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.

 

 

 

 

 

Full on Feta Salad

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This can be a meal in itself – great for lunch or supper – but I had it last night with lamb chops pan fried with garlic, lemon and parsley.

INGREDIENTS

Salad leaves of your choice

6 baby plum tomatoes halved

1 block of feta rinsed and cut into cubes

12 black olives halved

Half a pointed red pepper thinly sliced

1 stick of celery thinly sliced

3 radishes thinly sliced

Handful of fresh coriander chopped- you could use mint instead

FOR THE DRESSING

6 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove crushed

Pinch of sugar

Dash of salt

Grind or two of black pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the dressing by whacking the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Toss all the there ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
  3. Just before serving , which the dressing once more and pour over the salad. 

Get a fork and tuck in!

 

 

Chicken Cannellini and Chorizo One Pot

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This is a perfect mid week supper – simple and satisfying with sufficient zing to warm up your engine!

 

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INGREDIENTS for 4

2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken breast cut into chunks
4 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
Splash red wine
275g chorizo, thinly sliced
1 x 400g  can chopped tomatoes
200ml  chicken stock
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful chopped fresh coriander
Crusty bread or a good warm flat bread, to serve

METHOD

  1. Heat half of the  oil in a large pan. Add the chicken, grind over some black pepper, and fry, turning frequently, until lightly browned all over. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  2.  Add a little more oil to the pan, then fry the chorizo until crispy, add to the warming plate with the chicken.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, celery and chilli and cook for five minutes in the juices left over. Add a splash of red wine and simmer until reduced by half.
  4. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the pan with the vegetables, stir and bring to the boil. Cook for five minutes, then add the stock and bring back to the boil.
  5. Add the browned chicken, the cannellini beans and the crisp chorizo and half the chopped coriander – simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through –  no lid. Season, to taste, with a tiny bit of salt if needed and a little more ground black pepper.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining chopped coriander and serve with crusty bread.

This went down well last night and was hoovered up very happily by the family.

 

 

Anytime is tortilla time….

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Anytime is tortilla time....

Tonight I stared into the abyss that is the end of the week cupboard…staring back at me were 6 free range eggs and a jar of cornichons. Ok….let’s flip the fridge open…..8 slices of prosciutto. Hmmm….in the veg rack were several potatoes minding their own business and 4 shallots snoozing softly.

Nothing to be done other than a dish redolent of Spanish nights, aimed solely at dispelling the rusting rainy weather engulfing my corner of the globe presently.

Tortilla. Paradise on a plate.

So, I poured a glass of finest Spanish Cava to set me on the right path and began peeling and slicing. I even popped Mana on the sound system.

This simple piece of bliss was around 6 spuds peeled, halved and sliced. 4 shallots peeled and chopped. A frying pan coated with plenty of olive oil, heated then add the pots and shallots. Coax around the pan until starting to brown a little – about 15 to 20 minutes on a lowish to medium heat. I was a bit cheeky tonight because I also added a finely sliced green birdseye chilli.

Warmth.

I then beat 6 free range eggs with plenty of black pepper and some ground sea salt – added this to the pan and let it drift into every nook and cranny.

Another five minutes then place the frying pan under a hot grill until the egg is setting and browning. Remove. Place a platter over, pray and flip!

Voila!

I served it with the prosciutto, cornichon and some fennel salami. I also has some warm crusty ciabatta and mixed green salad on the side.

Perfecto!

Gracias!

Roast veg has the edge…

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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.

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Christmas Carpaccio!

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Christmas Carpaccio!

Which is just the same as at any other time of the year! But it got our Christmas day lunch under way with a gentle zing of flavours and textures. Carpaccio was an invention of the guy who owned Harry’s Bar in Venice and originally allegedly made for a visiting countess who had been advised by her doctors to eat only raw meat. Lucky for us! There happened to be an exhibition on at that time in the 50s in Venice for the great painter Carpaccio – who had a penchant for the colours red and white – appropriate for the dish (and for my current blog look too!) .

So that was who it was named after.

Traditionally made from fresh sirloin sliced very thin and scattered, as here, with lemon juice, olive oil and shavings of good parmesan, it is just so delicious, and light too, as an antipasto. If you can, instead of olive oil a little truffle oil makes it really special. I have also had it served in France with a very fine mayonnaise.

If you have not tried it – you must! One way to prepare it is to pop the sirloin into your freezer until it has hardened, then remove and slice very thinly with your very sharpest knife. Season the slices lightly and return to the fridge for at least 15 minutes, then serve as you fancy. There are also lots of great delis who sell it. I popped some rocket on the side too as I adore the stuff.

Happy St.Stephen’s Day!

Oh the weather outside is frightful…but the sprouts are so delightful…!

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Oh the weather outside is frightful...but the sprouts are so delightful...!

I am catching up with my tail and trying to shop in between and decorate the house and sort recipes for the coming days and now and then….relax! Sunday I roasted a magnificent piece of Wiltshire Ham – it was truly fine in every way. Succulent and delectable. And tonight we will have cold slices of it with home made chips, fried eggs and pickles and chutneys. I cannot wait!

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I accompanied the ham with roast potatoes which I par boiled for 5 minutes, then popped them in a preheated oven tray with a little hot vegetable oil, then drizzled them with olio al peperoncino to give them a gentle kick.

And as you can see from above one of my favourite veg made its entrance but this time with a twist. I like them steamed and crunchy – and I have fried them before after par boiling but this time I sliced them into 3 pieces each. I poured a little olive oil in to a sauté pan and gently fried two cloves of chopped garlic with strips of smoked bacon and a finely sliced red chilli. After about ten minutes I added the sprouts with a knob of unsalted butter, stirred it all round then put the lid on and let it all steam together – the result was sprout of this world!

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Sprouts are often much maligned but I adore the little emerald gems. They are part of the brassica family – derived from an ancient Celtic word for cabbage – bresic – which corresponds to the Latinized brassica which is now part of our language. Besides cabbages and sprouts the family includes cauliflower, broccoli, kale and calabrese. They are even related to swedes and turnips…so these guys are well connected! Respect!

Right, time to dip into Winchester for a few morsels and another attempt to finish some of my festive shopping.

Speak soon!

A wrap roaring success!

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A wrap roaring success!

Busy busy time at work at the moment so will not be posting too much for a few days…but lunch today was a wrap-simple and delicious. Garlic and coriander wraps laid out flat – one half spread with a layer of serrano ham, then some finely chopped spring onions, sliced manzana tomatoes, slices of buffalo mozzarella , a few slices of red chilli, basil leaves and then another layer of serrano ham. Fold over the empty half – lightly dust a frying pan with olive oil – heat it up, then carefully slide in two of these babies. After a minute or so carefully turn them with a spatula or fish slice. They are hummingly yummy.

Play about with the fillings until I get back!

Shoulder of fortune…

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Shoulder of fortune...

I last made this dish back in March (recipe March 30th) but I have always only ever done previously cooked it with a leg – but a good friend of mine – a lovely lady called Liza – let me, very kindly, have a shoulder of lamb from one of her own recently slaughtered beasts. And it was tremendous – cooking lamb straight on the rack for me is one of, if not the best, ways to treat this fine meat. It went in for 3 hours on 160c. Perfection. It oozed taste and succulence. Below it, I had popped the leeks, chopped, 2 red onions sliced and 5 cloves of garlic, halved in a tray of olive oil and roasted then for 10 minutes before adding bay leaves, a bouquet garni and 2 tins of drained cannellini beans this time, plus 1 and a half litres of chicken stock. It sat under the lamb and caught all its fabulous juices. I had scored the lamb first and rubbed in a garam masala mix, which gave it a wonderful warmth for a Sunday.

If you have never tried it – please, please do! It is magical.

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IMG_4494All the good things in life on a plate…

Life is good, lunch proved it today…

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Life is good, lunch proved it today...

And it was really so simple. As are all the best things in life. I bought some marvellous kiln smoked salmon from a local farm shop and served it with a salad that was light, but satisfying and sexy, as all the best salads are. Pea shoots, baby spinach, rocket and lambs lettuce formed the bed to which I added halved cherry tomatoes, sliced fennel and baby buffalo mozzarella balls. I drizzled my own salad dressing over, lightly – 3 tbsps olive oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp og dijon mustard and a little salt and black pepper.

We had a little olive and sun dried tomato focaccia on the side and the flavours overall were immense. Just sitting here waiting for supper now – neck fillet of lamb in red wine with mint. Wood fire is roaring away and all well with the world – well this particular corner of the world. Happy Wednesday.