I saw this recipe on the television a couple of weeks ago while flicking through the less frequented satellite channels, Hugh’s mackerel, oatmeal, rhubarb, taken from Hugh’s Three Good Things on More4. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has recognised a simple pattern that underpins so many well-loved dishes – that they are little more or less than three good things on a plate.
This trifecta of ingredients fits that bill to perfection and tastes as good as it looks
Place in a pan with the sugar, thyme leaves, if using, and 1 tablespoon water.
Partially cover with a lid and cook gently, at a bare simmer, for 5–7 minutes. Don’t stir the rhubarb or it will lose its shape.
When it is tender, remove the pan from the heat.
Season the mackerel fillets all over with salt and pepper.
Spread out the oatmeal on a plate, I sieved the oatmeal first and used the larger grains that were left in the sieve
Coat the fillets on both sides, pressing the oatmeal on well and gently shaking off any loose bits. (For a decent coating, the mackerel should be ‘tacky’. If the oatmeal doesn’t stick, brush the fillets with just a little milk, and try again.)
Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the mackerel fillets, flesh side down, and cook for 3 minutes, until the oatmeal coating is crispy and golden brown.
Then carefully flip them over and cook for 2 minutes on the skin side, until cooked through.
Transfer the fish to warm plates and accompany with a spoonful of the warm rhubarb compote.
This is a great summer supper dish, and goes well with a glass of an ice cold white wine or a glass of something bubbly. A smaller portion makes a sophisticated starter, too.
I also enjoy this on a cold winters night as it invokes those feeling of a warm summers evening with an al fresco supper out on the deck, watching the swifts and swallows darting round the sky catching insects. If I make this out of season, I use frozen baby broad beans rather than fresh, like peas they freeze exceptionally well.
When using broad beans, either fresh or frozen remember to remove the bean from that silvery casing, leaving the fresh button of resplendent green. The bean case will become tough when it’s cooked and spoil the meal
Serves 4 – Gluten Free
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
300g Arborio rice or other Italian risotto rice
150ml oz dry white wine
1.5l hot chicken stock
250g fresh broad beans, double podded if fresh, single podded when frozen
150g small prawns, peeled
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chervil leaves
2 tbsp mascarpone
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat until foaming, then fry the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
Add the risotto rice and stir well to coat in the butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice grains begin to turn translucent.
Add the wine and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.
Add a ladleful of the chicken stock to the pan and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until nearly all of the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladleful of the stock.
Repeat the process until the rice is cooked but still al dente (you may not need all of the stock).
Add the prawns in the 6-7 minutes of cooking and the the broad beans during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
Then stir in almost all of the chopped chervil, (leaving some for the garnish) the mascarpone and Parmesan.
Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serve, garnished with the rest of the chervil and a few Parmesan shavings with a couple of slices of a good artisan bread or make some Irish Soda Bread.
This is a simple version of a paella, which I originally cooked for an informal dinner party which included someone who didn’t like seafood. Some prawns and mussels can be added to give you a more authentic Spanish paella but this simple recipe is tasty as it is and it’s become a family favourite.
3 boneless chicken breasts
2 tbls Olive Oil
150g Chorizo, sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves Garlic crushed
1 yellow pepper (Bell Pepper, for our American readers) thinly sliced.
225g of Paella rice
Pinch of Saffron strands, in a couple teaspoons of boiling water (this helps to release the flavour, allowing it to mix with the rice).
6 tbsp White Wine
150g frozen peas
600ml hot Chicken Stock
Divide each breast into 4 pieces
Heat oil in a large heavy based pan
Quickly fry the Chorizo slices, this releases their deep paprika flavour into the oil, pop on a plate after a few seconds of sizzling.
Brown the chicken breasts in the oil and lift with a slotted spoon and pop on the plate.
Fry onion for 5 mins until translucent
Add the garlic and rice and fry for 3 mins. Add the saffron and water and stir through.
Add the wine to rice and stir until it’s absorbed.
Put the chicken back into the pan with the rice and add the pepper slices.
Season and add stock.
Bring back to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water if required.
Add the peas and chorizo and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the rice is al dente.
Garnish with some lemon slices, serve and enjoy…….
Christmas is fast approaching and it’s time to consider what to have on that special day. I find turkey dry and a bit tasteless and a duck isn’t enough to feed the extended family, so I like to splash out and get a traditional Goose. This recipe, originally by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson better known and the ‘Two Fat Ladies’, is my favourite.
Like duck the goose is a fatty bird, make sure you have a good-sized roasting tin to fit the goose and a grid to place under it so that the fat can collect without the goose sitting in it. Keep the fat for roasting potatoes, it’s high smoke point means that the potatoes will be golden and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
You can also make the stuffing in advance.
Earl grey tea
450ml Goose stock; made from the goose gilblets
4 Shallots; finely chopped
150ml dry vermouth
3 tb Fresh bread crumbs
100gms Pate de foie gras
Goose liver; blanched, finely minced
1 Pinch allspice and thyme
5.5kg Oven ready Goose (with giblets, for the stock)
Soak the prunes in hot tea (Earl Grey) until soft, stone them and drain, or get pre-stoned ones (it’s a lot easier than stoning 50 prunes).
Place prunes, vermouth and stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for approx ten minutes until tender (if they are the ready to eat variety, be careful not to over cook).
Strain but reserve the liquid.
Melt the butter in a little pan and gently fry the shallots and liver for a couple of minutes, stirring all the while.
Place in a mixing-bowl which is big enough to hold all the stuffing ingredients.
Boil the port in the shallot pan until reduced to two tablespoons, making sure to scrape round the sides to get all the caramelised bits off and add to the liver mixture in the bowl.
Beat the pate, bread crumbs, allspice and thyme together and combine thoroughly with the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
Season with salt and a good quantity of the pepper.
Gently stir the prunes into the mixture.
Preheat the oven to Gas 7, 425F, 218C
Put the goose in the sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over it. This ensures a good, crisp skin.
Remove and dry with kitchen towels.
Salt the cavity and fill loosely with the stuffing, then sew up the vent, use a big needle and butchers twine.
Prick the skin all over but not the flesh, this will allow the fat to drain out.
Place on the grid in the roasting pan and roast breast side up for 15 minutes.
Lower heat to Gas 4, 350F, 177C, turn the goose onto its side.
Halfway through, turn onto the other side.
Then for the last 15 minutes onto its back again.
Throughout the cooking, baste every 20 minutes with three tablespoons of boiling water and remove the fat from the pan into a bowl. The easiest way to perform both these operations is with a bulb baster.
The whole cooking time should be 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Test by piercing the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run pale yellow.
When ready, the goose should be put on a very hot dish and covered with foil allowed to rest for at least 15 mins.
Pour off the remaining fat from the roasting pan and make the gravy from the reserved prune liquid, adding it to the residual juices in the pan.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, adjust the seasoning, strain into a sauce boat and hand round separately.
To make the stock gently fry off the goose giblets, but not the liver (which you need for the stuffing), with some carrot, celery and leeks then add water, a couple of bay leaves and a Bouquet Garni. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for a couple of hours. Skimming the surface to remove any scum. Drain through a sieve or chinois pressing the veg to get as much flavour out as possible.
Serve with the regular Christmas trimmings, of roast potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Maple roast Parsnips and Tom’s Mum’s Red Cabbage.
I first saw this recipe in a television advert for Sainsburys many years ago, it had a voice over by John Nettles back when he was in ‘Bergerac’. I suspect Jamie Oliver was still in school at the time!
Anyway, I’ve kept it as true to the original as possible, with only the addition of meatballs made from sausages. Leave them out for a vegetarian version and use Gluten Free Penne Pasta for a Gluten Free version (just cook the pasta fully before adding to the sauce and baking.
This is a classic Italian soup, full of many different textures and vegetables. But it’s also a little bit more than a soup – it’s almost a main course that you can eat with crusty bread for lunch. The idea behind most soups is to cook them as quickly as possible to keep all the freshness in. This dish is a prime example of needing to cook all the ingredients gently first in the oil and then adding the stock while it’s boiling. This way you’re not stewing it for hours and losing all the goodness out of the vegetables. The thickener of this soup, although it’s got tomato purée and all the vegetables in there, is the starch from the pasta, so don’t panic if the soup looks a bit thin at first.
Serves 4 and it’s Gluten Free too!
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
250g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small swede, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 medium leek, trimmed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
100g spaghetti (use you favourite Gluten Free spaghetti, for a gluten free version of this recipe. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly dependant on the time your particular brand takes to cook)
½ a Savoy cabbage, shredded
400g Tin of White Beans in Water (ie Cannellinni or Flagolet)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and lightly sauté the onion, garlic and rosemary until softened.
Add the pancetta or bacon and cook without colouring for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to come out.
Add the carrot, swede, celery and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Season the vegetables while they’re cooking in the pan.
Add the tomato purée, stir, and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Add the hot stock. Turn down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
Put the spaghetti into a clean tea-towel and roll it up so you’ve got a sausage shape. Hold both ends tightly, then tap it over the edge of a table or work top so the spaghetti breaks into small even pieces.
Add to the soup and simmer until the spaghetti is tender – it should take about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, Beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
Check the seasoning, then serve the soup in bowls and eat…
To get that authentic Italian feel, top with a teaspoonful of pesto. Eat with crusty bread (like my Cheese Soda Bread), it’s perfect comfort food for a blustery day.