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Baked Shallots with Tomatoes and Bacon

1 hour

serves 4

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Serve this dish as a starter with warm crusty bread or as an accompaniment to fish or meat.

12 large shallots, unpeeled
6 rashers streaky bacon
6 anchovy fillets (optional)
4 pieces sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 tbsp. olive oil
crusty bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Cut a cross in the top of each shallot almost to the base. Pack closely together in a lightly oiled baking dish. Remove the rind from the bacon, then cut each rasher in half lengthways. Place the strips across the top of the shallots. If using the anchovies, halve them lengthways and sprinkle over the shallots. Cut each piece of sun-dried tomato into three, sprinkle over the shallots. Drizzle with the oil, season and bake for 40-45 minutes until the shallots are tender, nicely browned and have split open. Serve hot as a starter with warm crusty bread.

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Wilted Spinach Salad

30 min.

serves 4

1 aubergine (eggplant), medium sized
4 shallots, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
150g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
fresh basil
fresh or dried thyme
spinach, washed
4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a pan or wok large enough to hold the spinach with room to stir it
toasted sesame seeds as a garnish

Cut aubergine in quarters and remove centre so skin is about ¼ inch to 1/3 inch thick. Cut into 1 inch squares. In a large pan or wok (large enough for all the spinach), sauté the aubergine in the oil of the sun-dried tomatoes until soft, stirring frequently. Add more oil if needed, but keep it to a minimum. Add the shallots and herbs about half-way through and the spring onions a moment later.

Turn heat way down and add about 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and the spinach. Mix all the ingredients so the spinach is well coated, allowing the spinach to wilt but not become cooked enough to be mushy (approx. 30 seconds).

Serve at once with a garnish of toasted sesame seeds.

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Turkey in Blue Cheese Sauce

40 min.

serves 6

6 boneless skinless turkey breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
5 bacon rashers, cut in thin strips
2 leeks, cut in thin strips
200ml./7 fl.oz. low fat crème fraîche
75g./3oz. Stilton or other blue cheese

serve with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

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Place turkey breasts between 2 sheets greaseproof paper and beat flat with a rolling pin. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the turkey in batches for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until golden and tender. Place in ovenproof dish and keep warm.

Add bacon to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until starting to crisp. Add leeks and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until just wilting.

Spoon a little sauce over each turkey breast and serve with rosemary potatoes and salad.



Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

4 large potatoes, cubed
1½ tbsp. olive oil
6-8 fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Roast the potatoes in oil and rosemary for 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown.

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Mediterranean Lamb

1 hour

serves 2-3

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 courgettes, washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
225g./8oz. minced lamb
150 ml./ ¼ pint dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato purée
230g. can chopped tomatoes, with juice
4 tablespoons pesto sauce
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut in long strips
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in long strips
dash of Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons double cream
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated

In a large pan, heat the oil. Add the onion, courgettes and garlic and cook over a moderate heat until tender. Add the lamb mince and cook to brown. Then add tomato purée, wine, chopped tomatoes and pesto sauce. Stir in the red and green peppers, seasoning and Tabasco sauce. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Serve on a bed of pasta shapes or rice. Spoon the cream over the lamb and sprinkle with the cheese

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Chicken Breasts w/ shallots, oranges, horseradish

30 min.

serves 4

2 oranges
1 tbsp. plain flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
25g/1oz butter
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
12 shallots, peeled and halved

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2 tbsp. sherry
100g/4oz crème fraîche
1 tbsp. horseradish sauce
1 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
450g/1lb steamed new potatoes
350g/12oz steamed broccoli

Finely grate the rind from one of the oranges and mix with the flour and seasoning on a plate. Squeeze the juice from both oranges and set aside. Coat the chicken pieces evenly in the flour mixture.

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan with a lid, then add the shallots and fry gently for about 5 minutes until softened, but not browned, remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the chicken to the pan and fry on both sides until nicely browned. Stir in the orange juice and sherry and allow to bubble. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is tender.

Return the shallots to the pan with the crème fraîche, horseradish and seasoning and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes until warmed through, then stir in the tarragon. Serve with new potatoes and broccoli.

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Crusty Mushrooms

20 min.

serves 6

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
French baguette, cut into 12 thin diagonal slices
175g./6oz. chestnut mushrooms, coarsely chopped
175g./6oz. cherry tomatoes
1½ tsp. pesto sauce

Mix the oil and garlic in a pan. Place the French bread on a baking sheet and grill until golden. Turn over and brush with a little of the garlic oil; grill until golden.

Heat the garlic oil, then add the mushrooms and fry for 1 minute. add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Turn up the heat and cook until the juices are slightly thickened. remove from the heat, stir in the pesto and seasoning. Spoon onto the bread and serve

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Garlicky Fish Soup

20 min.

serves 2

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
225g/8oz plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 fresh thyme sprig
pared strip of orange zest
pinch of saffron strands, soaked in 1 tbsp. hot water
600ml/1 pint fish stock
1 tbsp. tomato purée
350g./12oz. mixed skinned and boned fish, such as monkfish, cod, haddock
100g./4oz. peeled and cooked large prawns
Tabasco sauce
chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish
warm crusty bread to serve

Choose firm-fleshed white fish that will keep its shape when cooked. It will readily absorb the flavours of other ingredients too. Heat the oil in a large pan, fry the shallots and garlic until just beginning to colour. Add the tomatoes, thyme and orange zest and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the saffron liquid and discard the strands, then pour the saffron liquid and stock into the tomato mixture; bring slowly to the boil. Stir in the tomato purée.

Cut the fish into chunks and add to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes until the fish is tender but still holding its shape; don’t overcook it.

Remove the thyme sprig and orange zest from the soup. Adjust the seasoning and add a few drops of Tabasco sauce. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with warm crusty bread.

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Sushi Meshi

45 Min.

serves 6

Rice for sushi is of the short-grain white variety, cooked by absorption and cooled by fanning. It is flavoured with sushi vinegar (a mixture of Japanese rice vinegar, sugar and salt, see recipe below) to give it its unique taste and the necessary stickiness to hold together for moulding.

3 cups (21oz/655g) short-grain white rice
3¾ cups (30fl.oz./950ml) water
2½ in (7.5 cm) square piece kombu (kelp)
½ cup (2½fl.oz./75ml) prepared sushi vinegar

Sushi Vinegar

If you can't find prepared sushi vinegar, you can make your own as below:
1/3cup (21/2 fl oz/75 ml) rice vinegar
1/3cup (3 oz/90 g) sugar
3 teaspoons salt

Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Thoroughly wash the rice with cold water and drain well. Pour into a heavy-based saucepan and add the water.

[Using the kombu is optional] Wipe the kombu with a damp cloth and score several times on one side to release the flavour. Place on top of the rice.

Cover the rice and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the rice simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove the kombu and continue cooking for a further 8-10 minutes, until the rice is tender and has absorbed the water. Remove from the heat and cover with a folded kitchen towel. Let stand for a further 10 minutes to allow the rice to become plump and tender, and to dry a little more.

Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl. Add the sushi vinegar. The technique for adding the vinegar to the rice takes practice and is best done by two people as the rice must be simultaneously fanned to cool it and tossed with the vinegar.

Trickle on a little of the vinegar and lightly toss and stir the rice with a flat wide spoon to aerate the rice as much as possible; at the same time it must be energetically fanned to cool it quickly. This technique produces the required stickiness as well as giving each grain a shiny gloss and distributing the vinegar evenly. Continue until the rice is at room temperature and is sticky enough to hold together without becoming too damp. It may not be necessary to use all of the vinegar mixture.

Sushi rice must be used on the same day it is prepared and should not be stored in the refrigerator. Cover with damp cloth and leave in a cool part of the kitchen if not using immediately.

This recipe provides enough rice for approximately 50 nigiri-sushi or 10 rolls (60 pieces) of nori-sushi. A half recipe will suffice for oshi-sushi or chirashi-sushi.

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Tagliatelle with a Leek Cream Sauce

½ hour

serves 4

2 oz. butter
3 tbsp. dry vermouth
3 tbsp. white wine
black pepper
150ml./5 oz. cream
70g./2 ½oz. parmesan cheese,  freshly grated

Cut leeks into ½ inch rings and wash. Melt butter in large heavy frypan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add vermouth, wine and some salt; cook until leeks are tender (add a little bit of water if necessary). Purée this mixture.

Put purée in a saucepan, add lots of pepper and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to heated bowl and stir in 2 tbsp. Parmesan. Cover and keep warm.

Cook the tagliatelle and drain (reserving 1 cup of cooking water for later). Add tagliatelle to sauce and some reserved water to make smooth consistency and 2 more tbsp. Parmesan. Toss and serve.   (from Ann Penistan)

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Five Spice Chicken Parcels

45 min.+

serves 4

2 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. hoi-sin sauce
2 tbsp. medium dry sherry
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp. grated fresh root ginger
2 tsp. clear honey
½ tsp. Chinese five spice powder
4 x 100g/4oz skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 bunch spring onions, shredded
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish
noodles and mixed peppers, to serve

Mix the soy sauce, hoi-sin sauce, sherry, garlic, ginger, honey and five spice powder in a shallow dish. Slash the chicken breasts and coat in the marinade. Cover and leave to stand for several hours or overnight in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cut four squares of foil large enough

to enclose each chicken breast. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on sheets of foil. Divide the spring onions and carrots among the parcels. Pour the marinade into a small pan and boil until thickened, then spoon it over the chicken and vegetables. Draw up the edges of the foil and pinch together.

Arrange in a roasting tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the chicken is tender. Place each parcel on a serving plate, open and garnish with coriander sprigs. Serve with noodles and peppers.

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