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Salad Nicoise

12 Jul

*Clears throat*

“Cauliflowers fluffy and cabbages green,

Strawberries sweeter than any I’ve seen,

Beetroot purple and onions white,

All grow steadily day and night!

The apples are ripe and the plums are red,

The broad beans are sleeping in their blankety bed…

(whisper)

The broad beans are sleeping in the blankety bed

Yeah!”

So this is a popular harvest song, but seriously, today was the day I found out that broad beans actually DO sleep in blankety beds!!! It is so beautiful you guys – if you have never podded your own beans and peas, you need to put it on your bucket list. Even if you haven’t grown them yourself – doesn’t matter! I didn’t, but it made me feel so joyful somehow, revealing the perfect little innocent bundles of goodness all tucked up nicely in their natural cushiony houses… *sigh*…

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Moving on then before my insanity becomes a popular topic of conversation.

I know I’ve all but abandoned my poor little bloglet… It’s not that I don’t love it, I do!

Lets just put it down to a confidence thing, okay? As in, *pah, who wants to know that?* or *this is so not Smitten Kitchen* or whatever.

But! This is one mouth-puckeringly intense salad that I would seriously recommend anyone to try!

I’m proud of it, mmkay? That doesn’t happen very often 🙂

Just one note before you read on: the instructions I have given that relate to timing only apply if you want to eat this salad warm. It will be equally delicious cold and far less stressful, as you can cook the different components whenever you’re ready.

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Serves 2.

  • new potatoes (about 12-18 dependent on size and halved if large)
  • 2 large eggs
  • handful of peas and broad beans, fresh and in their pods if possible
  • 1 can of tuna in spring water, drained
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
  • handful black olives (about 50g), finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • handful basil leaves, torn
  1. Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water until tender – about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Simply combine the anchovies, olives, garlic, lemon, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
  3. About 7 minutes before the potatoes are ready, put the eggs in a pan of boiling water and cook until the potatoes are done. Immediately rinse under cold water to prevent the yolk from going grey, although this shouldn’t be an issue after 7 minutes – you should have delectably oozy, soft-boiled eggs. Mmm… Obviously boil for longer if your heart so desires.
  4. 2 minutes after you’ve put the eggs on, put the beans (freshly podded or no) into boiling water. 1 minute after that, add the peas to the same pan. Again, cook until the potatoes are done, then drain. This is multi-tasking at it’s best 🙂 well… at least I think it is… You want the beans and peas to be tender whilst retaining a bit of bite, so use your common sense here.
  5. Now it is just a matter of assemblage. I layered mine like so: potatoes; tuna; beans and peas; tomatoes; dressing; basil; egg. Whatever floats your boat though – naturally I massacred mine within seconds to make sure there was a coating of that luscious dressing over each and every morsel 🙂

I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did!!!

Oh, oh! And I also served the dressing like this:

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With halloumi, wheat berries, courgette and tomato 🙂 so it’s versatile too! Right on 😀

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Grapefruit and Pistachio Crusted Salmon

28 Mar

Just the best thing I have eaten in such a long time!

You know when you don’t really like a food but you want to enjoy it in some shape or form? Well for me, that food is grapefruit. It is too tart for my taste, and am I the only person who finds it impossible to eat with a spoon!? However, I did once see (what I found to be) an AMAZING grapefruit-specific spoon! I found it so cute that I considering buying it despite the fact that I would never use it on account of disliking grapefruit. It wasn’t cheap either, so… luckily my common sense overrode (overrode?) my ability to impulse buy on this occasion

Oh look! I found a picture: it is a spoon with serrated edges! Testament to the fact that yes, you do have to hack them to pieces with a normal spoon to get any flesh off of the fruit and into your mouth.

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Plus! A breakfast food!? Come on how is that meant to keep you going for longer than 5 minutes?

But I digress, because this recipe uses grapefruit juice and it is flipping beautiful.

I didn’t really know what to expect with the combination of flavours used for the topping, but I’m so glad I gave it a go because it is the brightest, most vibrant tasting dish and everything works together so harmoniously. I will make this again and again and again!

Full credit by the way, goes to Aggie over at Aggie’s Kitchen who must be profoundly genius to have come up with this. I altered literally nothing, but I did accidentally pick up lightly smoked salmon rather than regular unsmoked – a very happy mistake it turned out! It is the first recipe I’ve tried from her site but I am now subscribed via e-mail and have written down a little note to myself to stalk the blog ferociously until I have tried everything that appeals. Probably 99.9% of it. So I hope she doesn’t mind a bit of ferocious stalking for a while.

Serves 2.

  • 2 salmon fillets (lightly smoked if liked)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey/agave
  • juice from 1/4 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (approx 30g)
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Before I go on to share the recipe, I’d like to suggest the side I served with ours! I boiled some new potatoes and set them aside. Then I heated a little oil in a pan and tossed in some leftover okra we had (but use green beans they taste very similar and of course they’ll be much easier to find!), a sprinkle of salt and the cooked potatoes. I tossed them around until the okra was cooked but retained some bite, and the potatoes were lightly charred. SO flavoursome!

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c and lightly grease a suitable baking sheet/tray for the salmon to sit on while you make the topping.
  2. In a food processor, tip in all of the remaining ingredients. Whizz a few times. This may take a while depending on the power of your processor because the pistachios don’t break up immediately. You may even like to roughly chop them beforehand, although I shouldn’t think it would make too much difference.
  3. Spoon the mixture on top of the salmon and smooth it out evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the fish flakes easily.

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Such a simple recipe, but it sings. Honestly it does! 🙂

Butternut Squash and Scallop Laksa

5 Mar

Today people, I have applied myself to college work.

Yes, I know it is a MAJOR breakthrough. I swear it is the first time I have done anything constructive since Christmas.

😀

So, laksa! It is beautiful and reminds me very much of one of my all-time favourite BBC Good Food recipes: Thai Salmon Soup

Except that this is MY recipe and that makes me extra extra eager to share it with you 🙂 it is also a milder version for anyone who loves a punch of flavour without their nose running and eyes watering into their food…

It just summarises everything I love at the moment: Thai food (well actually it’s Malaysian but that sort of flavouring); LIME; coconut, noodles, squash, stir-fry vegetables… and surprisingly, scallops! See I have a bit of a seafood phobia due to various bad experiences, but I actually love these little things. They make me happy because now I use them interchangeably with prawns (which are the arch enemies of my taste buds) and so I feel I can tackle an even wider range of recipes 🙂

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Serves 4

  • approx 140g laksa paste (I found a 180g jar at my local supermarket – think of the cool things you could do for 1 with the leftovers!)
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 x 400g tin coconut milk
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 200g scallops (I used frozen)
  • 300g straight to wok rice noodles (though I would probably use more… I didn’t think 600g looked moderate enough :P)
  • a good handful of beansprouts, baby sweetcorn, mange tout or other stir-fry type vegetables. Bamboo shoots would be great.
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • lime wedges, to serve
  1. Toss the prepared squash with the laksa paste in a large saucepan for a few minutes, until it is fragrant and the squash is coated nicely with the paste. Add the coconut milk and stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on how big your cubes of squash are – they should be verging on tender, but nowhere near soft!!! 
  2. Add the noodles, vegetables (not the spring onions) and scallops (straight from frozen if that’s what you’re working with), and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the noodles are tender, the scallops are cooked through but not rubbery aaaand the vegetables are hot but still crunchy.
  3. Serve into adequately sized (large) bowls and top with the spring onions. Serve with lime wedges – by which I mean squeeze half a lime into your bowl and swirl it all around. I don’t think it is negotiable actually.

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P.S: This is the sort of meal that will dribble down your chin multiple times leaving you feel rather clumsy/messy but very warm and satisfied 🙂

P.P.S: I’d say a sticky chin/splattered clothes is a worthy sacrifice.

P.P.P.S: Forgive the extreme usage of brackets, forward slashes and p.s’s.

Chermoula-Marinated Monkfish Tagine

30 Jan

What was that? Did I hear you all just begging me for another main meal recipe?

Well here I do not disappoint!

I know, I know… And the love and I have pledged to make something luxuriously sweet this weekend, but I won’t (can’t actually) apologise for the semi-predictability of late. Not here anyway, as this is special.

Although I have simplified and adapted the original recipe, it still takes a bit of work, but the flavours combine so perfectly to create a meal that is healthy and utterly worth it. It’s good mood food! I think it would be great for a dinner party or other special occasion as well, because well, monkfish is not cheap, and much of the dish can be prepared in advance, so stress-free entertaining and all that!

Of course, you could use other fish in its place, although I doubt you will find anything truly similar to monkfish. This was my first experience with it, and I’ve heard it’s meaty but I was still surprised at just how dense it actually is! I would recommend a white fish that isn’t too too delicate, like sea bass, haddock, halibut or cod.

I like to make the chermoula, prepare the pepper and parboil the potatoes when I have a minute earlier in the day – that way there is plenty of marinating time for the monkfish, and later on when you’re ready to eat it will only take about half an hour to complete 🙂

Serves 2.

For the Chermoula:

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed, or ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp coriander and/or parsley, chopped
  1. Either bash everything together in a large pestle and mortar, or whiz in a food processor/blender!

For the Rest:

  • 400g monkfish tail
  • 250g small new potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, blackened, skinned and cut into strips (or use a few ready-roasted peppers from a jar!)
  • handful of black olives
  • 1/2 home-made preserved lemon (or 1 shop-bought), thinly sliced
  1. Rub most the chermoula (leaving about 1 tbsp for cooking) all over the fish, and place in a shallow dish to marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge, though I wouldn’t leave it overnight personally. 
  2. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, put the potatoes in a saucepan full of boiling, salted water and cook for about 10 minutes to soften them a little – you don’t want them fully cooked at this stage. Set aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a tagine or heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and tomatoes, cooking over a medium heat until the garlic is browned and the tomatoes have softened a little. Add the pepper, preserved lemons, olives, potatoes and reserved chermoula, mixing everything together well.
  4. Finally, place the fish on top, pour in 100ml water, cover with a lid and steam for about 25 minutes until the fish is cooked through. You may want to serve this with couscous or good crusty bread to mop up the juices, and you may want to use less potatoes if you choose to do so – obviously personal choice!

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I must finish with a cautionary tale! My first tagine had a very short life. I was so excited to use it that I neglected curing it before use. It’s not hard to do and many more tagines will have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives if this customary measure is carried out. Also, be patient when applying heat to the tagine. Don’t add hot food to a cold tagine or cold food to a hot tagine. When placing it on the hob or in the oven, start from a cool temperature and gradually increase. I feel I should start a campaign… ‘Tagine Care Awareness’? No? Okay, well this information would have helped me a few months ago anyway 🙂 enjoy!

Salt Cod Fritters

30 Dec

It was such a relief to cross this off my to-do list!

I didn’t know, but apparently it’s traditional to eat salt cod at this time of year!

I have tried it once before in ackee and salt fish, but that was quite a lot for me to get my head around in terms of new flavours and textures.

This recipe is more suitable for first time salt cod tasters, as the spotlight is on that one main ingredient. And it’s sweet and it’s juicy and it’s deep-fried…

Makes 14 small fritters (enough for 3 as part of a main meal, or as a starter!)

  • 250g skinless, boneless salt cod, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, in several changes of water
  • 200g potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • lots of sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Drain the fish and flake it finely. Add the potato, vinegar, milk, onion, herbs and egg yolks. Season with pepper if you like – you will not need salt! Mix well.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the mixture.
  3. Heat a saucepan 1/3 full of oil until a small piece of bread sizzles and browns in 1 minute.
  4. Use a tablespoon to scoop up the salt cod mixture and gently place in the oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until brown all over (about 5 minutes for each fritter). Drain on kitchen paper.

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I served mine with sweet potato chips with harissa. I chop one large sweet potato into chips without peeling, then add them to a baking tray with a good drizzle of olive oil, 1 or 2 teaspoons of harissa paste and a sprinkling of salt, mixing it all together well so everything is coated nicely. I add harissa more often than not when making sweet potato chips, as it imparts a great flavour and it’s a great way to use it up! I bought a small jar of it months ago for mackerel, and since them I haven’t had a proper use for it, so it’s job has been to aid the above process. Bake in an oven set to 200°c for 30-40 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.

Tonnato Jackets

12 Dec

The most precious cookbook I own is Nigella Express.

It’s not rare, unusual, old and tattered like a treasured possession might be, but it is so loved because, to me, it symbolises journey with food and eating.

When I first became truly ill with my eating disorder, this is the series I marvelled at on TV. I quickly brought the book and devoured every page hungrily. I suppose I learnt it off by heart, because it was everything I craved and needed.

Now I can use it to actually take inspiration from and create the dishes I pined for once. So I flip through it fondly, and that will always be the way.

The recipe that led to this one is Nigella’s turkey tonnato.

I made it once as she instructs, but I wasn’t too sure about the pairing of turkey with the sauce. There is nothing wrong with it, but I felt that the sauce was too delicious not to be the main focus of the meal. I’ve changed the quantities slightly and omitted capers, because I hate them. Furthermore, Nigella preaches the benefits of best-quality tuna from a jar, and mayonnaise likewise. But I’ve made this with regular canned tuna and Hellmann’s, and to me, it doesn’t seem like life gets much better!

I am assuming, as I write the recipe below, that you know how to make a baked potato. To me, this is the best and therefore only accompaniment for tonnato, but it would also be nice with pasta.

Serves 2.

  • approx 70g canned tuna, drained
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or natural yoghurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2-3 anchovies, roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 baked potatoes, to serve
  • salad or green veg, to serve
  1.  Add the first 5 ingredients to a food processor and whiz until smooth. You will not need to add any seasoning due to the natural saltiness of the tuna and the anchovies, which you will add later.
  2. Butter your jacket, or don’t (if you are strange), then top with the tonnato sauce, spring onions and chopped anchovies.
  3. Serve with salad or green veg. It really is that simple!

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Pesto Crusted Salmon with Little Roasties

18 Nov

I wanted to go to Frankie & Benny’s this weekend.

It was the first restaurant that featured in my food obsessed musings. I researched that menu and wanted to go back every weekend until I had tried everything.

My need to try everything is fighting fit, and actually I’d say it’s stronger than ever, but as the love wanted to stay in tonight, I decided to make one of their dishes myself. I felt that it was okay if I tried it at home. It didn’t absolutely have to be in the setting I had imagined. Working on flexibility… I can try everything in different contexts now!

And it was so tasty, I almost didn’t mind the fact that I wasn’t sitting amongst all that joyous chattering, bustling and celebration.

I know it’s not a sophisticated place to eat out, but I think that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. You can be silly and loud, and the atmosphere is contagious. You just go there to relax and have fun.

Here I give the recipe for enough pesto for 4. Feel free to halve/double it; I just fancied having some left over for the next day, to have with pasta 🙂 see: https://welcomebackbelly.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/wild-rocket-pasta/

Serves 2.

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • broccoli, to serve

For the pesto:

  • large handful of chopped parsley (approx 15g/1 cup)
  • 55g walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 25g parmesan, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of fresh breadcrumbs (approx 1 slice bread, crusts removed)
  1. First, get the potatoes ready. Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Boil the kettle and add some salt to a saucepan. Peel and chop the potatoes. I like quite a small roastie – they make for more tasty crunch, but suit yourself of course. When the water has boiled, add it to the saucepan with the potatoes and boil for 7 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then return the potatoes to the pan and sprinkle with the flour. Put a lid on the saucepan and give it a few hard shakes. (This will encourage crispiness!)
  2. Cover the base of a baking tray with raised sides with sunflower oil or the fat of your choice. Place in the oven and leave for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and add the potatoes and rosemary. Return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Set up a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the first 4 ingredients (making sure the walnuts are toasted) and blend until well combined. If you like, leave about 15g of the walnuts out for now, and use them to sprinkle over the broccoli at the end of cooking. Mix the oil, lemon zest and juice in a bowl and, while the food processor is still blending, add the mixture steadily. Then add the salt and breadcrumbs. Taste to check for seasoning and balance. Any excess can be frozen for up to 3 months or kept in the fridge (covered) and used within a day or 2.
  4. Turn the oven up to 220ºc and, turn the potatoes and roast for 20-30 minutes more.
  5. Place the salmon fillets on a wire rack and spread with the pesto mixture. When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left, add the salmon and cook until the crust is turning golden and the salmon is just cooked. Boil the kettle again for the broccoli, and cook in salted water until just tender.
  6. Serve the whole affair with a bit of the crisped up rosemary and lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Obviously, just buy a jar of pesto if you want to make your life easier 🙂

And again, obviously, if you don’t dote on rosemary like I do, leave it out. Your meal will not suffer.