Japanese mackerel and Broccoli

Eating Japanese food really takes me back to my time in Japan. This dish is so tasty but so quick to make and tastes pretty authentic even though I did sub in some smoked mackerel. Using smoked mackerel means you can just flake the mackerel over at the end which is great if you’re short on time though the sauce would be delicious with any grilled fish. (I realise I go a bit heavy on the mackerel on this blog and aim to mix it up in the future.) I’ve bought a ton of awesome cookbooks on Kindle store that I don’t often look at – I find it easier to pick up an actual book. However, there’s this great ‘collections’ function so now I have all of them in one place. This recipe (well the sauce) was from ‘Everyday Harumi.

‘ Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 fillets of mackerel
  • 2 servings white rice
  • 50ml sake (or dry sherry)
  • 50ml mirin
  • 30ml soy sauce (2 tbsp)
  • 1.5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp water
  • 15g fresh ginger
  • togarashi (Japanese 7 spice) – not obligatory but sooo good

Method

1.) Put the rice on to cook. The food is so quick, you may want to have it almost done.

2.) Chop the florets off the broccoli and simmer in a pan

3.) Peel and grate the ginger

4.) Make the sauce by heating the sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce and water in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil until the sauce has thickened then turn down the heat and add the ginger and cook down for a couple more minutes.

5.) When the rice is done, plate up and sprinkle over some togarashi

6.) Flake the mackerel and serve over the rice. Serve up the broccoli and spoon over the sauce.

Leek, Cheese and Pine Nut Risotto

I really love risotto and I loved the look of this one from Gino D’Acampo’s ‘Italian Escape’. I love Gino D’Acampo and our cat’s named after him (kinda). We had to give him an Italian name as his brother is named Figaro after the cat from Pinocchio. I picked the recipe in his book because it used Taleggio cheese which is one of my favourites – a creamy cheese with a slight blue taste to it. As I couldn’t find it, I instead used half St Agur (a mild blue cheese) and half Iberico (similar to Manchego). It was so tasty and now I just need to make it again but with Taleggio to compare.

Serves 4 (large portions)

Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 courgette
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 200g Taleggio (100g St Agur/100g Iberico cheese)
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Wash and slice up the leeks. Dice the courgette.

2.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the vegetables.

3.) While these are softening, strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Measure out the rice and weigh out the rice.

4.) Add the rice and thyme to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes.

5.) Add the wine to the pan and let it cook off. In the meantime, make up the stock.

6.) Add ladles of the stock at a time to the pan and let them be absorbed.

7.) In the meantime, weigh out the cheese and cut into cubes.

8.) Once all the stock is absorbed, add the cheese and pine nuts and stir through until the cheese is melted. Season and serve.

Mexican Lentil Soup

After enjoying the banana flavour in my Mole sauce the other week, I decided to give this lentil and plantain soup from Thomasina Myer’s ‘Wahaca’ cookbook. Thomasina Myers was the winner of Masterchef a few years ago and she has a chain of Mexican restaurants in the UK called Wahaca. As the original recipe calls for very ripe plantains, I thought I could get away with using bananas. The ones I used were fairly ripe and I think that helps the flavour to come through more. This soup also really benefits from a nice kick of chilli.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g green lentils
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 very ripe plantains/bananas
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 litre stock
  • coriander leaves
  • sour cream to serve
  • 1.5 tsp chilli oil
  • 1 carrot

Method

1.) Peel one of the onions and chop in half. Peel the carrot and chop in half. Peel a garlic clove and bash it a bit.

2.) Boil some water, pour over the lentils in a saucepan, add the bay leaves, the garlic, the carrot and the onion.

3.) Cook for about 30 minutes, until soft.

4.) While this is cooking, heat a frying pan and dry roast the tomatoes. I struggled a bit with this as the tomatoes kept rolling around in the pan. I don’t think you can go too wrong with this as they’ll just break up when you cook them later. Set them aside.

5.) Peel the other garlic and chop it up finely. Also peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and slice one of the bananas.

6.) Heat some oil in the frying pan and add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, fry for one more minute then add the banana and the oregano. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in half of the sugar. Turn the heat up and caramelise the banana.

7.) Add the tomatoes into the frying pan and let them break down. Chop up the coriander leaves.

8.) Drain the lentils and stir through the contents of the frying pan, lime juice and stock and the coriander stalks.

9.) Simmer for 15 minutes.

10.) To prepare for eating, peel and slice up the other banana and caramelise with the rest of the sugar.

11.) When the lentils are done, blitz with an immersion blender enough to thicken the soup a little but that there are still plenty of whole lentils.

12.) Season with more salt and the chilli oil.

13.) Serve in bowls with the coriander leaves and a dollop of sour cream.

Kedgeree

Kedgeree is a dish that I’ve seen a lot of on cooking programs and admired from afar but never made. It’s a dish that was adapted by the British from an Indian recipe back in the 1800s. It uses a delicious combination of smoked fish and curry powder cooked like a risotto. Sometimes you’ll see this as a breakfast option in English hotels, smoked kippers are a traditional English breakfast so I guess it stems from that. I made this as a weeknight dinner so I just used some leftover frozen fish mix that I had in the freezer but you can be as frugal (or not) as you like. I used the recipe in ‘Gordan Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course’. If you haven’t already seen it, I really recommend the tv show Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip to learn a bit about the food in other countries and also have a good laugh.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 2 bay leaves ( I can never find fresh ones so I just used the dried kind and remove them at the end)
  • 700g smoked haddock (or a mixture of whatever kind of fish you like)
  • 1 tbsp ghee (or butter)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 170g basmati rice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 100g plain yoghurt
  • coriander leaves as a garnish
  • 4 eggs

Method

  1. ) Heat 750ml water into a deep pan with the bay leaves until simmering. Add the fish and cook for 5 minutes until flaky. Depending on what fish you use, you may need to adjust your cooking times. Set aside the fish and pour the cooking liquid into a measuring jug.
  2. ) Peel and chop up finely the onion.
  3. ) Heat up the ghee in a frying pan, peel and chop the onion, add to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. ) Peel and grate the ginger and garlic. Chop up the two tomatoes.
  5. ) Add the ginger, tomatoes and garlic to the pan with the mustard seeds and curry powder and cook for another couple of minutes until the onion is soft.
  6. ) Weigh out the rice and add it to the pan, stir around the pan for a minute then add a couple of ladles of the cooking liquid.
  7. ) While this is cooking, juice the lemons and add to the measuring jug.
  8. ) Keep on adding ladles of the liquid and simmering until they evaporate until the rice is soft.
  9. ) In the meantime, boil the eggs in some water in the deep pan for about 6.5 minutes, chop up the coriander leaves, measure out the yoghurt and slice up the egg.
  10. ) When the rice has absorbed all of the cooking liquid, flake in the fish, season and stir through the yoghurt. Serve and garnish with the coriander and the eggs.

Salsa Verde couscous

I do like a couscous salad. They’re quick and easy to prepare and easy to scale up if you want some leftovers which is what I did with this recipe from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. In the original recipe, the salsa verde makes enough for four servings so it seemed meant to be. You could switch out the chickpeas with some quorn/meat substitute or if you’re not vegan, feta would be delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 onion
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 300g couscous
  • 2 small green chillis
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 30g coriander leaves
  • 25g parsley
  • 15g mint
  • 10g basil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 lime
  • 1 pomegranate

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and line a baking tray with some baking paper. Put some kitchen roll on a plate.

2.) Open the tin of chickpeas, drain and rinse the chickpeas, pour them onto a plate and pat the chickpeas dry.

3.) Move the chickpeas to a mixing bowl, add the sumac and syrup and stir to coat.

4.) Pour the chickpeas onto the tray.

5.) Peel and slice the onion and dice the courgette and pepper

6.) Add the veg to the tray with the chickpeas and season. Put in the oven for 25 minutes.

7.) In the meantime, make the salsa. In a blender, add the chilli (seeds in or out depending on how spicy you want to go), the coriander (save some for a garnish), basil, mint and parsley. Peel the garlic and add that. Add the vinegar, mustard, capers, cornichons, oil and water to the blender. Halve the lime and squeeze in the lime juice. Blitz to a liquid.

8.) Prepare the couscous. Boil some water (about 450ml). Put the couscous in a big bowl. Pour over the boiling water so it’s covered. Leave for a few minutes and fluff up with a fork.

9.) Prepare the pomegranate by chopping in half and extracting the seeds.

10.) Once the veg and chickpeas are cooked, mix with the couscous and serve onto plates. Dollop over spoonfulls of the salsa verde and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and remaining coriander leaves.

Mole Sauce

In the UK, we have a celebrity chef called Rick Stein who has a fantastic seafood restaurant in Barnes, close to where I used to live in London. As with most of our celebrity chefs over here, he’s had a couple of tv series where he goes to another country, tries the food and makes his own recipes (sounds like the dream job to me!). I bought his book ‘The Road to Mexico’ as the dishes in there all look absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, I haven’t used the book much because the recipes are either fairly hard work or have ingredients I can’t find or more often – both. I decided enough was enough and I would make something out of this book, even if I had to change a recipe. As a result, this delicious Mole sauce. The sauce is quite rich and sweet so you can’t have too much of it in one go. I would serve it with some plant based steaks – I recommend the ones by plant pioneers.

Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 2 mild chillis
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 30g panko breadcrumbs
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 120g blanched almonds (or flaked)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 small unripe banana
  • 130g raisins/currants
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 litre stock (I used vegetarian beef flavoured stock powder)
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

1.) Toast the breadcrumbs, chillis, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, almonds, coriander seeds and the cinnamon stick until smelling fragrant.

2.) Grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder. It’s quite a lot of stuff so I found it easier to do it in 2 lots.

3.) Peel and chop up the banana, peel and chop finely the garlic and peel and chop the onion. Weigh out the raisins.

4.) Heat the oil in a frying pan and then fry the bananas for a couple of minutes. Add the raisins and fry for one minute more. Then add the garlic and onion and fry until soft. While the onion is cooking, make up the stock.

5.) Now, add the contents of the pan, the spice mixture, the oregano and the stock to a blender and blitz. Again, you may need to do this in two lots. At this point with the sesame seeds and banana it’s almost like a beautiful peanut butter milkshake.

6.) Add back to the pan. Break up the chocolate and drop into the sauce. Simmer gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce is lovely and thick. Season and serve as you wish.

Before the chocolate has melted