Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Trout with lemon, basil, capers and olives

I love a good bargain, whenever I go to the supermarket I always take a look at the reduced price section to see what's going for a knock down price. Last week I'd obviously timed it just right, there was loads of fresh meat and fish being sold for mere pennies.

Most of my bargain haul went to the freezer to be cooked another day but I kept some whole trout aside, I wanted those for a simple stuffed trout dish. Like all fish dishes this one is quick to cook and simple to prepare, the only tricky part is filleting the fish but even that was a lot easier than I anticipated.
Trout with lemon, basil and olives.

Ingredients (serves four):
  • 4 Whole trout, filleted (8 fillets).
  • Sea salt and pepper.
  • A fresh unwaxed lemon.
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped capers.
  • A good handful of chopped black olives.
  • A large bunch of fresh basil.
  • Olive oil
  • You will also need some oven-proof string.
  • Lay half four of the trout fillets out on a board and season well.
  • In a large grate the zest of the lemon and add the capers olives and tear in the basil. Mix everything together.
  • lay the lemon, basil, olive mixture over each trout fillet.
  • Place the remaining fillets on top of the others so the filling is in the middle. A kind of trout sandwich.
  • Tie each 'sandwich up with the string to make little parcels.
  • That's it! bake in the oven on a medium heat for about 25-30 minutes.
It doesn't photograph well but trust me, it tastes good!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Smoked salmon linguine

Yesterday was one of those days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I'd been down the the bike shop to pick up some new parts for my bike and ask for some advice, the conversation went something like this,

Me: Are these easy to fit? I've never done it before and don't really know what I'm doing.
Bike shop man: Yeah it's easy, you'll have no problem at all.

So I took my shiny new bike parts home with me and set to work dismantling my bike only it wasn't quite as easy as the bike shop man had me believe. Things quickly went wrong, I got stressed and now my bike is in pieces dumped at the bike shop for them to sort out the mess.

While my bike was out of action I turned to something far less stressful than amateur mechanics -making pasta.Smoked salmon linguine is a regular feature in my house, it's cheap, quick, simple to make and most importantly of all delicious. I chose to use linguine pasta, I don't know why but it just seems to suit seafood, you could of course use any pasta you fancy.

Recipe: Serves 3-4
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1,2 or more cloves of garlic very finely chopped.
  • Butter for frying.
  • 300g linguine or other pasta of you choice.
  • 200ml Cremé fraiche (substitute sour cream or double/heavy cream).
  • 150g smoked salmon chopped into small pieces.
  • lemon juice.
  • Black pepper.
  • 1 bag (about 80g) rocket leaves.
  • Good olive oil for drizzling.
  • In a large frying pan on a low heat fry the onion and garlic, meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
  • Once the water is boiling add your pasta to the pan and cook according to the instructions on the packet.
  • While the pasta is cooking the onions should have softened, at this point add the créme fraiche and mix everything together. It will probably be too thick, it it is add some of the pasta water until you get the right consistency. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste.
  • Once the pasta has cooked stir the smoked salmon into the sauce, take the pasta out of it's cooking water and add to the pan with the sauce. mix well.
  • Finally stir in the rocket leaves reserving a few for garnish.
  • serve drizzled with olive oil and scattered with rocket leaves.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Shakshouka is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of eggs cooked in a tomato and pepper sauce which is often eaten for breakfast served with pita bread for dipping. I don't often cook first thing in the morning -making toast is about as much as I can manage when I've just woken up!- so I made this as a main course instead served with salad and bread.Typically this is made in one large pan on a hob or over a fire, once the sauce is cooked the eggs are broken into it and when they are cooked it is served, I made mine slightly differently. After I'd made the sauce I poured it into individual dishes, I broke an egg over the top of each of them and then finished them in the oven. It might not be the 'proper way' to make shakshouka but it worked really well, the only tricky part was making sure the egg white was cooked but the yolk was still runny!

The recipe is adapted from this one from Riverford Organics which I originally got from a recipe card in our organic fruit and vegetable box.

Shakshouka recipe (Serves: 3-4)


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Onions, Finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Yellow pepper, chopped into small-ish chunks
  • 1 Red pepper, chopped into small-ish chunks
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • ½ tsp Each cumin and coriander
  • 1 Fresh red chilli pepper, Chopped (optional)
  • 400g/1 tin Chopped tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • 3-4 eggs (1 per person)
  • First preheat your oven to gas 4/180c
  • While the oven is warming up you can make your sauce. First, I a large frying pan over a medium heat fry your onions until they are softened. (about 5 minutes)
  • Add your garlic and chopped peppers to the pan, give everything a good stir and fry for a couple of minutes more.
  • Next add your black pepper spices and chilli (if using) to the pan and mix well.
  • Pour in the tomatoes, season well with salt and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes - until everything is soft and well cooked.
  • That's the sauce made, now pour the sauce into three of four oven proof dishes (if you'd prefer use one large dish)
  • Make an indentation in the sauce mixture and break an egg into each one, try not to break the yolk!
  • Bake for around ten minutes until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft, it may take less time depending on your oven so keep an eye on them!
  • Serve with bread for dipping and enjoy!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Panzanella - Italian bread salad

There has been a noticeable change in the vegetables I've been getting in my organic box recently. Now the weather is warmer and the days are longer it's goodbye to swedes, turnips, Brussels sprouts and winter cabbages, hello to tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and asparagus.

This week I got some fantastic sweet peppers and a bunch of beautiful tomatoes on the vine, the perfect ingredients for making Panzanella.Panzanella is an Italian summer salad which can contain all manner of ingredients but always contains tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar and most importantly bread. Panzanella was originally a peasant dish designed to use up leftover bread, -isn't it funny how peasant dishes are almost always the most delicious?- to make this salad chunks of old bread are torn up and tossed with the other ingredients where it absorbs all the delicious juices and takes on a fantastic flavour.I don't think it's possible to find an 'authentic' recipe for this, by it's very nature it's made from whatever people had to hand at the time. My version uses tomatoes, peppers, olives, capers and mixed salad leaves. I also added some flaked trout fillets to make it more substantial, you could add salmon or chicken to equally good effect or just leave it out altogether.

the bread I used was an Italian ciabatta but any firm textured bread will do, just don't use anything too light and airy.
Roasting peppers gives them an amazing flavour
Panzanella recipe: (Serves one as a light meal, two as a side dish)

  • One large red or yellow sweet pepper roasted (see method)
  • Two large tomatoes chopped into eight moon shaped wedges.
  • A handful of olives, green or black.
  • A tablespoon of chopped capers.
  • Sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar (or lemon juice).
  • Mixed baby salad leaves, I used spinach, rocket and watercress.
  • As much leftover bread as you want to eat torn into chunks.
  • Flaked trout or salmon - optional.
  • First up you need to roast you pepper, you can do this either in the oven, under the grill or if you have a gas hob like I do you can use that. Basically you need to char the skin, and I mean really char it, it should be black.
  • What I do is stab the pepper onto a fork and hold it above the flame on my gas hob so the skin crackles and blackens, do this all over. I f you using an oven or grill the same rule applies, it needs to be black.
  • Once your pepper is blackened all over place it inside a plastic bag and leave it while you prepare everything else, when you come back to it the skin will slip right off and the pepper will taste amazing.
  • Next put the tomatoes, olives, capers, into a large bowl. Add as much oil. vinegar and salt as you like, personally I like mine quite sharp but it's entirely down to personal taste. The salt is really important here as it's the salt that draws the juices out of the tomatoes and peppers, this is the juice that will soak into your bread.
  • Now to the peppers, remove them from the plastic bag and pull the skin away, it should be really easy. Slice the pepper open, tip any juice that has collected inside into the bowl with the tomatoes then chop the flesh and add that to the bowl too.
  • Leave the salad to stand for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer so that the juices can be drawn out and the flavours can meld together.
  • Just before you want to serve toss in the bread and salad leaves, mix everything well, check the seasoning and the oil/vinegar is perfectly balanced then serve. Top with flaked trout or salmon if you'd like.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Clotted cream scones

I know my posting has been a bit slack recently, I have been very busy with work which means I've had barely any time to cook anything. Of course I still have to eat and when you're short on time super quick recipes are very attractive.Recipes don't come much quicker than these yogurt scones from Chocolate and Zucchini, ten minutes to prepare, fifteen to cook and they're done, ready to eat straight from the oven. I ate my scones outside in the sunshine served with clotted cream and jam, they made a delicious treat before I hopped on my bike and went back to work.
Hopefully normal blogging will resume shortly...

For the recipe head over to Chocolate and Zucchini.