Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Smoked Cod en Croute with Mashed Veg

Smoked cod in pastry is served on mixed mashed root vegetables

I love smoked fish of many different types, from mackerel, to salmon, to white fish such as cod or haddock. One rule I normally have, however, when buying smoked white fish is that I will never buy the artificially dyed stuff with its awful, yellow tinge. Quite why fishmongers/supermarkets do this is totally beyond me as far from making the fish look more attractive, I honestly believe it makes it look artificial and almost radioactive. In this instance, however, I made an exception for the simple reason that I had already decided to prepare this dish and I couldn't actually get hold of any un-dyed smoked cod or haddock. If you do choose to make this dish at home, I recommend you get smoked fish without the dye from your supplier.

Smoked cod fillet

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 smoked cod fillet piece of around 8 ounces
4 ounces premade puff pastry
Flour for dusting pastry rolling surface
1 small beaten egg for glazing pastry
1 medium baking potato
1 medium carrot
1/4 medium Swede turnip (rutabaga)
Salt and white pepper
1 ounce (1/4 stick) butter
White pepper

Pastry is rolled out on a floured board


Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Lightly dust a clean dry surface with flour and roll out the pastry to a rectangle large enough that you will be able to wrap the piece of fish.

Cod fillet is laid in centre of egg brushed pastry

Brush the pastry with a little beaten egg and lay the cod fillet in the centre.

Smoked cod is folded in pastry

Carefully lift the pastry sides one at a time to snugly wrap the cod fillet, sealing it on top, Cut away any excess pastry to prevent an overly bulky seam. Sit the package seal side down on an oiled baking sheet and egg wash all exposed surfaces. Carefully cut three small air vent slits on what is now the top of the pastry. Bake in the oven for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the pastry is risen and golden.

Potato, Swede turnip and carrot

Peel the turnip and potato. Top, tail and scrape the carrot.

Peeled and chopped vegetables ready for boiling

Cut all the vegetables in to approximately one inch chunks and add to a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a simmer for about twenty minutes until the pieces are just softened.

Smoked cod en croute is rested

When the cod pastry parcel is taken from the oven, it should be lifted to a chopping board with a fish slice and left to rest for a few minutes.

Drain the vegetables, return them to the pot and let them steam off for a few minutes. If you don't let the excess moisture escape in this way, you will have soggy and unappetising mash.

Cod en croute is halved for serving

Cut the cod en croute in half at a forty-five degree angle as shown to form two serving portions.

Vegetables are mashed with white pepper and butter

Add the butter to the steamed off vegetables and season with a little white pepper. Mash with a hand masher.

Mashed mixed vegetables are plated

Divide the mashed vegetables between two deep serving plates to serve as beds for the cod en croute.

Cod should separate easily in to large and succulent flakes

Lift a piece of the cod on to each vegetable bed and serve immediately.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Griddled Tuna Salad with Bruschetta

Griddled/grilled tuna fillet slices with a simple salad and bruschetta

This is a super quick to make as well as delicious and healthy meal, perfect for a weeknight when you're perhaps tired and can't face spending a great deal of time in the kitchen. It's ready to eat from starting the prep to finish in an absolute maximum of fifteen minutes.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

6 ounce, 1 inch thick tuna loin steak
Vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling bruschetta
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, 1 for salad and 1 for bruschetta
Generous handful of mixed supermarket green leaf salad
1 cheesy bread roll

Starting to griddle oiled tuna fillet


Bring a ridged griddle/grill pan up to a smoking hot heat. This will take around three to four minutes. While the pan is heating up, oil the tuna steak all over. A pastry brush is perfect for performing this task. Season the fillet lightly with salt and pepper. Lay the fillet carefully in the pan to fry for an initial three minutes.

Mixed supermarket salad

This supermarket salad was a mixture of different green leaves, cucumber, red bell pepper slices and sweetcorn. You really can use however whatever salad mix you prefer.

Tuna fillet is turned in griddle pan

Turn the tuna fillet with cooking tongs to fry for three minutes on the second side.

Salad is gently stirred through dressing

Mix the tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice in a large bowl. Grate in the peeled second garlic clove, season with salt and pepper and stir again. Add the salad leaves and stir fold or toss through the simple dressing.

Griddled tuna fillet is rested

Lift the tuna fillet to a chopping board and leave it to rest for a few minutes while you prepare the bruschetta.

Cheesy bread roll

This is roll was made with cheese and had extra cheese toasted on the top but you can use a plain bread roll if you prefer. Cut in half horizontally and toast lightly on both sides.

Toasted roll halves and garlic clove

Peel the second garlic clove and lightly crush. Rub it over the cut sides of the hot toasted rolls. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Salad and bruschetta are plated

Arrange the salad in the form of a bed for the tuna on a serving plate. Lay a slice of bruschetta on either side.

Tucking in to tuna salad with bruschetta

Slice the tuna steak across the grain with a cleaver or very sharp knife. Lay the slices attractively on the salad bed and serve immediately.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Spicy Scottish Venison Cheeseburgers

Scottish venison grillsteaks on rolls with cheese, onion and peppers

Scottish venison grillsteaks quickly griddled before Scottish cheddar cheese is melted over the top and stir fried mixed peppers and onion are subsequently added. Sound good? This idea actually came about when I had bought the grillsteaks to serve in an entirely different way but before I could do so, I discovered some forgotten mixed bell pepper slices and half an onion in my fridge requiring using if they were not to go to waste. Although therefore an accidental creation in a sense, this was super delicious and definitely something I'll be making again.

Scottish venison grillsteaks


2 Scottish venison grillsteaks
Vegetable oil
Handful of mixed sliced bell peppers
1/2 small white onion, peeled and moderately thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Generous pinch of hot chilli powder (optional)
2 wholewheat bread rolls or similar
4 slices of Scottish cheddar cheese or as required
Teaspoon of freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Starting to griddle the venison grillsteaks


Start your griddle pan heating on your highest setting. It has to be very hot and this is likely to take a few minutes.

Oil the venison grillsteaks all over and lay them in to the hot griddle.

Grillsteaks are griddled on the second sides

The size of the steaks will vary but these ones took three minutes on each side to cook. Cooking tongs make them easier to turn. It's best not to risk using a plastic implement with a hot pan like this. When the steaks are ready, lift them to a heated plate and cover with foil to rest for a few minutes.

Stir frying peppers and onion

Add a little oil to a small frying pan and stir fry the peppers and onion over a medium heat for two or three minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper and a little chilli powder if desired.

Rested venison grillsteaks are laid on roll bases

Cut the rolls in half and lightly toast on their cut sides under your overhead grill/broiler.

Cheese slices are laid on venison grillsteaks

Lay a grillsteak on each bottom roll half and top with cheese slices.

Cheese is melted over grillsteaks

Melt the cheese under your grill until just bubbling.

Spiced peppers and onions are laid on top of cheese

Lift some peppers and onion on to each burger top with cooking tongs.

Coriander garnishes the burgers before they are closed over

Scatter with the chopped herb before adding the tops to the rolls to serve.

Ready to eat spicy Scottish venison cheeseburgers

Monday, 23 November 2015

Leftover Turkey Chili Sloppy Joes

Leftover turkey chili sloppy joe with simple salad

Leftovers provide us with a wealth of opportunities when it comes to deciding what to have for dinner of an evening. Using them up cuts down on food waste thus expenditure, they can save significant amounts of time in the preparation of a meal when all you want to do is relax after a hard day and they provide excellent opportunities for experimenting with different ways in which you can actually serve them up to your family.

Sloppy joes (just like chili!) are traditionally made with beef as the meat ingredient. When I experimented one night, however, in making this pretty unusual but absolutely delicious turkey chili recipe with different coloured tomatoes, I had some leftovers and decided to borrow the sloppy joes concept for a very quick and easy dinner for two the following evening. You should also note that this idea could also be prepared with ordinary chili or indeed any similar type of meat or even vegetable stew.

Leftover turkey chili

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Generous portion of leftover turkey chili
Two handfuls of peashoots or similar green salad leaves
1 medium red tomato
1 medium yellow tomato
Salt and white pepper
2 soft bread rolls
Chopped coriander/cilantro to garnish

Salad ingredients are washed in cold water


Take the chili from the fridge (where it should of course have been stored overnight) and put it in to a saucepan. Put the pot on to a low heat and gently reheat the chili, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Wash the salad leaves and tomatoes in a colander under running cold water and dry.

Toasted roll base is plated with salad

Cut the two bread rolls in half horizontally and lightly toast on the cut sides. Cut the tomatoes in to segments and mix through the salad leaves, seasoning with salt and white pepper. Lay a bottom roll half on each of two serving plates and arrange half the salad alongside in each instance.

Turkey chili is spooned on to roll base and garnished

When the chili is fully reheated, divide between the two bottom roll halves and garnish with the chopped herb. Sit the roll tops in place and tuck in.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fresh Tuna and Mayo Sandwich

Fresh tuna slices with mayo on a bed of fresh watercress sandwich

Fresh tuna is as different from canned tuna as tuna itself is from cod. It really is like eating an entirely different foodstuff - provided, of course, the fresh tuna is not overcooked as the canned stuff is to such excess. I quite literally can't eat canned tuna I dislike it so much but I love fresh tuna and rate it as one of my most favourite types of eating fish. What I did here therefore was make a simple tuna and mayo sandwich but used fresh tuna cooked on a hot griddle or grill pan rather than canned.

Starting to griddle tuna loin fillet

Ingredients (Serves 2)

6 ounce tuna loin fillet (around 1 inch thick)
Vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
Generous handful fresh watercress (or salad leaves of choice)
2 bread rolls
Mayo as required

Watercress is washed under running cold water


Start your griddle pan preheating on as high a heat as possible. It has to be smoking hot for cooking the tuna and it is likely to take three or four minutes to get up to the required temperature.

Put the watercress in to a sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water. This is always essential, even when the pack claims it is washed and ready to eat. Sit it aside to drain off.

Tuna fillet is turned in griddle pan

Lightly oil the tuna fillet all over (never the griddle pan) and season on both sides with salt and pepper. When the griddle pan is smoking hot, very carefully lay the fillet in it to fry for three minutes. Turn with cooking tongs and fry on the second side for a further three minutes.

Griddled tuna fillet is rested

Lift the tuna fillet to a chopping board and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes.

Watercress bed is fashioned on bread roll

Cut the rolls open and very lightly toast on the cut sides. Divide the watercress between the two bottom roll halves to serve as a bed for the tuna.

Tuna slices are laid on watercress bed

Slice the tuna to around a quarter of an inch and divide between the two watercress beds. Add the mayo and place the tops on the rolls to serve.

Fresh tuna, mayo and watercress sandwich

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Spicy Turkey Steak and Cheese Toastie

Fajitas spiced turkey steak with cheese, chilli and tomato toastie

This was an idea which came about when turkey breast steaks were on special offer in my local supermarket a few nights back. I bought one and brought it home, without really having decided what I was going to do with it. It was therefore a search of the fridge and cupboards to see what was available that led to this particular, incredibly simple recipe idea being created.

Ingredients (Serves One)

6 ounce turkey breast steak
1 teaspoon fajitas spice mix
Vegetable, sunflower or similar oil for frying
1 tablespoon grated Cheddar cheese
1 medium green chilli, seeded and finely diced
Black pepper
2 slices of bread
4 slices from medium tomato
2 basil leaves, rolled and shredded

Starting to fry fajitas spiced turkey breast steak


Scatter half the fajitas spice mix over each side of the turkey steak, season with a little salt and gently massage it in with your fingers. If time permits, cover and leave to dry marinate for an hour.

Pour the oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Lay the turkey steak in to the pan and fry for four to five minutes on the first side, still on a medium heat.

Grated cheddar cheese, green chilli and black pepper for topping turkey steak

Put the grated cheese in to a bowl and mix with the green chilli and some black pepper.

Turkey steak is turned to fry on second side

Turn the turkey steak to fry for another four to five minutes on its second side. Ensure it is properly cooked. Turn off the heat, push the pan to a cool part of your stove top and let it rest while you preheat your kitchen grill (broiler) to maximum.

Cheese and green chilli mix is laid on fried turkey steak

Carefully arrange the cheese and chilli mix on top of the turkey steak. Put the pan under the grill for a minute or so until the cheese is melted and bubbling. During this time, you should also put the bread slices in to your toaster.

Spicy cheese turkey steak is laid on first slice of toast

Lay the two slices of toast on a serving plate and carefully lift the turkey steak on to one of them with a spatula.

Tomato slices and shredded basil top cheesy turkey steak

Lay the tomato slices on top of the turkey steak and scatter with the basil. Put the second slice of toast on top, press down very lightly and slice diagonally to serve.

Spicy turkey steak and cheese toastie is served