Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mediterranean fish stew

I've been cooking up this fantastic fish stew for a while now, it's so delicious I new I'd have to post the recipe but it kept getting eaten before I could take a photo!

I've finally managed to get a shot after cooking this three times in less than a month, thankfully it tastes so good that I could never get bored with eating it.This is one of those dishes that you can mix about a bit, you can use all kinds of vegetables and different types of fish too. I kept my stew quite simple using sweet peppers, celery and fennel, for the fish I used monkfish and cod. There are loads of things you could use such as courgettes, aubergines, or artichokes, for the fish you could use haddock, prawns, halibut, scallops etc. It's up to you...The secret ingredient in this dish is the fennel, it's the perfect partner to the fish and gives the stew a slightly sweet aniseedy backnote. It's flavour is subtle but it makes a big difference to the flavour.I like to serve this with good crusty bread a wedge of lemon, a glass of chilled white wine is a very welcome partner too.

  • Olive oil
  • A large onion, chopped
  • A bulb of fennel, finely shredded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 large sweet peppers (yellow or red) chopped into largeish chunks
  • A glass of white wine
  • A 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • About 500g of fish, chopped into bite-size chunks (cod, haddock, monkfish, prawns, halibut etc)
  • A handful of basil leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • A bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • In a large pan over a medium heat sweat the onion in the olive oil for two or three minutes
  • Add the garlic, fennel and peppers to the pan, stir and cook for a few minutes more stirring occasionally
  • Pour in the white wine and let it cook for a minute or so
  • Add the tomatoes, season with salt then cover and let simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until everything is tender
  • Add the fish and basil (if using) stir well and cover, leave for around fives minutes or until the fish is cooked though
  • Serve scattered with the parsley with good bread and a squeeze of lemon

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Maple syrup and walnut scones

When I think of scones I think of summer, I think of sitting outside in the sun, of jam, of strawberries, and of cream. At least, that's what I normally think of, these maple and walnut scones have a more autumnal feel to them. I sweetened the scones with maple syrup rather than sugar, added chopped walnuts to the dough and used half wholemeal half white flour, altogether this gave the scones a more rustic hearty feel, no less delicious than more traditional scones just different!
Roll the dough into a long sausage shape
What I really love about scones is how amazingly quickly they come together, within half an hour of reading this you could be taking a tray of freshly baked scones out of the oven. What's more you probably already have all the ingredients too!
I served my scones with whipped creap and maple syrup
I served these with whipped cream and more maple syrup drizzled over the top. Delicious!

Maple and walnut scones
Ingredients (makes 8 huge or 12 normal scones):
  • 225g white self raising flour
  • 225g wholemeal self raising flour (if you can't find wholemeal self raising use plain wholemeal and add two teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 100g butter
  • 60g maple syrup
  • 75-100g chopped walnuts
  • 225ml of buttermilk (substitute milk or yogurt)
  • demerera sugar for sprinkling
  • Preheat your oven to gas 7/220c/425f
  • In a large bowl mix the two flours together
  • Rub the butter into the flour until no lumps remain
  • Stir in the walnuts
  • Make a well in the centre and stir in the maple syrup and buttermilk, mix everything together to form a soft dough
  • On a floured board roll the dough into a long sausage shape and cut into rounds
  • Lay the rounds on a lightly floured baking tray, brush the tops with a little milk or buttermilk and sprinkle with the sugar
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Tagliatelle with leeks prawns and pine nuts

I'm probably a bit mad but when a friend asked if I wanted to run the Leicester half-marathon with him I didn't give it much thought and just said yes. Well, I can't resist a challenge!

With just one month to go until the big day I've been training hard going on runs of 10 miles and more, yesterday I ran the full 13.1 mile half-marathon distance just to make sure I could actually do it - thankfully I could!

What's all this got to do with food? Well it'll come as no surprise I'm sure that running works up a big appetite, it's particularly important when running or doing any kind of exercise to eat enough carbohydrates. That's why I came up with this dish of Tagliatelle with prawns, leeks and toasted pine nuts, not only is it delicious but it's got plenty of carbs it's healthy and it's really easy to put together.I started by putting a pan of tagliatelle pasta on to cook meanwhile I softened some finely chopped leeks and garlic with the zest of a lemon in a little olive oil. Once the pasta was almost cooked I added chopped tomatoes to the pan of leeks along with some prawns and a dollop of creme fraiche (substitute sour or double/heavy cream). As soon as the tomatoes and prawns had heated through I tossed the pasta and sauce together along with some shredded basil and served it with toasted pine nuts on top.

The sauce was really light and fresh tasting, it was just what I wanted after a long run. If you don't want to use prawns then you could use white crab meat or tuna for a different but no less tasty dish. You could also try adding different vegetables such as peppers or broccoli.