Spicy Sea Bass on a Basmati and Quinoa Bed

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A Perfect Summer Supper or lunch for two!

INGREDIENTS – for two

2 Sea bass fillets 

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

125 gm quinoa

125 gms brown basmati rice

6 baby plum tomatoes

1 clove garlic chopped

A small bunch of basil and stalks

1 level tsp each of thyme,rosemary and oregano

Pinch or two of dried crushed red chilli -up to you how much heat you like!

Handful of grated parmesan

Rock salt and black pepper

A splash of olive oil and a tbsp of  balsamic vinegar

METHOD

In a small pan add the garlic, dried herbs, the basil stalks chopped and the crushed red chilli… and then the olive oil. Heat gently. Once it just starts to fizz a little, take off the heat, let it cool a little and add the tomatoes, tinned and fresh. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the balsamic vinegar, stir and leave with a lid on for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 160c. 

Then cook the quinoa and brown basmati rice as per the instructions. Drain and put to one side when cooked. (You might want to do this first before the sauce if the basmati takes a while.)

In a shallow oven proof dish, scatter some torn basil leaves

Pour over the sauce. Pop the fillets on top. Season the fish with a little rock salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the grated parmesan and a few more torn basil leaves. Cover loosely with a sheet of tin foil.

Then slide it into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Gently, with a fish slice, remove the sea bass fillets and pop on a warm plate.

Mix the quinoa and basmati rice into the sauce, then replace the fish, skin removed.

Serve and enjoy!

It’s a cracker and very, very tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

Pannetone Bread Pudding – Magnifico!

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A great way to use up those left over pannetones that are lingering in the cupboard post Christmas!

Experiment with the different flavoured ones!!

A favourite of my daughter’s! Scrumptious!

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INGREDIENTS

50g butter
250g panettone (about 5 medium slices)
2 eggs
14oml  double cream
225ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp caster sugar
Icing sugar, for sprinkling -optional

You could serve with cream but it is really creamy enough!!

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160C / fan 140C and grease a 850ml/1½ pint shallow baking dish with a little butter.

Cut the panettone into wedges, leaving the crusts on. Butter the slices lightly with the rest of the butter. Cut the slices in half and arrange them in the dish, buttered side up.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, vanilla extract and sugar and pour evenly over the panettone.

Put the dish in a roasting tin and pour hot water around it to a depth of about 2.5cm/1in. Bake for 35 minutes until the pudding is just set – it should be yellow inside and nicely browned on top. Dust with icing sugar.

And enjoy!

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Chicken with peppers

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Pollo con peperoni – chicken at its most supreme

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Supper last night and I was in the mood for chicken…and for pasta…and I had some cream left over and a red pepper…so it had to be this dish…simple and such a refreshing change.

INGREDIENTS

400gm chicken fillet cut into strips

1 large red pepper deseeded and cut into strips

100 ml olive oil

2 small red onions peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic peels and finely chopped

Teaspoon of dried red chillies

100 ml white wine

Salt and black pepper

8 cherry tomatoes quartered

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

150 ml soured cream – single would be fine too

METHOD

Heat half the oil in a large deep pan – a non stick wok with a lid would be dandy – or a stainless steel casserole pan. Add the onion and fry gently over a lowish heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Remove from pan into a bowl and put to one side.

Add the remaining oil – add the chicken – raise the heat to medium and brown the chicken for around 6-8 minutes.

Return the onion to the pan with the garlic and the dried chilli.

Pour in the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the red pepper slices.

Season with salt and black pepper. After 4 minutes stir in the tomatoes. 

Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the lid and stir in the cream. Add the chopped parsley and after a minute or so – serve with pasta.

A colourful southern Italian dish with more flavours than you could imagine.

Enjoy!

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Gnocchi in a rich picante sauc

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This is a great way to eat gnocchi  – it is a warming dish that looks wonderful, smells divine and there is enough here to feed 4 though I made it for two of us and there is just a small bowl left! I couldn’t help going back for just a little bit more! So easy to make too!

INGREDIENTS

500 gm gnocchi

2 x 400 gm tins of good chopped tomatoes

A small handful of basil leaves and their stalks.

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

A splash of red wine.

4 sundried tomatoes cut into strips.

150 gm of cubed pancetta or lardon

6 to 8 slices of red jalapeños  – I use ones from a jar

Olive oil

METHOD

Add a good splash of olive to a pan, the garlic and the basil, including the stalks all finely chopped, and heat gently.

Now add the pancetta or lardon. fry for a minute or two until they begin to brown, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer, and add the jalapeños and the sun dried tomatoes. You could add a little tomato sauce or puree to taste but if your tinned toms are good quality you shouldn’t need anything.

Stir well and bring to a gentle rolling boil then turn right down – add a dash of red wine and leave to simmer for about half an hour until the sauce begins to thicken. Near the end cook the gnocchi in boiling water for two minutes – drain – and add to the sauce.

Leave on a low heat for another ten minutes to allow the gnocchi to soak up the flavours.

You could use balsamic instead of red wine of you wished  or leave it out altogether – tis up to you!

Serve in bowls with a light green salad.

Slow cooked potatoes with taleggio and thyme with cavolo nero and balsamic sausages

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This recipe is already on here (16th March 2015) please check it out. I had it tonight with oven baked sausages which I coated for the last five minutes in balsamic vinegar. Also on the plate was some lightly steamed cavolo nero, finished in butter, black pepper and sea salt.

Taleggio is so beautiful!

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A Stunning Balsamic to beat all Balsamics!

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If you have only ever bought balsamic vinegar from your supermarket and think you know what a good one tastes like – forget it! This balsamic comes from Modena and is made by agriturismo San Polo using only organic lambrusco grapes, then aged in ash casks for 5 years. If you want to know more go to emiliadelizia.com

Be adventurous with how you use your balsamic. This one is so beautiful on the palate that you could almost drink it! It has a fabulous taste almost a cross between honey and a velvety sherry. Stunning! The aroma has no sharpness or acid notes.

I have used it so far in a number of ways.

The first thing I made was an aubergine side dish that is an ideal accompaniment to all meats or fish dishes. Great too on its own cold.

Warm Aubergine Salad in Balsamic Vinegar

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Cube an aubergine and pan fry it lightly in olive oil. You may need to add a little more oil early on with the aubergines. As it browns add a finely chopped clove of garlic, a deseeded chopped fresh red chilli and a handful of san marzano tomatoes – or any good baby toms will do. Continue to stir and as the tomatoes begin to soften add a handful of any mushrooms of your choice, quartered – I used chestnut mushrooms this time. Add a little sea salt and a grind of black pepper.

After about 20 minutes on a low to medium heat add a good splash of the balsamic vinegar – about two tablespoons. Bring the heat up and once it begins to bubble,, turn the heat right down low and leave for about another 20 minutes. The resulting dish is a marvellous combination of flavours enriched by the balsamic vinegar and, served warm, it is one of the best vegetable dishes there can be! Crusty bread is essential to mop up any of the unctuous juices!

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I have also used this product to enliven one of my favourite greens – park choi. Once you have separated all the leaves, add to an oiled wok and after a couple of minutes add a tablespoon of the balsamic and toss gently. Magical!

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And it is simply divine with pan fried fruit! The other night I pan fried pears and nectaries, halved in butter and  little brown sugar. After 15 minutes I drizzled each one with balsamic and left it for half an hour to marinate over a warm heat. The vinegar lifts out all the flavours and intensifies them wonderfully. All you need to serve them is a little mascarpone or crème fraîche.

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IMG_5681 A perfect end to any meal, enhanced by blissful balsamic

Sea Bass and eat it!

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SPIGOLA AL FORNO CON LIMONI

IMG_5651Possibly one of my favourite fish – creamy, succulent sea bass  – so easy to cook and the flavours are immense. This dish brings out the best in the bass – easy to cook and a super light lunch or early summer supper. The fennel also just bursts into life in this dish. You could use other fish – and you could pimp the dish by adding king prawns – but this basic recipe hits the spot for me!

FOR 2

Olive oil

3 garlic cloves finely sliced

1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into slices

1 small lemon, cut into small chunks

1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into long strips

2 sea bass fillet

2 large potatoes, thinly sliced

Sea salt

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180c. Splash olive oil in a roasting tin snug enough to fit the fillets. Add the fennel, garlic, potato and lemon plus the chilli strips. Stir to coat everything.

Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes, stirring half way through. Meanwhile, make 3 cuts in the skin of the sea bass, and sprinkle with sea salt.

When the 30 minutes is up, remove dish from the oven and sprinkle a little sea salt over everything, then add the fillets, skin side down on the top of the mixture.

Drizzle the fish with a little more olive oil, then return to the oven for 20 minutes.

This has been one of my favourite lunch dishes so far this summer – I hope it becomes one of yours too!

Black pudding and sausage pasta

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A GREAT AND RICH TAKE ON SUGO DI SALSICCE 

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This is a richly satisfying, luxurious pasta dish and a great way to eat the mighty black pudding. I adore the stuff. It goes well with the pasta and the sausages and looks velvety dark on the plate. Be bold and brave – give it a go as soon as possible!

You will be glad you did!

FOR 4

2 tbsps Olive oil
4 Italian fresh pork sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled (if you can’t get them easily – just use good quality pork sausages)
100 gm of a good black pudding sliced
1 small  onion peeled and chopped.
Good pinch of dried red chillies
2 bay leaves
Small handful of fresh rosemary or tbsp of dried
Half a glass of red wine
500 gm passata
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 gm rigatoni

Parmesan to serve

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking up the pieces.
After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run, add the onion, garlic, chilli, rosemary bay leaves and a little grind of sea salt and black pepper.

Cook gently for almost 30 mins until the onions are browning. Add the black pudding. Stir for about five minutes to let the black pudding cook and crumble slightly with the sausage mixture.

Pour in the wine, increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates. Now add the passata, lower the heat, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta and  drain well. Add the pasta back to its pan and stir in the sauce mix then serve to a hushed reverence!

Lamb escalopes with mushrooms and white wine – divine!

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Scallopine d’agnello al funghi e vino blanco

I came across this slice of heaven in an Italian cook book and it quite rightly states that, although it only takes around 20 minutes from start to finish, guests will think it took ages. It is a really fine supper dish and needs little accompaniment other than a good dark green salad and hunks of crusty bread. My son was still talking about this dish 24 hours later – a very good sign – he loved it… and I have no doubt that you will too. It is a wonderful dish. And the mushrooms are central to this fabulous rich stock – we need to eat more of them! So good for you too! They are low in fat and calories with typically less than 0.5g fat and 15 calories (kcal) per 100g. They are a source of folic acid and niacin – great for a healthy nervous system. They are also a source of pantothenic acid for healthy mental performance. So if you want to keep your brain ticking over – eat more funghi!

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For 4

500 gm lamb fillet steaks

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves peeled & lightly crushed

A handful of fresh rosemary leaves chopped

300 gm of your mushroom of choice – wild would be good – I used forestiere – a new variety with a gorgeously nutty, buttery flavour.

Rock salt and black pepper

50 gm plain flour 

4 tbsp of white wine

200 ml of beef stock

15 gm of butter

Method

Pop the lamb steaks between layers of cling film and bash until they are flattened to about 2mm. Remove them gently, season both sides with the salt and pepper, then dust with the flour on both sides. Leave them to one side.

Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and rosemary on it is hot. Fry for 30 seconds then add the mushrooms. Fry, stirring now and then, for a further 3 minutes.

Have a warm bowl handy and slide the mushroom mix into it and keep to one side. Wipe the frying pan and add 4 more tbsp of olive oil.

Once the oil has heated add the lamb steaks and fry over a medium heat for one minute per side. Pour in the wine and let it bubble for a minute, then add the mushroom mixture plus the stock. Stir gently around the steaks for 3 minutes. 

Now add the butter. Stir for about 30 seconds – the sauce will thicken and take on a wonderfully rich hue.

Pop each steak on a warmed plate  – then add a serving of the mushrooms and sauce to each. Stunning!

Prawn, Asparagus and Hot Smoked Salmon Risotto

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POSSIBLY THE BEST RISOTTO I HAVE TASTED IN MANY A YEAR…

This was a treat to make and the result was simply stunning. My son reckons he will never eat any other risotto now and my daughter wants this dish as a regular on the menu roster. It went down well!

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For 4

50g butter
1 white onion finely chopped
500gm risotto rice
125ml white wine
1 1/2 litre hot vegetable stock 
 240g cooked prawns  
150g hot-smoked salmon fillets
100g fresh asparagus tips, blanched briefly in boiling water
Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges to serve

Method

Melt the butter in a thick-based pan and gently cook the onion without colour until it is soft.
Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains in the butter.
Add the wine and cook gently stirring until it is absorbed. This takes about 5 minutes roughly.
Gradually add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed. Keep stirring until the rice is tender. This process will take about half an hour, so put some good music on – maybe some Chet Baker – and get into a comfortable standing or seated position near the cooker!

Flake the salmon and gently fold into the risotto with the prawns and asparagus – this will be right near the end when the rice still has a little bite to it.
Add a grind or two of black pepper. No need for salt – the stock and salmon provide that to this dish,

Stir gently to heat through. Serve with lemon wedges.

Of all the dishes I have put on here in the last two years this is certainly one of my real favourites.

Please, please give it a go!

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