Spring Chicken

Fresh and flavorful, this has all the lovely elements for a Springtime supper.

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or lardons of bacon
12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
1 leek, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding black pepper
1 cup dry hard cider or white vermouth
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
large handful shredded romaine or arugula
2 tbs. chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until they begin to color. Add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Turn them over and tip in the leeks, celery, garlic, dried tarragon, salt, pepper and cider or vermouth. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and bubble 10 minutes more. Add the mustard, romaine or arugula and the fresh tarragon, if using.

Serves 6

Slut’s Spaghetti

This deeply flavored dish is known as Pasta Puttanesca in Italy but as “Whore’s Spaghetti” in England. Too funny!

3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes or 1 red or jalapeño chili, deseeded and minced
1 lb. spaghetti
1 x 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups drained black olives
2 tbs. drained capers, rinsed
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Tip the oil into a wide, shallow skillet over a medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook for 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon until they have melted into the oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes or chili and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions in boiling, well salted water. Remove a cup of water from the pasta, then drain it and add it to the skillet. Toss well and add more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Serves

4 – 6

Cottage Pie

Everyone loves a cottage pie. This version uses already cooked meat – it’s perfect for left overs.

For the topping:
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tbs. butter
1/4 cup milk

For the filling:
1 tbs. olive oil
few sprigs of parsley, minced
1 large shallot or small onion, minced
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1 small to medium carrot, peeled and minced
1 cup left over cooked meat, cubed
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup milk
2 tbs. heavy cream
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. shredded cheddar (optional)

To make the topping, put the potatoes in a saucepan with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft enough to easily mash. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. Set aside.

For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy-based skillet and add the parsley, shallot, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook over a gentle heat until soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the meat and a little more oil if necessary. Sprinkle over the flour, stir it for 2-3 minutes, then tip in the tomatoes and bubble over a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and cream and season well.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spoon the filling into a baking dish, top with the mash and sprinkle with the cheddar, if using. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serves 4

Spiced Nuts

This recipe appears in Nigella’s Christmas book where it is titled “Seasonally Spiced Nuts”. They are so delicious, they should not be limited to the holidays.

4 cups mixed nuts of your choice
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. light brown sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, needles finely chopped
Maldon or other sea salt, to sprinkle

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over a medium heat. When hot, tip in the nuts along with the garam masala and celery salt. Push them about for 3-4 minutes to toast lightly. Add the olive oil, brown sugar and rosemary. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes to coat all the nuts evenly. Tip onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Pork and Apple Hot Pot

To make your own apple pie spice, stir together 1 tbs. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1 tsp. allspice.

3 tbs. oil
3 onions, halved sliced
6 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. apple pie spice
6 boneless pork loin chops
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups sharp apple juice

Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a heavy oven-proof pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and add the bacon. Cook until crisp then remove. 

Put the flour and apple pie spice in a plastic bag with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops and shake to coat. Shake off the excess and sear in the pan, adding more oil if needed. Remove the pork and add half the onions, bacon and apples to the pan, followed by half of the pork chops. Repeat. Pour in the apple juice. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours until the apples are tender.

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