Category Archives: Main dishes

Pan-fried Trout and Provencal Vegetables

It is rare that I don’t put a sauce with fish, but the Provencal vegetables give the same context to this meal as a sauce, that being moisture and texture. This is one of those recipes where it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have one or two of the ingredients and for example, you can swap basil and parsley for thyme or rosemary.  We are just trying to encapsulate that southern France feeling and that is done by using ingredients that are typically grown and produced in Provence.  You can use any filleted piece of fish with or without skin for this, again I place a certain importance on pin boning, see chef´s tips for details or you can ask your fishmonger to do it, not saying he will as it is quite fiddly. Once you get into the habit it takes the eating of fish to the next level.

Ingredients (four people)

4 175g fillets of trout. (This is based on using the large salmon-trout fillets)
1  large aubergine
1 large red pepper
1 large courgette
3 lemons
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
10 black olives pitted and halved
1 tablespoon of capers
10g parsley and basil mixed
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method

Cut the aubergine and courgettes into 3cm squares, again take your time to make  straight even cuts.  Toss them separately  in oil and lay the aubergines onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and lay them out next to the aubergines.Put the red pepper and the garlic bulb on whole and roast in a 200 degree oven for 20 mins.

After 10 minutes take out the tray and gently turn over the aubergines and make some space and put in the courgettes and olives for the final 10 mins, use your instinct if it needs more time then give it, I just worry about the courgettes being overcooked and too soft.

When cooked, put the roast pepper onto a plate and the vegetables into a bowl. This is a warm salad so don’t worry about serving it piping hot. Peel the pepper and cut it into a similar size to the rest. Thinly slice the spring onion into rings. Add the olives, capers, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Cut the roast garlic bulb in half through the middle and squeeze the paste into the bowl. Gently turn over the mix until it is thoroughly mixed being careful not to mash it up.

Put a non-stick pan on a high heat, brush with olive oil and lay the fillet into it skin side down.  Cook until crispy and turn over the fish and turn off the gas.

While your fish is cooking through, lay the plates out and spoon a quarter of the mix onto each plate making sure everyone has a bit of everything.  Cut the lemon and put it next to the vegetables, then lay the fillet skin side up slightly off centre on top of the Provencal mix

Fillet of Mackerel with Dill, Lime and Chilli

This has got lunch on a sunny day all over it.  The contrast of textures and flavors is as good as it gets.  As a chef  I am  always looking for rock solid combinations.  Lime, dill and mackerel is one of those.  Aim for trimmed and pin boned fillets of mackerel from your fishmonger, explain that  you are following a recipe.  The very least you will get is the fish filleted.  The bones you will see, just try and pull them out with  tweezers or pliers don’t get bogged down by that, a few bones doesn’t matter.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 small or 1 large mackerel fillet per person
2 red chillies de-seeded
5g fresh dill
3 limes
75g spring onions (1 bunch)
Olive oil
100g sweet potato per person ( a medium potato)
100g courgette per person  ( a large one)
100g rocket salad leaves

Method 

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice lengthways 1cm thick .  Get your cast iron griddle pan (see chef’s tips) nice and hot and then turn down to medium. Toss the potato with the olive oil, and cook until the marks are prominent and the sweet potatoes are soft.  About four minutes each side.  Don’t let them get too black.  The potatoes will be reheated in the oven so you can do these in advance.

Slice  the courgettes 1.5cm thick (thicker than the potato) lengthways, and cook the same as the sweet potato.  Courgettes have a much faster cooking time, one and a half minutes each side should be be enough, use your own judgement as well.  These will also go under the grill to reheat so be careful not to overcook.  Lay the potatoes and courgettes onto a baking tray lined with paper or foil and put to one side ready to reheat under the grill. Drizzle a little honey over the sweet potatoes, squeeze some lemon over the courgette and season both with sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the chillies nice and small leaving the seeds in if you like it hot.  Slice the spring onions into rings, and roughly chop the dill.  Put 20ml of olive oil into a shallow pan and soften the chilli and the onion.  Add  the juice of two limes  two generous pinches of sea salt and half the dill.  Remove the pan from the heat once softened and put to one side.

Brush the mackerel fillets with  oil and season well.  Cook them skin-side up under a hot grill until the skin is crispy.  It shouldn’t be necessary to turn them as they are quite small and thin, they would normally cook through, though turn them if you think it is necessary.   As soon as the fish is cooked take it out and put the courgettes and potatoes under the hot grill to warm through.

Lay your plates out and put a few leaves of rocket in the centre.  Take out the tray from the grill and lay a slice of sweet potato, a slice of courgette a bit more rocket and the fillets of mackerel.  Divide and spoon over the dressing and repeat between the two plates.

Finish with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a wedge of lime.


Sweet Potato Fishcakes

Eating a fishcake can vary from being a truly amazing experience to a desperately dull affair.  Normally when I offer this on a menu I call it a ‘Japanese style’ fish cake to make it sound a little more exotic and draw attention away from our pre-conceptions regarding fishcakes.

This for sure is one of my most requested recipes.  It moves away from the normal ratio of fish to potato being 50:50 bringing the fish content to 80:20.  This enriches the texture and flavor giving it a sense of luxury as oppose to a cheap potato cake.  The sweet potato lightens the cake up as well as lending to the seasoning, giving it an original feel and look.

It might appear that there is a lot of direction this is just so that every eventuality in completing this recipe is covered.

Ingredients (Makes 6)

750g of salmon and any white fish (or just salmon is fine)
250g cooked and peeled sweet potato
10g dill
10g parsley
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
35g capers
35g gherkins
10g green peppercorns (optional)
2 large spring onions
2 red chillies de-seeded
100g fine polenta and sesame seeds (50:50)

Tartare sauce 

250g natural yoghurt
35g capers
25g gherkins
25g shallots or spring onions
Juice of one lemon
10g parsley

Method

These fishcakes need a minimum of 6 hours in the fridge before cooking, or even overnight, so make you sure you make them up in advance.

Start by cooking off the sweet-potatoes in boiling water.  Carry on with the instructions below then when they are cooked take them off the heat and strain off the water.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Place the fish into a oven dish and cover with water.  Slice one of the lemons and lay them over the fish.  Put the tray into the oven and let the fish poach for 15 minutes.  Remove the fish from the dish and let it cool on a large plate and put to one side.  Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and break up into a large bowl.

Chop the gherkins as small as you can be bothered.  De-seed the red chilies and cut into small squares.  Run a knife over the capers , don’t chop them too much. Slice the spring onions into thin rings.  Roughly chop the dill, chop the parsley a bit finer.  Zest the other lemon into the mix and add half of the lemon juice.  Season with Maldon and black pepper.  Mix the ingredients together (excluding the fish).  The most effective way to do this is by using your hands to get the ingredients thoroughly mixed through the potato.  If you don´t like using your hands a wooden spoon will do the job.

Flake and break up the fish removing bones and anything  that doesn’t look right (for example I personally don’t like the look of brown meat on the salmon.  There is nothing wrong with it, I don’t like it so I scrape it off).  When you have done that fold the fish into the sweet potato.  When all is even break off a bit and taste it.  You want to be able to taste the lemon and it could very well need a bit more salt.

Once the mix is ready divide it evenly into 6 pieces  (if you have a scales its easier to weigh them so they are the same, each one should be 175g)  wet your hands with water and roll the portions into balls.  Into a bowl put the  polenta and sesame seeds and mix.  Roll each fishcake thoroughly through the polenta and sesame seed mix.  If you have a mould run a tiny bit of oil around the inside.  (A mould being a metal or plastic bottomless ring.)  Drop the rolled ball into the mould which is on a plate and press into shape, repeat with the other balls.  If you don’t have a mould then take the rolled ball onto a board and press it flat with the palm of your hand. With a fish slice transfer to a plate.  The fishcakes will need to go into the fridge at this point.

To make the tartare sauce chop the gherkins into small cubes  and the shallots or spring onions even smaller. Roughly chop the capers, chop the parsley as fine as you can. Dry off herbs with a paper towel. Squeeze in the lemon juice into the mix, season and add the finely chopped parsley. Mix well, cover and put into fridge before serving.

Line a flat oven tray with baking parchment and turn the oven up to 200.  This is to heat the fishcakes through once they have been sealed in the frying pan.  Take your frying pan and you will need to put minimum 50ml of sunflower oil into it.  Heat the oil and lay the cakes into the pan.  Once the bottom has a nice golden colour turn them over and repeat the same on the other side.  Put the fishcakes onto the baking tray and put into the oven for around 15 minutes, until completely heated through.  You can normally smell them once they are ready.

Serving suggestions; as there is sweet potato in the cake, you don´t need to serve another carbohydrate with them.  Here I have dressed green beans with olive oil, roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh mint.  Any mixed salad or  green vegetables will work.

Chicken and Quinoa Medley

Chicken Quinoa

This is the kind of meal you could make for yourself and eat over a couple of days as long as you keep the sauce and seeds separate

I devised it originally to use up the chicken leftovers from a roast. You can just as easily griddle a chicken breast.  I use a lot of quinoa in my cooking. Its a complete protein, a carbohydrate and it’s gluten free. Like oats it has complex carbohydrates and essential amino acids which makes it good for training. Most importantly it’s versatile and works as a  sweet or savoury dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g of left over chicken or 2 chicken breast griddled
150g quinoa
150g cherry tomatoes
25g capers
50g spring onions or shallots
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 orange, juiced
Salt and pepper
25g parsley
75g sunflower seeds
10ml Tamari (or soy sauce)

Sauce

100g natural yoghurt
100g cucumber (about a third)
Half of the lemon juice
25g mint
Salt and pepper
Tamari seeds (see TIPS)

Method

To make the yoghurt sauce  mix together the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small squares, chop the mint and add to the yoghurt and mix together.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put onto a baking tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and black pepper and some olive oil. (Optional, drizzle a small amount of honey, agave, maple syrup or just a bit of sugar over the tomatoes for added sweetness).

Pour the quinoa into boiling water for 8-10 minutes, taste, it needs to be soft but with a bit of bite. Drain into a fine sieve and refresh under the cold tap. Let it drain for 5 minutes then lay out flat on a tray and cover with kitchen roll and press the excess water out of it. Roughly chop the capers and finely chop the spring onion and the parsley.

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze half the orange and half the lemon into the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the ingredients over to combine gently.  You don’t want to break up the tomatoes too much.

To serve, place the quinoa mix on a plate and layer on the chicken, pour on the dressing and garnish with herbs and seeds.

Prawn Cakes with Sesame, Orange and Tamari Dressing

Prawn Balls

It’s always nice to try and do something different and bring prawns to the front of a recipe. Normally prawns are a secondary addition to a larger list of ingredients like noodle recipes. This recipe takes advantage of  the prawn and its sweetness. You can easily halve the balls and use them as a starter or a pre dinner nibble.

Ingredients (makes 8 cakes)

500g prawns (uncooked, peeled and de-veined)
2 spring onions or shallots (75g)
10g coriander
2 de-seeded red chilies
30g fresh ginger
1 lime zested, then chopped and juiced
1 lime for garnish
White sesame seeds
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Sunflower oil for frying

Method

Put the un-cooked, peeled and de-viened prawns into a food processor and pulse into a paste (you can also use a stick blender).  Take out of blender and put into a bowl.

Finely chop the spring onions, coriander, red chillies and ginger then fold into the prawn paste with a spatula or a wooden spoon until mixed.  Squeeze half the lime and add a splash of fish sauce (if you don´t have this then  a sprinkle of salt will be fine) and lime zest and mix again. Wet your hands and divide into eight pieces. Roll into a ball shape. Have your sesame seeds ready in a bowl. Roll each of the balls in the sesame seeds and put onto a plate. With your hand press the balls flat so they will shallow fry (see photo).

Take a pan and brush the surface with sunflower oil, as minimal as possible. Place the cakes into the oil and cook until a golden shade of brown, turn them over and do the same. Finish off in a pre-heated oven at 180 for 8 mins. They should be firm to touch. Serve with a fresh crunchy salad and the dressing below.

Ingredients

125ml sesame oil
80ml fresh orange juice
40ml tamari (see store-cupboard)

Method

Put the ingredients into a old jam jar with a lid and shake really well, pour over a nice crisp green salad and serve.

Prawn Balls

Crispy Fish Fillet with Tahini Sauce

This is a meal that once you have done it you will keep using it. It’s got a nice Mediterranean feel to it as well as an interesting twist with the tahini sauce.  A recipe like this can be used as inspiration. Don’t get put off with what ingredients you don’t have, fish and tahini is the magic combination here, the rest of the ingredients just keep lifting it up.

Ingredients(serves 4)

4 fillets of white fish, trimmed and boned skin on (eg sea-bream, snapper, sea bass, salmon or cod)
2 oven roasted red peppers
1 aubergine
2 courgettes
2 lemons for garnish
Olive or sunflower oil for griddling

Tahini sauce ingredients

5 cloves (half a bulb) of garlic
125g tahini
Juice of a whole lemon
1tbsp (15ml) tamari
50-100ml water

Method

For the roast red peppers see Side Dishes.

Cut the aubergines into discs and the courgette into 1cm thick slices. Put a cast iron griddle pan onto a high flame, lightly oil the courgette and aubergine and sear either side so the lines of the pan are prominent on the vegetables. Aubergines take longer than courgettes.  When cooked, squeeze lemon juice over and season.  Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, ready for re-heating in the oven.

To make the tahini sauce the first thing you need to do is roast the half bulb of garlic in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes.  You can use raw garlic but when garlic is roasted the taste is subtler and works better with fish.Put the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and tamari into a bowl. Take a small whisk and bring the ingredients together.  The mix will become very thick at this point, you will need to slowly add the water until you get the right consistency.  We are looking for a single cream type pouring consistency.  For this dish, the sauce needs to be fairly thick as it will sit on the plate with the fish and the vegetables (if you were using this as a salad dressing, the sauce would be of a thinner consistency).

Buy the fish filleted and pin-boned, if possible.  If you do find any protruding bones then remove with pliers or tweezers.  To stop the fillet curling in the pan, pinch it on either side and score small incisions just below the skin, being careful not to cut too deep.

To cook the fish you will need a good non-stick frying pan.  Brush the pan and the skin of the fish with oil (sunflower oil works well as it has a higher heating point).  Lay the fish skin side down into the hot pan giving the pan a good shake until the fish starts to cook, this prevents the skin sticking and peeling off.  Don´t turn the fish until the skin is really crispy approximately 8 minutes cooking time.  When the skin is crispy turn the fillets over and turn off the heat.

To serve;

Whilst the fish is cooking lay out the four plates, distribute and arrange the courgette, red pepper and aubergine in the middle and pour the tahini sauce around them.  Then sit your fish on top of the vegetables and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Courgette, Mint & Feta Fritters with Cherry Tomato Salsa

Fritters are normally a deep-fried thing.  Mine  are very shallow fried for colour then finished in the oven. They are a bit like crepes in so much as it takes one or two to find your flow. This works well as a light lunch, a starter or a vegetarian option.  The main ingredients are courgettes and feta so don’t worry if you miss out on the cumin or the capers it will still taste great.

I tried to work this recipe without flour but they were just too delicate so I have added a spoonful of spelt flour which binds it and gives it strength.  You can use any flour. I don’t cook with flour very often but I always have a bag of white spelt flour in my cupboard for the occasions that it is called for.

Ingredients

500g grated courgette
100g feta cheese
8g mint leaves (20 leaves)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 tablespoon of spelt flour (or any other alternative flour will do)
1 tablespoon of capers
1 teaspoon of cumin
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon

Method

Squeeze the water out of the grated courgette – you can either use a tea towel by putting the grated courgette into the middle, then gathering it into a ball and twisting until the water comes through.  You can also use your hands, be thorough with this otherwise the excess water thins down the mix.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.  Put the grated courgette in a bowl, crumble in the feta then add the rest of the  ingredients. Mix well with a spatula. You should have a thick, moist mix.

Put your non stick frying pan onto a medium to high heat. Let the pan get hot then brush the surface with oil, just enough to prevent sticking. Always do a tester first, just so you know how it will behave. With a dessert spoon drop the mix onto the oil. Don’t mess with it too much as it takes a minute to set. Loosen the edge with a egg slice then flip, it needs to be a golden brown colour. When the other side is done put it onto a baking tray lined with oven paper. Wipe the frying pan with kitchen paper and start again until you have made four. You can prepare these in advance.

Put the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes. Leave for 5 mins to cool off a bit before serving.

Cherry Tomato Salsa Ingredients

1 small packet of cherry tomatoes (any variation will do, the redder the better)
1 spring onion (a shallot will do)
1 red chili (de-seeded)
Squeeze of lime or lemon
Squeeze of orange
2 dessertspoons of olive oil
10g corinader

Method

Quarter the cherry tomatoes into a bowl. Finely chop the spring onion and the de-seeded chili. Add to the tomatoes with lemon, orange juice and olive oil. The orange juice is not for its taste or sweetness it’s to counteract the sharpness of the lemon, this enables you to use less salt. Sir well then add salt and pepper to taste. Ideally this can be made well in advance as it gives the flavors time to permeate.

Smoked Paprika Chicken

Smoked paprika drives this dish so its worth having a good look for some. It’s not always easy to find so be warned. Alternatively you can use ordinary sweet paprika so don’t be put off if you can’t find smoked. The longer you leave the spice to permeate the chicken the better, overnight is good, but even half an hour does the trick.

Ingredients

2 small chicken breasts
4 medium sized sticks (soaked in water if you are cooking on a bbq)
3 cloves of garlic
1 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or sweet)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepperFor garnish
100g (a small pot) of natural yogurt
A squeeze of lemon
15g chopped coriander or parsley

Method

Cut each breast into 8 pieces and put into a bowl. Squeeze half the lemon, press the garlic add salt and pepper, olive oil and smoked paprika into the chicken and mix together with your hand. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour, preferably overnight.

Thread four pieces of marinated chicken onto each stick and leave on a plate in the fridge ready to cook, you can prepare these well in advance if you need to.

Cook on a cast iron griddle or put under the grill or bbq. Most importantly, do not over cook, when the meat is firm to touch it is done, better take one of the sticks off the heat and open the largest piece of chicken to make sure it is cooked through. Usually it takes 3-4 mins each side on a medium flame. Remember you can always put it back on or under the heat if it is not cooked.

To make the sauce, add salt pepper and lemon juice to the yogurt, you might need to add a touch of water to get the sauce to drizzle, finally sprinkle with chopped herbs.

Black Rice with Spinach and Prawns

Black rice is quite new to me, but it’s a whole food which means I can use it on retreats. As a result, I have been trying out different recipes and it has really grabbed me.  A search on the internet yielded many dessert recipes but few savoury ideas. Black rice is packed full of the good stuff (see store-cupboard) and is visually amazing.  It is not the same as wild rice. It’s much softer and smoother to eat.  The biggest drawback is the cooking time, it’s like brown rice in that it takes 35-40 mins, but it’s worth it for the visual impact and the original velvety taste.

 

Ingredients

400g Prawns (fresh and unshelled)
8 small shallots
4 cloves of garlic
300g black rice
1.5 litres of stock (powder or good cube is fine)
200g spinach
1 lemon
2 spring onions
20g coriander
2 small red chillies

Method

Dice the shallots, quite small, and press the garlic. Fry both off in olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. When they are turning brown add the rice and stir in well. Add the stock and once it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and stir gently occasionally.

Peel and de-vein the prawns – do this job next to running water, as it can get messy.

Zest the lemon, de-seed and finely chop the chilli, and pick the coriander.

Heat a saucepan of water.  Drop in the prawns and cook with lid on for two minutes.  Take a prawn out and cut into one of them to make sure it is cooked (if it’s not give it another 20 seconds).

Put the drained prawns in a mixing bowl and add the chili, spring onion and half the lemon zest with a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of half the lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  Gently turn the prawns over until it is mixed together.

After 30-35 minutes when the rice is cooked turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. Squeeze in the other half of lemon and add the spinach. Put a lid on the pan (keep the heat off) and leave for a minute. Take off the lid and fold the wilted spinach into the rice.

To serve lay a spoon full of the rice and spinach into a bowl or on a plate. Place a circle of prawns as in the picture. Garnish with the lemon zest that is left and the coriander.

Warm Roasted Vegetable, Smoked Tofu & Herb Salad

Inspired by the one-dish dinners from Morocco this delicious hearty dish
is perfect as the nights draw in

Ingredients for 6 people

250g smoked tofu
200g quinoa
75g whole peeled almonds (flaked will do)
10g mint
20g coriander
2 kilos mixed root vegetables eg.beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, onions
1 red pepper
1 whole bulb of garlic
150g goats cheese
1 lemon
125ml greek yoghurt
Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7.

Cook the quinoa in a pan of rolling boiling water for about 12 minutes. It is cooked when it still retains a bit of bite. Strain into a seive and run under cold water. Leave to drain. Roast the almonds in the oven until browned.

Take the largest baking tray you have, you might need two. Peel the root vegetables and cut into 4cm chunky pieces. De-seed the pepper and cut into similar size pieces. Break up the garlic bulb loose the flaky outer but don’t peel. Toss the vegetables in oil, season with salt and pepper then lay into the tray on baking paper. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer – not piled on top of each other – this will allow them to roast not steam. Cut the tofu into similar size pieces and keep it apart for now.

Put the trays of vegetables into the oven for about 20 minutes. After ten minutes take out of the oven and gently turn the vegetables over with a fish slice. Then distribute the tofu onto the vegetables, and cook for a further 8 minutes. Use your own judgement to decide when the vegetables are ready, optimal is soft and golden slightly burnt. Take the roast vegetables out and add the tofu and crumble the goats cheese over the top. Put back in the oven for a further 5-8 minutes until the goats cheese has melted.

Meanwhile, zest the lemon and chop the herbs, do not over chop them as it will make them watery. Mix together the yoghurt with lemon juice and season. The yoghurt sauce should be pouring consistency, if not add some water.

To assemble the dish put the vegetables and tofu mix and quinoa into a large mixing bowl (preferably in one layer at a time) and then gently turn it over – everything should be evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper, careful not to over salt.

Swirl the yoghurt from a spoon onto the vegetables etc. Hold the almonds in your hand and let them fall from the centre and to finish sprinkle the herbs and lemon zest over the top.