Amazon Kindle Store

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Rick Stein's book - My Kitchen Table - 100 Fish and Seafood Recipes.

My Kitchen Table   is a new collection of high-quality cookery books featuring mouth-watering recipes from the nation’s favourite chefs - Ainsley Harriott, Annabel Karmel, Antonio Carluccio, Gizzi Erskine, Ken Hom, Madhur Jaffrey, Mary Berry, Raymond Blanc, Rick Stein, Rosemary Conley and Sophie Grigson. I found out about this super series by accident and feel compelled to spread the word. Phil.

I have just purchased the Rick Stein edition and I love it. This is Rick's 100 Fish and Seafood recipes, from simple suppers to pasta and rice dishes to ' food for friends' all complied from the best recipes from his publications, Rick Stein's Seafood (2001), French Odyssey (2005), Mediterranean Escapes (2007) Coast to Coast (2008) and Far EasternOdyssey (2009).

I'm not going to list all one hundred of the recipes but to highlight those that I feel are inspiring to me and therefore those that I may well try to cook and enjoy. My images in this blog are random and an effort to illustrate my excitement over this compilation. I think that I may well purchase Raymond Blanc's version and the baking book by Mary Berry if this book is anything to go by. The price was excellent by the way; just a fiver and no postage added! Feel free to use this link if you fancy ordering a copy for yourself. The link in red at the top of the page will get you to all the titles on Amazon.


Rick's book covers: Soup and Starters, Light Bites and Lunches, Rice, Pasta and Noodles, Simple Suppers, Food For Friends.

From the Soups and Starters I particularly liked the look and the relative low cost of producing the dishes of:
  • Sardines stuffed with pine nuts, currants, capers, parsley and orange zest.

  • Crab and sweetcorn soup.

  • Spiced octopus salad with parsley.

  • Seafood tempura

  • Squid fried in olive oil with smoked pimentón and garlic mayonnaise.

  • Razor clams a la plancha

  • Oysters with sauce mignonette

From the Light Bites and Lunches section I fancied making the:
  • Gravlax (Dill cured salmon).

  • Devilled mackerel with mint and tomato salad.

  • Eggs Benedict with smoked haddock.

  • Japanese fish cakes with ginger and spring onions.

  • Crab with rocket, basil and lemon olive oil.

  • Sashimi of salmon, tuna, sea bass and scallops.

  • Warm mussel and potato salad with pistou.

  • Seared scallops with lentils and a tomato and Herbes de Provence dressing.

My selection from the Rice, Pasta and Noodles dishes is:
  • Crab Linguine with parsley and chilli.

  • Seafood lasagne.

  • Mussels in Pilau rice with a coconut, cucumber and tomato relish.

  • Nasi Goreng with mackerel.

  • Roasted sea bass with Pastis and an Arborio rice risotto.

  • Provençal fish pasta with fennel seeds, anchovies, tomatoes and olive oil.

  • Fish pie

  • Seafood couscous.

  • Tortilla of salt cod and sweet onions and potatoes.

From the Simple Suppers section I really liked the look and sound of:

  • Moules Marinieres with cream, garlic and parsley.

  • Coconut chilli prawns with cumin puris.

  • Portuguese barbecued sardines with piri-piri oil.

  • Monkfish with saffron and roasted red pepper dressing.

                                                                      My food DVDs

From Food For Friends I would relish making any of the recipes below:
  • Grilled cod with aioli and butter beans.

  • Grilled scallops with a pumpkin seed, Serrano chilli and coriander sauce.

  • Baked sea bass with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, anchovies and potatoes.

  • Fillets of John Dory with capers, olives and rosemary.

I can almost smell the lovely fresh fish cooking on the grill with additional tantalising aromas of garlic and chilli and smoked pimentón. As Rick often says “Delish!”

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rack of lamb for supper or lamb lollipops

This is the easiest and most tasty thing you can make for dinner, lunch or supper. A rack of lamb roasted in olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary to taste. A rack of lamb will normally do two people or one hungry hog like me.

The cooking takes about fifty minutes dependent on how bloody you like your lamb. I cook with gas so gas mark six is fine. I guess with an electric oven you are looking at 160 degrees.

Obviously you can have whatever you want with this cut of lamb but sometimes I just like to cook one for supper (especially if I have managed to get one cheap from reductions at work). They normally cost about £7 at the time of writing but keep your eye out for cheaper sheep in your supermarkets' reduction bay or the meat counter's special offers.

For the first half hour of cooking I cover the dish in silver foil and then baste the lamb, removing the foil for the final part of the cooking process. You will find that the lamb has swollen during cooking and the aroma as it comes out of the oven is delish. Let it rest for five minutes before eating though.

lamb lollipops? yummy!

Sea Bass from ice to plate

Sea bass on the ice.
 Yes, sea bass on ice. This I may add is our fish display, not the latest Disney extravaganza. Tickets are not available online.

So, dear readers, I and my fish friendly colleagues, have been busy preparing hundreds of sea bass at work in the last two weeks. They are on offer at just £2 each and are very popular so-much-so that some people are buying a dozen or so at a time, others one or two. Most of the customers want them prepared which means taking the sharp fins off, de-scaling, gutting, gills extracted and cleaning. Occasionally we get asked for the fish to be filleted too. Some timorous souls want the head and tails removing so that they can't tell it's a fish. I know, I know. And all this for £2 each. What a service!

These fins are very sharp! The picture below is the scales removing tool we use daily. It's like a big metal toothbrush but I wouldn't advise using it in this manner. I've saved you from the picture of the fish guts.

In doing this job you get into quite a routine and as you clip off the fins with the extra strong scissors. Whilst doing so, I often ask the fish if they "are planning any holidays?" or "want anything for the weekend?" It is like fishy hairdressing except when you go to the hairdressers you don't usually get a knife up your bum and your innards removed. Well, not the ones I've been to anyway.

So to my kitchen: there are many ways to cook fish and I chose to roast one in the oven and another time I cut the flesh into small pieces and made some brochettes. in both cases I had some Mediterranean Couscous from a packet to go with the fish. It's easy to make and a change from potatoes or rice.

With the roast sea bass I cooked it in a mild olive oil and added onions and a sprinkling of grated lemon zest and pepper. The lemon zest wasn't from a packet of dried lemon zest with a picture of Jamie Oliver costing £5.99. It was the actual zest of a fresh lemon costing 30p. I'm so radical. The fish took fifty minutes to do on gas mark 6 and was yummy with the couscous, onions and a generous amount of Jean's homemade cranberry and apple sauce. I gave it a little baste half way through the cooking.


"Can I have the head?"

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Working title - Bordeaux - a love affair

I am  currently working on publishing a photo journal through featuring over a hundred of my photographs and journal extracts from four visits to the French city of Bordeaux over the years 2006-2010. It will be about my love affair with this most stunning French city.

I am very excited about this project and say big thanks to Paul and Jayne Fletcher-Thomlinson who persuaded me to check out this self publishing site. Watch this space!

                                  Bordeaux - a love affair

I also have other book ideas based on my twenty plus years experience as a butcher.

Phil x

#Bordeaux #BordeauxFrance

Monday, 8 April 2013

Another Moroccan style stew with cubed shoulder of lamb

From time to time I crave another spicy lamb stew and as lamb shoulder is on a half price offer at Tesco I took advantage a week ago and made a big pot full to last me three or four days. The joy with this style of stew is the longer it sits in the pot the better it tastes (within limits! blue bits on top are not advisable).

The recipe can be found at a previous blog post:Ras el hanout and moroccan lamb tagine

I found that the Puy lentils really gave the stew an extra level and nutty taste.

I made the paste in a similar way to last time only without the peppers and with more garlic.

The whole lamb shoulder was too much for one pot full so I froze the amounts into two halves and used one 'half shoulder' amount after defrosting in a bowl of cold water for a couple of hours. Trim away any excess fat but do leave some on as it adds beautifully to the taste. Lamb shoulder is sweeter and tastier than leg, incidentally.
I would definitely recommend the Bart's Ras El Hanout spice mix. I have tried a few others and this is far superior, albeit slightly more in cost, and a tin lasts ages. A good investment.
As I mentioned in the original blog post (with recipe) it is certainly advantageous getting all the ingredients prepared in advance. Just makes the cooking so much more joyous and straight forward. You don't want to be peeling your spuds when you should be stirring the raw meat into the paste and adding the Ras El Hanout. Oh no. This stew is not one to be rushed.
Enjoy, as I did!

After thought: this economical stew was made with  cheaper cuts of meat (half price lamb), things I already had in the house (Puy lentils, spices, a bulb of garlic and olive oil) and vegetables brought at a reasonable price from a local firm. I hadn't got any lamb stock cubes so I used chicken and they were fine.
My suggestion would be always try and use what you have at home rather than spending extra money where not needed.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Beware! Phone Zombies invading a town near you!


I've been witnessing this terrifying phenomenon more and more over the recent years and now I feel it is my public duty to alert the world to the self harming menace that are the 'Phone Zombies'. They may look normal everyday folk to most of you (they are THAT clever) but they are extremely dangerous - to themselves and others with whom they may collide.

"Hello? Is that the zombie police?"

They have been suckered in ( a technical expression) by the phone Gods. In some parts of the world these phone Gods are known as fone Gods so don't be fooled dear reader. The spelling may be bad but it is one and the same thing. Yes, 'suckered in' to forever stare at a plastic box with shiny things on the screen that can be slid aside, but still entrap. These go under the name of 'apps' and are often mis-spelled or fore shortened to appear harmless and can appear as a friendly looking icon. I will give you some examples: FB = facebook, unrecognised by spell check (cunning huh?) and feature pictures of your friends often 'off their faces'. Curse them and their 1.52" display facility and 5 megapixel cameras for capturing them, unwittingly, in moments of spiritual vulnerability!

More examples? Yes I can give you more! Oh yes! Suckered in by subtle word play no less, like - touchscreen - androids; coupled with promises of food based treats nonsense - blackberries, gingerbread, jelly bean and ice cream sandwiches - and homely pseudo friendliness promising to be a - life companion. As if! After life companion more like. Have you seen the lifeless faces on these phone zombies? They have no idea what is going on in the real world. Or is that 'Reelwurld tm'?

"Dear Reelwurld, eye am in a shoppin' centre on a massage chair, only it ent wurkin'"

I read one of the 'Automobile Phone Capacious Storage Space' glossy phone brochures today that say you can change things by just waving your hand (try doing that to stop a bus, or a rampaging pit bull sometime, Mr Samsung). It also claimed that you can control the screen with your eyes when watching a video. Come on, that's nowt new. I have watched videos on the telly for years and when I close my eyes the video has finished when I wake up.

"Awake! awake!" was not just a forgotten cry from Hereward the Wake of the Fens but a cry to all who fall under the spell of the mobile, the smartphone, the tablets, das Handy, le portable et le visiophone. It is a cry to say ... nay, to SHOUT ... watch out for the curb, the thief, the pick pockets, the cliff edge, the flasher, the oncoming traffic, the bloggers out to expose every drop of humour from the pre-occupied. Ignore the last one.

For pity's sake check out this picture below of this woman so pre-occupied by her text messaging 'as you go' that she may not realise her children have vanished into a worm hole until she tries to get on the bus home and has to put the mobile away to find the bus fare. Perhaps I watch too much Science Fiction, I don't know.
Take these young lads for example, pictured out of zombie mode, they could be saved, perhaps made into a boy band but then the gurl fanz would capture them, on their mobile phones, pretending to sing. WTF and OMG is there no escape?

 The Fone Four.
I traversed high and low from High Pavement to Low Pavement in Nottingham today to capture the menace that is phone zombie -ism and as you can see the victims had to be photographed using my special heat seeking camera. That is, while there is still heat in their bodies, the poor dears. I think the most pitiable example was in an undisclosed café when a couple actually spent precious time over a meal checking out their individual mobiles and only spoke when he got some lettuce lodged in his teeth. She 'Googled' lettuce and teeth and the problem was resolved b4 you could type 'choking hazard'.
To protect myself I have been practising the mobile obsessed zombie walk in and around graveyards in my locale and have switched off my mobile for the time being. Only time will tell. "Is this contraption on or off?"
"WTF would I do with 600,000 apps? Hang on mate I need to put some more coins in...."
'Ring ring.'
"Hello? Stare at the screen? Right. Click the zombie app? Ok. Now what? Stare at the screen..."