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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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

Classic pesto

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So, perhaps I’m just behind everyone on this, but I have recently discovered the sheer beauty of making your own pesto. It’s power is not to be underestimated. This stuff was incredible. Maybe I’ve been lagging behind on this (and duh, freshly made was always going to be better than store bought…but this much better? Wow), but I’m now dedicating my time to spread the word. Because, yes. Delicious stuff.

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I followed a tip of only very, very, very lightly toasting the pine nuts for use, to keep them creamy in the pesto rather than adding a nuttiness. Now, I love the sound of a nutty pesto, but I’m glad I stayed true to the tip because this was beautiful. Slightly cheesy, full of flavour and yes, that creaminess, despite the rather granular look of the pesto.

However, I should note; I love the taste of garlic, even the intensity of it raw. If this scares you a little, or you’re just plain not a fan, take it down to half a clove, or even skip it altogether if you must.

This can be made in a food processor, though I recommend a pestle and mortar, if only for a smaller cleaning job!

Should make enough to use for a pasta dish for four, but if you multiply the quantities, it will store well in a sterilised jar with some olive oil poured on the top, if kept in the fridge.

3 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
1 handful of pine nuts, very finely toasted (keep more if needed to taste)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
olive oil to taste
4 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, or more to taste
Salt and pepper

Pound the pine nuts and the basil together in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic clove, and keep pounding. Add the parmesan, and a lug of oil — stir in just enough to get the mixture to start binding together. Season to taste, and add more cheese, oil or pine nuts according to what you think tastes good., both in flavour and texture. Then, you’re ready to go!

It’s great for pasta, for topping meats and fish, or even just spreading on some toast. And of course, this is a very simple and classical take on pesto — there’s ones using walnuts, kale, and more. Do you have a favourite?

Turkey Milanese

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My dad can say he loves fish all he wants (and he does), but he is such a steak kind of guy. Chicken might as well be a vegetable to him. Lamb? Doesn’t count. Pork? Only if it’s belly. Otherwise, it’s meat all the way–particularly of the steak kind. Surprise, surprise, turkey is an obscenity to him.

Since we don’t even have it for Christmas (turkey dinner is not a tradition, AT ALL), and I only ever experienced the usually-dry kind served at school dinners before the break up for holidays, I just haven’t had turkey very often at all. But, I have to say, I was intrigued when I was flicking through Jamie Oliver’s website recipes, as I am wont to do when I seem to be uninspired (that’s not a slight against his website btw, I love the variety he has on there from all his cookbooks!)

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It feels like a very rustic Italian recipe (by Jamie’s mentor, Genaro Contaldo in fact), and it does take a bit effort, but if you fall in love with this dish (like we did), and made it again I think it would get easier. It’s a little fiddly, bread-crumbing the turkey escalopes (the recipe calls for turkey breast, but I used escalopes for a flatter cut, and bashed them even thinner), wrapping in cheese and ham, before bread-crumbing them again. But it cooks beautifully (golden brown is fine, don’t overbrown them!)

Also, if you can, use the truffle oil on top of the egg. I always thought it sounded..well, a little pretentious, but it tastes very well here.

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Intrigued? Recipe from here!

“Risotto Nero di Seppia” – Squid Ink Risotto with Mixed Seafood

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Seafood is a huge hit in our household, with one exception, and it’s not really her fault. See, we eat pretty much every type of fish under the sun, and crab and prawns (and sometimes lobster on a lucky day) are continuous guests at the dinner table, but there are certain types of seafood missing…namely, shellfish; scallops, mussels, clams, squid, the lot. My mother, you see, is allergic to certain proteins within shellfish, and is thus incredibly ill whenever she eats them. It’s a pity, because she’s a fan, whilst my father and I are super fans of shellfish, but for the most part, it is avoided in our household.

However, on a trip to the coast yesterday, I found, of all things, little sachets of squid ink for sale…for 50p! Like in little portion sizes. As if I could resist! So I paid 50p and hopped off with my new bargain in hand, and came to the puzzling point of how I was going to use it. Mum having any was out of the question, and my seafood-partner-in-crime (newly invented by yours truly), my father, is away for about two weeks now, with only one quick stop this Thursday back home before setting off again.

But! I did have a pot of fresh mixed seafood that I had planned to have for lunch one of these days, seeing as fish/seafood was allowed for said course during this vegetarian week.

So, I upped the ante and decided that I could deal with having some leftovers, and made risotto nero di seppia (and a portion of plain ole’ cheese risotto for mum on the side!)

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Risotto is a bit like having a pet. You have to feed it, nurture it, and help it to keep growing. Unlike a pet, the end result of a risotto is delicious. It’s a little bit of work, but I think it’s worth it in the end.  Read More