Sumptious Salmon Supper with a kick…

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Teriyaki Salmon on a bed of Spicy Rice

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This is a simple and phenomenally tasty supper dish, perfect for an autumnal Friday. Healthy and filling too. For each person, pop a decent salmon fillet, skinned, into an oven dish and drizzle over a good teriyaki sauce. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 160c for a fan oven, 180c if not.

Cook your rice – I use basmati cooked in a ceramic rice cooker. In a frying pan tip two or three tablespoons of olive oil –  heat –  then add two finely chopped and deseeded long red peppers, one finely chopped red chilli, and two chopped cloves of garlic. Fry for around ten minutes on a medium heat, then add 100 gm of finely chopped fresh spinach. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

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Pour the drained cooked rice into a bowl and gently stir through the pepper and spinach mix. Share the rice between plates and add a fillet of the salmon. Drizzle with some of the teriyaki sauce and serve.

This is such a marvellous match of flavours. It just works so well.

Salmon and September on a plate!

Another fab fish idea for an easy lunch…

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Crab and Crème Fraîche Salad

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Yesterday the fish kick continued – I bought a gorgeous dressed crab and used the white and brown meat for a satisfying simple lunch – just mixed it with 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche, a merest hint of lemon juice, finely chopped flat leaf parsley and a sprinkle or two of black pepper. Served on a green salad bed with slices of avocado and the best toms I could buy plus a swish of fig crema di balsamico.

And last night I had more fish! But this time I went to our local fish and chip shop and had the most wonderful deep fried haddock in a beer batter – lazy I know – but scandalously delicious!

Let me know if you are enjoying any good fish dishes at the moment!

Red Mullet Crostini…

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Fab Fish Idea for a Simple Succulent Healthy Lunch!

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Been on a bit of a fish kick since returning from Spain having sampled so many of our piscatorial friends out there. So, today I was in our local deli this morning who have terrific fresh fish for such a small outlet – Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge – and I bough a couple of marvellous red mullet fillets for lunch. 

This is so simple and yet so tasty and filling – a perfect summer lunch. 

This was spot on for 3 of us as a light lunch – or it could be a more substantial lunch / supper for two.

You will need –

3 slices of rustic bread sliced diagonally

2 fillets of red mullet – approx 1/2 a kilo.

Lemon oil 

Dill

6 Sun dried tomatoes in their oil

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Flat leaf parsley

Lay the fillets out in a dish and season with a little rock salt and black pepper. Add a sprinkle of dried dill over each fillet – and then drizzle a little lemon oil over each of them.

Heat a couple of tbsps of olive oil in a frying pan and add the fillets – pan fry for about 4  or 5 minutes each side until cooked through. Drizzle some olive oil over each slice of bread. Remove the pan from the heat and divide the fillets up into pieces to sit on the bread slices.. Add the sun dried tomatoes to the pan juices and warm through lightly. Then add a couple to each plate and scatter with a little chopped flat leaf parsley. Finally, drizzle the juices from the pan over each portion.

Serve with a crisp white wine or an ice cold glass of dry rosé.

This is such a super dish and one that leaves you with a sense of well being and a realisation that you need to eat more red mullet!

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Grab a Crab Today!

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ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CRAB BUT WERE TOO AFRAID TO ASK!

PLUS RECIPES FOR PREPARING FRESH CRAB, SPICED BAKED CRAB and a SUMMERY CRAB SALAD

My good friend from across the pond, Bonnie Lalley has just kindly sent me her latest painting of a soft shelled crab she recently bought in Maryland where they are now in season. For me the crab has a strong link to seaside holidays of my youth, trips to see my brother at Uni in East Anglia – Cromer Crab..mmm! Food, as ever, evokes such strong memories for me.

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Crabs like lobsters are crustacean and in their edible form are normally sold with their hard carapace, but premium process are paid for ‘soft’ crabs, when the old has shell has been discarded but before the new one hardens – on the east and south coast of the U.S., the soft blue crab is a     v. important industry. Crabs are seriously old in terms of life on this blue planet – they have been shifting sideways since the Jurassic period and they are everywhere – well not literally – that would make crossing our floor a little iffy! Of the order Decapoda – which also includes lobsters, prawns and shrimp – 4,500 of its 8,500 species are crabs. And they do not all scuttle sideways! There are swimming crabs and land crabs too – and they range from the pea-sized oyster crab to the rather scary giant Japanese spider crab which measures a healthy 3.6 meters from claw tip to claw tip! Might struggle to get that one in a pot!

What is a pity that we do not eat enough crab in the U.K. Crab is cheaper than and just as tasty as lobster, and it’s also full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help build muscle, protect against heart disease and support the immune system. The stomach-filling protein in crab sates your appetite and is used to build and repair body tissue. Crab is a great source of two beneficial long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests they help lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease, improve cognitive function, and reduce conditions such as psoriasis and ulcerative colitis. Minerals in crab, such as copper, zinc and selenium, support the immune system. So- eat more crab!

Mind you, no wonder crab rarely appears on the home cook’s shopping list in this country. The “dressed” ready-prepared sort is often chilled into taste-destroying oblivion, shelled claw meat costs a king’s ransom, tinned crab is but a shadow of the fresh article, and the prospect of wrestling with an intact armour-plated crustacean can seem daunting to most folk.

Shelling crab is actually pretty easy, and you’ll be rewarded with sweet, white claw flesh that knocks the spots off lobster, and brown meat that delivers the very essence of crustacean flavour. An easy way to deal with cooked whole crab is to break off the claws, put them in a strong plastic bag, and whack it with a rolling pin. This stops shrapnel from shooting all over the kitchen and you should then be able to pick the white meat from the shell. You can also eat the brown meat in the carapace, but make sure to remove the inedible, greyish gills first. Alternatively, use the carapace and legs to make a full-bodied shellfish stock.

Crab in the UK is generally in season from May until November. Choose crabs that feel heavy and don’t have liquid sloshing around inside them.

But whatever you do – grab a crab today! If you have not bought one in a while – or ever – go and do that today! Or as soon as is humanly possible!

Here are a few crab recipes to get you inspired!

Spiced Baked Crab

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This would be lovely baked in the crab shell, depending on whether you are using a whole crab and how big the shell is. If you are going to use the shell, wash it thoroughly inside and out and oil the outside a little.

Serves 4-6

 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lime

150g creme fraiche

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

600g crab meat

100g fresh breadcrumbs


1 small bunch of coriander, finely chopped

15g butter, melted


Salt

 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Mix the garlic, ginger, chilli, and lime juice with a generous pinch of salt to create a loose paste. Add the creme fraiche and stir well.

 Throw in the onion, fennel, crab, half the breadcrumbs and all but a tablespoon of the chopped coriander and mix thoroughly. Season to taste.

 In a separate bowl, toss together the lime zest, melted butter, remaining coriander and breadcrumbs.

 Pile the crab mixture into the shells, or a shallow ovenproof dish, top with the breadcrumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbling and brown.

 Serve with toast or warm crusty and a green salad.

Cooking a fresh crab

 You will need –

2 leeks

2 carrots

1 onion

1 celery stick

1 small fennel bulb

1 garlic head, halved

Large sprig each of basil, thyme, tarragon and parsley

20g rock salt

1 lemon, sliced

2ml white wine vinegar

2 star anise

300ml dry white wine

1 whole fresh crab

Start by making a flavoured stock called a court bouillon. Roughly chop the leeks, carrots, onion, celery stick and fennel bulb. Put in a large saucepan or stockpot with the garlic, and herbs.

Add the rock salt, sliced lemon, white wine vinegar, star anise and wine. Add 3 litres water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins. Cool and strain the liquid into a jug, discarding the vegetables.

Return the liquid to the pot and bring back to the boil. Lower in the crab and simmer for 12 mins per kg, then leave to cool in the pot until cold.

To prepare the crab, lay the crab on its back and twist off the front black-tipped claws. These contain most of the white meat. Put legs. Press your two thumbs either side of the eyes and push away the ‘purse’ (that is the central body part).

On the underside you will see a circle of grey feathery gills called dead men’s fingers. It is crucial to pull these off and discard. They should not be eaten. Then, using a heavy knife, cut the round purse into four. This exposes the white meat, which can be picked out.

Pull off the knuckles from the claws and pick out the meat with a skewer or small, sharp knife. Place the large claws on a worktop and cover with a clean towel. Smash down with the back of a heavy knife or mallet until the shell cracks. As an alternative method, placing a wooden board on top of the crab, then hitting the board with a large hammer, also works well. Peel off the cracked shell to extract the meat inside. There is a thin blade bone in the centre, which should be discarded – be careful, it is sharp. You can also push the meat out using your thumbs and fingers, checking at the same time for any stray bits of shell.

Pull off the 6 legs. Don’t be squeamish! Extracting meat from the legs is fiddly, so unless you really need the meat, save them for a bisque.

To check that there is no shell left in the white crabmeat, sprinkle the crab over a metal tray – you will be able to hear if any shell is left in. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the brown meat inside the main body shell, both soft and hard. Place in a sieve and rub through into a bowl using the back of a wooden spoon.

And finally, a delicious…

Summery Crab Salad!

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450g crabmeat, (a mix of two thirds white and one third brown)

200ml tub crème fraîche

Juice 1 lemon

12 cherry or San Marzano tomatoes

1 large ripe avocado

110g bag rocket, washed and dried

3 tbsp olive oil

Put the crabmeat in a glass or metal bowl. Check for any shards of shell. Tip the brown crabmeat into a small bowl. Stir in the crème fraîche and ½ the lemon juice until smooth. Lightly season, then set aside.

 Cut the tomatoes in half, or into quarters if large. Cut the avocado in half lengthways and remove the stone. Peel off the skin, then cut into thin slices. Put the rocket, tomatoes and avocado into a large bowl. Squeeze over the remaining lemon juice and the olive oil. Season, then toss until the salad is coated with the dressing.

 Arrange the salad onto serving plates. Scatter over the white crabmeat, drizzle with crème fraîche dressing and serve straight away.

Anyway…..

I hope you are inspired to go and grab a crab today – but watch out for those claws!

A crab on a bed of ice

 

 

 

FUSILLI ALL’ARRABIATA CON SALMONE…

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PASTA IN SPICY TOMATO AND SALMON SAUCE

This is a super quick and healthy supper that satisfies the parts you want to reach when you are famished. You can use rigatoni or penne or really any shape of pasta you feel passionate about – or have hanging around!

INGREDIENTS FOR 4

6 tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli deseeded and chopped – if you want more heat – then use 2
2 x 400gm chopped tinned tomatoes
Small bunch of coriander leaves chopped
400 gm salmon fillet skinned and cut into cubes
500 gm of pasta
Pinch of salt

In a wok or large frying pan, heat the oil and then gently sizzle the garlic and chilli for about a minute. Do not burn it! Best way is once it is sizzling just remove it from the heat for a minute – works fine. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir and simmer gently for 10 minutes uncovered. 

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Carefully stir in the salmon pieces and season with a pinch of salt. Remove from heat whilst the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta then and return to the pan, pour in the salmon sauce and stir over a low heat for 30 seconds or so. 

This is a super summer supper dish or a lazy lunch perfect with a glass of rosé or a crisp white.

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Pan fried trout fillets with a basil and lime mayo, balsamic mange tout and buttered Jersey Royals…

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Pan fried trout fillets with a basil and lime mayo, balsamic mange tout and buttered Jersey Royals...

Friday night is fish night but I wanted something so simple I could do it standing on my head whilst imbibing a glass or two of a rather fine cabernet sauvignon. Well, this is it. The trout was gently pan fried in olive oil, turned after five minutes and the skin removed with a fish slice. Then I cooked it for another 3 minutes. The Jersey Royals I had sliced prior to boiling them for 15 minutes, then draining them and adding a large wedge of butter, a dash of sea salt and a spritz or two of black pepper.

The mange tout I popped in a hot oiled wok for 4 minutes, then added several dashes of crema di balsamico before serving it alongside the trout and the potatoes. I had earlier added 4 tablespoons of mayo to a bowl with the juice of half a lime and several basil leaves roughly torn. Stir it round then gently tickle it along the cooked trout.

A wonderful Friday feast that makes you feel healthy just by looking at it.

The mange tout gives the dish a little crunch and the flavours simply skip off the plate.

Coriander and Sun Dried Tomato Fish Cakes…

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Coriander and Sun Dried Tomato Fish Cakes...

As you know, I have been experimenting with fish cakes recently, and last Friday I went for a mix of fresh salmon and haddock. The recipe is the same as the one from May 5th but there I used salmon and cod – the haddock gave the cakes a tad more flavour to my taste – and this time I also added a small bunch of finely chopped coriander leaves and 6 finely sliced sun dried tomatoes to the fish mix.

The result was even better than the one on the 5th! I also made 2 smaller ones each, rather than last time one large fishcake each. I again served them on the bed of salsa – see recipe from the 5th again,  and Jersey Royal new potatoes. Plus a salad of peppery leaves and grated beetroot.

I am getting into fishcakes!

Salmon arancini…

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Salmon arancini...

Last week, I experimented with fish cakes – this week I woke up in the early hours of the morning after dreaming about making this dish! Scary but true. I had a notion to blend the classic idea of the rice ball – arancini – with the fish cake. Arancini are one of my favourite Italian nibbles when I am ever over there. They originated in Sicily as far back as the 10th century – so these babes deserve respect. Classically they are filled with a ragu or mozzarella or peas. Sometimes olives. They are diverse in their nature.

For my take on them, you need a small fillet of salmon per person, skinned. 2 tbsps of breadcrumbs – a good pinch of dried chilli and a good pinch of dill. Plus, 2 tbsps of bread crumbs and a single serving of cooked cooled rice – about 100gm -I used basmati. Pop the salmon in the blender with the chilli and dill, a good grind or two of black pepper and sea salt. Blitz until roughly chopped. Add to a bowl – add the cooled rice and mix well. I cooked more rice than I needed just in case – you basically want the rice to be half the amount of the  salmon in the bowl. Using your hands, take a portion of the mixture and roll into balls – I made 3 each for three of us. Place onto a platter and then sprinkle over the breadcrumbs – roll the balls round in the crumbs until coated. In a large frying pan drizzle about 2 tbsps of olive oil and when hot add the salmon rice balls. Move them around gently every couple of minutes until they are nicely golden brown- about 14 minutes.

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I served them with sweet chilli sauce and a simple salad drizzled with fig flavoured balsamic sauce and several cornichons. I was very pleased with the result. You could easily make smaller ones for appetisers at a party too.

Salmon & Cod Fishcakes on a Salsa bed

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Salmon & Cod Fishcakes on a Salsa bed

This was last Friday night’s supper – apologies for the delay! I got this idea from a Jamie Oliver recipe some time ago and it is one of my favourite fish cake recipes – perfect for fiddling with – you can experiment with a mixture of all sorts of fish from River Cobbler to tuna to haddock to mackerel.
I went with simply salmon and cod.

The salsa gives the whole thing zing and the fish cakes are a real mouthful of pescatorian delight!

For the cakes:
300 grams of salmon fillets
300 grams of cod
2 chunks of crusty bread
1 lemon
Flat leaf parsley – good handful
1 garlic clove
Olive oil

For the salsa

1 green chill & 1 red chilli, deseeded
4 trimmed spring onions
6 good tomatoes – I used tomkins – wonderful flavour
Red wine vinegar
1/2 a cucumber
1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper
2 limes
Bunch of basil

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Pop the bread in your food mixer and fizz it round tip it’s fine crumbs. Put a sheet of tin foil on a plate. Spread the breadcrumbs on top. Add all the fish to the food mixer, plus the zest of your lemon and the parsley leaves. Add a good grind of sea salt and black pepper. Pulse it until it is coarsely mixed. Scoop the fish mixture into a bowl and add 2 tbsps of the bread crumbs then – this is the good bit – mix it all together with your hands and then divide into 4 equal portions. Form each of these into a ball in your hand and then pat into a cake shape. Place each one on top of the breadcrumbs on the tin foil covered plate. Then sprinkle the surrounding crumbs onto the top of the cakes – I then gently flipped each over to ensure a good coating.

Put a good drizzle of oil into a frying plan and heat- bash the garlic clove with your hand or a spoon or anything hard nearby! Pop into the frying pan – once it starts to sizzle – gently add the fish cakes. Cook on a medium heat for 7 minutes each side. Now make your salsa – or you could make it ahead of time if you wish!

In the food mixer bowl – clean it first if you’ve just made the fish cakes. Obviously! Add the chillies and the spring onions with the whole tomatoes, and a little salt and pepper. Add a glug of red wine vinegar and pulse until finely blended together. Check for seasoning, then pour into a low mixing bowl – add the halved cucumber, chopped into small pieces, the peppers, deseeded and chopped as small as you can and mix it all together. It should be looking very colourful indeed! A veritable rainbow of flavours! Finally, add the juice of the 2 limes and several torn basil leaves. Mix for the gentle final time.

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Serve a pleasant peak of salsa on each plate and top with a nicely browned fish cake.

I served it with lemon new potatoes and an avocado salad, but to be quite honest, it would have been fine with just the salad as the fish cakes were wonderfully filling.

Depends how hungry everyone is!

Seared Scallop Spring Delight

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Seared Scallop Spring Delight

Radishes, as you may recall if you read my blog last June, are one of my very favourite salad veg. It is a relation of the turnip, and not surprisingly given its mild pepperiness – horseradish. It has been used since prehistoric times over a huge swathe of the Old World from Western Europe to China and Japan. There was a rumour reported by the Greek writer, Herodotus, that the slaves who built the pyramids ate them whilst they worked. He actually mentions an inscription on the Great Pyramid itself to that effect – sadly it has long since been worn away. Like the thought though of them having pocketfuls – did they have pockets? – of radishes whilst they shovelled sand and shifted rocks. Pliny in the 1st century mentions radishes up to 3kg in size (clearly not cut out for salads!) in his writing and there are records of European herbalists referring to – wait for it – 45 kg radishes! Radishes appeared on these shores in the mid 16th century not long before the Spaniards introduced the humble radish to the U.S., where Florida is now the centre of the radish universe over there. In 1633, there is reference to radishes being eaten in sauces to ‘procure appetite‘ and also eaten ‘raw with bread‘. This is such a good way to eat them still! The small young spring radish, with its slightly hot taste – due to a glucoside substance within, similar to that in the related mustard plant – is wonderful when held by the green stalk, rubbed in a little butter then dipped in a little salt and eaten with a slice of good buttered bread.

And of course Spring is also a happy time to indulge in scallops. These chaps are unusual in the mollusc world as they do not crawl or burrow – instead they have a highly developed adductor muscle which allows them to propel themselves along by opening and closing their shells. Indeed the Japanese name for them means ‘full-sail fish.’ Interesting eh? And of course , they are very tasty!

I wanted to bring you a recipe that includes all the ingredients hinted at in Bonnie Lalley’s new painting and what could be better than

Seared Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes!

I came across this dish a few years ago in an American cookbook I borrowed from a friend. I wrote it down and had forgotten all about it until I set eyes on this Lalley masterpiece!

It is simple and tasty and jam packed full of Spring.

For the salad:

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1 small bunch rocket or watercress
1 good handful of small pea shoots
2 very small fresh beetroots, peeled and sliced very thinly

For the peas, radishes and scallops:

8oz sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 bunch radishes, trimmed
Unsalted butter
1 tbs water
80 gm scallops per person approx
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
Sea salt and black pepper

Ok – first make the salad: In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the rocket, pea shoots and beetroots slices but do not toss to coat. Patience! Set aside.

Prepare the peas and radishes: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas, and blanch for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and set aside. Blanch radishes for 2 minutes, and add to the sugar snap peas. Melt a good knob of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon water, the peas, and radishes. Cook until water evaporates and butter coats vegetables, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Next cook the scallops. Heat a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops with a little salt. Sear the scallops until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to keep warm and grind over some black pepper. To the hot pan, add another knob of butter and the orange zest and juice. Cook until butter is melted and flavours are combined, about 1 minute. Pour sauce over scallops.
Now toss the salad – you waited patiently hopefully! Arrange scallops, salad, and sautéed veg on plates and serve to warm applause!

Full sail for a trio of delights – radishes, peas and scallops!