Recipe Roundup - Cheer Box

Pan Fried Scallops with lentils, crispy pancetta, and lemon crème fraiche

This is an elegant and classic pairing that screams ‘nice night in’. What makes this pairing tick are the similarities in weight and flavours. The dish is light on its feet, while the wine being fresh, lean, and mineral-focused keeps the overall pairing delicate. The dish and the wine are in harmony, with neither stepping on the other’s toes. They elevate the story the other is telling to you and fill in any blank spaces that might need detail. The dressing, with all of its fresh herbal notes, highlights the lovely herbal notes in the wine, while the sautéed shrimp with a squeeze of lemon brings out the bright citrus notes in the glass. Very classy. 

Your favourite salad ingredients such as shaved carrot, sliced radish, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and/or chopped celery
300g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
1 potato, peeled
1 tomato
A small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
Herb or red wine vinegar
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 heaped tbsp crème fraîche or thick natural yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 handfuls of asparagus
12 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
Olive oil
12 large or 16 small scallops, shelled and trimmed
24 sage leaves


1.  In a saucepan, cover the lentils with water and, to give them great flavour, add the bay leaf, garlic cloves, potato and tomato. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20-25 minutes (topping up with water if necessary) until the lentils are tender but holding their shape (i.e. not mushy). Drain off 90 percent of the water, discard the bay leaf, tomato skin and garlic skin and mash the potato, tomato and garlic into the lentils with a fork. Add the parsley and around 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix into the lentils and season carefully to taste.
2.  Season the crème fraîche or yoghurt with salt, pepper and just enough lemon juice to give it a twang-the juice of 1 lemon will probably be enough.
3.  Cut the last 2 inches off the asparagus stalks at an angle and discard. Now’s a good time to get your plates out and round your guests up. Get a very large non-stick frying pan (or two medium ones) hot and lay the pancetta or bacon in it with a little drizzle of olive oil. Once golden and crisp, remove to a platter. Add the asparagus and your lightly seasoned scallops to the pan and cook over a high heat until the scallops are golden on both sides. Remove these to the bacon platter too. Finally drizzle in a little more olive oil and lay in your sage leaves. Fry on both sides for 40 seconds or so until crisp and remove to the platter.
4.  Divide your lentils between four plates and place 3 or 4 scallops per person on top. Scatter the bacon over the top of the scallops, with the sage leaves and asparagus sprinkled around the plate. Serve with a good dollop of your lemon crème fraîche.


Spaghetti Bolognese



2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 rashers dry-cured higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
olive oil
500 g minced beef
200 ml red wine
1 x 280 g jar of sun-dried tomatoes
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
500 g dried spaghetti
Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
2.  Peel and finely chop the garlic and onions, pick and finely chop the rosemary, then finely slice the bacon.
3.  Heat a splash of oil in a casserole pan on a medium heat, add the bacon, rosemary, garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
4.  Add the minced beef, breaking it apart with the back of a spoon, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to brown, then pour in the wine. Leave to bubble and cook away.
5.  Meanwhile, drain and tip the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor, blitz to a paste, then add to the pan with the tomatoes. Stir well, break the plum tomatoes apart a little.
6.  Cover with a lid then place in the oven for 1 hour, removing the lid and giving it a stir after 30 minutes – if it looks a little dry at this stage, add a splash of water to help it along.
7.  About 10 minutes before the time is up, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions.
8.  Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain, reserving a mugful of cooking water, then return to the pan with a few spoons of Bolognese, a good grating of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
9.  Toss to coat the spaghetti, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed.
10.  Divide the spaghetti between plates or bowls, add a good spoonful of Bolognese to each, then serve with a fine grating of Parmesan.


Beef Brisket



1.5 – 2 kg / 3 – 4 lb beef brisket (Note 1)
1 tbsp olive oil (or a neutral oil like vegetable, canola)

Coarse salt
Coarsely cracked black pepper
Cayenne (optional)
Garlic powder (optional)

BBQ Sauce:
2 garlic cloves , minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar , packed
2 tsp EACH black pepper , onion powder, mustard powder 1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste re: spiciness)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


1.  Place Rub in a bowl and mix to combine. Rub all over brisket. If time permits, leave for 30 minutes – 24 hours in the fridge, but I rarely do this.

2.  Put the Sauce ingredients in a roasting pan, add 2 cups water. Mix, add beef, cover with lid or double layer of foil.

3.  Bake at 320 degrees for 4 hours, then uncovered for 30 minutes, until fork tender. Baste ever hour or so with pan juices. Check every now and then to ensure the liquid doesn’t reduce down beyond a BBQ Sauce consistency (add water if it does).

4.  Simmer BBQ sauce: Remove brisket, scrape/pour sauce into a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until thickens into a BBQ Sauce syrup consistency.

5.  Roast for 10 - 15 minutes or until surface is caramelized.

6.  Caramelize: Return brisket into roasting pan, turn heat up to 390 degrees. Drizzle with oil, brush with Sauce (reserve most for serving).

TO SERVE: Slice brisket thinly across the grain and serve with remaining BBQ Sauce.

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