Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Nigel Slater's Hot smoked fish and leek pie

This delicious fish pie was worthy of a return to blogging. It appears in Nigel Slater's "The Christmas Chronicles", and although I agree it's a fabulous and special dish for Christmas there is absolutely no reason to keep it for such festive occasions. I had a family meal last week and wanted to try something new. It's not difficult to make, just a little time consuming. But with time to spare and an accomplice in the kitchen it was an enjoyable experience making it. The flavours were wonderful, it looked very impressive and there was more than enough for 10 of us, with a couple of slices leftover for the next day. I used a little more fish than the recipes states to make it go a bit further and hence more cream. I also bought 2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry which were the perfect size as they were, without having to roll out and measure the pastry.

Serves 8

leeks 500g
butter 40g
plain flour 3 heaped tbsp
hot smoked salmon 250g
smoked mackerel 250g
double cream 500ml
new potatoes 300g
olive oil 4 tbsp
chopped parsley 3 tbsp
chopped tarragon 2 tbsp
puff pastry 375g
egg 1
nigella or sesame seeds 1 tbsp
You will need 2 large baking sheets and a piece of baking parchment.

Cut the leeks into discs 1cm in width, wash thoroughly, then put them in a deep heavy-based pan with the butter over a moderate heat. Let the leeks cook for eight to 10 minutes, covered with a round piece of greaseproof paper and a lid, so they cook in their own steam and soften without browning.
Gently warm the double cream in a small pan and remove from the heat. Add the flour to the leeks, stir and leave to cook for a couple of minutes then break the salmon and mackerel into large flakes and gently stir in to the leeks. Pour over the warm double cream and leave to cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Slice the potatoes into thin coins, each about the thickness of a £1 piece. Warm the olive oil in a shallow pan then fry the potato slices on both sides over a moderate heat till golden. They should be soft inside. Fold the cooked potatoes into the fish and leek cream, season carefully with salt and black pepper, the chopped parsley and tarragon, transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool. Chill thoroughly in the fridge. (If you skip this step it is impossible to shape the pie.)
Set the oven at 200ºC. Place one of the baking sheets upside down in the oven. Line the other one with baking parchment. Cut the pastry in half then roll out each piece to a rectangle to a rectangle 32cm x 22cm. Place one rectangle on the lined baking sheet. Pile the cold filling on top of the pastry, leaving a border on all four sides of at least 2cm. Smooth the top of the filling so you have a deep rectangle of mixture. Beat the egg in a small bowl or cup and brush the bare edges of the pastry generously.
Place the second sheet of pastry over the filling then press the edges of the two pieces of pastry firmly together to seal. It is important that they are well sealed, otherwise your filling will leak. Brush the top layer of pastry all over with the beaten egg, scatter with the nigella or sesame seeds then pierce a small hole in the centre with knife or the handle of wooden spoon. Place in the oven, the baking sheet on top of the hot, upturned one, and bake for 40 minutes till golden brown.
Leave to settle for 5 minutes before sliding off the baking sheet onto a serving board or dish, and slicing.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Taking a break, literally

It hasn't been the best start to 2018. My husband Steve fell on the ice outside our house at the beginning of last week and has broken his hip, which has resulted in an operation to repair the fracture and a long healing and recovery process. He isn't in great health anyway due to a rare muscle condition so things are a bit more complicated than your average person. What a fright, I saw him fall and hit his head, lots of blood and groaning, it was awful. The NHS have been amazing, I have nothing but admiration for all the hardworking nurses and doctors, the care was incredible in both hospitals in all wards. Steve was even tucking into the hospital food with delight, so funny. 

So he's home now, with a house full of adaptations to see us through this tricky time, and I'm now the nurse, I've been very patient so far but it's only day two.

My blogging will have to be put on the back burner, not that I've been very productive at all recently. Keep looking and using the recipes, there's more than enough on here to keep you going.

My focus is to get Steve back to his previous health, with lots of good food, plenty of fruit and vegetables, vitamins and fluids to speed recovery. Something like this gives you a real shake and a realisation that you have to live life to the full as you just don't know what is round the corner, thankfully. 

I don't want to see the A and E department of a hospital for a very long time, those doctors and nurses deserve medals, and I won't be letting Steve ever go out again in snow or ice. Let's hope the warmer weather is on its way, the sun is shining in my room now so that's a good sign. 

The photo is of our Christmas lunch, pheasant with cream and calvados, minus some of the trimmings. If I had to choose my last suppper I think this might be it. It will certainly be the one I'm looking forward to cooking and enjoying with Steve when he's back to good health later in the year. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Chicken with a Dijon mustard sauce

We left the teenagers home alone last night. It’s something we are doing a little more often, not for long just yet, 2 nights at the most. So far we have been spared of unauthorised house parties, and any major mess and damage on return. Let's hope I'm not talking too soon. The temptation when away is to eat out,  but we had been out for a lovely meal the night before and didn’t really want to eat out two nights in a row. My intentions of losing weight by Christmas are becoming more unlikely by the day. A trip to the local Co op and a recipe in mind produced this really tasty, simple recipe. It’s a variation on a meal on the Delicious website. I didn’t really measure the ingredients, so the volume of stock on my recipe is a guess but you would be able to work out the volume of sauce you need by looking.  I cooked some new potaotes on the hob, finishing them off in the oven alongside the chicken just to give them a golden crunchiness. The meal was delicious and it’s one I’ll be cooking again soon. 
Hopefully over the festive period I'll get a chance to try some new recipes. I feel this year has been my weakest on my blog, with recipes few and far between. My sister in law and I have just bought ourselves Nigel Slater's 'Christmas Chronicles' as an early Christmas present to each other. Hopefully it will provide some inspiration for meals over the coming month, if nothing else he is a great writer. I do enjoy this time of year in the kitchen. It's a chance to be a bit more extravagant than usual, create a lovely Christmassy home and welcome friends and family to share the good food and wine.

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil for frying
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of flour with seasoning 
A punnet of mushrooms, sliced 
1 onion sliced 
1 clove garlic' chopped 
A glug of white wine
300ml of stock
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard 
A dollop of double cream 
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180c. 
Hear the oil in a frying pan, whilst coating the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour.
Fry the chicken breasts until nicely browned. 
Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry until cooked through. 
Pour in the wine and let it sizzle away.
Mix together the stock,  mustard and cream and pour into the pan mixing everything together. 
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof roasting dish and cook in the oven until the chicken is cooked through for approximately 25 mins. 
The sauce should be bubbling away with a lovely rich dark colour 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Chicken Saag

It's got to the point where I need to watch the calories for a while and lose some weight before Christmas. Since I've reached the age of fifty I certainly know what the saying middle age spread means. Talking to friends at the weekend I have been recommended to try and cut out carbs including potatoes, rice, pasta and bread. So I thought I'd give this ago where I can. Of course giving up wine could be beneficial too, but let's start with the easier options. While in Aldi last night I saw a frozen, slimming  chicken Saag meal and nearly put it in my trolley as I was feeling too lazy to cook. Then I remembered I don't like ready meals and given that it was of the slimming variety would probably like it even less. So I looked at the ingredients and bought them instead. There are plenty of recipes for chicken saag on the internet, I chose the slimming world one as I had most of the ingredients and it seemed quick and simple. I didn't have any fresh tomatoes, so I used a tin of tomatoes which I found made it less like a curry, chopped fresh tomatoes would have been a lot nicer. I also added some fresh lemon juice. Even without rice I found it really filling and satisfying.  I had the leftovers for lunch today. Its a recipe Ill do more often, especially if it helps with weight loss.

Serves 4
low calorie cooking spray (I used olive oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
200g closed-cup mushrooms, sliced
6cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp medium curry powder
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 chicken stock cube
700g skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped
100g baby leaf spinach, roughly chopped
large handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander
4tbsp fat free natural Greek yogurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spray a large, deep non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat.
Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, adding a little water if they start to stick.
Add the mushrooms, ginger and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the curry powder, tomato puree, stock cube and 300ml of water and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the tomato, spinach and coriander and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Take the pan off the heat, stir the yogurt into the curry and season to taste. Serve hot with rice and your favourite vegetables.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Flourless Coconut and Lime Cake

I purchased a cookery book called "Tanya Bakes', by Tanya Burr in the charity shop the other day for a £1. A cookbook for a pound is a pound well spent. This recipe jumped out at me straight away as I was having friends around for lunch and one of my friends is gluten free. I could see when I put the mixture in the tin that isn't wasn't going to be a deep cake and once out the oven I was quite disappointed with the look of it. It hadn't risen much at all and looked decidedly flat to me. So instead of the icing the recipe recommended I thought I'd make it look larger and more impressive with lime butter cream. I wasn't really expecting much from the cake given the look of it but was really pleasantly surprised when I tasted it . Infact it was a really lovely cake and I made it again for my sisters birthday the following day . She said it was a close second behind the sticky ginger cake. 

Serves 8-10
150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
150g ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
Zest and juice of 1 lime

For the topping
200g icing sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
A sprinkling of coconut flakes

Heat the oven to 180ºC . Grease and line a 21cm round, deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, ground almonds, desiccated coconut and the lime juice and zest.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cheese and Rosemary sablés

I made these delicious little canapés for a family get together a couple of weeks ago. They can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container, but I can assure you they won't need to be stored for very long. They are very buttery and light with a 
wonderful cheesy flavour. I served mine cold but if you could serve them warm they 
would be even more delicious. I didn't bother with the walnut coating . 
They would be a great served with wine at a Christmas party, I have a feeling I'll be making many more of them in the next couple of months. I found the recipe on the Delicious Magazine website. 

175g plain flour, plus extra to dust
½ level tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp English mustard powder
150g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
75g mature cheddar, finely grated
75g parmesan, finely grated
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
75g walnut pieces, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

Put the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and butter into a food processor and mix together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheeses and 1 tsp cold water, then blend briefly using the pulse button until the mixture comes together into a ball.
Tip the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half and, with lightly floured hands, shape it into two 3cm thick logs. Wrap them first in squares of baking paper, then cling film and chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours until very firm.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Unwrap the logs, brush with the beaten egg, then roll in the chopped walnuts, pressing them on firmly by hand. Cut the logs into 4-5mm slices and place the biscuits about 3cm apart on baking trays lined with baking paper.
Brush the tops of the biscuits very lightly with the beaten egg, then sprinkle some with the chopped rosemary and some with sea salt flakes. Bake for 11-12 minutes until richly golden brown. Remove and leave to cool on the baking trays, then store in an airtight tin.