Fish pie

FullSizeRender (3)

Four steps. That’s all it takes. (Apart from the sub-steps for each of the four steps..;. but that’s all, honest. And at the end of those few steps and sub-steps, you get this gently spiced pie with a crisp cheesy mashed potato topping. You can use whatever fish you like in this, I guess. I bought a fish pie mix from the supermarket, so there were two-inch pieces of salmon, cod and smoked haddock.

If you’ve read the recipe and you’re wondering why I didn’t add salt to the mashed potato or to the white sauce, it’s because I found out the hard way that salt water fish are salty in themselves, unlike fresh water fish. I’ve come close to making a fish dish inedible because I added salt… so I’m now a little less ignorant and passing on my wisdom (!) to you.

I don’t have anything else to say on this topic, so shall we move on to the recipe? Yep… I thought you’d want that.

Recipe for: Fish Pie

Continue reading

Chicken in creamy mushroom sauce

Pretty much every evening starts the same way, with me asking Pete what he wants for dinner. Sometimes I have an idea in mind for a cooked meal, but he vetoes it (ok, he’s allowed an opinion, after all he has to eat it). Other times, he says “I don’t know”, but then again vetoes any suggestions I come up with (annoying! VERY!). The days I like best are those where I’ve decided on a new dish I want to try out on him, and he has no choice in the matter. I’m forever trawling the Internet for easy non-vegetarian recipes to make, the food columns by various chefs in various newspapers being some of my favourite sources. Some recipes seem far too complicated and time-consuming, but there are plenty that seem doable. These I print off… but that said, probably only one in five recipes makes the transition from paper to reality. The printouts I slip into my recipe folders, perhaps to try one day… but it’s more likely they will end up in the wastepaper basket during my occasional “culls” of the folders.

Today’s easy dish is not one of those recipes. It just arose from a basic cream sauce recipe that I had noted down – it actually required heavy cream but I subbed creme fraiche instead, because that was what I had. I’m sure the recipe would work as well with cream cheese. Mushrooms and garlicky cream sauce go very nicely together, after all.

Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce
Ingredients:
Continue reading

Easy chicken korma, UK-style

I’ll be honest, I don’t like korma. I’m not even particularly fond of proper Indian kurma, but it’s the British korma that I really do NOT like. Why not? Because it’s usually far too sweet (almost like a pudding) and usually far too greasy as well, and it has no chillies to counter that cloying taste. But Pete likes korma rather a lot for precisely that reason. Well, each to his – or her – own. I’m happy enough to make korma at home for Pete as long as I don’t have to eat it. I do not add extra sugar (which is something I’m sure is done in restaurants), which probably allows the coconut milk to provide its own natural sweetness. I say probably, but that’s because I don’t taste it at all and never have. So it’s kind of tricky, really, cooking non-vegetarian items for my husband… but more often than not, whatever I cook turns out rather well. It’s quite rare that he has to add extra seasoning. Touch wood.

So, enough of blowing my own trumpet and on with today’s recipe. This korma is quite simple and is perfect for a weeknight supper. Yes, it looks like a long list of ingredients, but I promise that if you exercise due diligence with your mise en place before you start cooking, this curry can be ready in 20 minutes. The more complicated, authentic Indian kurma is a recipe for another day, and another blog.

photo (20)

Ingredients: Continue reading

Chicken schnitzel with parmesan-herb crust

This recipe is from a TV programme that I watched without the first idea of who the chef was or which channel or even which programme. I like watching cooking shows, even the hardcore ones which have recipes I’ll never try and ingredients that I’ve not heard of – actually, those are the ones I like. It’s like watching a fantasy show. So this recipe was demonstrated by a couple of Australians… come to think of it, I might have watched them on YouTube. In any case, I made this recipe because it sounded ridiculously easy – and it was. I didn’t even bother to write down the ingredients or method, because it was all straightforward.

Recipe for: Chicken schnitzel with parmesan-herb crust
photo 1
Ingredients

For the chicken:
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup plain flour
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
2 skinless chicken breasts
Oil for shallow frying

For the salad:
10 baby plum tomatoes, halved vertically
A good few handfuls of mixed salad leaves (little gem lettuce, rocket, baby chard, baby spinach, etc)
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thinly
1 boiled egg, quartered (optional)
Your favourite salad dressing (I used French dressing)

Method:

1, Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, lemon rind, parsley and garlic powder on a plate. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Place flour on a plate.

3. Whisk egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.

4. Place the chicken breasts in a sturdy ziploc bag and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten them to an even thickness all over. Do this carefully. They need to be about 1/2 cm thick all over.

5. Take the chicken breasts one by one and dip them first in the flour, shaking off the excess; then in the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs mixture. Pat the breadcrumbs with your fingers on the chicken breasts where necessary.

6. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken schnitzel for 4 to 5 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain while you make the salad.

7. Slice the schnitzel on the diagonal into 1-cm wide strips. Mix the salad with the dressing, place the sliced schnitzel on top and serve immediately.

Verdict: Pete loved it. 

Pork stir fry with black sesame seeds

I’ve decided not to buy supermarket bottled Chinese stir fry sauces any more, because practically the first ingredient in them is sugar. Yes, I knew about this, but continued to buy ready-made sauces because of the convenience factor. That’s how those supermarkets nab you – they play on your natural vices. Laziness is my biggest vice. It was partly out of laziness that I bought those sauces, but also because I’m not confident with making Chinese food. Eating it, yes (not with chopsticks though), but making it… not so much.

However, there are plenty of recipes on the Net for instant sauces. As long as you have a little sweet (honey/sugar/sweetener of choice), a little sour (vinegar), a little hot (chilli sauce/flakes) and a bit of salt, you already have a base for the stir-fry sauce. After that you just add whatever takes your fancy (peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, garlic, etc) and some veg and meat, and there you are.

Today I made a pork stir fry with black sesame seeds. There were two boneless pork medallions, a bell pepper and a pak choi. and that’s what made up Pete’s dinner. Those were the only veg I had handy, but you can add mangetout, mushrooms, baby corn, scallions – whatever you like.

photo (8)
Continue reading

Linguini with squid in tomato-garlic sauce

So, squid.

Today, peoples, we will be cooking squid. If, like me, you don’t like the smell of seafood, I should warn you that squid will probably make a temporary mouth-breather of you. The important word here is “temporary”. It only lasts for as long as you’re around the squid. Once it’s cooked and served up, you will find your nose taking over that breathing thing once again, leaving your mouth free for talking or eating something that isn’t squid.

Ok, I’m being mean – truthful, but mean. I mean, I don’t want to put anybody off calamari (that’s squid in American, I believe) – neither the eating, nor the cooking. Then again, I guess anybody who loves this stuff isn’t going to be bothered by anything I say here.

The good thing about squid is that it’s quick to cook, like most of the seafood I’ve posted about on this blog so far. It also doesn’t make your whole house smell of seafood (unlike, say, sardines). I used pre-prepared frozen squid. (I’ve not tried cooking fresh squid, and I’m certainly not about to prepare the squid personally.) All I did was defrost it (place in warm water for 5  minutes, then give it 2 minutes defrosting in the microwave). Wash again and pat dry as much as possible, using paper towels. Then cut it up into rings about 1 cm wide. Leave the tentacles as they are, or you can cut them up smaller if you like.
photo (5)
Once that’s done, cooking the squid is a doddle. You can make the pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes if that’s how you like it, But If you use jarred ready made pasta sauce (like I did this time), this recipe comes together quicker than quick.
photo (7)
Continue reading

Rainbow trout with creamy chopped egg sauce

It’s been quite a while since my last post here.

I know, I’ve probably used that same intro for other posts too, probably word for word – on this blog, and on my vegetarian food blog too. Suffice it to say that I’m still looking for my mojo when it comes to posting something new. I’m trying, though.

Rainbow trout fillets

Anyway, I came across a recipe a couple of days back in The Guardian newspaper that kind of intrigued me, because it involved eggs and fish, a combination I had never come across on any food blog that I’d seen so far. As an added bonus, the ingredient list was pleasingly simple, so I went out that same evening and bought the required fish fillets.

Ok, the fish I bought (rainbow trout) was not the fish specified in the recipe (sea trout). Sea trout? What the heck is THAT? And where do you even get it? I was too shy to ask the fishmonger at Sainsbury’s, so I decided that one reddish fish was much the same as any other reddish fish. (Please don’t fillet me for that blasphemous statement, o fish purists!)

They weren’t whole fish, by the way. They were rainbow trout fillets, de-boned and blissfully unfussy to cook (and eat).

I also wasn’t going to buy double cream just for this recipe when I had creme fraiche at home, so creme fraiche was what I used. If you have/want double cream, by all means go with it. 
Continue reading