Lamb and Date Tagine

This is a lovely and luscious stew – sweet and rich – just right for a cozy supper.

3-4 tbs. goose fat or olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground allspice
2 lbs. cubed lamb shoulder
1 cup soft, dried, pitted dates
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup water
2 tsp. sea salt flakes

Warm the goose fat or oil in a large, shallow pan that has a lid. Add the onion and cook gently over a low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cumin and allspice.

Turn up the heat and add the meat, turning it patiently in the pan so that it sears evenly. Drop in the dates, pour in the pomegranate juice and water, then add the salt and bring to a bubble.

Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 2 hours. Alternatively, you can cook it for 2 hours in the oven at 300°F.

Breakfast Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cacao Nibs

This brilliant banana bread is even better toasted and spread with butter. Keep over-ripped bananas in the freezer and when they defrost, they are ready to mash!

2 very ripe or over-ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup when mashed)
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup plain, runny yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup light and mild olive oil
2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon or 1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cup cacao nibs

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a standard loaf tin with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a free-standing mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand) combine the mashed  bananas with the eggs, one at a time. Add the yogurt or buttermilk and the oil and beat together. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon or cardamom and mix well. Fold in the cacao nibs. Spread into the prepared tin.

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, then lift if out using the sides of the parchment paper. Wrap with more parchment paper, then aluminum foil and keep for a day before eating.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino

Simple perfection – pasta at it’s very best.

3 oz. spaghetti
3-4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 fat clove garlic (or 2 smaller) peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 dried red chili pepper or a fat pinch of chili flakes
chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Put a pan of water on for the pasta. When it comes to a boil, add salt and then the spaghetti. When you are about 3 minutes away from the pasta being ready, add the oil and garlic to another pan. Crumble in the dried red chili or flakes and stir over a medium heat. When the garlic has taken on a light golden color, add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta and tip into the olive oil sauce. Toss well and check for seasonings.

Serves 1

Spatchcock Chicken with Miso and Sesame Seeds

Not that it’s difficult to do it yourself, but you can now buy a spatchcocked chicken in U.S. markets!! (Look for the Bell and Evans brand.) It halves the cooking time needed and the chicken roasts to succulent perfection.

1 tbs. vegetable oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
4 tsp. sweet white miso
1 tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbs. freshly grated ginger
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 chicken, spatchcocked
2 tsp. sesame seeds

Mix together the vegetable oil, 1 tsp. of the sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger and garlic. Place the chicken in a large freezer bag, add the sauce mixture and squidge everything together. Place in the fridge to marinate overnight.

About an hour before you want to roast the chicken, take it out of the fridge and put it and the marinade in a shallow, roasting tin. Leave to come to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Cover the chicken with foil and roast for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil, baste with some of the pan juices and sprinkle over the remaining sesame oil and the sesame seeds. Put it back in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving with any pan juices spooned on top.

Serves 4-6

Salted Chocolate Tart

Typically this marvelous tart is made in a 10″ springform pan, but as you can see, it makes a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert when made into a heart. Either way, it is devine.

For the base:

28 Oreo cookies
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3 tbs. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. smoked sea salt flakes (Maldon makes a wonderful one)

For the filling:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3 tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
7 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp. instant espresso powder or strong instant coffee powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. smoked sea salt flakes

Snap the cookies into pieces and drop into the bowl of a food processor. Do likewise with the chocolate and whizz into crumbs. Add the butter and salt and blitz until everything clumps together. (To do this by hand, bash the cookies with a rolling pin in a sealed plastic bag, finely chop the chocolate and melt the butter. Stir everything together in a bowl.) Tip into a 10″ springform pan, pushing it with a wooden spoon into the bottom and up the sides. Chill and harden at least 1 hour, but not more than a day.

For the filling, finally chop the chocolate. Put the cornstarch into a cup and whisk in the milk until smooth. Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan into which all the ingredients can fit. Add the chopped chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder, sugar, vanilla, olive oil and sea salt flakes. Place over a medium heat and whisk until melted and smooth.

Off the heat, whisk in the cornstarch mixture until fully incorporated. Put it back on a low heat and mix with a wooden spoon until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not let it boil. When ready, it should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, and if you run your finger through it, the line should stay. Pour into a large measuring cup. Take a piece of parchment paper and run it under the cold tap. Wring it out, scrunch it up and place it over the chocolate. Chill for 15 minutes.

Smooth the chocolate in the base, cover and chill overnight. Remove 10 minutes before serving and untold, living the base pan on.

Serves 12

 

Salmon with Mustard and Dill Creme Fraiche

This lovely little salmon recipe is fast, fresh and fabulous!

2 salmon fillets
1/2 tsp. with wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/3 cup creme fraiche
4 tsp. wholegrain mustard
4 tsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
cornichons, to serve, optional

 

In a small dish, sprinkle in the vinegar, cumin and dried dill. Add the salmon, turn over once and leave while you carry on with the sauce. Put the creme fraiche into a small mixing bowl and add the mustard and most of the fresh dill.

Now cook the salmon. Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan and put the salmon in curved side down. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for 1 minute on the other side for a soft-centered salmon, or a few minutes longer if you like your salmon more cooked.

Serve the salmon with the sauce spooned over and sprinkled with the remaining fresh dill and cornichons, if using.

Serves 2

Cosmo Cocktail Sausages

These little savory gems are bursting with flavor and perfect for a drinks party.

2 tbs. fine cut or shredless orange marmalade
2 tbs. cranberry sauce or loganberry jam
2 tbs. lime juice
1 splash of vodka (optional)
50 cocktail sausages

Heat the oven to 400°F.

In an ovenproof dish, stir together the marmalade, cranberry sauce, lime juice and vodka, if using. Toss in the sausages and bake for 25-30 minutes if they are raw. If the sausages are already cooked bake for 10-12 minutes.

Serves 8-10

Chicken Teriyaki

This is fast and fabulous – so much better than any takeaway.

2 tbs. sake or sherry
4 tbs. mirin
4 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
splash of sesame oil
1 3/4 lbs. chicken thigh fillets, cut or scissored into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. peanut oil
2 cups sushi rice, cooked

Mix together the sake or sherry, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Toss in the chicken and leave for 15 minutes. Or do this earlier and keep in the fridge.

Heat the peanut oil in a large, shallow skillet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the skillet and cook over a medium heat until they look cooked on the outside. Pour in the marinade and bubble until the marinade is reduced to a thick, dark syrup and the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve with sushi rice.

Serves 4-6

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

This warm and warmly scented side is perfect with roast chicken! Use any color of cauliflower you fancy.

1 small head cauliflower
3 tbs. regular olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained
1-2 tbs. harissa
4 smallish ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. sea salt flakes or kosher salt
3-4 tbs. pomegranate seeds
2 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil in a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, then toss in the cauliflower. Tip onto a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl.

Add the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes to the bowl and toss well. Add this to the baking dish and roast for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and give a good stir.

Arrange the parsley onto two plates and spoon everything on top, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2