Thai-steamed Snapper

Brilliant for a dinner party, you can also use this versatile marinade for fish fillets.  This fish is ideal served with sticky Thai-style rice and a crisp green salad.

Thai Red SnapperIngredients:

11 whole red snapper or other whole sustainable white fish (about 2 kg), descaled, gutted and cleaned
4 limes (1 sliced)
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 bunch of spring onions, topped and sliced (reserve tops for stuffing fish)
1 sweet potato, diced into thumbnail-sized pieces
2.5cm  / 1 in piece of ginger, sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 lemongrass stalks, outer skin removed and roughly chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded (keep the seeds of half a chilli only)
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar

Serves:  4

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 200oC (400oF, gas mark 6).  Cut a piece of wide baking parchment twice the length of your fish.  Fold the parchment in half and then open it, placing one half on a baking tray.  Put the fish on the diagonal on the piece of parchment on the baking tray.

Step Two:  Make slashes in the fish on the diagonal through the skin down to the bone on both sides.  Stuff the cavity with a few slices of lime, half the coriander and the tops of the spring onions.  Scatter sweet potato cubes and spring onion chunks around the fish.

Step Three:  In a food processor, combine the rest of the coriander, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli and blitz into a paste.  Add the sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and the juice of the remaining 3 limes and blitz again.

Step Four:  Rub this marinade all over the fish and fold the other half of parchment over the fish, wrapping the edges over to close tightly.

Step Five:  Cook in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.  To test if the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and take a peek inside a corner of the parcel, but be careful because the steam will escape.  If the eye of the fish has turned white, this means your fish is cooked.

Step Six:  Open the parcel and serve large chunks of fish on sticky Thai rice topped with a large spoonful of the cooking juices – that is where most of the umami is.

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (December 2015) and taken from At Home with Umami by Laura Santtini.

Restaurateur and inventor of Taste #5 Umami paste Laura Santtini, is credited with making the ‘chef’s best-kept secret’ accessible to home cooks at all levels.  Umami is the savoury fifth basic taste; literally translating from the Japanese to mean ‘savoury deliciousness’, it is universal and can be used in food from every country and culture to make it extra tasty.

In Santtini’s words, umami is, ‘the ultimate expression of flavour; the extra mouthful-ness that makes us say “mmmmm”, the taste that keeps on giving long after its fellow basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour and bitter – are spent.’

In her book, At Home with Umami, Santtini talks about how she has always been fascinated by flavours and the feelings they evoke.  Chapters include ‘Fresh & Uplifting’, ‘Heady & Daring’ and ‘Mellow & Comforting’, so you can check into how you’re feeling and cook full-flavoured food to match your mood.

Duck breast with orange sauce and breadcrumbs

Duck with orangeIngredients:

2 large duck breasts, with skin
30g (1oz) butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
50g (1 ¾ oz) fresh breadcrumbs
2 tsp thyme leaves

For the marinade:-

150ml (5 fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp runny honey
Juice half lemon
Finely grated zest of half an orange
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Serves:  2     Prep time:  15 mins plus marinating time     Cook time:  20 mins
Cals per serving:  772     Fat: 49g

Step One:  Score the skin of the duck breast in diagonal crosses and place in a ceramic bowl.  Combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the duck.  Marinate in the fridge, turning occasionally, for about 8 hours.

Step Two: Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Remove the duck and dry with paper towels, reserving the marinade.  Heat a large heavy frying pan over a moderate heat.  Place the breasts skin side down in the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until nice and golden.  Transfer the duck breasts, skin side up, to a roasting tin and cook in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (for medium).

Step Three:  Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat for about 5 minutes, or until reduced and slightly thickened.  Season and keep warm.

Step Four:  Drain any fat from the frying pan and add the butter.  When foaming add the garlic, zest, breadcrumbs and thyme.  Sauté until the crumbs are golden.  Slice the duck breast either onto individual plates or on a small platter.  Sprinkle over the crumbs and serve with a jug of the sauce on the side.

Tip:  You can marinate the duck for up to 12 hours.  It is important to boil the marinade well before serving it as the sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living

Pot-roasted Cockerel

CockerelIngredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
250g (8oz) pancetta or thick-cut bacon,diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
1 cockerel (3 kg – 4 kg  / 6 lb – 7 lb)
600ml (20 fl oz) chicken stock
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

Serves:  6-8    Prep time:  15 mins     Cook time:  2 hours
Cals per serving:  339     Fat: 26g

Step One: Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).

Step Two:  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the pancetta, garlic and leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until the leeks have softened.

Step Three: Place the cockerel, breast-side up, in a roasting tin that is just large enough to hold it and four in the stock to a depth of 2 cm.  Add the pancetta, garlic and leeks and tuck in the thyme and bay leaves around the sides.  Cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours (plan the roasting time for your cockerel at 15 minutes per 450g / 1 lb), basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes to allow the cockerel to brown.

Step Four:  Leave the cockerel to rest in the pan for 30 minutes and cover with foil while you finish off preparing the vegetables.

Step Five:  To serve, remove the cockerel to a warm dish.  Skim any fat off the sauce, then taste and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the thyme and bay leaves and transfer the sauce (and leeks) to a jug.  Serve the cockerel with the sauce.

Tip:  For the best results, the cockerel should be allowed to reach room temperature before going in the oven.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Chinese-Style Red Pork

Chinese Style Red PorkRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

Braising in soy sauce is a common Chinese method, giving the meat a distinct colour and flavour.  The braising liquid also makes a delicious sauce.

Serves:  6    Prep time:  25 mins     Cook time:  2 hours     Cals per serving:  369     Fat: 24g

Ingredients:  1.5kg (3 lb) pork belly, with skin; 150ml (6 fl oz) light soy sauce; 4 tblsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry; 2 whole star anise; 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled; 6 spring onions, roughly chopped; 4 slices ginger, 4 mm thick; 1 tblsp demerara or light brown sugar; pinch of dried chilli flakes; 600-700ml (20-24 fl oz) chicken stock or water

Step One: Blanch the pork in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes.  Rinse the pork and, when it’s cool enough to handle, cut the belly into 5cm lengths.

Step Two: Put the pork pieces in a large saucepan or casserole dish and add the soy sauce, rice wine, star anise, garlic, spring onion, ginger, sugar, chilli flakes and enough stock or water to just cover the meat. Bring slowly to the boil over a low heat, cover and simmer very gently for about 2 hours, turning the meet occasionally.

Step Three: Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Skim any fat off the top of the sauce, then simmer the liquid over a high heat until it has thickened a little.  Taste to check and stop simmering if sauce becomes too strongly flavoured.  Return the pork pieces to the sauce and heat through.  If you want to crisp the skin, place the pork pieces skin side up under a hot grill until crisp and bubbling.  Serve the pork belly with sauce with noodles and extra sliced spring onions or steamed Chinese vegetables.

Tip: You can follow the recipe using chicken or duck.  Just use leg pieces (with the thigh attached) and braise for about 45 minutes or until tender.

Hungarian Chicken

Hunters chickenRecipe courtesy of Easy Living

This delicious, easy and subtly spiced chicken stew is perfect to make ahead of time.  In fact, the flavour improves if chilled for a day before reheating and serving.  If making ahead of time, refrigerate overnight, allowing any fat to settle on the top. The fat is then easily removed and discarded with a spoon.

Serves: 4    Prep time:  10 mins     Cook time: 1 ½ hours    Cals per serving: 522     Fat:  33g

Ingredients:  2 tblsp olive oil; 2 onions, finely chopped;  4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole; 2 tblsp Hungarian paprika; 8 large chicken thighs; 4 chicken legs; 3 fresh bay leaves; 400ml (13 fl oz) chicken stock; 1 x 400g (13oz) tin chopped tomatoes; sour cream to serve

Step One: Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large flameproof casserole dish or saucepan.  Add the onions and whole garlic and cook, stirring for 5-7 minutes, or until they have softened (without browning too much).

Step Two: Add the paprika, chicken pieces, bay leaves, stock and tomatoes.  Bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Step Three: Remove the lid and cook for a further 25 minutes, or until the chicken is nicely coloured.  Skim off any fat with a large spoon. Serve with the sauce, topped with sour cream.

Tip: Using either legs or thighs for this dish (rather than breasts) gives a better texture and flavour for slow cooking.

Fried Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Olives

ReFried gnocchi with tomatoes and olivescipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves:  3-4   –   Prep time: 10 mins   –   Cook time:  10 mins   –   Cals per serving: 427   –   Fat: 21g

Ingredients:  1 tblsp olive oil; A pinch of dried, crushed chilli; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 500g (1 lb) gnocchi; 100g (3 ½ oz) semi-dried tomatoes, chopped; 150g (5oz) good-quality black olives, pitted; Zest of ½ a lemon; handful of fresh basil leaves, torn; 50g (1 ¾ oz) Parmesan, freshly grated; Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chilli and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the gnocchi, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, or until slightly puffed and golden. Add the tomatoes, olives, lemon zest and basil and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir through the Parmesan. Serve drizzled with a little oil and garnished with extra basil leaves, if desired.
Tip: This works best with ready-made gnocchi, which are more robust and suitable for frying than home-made gnocchi.

Bacon Chops with Garlic Mushrooms

Serves: 4  :  Cals per portion: 252

  • Heat 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil and 25g (1oz) butter in a frying pan. Add 225g (8oz) quartered mushrooms and two crushed garlic cloves. Fry for 5 mins, then stir in 100g (4oz) trimmed and chopped green beans and fry for a further 5 mins until beans are just tender. Season.
  • Meanwhile, spread a little smooth mustard on each side of four bacon chops and cook in a cast iron pan or under a medium grill for 4 mins on each side until tender and crisp at the edges.
  • Serve the bacon chops with garlic mushrooms, beans and boiled rice.

Venison with Thyme, Honey and Port

Cook time : 20 mins

Ingredients: 1 tblsp olive oil; 1 bunch thyme (about 10 stems); 4 x 175g (6oz) venison steaks; 125ml (4 fl oz) red wine; 60g (2oz) shitake mushrooms, sliced; 2 tsp light flavoured honey; 125ml (4 fl oz) port. To serve: rosti potatoes

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, sprinkle in the thyme and add the steaks. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side for rare, or longer according to taste. Leave the thyme in the pan, but lift out the steak and keep warm on a serving dish.
  • Add the wine and mushrooms to the pan, increase the heat and simmer until the liquid his reduced by half. Add the honey and port and reduce again until there are about 6 tbsp of sauce left.
  • Serve the steaks with a little sauce and rosti potatoes.
  • This sauce is the ideal accompaniment to any red meat or duck breast.

Lobscouse

Lobscouse, or Scouse as it’s commonly known, was originally a sailor’s stew of meat, vegetables and hardtack – a hard, salt-less biscuit. These days, it’s usually a stew made from stewing beef or lamb and leftover vegetables.

Daisy-Anne Borge says of her version of Lobscouse “I used to make this dish when times were lean. But my family still enjoy the recipe as it is cheap, quick and easy – and very satisfying too.” You could also add a little extra flavour by beating in some freshly grated nutmeg, the juice of a lemon or even a little chilli or curry powder.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 1 1/2-2lb (675-900g) potatoes; 1 onion, diced; 5 fl oz (150ml) milk; 13oz (340g) tin corned beef, diced; any cooking vegetables, chopped; 1 oz (25g) butter; salt and black pepper

  •  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. Boil potatoes until tender, then drain thoroughly and mash.
  • Boil onion in milk until soft, drain and add to the mash with corned beef, vegetables and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish and cook for 20-25 mins. Serve with fried eggs on top.

Beef & Beer Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients: 1 lb (450g) lean stewing steak; 1 jar Marks & Spencer Beer and Onion Casserole Sauce; 1 dsp horseradish sauce

Preheat the oven to 150-180oC/300-350oF, gas mark 2-4. Place steak in a casserole dish. Add Sauce, cook in oven for 3-4 hours. Just before serving, stir in the horseradish sauce. Serve with unlimited potatoes and other vegetables.