Keralan Fish Curry

I am by no means an expert when it comes to curries or Indian cuisine in general. I have a favourite Indian restaurants here in Leeds which serves beautiful food and we visit the place regularly. When it comes to recreating that vibrancy of flavours at home, however, I am a big fan of following recipes and not coming up with my own. I love coconut milk and its creamy sweetness, much as I adore it paired up with the spicy kick coming from chillies and the fiery warmth of ginger. Needless to say, when I saw an old episode of  Nigella’s Forever Summer where she prepared this delicacy, I could not but try it at home. This curry is, in her words, not an original one. If that is what you’re after, then this recipe will clearly satisfy your crave.

Kerala is a state in the South of India, home to many coconut trees, which feature predominantly in the local cuisine. This recipe uses turmeric to tinge the pale white of the milk a deep golden yellow and plunges a good dollop of tamarind paste to provide a much welcome sour counterpart to the sweetness of coconut. White fish works well with this. Please feel free to steer away from the usual choices (cod and haddock) and try something new. I used pouting, a white-flesh belonging to the cod family, which is much cheaper than its biological father and massively underused. It is widely available in supermarkets (if I found it, you can too) and fishmongers across the country.

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Ingredients

  • 1.25kg of firm white fish (cod, haddock, pouting, monkfish, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 medium onions, halved and sliced in fine half moons
  • 2 long red chillies, sliced (seeds in)
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in small batons
  • 1 x 400ml coconut milk tin
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 fish stock cube
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Cut the fish in bite-size chunks, then put it in a big bowl and dust with half the turmeric. Season with coarse salt, then use your hands to combine the ingredients and leave on the side.
  2. In a large saucepan, gently fry the onions in a drizzle of olive oil until slightly golden and translucent, then add the sliced ginger and chillies and cook for a further minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the turmeric and the ground cumin to the saucepan, then stir over medium heat until the vegetables are evenly coated and fragrant.
  4. In the meantime, pour the coconut milk into a jug, add the fish stock cube and pour in enough boiling water to bring it to 1 L. Add the tamarind paste and stir to combine.
  5. Add to the vegetables, then bring to the boil. The sauce is now ready and, once added to the saucepan, the fish only takes about 5 minutes to cook. Therefore, make sure you add it right before eating. The sauce can be re-heated before cooking the fish.
  6. Season with salt before serving, add more tamarind if you feel it needs it, then pour in dishes with some plain basmati rice and scatter with coriander. Enjoy!

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Conchiglioni Bake

Today we look at a very easy yet delicious pasta recipe. In the UK, people are very fond of pasta bake and it is a cheap and cheerful way to dress pasta in a cheesy sauce and bake it, turning it into a wholesome dinner dish. Rather than using standard pasta, however, this recipe uses conchiglioni, a large shell-shaped pasta you can easily find in most supermarket nowadays. Faithful to the tradition, this pasta bake recipe is full of cheese, in the form of the comforting Parmigiano Reggiano and the salty Pecorino. Don’t worry, though, as you can easily substitute with your favourite cheese. A good mature cheddar or a soft Emmentaler would do this recipe justice too.

If you don’t want to use cooked ham, bacon (unsmoked, non streaky) is also a good choice. Alternatively, you could try and use Parma ham, sausages or leave the pig component out altogether and make it a vegetarian dish instead. This recipe is also very handy as it can be assembled the day before, then all you need to do is continue from step 8 the day you want to bake it. It also lends itself to freezing quite beautifully.

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Ingredients

  • 300g conchiglioni (pasta shells)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms
  • 150g cooked ham, diced
  • 2 courgettes
  • 100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 50g Pecorino, grated
  • olive oil
  • parsley

Ingredients (for the béchamel sauce)

  • 500ml whole milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour

Method

  1. Start by making the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, then take off the heat and whisk in the flour until you can’t see any more lumps. Put the saucepan back on the heat and gently cook until the flour slightly darkens in colour (the roux stage).
  2. Slowly start feeding in the milk and mix continuously to prevent large lumps from forming at the bottom of the saucepan. Always stirring with a wooden spoon, cook the sauce until it thickens and it covers the back of the spoon. Transfer to a jug, cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.
  3. To make the filling, start by finely chopping the mushrooms and the garlic. Add them to a large pan with 8 tbsp of olive oil and cook over a high heat until nicely browned. Turn off the heat and add 2 tbsp chopped parsley. Stir that in, then leave aside to cool.
  4. Dice the courgettes and ham, then gently fry over medium heat in a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  5. Transfer all but a couple of tablespoon of the mushroom mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, then add the courgette and ham mixture, half of the béchamel sauce, half the grated Parmigiano and the grated Pecorino. Pulse a couple of times to obtain a coarse but blended mixture.
  6. In the meantime, cook the pasta shells according to packet instructions, but drain them when they are slightly harder than al dente. They will cook in the sauce later on. Set them aside and drizzle them lightly with olive oil to stop them sticking.
  7. Fill the conchiglioni with the coarse mixture, then lay them side by side in an oiled oven dish.
  8. Mix the leftover béchamel sauce with the mushrooms you kept aside, then spread that on top. Spread the remaining Parmigiano on top, then grill in the oven for about 10 minutes or just until the top is golden.

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Vegetable Cheesy Tart

Finally (you might think), a savoury recipe! I get the idea to some people I come across as someone who merely feeds off dessert. Let me assure you, that is not the case. It’s widely renowned that I have a (massive) sweet tooth and, to be perfectly honest, desserts appeal to me a lot more than a chicken breast – this sounds wrong on so many levels, but I’ll just carry on. Come think of it, I have two punnets of blueberries in the fridge which I NEED to use. Will have to come up with something quick. Now, back to this recipe. The inspiration comes from Giallo Zafferano, the Italian equivalent, if you want, of the BBC Good Food website. This tart features on the website under the name of ‘Italian rustic tart/pie’ and has a fancy lattice pattern on top. I modified the recipe to suit my needs, but if you want the lattice on top, then by all means do make it.

The filling is encased by a very cheesy crust, made with Parmigiano Reggiano. Please don’t get Parmesan cheese, that tastes nothing like the real thing. I chose a good mature cheddar for the filling, which marries the ricotta and the vegetables beautifully. I also added an egg to the filling to make it set more, you’ll see when you cut it that it is crumbly as it is already. Last note, I added some dried herbs, namely oregano and sage, to boost the earthy and rustic feeling of the tart – once again, if you have fresh herbs, then don’t be scared to use them. The quantities indicated below make enough pastry and filling to line two tins. Depending on how deep your tins are, I managed to make two tarts using a deep 20cm fluted tin and a 10x25cm rectangular fluted tin.

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Ingredients (for the cheese shortcrust pastry)

  • 200g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 400g plain flour
  • 100g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4-5 tbsp water

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 100g peas (frozen is fine)
  • 200g carrots, finely diced
  • 200g courgettes, finely diced
  • 350g asparagus
  • 400g ricotta
  • 100g mature cheddar
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 100g black olives, drained and sliced
  • olive oil
  • pepper

Method

  1. To make the shortcrust pastry, tip the flour, salt, cheese and butter in a food processor and process until thoroughly blended and the consistency of bread crumbs. If you prefer, you can also do this by hand by rubbing the flour and cheese mixture into the butter. With the motor running, slowly start adding the water, one tablespoon at a time. Check your pastry before adding more as it will start to clump together when it’s ready.
  2. Tip it out of the food processor and gently knead for a couple of minutes to bring the whole pastry together. Shape in a ball, flatten to a disc, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour to relax.
  3. In the meantime, start making the filling. Blanch the asparagus in a pan of boiling water, then drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Slice in rounds, then set aside. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  4. Ensure the courgettes and carrots are finely diced, then tip them in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and the garlic, then gently cook over a medium heat until still crunchy but slightly softened. Towards the end of the cooking time, add the peas and the asparagus, then season with pepper and some salt (be stingy with salt as there is more cheese coming later). Set aside.
  5. Drain the ricotta in a sieve to get rid of the excessive moisture. Dice the mature cheddar cheese finely, then add them to the ricotta together with the egg, herbs, milk, olive slices and some pepper. Mix together, then add to the cooled vegetable mixture.
  6. Take the pastry out of the fridge, then roll out half to line a 20cm fluted tart tin. Make sure you push the pastry into the edges, then roll a rolling pin over the top to cut off the excessive pastry and use your fingers to push the pastry slightly above the edge of the tin. This way, when the pastry cooks, it will shrink back to the level of the tin and you won’t end up with no pastry left. Small note: I usually chill the pastry case for another 30 minutes once I rolled out the pastry and before I blind bake it. This ensures the pastry doesn’t shrink as much as you give the gluten in the pastry time to relax again in the oven.
  7. Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork, then blind bake it using the required beans/weighs for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/weighs and return to the oven for another 7 minutes, to cook the base.
  8. Spread enough filling into the pastry case to reach the edges, then bake for a further hour. Keep an eye on the tart and check it regularly to ensure the top is not burning. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring onto a serving dish.

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Haddock with Courgette and Spinach Gratin

I strongly feel we don’t eat enough fish. Actually, let me rephrase that. Every self-respecting foodie and environmentalist knows world fish stocks are plummeting due to unsustainable farming/fishing and excessive consumption. However, I agree with Delia Smith when she says the British don’t eat enough fish – despite living on an island – because they are scared of cooking it. I love fish. To me, a bowl of home-made fish soup can be the perfect ending to a stressful and manic day. A good fish baked in a salt crust is simply divine. However, my partner is more oriented towards meat and doesn’t like fish which tastes of, well, fish (duh!): this means we don’t eat as much sea products in my household as I would like to. I do compensate with sushi and sashimi whenever I can, but I have also came to the conclusion that if I manage to make the flavour of the fish very interesting and enrich it with other tones, then my partner will love it too.

This recipe started as a celeriac gratin on one of the BBC Good Food magazine but I changed it to courgettes as I couldn’t find it in my local supermarket and it definitely works. Choose a flaky white fish for this, for instance haddock or cod, as you will need a meaty fish to counteract the creaminess of the vegetables. The fish is poached rather than roasted, which keeps it really moist and succulent. A sprinkle of paprika on top will enhance the flavour of the dish and provide a colourful touch. In addition, despite the presence of cream, this dish is not as heavy as it might look like, so don’t feel guilty to indulge and have second helpings!

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Ingredients

  • 500-600g white flaky fish fillets, such as haddock or cod, cut into 4 portions
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 courgettes, thickly sliced
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • butter (for greasing)
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200C and butter a large gratin dish.
  2. Tip the spinach in a colander and sit in the sink. Slowly pour a kettle of boiling water on the leaves and wilt them, then run under cold water to cool them down. Squeeze any excess water out of the leaves with your hands and set aside.
  3. Tip the courgette slices, spinach and cream in the gratin dish. Season and toss everything together. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven, then lay the fish pieces on top of them. Sprinkle with the paprika and season with salt and pepper, then cover with the foil again and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve while hot.

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Goat’s Cheese, Red Onion and Caraway Seed Tart

The peculiar thing about this tart is the presence of caraway seeds in the filling. Otherwise, this would be only a (still delicious) caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tart. The combination of caraway seeds, balsamic vinegar and the natural sugars contained in the onions is just scrummy. The onion are slowly cooked and reduced down to a jam consistency, which also provides an added texture for the tart. Balsamic vinegar adds a sharp edge to the onion marmalade, which is in turn offset by the goat’s cheese. The spice seems to be bringing all the ingredients together. The recipe comes from an episode of The Incredible Spice Men, a TV series where two Indian chefs demonstrate how incorporating spices in your daily meals can be both easy and tasty. I have to say I am not a particular fan of this series, but this recipe stuck into my mind as I love balsamic vinegar and I was curious to try adding caraway seeds (I spice I had never cooked with before) to the ensemble.

The spices should be ground, possibly in a mortal. Use a coffee grinder if you don’t have one, or use them whole if you do not happen to own any of the above. Remember, however, to toast them before using them as the heat from a dry pan helps release the natural oils contained in the seeds and increases their aroma. As for the pastry, please feel free to use your favourite pastry recipe here. The one I used is the one as per original recipe, where the addition of lard to the usual butter & flour mixture provides for extra crumbliness. Last note, I have reduced the amount of sugar used in the onion marmalade as I thought the overall result was a bit too sweet.

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Ingredients (for the shortcrust pastry)

  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g chilled butter, cubed
  • 75g chilled lard, cubed

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 800g red onions, finely sliced
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 80ml balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200g soft goat’s cheese

Method

  1. To make the pastry, you can either put the chilled fats in a bowl and add the flour with a pinch of salt, then rub the butter and lard in or you can whiz the three ingredients in a food processor. Once the dry ingredients have been combined, slowly work in 4-6 tbsp of icy cold water to bring the pastry together. Knead it until smooth, then wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for 20 minutes.
  2. Take the pastry out of the fridge, turn it onto a slightly floured surface and roll it out to a circle big enough to line a 23cm fluted tart tin. Gently press the pastry into the creases, then use the prongs of a fork to prick the base, cover it in clingfilm and chill for a further 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, get started with the onion marmalade. Heat a large frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil and the unsalted butter. Stir in the onions, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir again, ensuring the sugar melts with the heat and mixes with the onions. Cook the onions for about 10-15 minutes, until the onions have released their juices.
  4. Pre-heat your oven to 190C, then remove the pastry case from the fridge and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchments and beans and set the pastry case aside.
  5. Increase the heat under the pan with the onions and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juices have reduced. Add the caraway seeds and follow with the balsamic vinegar, then leave on the heat for another 3-4 minutes for it to go back to a jam consistency. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 200C.
  6. To complete the filling, beat the eggs and the cream in a jug or bowl. Mix in the onion marmalade, then pour into the pastry case. Arrange the goat’s cheese slices on top, then bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set and browned on top. Remove from the oven and garnish with some chopped parsley.

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Seafood Peppers

The jury seems to be out on whether we eat enough or too much fish on a daily basis. Some maintain the fish stocks are currently running out (and aquaculture is not helping in the slightest), while other believe we are consuming too much meat and that fish is a sustainable source of food. Whomever side you might be on, you surely cannot deny fish plays a very important role in summery dish. Personally, I love fish. I would eat it all year round, were it not for the price. And I do try as much as I can, mostly because it is good for you (and I’m not saying this just for the sake of saying it) and because, let’s face it, it tastes amazing.

This dish manages to combine vegetables and fish in a very peculiar and still tasty way. The peppers are slightly roasted with some olive oil, then stuffed with seamince (yes, that’s not a word, I know) and covered in crunchy breadcrumbs. The stuffing is both delicate and ‘meaty’ at the same time, which makes it a perfect main. It can also be eaten cold. The recipe comes from the July issue of La Cucina Italiana.

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Ingredients

  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 250g cleaned squid
  • 200g seabass fillet, deskinned and deboned – any other ‘white meat’ fish would also do
  • 300g crayfish
  • 150g rustic bread, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50ml white wine
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Slice the peppers in half, remove the green top, the white membranes inside and the seeds. Lay them empty side up on a lined baking tray, drizzle some olive oil on top, season with salt and pepper. Roast at 200C for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the side.
  2. In the meantime, finely chop the garlic clove and the onion, then tumble in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and fry over medium/high for 3 minutes, until golden. Add the seabass fillets, squid and crayfish and cook for 3 minutes, until slightly firmer.
  3. Add the white wine and let it bubble away, then turn the heat down to medium/low and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Cut the bread slices into small cubes, then tumble those in the pan too and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with pepper.
  5. Remove from the heat, transfer to the bowl of a food processor and whiz until smooth.
  6. Use the stuffing to fill the peppers and ensure you use all of it by pressing it down inside the pepper cavities. Scatter the breadcrumbs on top, then drizzle some olive oil and roast for 20 minutes (still at 200C). Remove from the oven, decorate with the finely sliced spring onions and serve.

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Courgette Pesto Lasagna

My mum makes a mean vegetarian lasagna. And, as I discovered over the past few days, it’s the simplicity of homemade Italian dishes which I probably miss the most. And, weirdly enough, it wasn’t until now that I realised this, probably inspired by the small trip back home I embarked on to attend the wedding of a very good friend. It always amazes me how tasty Italian produce can be if compared to the one found in the UK (not to mention the size), so much so it needs very little manipulation to create a very interesting and effective dish.

This is a very creamy and tangy lasagna, full of flavour and very easy to assemble. I used mushrooms for extra meatiness and flavour, but mostly because after our weekly shopping trip today I realised my partner had slipped them in the trolley by pure accident. The recipe is so easy and immediate adding them felt like the right thing, but please feel free to use other vegetables to suit your taste and preference.

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Ingredients

  • 600g courgettes (3 big ones)
  • 1l whole milk + 150ml
  • 200g smoked cheese, coarsely grated
  • 200g fresh lasagna sheets
  • 200g rindless smoked bacon, cut into strips
  • 70g cornflour
  • 60g shelled pistachios
  • 30g grated Parmesan
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 5-6 mint leaves, freshly picked
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. First of all, get the courgettes ready. Wash them, then cut the ends off and slice lengthways. Arrange them cut side up on a lined baking tray, then drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the mint leaves and scatter on top, then roast at 180C for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the courgettes from the oven, then put them aside to cool. Once cool, cut them into small cubes and blend them in a food processor together with the pistachios, lemon juice, 60ml water, 30ml olive oil and some salt. This will be your pesto. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan, then tumble in the bacon strips and fry until crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper. Tumble in the mushrooms and leave to cook in the bacon fat for about 7 minutes or until just softened. Remove from the heat.
  4. Pour the litre of milk into a saucepan, season with some salt and pepper and bring to the boil. In the meantime, mix the cornflour and the remaining 150ml milk in a jug. When the milk comes to the boil, pour the milky mixture in and let it come back to the boil, then tip in the grated Parmesan, stir that in and remove from the heat. This will be your white sauce.
  5. Spread some butter in a high-sided roasting dish (I used my Le Creuset cast iron pan), then spoon about 1 ladleful of the white sauce and spread it around. Top with enough lasagna sheets to create a nice and even layer, then top with more white sauce (about 1 ladleful again), scatter some of the bacon strips on top, then dollop about a third of the courgette pesto on it, scatter about a third of the grated smoked cheese and top with about half of the mushroom slices. Cover with some more lasagna sheets and repeat until you run out of all the ingredients.
  6. Bake in a preheat oven to 180C for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let it stand for about 10 minutes, then dive in!

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Sirloin Steaks with a Guinness Sauce

This is hardly a recipe. Consider it more like a suggestion to enjoy a good sirloin steak. And if it comes from someone who is not a massive meat lover, then it must be at least decent (overestimation here!). The sauce is very easy to prepare and you are free to cook the steaks to your liking. I have served this with a good buttery mash, but some greens would be just as good.

We bought out meat from Donald Russell and we are extremely satisfied. The meat is very good quality, lean and it cooks to perfection.

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Ingredients

  • 2 good quality sirloin steaks
  • 1 x bottle of Guinness (or any stout)
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • mashed potatoes or greens, to serve

Method

  1. Put the stout, sugar and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over a medium heat and heat until bubbling. Leave on the heat to reduce until the sauce has become a thick liquid. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare the mash as you like or lightly poach the greens and keep them warm.
  3. When the sauce is ready, gently oil and season the steaks on both sides, then sear in a very hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side. Adjust the cooking time according to your preference.
  4. Plate the dish and drizzle the warm sauce on top. Serve with some chopped parsley.

Salmon & Lentils with a Chorizo and Balsamic Dressing

This is such an easy and yet rewarding dish to make. If you like fish, then you need to at least try this. The dressing itself can easily be adapted and, as a matter of fact, I have amended the original recipe (by Lorraine Pascale), as I found her version to be a bit too unctuous for my taste.

Contrary to what you might think, I do not keep bags of lentils in my kitchen. I find them really hard to cook with. If added to a soup, they tend to stick to the bottom of the pan when left unsupervisioned and ruin the whole thing. This time, however, I used the tinned variety (puy would be best, but green is also fine) and I was very happy with the result. The addition of maple syrup to a dressing might seem odd, although it works wonders here with the balsamic vinegar.

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Ingredients

  • 2 x salmon fillets, skin on (preferably, but mine were perfectly cleaned)
  • 100g chorizo ring, sliced in one-pound coins
  • 100g green beans, ends trimmed off
  • 400g tin of puy/green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of mustard powder
  • salt and black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tbsp butter

Method

  1. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat, drizzle some oil and lay the salmon fillets one next to the other. Preferably skin down (if they have their skin on). Cook for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and carry on cooking for another 4 minutes on the other side. Adjust your cooking time according to whether you prefer it slightly raw in the middle or well done. Cover the pan with a lid if you see the salmon is cooking only on one side as this will help spreading the heat more evenly.
  2. In the meantime, melt the butter in another frying pan (or in a saucepan), then toss the trimmed green beans over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until evenly coated and bright green. Add the chorizo, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  3. Add the chopped rosemary and the lentils to the pan with the chorizo and beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  4. Prepare the dressing in a jug by combining the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, mustard powder and seasoning, then whisking together.
  5. Remove the lentils pan from the heat and spoon some over your plate. Lay the cooked salmon fillets on top, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve while warm.

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White Sausage Casserole

In a typical British way, when I mentioned to my partner that I was going to make a sausage casserole, he was expecting a very stodgy sausage stew with gravy, mashed potatoes and a few vegetables. This is not it! This is a very delicate and fennel-scented sausage stew/casserole with plenty of creme fraiche, which adds a summery touch. It is also very strange (says my partner), as it is very creamy and yet does not involve any gravy whatsoever.

The recipe comes from the July edition of the BBC Good Food magazine, but, as usual, I added a few of my personal touches here and there, mostly to adapt the recipe to our taste and use up what we had in our fridge. I don’t want to be the one telling you what to eat, but this is a really good dish as it contains plenty of vegetables and only a few sausages, not to mention you can freeze it and re-heat it as and when needed. Please don’t worry if the sauce looks very liquid as this is perfectly normal. make sure you sure you serve the dish with plenty of crusty bread to absorb the sauce and it will be delicious.

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Ingredients

  • 8 good-quality sausages
  • half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered and then finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced, seeds removed
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • about 150ml white wine
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 250g green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 200g broad beans, podded
  • 300g peas
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • handful of coriander and dill, finely chopped, to serve
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the sausages and cook for a few minutes until browned all over, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate.
  2. Tip the onion and the fennel slices into the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and half the green chilli, then cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the flour into the vegetables and move everything about for 1 minute, then pour in the wine and let it bubble. Add the chicken stock and return the sausages to the pan. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the green beans, peas, broad beans, the rest of the green chilli and cook cor about 2 minutes.
  5. Tumble in the creme fraiche, lemon juice, chopped parsley and dill. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

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