Spaghetti with Marmite

Simple and sublime! 

12 oz. spaghetti or linguini
3 tbs. butter
1 tsp. Marmite
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reverse 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain.

When the pasta is nearly done, melt the butter and Marmite in a small saucepan with 1 tbs. of the pasta cooking water. Toss with the drained pasta and add more of the reserved water to amalgamate if nessecary.

Serve with the cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 4 – 6

Coconut Crab Cakes

The addition of shredded coconut is brilliant here. Not only does it add it’s subtle flavor but it keeps the crab cakes incredibly moist.

1 cup lump crab meat
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 tbs. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbs. diced jalapeno peppers, fresh or from a jar
1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar, plus more to drizzle
vegetable, for frying

Stir together the crab, flour, coconut, jalapeños, cilantro and 2 tsp. vinegar. Pat it down into a compact layer in the bottom of the bowl, cover and chill for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a non-stick, flattish pan or griddle. Press the mixture into a 1 1/2″ ice cream scoop and drop onto the pan or griddle. Cook on both sides until golden and everything is heated through. Repeat to use all the mixture. You can keep them warm in a 225°F oven.

Serve drizzled with more rice wine vinegar.

Serves 6

 

Lamb with Rosemary and Port

These quick and and savory lamb steaks have a lovely pan sauce and are tender and flavorful.

1 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp.Worcestershire sauce
2 boneless lamb leg steaks
1 tbs. butter
1 sprig rosemary, needles chopped
1 fat clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup ruby port

Mix together the olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then smear it over the lamb with a pastry brush.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet and cook the steaks for 3-4 minute per side, depending on thickness. Wrap them in foil and leave to rest.

Add the butter to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Add the rosemary and garlic, then tip in the port and bubble until thickened.

Place the steaks on warmed plates and top with the sauce.

Serves 2

Tarragon Chicken

This fast version of the French classic Polet A L’estragon will remind you of proper, old-fashioned comfort cooking.

2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
2 fat or 4 skinny scallions, sliced
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1/3 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet or Dutch oven that has a lid and in which the chicken will fit snugly. Add the scallions and dried tarragon and stir for a minute. Season the chicken and place in the pan, curved side down. Cook for 5 minutes, watching that the scallions don’t burn – if they begin to, scrape them up and place them on the chicken.

Turn the chicken over and add the wine or vermouth. Let it bubble a bit, then put on the lid, turn the heat down and leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, then stir in the cream and bubble into a sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with fresh tarragon to serve.

Serves 2

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