Friday, 26 February 2010

Weeknight fish and chips

My goodness it has been a corker of a week, I am shattered. So tired, in fact, that I have just woosed out of doing the food shop, despite a distinct lack of essentials in the kitchen such as eggs, milk, and musli!

Well, this is a lovely recipe for such a tired night - suitably easy, appropriately delicious. Hugh FW calls it 'roast fish fillets with roast potatoes'. But that seems a little clinical to me, so I'm going with weeknight fish and chips.

  • A good handful of new potatoes per person, cut in half if large
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 fat fish fillets per person - choose a sustainable variety if you can, I used farmed halibut (avoid wild like the plague), the recipe suggests gurnard, bream, pollock or mackerel.
  • A few bay leaves
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • Parboil the potatoes until just tender to the point of a sharp knife.
  • Put the oil in a baking dish and pop in the oven. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  • When the oil is smoking hot, tip in the tatties and give them a good stir. Bake the potatoes in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 mins give the potatoes a stir, then make a space in the middle for the fish. Add the fish to the tin, then tuck the bay leaves in around the fillets and finely grate over some lemon zest, and season.
  • Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the fish, or until the fillets flake easily at the point of a knife. Serve at once with sea salt and lemon wedges.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Lemon and sultana wholemeal drop scones

These wholemeal drop scones make a very substantial breakfast, and are super-quick to whip up in the morning. Next time I'm tempted to replace half the flour with plain self-raising rather than wholemeal, to make them a little lighter. But as they are they are delicious, and would also be good at teatime or after a swim.

  • 250g wholemeal self-raising (or plain wholemeal flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder)
  • Pinch baking powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 275ml milk
  • Grated zest 1 lemon
  • 50g butter, melted
  • Sultanas
  • Sift the flour, bp and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  • Break in both the eggs, add about half the milk and start whisking. Add more milk as you go until you have a thick, smooth batter. This is very easy, and you may not need all the milk.
  • Grate in the lemon zest and leave the batter to sit for a bit if you can.
  • Melt the butter and whisk it into the batter. I always use my pancake pan for this, and then wipe out the excess with some kitchen paper leaving a beautifully prepared cooking surface.
  • Dollop heaped desert-spoon-fulls onto your hot pan or griddle, and sprinkle on a few sultanas. NB - I found each pancake spread a lot so leave plenty of room for flipping.
  • After about a minute, when small bubbles start to appear, flip the pancakes over with a spatchula or pallet knife and cook the other side until the pancakes are springy to the touch and no longer oozing batter.
  • Transfer to a waiting plate, cover with kitchen paper to keep them soft and warm, and carry on with the rest of the batter.
  • HF-W recommends serving these with sugar and cinnamon, or fresh fruit jam. But I'm afraid Dr K and I inhabit a more vulgar household, and we ate them with golden and maple syrup respectively.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Tag for tea

Well this won't be a new one to any reader, but in the spirit of frugality it had to crop up at some point. The delicious Tagliatelle from the Venetian Ghetto, featured in How to Eat, has become one of the Domestic Goddess' most popular recipes...and it isn't even her's! You can find the original in the inimitable Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food: an odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the present day (London 1999) - if you don't have this book, pleeeeease buy it. It makes such a fantastic read, the telling of the Jewish migrations through the evolution of their food, that even if you don't have a religious or ethnic affinity with the subject matter you will be seduced by descriptions of spices, celebrations, and spirituality.

Here is how I do it for an easy Friday night supper for 2.

Preheat the oven to 200C/390F. In a small roasting tin, sprinkle 3 or 4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on) with sea salt and rub on some olive oil. Roast them for about 40 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy and the meat very tender.
Meanwhile soak a handful of sultanas in hot water, lightly toast 1/4 cup pinenuts in a dry frying pan, and very finely chop the needles of a hearty sprig of rosemary.
Boil a big pan of salted water for the pasta.
When the chicken is ready, remove the thighs to a board and leave to rest for a minute. Add your tagliatelle nests to the water to cook (make sure they stay al dente!).
Pour the chicken roasting juices (yes all of them) into a small saucepan. Add the rosemary, pinenuts, and drained sultanas, and heat the sauce to bubbling for a few minutes. Taste, and add a little concentrated chicken stock if you think it needs more flavour. Take all the chicken meat off the bones and chop up, including the skin. Add to the sauce.
When the pasta is ready, or maybe slightly before, drain it, and quickly toss it back into the same hot pan with the sauce. Lift and stir until every sweet, chewy thread is coated.
Eat with a little more sea salt and plenty of fresh black pepper. Delicioso.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Hugh's Carrot Cake

Well, my version of it anyway, which doesn't deviate too much from the original, just enough to reflect different tastes and what I keep in the larder on any given day.

This is the beautiful recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's lovely River Cottage Everyday ( GB 2009, p. 376). I was drawn to it by the idea of piercing the hot cake and trickling over warm honey by way of a glaze, much as you would with lemon drizzle. And it really does work, the cake is light and moist and could fool you into thinking it was a healthy snack for breakfast (don't let it seduce you, cake is not sufficient for breakfast time whatever it may be whispering to you in dulcet honeyed (sic.) tones)...

To make the original, use 4 medium eggs instead of 3 large, replace the flour and oats with 300g wholemeal self-raising flour, leave out the baking powder, and increase the honey to 150g.

  • 3 large organic free-range eggs
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon good sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each bicarb and baking powder
  • 3-4 large carrots (350g total) scrubbed and grated
  • 100g runny honey
  • Grease a 23cm tin and line the bottom with paper.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together really well (I used a processor) until thick and pale. Add the oil and beat for another minute or two.
  • Add the flour, oats, raising agents and salt and give another whirr to combine (or fold if making by hand).
  • Finely, gently fold through the grated carrot.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake feels springy to the touch, and a skewer comes out of the centre of the cake clean.
  • Put the tin to one side whilst you gently warm the honey in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Stab the cake all over with the skewer and pour over the honey in a thin trickle, making sure to cover the whole surface of the cake.
  • Leave to cool slightly before diving in. Please note, this cake will not last long...