Amazon Kindle Store

Monday, 28 September 2015

Early morning walks and Moules façon Philippe. Mussels just like Phil makes.

For a while now I have been getting up ludicrously early of a Saturday and Sunday morning (both of which I work) and walking for half an hour to the nearest tram stop to where I live in order to get to work a bit earlier. On a Saturday morning this means getting up at 5am and leaving the house at 5.40am and on Sunday morning leaving the house at 7.30am. I don't need to be at work until 9.30 but I do love my coffee and steaming fresh almond croissant stop en route.

Last Sunday it was a tad foggy on the main road out of Ruddington and just by the bridge nearest the first tram stop (Ruddington Lane) I saw a large grey dead rat laying un-squished in the road. It looked as if it had just fallen asleep. Along the way I witnessed many a glistening translucent spider's web in the bushes and the trees. Alas I had no time to photograph them.

As it happened it was a morning of frustrations as the tram was only going as far at Wilford Village due to the Robin Hood Marathon taking place in and around the city centre. When I reached the tram stop I had no prior knowledge of this. I wasn't exactly late for work but the delays cut into my 'nice coffee before starting my Sunday shift' moments.

Fields near Ruddington on a foggy Sunday morning.

Foggy Road
A tram replacement bus took me to the outskirts of Nottingham city centre (London Road by the canal) and then I had to walk to the bus station - wait for a bus to take me Beeston hence which (said bus) went a rather circuitous route to Beeston. As I had had a rather fraught night out the evening before I arrived at work in a rather tetchy and tired mood. Thankfully I managed to chill during the busy Sunday shift and actually enjoyed selling a decent amount of fish from the fish counter. The day whooshed by.

Carapelli olive oil used to warm through garlic and parsley

On the previous Saturday evening I fashioned a delicious meal from some fresh Tesco rope grown mussels and added the remainder of a left over spaghetti Bolognese sauce. Inspired from a tomato and onions based dish of mussels I once had in Biarritz France (close to the Spanish border) I invented 'Moules façon Philippe'. Basically it was a kilo of cleaned mussels steamed in a fresh tasting French white wine cooked with chopped organic garlic and fresh green flat leaved parsley with the Bolognese sauce added at the last minute to add extra favour to the already sumptuous peeping orange cooked mussels in their ochre open shells. The original garlic and chopped parsley stalks were warmed through in a sensuous glug of Carapelli olive oil. Additionally I cut off a small amount of sexy St Agur blue cheese and melted it into the final dish. A delightful chat with one of my customers on Saturday afternoon actually inspired this decision. Lastly a cool dash of Crème Fraiche was splashed onto the finished dish. A rapid dash into my French style Mediterranean  garden gave the dish a chance for a photo opportunity (below) and then the food was devoured equally as quickly at my kitchen top.

Moules façon Philippe

St Agur blue cheese
Back to the Sunday evening a blush of autumnal leaves against a white washed wall made my evening complete. Such beauty discovered unexpectedly after an arduous weekend of work.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Spanish style stew made from skirt and oxtail.

Yesterday evening I made a Spanish style stew from skirt beef (very lean and very affordable) that I purchased from Tesco and added two large pieces of oxtail for flavour. The skirt and oxtail were dusted in plain flour and fried until brown. This was another of my improvised recipes so I used up half a dozen brown mushrooms and some chorizo slices from my fridge. Another half dozen small cooking onions got peeled and fried in my frying pan, again until brown. As the combination of the meat and onions and mushrooms were too large to put into one casserole I utilised two casseroles and left them to warm through in the oven for an hour on a medium heat. The skirt and oxtail cooked in some beef stock and the mushrooms, onions and chorizo slices cooked in a three tins worth of chopped tomatoes. When all had been cooking for an hour I transferred the lot into one big tureen to warm through for tonight's meal.


 This  (below) was the finished dish with some creamy mashed potatoes.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Olive, pesto and mushroom stuffed rack of lamb

French trimmed racks of lamb are probably one of my favourites and usually I will oven roast them on the bone and am greedy (ravenous) enough to eat the whole rack chop by luscious chop on my own by the time it emerges from the oven with its crispy skin and moist lamb flesh. They happen to be on offer at Tesco so I treated myself to one yesterday in order to cook today. The recipe is my own and developed simply by what happened to be in my fridge and store cupboards.

Today I got a bit creative with my Sunday purchased small rack of lamb and some things I happened to have in the fridge and on my storage shelves. I knew that I wanted to stuff the rack with something so first of all I took off all of the bones. Then I part cut through the chop flesh twice to extend the length of the meat. This left me with a fattier end where the bones originally lay and the doubled length of lean skinless meat. I happen to like lamb fat so trimming that side of the small joint down would have been pointless, besides it kept the joint moist.

For a simple stuffing I used three small teaspoons of pesto from a jar of Tesco basil pesto, half a dozen chopped and stir fried mushrooms and an equal amount of pitted dry back olives with herbs from Crespo's Les Olive du Marche range. These olives come in little re-sealable packs and are my favourite olives to use when you don't need a vast amount. I spread the chopped up mixture across the flattened flesh and left a half inch gap either end to avoid unnecessary spillage as I tied up the joint with some butcher's string. See pictures below.

The joint cooked for an hour in a pre-heated oven at gas mark six. A few steamed vegetables and the gravy from the joint made for a lovely Autumnal lunch with a spoonful of red current jelly and a glass of robust red wine.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Sardines in madras paste

Another quick and cheap sardine recipe from me today. Prepare the sardines so they are just the cleaned out middle section (with lightly scored skin ) and rub in plenty of madras paste available where you find the curry sauces in your local Tesco or other supermarket. To give some moisture to the cooking I added a half a tin of coconut milk and cooked the sardines for about thirty minutes on a medium heat in the oven. I ate them simply with some fresh romaine salad leaves and a chopped tomato.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Simple Monkfish Thai curry.

Taking the centre bone out of a nice fleshy piece of monkfish is just so easy. One simple bone to whip out with a sharp knife and it is done. Then taking the creamy fish flesh I cut it up into chunks similar to a meat stew. I cooked it through in a little sunflower oil and added a small mix  of chopped spring onion, red chilli peppers and crushed lemon grass along with some left over mango thinly sliced.


I used two jars of Tesco Thai curry sauce and cooked some rice to accompany the dish. The whole thing lasted about two days and on the second day I added a few button mushrooms to thicken up the curry. Easy peasy and very tasty.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Sardine mania with salad!!

On the Tesco Extra fish counters across the UK sardines are currently on a crazy special half price offer of only £1.50 a kilo!!!!!! My work colleagues Paul and Alan and myself have been gutting and cleaning tinsy little sardines like crazy today. Paul the fishmonger put together a fabulous counter display for our daily customers. This is nothing unusual for Paul. He takes a huge pride in his work.

A while ago I wrote about a sardine recipe I had made involving sardines and tonight I cooked half a dozen in a new way for me. First of all I cleaned them all (split the bellies and prised out the guts and then pulled out the gills). In doing this you have to be very gentle as the fish are quite soft even if they are stiff fresh. Then I washed them under a slow running cold tap and coated them in plain flour.

They went into a low cooking dish with some chopped spring onions, tiny mushrooms, black olives, chilli peppers and a sprig of rosemary from my garden and got doused in a generous glug of olive oil prior to going into my pre-heated oven (gas mark 6) for three quarters of an hour to cook through.

In the meantime I threw together a simple salad with some crisp green salad leaves, mango chunks sliced thinly and given a meaty touch with two torn slices of left over Spanish Serrano ham.

The finished meal. A light autumnal supper.

A little more olive oil to dress the salad and it was ready to serve in under an hour.