Main Courses

Za’atar-Crusted Prawns with Bulgar Wheat and Herb Salad

This is a lovely, fast recipe, ideal for a lunch or supper with family and friends. I only came across Za’atar recently but I think it might be creeping into a few more recipes. It gives the prawns a unique aromatic and tangy flavour that worked really well with the bulgar wheat salad. Fresh, light and really quite lovely!

Serves 4

What you need…

24 large raw king prawns

4 tablespoons za’atar

½ tablespoon plain flour

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

for the salad

120g bulgar wheat

Splash of olive oil

1 red onion, sliced finely

200g pomegranate seeds

6 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and diced

A handful of dill, chopped

A large handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

A handful of coriander, chopped

1 handful of mint, chopped

Lemons wedges to serve

for the dressing

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground sumac

1 teaspoon runny honey

What to do…

For the salad, cook the bulgar wheat according to the packet instructions (mine was to put 600ml of water into a saucepan with the bulgar wheat, bring to the boil, cover and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the onion. Cook gently until the onion is just starting to soften, then increase the heat and allow it to brown just a little. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Then make the dressing: tip all the ingredients into a screw top jar, pop on the lid and shake like mad. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the za’atar, flour, salt and pepper. Tip in the prawns and mix together so that the prawns are evenly covered.

When you are about ready to eat, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in your frying pan and sauté the prawns over a moderate heat until they are delightfully pink,

In a pretty salad bowl, tip the cooled bulgar wheat and onion as well as the pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, cucumber and herbs. Stir to evenly combine. Shake the dressing again and tip over the salad. Toss everything together. Divide the salad between 4 plates and then top with the za’atar-crusted prawns. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy this unusual and rather lovely dish.

Tips…

Most supermarkets sell pomegranate seeds, ready prepared.

Make the dressing in advance and keep in the fridge until needed.

Prepare the salad in advance and cover with cling film but don’t put the dressing on until the last minute otherwise the salad will go soggy.

What is Za’atar…

Usually a combination of dried thyme, sesame seeds and sumac but there are variations on the theme. I’ve seen it in lots of Middle Eastern-inspired recipes.

What is Sumac…?

A tangy lemony spice used often in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking.

Inspired by…

Leiths How to Cook

How easy…

Just an assembly job really and you can do most of it in advance.

 

 

Dad’s Paella

There were several drivers for starting this blog and one of them was that hardly any of my dad’s recipes were retained and he’s no longer around to share them and, he was a great cook. So, to have family favourites photographed and typed up seemed like a good plan – not morbid – the kids and their friends are already delving into the list of nearly 300 recipes that have been published so far.

Anyway, all that aside, Dad used to make great paella and his recipe was actually retained. I have no idea whether it’s authentic but it’s oh-so tasty – intensely flavoured to savour the images of beachside chiringuitos basking in the Mediterranean sunshine – absolutely delicious!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

8 chicken thigh fillets

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

100g pancetta, chopped

70g chorizo, chopped (optional: I can’t stand the stuff so left it out)

4 large tomatoes, chopped

600ml hot water from the kettle

2 chicken stockpots

250ml dry white wine

2 bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

2 mugs long grain rice (about 450g)

Saffron

24 fresh mussels, cleaned

2 fresh squid, thinly sliced

500g clams (I couldn’t get fresh so used ‘Big & Juicy Delicious Clams’ by the Big Prawn Company, Waitrose)

250g raw king prawns

1 mug frozen garden peas

A handful of parsley, chopped

Lemon wedges, to serve

What to do…

First, make your chicken stock by using a balloon whisk to help dissolve the chicken stockpots into the hot water from the kettle. Set aside.

In a large frying pan (I don’t get on with paella pans – the rice always sticks) heat the oil over a moderate heat and then sauté the chicken until golden brown.

Chuck in the onions, garlic and red pepper. Add in the pancetta and chorizo, if using, and sauté until soft.

Chuck in the tomatoes, chicken stock, wine and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together.

Add the rice, some saffron, the mussels, squid and clams, if they’re fresh. If however you’ve bought pre-cooked clams like I did, hold them back until later.

Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking on how the saffron is colouring the rice, adding a little more if you would like a deeper yellow colour.

This is also a good time to pour yourself a glass of Rioja to enjoy, together with the fabulous cooking aromas, during the rest of the paella preparation.

Finally, add in the cooked clams, prawns, peas and parsley, cooking for 10 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink.

Serve flamboyantly if possible (I just feel that paella deserves some kind of a grand entrance) with lemon wedges to a group of chattering family and friends with several glasses of good Rioja!

Tips…

The quantity of mussels, clams and prawns is obviously taste-dependent. One of the joys of this recipe is that you can adapt the ingredients to suit your personal preferences, hence the many varieties of paella available.

My dad added to the bottom of the recipe, ‘Cooked lobster is supposed to go in this as well’, but I don’t think it needs it and that this is a flamboyant step too far!

Dad's Paella 2 w

Inspired by…

Dad

How easy…

Very easy and very relaxed to make as well as such a delight to enjoy.

Salmon with Sorrel and Vermouth Sauce

This is a simple dish but the flavour of the sauce is absolutely incredible – on first tasting my words were, “ Oh wow, I wish I’d made more!’ I love salmon and I’m always looking for different ways of preparing it: this is going to be a regular – such a treat!

Serves 2

What you need…

1 x baking tray, covered in foil

200g salmon fillet, cut into 2cm-thick slices

1 shallot, chopped finely

75ml vermouth

75ml dry white wine

150ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

50g sorrel leaves, sliced finely

Your favourite salad leaves (I like a mix of iceberg, basil, rocket and chicory)

House dressing (see below)

For the house dressing

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons runny honey

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

150ml rapeseed oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon basil leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon thyme leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, knock up the fabulous salad dressing: place the egg yolk in a bowl with the mustard, honey and cider vinegar. Use an electric handheld whisk to beat together. Then, gradually add the oil, whisking the whole time, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste, whisk to thoroughly incorporate and then pour into a screw top jar and pop in the fridge until needed.

When you’re about ready to eat, pop your salmon slices on the foil and set aside.

Heat a medium saucepan until hot and then tip in the shallot, vermouth and white wine, cooking for about 5 minutes until reduced by half. Add the cream and cook for 2-3 minutes until reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile, pop your salmon under the grill for 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Chuck all your salad leaves into a serving bowl.

Season the sauce to taste and then stir in the sorrel leaves. Divide the sauce between 2 plates and then place salmon slices on the top.

Drizzle some house dressing over the salad leaves and toss to thoroughly coat. Serve salad alongside the fabulous salmon and sauce. Absolutely fabulous!

Tips…

The only finicky element to this recipe is the preparation of the delightful salad dressing so I prepared mine in advance and chucked it all in a screw top jar to be kept in the fridge. The quantity made is double what is required so the remainder can be used for another salad – the dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.

I struggled to find sorrel in supermarkets, but it’s dead easy to grow in the garden and has a lovely, unique fresh, slightly lemony flavour that’s great raw in salads.

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Once the salad dressing was sorted, dead easy and dead quick…and fabulously delicious!

Spicy Baked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Aaaaah, such a treat and oh so simple with the added bonus that they are really satisfying to make! The meatballs are gently spiced so that your tastebuds get a lovely hit but aren’t overpowered and the tomato sauce is just really easy and a perfect foil for those lovely meaty balls! Absolutely perfect as a midweek family supper…time and time again! Will definitely be a favourite in our house.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x large baking tray, lined with tin foil

500g beef mince

1 large onion, finely chopped

50g panko bread crumbs

A large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillis

Sea salt and black pepper

To serve, pasta of your choice (I prefer gluten-free spaghetti)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 200˚f /gas6.

Take a large, roomy mixing bowl and tip in the beef, onion, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, garlic salt, chilli and egg. Mix until thoroughly and evenly combined and then – my favourite bit – scoop out small amounts of mixture and roll it between your hands to create a ball somewhere between the size of a walnut and golf ball – your choice! This bit is most satisfying – no idea why… Repeat until you’ve run out of mixture and then place the meatballs on your baking tray in a single layer, drizzle with the oil and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your simple but perfect sauce. Into a medium saucepan, tip in the tinned tomatoes, caster sugar and crushed chillis. Season with salt and pepper, stir and leave over a moderate heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and tip into the pan with the tomato mixture. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To cook the pasta, follow the instructions on the packet – I heated my salted water as soon as the meatballs went into their sauce. By the time the water came to the boil and then the pasta cooked, it was about the 25 minutes that the meatballs were nestling in their tomato sauce.

Whilst all this is going on, pour a glass of wine (red in my case) and carefully remove the foil from the baking tray – screw up and discard, returning your clean baking tray to the cupboard without any cleaning – a small joy but it makes me happy!

Take 4 large pasta bowls and heap in the pasta before topping with these luscious meatballs and their luscious sauce – so lovely and comforting – a top up of that glass of red wine doesn’t go amiss either – cheers!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Easy, relaxing and you can clear up and sip wine whilst it’s doing its cooking thing!

 

 

 

 

Salmon with Tiger Prawns

A fast and fabulous supper dish, this recipe comes from my good friend, Julie, who recommended it as a great and different way of serving salmon. It is just that and more – it’s easy and quick and tastes absolutely great: the salmon’s all dressed up with a lovely topping that enhances it’s flavour and has the wonderful combination of a rich sauce and crispy, crunchy topping – perfect for a mid week supper that tastes like a bit of a treat!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, liberally buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

4 x 150g middle-cut salmon fillets, skinned

Sea salt and black pepper

1 small packet plain potato crisps, crushed

A sprinkling of paprika

Fresh parsley, to garnish

for the topping

150g Boursin cheese

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

12 cooked tiger prawns, shelled

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚ / gas 6.

For the topping, mix together the Boursin, egg yolk, lemon juice and parsley until smooth. Season to taste. Stir in the prawns so that they are completely coated.

Arrange the salmon fillets on your baking tray. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over the topping evenly, making sure that each fillet receives 3 prawns! Sprinkle over crushed crisps and sprinkle with paprika.

Pop into the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. That’s it – fast and fabulous!

Inspired by…

My friend Julie and I believe her friend, Ali; and before them, it’s difficult to tell from the ripped out, folded and scanned page that I am very grateful to have received!

How easy…

So easy, so quick, so tasty!

Black Pudding and Smoked Haddock Hash with Hollandaise Sauce

Rich and decadent and yet wholesomely earthy, this is a wonderfully unusual dish and is at the same time both comforting as well as tasting rather treat-like. Essentially, rather lovely with the added bonus of being ideal for breakfast, brunch or supper!

Serves 4

What you need…

500ml milk

1 bay leaf

5 fillets smoked haddock

50g butter

2 small red onions, chopped finely

300g new potatoes, cooked and roughly sliced

200g black pudding, peeled and roughly sliced

4 happy eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quartered

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

A handful fresh parsley, chopped finely

Wholegrain mustard (optional)

for the hollandaise sauce

200g butter

4 happy egg yolks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

What to do…

First, pour the milk into a medium saucepan, chuck in the bay leaf and bring the milk to the boil. Slide in the fish, bring to the boil again and then remove from the heat, allowing the haddock to gently cook in the warm milk as you make the sauce and the rest of the main dish.

Starting with the sauce: in a small saucepan, gently melt the butter. Meanwhile, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain marie) tip in the egg yolks, lemon juice and Dijon mustard and whisk together using a handheld electric whisk.

Transfer the melted butter to a jug and very, very gradually add it to the egg yolks, a little at a time, whisking the whole time, to create a smooth, thickened sauce. Taste and adjust the flavour by whisking in a little more Dijon or wholegrain mustard, if liked. Take the bain marie off the heat but keep the bowl over the water to keep the sauce warm whilst you finish off the main dish. Pop a small balloon whisk or a spoon in there to give the sauce a quick stir every now and then.

To the main event: melt the butter in large saucepan and sauté the onions over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and black pudding, stirring so they are heated through and lightly coloured. Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook for a further minute. Add the parsley. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve 1 of the fish fillets from the milk and flake it into the hash.

Divide the hash between four plates. Use your slotted spoon again to retrieve each fish fillet from the milk and pop one on each pile of hash. Garnish with the egg quarters and then drizzle over a little (or a lot) of hollandaise sauce. Dig in! Absolutely yummy!

Tip…

Tip the left over egg whites into a zipped bag and freeze for future meringue-making.

Inspired by…

Izy Hossack (student and blogger) for the hollandaise sauce and Henry Harris (chef and importer of fine brandies and digestifs, as published in The Really Quite Good British Cook Book) for the main dish.

Prawn Saganaki Just for One

Tuesdays are chilled out days where I don’t usually cook (I come home from a lovely yoga session and am so relaxed, I’m practically horizontal) so on these days we break out and John and Connagh frequently enjoy ‘Charlie Bigham’s Chicken Tikka Masala’: unpack, whop in the oven, remove and serve. Dead easy. I’m not usually hungry so it works well. Anyway this week, I was in the mood for something tasty but quick and had a bag of prawns at the back of the fridge that needed eating up, so I rustled up one of my favourites, Prawn Saganaki, but….I didn’t have quite all the ingredients for original recipe blogged last year so made do with what was available and …… it was gorgeous. So, here is the adapted version, made exclusively for one!

Serves 1

What you need…

A splash of rapeseed oil

1 shallot, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillies

1 star anise

6 small plum ripe tomatoes, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

200g raw king prawns

A dessertspoon of Boursin cheese (should have been Feta but didn’t have any!)

A small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

What to do…

Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a frying pan. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft but not brown. Stir in the chilli and the star anise, then add in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Next, add in the prawns and cook for a few minutes until they are pink, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking throughout. Remove the star anise.

Tip in the Boursin and stir until it melts and is thoroughly incorporated. Scatter the parsley on top. Serve immediately with a nice chunky doorstep of good, fresh bread – just yummy!

Inspired by…

The Traveller’s Table

How easy…

Soooooo happy that I happened upon the original ridiculously easy recipe!

Pasta with Courgettes, Lemon and Basil

Light, lovely, fragrant and beautifully flavoursome, this lunch or supper dish feels like a nod towards Spring and the promise of warmer days but is also wonderfully comforting because of the inclusion of the rich mascarpone, contrasting brilliantly with the lemon. Simple to do, lovely to enjoy, packed with flavour!

Serves 4

What you need…

450g your favourite dried pasta (I chose gluten-free fusilli)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium courgettes, halved lengthways and then sliced thinly

100g mascarpone cheese

3 tablespoons milk

Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated

1 tablespoon basil leaves, finely chopped

A large handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta as per the packet instructions (mine takes about 12 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, tip in the courgettes and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. In a bowl, mix together the mascarpone, milk, lemon zest and the chopped basil. Scrape this little lot over the courgettes and toss together for a minute or so until the mascarpone has melted. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Pour over the creamy courgette mixture and gently stir to mix evenly together. Scatter over the torn basil leaves, give them a quick stir and serve. Marvel in how lovely it is to find a simple dish that packs such lovely flavours!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Simplicity itself!

Peach, Pancetta and Mozzarella Salad

An unusual, eclectic selection of flavours thrown together to create a simply fabulous salad that shouts ‘summer’ and ‘sunshine’! Perfect for an al fresco lunch with a crisp bottle of white – utterly delightful!

Serves 2

What you need…

A large handful of rocket

3 red chicory, leaves pulled apart

20g butter

3 ripe peaches, quartered

3 rosemary sprigs

90g pancetta slices

150g mozzarella, roughly torn

Handful of green olives (optional – I didn’t like them and left them on the side)

for the dressing

½ shallot, finely sliced

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

Small handful fresh dill, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

First, make the dressing (which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days). Into a jug, tip the shallot, vinegar, sugar, mustard and dill and use a balloon whisk to beat together. Slowly whisk in the oil, season with salt and pepper. Check the flavour and adjust the seasoning if need be and then tip the whole lot into a screw-topped jar and pop in the fridge until needed.

To the salad: in a mixing bowl, chuck the rocket and chicory. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a moderate heat. When it starts to foam, add the peaches and rosemary and sauté for about 6 minutes or until the peaches start to colour and soften. Season with salt and transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the pancetta to the frying pan and cook for around 7 minutes until crisp. Remove from the pan and add to the mixing bowl with the mozzarella. Tip in the dressing and toss the whole lot together before decanting onto a pretty serving plate.

Serve this quite fabulous, unusual salad with warm, fresh bread – delicious!

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

A little sautéing and that’s about it!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

An absolutely scrumptious dish that hurtled into my kitchen all the way from the 1960s. Whilst our tastes in many things have changed, sometimes these older recipes are well worth revisiting – as is the case here. Essentially, cheese, ham and chicken….but the magic happens when the breadcrumbs encasing the chicken turn buttery crispy golden brown and the cheese just starts to melt. Connagh could barely eat his for going on and on about how wonderful it was – praise indeed!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

175g Emmental cheese, cut into 8 chunks

4 thick ham slices

75g plain flour

3 happy eggs, lightly beaten

150g panko breadcrumbs

Sea salt and black peper

125g unsalted butter

What to do…

Cut the chicken in half widthways, nearly all the way through. Lay a large piece of cling film across your work surface and then place the chicken on the top, opened out. Cover with another piece of cling film and then gently bash the chicken breast with a rolling pin until about 1 cm thick.

Discard the cling film. Take 1 chicken breast and pop two chunks of cheese on one half and then fold or wodge the ham on top before folding over the other half of the chicken breast to enclose the cheese and ham. Press down lightly. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge until you’re just about ready to cook.

Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Season the flour and eggs with salt and pepper and then dip each chicken breast in first the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs, making sure that it is evenly and thoroughly covered in each.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. When it has just melted, add the chicken breasts and cook for 5 minutes on one side and then turn over and cook for 5 minutes on the other. Baste the chicken with the melted butter as it cooks. The breadcrumbs should be golden and then, when you cut into the chicken, the cheese should just be starting to melt – thoroughly gorgeous!!!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

As with most recipes I choose: very easy and absolutely scrumptious!

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