Monday, 31 January 2011

Chunky fish and potato stew

Circa 1987, having a food-based forename lent itself to some pretty

creative verbal roughhousing at school.

"Yeah? Well, why don't you make a stew, cook it in an oven, then

eat it in your den? With some art".

Or words to such effect. Even at the time it was amusing in it's absence of bite;

I just thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't Michael Pratt come morning break.

This week it's all about fish stew; complete with art (primitive chalk spoon),

briefly cooked in an oven and consumed in an impromptu residence under

the stairs. I lied about the stairs bit.

Serves 4

400g Skinless sustainable white fish (I used Coley)

400g Red skinned pototoes, cut into rough chunks

120g Chorizo, chopped into small pieces

1 Large red onion, sliced

1 Red chilli, chopped

1 Green chilli, chopped

2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 Tomatoes, chopped

2tsp Smoked paprika

300ml Fish stock

1 Bay leaf

A few thyme sprigs, stalks removed

A small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Briefly soften the garlic and chilli in a

pan on the hob before stirring in the chorizo; then add the onion, thyme and bay.

Sauté everything for 5-10 minutes on a medium heat. Tip in the potatoes,

sprinkle with paprika, then add the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for about

10 minutes until the liquid has reduced slightly, and the potatoes are nearly done.

Pour everything into an oven-proof dish, then carefully stir in the fish. Put the lid on

and pop into the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley

and crusty bread.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Cheddar & dill scones

Lord knows why, but I'd never really thought about using cheddar and dill together until a few months ago. Mid lunch-construction, rifling through the fridge in search of something to pimp a cheese sandwich; it was either dill or a fromage frais. Dill won out, and I've been sold on the coupling ever since. Although I've used self-raising flour in these scones, I've added an extra half teaspoon of baking powder - just to make doubly sure that they don't end up looking like beer mats.

200g Self-raising flour
50g Butter, chopped into small cubes
125-150ml Milk
100g Grated mature cheddar, plus a bit extra to sprinkle on top
1/2tsp Baking powder
1tsp Salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A small bunch of dill fronds, roughly chopped

Heat the oven t0 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, stir in the salt & pepper, then add the butter. Use your fingertips to work the flour and butter together, until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Mix in the cheddar and dill, then slowly pour in the milk to form a dough (make sure that it's not too sticky). Roll the dough out onto a floured surface (roughly 2cm deep), then use a biscuit cutter to stamp into rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle some spare cheddar on top and bake for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Salsify and sprout top stir fry

It's a nightmare getting hold of salsify in sunny Farnborough (I say 'nightmare' - you can't), but I chanced upon some in a little independant supermarket when I visited the folks in Kent recently. That and sprout tops; sprouts themselves have been a revelation in stir fries this winter, tasting nothing like their boiled, festive counterparts.

2 Large salsify
A good handful of sprout tops
1 Red chilli, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
A thumb sized piece of root ginger, grated
250g Black rice noodles (I used King Soba)
1tbsp Chilli sauce
3tbsp Sesame oil

First prepare the salsify. Remove the rough brown skin with a potato peeler, cut into thumb-length pieces, then chop into matchsticks. Squeeze half a lemon into a small bowl of water and add the matchsticks (they go brown really quickly if you leave them in the air). Get your noodles on; when they're done pop them into a bowl of cold water ready for the wok.

Cut the stalks from the sprout tops, place a 4 or 5 leaves on top of each other at a time and roll into cigar shapes. Cut into ribbons at (ish) 5mm intervals. Heat the sesame oil in a wok, then add the chilli, ginger and garlic. After a couple of minutes mix in the salsify and sprout tops. Give it a few minutes then stir in the noodles and chilli sauce. Careful not to overcook the salsify & sprout tops; it's good when they have a bit of crunch.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Rhubarb crumble

Whenever I read the term 'forced rhubarb', I get a picture in my head of an unruly pink stalk wriggling around like an eel as a farmer tries to cram it into a veg box. Anyway, it's in season now, and there's nothing better on a dark winter night than a rhubarb crumble served with rivers of thick custard.

400g Rhubarb
150g Light muscovado sugar
1tbsp Honey
A thumb sized piece of root ginger, grated
100g Self-raising flour
100g Butter
50g Porridge oats
1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the rhubarb into thumb-sized pieces, then transfer into a saucepan with the ginger, honey, a splash of water and 100g of the sugar. Simmer on a medium heat until the sugar has melted and the rhubarb has softened slightly. Take of the heat and pour into an oven proof dish.

To make the crumble topping, sieve the flour into a mixing bowl with the cinnamon, add the remaining 50g sugar and grate the butter in (or chop it into small cubes, it just makes it a bit easier to work with). Use your fingertips and to rub everything together, it takes a bit of time but you should end up with a coarse, breadcrumb-like mix. Stir in the porridge oats then scatter on top of the rhubarb. Bake for approx. 30 mins until golden.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Mackerel Pate

In event terms, the creation of a batch of Mackerel Pate in the Ovenden household is a high ranker. Normally it resides in an old souffle dish in the fridge to spread across toast as and when the need arises, but I've adapted it slightly to make it into individual servings.

Makes enough to fill 3 ramekins
250g Smoked Mackerel fillets
150g Cottage cheese
75g Unsalted butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A good grating of fresh horseradish root
Salt & pepper
Bay leaves

Melt 25g of the butter in a pan. Peel the skin off the mackerel fillets and flake into a bowl, removing any bones you spot along the way. Use a wooden spoon to crush the fish to a paste, then pass the cottage cheese through a seive into the bowl. Add the melted butter, lemon juice, horseradish and seasoning, then mix everything together. Spoon into ramekins; stop about 5mm from the top and level off with the back of a spoon.

To clarify the butter, slowly melt the remaining butter in a pan and skim the foamy milk solids off the surface with a spoon. Carefully pour the clear yellow butterfat into a jug - make sure that the sunken cloudy layer at the bottom of the pan doesn't come with it. Slowly pour the clarified butter over the pate-filled ramekins. A bay leaf pushed into the seal before the butter sets looks dead posh like.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Venison goulash pie with cucumber salad

Venison goulash pie

450g diced venison shoulder

1 Onion, thinly sliced

6 Juniper berries, crushed

1tsp Caraway seeds

1 Bay leaf

200g Button mushrooms

600ml Game or beef stock

2tbsp Smoked paprika

Salt and pepper

Shortcrust pastry

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Toss venison with a liberal sprinkle of plain flour.

Brown the meat in a hot pan, spoon onto a plate and set aside. Add a little olive oil to

the pan, then gently soften the onions with the juniper berries,

caraway seeds and bay leaf. Add the venison back to the pan, spoon in

the paprika and stir through for a few minutes before adding the

stock. Season, then simmer on a low heat for just under 2 hours; after which

the stock will have reduced, thickened and the meat will be tender. Pour goulash into a pie dish.

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 5mm thick. Using a rolling pin, carefully drape the

pastry lid on top of the pie dish. Trim off any excess, gently press a fork around the edge and brush

with beaten egg (it's also a good idea to make a small hole in the middle to release any steam too).

Bake pie for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Cucumber salad

1 Cucumber

2tbsp Olive oil

2tbsp White wine vinegar

1/2tsp Sugar

Dill fronds, roughly torn

Salt and pepper

Peel the cucumber, then finely slice with a mandolin slicer (use a potato

peeler as a slicer if you haven't got a mandolin; it's a bit fiddly,

but still works). Stir in the oil, vinegar and sugar. Season, then mix

in the dill fronds.