Baby Eggplant with Oregano and Red Onion

This is a lovely side dish for any grilled or roasted entree.

1 1/4 lb. baby eggplant
3 tbs. regular olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 small red onion, cut in thin half moons
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tbs. cold water
few fresh oregano sprigs

Heat the oven to 425°F. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, keeping the stalks on. Pour the 3 tbs. olive oil in a very shallow roasting tin. Sprinkle in the dried oregano, add the eggplant, cut side down and swirl them gently around. Turn them cut side cup and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, by which time they should be tender and turning golden.

As soon as the eggplant is in the oven, put the onions in a small bowl and cover with the vinegar and salt.

Remove the eggplant to a platter. Whisk the onions with the 4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, the garlic and water. Spoon them over the warm eggplants, then leave for about half an hour to cool to room temperature. Scatter with fresh oregano leaves to serve.

Serves 6 as a side dish

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

Pork Steaks with Port and Figs

Nigella calls this “Pig and Fig” for obvious reasons. The best part is the rich and syrupy port laced pan sauce.

6 soft, dried figs
175ml Tawny part
1 tbs. plain flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. around cumin
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
4 thick-cut pork loin steaks
1 tsp. regular olive oil
2 tbs. butter
few drops Worcestershire sauce

Put the figs in a small saucepan, pour over the port and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let them bubble for about 10 minutes. The figs should be soft and swollen and the port reduced by about half. Remove from the heat.

Mix the flour, spices and salt in a freezer bag. Drop in the pork and shake to coat evenly.

Over a medium-high heat, war the oil and butter in a heavy-based skillet that will fit the pork snugly. Add the pork and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove to a plate.

To the skillet, add the figs, port and Worcestershire sauce. Over the heat, let it bubble for about 30 seconds, or until rich and syrupy. Pour over the pork and serve.

Serves 2

Yogurt Carton Cake

There is something completely charming about this cake. It begins by emptying a yogurt pot, then measuring the remaining ingredients using the pot. It is called “Chambella” in Italian and typically eaten for breakfast.

1 x 6oz. plain whole-milk yogurt carton (2/3 cup)
3 eggs, separated
1 carton vegetable oil (2/3 cup)
2 cartons caster sugar (1 1/3 cups)
2 capfuls vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cartons plain flour (1 2/3 cups)
1 carton corn starch (2/3 cup)
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ ring mold or savarin tin.

Scrape the yogurt out of it’s carton into a large bowl.  Beat in the egg yolks, then slowly beat in the oil. Add the vanilla and lemon zest. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and corn starch.

Fill the prepared tin with the smooth, soft batter (it will come to the top). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges come away and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake sit in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Shrimp

According to Nigella, this quick and delicious meal makes her feel, “smug and holy”!

2 tbs. water
2 tbs. sake
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. wasabi powder or 1 tsp. paste
2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 oz. shell-off large shrimp (fresh or frozen)
salad leaves, rice or noodles
fresh cilantro, to serve (optional)

Stir together the water, sake, salt, lime juice and wasabi.

Heat a small wok or skillet and add the olive oil and scallions. Stir about for a minute or two, then tip in the shrimp. Cook for 3 minutes or until they start to turn pinkish.

Add the liquid mixture and bring to a bubble, then cook for another 3 minutes stirring the shrimp in the sauce until completely cooked through. Serve over salad, noodles or rice with fresh cilantro, if using.

Serves 2

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Paired with New Orleans Cole Slaw, this is THE PERFECT picnic!

12 chicken drumsticks and/or bone-in, skin-on thighs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, skins removed and bruised
1 tbs. crushed peppercorns
1 tbs. kosher salt
1 ts. maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cumin

Place the chicken in a large freezer bag and add the remaining ingredients except for the 2 tbs. of oil. Squish it all together and marinade for at least 30 minutes. However, chilled overnight is better.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Shake the marinade off the chicken and place in a foil-lined roasting tin. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. Alternatively, you can BBQ them over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes per side.

Serves 6

 

New Orleans Cole Slaw

This is the accompaniment of choice for Buttermilk Roasted Chicken.

1 head white or savoy cabbage, about 2 lbs. before trimmed
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbs. maple syrup
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup toasted and chopped pecans

Trim and shred the baggage. Place in a large bowl and add the carrots, scallions and celery. Whisk together the mayonnaise, maple syrup and vinegar. Toss with the cabbage mixture and season. Toss in the pecans to serve.

Serves 6

Parmesan Shortbreads

Absolutely divine with a glass of bubbly. These freeze really well, so keep a stash in the freezer for impromptu guests!

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 tbs. soft butter
1 egg yolk

Mix all the ingredients together – using a bowl and spoon, mixer or food processor, as wished – until a golden dough begins to form a clump. Turn it out onto a surface and knead for about 30 seconds until smooth. Divide in two and make each into a cylinder about 1 1/4″ in diameter. Make sure the ends are flat, so that the cylinder resembles a coin roll. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days or freeze.

Heat the oven to 350°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into thick 1/2″ rounds and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be just beginning to turn a pale gold at the edges. Leave to cool before serving.

Makes 35-40

Lamb Cutlets with Mint, Chili and Golden Potatoes

This is a proper meat and potato supper that will delight everyone. Both dried mint and fresh mint are used for just the right amount of warming spice.

1 lb. baby white potatoes, halved but not peeled
3 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. celery salt
8 lamb chops, frenched
4 cups arugula
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint
1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Put the baby potatoes on to steam until just tender.

In a large, shallow dish, into which the chops will all fit in an even layer, add the oil with the dried mint, chili flakes and celery salt. Use one of the chops to smooch in all together, then add all of the chops, turning in the oil. Leave to marinate for 10 minuets.

Heat a large, heavy skillet or the grill to medium heat. Cook the chops for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how well you like them done. Remove and let them rest. Tip the potatoes into the skillet and cook until golden, 3-5 minutes. If grilling the chops, tip the oil from the marinade into a skillet and add the potatoes. Proceed as above.

Scatter the arugula onto a platter and top with the chops, potatoes, fresh mint and fresh parsley. Season to your liking.

Serves 3-4

Lemon Risotto

This luscious risotto is delicately scented with lemon and a bit of rosemary adds just the right amount of earthiness.

2 shallots
1 rib of celery
1/4 cup butter
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1/3 cups risotto rice
4 cups vegetable stock
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 small sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle
4 tbs. heavy cream

Put the shallots and celery in a mini food processor and blitz to a fine mush. Heat half the butter and all the oil in a wide saucepan and add the shallots and celery. Cook gently to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, letting it get a good coating of the oil and butter.

Meanwhile, heat the stock in another saucepan, then keep on low.

Pour a ladleful of the stock into the rice and stir until it is incorporated. Continue doing this until the rice is al dente. You may not need all the stock, or you might need more water from the kettle, depending on your rice.

Stir the lemon zest and rosemary into the risotto. In small bowl, combine the lemon juice, egg yolk, Parmesan and cream. When the risotto is ready, stir this in along with the remaining butter. Season well and serve with more Parmesan grated over the top.

Serves 2 as supper or 4 as a side