Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

Pan fried cod fillet with roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Cod in the UK is probably most often battered and deep fried or shallow fried in breadcrumbs. It would also traditionally of course be served with chips. While I absolutely love cod and other white fish served that way on occasion as much as anyone, I've got to say that I much prefer it cooked and served in a Southern European/Mediterranean style. The beautiful weather here the past few days has had me thinking of summer, so this was what I came up with for my dinner just last night.

Supermarket pack of mixed Mediterranean vegetables

Ingredients (Serves One)

Supermarket pack of assorted Mediterranean roasting vegetables*
Rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
Generous pinch dried basil
Generous pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound cod fillet (skin on)
2 or 3 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
Freshly chopped basil to garnish

*Buying the vegetables in a pack like this is not just convenient, it costs a fraction of the price. If your local supermarket doesn't sell packs like this, you can of course buy the vegetables individually. This pack was made up of red onion, cherry tomatoes, sliced courgette (zucchini) and sliced bell peppers.

Mediterranean vegetables ready for roasting

Directions

Put your oven on to preheat to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8.

Drizzle the vegetables liberally with rapeseed oil. Season with salt, pepper and the dried herbs. You could use a spoon to mix them well and ensure even coating but I always use my hands. It's much quicker and easier. Put them in to the hot oven for half an hour.

Fresh cod fillet

When the vegetables have been in the oven for about twenty minutes, pour two or three tablespoons of oil in to a large, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Scatter the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.

Seasoned flour for dusting cod on skin side

Pat the skin side only of the cod in the seasoned flour before adding it to the frying pan, skin side down. Season the flesh side of the cod with a little more salt and pepper.

Starting to fry cod fillet

It's not possible to give an exact cooking time for the cod fillet as it will depend on its thickness. The idea is to leave it on the skin side on a medium heat until you can see it is cooked at least three-quarters of the way through. That took about six minutes in this instance. You should then reduce the heat to low and carefully turn it with a fish slice on to its flesh side for a couple of more minutes.

Cod fillet is finished off frying on flesh side

The vegetables can be removed from the oven while the cod is finishing frying on its flesh side.

Oven roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Use a slotted spoon to arrange the vegetables on a plate as a bed for the cod.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables arranged as a bed for cod fillet

Carefully lift the cod from the pan and on to the bed of roasted vegetables. Note that it should be plated skin side up. Garnish with the freshly chopped basil leaves.

Cod fillet is laid on roasted vegetables bed

The skin should easily peel clean off the cod fillet in one piece, though you may need to start by loosening it at one corner edge with a knife.

Skin is peeled easily from fried cod fillet

The beautiful white cod flesh should virtually fall apart in to chunks at a touch of your fork.

Cod fillet should easily separate in to large flakes for eating

Monday, 6 April 2015

Chicken Thighs and Root Vegetables Stew

Whole chicken thighs stewed with an assortment of root vegetables

Tender, juicy, succulent and tasty are just of few of the adjectives which can very effectively be applied to chicken thighs cooked in this way. The meat literally falls off the bones providing a wonderful all round eating experience. It was while I was updating my chicken thighs recipes page online that I decided to share one of my prepared dishes on this blog. I hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as I did.

Root vegetables for chicken thigh stew

Ingredients for One Generous Portion

3 whole chicken thighs, skin on
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 and 1/2 pints fresh chicken stock
1 medium carrot
1 medium parsnip
6 baby potatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Chicken thighs are firstly browned on their skin sides

Directions

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Pour the oil in to a large stew pot and bring up to a fairly high heat. Lay the chicken thighs in the pot skin sides down and cook for a couple of minutes.

Sealing chicken thighs on their flesh sides

Reduce the heat to low to medium and turn the chicken thighs on to their flesh sides to cook for one minute.

Chicken stock is added to sealed chicken thighs

Pour the chicken stock in to the pot and bring to a simmer.

Vegetables and seasonings are added to chicken thighs and stock

Scrub all the vegetables clean but do not peel. Top and tail the parsnip and carrot before chopping in to large chunks. Cut the potatoes in half across the way. Add to the pot, bring the stock back to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer for forty-five minutes.

Stewed chicken thighs

Use a large slotted spoon to carefully remove the chicken thighs only from the pot and arrange on a plate. Turn off the heat, re-cover the pot and leave the chicken thighs for five minutes to rest.

Skin peels easily from stewed chicken thighs

Use the same slotted spoon to plate the veg and pour a little of the stock over the top.

Tender meat flakes in large pieces from stewed chicken thighs

You will find the meat will fall from the chicken thighs almost at a touch, leaving the bones clean behind.

Chicken thigh bones are left clear of tender meat

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Duck and Brussels Sprouts Sandwich

An Unusual But Incredibly Tasty Sandwich Idea

Sliced duck breasts and sprouts cooked in duck fat make a delicious sandwich

I know this sounds like a strange combination to include on a sandwich but it really did work a treat and it's a perfect idea for a fairly light and quick to prepare dinner, perhaps on a weeknight after work. The idea came about firstly when I had been working on a project regarding how to get kids to eat Brussels sprouts and secondly when I was given a fresh duck breast to use. Originally, I was going to cook the duck breast and sprouts exactly as described below and serve them more conventionally with roast potatoes - but then I came up with this concept.

Duck breast fillet

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 large duck breast fillet
6 to 8 medium Brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper
4 slices wheat, spelt and rye loaf (or similar, ultra fresh bread)

Starting to gently fry duck breast fillet

Directions

Start by bringing a pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the sprouts and simmer for three minutes only to part cook. Drain and leave to cool.

Pierce the skin of the duck breast several times with a fork but be sure not to damage the flesh. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Lay the duck breast skin side down in a cold, dry, non-stick frying pan. Put the heat on at low. As the fat starts to escape the duck breast, slowly increase the heat to high. Fry on the skin side for twelve minutes.

Duck breast fillet is left to rest

Reduce the heat under the pan to low to medium and turn the duck breast on to its flesh side. Fry for five more minutes. Lift to a chopping board with cooking tongs and leave to rest.

Frying Brussels sprouts in duck fat

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half, down through the centre. Add them to the pan with the hot duck fat and stir fry over a medium heat for two or three minutes.

Sliced duck breast fillet

Moderately thinly slice the duck breast across the grain. Remember that you will require enough slices to cover two slices of bread.

Duck breast slices are laid on one slice of bread

Lay the duck slices on two of the bread slices followed by the brussels sprouts, flat sides down. Add the top slices of bread and cut to serve.

Duck breast and Brussels sprouts sandwich

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Pork Tikka and Vegetable Stew

A Sumptious Indian Style Pork Stew with Fragrant Rice

Pork tikka on a blended bed of fragrant and plain rice with naan bread

Premade cooking sauces are not something I often buy and to be honest, I'm not really sure why I elected to buy one on this occasion. Maybe it was simply due to the fact that pork curries of any type are not too often encountered, so I wanted to see how it worked without expending too much effort. I'm not saying I'll buy premade sauces more often in future as opposed to making my own but I was certainly delighted in all ways in how this dish turned out.

Principal pork tikka ingredients

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4 pound pork loin steak
2 or 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium white onion (peeled and sliced)
5 ounce pack mixed, sliced bell peppers
1 pound jar tikka sauce
3/4 pint chicken stock
10 button mushrooms
6 ounces basmati or long grain rice
Salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 mini garlic and coriander (cilantro) naan breads
Freshly sliced basil leaves to garnish

Pork loin steaks

Directions

Dice the pork to one inch to one and a half inch pieces. This may of course already have been done by your butcher.

Chopped pork loin steaks

Pour the sunflower oil in to a large pot and gently heat. Add the sliced onions and gently sautee for a minute or so until just starting to soften, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.

Starting to sautee sliced onion

Add the peppers to the onion and sautee for a further minute.

Chopped bell peppers are added to sauteeing onion

Use a large slotted spoon to temporarily remove the onion and peppers from the pot to a holding plate or bowl.

Sauteed onion and bell peppers are removed to a plate

The pork pieces should be added to the same pot and stirred around over a medium heat until sealed and browned. This should take a couple of minutes.

Satrting to brown and seal diced pork loin

Make sure the pork pieces are all evenly sealed as this helps keep the pork tender during cooking.

Browned pork loin

Tip the onion and peppers back in to the pot and pour in the tikka sauce.

Onion and peppers are re-added to pot along with tikka sauce

Stir well, pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour and a half or until the pork is tender. Check frequently, giving a good stir.

Tikka sauce, pork and vegetables are stirred to combine

Add the mushrooms to the stew for the last fifteen minutes or so of cooking, while you prepare the rice. Be sure to stir them well through the mix.

Button mushrooms are added to simmering pork tikka

Put the rice in to a fine sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water.

Basnati rice is washed prior to being cooked

Bring two separate pots of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the turmeric to one of them, along with half the rice. Add the remaining rice to the plain salted water. Stir well in both instances and simmer for ten minutes.

Simmering rice in turmeric water

The two separate types of rice should be drained through sieves and left to steam for two or three minutes. If you try to combine them immediately, the excess liquid (which will escape as steam) will turn the white rice yellow.

Rice is drained and left to steam

The naan breads will require to be heated per the instructions on the pack. This usually takes a maximum of two minutes.

Mini garlic and coriander naan breads

Add the two types of rice to one of the pots and fluff them up together with a fork.

Plain and turmeric rice ready to be combined

Divide the rice between two deep serving plates and spread out as beds for the tikka.

Rice bed is formed for pork and vegetable tikka

Spoon the tikka on to the rice beds. Note that you may have a little bit of tikka leftover but this can easily be cooled, refrigerated and reheated the following day for lunch, perhaps with a couple of leftover naan breads (often come in packs of six).

Pork and vegetable tikka is spooned on to rice bed

Scatter the shredded basil leaves over the tikka.

Shredded basil leaves garnish pork and vegetable tikka

Cut the naan breads in half and arrange around the edges of the plates. They should be used to help scoop up and eat the tikka and rice.

Tucking in to pork and vegetable tikka with rice and naan bread