Special Mentions – Simone Conti

This delicious soup is not a real classic, but the mix of flavour is amazing, the delicate taste of the spinach and the watercress contrasting the strong flavour of the lamb, the mint bringing freshness. I like to add a bit of rice to make it more substantial, but this is my personal taste.

Spinach, Watercress and Mint Soup with Lamb Dumpling – Serves 4

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium leeks, washed and finely sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of watercress, washed and finely chopped
800ml vegetable stock
200g of lamb mince
150g mint leaves, chopped
50g of cornflour
2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
250g spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped

1. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and add the leeks, onion, garlic and the bay leaf.
2. Sauté’ gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add watercress and stir well.
3. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then turn to a simmer.
4. Mix the lamb with half of the mint, all the corn flour, salt and diced shallots. Mix well and roll into marble sized balls. Add to the soup and poach for 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the spinach and the remaining mint, check the seasoning and bring to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, take it off the heat and serve, enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

I found this recipe when we relocated to Cranleigh few years ago, in 2009 I was working for Theo Randall in Park Lane and a bunch of celebrity chefs came together with some of the best rugby players in the world to write a cookery book. Each chef was matched with a rugby player and together they have to deliver a great 3 course meal. I was lucky in that occasion to meet Matt Lovell, who at the time was the England rugby nutritionist. I asked him what was the diet for the rugby team, so he told me that in the book he will have has some of his own recipes that he uses for them, I asked him if I can have some of his recipes before it comes out and he was kind to hand me a few, this is one such recipe.

Pork and Prunes – Serves 4

40 giant prunes
1/2 bottle of medium dry white wine
1kg pork loin
100g of coconut oil
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
400g of Greek yoghurt
Spelt flour, as needed
Salt and Black pepper

1. Preheat the oven at 160c, Place the soaked prunes in the oven for 3 minutes, making sure the liquid doesn’t boil away.
2. Cut the pork loin into mini medallions, coat with flour, and season with salt and pepper. Fry the pork in the coconut oil until golden brown on both sides, set aside and leave the meat juice in the pan.
3. Drain the prune juice into the meat juices and add the prunes to the pork.
4. Simmer the meat juices and the prune juices, stirring in the redcurrant jelly.
5. Finally stir in the Greek yoghurt, taking care not to curdle the sauce, pour over the pork while still hot and serve, tuck in!

This is a great autumnal dessert and easy to prepare. I especially recommend it after a lovely Sunday roast, you can serve it with some whipped cream and a dust of icing sugar.

Baked Pears stuffed with Ginger and Chocolate Ricotta Cheese – Serves 6

6 medium-large cooking pears
150g fresh ricotta cheese
2 pieces glace’ or steam ginger, finely chopped
100g bitter chocolate, roughly chopped
50g icing sugar
50g butter melted
200ml sweet dessert wine

1. Preheat oven to 180c, cut the bottom of each pear, just so that they will stand upright. Peel them if desired. Using an apple corer, remove the core and the seeds, leaving a space about the size of a large walnut.
2. Press the ricotta cheese through a sieve and mix with ginger, chocolate and icing sugar. Stuff the mixture inside the pears.
3. Cut four 12cm/ 5inch squares of foil or baking paper, and brush one side with melted butter. Sit one pear upright on each square, then brush with remaining butter.
4. Fold the excess foil/paper around pears, then sit in a roasting dish that is just large enough to hold them upright.
5. Pour the sweet wine over and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a skewer can be poked into the thickest part of the pear easily. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to remove the foil, then pour the reduced wine over and serve.

Recommended Wine: Porto (Portugal)

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Mr Giovanni Fontebasso for his charity walk that has raised more than £2.500! A big thank you to Giovanni and to all who donated. I had the fortune to meet Giovanni when we moved here in Cranleigh, he helped me and my family to settle down and introduced me to the Cranleigh Magazine! Giovanni has been a true inspiration for me and I believe the readers that know him agree! Giovanni is always ready to help and support others when in need.

Simone Conti

Enjoying these recipes? You can read more of Simone’s meals HERE.

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