Friday, 24 April 2015

Smoked Salmon and Camembert Salad

Smoked salmon and camembert based on rocket based salad bed

Last night, I devised an experimental creation for my Scottish food blog, Smoked Salmon and Raspberry Salad. It worked a real treat, so as I had a quantity of some of the key ingredients leftover, I decided to make a similar (but different in many ways, of course) salad tonight to feature on this blog. I hope you like at least one of the ideas and will give it/them a try for yourself at home.

Rocket (arugula) is washed thoroughly under running cold water

Ingredients (Serves One)

Generous handful of rocket (arugula) leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bruschetta
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 or four slices from small red onion half
6 to 8 pitted black olives
Salt and black pepper
2 or 3 slices of cold smoked salmon, torn to one inch strips
3 slices of Camembert cheese, halved
1 herb and onion ciabatta bread roll
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed

Extra virgin olive oil and blasamic vinegar are combined


Wash the salad leaves in a colander under running cold water and leave for a few minutes to drain. Pour the olive oil and balsamic in to a large bowl and swirl the bowl briefly to combine.

Salad base ingredients are added to vinaigrette

Shake any remaining water from the rocket/arugula leaves and add them to the bowl with the vinaigrette, along with the red onion and black olives.

Salad bed is formed for smoked salmon and camembert

Use your hands to toss the salad through the vinaigrette and lay it in the bottom of a deep serving plate.

Camembert and smoked salmon leftovers

Prepare the smoked salmon and camambert. Roll the smoked salmon strips and tuck in to the salad along with the Camembert, as shown in the photos.

Smoked salmon and camembert arranged on salad bed
Cut the ciabatta roll in half and lightly toast on both sides under a hot grill/broiler. Rub on the cut sides with the crushed garlic clove. Drizle with extra virgin olve oil and season with salt and pepper.

Onion and herb ciabatta bruschetta

Plate the bruschetta at the top of the salad and serve immediately.

Bruschetta is plated with smoked salmon and camembert salad

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Spicy Beef Pasty, Beans and Wedges

A Tasty Twist on a Basic Classic Dish

Homemade spicy beef pasty with bean salad and potato wedges

Pasties are hugely popular across the UK. While once upon a time, Cornish pasties or Forfar bridies from Scotland were pretty much all that was widely available, there are now huge numbers of different pasty fillings available to buy both from supermarkets and particularly from smaller, private retailers. A couple of years back, I decided to experiment with pasties and created an online page featuring 10 different pasty fillings. As part of this project, I firstly bought a standard beef and onion supermarket pasty to feature as the commercial option. I can honestly say, it was one of the most disgusting food creations I've ever had the misfortune to taste but at least emphasised my point that the best pasties are the homemade ones in long established, traditional fashion.

This recipe is simply an extension of the idea of eating a pasty (or a pie) with baked beans in tomato sauce and chips, a concept of course still very popular in Britain. 
Potato wedges are firstly steeped in cold water

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 medium to large baking potatoes, sliced in to wedges
1/2 pound minced (ground) beef steak
1/2 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly chopped coriander (cilantro), plus a little extra to garnish
1/2 pound premade puff pastry
Flour for rolling out pastry
Beaten egg for glazing
Oil for greasing baking tray
14 ounce can mixed bean salad


You have to start with the potato wedges as they are actually cooked three times, in two different ways.

Begin by steeping them in cold water for ten minutes to get rid of the excess potato starch. Drain and return them to a pot of fresh cold water. Season with salt and bring to a simmer for five minutes. Drain and lay them in a single layer in a large plastic dish. Leave to steam off for five minutes then refrigerate for a minimum half hour. They are then deep fried in medium hot oil for three or four minutes, drained on kitchen paper and returned to the fridge while the pasty is prepared and cooked.

Red onion, red chilli and coriander for spicy beef pasty

Put the minced/gound beef in to a large mixing bowl. Add the prepared onion, chilli and coriander. Grate in the peeled garlic clove and season with the turmeric, salt and pepper.

Combining spicy beef ingredients

While you could of course use a spoon to combine everything together, you get much better results, far more quickly, using your hand.

Spicy beef pasty filling

Roll the pastry out on a floured surface large enough that you can use a thirteen inch dinner plate to cut a circle from it.

Dinner plate used as pastry cutting template

Arrange the pasty filling on one half of the pastry circle, leaving a border of around an inch at the edge. Glaze this border with beaten egg, using a pastry brush.

Pasty filling is added to pastry

Carefully fold the empty half of pastry over the filled half and crimp to seal around the edge.

Pasty is folded and crimped

Let the pastry rest while your oven preheats to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
Pasty is glazed for baking

Lift the pastry on to a lightly oiled baking tray and glaze all over with more beaten egg. Cut a steam vent in the centre and cook for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the pastry is beautifully golden and crispy.

Spicy beef pasty

When you take the pasty from the oven, sit it on a wire rack for five to ten minutes while you attend to the potato wedges. It can then be lifted to a chopping board and halved.

Spicy beef pasty is halved to serve

The potato wedges should be fried for a second time in hot oil for about four or five minutes until they too are gold and crisp. They should then be drained on kitchen paper.

Potato wedges are drained on kitchen paper

You can use any kind of beans you wish but this mixed bean salad contains five different types of bean. Black eyed beans, green beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans and haricot beans are all in there along with some sweetcorn kernels. Drain the opened can through a colander and rinse the beans under running cold water.

Mixed bean salad

Add a pasty half to each serving plate, arrange the beans and wedges alongside and garnish the beans with the remaining coriander leaf.

Spicy beef pasty, bean salad and wedges are plated

Monday, 20 April 2015

Kangaroo Steak and Mango Salad Rolls

Sliced kangaroo steak is combined with mango salad and served on bread rolls

A few weeks ago, I discovered that my local Lidl (budget German supermarket) was selling kangaroo steaks. As they were only to be on offer in the short term, I bought a few packs for the freezer and over the course of the following week or two, defrosted them one at a time and created my own kangaroo recipes page online. I thought I would also share one of the dishes I came up with on this blog. I'm told that Lidl will be selling kangaroo again at some point in the future so if you want to look out for it - or perhaps buy kangaroo meat online - you may want to give this idea a go.

Baby potatoes ready for boiling

Ingredients (Serves One)

6 to 8 baby new potatoes
2 small kangaroo steaks (each about three ounces)
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
3 or 4 fresh mango chunks (around half a small mango), sliced
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Generous handful fresh watercress or other green salad leaf
2 soft bread rolls

Starting to fry kangaroo steaks


Put the potatoes in to a pot of salted cold water and bring to a simmer for about twenty to twenty-five minutes until just softened. Drain, allow to steam for a few minutes, cover and leave to cool completely.

Kangaroo steaks are turned in frying pan

Pour a couple of tablespoons or so of oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a high heat. Kangaroo meat is very lean so like other lean meats, it has to be cooked very quickly at a high heat or very slowly at a low heat. It should also remain a little bit pink in the centre. I fried these steaks for two and a half mionutes each side but you could give them a little bit longer if desired. Do be very careful not to overcook them, however, or they will be incredibly tough.

Washing watercress salad

While the steaks are frying, you can wash the watercress through a colander and sit it aside to drain.

Fresh mango chunks and red onion

These mango chunks were actually bought like this in a small plastic tub from my local supermarket. I suppose at a push you could use canned mango chunks, provided they are in juice and not syrup.

Cooked and cooled potatoes are halved

Take the cooked kangaroo steaks from the frying pan and sit them on a plate to rest. Cut the potatoes in half and bring a deep pan of oil up to a fairly high heat.

Deep frying potato halves

Add the potatoes to the hot oil and fry for four or five minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.

Combining mango salad ingredients

Add the mango and onion slices to a bowl with the watercress. Season and stir.

Sliced kangaroo steaks added to mango salad

Thinly slice the kangaroo steaks across the grain and add them to the salad. Carefully turn them through the mix with a large spoon.

Carefully turning kangaroo slices through mango salad

Cut the rolls in half. Lay the bottom halves on your serving plate and evenly divide the kangaroo and mango salad between the two. Put the tops on the rolls and plate the crispy potato halves alongside.

Kangaroo and mango salad is laid on roll bottom halves

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Mexican Fajita Spiced Turkey Stew

An Unusual Twist on Both Turkey and Fajitas Recipes

Turkey stew with Mexican fajitas spices and mixed peppers

This recipe was very much a spur of the moment creation when I was browsing my local supermarket a few nights back, seeking inspiration. It occured to me that I hadn't eaten turkey for a while and when considering how to cook it, I remembered the fajitas spice I had in my cupboard needing used up. So the idea was born and it really did prove to be very tasty.

Principle spicy turkey stew ingredients

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1/2 pound turkey breast steak
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
Generous handful mixed sliced bell peppers
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small green chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced, for stew and 1 small clove, peeled and grated, for rice
1 teaspoon Mexican fajitas spice mix
1 pint fresh chicken stock
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro for stew and 1 teaspoon for rice
6 ounces basmati rice (or as desired)

Turkey breast is diced for stew

Chop the turkey breast steak in to around one inch chunks. Heat the oil in a large stew pot and add the turkey pieces and fajitas spice. Stir fry for a minute or so until the turkey pieces are all sealed all around.

Turkey and spices are firstly browned and sealed in oil

Be careful but do try to slice the red onion and garlic as thinly as you can.

Sliced red onion and garlic

Add the onion and garlic to the pot and fry for another minute or so.

Red onion and garlic are added to the browned turkey

It's worth mentioning the seeds in the chilli peppers. You could leave them in if you wish but be sure to know the strengths of the peppers. Remember, it is the membrane which contains the seeds (lighter in colour than the pepper flesh) which contains the heat and not the seeds themselves.

Seeded and sliced chilli peppers

Add all the peppers to the pot and stir well.

Mixed peppers are added to turkey

Pour the chicken stock in to the pot and turn up the heat until the liquid reaches a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for thrity minutes.

Chicken stock is added to cover all ingredients

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Ten minutes before the stew is due to be ready, wash the rice and add it to the pot. Simmer for ten minutes.

Rice is washed under running cold water

Just before it is ready, stir the coriander through the turkey stew.

Coriander is added to the spicy turkey stew

Drain the rice, return to the empty pot and stir through the coriander and garlic.

Coriander and garlic are added to the drained rice

Divide the rice between two plates, flatten as beds and ladle on the turkey stew.

Tucking in to fajitas spiced turkey stew with rice

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

Pan fried cod fillet with roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Cod in the UK is probably most often battered and deep fried or shallow fried in breadcrumbs. It would also traditionally of course be served with chips. While I absolutely love cod and other white fish served that way on occasion as much as anyone, I've got to say that I much prefer it cooked and served in a Southern European/Mediterranean style. The beautiful weather here the past few days has had me thinking of summer, so this was what I came up with for my dinner just last night.

Supermarket pack of mixed Mediterranean vegetables

Ingredients (Serves One)

Supermarket pack of assorted Mediterranean roasting vegetables*
Rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
Generous pinch dried basil
Generous pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound cod fillet (skin on)
2 or 3 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
Freshly chopped basil to garnish

*Buying the vegetables in a pack like this is not just convenient, it costs a fraction of the price. If your local supermarket doesn't sell packs like this, you can of course buy the vegetables individually. This pack was made up of red onion, cherry tomatoes, sliced courgette (zucchini) and sliced bell peppers.

Mediterranean vegetables ready for roasting


Put your oven on to preheat to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8.

Drizzle the vegetables liberally with rapeseed oil. Season with salt, pepper and the dried herbs. You could use a spoon to mix them well and ensure even coating but I always use my hands. It's much quicker and easier. Put them in to the hot oven for half an hour.

Fresh cod fillet

When the vegetables have been in the oven for about twenty minutes, pour two or three tablespoons of oil in to a large, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Scatter the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.

Seasoned flour for dusting cod on skin side

Pat the skin side only of the cod in the seasoned flour before adding it to the frying pan, skin side down. Season the flesh side of the cod with a little more salt and pepper.

Starting to fry cod fillet

It's not possible to give an exact cooking time for the cod fillet as it will depend on its thickness. The idea is to leave it on the skin side on a medium heat until you can see it is cooked at least three-quarters of the way through. That took about six minutes in this instance. You should then reduce the heat to low and carefully turn it with a fish slice on to its flesh side for a couple of more minutes.

Cod fillet is finished off frying on flesh side

The vegetables can be removed from the oven while the cod is finishing frying on its flesh side.

Oven roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Use a slotted spoon to arrange the vegetables on a plate as a bed for the cod.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables arranged as a bed for cod fillet

Carefully lift the cod from the pan and on to the bed of roasted vegetables. Note that it should be plated skin side up. Garnish with the freshly chopped basil leaves.

Cod fillet is laid on roasted vegetables bed

The skin should easily peel clean off the cod fillet in one piece, though you may need to start by loosening it at one corner edge with a knife.

Skin is peeled easily from fried cod fillet

The beautiful white cod flesh should virtually fall apart in to chunks at a touch of your fork.

Cod fillet should easily separate in to large flakes for eating