Monday, 27 February 2012

Salmon with Edamame Stir Fry and Rice - Sunday Feb 26th 2012

Very partial to a bit of Salmon I am. I like it dry-fried lightly on the top so that it goes lovely and crispy on the surface, and then turned over to cook mostly on the skin side, which gives me deliciously savoury crispy skin.

We had this today with stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce and plain boiled rice.

Salmon with Edamame stir fry and rice

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Garlic Fried Cornish Hake with oven fried chips and salad - Saturday Feb 25th 2012

Hake is a fish I have always associated with Spain. Up until recently, we sold just about all the Hake we caught to Spain, but now Cornish Hake is appearing on more fishmongers' slabs as our fisheries recover from the overfishing of 10 years ago. Hake is a deep-sea fish that is caught by static gill-nets rather than trawling.  Depending on the size of the mesh of a gill net it can be catastrophic for local fish in terms of by-catch, but the Cornish hake nets have been found to be highly selective in catching larger hake, and are awaiting the award of the coveted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel. Which pleases me, I really do believe that we have to take care to eat fish that has been caught as responsibly and sustainably as possible.  

Anyway, back to the fish. Hake is rather softer and looser in texture to a lot of the white fish we have eaten here traditionally, and needs careful handling.  I found that keeping the skin on helped to stop the fish falling apart, and a light coat of flour before frying also gave a firm outside, helping to keep the fish juicy and moist inside.  Garlic slices fried until crisp and then drained out of the fat, gave a delicious hint of garlic to the fish, and the crisp shards of sweet garlic added a nice variation in texture.  Just a squeeze of lemon to finish...

Served with unpeeled chips simply baked in the oven with a spray of olive oil, and a salad with shredded carrot and celery in lemon vinaigrette.

Garlic Fried Hake with chips and salad

Puy Lentils with Celery and Carrots, and a Pork Chop - Friday Feb 24th 2012

Fab fried boneless pork loin chop, fried the way I learnt in France, mostly in butter with a dash of oil, in a small frying pan over a very slow heat. The juices go all caramelised and delicious.

But seriously, the most flavoursome things on that plate are the puy lentils.  So simple to make as well. Quantities here are for a substantial side dish for 2 people, so multiply or divide accordingly.

Firstly, dice and boil a couple of carrots and 2 or 3 sticks of celery until just tender.

Meanwhile saute a couple of shallots, add a drained can of Merchant Gourmet puy lentils, a sprinkle of thyme, a slug of fruit vinegar - I used my home made grapefruit and basil vinegar  but you can use your own choice of flavour, lots to choose from at Womersley Foods, (you know how I love them) I would probably use a light one, lemon maybe. Let that simmer for a moment or so, drain and add the carrots and celery.  When the pork is finished, drain the juices from that into the saucepan, and reduce them down until nice and thick. Adjust the seasoning right at the end, as it will depend on how much you have seasoned the pork. .

I didn't think this needed any starch, but you could add some if you are extra hungry. And a green vegetable of course, sprouts in this case.

Puy Lentils with carrots and celery, with a Pork Chop on the side

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Kate and Sidney Pudding - Thursday Feb 23rd 2012

It was a lovely clear day, harbinger of Spring, the birds were singing, the sky was blue. And I decided I wanted a home made, suety pastry, steamed. wintry, Steak and Kidney pudding.

Perverse? Me?  Nah.....just hungry!

Steak and Kidney Pudding, carrots and sweetheart cabbage

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ash Wednesday - Unburnt Lamb Kebabs with saffron pilaf rice & salad - Weds Feb 22nd 2012

Lamb, lemon, olive oil and oregano makes for a delicious flavour combination. Add the smokey charred tips of some red peppers and onions, and pop a little smoked paprika into the rice for good measure and you have a lovely bonfire of flavours. 

Lamb kebabs with saffron and smoked paprika pilaf rice, and salad dressed with grapefruit vinegar dressing

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday - Pancakes with lemon, sugar and Flavour King plums - Tuesday Feb 21st 2012

It's Pancake Day today!  We hardly ever have pancakes, I have no idea why. They are so easy, cheap and delicious.   I am very traditional with my accompaniments, I like lemon and sugar best. I like the richer sauces, but I always come back to lemon and sugar, and particularly on Pancake Day. But today I had some delicious Flavour King plums, and thought their sweet juicy flavour would work well with the pancakes.

Flavour King plums are actually a pluot, a hybrid of apricot and plum, and I think they need a little acidity to bring out their flavour, so a squeeze of lemon worked very well with them.   I had three pancakes. I wish I had eaten more really....

Pancakes with lemon, sugar and Flavour King plums

Collop Monday, A Nice Pork Chop with Capers - Monday Feb 20th 2012

Did you know it was Collop Monday the day before Pancake Day?  It was the day before the day before the start of Lent, when you ate up all your last bits of meat, a collop being a slice of meat.  Then the next day, on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday),  you ate up your last eggs and butter and then went and had all your sins forgiven (the shriving of Shrove Tuesday), and then for 40 days you ate vegetables and gruel....

Well, if I were a mediaeval peasant the most likely meat I would have had to eat up would have been the last bits of my family pig. So to keep in the spirit of the day, pork chops were decided on. With capers, green peppercorns and a drop of grapefruit vinegar to bring it into the 21st century.

Pork chop with capers, green peppercorns and grapefruit vinegar, with Apache potatoes and brussels sprouts.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Borscht and Blini - Saturday Feb 18th 2012

It seemed such a good idea at the time. I had lots of beetroot in the fridge, and wanted something warming and filling.  So how about a delicious bowl of beetroot soup, a proper Borscht, made pretty much (which is unusual for me...) to Felicity Cloake's Perfect recipe from the Guardian.  With proper yeasted buckwheat blini, and soured cream, and chopped sausages.

It took a lot of time, and a lot of stained fingers, chopping boards, bits of julienned beetroot everywhere...

It looked beautiful.

Borscht with blini, soured cream and chopped sausages

My Beloved took a mouthful, turned to me and said...

"I've just remembered.  I don't like beetroot soup......."

Sigh. Just as well I do I suppose.

He ate the sausages and some blinis, and I ate the soup.

Still loads left the following day, so I used my wand blender on it, and made a smooth version.  Very nice indeed, and I would certainly recommend leaving the soup to mature for a day, as it was much more flavoursome on day two.

Smooth Beetroot Soup with buttered blini

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Monkfish with Herb Crust and a Saffron Beurre Blanc, Thursday Feb 16th 2012

Monkfish with Herb Crust and a Saffron Beurre Blanc, Batons of carrot and green beans, Roseval potatoes.

Nice to have a piece of fish after all the meatfest of the last few days, and we were lucky to find a whole monkfish tail on the bone half price in the reduced section at Sainsbury's.

If you watched Masterchef Professional and saw the chefs taking the dark membranes off the monkfish in the skills test, you will know what a right pain that is. And there is not the one membrane, oh no. They didn't say that under the dark membrane is another transparent one did they? And that has to come off as well.  The de-membraning (and the filleting but the timewaster is the de-membraning) probably took as long as it did to cook the fish... but don't let that put you off, cooked well it is a beautiful pearly white fish, with a smooth meaty texture. But leaving the membranes on means you have to bite through that tough leathery skin to get to the lovely smooth fish, so persevere.

It was decided that a Raymond Blanc recipe from Cooking with Friends would form the basis for the recipe, he has a recipe for medallions of monkfish with mussels in a saffron sauce. No mussels unfortunately, but the saffrom beurre blanc, bolstered with a little stock made from the monkfish bone, was silky and delicious. The fish itself was browned lightly in a pan, then topped with a crumb of breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and a little Rape Seed oil all blitzed in a minichopper, and grilled for 5 mins until the fish is cooked and the crumb is well browned.

The whole meal, including all the preparation, took approximately 40 minutes. So perfectly doable for a midweek special.

Lovely Leftovers Salad - Weds 15th Feb 2012

Sometimes you need to just use up what is lying around...especially after a couple of days of feasting.

Mixed Salad Leaves with Broccoli and Shredded Carrot, Cold Rack of Lamb, Iberico Chorizo, Oven baked chips.&  Lemon vinaigrette

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Valentine's Day Feast - Tuesday Feb 14th 2012

Oh what a weekend for delicious food this has been. And today has added yet another ooooph meal to the last few days.

A full three courses again, with wine to match this time. A truly stupendous Valentine's Feast.

Starter of  Beetroot and Apple Carpaccio Salad, with Comte cheese in Womersley Lemon Basil Bay and Juniper Vinegar Dressing

Carol Ford from Growing Direct sent me a link to a fabulous salad on Westlands Nurseries Blog , a derivation of a Jamie Oliver salad, and this is now re-derivated to form this rather tasty starter. (note the highly romantic hearts of beetroot...)

Very simple, I used a pack of Steve's Leaves Baby Watercress and Leaves  - I love Steve's mixes of tiny leaves, very easy to make a salad. Open packet, serve!  Also this had beetroot and apple slices, cut very thinly on a mandoline, (quite hard to get them thin enough by hand), and diced Comte cheese, dressed in Lemon fruit vinegar from Womersley and Cold Pressed Rape Seed Oil from Crush Foods.

Main course - Roast Rack of Lamb with Sweetheart & Cavolo Nero Cabbage, Green beans and Romano Potatoes

Delicious rack of lamb, french trimmed and looking very beautiful before it was cut up. It had a good long rest (25 mins) so the meat was evenly pink and so very tender.

I served it all up, but it really was too big a portion, we both left half of the meat, so cold cutlets for nibbling on are in the fridge now.

Dessert of Fresh Mango with Lemon Syllabub and Lime Zest

An old favourite this, Bob doesn't like very creamy, milky desserts, but the brandy, sherry and lemon juice cut the richness and this is always a lovely light end to a fairly heavy meal.

Mangoes are always delicious, these are Kent variety, which I like as it is not at all fibrous. Simply cut into small dice and tossed in some sherry and lime juice, topped with the syllabub and lime zest.

A splendid meal, and very much enjoyed by both of us.. but it will be back to egg and chips tomorrow I think! 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cold Roast Beef with Leftover Veg Hash Monday Feb 13th 2012

Sometimes you wonder if the leftovers aren't nearly as nice as the original roast dinner . Well no, not quite. But not far off....

Cold Roast Beef with Leftover Veg Hash & Curly Kale

Standing Rib Roast of Hereford Beef with all the trimmings. Sunday February 12th 2012

Oh, we did have a simply fabulous Sunday dinner.

We usually have a rib roast for Christmas dinner, but we were away this year, so were missing our beef.  With a family dinner to prepare, we decided to push the boat out and have that fabulous piece of beef.

Cooked in the River Cottage way, with a half hour sizzle, then cooked gently to medium rare, and a long long rest time, it was glorious. Hardly any shrinkage, deeply savoury crust and tender pink inside.

Roast Rib of Beef with home made yorkshires, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, broccoli and petit pois. Rich gravy from the roast, and hot horseradish sauce. 

and then pudding of course. Cakes for pudding today, a choice of one of three...

Treacle Tart


Lemon Drizzle Cup Cakes


Banana Fairy Cakes

Or maybe one of each.... 

Saturday was Friday.. plus Marmalade Pudding Saturday Feb 11 2012

Lots left from yesterday's ooooph dinner. So starter of Caldo Verde, dinner of Roast Shoulder of Pork, Boulangere potatoes but with Curly Kale today.

And a pudding of Marmalade Steamed Sponge pudding with home made Custard.

Oooph for another day..

Marmalade Pudding with Custard

Friday, 10 February 2012

Follow the Leader : Caldo Verde, Roast Pork, Black Top Apples - Friday Feb 10th 2012

I played follow the leader tonight - each of the three courses we had (BIG dinner tonight, no particular reason, just because..) was linked to the one next to it.

First Caldo Verde, a traditional Portuguese soup of potatoes and cabbage, usually one of the kale family. Cavolo Nero in this case.

Which was the vegetable that went with the slow roast shoulder of pork, boulangere potatoes (recipe for that here ), crackling and apple sauce.

And the apples that weren't made into sauce were baked with demerara sugar to make Black Top apples.

Nice, eh?

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Cabbage Soup)

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder, Boulangere Potatoes, Cavolo Nero, Apple Sauce

Black Top Baked Apples

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

More Soup! Chorizo Bean & Spinach Tues February 7th 2012

We've been having rather quick and boring dinner recently, which is why you haven't seen them... I mean, I can't make a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce anything other than a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce.

But I thought you'd like to see the latest soup that was dinner tonight.  Another ribsticking standthespoonup creation. Pretty similar to the last one in terms of the vegetables, and that this has lots of chorizo and also paprika, haricot and butter beans, and the addition of chopped spinach at the last minute so it wilts but doesn't cook.

Delicious, cheap and hearty.

Chorizo Bean and Spinach Soup

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Soup. Lots of soup. Thurs Feb 2nd 2012

It is really cold tonight. My feet are like blocks of ice.  There is only one answer. Soup.

Home made minestrone soup

Out with the pressure cooker, chop two onions, fry with a pack of pancetta cubetti and some chopped chorizo. Chop and add any and all root vegetables found in the fridge... today that is carrots, swede, celery, celeriac. Chuck in a can of baked beans. Add a litre or so of water. Half a stock cube. Some mixed Mediterranean herbs.

Pressure cook for half an hour, than add a handful of chopped green beans, a handful of frozen peas, a couple of chopped florets of cauliflower and a handful of soup pasta. Cook another 10 mins (just ordinary boiling, not under pressure).

Serve in heated soup bowls and chuck in some chopped spinach leaves and some chopped parsley at the last minute so they wilt but don't cook too much.

(If you don't have any of the above vegetables, ignore the above and go with whatever is in the fridge.)

Eat, and feel warm again.