Side Dishes

Butternut Squash Mash with Sage (Serves 4)

Butternut Squash Mash

This is a recipe which I found in Leith’s cookbook ‘How to Cook’. Roasting the butternut squash instead of simply boiling it, makes all the difference – the flavour is much more intense. The browned butter (buerre noisette) gives the squash a delicious nutty flavour. This is a great recipe to remember as a side for other dishes!

1 large butternut squash (about 700-800g once peeled and cubed)

50g unsalted butter

A few sage leaves

  1. Peel, half and deseed the butternut squash, cut into 3 cm cubes and place in a bowl. Melt 10g of the butter and pour it over the squash, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Place in a roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven, 200’c, for about 45 minutes, until the squash is very tender – a knife should pass through very easily.
  2. Place the cooked squash in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Meanwhile melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan. Cook over a moderate heat to a ‘buerre noisette’ – until it is a deep golden brown and gives off a slightly nutty aroma.
  4. Slice the sage leaves finely then add them, with the puréed squash, to the butter (buerre noisette). Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Favourite’ Mashed Potato (Serves 4)

There are numerous recipes for mashed potato, and yes, I have tried many, but this one is probably my favourite. It actually doesn’t contain any butter, which makes me feel that it could be healthy, although admittedly it does contain double cream! Don’t be put off by the garlic, you really can’t taste it, it just enhances the flavour of the potato. I must admit I ‘cheat’ when it comes to mashing, I am fortunate to have an amazing kitchen appliance, a Thermomix, this is a serious piece of kitchen kit; I can actually steam my potatoes in it and then mash them in seconds. If you don’t have a Thermomix you can either mash by hand, however,  for an easier option I would recommend doing as Delia Smith suggests in her ‘Winter Cookbook’ – whisk them with an electric hand whisk. When whisking them you do have to be careful – make sure that the potatoes are absolutely cooked, otherwise they will go gluey. Start off with the speed slow to break up the potatoes and then increase to a high speed to quickly whip them until smooth – don’t do it for too long, as again, they will go gluey, which is not good!

1kg potatoes (floury, such as Maris Piper)

100ml full-fat milk

100ml double cream

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks. Steam until completely cooked through.
  2. Put the milk, cream and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.
  3. Mash the potatoes (see note above) adding the milk mixture a little at a time. Season well with salt and pepper.

Perfect Jacket Potatoes (Serves 4)

Perfect Jacket Potatoes

I find that by lightly oiling the potatoes with olive oil before baking them, really helps crisp up the skins.

4 large baking potatoes

Olive oil

Sea salt

Butter to serve

  1. Prick the skins of the potatoes lightly with a fork. Using a piece of kitchen roll lightly wipe them over with some olive oil and them sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place directly on the shelf of a preheated oven, 200’c, and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the skins are crisp and the potato inside is deliciously fluffy!
  3. Serve with a knob of butter.

Tenderstem Broccoli with Lemon Butter and Almonds (Serves 4)

Tenderstem Broccoli with Lemon Butter & Almonds

This is a lovely fresh recipe which really takes tenderstem broccoli to another level.

200g Tenderstem Broccoli

20g unsalted butter

Juice of half a lemon

A generous handful of flaked almonds

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. First of all put the flaked almonds in a small, dry frying pan, place over a moderate heat, stirring, until the almonds are browned – toasted. Remove to a plate.
  2. Steam the tenderstem broccoli for about 4 minutes until just cooked.
  3. Melt the butter in  a small frying pan and add the lemon juice, stirring well.
  4. Add the tenderstem broccoli, stirring to give it a good coating of the butter mixture, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the reserved toasted almonds.

Braised Puy Lentils (Serves 4-6)

Braised Puy Lentils

This is a great recipe that I found in J.Sheekey’s Cookbook, ‘Fish’, where they are served with cod (recipe here). However, they would also make a great accompaniment to other dishes…for instance simply with oven baked sausages for an easy midweek treat!..

250g puy lentils

40ml extra virgin olive oil

100g cubed pancetta

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 leek, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

1 litre chicken stock

30g unsalted butter

½ bunch of parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. If you have time and remember, soak the lentils in cold water for an hour before you cook them. The recipe calls for this, but these days most puy lentils (I use ‘Merchant Gourmet’) don’t require soaking, but there is a theory that they are more digestible if soaked?!…
  2. Pour 20ml of the olive oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan and gently cook the cubed pancetta, onion, carrot, leek, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils (drained if you soaked them), stir, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until they are soft to toast – not too mushy. The consistency should be sauce like.
  4. Gently stir in the butter and parsley, check the seasoning and serve.

Dauphinoise Potatoes (Serves 4)

The French seem to be split over the recipe for Dauphinoise Potatoes, some call for the addition of Gruyére cheese, whilst others, lament its addition!…I like it both ways, I think there is a time and a place for both versions; the version without cheese is great for a more relaxed meal, whilst with cheese, being more unctuous, it is more suited to a rich dinner party meal – I particularly like it with a roast rack of lamb. This version is the one without cheese which is perfect for a midweek treat, I will be sharing my cheese version in the future…!

15g butter

1kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper

400ml double cream

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Rub a gratin dish liberally with the butter.
  2. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the cream, garlic, nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes in this cream mixture.
  4. Layer the potatoes in the gratin dish, spreading them flat and evenly, pour over any remaining cream.
  5. Place in a preheated oven, 160’c for 1 – 1 hour 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes or so press the down the potatoes with a spatula to stop them drying out. The gratin is ready when the top is golden and bubbling, and the potatoes are tender. You may want to turn up the oven to 190 -200’c for the last 5 minutes of cooking to achieve an extra golden crisp.

Flageolet Beans with Lemon and Parsley

Flageolet Beans with Lemon and Parsley

So simple, yet so delicious!

400g tin flageolet beans (or cannellini beans), drained

A generous slice of butter

Half lemon

Handful chopped parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Place the drained beans in a saucepan, gently heat with the butter.
  2. Add the parsley, season with a squeeze of lemon juice and the salt and pepper.
  3. Serve

Garlic Green Beans (Serves 4)

Garlic Green Beans

This is a delicious recipe for beans, and despite the amount of garlic the recipe calls for, the flavour is not overpowering. I found this recipe in David Lebovitz’s cookbook ‘My Paris Kitchen’, I love French cooking so this is a favourite book of mine, not only for the recipes but for the Parisian tales he shares. The recipe in French is Haricot Verts au Beurre d’escargot (beans with snail butter!), apparently it refers to the butter mixed with copious amounts of garlic which normally dresses the popular French dish of snails!

450g green beans

55g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons crushed garlic

30g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

Black pepper

Half a lemon

  1. Cook the beans for about 4 minutes in boiling water until just tender.
  2. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the garlic, cook for a few minutes until it just begins to brown. Stir in the parsley, salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. Add the beans to the pan, stir so that they are beautifully covered in this delicious ‘snail butter’, and squeeze over a few drops of lemon juice to taste.

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Everybody has their favourite roast potato recipe. I must admit that having tried various recipes, I have always returned to the one I found years ago in Delia Smith’s ‘Winter Collection Cookbook’ – you can’t beat it in my opinion. I use either olive oil or goose fat (I buy it in jars), depending on my mood. The olive oil gives a lighter, cleaner taste, whereas the goose fat has a richer flavour – both crisp up the potatoes equally well.

1.8kg Maris Piper or other floury, roasting potatoes

110g olive oil or goose fat (see note above)

Sea salt

  1. Place the fat in the roasting tin and place in the oven, 190’c, on the highest shelf so that the oil preheats whilst you prepare the potatoes.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut into evenly sized pieces.
  3. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and add the salt. Simmer for 10 minutes until the outer edge of the potatoes is fluffy – test with the points of a fork.
  4. Drain the potatoes well and return to the saucepan. Place a lid over the pan and shake it vigorously. By shaking the potatoes in the saucepan in this way the cooked edges will become floury and fluffy – perfect for crisping up in the oven.
  5. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and place the potatoes in the hot fat – careful as the oil may spit! Baste them well and return to the oven for about 40 minutes until they are golden brown and crisped.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and serve straightaway – do not allow them to sit around otherwise they will loose their crunch (if they are cooked before you are ready, turn off the oven and leave them inside – but with caution, they don’t like to wait!)

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic (Serves 4)

2 large bunches of baby spinach (washed) – about 400g

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until the garlic is beginning to brown.
  2. Add the spinach, turning it over to coat in the olive oil. Place a lid over the pan and cook for 1 minute. Remove the lid and stir. Return the lid and cook for a further minute.
  3. The spinach should now be wilted, add a drizzle of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Concetta’s Potatoes (Serves 4)

Concetta’s Potatoes

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, for 35-40mins until crispy and well browned.

Baked Lemon Potatoes (Serves 4)

Baked Lemon Potatoes

1 kg new potatoes (waxy potatoes)

3 tablespooons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

125ml fish or chicken stock

60ml lemon juice

100g pitted black olives, sliced (optional)

1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. For the lemon potatoes, cut the unpeeled potatoes into thick slices and place in a roasting tin. Add the olive oil, garlic, stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c, for 50 minutes stirring every 10 minutes, 5 minutes before the end of cooking add the olives and the parsley to the potatoes. 

Homemade Oven Chips (Serves 4)

Homemade Chips – Delicious and no need for a stinking chip pan!

I always serve these when we have steak; they are easy to prepare, proving that there is no need for a stinking chip pan in order to have good chips! It is important to use baking potatoes for this recipe as they crisp up better.

3-4 baking potatoes, depending on the size and how hungry you are

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c
  2. Cut the potatoes into thick chips, there is no need to peel them.
  3. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the chips, boil for 4 minutes then drain well.
  4. Coat the chips with the olive oil and lay them out in single layer on a baking tray.
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, turning a few times during cooking.
  6. Serve immediately.

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

Baby Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

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.

Tarragon Green Beans (serves 4)

These Tarragon Green Beans are the perfect accompaniment for Chargrilled Lamb Chops with a Shallot Chutney (see my Recipe Pages)

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.

Steamed Aromatic Basmati Rice (Serves 4)

250g pure basmati rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the back of a spoon

  1. First of all clean the rice by rinsing it in a bowl of water, repeat this 3-4 times until the water is less cloudy. Then cover a final time and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice in a sieve and place in a saucepan.
  3. Add 600ml water and the salt and spices. Bring to the boil, cover and immediately lower the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes – do not remove the lid during this time!
  4. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, keeping the lid firmly on. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Finally, remove the lid and fork through the rice, remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods before serving.

Fried Plantain

Fried Plantain – A Hug on a Plate!

*The plantain must be ripe – it should have a dull yellow colour with patches of black.

3 plantain, peeled and sliced

Olive oil

Sea salt

  1. Pour enough olive oil in a frying pan to generously cover the bottom of the pan, place over a medium to high heat.
  2. Once the oil it hot place the sliced plantain in the oil and fry each side until golden – I use two forks to turn each piece over individually.
  3. Drain on kitchen roll and sprinkle with salt.