Tag Archives: dinner

Glazed Apples and Pears with Shallots

SERVES 8     PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES    COOKING TIME: 1-1/2 HOURS

Easy to prepare

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 small eating apples

4 small pears

900g / 2 lbs shallots (unpeeled weight)

1 tbsp olive oil

50g / 2 oz butter

6 tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly**

bay leaves to decorate

METHOD

Put the lemon juice into a large bowl.  Peel the apples and pears, leaving the stalks on, then toss in the juice. 

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil.  Lower in the apples and pears, then cover and poach for 30 minutes or until the fruit just gives to a sharp knife.  Peel the shallots while you’re waiting.

Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5  (170C fan oven).  Add the oil and butter to a small roasting tin, then add the drained apples, pears and the shallots.

Brush the fruit with a layer of the quince or redcurrant jelly **(cranberry jelly would work equally well)** and roast for 1 hour until softened and golden.

Turn the pears and apples around in the fat a few times during cooking, brushing twice more with the glaze.

Serve spooned around the turkey, decorated with bay leaves.

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This recipe has been very slightly adapted from a recipe that first appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine.  The photograph is from the same source.

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A perfect day

I had the most wonderful day yesterday.  The sun had returned, our kittens were let loose on the world (well, the garden anyway), doors and windows to the house were consequently flung wide open, allowing a gentle Summer breeze to drift through our house for the first time in weeks, and my brother was visiting the island for the first time in 6 years.  It was as if the planets had re-aligned and all good things were heading my way.

We went out to dinner as a big family group last night and sat by the restaurant window, allowing us to watch the sun sinking into the sea way beyond the lighthouse.  On the way home there was a big fireworks display going on above the town and as we drove along the bay I got a free view of it all.

I think I must have done something good in a former life, to now live the life that I do and in such a beautiful place.

I have to tell you, we don’t have any motorways here, just one section of dual carriageway on the outskirts of town on which the speed limit is 40 m.p.h.  As we headed towards town, nearing 10 o’clock at night, we spotted a man on a bicycle – no lights – riding the wrong way on the other side of the dual carriageway (with cars heading towards him).  I suspect his day may not have worked out as well as mine in the end.

0109, Corbiere 1

The Lighthouse – not last night when the sea was almost calm, but on a crisp day in May.

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Authentic Bolognese (Italian Ragu Sauce)

Spaghetti BologneseBolognese – the mainstay of the British student population.  It’s a wonderful, easy to make sauce that we all know and love, so much so that even those who don’t normally cook will defend their version as being the best.  Yes you can add ‘stuff’ to it and yes it will doubtless taste delicious but did you know that there is now an ‘official’ Bolognese Sauce?  Oh yes there is!  In 1982 the Bologna Chamber of Commerce asked the Accademia Italiana della Cucina to come up with the town’s official version.  As decreed by them therefore, it should contain: beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, white wine and milk***.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  If you want to cook up the official version, may I suggest the recipe below (based around a recipe by great cookery writer Elizabeth David). 

***We don’t like the addition of milk in this sauce and like all home cooks I’ve tweaked this recipe ever so slightly to suit our family’s tastes.  If you want to follow my recipe, you’ll find it here.  (And, naturally, like all home cooks, I think mine is better)!

Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients:

8 oz lean minced beef

3 oz pancetta , cut into small pieces

A small amount of butter (about 1/2 oz)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree

1 wineglassfull of white wine

2 wineglassfulls of water

1 wineglassful of milk

Salt and pepper to season

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Method

Melt a little bit of butter in a saucepan and gently brown the pancetta. 

Add the onion, carrot and celery and when the onion is golden, add the raw minced beef.  Keep turning so that it browns evenly and breaks up in the pan.

Add the tomato puree and white wine.  Season with salt (remember that the pancetta is already salty so season with a light hand) pepper, and finally add the water.  Give it all a good stir, then cover the pan and and let it simmer very gently for 30-40 minutes.

Finally, add the milk and let it finish heating through for a few minutes.

The correct way to serve this is to put the cooked spaghetti in a heated bowl and then mix in the sauce so that the pasta is well covered with the sauce.  Add a knob of butter if you wish and then hand around freshly grated parmesan separately.  

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Bolognese Sauce a la Gentle Voice

Spaghetti BologneseNo apologies for the closeness of this recipe to the authentic Bolognese, (recipe as decreed by the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982 ).  You will notice, however, that one major difference is that we like our sauce!  I figure this will feed 4 – 6 people.  (My occasional ‘extras’ to ring the changes in this sauce are also noted below).

Bolognese Sauce a la Gentle Voice

Ingredients:

1 lb (450g) lean minced beef

4 oz (120g) of  pancetta or, failing that, smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 x 450g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree mixed into half the above tin of water

1 wineglassfull of white wine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg to season

To serve: Grated fresh parmesan cheese  to spinkle on the top

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Method

Gently heat the olive oil then add the pancetta and cook until browned. 

Add the onions and celery and when the onion is golden add the crushed garlic.  Stir for a minute or so (garlic should not be allowed to brown), then add the raw minced beef.  Keep turning so that it browns evenly and breaks up in the pan.

Add the wine, a little at a time so that it is absorbed into the meat.  Then sling in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and water.

Season with salt (remember that the pancetta is already salty so season with a light hand) pepper and a light scraping of nutmeg.  Stir well. Partially cover the pan and allow it to simmer very gently for at least an hour.  Just keep checking the pan to make sure that the heat isn’t too high and it is therefore drying out.  If it looks like this is happening you can add a little more water + tomato puree, and make sure that the heat is down low.

Just before serving, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.  For a slightly richer taste add a small knob of butter and stir.

Strictly speaking, the correct way to serve this is to put the cooked spaghetti in a heated bowl and then mix in the sauce so that the pasta is well covered with the sauce.  Hand around freshly grated parmesan separately.  

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Occasional Gentle Voice extras and variations to that can the above basic ragu sauce

1-2 finely chopped chillis (to taste) – added with the onions and celery, or

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (added with the other wet ingredients), or

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, de-forested of their little leaves, or

A few torn fresh basil leaves, added at the very last minute

Butter (as mentioned above)

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