Garlicky pumpkin risotto

Method:

Make the pesto:
Pulse the basil, garlic and pinenuts in a food processor to a coarse paste, adding enough olive oil to produce a loose-textured puree. Pour into a bowl and fold in the parmesan.

Cook the garlic:
Blanch the 6 cloves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain all the water off then add 200ml of the stock and half the butter. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the garlic is really soft and the stock and butter have reduced to a syrupy glaze. Remove from the heat. (You can do this up to 4 hours in advance).

Cook the pumpkin:
Heat oven to 200C. Toss the pumpkin cubes with the olive oil, season and roast for 10-15 minutes until just tender.

Make the risotto:
Sweat the onion in the remaining butter in a large shallow pan until soft – about 5 minutes. Tip in the rice, raise the heat and toast the rice until translucent. Lower the heat and add the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, stirring well until the stock is completely absorbed before adding the next ladleful.
Once the rice is al dente, fold in the two cheeses, garlic cloves and pumpkin. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve with a drizzle of pesto on top.

Indian chicken stew

Method:

Heat one tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large pan over a low heat. When the oil is hot add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns and mace. Fry until the spices start to crackle, then add the chilli, ginger and onions.
Fry the spices and onions for 5-10 minutes over a low heat until onions are translucent.  Now add the turmeric, coriander, black pepper and cinnamon powder and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and the water and heat to a gentle simmer.

Next add the cooked chicken pieces and the tomatoes and poach gently over a low heat with the lid off for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through, keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn’t dry out, you should end up with a nice sauce the thickness of cream.  If it looks like there won’t be enough liquid put the lid on while the chicken cooks.

Serve with steamed rice, this is a wonderfully fragrant and creamy curry.

Chicken curry with mango chutney

Method:

This Indian recipe makes quite a sweet, rich curry.

Crush the cloves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds using a pestle and mortar – discard the green husks from the cardamoms.  Gently fry the onion in groundnut oil until it is soft and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry together for a few minutes.

Add all the spices and the salt and gently fry for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and mix well with the spices. Allow to bubble for a few minutes then add the water. Bring back to the boil and add the chicken. Mix well and simmer, uncovered, for 5 – 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

Add the mango chutney and the fresh coriander. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Serve with basmati rice.

Spanish lamb stew

Method:

This is an excellent Spanish stew recipe,ideally for a Sunday dinner, first add a good slug of olive oil to a hot pan and add the onions and chopped pepper, frying over a medium heat for around five mins.

Add the garlic and fry for a further minute before adding the diced lamb to the pan.  Brown the meat on all sides over a high heat before adding the wine and allowing to reduce by about half.

Add the everything else to the pan except the parsley and bring up to a simmer.  Cover and cook until the lamb is very tender – probably one to one and half hours.  Check for seasoning and serve with rice or potatoes with vegetables of your choice.

When checking the lamb, add a little water or stock if there is not enough liquid.

Lamb and sweet pepper sauce

Method:

Cook the lamb into 1 cm cubes before frying on a high heat in olive oil for 10 mins with some salt and pepper, stirring often, until browned on all sides.  Sprinkle in garlic and fry for a further minute or two before adding the bay leaves, then pour in wine and let it bubble until reduced slightly.

Next add tomatoes and peppers, stir well. Check the seasoning, cover and simmer over low heat for 45-55 mins or until lamb is very tender. Stir occasionally and moisten with water if sauce becomes too dry. Remove bay leaves before serving with short pasta and parmesan cheese.

Rum glazed pork chops with sweet potato

Method:

This is a quick and easy recipe for pork chops with a Carribbean twist.  Place the sweet potato in a pan of boiling salted water and cook until tender, when ready drain, mash and add the peas and some butter.  Keep warm until the pork is ready to serve.

For the pork, season with salt and pepper.  Add some oil to a deep sided frying pan  and put on a high heat before adding the pork.  Depending on the thickness of the pork fry on each side for 3-5 mins until they are well browned and seared.  In the meantime add the sugar and allspice to the chicken stock and mix well, add the rum to the pan and allow the alcohol to burn off before adding the chicken stock.

Cook the pork in the sauce and let it reduce to a thick glaze, turning the chops regulary to coat them in the sauce and ensure they are cooked evenly.  When the sauce is reduced to the tickness of double cream serve with the sweet poatato.

Chickpea, mango and coconut salad

Method:

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and chana dall until the mixture pops and crackles. add the chilli and asafoetida (or onion) and fry for a minute or two.

Add the chickpeas and seasoning and fry for a few minutes before removing from the heat.
In a large bowl, put the coconut, green chilli, mango and plums. add the warm chickpea mixture and mix through. Then add the lemon zest and juice, coriander and mint leaves. Taste and check for seasoning. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if required.

For the onion garnish, thinly slice a small onion and shallow fry in a pan until quite dark brown and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle over a pinch or two of sugar. set aside until required.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Method:

This is a really easy Asian salad recipe that involves no cooking, apart from poaching a chicken breast and that’s hardly taxing! It’s great to have if you feel you’ve been overdoing rich and heavy foods as it is light, fresh and healthy. The dressing is oh so virtuous as it involves no oil and you can leave out the peanuts if you’re being really strict with yourself. Leftover roast chicken or turkey can be used instead of poaching a chicken breast for an even easier meal. Try it…you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re not lucky enough to have leftovers, poach the chicken breast in some simmering salted water until just cooked (about 10 minutes or so depending on the size). Allow to cool slightly in the water before removing. Set aside.

In a jar, put the chilli, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and water. Put the lid on and shake well to combine. Taste and check the seasoning – it should be sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Put the sliced onion in a small bowl, pour over the dressing and set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the flavours to mellow and develop.

When ready to serve, scatter the cabbage, celery, carrot and mint over a large serving plate. Shred the chicken and add it to the vegetables. Next, pour over the onion and dressing and toss everything together. Grind over some black pepper and sprinkle on the peanuts if using.

Chorizo and pork belly with polenta chips

Method:

Heat the oven to fan 140C. Cut the pork belly into large chunks and fry in some hot olive oil until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes until golden, then reduce the heat slightly and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft which will take about five minutes, then stir in the paprika and chorizo and cook for a further minute.

Return the pork to the pan and add the tomatoes, add the wine and bring to the boil and cook for a couple of mins before adding enough water just to cover. Season then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours until the pork is falling apart.

In the meantime add 2 cups cold water and stir in the polenta. Turn on the heat to medium and stir the polenta constantly until it starts to simmer. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water, and then bring the polenta mixture to a simmer again.
Turn down the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the polenta from clumping. Stir in the butter and add salt to taste. Pour the mixture into a baking dish or pan lined with clingwrap. Spread it evenly and smoothen the surface. Set aside to cool, and if necessary, pop it into the fridge for a while so that the polenta cake firms up.
Remove the polenta cake from the baking dish and slice into cubes or bite-sized nuggets (about 1/3 inch thick).
Place the extra 1/3 cup polenta in a shallow dish and toss in the sliced polenta cubes to coat evenly. Shake off excess polenta. Heat sufficient vegetable oil in a pan/wok for deep-frying. Deep-fry the polenta cubes in batches, for about 5-7 minutes until golden and crisp.
Remove and drain on kitchen paper, and then place in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, sprinkle with salt, rosemary and plenty of grated parmesan. Serve with the stew
Note: For a healthier alternative, you may choose to bake these in the oven at 200C (400F) instead of deep-frying them.

Stir through the coriander and parsley. Serve with potatoes, toasted sliced ciabatta with melted gruyere and a fine vino.