Simple Salmon says…eat this….!

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Simple Salmon says...eat this....!

Ok…a few quick fire posts…last night we had 4 gorgeous salmon fillets to deal with and my kids wanted pasta – so I did a version similar to another earlier dish on this blog but with a few differences. Firstly, it was fresh salmon which I wrapped in foil with a little unsalted butter and baked for 20 minutes at 160c. I then skinned it and flaked it. In a frying pan I popped a carton of crème fraîche and 50 gm of unsalted butter and stirred over a low heat until it melded together. I then added a teansy weansy dash of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper and about a teaspoon or so of dried tarragon-fresh would have been better but forgot! I then added the flaked salmon and stirred it gently once more.

I left this to one side whilst the pasta cooked al dente, drained it and tipped the creamy unctuous salmon mix in and allowed it all to get very friendly.

Variations – well, you could first pan fry a small onion finely chopped until soft, then add a glass of dry white wine and let it bubble together, then add the crème fraîche or single cream if you prefer – no need for butter in this case. You could also add a cup of peeled prawns as well as the salmon. You could also plump for dill instead of tarragon.

Choices, choices!

The symphony that is kedgeree…..

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The symphony that is kedgeree.....

Friday night last week I indulged in a dish I do not often make but probably should as it is favourite of mine. It is one of those dishes that is great fun to construct – it is a coming together of several key elements – eggs, rice and fish – in a most blissful harmony that makes supper rather rapturous in a way one would not think plausible. Kedgeree is hundreds of years old as a dish – originally called khichri and there was no fish – it was chiefly a dish of rice and mung beans with butter eaten at breakfast. As the British Empire builders descended on India, they rather took to the dish and threw in some of their breakfast staples, boiled eggs and fish, creating more of what we now know as kedgeree – a British corruption of khichri.

And it has all sorts of possibilities, like any curry dish or rice dish there are so many versions. This is my current favourite version.

FOR 4 FOLK

3 or 4 free-range eggs
600g undyed smoked haddock fillets
2 bay leaves
180 gm long-grain or basmati rice
Sea salt
50 gm unsalted butter
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 fresh red chill deseeded and chopped finely
1 level tsp of turmeric
6 black peppercorns
Juice of 2 lemons
2 handfuls fresh chopped coriander
Sea salt and black pepper
Natural yoghurt to serve with

Hard boil the eggs for about 6 minutes – pop into a bowl of cold water to let them cool. Cook your rice and drain and rinse lightly in cold water. Then pop the butter into a large frying pan or sauté pan and once melted add the onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat until onions are soft. Add the garam massala, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, salt and pepper to the pan with the onions. Add the chill and the stalks of the coriander and stir fry for 10 minutes.

Peel the eggs and quarter them.

Prepare a saucepan with enough water to cover the haddock fillet. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns to the pan of water and poach the haddock for five minutes. Remove fish with a slotted spoon gently and set to one side to cool, then skin and flake the fish making sure there are no bones.

Add the rice into the frying pan with the onions and spices, season and mix well. Add the juice of one and a half lemons and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Roughly chop the coriander. Sprinkle the turmeric and half of the coriander into the pan and add half the eggs and half of the flaked haddock too. Stir gently. Let it all warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning as you wish.

Then add the rest of the egg quarters and the rest of the coriander and the lemon wedges.

Pop the lid on and leave it to steam together and create the symphony that is kedgeree! Serve with natural yoghurt.

You could use other fish if you like, smoked mackerel works, but I love undyed smoke haddock the best.

You could also use curry powder instead of garam masala.

Fiddling with this dish is what it is all about – but I love it as it is.

Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash…

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Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash...

Just a really warming luscious simple lamb stew, perfect for autumnal nights. This is a favourite of mine though I do not make it often enough. Last night we had it for supper and we all remembered why we like it so much – velvety and filling and
soothing.

I used neck fillet cubed. 3 or 4 fillets should easily be enough for 4 of you
Plain flour for dusting / runny honey / half a bottle of a good red wine – I used a tempranillo / bunch of mint torn into shreds / 12 baby plum tomatoes / a clove of garlic peeled and left whole / black pepper / chicken stock cube / olive oil

I use a high sided stainless steel casserole with a lid – see my earlier blog on these highly versatile creatures. Coat the lamb pieces in the flour. Then drizzle over a little of the honey.
Pan fry the lamb in olive oil until browned lightly. Remove from pan and add to the casserole. Add the tomatoes and fry gently until starting to soften. Add to the lamb, pop in the garlic clove then add enough red wine to just cover the ingredients, then crumble in the chicken stock cube and stir.Toss in the mint but save some for last few minutes. Add a dash of tomato puree if you wish – depending on how strong you like your sauces. A dash of black pepper too. 

Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer for about an hour and a half. Cover with foil first then put on the lid. Add rest of mint before serving. 

I ladled it onto a bed of pillowy soft parmesan mash – potatoes mashed with 100 gm of butter a tablespoon of cream and 50 gm or so of grated parmesan. 
Heaven on a plate.

Right, back to my wine and a bag of my favourite Seabrook’s Cheese and onion crisps! Enjoy your evening, people!

Smoked paprika and pancetta chicken…

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Smoked paprika and pancetta chicken...

Today’s Sunday lunch was so simple I will not bore you with the recipe – even Simon on his simplest of days could sort this one out. Suffice to say that, with the rain dribbling down my windows, food with  an autumnal smokiness was needed – what better ingredients than chorizo and paprika…… I could almost feel the pagan pangs of bonfires and mist laden gatherings coursing through me as I assembled the dish – or maybe it was the the third glass of smoky shiraz… Anyway, I poured a glug or two of olive oil in the cavity of the free range bird, smothered her skin in paprika, then barded her with pancetta strips. She looked devilish. The smells from the oven as she cooked made me want to go out and do druid dances round my chiminea. I resisted.

I served the chicken with quartered roasted potatoes, to which I added a dozen slices of chorizo for the last ten minutes. Delightful. I also steamed some spinach in my wok. Then squeeze drained it – popped it back in the wok with a knob of butter and bags of black pepper for about two minutes on a high heat to let it meld together.

Everyone was a winner – even the cat got a slice or two of the paprika blessed bird. She is snoozing now…and I am going shortly to join her!

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Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta…

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Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta...

One of those cold damp nights that needed a solidly substantial yet velvety pasta dish to nourish the nerves, soften the stress and warm the marrow. I decided to cobble together two of my favourite pasta dishes – both on this blog – and it worked perfectly. The creamy tomato pasta with the lardons and courgette pasta. But instead of lardons I had some wonderfully fragrant strips of pancetta. Washed down with a rugged French wine this was a delight.

Ingredients

300 gm of rigatoni pasta – soaks up the creamy sauce
12 baby plum toms
I clove garlic finely chopped
8 strips of pancetta
1 courgette / zucchini cubed
100 ml of cream
Tbsp rosemary
Sprinkle of dried crushed chilli
Olive oil
Black pepper

Pan fry the courgette in the olive oil for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue til the courgette begins to brown then add the tomatoes. Add the chilli and the rosemary.

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Just to warn you at this point – the aroma is stunning!

Put the pasta on- takes 11 minutes normally.

Fry the courgette mix gently for around 8 minutes then add the pancetta. Once the pancetta starts to crisp, about two minutes, add the cream. After a minute add a grind of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and spoon over the creamy mixture.

A super autumnal dish.

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Pasta Broccoli…seriously good for you!

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Pasta Broccoli...

The photo does not really do this dish justice – if you have never tried this combo before – you must. I had something like this in a restaurant over the summer – and I think this is roughly how they did it – but anyway – I like it like this!  It is simple, healthy and delicious.

I was never a fan of this particular greenery but since reading an article on men’s health last year we are now best buddies! This following article is from research into broccoli and the advantages for men in particular – though it is, no doubt, great for ladies too! It caught my eye because I had a creaky joint – not that type! – it was actually my hip! – and, yes, this stuff is good for joints – so, if you can get through the article the recipe follows – but this is great stuff and worth knowing – I didn’t! Listen up!

Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more vitamins and minerals than almost any vegetable you can eat. (Good news indeed!) Take vitamin K, for example. Broccoli is brimming with 93 micrograms of the stuff per cup. That’s good news, since K is essential for building cartilage and heading off joint inflammation as you get older.

Broccoli also protects your peepers with an abundance of lutein and zeaxanthin, two cartenoids critical to vision. Florets harbour the bulk of broccoli’s carotenoids, including beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

It is also a good source of fibre and may help ward off cancer. Studies show that eating three servings a week of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may slash your risk for prostate cancer significantly. Mix broccoli with tomatoes for even better protection.
Broccoli’s secret to fighting cancer? Researchers believe it’s an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which helps substances called Phase 2 enzymes defend the body against cancer. Sulforaphane also squelches H. pylori, the bacteria behind most common stomach ulcer.’

OK, some jargon there towards the end, but you get the picture. Broccoli is good for you! I guess you all knew that – it was more a learning curve for me….

Anyway, enough science! The recipe!

Ingredients for 4

400 gm pasta
A head of broccoli broken into florets
Olive oil
4 garlic cloves finely sliced
Pinch of red chilli flakes
Black pepper
About 50 gm of parmesan cheese grated – you can use more – or add more at the table

Ok. Put your pasta into a big pan of boiling water – after 4 minutes add the broccoli. No need for salt, as the parmesan does the job later – but add some if you must! Whilst it is cooking ( I cooked it for a further 6 minutes) in a small frying pan, fry the garlic gently in a good, hearty splash of olive oil until it just, just turns a little brown.

Strain the pasta and broc – reserve a tiny bit of the cooking water in the pan. Add the broc and pasta back to the pan and then add the garlic and the oil – stir round – grind over some black pepper and add the chilli flakes – stir gently then stir in the parmesan.

Serve immediately – you can add more chilli flakes to your taste, or more parmesan, or even more oil at the table if you so wish. I like the broccoli a little more al dente than I cooked it yesterday – I took my eye off the pan! So be careful ! But it was, nonetheless, a great and easy supper dish – my kids loved it and it is now a firm fixture in my culinary simple supper repertoire.

And, I know it is doing me….. deep within….good!

Saturday Supper Part Deux – Med Eggs…

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Saturday Supper Part Deux - Med Eggs...

I used to love egg and chips for supper as a child – in fact I still do…who doesn’t…but these eggs, with a mediterranean twist, are just a wee bit posher, yet still simple. I will give you the ingredients for one person and then you can multiply it to your heart’s content…this is a very social dish.

Olive oil & vegetable oil
2/3 potatoes, par boiled for 15 minutes – I used Maris Pipers
2 spring onions, chopped quite finely
A good handful of cherry or baby plum tomatoes, sliced
1 good free range or organic egg
Fresh rosemary – a good tbsp chopped roughly
1 clove of garlic chopped finely.
Black pepper and sea salt

Once the potatoes have cooled – I leave them for about 15 minutes or so in a sieve over a pan – slice them into rounds-some may split but that does not matter. In a really serious splash of olive oil, pan fry the potato slices until starting to brown – be patient and turn gently with a spatula – great word that – spatula…love it! Add a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt.

Then add the spring onions, garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. Continue to fry gently for about another five minutes – at this stage you could also add some slices of serrano or parma ham if you felt so inclined and in a more meaty mood.

In another frying pan, heat a splash of vegetable oil and fry the eggs until the white sets but the yolk is still unctiously runny. I used eggs from  Old Cotswold Legbars last night – a favourite of mine – so tasty and deep golden. And their shells are a rather funky pastel blue colour!

Serve the spuds in a dish and slide the egg on top…I split some of the white doing this…as you can see above…blast…so take care…but, hey , it still tasted wonderfully wonderful! I love a little zing with this dish- so I also threw a few slices of red jalapenos on mine.

The eggs, olive oil and rosemary just meld so well flavour wise. A great Saturday supper….or indeed anytime!

The picture below is of the ingredients making friends in the pan…..Happy Sunday to you all!

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Back Seat Chicken and Rocket Risotto…

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Back Seat Chicken and Rocket Risotto...

I came home late this evening…tired and aching….and I took a back seat…my wife had decided to take over the cooking for a night. I sat in the garden, listening to the mid evening bird song, glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in hand and closed my eyes. When I came in, there was supper! I do all the cooking normally, but now and then, Jane does me her speciality – a risotto. I cook them too…but she does them better. We divide the labour well in our house and she is happy that I do all the cooking and food shopping – but it is bliss when she takes over and cooks one of her specials.

Ingredients:
1 onion / 75 gm unsalted butter / 400 gm arborio risotto rice / 2 chicken thighs cooked, skinned and meat stripped off / 1.2 litres of chicken stock brought to a simmer and kept there / 2 handfuls of rocket, roughly chopped / 2 tsps crème fraîche / glass of a good white wine / 50 gm parmesan, grated / black pepper

Fry onions in half the butter til soft. Add rice and toast it well til it is sizzling and opaque. Then add the wine and boil for a minute to evaporate the alcohol. Start to add the stock. A ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the rice absorbs all the liquid before adding any more. The mixture will gradually become smoother and creamier. After 15 minutes or so, when the risotto is ready, add the chicken. Stir round for another 5 minutes. The rice should be still a little firm to the bite. Now stir in the rest of the butter, the rocket, crème fraîche and the parmesan. Add a little black pepper to taste.
Take off the heat and leave to rest for two minutes.

Serve to a hungry and waiting audience who will thank you lots and lots for cooking it for them!! Grazie bella!

Pollo Balsamico…

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Pollo Balsamico...

Sometimes, I think folk who write cookery magazines can be a little lazy. I have found several recipes, which. if you followed them to the letter would be either rather dull, or even quite tasteless. I like Jamie Oliver a lot, but I sometimes feel, probably like the great painters, many of the recipes have not had his ‘touch’, but one of his minions – someone who is probably trying to fill a space in the mag or beat a deadline.

Anyway – moan over. One of these recipes, I have ‘fiddled with’ and I think it now tastes better than when I originally tried it! In essence it is simple – but success hinges on the use of good ingredients – especially the tomatoes. Too many tasteless ones out there! Beware!

So, last night’s supper went something like this….

For this recipe you need:

500 gm really tasty toms – I used some baby plums and some organic vine wallahs.
2 courgettes – halved lengthways and then cut into threes.
150 gm sourdough or soda bread torn into chunks.
Small bunch fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stalk.
8 free range chicken thighs, skin on and bone in- fine for 4
Olive oil / 5 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 190C

Mix the courgettes, tomatoes, bread, thyme, some salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Leave to one side.

Pan fry the thighs skin down in olive oil on a highish heat until the skin browns and crisps a little. 2- 3 minutes should be dandy.

Add them to the bowl with the other ingredients plus the balsamic and a good drizzle of olive oil. Then tip into a large roasting tray. Ensure the thighs are skin side up. Drizzle a little more olive oil – ensure the courgettes get a good dowsing.

Put it in the oven for one hour. Check half way through – baste it a little and add a tad more oil if it looks a little too sticky. But that stickiness is half of what you want! Cook til the chicken is nice and crispy and the toms are squishy and the courgettes nicely roasted. Do not be tempted to put foil over it at any stage! It ends up steaming things and spoils the show!

I served it with a green salad. And a big shiraz….A good dish – and a simple one.
And one that balsamic was made for.

Pollo basilico….

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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!