Saturday, 24 March 2012

Fishing for compliments

I often return from holidays with delicious ingredients- soupe de poissons, caviare d'aubergines, tapenade, mustards and herbs and spices (no prizes for guessing where my holidays are spent!)- and then spend the winter months puzzling over how best to use them up.

This is how I put a jar of soupe de poissons to good use: firstly, served as it should be with garlic toast and some grated gruyere.

Next I made a sort of bourrride: a fish stew with saffron potatoes based on a dish I eat in my favourite Marseille restaurant La Nautique. (A brilliant resto for the economically savvy- all the millionaire feel of Marseille's vieux port with none of the over-hyped price tags.)


half a jar of soupe de poissons
2 waxy potatoes (peeled)
selection of fish (salmon, cod, prawns)
pinch of saffron
teaspoon of turmeric
parsley ( finely chopped)

1. Boil the potatoes until soft but not falling apart in a mixture of water, salt, saffron and turmeric
2. Warm the soup in a saucepan and add the cod and salmon. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flakes if carefully tested with a fork.Add the prawns and cook through a further minute.
3. Drain the potatoes (but  retain the saffron stock).
4. Put a portion of potatoes in a dish, pour the soup around and lay the pieces of fish on top.
5. Sprinkle with parsley (purists might also want a dollop of garlic mayonnaise too) and serve.

Final fish dish- a fish pie.


Assorted fish- smoked haddock, prawns, salmon, cod etc
Cold mashed potato
grated cheese (cheddar/parmesan)
leftover saffron stock (from last recipe)
creme fraiche

1. Skin the fish and poach gently in a little milk mixed with the saffron stock and peas.
2. Remove the heat and add the prawns  for a further minute or two.
3. Flake fish into a dish and mix with a little poaching liquor and creme fraiche .
4. Top with mashed potato and grated cheese and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Cheap cheep

Or how to get every last little bit from your leftover chicken or duck.

First roast your bird- I slow roasted a duck crown yesterday in the slow cooker for 4 hours (having rubbed some Chinese five spice into the skin and seared it in the frying pan first.)

The result was gorgeous- the meat fell from the bone and carved beautifully. I was able to take every last scrap away from the carcass with ease. This made a wonderful roast meal- and also some shredded duck meat was left for gyoza.

The sorry little pile of bones left behind from your chicken or duck can make another meal easily.

Making stock

I used to make stock in my pressure cooker - and this is still a quick and efficient way to do it- but my recent conversion to using the slow cooker has led me to an even simpler and more delicious way to obtain a good pot of stock.

I put the carcass along with some celery and carrot, salt and pepper and 1 litre of water into the crock pot and leave it to cook on Low for 4-5 hours (or pressure cook for 30 mins).

I scoop out the bones and pass the liquid through a sieve before allowing the stock to cool. Once cool you can skim off the fat and are left with a clear and flavourful stock.

From stock to soup

I love a golden vegetable soup and also a chicken or duck noodle soup.

For the vegetable soup- put carrots, celery, potato, bouquet garni (bundle of fresh herbs tied with string) and any other leftover veg in with the stock. (Peas, spinach and sprouts can make this a muddy colour though, so save those for a different dish). Season well and cook until the veg are soft. Remove the bouquet garni.

Blend with a stick blender, adjust seasoning and serve with a swirl of creme fraiche.

For the noodle soup- bring the clear stock to simmering point, add fine egg noodles, chopped spring onion, mushroom, spinach leaves, carrot shavings (or any leftover veg such as peas, finely shaved green pepper, even shredded lettuce leaves are good).

Serve as soon as the noodles are soft, with a dash of soy sauce to season.
I've served mine with duck gyoza (leftover shredded duck, spring onion and hoisin sauce, wrapped in spring roll wrappers and fried until golden) and chilli dipping sauce.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Full of Eastern Promise...

This weekend we had a dinner guest from Malaysia- used to spicy food. She has been eating mainly vegetarian food in the UK, as she should only eat halal meat otherwise.

I have a good repertoire of vegetarian recipes- family members will know why!- but I feared they might be rather bland for our guest's tastes- pizzas, pasta, quiches, salads and so on.

I opted to make spiced lamb patties (my local Asda providing halal lamb sausages) with a couscous and chickpea salad, flatbreads and a vegetable tagine. This also gave me the chance to use some of the dinky mini-tagines and mini soupieres that I buy (or am given) at any opportunity for accompaniments to the dish too.

To make the lamb patties I took the sausages from their skins and then followed my burger recipe- see February- but substituted ras el-hanout ( moroccan tagine spices) for the Worcestershire sauce. (These were so delicious, they all disappeared before I could take a photo!

The vegetable stew was made from whatever was to hand in the fridge- courgettes, leftover green beans, leftover baked beans (yes really!), shallots, tinned tomatoes, lots of ras el-hanout paste spices and chilli. All cooked for 4-5 hours in the slow cooker-mmmm!

And the leftovers made a delicious vegetable lasagne and a pasta lunchbox for me!