Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate tarts

With Wimbledon underway this summer, now is the time to embrace the best of British with the strawberries that are bang in season. These tarts are individual so you can enjoy all the flavours without having to share with anyone else! I have given the quantities for 4 tarts however some pastry sheets may be slightly larger than others and you may be able to make a couple of extras. The tins used are 10cm in diameter which is the perfect size for one person. Alternatively you could use a larger tin to make one tart. The mascarpone cream can be made the day ahead if you like; simply keep in a covered bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to make the tarts.

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Ingredients- makes 4 individual tarts
1 sheet of readymade sweet pastry
200g mascarpone
1 tbsp icing sugar
Zest of half a lemon
20 strawberries of similar size
30g pistachios- roughly chopped
100g white chocolate

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tins and blind bake for 10 minutes. Do this by placing a piece of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. Blind baking will ensure you have a cooked through tart case. After the ten minutes, remove the parchment paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Remove the tart cases from the oven and allow to cool before filling. In the meantime you can make the mascarpone cream which is speedy and straight forward. Simply take the mascarpone and add the icing sugar and lemon zest; stir well to combine and keep it moving until the mascarpone goes glossy.

3. When the cases are cooled, add a spoonful of the mascarpone cream to each case and use the back of the spoon to smooth it so it is evenly distributed in the bottom of the case. Take the strawberries and halve them lengthways. I placed seven slices around the outer edge of the case so they are slightly overlapped. Odd numbers always end up looking best. I then fit three more slices in the centre of the tart. Take the chopped nuts and sprinkle over the strawberries.

4. Next up goes the melted chocolate. Do this by bringing a pan of water to a gentle boil and place a bowl over the top; ensure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. The chocolate will melt from the steam alone. Take the chocolate bar and separate into pieces and placing in the bowl. Gently stir the chocolate until melted and turn off the heat. I then kept the bowl over the pan so it stayed melted and much easier to drizzle. Take a teaspoon and use it to drizzle the chocolate over each tart. Allow the chocolate to set and refrigerate the tarts until needed. I dare you not to lick the spoon if you have any leftover chocolate!

Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate tarts- a perfect celebration of juicy strawberries!

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Asparagus, feta and mint frittata

This time of year brings the end of the asparagus season so cue me raiding the shops and markets for what’s left in an attempt to hold onto this glorious British grown vegetable. Green, white and purple- you can’t beat asparagus in all its splendour and each with different flavour profiles so you can choose your favourite.

Frittata is perfect for a light summer lunch or dinner. I have chosen to add Jersey Royal potatoes as well to add another flavour and texture so all you need to do is serve the frittata with a salad and away you go! The frittata is also brilliant the next day when chilled overnight and then served at room temperature which makes it perfect for a make ahead picnic idea.

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Ingredients- serves 4
300g new potatoes
Glug of olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
6 large eggs- lightly beaten and seasoned
200g asparagus
100g feta
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped

1. Boil a kettle of water and simmer the new potatoes for a few minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside, allowing them to cool until you can handle them. Slice them into thin rounds and place in a large bowl.

2. In a frying pan that is going to be large enough to hold the eggs, potatoes and asparagus, add a glug of oil and gently fry the shallot until softened. Depending on the size of the asparagus you have, cut them into chunks and if they are particularly thick then you can also cut these lengthways. If the asparagus is a little more woody (as it can be at the end of the season) you may like to blanch it for a minute or so before using it.

3. To the bowl with the potatoes, add the beaten eggs, asparagus and most of the feta along with the mint. Gently mix to combine and add into the pan with the shallot. Sprinkle the frittata with the remaining feta. Increase the heat to medium and cook until set. Towards the end of cooking, fire up your grill and pop the pan underneath to melt the feta until golden. Serve with a salad.

Asparagus, feta and mint frittata- a frittata fit for picnics across the land this summer!

Pancetta wrapped cod loins with tomato and asparagus orzo

When the sun comes out, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy a colourful meal before the clouds threaten again. In the UK we are about to see the end of this year’s asparagus season (boo!) so this is a perfect way of enjoying it before it goes. Orzo is rice grain shaped pasta which is great for cooking in risotto style as it is here as well as using for pasta bakes and salads. Unlike classic risotto, the stock can be added all in one go rather than one ladleful at a time. Next time you cook this try playing around with combinations such as cherry tomato, chorizo and red pepper which are equally as delicious.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
50ml white wine
200g orzo
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
100g asparagus- chopped
300ml vegetable stock
Slices of pancetta
2 cod loins
1/2 tsp paprika

1. Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan that is large enough to hold the orzo. Gently cook the onion and garlic together until softening but not so they are turning golden. Pour in the white wine and simmer until it is reduced by half.

2. Stir in the orzo until it is well coated in the onion mixture. Pop the halved tomatoes and chopped asparagus into the pan. Add the stock little by little until the orzo starts to turn tender and the tomatoes will break down to form a light sauce. If you are using fine asparagus then you may like to add this in slightly later in the cooking of the orzo. You are aiming for the asparagus to retain a little crunch to add texture.

3. Meanwhile, you can prepare the cod. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Depending on how big the cod loins are and the size of the pancetta slices, lay -pancetta slices on a chopping board so they slightly overlap and are the length of the cod loin. Season the cod well with salt, pepper and paprika and wrap one of the cod pieces in it; repeat for the other loin. Take a small frying pan and add a small splash of oil, heating it to medium. Place the wrapped loins seal side down into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. If the pan you are using is ovenproof then pop the cod straight into the oven for around 10-12 minutes until the cod is cooked. If it is not ovenproof then use a baking sheet to cook the cod on instead. When the pancetta is cooked and crisped it is ready to serve on top of the orzo. Serve immediately.

Pancetta wrapped cod loin with tomato and asparagus orzo- a colourful dish to cheer up anyone’s day!

 

Slow braised Korean short ribs with kimchi fried rice

Slow braised beef short ribs are perfect for a make ahead meal. To get the maximum flavour from the ribs plan this is advance and give them plenty of time to marinade them. These Korean ribs have a wonderful umami taste that will tempt everyone. In keeping with the Korean theme, I have served this with a kimchi rice. Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and is fermented vegetables. You can use a whole range of vegetables to make kimchi and it can be bought readymade in good supermarkets in jars or vacuum packs so do give it a try!

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 large short ribs
5 garlic cloves- crushed
Small knob of ginger- grated
100ml dark soy sauce
25g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp rice wine vingar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp groundnut oil
400ml beef stock

For the rice
200g white rice
100g kimchi
6 spring onions

1. Start by making the marinade which the beef ribs will bathe in for, ideally, 6-8 hours or overnight if you can. Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, gochujang, vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl until all mixed and smooth. Place the ribs in the marinade and coat well. You may also like to place them in a zip lock freezer bag for this rather than a bowl but it is up to you. Pop the ribs in the fridge to marinate.

2. When you are ready to cook the ribs, choose a large pan with lid and add 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil. Heat the medium-high and preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Remove the ribs from the marinade and brown off the meat on all sides until golden. Add the marinade to the pan along with 400ml of hot beef stock. Bring the pan to a simmer before transferring to the oven for 3-4 hours or until the beef is tender and falling away from the bone. When they are ready turn the oven off and set aside.

3. Whilst the ribs cook you can make a start on the rice. Rice that is going to be stir fried is always best made in advance. Place the rice in a pan with a lid and cover the rice with water. Bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer and placing the lid on. Cook for 10 minutes and then remove from the heat but keep the lid on for a further 10 minutes so the rice steams which will make sure it is fluffy and perfectly cooked. After the rice has steamed allow it to cool.

4. When you’re ready to eat then take a pan with a glug of oil and warm the rice through over a medium heat. Add in the kimchi until warmed. I served this with griddled spring onions. All you need to do is lightly oil the spring onion and pop on a hot griddle for a few minutes until tender and lightly charred. Serve the rice and ribs with the spring onions alongside.

Slow braised Korean beef short rib- definitely a meal that’s worth the wait!

 

Chilli cheese roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower had been going through somewhat of a renaissance over the last couple of years and people are enjoying it in new and inventive ways. Cauliflower cheese is a perennial favourite however I recently wanted something lighter and more summery to serve on the side of a steak so I rustled up some roasted cauliflower that is packed with cheesy flavour but without the rich sauce. Saying that, I was unsure about how roasted cauliflower would go down with my dinner partner so I made a side serving of my homemade cheese sauce for dipping- you know, just in case!

Cauliflower is versatile enough to hold plenty of different flavours so get creative! I went for the combination of savoury cheese with spicy chilli but, to be honest, most herbs and spices would work! Just think of all the possibilities! I have roasted the cauliflower in separate florets but you can also roast it whole if you prefer; just simmer it in a pan for around 10 minutes before following the recipe below. You may need to give it longer in the oven too.

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Ingredients- serves 2
1 cauliflower
30g parmesan plus extra to finish
50g mayonnaise
100g ricotta
1 tsp each of chilli powder and paprika
Salt and pepper

1. Start by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take the cauliflower and cut it down into florets. Try to keep them all a similar size so they roast evenly.

2. In a bowl combine 30g of grated parmesan, mayonnaise, the ricotta, chilli powder, paprika and season it well; stir to combine. Place the florets into the dressing and make sure each piece is well coated. Place the florets on a baking sheet or similar and roast for 45-50 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Towards the end of cooking you may like to remove from the oven and grate a little extra parmesan over the florets before returning to the oven until golden.

Chilli cheese roasted cauliflower- a perfect accompaniment that’s a welcome change from traditional cauliflower cheese!

Mie goreng

I’m addicted to Asian food! There, I’ve said it! This mie goreng hits your tastebuds right in their savoury spot so you need this in your culinary repertoire. Mie (or sometimes spelt ‘mee’) goreng  is Indonesian fried noodles so if Singapore noodles are your thing then you are sure to love these too. The recipe calls for ketjap manis which is a soy based sauce that is often used in Indonesian recipes. It can be found in a lot of good supermarkets as well as specialist Asian stores ad is perfect for injecting even more flavour into this recipe. I have gone for a combination of vegetables, pork belly and prawns but you can pick and choose to create a dish that suits your tastes.

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Ingredients-serves 2
For the pork belly
4 slices pork belly
2 tbsp ketjap manis
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
1 tbsp sugar
300ml water

For the rest of the mie goreng
100g raw prawns- shelled and deveined
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 small red chilli- finely chopped
1 banana shallot- finely sliced lengthways
2-3 spring onions- shredded or finely chopped
1/2 carrot- grated
Small wedge of spring cabbage
2 bundles of medium egg noodles
1 tbsp ketjap manis
1 tbsp light soy
Small handful of peanuts- lightly ground down

For the shallot topping
1 large shallot- cut into rings
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

1. Kick off by mixing the ketjap manis, dark soy, garlic, chilli flakes and sesame oil together. Cut the pork belly slices into bite sized chunks. Boil a kettle of water and boil the chunks of pork for 2 minutes to remove any impurities before removing with a slotted spoon. Next, take a non-stick pan that has a lid and add the vegetable or groundnut oil and sugar. Heat until the sugar has dissolved before popping in the pork chunks. Cook until the pork is golden and then pour in the ketjap manis mix that you made. Pour in approximately 300ml of water and bring the pan to a simmer. Cover with the lid and leave for around an hour and a half until the pork is tender and the sauce is thick and reduced. Check the pork from time to time and if it needs a little more water than add as you go.

2. In the meantime you can prepare the noodles for later by cooking for one minute less than the packet states. Drain well and rinse in cold water. Add a little sesame oil so the noodles don’t clump and set aside. The crispy shallot topping can also be prepared by heating oil in a small pan over a medium to high heat and frying in batches until golden. Blot onto kitchen roll.

3. Take a wok and heat a little groundnut or vegetable oil. Cook the garlic, chilli and shallot until softening before adding the ketjap manis. Stir well to coat. Next up goes the carrot and cabbage for a further minute. Cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and add to the wok along with the prawns. Cook for a couple of minutes to warm through before adding the noodles. Cook until the prawns are cooked through and the noodles are warmed. Just before serving toss in the nuts and spring onions. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste by adding a little more ketjap manis if you like. Serve in deep bowls and sprinkle over the crispy shallots.

Mie goreng- an Indonesian savoury bomb!