Saturday, 21 April 2012

Mushroom & Cashew Nut Stroganoff / Lemon seasoned brown rice / buttered baby carrots

image courtesy of bbc good food

Its been a while since i ate / made a mushroom stroganoff. I do however get the urge once in a while to make and eat one, even if it is to relive some halcyon days from my years in the industry. Theres a number of things i like about it, the tanginess and mellow spices, the earthy mushroom flavour and of course its hearty and homely feel. This recipe in particualrly aims to bring out all of those elements, whilst at the same time creating a delicate balance of them all.

You will need (makes a faily sized batch serves 4-5):

1 Kilo of close cupped mushrooms, sliced
2 Onions, finely diced
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
75g of cashew nuts
50g of pickled gherkins, diced
2 Red peppers, skinned, seeded and cut into 1 cm strips
125ml of milk, 125ml of double cream mixed
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce

The doing bit:

Sauté off the mushrooms, once soft set aside to drain in a colander

Fry off the onions and garlic till soft; add the peppers and cashew nuts. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add cream / milk and reduce then season

Once thickened add mustard and the Worcestershire sauce, stir in the mushrooms and gurkins, check the seasoning and serve.

For the rice (4/5 person batch)

350g brown rice
2 lemons, zested and juiced. keep the peels though we will use these as well
Handful fresh coriander chopped.
tsbp butter or margarine

Cooke the rice as normal in water until the rice begins to soften. Strain the rice then add the rice to a large oven tray adding the lemon juice, lemon peel and zest and mix thoroughly. Ad the butter, then vover the tray with greaseproof paper and tinfoil and put into oven at about 200C. Check every five minutes until done. When done remove the lemon peel, and stir in the coriander. Serve.

For the carrots:

allow 5/6 baby carrots per person. Cook in a pan of hot water with 1 tsbp sugar added. When cooked to preference, strain and serve with 3/4 portions of herb butter (optional) or alternatively glaze with ordinary butter or margarine.

Whole Rainbow Trout / Spinach & Leeks / Apple Mash / Herb Butter

Image courtesy of
*part of the Sizzling Staffordshire menu series*

As we all know I love a good fish dish. This fish dish although simple is very very tasty, and combines less orthodox and more subtle sweet flavours to bring out the sweetness of the fish. It can be quite cheap to make, as rainbow trout can be cheap to get hold of if you shop around, and the advent of supermarkets make this fish an abundant choice year round.

You will need (serves 2):

2 whole rainbow trout, descaled, gutted and cleaned.
4 generous handfuls of baby spinach, although adult spinach will work just as well, picked and washed
3 Large leeks, white section, trimmed, washed, chopped into echelons and blanched in salt water.
2 portions herb butter
2 large baking potatoes, peeled chopped boiled and mashed.
1 bramley apple or apple sauce.
tbsp brown sugar

The doing bit:

For the fish:

Slash the skin in 4 places unfiromly accross the fish either side, making a deeper cut where the fish is thicker nearer the head. Season with salt and pepper and small piece of the herb butter. Place under grill for about 5 minutes or until cooked, and finish with the herb butter.

For the leeks and spinach: In a pan sautee the leeks in a small amount of oil and keep the pan covered on a gentle heat until the leeks are bright green and soft. Add a small amount of the herb butter and a pinch of salt and black pepper, then add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. Serve.

For the mash, peel , core and chop the bramley apple into roughly 1cm pieces, and sautee in a pan on a very gentle heat until they soften. Add the sugar and stir in until the sugar has melted. Add the mash and heat up until piping hot, adding milk or butter or even an egg as required (all down to preference). Season where necessary and serve along side the trout, and the leeks / spinach.

Pollack & Tomato Chowder

*part of the Sizzling Staffordshire menu series*

I love fish soups and chowders. I have a young memory of being on holiday with the family in the Mediterranean and experiencing a variety of fish dishes produced locally on a daily basis. That said I've always loved fish and seafood. I can recall being in a supermarket at a young age and seeing lots of kids in a huff because they wanted a toy and were told no - I was the one in a huff because i couldnt have some cockles.

This recipe combines alot of elements I love about Mediterranean food, whilst utilizing a cheaper but flavoursome sweet tasting fish - Pollack. In some ways its not too dissimilar to bouillibaise, although the fish content is alot different and so is the spice balance. But thats ok, we only need a whiff of something to invoke memory.

It's also rich in protein and low in carbs - a plus for alot of the heatlh conscious eaters.

You will need (serves 4-5):

3tbsp Olive Oil
2 Medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Celery stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped to same proportions as onions / celery
1 large waxy potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, de-cored and roughly chopped.
4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
400g chopped tomatoes. Fresh are better, but cartoned or tinned will suffice (especially if on a budget)
800ml fish or chicken stock
150g french trimmed beans, cut into short lengths
2 courgettes, roughly chopped
500g pollack fillets, deboned and deskinned
generous handful flat leat parsley roughly chopped.

The doing bit:

In a large pan heat the olive oil, add the onions and celery and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook stirring over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Add the carrots, potatoes,, pepper and herbs. Continue cooking for (roughly) 5 minutes or until potatoes have gone lightly golden.

Add the tomatoes and allow liquid to reduce by about a third. Add the stock, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the green beans and the courgettes, give the mixture a stir and simmer for another 3 mins.

Season the fish with some salt and pepper, then lay them on the vegetables in the pan. Cover and simmer again until the fish has turned white and is just cooked. Gently break the fish into large flakes, and serve immediately.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Pan seared pork cutlet / leeks in white wine & sage butter / bacon & cauliflower mash

Image courtesy of

*part of the Sizzling Staffordshire menu series*

This dish (as the name suggests) is very appealing to the pork lover. That said the surrounding accompaniments to the dish also work phenomenally well too. A good year round dish, this will appeal to many kinds of palates, with an uplifting element of sage complemented by the hearty bacon and leek flavours which work well with all kinds of meat dishes. The cauliflower also helps the comfort food factor, giving a homely feel.

You will need (serves 2)

2 Pork steaks (either rib or loin. Pork chops are also ideal, and even bacon chops can be substituted)
3 large leeks, white sections chopped trimmed, and chopped into echelons.
2 portions sage butter
small glass dry white wine or vermouth
3 rashers smoked bacon (finely chopped)
1 good sized cauliflower, destalked and florets seperated into equal sizes
2 shallots, finely chopped

The doing bit:

For the caulifower mash:

In a saucepan half fill with water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and add the cauliflower. Bring to the boil once more then simmer until cauliflower has softened. Strain and mash whilst warm, then set to one side keeping warm if possible.. In a seperate pan sautee the bacon and shallots together until soft, then add the cauliflower. Use a whisk to help pound out the cauliflower mix further into a smooth puree. Add a little milk if required. Season with salt and pepper where necessary. If you wish add some finely chopped fresh parsley a few minutes before serving.

For the leeks:

In a large pan add half the sage butter, then add the leeks and saute with the lid on at a low - moderate heat until leeks are almost soft and bright green. Add the remaining butter, allow to melt, then add the white wine and reduce liquor by half. Keep warm on a low heat / serve.

For the pork:

Heat up a large frying pan add a little oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper each side, then sear at a very high temperature until both sides are coloured. Place in oven at 200C until cooked (preference permitting - some people enjoy a medium cooked pork). Remove from oven and serve ont he bed of leeks / butter and quenelle califlower mash to the side.Glaze the pork with any remaining pan juices.

Poached salmon fillet / hollondaise / canarian new potatoes / griddled asparagus

Image courtesy of

*part of the Sizzling Staffordshire menu series*

This version of the classic dish brings to the table a healthy balance of protein and nutrients whilst appealing to the luxuriated palate. It also brings in an influence from the outskirts of Europe, with the influence of canarian potatoes, whilst retaining the elements of the traditional classic.

Salmon is one of my favourite fishes as it is incredibly versatile, full of flavour and exceedingly good for you. In recent years I've also noticed its becoming cheaper and cheaper, which not only presents an advantage from a consumer perspective, but it also gives me faith in the fact that supplies of freshwater fish are becoming responsibly renewable.

You will need (serves 2):

2 fillets of salmon, skin on (size dependent on preference).
12 spears of asparagus, (trimmed if large)
8 moderate salad potatoes (jersey are ideal)
1 batch of 2 egg hollondaise (leftovers can be saved and chilled)
1 batch pink fish poaching liquor
1 and 1/2 tbsp Sea salt

The doing bit:

For the potatoes

Add the sea salt to 750ml of water. Add the potatoes and bring to the boil then simmer until cooked. Strain potatoes then add to large frying pan with the asparagus and a small amount of oil. Serve when asparagus is cooked.

For the salmon:

Bring poaching liqour to the boil in a poaching pan, then add the salmon until cooked (salmon should be firm but springy to the touch). Remove from the liqour then serve on top of the bed of asparagus with the canarian potatoes and the hollondaise.