I’ve been so busy lately I’ve not had time to browse through recipe books for new recipes but I really wanted to cook something a little more sophisticated tonight. When we stay in Dorset we try and visit the Hix restaurant in Lyme Regis, I bought the Hix Oyster & Chop House cookbook a while ago but hadn’t tried anything from it until today. Many of the recipes have slightly specialised ingredients and this one suggested Ling which I’d never heard of. However Ling is a firm white fish and as Haddock was on offer that was what I used. I made up the amount of sauce in the recipe for three of us so the quantities on the plate are a little more generous than they would be if you were making for four as the recipe suggests. This is lovely, simple to make and looks like it was more effort on the plate. I served with steamed samphire.
- 4 thick fillets of ling (or other firm white fish(, about 200g each, with skin)
- 150g freshly podded peas (about 300g before podding), or frozen peas
- 100g butter
- 6 rashers of streaky bacon, derinded and finely chopped
- 1 medium or 2-5 small leeks, trimmed, cut into rough 1cm squares and washed
- 200ml double cream
- Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper.
- Add the peas to a pan of salted water and simmer for four to five minutes or until tender, then drain. (I like my peas less well cooked so I put frozen peas in bowl and covered with boiling water)
- In the meantime, melt half of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and add the bacon and leeks. Cover and cook gently over a medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often, until the leek is soft. (I started cooking the bacon in the sauting pan, cut off some of the larger bits of fat which I left in sauting pan, I then put cooked bacon into a heavy based saucepan with the leeks and cream and cooked gently)
- Roughly chop the peas ( much as I love to cook I feel life is too short to chop peas so I lightly mashed them with a potato masher) and add them to the leek and bacon with the cream. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes until the cream has reduced and is just coating the peas.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick frying-pan over a medium-high heat and add the ling fillets, skin-side down. Cook for three to four minutes until nicely coloured, then turn the fillets and add the rest of the butter to the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes until the fish is just cooked through. I cooked the fish in the pan I’d cooked the bacon so whilst the fish was cooking the small pieces of bacon fat were crisping up nicely at the side of the pan.
- To serve, spoon the creamed peas, leeks and bacon on to warmed plates and place the fish on top. Hix serves skin side up, my picture is skin side down. I then topped with a little crispy bacon fat.
This was improvised so quantities are approximate. And largely using what I had to hand. In this case I had some red wine left in a bottle but usually I have a wine box of red wine and a wine box of white wine in the fridge for cooking and when we run low we do another trip to France.
- 80ml red wine
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp red peppercorns
- juices from cooking mushrooms
- meat juices from cooking steak
- place wine in saucepan and boil until reduced by 1/3
- let cool slightly and slowly add cream mixing in well (if it starts to separate cool wine some more)
- Add cooking juices from mushrooms
- Heat slowly for 5 mins
- lightly crush peppercorns in pestle and add to the sauce
- When you’ve cooked the steaks and removed from pan stir cream sauce into meat juices and heat through well
- Pour over steak
Our eldest is getting ready to leave home, he’ll be working for a year before going on to university so I’ve been thinking a bit more about frugal eating as he won’t have a lot of money. We used to make this a lot when we were first married as we had very little money left after the mortgage. It is very tasty and quick to make from store cupboard basics.
Quantities below feed 2-3 depending on appetite.
- 2 Onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tins (2 x 100g approx) sardines in tomato sauce
- 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
- 250g basmati rice
- Cook rice according to instructions
- Whilst rice is cooking saute onions, add crushed garlic
- Add tin tomatoes to onions and bring to a simmer
- Season well with black pepper and any herbs to hand
- Mash up sardines roughly and add to pan, mix well
- Add rice when cooked and mix well. Warm through and serve
- Add chilli sauce to taste (optional)
I love this dish, it takes a while to cook but doesn’t take that much time to prepare (if your lamb is already cubed). The slow cooking means cheaper cuts of meat can be used. The cinnamon with the lamb makes it distinctly Greek in flavour and it is more of a Greek home cooked meal than anything you will find in a Greek restaurant. I first came across orzo 20 years ago when a Greek friend Maria cooked dinner for us. It is small pieces of oval pasta almost shaped like large grains of rice and it works particularly well in casseroles like this. These days it is available in most large supermarkets in the UK.
Quantities serve 6 generous portions
- 1kg diced lamb
- 2 onions
- 1 tbsp chopped oregano, or 1 tsp dried
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cinnamon sticks , broken in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1.2l hot chicken or vegetable stock
- 400g orzo
- freshly grated parmesan, to serve
- Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Cut the lamb into chunks, then spread over the base of a large, wide casserole dish. Slice onions then add them together with oregano, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon and olive oil, then stir well.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 mins, stirring halfway.
- Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock, cover tightly, then return to the oven for 1½ hrs, until the lamb is very tender. (Dish can be frozen at this point, resume from next step after defrosting).
- Remove the cinnamon sticks, then stir in the orzo. Cover again, then cook for a further 20 mins, stirring halfway through. The orzo should be cooked and the sauce thickened.
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
I had a pack of minced beef to turn into dinner and couldn’t face spaghetti bolognese. This recipe is a combination of several from the internet. Most were for vast quantities so I reduced down and modified to merge 2 or 3 slightly different approaches. This was more effort than bolognese sauce but not that much and made a very pleasant change. I served with greek salad which is a firm favourite with my teen boys.
- 450g minced beef
- 2 medium onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 400g tinned tomatoes
- Ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp chilli
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs fresh thyme
- 100 ml red wine
- 300g macaroni
- 100g grated parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs
- 20g butter
- 20g flour
- 500ml cream
- Pre-heat oven 180 degrees C
- Brown mince in sauteing pan
- Add chopping onions and fry until translucent
- Add minced garlic and fry another 2 minutes
- Add tomatoes and red wine
- Grate pepper, chilli, allspice and cinnamon into meat mixture and add thyme and cook for 5-10 minutes until not too wet
- In meantime cook macaroni
- Mix cooked macaroni with 2 eggs and layer half on base of casserole. (I used a Le Creuset 23 cm Cast Iron Oval Casserole), then sprinkle on 1/3 of the grated parmesan.
- Carefully pour on the meat sauce.
- Layer rest of macaroni on top of meat sauce then top with with 1/3 grated parmesan
- Melt butter, add flour then whisk in cream and 2 eggs
- Layer white sauce on top and sprinkle final 1/3 parmesan
- Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until top browned
- Serves 5-6
This recipe won’t win any prizes for stylish presentation but it tastes wonderfully warming on a cold winters day and takes very little effort. It is from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food. Tom runs the Hand and Flowers in Marlow which we all love although we’ve only ever eaten the set lunches. I went off him some after reading this article http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/nov/08/top-chefs-unite-against-blogger-s-review but I watched one of the tv programmes accompanying this book when he demonstrated this recipe and thought it looked worth a try and the following Sunday I wanted to do a roast but knew we’d be out all morning and this was perfect as it cooks for 4-5 hours at a low heat.
The lamb fat soaks into the potatoes and they are melt in the mouth soft except the top layer which is seriously crispy. I don’t want to think about the calorie value of this dish and it is for that reason only that it will be a few weeks before I cook this again. If the decision was purely taste and ease I’d make it next weekend. There was just enough meat leftover to warm and pop into two pitta breads the next day with some lettuce.
Next time I will layer the onions and potatoes separately so that there are no onions on top as they crisped up a little too much and I shall ensure the top layer of potatoes are small rings so they break more easily.
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 6 large waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch thyme, leaves picked
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 whole lamb shoulder
- 1 garlic bulb, peeled and separated into cloves
- 568ml/1 pint chicken stock
- cooked green beans or other green veg to serve
- Preheat the oven to 130C/275F/Gas 1.
- In a bowl combine the onions, potatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
- Layer the potatoes and onions in a roasting tin and place the lamb on top skin-side up.
- Cut small incisions in the lamb using a small knife and stick the whole garlic cloves in the holes, pushing them into the meat to prevent them burning while the meat cooks.
- Pour the chicken stock over and place in the oven for 4-5 hours.
- When cooked, remove the lamb from the oven, cover with aluminium foil and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Optionally pop potatoes back in to crisp up potatoes that were under the lamb.
- Serve with French beans (or any green vegetable of your choice).
I’ve had mixed results from Nigella Express cookbook. Some good, one inedible despite me loving all the ingredients, some ok. Maybe it’s me, this book has lots of great reviews on Amazon. The Scallops & Chorizo was really nice, but given the cost of scallops I think it needs to be spectacular. The combination of chorizo and scallops definitely works but it’s missing something, possibly a hint of chilli ? The chickpeas recipe worked as long as you stir rocket in right at the end so it just wilts, and I may make this again but I didn’t think the chickpeas worked with the Scallops and chorizo, chickpeas are too robust.
Scallops & Chorizo
- 110 grams chorizo
- 400 grams small scallops (halve them to make 2 thinner discs if they are very fat)
- juice of ½ lemon
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Slice the chorizo into rounds no thicker than 3mm / 1/8 inch.
- Heat a heavy-based pan on the hob and, when hot, dry-fry the chorizo round until crisped on either side (the chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil); this should take no more than 2 minutes.
- Remove the chorizo to a bowl and fry the scallops in the chorizo-oil for about 1 minute a side.
- Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let bubble for a few seconds before arranging on a serving plate and sprinkling with lots of parsley.
Chickpeas with Rocket & Sherry
- 1 tablespoon wok oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 820 grams chickpeas (2 cans) drained and rinsed
- 130 grams rocket (1 packet)
- 1 teaspoon maldon salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
- 60 ml cream sherry
- Heat the oil and cumin seeds in a wok.
- Add the chickpeas, salt and sherry and give a good stir.
- When chickpeas have heated through turn off the heat and stir in the rocket until just wilted.