Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Serves 4


900g fresh sardines (approx. 12)
175g fresh sorrel leaves (stalks removed), washed and dried
Approx. 2 TBS olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3 TBS cider vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 rounded TBS fresh chives, chopped
1 level TBS fresh tarragon, chopped
1 rounded TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 rounded TBS fresh flat-leaf parsley or chervil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


First, prepare the sardines.  Use a small pair of scissors to cut open the bellies and remove the innards.  Then wipe them inside and out with damp kitchen paper and arrange them on a plate.  Next, chop the sorrel leaves fairly finely, then season and use 3/4 of them to stuff inside the bellies of the fish.  Sprinkle the oil over the fish and rub it in so that they all get a good coating.
Now prepare the sauce by placing the remaining sorrel leaves along with the other herbs, the shallots and garlic in a jug or serving bowl and add 5 TBS boiling water, followed by the vinegars.  Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
The sardines will need very little time to cook – just 2 minutes on each side.  They will also cook perfectly well under a domestic grill or on a ridged grill pan.  Serve with the sauce handed round separately.


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Serves 4

900g best beef (preferably rump or chuck/blade steak – make sure it contains 20% fat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little oil

If you are using chuck steak, trim off any gristle/sinewy bits but hang on to the fat.  Cut the meat into chunks, put it into a food processor and blend until it looks like fine minced beef.  However, don’t overdo the processing because if the meat becomes too fine, the burger will have a bouncy texture!
Empty the meat into a bowl and season with pepper – don’t add salt until after the cooking because it draws out the juices.  Now form the mixture into 4 rounds, pressing each one firmly together (it won’t need egg or anything else to keep it together if you press firmly enough).  Now place the burgers on a plate, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
When the barbecue is good and hot, brush the grill with a little oil to prevent the meat sticking to it, and give the burgers a light coating of oil too.  Grill them for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on how you like them.  The same timing also applies to a domestic grill turned to its highest setting.  Serve the half-pounders with Mexican Tomato Salsa and a large green salad.

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Red-coated courgettes

Serves 2


350g young courgettes
350g red ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp fresh oregano
2 TBS olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


You will need your largest, widest frying pan for this.  Begin by heating 1 TBS oil in the pan and frying the onion gently for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, wipe the courgettes, trim off the ends and then cut them into slices about 5mm thick.  Now remove the onion to a plate.  Turn the heat right up, add the remaining TBS of oil and, when it’s really hot, add the courgette slices to the pan, spreading them out in one layer.  Fry them to colour lightly on both sides.
While that’s happening, place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Leave for 1 minute, then plunge them into a bowl of cold water for another minute.  Slip the skins off and roughly chop the flesh.  When the courgettes are coloured, return the onion to the pan and pour the chopped  tomatoes over.  Sprinkle in the crushed garlic, oregano and some seasoning and simmer gently, stirring every now and then, for about 10 minutes or until the tomato pulp has reduced and thickened and completely coats the courgettes.  Serve immediately.

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Roasted fennel nicoise

Serves 2


3 medium bulbs fennel
1 TBS olive oil

For the dressing:
2 large continental-type tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
12 black olives, pitted and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
2 TBS lemon juice
5 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp rock salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:
Fresh basil leaves
Fennel fronds


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C.  Begin by preparing the fennel.  First, trim off any green fronds and reserve them for the garnish.  Now lay the fennel bulbs flat on a board and trim off the root base, then cut the stalk ends away by making two diagonal cuts so that the bulbs look pointed at the top.  Cut each one first into quarters, cut away the centre stalky parts, then slice the quarters into eighths – but be careful to leave the layers attached to the root ends.
Now place the fennel in a saucepan, pour boiling water over the top, season with some salt and simmer for just 5 minutes, no longer.  Then drain the fennel in a colander so it can dry off a little.  Next, put 1 TBS olive oil in a saucer and use it to brush a roasting tray and each piece of fennel before arranging them on the tray. Roast the fennel on a high shelf in the oven for 30 minutes or until it is nicely tinged with brown at the edges and is cooked through but still retains some bite.
While the fennel is roasting, make up the dressing.  In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic to a paste with 1 tsp salt, then whisk in the lemon juice and oil, and when it is amalgamated, combine it with the rest of the ingredients.
When the fennel is ready , transfer it to a shallow serving bowl and pour the dressing over it while it is still warm.  Taste to check the seasoning – it will need some pepper – and scatter with the chopped fennel fronds and some torn basil leaves just before serving.

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Oven-roasted ratatouille

Serves 2


450g cherry tomatoes, skinned
2 medium courgettes
1 small aubergine
1 small green pepper, deseeded and cut into 2.5cm squares
1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 2.5cm squares
2 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm squares
3 TBS olive oil
Handful fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to its highest setting.  Prepare the courgettes and aubergine ahead of time by cutting them into 2.5cm dice, leaving the skins on.  Now sprinkle with 1 dessertspoon salt, then pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of that.  Leave them like this for an hour so that the bitter juices can drain out.  After that, squeeze out any juices that are left and dry the vegetables thoroughly in a clean cloth.  Arrange the tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, peppers and onion in a roasting tin (approx. 40cm x 30cm) and sprinkle the garlic over them.  Roughly tear up the basil leaves and mix with the olive oil.  Drizzle the oil over the vegetables, making sure that each one has a good coating, and finally, season with salt and pepper.  Roast on the highest shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted and tinged brown at the edges.  Remove from the oven and serve straightaway.

Use as an accompaniment to a protein dish or in place of a salad.

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Serves 2 as a main course


450g any white fish (cod, haddock, hake e.t.c.), weighed after boning and skinning, and cut into chunks
2 spring onions, very finely sliced into rounds (including the green parts)
2 TBS fresh coriander leaves
2 heaped TBS Thai red curry paste
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 green chilli, deseeded
2 TBS groundnut oil for frying

For the cucumber dipping sauce:
5cm unpeeled cucumber
2 shallots or salad onions
1 small carrot
1 small green chilli, deseeded
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 TBS roasted peanuts
1 TBS soft brown sugar
110ml rice vinegar or wine vinegar
1 TBS light soy sauce
1 TBS groundnut oil

To garnish:
Sprigs of fresh coriander


Simply place the chunks of fish, the coriander leaves, lime juice, spring onions, curry paste, chilli and a little salt in a food processor and blend until you have a finely minced texture – don’t blend it to a fine puree though, as this is not so good.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.  Next, take dessertspoons of the mixture and form them into balls, squeezing the mixture together.  Then place them on a flat surface and flatten them out with the palm of your hand into small cake shapes about 4cm in diameter.  You should get 16 in all.  When all the fish cakes are ready, put them on to a plate, cover with clingfilm and leave them in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Place the cucumber, shallots/onions, carrot, chilli, ginger and peanuts in the goblet of a food processor and whizz until very finely chopped.  Transfer the chopped vegetables to a bowl.  Next, mix the sugar with the vinegar to dissolve it and pour it over the vegetables, along with the soy sauce and groundnut oil.  Mix thoroughly.
To cook the fish cakes, heat 2 TBS groundnut oil in a frying pan, and when it is very hot and beginning to shimmer, fry the cakes for about 1 minute on each side, then drain on crumpled kitchen paper.  Garnish with sprigs of coriander and serve with the cucumber dipping sauce.

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Serves 2 for lunch.  Needs to be prepared 48 hours in advance.


16 large Mediterranean prawns
1/2 medium yellow pepper, very thinly sliced
1/2 medium red pepper, very thinly sliced
50g red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 TBS capers, drained
150ml light olive oil
55ml cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp mustard powder
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 dessertspoon tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp white sugar
Fresh coriander (to serve)
1/2 lime, thinly sliced (to serve)


To prepare the prawns, remove the shells and heads (if there are any) but leave the tails on as they look very attractive.  Then use the tip of a small sharp knife to cut a slit all along the back of each prawn and remove the black thread that sometimes runs from head to tail.  Then place the prawns, capers, sliced peppers, onion and lemon in a 1-litre non-metallic dish/polythene box.  In a bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and tabasco sauce, adding salt, a little black pepper and the sugar.  Pour the mixture over the prawns, cover the container and place in the fridge for 48 hours, giving the contents a shake/stir from time to time.  Serve the prawns garnished with sprigs of coriander and slices of lime with plenty of the marinade poured over, and a large green salad.


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