Italian Tomato and Pasta Soup

Here is a fresh and delicious way to use tomatoes. Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to amp up the color and flavor.

6 large, ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs.
3 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups cold water
1 tsp. kosher salt or 1/2 tsp. table salt
good grinding of black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
sour cream and chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic cloves. When they start to sizzle, remove them and discard. Tip in the onions and cook over a medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, or until softened.

Drain the tomatoes. Peel off the skins, roughly chops and remove the seeds. Add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes to softened. Pour in the cold water and add the salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Puree with a stick blender, then tip in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender. Ladle into bowl and serve with sour cream and parsley on top.

Serves 4

Greek Lamb Chops with Lemon and Potatoes

This dinner party-worthy recipe is a jot to make and the oven does all the work.

12 lamb chops
3 large, white skinned potatoes, skin left on and cubed into 1″ pieces
3 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
2 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
2 lemons, zested
handful fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the lamb into a large roasting tin, then tumble in the potatoes. Drizzle over the oil, scatter with the mint, red pepper flakes, salt and lemon zest.

Cook for 45 -55 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked and the potatoes tender. Served sprinkled with the parsley and/or dill.

Serves 6

Coconut and Chili Salmon

You can also marinate the salmon in chunks, thread it on skewers and grill each kebab for 15 minutes.

2 small Thai green chilis, chopped, or 2 x 4oz. can green chilis
6 scallions, roughly chopped
small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tbs. Thai fish sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 2/3 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk (14 oz.)
1 tsp. sugar
2 lbs. salmon fillets, skinned

Put the chilis, scallions and cilantro in a food processor and blitz to finely chop. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk and sugar. Blend into a paste.

Put the salmon in a freezer bag and pour in the sauce. Chill and leave for at least 1 hour. Grill for 5-6 minutes per side, or to your liking.

Meanwhile, put any extra sauce in a small saucepan and bubble for 5 minutes to thicken. Serve spooned over the salmon.

Serves 8 – 10

Salmon and Sushi Rice with Hot, Sweet and Sour Asian Sauce

Not just for salmon, this piquant sauce would be delicious on most any seafood.

2 1/2 cups sushi rice
1 lb. piece of skinless salmon fillet
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 red or green chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbs. minced ginger root 1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs. sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. lime juice

Cook the rice following the package directions.

Sear the salmon in a flat griddle or skillet for 4-5 minute on one side, then 1-2 minutes on the other side, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Remove to a large piece of foil, wrap and set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together. Scoop some rice into a bowl, top with chunks to the salmon and spoon over the sauce.

Serves 4-6

Peanut Butter Hummus

Peanut butter replaces tahini in this wonderful version of the classic chickpea-based dip.

2 x 15oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
3-5 tbs. olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1/3 cup regular peanut butter
3 tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 – 1/2 cup Green yogurt

Place the chickpeas, garlic clove, 3 tbs. of oil, peanut butter, lemon juice, salt, cumin and 1/3 cup yogurt in a food processor. Blitz to a nubbly puree. Add more oil and yogurt if the mixture is not creamy enough. Check the seasoning, spoon into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Serves 10

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 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