Sea bream with fennel, onion and pancetta

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Sea bream is one of my favourite fish so there’s nothing better than pairing with other fresh ingredients to bring out the flavour of it. This recipe does not require a huge amount of ingredients so it is simple to achieve when you want something delicious but without the faff! For ease I have cooked the dish in the oven to make sure the fennel is well roasted which brings out the sweetness however it could also be made on the hob top if you prefer.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 sea bream fillets
Glug of oil
200g new potatoes- thinly sliced
1 white onion- finely sliced
1 fennel bulb- finely sliced
3 slices of pancetta
Juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take an ovenproof wide bottomed pan and heat the oil in the pan in the oven. Season the potato slices add to the pan and roast in the oven until turning golden and tender; this may take a little while so take your time and check them from time to time. Reserve the fennel tops and set aside.

2. Add in the onion and fennel slices continue to cook until both are softened. Roughly chop the pancetta and add to the pan; cooking until crisp. Take a frying pan, add another small amount of oil and heat to medium- high; season the sea bream fillets and fry skin side down for a couple of minutes until the skin is crisp. Remove from the pan and place on top of the potato, onion and fennel. Cook for around 10 minutes until cooked through. Take the reserved fennel tops and scatter. Squeeze the lemon juice over before serving.

Sea bream with fennel, onion and pancetta- make the most of fresh ingredients with this simple supper!

 

 

Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette

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Tartiflette is a comforting French dish popular amongst those heading to Alpine resorts. Just picture the scene, coming back in from a day on the slopes and in need of a comforting dish to warm you up whilst sipping a glass of wine or two in front of a roaring log fire- heaven! If you like potato, cheese and bacon then this is the perfect dish for you! In my version I have added cavolo nero as a nod towards one of your five a day but you could leave it out if you prefer or replace with spinach if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
150g smoked bacon lardons
250g cavolo nero- washed
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 shallot- finely chopped
Knob of unsalted butter
800g waxy potatoes, such as King Edwards
400g Reblochon or Camembert cheese
300ml double cream
120ml vegetable stock

1. Firstly preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take a frying pan and heat over a medium heat; fry off the lardons until golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Keep an bacon fat which is in the pan. Shred that leaves of the cavolo nero and fry in the pan along with the garlic and shallot until wilted. Remove and set aside.

2. Rub a little softened butter in the inside of a baking dish approximately 20cm x 25cm in size. I sometimes use individual baking dishes so everyone has their own so it’s up to you.

3. Cut the potatoes into 3mm thin slices and layer in the dish with the cavolo nero, bacon and half of the cheese. Leave the thinnest potato slices for the top so they go crispy when it’s cooked. Season the layers as you go.

4. Pour over the cream and stock and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for few minutes before digging in.

Cavolo nero and bacon tartiflette- go off piste with my version of this Alpine classic! The diet starts tomorrow…

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup

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Autumn days mean curling up with a roaring fire, rain beating against the window and plenty of comforting food. It also brings the squash season and this means that butternut squash soup is hard to resist. This soup combines squash with sweet potato and parmesan which brings the sweetness into balance with the umami edge that parmesan brings. The rind of parmesan is a secret weapon in cooking so I always keep them in the freezer so they are on hand to use in soups, stews, risottos and pasta dishes. My added extra is a delicate hint of spice and a hit of roasted garlic. I have also used the squash seeds to create a crunchy topping that can be sprinkled over the soup to serve so don’t delay- get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
1 large butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2 bulbs of garlic
2 white onions- chopped
1.5 litres of hot vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1-2 rinds of parmesan

For the seed topping
Sea salt
Chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Use a sturdy knife to cut the butternut squash in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and set aside for later. Use a knife to score the flesh. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Place the squash on a baking tray and the sweet potatoes in another one before drizzling both with olive oil and sprinkling with salt. Roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until tender. The squash will start to caramelise at the edges and this adds to the flavour. Cut the tops of the garlic bulbs off and wrap in a foil parcel with some oil and roast until tender.

2. Meanwhile you can prepare the seeds. Simply wash them and pat them dry. Pop them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, the sea salt and chilli flakes. Roast with the vegetables until the seeds are golden and crunchy. When they are ready, set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large pan that will be able to hold all of the soup. Heat a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the onions until softened but do not allow them to colour. When the vegetables are cooked add the sweet potato and roasted garlic to the pan whilst you scoop out the squash before adding the flesh to the pan too. I then used a potato mashed to slightly break the vegetables down to make blending even easier later. Add the hot stock to the pan. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool until you are able to blend it. Blend until you reach the consistency you like. Return the pan to the heat, drop in the parmesan rinds and simmer gently. Simmer for at least an hour if you can so the parmesan has time to infuse. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning according to taste. Serve in warmed soup bowls with plenty of fresh bread to dip.

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup- the perfect antidote to a blustery autumn day!

 

 

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise

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If there is one dish that is a sure fire crowd pleaser and ultimate comfort food then it has to be this! Potato dauphinoise is classic and mainstay of French cuisine and here it has a revamp to add even more flavour to it. This can be enjoyed with a range of main dishes however steak does it for me every time! Taking inspiration from French cooking I have added roasted garlic and thyme to ramp up the flavour. Now this may not be considered health (far from it in fact!) but a little of what you fancy does you good so read on and indulge yourself…

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 small garlic bulb
800g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
300ml double cream
Freshly grated parmesan- optional

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Cut the top of the garlic bulb and wrap it in foil and drizzle with a little oil before baking for around 20 minutes until the garlic is soft. Allow to cool before squeezing the garlic from the bulb and mashing with the back of a fork. Take an ovenproof dish that will be large enough for you to fit the sliced potato in. Use a knob of butter and run it all over the inside of the dish to stop the potatoes from sticking when they cook.

2. Carefully use a knife or mandolin with the guard on to thinly slice the potatoes. Use any larger slices to create the first layer in the dish and make sure the slices slightly overlap; season with salt and pepper before adding some of the thyme leaves and a little of the roasted garlic. Repeat until the potatoes are used up and remember to season each layer well.

3. Press the layers down slightly and pour over the double cream. Allow it to soak through the potatoes and finish with some freshly grated parmesan, if you like. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until the potatoes are tender and bubbling. I often cover the dish with foil for most of the cooking time before removing towards the end to brown in off but this will depend on your oven. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise- a gratin to stand the test of time!

 

 

Traditional Welsh cawl

Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew that could not be simpler to make so give it a go. It is made with whatever meat (or meats) and seasonal vegetables were available so there is room for experimentation! The lamb could also be substituted with beef or a ham joint if you prefer. This is a perfect opportunity to try crumbly Caerphilly cheese if you have not had it before so dig in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
450g lamb casserole steak
25g pearl barley
2 sliced carrots
1 onion sliced
1/2 chopped swede
1 leeks in chunks
400g potatoes in chunks
Sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

1. Trim the meat and cut into large chunks. Add to large heavy based pan, top up with plenty of water and bring to a boil. As the meat comes to the boil you will see residue that needs to be skimmed off the top.

2. Next in goes the barley, carrot, onion and swede; bring back to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Bundle together the thyme and bay leaves and drop these in alongside the peppercorns and simmer for 2 hours.

3. When the stew has been simmering for a couple of hours pop in the potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes followed by the leeks which need to be cooked for 5- 10 minutes until tender.  Serve in deep, warmed bowls with a good hunk of Caerphilly cheese and fresh bread.

Simple, warming and authentic!

Indulgent tartiflette

Tartiflette is a comforting French dish popular amongst those heading to Alpine resorts. Just picture the scene, coming back in from a day on the slopes and in need of a comforting dish to warm you up whilst sipping a glass of wine or two- heaven! If you like potato, cheese and bacon then this is the perfect dish for you! In my version I have added spinach as a nod towards one of your five a day but you could leave it out if you prefer or replace with kale if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Bag of baby spinach- approx. 250g
Knob of unsalted butter
800g waxy potatoes, such as King Edward
150g smoked bacon lardons (fried off) or smoked ham (cut into squares)
200g Reblochon or Camembert cheese
300ml double cream
120ml vegetable stock

1. Firstly preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Wilt the bag of spinach into a saucepan over a medium heat and allow to cool slightly before squeezing out any excess water.

2. Rub a little softened butter in the inside of a baking dish approximately 20cm x 25cm in size. I sometimes use individual baking dishes so everyone has their own so it’s up to you. If you like, at this stage you could also cut a garlic clove in half and rub around the dishes for an added dimension.

3. Cut the potatoes into 3mm thin slices and layer in the dish with the spinach, bacon or ham and 150g of the cheese. I have also fried off a couple of shallots and layered this through as well for an extra texture so do try this next time. Leave the thinnest potato slices for the top so they go crispy when it’s cooked. Season to taste.

4. Pour over the cream and stock and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Take it out of the oven and pop the remaining 50g of cheese over the top and place back in the oven until golden and bubbling. Serve with steamed greens or a crisp salad if you like.

Light the open fire and try this indulgent tartiflette for a little taste of France! Heavenly…

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Sri Lankan style cauliflower, potato and pea curry

Sri Lanka has an abundance of ingredients and spices that lend themselves to a flavourful experience. With its historical links with trade you can imagine the range of influences that it brings to the cuisine. I have kept this curry recipe simple, using limited spices to ensure that each of the flavours speak for themselves so read on and get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side 
1 medium cauliflower
200g potato
100g fresh or frozen shelled peas
300ml coconut milk
Fresh curry leaves
1 large white onion- chopped
1-2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 green chilli- left whole and pricked with a knife
Strands of angel hair chilli to finish (optional)

For the paste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp black onion seeds
1 green chilli- finely chopped
1 garlic clove

1. Get going by separating the cauliflower into small florets and cutting the potatoes into bite size chunks. At this stage you can steam or boil the cauliflower and potatoes until part cooked and set aside. In the meantime make the paste by adding all the ingredients together and giving it a quick whizz in a processor or using a pestle and mortar which I prefer so you have greater control over how coarse or how smooth the paste is.

2. Take a large frying pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until softening. Throw in a few curry leaves and the whole green chilli; cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the curry paste to the pan and fry off for a further minute until is begins to release its flavour. Next up the cauliflower and potato needs to go in and cook for another couple of minutes; toss the vegetables in the spice mix and try and get a bit of colour on the potatoes as they cook. Add in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender and the coconut has reduced down; this should take around half an hour.

Just a couple of minutes before the vegetables are ready you need to add the peas and cook these in; if using fresh you may like to quickly blanch before adding. If you prefer a more moist curry then either add a little more coconut milk and simmer it for a while longer but make sure that the vegetables don’t go soggy and overcooked. You could always lightly steam them before they get to the parboiled stage to enable this. I added a few strands of angel hair chilli which looks like saffron and gives another hit of colour to a dish rather than bringing heat so time to pretty it up!
Serve in deep bowls with flatbread on the side if you like.

Cauliflower, potato and pea curry laced with spice and the sweetness of coconut- the perfect balance!