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