Pan fried trout fillets with a basil and lime mayo, balsamic mange tout and buttered Jersey Royals…

5

Pan fried trout fillets with a basil and lime mayo, balsamic mange tout and buttered Jersey Royals...

Friday night is fish night but I wanted something so simple I could do it standing on my head whilst imbibing a glass or two of a rather fine cabernet sauvignon. Well, this is it. The trout was gently pan fried in olive oil, turned after five minutes and the skin removed with a fish slice. Then I cooked it for another 3 minutes. The Jersey Royals I had sliced prior to boiling them for 15 minutes, then draining them and adding a large wedge of butter, a dash of sea salt and a spritz or two of black pepper.

The mange tout I popped in a hot oiled wok for 4 minutes, then added several dashes of crema di balsamico before serving it alongside the trout and the potatoes. I had earlier added 4 tablespoons of mayo to a bowl with the juice of half a lime and several basil leaves roughly torn. Stir it round then gently tickle it along the cooked trout.

A wonderful Friday feast that makes you feel healthy just by looking at it.

The mange tout gives the dish a little crunch and the flavours simply skip off the plate.

Parmesan, pasta and basil…a hearty trinity!

4

Parmesan, pasta and basil…a hearty trinity!

Little to say about supper tonight other than it was simple and tasty, just because it was so clean tasting and made use of a phenomenal hunk of parmigiano reggiano recently given to me by a good friend who has just returned from Italy. Pasta cooked and drained and swirled with a very good virgin olive oil, a dash of rock salt and a swizzle of black pepper plus a handful of fresh, fragrant, beautiful basil with shavings of the bard of cheeses.

Sometimes keeping things simple is all that is needed to make people smile at the supper table. And good ingredients. These three were made for each other….

Lamb and rosemary meatballs with baby sweet red peppers…

9

Lamb and rosemary meatballs with baby sweet red peppers...

Friday night. Valentine’s. So had to be something red on the go! And I came across these stunning sweet baby red peppers in our local grocers and there was no looking back. I will not bore you too much with the recipe as I am sure all you wonderful cooks out there do these sort of dishes blindfold. Suffice to say I made the meatballs from minced lamb, black pepper,lots, chopped fresh rosemary and a pinch of smoked paprika and a grind or two of sea salt. Simple.

I knocked up a tomato sauce with a base of chopped basil stalks, a crushed garlic clove, a splodge of oregano and a sprinkle of dried crushed red chilli. Then 2×400 gm cans of finest Italian tomatoes.

I brought this to a simmer and left for around 40 minutes to thicken and get….err…. more saucy!

Meatballs meanwhile were pan fried in a little olive oil for 15 minutes until browned. I pan fried the peppers in a little olive oil until starting to blacken just a touch and put them to one side. The meatballs went into an oblong casserole dish and I then added the sauce. I placed as artistically as I could (!) the peppers in between and then dotted 20 mini mozzarella balls here and there.

IMG_4804

An additional grind of black pepper, a drizzle of oilve oil, a few more basil leaves and then a good grating pf parmesan and it was ready to go in the preheated oven (160c) for 40 minutes until lovely and browned.

IMG_4808

Served with pasta, ’twas a veritable Valentinian feast!

Roast veg has the edge…

4

Roast veg has the edge...

Sleepy sort of a Sunday today. A simple roast chicken stuffed with butter, basil, lemons and garlic on a bed of red onion slices accompanied by nothing more than a rainbow of roasted veg flavours. One aubergine, halved and sliced, one courgette sliced, 6 baby new potatoes thinly sliced, 6 cloves of garlic left whole – though I did split one or two to get the flavours going- 4 baby red chillies, 2 red onions quartered – all roasted for 45 minutes in olive oil, fresh thyme, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper. For the last 15 minutes, I added 4 gorgeously ripe tomatoes quartered and about 250 gm of haricot verts which I had pre steamed. Then a handful of fresh basil – just because I adore the aroma.

Everyone makes this dish and it probably needs more of a shout out. It makes me feel like I am sitting by the coast near Sorrento watching the sun dip lazily over the isle of Capri – instead of being rain bound in the dampness of a cabbage and cauliflower ridden England.

Food transports. This one certainly does for me. A simple flight of culinary fancy that makes a sodden southern Sunday seem sunnier. I am replete now and off to cuddle up by the fire with a good book and a glass of something frightfully fruity.

Have a good week.

IMG_4734

OK, I forgot to take all the pics….

4

OK, I forgot to take all the pics....

….so you will have to take it from me that tonight’s supper was a 3 course delight. Late, mind…leaves on the line, hurricanes, fences down, hair lightly ruffled etc all of which caused us to not begin supper until 8.30pm… but all worth it – and if Annie’s other half is tuning in, it was all healthy too, James!

Starter…as in the pic above…slices of fennel doused in lemon juice and olive oil wrapped in prosciutto crudo with cherry toms and fennel salami – finocchiona – with a drizzle of fig balsamic. Main course – and this was very good – really very good – tagliatelle with a creamy basil sauce. Into a blender – pop a big handful or two of basil, a clove of garlic peeled and sliced, two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon of capers and enough olive oil to give it a thick, just about runny, consistency. Blitz! Add to a bowl and add 2 or 3 dessert spoons of single cream. Cook your tagliatelle, drain it, stir in the sauce and serve – scattering over some toasted pine nuts if you will – they only take a minute or two in a dry frying pan. And of course we all grated over some parmesan.

I actually prefer this to my normal straight pesto sauce. It was simply unctuous.

OK – to finish off, I sliced a fabulous crisp Italian pear and placed a large piece on a small saucer to which I added a thin slice of creamy gorgonzola. This was all washed down with an amazing Malbec from Argentina called Alamos – purchased from those lovely people in Majestic in Winchester. Possibly a contributory factor as to why I forgot to photo the main course and the dessert! Hey – but it was all fab and each of the 3 dishes complimented each other marvellously.

Oh…and in the photo I was not just the only one drinking- the others just hadn’t arrived at the table yet!

Right – nearly 10.15 pm. Time to laze by the woodburner and dream about tomorrow’s supper….

Basil, Pine Nut and Chilli Humdinger Hummus…

7

Basil, Pine Nut and Chilli Humdinger Hummus...

Hot, hot day. Cat flat out on the flags. Just been sipping some cold, cold fizz, then fancied something to nibble before supper later. So, in from the sun and out with the ingredients for a home made hummus that just is so suited to such a lazy day as this.

Ingredients

1 400 gm can chickpeas – don’t you just love that name – chickpeas…conjures up images of hens shelling pea pods.
Bunch of Greek basil – though you could use ordinary
Glugs of Olive oil
1 garlic clove chopped
75 gm pine nuts – toasted lightly in a dry frying pan
Good handful of grated pecorino
1 red chilli deseeded and chopped
Salt and pepper

Pop all ingredients, apart from olive oil, into a blender and treat to a serious whizz. Then stop and add several good splashes of olive oil to start to loosen the mixture. Whizz again merrily for a mo. Add a grind of rock salt and a brief grind of black pepper.

Tip out into a bowl and adjust the olive oil to get to the consistency you want. Serve with warm pittas or grissini…and a glass of cold beer. Summertime…. and the eating is easy……

IMG_3415

Simple Sunday pleasures…

7

Simple Sunday pleasures...

Popped in a monster of a leg of lamb at 1.00pm, all smeared in home made tikka sauce, pierced with chiili slices and garlic – more of this later! Now slow roasting….phenom scents emanating from the kitchen…

In the meantime – a quick, tasty lunch was called for, so…a large punnet of the sweetest baby plums I could find, quartered, mixed with Greek basil – those delicate leaves are just divine – a little rock salt and a good drizzling of a fine olive oil. Served on large slices of lightly toasted rustic bread – and – just to spoil ourselves, slices of just wonderful, wonderful Iberico Ham! That will see me through until supper! Off to the bottle bank now to make me feel in touch with my planet!

Then hopefully, some sun in the garden!

Meatless Monday….

4

Meatless Monday....

All the remaining pork from yesterday’s luscious pork loin had been hoovered up either last night or at lunch today so supper ce soir was a frugal affair…. but just as tasty for all that! It was another eve of ‘what is there lurking in the fridge’…..what could be cobbled together to be toothsome and taste bud tingling? Ah! There was half a fennel bulb – and in close proximity a superb solitary salad onion – stood up yesterday but now in favour! And of course there were still 5 or 6 flavoursome tomatoes from the weekend. I whizzed up a simple vinaigrette – chopped up the onion, sliced the toms and finely diced the fennel. All was lovingly mixed together and i served it with croutons – as i had 4 gorgeous small rolls from Saturday left – I had made a salmon mousse for a light lunch and filled the rolls with it – so those that remained tonight I cut into rounds and pan fried in a fragrant olive oil. Result is as the pic above. Plus a few more basil leaves! It was fabulous and alarmingly simple.

Then I recalled that I had made a jar of pesto early Saturday morning, not wishing to waste a large bunch of basil I had on the window sill. And clearly not being in a mood to lie in!

IMG_3165

So it came to the rescue and we had it with linguine and more snowfalls of parmesan. Phew! I had sorted supper after all – I just didn’t know it at the time!

IMG_3203IMG_3204

Pollo basilico….

6

Pollo basiico....

Well it sounds good…and it tasted good too! I fancied making some pesto, so I popped a big bunch of basil into a food mixer with 25 gm of toasted pine nuts, a chopped clove of smoked garlic, olive oil and a pinch of rock salt. Whizzed it round, then decanted it into a bowl – added a good few gratings of parmesan and a little black pepper – then adjusted the mix with more olive oil until it was the consistency I like. Then I remembered I had chicken thighs to use! Oh well – bang went the spaghetti in pesto sauce. I popped on some Van Morrison and I deboned the thighs with sharp scissors, flattened them out and spooned on a helping of pesto onto each. I rolled them up – held them together with a cocktail stick each and popped them on an oiled baking tray. Oven preheated to 200c – they went in for 15 minutes – then I basted them – back in for 5 minutes. Out again and I wrapped some parma ham around each one. Back into the heat for a final 10 minutes and they were looking luscious and inviting. I lightly toasted slices of sourdough bread – spread them each with the remaining pesto. I carefully removed the cocktail sticks from the chicken and popped a thigh onto each piece. I served it with steamed asparagus in olive oil and a few shavings of parma ham.

This is a really easy and tasty light supper – or it could be a starter too. Chicken and pesto – made for each other. and the asparagus chips in nicely with a fragrant crunchiness on the side. The family loved it and the silence as they ate said it all!

A tuna day keeps the doctor away….!

6

A tuna day keeps the fiddler away....!

A Tune A Day was a popular guitar tutor book when I was knee high to a grasshopper…by an old guitar player called Bert Weedon if I recall…anyway…tuna is supposed to be good for you like all oily fish so I guess eating it should keep the doc away! Look, I’m rambling…so…Tuna…what can one say..the tinned variety does not always get a good press…but I have a phenomenally simple recipe that our family loves. Tis cheap as chips…and yet satisfying, vibrant and malleable. My wife does a version of this pizzaiola sauce mixing it all up cold first then adding it to the hot pasta. Delicious. Love it. But….I have to…it is in my nature….be different…and so I have taken her dish and cooked it! So…in a frying pan – I use a wok because it is easy to add the pasta to at the finale- I drizzle some olive oil, a chopped clove of garlic, a whole pierced red chill, and a good sprinkle of dried oregano. Get it warm and cosy…not fizzing. Then add 800 grams of your best chopped tinned tomatoes, a dash of tomato puree or a good tom sauce, and a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves and stalks. Bring it to a gentle simmer. Add 2 teaspoons of rinsed capers, a good handful of black olives – if tinned rinse! – and I added 6 mozzarella pearls halved – though you could just add a sliced ball of mozzarella. Sprinkle in some ground black pepper and a little ground rock salt. Add a tin of tuna..stir it gently in. It should look like this!

IMG_2909

Put on 400 gm of rigatoni pasta – best for soaking up the juices – and let the sauce simmer whilst it cooks. The mozzarella will become unctuously runny and the whole thing will make you want to pour a good glass of red in celebration. Drain the pasta. Add it to the sauce carefully and stir it all together. Add a few more torn basil leaves, a drizzle of oil and serve. This is soooo easy and soooo terrifically delicious. Cheers!

IMG_2913