Category Archives: side dish

Herb ‘tear and share’ buns (Makes: 9 -Preparation time: 4hrs)

The herbs in my garden are flourishing at the moment and most weekends I make a herb pesto or salsa of sorts to keep them under control.  There is no right or wrong way to make a pesto, just use the herbs that you have available and adjust to your own tastes.  My preference is to make a straightforward herb pesto and add different ingredients to it depending on what I am eating.  By adding a little white vinegar, gherkins and capers you get a sharper almost salsa verde type dressing to go with lamb, or If you add pine nuts and parmesan to the mix then you will have a more traditional pesto.

The herb pesto recipe makes roughly a jam jar full and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  You can use herb pesto in all sorts of ways as it is particularly versatile, for example it can be used to flavour bread as below, as a dip, as a sauce for pasta or simply as an accompaniment to grilled chicken.

The herb buns are a great tear and share food to have with a barbecue or as an accompaniment to a salad.  This bread recipe is simple and makes light, fluffy buns, just make sure that you do knead the bread properly at the outset until the dough springs back when you touch it and then just be patient and wait for it to rise. Enjoy!

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Mushroom and ale risotto served in a roasted red pepper with rare steak strips (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 1 hr)

I would describe the recipe below as quite manly as the ingredients that are used are hearty and somewhat earthy.   However I don’t think risotto is often associated as being a masculine meal but I hope that the chaps trying this recipe will be pleasantly surprised by this little number.  If you are looking for a recipe for date night then I would recommend giving this recipe a go.

For those of you that have not made a risotto before the most important thing to remember is not to rush.  A risotto works best when you cook it on a low heat adding the stock a little at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.  It is important that whilst doing this you stir it regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Provided that you take your time you will end up with a beautifully creamy risotto – so make sure when you are cooking a risotto that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes to make it!

The other thing I would say for those of you that are put off by this recipe because there are too many elements don’t be as there really are only 6 steps.  Here is the breakdown of what you need to do:

  1. Wash and put the red peppers in the oven – no need to remove the core and seeds at this point.
  2. Whilst the peppers are cooking prepare your risotto.  Once it is cooked – cover and leave to one side whilst you cook the steak and green vegetables.
  3. Boil or steam green vegetables.
  4. Heat frying pan and cook the steak.
  5. Whilst the steak is resting and the vegetables are draining the vegetables – core and seed the peppers.
  6. Cut the steak into strip and plate up.

It really is that straightforward I promise.  The only downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of washing up – sorry about that…

My final comment is that I tend to find the more charred the peppers the better the flavour, so don’t worry if the skin on the peppers is black – that is what you are aiming for.  Enjoy!

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Lamb burgers served with hummus (Serves : 6 – Preparation time: 20 minutes)

I visited Jordan a few months ago and have been hugely influenced by the food that I ate whilst I was out there.  The style of eating is typically mezze with lots of little plates not dissimilar to tapas, which are often served with delicious salads that are dressed with pomegranate molasses and olive oil which both tantalises the palate and is refreshing all at once.  I would highly recommend trying to get your hands on some pomegranate molasses if you can to give it a try, the flavour is both sharp and sweet – which really enhances any salad, especially if you also add a few pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander and crumble over some feta.

The lamb burger recipe below is the perfect accompaniment to this type of salad.  The burger has quite a delicate flavour with just a hint of mint.  The recipe below can easily stretch to 6 burgers or will make 4 large burgers.  They are a great option for a barbecue, or if the weather isn’t playing ball work just as well in a griddle pan and on the plus side they are very quick to make.

I would recommend serving these burgers with hummus (see below for a quick and easy recipe that takes no more than a couple of minutes to prepare), a few toasted pittas and a salad.  Enjoy!

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Prawns and steamed samphire

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I am back in France at the moment at my parent’s house and it is bliss, not only has the weather been magnificent but a lot of fruit and vegetables are in season at the moment which means every meal has been a delight!  I think lunchtime is my favourite meal as it always starts off with a little melon served with some of our home reared cured ham, followed by a huge salad a cheese board that is to be envied and to finish apricots picked straight from the tree. Food does not get much better than that!

As it is the perfect weather for a BBQ yesterday morning I headed to the market to see what I could find to cook for supper.  I ended up coming back with various bits and bobs but the two things that I was most pleased about were the prawns and samphire which I was going to use to make a very simple starter. For those of you who have not come across samphire before it is a sea vegetable that grows abundantly on shorelines.  It has a crisp texture and a delicate salty yet slightly buttery flavour which means it works beautifully with seafood.

The idea of this starter is to let the prawns and the samphire do all the talking and to keep it very simple.  Provided your BBQ is hot and ready to cook on this starter takes roughly 10 minutes to make and there is really nothing to it all you need is a few skewers and a little tin foil.

BBQ prawns with steamed samphire (serves 3)

Ingredients:

350g raw prawns
150g samphire
a knob of butter
3 wedges of lemon (to serve)

Steps:

(1) Wash the samphire and then place on a sheet of tin foil with the butter, create a parcel out of the tin foil and set to one side until you are ready to place it on the BBQ.

(2) Wash your prawns then place them on to a wooden skewer (2-3 prawns on each skewer).  Note: always soak wooden skewers in water for about an hour to stop them burning when you place them on the BBQ.

(3) Once your BBQ is hot enough to cook on, place your tin foil parcel on the BBQ and let it cook for 5 minutes before you place the prawn skewers on the BBQ, cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink.

(4)  As soon as your prawns are cooked, serve the prawns and samphire with a wedge of lemon.  Enjoy!

Salmon fillet served with a rice salad and mango and avocado salsa

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I have been trying out a couple of new ideas for fresh and healthy suppers whilst the weather has been so hot.  During the summer months I normally resort to green salads with bread and cheese or cured meats as they are so easy to make.  However, as a friend of mine was coming over to celebrate her recent engagement I wanted to cook something a little bit more impressive than just a salad…

At the moment the markets around me are full of ripe mangoes and avocados so I thought I would buy some and make a sweet and tangy salsa.  Provided you have a food processor this salsa can be made in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have a food processor then dice the ingredients to make a slightly chunkier version of the salsa that will be equally as delicious.

For the rice salad, I used leftover rice that I had cooked for supper the previous day and then added a combination of vegetables that are all in season at the moment which meant the salad was packed full of flavour and different textures.  The salad was incredibly fresh and complimented the delicacy of the salmon.

Whilst I enjoyed the combination of the rice salad, salsa and fish I would recommend trying the salsa with grilled chicken and/or tortilla chips and the rice salad would be a good and slightly different side dish at a picnic or BBQ so it worthwhile giving a go.

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Mango and Avocado Salsa

Ingredients:

  • ½ a red onion
  • 1 avocado (peeled and stoned)
  • 1 ripe mango (peeled and stoned)
  • ½ -1 chilli (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 small handful of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1.  Place the red onion and chilli in a food processer and blitz until they are finely chopped.
  2. Then add the avocado, mango, coriander and blitz in the food processor till smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture out of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the lime juice, lemon juice and coriander season as necessary then decant into another bowl for serving.

Note:  If the salsa is kept covered it will keep in the fridge for a few days.

 

Rice Salad (serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 150g pre-cooked basmati rice
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 3-4 radishes (finely diced)
  • 2” cucumber (finely diced)
  • 1 avocado (finely diced)
  • 2tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning

Steps:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season well and serve.

 

Salmon Fillet (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  •  paprika
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place olive oil in a frying pan and heat on a medium temperature.
  2. Add the salmon fillets (skin side down)
  3. Season the salmon and sprinkle over a little paprika.
  4. Cover the frying pan with a lid, turn the temperature down slightly and cook for 7-10 minutes (or until the salmon is cooked).  Serve on a bed of rice salad with a little of the salsa on top.  Enjoy!

 

 

Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust with celeriac and potato mash

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We live in a region where wild boars are fairly common.  During the winter months our local hunt go after the boar in order to keep their numbers under control and to prevent them doing considerable damage to the farmers’ crops.  The French are very strict when it comes to shooting boar and they impose some hefty fines if for example the matriarch is killed.  The reason for this is that it can result in a ‘population explosion’ creating an even bigger problem in the surrounding area as the family splits and new matriarchs are created.

Up until last year I had never seen a boar in our region and then in fairly quick succession I came across three.  The first was a boar the size of an Alsatian that I ‘bumped’ into walking the dogs.  Fortunately for me I didn’t have to climb a tree as the boar turned and ran off as soon as it saw us and our dogs do not have the quickest of reactions so there was no risk of them coming to any harm!  The second was a young boar that ‘Biggles’ our springer spaniel put up in the woods.  The last was probably the most special as I came across him twice within 24 hours.  The first time, he confidently walked up to the small orchard one side of our house (not batting an eye at our neighbours dogs that were working themselves into a frenzy barking at him across the fields) to eat windfall plums under the trees (unfortunately I was not prepared to get too close to him to take a photo and my long lens was just not good enough…).  However, it seemed this guy wanted his picture taken and the following morning, when driving home from the village, I came across him rootling in a neighbouring field.  He was so engrossed in eating that I was able to go home, get my camera and take pictures from the safety of the car about 4-5 metres away.

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It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to cook with wild boar, however, a few weeks ago a friend dropped by and gave us a large haunch.  Having never cooked with boar before I sought the advice of one of our neighbours, who informed me that it is best cooked coated in mustard at about 190C for an hour.  I decided to adopt the idea of the mustard coating, however, was somewhat concerned about the cooking times as the French are notorious for enjoying their meat cooked fairly rare.  Consequently I decided to cook the joint in a similar way to how I cook a leg of lamb and I was very pleased with the outcome.  I served it with potato and celeriac mash, which went well with the strong ‘gamey’ taste of the boar.

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Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 haunch of wild boar (1.5 – 2kg)DSC_0318
  • 4-5 carrots (halved lengthways)
  • 1 potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1 onion (halved)
  • 2 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard)
  • 150ml water

Steps:

1.  Place the carrots, potato and onion on the base of a large roasting tray to form a ‘bed’ on which to place the wild boar.

2.  Mix together the wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustard together in a bowl.

3.  Cover the wild boar completely with the mustard mix and then place on top of the vegetables.

4.  Add the water to the pan, then roast in the oven at 220C fan for 20 minutes, before covering with tin foil and cooking at 170C fan for a further 90-120 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your meat.

5.  Make sure you rest your meat in a warm place covered in tin foil for 15-30 minutes whilst you make your gravy.  Do this by heating the juices in the bottom of the pan with some stock or vegetable water and adding little cornflour to thicken it (if needed add some honey or redcurrant jelly to lift the flavours a little).

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Celeriac and potato mash

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • 1/3 of a celeriac (roughly 200g in weight peeled, cut into chunks)
  • knob of butter
  • 5-6tbsp milk
  • seasoning

Steps:

  • Place the potatoes and celeriac in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until a knife passes through both the potatoes and celeriac easily.
  • Once they are cooked, drain them and return them to the saucepan.
  • Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the vegetables until they are smooth.  Serve.

Potato Dauphinoise

This side dish is without a doubt one of my all-time favourites.  However, we don’t have it that often because the Old Man is not a huge fan of the excessive use of garlic and because it isn’t particularly healthy considering the potatoes cook in cream.  But it is great as a treat once in a ‘blue moon’…

My middle brother, will doubtless disagree with this recipe and suggest that there is just not enough garlic, but I would tend to disagree with him as nobody wants a residual garlic aftertaste in the mouth later in the day…  Obviously you can amend the amount of garlic you put in according to your own taste and how potent your own garlic is.  I would happily serve this dish with any roast as an alternative to roast potatoes.  I particularly like it with lamb because, on the whole, I think garlic and lamb is a great combination.  Enjoy!

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Potato Dauphinoise

Ingredients:  (Serves 3-4)
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  • 6-7 potatoes (peeled and sliced in 2-3mm rounds)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (passed through a garlic crusher or finely chopped)
  • 1-2tsp fresh thyme
  • 200ml cream
  • butter (for greasing)
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Liberally grease a deep ovenproof dish with butter (I tend to use an old pâté dish that is 24cm x 12cm).
  2. Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom, scatter over a little garlic, thyme and season well.  Repeat the process until you have used up all of the potatoes.
  3. Pour over the cream, then cover with foil.
  4. Place in a preheated oven at 190C fan and cook for 35 minutes.
  5. After 35 minutes, remove the foil, turn up the oven to 200C fan and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown on top.  Serve.

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