Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Yet another use for rotisserie chicken!

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
4 slices bacon
1/2 iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2 small avocados, scooped into chunks
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
pepper to taste
splash more olive oil, if needed
1 tbs. chopped chives, to serve

Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool, then crumble. Do do throw out the oil in the pan.

Put the lettuce, chicken, avocado and bacon in a large bowl. Add the mustard and vinegar along with a good grinding of pepper to the skillet and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and toss to dress. Drizzle in more olive oil, if needed. Sprinkle with the chives, to serve.

Serves 3-4

Basil Pesto

This classic, multi-use sauce can also be made with wild garlic or ramps when they are in season from March to June. Delish!

2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped
4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
7 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt to taste

Put the basil and Parmesan in a small food processor and blitz to grind. With the motor running, gradually pour in the olive oil until you have a smooth sauce. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve over cooked and drained pasta.

Pantry Paella

This is a wonderful way to use up any pork leftovers.

pinch saffron threads
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbs. regular olive oil
3 scallions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups paella or risotto rice
2 cups chicken stock
8 oz. raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
1 cup squid tubes, sliced (defrost if frozen)
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked pork
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Drop the saffron threads into a small saucepan and add the sherry. Place over a low heat and warm, not letting it come to a boil. Leave to cool.

Heat the oil in a large, wide pan and cook the scallions for a few minutes.  Stir in the garlic and the rice. Pour in the chicken stock and the saffron-infused sherry. Stir gently to mix, then leave to simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp, squid, pork and peas. Season well and continue to simmer until the shrimp and squid are cooked and the rice is tender.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 4

 

Bourbon-Glazed Ribs

A classic summer supper, with these tender ribs, it’s all about the sauce.

24 pork spare ribs or 2 racks baby back ribs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
175ml bourbon
2 tbs. yellow American mustard
2 tbs. tomato ketchup
2 tbs. soy sauce

Cut the ribs into sections of 3-4 and place in a zip-lock bag. Tip in the remaining ingredients and squelch everything together well. Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the ribs in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, turning half way through. (Or, grill over a medium heat for a total of 20 minutes, turning often.)

Tip the remaining marinade into a small pan and gently bubble to reduce. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and serve with the sauce.

 

 

Salmon Fish Cakes

If you fancy tartar sauce, by all means, serve it alongside these lovely fish cakes.

For the fish cakes:

1 1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 lb. canned salmon
1 tbs. melted butter (if the potatoes don’t already have any butter in them)
fat pinch cayenne pepper
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
salt and pepper

For the coating and cooking:

2 eggs
scant 1/2 cup matzo meal (or other bread crumb)
scant 4 tbs. butter
2 tbs. vegetable oil

In a large bowl, tip in all the ingredients for the fish cakes. Gently mix together with your hands, then form into 7 – 9 palm-sized patties. Place on a baking sheet and chill for at least 20 minutes.

When ready to cook, beat the eggs in a shallow, wide bowl and sprinkle the matzo meat into a large plate. One by one, dip the fish cakes into the beaten egg and then into the matzo meal. Return to the baking sheet.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and fry the fish cakes until the outside is golden and the inside is warmed through.

Serves 4

Apple Pork Chops with Sauerkraut Slaw

Acid is so important to how food tastes and here the tartness of sauerkraut complements the juicy pork chops perfectly.

1 1/2 cups sauerkraut
1 Gala apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tsp. caraway seeds
good grinding black pepper
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. chopped fresh dill or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tbs. vegetable oil
2 pork chops
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
4 tbs. apple juice

Tip the sauerkraut into a colander and press out as much liquid as you can, then leave to drain for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the apple, caraway seeds, pepper, olive oil and dill. Set aside.

Season the pork and add the vegetable oil to a heavy skillet. Cook the pork for 5-6 minute per side over a medium-hot heat, or until cooked through. Or grill the chops to your liking. Remove and cover in foil. Add the cloves and apple juice to the skillet and bubble into a rich syrup. Serve drizzled over the pork with the sauerkraut on the side.

Conversely, you can grill the pork and reduce the cloves and apple juice in a small saucepan.

Serves 2

 

Beef and Beans with Pasta

What’s better than a comforting bowl of pasta? The fact that everything is cooked in one pot!

1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 medium carrot
1 medium celery stalk
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 x 14oz. tin beans, drained – red kidney, cannellini, ect.
2 cups beef stock
1 x 14 oz. chopped tomatoes
2 tbs. ketchup
2 tbs. red wine (optional)
1 tbs. Italian herbs
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
1 2/3 cup macaroni
grated Parmesan, to serve

Put the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in a food processor and whiz to a chunky rubble. Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the veggies until soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned.

Add the beans, beef stock, tomatoes, ketchup, red wine (if using) herbs and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then tip in the pasta. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, adding more stock if necessary. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan scattered on top.

Jumbo Chili Sauce

This savory sauce is good with so many things, but it is especially delicious with roasted duck.

12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 red or green chilies, deseeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
zest and juice of lime
3 1/2 cups (lightly packed) cilantro leaves
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil

Tip the peppers, chilies, garlic, lime zest and juice, cilantro leaves and salt in a small food processor. Blitz, then pour in the oil with the motor running to make a thick sauce. The sauce can be keep chilled for up to a week.

 

Pronto Pig Feast

Here is a double quick, double pork supper!

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
4 thin, streaky slices bacon
6 pork escallops (medallions cut from a pork tenderloin)
1/3 cup Marsala
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add the pork and cook for 4-5 minute on each side, depending on how thick they are. Remove and cover with foil. Tip the Marsala and butter into the skillet and bubble to reduce.

Pour the sauce over the pork, crumble the bacon on top and scatter with chives to serve.

Serves 2

Cod and Cannellini

Creamy cannelli beans and tender cod are perfect partners in this speedy and super supper.

3/4 lb. cod, regular or smoked
small sprig parsley, stalks removed and leaves chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. peppercorns
1 celery stalk, halved
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup white wine
2 x 14oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. chopped chives, optional

Put the fish in a large skillet with the parsley stalks, bay leaves, peppercorns and celery. Pour in the water and wine and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with foil and simmer in the poaching liquid for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove to the foil and keep warm.

Keep about 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid, then drain off the rest. Add the beans to the skillet, warming them in 1/3 cup reserved liquid for about 3 minutes, adding more liquid  if necessary. Turn off the heat, add the oil and most of the chopped parsley, then lay in the fish. Stir everything together, breaking up the fish a little. Check the seasoning, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and chives, if using.