Smoked Mackerel Paté

I’d wanted to do something along these lines for some time and finally did. This is pared down to the minimum to let the mackerel speak for itself.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 200g hot smoked mackerel fillets, skinned
  • 100g light cream cheese
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Once skinned, break up the mackerel roughly and throw it in the bowl of a blitzer. Add the light cream cheese (e.g. Philly light) and the lemon juice. Don’t swamp the mackerel with too much lemon. Now put in a few twists of black pepper and salt, being careful not to overdo these either. Blitz for 20-30 seconds or so to mix thoroughly and to get a texture that you like.

Pack the paté into individual serving pots for a dinner party starter.

I like to serve this with lightly toasted sourdough bread … and butter, of course.


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Posted in Starters Tagged with:

Merluza a la Koxkera

Or, Hake with Clams, Asparagus, Peas and Parsley, if you prefer. The Spanish love their hake and this is a very pleasant way of serving it taken from the eminent Mr. Stein’s book, Spain.

I’m lucky enough to be able to buy frozen clams, albethey from Thailand, in my local Waitrose. Mr. Stein says you can use frozen peas but I remain unconvinced. Naturally I’v emodified it a little.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 x 200g pieces hake, skinned
  • 200g asparagus tips, in 4cm lengths
  • 250g fresh garden peas (podded weight)
  • plain flour for dusting + 1 tbs
  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 4 plump garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 100g shallots, finely chopped
  • 175ml dry white wine
  • 100ml fish stock
  • 250g clams in the shell
  • 1 tbs parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Season the hake pieces with salt and set aside for 15 mins or so. Meanwhile, drop the asparagus tips and peas into well salted boiling water (modification – I use the fish stock for this) and simmer for 2 minutes. (We aren’t cooking them completely at this point.) Drain the veggies and, if you’ve used the stock instead of water, keep it for later, of course.

Dust the hake pieces in flour and shake off the excess. Heat 4 tbs oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and fry the hake for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly coloured and almost cooked through. Lift the hake onto a plate and set to one side.

Add 2 tbs oil to the pan and cook the garlic and shallots over medium heat until lightly golden. Stir in the 1 tbs flour then gradually blend in the wine and stock to make a smooth sauce. Bring to a simmer, return the hake to the pan and cook for a minute. Add the clams, peas and asparagus, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the clams have opened and the fish is cooked through.

Adjust the seasoning of the sauce, scatter over the parsley and serve.


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Posted in Fish Tagged with:

Thai-style Chicken Noodle Soup

This is from Waitrose Food magazine where it was just called Chicken Noodle Soup. I suspect this is fusion food but the influences look very reminiscent of Thailand so this is my title. In any event, it looked interesting enough to try and more like a meal in a bowl.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time:

Ingredients

  • 1 modest free range chicken
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, squashed
  • 60g resh ginger, sliced
  • 20g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 star anise
  • 25g fresh coriander, stalks & leaves separated
  • 250g pak choi, heads quartered lengthwise
  • 2 red chillis, 1 finely chopped, 1 finely sliced
  • 200g rice noodles
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 lime quartered to serve
  • 2 tbs Thai fish sauce
  • Salt

Method

Slice 2 of the spring onions and reserve for serving.

Pick a saucepan or flameproof casserole just large enough to hold the chicken and put it in together with the remaining spring onions halved, the peppercorns, star anise, lemongrass, sliced ginger, garlic and coriander stalks. (Phew!) Pour over enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring it to a simmer, add about 1tsp salt, cover and cook gently for an hour, or until the chicken is just cooked.

Lift the chicken from the broth, draining it well into the pan, and set aside on a board to cool. Strain the cooking liquor into a large bowl. Discard the aromatics.

Clean the pan and return the strained liquid. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat to leave about 1½ litres.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull it apart discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

When the broth has reduced, add the reserved spring onions, the chopped ginger, quartered pak choi and 1 chopped red chilli. Add as much of the chicken meat as you think necessary, reserving the remainder for sandwiches or risottos. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the rice noodles according to the pack instructions.

To serve, divide the noodles between 4 warmed bowls. Stir the lime juice and fish sauce into the broth and ladle it over the noodles. Add the sliced red chilli and coriander leaves. Have quartered lime and extra fish sauce to hand as desired.


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Posted in Soups, Untested Tagged with:

Bhindi Bhaji

A part of my attempt at BIR (British Indian Restaurant) curries, Bhindi Bhaji is one of our favourite vegetable accompaniments.

Planning

serves: 2/3
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh okra
  • 2 medium onions, halved & finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 medium green chilli, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ tsp ground corianger
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder

Method

Wash, top and tail the okra, then cut into 1-2cm lengths. Pre-fry these in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes. Set them aside in a bowl.

In a little more oil, over medium heat fry the onions until soft and translucent, stirring frequently. Stir in the sliced garlic and chilli and fry for 2 minutes more. Now return the okra to the pan and continue cooking, mixing to blend all together. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes or so to start them breaking down. Stir in the spices and cook for about 5 more minutes before serving.


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Posted in Veggies Tagged with:

Al’s Curry Base Gravy

I have suffered a revelation. There is a whole cookery world out there that I didn’t know existed. It concerns Indian/Bangladeshi curries, which I love.

I’ve dabbled with Indian cookery recipes in the past and, I must say, with some success. There’s a BUT – no matter how many cookery books one tries, the recipes, fine though they are, never seem to resemble anything from the local Indian restaurants.

Enter the so-called BIR Base Gravy. “BIR?”, I hear you ask. BIR = British Indian Restaurant.

Your favourite restaurateurs slave away turning out a myriad different curry dishes by tarting up a generic, moderately bland curry sauce, the base gravy, with selected specific additions. They’ll even pre-cook your chicken in the base gravy before tarting it up to your liking.

The light has been swiched on. The Al in the title is a YouTuber with a channel called Al’s Kitchen. I’ve just got to give this a go. It’s a daunting list of ingredients but this makes about 4 litres of base gravy which will keep you going a while – you can freeze it in reasonable portions.

Planning

serves: n/a
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1kg white onions, peeled & quartered
  • 1 small carrot, peeled & chunked
  • ½ red pepper, seeded
  • 100g white cabbage
  • 1 medium potato
  • 40g red lentils
  • 1 green chilli, halved
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 50g block creamed coconut
  • 125ml sweetend condensed milk
  • 50g garlic, peeled
  • 50g fresh ginger, peeled & chunked
  • 1 tbs tomato purée
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g fresh coriander (inc. stalks)
  • 1 batch of Akhni Stock

Method

There’s no subtlety here, just chuck everything in a very large casserole and add water up to the top of the ingredients. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook for an hour.

While that’s happening, strain your batch of Akhni Stock into the pot as well.

Now you really need a stick blender. Remove the pot from the heat and blitz the hell out of everything being careful not to redecorate the kitchen walls and ceiling. Get it aa amooth as you can.

Return it to the heat and continue simmering for another hour, when the oil should separate out on top – just stir it back in.

Lastly – if it’s anything like mine it’ll be too thick – thin it down using water until you get a milk-like consistency before using it in a BIR curry.


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Posted in Sauces Tagged with: ,

Al’s Mix Powder

Revelation time: there are a bunch of BIR techniques used in curry cookery. “BIR?”, I hear you ask. BIR = British Indian Restaurants. One of the main exponents of these is Al of Al’s Kitchen on YouTube. Al is a jolly Londoner with a curry fetish.

This is a spice mix that he uses frequently. I’ve halved the quantities ‘cos the original makes a lot, which is fine if you eat curry every day of the week. Well, why not?

Planning

serves: n/a
preparation time: 5 mins
cooking time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs ground turneric
  • 3 tbs ground coriander
  • 3 tbs mild) Madras powder
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • ½ tbs garam masala
  • 2 tbs turneric powder
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder

Method

Stir everything together well in a glass bowl and decant into a sealed jar to keep.


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Posted in Basics Tagged with: ,

Akhni Stock

This is part of my recent BIR (British Indian Rastaurant) curry cookery revelation. It is a flavouring stock to be used in the making of BIR Base Gravy.

Planning

serves: n/a
preparation time: 5 mins
cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 700ml water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 7 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 small star anise (or half)

Method

Add all the dry ingredients to the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer it for 15 minutes than strain off the liquid before discarding the residue.


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Posted in Basics Tagged with: ,

Braised Pig’s Cheeks

Pigs’ cheeks had become quite popular in Spain before we got locked out due to Covid-19. I don’t see them very often in the UK but we did find some in a butcher located inside a local garden centre, so here’s how we tried them.

This began life as a Spanish recipe imported by Nigel Slater but I’ve naturally had a slight fiddle with it. The original served four using eight cheeks cooked in a whole bottle of robust red wine as the liquid. Personally I prefer to reduce the heftiness of the red wine so my approach lightens the red wine with chicken stock. The choice is, of course, yours. Since our pack contained only four cheeks, the liquid is also reduced.

Mainly because I don’t care for cooked-to-death carrots, I also chose to blitz the sauce, which lends itself very well to being mopped up with mashed potato.

Planning

serves: 2
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 3 hrs

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 4 pigs’ cheeks
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly diced
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 6cm strip orange rind
  • 250ml red wine
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 6-ish sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.

Heat a tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole (one that has a lid) over medium heat. Season the cheeks then brown them on both sides in the oil. Transfer the cheeks to a plate while you deal with the vegetables.

In the same pan, adding a little more oil if necessary, sweat together the carrots, onions, celery, garlic and orange rind. Once the onions begin to colour just a little, return the reserved cheeks to the pan. Stir in the tablespoon of flour, then pour in the wine. Continue stirring as you bring it to a simmer to drive off the alcohol. Now add the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and stir well again.

Cover with the lid and pop it in the oven to simmer gently for 2½hrs.

You can serve it now or, as I did, put the cheeks onto your serving plates, then remove the herbs and orange rind before blitzing the vegetables and braising liquid together.


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Posted in Meat Tagged with:

Wild Boar Ragù

A classic Italian ragù recipe using delicious wild boar, essentially from Michel Roux Jr. except I’m using dried marjoram instead of his fresh oregano.

This is good served over a fresh ribbon pasta such as papardelle and topped with fried, thickly sliced (large) mushrooms. Grated fresh parmesan to sprinkle is a must.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • flour (for dusting)
  • 900g wild boar, cut into 1½cm cubes
  • 100g pancetta lardons
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5cm strip orange rind
  • 375ml red wine
  • 2 tbs tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas 2.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, lightly coat the boar pieces in seasoned flour (shaking everything together in a large plastic food bag works well). Brown the boar cubes all over, doing it in batches to avoid crowding the pan. As the boar browns, transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and bubble off the alcohol.

In an ovenproof casserole (one with a lid), heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium heat. To the hot oil, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally, then add the pancetta lardons and orange rind. Cook for five minutes or so until the pancetta fat renders and the veggies are tinged at the edges.

Now add the browned boar meat. Add the tomato purée and stir to combine. Cook for two minutes, stirring to avoid burning.

From the sauté pan, pour over the warm red wine along with 200ml water. Sprinkle in the marjoram and bring to a simmer.

Cover the casserole with its lid and cook in the oven for 90 minutes, when the boar should be meltingly tender and the liquid reduced slightly. If the ragù still seems to be quite wet, remove the pan’s lid and simmer on the hob to reduce and thicken the liquid a little. Finally, adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve the ragù over some freshly boiled ribbon pasta (or gnocchi works well, too).


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Posted in Meat Tagged with:

Paella con Cerdo y Acelga Arcoiris

… or Paella with Pork and Rainbow Chard, to you.

This is developed from a pork, chorizo and spinach recipe in Moro. What, chorizo in a Paella? Yes, just don’t claim it to be a Paella Valenciana or you’ll get lynched.

Much as I love spinach, I also love chard, particularly rainbow chard. The thing about chard is that the leafy greenery and the stems benefit from cooking separately and this recipe lends itself to doing just that. Another adaptation from the original is to treat the pork differently, cutting it very thinly and cooking it well to tenderize it as opposed to leaving it just barely cooked, which we found a bit resilient.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 500g rainbow chard
  • olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 120g chorizo
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g paella rice (bomba or Calasparra)
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper

Method

First prepare the chard. Cut the leaves from the thicker leaf ribs, then cut the ribs into 4cm lengths. Now cut the leafy bits crosswise into 2-3cm slices. Wash it all but keep the leaves and stems separate.

Next prepare the meats. Cut the chorizo (you can use dulce or picante, whichever) into roughly 1cm cubes. Now split the tenderloin in half down its narrower length. Cut each half across the grain into fine slices, about 3mm thick.

Now we can cook. Using your chosen paella pan [yes, I know, a paella IS a pan], over moderate heat, quickly fry together the pork slices and chorizo in olive oil until the pork is beginning to brown on both sides. Rescue the pork and chorizo to a plate using a slotted spoon, leaving the flavoured oil for the next stage.

Over medium heat, sweat the onion and green pepper together until the onion is nicely softened. Toss in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Now sprinkle over the pimenton with about half a teaspoon of black pepper and a teaspoon of salt (assuming you are using unseasoned stock and NOT a stock cube – adjust if you are). Stir in the rice to coat with oil and cook gently for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and stir. Add the rainbow chard rib pieces, together with the reserved pork and chorizo and stir again to mix well. Bring the whole to a moderate simmer and let it cook, uncovered, stirring maybe once or twice, for 20 minutes.

There should still be some liquid left, if not add a splash of water. Place the chard leaves on top of the paella and cover, either with a lid (if your pan has one) or foil if not. Keep the heat where it was and the steam generated will wilt the chard leaves.

Uncover the pan and drive off the remaining liquid. If you’re feeling adventurous, bump up the heat and toast the rice lightly on the bottom of the pan, which the Spanish love.


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Posted in Starters