BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

Baby Pork Ribs

Serves 2

These ribs are meltingly soft with the meat falling off the bones and packed full of flavour.

2 racks of baby pork ribs, cut into separate ribs
6 tablespoons BBQ sauce
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne
2 ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the ribs, cover and simmer for 1 hour. This will render the fat and help to tenderise the ribs.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Drain the ribs and add them to the marinade. Stir well to coat them evenly, cover with cling film and marinate for 24 hours in the fridge. During that time stir them from time-to-time to make sure they all get plenty of marinade.

Bake the ribs uncovered in a roasting dish for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the marinade is well reduced and sticky, and all of the ribs are evenly coated.

Baked Beans

Napolina Five Bean Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish

This is an easy and quick dish to prepare. It’s great as a snack on toast and a brilliant accompaniment to barbequed or grilled meats and poultry or baked pork chops or ribs. It is packed full of flavour and is some 10 times better than any shop-bought baked beans.

One caveat, though. It has a quite musty taste which comes from the smoked paprika. Not everyone likes that – including LW – but I love it and can happily eat mounds of these beans.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan as long as the ketchup is vegan.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tsp smoked paprika
3 x 400g tins of mixed beans, with their water
A large pinch of dried chilli flakes
50g dark brown sugar
125g tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar

In an oven-proof casserole, heat the oil and cook the onion until softened, approx. 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the smoked paprika and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add all of the other ingredients, bring to a boil and then cook in the oven, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or so, by which time the sauce should be sticky.

Corn Chowder

Corn chowder lr

Serves 2

This soup depends on you using a great stock. I make it using my own home-made vegetable stock which is packed full of rich flavour. The result is a soup that is full of natural sweetness.

This soup is vegetarian. If you replace the butter with oil, it will be vegan too.

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small dice
1 tablespoon flour
750 ml home-made vegetable stock, heated
280g tinned sweetcorn, drained (or use frozen sweetcorn)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground black pepper
A large pinch dried chilli flakes
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes have taken on some colour and started to soften, approx. 5 more minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir fry for 1 minute.

Gradually add the hot stock, stirring well. Add all of the other ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Check the seasoning and serve.

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock lr

This recipe will give you a rich and naturally sweet vegetable stock that adds stacks of flavour to sauces, soups and casseroles. It is vegetarian and vegan.

You can cook this stock on the hob or in a slow cooker. I prefer to make it in a slow cooker. Vegetables tend to break down less in a slow cooker than when simmered on a hob, so using a slow cooker gives a clearer stock without compromising on flavour.

I use a 6.5 litre slow cooker. If you are using a different sized cooker, simply adjust the proportions of the recipe.

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large celery sticks (with tops), roughly chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 largish tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
A pinch of salt
A small pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 ½ litres water

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Once the cooking time is up, sieve the stock into a clean pan and discard the solids. Boil the stock rapidly until it is reduced to 750 ml. The stock can be used immediately or stored in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Rice and Peas

Rice and peas lr

Serves 2

There are various versions of rice and peas throughout the Caribbean. They all share the same core flavours of coconut and thyme. Although called rice and peas, the dish is usually made with kidney beans rather than peas.

Most recipes will tell you to use tinned coconut milk but I find that can give a slightly soggy or sticky result. I prefer to make my own coconut water which gives light, fluffy grains but still has plenty of coconut flavour.

This rice dish is an excellent accompaniment to just about any grilled, roasted or BBQed foods – especially jerked dishes.

This dish is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

For the coconut water…
Unsweetened desiccated coconut filled to the 10 fl oz mark in a measuring jug, covered with boiling water to the 20 fl oz mark.

Pour the boiling water over the coconut and leave to macerate for 40 minutes. Sieve into a clean jug, squeezing the coconut pulp to remove all the liquid. Discard the pulp.

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
1 medium red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 2 pieces
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 fl oz long grain rice
15 fl oz stock made up with the coconut water topped up with vegan stock to make 15 fl oz in all
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft, approx 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, chilli, ginger, salt and pepper and sauté for a further 1 minute then add the rice and stir gently to coat the grains.

Add the stock and kidney beans, bring to a simmer and simmer covered until the rice is tender, approx 20 to 30 minutes. (Check the rice after 20 minutes and add a little boiling water if it is starting to catch.)

Remove the ginger before serving and check the seasoning. Rice dishes like this can take quite a lot of salt.

This dish can be cooked ahead and stored in the fridge until needed. To reheat, place in a microwave-proof bowl, loosely cover with cling film and cook on high for 5 minutes.

Cajun Spice Blend

Paprika peppers

Everyone seems to love the flavours of Cajun dishes. Cajun chicken is a particular favourite, but the flavours work well on just about any meat, fish or vegetables too. I experimented with many mixes of herbs and spices before finding that this blend really hits the spot.

This spice mix has a mild heat.

Simply mix the seasoning with a little oil to make a loose paste, rub it onto your chicken, vegetable kebabs, chops or fish – whatever you fancy – then leave it to marinate for up to an hour. Cook in the usual way – roast, grill, barbecue or fry. Allow 1 teaspoon of the spice mix per portion.

2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cayenne chilli powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 ½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a spice jar until needed.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

il-condimento-del-borgo-il-cilindro-rosso

Serves 4

This vinaigrette differs from the standard balsamic vinaigrette by addition of water which has the effect of emulsifying (thickening) it. This is useful where you want the dressing to cover more evenly.

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic
1 tablespoon cold water
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Whisk together the mustard, balsamic and water, then whisk in the oil. This should give a thick, glossy dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add lemon juice if necessary for extra acidity (whether or not you need this will depend on the sweetness of the balsamic).

This dressing will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Vegetable Soup with Puy Lentils and Paprika

Sweet peppers

Serves 4 as a lunch or main course

This soup is quite rich with warming spices of paprika, smoked paprika and chilli. It is packed full of goodness and makes a perfect lunch or dinner main course.

It is vegetarian and vegan, as long as the stock is vegan.

250g Puy lentils, washed and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery sticks, diced
4 sweet peppers, various colours, deseeded and diced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 rounded tablespoons paprika
1 rounded tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
1 ½ litres vegetable stock
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Bring a large pan of unsalted water to a boil, add the lentils and simmer for 35 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook the onion gently for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, celery and peppers and season generously with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down low, cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Stir in the paprika, smoked paprika, thyme and chilli flakes, then add the tomatoes, stock and vinegar. Add the cooked lentils. Stir well, bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning and serve piping hot.

Pizza Seasoning

Mixed herbs lr

Whether you are making your own pizza from scratch or cooking a shop bought one, finishing it off with the right seasoning makes all the difference. Just sprinkle a generous pinch – at least half a teaspoon – of my seasoning mix over your pizza before you cook it and you will be amazed at how much better it tastes.

This seasoning mix is dead easy to make. Simply mix all of the ingredients together and store it in a spice jar where it will keep well for ages.

4 tsp dried basil
4 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried sage
2 tsp ground black pepper

Limoncello

Limoncello lr Squeezed lemons lr

Makes about 1 litre

I thought I’d give you a drink recipe for a change this week.

This is a home-made drink that really works well (unlike home brewed beers and wines). This recipe has less sugar than most and everyone who has tried it has given it a thumbs up. Keep it in the freezer along with some shot glasses and you’ll have a house full of very happy guests.

8 lemons (make sure they are unwaxed)
250g caster sugar
150ml water
1 x 700ml bottle of vodka

Use a small sharp knife to remove the peel from four of the lemons. Use a zester to remove the zest from the other four lemons. Squeeze all of the juice from the lemons.

Put the sugar and water in a thick based saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook uncovered with a strong simmer for a few minutes until the mixture starts to look syrupy. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in the lemon juice, peel and zest. Leave to go completely cold then stir in the vodka.

Pour the limoncello into sterile bottles or jars, seal them and place them in a dark cupboard for three days. Then strain the limoncello into clean bottles.