italian octopus and white bean salad

This salad is very simple and takes moments to prepare…it’s got all the classic Italian flavours of fresh lemon, parsley, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with tender octopus, which I buy ready cooked from my Spanish deli in Portobello Road or my local fish monger in Primrose Hill but you can also use the jars of it in olive oil that some supermarkets and delis stock. It’s a perfect starter to a pescatarian dinner, or just as a light supper with crusty bread to mop up the dressing.

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forbidden black rice risotto with prawns and Vermouth

I was sent a big bag of black Venus rice from one of my favourite companies Belazu who stock the best Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients, check them out online. So I thought I’d make a recipe that works well with the rice, in Italy they usually serve black rice with seafood so I added giant prawns and I must say its a great combination of flavours. And now I prefer it to normal risotto rice.

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Gothenburg sandwich

This is a big open sandwich which is a traditionally Swedish and famously supposed to be one of the most delicious sandwiches in the world. It really is a tasty prawn salad on a small slice of rye bread with mayonnaise but it’s got lots of fresh flavours from the dill, lemon and pickled onions and cucumber. If you are low carbing, you can omit the bread. It can also be topped with a spoon of lumpfish.

It’s delicious and just an assembly job after you have made the pickled onion and cucumber the day before.

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spanish orange glazed squid

I have a oldish Spanish cookbook with fantastic recipes in it that are great as tapas. I’m working my way through it pretending I’m in Barcelona. This recipe from that book has the sweetness of oranges which work really well with squid and the smokiness of the smoked paprika giving it a real Spanish vibe. I’ve tweaked it slightly and replaced the sugar with maple syrup so it’s low glycemic. You can eat it as tapas with other small plates or combine it with pasta as I did. I bought my black pasta from my Italian deli but it works equally well with plain old standard spaghetti or Linguine. It’s perfect for a dinner party or a date night. My friend Timna says it’s up there with my crab Linguine as one of the best things she’s ever tasted.

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italian mussels steamed in beer with gremolada and breadcrumbs

This recipe is inspired by my father’s range of beers called Paolozzi made by The Edinburgh Beer Factory.

It is really Italian in all its flavours and I’m sure he would have loved it. Beer and mussels go really well together and so does crusty bread so I combined them all together. Mussels are cheap and sustainable, plus they cook in minutes. This recipe is perfect as a starter or light supper. And of course it’s perfect with beer.

If you fancy it with chips there are a couple of recipes on my blog for for easy fries too: healthy matchstick fries and the perfect roasted fries.

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spaghetti alle vongole

This is the food of the gods and needs no explaining as to how good it is. It’s perfect for  a stress-free Valentine’s dinner or a date night as it only take as long as the pasta takes to cook.

When I’ve been to Venice I practically live on it as it really is my favourite thing and I can’t get enough of it. It can be made in under 20 minutes and the ingredients can be bought days in advance. This recipe is an original Venetian recipe which I always love to cook, as it is like a lot of Italian recipes, very simple. There are two sorts of Vongole, in bianco, which is made like this recipe, or in rosso which is made with tomatoes. When I make it everyone goes mad for it… so try it, it’s not expensive and it is quick and easy.

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lobster risotto

A perfect romantic Valentine’s dinner for two or more if it’s a dinner party, just double or triple the quantities for the amount of people you are feeding. This easy risotto tastes delicious and before you think it’s too expensive to cook, I got a frozen lobster for £5.00 from Lidl. It’s a bit of work getting the meat out, but after that it’s easy. For the stock, I can’t praise Knorr fish stock pots highly enough. You would be hard pushed to make a better stock and they are a store cupboard essential round in my kitchen.

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moqueca

Moqueca is a super easy traditional Brazilian fish stew which is creamy and tangy all at once because it has the brilliant combo of lime juice, coconut milk and chilli. It will warm your cockles even on an autumn evening and take you to somewhere a little bit more exotic if you are not there already. You can also use fresh squid, sea bream, haddock, clams, mussels, scallops,  crab or whatever is available or whatever you fancy in it. It’s up to you. Its really delicious with basmati rice or crusty bread if you are not low carbing it. Perfect for a dinner party or just a dinner for two.

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spanish style clams

I have taken the flavours of a classic Spanish clam stew and rejigged it so it tastes great even though there is no meat in it. Normally it would have Chorizo in it, so I used smoked paprika which is the flavor of Chorizo instead and it tastes just as good. It’s a really easy recipe and great for a date night. Also, the frozen Clams were a bargain £3.59 for 500g in the freezer section of Waitrose. I always buy a few boxes and keep them in the freezer just in case.

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crab tartines with avocado and lime

This recipe is a great way of making a fairly expensive ingredient go a long way, and anyway, what could be nicer than crab with chilli and lime on crunchy bread with avocado and pickled cucumber? The perfect combo of flavours and textures. The lime is the perfect match for crab and is slightly more subtle than if I used a lemon, which you can do if you prefer. It’s a great starter to any dinner, just multiply it by the number of guests.

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