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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Spanish seafood pasta, made like a paella and with a dollop of alioli … what could be more reminiscent of dinner by the sea on holidays; this dish smells like Spain. Lightly does it when cooking the seafood.

Wine Suggestion: A lighltly chilled Garnacha Negra (Grenache Noir) from Terra Alta springs to mind – they really have a wonderful affinity for this grape there, alongside the Garnacha Blanca too. Edetaria’s basic “via Terra” has all the joy, freshness and perfume to compliment the flavours of the food while adding an extra warm spice and red fruits to lift it further. 30 minutes in the fridge was enough to make it taste and feel like sunshine in Spain, even if the weather outside isn’t quite like that at the moment.

Seafood pasta – serves 6 (easily halved)

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillet
  • 4 baby squid, cleaned and bodies cut into rings
  • 12 raw peeled king prawns
  • 12 queen scallops (or you can cut bigger ones in half)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.25 litres of fish or chicken stock
  • 500g fideua pasta (or you can use vermicelli or spaghettini)
  • 3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • lemons quarters, to garnish
  • garlic mayonnaise or alioli, to serve

Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large paella pan (40-45cm). Add the monkfish, sprinkle with salt, and cook for a few minutes, turning. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the prawns and scallops and turn until the prawns are pink and scallops just seared, just a minute or two. Transfer the cooked seafood to a platter and pour off and reserve any cooking liquid.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan, stir in the garlic and stir briefly, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the paprika, saffron and some salt, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Meanwhile, bring the stock and cooking liquid to the boil. Add the pasta to the sauce in the paella pan and cook, stirring, until well coated. Pour in the boiling and cook until the pasta is al dente. Place the seafood on top a few minutes before the end.

Serve sprinkled with parsley and with lemon and alioli or galric mayonnaise on the side.

(Original recipe from Claudia Roden, The Food of Spain, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

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We love squid and are not sure why people don’t cook it more often. It’s cheap and sustainable, and this sweet and sour version is delicious! We served with some plain couscous.

Wine Suggestion: This is excellent with a youthful and medium bodied Sangiovese with its bright acidity. Instead of looking to Tuscany tonight, we had a Corsican Niellucio which is the same grape

Slow-cooked squid with peperonata and butter beans – serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 red, yellow or orange peppers, a mixture ideally, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 100g soft cooking chorizo, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 sprigs thymes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 500ml passata
  • 400g squid, cleaned and sliced (we used a packet of frozen squid tubes, defrosted)
  • 1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the peppers and onions over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until very soft, stir now and then and add a splash of water if they start to catch.

Add the chorizo and chilli flakes and cook for another 5 minutes or until the chorizo has released its oil. Add the thyme, garlic, and bay, and simmer for another couple of minutes, then add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the passata, then swirl a splash of water round the jar and add that too. Season and bring to a simmer.

Stir the squid into the simmering sauce, then cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. If the liquid doesn’t cover the squid you can add a splash of water. Check after the hour to see if the squid is tender but don’t let it go to mush.

Stir in the butter beans and check the seasoning, then simmer, uncovered, to thicken the sauce a little. Cook for another 10 minutes, then stir in the parsley and serve with couscous or crusty bread.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, September 2021.)

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The rich sauce here is inspired by the sherry-like Savignin from the Jura. It’s a while since we’ve been there so we had to settle for dry sherry which still made a delicious sauce. Green beans and some new potatoes are perfect on the side.

Wine Suggestion: We think this works with a mountain wine of some sort, where you get the bracing freshness of altitude but can also get depth and body to stand up to the flavoursome sauce. In the absence of a Savignin in the fridge we turned to a Côtes du Jura Chardonnay by Chevasu-Fassenet. Rich, creamy, with hints of oak and a layer of oxidative flor mingled in with the fruit giving this a grip and extra zip.

Sautéed sea trout with sherry sauce – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 60ml dry sherry
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 100g full-fat crème fraîche
  • ½ tsp dry sherry
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea trout fillets, enough for 2

Heat 30g of the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallot until softened. Add the sherry and chicken stock, then reduced by three-quarters. Whisk in the crème fraîche and reduced for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the rest of the butter.

Reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, then take off the heat and add the extra ½ tsp of sherry and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and sugar and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the trout, skin-side down, for about 4 minutes. Turn when the skin is crispy and finish cooking briefly on the other side.

Serve with the sauce, some green beans and new potaotes.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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This brunch dish is from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson and Matt Williamson. We cook in a tent which is a similar endeavour but sadly not this year. Still, it’s been fun trying out the recipes for when the time comes.

Hot-smoked trout bagels with mustard butter and cream cheese – serves 4

  • 5 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • juice and finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 150g-200g hot-smoked trout fillets (we used trout as we love the rainbow trout from Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny) but you could also use hot-smoked salmon, break it into bite-size pieces
  • 4 wholemeal bagels
  • 150g full-fat cream cheese

Beat three-quarters of the butter with the mustards, lemon zest, black pepper and a little salt.

Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the salmon pieces and heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the mustard butter and cook for another 5 minutes or until hot and the onions are very soft. Try not to break the salmon up too much.

Lightly toast the bagels and spread with the cream cheese, then add the salmon, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve.

(Original recipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thomoson and Matt Williamson, Hardie Grant: Quadrille, 2021.)

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Don’t pack the barbecue away yet, you really should make this first. The smoky potato salad is good even if the fish is not your thing.

Wine Suggestion: a new find from Portugal: the Companhia de Vinhos Invencival “Natural Mystic”. An Alvarinho, Arinto, Loureiro blend from the far north, this is light and fresh and yet rounded and full flavoured standing up to the barbecued fish flavours and adding it’s own extra bit of pizzazz for a great combo.

BBQ Bream with Smoked Potato Salad – serves 2 (with salad leftover)

  • 2 whole bream, gutted and fins and other sharp bits removed
  • 1 lemon, halved

SPICE RUB FOR THE FISH:

  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly ground
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

FOR THE SMOKED POTATO SALAD:

  • 800g cooked new potatoes
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 6 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 50g cornichons, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

You will need to get a charcoal barbecue nice and hot to cook on.

Prep the fish first by placing on a board and slashing through the skin a few times on both sides.

Put all of the spice rub ingredients into a shallow dish, big enough to hold the fish, and mix together. Put the fish on top and rub the spice rub all over the fish and and into the cuts you made.

Lay the fish onto a hot barbecue and leave for 5-6 minutes to allow the skin to crisp up. Turn carefully and repeat on the other side.

Carefully remove the fish from the barbecue and leave to rest for a few minutes. Squeeze over the lemon halves.

Put the potatoes directly onto the cooling embers. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the potato salad ingredients together in a a large bowl and season. Add the smoked potatoes and toss to coat.

Serve the fish with the warm potato salad.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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A Moroccan-inspired fish dish for mid-week. Some couscous and yoghurt on the side are good additions.

Wine Suggestion: this works well with Grenache Blanc and we’ve fallen in love with one from Terra Alta in the south of Catalonia made by Edetaria. As it’s mid-week, the basic and joyful “via Terra” Garnatxa Blanca with its perfume and balance af fresh and ripe fruit flavours is perfect.

Fish Tagine with Saffron & Almonds – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a good pinch of saffron
  • 600ml hot fish stock or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ a green chilli, thinly sliced (keep the other half to serve)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • zest of 1 orange, juice of ½
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 700g white fish, cut into large chunks, we used hake
  • a small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds, toasted
  • ½ green chilli, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, put the saffron in the hot stock and leave to steep.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for another few minutes. Add the spices and tomato purée, stir for a few minutes until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, ground almonds, orange zest and juice, honey and saffron-stock. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the fish and nestle it well down into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. Season to taste, then add the coriander and scatter with the toasted almonds. Scatter with the extra green chilli to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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These are super tasty, especially with the quick pickled onions and some naan breads from the takeaway.

Wine Suggestion: Cline Cellar’s Sonoma Coast Viognier; a wonderfully fresh, stonefruit flavoured wine with a soft acidity. Rich and flavoursome to match the flavour depth of salmon and spices. This is dry with low residual sugar levels, however it has juicy, fruit flavours carrying the chilli and paprika well and complementing the ginger and lime.

Tandoori Fish Skewers – serves 8 (easily halved)

  • 8 salmon fillets, skin removed (about 125g each)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 2.5 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • veg oil for brushing

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED RED ONIONS:

  • 2 small red onions
  • 125ml water
  • 125ml white white vinegar
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar

TO SERVE:

  • warm naan breads
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 long green chilli, finely sliced
  • lime halves
  • sweet chilli sauce

You can start the pickled onions about an hour ahead. Slice them finely and put into a bowl.

Put the water, wine vinegar, fennel and cumin seeds, salt and sugar into a small pan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour this hot liquid over the onions and leave to cool, then cover the bowl and leave in the firdge.

Cut the salmon fillets into large chunks. Put into a bowl with the garlic, ginger and lime juice and mix well.

Put the yoghurt into a bowl, then mix in the spices and some seasoning. Add the spiced yoghurt to the salmon and mix gently, then leave to marinate in a cool place for about 20 minutes.

Thread the salmon onto skewers, brush the barbecue witha little veg oil, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly charred.

Serve the skewers on warm naan breads with pickled red onions, coriander and green chilli sprinkled over. Serve with some lime for squeezing over and sweet chilli sauce (we served with our hot pepper jam).

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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This dish was inspired by the prettiest striped baby aubergines in our local grocers. The recipe is from a new book of ours, Australian Food by Bill Granger. We all loved this dish, jam-packed with Asian flavours and truly delicious. You need to marinade the salmon the day before. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: A friend had given us a bottle of Albert Pic Chablis which we found a surprising match for this dish as we’d thought the aromatics, chilli and spices might fight the wine, but no! A relatively rich and full-flavoured Chablis, the dryness inherent in the wine just accentuating and complimenting the umami savouriness through the dish. We like surprises.

Chilli miso salmon with hot & sour aubergine – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 6 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 4 x 250g pieces skinless salmon fillet
  • 100g frozen edamame beans
  • a small handful of pea shoots (if you can find them, don’t worry if not)
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE HOT & SOUR AUBERGINE:

  • 125ml light flavoured oil, for frying
  • 4 baby aubergines, thickly sliced
  • 100ml tamari soy sauce (if you don’t have this use dark soy instead)
  • 100ml mirin
  • 50ml rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 small chilli, finely sliced
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

You need to marinade the salmon fillets the day before. Make the marinade by mixing the sugar, mirin and sake together in a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and whisk in the miso, then stir in the gochujang paste and leave to cool.

Put the salmon into a dish, cover with the marinade, then cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

To make the hot & sour aubergine, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Shallow-fry the aubergine in batches, turning after 1 minute, until golden and tender. Drain on kitchen paper.

To make the dressing for the aubergine, whisk together the tamari, mirin, rice vinegar and honey in a large bowl. Whisk in the chilli, ginger and scallions. Add the cooked aubergine and toss gently to coat. Set aside.

Cook the edamame beans according to the instructions on the pack, then drain.

Lift the salmon pieces out of the marinade. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the salmon for 6-8 minutes, turning once.

Serve the aubergine and salmon with the edamame, pea shoots and coriander sprinkled over and with lime wedges on the side.

(Original recipe from Australian Food by Bill Granger, Murdoch Books, 2020.)

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We don’t cook with sorrel very often, perhaps once or twice a year when we see it and grab a bag. It has an unusual sour and citrussy flavour that always reminds us of holidays in France. Sorrel sauce is an excellent match for fish and goes particularly well with brill as expertly suggested by Gill Meller. A few crispy potatoes on the side would be a good addition.

Wine Suggestion: This goes great with a dry Chenin Blanc, like one of our favourites the Chateau du Hureau Argile which always has great depth of flavour alongside a crisp zestiness and dry texture, bound together with a lemony, citrus zing – very complimentary to the sorrel and able to match the rich cream and fish.

Brill with sorrel sauce – serves 4

  • 4 brill fillets (120-150g each), skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2-4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin on and bashed
  • a small knob of butter

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • a large knob of butter
  • 1 shallot, very finely diced
  • 100ml fish stock if you have it though water will be fine
  • a large bunch of sorrel (about 150g), stalks removed and cut into rough ribbons
  • 150ml double cream

Make the sauce first. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the chopped shallot and cook until soft but not coloured. Pour in the stock/water and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Add the sorrel leaves and stir a few times until wilted. Add the cream, stir, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes to thicken it slightly. Season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and set aside.

Season the fish all over. Heat the oil with the bay leaves, thyme and garlic, in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Put the brill into the hot pan, skin-side down and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the fish is cooked at least three-quarters of the way up its edge. Turn the fish with a spatula and cook for a minute more on the other side, then add a small knob of butter and remove from the heat. Rest for a minute as the butter belts.

Serve the brill with the sauce on the side.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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We loved this mussel dish from Gill Meller’s book, Gather. Mussels, watercress and bacon are a truly fabulous combination, but not one we’d thought of before. Our farm shop had landcress rather than watercress available so that’s what we used, but it’s very similar, just not grown in running water. Cleaning mussels is a job I love and hate in equal measure, same with cleaning mushrooms. 

Wine Suggestion: A new find – the Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto from near Lisbon in Portugal; zesty citrus and hints of saltiness. So fresh and tasting of days at beachside restaurants eating mussels, helpful when travel is restricted.

Mussels with watercress and bacon – serves 2

  • 2-4 rashers streaky bacon
  • a small knob of butter
  • ½ a small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 150g watercress, plus extra to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan, then cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes, or until crispy. Keep warm.

Put a knob of butter and a spoon of bacon fat from the pan into a large sauce pan. Heat until bubbling, then add the onions and garlic and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes or until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and shake gently. Cook the mussels for a couple of minutes or until the shells are just open. Throw away any that don’t open.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels from the pan into a warm bowl, leave the onion and cooking liquor behind on the heat. Cover the mussels with a tea towel and put somewhere warm. You need to work quickly now to make the sauce while the mussels stay warm.

Put the watercress into the pan and cook for a minute or two until wilted, then tip into a  food processor and purée until smooth. This should be quite thick so if it’s too liquid, put it back into the pan and boil off the excess liquid over a high heat.

Put a generous spoon of purée on each plate with the mussels, crispy bacon and a little fresh watercress.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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We’ve tried this Spanish pasta dish before, but with limited success, however this version was a triumph. We had the proper fideos noodles this time which we think might have helped. As we can’t go on holidays at the moment we thought we’d cook holiday dishes instead. Serve with some aïoli.

Wine Suggestion: this dish cries out for a fresh Garnacha like the Edetaria via Terra which is from Terra Alta DO in the south of Catalonia. Inland, at some altitude and on specific soils this area produces some of the best wines from this grape anywhere with a freshness and weightlessness from lovely ripe grapes.

Prawn fideua – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, lift the tomatoes out of the juice with a spoon and discard the juice left in the tin
  • 350g fideos noodles
  • 600ml freshly boiled water
  • 400g whole shell-on prawns
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Cover the base of a paella or sauté pan with olive oil, then warm over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, chorizo and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add the paprika, saffron and salt and stir over the heat for a minute, then add the tomatoes – squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the pan to break them up. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken.

Add the fideos noodles and stir to coat well, then add the boiled water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then spread the prawns over the surface and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and a crust is forming on the bottom of the pan. The prawns will turn pink when cooked, you can turn them over to help them along.

Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and aïoli.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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We loved this creamy coconut fish stew from Equador. We went for big chunks of swordfish and prawns but you can substitute other types of fish, like tuna or pollock. Serve with rice.

Wine Suggestion: try to find a light, earthy red with low tannins for this dish, and not too much acidity like a Gamay, riper Pinot Noir or a light Grenache. Tonight’s choice was Domaine Bellier’s Cheverny rouge, a Pinot Noir-Gamay blend from the warm 2018 vintage in the Loire. An under-rated wine region and a good accompaniment to the fish, spices and flavours of this dish.

Encocado – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • 600g skinless boneless fish cut into 5 cm pieces (you can use snapper, prawns, tuna, swordfish or pollock – we used swordfish and prawns).
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Cook the onion and pepper for 7 to 8 minutes or until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the spices and some salt, mix well, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée and 100ml of water. Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the coconut milk, lime juice and orange juice, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the fish and stir, then grate in the ginger. Cover and cook gently for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If you are using prawns they won’t take so long to cook so just add them for the last couple of minutes. Scatter over the coriander and chilli to serve.

(Original recipe by John Gregory-Smith in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

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We loved these fishcakes by Sabrina Ghayour, they are jam-packed with herbs and full of flavour. The preserved lemon mayonnaise is the perfect accompaniment. We had them for dinner but they would work well as a starter too.

Wine Suggestion: A wine we haven’t had in ages, the Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet. A wine that has been described by Andrew Jefford as “springtime in liquid form”. Refeshing, crisp and lively, plus a depth only old-vine, lower yielding vines can give.

Fish cakes with preserved lemon mayonnaise – serves 6 to 8

FOR THE FISH CAKES:

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 300g skinless chunky white fish fillet, we used cod, diced
  • 400g mashed potatoes
  • 30g dill, finely chopped
  • 30g coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 egg

FOR THE PRESERVED LEMON MAYONNAISE:

  • 6 small preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp mayonnaise

Heat a frying pan over a gentle heat, add a little oil and the fish. Cook until opaque, then transfer to a sieve and leave to drain.

Preheat the oven to 230C or as high as your oven goes.

Mix the fish with the rest of the fish cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season well with maldon salt and black pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until you have a smooth paste, this will take a few minutes. Shape into 6-8 cakes and place on a baking tray.

Bake the fish cakes for about 12 minutes or until just starting to brown (we took ours out of the oven after about 9 minutes).

Finish cooking the fish cakes in a hot frying pan with a drizzle of oil for about 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.

Mix the preserved lemons with the mayonnaise in a small bowl, season with pepper and serve with the hot fish cakes and some salad leaves.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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These make a nice brunch or lunch dish with some brown bread or toast. 

Smoked haddock & spinach egg pots – serves 4

  • a little soft butter for greasing
  • 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • 200g skinless smoked haddock fillets, diced
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 6 large eggs
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g Cheddar, grated
  • a pinch of sweet smoked paprika
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Brown bread or buttered toast, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. 

Grease the inside of four 250ml ramekins or oven-proof dishes with butter, then dust with the breadcrumbs. 

Divide the fish between the dishes and put onto a baking tray. 

Wilt the spinach in a large saucepan with a tiny amount of water. Stir over a high heat for a few minutes, until wilted. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Leave to cool slightly, then squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. Roughly chop and divide between the dishes. 

Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche together in a bowl and season with a little grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the dishes and sprinkle with the cheese and a little smoked paprika. 

Put the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to the grill setting and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the toast or bread. 

(Original recipe from Fresh Start by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.)

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This is a little different given the use of the milky poaching liquor which makes this creamy and rich. Not that we partake in the cheese and fish rule anyhow, but cheese was genuinely not required. 

Wine Suggestion: Choose a white with a higher acidity to match the creamy stock and a bit of body as this is quite rich. We chose an alpine/cool-climate Chardonnay from Cantina Colterenzio from north-eastern Italy in the foothills of the Alps. Melon and apple fruit flavours with hints of buttery toast; refined and characterful.

Smoked Cod & Spinach Risotto – serves 2-3

  • 450ml full fat milk
  • 400g smoked cod or haddock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 450ml hot stock
  • a small onion
  • 50g butter
  • 250g risotto rice
  • a glass of white wine
  • 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and torn into small pieces

Pour the milk into a saucepan large enough to take the fish in a single layer. Put the fish into the milk and add the bay leaves and peppercorns, then bring to the boil. When the milk starts to foam, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside with the fish left in the milk to infuse. 

Heat the stock in a saucepan until gently simmering.

Peel and finely chop the onion, then fry gently in the butter in a heavy-based pan. When the onion is soft, but not coloured, add the rice and stir to coat. 

Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate, then start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Keep stirring continually until each ladle of stock has been absorbed, then add some more. Keep the heat low to medium. When the stock is finished, start adding the poaching liquid from the fish (discard the peppercorns and bay leaves). Start tasting when almost all the milk has been absorbed. The rice should be soft but still have a little bite and it should take about 20 minutes. 

Stir the spinach into the rice. Break the fish into big pieces and gently fold into the rice, trying not to break them up too much. Check for seasoning before serving. 

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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This is good family-friendly stuff. Easy to put together and nothing too challenging for junior palates.

Wine Suggestion: An alpine Chardonnay took our fancy tonight so we opened Cantina Colternezio’s Altkirch Chardonnay from the Südtirol – Alto Adige. With a lovely purity and precision this is both thirst quenching and comforting.

Roast salmon & potatoes with herby peas – serves 2 adults and 2 kids

  • 500g baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 500g single piece of skinless salmon fillet (try and get the middle, chunky bit from a side of salmon if you can)
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 250g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill or mint

Heat the oven to 200C/180C/gas 6.

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes or until just tender, then drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot.

Toss the potatoes with the oil and butter, then tip onto a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.

Push the potatoes aside and add the salmon to the tray, add the lemon halves and season everything with salt and black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Simmer the peas for a couple of minutes, then drain and tip into a warmed bowl. Add the crème fraîche and herbs.

Flake the salmon into chunks and serve with the potatoes and peas.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is really a dish for sharing but we ate the lot with some crusty bread. Fabulous and intense flavours of lemon and harissa.

Wine Suggestion: Given this dish has a lot of strong, savoury flavours, including heat from the harissa and sour from the lemon, we had to choose Grüner Veltliner. Tonight’s choice is by Höpler from Burgenland in Austria and it was a pure and elegant wine with an appetising freshness and zesty finish. This stood it’s own ground against the big flavours in the food, was nice as an apertif and a wonderful palate cleanser after we’d finished; versatile indeed.

Harissa chickpeas with flaked cod – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g skinless cod, remove the bones and cut into 3cm pieces
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, one crushed and one finely sliced
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 tbsp harissa, rose harissa if you can get it
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1½ small preserved lemons, skin finely chopped (discard the flesh)
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 5g coriander, roughly chopped

Put the cod into a bowl with 1½ tsp of olive oil, the cumin, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Mix gently, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft and golden-brown. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute over a gentle heat. Add the cardamom, harissa, tomato purée, preserved lemon, chickpeas and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir for a minute, then add the stock and heat for a few minutes, crushing some of the chickpeas with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce.

Add the fish and gently stir, then cook for 3-4 minutes, turning half-way through, until cooked and easy to flake. Discard the cardamom pods, sprinkle with the coriander and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, Tara Wigley & Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Thanks to a kind and generous birthday gift from friends we have been endowed with lovely smoked fish from the Connemara Smokehouse. The smoked mackerel made a lovely weekend brunch.

Smoked mackerel & leek hash with horseradish – serves 2

  • 250g new or salad potatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 100g peppered mackerel, skin removed (we used regular smoked mackerel and that was good too)
  • 2 tbsp creamed horseradish

Steam the potatoes until tender. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. You will need to stir now and then to stop them sticking. 

Add the cooked potatoes, then turn up the heat and fry for a couple of minutes so they start to crisp and brown a bit, then flake through the mackerel.

Make some holes for the eggs in the mixture, then crack an egg into each, season, then cover the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes. You’re looking for set whites and runny yolks. Serve the horseradish sauce on the side. 

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is a fish dish but the star of the show is definitely the Jerusalem artichokes, which soak up all the bacon fat. A stunner of a winter fish dish by Gill Meller who is fast becoming one of our favourite recipe writers.

Wine Suggetion: You need a good white that suits both fish, the rich bacon and earthy Jerusalem artichokes. Soalheiro’s Alvarinho from northern Portugal is a firm favourite and is both minerally-fresh and also texturally full-bodied.

Roast bream with Jerusalem artichokes, onion, smoked bacon & thyme – serves 4

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 250g smoked bacon lardons
  • a small bunch of thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, bashed, no need to peel
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bream (about 1kg) or another white fish, we used two small bream to serve 2

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6.

Scatter the artichokes, onion, bacon, thyme and garlic over a large heavy roasting tray or dish. Drizzle over the olive oil and season well with salt and black pepper.

Cover loosely with some baking parchment, then roast for 35-45 minutes or until the artichokes are tender, give everything a toss occasionally.

Slash the fish 3-4 times on each side, then lay on top of the artichokes. Baste the fish with some bacon fat, then season the fish with salt and pepper. Turn over onto the other side and baste and season again.

Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. The flesh should come away easily from the bone.

(Original recipe from Time by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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These are great for midweek, quite big, so they filled us up and tasted really good with the spicy yoghurt dip, some salad leaves and lemon. They are quite therapeutic to make too, or at least we thought so.

Wine Suggestion: A classic dish like fish cakes needs a classic match and Domaine de la Chauviniere’s Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie was our choice.

Fishcakes with ras el hanout and dill – serves 4

  • 600g floury potatoes, cut into even chunks
  • 300g skinless and boneless white fish
  • 300ml milk
  • 2½ tsp ras el hanout
  • zest of 2 lemons, plus 2 tbsp juice, and wedges to serve
  • small packet of dill, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 85g dried breadcrumbs, we used Panko
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 300g natural yoghurt
  • 100g bag of salad leaves, to serve

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, cover with cold salty water, bring to the boil, and cook for 18-20 minutes until cooked. Drain and leave to steam-dry in the pot, then mash.

Meanwhile, put the fish in another saucepan and pour over the milk and about 100ml of water, just to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and leave aside with the lid on to finish cooking. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and flake into large chunks with your hands.

Mix 2 tbsp of the poaching liquid into the mashed potatoes with 2 tsp of ras el hanout, the zest of 1 lemon, dill and seasoning. Carefully mix in the fish, trying not to let it break up too much further, you want nice chunks. Shape the potato mixture into 8 large fishcakes, keep them quite flat so they’re easy to brown. Dip each fishcake into the beaten egg, then the dried breadcrumbs to coat.

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the fishcakes and fry on each side for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t brown too much. Transfer the frying pan to the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes until piping hot.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the rest of the lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ½ tsp ras el hanout and seasoning. Serve the fishcakes with salad, spiced yoghurt and lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Katy Gilhooly in Good Food Magazine, December 2015.)

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