Crab Salad with Avocado Sorbet

Crab and avocado sorbet

I know this recipe is a little different to my usual ones.  Avocado sorbet is not something I’m in the habit of making every day, and pairing it with a crab salad is not everyday home cooking, at least not in my house.  But hey, it’s good to push yourself a little sometimes.

It’s actually inspired by a starter I had at James Martin’s restaurant at the Talbot Hotel in Malton.  I was impressed and I really liked my starter. There was something about the dish that made me want to do my own take on crab and avocado.  Now, I should make it clear that the starter I had was quite different.  It did contain crab and avocado sorbet but it also had fennel in and a few ingredients that would be impossible for me to source/prepare and so this is definitely just an inspired by dish.

I had never had avocado sorbet before but I had had avocado ice cream.   As you’d expect, avocado ice cream is very rich and creamy.  Because of the natural creaminess of avocado, this sorbet still tastes quite creamy, but it’s also zingy and fresh from the lime with just a hint of coriander.  To me it almost tastes of apple, but maybe that’s just the greenness playing tricks on my tastebuds.  It’s sweet too so you only need a small amount of sorbet with the crab.  The recipe makes much more than you will need but luckily it also makes a lovely dessert.

What about the crab salad?   Well, lime juice, chilli and crab – It’s a perfect simple combination.   What more can I say?   If you are not quite ready to whip up a batch of avocado sorbet, don’t let that stop you making the crab salad.

Ingredients for the Crab Salad

120g white crab meat

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced, some seeds removed

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt

Black Pepper

1/2 cucumber

Ingredients for the Avocado Sorbet

2 avocados

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaf

80g sugar

How to Make Crab Salad with Avocado Sorbet

1. First make the avocado sorbet. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 100ml of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.  Leave to cool.

2. Put the flesh from the avocados, the lime juice, coriander leaf and sugar syrup into a food processor.

3. Pour the avocado mixture into an ice cream maker and leave to churn.

4. Make the crab salad by mixing together the crab with the lime juice, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper.

5. Serve the crab salad with the cucumber and just a little avocado sorbet.

As this dish was bit of an experiment for me and a little outside my comfort zone, I am linking it to Our Growing Edge at Bunny Eats Design, hosted this month by Lindsey from Sneaks and Sweets. I am also linking it to Cooking with Herbs at Lavender and Lovage as the sorbet contains coriander.

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Salmon Marinated in Ketchup and Indian Spices

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I’m always looking for new ways of serving fish.   I love the fact that because there are so many types of fish, it never becomes boring.   There’s always something new to discover, either a new fish or a new way of cooking it. Well, this dish just uses salmon, which is not unusual, but what is different for me is mixing spices in with ketchup to form a marinade.  I came across the idea on Goan Imports and knew straightaway that using ketchup as a base for the marinade was something I wanted to try.

I’ll admit that normally I’m not a big fan of ketchup.   I like it with chips and I use it when making barbecue sauce, but apart from that, I don’t really consider using it.   I tend to think of it as a kid’s thing.   My daughter loves ketchup though, and maybe that was why the recipe I saw caught my eye.

Now, even if you’re not a big fan of ketchup either, the balsamic vinegar and Indian spices completely change the dish from just salmon and ketchup.   In fact, even if you don’t like ketchup, you might like this, and if you are still determined not to get the ketchup out, I’m sure you could swap it for tomato puree.

Or maybe you couldn’t care either way whether this uses ketchup.   Maybe you’re just looking for a quick and tasty way of cooking salmon and getting dinner on the table so you can relax after a long hard day.   Well, this is perfect for that too.   It takes just moments to mix together the marinade and although you then have to wait for the oven to heat up and the fish to cook, it’s still a relatively quick and definitely easy dish to cook.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 pieces of salmon

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Black pepper

How to Make Salmon Marinated in Ketchup and Indian Spices

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and taste it.   Spread it on both sides of the fish and leave for at least 30 minutes.

2. Wrap the salmon in a tin foil parcel and bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes.

I am linking this to Four Seasons Food, which has the theme Something Fishy for March. Four Seasons Food is hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg. I am also linking to Sweet and Savoury Sundays.

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Baked Cod with Chorizo Crust

I love chorizo and have been working through my old blog posts to create a recipe index recently.   When I look at recipes in the sausage category, I see that more than half of them have chorizo in them.  It just makes everything better, meatballs, burgers, omelettes, soups.   I really should try a few variations, but let me share just one more recipe with you before I do that.

I found this recipe on the Hairy Biker’s website after realising that although I love seeing them cook, I don’t think I remember ever actually making one of their recipes before.   As there is the Hairy Bikers – Bloggers Know Best Challenge, hosted by Jo’s Kitchen, I felt it was high time I discovered their recipes in my own kitchen.   My love of chorizo naturally led me to try their recipe for baked cod with chorizo crust.  You can also find the recipe in their book, The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life.

I did make a few small changes. I used breadcrumbs I had made myself a couple of weeks earlier, rather than making the breadcrumbs as I made the dish.   I also missed out the lime zest from the crust and didn’t put as much salt in, as chorizo has plenty of flavour already.   Another change I might make next time would be to not bother with the parmesan cheese at all.   I don’t think it really adds a lot to the dish and is not really a perfect match for the lime or the paprika in the chorizo.   I also think lemon would work just as well.  As you can see, I baked some extra slices of chorizo to serve alongside the fish and also made some small spicy roast potatoes so it was quite a filling dish in the end, although I did have some lettuce too. As I said, I would make a few changes next time, but I love the basic recipe for a chorizo crust and will be making it again.  The original recipe can be seen here and the way I made it is below.

baked cod with chorizo crust (500x318)

Ingredients – serves 2

2 cod fillets

1 lime

50g chorizo

30g breadcrumbs

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 tsp dried parsley

Black pepper

Salt

How to Make Baked Cod with Chorizo Crust

1. Slice the chorizo and fry in a little oil for a couple of minutes.   Add the breadcrumbs and stir well so the flavoured oil coats the breadcrumbs.  Continue to cook for another couple of minutes.   Then tip onto a plate and leave to cool.

2. Squeeze half the lime juice onto the cod and leave in the fridge to marinate for half an hour.

3. Put the chorizo and breadcrumbs in a food processor and blend until it all resembles breadcrumbs.   Then add the parmesan, garlic, parsley, black pepper and salt.  Blitz again just to combine all the ingredients.

4. Put the fish on a baking tray.   Cover with the breadcrumb mixture and press it down a little.

5. Bake the fish in the oven at 180C for about 15-18 minutes.   Serve with extra lime wedges.

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Lemon and Parsley Sauce for Fish

I was sure I had published this post back in June as I made it just after the chicken in mushroom and parsley cream sauce, but I must have forgotten to hit publish as I just found it in my drafts folder.   The first line just doesn’t make sense if you didn’t know that!

Another cream and parsley sauce?   Yes I know, it’s been a week of cream and parsley sauces, but these were completely different dishes and this cream and parsley sauce was most definitely not over-reduced.   I erred on the side of caution and if anything, it would have been fine left to cook for just a bit longer, although that would have made it seem a little heavier.   In fact, the dish is not heavy at all and I would actually say it seems fairly light.   Yes, I did say light.  Although the dish has cream and butter in it, it also has lemon, which I always think makes a savoury dish taste lighter.

However, the lemon is the sauce is not too strong and it’s definitely not an overwhelmingly lemony dish.  However, I know some people really love strong citrus flavours and you could certainly squeeze an extra quarter of lemon  in if that’s how you like it.

I am linking this to Cooking with Herbs, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

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Ingredients – served 2 (but could serve 3 easily)

150ml vegetable stock

100ml double cream

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Handful of parsley, chopped

Black pepper

Small knob of butter

How to Make Lemon and Parsley Sauce for Fish

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.   Add the chopped spring onion.   Soften then add the garlic.

2. Add the parsley and vegetable stock.   Let it reduce a little.

3. Add the cream, black pepper and lemon juice.  Bring up to the boil and then reduce a little.

4. Serve the sauce over white fish.

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Cocoa Pasta with Smoked Salmon

I know, cocoa pasta and salmon does not sound right, but don’t judge too soon.  I wouldn’t have tried it either, except that I was given a packet of Hotel Chocolat cocoa pasta for Christmas.   Never having had chocolate flavoured pasta before, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.   As the recipe on the packet was for a savoury dish, salmon and mascarpone cocoa pasta, and the packet said, ‘made with pure unsweetened cocoa’, I assumed the pasta would not be sweet and that maybe the cocoa would just give the pasta a slight bitter flavour.   Taking the easy route, I decided to make the recipe on the pack.  After all, I reasoned, Hotel Chocolat must know what they are talking about.  The pasta must be suitable for savoury dishes.

As the pasta was cooking, a lovely chocolaty smell wafted up from the pan.  Is this really going to work with salmon? I wondered.  Luckily, the chocolate smell is stronger than the chocolate taste, but there is still a definite chocolate taste to the pasta.  Chocolate rather than cocoa.  Milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate.   I checked the ingredients.  Sugar.  The pasta contained sugar!

It was a little odd to eat slightly sweet pasta with a creamy salmon sauce.  A little odd but not unpleasant.  I would even eat it again if it was given to me.  However, I won’t be making it myself again as my husband claimed it made him feel a little sick.

There is still some pasta left in the packet and I’m sure it’ll end up in a delicious dessert soon.

Cocoa salmon pasta (500x387)

Ingredients – serves 2

150g Cocoa Pasta

100g smoked salmon, sliced into strips

2 tbsp mascarpone

Handful grated parmesan

1 Lemon, quartered, to serve with the pasta

How to Make Cocoa Salmon Pasta

1. Put the pasta on to boil.

2. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it to the pan along with a little of the cooking water.

3. Mix the mascarpone and parmesan into the pasta until it forms a smooth sauce and has heated through. Stir in the smoked salmon.

4. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Finnish Salmon Soup

I have never been to Finland and don’t know much about Finnish food, except that it is probably quite similar to other Scandinavian food, which I also know very little about.    Actually, when I think about it, the first thing that springs to mind is Jacques Chirac’s 2005 comment about British food, “After Finland, it is the country with the worst food.”  Understandably, this comment did not go down well in the UK, but at least we are aware of the stereotype of plain British food, whereas it was probably more of a shock to the Finns.   So, I set about researching Finnish food, and came across some wonderful ideas for cooking with reindeer and elk – but possibly not so easy to get hold of here.  Luckily, salmon is very popular in Finland and I soon decided to make a salmon soup which I found on Scandi Foodie.

I changed the recipe only slightly.   I couldn’t find any celeriac so had to miss it out.    I had ground all spice berries, not whole berries.   I used vegetable stock instead of water.   I could possibly have used fish stock but I didn’t want it to be too fishy, I just wanted to add a little extra flavour.  I also used milk instead of cream as I was making this for lunch and tend to avoid cream except for desserts or sauces that really need it.   I am ashamed to admit that I did worry slightly that it might be a little plain, with just the all spice berries really for flavouring.    In fact, the potato, parsnip and salmon soaked up the flavour of the all spice and were delicious.   I don’t often use all spice but it was a flavour I could happily enjoy without needing other herbs or spices.   So, it was definitely a success, and a recipe I wouldn’t hesitate to make again.   Unlike some soups which are not filling enough for a whole meal, it makes a great one-pot meal, not needing any bread to go with it, although of course you could have some if you wanted.

I am linking this to My Kitchen My World.   The March destination is of course Finland.   I am also sending it to Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

About 5 new potatoes, diced

1/2 tsp ground all spice berries

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/2 a parsnip, diced

300g piece of salmon

Vegetable stock or water

200ml Milk (or a little cream and a bit more stock)

How to Make Finnish Salmon Soup

1. Add the potatoes, parsnip, onion and all spice to enough hot stock to just cover the vegetables.   Simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the milk or cream along with the salmon.    Simmer for another 5 minutes.   Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste.

 

Inspired by Masterchef: Thai Fish Cakes

For my honeymoon 3 and a half years ago we went to Thailand, to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  I loved it – the atmosphere, the scenery, the weather, and the food of course.  So, last week on Masterchef I was delighted when the contestants were flown to Thailand to cook in a market and then for a royal banquet.   Some of the best food we ate was also in a market, so I was especially interested in the street food.   Like with lot of Thai food, the paste is the base of the dish and so the contestants spent a long time pounding away with pestle and mortars.   I was a little lazier.   I used my pestle and mortar to crush the galangal, as it’s quite tough but then put it in the blender with all the other ingredients to make the paste.    I then just added the fish to the blender once the paste was made.   So, really easy fish cakes, much easier than making them in a Thai market.   Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to make quite good ones.    I didn’t use any flour, which leads to a denser, heavier fishcake so they stayed really light and juicy, but held together well and were bursting with flavour.  Definitely one to make again.

I just served these with a little squeeze of lime juice but they would normally be served with sweet chilli sauce.  However, I’m not keen on sweet and savoury together so didn’t bother to make any.   But, after this week’s show focusing on pastry, I will now be making something sweet and next week is the last week so there’ll only be two more Inspired by Masterchef posts to go.   For now anyway.

Ingredients – Makes 6 fish cakes

4 largish red chillies, most of the seeds removed

2 tsp lemongrass paste or a fresh lemongrass stalk

4 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

Small knob of galangal

Handful of coriander leaves

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp fish sauce

200g white fish

1 lime (to serve)

How to make Thai Fish Cakes

1. In a pestle and mortar, crush the galangal then put in a food processor.   If using fresh lemongrass, also pound first in the pestle and mortar.  Add all the other ingredients to the food processor except the fish.   Blend to a paste.  Taste and made any adjustments if necessary.

2. Roughly chop the fish and add it to the food processor.

3. Take the mixture out of the food processor, using a tablespoon.   Place spoonfuls on a plate and flatten slightly.    Put in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and then fry the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.    Serve with lime wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

Inspired by Masterchef: Fennel Salad with Sea Bass

I really couldn’t decide what to make at first for my Inspired by Masterchef post after last week’s show.   I considered making a pearl barley risotto with fish, but I’ve already made a potato risotto with fish this series.   Also, the contestant who made it rather spoiled it by adding whiskey, so it’s probably not the ideal recipe they’d prefer to be remembered for.   Another option was beef with braised red cabbage, carrot puree, walnuts and rosemary.   I have to admit that this option came very close to winning out, but in the end, I opted for the fish with fennel salad, which has probably turned out quite differently to the recipe on the show.   It certainly looks very different.  On Masterchef dainty pieces of red mullet were arranged among fennel and tomatoes.   There certainly wasn’t a big pile of salad as on my plate.  There were also scallops with the dish on Masterchef, but as I’m allergic to them, they stayed well away from my plate.   So, as you can see, not really a winner for presentation, but it tasted delicious and made a relatively easy but very healthy midweek meal.

Ingredients – serves 2

1/2 bulb of fennel

2 tomatoes

4cm piece of cucumber

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp mind

1/2 tsp parsley

Salt

Black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

2 sea bass fillets or other white fish

How to Make Fennel Salad with Sea Bass

1. Sliced the fennel very thinly.    Cut the cucumber in half and also slice thinly lengthways. Slice the tomatoes too and put all the vegetables in a bowl.   Add the dried herbs, salt and pepper.   Finally add lemon juice and olive oil.   Mix well and leave for an hour before serving.

2. Panfry the fish and serve alongside the salad with extra lemon wedges.

Inspired by Masterchef: Salmon en Croute

This week my Inspired by Masterchef  challenge involved not only making salmon en croute for the first time, but making my own puff pastry for the first time too.   And I have to say, I am seriously impressed with myself.  The pastry actually had little layers in it – just like in real puff pastry!   I’d always heard that puff pastry was too much effort and that there was almost no point making it, it would be nowhere near as good as shop-bought, and you’d have wasted lots of time over it.  Well, it turns out I was wrong, conned, deceived because it is possible to do it yourself.   It might take a couple of hours but the smug self-satisfied, I did it feeling is definitely worth the effort.   Not that I’m saying you should never buy a block of ready-made puff pastry again, just that for special occasions and to feel that sense of achievement, it is something you should try at least once.    Now, I hope that has convinced you.

I did of course consider just using ready-made puff pastry, but the rest of this recipe is so simple that it would have felt like a cheat to do that.   To be honest, I don’t know if my salmon en croute is similar to the Masterchef one at all.   They were cooking canteen style for lots of people and served it with a fennel and orange salad (I think), but if I hadn’t watched Masterchef, I certainly wouldn’t have made this.  I adapted the recipe for the puff pastry from a Gordon Ramsey recipe.   I was shocked at the equal quantities of butter and flour so I did cut the butter down a little and it still made a very rich buttery pastry so the amount could be reduced even further still if you wanted to.  In fact, that is possibly the only problem with making certain things yourself.   When they are unhealthy, you know just how unhealthy!

Ingredients – Serves 2

For the Puff Pastry

120g strong white flour

100g butter

1/2 tsp salt

Approx 50ml cold water

For Filling

2 salmon fillets

2 tbsp cream cheese

Handful watercress

Black pepper

How to make Salmon en Croute

1. Make the puff pastry.  Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl.   Rub the butter into the flour but not as much as with normal pastry.   Leave relatively large lumps of butter.

2. Add the water a little at a time and mix with a knife so it binds together and forms a dough.    You probably won’t need all the water. cover the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Flour the work surface, your hands and the rolling pin.  Give the dough a quick knead and then roll it out.   Roll in one direction only so you get a long thin piece of pastry in which you can see streaks of butter.  Fold the top half down by one third and then fold the bottom half up.

4. Turn the dough around by 90 degrees then roll out again and repeat the process twice more.

5. Put the folded up dough back in the fridge for about half an hour.

6. Roll out the dough.  This time I did roll it in both directions as it would have been the wrong shape if I hadn’t.

7. If necessary remove the skin and any bones from the salmon. Season.   Place the salmon on the pastry.

8. Using a fork, mash the chives into the cream cheese.   Season with black pepper.   Then, spread the top of the salmon with the cheese mixture.    Fold the pastry around the salmon and seal the edges of the parcel well.   Use a fork to fold slightly and press the edges together.  Cut away any excess pastry.  Make slits on top of the pastry so excess steam can escape.

9.  Bake the parcels in the oven at about 200c for 35 minutes.

10. Serve the salmon with salad or vegetables.

Inspired by Masterchef: Chorizo Potato Risotto with Sea Bass

My favourite food programme is back on: Masterchef!   Last year when watching it I started a series of posts called Inspired by Masterchef and so this year I’m hoping to do the same.   Each week, after watching Masterchef, I will try to make something inspired by the show, to post by the end of the following week.   As each year gets harder and the processes and ingredients used get more complex for just an ordinary cook at home, I know that this is going to be a real challenge for me, especially as I have only just over a week to get the right ingredients and make each recipe.  Some of the recipes used on the show do get posted on the BBC food website, but that would be just too easy, I want to be a bit more creative.   Therefore, some of the recipes I post will attempt to recreate the recipe exactly, but based on my memory, whereas others will be a looser interpretation.

Well now, on to my first recipe.  I’d heard of potato risottos before and loved the idea of making a risotto with finely diced potato rather than rice.  So of course, when one of the contestants decided to make a potato, chive, chorizo and orange risotto with sea bream, I liked the sound of it.   Well, except for the orange juice, and neither did John and Greg.  Of course, for my recipe, out went the orange juice, and in came some lemon juice as a replacement, which I’m sure would have been much more popular among the Masterchef judges, if only the contestant hadn’t tried to be so ‘interesting’.

It’s important to use waxy rather than floury potatoes for this, as floury ones will disintegrate in the stock as they are in such small pieces.  I know when you look at my picture, the pieces of potato don’t look that small, but they did look small to me when I was chopping them up!    Maybe next time I will attempt a bit more refinement and dice the potato more finely.   That’s the only change I’ll make.   The chorizo and pimenton give the dish a lovely slightly smoky flavour and the taste really soaks into the pieces of potato.   The lemon juice is very subtle and keeps the whole dish light.    So overall, I’m very pleased with my first dish of the series and looking forward to my next one.  In fact, I’m so pleased I’m planning to cook this for quests, not just me and my husband!

If anyone else is as big a Masterchef fan as me and would like to join me in this challenge, let me know and I’ll provide a link to your recipe as well.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 sea bass fillets

5 small waxy potatoes (depending on size, enough for 2 people)

15g chives

1 clove garlic, crushed

100g fresh chorizo sausage, diced

A little chicken stock (approx 200ml)

1/2 tsp pimenton (sweet smoked paprika)

Black pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

How to make Chorizo Potato Risotto with Sea Bass

1. Dice the potatoes into small rectangles.   Heat a little oil in a saucepan.   Add the chorizo.   Cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

2. Add the potatoes to the saucepan.   Stir to cover in all the oil from the chorizo.   Sprinkle with the pimenton.

3. Add the stock, so the potatoes are just covered, but not swimming in the liquid.   Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer.    Cover the pan.

4. Check the pan every so often and stir.    If it does start to get too dry, before it is fully cooked, add a tiny dash of water from the kettle.   It will take about 20 minutes for the potato to be fully cooked, soak up the flavours and become a little soft.  During this stage, cook the sea bass.    I like to fry in a little oil so the skin goes crispy, but you could grill or steam it.

5. Just before serving, stir through the chives, season with black pepper and add the lemon juice.

6. Serve the sea bass on top of the risotto.