Chinese style sticky chilli pork

Yes, yes I know! It’s another Asian dish but I just can’t help it! This would also work well using chicken or even firm tofu if you prefer. This is quick, easy but super delicious so put it to the test and you won’t regret it. I mean just look at it…

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Ingredients-serves 4
Groundnut oil
400g pork tenderloin- cut into chunks
3 tbsp runny honey
3 tbsp dark soy
3-4 tsp Chinese chilli bean paste depending on how hot you like it
3 tsp Chinese rice wine
3 garlic cloves- finely chopped
inch piece of ginger- peeled and finely chopped 
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
3 dried facing heaven Chinese chillies- pricked but kept whole (optional)
4 spring onions- shredded

1. Get going by heating a little groundnut oil in a wok and brown off the pieces of pork. Remove and set aside until later. I don’t marinade my pork for this in advance as it is such a flavourful dish without it. Wipe out the pan and pop another glug of oil in over a medium to high heat.

2. Pop in the garlic, ginger, shallot and whole chillies and cook until softening. Meanwhile make the sauce by adding the honey, soy, rice wine and chilli bean paste. Have a taste and adjust if needed but this is the perfect blend of hot, sweet and sharp!

3. Add the sauce to the pan and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes until it looks like it is starting to turn gorgeously sticky. Return the pork to the pan and coat with the sauce. Continue to bubble away until the pork is cooked through and the sauce has reduced. At the last minute throw in the spring onion and serve straightaway. I served it with delicious sesame pak choi and rice.

Chinese style sticky chilli pork- a winning dish!

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Rib eye with punchy chimichurri and roasted vegetables

Think of beef and you think of Argentina- the spiritual home of all things meaty! Chimichurri is a classic accompaniment to a good steak. Its fresh and punchy flavours bring out the best of a rib eye so read on and get cooking. I bought smoked sea salt from the lovely people at www.thespiceshop.co.uk.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the chimichurri
Small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 tsp fresh red chilli
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp red wine vinegar

For the vegetables
400g new potatoes
Smoked sea salt (or regular)
2 bell peppers- red and yellow work well
1 courgette
2 red onions
2 tsp oregano- dried or fresh
Olive oil
Few garlic cloves- unpeeled

4 rib eye steaks

1. You can start in advance by prepping the chimichurri. Simply roughly chop the ingredients and add to the wet ingredients and give a quick blitz in a food processor. You are after a saucy consistency. Alternatively finely chop the ingredients and give it all a good bashing in a mortar and pestle! Cover and set aside until you need it.

2. For the vegetables, cut the peppers and courgettes into chunks and the red onions into wedges and toss with a good drizzle of oil. I nestle a few whole garlic cloves in amongst the vegetables before seasoning well, popping the oregano in and off you go! Roast in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes at 180c/ 160fan until tender.

3. I like to serve this with simply roasted new potatoes. Start by parboiling the potatoes for a few minutes before draining well. Pop them in a baking tray with another good glug of oil and sprinkle over some smoked salt. I love the edge that this salt gives and it goes with the steak perfectly. Roast in the oven next to the vegetables for around 30 minutes until golden.

4. When the potatoes have around ten minutes left, prepare the steak. I like a beautiful rib eye but anything robust works well here- maybe save the fillet for another day though… Season the meat well and rub a little oil over it before cooking in a hot pan/ griddle. For an average rib eye I like to give it two minutes on each side for a rare finish but cook according to your preference so long as it’s not well done! There is more flavour from boot leather!

5. Rest the rib eye whilst you take the roasted vegetables and potatoes from the oven. Either divide the veggies between four plates or serve on a large platter with slices of the steak over the top and finished with a drizzle of the chimichurri so everyone can help themselves.

Rib eye, roasted vegetables and smoked salt potatoes with a classic chimichurri- you’ll love it!

Spicy Italian sausage and kale gnocchi

If I don’t have kale or spinach in my meals most weeks then I start to get withdrawal symptoms so this does the trick to satisfy the need even for diehard meat eaters as I’ve included spicy Italian sausage for good measure. This works well as a quick sauce or a baked gnocchi if you prefer so get stuck in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
500g gnocchi
1 small onion- finely chopped
1- 2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes or chopped fresh red chilli if you prefer
2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs
8 Italian sausages- skin removed
100g kale- washed, drained and shredded
400ml passata
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Parmesan to serve

1. If you want to bake the gnocchi then you need to preheat the oven to 200c/ 180fan at this stage. Take a large frying pan and add a glug of vegetable oil and gently soften the onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the chilli and rosemary sprigs and cook for a further minute or two.

2. Next up add in the sausage which should have had the skin removed. Break up with the spoon and cook for another few minutes. Next you need to pour in the passata and red wine vinegar and simmer this. Check the seasoning to taste as some Italian sausages can be better seasoned than others to start with.

If you want to bake the gnocchi then disregard the next step and steam or boil the kale for a couple of minutes to start it off before mixing with the gnocchi and tomato base. It will take around 20 minutes in the oven and a topping of parmesan is also delicious.

3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the kale for 2- 3 minutes before adding the gnocchi to the pan. Cook the gnocchi for one minute less than the cooking time on the packet as you will finish them off in the pan. Drain the gnocchi and kale well.

4. Tip the gnocchi and kale into the pan with the passata and simmer for a further minute or so. Serve in warmed bowls with a liberal shaving of parmesan if you like.

Italian sausage and kale gnocchi- quick, easy and oh so delicious!

Sea bream with griddled baby leeks and beurre noisette

Sweet, delicate sea bream paired with fresh baby leeks is a perfect match for these seasonal delights. Sea bream can often be overlooked so give it a chance and give this speedy recipe a go.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 sea bream fillets- skin on
100g butter
1 tbsp non-pareille capers
Lemon
1/2 tbsp flat leaf parsley- chopped
Small pack of baby leeks- washed

1. Start off by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan, boiling a medium pan of water and heating a griddle to a medium/ high heat. Take a large non- stick frying pan which can fit both bream fillets easily- don’t crowd them! Heat half of the butter over a medium/ high heat and when melted, add the fillets skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. I season the skin before adding to the pan and aim to get the skin beautifully crisp and golden. The butter will foam which makes it nice and easy to then baste the fillets. When the fillets are ready, pop in the remaining butter, capers and a good squeeze of lemon juice before basting once more and putting in the oven for an additional 2 minutes. When the fish is ready it will look translucent so don’t overdo it. There’s nothing worse!

2. For the baby leeks all you need to do is make sure they are well washed to remove any grit that may be lurking and then simmering in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they become tender. Remove the leeks carefully and finish off in the griddle pan until slightly charred.

3. When everything is ready to go, arrange the leeks on the plate and lay the bream on top. Add the parsley to the butter sauce before pouring over the fish and leeks and you are good to go! I served this with steamed new potatoes which are also bang in season.

Sea bream with baby leeks- a celebration of spring ingredients!

Rich wild boar ragu with parmesan polenta and gremolata

Let’s face it,  you just can’t beat a good old ragu! Comforting, rich and warming, it really is the perfect choice for a hearty meal so get cooking. To balance the richness of the ragu I made a gremolata to serve with it to add an extra freshness. Gremolata can be served with a range of meat and fish dishes and is so quick and easy to make so do give it a try.

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Ingredients-serves 4
For the ragu
Vegetable oil
500g wild boar- diced into large chunks
1 large white onion -chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small pack of pancetta
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock
Fresh rosemary and bay leaves

For the polenta 
200g polenta
30g butter
30g freshly grated parmesan

For the gremolata (optional)
Handful fresh flatleaf parsley- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
Zest of a small lemon
Squeeze of lemon juice
Glug of olive oil

1. Get cracking by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a large casserole pan and heat a good glug of oil over a medium to high heat. Add the chunks of boar and cook to brown them off. You could do this in a couple of batches if needed so you don’t overcrowd the pan and start to boil the meat. When browned, remove the boat and set aside.

2. Next up keep the meat juices in the pan and cook the garlic, onion and pancetta until the onion is softened and the pancetta is turning golden. Pop in the carrot and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and make sure it is all well combined.

3. Add the red wine and reduce by half before the stock and tomatoes go in. So in the herbs and season. Cook in the oven for 3 hours until the boar is tender and simply falls apart. Whilst the ragu is coming you can also make the gremolata if you’re using this by mixing all the ingredients together and cooking in the fridge until you need it.

4. When you’re ready to serve, start off the polenta. Cook it according to packet instructions as it can vary slightly. At the end of cooking take the pan off the heat and stir through the butter and parmesan. Taste and check the seasoning and tweak according to taste. Serve the unctuous ragu on a bed of polent and a small amount of the gremolata on top.

Wild boar ragu with parmesan polenta and a gremolata topping- rich, fresh and oh so satisfying!