Smoked Mackerel Pate

A simple nutritious pate packed full of healthy Omega 3 oils, this is easy to make and great spread on a crusty bread and on a crisp lettuce leaf. I have also used it as a sandwich filler served in pitta bread pockets. This dish is pretty unforgiving. You could try adding your own favourite things such as peppers, radish, spring onions, horseradish, capers, olives and so on and come up with your own recipe. This pate tastes great without any herbs but dill goes well with this or depending on your choice you could add chives, parsley or coriander too. How creamy or smooth you want it is up to you too. The following is a loose guide of the process rather than a strict recipe.

Ingredients
Smoked mackerel fillets = 200 gms (about 3 fillets)
Crème fraîche =150 gm
Juice of half a Lemon
Small handful of herb of your choice like parsley or chive (finely chopped) (optional)
Cayenne Pepper (optional) = 1tsp
Black pepper to taste
 
Method
Skin the fish and remove any visible bones. Break into flakes using a fork. Add the remaining ingredients except for the herbs and mix well breaking it into smaller flakes as you go along. Adjust seasoning and add the chopped coriander. Give it another good mix and mix in the lemon juice. You could mix this in a blender to give a much smoother texture but I prefer mine done like this. If you please you could also add 150 grams of crème fraîche and 100 gram cream cheese for a smoother and creamier texture. You could also blend half the fish and mash the other half with a fork. Serve with crusty bread or on top of salad.

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Turkey and Chorizo Burger

This post is long overdue. We as a family have been very busy in the recent months, relocating back to the UK from Jersey after living there for just over 2 years. It was not an easy decision and was not a easy move with a 6 year old in tow. One of the biggest challenge was to find a school place for our daughter and also to find jobs for ourselves. In the end things fell into place and we are settled. We as a family have focused on a slightly healthier lifestyle recently and we are watching what we eat and follow this up with a bit of regular exercise. So apart from cutting out some junk from our food we are looking into newer recipes and techniques. Its not too difficult but just requires a bit of advance planning. We are looking at ways to reduce our starch, fat and sugar intake. We have tried to incorporate Turkey meat in to our diet instead of red meat. Here’s a recipe of a Turkey Burger that I came up with. It can be prepared in the BBQ or inside the kitchen (grilled or fried as per choice). I added Chorizo to add a bit more flavour and it works well with the Turkey meat.

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Ingredients

Turkey Mince = 500 gms
Chorizo = 1.5 inch length (finely chopped)
Spring Onions = 2/3 finely sliced
Cajun Spice = 2 tsp
Fresh Coriander = 3 tbsp finely chopped
Black Pepper = to taste
Salt = to taste
Lemon Juice from half a lemon

Method
Mix all the ingredients well (ideally by hand) and shape into 4 generous sized burgers. Leave it in the fridge for an hour. Heat oil in a pan and cook the burgers on it for about 3/4 minutes on each side. Now place in a oven proof dish and put in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how thick you made the burgers. I served mine on a whole meal flatbread topped with salad and Apple Slaw (recipe to follow), instead of traditional burger buns. You can serve them any ways you like. They are equally delicious served on their own with salad. I drizzled mine with yogurt and Sriracha Sauce.

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Chip Shop Curry Sauce

There is some ring about those chip shop curry sauce that is uniquely British and we love it in our chips bought from a chip shop. In our house no fish and chips dinner is complete  without mushy peas (another British tradition) and curry sauce. Here’s a simple recipe to make your own. The result is fantastic.

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Ingredients
1tbsp oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tbsp curry powder
1tbsp cornflour
150 ml water
Black pepper to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a saucepan, and add the onion, apple and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until everything is very soft. Add the curry powder and mix well. Then pour over the water and add black pepper. Bring to a boil amd simmer gently for around 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
Now add the cornflour (mixed in some cold water). Simmer till the sauce gets thicker. Use a hand blender to break down the chunks and smoothen the sauce. Depending on your taste you can make it completely smooth or leave a bit of texture. Heat it well and serve with chips.

Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa

My first introduction to Portuguese food involved Bacalhau (salted Cod) in a restaurant in Vauxhall in London and I was hooked. Over the years, I have had the good fortune of trying various including some excellent home cooked versions of Bacalhau and I think that this one originating from the Northern city of Porto is my current favourite. Bacalhau is considered to be one of the most important Portuguese food item and its evident from its popularity in Portuguese colonies such as Brasil, Angola, Cape Verde, Macau, and Goa. Its also commonly used in Galicia region of Spain. Bacalhau is traditionally prepared in most Portuguese household during many celebratory dinners including Christmas. This dish takes a tiny bit of advance planning as regards to soaking the fish but from there on its a easy enough process and chances are that you would love the end result. Its essentially described as a casserole of Salted cod with potaoes and onions.

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Ingredients (serves about 4 people)

500 gms of salted cod
500 gms potatoes
1.5 cups milk
3 onions (medium) sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 / 3 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
few black olives
handful of fresh parsley
Salt
Pepper

Method

Soak the cod in water for 24 to 36 hours and change the water about every 8 hours. Drain the cod and flake into smaller pieces discarding any bones. Bring milk to a boil then turn off the heat. Cover the fish in the warm milk and let it infuse for about an hour. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Peel and cut potatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Gently boil for about 5 to 10 mins, till tender but able to hold their shape. Drain and set aside. Fry the onions in a generous amount of oil till soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes. Take it off the heal and set aside.

Oil a oven proof dish with oil. Add layers of potato, drained cod, and the onion garlic mixture, in that order till you use up all the ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go along. Spread olive oil on the top and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Garnish with quartered or sliced hard-boiled eggs, chopped parsley and black olives. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

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Harissa Spiced Lamb Stew

We are in the middle of July when the weather is supposed to be in the thirties and Sunday afternoon alfresco dinning or a picnic in the beach should be the order of the day. But instead we have temperature barely touching 20 degrees Celsius. Today was a cloudy day that was threatening to rain for most of it and the rain finally came around 4pm. The town was hosting a festival over the weekend. I took my daughter there on Saturday but the weather did not allow us to stay up there for long. The last two weeks have been like this and the body is craving for some comforting food. We knew that we had to ditch the salad and we did not fancy a full on roast. So we decided to make this stew instead. I have made it a few times before and it works a treat. Lamb is my favourite meat and it is best cooked in a curry or stew. This is a very tasty alternative for a Sunday roast and I would say that its a lot easier too. Try and get Rose Harrissa paste as its bit milder and more flavourful (with the addition of rose petals). If you want this dish extra hot then add a couple of teaspoons of chilli powder. I have added dates as I had some in the fridge. This is optional but adds a different layer of flavour. You can use chopped dried apricots or even a few sultanas instead if you do not have dates. I have also added a tablespoon of anchovy paste (optional) that brings out the flavour of the meat. You can also used chopped preserved lemons to this dish. I have also used a tin of Cannellini beans for the dish in the picture as I ran out of Chickpeas but it works well too.

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Ingredients (Serving 4)
Boneless Lamb pieces = 600 gms (medium pieces)
Onions = 2 medium sliced
Garlic Cloves = 4 cloves chopped
Harrissa Paste = 2 to 3 generous teaspoon
Cumin  Powder = 1 tablespoon
Coriander Powder = 1 tablespoon
Tomato Purée = 3 tablespoon
Anchovy Paste (optional) = 1 tablespoon
White Wine = 200 ml
Bay leaf = 2
Cinnamon = 1.5 inch stick
Chickpeas = 1 tin (rinsed)
Dates = about 8 pitted (optional)
Salt = to taste

Method
In a bowl mix the lamb with the cumin and coriander powder. Heat oil in a casserole dish and brown the meat in two batches and keep aside. Now add a bit more oil in the same pan and fry the onions till translucent. Now add the Garlic. Fry for a minute or two and add the bay leaf and cinnamon. Now add the meat, the tomato purée, Harrissa paste and Anchovy paste (if using). Add the extra chilli powder if using. Mix well and add the white wine. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat cover and cook in a 150 degree Centigrade oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (the meat should be well cooked by this time). Take it out after that time and add the chickpeas and dates or apricots and cover and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively you can slow cook this dish on a very low flame for about the same time as the oven. Check Seasoning and Serve hot with Couscous or Sweet Potato Mash or some Flatbreads.

South Indian Fish Curry

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This is my version of a generic South Indian style Fish Curry using staple South Indian spices such as mustard seeds, red chilli, curry leaves and coconut. These along with the other ingredients are very easily available in supermarkets outside India. This dish is quick to prepare and is a lighter curry that can be enjoyed during the warm summer months when you need a curry fix. For my last attempt (pictured) I have used Hake Fish Steaks but any firm white fish will do. I have used Cod, and Monkfish before. See what you can get fresh on the day. If you have or can get your hands on to some tamarind paste, use a level tablespoon (tbsp) of that instead of the lemon juice but add that just before adding the fish.

Ingredients (serves 4)
Firm white fish about 800 gms to a kilo
Madras curry powder 2 tbsp
Onion 1 large made into a paste
Ginger and Garlic paste 1 tbsp
Tomato one medium chopped finely
Coconut cream – 2 tbsp
Oil = 2 tbsp
Juice of half a lemon
Curry leaves around 10
Red chilli 2 (depending on how hot you want it)
Mustard seeds one level tbsp
Salt for marination and for the gravy according to taste
Dessicated coconut (optional) 1 tbsp

Method
Marinade the fish with salt and and leave for about 30 mins. Heat oil in a pan and add the red chilli, mustard seeds and once they start to splutter add the onion paste. Stir over medium to high heat till it changes colour. Now add the curry leaves and the ginger garlic paste. Stir for about 2 to 3 minutes till the raw smell disappears. Add the spices with a little water and stir well. Add the chopped tomato and stir for about 5 mins till the whole thing turns somewhat pulpy. Now add the coconut cream. Stir the mixture well. Check seasoning. Add a little water if required before adding the fish pieces so that they are just covered. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the fish) on a medium flame till the fish is done. Check Seasoning, add lemon juice. Top it with dessicated coconut (if using) and serve immediately with plain rice.

Coconut and Brown Rice Pudding

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Rice pudding is popular the world over loved equally by kids and adults. In India all birthdays and other auspicious occasions are always celebrated with comforting home cooked Rice Pudding. There are different short grain rice that are used specially for the purpose. In the UK some of these short grain rice is now widely available but I have used Brown Basmati rice here but this dish can be made with any rice that you have in your cupboard (just adjust cooking time, white rice should take a bit less time to cook). I had a bag of Brown Basmati rice in my store cupboard for a while (have not grown to like the taste to be had with regular food) and decided to make this version of the rice pudding after watching something similar on TV while I was in India during February. I have to say that the brown rice here adds a bit of nutty flavour and the sweetness from the milk and the flavours of the coconut and cardamom all works well together.

Ingredients
Brown Basmati Rice 1 cup
Milk 2.5 cups
Fresh or Dessicated Coconut 4 tbsp
Brown Sugar 2 tbsp (I use less but feel free to add more if required)
Cardamom powder 2 tsp
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Method
Pulse the rice in a food processor to break them up a bit but do not powder them completely. In a heavy bottom pan bring the milk to a boil. Add the rice and stir well. Add the sugar, coconut and the cardamom and stir well. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 30 to 40 minutes (less if using white rice) stirring often till the rice is cooked through and all the milk had been absorbed. Serve warm or cold as preferred and Enjoy. You can garnish this dish with Cashew nuts or roasted flakes of coconut but its nice as it is too.