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Meat

Absurdly addictive asparagus

This recipe is really special as it combines the most wonderful melange of flavors that complement asparagus so beautifully

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Serves 4

4 oz pancetta or prosciutto cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tbsp butter, ghee or clarified
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups leeks, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts or almonds
1-2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté the pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.
Add 1 tbsp of butter to pan. Add the asparagus pieces and leeks and sauté until the asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Dreamy sweet onion bisque

I had this soup at the Capital Grill at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville recently and thought it was the best soup I had ever tasted. (If you read the ingredients you can see why!)They gave me the recipe and I was blown away by how easy it was to make. You MUST allow the 5 hours for the onions to sweat as that is the secret of the velvety sweetness the soup has. The toasted brie sandwich segment dropped it, plus the bacon and chives take it to even headier heights!

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4 to 8 servings.

10 large sweet Vidalia onions
1lb Plugra butter
1 qt heavy cream
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Smoked bacon, crumbled. Get really good quality bacon for this, chop it and saute until crispy
Freshly snipped chives
Brie grilled cheese sandwich

Peel and chop the onions into 1 inch chunks. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter until it becomes foamy and add the onions. Add about 1 tbsp of salt at this point and stir to combine all of the ingredients in the pot and continue to cook for 5 hours until they have completely softened and exuded the majority of their moisture.
Keep in mind that you really don’t want to get any color on the onions during this process so if you see it happening, lower the heat more.
After the 5 hours, add the cream and just heat it through gently.
When everything is hot and combined, you need to puree the soup in a good quality blender. If you want that really velvety texture, pass it through a fine mesh strainer or a mouli after blending it but this is an optional step.

Season with salt and pepper, pour into the bowls and garnish with some smoked bacon, chives and a triangle of Brie grilled cheese sandwich.

Thai meatball coconut curry

What could be better than the comfort of meat balls surrounded by Thai flavors and swimming in coconut broth? Very little, if you ask me. I am sharing this recipe from “Delicious” magazine as there is nothing I would do to tweak it.You can freeze half of this for another time, which is perfect!

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Serves 4
3 tbsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers, sliced
4 to 5 tbsp Penang curry paste (You can use Thai kitchen Penang curry paste, if available)
2 x 14 oz cans coconut milk (Use sugar-free brands)
1 each large red and green chilli pepper, de-seeded and finely shredded
6 scallions, (spring onions) thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed and inner leaves finely diced
Juice of 2 limes, plus lime wedges to serve
5 to 6 oz ground almonds
(Steamed rice, optional)

For the meatballs
2lbs ground pork
5 scallions, finely diced
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, inner leaves finely diced
good bunch of cilantro, leaves finely chopped
1 1/2 to 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
grated zest and juice of 2 limes
1 medium free range, organic egg

In a large bowl mix the ingredients for the meat balls. Season and with wet hands, form into about 40 walnut-sized balls. Put on a large plate and chill for 15 minutes or until needed.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, deep frying pan, add the meatballs in 2 batches and fry for 10 minutes until cooked through and browned. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil, add the peppers and fry for 2 minutes until softened, then add the curry paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the coconut milk, chillies,scallions, lemongrass and lime juice. Gently simmer for a few minutes then add the almonds and cook for a few minutes to warm through (add a little water or chicken broth if the curry sauce seems too thick)

Add the meatballs to the curry sauce and heat through. Divide half the curry among 4 serving bowls, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve with rice and lime wedges.

** Cool the remaining curry and spoon into a freezerproof container. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge, then transfer to a saucepan and heat until the sauce and meatballs are piping hot.

Giada’s easy cheesy risotto cake

This is a very easy and tasty recipe and perfect for those summer get-togethers.

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Serves 6 to 8

Butter, for greasing the pan.
Rice
2 cups Marinara or tomato-basil sauce
1 cup Arborio rice

Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

To assemble
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil.

For the rice:
Bring the marinara sauce and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a 1 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and grated nutmeg.

For assembly:
Mix together the bechamel sauce, rice mixture, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the prosciutto and peas in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in the eggs, salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and cover with foil. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese and the breadcrumbs. Broil just enough to melt the cheese and create a crispy crust, about 3 minutes/
Cool for 15 minutes.
Loosen the risotto from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the edge. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Warm pan of garbanzo beans, chorizo, spinach and goat cheese

I just love healthy and flavorsome food that is easy to prepare.

 

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Serves 4 to 6
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups baby spinach
Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half moons
3 roasted red peppers, preferably packed in oil, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 chorizo sausages, chopped
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 14oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese (chèvre) crumbled

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a wide saucepan. Add the spinach and toss to coat. Heat the spinach until it begins to wilt, about 4 minutes, then add the red wine vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. Remove the spinach into a bowl.

Add the onion, the roasted red pepper, and the garlic to the pan. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the chorizo. (If the chorizo is not cured, make sure to cook it through, about 5 to 7 minutes.) Add the paprika and the cayenne. Add the chickpeas, then stir everything together. Taste and correct the salt, as needed.

Stir in the reserved spinach, then the chives and the parsley, and finally top with the chèvre. Lightly stir through. Serve warm with crusty bread

Creamy spinach and sausage spaghetti

This is a real comfort dish, the soothing creaminess of the spinach paired with whatever flavor sausage you prefer. Thank you to Delicious Magazine for this recipe. I love sharing recipes I find online!

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Serves 3 to 4

12 oz spaghetti (or other pasta)
1 medium red onion
2 garlic cloves
4 good quality sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
6 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
3oz crème fraîche
1 good sized lemon
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the spaghetti and cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving a 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, finely slice the onion and garlic and roughly chop the sausages into bite-size pieces. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and gently fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sausages and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mustard and spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Zest the lemon, then stir into the sauce along with the pasta and reserved water.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and serve topped with a grating of parmesan.

Stuffed roast peppers with goat cheese, chorizo, rice, tomato, zucchini and orange

This started out as a vegetarian recipe and still can, if you eliminate the chorizo. I happen to think it adds a layer of flavor  that raises the bar. If you don’t like goat cheese they work really well with feta cheese too.

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This recipe serves 2 but can easily be doubled

1¾oz wholegrain long-grain rice
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8oz Spanish chorizo, diced very small or crumbled.
1 courgette, diced
2½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin ( roast my cumin before grinding it)
1 tsp ground coriander
¾oz toasted flaked almonds
½ orange, zest only, finely grated
3 heaped tbsp roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley (or cilantro)
3½oz mild goats’ cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into chunks (or feta cheese, but make it the Greek one)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F
Cook the rice in a pan of boiling water for 25 minutes, or until just tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half from top to bottom and discard the seeds. Place, open-side up, on a baking tray (cut a sliver from the base if necessary to help them sit flat). Bake for 15 minutes.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan and over medium heat, fry the chorizo for 5 minutes, then add the onion and courgette over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Tip into a large heatproof bowl and stir in the almonds and orange zest.

Add the rice and parsley and season with a little salt and lots of pepper. Mix together.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Dot with the cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the peppers are softened and the filling is piping hot.

Bacon wrapped dates with almonds and goat cheese

Unctious, divine and so easy.

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MAKES 24
24 large moist dates, such as Medjool
12 not-too-thick slices of bacon
2 oz. softened goat cheese
24 whole toasted unsalted almonds

Move oven rack to upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500°. Pit dates, tearing them open as little as possible. Set dates aside. Halve the 12 slices of bacon crosswise. Put the goat cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a round, plain ¼” tip.

Stuff cavity of each date with 1 almond. Pipe goat cheese into the opening of each stuffed date. Wrap 1 half-piece of bacon around width of each date and put dates, seam side down, on a baking sheet, at least ½” apart. Bake until bacon is golden and crisp, 6-8 minutes.
Set aside to cool briefly before serving.

Slow-braised pork shoulder with cider and parsnips

Don’t you just love those long, slow braises when the house fills with the wonderful aroma and you can just leave the dish to cook itself slowly? The parsnips add a wonderful earthy sweetness to the dish too.

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Serves 4 to 5

2 tbsp olive oil
2lb 4oz pork shoulder, diced. (Sometimes this joint of meat is called Boston Butt)
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
3 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp plain flour
12 fl oz (330 mls) bottle of cider
28 fl oz (1 1/2 pints) chicken or pork stock
a good handful Italian parsley, chopped
mashed potato and greens, to serve (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F or 180C.
Heat the oil in a large lidded flameproof or Le Creuset braiser and brown the meat in batches, then set aside. Fry the onions, celery and parsnips with the bay leaves for 10 mins until golden brown. Sprinkle in the flour and give a good stir, then add the pork and any juices back to the dish.
Add the cider and stock so that the meat and vegetables are covered. Season and bring to a simmer, then cover and put in the oven for 2 hrs.
Serve sprinkled with parsley, with mashed potato and greens, if you like.

** One nice tip is that if the braise is too liquidy, take out the solids and boil the liquid down to reduce, then return the solids to the pan.

Hot mustard lentils with beets and spicy sausage

All my favorite ingredients on one plate. Such a lovely mixture of flavors and textures and so good for you too.

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Serves 4

1lb 2 oz raw beets (beetroot)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1lb of lamb Merguez sausages or another spicy sausage of your choice
2 x 8oz pouches of the ready-cooked Puy lentils
3 oz watercress, stalks removed
FOR THE DRESSING
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Colmans English mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 F. Top and tail the beets, then peel and cut into wedges.
Put the beets in a roasting tin, drizzle over 2 tbsp of olive oil and toss with the onion, garlic and caraway seeds. Roast for 45 minutes until the beets are tender and the onion is sticky and charred.
In another roasting pan, put in 2 tbsp olive oil and the sausages. Put these in the same oven about 10 minutes later, roasting for about 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. (Alternatively, broil the sausages until golden brown on all sides)

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. While the beets are still warm, toss with the lentils and dressing.
Add the watercress and serve with the sausages.