Tuesday Treat

White Negroni Twist (Serves 1)

I recently discovered this cocktail whilst eating at my local Italian, Maremma (review here!). I’m not normally keen on the bitterness of a Negroni but this White Negroni Twist has sweeter, subtler flavours. Apart from gin, it is made from Quaglia Liquore Chinotto which has a spicy sweet, sour flavour and Cocchi Americano which is an Italian aromatised wine (both can be bought at amazon.co.uk). It’s worth splashing out on these ingredients for a truly sophisticated cocktail!…

2 tablespoons gin

2 tablespoons Quaglia Liquore Chinotto

1½ tablespoons  Cocchi Americano

A twist of orange (optional)

  1. Fill a glass with ice and pour over the ingredients, stir well, and top with a twist of orange peel to serve – how simple is that?!

‘Blast From the Past Recipe’

Pot Roast Chicken with Figs (Serves 4-6)

This is the perfect autumnal roast, so I thought I should remind you of it – I first shared it in September 2020, so it may have slipped your mind!…

I  love pot roasting chicken as once in the oven it just looks after itself. It is less fatty and messy to cook than a traditional roast, plus the juices caught in the bottom of the pot create a lovely sauce and the chicken comes out perfectly moist! This recipe with the figs is rather luxurious, and naturally very tasty. Any leftover figs are great the next day cold (and sticky!) with prosciutto or other cold meats – what a beautiful lunch!! I found this recipe in Diana Henry’s wonderful cookbook ‘A Bird in the Hand’, which concentrates purely on chicken recipes – it is a very comforting cookbook. I like to serve this dish with either Perfect Roast Potatoes or Concetta’s Potatoes (recipes here)

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1.8kg chicken

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Armagnac

125ml dry white wine

125ml chicken stock

4 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

12 -18 figs, stalks snipped, halved

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

20g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, heat the oil in a large casserole dish (with a lid) and brown the chicken all over.
  2. Pour off most of the fat and fry the onion until soft and golden.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the Armagnac, scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all the sticky bits, then add the wine, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Season with black pepper.
  4. Return the chicken and any juices that have run out of it. Cover, put in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 70 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes. Baste every so often
  5. Remove the Chicken from the pan and keep warm. Skim off the fat from the cooking juices and strain into a frying pan. Boil to reduce them, until they become slightly syrupy.
  6. Reduce the heat and add the figs, vinegar and honey. Cook for about 4 minutes.
  7. Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and whisk in the cubed butter to make a rich and shiny sauce.
  8. Serve the Chicken, either whole or jointed, on a warm platter with the figs surrounding it and the sauce in a jug on the side

Tuesday Treat

Salted Caramel Bourbon Ice Cream (No-Churn)

I’ve been rather spoilt lately as whilst holidaying in Italy I’ve been enjoying the ‘gelato’ – probably a little too much! Back in the UK I find that the next best thing is homemade no-churn ice cream. This Salted Caramel Bourbon flavour is my new favouriteNigella Lawson deserves a round of applause for this recipe! It really is one of the best flavours I’ve come across. The Bourbon not only gives it a wonderful taste but makes it incredibly soft. Meanwhile, by using ‘Carnation Caramel’ rather than natural condensed milk you get the additional flavour of caramel, plus there is that extra pinch of salt – all in all, it’s heavenly! And it’s so easy to make…what are you waiting for?!…

(Go to my Desserts Page for Salted Honey Ice Cream, Coffee & Cardamom Ice Cream and Strawberry Ice Cream – these are also easy, no-churn recipes!)

397g can of Carnation Caramel (or dulce de leche)

300ml double cream

1-2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

2-3 tablespoons Bourbon

Pecan nuts, chopped to serve

  1. Scrape the caramel condensed milk into a large bowl, add the cream and 1 teaspoon salt. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk until it becomes thick.
  2. Taste to see if it needs more salt, I usually find 1 teaspoon is about right. Then gradually whisk in the Bourbon, taste again to check how much you want – I find 3 tablespoons is good. It will now be thick but floppy, rather like thick melted ice cream.
  3. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container and to stop ice crystals forming, cover the mixture with a sheet of greaseproof paper before putting the lid on.
  4.  Freeze for 6-8 hours or overnight. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  5. Scoop to serve and sprinkle with some chopped pecan nuts.

September 2022

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!…

Menu One

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

To serve:

200g mangetout

Steamed rice

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the coriander relish by simply placing the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring to combine.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Menu Two

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

Bunch watercress

¼ lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons white wine

100g soft goats cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Place the poussin (or chicken) in a shallow roasting tin.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Menu Three

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve the sea bream topped with the pistachio salsa.

Menu Four

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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

August 2022

This month I thought I’d take you on holiday with me! I’m off to Italy and I didn’t want you to miss out on the lovely Italian food that I’m looking forward to eating, so I thought I would share some Italian inspired recipes! Normally we visit Italy at least twice a year, and as eating out is my favourite past time I always enjoy revisiting old restaurants and discovering new haunts. I particularly love the fish and shellfish dishes that feature on the menus of these restaurants, hence the first recipe I’m sharing this month is ‘Baked Sea Bass with Cherry Tomatoes and Potatoes’. It’s a quick, tasty fish dish, all it needs is a good green salad on the side… and hopefully a little sunshine, and a glass of crisp white wine. Naturally, pasta features heavily on the menus during my Italian adventures. In recent years I’ve started eating  gluten-free but, thankfully, this hadn’t caused too much of a problem as, these days, most restaurants offer gluten-free pasta, failing that there’s always risotto!…So, as a nod to the pasta dishes that I’ll be enjoying, Menu Two is ‘Spaghetti with Mussels, Cherry Tomatoes and White Wine’, it’s one of those simple dishes which always delivers! Over the years, through having our own little ‘bolthole’ in Italy, we have made friends with our Italian neighbours, and so our holiday will undoubtedly include eating at home with these friends. Therefore Menu Three, is home cooking at its best, an easy summer roast with Italian flavours; ‘Buttery Lemon Chicken’ is served with ‘Artichoke, Fennel and Pecorino Salad’, both recipes are from Skye McAlpines Italian inspired cookbook, ‘A Table for Friends’. I think that these recipes will definitely give your kitchen a taste of my holiday and hopefully they’ll also bring a little of the Italian sunshine…!

With the summer sun in mind I’ve been listening to a new playlist which shouts summer party vibes – it’s not only great fun in the kitchen but pretty good for a BBQ! Listen to ‘Music to Cook to…Menu Music Twenty’ here!

(Recently I’ve been enjoying eating out at some new restaurants – check out my reviews here!)

*Menu Mistress will be taking a break until the end of August… I will be back with new recipes Wednesday 31st August! See you then…

Menu One

Sea Bass with Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes (Serves 4)

This is such a quick and tasty fish dish, all it needs is a good green salad on the side (I like to dress it with sherry vinegar vinaigrette – recipe below!).

250g cherry vine tomatoes

500g new potatoes (waxy potatoes)

4 sea bass fillets

4 sprigs of rosemary

Olive oil

180ml white wine

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes, then parboil for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and juice.
  3. Put the drained potatoes in a baking tin with the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs, drizzle with olive oil gently mix. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 15 minutes.
  4. Then pour over the white wine and cook for a further 15-25 minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned.
  5. Place the sea bass fillets on top of the potatoes and drizzle with more olive oil. Cook for 12 minutes.
  6. Serve with the pan juices spooned over and a good green salad on the side.

‘Staple Side Dish’ – Green Salad with Sherry Vinegar Vinaigrette

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

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon honey

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together.

Menu Two

Spaghetti with Mussels, Cherry Tomatoes & White Wine (Serves 4)

This is one of those simple dishes which always delivers!…

800g live mussels

150ml dry white wine

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

15 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

500g spaghetti (gluten-free if required)

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Scrub the mussels under cold running water. Ensure that all shells are closed – discard any that remain open or have broken shells.
  2. Place the mussels in a large saucepan with the wine. Cover and cook over a high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the mussels are all open. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that remain closed.
  3. In the same pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the garlic and fry for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes and parsley and pour in the reserved cooking liquid. Simmer gently for about 2 minutes until the tomatoes have started to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
  5. Drain the spaghetti and tip into the saucepan with the sauce, add half the mussels and gently stir to combine over a low heat for 30 seconds.
  6. To serve, put the pasta in large bowls with the remaining mussels arranged over the top.

Menu Three

Buttery Lemon Roast Chicken with Artichoke, Fennel & Pecorino Salad (Serves 4)

This is from Skye McAlpines cookbook ‘A Table for Friends’, she describes this recipe for roast chicken as her ‘failsafe’, which can’t be a bad thing! The salad is from the same book, its flavours are fantastic with the roast chicken. I also like to serve this dish with ‘Concetta’s Potatoes’ (recipe below).

Buttery Lemon Roast Chicken (Serves 4)

A large bunch of sage

1 lemon

50g salted butter, softened

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus a generous pinch

1 small chicken, about 1.4kg

  1. Finely chop half the sage and finely zest the lemon. In a bowl mix the butter, chopped sage, lemon zest and the 1 teaspoon of salt, mashing to a paste.
  2. Put the chicken in a roasting tray. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice into the cavity, then stuff the 2 halves inside with the remaining sage sprigs.
  3. Gently lift the skin flap on the right breast and smear one-quarter of the butter mixture under it, using your fingers to press it down as far and as evenly as possible, taking care not to tear the skin. Repeat with the left breast. Now rub the rest of the butter over the chicken, on the breasts, legs and wings. Sprinkle all over with an extra pinch of salt.
  4. Roast the chicken in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 1¼ hours, until the skin is golden and crisp and the juices run clear when you stick a knife into the thickest part (between the leg and body). Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving with a spoonful of the pan juices.

Artichoke, Fennel & Pecorino Salad (Serves 4-6)

Just three main ingredients, but wow, they really sing together! Using artichokes preserved in oil makes this recipe a year-round option.

10 baby artichokes in oil

1 fennel bulb

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

A handful parsley leaves

100g pecorino cheese or parmesan cheese, shaved

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Quarter the artichokes. Remove the fennel fronds and save to dress the salad. Finely slice the fennel bulb.
  2. Put the artichokes and sliced fennel into a salad bowl, squeeze over the juice of the lemon and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss, then add the parsley leaves, season with salt and pepper and toss again.
  3. Top with shavings of pecorino and the reserved fennel fronds.

‘Staple Side Dish’ – Concetta’s Potatoes (Serves 4)

I have named these after our Italian friend (and chef), Concetta, who gave me the recipe many years ago; they are simply sliced baked potatoes with garlic, rosemary and sage.

4 large potatoes – such as Maris Piper (roasting potatoes)

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried sage

Sea salt and black pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Olive oil

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes, and parboil in boiling water for 4 minutes.
  2. Place in a roasting tin, sprinkle over the rosemary, sage and garlic, season with salt and black pepper and drizzle over some olive oil – mix well.
  3. Place in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 35-40mins until crispy and well browned.