Smoked haddock fishcakes

I made this because there were some leftover vegetables from Sunday lunch and I was loath to throw them away – four pieces of roast potatoes, 1 small roast carrot and 1 piece of parsnip. And since there was some smoked haddock in the freezer, fishcakes seemed the easiest thing to make. It looks like there’s a lot in the ingredient list, but really the spicing is minimal (given what I’m used to, anyway). Pete and his mum both said the flavours were clean, the spicing didn’t mask the flavour of the fish or the potatoes. Which I guess is the point.

I used semolina for a crunchy exterior, but if you want to use Japanese panko breadcrumbs or maybe even cornmeal, feel free.

I served the fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce as a dip and a green salad on the side.

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Tuna pate

I love recipes like this, where there are no steps as such to follow, no fiddly procedures. Just collect the ingredients and throw them together and that’s it.

I used to find tuna really smelly, but I seem to have got used to it over time. The tuna I used for this recipe was line-caught tuna packed in olive oil, and it was actually quite mild, considering. I tried a little bit of this pate myself, and I have to say it was not smelly at all. That said, there’s the possibility that I couldn’t smell anything because my sense of smell has been affected by a rather horrible cold that I’ve had the last three days. I do think, however, that this pate is pretty mild-tasting and creamy. Rather nice.

Tuna pate

Tuna pate

Recipe for: Tuna pate
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Moussaka (Greek aubergine and potato bake)

Moussaka is one of Pete’s most favourite dishes. When we went to Crete last year, practically every time we went out for dinner, whether at an upscale restaurant or a village cafe, he would order moussaka. (And I would just as obsessively order dolmades, not just because I love them but also because they were vegetarian and there were not enough vegetarian options barring salads or pizza. But vegetarian problems are not relevant to this blog, really.)

The moussakas (and dolmades too, come to think of it) weren’t always what he had hoped for, but when he came across one that hit the spot, his delight was boundless. And, of course, that particular cafe was the one we went back to thereafter, because as he kept saying “I know it’s good here, so why go anywhere else where it might not be as good?” He never did answer my question which was “What if it’s BETTER?”. Or rather, he said “What if it’s NOT?” Well, fair enough, because the dolmades at that cafe were pretty good, so I didn’t mind not going anywhere else. 
Moussaka
Anyway, moussaka’s been on my “must try one day” list – just to make, not to eat, because I am a rabid anti-auberginarian and I don’t care who knows it! It’s a good thing that discrimination against aubergines is not a crime because I’d be jailed before you could say “aubergine”. or “eggplant”. Or “brinjal”. Or “kathirikkai”. Or “baingan”. Or in any of the other languages in which aubergines exist.

So, as I was saying, this weekend I decided would be my time to make moussaka. I thought it would be a painfully protracted process (ha, try saying that three times when you’re drunk!), but it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected – mainly, I suppose, because I scaled down the original recipe to make two generous (or three medium) portions. That meant that the aubergines and potatoes didn’t take too long to fry. However, I guess if you have a book in hand for this part of the cooking process, you won’t really notice the time it takes. 

Recipe for: Moussaka (Greek aubergine and potato bake)
Moussaka 1
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Fish pie

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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

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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:
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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.

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