“Ruling a large kingdom, is like cooking a small fish.” (Handle gently and never overdo it) – Lao-tse, Chinese philosopher (6th century BC)
I just stumbled across this quote and thought it was rather fun and quite an apt title for this quick blog about a few of our recent, new and favourite fish recipes.
Fresh Mackerel with Fennel and Orange salad – This is a deliciously light and nutritious lunch. All you need to do is finely chop the fennel and segment a fresh orange. Toss these together in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and then portion on to plates with a couple of beautifully pan fried mackerel fillets (don’t forget to remove the small bone that runs through the middle of the fillets and make sure your fishmonger has got all the tiny pin bones!). Serve with a slice of bread and that’s it!
Mackerel Fillets, Black Olive Crushed Potatoes and Braised Fennel – The first thing to do for this dish is chop two fennel bulbs in half and place them cut-side down in a wide, shallow pan. Add a glass of white wine and a equal amount of water to the pan – the liquid should not completely cover the fennel, it should come about half way up the side of each half bulb. Put a good pinch of salt and a large knob of butter into the pan and then turn on a low to medium heat and cook for about half and hour (turn the fennel and cook on the other side for the last ten minutes or so) or until the liquid has almost evaporated leaving a thicker buttery glaze and the fennel is soft. Whilst the fennel is cooking, boil some new potatoes. Once they are cooked through, drain and leave to steam for a minute or two. Return them to the pan with some good quality shop bought (or you can make your own) kalamata olive tapenade, a large knob of butter and a glug of olive oil. Put the lid on the pan and vigorously shake it so that the potatoes break down and become unctuous, olivy and buttery. If the potatoes don’t break down enough you can gently crush with a fork. Once you have cooked the fennel and the potatoes, all you need to do is pan fry the mackerel fillets and assemble on the plate. This is a picture of the dish, but I am afraid my photography wasn’t quite up to the bast standard that evening…but it gives you an idea!
Smoked Haddock with Olive Tapenade Potato Cake – This is a super dish. The day we cooked it, Toby and I had intended to make a classic Eggs Arnold Bennet but instead we decided to create our own, very different, recipe using smoked haddock and eggs. We has some left over crushed potatoes from our supper the night before. Left over crushed or mashed potato is always a treat in our house as it means, more often than not, we will have some sort of wonderful potato cake/fish cake/bubble and squeak creation for a meal the next day. So this time, for the previous nights supper we had made black olive tapenade crushed potatoes (for the dish I mentioned above!) and decided that it would be perfect, if somewhat different, with our smoked haddock that we had initially intended for the Eggs Arnold Bennet. If you have left over mashed or crushed potatoes, you can always add the olive tapenade the next day. Then all you need to do is fry it as one large potato cake (you can do individual ones if you like). We also chopped up our leftover braised fennel and added it to the potato. We then poached un-dyed smoked haddock for a few minutes in a little milk until it was just cooked and easy to flake. To serve this dish just portion the potato cake onto your plates, flake some of the poached haddock over each helping and top with a fried egg and some chopped chives. Ours looked like this – yours may look different. But whatever it looks like, I can guarantee it will be scrumptious!
Smoked Salmon and Spinach Frittata – This is one of our absolute favourites and is a regular on the menu in our house. The two of us often share one for lunch but it is also great for a quick lunch with friends.
Ingredients – makes a very generous lunch for two but a more normal size lunch for 3!
Boiled new potatoes – leftovers from the night before are perfect for this dish too – the amount will depend on how many potatoes you have left over but make sure there is going to be enough per person eating the frittata. I will leave it up to you to judge though!
1.5 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 bag of spinach
100g smoked salmon
1. Halve the already cooked new potatoes or slice into about three if they are very large ones. Fry in a little butter (and a touch of olive oil to make sure it doesn’t catch) in an oven-proof (preferably non-stick) frying pan.
2. In a separate pan, wilt the spinach, drain it and then completely squeeze out all the liquid. Leave to one side until a bit later.
3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk in the creme fraiche and a grating of nutmeg with a fork.
4. Pour the eggs into the pan over the top of the potatoes.
5. Chop the smoked salmon and add this with the wilted spinach to the eggs and potatoes.
6. Cook for a minute or two on the hob and then place under a preheated grill to finish off cooking. Then slide out of the pan onto a board or serving plate and your done!
Well it’s a new year and we are very excited about all the new things 2015 will bring… new recipes, new food trends, new flavours, new foodie stories, new babies….! Yes! Well.. a new baby!! Toby and I are hugely and completely thrilled as we will be welcoming in a new little family member to our nest this summer.
I am in the second trimester of pregnancy so food is becoming much more appealing again and here I am writing about food once more.
I apologise for my silence and lack of blogging since the summer, it has been a very busy time. Even though I haven’t been writing about food, we have still been cooking and enjoying plenty of it! I will share all our new recipes with you over the next couple of weeks. Today though I would like to tell you about a recipe that has come about thanks to a food craving that I have been experiencing. It is also a recipe perfect for January and for helping to combat that post-christmas-and-new-year-over-indulgence-bloat! Thankfully, Toby loves it too and though it is a somewhat obscure craving, it is far from the gerkins dipped in ice cream type craving that some pregnant women experience. Mine is for chicken noodle soup! Chicken noodle soup takes up many of my everyday thoughts at the moment. Our recipe is a step or two up from the sachets of it that you can buy in the supermarkets (although, to be honest, at the moment I wouldn’t say no to one of those!) and it is also beautifully green and nutritious.
Ingredients (I will leave quantities up to you for this one as it can be easily varied according to how you like it!)
Spaghetti (broken into small pieces) – you can also use fine egg noodles
Combination of green veg (kale/spinach/peas/tenderstem broccoli/spring greens/cavelo nero..)
spring onions (finely chopped)
Rocket pesto to serve – whiz all the following ingredient together in a liquidiser:
extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
All you need to do for this super simple but delicious recipe is boil the veg and pasta/noodles in the stock with the chopped spring onions and serve with a spoonful of homemade rocket pesto (ingredients above).
As I mentioned before, we have many new recipes to share with you from the last month or two but in this blog, we just wanted to say ‘Happy New Year’ and and tell you about this super-easy, cleansing, January recipe! X
These scrambled eggs are very special and would live up to the saying ‘Fit for Kings’.
They make a delicious brunch. So, treat yourself and have these scrambled eggs this weekend…
Ingredients (for two)
100ml double cream
100g smoked salmon
Bunch of tarragon chopped
Grating of nutmeg
1. Whisk the eggs and cream together well.
2. Melt the butter in a non stick frying pan on a medium to low heat.
3. Add the whisked eggs and cream to your pan of melted butter and cook slowly, stirring throughout. 4. When the eggs are almost cooked and have started to thicken to a creamy consistency, add the chopped smoked salmon, tarragon, nutmeg and pepper and serve on some deliciously crisp toast. There is no need to season with salt as there is plenty of saltiness that comes from the smoked salmon.
The secret to these eggs is to cook them on a low heat and give them plenty of time until they are perfectly, just cooked. You can’t rush them.
The idea for this recipe has taken a bit of a journey through our thoughts to end up at the final dish…
This foodie story began the other day after having bought a couple of crabs from the fishmongers. We had decided that we were going to cook a simple but delicious, very italian, crab linguine for our supper that night so we walked around the supermarket filling our basket with all the ingredients. Then, we remembered a recipe that Toby thought up a while ago and has been talking about cooking for a long time. An open crab lasagne with a sort of fusion of asian and mexican flavours. So, we set about emptying our basket of all the ingredients for our crab linguine and refilled it with coriander, mango, chilli, lime etc.. This was the night that we were going to make the open crab lasagne that we had been talking about for so long…
….or so we thought! When we got back home, we had another idea.. We thought the tastebud-tickling-tangy flavours that we were going to put with our crab would be deliciously accompanied by a soft cushion of comforting sticky coconut rice to balance the whole dish.. So, we got carried away with our thoughts and even though we are still yet to cook our open crab lasagne, the dish we ended up with the other day was delicious, well worth remembering and we just had to share the recipe with all our fellow bloggers!
2 dressed crabs
1 ripe mango (or cheat and buy the ready sliced fresh mango from the supermarket as this is always perfectly ripe)
bunch of coriander
4 spring onions
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup rice
1 tin coconut milk
1-2 cups water
All you need to do for this dish is chop the mango, chilli, coriander and spring onions and put them in a bowl with the juice of 1 1/2 limes, the sesame oil and soy sauce. Then mix these ingredients and add all the crab meat (brown and white). Leave to sit for a little while whilst you make your coconut rice.
To make the coconut rice, put a pan on the hob and add one cup of rice, a cup of water and a tin of coconut milk. Use absorption technique to cook the rice. Add another cup of water if the liquid reduces too rapidly before the rice is cooked through.
Now, once the rice is cooked, leave it to cool for a little while so that it is not piping hot when you serve it with your crab and mango salad.
Serve the rice warm and the salad with an extra slice of lime and soy sauce if needed.
This dish is quite unusual but we loved it and will be cooking it again I am sure. But before that, we WILL make Toby’s famous open crab lasagne…!
This is a recipe from back in May when foraging was all the rage and the nettles at the bottom of our garden were perfectly young and just right for this scrumptious soup.
Ingredients (quantities here will depend on how many nettles you forage, so adjust accordingly – we made enough soup for about 4 large bowls)
Nettles (a medium sized colander full)
1 large onion
2 medium sized potatoes
1 pint of stock
1. Thoroughly wash and re-wash your nettle leaves. Amazing how many bugs hide in between the leaves.
2. Soften (but don’t brown) your onion in a knob of butter and a glug of rapeseed oil.
3. Chop your potato into small cubes and add to your onions.
4. Pour in your stock and simmer on a low heat until the potato has softened.
5. Now add your nettles to the pot and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they have softened and their green colour has increased in vibrancy – like spinach!
6. Next, pour the soup into a liquidiser and blitz until smooth.
7. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and grate in some nutmeg (to taste – we like it quite nutmeggy). Season to taste.
8. Now serve with a good spoonful of creme fraiche and a drizzle of rapeseed oil. We love this soup with a slice or two of home made, buttered and toasted soda bread.
We didn’t plan to make this salad. It just happened and was born out of leftovers. Toby and I often say to each other that our ‘leftover’ recipes create dishes that we would love to eat again and again! The trouble is, these recipes usually come together by mistake and are quickly forgotten about. We did not want to forget this one though so I have grabbed this moment to sit and write it down…
The foodie story of this dish began on Toby’s birthday last Thursday. We had two of our very great friends to stay with us and we cooked our favourite pork, apple and parmesan polenta dish. If you haven’t already tried cooking this, I hope that this little reminder may prompt you to have a go!
The next day, to continue the birthday celebrations, we had a picnic on the beach. For our picnic, we made the most incredible pork sandwiches filled with leftovers from the night before…We spread some crusty white bread with a little mayonnaise and some apple sauce and then added all the leftovers (pork, apple, garlic, braised lettuce) apart from the polenta (which can be used to make fantastic polenta chips). We then quickly pickled some red cabbage to finish off these sandwiches fit for kings!
Half a red cabbage and our slightly stale bread are the two ingredients that inspired us to make our deliciously different take on a classic italian ‘Panzanella’ a couple of days later…
Indredients (serves 2 – 3)
1/2 a red cabbage
1 eating apple – grated
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 yellow courgettes
3 quails eggs per person (you can use normal hens eggs and serve one per person)
Ingredients for the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
juice of a lemon
1 small garlic clove – crushed
1 desert spoon mayonnaise
1 large teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt
1. Chop the cabbage into strips and put in a bowl with the apple, vinegar, dried tarragon and some salt. Leave to pickle for at least half an hour.
2. If you have a mandolin, use it to cut your courgettes into ribbons. Otherwise cut them into thin strips with a knife.
3. Cut your bread into large ‘rustic’ chunks and place in a baking tray. Toss in a good glug of olive oil and some salt. Place in an oven at 180C for 10 mins or until golden and crisp.
4. Mix all your ingredients for your dressing in a jug or shake them all together in a jam jar.
5. Now grate your parmesan as finely as you can into a large salad bowl. Add all the rest of your ingredients and toss them together with the salad dressing.
6. Just before serving, fry your quails eggs so that the yoke is still runny. The yoke will combine with the dressing when you break into it on your plate adding a delicious richness to the dish.
This is a dish that Toby and I have been talking about cooking for a while. We finally cooked it the other day and were baffled as to why we had put it off for so long. It is one of the tastiest, easiest and most healthily satisfying suppers we have cooked in a long while. We have eaten in various Vietnamese restaurants in London and elsewhere, but Vietnamese cuisine is not something that is hugely familiar to our kitchen at home. Now though, our pans, cutlery and crockery will definitely be seeing a lot more of it. Starting with this delicious Pho soup…
Ingredients (serves 2)
500g good quality beef stock (the ready made fresh stock in a pot from a supermarket works very well)
1-2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
about a thumb sized piece of ginger
small bunch of spring onions (thinly chopped into small, round slices)
1-2 chilli with seeds (depending on how hot you like it)
a bunch of coriander (you will need the stalks and the leaves)
2 x pak choi
dried fine egg noodles (enough for two)
150g raw king prawns
handful of bean sprouts
1 large fillet or sirloin steak (this is a great recipe for making a steak go a long way)
a bunch of mint
1. Pour the stock, fish sauce and soy sauce into a pan with a cup of water. Add the chopped chilli, green end of spring onions (save the root end for later), ginger (cut into strips) and stalks of the coriander (chopped into small pieces). Bring to a simmer. Then turn off the heat under the stock and leave for an hour so that the flavours infuse (like a teabag!).
2. After an hour the flavours in the stock should have infused. Half an hour would be fine but we don’t recommend leaving it for any less than half an hour as you won’t get the same depth of flavour.
3. Put the pak choi into a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes until it is only just cooked. Remove the pak choi from the heat and put under a cold tap in a colander so that it doesn’t continue to cook and lose its freshness and vibrancy. Set aside for assembly later.
4. Cook and drain the noodles.
5. Now, turn the heat back on underneath your stock pan and bring to the boil. Add the prawns, the rest of your spring onions and juice of a lime.The prawns will cook very quickly and now all you need to do is assemble everything in the bowl.
6. Portion the noodles into your bowls. Place a small handful of bean sprouts on top of the noodles and then the pak choi on top of them. Very thinly slice the steak and put your raw slices into the bowls – the heat from the stock will perfectly cook the steak when you add it to the bowl. Add chopped mint and coriander leaves.
6. Finally, pour your stock and prawns into the bowl and serve with a wedge of lime and a sprinkling of fresh chilli.
Last weekend, Toby and I didn’t do the cooking! We spent Friday night with my parents for supper and Saturday night with Toby’s parents. They each cooked us delicious meals. Before I go into what we ate and the recipes they cooked for us though, I thought I would continue on from our previous Norfolk themed blog and share a few pictures with you from our weekend. We ended up doing rather a lot of walking along the North Norfolk Coast…
On Saturday morning, my father took us on a walk that ended up being double the length that we had anticipated.. Six miles rather than three! It is quite easy to go off path and find yourself with a large pool of water to wade across in the Norfolk marshes… So, what began as a potter down the road on a sunny day ended up being almost like a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition!
…and we were off…
samphire and footprints in the muddy marshes…
this was my mode of transport across…
back on the road… I found flowers for my hair…
After our long walk we had a well earned meal in a lovely pub called The White Horse in the seaside village, Brancaster (http://www.whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk). We each had three fresh oysters and three oysters in tempura batter and chips on the side…
Looking out on the marshes…
So, following our long walk and pub lunch with my parents, we then drove to Toby’s parents house to spend the Saturday night with them. The weather was still absolutely beautiful in the early evening that we all thought it would be a waste not to go for a another walk.. to another pub! So following our D of E style trek through the marshes earlier that day, off we set off for our second Saturday walk….!
There were two parts to our evening walk. The first leg was from the sea to the pub and the second leg was back from the pub to the sea. So in essence, Toby and I went for three walks on Saturday and were very ready for our supper that evening! I promise I will come to the foodie part of our weekend in a moment but I just have to share our last picture from our day of North Norfolk walking. Our evening walks were through a village by the sea, quite aptly called Cley-Next-The-Sea. It is very beautiful there and you pass these stunning marsh-fed cows on the way to the pub from the sea…
On to the foodie part. As we have mentioned before, both our sets of parents are brilliant cooks. It is thanks to all four of them that our joy and love for cooking was born. So, quite unsurprisingly, we ate delicious food all weekend.
On Friday night, my mother cooked a dish that we think should become quite commonplace in all of our kitchens, due to the ease and deliciousness of it. Many of you may already have your own version of this dish but mum somehow made it extra special by giving it her own little touch!
So roughly, this is her recipe for an all-in-one chicken dish…
Ingredients (I will leave most quantities up to you as it is easy to improvise with this dish – it is fool-proof and always works!)
new potatoes (halved)
chorizo (sliced into medium sized chunks)
rosemary (picked and chopped)
olives (green or black – both work)
red onions (cut into medium segment)
120 ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 table spoons tomato puree
1. Mix the stock, balsamic vinegar and tomato puree together in a jug.
2. Put all the ingredients, apart from the chicken, in a baking tray and pour your stock, vinegar and puree over the top
3. Put the chicken thighs on top and roast in the oven at 180C for an hour or until the chicken thighs are crispy.
4. Take the thighs out and put the roasting pan back in the oven and cook the rest of the ingredients for a further 10 mins.
On Saturday evening, Toby’s mother cooked us an equally delicious but totally different supper. It was a recipe by Simon Hopkinson. Before we ate the dish, Toby and I had a look through the ingredients in the cookery book that she was following and thought that the combination of flavours sounded rather strange…! We trusted Toby’s parents culinary experience and judgment though and it was one of the tastiest suppers we have had. The recipe for this is not mine to give out but the book it comes from is Simon Hopkinson’s book called ‘The Good Cook’ (http://www.simonhopkinson.tv/books.aspx) and the recipe you should look for is his ‘Salmon in Pastry with Currants and Ginger’. He serves it with a shallot cream sauce. It was delicious! Toby caught me tucking in and enjoying it…
It was our first wedding anniversary on Sunday so we celebrated by being in Norfolk and eating beautifully all weekend…! Inspired by this occasion and the places we went, I thought I would quickly share with our blogging world a small bit of local North Norfolk knowledge about some little gems buried in our favourite county. This was, for us, the loveliest way to spend our anniversary and if you ever find yourself in North Norfolk, do try and pop into at least one of these places… There are so many more we could recommend though (foodie and non foodie!) but they didn’t feature in our weekend this time. I am sure we will write about them as the summer goes on but if you are planning a trip here, do get in touch and we will let you know some of our Norfolk secrets.
On Saturday morning, we went to our local fishmonger in a town (where we both went to school!) called Holt (http://www.northnorfolkfish.co.uk) and bought two large dressed crabs and some potted shrimps to have for our lunch. If you like your fish, and you are staying near Holt, this is one of best places to buy it. Holt is a lovely town to spend a bit of time in, wandering around the shops. There is also a well-renowned and up-and-coming arts festival here for one week in July every Summer (http://www.holtfestival.org). It is really worth seeing something at this festival if your time in Norfolk falls on the same week and if, like us, you are interested in the arts. So, after going to the fishmonger we popped into a little shop which is tucked away down a back street in Holt called PS where we bought some bread to go with our fishy feast. Their bread is homemade in a wood fired oven and brought to the shop every Wednesday and Saturday morning by a man who makes it in his back garden in a sleepy Norfolk village close by. It is worth coming to Holt just for this bread! Their coffee is also well-known for being the best coffee in Norfolk. They have their original, more extensive, larger shop in a small village called Stiffkey, a few miles away from Holt, by the coast. Stiffkey (locals say ‘Stooky’) itself is a beautiful norfolk secret. We often go here for long walks on the marshes and out to the sea…
Anyway, back to our weekend! On our way home from Holt, we went, quite aptly, to the place where we spent our wedding reception one year previously, Back to the Garden (http://www.back-to-the-garden.co.uk), for a cup of tea and to buy all sorts of delights for our celebration together this year. The shelves in the food hall here are packed with delicious, fresh and organic produce and the restaurant is always buzzing with people enjoying something from their rather enticing menu. We will always recommend it here because it is the place where we celebrated our marriage and is therefore hugely special to us..!
This is what Back to the Garden looked like all set up for our wedding last year..
…this is a picture of our delicious, strawberries and cream, wedding cake that they made for us…
…and one year on, we bought all our treats for our anniversary feast from here, inspired by the food we ate on our honeymoon…
On our honeymoon in France last year we lived on saucisson, delicious french cheese, foie gras, rillettes, butter and lots of bread with goats cheese and honey. So indulgent! This year, we bought it all in Norfolk, ate it in our garden, washed it down with a bottle or two of french rose (also from Back to the Garden) and were completely transported back to our ever so happy honeymoon on the Dordogne!
For supper on Saturday, the evening before our anniversary feast of foie gras, rillettes and all the rest, we bought the leanest, most incredibly aged organic steak mince I have ever seen from the butcher at Back to the Garden and made Toby’s famous beef burgers. We served them in between two slices of toasted Brioche. We don’t normally serve burgers in brioche, but now that we have, I don’t think we will go back to serving them any other way. The sweetness of the bread works so well with the savoury meatiness of a burger.
Ingredients for the Burgers (makes 6 – we froze 3!)
1 kilo of lean, good quality steak mince
3 small onions
1 tsp sugar
2 chillis with their seeds
bunch of coriander
1. Sweat the onions down in a pan with the sugar until soft and light brown.
2. Once the onions have cooked, leave them to cool completely.
3. Chop the chillis and coriander and combine all the ingredients with the mince a little seasoning in a bowl.
4. Divide the mixture into generous burger shaped patties and fry in a little oil in a hot pan for a few minutes on each side – timing will depend on how rare you like your burgers.
We toasted the brioche in a griddle pan…
…assembled on our plates and added our favourite condiments and a bit of salad. Then we paired our ‘burger bun’ with its classic partner…chips!
The next morning, on our anniversary morning, we had left over brioche which we toasted and covered in lemon curd and blueberries… Super sweet treat for the morning!
Buying this sliced brioche from the supermarket is our new favourite and extremely versatile cheat for using in breakfasts, puddings and, as we found on Saturday, for making a very good burger bun!
To follow this breakfast and to continue our gastronomic celebratory weekend, for lunch on Sunday, we went to a local pub called The Gunton Arms (http://www.theguntonarms.co.uk/about.php). This pub is set in the middle of the most beautiful, thousand acre deer park and the chef there is the ex head-chef of Mark Hix restaurant in London. They use local produce such as their own venison (we had venison bresaola) and cromer crabs caught by local fishermen. The setting is breathtaking, with deer roaming and the food is exceptional.. we tucked in too quickly so here is a picture of our half-eaten lunch..
Instead of a big Sunday lunch in their restaurant, we decided to sit in the bar and have selection of their bar snacks. These included; a pint of crayfish with a watercress mayonnaise, homemade pork scratchings with apple sauce, mini pork sausages and sweet chilli sauce, venison bresaola and mixed beets with pickled walnuts and Binham blue cheese (Binham is the village where we got married and this is a local cheese there so we thought it was quite appropriate to choose this dish!).
Some might say this sight in the car park is rather unusual but we thought it was ‘Normal for Norfolk’ and made us feel quite at home…
…a completely ordinary mode of transport for nipping to the pub!
So that is our little snippet from our anniversary weekend. As I mentioned before, we have so many other Norfolk favourites which we are looking forward to sharing with you on this blog.