Well, summer is coming to a close; I will be sorry to say goodbye to August as I’ve so very much enjoyed it! We’ve been holidaying in Italy and although I’ve been away from my kitchen I’ve still been thinking about food on a daily basis; we’ve been eating out a lot – when in Italy how can you not?! I’ve also been reading about food. I must admit to packing too many books in my suitcase, I did have every intention of reading them all, but, you know how it is, the sun makes it seem like such hard work! However, whilst relaxing on the beach I especially loved reading ‘Midnight Chicken & Other Recipes Worth Living For’, I really felt as if I was in the kitchen with its author, Ella Risbridger. It’s a terrific memoir/ recipe book, a rare find; not only does it tear at your heart but it also inspires you to cook – quite a feat. Risbridger reminds us of why we should cook and of the solace it can offer. She writes of her life and cooking exploits with warmth and humility; it made me appreciate the pleasures of cooking and how just the simplest of recipes can raise our spirits. In my mind, there is nothing more comforting than making something from scratch and then sitting down to eat your creation (it doesn’t have to be anything fancy!). With this in mind and also with the need for an uncomplicated life, September’s recipes have been chosen for their simplicity. What a great way for us to welcome in a new month…
Menu One is ‘Spicy Beef with Coriander Relish’, this recipe from chef Bill Granger has a tangy coriander relish which lifts the steak to higher realms. Menu Two is ‘Poussin with Leek, Roast Pear & Goats Cheese’, I adore the flavours of this recipe; the sweetness of the roast pear and the tangy freshness of the goat’s cheese complement the poussin beautifully. Of course, instead of poussin, you could use a spatchcock chicken. It’s so simple to make, just pop it in the oven for about 45mins with some quartered pears and leeks, and serve scattered with soft goats cheese – that’s about it! Menu Three is ‘Sea bream with Pistachio & Herb Crust’, it’s taken from Yasmin Khan’s cookbook ‘Ripe Figs’ which takes inspiration from Eastern Mediterranean cooking. It’s incredibly easy, just mix the herb-packed salsa ingredients and serve with fried fish for a quick, extremely tasty midweek meal. Finally, Menu Four is’ Spicy Prawn & Cherry Tomato Spaghetti’, it’s one of those simple pasta sauces which is instantly gratifying; its slightly piquant flavour is cut by the sweetness bursting from the cherry tomatoes – sublime!
Now, with those recipes shared, I’m off to buy Ella Risbridger’s second book ‘The Year of Miracles’. I’m sneaking off to Italy again next week, so this book will definitely be on my packing list! Unfortunately, that means Menu Mistress will also be away next week, we will be back Tuesday 13th September with a delicious treat!….
*Menu Mistress will be taking a break next week…
I will be back with a Tuesday Treat on 13th September!…
Spicy Beef with Coriander Relish, Mangetout & Steamed Rice (Serves 4)
This is a wonderfully fresh recipe from chef Bill Granger, the tangy coriander relish lifts the steak to higher realms. Served with mangetout and rice it makes a light yet fulfilling supper.
For the Steaks:
4 x 200g sirloin steaks
80ml rice wine or dry sherry
60ml oyster sauce (gluten-free if required)
60ml light soy sauce (gluten-free if required)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the Coriander Relish:
50g coriander, chopped
60ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 large red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the steaks, gently turning in the marinade, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours or more, bringing back to room temperature before cooking.
- Meanwhile prepare the coriander relish by simply placing the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring to combine.
- To prepare the mangetout blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then plunge into cold water and drain. Steam the rice according to the packet instructions.
- When you are ready to cook the steaks, heat a frying pan until very hot. Place the steaks in the pan and cook for about 1½ minutes of each side for rare or a little longer depending on your taste. I also like to turn the steaks on their ‘fat’ edge, for 30 seconds to crisp it up.
- Remove the steaks to a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Slice each steak into 1 cm slices, top with a little relish and serve with the mangetout, steamed rice and more coriander relish on the side.
Poussin with Leek, Roast Pear & Goats Cheese (Serves 4)
I adore the flavours of this recipe, the sweetness of the roast pear and the tangy freshness of the goats cheese complement the poussin beautifully. Of course, instead of poussin you could use a spatchcock chicken – it may need 5-10 minutes more in the oven, but the leeks and pears will be fine. This recipe is taken from ‘Leiths How to Cook’ – a classic cookbook!
If you get your poussin from your butcher, ask him to spatchcock them for you, alternatively it is very easy to do yourself…
How to Spatchcock a Poussin or Chicken:
On the backside of the poussin/chicken, using a pair of strong kitchen scissors, cut along either side of the back bone to remove it, then flip the poussin/ chicken over and press down very firmly on its breast bones, it will give a satisfying crack as it flattens!
Click here to watch the video on me spatchcocking a chicken on my Instagram Page!
For the Chicken:
2 poussin, spatchcocked (or 1 small spatchcocked chicken – see note above)
3 firm pears
2 small leeks
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons white wine
100g soft goats cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Place the poussin (or chicken) in a shallow roasting tin.
- Quarter and core the pears, there is no need to peel them. Wash and trim the leeks and cut on the diagonal into 2cm slices. Place the pears and leeks around the poussin. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and scatter over the garlic, mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 35-40 minutes, turning the pears and leeks from time to time to ensure even browning, until the poussin are cooked and the pears and leeks are caramelised and tender.
- Place the watercress in a bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle over with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix, then arrange on plates.
- Once the poussin are cooked transfer to a plate with the pears and leeks to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile pour off any fat from the juices in the roasting tin, add the wine and some salt and pepper, and bring quickly to the boil.
- Carve the poussin, place on the plates with the watercress and the pears and leeks. Dress with the pan juices. Pull the goats cheese into pieces and scatter over to serve.
Sea Bream with Pistachio & Herb Crust (Serves 4)
In her cookbook ‘Ripe Figs’, Yasmin Khan shares recipes from the Eastern Mediterranean; I particularly like this Turkish recipe for sea bream. It’s incredibly easy to make the herb-packed salsa for a quick, but incredibly tasty midweek meal. Simply serve with a good green salad and steamed new potatoes.
For the Salsa:
60g shelled, unsalted pistachios
4 handfuls parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 handfuls dill, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons small capers, drained and rinsed
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
For the Fish:
4 -6 sea bream fillets (depending on the size of the fish)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons plain flour (gluten-free if required)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Use a mortar and pestle to pound the pistachios until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the pistachios to a small bowl and add the remaining salsa ingredients with ¼ teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well to ensure the herbs and nuts are evenly coated with the dressing, then set aside for the flavours to infuse.
- Pat the sea bream dry on kitchen paper, season with salt and pepper before rubbing the cumin lightly into the fish’s flesh. Dust the fish with flour, evenly coating it on both sides.
- Cook the sea bream in batches; heat some of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, when the oil is hot place the sea bream, skin side down in the pan. Fry for 4 minutes then flip it over and cook for a further 30 seconds. Transfer to kitchen paper to soak up the oil. Repeat adding more vegetable oil to the pan when needed.
- Serve the sea bream topped with the pistachio salsa.
Spicy Prawn & Cherry Tomato Spaghetti (Serves 4)
This is one of those easy pasta sauces which is instantly gratifying; its slightly piquant flavour is cut by the sweetness bursting from the cherry tomatoes – sublime!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
400g peeled raw king prawns, defrosted if frozen
800g cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
100ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
400g spaghetti (gluten-free if required)
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Pat the prawns dry on kitchen roll and season with salt. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Remove the prawns to a plate and set aside.
- Tip the tomatoes, garlic and chilli into the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until the tomatoes are lightly charred and beginning to burst. Pour in the wine and cook for a further minute.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions. Drain, saving a tablespoon or so of the cooking water.
- Tip the pasta into the frying pan with the tomatoes. Add the cooked prawns and toss well to combine over the heat. Add a little of the reserved cooking water and continue turning the pasta in the sauce until well coated. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.