Linguini with Mussels and Walnut Parsley Pesto

A Delia Smith recipe taken from the Radio Times many years ago.

Serves : 4

For me, Mussels are still a luxury food that cost very little money. I don’t think anything can match their exquisite, fresh-from-the-sea flavour. In this recipe every precious drop of mussel juice is used which gives a lovely concentrated flavour. Now that mussels come ready cleaned and prepared, it make the whole thing very simple and easy: all you have to do is put them in cold water, then pull off any beardy strands with a sharp knife, using them as soon as possible and discard any that don’t close tightly when given a sharp tap.

Ingredients:
900g (2 lb) mussels, cleaned and prepared
175g (6oz) linguini or other pasta
1 tblsp olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
175ml (6 fl oz) dry white wine
Salt and freshly milled black pepper.

For the pesto:
10g ( ½ oz) walnuts, chopped
25g (1oz) curly parsley, leaves only
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tblsp olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper.

To serve: 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Step One : First prepare the pesto: select a large pan that will hold the mussels comfortably, then in it heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the walnuts in the hot oil to get them nicely toasted on all sides – this will take 1-2 mins. Place the walnuts and any oil left in the pan into a liquidiser or food processor, add the parsley and garlic, the remaining tablespoon of oil and seasoning, then blend everything to make a puree.

Step Two : Next you need to deal with the mussels: heat the olive oil in the same pan that you sautéed the walnuts in, add the shallot and chopped garlic and cook these over a medium heat for about 5 mins or until they’re just soft. Now turn the heat up high, tip in the prepared mussels and add the wine and some salt and pepper. Put on a closely-fitting lid, turn the heat down to medium and cook the mussels for about 5 mins, shaking the pan once or twice or until they have all opened.

Step Three : During those 5 mins bring another large pan of salted water up to the boil. Then when the mussels are cooked, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a warm bowl using a slotted spoon and shaking each well so that no juice is left inside. Keep 8 mussels aside still in their shells, for a garnish. Then remove the rest from their shells and keep them warm, covered with foil in a low oven.

Step Four : Then place a sieve lined with muslin or gauze over a bowl and strain the mussel liquor through it. This is very important as it removes any bits of sand or grit that get lodged in the shells.

Step Five : Now it’s time to pop the pasta into the boiling water and put a timer on for 8 mins (some pasta might need 10 mins so follow the instructions on the packet). Then pour the strained mussel liquor back into the original saucepan and fast-boil to reduce it by about one third. After than turn the heat to low and stir in the pesto.

Step Six : Now add the shelled mussels to the pesto sauce and remove from the heat. As soon as the pasta is cooked, quickly strain it into a colander and divide it between two hot pasta bowls. Spoon the mussels and pesto over each portion, add the mussels in their shells and scatter over the parsley. Serve absolutely immediately with some well-chilled white wine.

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Orange and Almond Cake

A Gary Rhodes recipe

Makes : 3 x 2lb (900g) cakes

Ingredients:
3 whole oranges
12oz (350g) ground almonds
12oz (350g) caster sugar
½ tsp baking powder
9 eggs, size 3, beaten

The quantities here are quite large but using 3 oranges gives a stronger finished taste. If you cut the recipe down to a third, the flavour isn’t as good. This recipe also works well using 4 lemons instead of the oranges or a combination of lemon and limes. The cake freezes for up to a month.

Step One : Place the unpeeled oranges in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 1 hour, topping up with water when necessary. Remove oranges from the pan and allow any excess water to drain off.  Cut into quarters.  Remove all pips the puree the oranges, including the pith and the zest, in a food processor.  Leave to cool.

Step Two : Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4.  To make the sponge, mix together the ground almonds, caster sugar and baking powder.  Whisk the eggs until the mixture trails off the whisk in thick ribbons.  Fold in the almond and sugar mixture, then add the cooled orange puree.  Pour the mixture into 3 x 2lb (900g) loaf tins, filling them by about two-thirds.  Bake for 40-45 mins.

Step Three : The cakes are ready when they’re firm to the touch and if pierced with a knife, it comes out clean. Leave to cool before turning out of the tins. If the cakes sink in the centre once they have cooled, this will have no effect on the finished result – they are still delicious. They will keep for several days in an airtight tin.
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Minced Beef Pasties

Serves : 4 (makes 8 pasties)
Prep time : 12 mins
Cook time : 50 mins

Ingredients Filling:
1 tblsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
2 oz (50g) turnip, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 potato, peeled and finely diced
6oz (175g) lean minced beef
1oz (25g) plain flour
¼ pt (150ml) beef stock
2 oz (50g) frozen peas.

For the pastry:
1 lb (450g) prepared shortcrust pastry
1 small egg, beaten

Step One : To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté onion, turnip, carrot, potato and minced beef for 7 mins. Add the flour, cook for 1 min, then stir in stock. Season well. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins. Leave to cool slightly.

Step Two : On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to form a 16 x 8 in (41 x 20.5 cm) rectangle. Cut equally into eight squares, then place an eighth o the filling in centre of each. Brush edges of pastry with egg, then fold over filling and crimp to seal.

Step Three : Place pasties on a baking sheet and brush with egg. Cook in oven for 20 mins until golden. Serve with salad.

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Stir-Fried Duck

A whole duck tends to have lots of fat and not so much meat. Duck breasts, although pricy, have no wastage, and when cooked on a rack in a very hot oven, the skin goes really crispy and the meat stays nice and moist.

Serves : 4
Prep : 2 mins
Cook : 10 mins

Ingredients:
2 duck breasts
15ml (1 tblsp) runny honey
15ml (1 tblsp) dark soy sauce
30ml (2 tblsp) hoi-sin sauce
15ml (1 tblsp) stir-fry oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
340g pack prepared carrots cut into sticks
125g (4oz) beansprouts
5 spring onions trimmed and cut into strips
50g (2oz) sprouting beans (optional)
160g jar sweet and sour sauce

Step One : Preheat the oven to Mark 7 / 210oC / 420oF. Place the duck breasts on a roasting rack resting in a tin. Thoroughly mix together the honey, soy and hoi-sin sauces and brush generously over the skin. Cook for 10 mins.

Step Two : Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the garlic, carrots, beansprouts, spring onions and sprouting beans (if using) and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes.

Step Three : Add the sweet and sour sauce and heat till just warmed through, making sure that the vegetables stay slightly crunchy. Thickly slice the duck breasts and toss into the vegetables. Offer prawn crackers to serve alongside the stir-fry.

Tip : Look out for Hoi-sin sauce in the Chinese section of large supermarkets. It’s also perfect to use as a speedy glaze for spare ribs or as a dipping sauce for Peking duck.

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Rich Chocolate Mint Whip

Serves : 4
Prep time : 15 mins, plus chilling time

This scrummy dessert can be made with orange zest instead of the peppermint.

Ingredients:
7oz (200g) milk chocolate
7oz (200g) white chocolate
9oz (250g) fromage frais
2 drops peppermint flavouring
3 egg whites
Mint leaves, to decorate

Step One : Melt 6oz (175g) of the milk chocolate and 6oz (175g) of the white chocolate separately over pans of simmering water. Grate the remaining chocolate and set aside. Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Divide the fromage frais in half and stir one half into each bowl of chocolate then beat well.

Step Two : Add peppermint essence to the white chocolate mixture. Whisk the egg whites until they just hold their shape. Stir a spoonful into each bowl to lighten the mixture. Divide the remaining egg white between the two mixtures and fold in.

Step Three : Place alternate spoonfuls of the mixtures in four tall glasses. Or if you want to serve six, put it in six ramekins.

Step Four : Decorate with remaining grated chocolate and mint leaves. Place in fridge to set.

Tip: For a lower calorie pud, replace the full fat fromage frais with a low fat version.

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Classic Fish Bisque

Serves : 6
Prep : 1 hour 20 min
Cook : 30 mins

Ingredients:
8oz/225g shrimps or prawns with shells on
2 bay leaves
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
6 peppercorns
2oz/50g butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1oz/25g plain flour
2 tblsp/30ml tomato puree
3 tblsp/45ml dry sherry
8oz / 225g cod fillet, skinned
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tblsp/15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tblsp/45ml double cream
Salt and pepper

Croutons:
4 slices white bread
3 tblsp/45ml olive
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tblsp/30ml chopped fresh parsley
4 tblsp/90ml single cream

Step One : Peel the shrimps or prawns, reserving the shells and set aside. Place the shells in a large pan with the bay leaves, leek, celery, carrot and peppercorns. Pour over 1pt/600ml cold water and bring to boil. reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Step Two : Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin and set aside. Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the chopped onion very gently for about 10 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Step Three : Gradually pour the stock over the onion, stirring until thickened slightly. Stir in the tomato puree and dry sherry. Add the peeled shrimps or prawns. Cut the cod fillet into bite-sized cubes and add to the pan. cover and allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.

Step Four : Stir in the cayenne and lemon juice. Allow to cool a little then liquidise in a food processor, in batches, until very smooth. Return to a rinsed out pan and stir in the cream and seasoning to taste. Heat through until almost boiling.

Step Five : To make the croutons, remove the crusts from the bread and cut into small squares. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic for 1 minute. Add the cubes of bread and cook gently on both sides until just golden. Drain croutons on absorbent kitchen paper then toss in the chopped parsley.

Step Six : Spoon the fish bisque into warmed serving dishes, top with a few croutons and add a swirl of cream to serve.

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Thai Chicken Curry

Serves : 4

Ingredients:
175g (6oz) open mushrooms
6 spring onions
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 125g (4 ½ oz) each
1 tblsp olive oil
4 level tsp thai red or green curry paste
150ml (¼ pt) water
2 tblsp light soy sauce
400ml (2/3 pt) can coconut milk
Salt and ground black pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish

Step One : Wipe the mushrooms clean with damp kitchen paper. Cut each mushroom in half, then each into four.

Step Two : Trim 6 spring onions just above root end then peel away outer layer. Cut off the dark green leaves. Cut diagonally into 5mm slices.

Step Three : Using a small sharp knife, and working on the cutting board, cut 4 chicken breasts and fillets into bite size pieces.

Step Four : Heat 1 tblsp oil and 4 tsp curry paste in a large frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.

Step Five : Pour in the water, the soy sauce and the contents of the can of coconut milk and bring to the boil, stirring to mix thoroughly.

Step Six : Stir in the mushrooms, spring onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve garnished with coriander.

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Smoked Haddock Fishcakes

Home-made fish cakes really are worth every minute spent making them.  For a change, try adding a few chopped cooked prawns to the basic mixture.

smoked haddock fish cakes

Makes :   10
Prep time :  30 minutes plus chilling
Cook time :  30 minutes

Ingredients:
450g (1 lb) floury potatoes
25g (1oz) butter
Salt and pepper
700g (1 1/2lb) smoked haddock fillet, skinned
100ml (4 fl oz) milk
125g (4oz) sweetcorn
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tblsp (30ml) each chopped fresh chives and parsley
Salt and pepper
50g (2oz) plain flour
2 eggs
125g (4oz) fine fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tblsp (15ml) sunflower oil

Step One : Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain well.  Mash with the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Step Two : Meanwhile, poach the haddock fillet in the milk for about 10 minutes or until it begins to flake.  Drain and break up fillet into large pieces.

Step Three : Add the cooked fish, sweetcorn, grated lemon rind, chives, parsley, salt and pepper to the mashed potatoes.  Leave to cool.

Step Four : Shape the mixture into tend equal sized rounds.  Season the flour.  Dip each round into the seasoned flour, then the beaten egg, followed by the fresh white breadcrumbs to coat.  Chill until ready to cook.

Step Five : Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the fishcakes for about 3-4 minutes each side or until they are golden brown.  Keep warm in a low oven if cooking in batches.

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Easy Paella

You can make and serve this great family favourite all in the same dish

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Serves : 6
Prep time : 40 mins
Cook time : 50 mins

Ingredients:
¼ tsp saffron
900ml (1 ½ pints) boiling chicken stock
8 chicken thighs, skinless
225g (8oz) chicken or turkey sausages
1 tblsp paprika
2 tsp sunflower oil
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
250g (9oz) American easy cook rice
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp sun-dried tomato paste or ordinary tomato puree
125g (4oz) stuffed green olives
2 tblsp parsley, chopped

Step One : Dissolve saffron in boiling stock. Coat the chicken and sausages with paprika. Heat oil in a large pan, add chicken, sausages and chilli powder and brown for 5 mins. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Step Two : Fry onions, garlic, pepper and courgettes for 10 mins. Add rice and stir for 1 minute, then mix in tomatoes, tomato puree, olives and 1 tbsp parsley. Pour on the stock, stir and return the chicken and sausages to the pan. Bring to the boil.

Step Three : Simmer paella uncovered for 30 mins, then sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Tip: Turkey or chicken sausages have only half the calories of the traditional pork and beef sausages and they’re really tasty too.

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