Yuzu and prawn salad

Y is for Yuzu and king prawn salad

I’ve been away on holiday for a while, so haven’t had the chance to post the latest blog, but here it is at last….my yuzu and prawn salad. With the temperature reaching the high-teens in the UK this weekend, it’s got me thinking about light and fresh summer food. I hope this dish is just that…it’s very low calories, low-fat but high in flavour and colour. This is a dish for one, but is easily multiplied up if you need to make it for two people.

Some of you may be wondering what a ‘yuzu’ is? Well, it’s a fruit used in east Asia that has a strong citrus flavour that is somewhere between a grapefruit and a lemon. I’ve used it in this dish as it’s a very fresh flavour and compliments the prawns.

I have used Cos (or Romaine) lettuce in this recipe as it is crunchy and will hold its shape under the prawns. You may of course use a softer leaf, but at your own peril.

Yuzu and prawn salad - ingredients

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 180g king prawns – uncooked, frozen or thawed;
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger – peeled and finely diced;
  • 1 tsp soy sauce;
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice (or yuzu seasoning);
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 spring onions;
  • zest of ½ lemon;
  • squirt of lemon juice;
  • zest of 1 lime;
  • ½ Cos (Romaine) lettuce – torn into small pieces;
  • ½ ripe mango – diced into 1cm pieces;
  • Pinch of salt.

Recipe:

  1. In a small bowl, make the yuzu dressing by adding the yuzu juice, olive oil, salt, lemon zest and juice and spring onions – finely chopped and give a little stir then set aside.
  2. Put a dribble of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and tip in the prawns. Prawns can be cooked from thawed or frozen, but will just take a couple more minutes if being cooked from frozen. Stir round and as soon as the prawns begin to change from a dull grey to their coral pink colour, add the ginger and lime zest. Keep moving round the pan until the prawns are completely pink and then tip in the soy sauce.
  3. On a large plate (or shallow bowl depending on how much of a messy eater you are – bowl in my case), pile up the lettuce and mango pieces. Then tip over the cooked prawns and drizzle over the yuzu seasoning.
  4. Serve immediately, as although the Cos lettuce is crunchy, it will become soggy if left in the dressing.

Yuzu and prawn salad

Poached pears

W is also for…Wine poached pears with honey and thyme

This is a very simple dessert, that looks “posh” i.e. looks like it took a lot more effort than it really did. You could serve this at a dinner party or perhaps even for Valentines day (or any other cosy night in for that matter).

I’ve used a sweet Moscato rosé wine from Barefoot Wines, which is perfect for this kind of fruit dessert. I served mine with vanilla ice-cream, which I think is best with pears, but if you’ve got your own flavour combination (e.g. crème fraîche, chocolate ice cream) don’t let me stand in the way.

The recipe is for 2 people, but can easily be multiplied up for more.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 semi-ripe pears;
  • 2 tbsp honey;
  • 4 sprigs of thyme;
  • 250ml rosé wine;
  • 1 large knob of butter

Poached pears

Recipe:

  1. Peel the pears, then half and core.
  2. Put a frying/skillet pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Once it starts foaming add the thyme sprigs and the pear halves cut-side down. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the cut-side has taken a bit of colour.
  3. Remove the pears from the frying pan and put on a plate whilst you make the poaching liquid.
  4. Add the wine and honey to the pan and turn the heat up high, all the while giving a good stir to bring up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan (as they have the most flavour). Cook down until the liquid  has halved in volume.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the freezer at this point so it has time to soften before serving.
  6. Turn the temperature down to a low-medium heat then add the pears (cut-side up this time) to the pan. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the pears then put a lid over the pan and leave to simmer/poach for 10-12 minutes until the pears have softened. The majority of the liquid would have cooked away/been absorbed.
  7. Serve two pear halves with a drizzle of the poaching juices, a fresh sprig of thyme and vanilla ice cream.

Poached pears

Paella

P is for Paella

Before I even start this blog entry, I’m going to apologise to any Spanish people reading this. This recipe is not a traditional paella and even more heinous is the fact it contains…chorizo – one of my favourite foods – but something that no Spanish person would ever consider adding to a traditional paella! So please excuse a Brit for combining some of has favourite Spanish flavours into one dish. The recipe title may be better described as a spanish inspired surf-and-turf risotto….but then I probably risk insulting the Italian’s risotto, so let’s just crack on.

The recipe here serves two greedy portions, and could easily feed three with a few accompaniments (ciabatta with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, a few designer rocket leaves etc.)

Paella - chorizo, bacon and onion

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 100g chorizo cut into chunks – not finely sliced
  • 180g paella rice (Arborio rice – the one used in risottos will also work if you can’t get paella rice)
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon – cut into small pieces
  • 10 king prawns
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Recipe:

  1. Cut the chicken breasts up into small pieces and fry in a little olive oil over a medium heat until cooked and starting to get a golden touch.
  2. Take the chicken out the frying pan and set aside. Then add the onion, garlic, chorizo and bacon and fry until the onions have softened. You will not need to add any oil, as the chorizo will start to ooze its oils after a couple of minutes and the bacon has more than enough fat in it. You may need to turn the heat down after a couple of minutes so the chorizo doesn’t crisp too much but the onion is just cooked enough and has absorbed some of those vibrant, orange colours and flavours.
  3. Whilst the onions and pork is cooking, add the saffron to the chicken stock and allow to infuse for a few moments, before adding 3/4 of the liquid to another large shallow pan with paella rice and smoked paprika. It should take about 20 minutes to cook over a low-medium heat.
  4. With 10 minutes left to go, most of the liquid should have been absorbed and the paella rice should be soft with a golden yellow colour. Add the remaining stock with the prawns and frozen peas. Turn up to a medium heat.
  5. In the final 5 minutes, stir in the cooked chicken, chorizo, bacon, onion and garlic and wait for the last of the stock to be incorporated, then it’s ready to serve!

Paella

N is for Nut roast

I realised that I’ve not been particularly vegetarian-friendly in the blog thus far, and as a fan of some veggie food, I felt the need to correct this. The weather has started to get cooler as Autumn draws in, so I’m craving more warming, hearty meals. So this week, we have my take on a nut roast. Depending on how hungry you are it serves up to 6 people, with a side of steamed veg, roast potatoes (is there a better way to cook potatoes?) and freshly made tomato-based sauce.

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Nut roast - softening veg

 

Nut roast

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 beetroot (pre-cooked from a vac-pac on the veg aisle) grated
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
  • 115g chestnut mushrooms – finely sliced
  • 175g cooked brown rice
  • 115g brown breadcrumbs
  • 55g finely chopped almonds
  • 55g finely chopped Brazil nuts
  • 115g grated Cheddar cheese
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1tbsp basil
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1tbsp pepper

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a large loaf tin or another deep baking dish.
  2. In a large frying pan, melt a knob of butter of drizzle with a dribble of oil (sunflower will do – nothing fancy) to stop the butter burning. Gently fry the onion, garlic, carrots, beetroot for 5 minutes until everything is softened. Then add the mushrooms and continue to fry on a medium heat for another 10 minutes or so until the mushrooms have reduced in size and softened.
  3. Whilst the veg are frying, boil the brown rice in a large pan until cooked (usually takes about 15 minutes). Drain the rice and then stir in the onion and veg mix to the pan along with the breadcrumbs, ground nuts, cheddar, eggs, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish and cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour until well cooked on top.

Nut roast

Scotch bonnet chilis

J is for Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup

 

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup - ingredients

So I admit that there’s only a small ingredient in this recipe beginning with J (Jerk sauce). However the recipe this week is particularly appealing for several reasons: it’s hearty and warming, requires minimal effort AND there is only one pan for washing up. You can’t ask for better than that. It’s also vegetarian friendly.

Scotch bonnet chilis Yellow split lentils Sweet potatoes - chopped

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli
  • 125g yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme, plus extra to sprinkle (dried will suffice if thats all you have in).
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 260g sweetcorn
  • 1 can (160ml) coconut cream
  • 400g sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 1cm diced pieces
  • 2 tsp  Jerk paste

Recipe:

  1. In a large saucepan gently fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes or so to soften. Add a pinch of salt to reduce the chances of it burning. Add the chopped garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Make a slit in the chilli (to allow some of the heat and flavour to escape) and add to the pan with the split peas, thyme and stock. Be careful to wash your hands after handling the Scotch Bonnet – it’s hot!
  3. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and cook very gently for 35 minutes or until the peas are very tender (you should be able to mash them against the side of the pan).
  4. Lift out the chilli and discard. Blend the soup using a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Reserve 2 tbsp of the coconut cream and then add the rest to the pan with the sweetcorn, sweet potato and jerk paste. Cook over a low-medium, covered with a lid, for a further 20 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.
  6. To serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle with the reserved coconut and scatter with extra thyme.

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup

 

Jamaican corn and sweet potato soup

Roasted tomatoes

So firstly apologies as this was meant to be halibut based recipe rather than a haddock one, but I couldn’t get hold of any in time for this blog, so I had to make do with my local supermarket offering of haddock. Either fish will work!
 Haddock, shrimp and scallop linguine
The tomato sauce can be prepared up to a day in advance and stored in a sealed container in the fridge. It just needs reheating when you’re cooking the fish.
Tomatoes ready to be roasted
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 325g Haddock (or halibut) – skinless, boneless and cut into pieces
  • 150g Shrimps or prawns (cooked)
  • 175g Scallops
  • 1 lemon
  • 500g fresh linguine
  • 15 ripe tomatoes (feel free to use a mixture of varieties, which will enhance the flavour)
  • 1 tbsp Tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • Handful of freshly grated Parmesan
Recipe:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with tin foil. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven to roast for 30-40minutes.
  2. Spoon the roasted tomatoes (and all the juices that will have leaked out) into a food blender with the tomato purée, basil and blitz until it has turned into a paste (but still with a few bits – you don’t want to make soup!)
  3. Put the linguine in a large pan of boiling salted water and leave to bubble away.
  4. Meanwhile chop the halibut (or haddock) into pieces and fry for 3-4 minutes in a drizzle of olive oil. Then add the scallops and shrimps (or prawns) with the juice of half of the lemon and continue to fry for another couple of minutes until the fish is cooked. This will not take long and you don’t want to overlook the fish.
  5. By this point both fish and pasta should be cooked, so drain the pasta (reserving about a cupful of the pasta water in the large pan with the pasta). Add the fish, tomato sauce, and 2/3 of the chopped parsley then gently combine until everything is well coated in the tomato sauce.
  6. Top each serving with the remaining chopping parsley, Parmesan and a wedge of lemon.

Tomato sauce - frying onions

Roasted tomatoes

Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta

G is for Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta

This dish is superbly simple to make, tasty and very rewarding with a glass (or several) of a dry white after a long day at the office.
 I do enjoy making my own gnocchi, which isn’t that difficult but time consuming enough to be left to the weekend, so it’s out of a packet in this recipe but there’s nothing wrong with that!
Gnocchi with spinach and pancetta
Ingredients:
This makes enough for 2
  • 500g fresh gnocchi
  • 206g cubed pancetta
  • 260g young spinach leaves
  • 100ml single cream
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • A squirt of lemon juice
Recipe:
  1. In a large frying pan tip all the pancetta cubes and fry on a high heat until starting to turn golden and crisp. You won’t need to add any oil, as there is plenty of fat in the pancetta itself.
  2. Once golden, remove the pancetta and place on kitchen paper to mop up any excess fat.
  3. In the frying pan pour away about half the remaining fat and top up with a dribble of olive oil (not extra virgin, regular will is fine). Add the garlic and fry on a medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile salt a large pan of boiling water and toss in the gnocchi. It should sink to the bottom, and after about 5minutes will raise to the top of the pan – indicating it’s cooked.
  5. Turn the heat down under the frying pan as low as it will go and toss in the spinach.
  6. Stir the spinach around until its coated in the garlic-y oil and has nearly all wilted.
  7. Then add the cream, a spritz of lemon and a couple of turns of pepper and turn up the heat, letting the cream bubble away for a few minutes.
  8. By this point the gnocchi should be cooked, so turn the heat off both pans. Add the pancetta back to the frying pan, drain the gnocchi and add that too.
  9. With a wooden spoon gently fold everything together so the gnocchi is coated in the creamy sauce and serve immediately.

F – Fig and Almond Tart

My fig and almond tart takes enough effort to blitz together a few key ingredients and slice up a handful of figs to produce a special dessert.
Fig and almond tart - ready to cook
Ingredients:
  • 350g all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zested
  • 6-8 ripe figs, washed and dried
Recipe:
  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle approximately 34cm x 18cm.
  3. Beat the double cream and egg yolk together and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1cm wide border. Brush with more of the glaze and chill the pastry on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. The idea here is to produce a frame of pastry to hold in all the fig juices and almond and lemon mixture.
  4. In a food processor, add the ground almonds, caster sugar, softened butter, egg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Whizz together until smooth – you will probably need to use a spatula to push in all the bits stuck on the side. Don’t worry if the mixture is thick, it’s meant to be.
  5. Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the figs.
  6. Cut each fig into quarters through the stalk. Arrange the figs cut-side up over the almond mixture. Slide the baking tray into oven and cook the tart for about 35-45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Fig and almond tart

B is also for Beef Wellington

To salivate the taste buds this weekend in preparation for the previously blogged Brownies, I invited a couple of friends round for Sunday dinner, where we indulged (even if I do say so myself) in individual Beef Wellingtons with porcini mushroom sauce and roasted new potatoes.

The mushrooms can be prepared in advance, so if you’re cooking for others, you just need to fry the beef and then it’s a quick assembly job before leaving to cook in the oven.

Beef Wellington - prepped for the oven

Beef Wellington – prepped for the oven

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 500g puff pastry (and plain flour for dusting)
  • 4 x 180-200g fillets of beef
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 large onion (or 4 small shallots)
  • 300ml double cream
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oil (anything flavourless in which to fry the meat)
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A few twists of freshly ground pepper
Porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushrooms

Recipe:

These steps are for the mushroom mixture and can be prepared in advance:

  1. I prepare the pastry first, by cutting the block of defrosted puff pastry into 4 equal squares and then rolling out into equal-sized squares about 15cm x 15cm. Dust with a bit of flour and place on a tray and leave in the fridge.
  2. Place the porcinis in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. They take about 20 minutes to soften properly. Whilst they are softening, finely chop the onion (or shallots) and lightly fry in a large frying pan.
  3. Chop the chestnut mushrooms as small as you can and add to the onions. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of thyme.
  4. Drain the porcinis (keep the liquid as a stock for another dish later on), chop finely and add to the onions and other mushrooms.
  5. Add a big knob of butter and fry until nearly all the moisture has disappeared.
Mushrooms and onions

Mushrooms and onions

When you’re ready to cook the main dish, the following steps remain:

  1. An hour before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut up the new potatoes, put in a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Drizzle over 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Approximately 30 minutes later, turn the oven up to 200°C. Put a griddle pan on a high heat. Whilst it’s getting warm, get the beef fillets out their packaging and rub all over with the oil. You oil the meat rather than the pan to stop it smoking too much.
  3. Fry the beef for about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Whilst the meat is cooking, take the pre-cut pastry out the fridge, and place a large spoonful of the (now cooled) mushroom mix in the middle of each square.
  5. Once the beef is cooked, put each fillet on top of the mushroom mix on each pastry square. Fold each corner of the pastry into the centre, then the next fold in the newly formed corners again to seal the package. Flip over and place on a baking tray.
  6. Lightly beat the egg and brush over each beef wellington package. Add some artistic slashes into the top of each Beef Wellington and put into the oven for 15-20minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Roasted new potatoes, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme

Roasted new potatoes, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme

Beef Wellington - frying the fillets

Beef Wellington – frying the fillets

Beef Wellington - assembly

Beef Wellington – assembly

Beef Wellington - prepped for the oven

Beef Wellington – prepped for the oven

Whilst the Beef Wellingtons are in the oven, reheat the remaining mushroom mix, and add the double cream. Leave to bubble away until the sauce is slightly thicker and it’s ready to serve alongside the Beef Wellingtons.

Once the Beef Wellingtons and roast potatoes are ready (which should be the same time), take the out of the oven and serve up with steamed green beans.

Beef Wellington with porcini sauce and roasted new potatoes

Beef Wellington with porcini sauce and roasted new potatoes

B is for Brownies

This week I’ve got two courses beginning with B lined up. It may not be traditional, but I’m starting with dessert this week. Here’s my basic recipe for the ever-popular chocolate Brownie. The recipe makes about 12-14 depending on the size of your baking tin and your portion size. Brownies are really easy to make, so a great one to try if you’re new to baking or if you want to make a quick tasty treat.

Brownies - ready to eat

Brownies – ready to eat

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter (unsalted) – cut into small cubes
  • 200g dark chocolate (I’d recommend 70% cocoa solids) broken into small pieces
  • 250g sugar
  • 100ml milk (both full- or semi-skimmed are fine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g plain flour

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tin with butter.
  2. Create a bain marie by putting a bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water (turn the heat down once it’s boiling). Into this tip the butter and chocolate and leave to melt – this will take a few minutes.
  3. In the mean time beat the eggs in a separate bowl and weigh out the sugar, milk and flour.
  4. Once the chocolate and butter have melted,  beat in the sugar and milk. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then mix in the beaten eggs (if you mix the in whilst the mixture is too hot, it may curdle).
  5. Finally sieve in the flour and fold into the mixture.
  6. Pour into your greased baking tin and put in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes. You can test when the brownies are done by sticking in a knife. With a normal cake, it’s ready when the knife comes out clean, but with brownies you want a little bit of chocolate goo to stick to the end of the knife.
  7. When done, leave to cool for 10 minutes before attempting to cutting, serving and eating.
Brownies - melting chocolate and butter

Brownies – melting chocolate and butter

Brownies - melted chocolate and butter

Brownies – melted chocolate and butter

Brownies - fresh from the oven

Brownies – fresh from the oven