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A fish pie for Autumn

8 Sep

There is a change in the air and the apples that were on my tree are now windfalls. With crisp mornings and dark nights coming closer it’s time to pull out the comfort recipes which will cosy up your evenings.

This fish pie, based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, is simple to make and combines both fresh fish, and lots of great vegetables so you can be guilt free. However you could add cream to your béchamel sauce and extra cheese to your topping if you are not worried about the calories!

I used cod, smoked haddock and salmon but whatever you have available works, prawns, pollack, or trout will be delicious in any combo. Some supermarkets sell a fresh fish pie mix which is perfect for this recipe. If time is limited feel free to cheat on the mash and use a pre-prepped root/sweet potato mash.

The beauty of this dish is that it’s choc full of veggies so you don’t need any other accompaniments.

IMG_5439

Salmon and haddock with crumbled feta, spinach, peas and a dill béchamel

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 400/500g mixed fresh fish, chopped into large chunks
  • 300g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 100g fresh or frozen peas (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pint milk semi or full fat
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 750g mixed root vegetables eg. sweet potato, carrot, peeled, diced, boiled in salted water and mashed
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 oC
  • Butter your pie dish
  • Peel, dice, and boil your root vegetables in salted water, cook till tender and then mash till smooth, leave to cool
  • Arrange your cubed fish along the bottom of the dish
  • To make your béchamel; melt the butter in a small saucepan, add your flour and, using a wooden spoon, combine to make a roux (this is almost like a dough) keep it moving and cook gently until opaque.
    Gradually stir in your milk, get ready to switch to a whisk as the sauce will thicken quickly and the goal is something smooth and velvety.
    Once you have added all your milk season the sauce and stir in half your dill and the mustard, leave to cool
  • Add the spinach and peas to the béchamel sauce and spoon over your fish
  • Crumble half the feta cheese over your sauce base
  • Carefully spoon on the mash, crumble the remaining feta over the top and then bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling at the sides.
  • Garnish with the remaining dill and serve.
IMG_5450

Sweet potato mash fish pie with crumbled feta

Barabrith meet Tea Brack

22 Apr

After growing up in Abergavenny, Wales you would think I would be totally au-fait with Barabrith. I am afraid not, in our house we had Tea Brack, and yes it bears a more than a passing resemblance to Barabrith, although I’m sure die-hard Welsh cooks will disagree. Tea Brack has it’s origins in Ireland, so maybe somewhere in my roots there is an Irish granny (since confirmed I do have the blarney in my roots!) who has passed this recipe down through the family, both my mother and grandmother cooked this delicious fruit loaf regularly. Their version did not include whisky which seems to feature frequently in the traditional Irish versions of the recipe. In the Llewellyn family method, the fruit is soaked overnight in cold tea, and then combined with the other ingredients to make a warm fruit bursting loaf. Said loaf could then be sliced and spread with butter and served at Saturday tea time alongside scones with homemade Raspberry jam, Victoria sponges oozing with buttercream and other scrummy, but heart attack inducing fare.

Tea brack

Ingredients

300g mixed dried fruits eg. Sultanas, raisins etc
250g Light brown sugar
300ml Strong, hot tea
300g Self-raising flour
1 egg
Butter for greasing tin
1kg/2lb Loaf tin

  • This is pretty simple as cake recipes go and fairly laid back. Just a few ingredients and a loaf tin.
  • The night before put your sugar and dried fruit in a bowl, make your strong tea and while its hot pour over the sugar and fruit and stir well. The fruit needs 6-8 hours to soak up all the sugary tea so leave overnight.
  • Next day grease your loaf tin and line the base with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to 150C/ gas mark 2.
  • Mix the flour and egg into the fruit mixture which by now has soaked up the sweetened tea.
  • Once mixed scrape into the loaf tin and level the top.
  • Bake in your oven for 1.5hours or until it has risen and is firm to the touch.
  • Leave to cool for 10mins before turning out of the tin and putting onto a wire rack.
  • Delicious sliced and spread with warm salty butter.
  • NB: It is essential to drink a large mug of hot tea preferably poured from a teapot with your Barabrith.

True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011

16 Jun

The other day I had the opportunity to do my bit for Wales. Granted this was not too arduous a task as it involved eating lots and lots of delicious food all day long.

As a judge for the celebrated True Taste Food and Drink Awards I sampled some of the very best food Wales has to offer. Some truly superb entries in all categories, it illustrated just how far Wales has come as a producer of top quality foodstuffs. With the odd bizarre exception, the entries were well prepared and of a very high standard. From salami to sirloins, and pies to preserves, it was a complete gastro-feast. These awards are an excellent opportunity for producers to showcase their talents and gain the recognition they deserve both locally, and UK wide.

This was a great experience with some very knowledgeable foodies and chefs making up the the judging panel. My entire day was spent smelling, savouring, indulging and discussing…heaven!

If you want to know more about the True Taste Food and Drink Awards please take a look at their site www.truetaste.tv

The winners of the True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011-2012 will be announced later this year.

Spring barbecue…

23 Apr

Spring has definitely sprung, and in true brit reaction to the weather our furry coats have been swapped for a bikini top and shorts. The heatwave means we can hit the garden with our lily-white bodies and get some Vitamin D exposure.

With this in mind last weekend saw the Davies household’s first barbecue of the year. After a quick trip to Slade Organics just outside Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan, we came home with fantastic fillet steak from prime Aberdeen Angus cattle. How do I know they were Aberdeen Angus? Because Slade Farm labels tell you so, including the age of the animal, what they ate, their provenance, (bred, born, reared and fattened on Organic holding based at Southerndown), where they were slaughtered and how long the meat was hung for. This is the sort of info which should be standard and gives you a much more personal connection to what you are eating. Added to which, and most importantly, the end product is rather fabulous.

We even picked up boot-full of manure for my veg patch courtesy of some very cute Gloucestshire Old Spot pigs which are also raised on Slade Farm.

Great steak is best kept simple, rub with a fruity olive oil and season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Once your coals are hot, pop on your steaks and open something red and fruity (note: to avoid barbecue burns, limit the red and fruity to just a glass until you put the tongs down).

Cook your steak as you like it (mine’s seared, smoky and pink) and then leave it to rest with a knob of herb butter on a warmed plate. Alongside your steak try a quick baby gem salad, the sweet and crisp leaves will hold their own against ripe tomatoes layered with basil and red onion. In true boy scout style you could add a crispy skinned baked potato sliced open with some salty butter to cool the inside. With the sun fading and probably your first sunburn of the year just starting to glow, eat, drink and enjoy it while it lasts people.

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