Sea bream in ‘crazy water’

I can’t tell you why this dish is called sea bream in ‘crazy water’. Even when I tried to do a little digging via the internet, there were only articles that repeated the question surrounding the name. I can tell you, however, that this is a very good dish, with simple and clean (no crazy) flavours. Just good fresh fish, amped up a bit with garlic, parsley, tomatoes, and chilli. This dish has little to it, but you don’t need a dictionary’s worth of ingredients to make something good.

Serves 2-3, as a light dinner.

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Balsamic roasted carrots with carrot top gremolata

This is a very simple side dish for today’s recipe, but isn’t it pretty? And it tastes pretty great, which always helps, I guess! I’m always trying to think of new ways to make vegetables more exciting (aren’t we all?), particularly since in our family, I try to downplay any meat quantities on our plates (fish, on the other hand, is allowed to be let loose in any shape or size). Therefore, I usually attempt to make two side dishes alongside to not only make us less aware of the lessened meat quantity, but to make things a more rounded out meal all the same.

Oh, and unless it’s sweet potatoes, potato-y things like mash do not count. Particularly not with the way we make mash — just because you could make something like mash a lot healthier, doesn’t mean you always would 😛

But in all seriousness, it’s pretty simple. Balsamic and roast veg pretty much always guarantee great things. Add a garlicky gremolata, and we’re just adding a bit more greatness. Who doesn’t want that? Not to mention, we’re being all eco-friendly and all what with using the carrot tops for our gremolata, therefore cutting down on waste. Basically…just give this recipe a gold star already.

You’ll probably get a lot more gremolata than you need/want for your carrots, but treat it a little like pesto and slather it on chicken, toasted bread, fried eggs, and the whole excess gremolata thing isn’t precisely a problem…

Serves 4 as a side.  Read More

Parmesan & garlic stuffed swordfish rolls

I have never been all that crazy about pasta. Sorry, but it’s probably just not gonna happen. It hasn’t happened yet for twenty years, and I’m still not nuts about it. Like it’s good, but I will probably pass on it if I have the chance. Sometimes, this means people stare at me like I’m from outer space and ask “so that means you don’t like Italian food, then?”, which is totally false. But I guess for some people, Italian food begins and ends with pasta and pizza (which is probably why I have so many friends who have been rather whiney about the food when they’ve returned from a holiday in Italy).

And that just shouldn’t be the case. Yes, the Italians win at pizza and pasta (sorry Chicago, but your deep-dish style is just too much bread for my liking, and I love bread), but their cuisine goes beyond that. Which is why, we come to this recipe. I find it just as comforting and slightly-naughty like a bowl of pasta, but betterYeah, sorry, I went there. It’s the perfect way to keep the meatiness of swordfish still succulent, but keeping all the great flavours from the slightly burnt, crusty bits that sear on the pan, and when those crispy bits get soaked up by the white wine sauce? Oh, man. This one’s a goody. I hope you love it just as much as my family do, because it’s become a real favourite treat when set on the dinner table at our house.

Serves 4 with sides.  Read More

Chicken piccata

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I don’t know where I’ve been on this earth without knowing this dish. It’s quick, easy and so rewarding. The chicken remains tender, despite using breast (I think it’s one of the driest pieces available, and therefore requires more treatment in order to prevent it becoming so), and the lemony-garlicky flavour is just divine.The dish originates from Italy, where it’s made with veal but this chicken version is from the States and has newly made my list of favourite quick meals. Simple does not mean basic.

Basically, go make this, because it’s definitely worth your time. Mashed potatoes or pasta would likely go well with this, or even just fresh vegetables.

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Serves 3-4 as a main.

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Beetroot Gravad Lax

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Gravad lax is one of those dishes people usually mention a part of Swedish cuisine–they’re not wrong of course, but it’s not exactly something that fills my childhood with memories. In fact, I think I’ve heard about it more from people outside Sweden than actually in Sweden. The name roughly translates to “buried salmon”, which is a pretty good way to describe how this salted, lightly fermented salmon dish is made. Realistically, the salmon is “cured” in a mixture of spirit and salt and makes a similar texture to smoked salmon, though they aren’t the same process at all.

It’s a bit of a fussy process because of the beetroot and its talent for staining absolutely everything, but the rest of the recipe pretty much just means sticking the salmon in the fridge for a few days to let the flavours develop, and et voila! Beetroot gravad lax. Yes, it’s really that easy.

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The salty flavour gets more concentrated along the pink-beetroot places, and the curing makes the salmon slippery and soft, rather like delicate pieces of sashimi salmon. Delicious.

Adapted from here.

Serves 4-6.

800g of salmon side, skin on
3 medium beetroot, rinsed and peeled
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
2 juniper berries, bashed
80g of rock salt
50ml of gin

bunch of dill
50ml of gin
80g of rock salt

Chop the beetroot, both zests and juniper berries in a blender until fine. Transfer to a bowl, and mix with the gin and the rock salt.

Lay clingfilm over a baking tray. Place the salmon skin side down. Pour over the beetroot mix, spreading it all over the salmon flesh. Wrap in the clingfilm, then a double layer of baking paper, and finally a few more layers of clingfilm if necessary, and refrigerate the salmon overnight for 24 hours.

After the 24 hours are up, carefully unwrap the salmon, and rinse off the cure–the salmon should have been tinted by the beetroot. Mix together the dill, gin and rock salt, and press over the skinless flesh once more. Wrap it up again in greaseproof paper and clingfilm. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

The salmon will now be ready–simply rinse off the salt mixture as best as you can (the herbs can stay), and serve as part of a mixed salad for something more sturdy. Below is a mixed bulgur wheat salad with butternut squash, red cabbage, aubergine, and mange tout. Or keep things simply, and serve with toast and some wedges of lemon.

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Herby Roast Salmon with Potato & Radish Salad

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Like I don’t wanna boast or anything, but this is the best salmon hands down. I’m usually not such a fan of big cuts of salmon side like this, because I find it so easily becomes so overcooked. But this kept the salmon flaky and moist, and it was even better cold the next day on some toasted sourdough, topped with scrambled duck eggs.

It’s such an easy recipe on top of that; just to cover the fish in herbs, skin side up, in a roasting tin, and pop in the oven to do all the work. Super simple, as is the potato and radish salad mixed with grainy mustard and vinegar.

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Serves 4 people, plus plenty leftovers (keeps well enough in the fridge)

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Beetroot-Yoghurt Chicken Kebabs with Mixed Vegetable Bulgur Wheat Salad

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I’ve not been all that well, and life being hectic hasn’t really helped. But oh well, I’ve got two holidays in the sun to look forward to; one with the family, the other with friends, so I’m trying not to complain too much. Once September rolls around, I’ll be living the easy life 😉

Until then, I’ve been pretty lazy, and this was kind of a clearing-out-the-fridge operation of a meal. I gotta say, I don’t think it looks all that bad considering the circumstances.

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We got yoghurt-marinated chicken (spiced with cumin and beetroot powder), bulgur wheat with lots of cracked pepper and a drizzle of yuzu juice (because I couldn’t find the lime juice…), caramelised red and white onions, BBQ-ed cherry tomatoes, and shredded mangetout, with a side of turkish yoghurt, dusted with cayenne pepper.

This was such a hit with the parents, and with the kids too (dinner evening at our house), though I think the girls mainly liked it because they saw the chicken was pink…

I mean I thought it kind of looked like tubby custard at first, though I have to say it did improve after cooking, and the colour deepened….

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Any set of veggies would work well; hence why I mentioned I was clearing out the fridge with this, but the tomatoes do go really well with the yoghurt, so I recommend keeping them at least! Sweet potato/squash that’s been roasted would be pretty good too, or some lightly fried kale..
It would be super easy to change this to a vegetarian dish–just swap the chicken for quorn, or for pressed tofu (for the latter, skip the yoghurt marinade, and season with cumin, coriander seeds…whatever you fancy!)
Serves 3-4 as a light meal, but feel free to double or more as necessary.
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