Tag Archives: Fish

Salmon en Croute with Pesto and Creamed Spinach

Q: What do you do if all your fridge contains is 1 salmon fillet, a sheet of puff pastry, a sad-looking, half-eaten jar of green pesto, some spinach and double cream?

A: In true ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style, take a few minutes to stare intently at the ingredients and then set about making Salmon en Croute with Pesto and Creamed Spinach!

This is the situation I found myself in on a recent Thursday before the ‘Friday big shop’ arrived. As usual on a Thursday the fridge was bare apart from a few leftover ingredients. Please excuse any vague cooking instructions as this was cooking off-the-cuff!

Salmon en Croute with Pesto and Creamed Spinach
Serves 1

Ingredients
– 1 salmon fillet
– 250g sheet of puff pastry
– Tablespoon of green pesto
– A few gratings of Parmesan
– A few gratings of lemon zest
– 100g spinach
– 15g butter
– Tablespoon of double cream
– 1 egg, beaten

Method
1. Roll out the pastry quite thin. Place the salmon in the middle. Season it well and spread the pesto on top. I also found some Parmesan and a lemon and so gave a grating of each of these onto the pesto for a bit of added flavour.

2. In a saucepan, heat the butter on a medium heat and when melted, add the spinach. When the spinach has wilted add the cream. Stir well until the spinach has cooked. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°/350F/Gas Mark 4.

3. When the spinach has cooled, spoon it on top of the pesto. Assess how much of the pastry you need to wrap the salmon and trim off any excess. Wrap the salmon in the pastry and then turn it over onto a foiled tray so any folds you made are now on the underside.

4. Carefully score the top of the parcel with a criss-cross pattern and brush the salmon en croute with a beaten egg.

5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until nice and golden. Serve with whatever you like. My bare fridge contained a few cherry tomatoes so those were halved and mixed with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and placed on the plate along with a few more spinach leaves.

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Seven Salads

I love salads. But substantial salads. Not a few iceberg leaves and a sad-looking tomato. A colourful, crunchy and fresh plate full of goodness! We’re talking hunks of cheese and chunks of meat covered in a blanket of sumptuous dressing! Something that is going to fill you up but is super-healthy at the same time.

And so here are seven salads that I like to make often. It’s a whole week’s worth of healthiness! You’ll just have to find another way to be bad!

1. Tuna Niçoise Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket

The rest – tomato quarters, trimmed beans, anchovies

The substantial stuff – rare tuna steak, Parmesan shavings, hard-boiled eggs

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, lemon juice

Not a traditional Niçoise, but a tasty one! Lay your base on a plate and top with your tomato quarters and some anchovy slithers.

Heat a saucepan of water on a high heat until boiling. Add a couple of eggs and boil for 8 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle pan until smoking. Season the tuna well with salt and pepper and lay not he griddle pan. For pink tuna, like this, 3-4 minutes on each side is good. At the sides of the pan, cook the trimmed beans so that they’re nicely charred.

Serve your tuna on top of the other salad ingredients and scatter over the trimmed beans. Peel the boiled eggs, chop and serve next to the tuna. Using a potato peeler, peel shavings of Parmesan onto your salad plate.

For a delicious dressing combine a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, half a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a little less than a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over your salad before munching.

2. Chicken, bacon and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket

The rest – tomato quarters, sliced mushrooms

The substantial stuff – grilled chicken, smokey bacon, buffalo mozzarella slices

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice

Meaty chicken, smokey bacon and gooey mozzarella nom nom nom. Again, lay your base onto the plate and top with the tomato quarters and mushroom slices.

Season and put your chicken under the grill or use your George Foreman as I did. Grill your bacon as well until it’s nice and crispy.

When your chicken is cooked, cut on the diagonal and arrange onto your salad plate. Cut the cooked bacon into strips and then tear your buffalo mozzarella onto the salad.

For the dressing just combine a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the same of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, season with salt and pepper and then drizzle over the scrummy salad.

3. Chilli and Garlic Prawns and Mango Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (of course!)

The rest – cucumber ribbons and fresh mango

The substantial stuff – chilli and garlic Prawns, grated Parmesan

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice

You must be getting the hang of this now… lay your base onto your plate. To that add some fresh diced mango and ribbons of cucumber which you can make by taking your potato peeler to it.

For the Prawns, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot add a crushed glove of garlic and a finely chopped red chilli. When they are covered in the oil, add 250g of cooked King Prawns. After 4 minutes or so, the Prawns will be warmed through. Turn out onto the salad plate and cover with a good grating of Parmesan.

For the dressing, just mix the extra virgin olive oil with the juice of half a lemon and drizzle over.

4. Curry Spiced Salmon and Yogurt Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (you guessed it, I love this stuff)

The rest – tomato halves and diced cucumber

The substantial stuff – salmon fillet and fat-free yogurt

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and lemon juice

A super-healthy and tasty salad! Lay out your base and top with the cucumber and tomato.

Heat your oven to 180°/Gas Mark 4. Cover the salmon in a teaspoon of curry powder – hot or mild depending on your preference. Place your salmon on a foiled baking tray and cook for 20 minutes. Serve on top of the salad and add a dollop of yogurt onto the fish. Sprinkle some chilli flakes on the yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil. Then just cover the salad in a dressing of 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the same of white wine vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. Serve with a lemon wedge as well.

5. Scallops, Smokey Bacon and Butternut Squash Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (in case you were unsure)

The rest – tomato quarters

The substantial stuff – roast butternut squash, scallops and smokey bacon

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice

A warm salad of fab flavour combos. Set your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Lightly coat a diced butternut squash in olive oil and season. Spread across a foiled baking tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until tender and golden.

Lay the salad base on the plate and add the tomatoes. Grill the smokey bacon on both sides until crispy and then cut into strips and arrange onto the plate.

When the butternut squash is ready, take out of the oven and place half of the cubes onto your salad plate. Finally, put a frying pan containing a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium to high heat. Season 180g of scallops and cook according to the pack instructions. Scatter onto the plate before finishing with a dressing made of 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the juice of half a lemon.

6. Roast Duck, Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (was there ever any doubt?)

The rest – tomato quarters and pomegranate

The substantial stuff – roast duck and beetroot

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice

Season the duck well and cook according to the pack instructions. While it is cooking, lay your base out an top with quartered tomatoes. Dice some beetroot and add that too.

When the duck is cooked, slice on the diagonal and arrange on the plate. Tap the pomegranate seeds all over the top. Then just drizzle over the sticky balsamic dressing.

7. Sausage, Roasted Red Onion and Sautéed Potato Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (it would be weird to use another base now)

The rest – roasted pomodorino or cherry tomatoes, roasted red onion

The substantial stuff – sausages and sautéed potatoes

The dressing – not much is needed, a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sausages in a salad? Why not! Heat your oven to  200°/Gas Mark 6. Quarter the red onion and then cut each quarter in two. Put the onion into a bowl, lightly season and cover with a drizzle of olive oil and stir so that the onion is coated. Then place it on a baking tray and roast it for 30 minutes in the oven, turning occasionally. Half way through the cooking time, season and oil a handful of tomatoes and roast them for 15 minutes too.

Take a handful of new potatoes and boil for 10 minutes until soft but retaining their shape. Slice them up into small discs and set aside.

Put the onion and tomato on a lower shelf in the oven to keep them warm. Then put your grill on to cook the sausages. If you have a separate grill to your oven then lucky you are!! Cook the sausages according to the pack instructions – cook as many as you want in whatever flavour you like!

Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and splash some olive oil in there. Season the potatoes and then fry them on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning every couple of minutes.

Lay out your salad base, scatter the tomato and red onion through it. Take your sausages out from under the grill, slice on the diagonal and dot them over your plate. Turn the potatoes out onto some kitchen paper to give them a quick drain and then put them through your salad as well. Finally since all of the components have already seen some oil, you won’t need much in way of a dressing, just a drizzle of some extra virgin olive oil and its ready to eat!

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Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas

As a child, Good Friday meant a visit to the chippy for a fish supper. I always went to the chippy rather than stay at home. That way I could sneak a few chips in the car on the way home and it was so nice to hug the piping hot bag – even if my clothes reeked of grease afterwards!

I don’t know of any good fish and chip shops locally. There’s a lot of Indian takeways and Perfect Fried Chicken (I doubt it’s really perfect) but this Good Friday I wanted Good fish and chips! So, I made my own! I planned ahead and asked my in-laws to pick up some Rick Stein’s batter for me from Padstow (you can buy it online here too). And then I was ready to fry up a storm!

So here’s my recipe for fish and chips with mushy peas. This is as British as it gets!

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas
Serves 2

Ingredients
For the fish and chips:
– 550g maris piper potatoes
– 1 litre sunflower oil
– 2 pieces of white fish such as Cod or Pollock
– Batter mix
– Salt
– Pepper

For the mushy peas:
– 500g dried marrowfat peas soaked for 12-16 hours
– 1 tbsp sugar
– Salt
– Pepper
– 12g unsalted butter
– Few mint leaves very finely chopped

Method
1. The night before your fish and chip binge, get out the marrowfat peas and follow the pack instructions in regards to soaking. They normally need to be soaked for 12-16 hours in water in which you’ve dissolved bicarbonate of soda tablets that come with the pack.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into chips. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Put the saucepan on a medium high heat and bring to the boil. Boil the chips for 4 minutes then drain them and let them cool completely.

3. Drain your peas, put into a saucepan and cover with 600ml of boiling water from the kettle. Put on a medium high heat and cook for 30 minutes after which time the water will have all been soaked up and you get very mushy looking peas!

4. Put the litre of sunflower oil into a pan. I like to use a big saucepan so any splatterings stay inside the pot. Bring the oil up to 150° Celsius/300° Fahrenheit. I don’t have a thermometer but at this temperature it should take a minute for a square of white bread to brown.

5. While your oil is heating season your fish on both sides and prepare your batter. The batter I used required you to add water to the dry mix in the ratio of 4:3. Mr B helped me with the maths! 100ml of water was added to 75g of mix and whisked to form a smooth batter. Coat the fish with the batter and leave to one side for the moment.

6. The chips get double fried. Oh yes! So time for the first fry at 150° Celsius/300° Fahrenheit. Carefully lower the boiled chips into the oil and separate them out best you can. Fry for 8 minutes and then carefully remove them from the pan onto some kitchen paper. Now you need to get the oil even hotter to 190° Celsius/375° Fahrenheit! At this temperature it takes just 20 seconds for white bread to brown.

7. When you think it’s at the right temperature, carefully lower the fish into the oil using some metal tongs. Fry for 7 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. When time is up, carefully remove with the tongs and drain on kitchen paper. I know I keep saying ‘carefully’ a lot, but it’s important!

8. Finally it’s time to double fry the chips so lower them into the pan and give them 5 minutes before removing and draining on kitchen paper.

9. All that’s left to do is add a stick of unsalted butter to the peas and some very finely chopped mint. Give them a final mash up with a spoon and start serving.

I made some garlic mayo to go with the fish and chips just by adding a crushed clove of garlic to standard mayonnaise. Also on hand – tommy K, malt vinegar and sea salt for the chips. Pickled onions and gherkins optional!

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Chow Down

Along with some invaluable advice about her son (which I’ll spare you), my Mother-In-Law gave me a recipe for chowder. Apparently I’d need it. Turns out Mr B. is a chowder and general all-round soup fiend. Though I didn’t realise the extent until we took a trip to Boston. No sooner had we checked in were we out sourcing some New England Clam Chowder. Mr B. sniffed around like a bloodhound and found Quincy Market and a damn good Clam Chowder.

After my 3rd New England Clam Chowder of that trip, I realised that I was rapidly becoming a chowder fiend myself (not to mention 5lbs heavier). We got home needing more chowder, but sadly, you can’t just pick up clams from Sainsbury’s – at least not without spending a bomb. I turned to my entrusted recipe. I pimped it up a little and here it is!

I serve it in a bread bowl like the Americans. You can use sourdough or whatever bowl-like bread you can find. I have to issue a little warning though which is that the bread will soak up some of the sauce. Make sure you get as much of the inside out as you can but if you have a thing for saucy chowder then you might want to use a china bowl! You will lose a little sauce but you end up with chowder sodden bread (=yummy)! I’ll leave it up to you!

Smoked Haddock and Prawn Chowder
Serves 2 (Hungry People/Chowder Fiends)

For the chowder:
– 25g salted butter
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 350ml whole milk
– 100ml water
– 4-5 Charlotte potatoes, sliced 0.5cm thick
– Salt
– Pepper
– 300g smoked haddock
– 100g canned sweetcorn
– 225g cooked prawns
– Bunch of Parsley, finely chopped

To serve (optional):
– 2-3 (or more depending on taste!) tablespoons double cream
– 100g Cheddar/Gruyere (or 50g of both)
– 2 large, round loaves of bread suitable for using as a soup bowl

Method
1. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the chopped onion and fry and stir for 5 minutes until really golden.

2. Add the milk and the water. When it starts to boil, add the potatoes. Leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes until the potatoes are softened.

3. Take the skin off of the pieces of haddock and chop it into small squares. Add it to the saucepan and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until the fish is flaky. Towards the end of the cooking time, add in the sweetcorn.

4. Meanwhile, if you are going to serve the chowder in a bread bowl you need to get it ready! Slice off the top and carefully rip out the innards as much as you can without going through the bread.

5. Add the prawns along with the parsley and cook for 5 minutes until the prawns are warmed though.

6. Ladle it out into your bowl, add a swirl of double cream and top with some cheese. All that’s left to do is to Chow Down!

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Tried and Tasted: Canapé 101

As part of my life long mission to become hostess with the mostess I am throwing a couple of parties over Christmas. In collecting my canapé recipes, I thought I’d share what I’ve already tried, tasted and bookmarked along with a few tips.

Canapé Do’s
– Pass them around. You’ve made them so don’t leave them sitting in the corner!
– Use labels or tell friends what each canapé is as you’re passing them around. People get surprisingly polite once you start serving posh snackettes and don’t just throw anything into their gobs like they do usually!
– Have a mix of meaty, fishy and veggie canapés. Something bready also goes down well along with one or two dips. Carrot/celery sticks or homemade vegetable chips (parsnips, sweet potato and beetroot) make good dippers. You can also serve dips in hollowed out peppers (less washing up and looks fab!).
– Offer friends a napkin! This means less hung-over hoovering the next day.

Canapé Don’t’s
– Eat them all before your guests arrive.

I think that’s it! So here’s my pick of the web for canapé recipes (some tried and tasted, some waiting to be), along with a couple of recipes of my own.

Meaty

Chorizo, Manchego and Quince Cocktail Bites pictured above. I’ve made these for a while now, and they go down really well. Buy Delicias Dona Natalia Quince Paste from the Waitrose deli counter – it keeps it’s shape well and is of good-quality. Make plenty.

Mini Yorkshire Puddings with Rare Beef and Horseradish and Mustard Crème Fraiche Sauce men love these. Meat and Yorkshire puddings, I don’t think they’ve ever wanted anything more.

Parma Ham, Mozzarella, Pesto and Fig Parcels these are really easy to make and have a great flavour. Take a slice of the ham and place a quarter of a fig, a pea size blob of pesto and a mozzarella pearl at one end. Wrap up into a little parcel and secure with a cocktail stick or a sprig of rosemary if needed. As Gordon would say DONE.

Fishy

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Blinis with Dill just take a blini or make your own and pile a square of smoked salmon, blob of cream cheese and a sprinkle of dill on top. If you’re feeling flash then whack some caviar on there too. Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side. Simples.

Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce marinate prawns in garlic infused oil for a couple of hours in the fridge before frying them and serving with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. Mix 100ml of water will 60g of sugar and 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar in a pan on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved at which point just turn up the heat and boil for a few minutes before mixing in a couple of chopped red chillies, a couple of tablespoons crushed, roasted peanuts and 30g each of thinly sliced cucumbers and shallots.

Thai Fish Cakes these Rick Stein ones are really easy to make and are full of flavour.

Baked New Potato and Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream this is from The Six Senses cookbook, details on where to purchase can be found on this previous post. Roast new potatoes in a 180 degree oven for 30 minutes and when cool, cut off the tops and then concertina a strip of smoked salmon on top and secure with a skewer. For a dill cream dip on the side, mix together 200mls of whipping cream with 5tsp lime juice, 8 dill sprigs, 2 chopped spring onions and a tsp of salt.

Dippy

Aubergine Dip when you’re making this yummy dip, make sure you pierce the aubergine well. I once opened the oven and an aubergine exploded in my face.

Hummus I remember serving hummus to my Granddad once. I explained to him what hummus was but then had to tell him what a chickpea was too! Serve with strips of pitta bread or veggie dippers.

Walnut, Watercress and Ricotta Pesto a yummy, chunky pesto which you can also use as a pasta sauce.

Veggie

Goat’s Cheese Truffles I haven’t made these yet, but a ball of goat’s cheese in various coatings sounds good to me. I’ll tweet a finished picture.

Red Onion and Brie Tartlettes these look Christmassy and taste delicious too! 

Courgette Polpette really easy to make – Hugh even roped in his young son to make these on TV so I might even delegate this task to Mr. B. Then again…

Fried Halloumi and Chilli Bites speedy and cheesy, make lots as they’re popular too.

Arancini Mafioso guests LOVE these ;-)

Peppadew Peppers – so many things you can do with these. Stuff them with cheese and/or olives!

Bready

Two ideas for homemade or bought puff pastry – Prosciutto Dijon Gruyere Puffs and/or Sun Dried Tomato and Rosemary Palmiers you can create your own flavours by following one of these basic recipes. You could try prosciutto or Parma ham with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and feta or red and green pesto for something Christmassy.

Parmesan and Poppy Seed Lollipops another Lorraine Pascale inventive gem of a recipe! Yet to enjoy, will tweet a pic when I do!

Big Fat Salt and Pepper Breadsticks my sycophantism of all things Lorraine Pascale continues here. Who doesn’t love a breadstick?!

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots I’ve been bursting for an occasion to make these!

I hope you have an army to feed! Happy entertaining!

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Fancy Fish

So so pretty! No not me… the food! :-) I’m used to making food that looks good enough to eat, not food so pretty you don’t want to touch it. But I was inspired to try my hand at a bit of haute cuisine after watching a chef create a 6-course tasting menu in front of us in Thailand (read the blog post here).  It actually looked easier than I imagined, just a bit of delicacy (which I can do), a pair of asbestos hands (which I have!) and patience (hmmm) is required.

This recipe is adapted from The Six Senses Cookbook, which you can order online here. It’s a great book – full of easy-to-make and well-presented recipes with 2 and 3 course meal plans, canapé and buffet suggestions. This is a really easy recipe although there are a few steps to follow.

Tuna Steak and Mixed Vegetables with Mango and Pomegranate Salsa (Recipe Adapted from The Six Senses Cookbook)
Serves 1

Ingredients
For the salsa:
– ½ small mango, finely diced
– Seeds from ½ a pomegranate
– 1 green chilli, sliced
– 2 spring onions, finely chopped
– 2 sprigs of coriander, finely chopped
– 30g cherry tomatoes, halved
– 100ml extra virgin olive oil

For the mixed vegetables:
– 40g green beans, trimmed
– 40g carrots, halved widthways and sliced
– 30g asparagus, trimmed
– Pinch of salt
– ½ small onion, chopped
– 1 tbsp olive oil

For the tuna:
– 1 tuna steak (around 200g)
– 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– Salt and pepper

Method
1. First, make the salsa by simply mixing all of the salsa ingredients together. Put to one side.

2. Boil your beans, carrots and asparagus in salted water until just tender. Then refresh them in some ice-cold water for a few minutes. Fry the onions in the olive oil until translucent and then drain the vegetables and add them to the pan. Add a touch more salt and sauté for a few minutes until cooked.  Turn your vegetables out onto your serving plate. Your tuna steak will sit on the vegetables so line them up into a small square like so.

3. For the tuna, mix the oil, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano onto a plate and marinate the tuna steak in the mix for a couple of minutes on each side. Take a griddle plan and spread a light coating of oil onto it. Put it on a medium-high heat and when the pan is really hot and starts to smoke a little, place your tuna onto the griddle. Cook the steak to your preference. I like it raw in the middle which takes 3-4 minutes cooking on each side, but just keep your eye on the side of the steak and you can see how much of it has been cooked.

4. When you’ve cooked your steak on both sides, cut it in half and stack the halves on top of the mixed vegetables. Top the steak with the salsa and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of coriander.

I know – it’s hard to spoil it by eating it isn’t it – just do what I did and take a photo beforehand.

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