Recipe: lamb ribs with nigella seeds

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I tend to bookmark recipes to try all the time, but sometimes it takes me quite a while to actually try them out. This one, is definitely one of those as I first made a mental note while watching the series Simply Nigella, and then literally bookmarking the page in the cookbook, then leaving it for a year or so. But this recipe is worth the wait. It’s incredibly easy to “make” (the oven takes care of it really) and it’s really yummy and packed full of flavour.

If you’re not a fan of lamb meat this may not be for you as the meat flavour is really strong because of the cut and the fat that melts over the meat in the oven. But if you, like me – like lamb – they’re heavenly!

 

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds, serves 6-10

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.

4 teaspoons nigella seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 teaspoons regular olive oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely grated, or minced)

24 lamb ribs (cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in)

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Line a large roasting tin with foil and sit a rack on top.

Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

Dip the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won’t be enough for all the ribs, but it is. 

Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking tin and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender. Serve. 

 

 

Recipe: pizza with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

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I actually had the intention to make a sourdough pizza with this topping but didn’t have enough time in the end, so used my tried and tested Italian pizza dough recipe, courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor.

I also used my go-to simple tomato sauce that I use for everything and my homemade wild garlic pesto. My best tip is to pick lots of wild garlic leaves when in season and blanch some of it, squeeze out the liquid and freeze in little parcels. Perfect to use for pesto or mayonnaise.

The all you need is a good buffalo mozzarella, some asparagus, parmesan and olive oil.

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I promise it’s like tasting spring. Delicious!

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Italian pizza dough, 2 pizzas

500 g 00-flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried yeast

325 ml lukewarm water

Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast. Add the water bit by bit while stirring with a wooden fork. Knead the dough until elastic. Cut the dough into two and shape to round balls. Put the dough balls back in the mixing bowl, sprinkle with flour and cover. Place somewhere warm and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Shape the dough into round pizzas or use a rolling pin to roll it out thinly. Add the toppings you like and bake in 225C, in a low oven, for 8-10 minutes.

Tomato sauce, for one batch pizza dough

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can (400 g) chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

Fry the garlic in the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the chopped tomatoes, some water and the tomato paste. Cook for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally, until it has thickened. Season to taste and put aside. 

Wild garlic pesto, approx 250 ml pesto

ca 50-70 g wild garlic (about a bunch as stick as a small banana)

30 g almonds

40 g parmesan

1/2 lemon, juice only 

mild oil, approx 100-150 ml 

salt & pepper

Mix wild garlic, almonds, lemon juice and parmesan with a bit of oil to a paste in a food processor or with a stick blender. Keep adding oil until you have the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days. 

Topping per pizza:

1/2 batch tomato sauce

olive oil

1 buffalo mozzarella

4-5 asparagus, blanched and cut into smaller pieces

3-4 tbsp wild garlic pesto

parmesan

Roll out the dough and drizzle some olive oil on it. Spread out the tomato sauce. Shred the mozzarella into chunks and place on the pizza. Add the asparagus pieces and dollops of wild garlic pesto. Grate over parmesan. Add a little more olive oil and put it in the oven on 225C, middle to low oven for 8-10 minutes.

Recipe: rhubarb meringue pie

 

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We have a good thing going in my family. We all like mayonnaise and bearnaise sauce A LOT so we use a lot of egg yolks. Not wanting to waste food the egg whites go into little containers in the fridge (they keep for weeks!). But conveniently my dad loves everything meringue-y so we get to use up the egg whites quite frequently too.

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The whole little family (there’s only three of us; mother, father and me) loved this rhubarb meringue pie. It still has the tang of a lemon meringue pie but is slightly less heavy as no butter or egg yolk in the rhubarb filling.

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The pie on the pictures had approx 500 g rhubarb in the filling which was fine taste wise but looked a little silly with all that meringue, so in the recipe below I’ve adjusted the recipe to 800 g rhubarb. It cooks down a lot in the oven, so I promise it’s not too much.

Also, when making the meringue, please note that it needs a lot of beating with an electric whisk and that it’s important the syrup boils and reaches (or almost reaches) 118C.

Rhubarb meringue pie, serves 8

Pastry:

180 g plain flour

100 g softened butter

2 1/2 tbsp cream or water

Rhubarb filling:

800 g frozen rhubarb pieces

3 tbsp potato flour (starch)

4-5 tbsp caster sugar

 

Italian meringue:

4 egg whites

120 g caster sugar

Syrup:

120 g caster sugar

100 ml water

Mix all the ingredients to the dough in a bowl or using a food processor. Press into a Ø 20 cm pie dish. Bake in a low oven using baking beads at 180C, for approx 10-15 minutes or until golden and baked through. Leave to cool. 

Place the defrosted rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish and scatter with potato flour and sugar. If using fresh rhubarb I would start off by using less potato flour adding more if needed.  Place in a 200 C oven for approx 20 minuter. The mixture should be bubbling, almost caramelised and thickened. Leave to cool. 

Make the meringue: Add egg whites and sugar to a clean bowl and beat for 10 minutes with an electric whisk. Meanwhile make the syrup by adding water and sugar to a saucepan and bring to the boil (don’t stir). Remove when 118C (the boiling point for sugar). Add the hot syrup to the meringue and beat for a further 15 minutes, until you have a thick and glossy meringue. 

Assemble: Add the rhubarb mixture to the pie crust once both are cool. Spread the meringue on top and burn the edges with a brulee torch. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Spring is here!

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Spring. Oh, how I love thee. If I feel tired and gloomy during the cold and dark winter months, I now feel awake again. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning and being outside, even if it’s just walking to the tube, is a pleasure not torture. On Saturday I just walked around town for two hours because the sun was out and it was spring in the air.

Lots of the spring flowers are in full bloom, and the first British asparagus has arrived in some shops together with the wild garlic. This, my dear readers, is my favourite time of year. I love summer and warmer temperatures, but now before summer is here, we have it all in front of us and it feels like the best present ever. Then we blink and it’s September, but I really want to try and enjoy the little things every day between now and then. The taste of all the fresh produce; the asparagus, the jersey royals, the first British strawberries and so on. Sitting in the sun having a coffee or an ice cream, walking to work and hearing the birds chirping. All of that makes me so very happy.

And one of my favourite dishes this time of year, is a real celebration of spring. It’s fresh and simple but full of spring flavours. I’m talking about fresh local asparagus, homemade wild garlic mayonnaise that’s just divine and to top it all off, a drizzle of a nice olive or rapeseed oil and a scattering of parmesan shavings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy SPRING!!

Recipe: Cacio e pepe

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Cacio e pepe, this heavenly dish consisting only of pasta, pecorino and black pepper (and a little cooking water from the pasta) has always seemed so daunting to make. I have enjoyed it cooked to perfection in Rome (it’s a Roman dish) but I never thought I could recreate it at home. But then I read Felicity Cloake’s article about the perfect cacio e pepe and decided to have a go as she made it seem so easy. And it turns out, with her guidance, it actually was!

The receipt is perfect. I didn’t change a thing and it worked perfectly the first time. If you’re a cacio e pepe novice like I was I highly recommend reading the article beforehand just to understand the elements of the dish better. And I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the ingredients are; buy some good dried pasta (I love de Cecco) and some really nice pecorino ( I got mine from Natoora) and your finished dish will be just as nice as the one you had in Rome on your holiday.

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Cacio e pepe, serves 2

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s recipe.

2 tsp black peppercorns

200 g spaghetti 

80 g pecorino romano, at room temperature, finely grated 

Toast the peppercorns in a very hot, dry pan then roughly crush with a pestle and mortar.

Bring a wide shallow pan of well-salted water to the boil, then add the pasta; it should be covered but not by much. Stir occasionally during cooking and, five minutes into the cooking time, scoop out 250 ml water into a wide bowl to allow it to cool slightly.

Drain the pasta and leave it to cool for a minute. Meanwhile, put the cheese and most of the pepper in a large, heavy bowl or pan and beat in some of the pasta water very gradually to make first a paste, and then a sauce the consistency of bechamel. Add the pasta and toss furiously while adding enough of the water to make a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti.

Divide between warm bowls, sprinkle over a little more pepper, and serve immediately.

 

Recipe: chicken bulgogi

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This Korean chicken dish has everything I want from a dish; plenty of flavour, seriously tender meat and a little heat.

The first time I made it I had it with rice, thinly cut carrots and pickled cucumber (using rice vinegar instead). The second time I used to fill steamed buns (recipe to come) and both ways were delicious.

Apart from flattening the chicken this recipe is as easy as making a marinade and forgetting about the chicken until the next day, when it takes a mere 5 minutes to cook it.

The recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz via Koreatown: A Cookbook.

Chicken bulgogi, serves 4

Adapted from David Leibovitz’s recipe.

125 ml soy sauce

1-2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce gochujang 

1 small onion, finely chopped of puréed

2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp mirin or rice vinegar 

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

black pepper

2 tsp sesame seeds (I omitted these)

4-5 chicken thigh fillets  

Mix soy, chilli sauce, onions, sugar, mirin/rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and ginger in a large ziplock bag. Also add black pepper and sesame seeds.

Cover a plastic chopping board with cling. Place a chicken thigh fillet (or two) on top. Cover with cling and flatten it by bashing it gently with a rolling pin. Repeat with all the chicken. 

Add the chicken to the marinade in the ziplock bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Place it in the fridge overnight. 

Grill or fry for approx five minutes of medium-high heat. Brush with extra marinade while cooking. Slice thinly and serve. 

 

Recipe: Orrechiette with salsiccia

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This is my attempt to recreate one of those amazing food memories I have stored in my head.

My friend Caroline and I were in Bologna last year and although we couldn’t secure a reservation at Osteria Franscescana in nearby Modena, we still decided to visit for the day. We went to Massimo Bottura’s much more unassuming restaurant Franceschetta 58 for lunch and tucked into the small but perfectly assembled lunch buffet. And that’s where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten; their orrechiette with salsiccia. It was utterly heavenly and what I tried to create at home one day, with my last precious salsiccia from the same trip (stored in the freezer of course).

I must add that the very authentic salsiccia help make my version of the dish very good, so go to a good Italian shop to buy those. Without proper salsiccia you needn’t bother with this dish at all.

Orrechiette with salsiccia, serves 3-4

4 portions orrechiette, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

3 salsiccia sausages

ca 3 tbsp soffritto made using the same amount of onions, carrots and celery (I make a big batch and freeze it in portions)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tin (400 g) chopped tomatoes or passata + half the tin filled with water 

1 tbsp tomato puré

100 ml red wine

1 tsp fennel seeds

salt and black pepper

a pinch of sugar if needed

mild olive oil for frying

Heat up the oil in a casserole dish. Remove the skin from the sausages and fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove the sausage meat from the casserole dish and add the soffritto and garlic. Fru on medium heat for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, water, tomato puré and wine. When the sauce has thickened a little, add the sausage meat and fennel seeds. Let the sauce reduce further. Season to taste with salt, pepper and some sugar (to balance the acidity) if needed. Mix into the drained orrechiette and serve with finely grated parmesan.