Monday, 20 August 2012

Poached Rainbow Trout Summer Salad with Dill Buttered New Potatoes

Poached rainbow trout salad is served with hot, dill buttered new potatoes

Trout is like most other species of fish in that it is most often served hot. The truth is, however, that it can be even more delicious served cold. Although rainbow trout is used in this specific recipe, any form of trout - from wild brownies or sea trout in the UK, to steelheads in North America - will work equally well. This method of cooking trout is as foolproof as foolproof gets, with no chance of you overcooking the fish or spoiling it if you follow the incredibly simple, basic instructions.

Rainbow trout are gutted but otherwise left whole for poaching

Ingredients (Serves Four)

2 small to medium rainbow trout
Small bunch of fresh dill
2 small cos or romaine lettuces
3 inch piece of cucumber
6 to 8 small cherry tomatoes
6 to 8 pitted black olives
2lb baby new potatoes
1oz butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh dillweed


The trout should be gutted (eviscerated) but otherwise left whole. After you have gutted them, wash them well in cold water and lay them in the base of a large soup or stock pot. Season with sea salt and add about half your fresh dill sprigs. Pour in enough cold water to comfortably cover the trout and put the pot on to a high heat.

Rainbow trout ready to be poached

As soon as you can see the water starting to boil, turn off the heat, move the pot carefully to a cool part of your hob and cover with the lid. Leave it alone to cool for a couple of hours. It is the residual heat that slowly and gently cooks the trout, ensuring it remains deliciously moist and nutritious, with precious little of its natural oils being lost to the poaching liquer.

When the trout are just about cool, add your potatoes (unpeeled) to a large pot and season with salt. Add enough cold water to completely cover, bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour.

Cooked and cooled rainbow trout are removed from the poaching pot

When the trout and the liquid have cooled, lift the trout out of the pot to a plate. Leave them for a couple of minutes to drain and dry off a bit while you quickly assemble your salad.

Wash the lettuce leaves and roughly shred them before laying in the base of a large serving platter. Half the tomatoes and half the cucumber lengthwise before slicing in to crescents. Arrange on top of the lettuce. Half the olives and add them next before seasoning with salt and pepper.

Assembling the salad bed for the rainbow trout flesh

In order to remove the flesh from the bones of the trout, begin by making a slit along the lateral line of the trout with a very sharp knife, right through until you feel the resistance of the main skeletal bone. Peel the skin away to the sides and slide the flesh off in the same way. Lift the head and the whole backbone should lift easily free, revealing the second side of the trout. Slide the flesh off the skin in a similar fashion.

Removing the flesh from the bones of the poached rainbow trout

Lay the trout on top of your prepared salad. Drain the potatoes through a colander and return them to the pot. Leave to steam and dry for two or three minutes. Add the butter.

Roughly chop the remaining dill. Scatter half over the rainbow trout salad and add the other half to the potatoes. Gently swirl the potatoes in the pot to evenly coat with the dill butter and pour in to a separate serving dish. Take your dishes to the table and serve with chilled white wine.

Rainbow trout flesh is laid on the salad bed, ready to be garnished and served

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Spicy Beef and Tomato Stew with Poached Eggs

Eggs are poached in this spicy beef and tomato stew just before it is served

This recipe is similar in some ways to the Mexican breakfast dish that is huevos rancheros but perhaps has more in common with the North African dish, shakshouka. It is simply a spicy beef and tomato stew, slow cooked on the hob, with eggs poached in the pan as the final stage of the cooking process. It has then been served with some very fresh bread.
Principal ingredients for this spicy beef and tomato stew

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4lb stewing steak or beef
Olive oil
1 small white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 green bell pepper
1 pint fresh beef stock
14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and black pepper
2 large eggs
Sliced basil leaves to garnish
Fresh bread slices to serve

Sliced onion and garlic is added to the browned beef


Pour a little olive oil in to a deep frying pan which has a lid. The lid will help the eggs poach properly at the end of the procedure. Bring up to a medium heat and add the diced beef. Brown it quickly before adding the peeled and sliced onion and garlic.  Cook for a further couple of minutes before the green bell pepper (seeded and sliced) is added.

Chopped bell pepper is added to the browned beef and onion

Stir fry for a further minute or so before adding the beef stock, tomatoes, paprika, chilli flakes (if you are using them) and salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer as gently as possible for two hours, stirring occasionally and topping up the liquid level with a little boiling water, only if necessary.

Stock, tomatoes and spices are added to the pot

When the stew is essentially ready, only then is it time to add the eggs for poaching.  First of all, taste the stew and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The eggs should firstly be broken in to a small bowl. This not only makes it easier to add them to the pan, it allows you to remove perhaps any bits of shell which may inadvertently be included.

Eggs should be broken in to a small bowl rather than straight in to the pot

A spoon should be used to make a couple of little wells in the beef and tomato stew. The eggs should then carefully be poured in to the wells.

Eggs are added to wells made in the stew

Putting the lid on the pan at this stage does help to cook the eggs more evenly. They will take about eight to ten minutes, depending upon how liquid or solid you wish the yolk to be served.

The lid should be added to the pan when poaching the eggs

Remove the lid from the pan and scatter over the sliced basil as a final garnish. You may wish to serve the stew in the pan at the table (be sure to sit it on a heatproof board) but it can be dished up in the kitchen if you prefer.

Stew is delicious served simply with some fresh bread

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fresh Sardines on Toast with Simple Salad

Sardine fillets are served on a slice of toasted Tiger bloomer with side salad

Sardines on toast for most people will probably mean opening a small can of sardines in tomato sauce - or perhaps sunflower oil - and laying them straight on to some hot, buttered ordinary toast. While this does make for a quick, easy and delicious snack or lunch, fresh sardines not only take the sardine eating experience to a new level, they can provide a tasty and satisfying dinner. Add to this the facts that fresh sardines in the UK at least are incredibly cheap to buy and they are full of omega-3 fatty acids and you have a winning combination in a number of ways.

Ingredients per Person

2 fresh, whole sardines
1 thick slice of Tiger bloomer bread
1 medium tomato
2 inch piece of cucumber
6 pitted black olives
6 pitted green olives
1 clove of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
Shredded basil leaves to garnish (optional)

Fresh sardines ready to be filleted


It is incredibly easy to whip the fillets off fresh sardines. Lay the sardine on one side on your chopping board and with a proper filleting knife, cut in behind the pectoral fin, angled slightly towards the head. When you hit the bone, twist the knife gently and slice back along the bone to the tail. Remove the fillet, turn the sardine over on to its other side and repeat.

Filleting a sardine

When you have filleted the sardines, you will need to wash off the excess blood and gore. Don't be tempted to do this under running water, as the fillets are so delicate, this could damage them. Instead, dip them in a bowl of cold water and gently rub them clean with the ball of your thumb.

Sardine fillets are gently washed in a bowl of cold water

Put the flour on a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Bring some olive oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Pat the sardine fillets one at a time in the flour on both sides and add them to the pan, skin side down in the first instance. Fry for a couple of minutes on the skin side then reduce the heat and very carefully turn them over on to their flesh sides for about a further minute.

Pan frying lightly floured sardine fillets

When the sardine fillets are in the pan, get your bread on to toast until golden on both sides.

A slice of Tiger bloomer bread is cut for toasting

Peel the garlic clove and lightly crush it before rubbing it over the hot toast. This imparts a beautiful additional flavour to the toast and the dish.

Garlic is rubbed on the hot toast

Cut the cucumber and tomato in to segments, mix with the olives and season with salt and pepper. Plate alongside the toast before drizzling with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Tiger bloomer toast and side salad are plated, ready for the sardines

The sardine fillets should be laid skin sides up on the toast. The basil leaves (if you are using them) should be rolled and sliced before being scattered roughly over the sardines and salad for service.

Tuck in and enjoy sardines on toast, the likes of which you may never have tasted before...
A basil garnish is optional before you tuck in to your fresh sardines on toast

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Pan Fried Mackerel Fillets with Feta Cheese Stuffed Olives and Peashoots Salad

Pan fried mackerel fillets are laid on the salad bed and served with garlic toast

Mackerel is one of my favourite eating fish. At this time of year, when my sea fishing trips can see mackerel caught aplenty, finding new and innovative ways to serve the fish can be a challenge. This pan fried mackerel fillets with a partially Greek themed salad was an experiment which I believe worked very well and if you do have access to fresh mackerel, I hope you'll give something like this a try.

Ingredients per Person

1 whole fresh mackerel (ungutted)
6 black olives, pitted
6 green olives, pitted
1oz Greek feta cheese (approximately)
Generous handful of peashoots
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
Sea salt and black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
2 thick slices of farmhouse bread
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crush
3 or 4 large basil leaves to garnish, finely sliced

Pitted olives are stuffed with feta cheese for salad


It's a good idea to begin by assembling your salad. Wash the pea shoots, shake them as dry as you can and lay them on your serving plate. Cut the feta cheese in to appropriately sized pieces and carefully stuff in to the olives. Arrange the olives on top of the peashoots, season with black pepper only (you should get enough salt from the feta cheese) and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Feta cheese stuffed olives and peashoots salad is assembled

The reason why you should use a mackerel ungutted if at all possible is that it is much easier to fillet than one that has had its innards removed. Begin by lying the mackerel on a steady chopping board on one side and above all, make sure you use a proper filleting knife for this job or you are inviting disaster. If you don't have a proper filleting knife, bargains aplenty can be found on Amazon or Amazon UK and if looked after properly, these knives should last you for years. Below are a couple of examples in each instance you may seriously wish to consider if you are intending filleting fish of any type.

First fillet is sliced cleanly from the whole mackerel

Cut in at an angle behind the pectoral (head) fin, through to the bone, then twist the knife carefully and slice off the first fillet along the bone, all the way to the tail. Turn the mackerel over and simply do exactly the same on the other side to remove the second fillet.

A v-shaped cut is made to remove the bones from the mackerel fillets

Lay the fillets flat on their skin sides and make a narrow, v-shaped cut - slicing on either side of the central bone system - careful not to go through the skin. You should then be easily able to lift this bone free. The remaining bones, over the stomach cavity, should be pulled out in the direction they are lying. Wash the fillets carefully in a bowl of cold water, ensuring you remove the dark skin that covers the one time stomach cavity. Pat them carefully dry with kitchen paper.

Mackerel fillets are patted on their skin sides in seasoned flour

Bring some vegetable oil up to a fairly high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Scatter the flour on a plate and season. Pat the mackerel fillets on their skin sides only in the flour and gently shake off the excess. Lay the fillets skin side down in the pan and season the flesh sides lightly with salt and pepper. Fry for two or three minutes until you can see the fillets are cooked most of the way through then reduce the heat to minimum and carefully turn them over to complete cooking in what will be about a further minute.

Thick slices of bread are cut for toasting

The bread should be sliced and put on to toast after you have turned the mackerel fillets on to their flesh sides.

Finishing frying the mackerel fillets on their flesh side

When the mackerel is done, use a fish slice or spatula to carefully lift it on to the salad bed as shown below.

Mackerel fillets are laid on the feta cheese stuffed olives and peashoots salad

Rub the hot toast with the crushed garlic clove before halfing each slice and arranging around the edges of the plate. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired before scattering over the sliced basil as a final garnish before service.

A crushed garlic clove is rubbed over the hot toast

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Whole Roasted Chicken Leg and Roast Potatoes

Whole chicken leg of drumstick and thigh served with potatoes roasted in chicken juices

Whole chicken legs are often available to buy in packs from supermarkets, each pack usually containing four to eight legs. This can represent a very cost effective family meal and the legs are delicious cooked up in a number of ways. Consisting of both the drumstick and the thigh, the whole legs are a tasty and welcome alternative to either, offering a contrast in the two different textures of chicken meat.

Chicken legs are rubbed with olive oil and salted for roasting

Ingredients per Person

6 to 8 small new potatoes, unpeeled
1 whole chicken leg
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp frozen peas

Peeling cooked potatoes for roasting


Begin by cooking the potatoes in their skins by simmering them in slightly salted water for about half an hour until just soft. Drain, return to the pot, cover and leave to cool.

Rested whole chicken leg is plated

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Rub the chicken legs all over with extra virgin olive oil and season with plenty of salt. Lay them on a roasting tray and bake for about forty minutes, until crisp and golden and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.

Roasted potatoes are drained on kitchen paper

Remove the chicken legs to a plate and cover to rest. Rub the skins off the peeled potatoes and add them to the tray with the hot chicken juices. Stir them carefully around and put in to the oven for twenty minutes. Transfer to a kitchen paper covered plate to drain while you add the peas to boiling water for three minutes.

Plate the chicken leg with the potatoes alongside. Drain the peas through a colander and spoon on to the plate for service.

Roasted potatoes are plated with chicken leg