Week Three Recipes

Menu One

Lemon and Chilli Chicken, Salad and a Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

Lemon and Chilli Chicken

This is a recipe that I came across years ago in a magazine, despite having chilli in it, it is not a spicy dish, as there is also honey in the marinade; I use orange blossom honey as it is a delicate floral flavour, great for a summer dish, but you could use any runny honey. The key to this dish is remembering to marinate it 24hours beforehand as it really makes a difference, other than that this dish sorts itself out  – just pop it in the oven and serve with a large salad (and if you are really hungry some potatoes or rice).

8 chicken thighs

4 lemons

12 unskinned garlic cloves

2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons of orange blossom honey (see note above)

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Half the lemons and squeeze out the juice, reserving the squeezed lemon halves.
  2. Skin and crush two of the garlic cloves, mix them with the lemon juice, chillies, the honey and seasoning. Stir well and pour over the chicken, pack the lemon halves around the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight (see note above), turning once or twice.
  3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, turn the chicken pieces skin side up and scatter over the remaining garlic cloves(unskinned), keep the lemons packed around the chicken pieces.
  4. Place in a preheated oven 200’c, for about 45mins until cooked through and well browned.
  5. Scatter over the parsley; serve with the lovely pan juices and the garlic cloves which will now be beautifully soft, ready to be popped out of their skins! (you can use the lemon halves for decoration).

Salad with a Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Make up a salad as desired and dress with this honey-mustard vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

4 tablespoons olive oil

Finely grated zest and juice of half an unwaxed lemon

1 teaspoon of honey

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together.

Menu Two

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime served with Rice and a Spiced Cucumber Salad

This recipe is taken from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘How to Eat a Peach’, it is a beautiful book (the cover is textured like a peach skin!), the recipes are grouped into menus according to the season. This recipe is super easy to cook, just prepare all the ingredients so they can be quickly thrown in the pan, ready to cook in minutes. The cucumber salad is an important accompaniment as its subtle spice gives the whole dish more depth. Start by preparing the rice, I like long grain white rice with this stir fry. Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the cucumber salad and all of the ingredients for the stir fry, then start cooking it just as the rice is cooked. If you are gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce for the cucumber salad. *For a vegetarian option I would replace the prawns with a large handful of cashew nuts and some baby corn or cauliflower florets!

*You can see the video of this dish being made by clicking on this link to my instagram page

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime

350g raw, shelled king prawns (defrosted if frozen)

200g sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (use less according to taste)

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Juice of lime

20g basil leaves, picked

  1. Dry the prawns on kitchen roll – the drier they are, the better they fry.
  2. Halve the sugar snap peas along their lengths, so that the peas peep out.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, when hot, add the sugar snaps, fry for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the prawns, chillies and garlic, reduce the heat a little and cook until the prawns turn pink.
  5. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime, stir it all around until the sugar has dissolved, finally throw in the basil leaves.
  6. Serve straight away with rice and the spiced cucumber salad.

Spiced Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1-2 teaspoons mild chilli powder (according to your taste)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional)

Black sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Cut the cucumber into wafer thin slices
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli powder in a bowl (depending on how spicy you would like it, you can add more or less chilli)
  3. Toss the cucumber into the bowl along with the spring onions, and if using, also add the sesame oil and seeds.

Menu Three – A Little Treat!

An Affogato and an “Old Fashioned’ Cocktail!

These two final recipes are two treats, a quick fix for any evening!…

Affogato

I am sure you all know the recipe for an affogato, but I think we often overlook its simplicity, and forget to make it (or rather I do!), so I thought I’d remind us all with the recipe. The word ‘affogato’ in Italian literally means ‘drowned’ and that is exactly what this recipe is – ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso coffee…

1 scoop of vanilla ice cream

1 shot of espresso coffee (hot!!)

  1. Place the scoop of ice cream in a small bowl or cup and pour over the hot shot of espresso coffee.
  2. That’s it!….The perfect pick me up!

An ‘Old Fashioned Cocktail

This cocktail is my guilty sin! Make sure you make it with bourbon, not whisky, as the  flavour of bourbon is sweeter whereas whisky has a smokier flavour –  it really makes a difference in this cocktail, I like to use ‘Makers Mark’.

60ml Bourbon (see note above)

A piece of orange peel

1 teaspoon of sugar syrup

3 dashes of angostura bitters

Ice cubes

Add the sugar syrup and the angostura bitters to a glass and with a few cubes of ice, hold the orange peel over the glass and squeeze it ‘to express the oils’ and then drop it into the glass, give everything a stir.

Add the Bourbon, stir again and serve…ahhh!

Week Two Recipes

This week has once again flown by, speaking with friends it seems that this is a significant side effect of ‘lockdown’, a phenomenon that has taken us all by surprise; why does time fly by when we are staying at home, rather than living our normal, out and about, busy lives?!… My decision to start this blog was rather spontaneous, so life has become twice as busy. My second week as a ‘blogger’(!) has introduced a few new challenges. I have been continuing to try new recipes but for the first time I have been taking photos of everything I am cooking, at almost every stage, I have even learnt how to take a photo one handed whilst pouring stock into a pan in order to get an ‘action’ shot! As this proved to be rather precarious I bought a little tripod stand, and on Monday, in my venture to improve Menu Mistress, I shot my first cooking video(!), check it out on my social media pages – there’s a link at the bottom of this page! Meanwhile, my husband, Nick, has learnt that he has to wait for his food to be photographed before he can eat it!…

Those are just some of the challenges of cooking for the blog, in addition, navigating through the design of the website has been demanding to say the least, particularly as I am almost completely computer illiterate. There have been some frustrating hours but I must admit that it has been extremely satisfying when I have eventually managed to ‘embed’ a link or upload some photos (thanks to my son, Felix, for helping me navigate through ‘Wordpress’ etc and particularly his patience when I’ve had a ‘senior moment’!).

Before lockdown, Friday evenings were always the evening that Nick and I would have dinner out at a local restaurant. I must admit, eating out is the thing that I miss the most now that our lives have changed under COVID-19. Even though I enjoy cooking, I am not a saint, I do need a break from it now and again (perhaps I shouldn’t be admitting this on my second blog post?!), and last Friday, after a frustrating afternoon with the computer, the idea of cooking was exhausting. Fortunately, I had a simple recipe in mind, all the ingredients were at hand, I just needed a ‘Cook’…step in ‘Mr Menu’, Nick! The recipe was one that I was hoping to try out for the blog, a lemon, pea and prosciutto pasta – a little like a carbonara with a lemon twist, perfect, I thought for a summer menu. Nick is a capable cook so what could go wrong?… This is the reason that recipes need to be tried and tested for Menu Mistress, although it had only a few ingredients, this pasta dish needed to be balanced to perfection, and unfortunately the lemon was totally overpowering whilst the addition of cream made the dish too rich. It was a huge disappointment proving that the simplest recipe is not necessarily a winner. When you’re feeling exhausted and it’s the end of the day, the last thing you want is a failed dish for dinner, I want every recipe on Menu Mistress to work for each and everyone of you; for any cook at any level. Obviously that particular recipe won’t be posted on the blog!

Anyway enough talking, let’s start cooking, here are this week’s recipes – you won’t be disappointed, I have tried and tested each one and they are fool proof!… 

Menu One

Tarragon Chicken Pie with New Potatoes (Serves 4)

This is an absolute favourite in our house and one which Felix insists that I cook when he is back from university! It is a recipe that I picked up from a magazine years ago and have tweaked over the years. I’m gluten free, so unfortunately these days I can’t eat the pastry, but the filling is a treat in itself. I usually serve this with buttered new potatoes. I use ‘Jus Rol, Ready Rolled Puff Pastry’, they have started to make a gluten free puff pastry, I haven’t tried it, but I have heard mixed reviews and so for the moment I will continue to be an unselfish ‘head cook’ and stick to the normal pastry that both Nick and Felix love! I prefer to use fresh chicken stock, but you could use a stock cube.

320g pack of ready rolled puff pastry (see note above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

15g butter

3 spring onions, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

75g diced pancetta

500g chicken breast, cut into bite size cubes

225ml chicken stock (see note above)

250g frozen peas

8-10 sprigs of tarragon

3 slices of Prosciutto ham, each slice rolled and cut in to 2cm pieces/ribbons

2 tablespoons of double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk (for a glaze)

  1. First of all, take the pastry out of the fridge as it needs at least 20 minutes to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven 200’c.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the spring onions, shallots and pancetta, fry for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and fry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock and peas, bring to a simmer, and add the chopped leaves of 6-7 of the sprigs of tarragon. Cook for 5 minutes until the peas are tender.
  5. Stir in the prosciutto and the cream, pour into a pie dish. Sprinkle over the chopped leaves of the remaining tarragon.
  6. For the pastry top, gently lay out the pastry. Cut it into a circular shape to top the pie dish. I find that by cutting strips of the remaining pastry, pressing them around the rim of the pie dish and then topping with the pastry top, helps the pastry rise – see photo. I also cut out a few leaves for decoration, but obviously this doesn’t effect the flavour so if you’re in a hurry I’d leave this out! Lightly score the pastry with a criss-cross pattern to help it rise and make sure you cut out a deep cross in the centre to allow the steam to escape during cooking. Brush over with the egg and milk glaze.
  7. Place in the preheated oven, bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Serve with new potatoes.

Menu Two

Plaice with Almonds & Thyme with Baby Roast Potatoes and a Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

This is a lovely dinner, perfect for a summer evening and very easy to cook. Once again this week, I am serving Baby Roast Potatoes (from Delia Smith) and a Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. These are ‘staple side dishes’, which you will no doubt see cropping up again on the recipe pages. You could, of course, use a different dressing for the salad, but in my opinion the lemon dressing really compliments the fish. The recipe for the plaice is from ‘Nina St Tropez’ by Nina Parker, this is a cookbook full of the flavours of the south of France, along with fantastic photographs of the beautiful Côte d’Azur!

The plaice cooks very quickly so it is important to get your timings right with the potatoes, they need about 30 minutes in the oven – therefore start cooking the fish 20 minutes after the potatoes have been put in the oven.

Plaice with Almonds and Thyme (serves 4)

If you are cooking this for four people you will have to cook two fish at a time as there won’t be enough space in the pan for four plaice fillets, therefore half the ingredients per pan accordingly (I have noted this in the recipe below). If you want to make this dish gluten free, substitute the flour for gluten free plain flour – I use ‘Doves’.

125g plain flour (or gluten free flour)

4 plaice fillets

20 g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 – 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

40g blanched almonds halved lengthways

1 lemon cut into wedges to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. First of all, mix the thyme leaves, garlic and almonds together, half this mixture into two small bowls ready to add to the fish pan during cooking.
  2.  Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip each fillet into the flour, coating it thoroughly but shaking off any excess.
  3. Melt half the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, when it is beginning to sizzle add two of the plaice fillets (I find it easier to do them skin side up first). Fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn them over and add the herb mixture from one of the bowls, moving it around so that the almonds and garlic begin to colour. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the plaice from the pan and pour over the herb/butter mixture, keep warm.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to cook the other 2 plaice fillets.
  6. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges, the baby roast potatoes and a salad of your choice with a lemon vinaigrette.

A Staple Side Dish’ – Baby Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (serves 4-6)

900g unpeeled new potatoes washed and cut roughly into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c. Put the olive oil in a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. Place the potatoes in a clean tea towel and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Remove tin from the oven and carefully slide the potatoes into the hot fat. Sprinkle over the garlic and rosemary then stir around.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

A Staple Side Dish’ – Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Make up a salad as desired and dress with this lemon vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

finely grated zest and juice of half an unwaxed lemon

pinch of sugar

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together.

Menu Three

Penne Pasta with Sausage (Serves 4)

I regularly cook this pasta dish as not only is it very tasty but incredibly quick to make. Although just a pinch of nutmeg and cloves are added, they really do make the sauce. The recipe is from ‘Passion for Pasta’ by Antonio Carluccio, I first bought this book over 20 years ago, it became so tattered from over use that I had to buy a second copy! If you are gluten free, like me, you can use gluten free sausages – I get some great ones from my local butcher. you can also make it with gluten free pasta, I think these days it’s hard to fault it; I have given it to Nick and Felix before when I’ve been too lazy to cook two types of pasta and they’ve hardly noticed! I particularly like ‘Barilla’ and ‘Garofalo’ gluten free pasta.

375g penne rigate

75g butter

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

300g pork sausage meat, removed from casings and broken up

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

150ml dry white wine

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

75g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter and gently fry the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the sausage meat, continuing to break it up, mixing it in with the onion and garlic. Fry gently until well browned.
  3. Add the wine and rosemary, reduce heat and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the nutmeg, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile cook the penne according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  6. Mix the sausage mixture with the parmesan cheese and add to the drained pasta.

Week One Recipes

Cooking has always been something I have enjoyed, I own over 150 cookbooks, some are well thumbed whilst others collect dust on the shelves, I can’t bear to get rid of any cookbook, just in case one day I might use it for that one obscure recipe; a ray of light on a rainy day!

When our lives changed radically at the end of March with the arrival of the unknown and lockdown, it was only natural that cooking would offer me a sense of control over the situation. I am the first to admit that I like routine and perhaps, yes, I am a little bit of a control freak(!), hence why the orderly fashion of a recipe is something that I find soothing. I am not one of those fortunate cooks who can throw something together by looking at the contents of their fridge, I need a recipe, a plan to work with, and then I organise my fridge around the recipe. I think that this orderly fashion compliments lockdown – these days we can’t just pop out to the shops on a whim, as social distancing and the need to queue makes us think twice, so in fact it makes sense to plan ahead and be organised.

After a few of weeks in lockdown one of the resounding complaints I heard from my friends was that they were fed up with the continuous demand of cooking daily, the knowledge that they couldn’t escape to a local restaurant if they chose to, seemed to make the chore of cooking a greater burden. They were constantly having to think about the next meal and were slipping into the habit of churning out the same old family favourites, they were feeling uninspired, and most of all bored with their meals. When I admitted, rather proudly, that I had hardly duplicated the same meal in the last three weeks, they were naturally surprised. It seems that my controlling nature is suited to lockdown cooking, with more time on my hands I enjoy searching through my many cookbooks for new recipes, I get a great sense of satisfaction when I have a week of new menus in front of me (and only one shopping list). I never aimed to cook a different meal every day for almost eight weeks, it just happened purely because it gave me a sense of comfort over this most uncontrolled scenario which is effecting all of our lives.

A few friends have asked me to share some of the recipes I have been cooking, to help them out of their ‘rut’, thus the idea of this blog transpired. I don’t have the demands of a job or young children, so I do have the time to research new menus for the week. I thought that by sharing them perhaps I can make someone else’s life a little easier by giving them one less thing to think about. Lockdown or no lockdown, these recipes could offer your home cooking the make-over it needs.

The idea is to share two or three new recipes a week along with their shopping list, all you have to do is add the ingredients to your shopping trolley and follow the recipes. You can still cook a few of your family favourites but also inject some fresh flavours to your week with these recipes which I have tried and tested. For a couple of days of the week, the decision of what’s for dinner is made for you. This blog is essentially for people who love food but don’t have the time, energy or patience to trawl through cookbooks to find that winning recipe – that’s the job of Menu Mistress!

Menu One

Chargrilled Lemon & Thyme Chicken with Baby Roast Potatoes and a Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

The fresh flavours of this first dinner recipe are perfect for the season right now. It is important to marinate the chicken before cooking it as it really does improve the flavour – overnight would be the best option. On the day you’re eating it, start by cooking the baby roast potatoes and preparing the salad/dressing, then 10-15 minutes before the potatoes are ready, cook the meat. I prefer to cook the chicken on a griddle pan as it gives a lovely crispy, chargrill effect however if you don’t have one, a regular frying pan works. This dinner is courtesy of two of my favourite cookery book writers, Diana Henry and Delia Smith. The chicken is from Diana Henry’s ‘ Pure, Simple Cooking’, I have a few of her cookbooks so no doubt you will see her name cropping up again soon on this blog. The potatoes are a classic recipe from Delia Smith (a blast from the past!), a cookery writer who never disappoints!

At the beginning of lockdown I found it difficult to find chicken thighs at my butchers, but I discovered an abundance of them online from Fosse Meadows and from Coombe Farm Organic, I would recommend both of these websites for high quality meat – I tried both the chicken and duck (breast). Coombe Farm Organic meat is delivered frozen. To tell you the truth I was always a bit of a snob about freezing meat, assuming that it would impart the flavour, but during lockdown I have had to freeze it and it has not effected the flavour at all, so I will probably continue to keep a few cuts frozen in the future. I think that the most important factor is to buy it from a reputable source.

Chargrilled Chicken with Lemon and Thyme (serves 4)

8 boneless chicken thighs, skin on (if you buy from a butcher ask him to bone them for you)

60ml olive oil

chopped leaves from about 10 generous sprigs of thyme

sea salt and black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

lemon wedges to serve

  1. Flatten out the chicken thighs and make some slits on them. Rub with the olive oil and pat on the thyme leaves. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat a griddle pan (or a frying pan) until it is really hot. Season the chicken and put on the pan, skin side down. Let it sizzle for about 2 minutes then lower the temperature and continue to cook until the thighs are cooked through – turning half way through, so that both sides are well browned.
  3. Pour over the lemon juice and serve immediately with the baby roast potatoes and the green salad dressed with the lemon vinaigrette.

Baby Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (serves 4-6)

900g unpeeled new potatoes washed and cut roughly into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c. Put the olive oil in a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. Place the potatoes in a clean tea towel and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Remove tin from the oven and carefully slide the potatoes into the hot fat. Sprinkle over the garlic and rosemary then stir around.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Make up a salad as desired and dress with this lemon vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

finely grated zest and juice of half unwaxed lemon

pinch of sugar

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together.

Menu Two

Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder with Oatmeal Bread (Serves 4)

I must admit to cooking this recipe more than once during lockdown, as not only is it a delicious family favourite but it is also super easy to cook and deceptively filling! A definite winner in my humble opinion. I suggest you serve it with some fresh crusty bread (and butter), as I am gluten free I can’t eat the bread so instead I make a gluten free oatmeal bread. Oatmeal bread is a revelation, even my husband, Nick, a true gluten glutton likes it and often tries to nab a slice with his chowder despite ‘his’ bread being on the table. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare then an hour in the oven. Serve it warm from the oven or toasted; I often slice it up and freeze it, so that it can be quickly toasted from frozen. Both these recipes are from Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Recipes from My Mother’ – as the name suggests, this is a book with lots of comforting recipes.

Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder (serves 4)

I used to buy the fresh crabmeat from my fishmonger but I have since discovered a fresh brand available in supermarkets called ‘Seafood & Eat it’ (great name!), which is very good, they sell it in 100g packs one is pure white crab meat and the other is ‘fifty-fifty’ – half white, half brown, I find mixing these two packs gives the soup a fuller flavour. I actually use tinned, unsweetened corn for this recipe as opposed to frozen corn kernels, as I find that they have a softer texture and are sweeter, which I think works well with this particular recipe. I use fresh stock bought from the supermarket, ‘TRUEfoods’ chicken stock is very good if you can get it.

30g butter

200g onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

300g potatoes, diced

600ml chicken stock (see note above)

200ml milk

200g sweetcorn kernels (see note above)

200g fresh crabmeat (I usually use 150g white/ 50g brown – see note above)

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon

50ml of double cream

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onions and garlic with the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sweat until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally so that they don’t brown.
  3. Add the stock, sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and are just beginning to thicken the soup.
  4. Finally, add the crabmeat, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, chopped herbs and cream. Check the seasoning and bring back to a gentle simmer, to heat through.
  5. Serve with lots of bread or the oatmeal bread (recipe below)

Oatmeal Bread

425g rolled oats

A scant teaspoon of sea salt

2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

2 tablespoons of mixed seeds

1 egg

500g natural yogurt

  1. Preheat oven to 200’c. Line a 900g/1Ib loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mix together the oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda and mixed seeds.
  3. Whisk the egg into the yogurt. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Scoop the dough into the tin and bake for 50 minutes.
  5. Turn out of the tin and bake the loaf for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Menu Three

Lamb Chops with Tarragon Green Beans and Shallot Chutney served with Buttered New Potatoes (Serves 4)

This recipe is also cooked on a griddle pan, but you can use a regular frying pan. The flavours work really well together; the tangy chutney really makes this dinner. This recipe is from Marcus Wareing’s book ‘Marcus at Home’, despite being a michelin starred, super chef, his recipes in this book (as the name suggests), are mostly straightforward and of course tasty! I have replaced the minted green beans that he suggests with tarragon green beans (courtesy of ‘Leiths How to Cook’ book), as I think that they work better with the chutney, and are extremely easy to make!

Lamb Chops with Shallot Chutney (Serves 4)

8 lamb loin chops

olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

For The Shallot Chutney…

3 large echalion shallots, chopped

200ml malt vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon

50g capers

30g caster sugar

2 teaspoons nigella seeds(optional)

  1. To make the shallot chutney, put the shallots, 200ml vinegar, capers, caster sugar, nigella seeds (optional) and 75ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce until there is no liquid remaining. Finally stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
  2. Heat the griddle pan (or frying pan) until very hot. Brush the lamb chops with oil and season with salt and pepper. First place the chops in the pan on their fat-side, lean them against each other for support. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the fat renders and becomes crisp.
  3. Lay the chops on their sides and cook 3-5 minutes on each side, basting with the rendered fat. Remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with the tarragon green beans, some buttered new potatoes and drizzle the shallot chutney over the top.

Tarragon Green Beans (serves 4)

250g fine green beans

10g butter

1/2 clove of garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Top the beans, place in salted boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes until they are nearly tender but still have ‘bite’.
  2. Meanwhile melt the butter and fry the garlic until lightly golden.
  3. Add the drained beans to the butter and garlic, stir in the tarragon and season before serving.