Harira (lamb, chickpeas and spinach soup)

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Made this the other day for supper and it is absolutley incredible! I got the recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. He says in the intro ‘This is a variation on the traditional Moroccan harira soup, flavoured in the same way but without the extra carbs that are often added in the form of rice or pasta. Traditionally a meal for breaking the Ramadan fast, this hearty dish is perfect on a cold winter’s evening.’

I cannot tell you how flavoursome this dish is. It is best made the day before in my opinion – the flavours just develop even more incredibly. Please make this as soon as you can. Please!

INGREDIENTS – 

3 tbsp olive oil   500g cooked chickpeas
1 large onion, cut into 1cm dice
200g lamb neck fillet, cut into 1cm dice
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp caster sugar
1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
1.2 litres chicken stock or water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
a pinch of saffron strands
100g baby spinach
4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and black pepper

 METHOD

Add olive oil to a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry til soft and clear. Increase the heat – add the lamb. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it is sealed and taken on some colour. 

Add the tomato purée and sugar and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, drained chickpeas, stock and some salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to the boil. Reduce heat  and simmer. Cook for 35 – 50 minutes til lamb is tender.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the soup. Season with ground cumin, ginger and saffron. 

Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you wish.

When ready to serve, bring back to the boil. Wash and cut roughly the spinach and coriander and add to the soup just before you bring it to the table. Serve with lots of good bread! 

Lentil Bolognaise

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Worth another look at this one!

From Alfredo's With Love

Lentil Bolognaise

It was Nigel Slater’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to cook one of his newer dishes to mark the occasion. His writing, his cookery programmes and his approach to all things food is so encouraging and inspiring to writers like myself. The way he creates dishes like this one has given me so much confidence in creating my own recipes.

Hey, ok, enough of the eulogising!

This is a really tasty dish and a fab way to eat lentils.

For 4

2 carrots finely diced
1 onion finely sliced
3 tbsps of olive oil
230 gm Puy lentils (or any green ones will do if you cannot get Puy)
1 litre of chicken stock or veg stock
400 gm pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta
2 tbsps crème fraîche
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50 gm lardons – you could leave these out if you wish – esp. vegetarians!

Heat the oil…

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A Sea Bass and Giant Cous Cous Supper

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I created this recipe, like so many of us do, to use up some ingredients I had lingering in the fridge and store cupboard. But they had to go with the 2 sea bass filets I had just bought!

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Ingredients for 2 to 3

100 gm Giant Cous Cous – I use Merchant Gourmet brand

A little olive oil

1 tulip shallot diced

Half a red pepper thinly sliced

A bunch of flat leaf parsley

400 gm tinned tomatoes

1 red chilli deseeded and sliced thinly

2 sea bass fillets – or any white fish frankly!

A little water

Method

  1. Cook the cous cous as per the packet instructions – I pan fry them gently in a little olive oil for 5 minutes then add about 100 gm of water and let them simmer gently away for about 15 minutes. Then drain and put to one side.
  2. In a wok or large saute pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the chopped shallot, red pepper and chilli. Fry gently til the onion softens and starts to turn a little golden.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir. Season to taste.Cook gently for around 20 minutes. til you have a nice velvety sauce.
  4. Now add the cous cous and stir. 
  5. In a separate frying pan cook the fish in a little olive oil – skin side down first for 2 minutes then gently turn and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and flake away the white meat from the skin and add to the sauce. Gently move it around and then add a handful of chopped parsley.

Simple, I know, but stunning and sexy as fish suppers go!

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Stilton Mushrooms!

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A perfect wintery lunch! This is one of Nigel Slater’s favourites.

For 2

2 large portobello mushrooms, peeled and the stalk removed

3 knifefuls of unsalted butter – about 75 gm

A little water

A pinch of dried thyme

Some crumbled blue stilton – or any blue crumbly cheese really

A handful of chopped walnuts

All you do – pop a casserole dish on a medium heat, add the butter and when it melts add enough water to cover bottom of the dish. 

Add the mushrooms, gill side up – obviously! Sprinkle a little thyme onto each.

Pop on a lid and tuen the heat low. Let it bubble away for ten minutes – remove lid and spoon a little of the juice onto each mushroom. Lid goes back on for ten more minutes.

Then remove lid. Take pot off the leat and crumble stilton cheese onto top of each mushroom til the surface is covered. Then add several pieces of chopped walnuts onto each.

Pop back on the heat and whack it up high – after about 5 minutes the stilton will start to melt and the sauce will be bubbling and thickening.

When it has just melted, use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms onto a plate and spoon over the juices and any walnuts that have escaped!

See with crusty breadA winter lunch to impress. Can also be used as a side dish to a nice juicy steak!img_8120-jpg

Fennel and Chicken Soup

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A fabulous combination! And a great way to use up left over chicken…oh and one of my very favourite vegetables!

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Ingredients

1 fennel bulb – trimmed and cut roughly into 3 or 4 chunks.

1 tulip shallot – or a small onion if not available

1 litre of chicken stock

A pinch of saffron

A pinch or two of smoked paprika

A clove of garlic crushed

About 100 gm left over chicken meat – no skin

A little olive oil

50 gm unsalted butter

50 ml milk – optional

METHOD

Pop the fennel chunks in a food processor with the shallot and whizz until well shredded. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when warm add the fennel and onion. Pan fry gently for about ten minutes until the fennel becomes soft. 

Add the garlic. Stir for another minute or two. Pour in the chicken stock and add the saffron and paprika.  

Put a lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Pop the chicken in the food processor and whizz until broken down. Add to the soup. 

Simmer for a further 15 minutes with the lid off.

You could now add the milk – or cream if you want to be remarkably indulgent (!)  – and simmer for another minute – then remove from the heat , and blend down gently with a stick blender.

Serve with warm crusty bread!

I promise you, this is full of fabulous flavours!

 

 

Poached Plums in Red Wine with Walnut Mascarpone

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Perfect summer pud!

From Alfredo's With Love

IMG_5091 I post this more because I like the photo as much as anything for I know so many of you make dishes like this all the time -it is such a delicious way to eat plums! Anyway, I poached 2 plums per person, halved and stoned, placed in a casserole dish face down. I added enough good red wine until it came up to just over half way up the plums. I added several shavings of orange peel and a good tablespoon of muscovado sugar. Bring gently to the boil, pop a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes. I crushed a handful of walnuts and mixed them into the mascarpone, served it with the red wine sauce and a whole walnut to top off the mascarpone. Fabulous!

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Summer Salmon Salad

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A Fabulous Melange of Green leaves, Salmon and Giant Cous Cous!

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Simplicity itself! Arrange salad leaves of your choosing on a large platter. Pan fry 100 gm of giant cous cous in a little olive oil for about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Then add 200 ml of cold water. Add  pinch of cumin seeds and a pinch of smoked paprika and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring often. You may need to top up the water a little if it starts to dry out. Once it is ready leave to one side to cool then spread over your salad leaves. Add a couple of hot smoked salmon fillets broken up. Then add a few dashes of balsamic vinegar and mix gently.

You could always use lentils if you cannot get hold of any giant cous cous.

A great summer light lunch!

 

 

Spicy Sea Bass on a Basmati and Quinoa Bed

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A Perfect Summer Supper or lunch for two!

INGREDIENTS – for two

2 Sea bass fillets 

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

125 gm quinoa

125 gms brown basmati rice

6 baby plum tomatoes

1 clove garlic chopped

A small bunch of basil and stalks

1 level tsp each of thyme,rosemary and oregano

Pinch or two of dried crushed red chilli -up to you how much heat you like!

Handful of grated parmesan

Rock salt and black pepper

A splash of olive oil and a tbsp of  balsamic vinegar

METHOD

In a small pan add the garlic, dried herbs, the basil stalks chopped and the crushed red chilli… and then the olive oil. Heat gently. Once it just starts to fizz a little, take off the heat, let it cool a little and add the tomatoes, tinned and fresh. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the balsamic vinegar, stir and leave with a lid on for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 160c. 

Then cook the quinoa and brown basmati rice as per the instructions. Drain and put to one side when cooked. (You might want to do this first before the sauce if the basmati takes a while.)

In a shallow oven proof dish, scatter some torn basil leaves

Pour over the sauce. Pop the fillets on top. Season the fish with a little rock salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the grated parmesan and a few more torn basil leaves. Cover loosely with a sheet of tin foil.

Then slide it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Gently, with a fish slice, remove the sea bass fillets and pop on a warm plate.

Mix the quinoa and basmati rice into the sauce, then replace the fish, skin removed.

Serve and enjoy!

It’s a cracker and very, very tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon and Asparagus Kedgeree

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Spring meets India meets salmon…..meets my needs!

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A fab way to eat hot smoked salmon and asparagus with a cheeky hint of lime!

INGREDIENTS

Fine for 4 – or a good supper for 2 with a little for the next day!

  • 300g basmati rice
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hot curry paste or curry powder will do (Madras)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 225g hot smoked salmon, cut into chunks or flaked
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 8 asparagus spears chopped in to 2 inch pieces – blanched in hot water for 5 minutes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp each chopped fresh coriander and flatleaf parsley

METHOD

  • Pop the rice into a large heavy-based saucepan, pour over 700ml pints water and sprinkle in a good shake of salt. Cover and bring to the boil, then remove the lid and allow all the water to be absorbed – this should take about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover again and allow to steam dry.
  • Melt half the butter with the oil in a large frying pan. Stir in the curry paste or powder and cook until you start to smell the wonderful aromas.
  • Now add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown
  • Once the rice is cooked add the curry and onion mixture  and quickly stir to make sure all the buttery juices are absorbed and the rice is heated through. Now mix in the salmon, eggs, asparagus and lime juice.
  • Stir gently, add the herbs along with cubes of the remaining butter and serve in warm bowls.

A truly tasty and satisfying dish for a Spring weekend.

 

A sprout is for life…not just Christmas

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A great Saturday supper dish!

From Alfredo's With Love

Sprout, Pepper and Chicken Stir Fry

I want to extol the virtues of this marvellous vegetable (oft maligned unfairly) over the coming months, starting with this simple stir fry. The health benefits of greens are all publicised and out there on the web for you to check out – and sprouts come right near the top of the pops when it comes to all they have to offer to protect your body and keep it healthy.

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Ingredients for 4

600 gm of noodles – I used a ready to wok variety

12 sprouts, tailed, outer layer removed

1 long red pepper

3 chicken breast fillets

Bunch of spring onions, topped and tailed and finely sliced

For the sauce – 

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons sake (rice wine) – or dry sherry 

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoon soy sauce

Or you could just use, as i did…

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