Scallops in Asparagus Sauce

Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients: 300g (10oz) young asparagus, stems trimmed; 8 large scallops; 1 tbsp butter; 200ml (7 fl oz) whipping cream

  • Cut off the top 5cm (2in) of the spears and reserve. Cut the stems into 2.5cm (1in) lengths. Add the asparagus stems to a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Place the asparagus tips in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove, drain and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, place the scallops in buttered foil and bake in the preheated oven for 4 minutes at 190oC/375oF/Gas 5.
  • Place the cooked asparagus stems in a food processor with the cream and process to make a smooth sauce. Transfer to a small pan and heat gently, but do not allow to boil. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Arrange 2 scallops on each plate (or in a scallop shell) in a pool of sauce, and serve with some of the asparagus tips.

Some scallop plates to serve in.

A cookbook for all things scallopy.

Skate with Hazelnuts

Cook Time: 20 mins

Ingredients: 125g (4oz) butter; 2 tsp hazelnut oil; 750g (1 1/2lb) skate wings, cut into 4 pieces; 30g (1oz) flour; 2 tbsp chopped parsley; 60g (2oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped; 2 tbsp white wine vinegar.

  • Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Dust the skate pieces with flour on both sides and fry in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side, according to the thickness of the skate. Remove from the pan and keep warm on individual plates.
  • Add the parsley and the nuts to the frying pan, turn up the heat and cook until the nuts brown. Add the vinegar, stirring it in well, then pour the nutty sauce over the fish. Serve immediately.

* Accompaniment: Continue the nutty theme by serving this fish with a green salad tossed in a hazelnut oil dressing.

Roast Halibut Chasseur

A Gary Rhodes recipe

Here’s a treat of a fish dish – succulent halibut steaks cooked with red wine and caramelised button mushrooms and onions.  Chasseur is a french classic, usually associated with chicken.  It’s normally a white wine, gravy-based sauce with onions or shallots, mushrooms, tomato, tarragonn and parsley.  Well, this dish is a variation of that – I use button onions and mushrooms with tomato and tarrago but no gravy or white wine.  I use red wine, butter and halibut.  This dish also suits roasted cod, brill or turbot.

Serves 4

Ingredients:  4 x 10oz (275g) halibut steaks on bone, skin left on; salt and pepper; 1 tblsp plain flour; 1 tblsp cooking oil; 2-3 oz (50-75g) butter; 16-20 small button onion; 16-20 small button mushrooms; 1/2 bottle of red wine; 2 plum tomatoes, peeled if preferred, deseeded and cut into small dice; 1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon

  • Preheat the oven to 200-220oC/400-425oF/Gas Mark 6-7.  Season the halibut steaks with salt and pepper and lightly sprinkle the plain flour on the skin side of the steaks only.  Heat a frying pan and add the cooking oil and a small knob of the butter.  Add the halibut skin side down to the pan and fry until the fish is a golden brown colour.  Remove the fish and then transfer to a large ovenproof dish.  Cook in the oven for approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of the halibut steaks.
  • Now peel the onions, then wash and dry the mushrooms.  Melt another knob of butter in the frying pan and add the onions.  Fry on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown in colour.   Add the mushrooms to the pan with the onions.  Fry for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the mushrooms and onions are tender.  Add the red wine to the pan, bring to the boil and heat until it’s reduced in quantity by approximately one third.
  • Arrange the halibut steaks on warmed serving plates.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the button onions and then the mushrooms from the wine sauce and place on top of the fish steaks.  Keep the plates warm.  Add the remaining butter to the wine sauce and whisk in.  Add the diced tomatoes and the chopped tarragon and cook for just a few seconds.
  • To serve, spoon the red wine sauce over the halibut.  Mashed potato goes a treat with this dish.

Plaice with Lime Vinaigrette

A very quick and simple recipe allowing you to enjoy the natural flavours of the fish.  Don’t be tempted to over cook the plaice, it really does only take minutes.

Serves:  4;  Prep:  15 minutes;  Cook: 6 minutes

Ingredients:  1/4 pt (150ml) olive oil; rind and juice of 2 limes; 2 tsp/10ml capers, drained and chopped (optional); 1 tsp/5ml caster sugar; salt and pepper; 2 tbsp /30ml chopped fresh dill; 4 small plaice fillets, skinned; 2 oz /50g plain flour; 1/4 tsp/1.25ml paprika; 1 egg, beaten; 2oz / 50g butter

  • To make the dressing, blend together 4 fl oz (100ml) of the olive oil, grated rind and juice of the limes, capers if you are using them, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the dill.
  • Wash and thoroughly dry the plaice.  Mix together the flour and paprika.  Season.  Dip each fillet lightly in beaten egg, then coat thinly in seasoned flour.
  • Heat 1 tbsp/15ml olive oil and the butter in a large non-stick frying pan.  Cook the fillets for 2-3 mins on each side or until the fish is golden brown and cooked through.  If you frying pan is not big enough, fry the fish in batches and keep it warm in a low oven.
  • Serve the plaice with the vinaigrette dressing, accompanied by a raw baby spinach, onion and tomato salad.

Baked Eggs with Crab

Baked and served in dainty ramekins, these eggs on a layer of crab meat flavoured with brandy make a rich but simple snack.

Serves:  4;  Takes:  25 mins

Ingredients:  butter for greasing; 175g (6oz) canned crab meat; 4 tsp brandy; 4 large eggs; salt and black pepper; 4 tbsp single cream; cayenne pepper

To garnish:  a few sprigs of chervil or parsley

To serve:  Bread for toast, butter for spreading

  • Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas Mark 5.  Lightly grease four ramekins with the butter.
  • Put a quarter of the crab meat into the bottom of each of the dishes and sprinkle a teaspoon of brandy over each.
  • Break an egg carefully into each dish.  Season with salt and pepper, then spoon a tablespoon of cream round the yolk of each egg.  Dust lightly with cayenne pepper.
  • Put the dishes onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 mins or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft.
  • Meanwhile, rinse, dry and chop the chervil or parsley, and make and butter the toast.
  • Serve the eggs hot, in their dishes, sprinkled with the chervil or parsley, accompanied by the toast.

Variation:  Strips of salmon and a dash of sherry can be used instead of the crab and brandy, or you could use 2 chopped anchovy fillets with a very small amount of chopped thyme and a sprinkling of brandy.

Pan-fried Salmon with Limes and Herb Hollandaise Sauce

Nothing’s simpler to prepare than sautéed salmon.  But if you prefer, you can also use smoked haddock for a change.

Serves:  4;  Prep:  3 mins;  Cook:  7 mins;  Cost:  £8.00;  Cals per portion:  490

Ingredients:  25g (1oz) butter; 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil;  4 tail end Salmon fillets; 1 lime, sliced; 1 bunch of dill; 90ml (6 tbsp) hollandaise sauce; 30ml (2 tbsp) gherkins, chopped; 30ml (2 tbsp) capers

  • Heat the butter and the oil in a large frying pan, when hot, add the salmon and cook for a couple of minutes on each side to seal in juices.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Add lime, sprinkle over a few sprigs of dill and cook for 2 minutes, turning lime slices.
  • Chop remaining dill and mix with the sauce, gherkins and capers.  When the fish is tender, add the sauce, heat for 30 seconds and serve.  This is delicious served with ready-cooked new potatoes with parsley and mint.

Tip:  Make sure that as soon as you add the hollaindaise sauce to the pan, you remove it from the heat and serve immediately.  As it’s made with eggs it will curdle and separate if overheated.  You can also serve the sauce cold.

Tortiglioni with Tuna

Serves:  4;  Prep:  5 mins;  Cook:  15 mins

Ingredients:  1 red pepper; 335g/12oz Buitoni Tortiglioni; 1 x 15ml tbsp olive oil; 2 x 200g cans tuna, drained; 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes; 1 x 50g can anchovies, drained and chopped; 50g/2oz pitted black olives, halved; 25g /1oz sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped; large sprig basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; large sprig of basil to serve

  • Quarter and de-seed the red pepper and place skin-side up under a preheated hot grill.
  • Grill pepper for 10-15 mins until the skin starts to blacken, remove from grill and place in a clean plastic bag and leave to cool down.
  • Peel the pepper quarters, throw away the skin and then cut into slices.
  • Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
  • Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the remaining ingredient, along with the grilled pepper, and simmer gently together for 5 mins until piping hot.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pan.  Toss in the hot sauce, garnish with the sprig of basil, and serve immediately with some ciabatta bread and a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Creamy Pasta with Prawns

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  8oz/225g pasta spirals; 1 tblsp vegetable oil; 3oz/75g spring onions, sliced; one garlic clove, crushed; 1 tsp tomato puree; 6 tblsp fromage frais or single cream; 4oz/100g cooked, peeled prawns; 7oz/200g tuna in brine, drained and flaked; small bunch of fresh basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; fresh bay leaf or finely shredded spring onion, to garnish

  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onions and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring.  Stir in the tomato puree, fromage frais, prawns and tuna.  Add the basil and 4 tblsp water.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta then return it to the pan.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, mixing it in well.  Warm together gently and season to taste.  Serve garnished with the bay leaf or shredded spring onion.

Mustard Seed, Inverness

I had a wonderful lunch today at the Mustard Seed in Inverness.   Situated right on the river in Inverness town centre.  Very reasonably priced at £6.95 for two courses.  I had the Smoked Salmon tart to start followed by Chicken in a coconutty sauce with mashed potato.  Dishes of accompanying vegetables came free of charge as well.   Also on the menu posh chicken goujons with garlic sauce, Broccoli and blue cheese soup for starters.  Roast pork, beef steak with peppercorn sauce and sea bass.  Didn’t try the desserts this visit but definitely will next time.  We were a party of 18 and the food was served quickly and hot!  The restaurant is spread over 2 floors, has a wood burner in the downstairs part of the restaurant and has as a lovely balcony upstairs as well for al fresco dining during the summer months.    Well worth a visit if you are ever in Inverness.

Spiced Mussels in Coconut Milk

Now that Thai red and green curry pastes are available in most large supermarkets, it takes only minutes to whip up a stunning dish like this.  Fishmongers and large supermarkets now sell ready-cleaned live mussels in 2kg bags, which need only soaking in cold water for 2 hours before cooking.  Discard any which stay open after you give them a tap.

Ingredients:  2 tbsp vegetable oil; 4 shallots, chopped; 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped; 1 x 190g jar or 4 tbsp Thai green curry paste (from most large supermarkets); 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk; 2kg/4 lb 8oz mussels, cleaned; juice of 1 lime, or to taste; 3 tbsp chopped coriander; 1-2 chillies, deseeded and chopped, or to taste.

To Serve:  Lime wedges

  • Heat the oil in a very large, lidded pan (or divide the ingredients in two and use two pans) and stir-fry the shallots and pepper for 8-10 min over a low-medium heat, until softened.  Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 1 min more.
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil, stirring, then turn up the heat, add the mussels and cover the pan/pans tightly.  Cook, shaking occasionally, for a few min or just until all the mussels are open, taking care not to overcook them.
  • Stir in the lime juice, coriander and chilli and serve in warmed bowls with lime wedges to squeeze over.