. If there is not a lot of pan juice, tip in a bit of sherry to de-glaze the pan.

Serves 6

Lemony Salmon with Cherry Tomato Couscous

Here is a lovely, snappy, little fish supper that is full of flavor and texture and a jot to make.

heaping 1 cup couscous
3 tsp. kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 cup boiling water
1/2 small red onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil, plus 1 tsp.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 salmon fillets
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl with 2 tsp.of the kosher salt (or 1 tsp. table salt), 1/4 tsp. of the paprika and the ginger. Give everything a stir, then pour in the boiling water. Cover the bowl and leave to one side.

Zest the lemon into a shallow dish large enough to hold the salmon, then stir in the remaining salt, remaining paprika and 1 tbs. of the oil. Add the salmon and turn over in the oily mixture.

Heat a large skillet and cook the salmon for 2-3 minutes per side (or longer, depending on thickness) until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and onions in a bowl with the 1 tsp. of oil and the juice of the lemon. Fluff the couscous with a fork, then stir in the tomato mixture and most of the cilantro. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, spoon some couscous onto a plate, place a salmon fillet alongside and sprinkle with a little more cilantro.

Serves 4

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

A French classic that’s been updated to use chicken thighs – quite rightly!!

2 tbs. regular olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 scallions, finely sliced
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (apprize. 3-4 heads)
2 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding of black pepper

Heat the oven the 350°F. In a large Dutch oven (one that has a lid and will fit the chicken in one layer), heat the oil and sear the chicken pieces over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.

Once the chicken is seared and resting in the bowl, stir in the scallions and the leaves of a few sprigs of the thyme. Add the garlic cloves, then arrange the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Pour in the vermouth and any juices left in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then add a few more whole thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

No-Fuss Fruit Tart

Don’t feel obliged to use the fruit as listed in the ingredients – use any that you fancy for this wonderful, easy and crowd-pleasing pud.

3 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (27 sheets)
6 tbs. softened butter
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup lemon curd, at room temperature
1 cups blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
2/3 cup red currants or pomegranate seeds
1 – 1 1/2 small strawberries

Combine the cracker crumbs with the softened butter in the food processor to make a sandy rubble. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a deep, loose-bottomed 10″ fluted tart pan. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

In a clean food processor bowl, combine the cream cheese and lemon curd (or mix by hand) and spread into the bottom of the chilled tart pan, covering the base evenly.

Arrange the fruit gently on top in a decorative manner, leaving some of the strawberries unhulled with their picturesque stalks, if you like.

Place the tart in the fridge, preferably overnight, or for at least 4 hours. It needs to get properly cold to unmold and slice easily.

Serves 8-10

 

Chicken with Greek Herb Sauce

Simple and healthy, this is certainly a winner!

12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on or off)
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbs. regular olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped scallions or red onion
1 green chili, deseeded and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
3 tbs. each chopped fresh cilantro and mint

Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken (skin-side up is using) in a shallow roasting pan, then pour over the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano and season well. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Alternatively, toss the chicken with the lemon  juice, oil and seasoning, then grill for 6-7 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, stir together the remaining ingredients to make the sauce.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with the sauce.

Serves 4-6

Chicken Teriyaki

This is fast and fabulous – so much better than any takeaway.

2 tbs. sake or sherry
4 tbs. mirin
4 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
splash of sesame oil
1 3/4 lbs. chicken thigh fillets, cut or scissored into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. peanut oil
2 cups sushi rice, cooked

Mix together the sake or sherry, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Toss in the chicken and leave for 15 minutes. Or do this earlier and keep in the fridge.

Heat the peanut oil in a large, shallow skillet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the skillet and cook over a medium heat until they look cooked on the outside. Pour in the marinade and bubble until the marinade is reduced to a thick, dark syrup and the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve with sushi rice.

Serves 4-6

My Mother’s Praised Chicken

So named because the chicken is neither pouched not braised.

1 large chicken
2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
scant 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
2-3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and cut into approx. 2″ logs
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1-2 celery stalks, sliced into approx. 2″ pieces
approx. 2 quarts cold water
1 bouquet garni (mixed herb sachet or bag) or 1 tsp. mixed herbs
fresh parsley stalks, or a few sprigs, tied or banded together
2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
2 tsp. red peppercorns, or a good grinding of black pepper
To serve: chopped parsley leaves, chopped fresh dill, English mustard

Get out a large cooking pot with a lid that the chicken will fit snugly in. On a washable surface, un-truss the chicken and place it breast-side down.Press down until you hear the breastbone crack, then press down again so that the chicken is flattened slightly. Cut off the ankle joints below the drumstick, if need be.

Heat the oil in the pan and brown the chicken for a few minutes breast-side down. Turn up the heat, turn the chicken over and and toss in the cut off feet (if you have them). Still over a vigorous heat, add the wine or vermouth and let it bubble down a little before adding the leeks, carrots and celery.

Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables, then pop in the bouquet garni or your choice of herbs, and the parsley stalks. Sprinkle over the peppercorns.

Bring to a boil, clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, then leave with the lid still on for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve the chicken and accompanying vegetables in large bowls over brown basmati rice. Spoon the sauce in and add fresh parsley or dill on top. Serve with English mustard.

Serves 4-6

 

Mexican Lasagna with Avocado Salsa

Add chicken to the filling for a heartier meal.

For the sauce:

1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green chilis, chopped with seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbs. finely chopped cilantro stalks
2 x 14oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 tbs. ketchup

For the filling:

2 x 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 x 15 oz. can corn, drained
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
8 10″ soft, flour tortillas

For the avocado salsa:

2 avocados, halved and cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 scallion, thinly sliced
3 tbs. chopped green jalapenos
salt, to taste
1 tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Heat the oven to 400°F. slipping in a baking sheets at the same time.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions, peppers, chilis and salt. Cook gently for 15 minutes and, once soft, add the cilantro stalks. Stir in the tomatoes, then rinse out one can with water and add this too. Add the ketchup and let everything simmer while you make the filling.

Mix the beans, corn and most of the cheese together in a bowl.

Start to assemble by spooning about one third of the sauce in an round, ovenproof dish and smearing it about, then layer on 2 tortillas so that they cover the sauce overlapping slightly, like a Venn diagram. Add a third of the bean mixture, then about a quarter of the remaining sauce and 2 more tortillas. Repeat.

Finally, add the last layer of beans, nearly all the remaining sauce and the last 2 tortillas. Spread the last bit of sauce on top and sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it like a pizza. Serve with the avocado salsa.

For the salsa, stir together all the ingredients and check the seasoning.

Serves 8