- 2 tbdp olive oil
- 6-8 good pork sausages
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 2 sticks celerey
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 250 gr puy lentils (please use the one small and dark green)
- 150 ml chicken stock
- 150 ml red wine
- 1 spring rosemary
- salt and ground black pepper
- a can (or more) of chopped tomatoes
When I was about to write this post, it took me a while to decide in which category I should put it: “Wine”? “Mains”? “Dessert”? or..may be “Breakfast”?? Perfect for any!!
Here we are talking about the best combination on this planet: jamon + Manchego cheese + red wine = simples! Or simples placeres (/simples platheres/ – as the Spainsh say). If you are depressed, frustrated, pissed off, tired or upset, this will make you appreciate life again within minutes! If you are happy and satisfied, a bite of manchego and jamon, followed by a sip of a wonderful spanish wine will put a smile on your face and will be a confirmation that it was STILL a good thing to be born on This planet!
I stopped at a cosy little wine&cheese shop and, to my pleasant surprise, found an exceptional selection of wine there! A few days before my best friend Ana Fernandez Marin brought me some jamon from Spain. The
thought of that made my mouth water. I automatically moved to the shelf labelled SPAIN. I like Spanish wine (Tempranillo and Garnacha are the most popular types you will find in the shops). However, sometimes the taste of these wines is too strong for me (too much tannin!). A new label caught my eye – PACHECO, 2009, 14% alcohol (dangerous;-), produced in Murcia – exactly where Ana is from! And, most important, interesting grapes combination: Shiraz and Monastrell…I am curious now! Price: £8.99. I grabbed it without hesitation (lets see!).
To make a cheese choice when Manchego is on the menu is a piece of cake. In the basket. Called Alberto and asked to take jamon out of the fridge (you have to keep it in a warm place for some 15 minutes before eating. When warm, the cheese releases all the aromas and tastes better than just out of the fridge).
Without further ado, my dear ladies and gentlemen, that was THE feast! The wine turned out to be absolutely fabulous! It was a perfect match to manchego and jamon, very easy to drink (despite 14% alco), smooth… we were totally in 7th heaven!!!
You can buy PACHECO 2009 online here. Check Borough market for manchego and jamon and… enjoy the true and simple pleasures! 😉
To find out about the wine sold in the UK click here.
If you want to start learning more about wine, find some tips here.
I will repeat once again: Life is too short to drink bad wine! Puurrr 🙂
Gratin d’aubergines…sounds posh, doesn’t it? (why everything in French sounds posh and in Russian “rude”?! It is not fair!)
I am a cheese&aubergines freak. It is official. So what?
When I saw this Gratin d’aubergines recipe I first thought: “Oh, thats like parmigiana!” Almost. So I was curious to make it and compare with Parmgiana (evil plan hehe).
I know at least 2 people who will definitely want to try it ;-), so here is a step by step instruction:
Ingredients for 4 portions:
- 2-3 large aubergines
- 1 onion
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 big tomatoes or 600 gr of cherry tomatoes (I was cheeky and used a 700 gr. chopped tomatoes)
- 50-80 gr. Parmesan cheese
- 1 tb. spoon of tomato concentrate
- 1/2 tb sp of sugar (I use fruit sugar)
- salt, black pepper, olive oil
- a few basil leaves
- a bit of milk
- a medium size baking tray (approx 25 cm) If you have only a big tray you have to use more ingredients – accordingly.
1. Crush the garlic with the knife
2. Without taking the skin off, fry the garlic in olive oil. Add finely sliced onion (it must be sliced really “finely” because we expect it to dissolve in the tomato sause while cooking) and cook for 5-7 min.
3. Add tomatoes. Put the fire down and let the sauce simmer. The sauce must be “juicy” and rich at the same time.
4. Take the aubergines’ skin off. Slice them crosswise in 5-7 mm slices. Make a “net” with the knife on each slice, sprinkle with salt.
5. Cover the aubergines slices with a paper tissue and sprinkle with the a bit of milk. I know it sounds weird. But it will help to get rid of bitterness. Put them aside for 20 min till they start “weeping”.
6. Heat the pan with a bit of olive oil. Wipe the slices, sprinkle with some black pepper. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and aubergines to the hot pan.
7. Fry all of them adding more oil if necessary. This part is finished.
8. In a meantime your tomato sauce is almost ready. Just add 1 tb spoon of tomato concentrate, half tea spoon of sugar (to get rid of acidity) and cook for another 5 or more min on a very low heat. The liquid will evaporate and the sauce will be very rich, aromatic and full of flavours. The onion will almost dissolve, however I recommend to take the garlic cloves out as they are too big to dissolve.
9. Sprinkle the baking tray with olive oil. cover the bottom of the tray wih tomato sauce. Put 1 layer of aubergines on top. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Put a few basil leaves. (I used a fresh chopped basil with olive oil I always keep in the fridge)
10. Another layer of aubergines. Sprinkle with pamesan cheese again. Cover with tomato sauce. To do that you can use a separator:
Or if you are brave use the sauce as it is, with the onion and garlic which have already dissolved in your slowly cooked sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Now! Put the dish in the 220 degrees oven for 10-15 until it gets this sexy look:
Ready to serve – as a side dish, starter or a main course!
So, what about the result of my experiment? Here you go!
1. Much lighter than Parmigiana. This is because in Parmigiana we deep fry the aubergines and in this gratin we just fry them in a moderate amount of olive oil. Also because we use less cheese.
2. This gratin is much easier and quicker to make (again because we skip the deep fry phase).
3. The taste is stronger thanks to Parmesan cheese, olion and garlic.
Watch HOW TO:
I think most of my recipes are very simple. But this one is the laziest one! You will have to do practically no_thing! Which is good. You can read a book. Call your friend. Or research on your salmon wine match instead 😉
I love this simple and delicious dish.
For 4 portions:
- 4 x 150 gr salmon fillets
- a bunch of asparagus
- 1 lemon
- black pepper
- 1 tb spoon of pesto or finely chopped basil mixed with olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- a couple of branches of cherry tomatoes
- some olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. On a large baking tray (oh my new beautiful sexy baking tray, I love it!) put the salmon fillets (skin up). Touch them with pesto or finely chopped basil mixed with olive oil – to give the dish a light basilico kick 😉
3. Wash the asparagus and snap at the base to remove the toughest part. Add to salmon fillets.
4. Add your beautiful tomatoes.
5. Cut the lemon in quarters. Add to the rest of the company.
6. Season: salt, black pepper, cloves of garlic (dont chop, dont take the skin off, just crash them with the knife of your tumb).
7. Sprinkle the dish with olive oil.
8. Now – in the preheated oven! Grill it for 15 minutes. If you dont have a grill, just cook in 200 degrees temperature.
It is very tasty. Enjoy!
Extra: To make this dish a bit more luxurious 🙂 add king prawns!
- 4 aubergines
- 1 X 500 gr. pack of grated mozzarella cheese (they sell a grated mozzarella in the supermarkets – specially for cooking. For example HERE ).
- grated parmesan cheese
- fresh basil
- Veg oil for frying. To fry 4 sliced aubergines you will need almost a litre of veg oil.
- 3 cans of chopped tomatoes of the best quality. I strongly recommend Napolina ones. If your chopped tomatoes are not of the best quality, you risk you parmigiana to be watery and we dont want that ;-). Alternatively use passata!
- virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- fresh basil
Fry it in a deep sauce pan in 3 tb spoons of olive oil until golden but not brown together with your clove of garlic. Don’t chop the garlic, just crush it with the knife or your thumb.
I know, I know, in a minute you are going to scream “it is not a HOT KAT its Chilli con Carne!” but I dont care because it was Kat who introduced me to this amazing dish and Kat (as well as the dish) is HOT! (even Guillaume fancied her psssst!)
With years I have only changed the recipe a little adding some extras (that “give the dish a little kick”😉 Also. there is a lot of text here but the dish is very simple to make and dont worry if you dont have ALL the ingredients, important you have the main ones. JUST DO IT!
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli deseeded or keep half with seeds if you like it spicy
- 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- Olive oil, for frying
- 500g good quality beef mince
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 100-200ml chicken or beef stock
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 400g cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Salt and pepper
- Handful of chives, chopped
- 200ml soured cream
- Boiled rice or tortillas, to serve
1. Sweat the onion, garlic, chilli and thyme in 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. At the same time, brown the mince in a separate pan over moderate heat in a little oil.
2. Add the dried spices to the onion mixture and cook until they release their aroma. Then stir in the beef and mix well. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and leave to cook down a little for about 5 minutes.
3. Pour in the chicken or beef stock and stir in tomato puree to taste. Drop the cinnamon and bay leaf in then bring to the boil and leave to simmer.
4. Once the sauce is beginning to thicken add the kidney beans and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up the flavours. Check for seasoning.
I will start this section with a recipe of a dish that I dont eat myself. I mean I eat this particular part but not the dish it belongs to..its pasta! I dont eat pasta (as anything else containing flour) but the sauce!! Oh yeah I eat the sauce!!
Some background good to know info on
Sauces and sugos
(Italian) sauces fall into 2 categories: quick and slow. The quick sauces are uncooked pestos, or sauces made directly in a pan with wine or cream..it doesnt take a lot of time to cook them. Sugos is a different case. They require a long slow cooking to give them their depth of flavour and rich of texture.
The majority of sugos are started with a pile of finely chopped celery, onion and carrots called a battuto. When this vegetable mix is fried in olive oil, it becomes a sofritto which forms the aromatic base of the sauce.
When making a sugo it is important not to brown the meat too much or it will become hard will never soften again. Half cover and simmer the sauce very slowly from 1-3 hours. The longer it simmers the better it will taste.
and now Ladies and Gentlemen..
- 30 gr dried Porcini mushrooms (Please do not try to replace with any other mushrooms!!)
- 50 gr butter
- 2 tb spoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 small carrot finely chopped
- 1 celery stick finely chopped
- 300 gr lean beef, pork or veal mince
- 50 g pancetta minced or finely chopped
- 4 tb spoons of dry red wine
- 400 g passata or pureed chopped tomatos
- 1 tb spoon tomato puree
- 500 ml meat stock
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 115 gr chicken livers, trimmed and very finely chopped
- sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Meanwhile melt the butter in the oil in a heavy based casserole set over medium heat.
Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook for 5-10 min until golden but not brown. Add the meat and pancetta and brown very lightly. Add the wine, turn up the heat and boil until evaporated. Reduce the heat, then add the passata and the tomato puree, mix well, then add the stock and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stir well, then half cover and simmer for about 2 hours, topping up with a little water to prevent it drying out.
After 1.5 hours, drain the mushrooms, keeping the liquid! chop finely and add to the sauce with the chicken livers. Stir well, add a splash of reserved porcini water, then simmer for further 30 minutes. It should be rich and thick! Season well and..serve!
It is really tasty! Bon appetito!
From Maxine Clark’s Italian Kitchen