Fish Fish Fish

I told you all that we bought a great deal of fish at the local supermarket last week, this was the result: a delicious livornese fish stew. My kitchen looked like a murder scene with all sorts of fish all over the place, but the end product was clean, crisp and packed full of flavour.
I don’t normally cook with fish as I often find filleting and boing them very tedious and one of my pet hates is finding a fish bone!
The base of this sauce consisted of chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, white wine vinegar, chillies, sultanas and a great big bunch of herbs; dill and parsley. I just love combining all these ingredients together in the same pot over a few hours and adding the fish. I used Monkfish, salmon, whitebait and tilapia (a firm textured, white fleshed fish). These are a little bit different than the typical fish used in stews, but they were delicious and the different aromas given off from the different fish really combined well. Fish marries so well with both dill and parsley, and with a little kick from the chilli and sweetness from the sultanas this was dish bursting with flavour.
Overall, the stew was cooking for 2 hours before being served with polenta and some crunchy white bread. If only I could have enjoyed this looking out into the ocean. Some day soon perhaps?

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As always I cannot wait to try this dish using different fish, a different base and different vegetables, so is the awesomeness of home cooking.

Have you cooked with different types of seafood recently? Would love to hear from you!

Happy Eating everyone

J

Cucina Bianca

Well I have hit the 1000 views mark, so big thanks to all who have visited my page. I really hope you have enjoyed reading and maybe even been inspired by my dishes. I haven’t posted for around a week now as I have been very busy at work. I have been cooking of course, so here’s a little catch up…..

Cucina Bianca is a way of cooking in Italy using very basic, white ingredients. Although this sounds boring, I combined cabbage, potatoes and a smoky cheese and the finished product was amazing. I began by putting some chopped Savoy cabbage leaves into boiling water to boil away for around 10 minutes, then I turned my attention to the humble potatoes. I peeled, chopped thinly then blanched the potatoes for a few minutes.
Once your vegetables are ready, grease a baking dish with plenty of butter. Lay down a layer of potatoes, covering with a couple of knobs of butter. Cover with a layer of Savoy cabbage and top with thinly cut strips of cheese (I used a smoky cheddar). Repeat the layers until you have used all ingredients. Finish with a layer of cheese and into the oven for 25 mins.

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Simple is not the word and this dish is so hearty, healthy and can be notched up on a budget, it’s just fantastic!

HEARTy Pasta

Well, yesterday was the day to use the lamb hearts that I had purchased from a local market. You may remember me blogging about a ragu with chicken livers, and that was a delight, so I was brave and went for the heart. Though similar to the ragu I made previously, the inclusion of lamb and a near novelty pasta – bucatini – made this very different, but equally delicious.
I began by frying the hearts. I put my hands up right now and admit that I am a compete amateur at offal and I was on a voyage of discovery. Though this is when you discover the best dishes! Once browned on all sides, I chopped the hearts into pieces, reserving the more muscly bits to be blitzed and added to the tomato sauce. I am getting pretty good at the basic tomato sauce, just a little tomato purée, passata, a couple of cloves of garlic and salt & pepper. I added some delicious chestnut mushrooms to this sauce, the thinking behind this was that lamb and mushrooms would marry very well.
I added the blitzed heart to the sauce and simmered for around 25/30 minutes. After that, I added the bucatini (long macaroni esque tubes, perfect for collecting a thick tomato sauce) to boiling water and added the heart chunks to the sauce. Around 6 minutes later, the pasta was nice and al dente and the heart was still a little pink in the middle.
Served with some crusty white bread, and a glass of gorgeous Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo this was divine! The heart had the perfect juicy, tender texture and the taste, oh my goodness. Although, surprisingly enough, it tasted like lamb I personally thought there was a slightly gamey tint to it, certainly more flavoursome than the lamb chops.
This was a delicious voyage, and the combo of tomato, garlic, mushroom, intense lamb, bread and red wine, it was, well….. rather special to say the least. If you get the chance to buy hearts please try it. A little odd when you think about it, but extremely delicious and the more of the animals we eat, the less is thrown away and the more respect we show them.

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Tonight was no fuss. We popped to the local fishmonger to pick some fish and got some Sprats which we dusted with flour and fried. A spray of lime juice and some parsley and we were good to go.

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Check out my good lady’s blog to find out more!

Emily Clarke Food

That’s all folks, we did buy alot of fish so stay tuned….

Happy eating everyone

J

Leftovers

We often cook too much of a portion and most of us either put leftovers in the fridge for later, put in the fridge and forget about them, put them in the freezer or worse of all just throw them away. In my case I put my leftover Sicilian salmon (although there was no salmon left) into the fridge to have for lunch.
However, instead of simply reheating it I wanted to try be a bit more adventurous. I had the idea of shaping them into small balls, coating them in breadcrumbs then shallow frying them and oh boy what a delight!
I very simply added 1 egg into the leftover sauce to get a nice sticky consistency and make some breadcrumbs. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into balls before coating them in the breadcrumbs. Once nicely coated, shallow fry until they have a nice golden colour and there you go, simplicity!

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I served this over some rocket tossed in balsamic vinegar, a lovely light lunch pack full of flavour. The mixture actually tasted a little sweet and sour, the chillies as sultanas in the sauce really married together well.
Quite excited for the next few days, I predict another pizza is on the card soon, I want to try a beetroot risotto and have some chicken as well. Will keep you all posted of course.

Happy eating everyone!

J

The latest post from my other half. She is just as crazy about food as I am!

Emily Clarke Food

I had the best day with James last Thursday (Valentines Day). This may sound strange but even though I’m in a loving relationship, I can’t stand how commercialised and cheesy Valentines Day has become. Luckily, james and I get to share a completely different celebration on this day. We went on valentines day 7 years ago and so we see it as a day to celebrate first meeting. Instead of going out for dinner in a cheesy valentines day themed restaurant, we decided to do something a little more low key but completely special all the same. We decided to go to a French cafe called Petit Paris in Edinburgh and what a brilliant time it turned out to be! After deciding to order just a starter and a dessert, it turned out to be a great choice as the portions were generous. For starter James had a homemade terrine…

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Gnocchi with butter and sage

Well last night, I made some homemade potato gnocchi with a sage and butter sauce. I just love making gnocchi add I added some grounded nuts to the potato mix this time. I seen Gennaro Contaldo make a Gnocchi using chestnut flour and the result was supposed to be really delicious. I didn’t have chestnut four so thought I’d blitz a mixture of nuts I had in the cupboard.

I just love Gnocchi, and just like many other foods I can remember when I first had experienced it. I was back home from university for the weekend ad my mum served up Gnocchi with sauerkraut and bratwurst. This is almost more of an Austrian recipe rather than Italian but it was simply delicious, and the Gnocchi was just so light, fluffy and delicious. I now make Gnocchi regularly and have combined them with lots of different sauces.

Once you have a nice creamy mash, add a good deal of ’00’ flour and the crushed nuts and mix until you have a nice dough. Officially, for 1kg potatoes you will need 300g of flour but alter the quantities as you need.
Once you have a dough, take a handful of gnocchi and roll out into a long sausage shape and cut into 2cm chunks. Boil in salted water for 3-4 minutes until the Gnocchi float to the top.
For the sauce, I very simply mixed 1 tbsp of butter, a good deal of chopped sage, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and a little water. Bring all ingredients together to the boil and cook for several minutes whilst your Gnocchi cooks. Mix your gnocchi into the sauce and ensure each Gnocchi is fully coated in the sauce.
Simple, quick recipe with maximum flavour. The Gnocchi should be nice and light and the sauce nice and velvety.

Em is in charge of dinner tonight so I can just look forward to eating! Thanks again to all who have visited my page so far and I hope you continue to visit.

Happy eating everyone

James

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Lucky man

I stay behind after work to play football on Thursdays and give it my all. So, afterwards I am normally completely famished. You can then understand my delight to call home to find out that Emily has a sausage casserole cooking away. One of my favourite dishes, casseroles are just perfect for this time of year. I was especially excited to hear that Emily had used the Italian sausages we got from the local supermarkets butcher, sausages bursting with flavours of fennel and the spice of chillies, fantastico!

To go with this dinner, a serving of more farro (pearl barley) and a glass of rich red wine, is there a better thing to come back to than that?

I love using a good bit of chilli to add spice to casseroles. I normally use carrots, celery, onion, garlic and have also used courgettes (zucchini), mushrooms or any other vegetables I find, along with with chopped tomatoes, some purée, a variety of fresh herbs and of course, red wine. If you are feeling a little bit cheeky, you can also add a sheet of puff pastry to serve under your casserole.

Anyway, we are heading over to Northern Ireland tomorrow to visit Emily’s family, and we are putting n dinner on saturday night. Needless to say, the research for the 3 course meal is already underway and I can’t wait. Watch this space….

Happy eating folks

J

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Emily’s Fennel & Chilli Sausage Casserole with farro

My love of peppers

One of my favourite vegetables are peppers. I adore how versatile they are and I use them very regularly. Whether chopping and adding to paella’s and other pasta sauces, or stuffing them with a mixture of other vegetables and couscous or even slicing and adding to a sandwich, peppers are awesome. One of my very special memories of going to Slovakia (my mothers homeland)in 2000 besides the wonderful scenery and people were the white peppers we bought from a market in Bratislava. It is difficult to get hold of these peppers in Britain although I was delighted to discover them recently in a local large supermarket. These are a very pale greenish colour and they are very distinctive in terms of flavour. We added them to ham sandwiches for our long return journey back to Scotland, and ironically these beautiful peppers became one of the highlights of the holiday!

One of the best things about the weekend is that it gives me more time at home and in the kitchen. I have already blogged about omelettes, but I think the frittata I had for lunch is worth a mention: sweet and sour pepper frittata. A frittata is an more Mediterranean take on the classic omlette, it is fried for a few minutes and then baked. For this omelette I used sweet peppers!
For this I simply caramelised some chopped sweet peppers with a tbsp of sugar and olive oil until they were softened. I then added these sweeties into my mix of eggs, cream, salt and pepper and for this recipe, 3 tbsps of white wine vinegar which will give the egg it’s acidity. I added the peppers to the mix and fried gently for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a per-heated oven at 180degrees and bake for 10 minutes. So simple and quick too, a perfect light lunch. Tonight I will be cooking pork belly, so watch this space…….

Happy eating

James

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Ciao Pasta

Well I got my pasta maker out of the cupboard for the firs time in ages today and boy am I glad I did. To me there is nothing better than fresh pasta, both seeing a pile of flour and eggs turn into pasta and also because of the taste. There are many different recipes for how to make pasta but my favourite has got to be the simplest: 1 egg per 100g of flour and remember to use ’00’ flour for the best results.
I have always loved pasta, but I specifically remember being in a cheap hotel restaurant when I was on a school trip in Rome. I thought that my pasta was nearly uncooked as it had such a bite. Little did I know that by the end of the dish I was converted into a pasta snob. Today I feel like i want to cry inside when I experience the common overcooked, soggy pasta that seems to be more common in Britain. Anyways….
I will admit that after i mixed the flour and eggs with a pinch of salt I used an electric kneader for the first time to save my arms the trauma of of 15 minute workout. End result was excellent and saved me some time as well. Wrapped and into the fridge I then plundered the depths of my fridge to see what I could unite with my pasta. What better than some seafood, chillies, a lovely courgette (zucchini) and some passata (sieved tomatos). One of my favourite sauces is ‘puttanesca’, a sauce that is quintessentially Sicilian: tomatoe base, seafood and spice. I love Sicilian flavours and cannot wait to one day visit here and eat eat eat.
I fried off garlic, chillies and the chopped courgette in some extra virgin olive oil, one of my biggest desires in cooking is the music of placing food into heated olive oil. I add a little bit of vinegar to give them some acidity and then add the passata. Now back to the pasta…
I am not the most patient of people but not when it comes to making pasta. I love taking my time rolling the pasta sheet through the machine again and again, feeling it stretch out. Once paper thin, I roll through a tagliatelle cutter, this pasta works well with tomato based sauces I feel, and I am a big kid in saying I love rolling the long sheets round my fork. I leave to dry on the back of my chair and add the seafood to my puttanesca sauce, this is going to be terrific. Fresh pasta only takes a couple of minutes to cook, and I do not want my pasta cooked into a soggy pulp. Once cooked I add a few spoon fulls of the sauce and it is a match made in heaven. What is better is that I have more than enough for a second serving or a renewal of vows for lunch tomorrow.

Tagliatelle alla puttanesca, Benissimo! That’s all folks.

Cheers

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