Cuban Cure Black Bean Soup

This winter warmer is undeniably cozy.

2 -3 chorizos
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1x 425g tin black beans, drained
1 large tomato, chopped
150ml chicken stock
juice of 1 lime
chopped cilantro, to serve

Cut the chorizo into 1/4″ coins. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until they give up their pink oils. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the white part of the green onions along with the cumin. Stir together for a few minutes, then tip in the black beans, tomato and stock. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stir in the chorizo, then ladle into two bowls. Give each a good squirt of lime and scatter over the reserved green onions and the cilantro.

Serves 2

Roasted Seafood

The oven does all the work for you here. Feel free to swap in other types of seafood – scallops, chunks of salmon and mussels would be lovely as well.

1 1/2 lbs. white-skinned potatoes (about 3 baking potatoes)
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 small red onions
1 lemon
1/4 cup regular olive oil
12 small clams in their shell, soak in cold water and discard any that are opened
6-8 baby squid, tubes cut into rings
1 1/4 lb. raw large shrimp
3 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the potatoes, without peeling, into thick slices and each slice into quarters. Tip into a large roasting tin with the garlic. Quarter the onions and the lemon and add to the pan, then toss everything with 2 tbs. oil. Roast for 1 hour.

Arrange the seafood on top of the veg and splash with 1 tbs. of the oil and the wine or vermouth. Season well and roast for 15 further. Discard any clams that have not opened. Drizzle with the remaining oil and serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 4

 

Toad in a Hole

Little sausage patties are used in this delicious version instead of whole sausages. Serve with onion gravy or English mustard.

1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb. sausages
1 tbs. goose fat or oil
4 sprigs thyme

Heat the oven to 425°F. Whisk the milk, eggs, flour and a pinch of salt together and set aside.

Squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings and form into 12 little patties. Heat the oil in an oven-proof roasting pan and brown the patties on both sides. While the patties and the pan are still hot, pour in the batter and transfer directly to the oven. Cook for 40 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and the eggy middle is set.

Serves 4-6

Sweet Corn Chowder with Toasted Tortillas

Warm, fragrant and nourishing, this soup is wonderful.

6 cups frozen sweet corn, defrosted
3 scallions, trimmed and halved
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup semolina
5 cups hot vegetable stock
lightly salted tortilla chips
2 cups grated cheddar
2 long red chilis, deseeded and finely chopped

Place the corn, scallions, garlic and semolina in a food processor and blitz to a mush. Transfer to a pot and add the stock. Season, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the tortilla chips on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the cheddar and chilis. Bake for 5-10 minute, or until the cheese has melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the chips.

Serves 6

Sweet Saffron Rice

This versatile and vibrant rice will complement so many entrees.

1 1/3 cups basmati rice
1 cup superfine sugar
1 pinch saffron threads
1 1/4 cups water
2 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

Cook the rice following the package directions or your usual method.

Put the sugar, saffron and water in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Without stirring further, bring to a boil and bubble until the syrup reduces and thickens. Add the cloves and cardamom pods, then take off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes.

Stir the raisins (if using) into the cooked rice then toss in the syrup before serving.

Serves 8-10

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

Pasta with Anchovy Sauce

Called Bigoli con Salsa in Italian, this savory sauce is perfect with any type of pasta, but works especially well with long, robust pasta such as bucatini.

2 large onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, finely chopped
1 tbs. butter
tiniest pinch ground cloves
1 tbs. water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 lb. bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or linguini
1 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat for abut 10 minutes, or until you have a golden mush. Add the brown sugar and let the mixture cook another minute. Add the anchovies and stir until they begin to melt, then stir in the butter and cloves followed by the water. Gradually add the milk. When it has all come together, remove the pan from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in an abundant amount of salted water according to the package directions. Remove 1/2 cup of the water and drain.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and add enough of the reserved water to make a sauce. Sprinkle in most of the parsley, then spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Serves 8

Pink Picante Shrimp

If you don’t have pink peppercorns or can’t find them, simply use white one.

1 tbs. pink peppercorns, plus more to crush to decorate
1 tbs. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds, or seeds from 8 pods
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 egg whites
1 1/2 lb. raw, peeled and cleaned shrimp
2 tbs. vegetable oil

Crush the peppercorns, salt, cardamom seeds and paprika in a mortar and pestle until you have a nubbly mixture. Or you can grind them in a spice grinder.

Hand-whisk the egg whites until they are foamy, but not stiff. Dip the shrimp in the egg whites, then toss them with the peppercorn mixture.

Heat the oil a large pan and stir-fry the shrimp for 5-7 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove to a dish and sprinkle with more crushed peppercorns to serve.

 

Serves 6-8

Split Pea Soup and Frankfurter Soup

You can use either green or yellow split peas in this hearty and warming soup.

1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. ground mace
2 1/4 cups split peas
5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
8 hot dogs

Peel the onion, carrot and garlic, then cut into rough chunks along with the celery. Put everything in a food processor and blitz to finely chop.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and add the veggies. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, or until soft but not colored. Stir in the mace. Tip in the split peas and stir in the oil for a few minutes before adding 5 cups of the stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick.

Cook the frankfurters on a griddle, cut them into pieces and add to the soup.

Serves 6