Main Courses

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!

Skate with Asparagus and Rosemary Salmoriglio

Fresh fish is best served simply: I am not the first to say that and certainly won’t be the last. This skate dish is simple, quick and just divine. The lovely little Italian herb oil (Salmoriglio) is just whizzed up in the processor and the skate, sautéed in butter – the combination? Exquisite!!! Oh….and….it’s quite healthy!!!!

Serves 2

What you need…

10g rosemary sprigs (8 – 10 depending on size), leaves picked

Pinch of salt

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 x 250g skate wings

100g plain flour

A large handful of asparagus, trimmed

What to do…

For the salmoriglio, tip the rosemary leaves into a small food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the salt, garlic and lemon juice and whizz until smooth. Still whizzing, slowly pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil. Whizz until all the ingredients are combined – that’s it: done!

Season the skate wings. Pour the flour onto a plate and coat the fish on both sides. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan (or two) over a moderate heat and sauté the skate for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the asparagus for about 3 minutes, until just tender. Drain.

Serve your magnificent skate wings with asparagus on the side and drizzle over the salmoriglio. A forkful of the fish with a little of the herb oil together make for a joyful marriage! Enjoy!

Tip…

I didn’t realise when I bought the skate that this fish is seriously under threat due to over-fishing. Ray makes a perfect alternative and was in fact the recommended fish in the original recipe.

Inspired by…

My Waitrose magazine

How easy…

Wonderfully easy for such a fabulous dish.

Absolutely Delicious Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti

One from my daughter, Maddie, who found this recipe on the Internet to liven up her Uni dinners. What a joy when she offered to cook the recipe on her last trip home! As much as I love cooking, it is an absolute treat when someone else offers to do it and this recipe went straight to the top of my ‘favourites’ list of pasta dishes – it’s hearty and really flavoursome – the tomatoes and spinach contrast perfectly with the richness of the cream and the dish is quite honestly, just fantastic! A perfect family supper dish – thanks Madz – you can do it again!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, seasoned

8 rashers back bacon, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

300ml double cream

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

150g spinach

Sea salt and black pepper

150g Parmesan, grated

A large handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Dried spaghetti (amount depends on how hungry you are)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil salted water in which to cook the spaghetti.

In a large frying pan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then cook the chicken breasts for 6 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Pop your spaghetti into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions: mine is about 12 minutes.

Add the bacon to the chicken pan and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside onto kitchen paper.

Into the pan chuck the garlic. Fry for 1 minute and then add the tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes. Toss in the spinach and pour in the cream, cooking through until the spinach has mostly wilted.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and then tip it and the bacon into the sauce. Stir to evenly incorporate and then add the Parmesan and basil.

Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together so the sauce beautifully coats the pasta.

Serve to six hungry people, perhaps with a glass or two of robust red wine and enjoy this truly hearty, really tasty pasta dish.

Inspired by…

Maddie, who found the recipe on the Twisted Food website

How easy…

Fast, easy and very student-friendly!

Spicy Gammon Steak with Mascarpone Peas

The name gives absolutely no clue as to how absolutely delicious this dish is. I loved it so much, I enjoyed it two days running!!! The gammon takes on a real razzle dazzle star quality and quite frankly, peas in mascarpone are going to be a regular event. Try this! It’s fast and fabulous – buonissimo!

Serves 2

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 teaspoons salted butter

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillies

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 gammon steaks (choose thick, juicy ones – maybe 2cm)

160g frozen peas, defrosted

4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Heat half the oil and half the butter in a frying pan, add the crushed chillies and half the parsley. Then pop in the gammon steaks and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer gammon and juices to a baking tray and pop in a low oven to keep warm.

Wipe out the pan with kitchen roll and return to the heat with the remaining oil and butter. Add the peas and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Season with salt and pepper, add the mascarpone and remaining parsley. Stir the lot together and serve these party-dressed peas to accompany the razzle-dazzle gammon – that’s it – buonissimo!

Serving suggestion…

Red potatoes, sliced or chunked, tossed with olive oil, dried rosemary and chopped garlic and the cooked in the oven for 35 minutes: lovely!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Marvelously easy and it tastes like something that was meticulously created!

 

 

Cod ‘BLT’

I was drawn to this recipe mainly because I thought that the combination of cod, bacon, tomato and lettuce with a dressing was nothing short of bonkers! Anyway, dubiously I created my take on Nathan Outlaw’s orginal recipe (which as a little too cheffy for me) and was absolutely gob-smacked at what a wonderful dish it turned out to be (the dressing in particular is divine) – a great and very different salad for a summer’s evening supper!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking tray, liberally buttered

1kg cod, gutted, filleted and skinned

4 rashers of streaky bacon

Sea salt and black pepper

2 baby gem lettuces, washed and torn

A handful of basil leaves, torn

for the BLT dressing

8 tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, chopped

30ml white wine vinegar, plus a further teaspoon

1 tablespoon sugar

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

150ml olive oil

50ml double cream

for the oven-dried tomatoes

1 x baking tray, lined with foil

16 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Drizzle of olive oil

Sprinkle of caster sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Start with the oven-dried tomatoes: heat your oven to 110°c / 225°f / gas ¼. Lay the tomatoes on the baking tray and sprinkle over the garlic, thyme, olive oil and caster sugar. Season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 90 minutes.

Turning to the dressing: into a mini chopper or blender tip the tomatoes, garlic, 30ml wine vinegar, sugar and chilli. Season with salt and pepper and whizz until smooth. Ideally leave this in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours develop. Strain this tomato ‘stock’ through a sieve, discarding the remaining pulp. Set aside.

Using an electric handheld whisk, beat together the egg yolks, mustard and teaspoon of wine vinegar. Very slowly add the olive oil, whisking the whole time to emulsify. Whisk in the cream.

When you’re ready to cook the fish, preheat your oven to 200°c /400°f / gas 6.

Dry-fry the bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Cut into small pieces (I use scissors) and set aside.

Lay the fish fillets onto your baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until just cooked.

Meanwhile, arrange the lettuce on serving plates and scatter over the oven-dried tomatoes.

In a saucepan, gently heat the sieved tomato stock together with the egg yolk sauce, whisking the whole time and avoiding boiling.

Flake the cod over the lettuce, sprinkle over the bacon and basil and then drizzle over the sauce – enjoy this very odd combination that works extremely well!!!!

Tip…

The oven-dried tomatoes and the two elements that combine to create the BLT dressing can all be prepared in advance, leaving very little to do just before you want to eat.

Inspired by…

Nathan Outlaw

How easy…

Not difficult but requires quite a lot of time and prepping in advance. Worth it though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon and Tarragon-Crusted Sea Bass

 So simple and so very, very yummy! A lovely crispy ‘panko’ coating contrasts beautifully with the fresh, tangy lemon tarragon sauce but doesn’t detract from the natural flavours of this delicious fish. A great dish for a supper with family and friends! Simply delightful!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x baking sheet, lined with parchment paper/ Bake O Glide

4 sea bass fillets, skin on

40g butter

60g panko breadcrumbs

Zest of 1 lemon, grated finely

½ tablespoon tarragon, chopped

40g Parmesan, grated

Sea salt and black pepper

Lemon wedges, to serve

for the lemon tarragon sauce

200g full-fat crème fraîche

½ tablespoon tarragon, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch of caster sugar

What to do…

Season the sea bass fillets well on both sides with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a small pan, then remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and tarragon so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.

On your baking sheet, sprinkle over half the breadcrumb mixture in 4 rows, roughly the same size as the 4 fish fillets. Lay each fillet, skin side down, on top of a row of breadcrumbs and press down firmly. Top each fillet with the remaining breadcrumbs, sprinkle with Parmesan and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes (or for up to 8 hours).

When you’re ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200°c / 400° / gas 6.

To make the sauce, chuck all the ingredients together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix together.

Cook the fish in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve each crispy-coated fillet on a warm plate with a dollop of the lovely sauce, a wedge of lemon and perhaps a little greenery and potatoes – absolutely delicious and delightfully easy!

What’s Panko all about…?

Panko breadcrumbs were a total revelation to me. I couldn’t believe that Mary was using pre-prepared breadcrumbs but these little lovelies can be set quite apart from your everyday breadcrumb!!! In short, panko is a type of flaky breadcrumb; it’s commonly used in Asian, particularly Japanese, cuisine, although it has become more popular in Western cooking. What sets it apart from standard breadcrumbs is its texture which is light, airy and delicate; all of which ensure that it crisps as it cooks. The texture of panko makes it especially wonderful for fried food because it absorbs less oil than breadcrumbs, keeping food more crisp and crunchy. I will be using it for all sorts from here on in – toppings, coatings and crusts are going to be panko all the way!

Tips…

The fish can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Likewise, the sauce can be made a couple of days in advance.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy….

I’m loving these recipes from Mary’s Everyday cook book – they’re all really easy and fit nicely into a busy schedule – this one is no exception – enjoy!

Decadently Delicious Beef Strogonoff

An absolute culinary classic, Beef Strogonoff hails from 1890’s Russia (Count Strogonoff no less) and was extremely popular in the 1970s as a fabulous dinner party dish for which no expense had been spared. Tender beef fillet, earthy mushrooms and a gorgeous creamy sauce – it takes just minutes to cook and is an absolute treat (albeit not cheap!) From Russia with love….xx

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 450g beef fillet, cut from the tail end and then sliced into strips

Sea salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon hot paprika

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

Splash of rapeseed oil

30g butter

2 shallots, chopped finely

200g button mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon tomato purée

50ml white wine vinegar

75ml white wine

200ml double cream

A drizzle of soured cream

1 tablespoon flatleaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish

What to do…

In a bowl, mix together enough salt and pepper to season the beef with the two paprikas. Chuck in the fillet and mix together so that the beef is covered in the seasonings.

Heat a frying pan and add a splash of rapeseed oil. When it’s hot, flash fry the strips of beef until they are rare – about 2 minutes, then remove them from the pan and put in a sieve allowing any juices to drip into a bowl. Set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and when melted, tip in the shallots and cook for 2 minutes over a moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute before adding in the tomato purée and cooking for another couple of minutes. Stir well, then add the white wine vinegar and reduce the mixture until all the liquid has evaporated.

Add the white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Pour yourself a glass whilst you wait! Pour in the double cream and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beef and the cooking juices and warm through but don’t boil – the beef needs no further cooking.

Serve on top of piping hot boiled rice (I prefer basmati mixed with wild rice). Drizzle over a little soured cream, perhaps a dusting of paprika and scattering of parsley. Decadently delicious!!!

What’s it all about…?

Beef Strogonoff is largely recognised as being created in the 1890’s for Count Pavel Strogonoff, a diplomat and gourmet who often entertained his friends with extravagant feasts. A light-hearted competition between some of the great families of St. Petersburg was organised to see which of their chefs could produce the finest dish and it was Strogonoff’s chef, Charles Briere, who was pronounced the winner – there you have it!

Inspired by…

James Winter’s ‘Who put the Beef in Wellington’ book. This recipe though, was a gift to him from chef Lawrence Keogh, who was at that time, head chef at London’s iconic restaurant, ‘The Wolseley’.

How easy…

Real quick, real easy, real tasty!

Yuzu Salmon with Buttered Leeks

A Mary Berry dish, this one is from her ‘Everyday’ series. The first thing that I should say is that I couldn’t find Yuzu juice anywhere but that didn’t matter – Google recommended the alternative mix of fresh lime and orange juice – I have no idea whether this combination tastes like the Japanese citrus fruit juice, ‘Yuzu’, but I can tell you that this salmon dish was absolutely delicious – fresh, tangy with a touch of Asian-inspired heat, all working brilliantly as a foil for the richness of the salmon. Also, it’s stupidly easy AND can be prepared in advance! This is DEFINITELY on the regulars list.

Serves 4

What you need…

Knob of butter

4 small leeks, finely sliced

4 x 125g salmon fillets, skinned

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced, to garnish

A few coriander leaves, to garnish

for the dressing

2cm chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Dessertspoon of fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Into a screw top jar, tip the ginger and garlic with the chilli, lime juice, orange juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper, screw on the lid and shake like mad. Set aside until you’re ready to cook the meal.

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

Heat the butter in a large frying pan and when it has melted, add the leeks and fry over a high heat for 3 minutes. Pop the lid on the pan, lower the heat and sweat the leeks for 10 minutes until soft but not brown. Tip into an ovenproof dish.

Sit the salmon fillets on top of the leeks and season with salt and pepper. (If you’re preparing ahead you could now just cover the whole lot with cling film or foil and pop into the fridge).

Spoon all but two tablespoons of the dressing over the salmon. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through (a little longer if the dish has been sat in the fridge already prepared).

Toss the coriander leaves and radishes in the remaining dressing. Serve a spoonful of leeks onto each plate with a salmon fillet on top and then spoon over the radishes, coriander and dressing.

Enjoy this delicious, tangy and vibrant supper dish and remember to stick it right back on the menu to enjoy again soon!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Ridiculously easy and so much flexibility with time (we enjoyed ‘wine time’ between when the salmon sat on the leeks and when the dressing went on and the whole lot went into the oven.