Ricotta Hotcakes

These pancakes are light as air – the kind you want to eat in the garden on a summer’s morning.

1 cup plus 2 tbs. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
2 tsp. peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 pint strawberries, chopped or sliced, to serve
maple syrup, to serve

Put the ricotta, milk and egg yolks into a bowl and mix well to combine. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, then gently whisk to make a smooth batter.

Beat the egg whites until they become frothy and then fold them into the ricotta mixture.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or griddle and drop in heaped spoonfuls of batter. Cook the pancakes for about 1 minute until golden and bubbly, then flip them over and cook another minute. Keep the pancakes warm by tenting them with foil while you work your way through the batter. Serve with strawberries and maple syrup.

Sake Salmon and Rice

This is a classic Nigella Lawson recipe for a very good reason – it’s utterly delicious!

Marinade:
1 tsp. English mustard or wasabi paste
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 tbs. sake
2 salmon fillets
1 cup basmati rice
2 cardamom pods

Sauce:
1/4 cup sake
1 tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. fish sauce or brown rice vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. English mustard or wasabi paste
1-2 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro or parley, to garnish

To make the marinade, combine the mustard or wasabi, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, oil and sake in a freezer bag or shallow dish. Add the salmon and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

Bruise the cardamom pod and cook with the rice, following the package directions.

Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet and cook the salmon for 1-2 minuets per side. Remove and wrap in foil for 10 minutes.

For the sauce, bring the sake to a boil in a little saucepan to evaporate the alcohol, then take off the heat and add the remaining ingredients.

Divide the rice between 2 plates. Cut the salmon into slices and arrange on top. Pour the sauce over everything and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley to serve.

Serves 2

Soft White Dinner Rolls

These are heaven slathered with salted butter!

3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. caster sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 heaped tsp. butter

For the topping:
1 beaten egg
1 tbs. milk pinch salt
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Combine the 3 1/2 cups flour with the yeast, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Put the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the milk is warm and the butter has begun to melt.

Pour the milk/butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or wooden spoon to make a rough dough, adding more flour if the dough is too wet. Dump onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and silky. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch the air out of the dough and place on a floured work surface. Pull out walnut-sized pieces and form them into small balls. Place them on a greased or lined baking sheet about 1/4″ apart. You should get about 30 balls. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again in a warm place until they have puffed up.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Mix the egg with the salt and brush the dough balls, then sprinkle with the seeds. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them to a cooling rack or serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese

This is a GAME-CHANGER!!

1 lb. sweet potatoes
10 oz. baby penne or other short, small pasta (approx. 2 cups)
4 tbs. butter, softened
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. English mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika, plus 1/4 tsp. to sprinkle on top
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top
4 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. (A lid makes this go faster.)

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into rough 1″ pieces. When the water is boiling, add salt to taste and cook the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Scoop them out with a spider or slotted spoon, then mash them roughly. Do not throw out the water.

In another saucepan, gently melt the butter, then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Take the pan off the heat and slowly add the milk until everything is combined and smooth. Change to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the flour taste has cooked away and the sauce is thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the mustard, 1/4 tsp. of paprika and a bit of seasoning.

Cook the pasta in the reserved water according to package directions until just al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water, then drain and stir into the sweet potatoes. Stir in the feta cheese, then stir in the sauce and the 1 1/4 cups Cheddar cheese. Add some of the reserved cooking water if it seems too thick. Check seasoning again.

Spoon into 4 small overproof dishes (1 1/2-1 3/4″) or 1 baking dish (12×8″). Sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar cheese and paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter over.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is bubbly and everything is piping hot.

Tamarind-Marinated Flank Steak

The tamarind and soy sauces tenderizes the meat and impart a lovely sourness. Serve it thinly sliced on it’s own or in beef tacos. Leftovers make a wonderful salad.

3 tbs. tamarind paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water, from a recently boiled kettle
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. honey
1 1 3/4 lb. flank steak

Combine the tamarind paste, soy sauce and water in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the tamarind. Whisk in the oil and honey, then set aside to cool.

Put the flank steak into a resealable plastic bag and pour in the cold marinade. Squelch it around, then chill overnight or up to 1 day.

Bring the steak back to room temperature. Heat a ridged grill pan or BBQ to very hot. Shake off the marinade juices, then add the steak and cook for 2 minutes per side, or to your liking.

Immediately transfer the steak to a carving dish, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Carve thinly against the grain to serve.

Serves 6

Dirty Lemon Martini

Considering the situation, we have renamed these “Quarentinis. “We are advised by Nigella to, “sip elegantly or knock back as needed.”!

2 shots gin or vodka
1/2 shot white vermouth
1 tsp. juice from a jar of preserved lemons

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the three ingredients. Shake, then pour into a martini glass to serve.

Serves 1

Chicken Schnitzel with Bacon and White Wine

This speedy supper will satisfy everyone!!
1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
4 strips bacon
4 x 4 oz. chicken escalopes or boned and skinner breast tenders or thighs
1/3 cup white wine

Put the oil in a skillet and add the bacon. Fry until the bacon is cooked and the pan is full of bacon juices. Remove the bacon to a piece of foil and wrap to keep warm. Fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, or until cooked through. Make sure the pan is hot so that the chicken catches a little, turning is bronze.

Remove the chicken to a serving plate, then crumble in the bacon and pour in the wine. Bubble until slightly thickened, then pour over the chicken to serve.

Serves 4

Parmesan French Toast

While obviously a contender for Sunday brunch, this savory take on French toast is wonderful any time. Serve it with soups, stews or a simple roast chicken.

Parmesan French Toast

1 egg
3 tbs. finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbs. whole milk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 slices sourdough bread, not too thickly cut
1 tbs. butter
1/2 tbs. olive oil

Whisk together the egg, Parmesan, milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and paprika in a shallow dish that will fit the bread snugly.

Add the bread and let it sit for 2 minutes per side to soak up the liquid and soften slightly.

Warm the butter and oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Once the butter is beginning to bubble, add the bread. Cook until golden, then flip and cook on the other side. Transfer to a plate and serve.

 

Shrimp Pasta Rosa

This subtle and simple pasta is a pleasure both to make and to eat.

1 tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 tbs. garlic-flavored olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 oz. raw, peeled shrimp
5 tbs. red vermouth
8 oz. taglierini

Boil a large pot of water, then add a good bit of salt.

Stir together the tomato paste, milk and mascarpone and set aside.

In a wok or large pan, warm the olive oil and add the red pepper flakes, giving a stir in the heat before adding the shrimp. Stir-fry for a minute or two by which time they should be almost cooked through.

Pour in the vermouth and let it bubble excitedly. When it has reduced a little, add the sauce and stir until everything is hot.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package instructions, drain and toss with the shrimp and sauce. Divide between two bowls and serve immediately.

Served 2

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Bay Leaves and Balsamic Vinegar

Succulent and scented with fresh bay leaves, this is perfect and effortless for a Sunday lunch.

3 lb. boned and butterflied leg of lamb
6 fresh bay leaves, snipped, plus whole leaves to serve (optional)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the lamb in a shallow, sturdy roasting tin, skin-side down.

Scatter with the snipped bay leaves and half the salt, then pour over the oil and vinegar. Push the garlic slices into the crevices where you can and lay the rest on top. Leave to marinade for 30 minuets.

Turn the lamb over, so that now the skin side is up and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove and tent with foil for 15 minutes. Slice and place on a serving plate. Tuck extra whole bay leaves around the edges, if using.