Skate with Asparagus and Rosemary Salmoriglio

Fresh fish is best served simply: I am not the first to say that and certainly won’t be the last. This skate dish is simple, quick and just divine. The lovely little Italian herb oil (Salmoriglio) is just whizzed up in the processor and the skate, sautéed in butter – the combination? Exquisite!!! Oh….and….it’s quite healthy!!!!

Serves 2

What you need…

10g rosemary sprigs (8 – 10 depending on size), leaves picked

Pinch of salt

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 x 250g skate wings

100g plain flour

A large handful of asparagus, trimmed

What to do…

For the salmoriglio, tip the rosemary leaves into a small food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the salt, garlic and lemon juice and whizz until smooth. Still whizzing, slowly pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil. Whizz until all the ingredients are combined – that’s it: done!

Season the skate wings. Pour the flour onto a plate and coat the fish on both sides. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan (or two) over a moderate heat and sauté the skate for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the asparagus for about 3 minutes, until just tender. Drain.

Serve your magnificent skate wings with asparagus on the side and drizzle over the salmoriglio. A forkful of the fish with a little of the herb oil together make for a joyful marriage! Enjoy!

Tip…

I didn’t realise when I bought the skate that this fish is seriously under threat due to over-fishing. Ray makes a perfect alternative and was in fact the recommended fish in the original recipe.

Inspired by…

My Waitrose magazine

How easy…

Wonderfully easy for such a fabulous dish.

A Little Aside: Rosemary and Garlic Parmentier Potatoes

I have been making these gutsy little potatoes, served as a side dish, for years and have been asked several times why they have not been blogged so, here they are…..! They are a delight to make (translate to ‘dead easy’) and even more lovely to enjoy: cooked so that they’re like the crispiest triple-cooked chips you’ve ever had but flavoured with the bliss that is the combination of garlic and rosemary. Just yummy!!!!! (Also, they get on with cooking themselves whilst you do other things).

What you need…

2 largish red potatoes, chunked

1½ tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

Sea salt to season to your taste

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Tip all the ingredients into an ovenproof dish and toss around so that all the potatoes are evenly covered in the other ingredients.

Pop in the oven to cook for 40 minutes, removing half way through to shove the potatoes around a bit so that they don’t stick to the dish and cook evenly.

Remove your crisp, fragrant and ever so tasty potatoes from the oven and serve as an accompaniment to fish or meat (kitchen prepared or on the barbie) or in bowl as naughty finger food!

Inspired by…

Delia does a version with fresh rosemary so I guess it was her. I’ve been doing these for so long, I can’t remember.

How easy…

An absolute doddle to prepare and then they cook themselves whilst you’re dealing with the main event.

Absolutely Delicious Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti

One from my daughter, Maddie, who found this recipe on the Internet to liven up her Uni dinners. What a joy when she offered to cook the recipe on her last trip home! As much as I love cooking, it is an absolute treat when someone else offers to do it and this recipe went straight to the top of my ‘favourites’ list of pasta dishes – it’s hearty and really flavoursome – the tomatoes and spinach contrast perfectly with the richness of the cream and the dish is quite honestly, just fantastic! A perfect family supper dish – thanks Madz – you can do it again!!!!

Serves 6

What you need…

Splash of olive oil

4 chicken breasts, seasoned

8 rashers back bacon, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

300ml double cream

8 tomatoes, roughly chopped

150g spinach

Sea salt and black pepper

150g Parmesan, grated

A large handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Dried spaghetti (amount depends on how hungry you are)

What to do…

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil salted water in which to cook the spaghetti.

In a large frying pan, warm the oil over a moderate heat and then cook the chicken breasts for 6 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Pop your spaghetti into the pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions: mine is about 12 minutes.

Add the bacon to the chicken pan and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside onto kitchen paper.

Into the pan chuck the garlic. Fry for 1 minute and then add the tomatoes, cooking for 5 minutes. Toss in the spinach and pour in the cream, cooking through until the spinach has mostly wilted.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and then tip it and the bacon into the sauce. Stir to evenly incorporate and then add the Parmesan and basil.

Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Mix the whole lot together so the sauce beautifully coats the pasta.

Serve to six hungry people, perhaps with a glass or two of robust red wine and enjoy this truly hearty, really tasty pasta dish.

Inspired by…

Maddie, who found the recipe on the Twisted Food website

How easy…

Fast, easy and very student-friendly!

Dips and Tapenades for Drinks or a Picnic

Having friends around for drinks or a picnicky lunch? Dips are always welcome. Here we have a selection of tapenades and dips to tempt the taste buds – the juicy, sweet but piquant sun-dried tomato version and the more earthy, intense olive one both shout with flavours of the Mediterranean. Then, there’s this recipe for guacamole which combines the luscious creaminess of avocado with a fresh coriander edge and a real kick of chilli. The three were all made in advance and in less than half an hour, using a mini food processor for each one and a quick wipe out in between – simple! Hummus – a staple in our household – has already been blogged but takes just seconds to knock up. In essence, dip into a quick, easy and vast array of flavours- yummy!

What you need…

for the Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Tapenade

200g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

A large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil (from the jar of sun dried tomatoes if possible)

50g pine nuts

for the Olive Tapenade

100g pitted black olives, drained

100g pitted green olives, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovies in oil, drained

½ garlic clove, peeled

Black pepper, to taste

for the Guacamole with Coriander

1medium tomato, quartered

1 just-ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped

½ fresh green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped

½ garlic clove, peeled and chopped

A large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Zest of half a lime, finely grated

A good squeeze lime juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to do…

Stick all the ingredients for the sun-dried tomato tapenade into your food processor. Whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Rinse out your food processor and blade. Dry with kitchen paper. Chuck all the ingredients for the olive tapenade into your processor and whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Rinse out your food processor and blade. Tip all the ingredients for the guacamole into your processor, marvel at how lovely it is to have such a great gadget and then whizz the ingredients until the consistency is as you would like – rustically chunky, elegantly smooth or something in between! Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Serve with hummus and an assortment of breads, crackers and crudités; some cold, crisp dry white wine and most importantly a good collection of family and friends. Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

An absolute whizz!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Scots Whisky Orange Cream

So quick, so light, so delicious and essentially it is just orange and whisky-infused cream…but it tastes like so much more, is intense and should only be served in small portions! Enjoy!

Serves 8

What you need…

100ml whisky

100g caster sugar

3 tablespoons fine-cut marmalade

Juice of ½ orange

Pared rind of 1 orange, cut into 2 halves

450ml double cream

16 – 24 fresh raspberries, to decorate

What to do…

Tip the whisky, sugar, marmalade, orange juice and half the pared orange rind into a saucepan. Stir over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the marmalade melts. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then remove the syrup that you’ve created from the heat and set aside for at least 1 hour (I did this bit in the morning and then finished the desserts later in the afternoon).

Remove the orange rind from the syrup and discard. Pour the syrup into a mixing bowl. Then add the cream and whisk using an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form.

Spoon into 8 pretty glasses or cups (choose wide-necked ones if you don’t want to make this bit tricky). Cut the remaining orange rind into thin strips and then decorate each of your whisky creams with a scattering of orange rind and 2 – 3 raspberries – simply wonderful!!!

Tip…

Will keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Seriously? It couldn’t be easer!

Torta alle Arance e Grand Marnier

 

Roughly translated from Italian, this Orange and Grand Marnier Upside Down Cake comprises a lovely light, moist sponge topped with juicy, sweet oranges, a delectable caramel and then a splosh of Grand Marnier – simply wonderful!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 20cm flan dish or similar, liberally buttered

210g granulated sugar

4 oranges, peeled and cut into 5mm slices

3 large happy eggs

120g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons orange zest, finely grated

125g plain flour, sifted

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Over a moderate heat, make the caramel by tipping the granulated sugar into a non-stick saucepan and adding 3 teaspoons of water. Stir occasionally until the sugar first dissolves and boils gently and starts to darken. (This takes about 10 minutes). Tip the caramel into your flan dish.

Gently arrange the orange slices over the caramel, slightly overlapping. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and use a handheld electric whisk to beat them until they are fluffy and nearly doubled in volume. Tip in the caster sugar and whisk until creamy and thick.

Add the baking powder and orange zest and continue to whisk until the mixture forms thick ribbons. Tip in the flour and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the mixture over the orange slices and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Use a knife to cut around the edge of the sponge and then, armed with oven gloves, place a serving plate on top of the flan case and quickly invert the orange sponge out onto it – quite spectacular!!!

Drizzle over the Grand Marnier and serve at room temperature, perhaps with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or some double cream that has a little Grand Marnier mixed in.

Tip…

Once you have poured your caramel into the flan dish, fill the saucepan up with water and bring to the boil – this will melt the remaining stuck and rock-hard caramel, which you can then just tip down the sink – saves on all that scrubbing!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Very easy and rather impressive looking as well as great on the taste buds!

 

 

 

1st Proper BBQ of the Season!

So, we had one last week on the beach – lovely idea but…burgers with sand, sausages with sand, halloumi with sand…work in progress. Anyway, today was the first PROPER one and we went all out: halloumi, garlic bread with mozzarella, lobster tails with garlic butter, salmon with rosemary and garlic, chicken with my favourite marinade, sausages, burgers in brioche buns and posh roasted vegetables (not quite ready for salad!) Bloody marvellous!!! The sun shone, the wine flowed and the afternoon simply chillaxed by….happy days! (All recipes listed above previously blogged). xxx

Spicy Gammon Steak with Mascarpone Peas

The name gives absolutely no clue as to how absolutely delicious this dish is. I loved it so much, I enjoyed it two days running!!! The gammon takes on a real razzle dazzle star quality and quite frankly, peas in mascarpone are going to be a regular event. Try this! It’s fast and fabulous – buonissimo!

Serves 2

What you need…

Splash of rapeseed oil

4 teaspoons salted butter

1 teaspoon dried crushed chillies

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 gammon steaks (choose thick, juicy ones – maybe 2cm)

160g frozen peas, defrosted

4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Heat half the oil and half the butter in a frying pan, add the crushed chillies and half the parsley. Then pop in the gammon steaks and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer gammon and juices to a baking tray and pop in a low oven to keep warm.

Wipe out the pan with kitchen roll and return to the heat with the remaining oil and butter. Add the peas and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Season with salt and pepper, add the mascarpone and remaining parsley. Stir the lot together and serve these party-dressed peas to accompany the razzle-dazzle gammon – that’s it – buonissimo!

Serving suggestion…

Red potatoes, sliced or chunked, tossed with olive oil, dried rosemary and chopped garlic and the cooked in the oven for 35 minutes: lovely!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Marvelously easy and it tastes like something that was meticulously created!

 

 

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