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Haddock love?

27 Oct

Okay, I’ll admit I have never been a huge fan of fish. Give me prawns, langoustines, mussels, oysters, clams or any other crawly from the sea and I’m there. Langoustine marinated and grilled on the barbecue, meaty mussels nestling with spaghetti, fresh tomatoes and basil, shucked oysters with a tart lemon dressing, delicious every one. However…cod, plaice, salmon, haddock etc. have always left me a bit cold in the fish sense. But I am determined to rectify this as I know (or at least people keep telling me) there is great joy to be had from eating truly fresh and fabulous fish.

So last night I tried a quick and easy fish supper. Some great haddock fillets from the excellent, Ashton’s Fishmongers in Cardiff market. This is super simple. Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas mark 5.  Just arrange your fillets on an oiled baking tray, season well, then scatter fresh mozzarella, parmesan, cherry tomatoes and basil over the fish. A squeeze of fresh lemon over the top and a generous swirl of olive oil and it’s ready for the oven. 20mins is all you need. So grab some salad, dress it, and your supper is served. The verdict… these fish lovers might just have a point, next step salmon folks!

Pizza baby…

23 Oct

Getting kids cooking from an early age is not just fun, it shows them just how fantastic home-made food can be. For my son’s 4th birthday we had a pizza party. I made a big pile of dough, handed out mini rolling pins, bowls of cheese, tomato sauce, pineapple, sweetcorn, ham and peppers and stood back. The twenty, four year olds had the best time ever creating their own mini-pizza masterpieces complete with lots of squidging, nibbling and finger-licking.

Pizza-making is still a regular occurence in our house, and one which both my son and daughter love to be a part of. Last weekend, Joe and I decided to make some dough and use up the fresh tomato sauce I had made earlier. This recipe is simple and can be used to make bread or rolls, as well.

You will need:

1kg strong white or wholemeal bread flour
3 sachets dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 pint warm water

Homemade tomato sauce

Any toppings you fancy.

Making your dough is easy. Place your flour into a bowl, create a well in the centre, pour in your yeast, sugar and salt. Gradually pour in some of your water. Using a fork stir the contents together, keep stirring and adding your water until everything is nicely mixed.

By now you have the beginnings of a stretchy dough. Time to get messy, get your hands in and work the dough until it becomes smooth and round. Get it out on to a floured surface and work out your anxiety with lots of pulling, stretching, kneading, pulling and pushing. Once it feels smooth and almost silky it’s ready to prove. Leave in a bowl in a warm space.

After about an hour your dough will have doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 220 C/ Gas mark 7.

Divide the dough into large fist-sized balls. Each ball will make one large pizza. We tend to make a selection of sizes suited to whoever is going to eat the end result. Flour you work surface and start rolling out your dough. Thick or thin it’s personal preference. Once you have a rough circle the fun begins. Place your pizza base on a baking sheet (a bit of flour or oil will stop it sticking during cooking).

Bring on the toppings! Tomato sauce and mozzarella are your staples, but from there on you choose…

Figgy Supper

25 Sep

At the end of the week we’re tired and desperate for food therapy, so on these occasions we often go for Picky Supper. Picky supper basically consists of cheeses, cold meats and some bread revived in a hot oven, with perhaps a small salad, olives, pickles and any leftover homemade houmous.

The centrepiece of our feast last night was the fabulous bread I picked up at the Abergavenny Food Festival. Hobbs House Bakery create excellent fresh bread which can be delivered straight to your door. Our Fig and Walnut loaf came courtesy of my freezer, but after some oven rejuvenation it was delicious. Large pieces of fig and chunks of walnut studded the light wholemeal loaf . It worked brilliantly with a soft goat’s cheese and some sliced air-dried ham from another AFF exhibitor, Trealy Farm. With a large glass of red this was a total treat.

Put together a few select ingredients and you can quickly create a delicious dinner. I am a huge fan of assembly style meals where you simply arrange some ingredients that work well together introduce some flavours in the form of herbs, spices or oils and food heaven is all yours in a flash.

  • Arrange a plate of fresh salad leaves, some sliced tomatoes, a few basil leaves torn on top, a round of goat’s cheese crumbled over and some great rustic bread roughly torn into chunks, then drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon, season and serve.
  • Layer sliced cooked beetroot, pecorino shavings, basil leaves, fresh chopped chilli, a squeeze of lemon and olive oil. Serve solo or on top of cous cous soaked in stock, chicken or veggie both work well to invigorate the couscous with much needed flavour.
  • Marinade some chunky lamb chops with garlic, rosemary and olive oil. Season and cook quickly either on a griddle or under a hot grill. Serve with steamed purple sprouting broccoli great this time of year with some anchovy blended butter.I try to keep my food simple using quality ingredients from butchers, grocers and deli’s combined with some supermarket store-cupboard essentials.
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