Recipe – Moroccan Spiced Salmon

Full of aromatic, vibrant Mediterranean flavors, this recipe transforms a simple salmon fillet into something a bit special without much effort – and couscous takes care of itself once you’ve added the hot water. The whole thing takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare.

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous

MOROCCAN SPICED SALMON with COUSCOUS

(Enough for Two)

Ingredients:

3.5oz (100g) of couscous

Small bunch of mint, chopped

Small bunch of cilantro (coriander leaf) chopped

1 teaspoon of preserved lemon finely chopped (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3 medium tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of honey

A few thin slices of lemon plus the juice of half a lemon

Two 6 oz (170g) fillets of salmon, skin removed

Action:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid, add the spices and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, honey, lemon juice and about 3 tablespoons of water. Season and simmer until the tomatoes soften (approx 6 minutes).

Meanwhile, pour 4 fl oz (100 ml) of boiling water over the couscous and minced preserved lemon (if using) in a bowl,  then cover it with cling film and set aside.

Add the salmon to the tomato mixture, then cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through. Add a little more water if needed and remove from the heat.

Fluff the couscous with a fork, add the chopped mint and cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil, tossing to combine well. Check the seasoning and pile it into warmed serving bowls.

Top with salmon and the tomato mixture to serve.

 

 

 

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Recipe – Potato & Apple Cake

What do you do when the weather is dreadful, you can’t be tempted outside to shop for groceries and you need to make a dessert?

Well you’ll probably make something with what you already have – and in my case, it didn’t amount to much; a few potatoes, a jar of organic unsweetened apple sauce and a tub of crème fraîche.

The end result is an unusual and surprisingly good cake that’s not too sweet and should be eaten while still warm, with a dollop of buttery-rich crème fraîche (or vanilla ice cream). A rather nostalgic cake for me, as the taste and texture reminds me of the wonderful steamed apple dumplings that Mum used to make.

Best of all, it’s ridiculously easy.

Potato & Apple Cake

  POTATO & APPLE CAKE

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1lb (450g) of red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks

1 oz (28g) of butter

1 teaspoon of sugar

A pinch of sea salt

4 oz (113g) of plain flour

Approx 3/4 pint (350ml) of unsweetened apple sauce or stewed apple

Cinnamon sugar to serve

Action:

Butter a smallish loose-based cake pan and preheat the oven to 350F.

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked then drain and mash with the butter.

While the mash is still warm, gradually sift in the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and beat it with a wooden spoon until you have a stiff dough.

Knead the dough lightly until smooth then divide it in half.

Roll half into a circle to fit the base of the buttered pan. Top with the apple sauce, being careful not to get it too close to the edge.

Roll out the remaining dough into another circle, place on top of the apple and press down the edge carefully. Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, release the springform pan and sprinkle the cake with cinnamon sugar.

Let it sit for a couple of minutes to cool before slicing and serving.

 

 

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Recipe – Kale & Brie Mash

Vegetarians can ignore the sausages because kale and brie mash is deeply satisfying and makes a perfect supper on a chilly winter evening, sausage or no sausage. I just happened to have some locally made duck sausages that I wanted to serve with something a bit special.

You could even throw in a pork or lamb chop but why bother? They won’t be missed unless you’re  a strict carnivore.

Kale & Brie Mash

KALE & BRIE MASH

(Enough for 4 people, or 6 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

7fl oz (200ml) of milk

3 small sprigs of fresh thyme

2lbs (1kg) of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks of equal size

3 bay leaves

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled

1 oz (30g) of butter

7 oz (200g) of ready to eat baby kale

A bunch of scallions/spring onions sliced into 1 inch (2cm) pieces

3.5 – 4 oz (100g) of Brie, thinly sliced

1 oz (30g) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Action:

Cover the potatoes with water, add the garlic, bay leaves and a good pinch of salt and bring it to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender then drain, discarding the bay leaves but keeping the garlic.  Return the potatoes and garlic to the pan and shake around to steam away any remaining water.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring the milk and thyme leaves to almost boiling point then remove from the heat and allow to infuse. Once the potatoes have dried off  in their pan,  add half of the butter, the thyme-infused milk (discarding the thyme) and a good grind of black pepper. Mash together, adding more butter if you think it needs it, adjust the seasoning, cover and set it aside to keep warm while you prepare the kale.

Heat the remaining butter in a wide pan, add the kale and onions, and sauté for a couple of minutes until they’re soft and wilted.

Mix the greens and both cheeses into the warm mash, adding more black pepper and sea salt if you think it needs it.

Pile everything into a warmed bowl to serve, perhaps  with a scattering of extra Parmesan on top.

Keep any leftovers covered in the fridge. They can be gently warmed through, covered with foil and dotted with a little extra butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe – Breton Gateau (Brittany Butter Cake)

This version of a traditional cake from Brittany, France is really a celebration of the glorious butter produced by western France’s world famous dairy cows. And don’t get me started on the Normandy cheeses – you’ll be pleased to know that there’s no Camembert in this cake but the very thought of those luscious, oozing cheeses has me almost swooning, which isn’t surprising as I have Normandy blood in my veins.

I’ve included a touch of Western Slope Colorado as well – some of the most delicious raspberry preserves I’ve ever eaten, produced by Gray Acres in Paonia, made with the very best Colorado raspberries; not overly sweet, they add an explosion of pure fruit that nicely complements the rich buttery cake.

I should also point out that this is something you would indulge in only occasionally, as it contains a lot of egg yolk as well as a big hunk of butter – that said, it’s simple to make (plus chilling time) and the end result is crunchy, chewy and moist with an incredible buttery richness.

BTW, you do end up with a lot of leftover egg white which would be a shame to waste, so freeze them in ice cube trays then transfer to a sealed container until you’re ready to use. One egg white is approximately equal in size to one ice cube. Just defrost them at room temp for about 30 minutes, as and when you need them.

Breton Gateau (Brittany Butter Cake)

Breton Gateau (Brittany Butter Cake)

BRETON GATEAU (Brittany Butter Cake)

8 oz / 227g of self-rising flour

4oz / 113g of fine golden cane sugar

4oz / 113g of icing sugar, sifted

8oz / 227g of lightly salted butter (preferably European)

5 medium-large egg yolks

¾ teaspoon of pure vanilla

4.5oz / 125g of best quality low sugar raspberry (or strawberry) jam

1 egg yolk blended with 1 teaspoon water for an egg wash

Action:

Combine the flour, butter and both sugars in a processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Stir the vanilla into the egg yolks and add this to the butter-sugar-flour mixture – pulse again until you have a sticky dough.

Scoop it out and wrap it in cling film – chill for a minimum of 2 hrs or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C

Butter or grease an 8-9inch (20cm) loose-base cake tin. Divide the dough in half and between two layers of clingfilm, roll each half into a circle to fit the tin (roll the top layer slightly larger so you and press the edges down the sides). Press the base dough into place using a piece of cling film, smoothing it out evenly.

Stir the jam to loosen it a bit and spread it over the surface of the base dough to within ½ inch / 1cm of the edge.

Roll out the rest of the dough into a slightly larger circle (also between 2 layers of clingfilm) and place it on top of the jam, smoothing and tucking it in nicely – I use a fork to crimp the edges to make a tight seal. Brush the surface with the egg wash, using it all.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until you have a deep golden, crusty top. Run a knife around the edge to loosen it in the pan and allow it to cool before turning the cake out. Note, it will sink a bit in the middle.

Once cooled, remove it from the cake pan. You can make this a couple of days ahead as it keeps very well in an airtight container.

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Recipe – Mushroom, Chestnut & Spinach Parcels with Goat Cheese

One of the nice things about these delicious mushroomy little puff pastry parcels is that you can make the filling ahead and freeze it, along with your frozen puff pastry.

The quantities listed below will also make a vegetarian ‘Wellington’ if you want to wow your veggie guests with an impressive entrée; alternatively, there’s enough for 8 individual pastries, ideal for a light lunch served with salad.

You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy them, either!

Note: *dried porcini mushrooms are available from most decent supermarkets these days. They add an wonderfully intense mushroom flavor to anything but if you can’t find them don’t worry, the mushroom filling here is excellent even without them.

Mushroom, Chestnut, Spinach & Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Parcels

Mushroom, Chestnut, Spinach & Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Parcels

MUSHROOM, CHESTNUT & SPINACH PARCELS with GOAT CHEESE

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1 lb (approx 500g) of frozen puff pastry, thawed

A 5 oz packet (142g) of ready to use baby spinach leaves

2 oz (50g) of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 medium leeks, washed trimmed and thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only

5-6 sprigs of thyme, leaves pulled off the stalks and stalks discarded

1/3 cup (80ml measure) of *dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 15 mins in hot water then drained and finely chopped (save the mushroomy soaking water for another use such as gravy, soup, etc)

7 oz (200g) of cooked, peeled chestnuts, crumbled

2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

22 oz (600g) of crimini/baby portabella/chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and quartered

5 oz (150g) of soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

To glaze the pastry, 1 lightly beaten egg

Action:

In a wide skillet or sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil and sweat the leeks until they’re meltingly tender over a low heat. Add the garlic, chopped porcini (if using) and thyme leaves and cook for a few more minutes, then add the mushrooms. Turn up the heat a bit and toss the mushrooms around in the pan until they’re cooked and golden.

Add the spinach leaves and stir until they’re wilted, then take the pan off the heat and stir in the chestnuts. Set the filling aside to cool.

Once cooled, mix in the crumbled goat cheese and if you’re making a Wellington, form the cooled filling into a log shape to fit your puff pastry and wrap it in cling film. Chill until firm (or freeze at this point).

When you’re ready to make the parcels (or Wellington), heat the oven to 400F /200C.

Roll out the pastry into either 8 small squares or one large rectangle. Brush the edges with beaten egg and divide the filling equally for the individual parcels then bring the edges together in an envelope, pressing to seal. If you’re making a wellington, wrap the chilled filling until you have a sealed log with the seam on the bottom (also brushed with egg wash to seal it).

Using the left over pastry bits, cut out shapes to decorate your parcels (or Wellington) then brush with beaten egg.

Bake on a parchment-lined sheet for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting/serving.

 

 

 

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Recipes – Freezer Essentials

Apart from the obvious such as meat, fish, chicken, peas, vodka, raw pizza dough, ice, ice cream, ginger and garlic paste, butter, bread and soft fresh goat cheese – and in keeping with my philosophy of preparing meals that are quick and easy, especially when feeling tired and un-bothered – I’ve always felt it makes sense to keep a supply of delicious recipe ‘enhancers’  in the freezer.

Below is a selection of some of my favorite freezer treasures, guaranteed to transform and inspire, enabling me to whip up something delicious at short notice.

Just click on the HEADER links below for each recipe:

GNOCCHI 

Light and pillowy-soft, what sets this Antonio Carluccio recipe apart is that it’s made with baked potato rather than the usual mashed. Very simple to make and freezes like a dream stored in a sealed plastic container.

DUXELLES

This intense mushroom paste is wonderfully versatile and can be used in a myriad of ways such as a base for pizza topped with mozzarella, prosciutto and a flourish of truffle oil, or as a topping for burgers or steak; whipped into mashed potatoes;  used to enrich gravy and soup; served with pasta or baked eggs; made into little puff pastry parcels – the list is long. Duxelles also makes a perfect layer between beef and puff pastry in a Beef Wellington – a less rich option than pâté.

BRAZIL NUT PESTO

Replacing pine nuts with Brazil nuts and equally delicious, this – as with any type of home made pesto – will freeze well in ice cube trays. Just pop them out when frozen and transfer to a seal-able plastic bag.

ONION ‘JAM’

The longer you gently cook onions, the sweeter they become. This fabulous condiment is delicious on crostini topped with goat cheese; used on pizza perhaps with sliced fig and mozzarella; on a burger, steak or pork chop; in mashed potato…the possibilities are endless. Freeze in small seal-able containers.

PRALINE

I like to make praline with hazelnuts but you can use almonds if you prefer. Crushed coarsely, praline elevates a simple dish of ice cream when sprinkled over (like here); or use it in chocolate truffles; as a topping for cakes or cupcakes; folded into whipped cream and served with berries; added to meringue, etc.

I’ll crush the praline coarsely with a rolling pin or grind it finely in a processor as it has multiple uses both ways. Try making it with pumpkin seeds and just breaking into slender shards to stab into a scoop of ice cream. Freeze the coarse and fine praline separately in small seal-able containers.

THE ULTIMATE GLUTEN & DAIRY-FREE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE

Not only do these perfect cookies only take 12 minutes to make, they freeze really well and once you’ve tried them, milk and cookies will never be the same again and you’ll never want to be without. Just about everyone – except those with a peanut allergy – will be able to enjoy them so make an extra large batch as they tend to disappear fast!

CHOCOLATE

People don’t believe me when I say I make my own chocolate from scratch in under 20 minutes but here’s proof that it can be done and very easily too. I like to keep a batch in the freezer to take to dinner parties and it’s a lot of fun watching people’s facial expressions when you tell them you make it yourself. Home made dark organic chocolate squares also make the most amazing ‘S’Mores’.

Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Desserts, Pasta, Sauces, Preserves, Condiments, Vegetables / Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Recipe – Beer Bread

Who doesn’t have a can or bottle of beer lurking somewhere in the fridge? Well of course non-drinkers won’t but rest assured the alcohol evaporates entirely, leaving you with a wonderful, fragrant and almost cake-like loaf of bread that’s ridiculously easy to make.

With its crunchy crust and crumbly texture, this would be absolutely perfect served with a bowl of chili or soup.

I also recommend eating it still warm from the oven, smothered in lashings of butter.

It’s important to use a pale ale or lager beer, such as Blue Moon Belgian White and trying to be creative, I used maple syrup crystals instead of sugar but there wasn’t any discernible difference in the overall flavor so use regular sugar, it’s less expensive!

This recipe comes courtesy of a friend who’s a chef; thanks Tracey!

Here it is – the easiest, no-rise bread imaginable…

Beer Bread

BEER BREAD

(Makes one 9 x 5in / 22.8 x 12.7cm loaf)

Ingredients:

3 cups / 360g of multi-purpose unbleached organic flour

1/4 cup / 50g of organic cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt

3 teaspoons of baking powder

1 bottle / can of light ale, beer or lager

1/4 cup of butter, melted

Action:

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.

Line a loaf pan with baking parchment then spray with oil.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Using a large balloon whisk, whisk gently to ensure everything is completely combined.

Pour in the beer. It will foam up but stir until you have moist clumps and it’s just holding together.

Tip into the loaf pan and pour the melted butter all over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes until you have a light golden crust.

Immediately turn the loaf out of the pan onto a cooling rack to ensure you have a crunchy crust.

It may be hard to resist but wait a bit before cutting into it – you need it to firm slightly.

 

 

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