Food and wine matching for Spring

Food and wine matching for Spring

I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow night’s food and wine matching evening that I’m hosting in conjunction with Winchester wine merchant, Wine Utopia. The following recipes are the full-dish versions of the canapes I’ll be serving on the night.

Trout rillettes

Trout rillettesThis rillettes is a bit like a posh pate. Spread it onto oatcakes and serve as a canapé, or take it on a picnic and slather onto chunks of rustic bread. It’s a great match for sparkling wine that’s undergone late disgorgement or a barrel-fermented Chardonnay that’s been through malolactic fermentation.

Makes: 1 kilner Jar


300 g fresh trout fillet

100 g butter, softened

2 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil

150 g cold-smoked trout

1 lemon, juiced

a small bunch of fresh dill, chopped


  • Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer. Slip in the trout fillets, then cover the pan, turn off the heat and leave to poach for 10 minutes or until the trout has just turned opaque in the centre. Drain well and leave to cool, then flake the trout off of the skin, checking for any bones as you go.
  • Beat 75 g of the butter until smooth, then beat in the rapeseed oil, followed by half of the lemon juice.
  • Shred the smoked trout into thin strips, then stir it into the butter mixture with the dill and poached trout. Season with sea salt, white pepper and a bit more lemon juice, then taste a little bit to make sure the balance is right (flavours can be dulled when chilled, so err on the side of generosity).
  • Pack the mixture into a kilner jar, being careful not to leave any air pockets and lay a sprig of dill on top. Melt the remaining 25 g butter and pour over the top to seal, then leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop.


Hazelnut oatcakes

Hazelnut oatcakesThese little oatcakes are perfect with the trout rillettes or can be used as a base for any canapés to partner white wines that have undergone MLF or lees stirring.

Makes approx. 40 biscuits (5 cm diameter)


225 g porridge oats

25 g hazelnuts, chopped

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil


  • Preheat the oven to 200⁰C / gas 6. Boil a kettle of water and leave it to cool a little while you prepare the dry ingredients.
  • Put the oats in a food processor and pulse them a few times (you want a good mixture of whole and ground oats for the best texture).
  • Stir in the hazelnuts and bicarb with a pinch of salt, then drizzle over the oil and stir everything together.
  • Stir in the recently boiled water a little at a time until the oats come together into a stiff dough. Turn it out onto the work surface and knead briefly to bring it all together.
  • Roll it out as thinly as you can – don’t worry about it sticking and don’t attempt to turn it round or add flour. Use a 5 cm round pastry cutter to cut out the first batch of biscuits, using a twisting motion to get nice clean edges.
  • Use a spatula to scrape the biscuits off of the work surface and transfer to a dry non-stick baking tray. Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes or until they have dried out completely underneath. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  • Meanwhile, bring the trimmings together and roll out as before, then cut out a second batch of biscuits. If the mixture has gone too crumbly, crumble it back into the mixing bowl and sprinkle over a tiny bit more hot water to rehydrate.
  • Once they’ve cooled completely, they’re ready to serve or will keep for a week or two in an air-tight container.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Antech Cremant de Limoux ‘Cuvee de Eugenie’ 2010, Languedoc, France – This sparkler is composed of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac grapes.  It is produced in the Champenoise method and spends 12 months on its lees before disgorging, resulting in hints of honey and toast alongside citrusy notes. £14.95



Griddled asparagus with nettle pesto

Griddled asparagus with nettle and wild garlic pestoThe English asparagus season is nearly upon us, so this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. It also makes the most of the wild garlic and stinging nettles that have just started colonising the local woodlands. I’ve kept my pesto as British as possible by replacing pine nuts with hazelnuts, olive oil with rapeseed oil and Pecorino with Loosehanger Cheese’s New Forest Nanny. For more of a substantial salad, try tossing the asparagus and pesto with some baby spinach leaves and hot-smoked salmon flakes as I have in the picture. Alternatively, stir the asparagus and pesto through hot pasta. The flavour of the nettles is reflected in the minerality of sauvignon blanc, which can also display hints of asparagus, especially after a couple of years in the bottle.

Serves: 4


35 g young nettle tops

40 g wild garlic leaves

50 g hazelnuts

50 g New Forest Nanny goats cheese or Pecorino, grated

200 ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil

500 g asparagus spears, trimmed


  • To make the pesto, blanch the nettle tops in boiling water for 1 minute, then plunge into iced water. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible with your hands and chop roughly
  • Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, then add the hazelnuts and pound until crushed to a paste. Add the chopped nettles in stages, pounding as you go until well pulped, then stir in the grated cheese and enough oil to give a pesto consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Brush the asparagus with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a very hot griddle pan for 3 minutes on each side until bronzed, but still al dente. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl and toss with the pesto. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand – Crisp, dry and bursting with fruit, gooseberries, ripe citrus with a herbaceous character on the structured palate. £10.96


Salt-wrinkled potatoes with crab mayonnaise

The potatoes in this recipe are a traditional Canary Island favourite where they’re known as papas arrugadas. I’ve paired them with a sumptuous crab mayonnaise to make the perfect partner for a full bodied viognier. Both the crab and the grape variety have a hint of sweetness while the potatoes match the weight of the wine by being both mouth-filling and low in acidity. If you don’t want to make your own mayonnaise, use a good shop-bought version and add a little bit of crushed garlic.

Salt wrinkled potatoes with crabServes: 4


½ garlic clove

a pinch of sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 lemon, juiced

200 ml sunflower or other flavourless oil

300 g fresh crab meat

1 kg Jersey Royals or other small waxy new potatoes, washed


  • Crush the garlic to a smooth paste with the sugar and a large pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar. Stir in the mustard and half of the lemon juice until smoothly combined.
  • Add the oil in a very thin trickle, stirring all the time with the pestle so that the mixture emulsifies. Continue until all of the oil has been used, then season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Stir 3 tablespoons of the mayonnaise into the crab meat and taste again for seasoning.
  • Put the potatoes in a single layer in a large saucepan. Pour in enough cold water to almost cover the potatoes, then stir in 1 tbsp of sea salt.
  • Partially cover the pan with a lid and boil for 20 – 30 minutes or until all the water has evaporated and the potatoes are covered by a dusty layer of salt.
  • Leave to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then serve with the crab mayonnaise.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Spice route Viogner  2012, Swartland, South Africa – Perfumed aromas of tropical fruit and candied orange peel. Spicy complexity and rich mouthfeel, with ripe fruit reappearing on the palate. Perfume and warming spice continue for an elegant and lengthy finish. £11.95


Roast pork with rhubarb compote

Roast pork with rhubarb compoteNow that apple season is far behind us, it’s time for rhubarb to take over the condiment role. Rhubarb’s sweet and sour flavour really cuts through the richness of roast pork and it’s these two elements that also make it the perfect match for off-dry Riesling.

Serves: 4 – 6


1.5 – 2 kg pork belly, any ribs removed and skin scored at 5mm intervals

400 g rhubarb

75 g caster sugar


  • Season the underside of the pork with pepper, then turn it over and dry the skin well with kitchen paper. Rub about 2 tbsp of sea salt into the skin, making sure you don’t get too much on the flesh side.
  • Preheat the oven as high as it will go. When the skin has been salted for 30 minutes, brush off any excess with kitchen paper and dry the skin well again. Transfer the tray to the top shelf of the oven and roast for 30 minutes. This should result in some proper crunchy crackling.
  • Turn the oven down to 170⁰C (150⁰ fan), 340 F, gas 3 and continue to cook the pork for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, roughly chop the rhubarb and tip it into a roasting tin. Sprinkle with the sugar and shake the tin to coat the rhubarb. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender, then mash into a thick sauce with a fork.
  • To make the pork easier to carve, remove the crackling in one go and snap into pieces. Cut the meat across the grain into slices and serve with the rhubarb compote on the side.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Rolly Gassmann Riesling 2007, Alsace, France – This is an off dry Riesling with vibrant acidity and a soft, lush mouthfeel.  Some lime and lemon characters are coming through and a more rounded, peachy note too.  Crisp and appealing with white stone fruit providing flesh for the racy acidity. £15.95


Moorish lamb

Moorish lambWith its Middle Eastern origins, this dish makes a great Easter Sunday lunch and can easily be multiplied up to feed a crowd. The trick to matching wine with spicy food is to avoid tannin and ensure there is plenty of sweet fruit to balance. Ensuring the food is well seasoned will also help to promote the fruit flavour of the wine, something that the anchovies, olives and preserved lemon should take care of.

Serves: 6


1 red onion, quartered and sliced
1 medium red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ras el hanout spice mix
400 g tin of cherry tomatoes in juice
1 small preserved lemon or ½ a large one
a large handful of pitted green olives in oil, drained
half shoulder of lamb, boned & rolled


  • Preheat oven to Preheat the oven to 140⁰C (120⁰ fan), 280 F, gas 1
  • Fry the onion, chilli and anchovy in an oven-proof saucepan or casserole dish for 5 mins. Add the garlic and spice mix and fry for another minute then add the tinned tomatoes. Fill the can with water and add that to the pan too, then give it all a good stir.
  • Cut the preserved lemon into quarters and discard the fleshy insides. Cut the peel across into thin slices and add it to the pan with the olives.
  • Snuggle the lamb in amongst it all and bring to a very gentle simmer. Put on a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 5 hours, turning the lamb and stirring the sauce every hour. After 3 hours, discard the lid – this will intensify the sauce and colour the outside of the lamb.
  • 30 mins before serving, turn off the oven to relax the meat. Remove the oily layer from the top of the sauce with a large spoon and discard. You can then remove the string and either carve the meat with a knife or pull it apart into chunks with a couple of forks. Serve with a pilaf, couscous or crusty bread.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Finca Nueva Rioja Crianza 2007, Rioja, Spain – Bright, sweet cherry fruit. The palate is supple and vibrant with fresh cherry fruit, some berry fruit and a savoury, mineral twist. £11.95


Simnel bread and butter pudding

This is a deliciously indulgent dessert to round off Easter Sunday lunch. It has all the flavour of a traditional Simnel cake with only a fraction of the hassle, plus you can serve it with custard! It’s essential to match the sweetness level with the wine you choose to accompany dessert and with something this rich, a full syrupy body is also the way to go. Pedro Ximenez, with is rich raisin flavour is perfect or try a Rutherglen Muscat.

Serves: 6


Simnel bread and butter pudding200 g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel)

2 tbsp brandy

1 white bloomer loaf

50 g softened butter

150 g marzipan, diced

300 ml whole milk

300 ml double cream

6 egg yolks

60 g caster sugar

1 tbsp demerara sugar

fresh nutmeg for grating


  • Soak the dried fruit in brandy overnight for optimum flavour and juiciness.
  • Preheat the oven to 180⁰C (160⁰ fan), 355 F, gas 4 and line a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Cut the bread into slices and butter both sides generously. This is easiest to do if you butter the cut side of the loaf before slicing it, then stack and butter the other sides as you go.
  • Layer the bread in the cake tin, alternating with the marzipan and dried fruit, and finishing with a layer of bread.
  • Beat together the milk, cream, egg yolks and caster sugar until the yolks are well incorporated. Pour half of the mixture over the pudding and leave to soak for 10 minutes.  Pour over the other half, then sprinkle with demerara sugar and grate over a little nutmeg.
  • Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown. To serve, remove the pudding from the tin and cut into 6 portions. Accompany with a big jug of custard or vanilla flavoured whipped cream.


Wine Utopia’s wine match:

Fernando di Castillo Classic Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Jerez, Spain – Dreamy smooth with coffee, raisin, prunes, figs, walnut and festive spice flavours. £19.96

Visit Wine Utopia‘s website for more delicious wines, tastings and events.