Asparagus and my asparagus/pea risotto

24 May

Asparagus season in Europe is very short, going from only May until June. So we have to profit from this delicious vegetable.

There are three main types of asparagus which all come from the same plant: there are the common all-green tender spears that have very good flavour, and then there is white asparagus, made by ‘forcing’ the spears to grow in the absence of light by earthing up around and over tips. These are not typically grown in Britain, though you do spot them from time to time, though they have usually come from Holland or Belgium, where white asparagus is popular. Lastly, there is lavender-tipped asparagus which is simply white asparagus that has been allowed the see the sun again and just colour slightly. White and lavender-tipped are much more fibrous than the green but have a much more delicate flavour.

Asparagus facts;

Asparagus can help to cure hangovers and protect the liver against toxins.

Asparagus can improve your libido..

Dubbed the Usain Bolt of the vegetable world, British asparagus can grow up to 10 cm in one day.

Eating asparagus promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine and can help reduce bloating.

Asparagus contains vitamin K, essential for healthy blood clotting.

It is a rich source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system.

Asparagus is a mild diuretic and is believed to help detoxify the body.

Its very straight-forward to prepare asparagus. You first need to remove the woody part at the base of the stem. You can do this with a knife, but this involves guess-work, so it is easier to break the spears one at a time because they have a natural snap point where the woodiness lessens. You can trim the ends of course if you want to be fancy. If you have very thin young spears, you may not have to snap them at all. Along the stem of the plant there are strange little leaves that lie flat against the stem; you can remove these if you like, but I tend not to unless the spears are particularly thick.

Asparagus needs little cooking: just a few minutes steaming is required. Traditionally it is cooked in a tall asparagus pan so that the spears can be boiled upright, I prefer to pan fry in a little butter as I love the crunch, or grilling in the BBQ .

Pea and asparagus risotto

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 20 -25 mins

Serves: 4

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

300g (1½ cups) risotto rice

250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine

700 ml (2½ cups) hot vegetable or chicken stock, and wait for it the pea shell stock!!!

250g (2 cups) asparagus, slice the stalks, keep the tips whole

250g (2 cups) fresh (podded and keeping the Pods )or frozen peas

100g (¾ cup) Parmesan cheese

1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped

½ lemon, zest and juice

Method

• Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the onion and garlic, cook gently until softened but not coloured. Add the rice and stir, cook for 1 minute.

• Pour in the wine allowing it to evaporate, stir.

• Add the hot stock a ladle at a time allowing it to be absorbed before adding more, while continuing to stir, it should take about 20-25 mins to cook, the last ladle use the pea pod stock for more flavour and colour. The rice should be soft and creamy with a loose texture, add a little more stock or water if necessary.

• While the risotto is cooking blanch the asparagus and peas in boiling water for 2 mins, drain and refresh in iced water, cover.

• Stir in the Parmesan , half of the chopped mint, lemon zest and juice, and the asparagus and pea mix. Make sure it’s piping hot and the right consistency, season to taste.

• Serve immediately with a sprinkle of cheese and the remaining mint.

• Accompany with a crisp green salad.

• Crispy bacon or griddled chicken pieces make a perfect addition for non vegetarians

Ok the pea shells

That means you’re left with a big pile of empty pea shells, once you’ve turned the treasured sweet peas inside into part of a pasta or spring veggie risotto.

But just because they’re empty doesn’t mean they’re worthless. Get that idea out of your head. Just like the peas inside, the pea shells contain spring’s flavors (and spring’s nutrients). With a few extra steps, you can turn the shells into a gorgeous green puree to use in sauces and pasta dishes–or even as part of a cocktail!

First step: reserve those shells instead of throwing them away.

Next, blanch the pea shells by adding them to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then, transfer the peas to a blender.

puree the blanched pea shells with a little bit of the blanching water… more if you want a stock .

Once smooth , you want to strain the puree right into a bowl that’s set over another bowl full of ice water. Chilling the puree immediately preserves the bright green colors. Otherwise, the puree will turn army green or brown!

What you’ll have in the bow is your emerald green pea shell puree/stock

Now what?

Here are a few suggestions for using your pea shell stock

• Fold into pasta dishes and risottos

• Combine with ricotta cheese and spread onto bread as a crostini

• Use as a sauce

• Use as a garnish

• Special cocktails

• Mix into smoothies or juices

I hope you try this , if you need help just contact me.

Cheesy French onion soup toastie

16 Mar

French Onion Soup Cheese Toastie – a French classic in a cosy toastie!

Omg this is a total “ yes I need comfort food “

I made this today and I have to share , just a little time is needed for the onions but it’s worth the waiting for.

INGREDIENTS

• 50g olive oil

• 50g unsalted butter, plus 25g

• 1 tsp yeast extract ( I prefer marmite)

• 4 onions, thinly sliced

• 10 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

• 2 star anise

• 250ml beef stock

• 8 white sourdough bread slices

• 100g cheddar, grated

• 50g emmental , grated

• 50g mozzarella, grated

Meathod

 

1. Heat 50g butter in a frying pan and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat until the onions are translucent and, then reduce the heat and add the thyme.

2. Cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are really soft, sticky and caramelised. Add the beef stock and yeast extract, reduce down until syrupy.

3. Heat a pan over a medium heat. Spread the remaining butter on one side oevery slice of bread, and divide the grated cheese and caramelised onions between four of the pieces. Place a buttered slice of bread on top of each cheese and onion slice and butter the top of the sandwich.

4. Place into the hot pan, flipping the sandwich so it goes in buttered side down. Butter the side that is now facing up and place a few thyme sprigs on top. Place a cast iron pan on top of the sandwich to weight down and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately

stewed skrei with cannellini beans and chorizo

4 Mar

It’s that time of year agin , from January until late March Skrei! I just love this fish,

Norway has a long and proud seafaring heritage stretching back thousands of years, and its people have rightly earned a reputation for harvesting some of the finest seafood in the world.

But every winter, something remarkable happens off Norway’s northern reaches that gives its fishing communities – and seafood lovers everywhere – particular cause for celebration Driven by instinct, great multitudes of cod return from the depths of the Barents Sea to their original spawning grounds all the way off the coast of northern Norway.

These cod arrive in their prime, groomed to perfection by their epic 1000 km swim through freezing, turbulent waters. This heroic journey gives them incredible flesh that’s unsurpassed in taste and texture, flaking off in sumptuous meaty chunks.

Skrei is thought to be one of Norway’s first exports, with its arrival each year enabling Norwegians to live in northern territories when other food sources were scarce. For this reason it’s known affectionately as the “Norwegian Miracle”. It’s also known as the “Valentine’s Fish”, because it spends its life preparing for its long journey to breeding grounds. But the word ‘Skrei’ actually comes from the old Norse word for wanderer, which is fitting for a migrating fish.What makes Skrei so unique?

• Its beautifully white, light and lean flesh

• Firm flakes, a texture earned during its long swim

• Its delicate, silky smooth flavour

• The clean taste that comes from swimming in the cold, clear waters of Norway.

This stew combines the delicate flavour and robust texture of Norwegian Skrei cod with cannellini beans and chorizo.

INGREDIENTS

For the skrei

• 2 Norwegian Skrei fillets (deboned and skinned)

• 175g cooking chorizo

• 2 small white onions, sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, sliced

• 70g cavolo nero, roughly chopped

• 125g cherry tomatoes, quartered

• 1 sprig thyme

• I lemon zested and juiced

• 1 sprig rosemary chopped

• 200ml fish stock

• 2 tbsp olive oil

For the cannellini beans

• Dried cannellini beans

• 1 carrot, peeled

• ½ shallot

• 1 tsp sea salt

• Salt and pepper

METHOD

 

1. The day before you want to cook this dish, soak the beans in cold water for at least 5 hours. Once doubled in size, drain and rinse.

2. Place in a large pan with the veggies, season and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, scoop off any foam and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

3. Cover pan and cook for approximately 1 hour, adding more water if it gets too low. Once tender, strain and discard the cooked carrot and shallot.

4. Slice the chorizo into bitesize morsels. Sear in a frying pan over med-high heat for 3 minutes on each side (no fat needed). Remove chorizo from pan and set aside on kitchen paper.

5. Use the fat left in pan to sear the onions, garlic and cavolo nero. Cook for about 4 minutes until tender.

6. Then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.

7. Finally, add the cooked beans, chorizo, thyme, rosemary,stock, lemon zest and juice together with the Skrei.

8. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for approximately 8 minutes. Season to taste and discard the sprig of thyme before serving.

 

9. Plate simply with the Skrei placed over a good bed of the stew

Baked lemon sole and risotto terrine with a cream prosecco sauce.

27 Feb

Baked lemon sole and risotto terrine with a cream prosecco sauce,

Suola al limone e terrina di risotto con salsa di crema di proseccopWhen you want an impressive crowd-pleaser, turn to this creamy risotto, encased in sole fillets and baked with a boozy sauce, just perfect for dinner parties.

Preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time

30 mins to 1 hour

Serves

Serves 6

Ingredients

 

For the stock

• 1 carrot, roughly chopped

• 1 celery stick, trimmed and roughly chopped

• 1 large onion, halved

• handful curly parsly leaves

• Reserved fish bones from the lemon sole fillets

 

For the terrine

 

• olive oil for greasing

• 100g/3½oz unsalted butter

• 1 shallot, finely sliced

• 700g/1lb 9oz carnaroli or arborio risotto rice

• 200g/7oz Parmesan , grated

• ½ tsp white pepper

• 100g/3½oz plain flour

• 1 tsp ground nutmeg

• 300ml/10fl oz single cream

• 700ml/18fl oz Prosecco

• 7 x 100g lemon sole fillets, deboned and skinned, bones reserved

• 1 orange, zest pared and cut into matchsticks

• 1 lemon, zest pared and cut into matchsticks

• salt and freshly ground black pepperh

Method

 

 

1. To make the stock, pour 3 litres/5¼ pints water into a large saucepan and add the carrot, celery, onion and parsley along with the reserved fish bones. Season generously with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced by a third. Keep warm over a low heat.

2. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.

3. To make the terrine, grease a non-stick 25cm/10 inch terrine form or a cake tin with a drizzle of olive oil.

4. Melt a knob of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the shallot and cook over a medium heat until soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, or until translucent then add 200ml prosecco, cook until absorbed.

5. Add a ladleful of hot stock and continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring until all the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring constantly, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice no longer has a pale core and is soft but retains slight bite (approximately 15 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and add the Parmesan, pepper and a knob of butter. Set aside.

6. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour to form a roux. Whilst stirring, slowly add the nutmeg, cream, remaining Prosecco and enough stock to make a smooth, pale gravy. Simmer gently for five minutes over a low heat to thicken slightly, then remove from the heat and set aside.

7. Press the sole fillets against the bottom and sides of the prepared cake tin to line it, leaving the fillets overhanging slightly at top. Season well.

8. Spoon the risotto into the mould, pressing it down with the back of a spoon to pack as tightly as possible, then pour over half of the Prosecco gravy. Set aside the rest of the gravy.

9. Transfer the tin to the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown and set. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

10. To serve, reheat the sauce, turn out the timbale onto a large serving dish. Scatter over the zest strips and serve with the remaining gravy.

 

Just enjoy and party hard🍾

,

sea bream and prawns cooked in crazy water, Orata di mare e gamberetti cotti in acqua pazza

18 Aug


The Sea bream or Dorade 


Sea bream are a variety of fish species that are very popular in restaurants, especially in Europe. Despite their popularity as seafood, these species remain very plentiful throughout much of the world and are sometimes considered sportfish. They are sought after because of their mild, white meat, considered some of the best of any white-meat fish.

These fish are part of the marine sparid fishes. The Sparidae family is also known as porgies. These fish have certain distinctive features that make them easily identifiable. First, their bodies are relatively flat. The line from the dorsal area to the front of the fish descends very rapidly giving the face a flattened appearance, especially when viewed in profile.

The sea bream’s body shape is its main distinguishing feature. Their color varies widely from species to species, mainly depending on water type and environment. In brackish waters, for example, the fish tend to be darker, with shades of blacks and grays to help them blend in with the environment. Some fish, in other areas, even have a bright red appearance, showing how diverse members of the family can be. The front teeth of many types are broad and flat, ideally suited for crushing small crabs and clams.

Sea bream are found in oceans all over the world and in all types of water temperatures, depending on the species. Some do have a definite preference for warmer waters or cooler waters. Due to their wide distribution, they are well known as a food fish in many cultures, especially those near oceans.
Perhaps the most common variety of fish in this group is the European sea bream, scientifically called the Pagellus centrodontus. This fish is mainly silver in color, but with shades of both red and yellow, depending on the individual. It is commonly found in oceans surrounding Europe and is considered to be a temperate-water fish, preferring water that is cool, but not extremely cold.

There are a number of species that are also commonly found in the western Atlantic, off the coasts of the United States and in the Caribbean. These include the western Atlantic sea bream (the Archosargus rhomboidalis), and the fish commonly known as the sheepshead. Both are prefer subtropical waters and are usually found in areas that offer plenty of cover, such as reefs and under bridge pilings.

sea bream and prawns cooked in crazy water, Orata di mare e gamberetti cotti in acqua pazza.


Ingredients 

* 175ml quality extra virgin olive oil

* 2 x 500g ( or smaller if you like ) whole sea bream, cleaned and scaled 

* Hand full of prawns 

* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

* 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

* 1 small red chilli, finely chopped or left whole 

* 20 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered or any tomato roughly chopped 

* 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley and watercress leaves, roughly torn

* To serve hot crusty bread or ciabatta

Meathod


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the bream, cook for 2 minutes and carefully then turn over. 

Now add the sea salt, garlic, chilli and tomatoes. 

Pour in 400ml of cold water and add the parsley, watercress and prawns Turn the heat down slightly cover with a lid or foil and cook the bream for 5 to 7 minutes 

You can see that it’s cooked by checking that the eye have turned white and the flesh is tender.

Now season with salt and pepper.
Remove the bream from the pan and place on a large serving dish and pour the juice and tomatoes from the pan over the fish. 

Serve immediately, with lots of hot crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce. 



So easy but if you need help send a mail or call me Simon.bingham@simons-sauces.com

0031 (0)642297107

Caldo verde, portugués green soup

21 Mar


Caldo verde, literally “green soup,” is a traditional Portuguese and Brazilian dish made of potatoes and kale. It gets its distinctive green coloring from the kale, and is traditionally served with Portuguese sausage such as chouriço or linguiça, though other meats may be used instead. Caldo verde is commonly served at Portuguese and Brazilian celebrations. It is often considered Portugal’s national dish, and is served all over the country, from peasant households to luxury hotels.

Caldo verde originated in Minho, a northern Portuguese province from 1936 to 1976. Today, the region is divided into the districts Viana do Castelo and Braga. Though it was only an official province during the 20th century, Minho has a long history. Once called Entre Douro e Minho because it spanned the area between the Douro and Minho rivers, the region was under Celtic and Roman occupation and retains a great deal of Celtic culture and architecture. Caldo verde is not restricted to the Minho region but is a popular dish throughout Portuguese culture.

Ingredients 

* 1 onion, finely chopped

* 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

* 1 x 225g chorizo or chouriço (sausage), cut into chunks

* 3 tbsp olive oil

* 400g potatoes, preferably floury, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

* 1.75 litres water or preferably Vegetable stock

* 300g spring greens or kale, finely shredded

* 1 tsp salt

* 6 turns black peppermill

* Large pinch chilli flakes

Tip

Roll up the kale leaves tightly like a cigar (cut out the thick stems first) before cutting into wafer-thin strips as they do in Portugal

Method 

Fry the onion, garlic and chorizo or chouriço in the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the potatoes and the stock and let this boil until the potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes.

Pulverize the potatoes in the broth with a potato masher.
Add the kale, bring back to the boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the kale is cooked but still a vibrant green.
Season with salt and pepper and serve in warmed bowls with chilli flakes sprinkled on top.

Serve with hot crusty bread and enjoy

For more info contact; simon.bingham@simons-sauces.com

Mackerel and my mackerel masala 

15 Mar

The mackerel


Mackerel is actually a term which is used for different species of fish that belong to the Scombridae family, including Cero, Atlantic, King and Spanish mackerel. This deep water fish is also known as lacento or maccarello. Mackerel can be found in Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean Ocean. Although, they are deep water fish but some of them like Spanish mackerel can be found in near the bays as well. They are found in both temperate and tropical seas, mostly living along the coast or offshore in the oceanic environment. This oily fish can be found in different varieties such as Atlantic mackerel (Boston mackerel), Spanish mackerel, King mackerel (kingfish or cavalla), Cero mackerel (cerro or painted mackerel), Pacific mackerel (American, blue or chub mackerel), Pacific Jack mackerel (horse mackerel) and Wahoo (ono).

Mackerel is a slim fish with a cylindrical shape and it has a strong flavor. The slim torpedo-shaped fish is found in deep temperate and tropical waters. These fish are iridescent blue-green above with a silvery underbelly and twenty to thirty near vertical wavy black stripes running across their upper body. It has two widely separated dorsal fins and numerous finlets (small fins) on a dorsal and lateral side of the body. Tail is shaped like fork. The mackerel is known for their oil meat and slim shape. Many of the mackerel’s healthy benefits are derived from its oily meat which contains lots of omega-3 fats.

Mackerel is known as a very healthy fish and regular consumption is very good for overall health. It is famous for the heart health benefits it provides and also, known for making the blood clean and fresh. One should buy mackerel that is firm and bright, gills should be clean and the skin moist with shiny scales. Ideally, this fish should be eaten within couple of days because its skin disintegrates quickly. Mackerel is an important food fish that is consumed worldwide. As an oily fish, it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. 
Ingredients

* 4 mackerel (ask your fishmonger to gut and wash them), heads removed.

* drizzle of rapeseed oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil

* rice to serve (optional)

*

For the masala paste

* 1 tsp cumin seeds

* ½ tsp coriander seeds

* ½ tsp fennel seeds

* 2 tsp garam masala

* 1 roasted red pepper, from a jar

* 2 garlic cloves

* thumb-sized piece of ginger peeled and roughly chopped

* 1 small onionhalved

* 1 tbsp tomato purée

* 2 tbsp desiccated coconut

For the green yogurt

* 250g pot natural yogurt

* small bunch coriander, plus a few leaves to serve

* 2 limes 1 zested, ½ juiced, 1 cut into wedges to serve

* 1 tsp sugar

* 2 spring onions

For the pickled onions

* 1 red onion, thinly sliced

* ½ lime juice

* ½ tsp sugar

Method

* First make the masala paste. Tip the seeds into a dry frying pan, toast for 1-2 mins until aromatic, then tip into the small bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining paste ingredients, season with salt and whizz until everything is finely chopped and well combined. Add a splash of water and combine well.

* Slash each mackerel a few times on each side. Rub the paste all over each fish, making sure you get into the slashes. Cover with cling film and chill for 1 hr, or overnight if you like.

* For the yogurt, combine the ingredients in the small bowl of your food processor, season well and chill until ready to serve. Put the ingredients for the pickled onions in a bowl. Massage the lime juice and sugar into the onion rings for 1-2 mins, then cover and set aside at room temperature to pickle for 30 mins, or overnight if you prefer.

* If serving with rice, make sure you have this on the go. Heat the grill to high. Put the mackerel on a baking tray lined with foil. Drizzle with a little oil and grill for 5-6 mins each side, or until the flesh is cooked through – it should easily slide away from the bones when pushed with a knife.

* To serve, arrange the fish on a platter. If the yogurt has thickened, loosen it with a drizzle of water – it should be like single cream. Drizzle it over the fish, then top with pickled onions, coriander leaves and lime wedges. Serve the rice on the side or however you want with extra green yogurt sauce


For more info contact me at simon.bingham@simons-sauces.com

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