This recipe happened because we were lucky enough to find 2 large smoked cod fillets reduced from £10 to £2 in the supermarket. I had some home-made pesto in the fridge, leftover from our regular saturday pizza night. The puff pastry was bought ready-rolled.
The cod pieces were quite large at nearly 300g each. We decided that we had to eat both tonight since fish really doesn't keep very well.
The pesto sauce was made using home-grown basil and watercress, olive oil, pine nuts, cheddar cheese and cream cheese. It was spread onto the fish immediately before the the pastry was folded over the top and sealed with some beaten egg.
The fish parcels were baked for about 25-30 minutes at gas mark 5.
The Ricoh Arena has been temporarily renamed the City of Coventry Stadium and is hosting some of the Olympic football matches.
Mexico v Gabon
It looks like, at long last, the almost continuous rain has ended and summer has arrived. The garden is growing again, and some courgettes seem to have appeared on one of our plants almost overnight.
When I left work this evening, it was a bit toasty in the car. The thermometer actually measures the temperature underneath the car rather than inside but I can easily believe that it was over 40c, since the car is practically a mobile greenhouse. The temperature originally read 42c when I first got in but by the time I got my phone out to take a photo, it had dropped a degree.
My search for new uses for sourdough starter continues and my latest attempt is crumpets. I like crumpets but they are one of those things which we rarely buy. This recipe is based on one from the Sourdough Companion website but I halved the quantities.
I started by weighing out 100g of plain flour and added ½ a cup of my sourdough starter. I added approximately 130ml of water, about 25g of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. All this was whisked together and left for a few hours to start to bubble.
I poured the batter into a mould in a frying pan (on a low heat) and cooked each crumpet for a few minutes, trying to turn them over just before the bubble started to collapse.
It took about 10 minutes to cook each crumpet, so it certainly doesn't count as fast food. The mixture made about 10 thin crumpets.
We served them with a variety of toppings, including locally produced honey (pictured above) and peanut butter. The flavour was good but the texture was a little soft inside. It was an interesting experiment but I'll probably just buy crumpets the next time I want some.
Tonight's tea came about because Emma bought some dressed crab during her trip into the city centre this afternoon. I started off by thinking that crab goes well with both chilli and basil. I originally considered crab and chilli pasta with a basil oil drizzled on top. I then thought I like crabcakes but haven't had any for a while. Tea then became crabcakes (flavoured with onion, chilli and garlic) served with noodles and a basil oil.
Emma suggested spätzle instead of noodles so we arrived at the third and final iteration of tea:
The dressed crab was in a tub with brown crabmeat mixed with mayonnaise at the bottom and white crabmeat with chopped hard boiled egg on top. I mixed it together with 2 finely chopped chillies and 2 sliced garlic cloves. I then added a beaten egg and enough breadcrumbs to bind everything together.
I shaped the crabcakes into small 'burgers' and coated them in cornmeal. I fried them in a little oil for 10-15 minutes while I prepared the spätzle.
While the spätzle cooked I fried 1 sliced medium in a little oil until it had softened. We had a small amount of cooked chicken leftover in the fridge so I added that too.
I shredded a handful of basil leaves and grated about 100g of cheese and set them aside for later.
When the spätzle was cooked, I drained it then mixed in the onion, shredded chicken, shredded basil and half the cheese. The rest of the cheese was sprinkled on top.
Some of the fruit and veg stalls at Coventry market sell bowls of fruit and veg for £1. We occasionally buy things like bowls of peppers but this morning we decided to also get a bowl of fennel. Now this is a vegetable which we occasionally buy from the supermarket but then it's only 1 bulb at a time. This time we have 5 bulbs of the stuff to use so we're going to need to be a bit creative.
We have a pizza book which has dozens of different recipes for toppings and sauces. One was a fennel sauce which has diced onion, fennel and garlic which is fried then simmered in tomato sauce. We gave that a go and topped it with salmon, anchovies and capers. And cheese of course. I might try it again if we find ourselves with excess fennel again.
Yesterday Emma bought some smoked mackerel from the supermarket in the city centre. I was looking for a suitable recipe which could be made using items we had in the kitchen. I found a recipe which looked promising. The only thing I didn't have was olives, so I left them out. I also decided to cook it in a pan instead of in the oven.
I started by frying some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they softened. I then added a glass of red wine and boiled it for a couple of minutes before adding a similar amount of chicken stock and half a tin of tomatoes (just the tomatoes, not the juice - I didn't want the sauce to be too runny). I added a pinch of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of capers and a sprig of rosemary and let it simmer while I boiled a pan of rice. We thought a slightly spicy rice might go with it so I cooked the rice in the rest of the chicken stock and added a generous pinch of chilli flakes.
When the rice was nearly cooked, I removed the sprig of rosemary and added the mackerel to the pan. When it was ready to serve, I grated some parmesan to sprinkle on top.
The combination of tomatoes, fish and capers reminded me of a puttanesca sauce. The flavours were fairly intense but well balanced without anything dominating too much. The fish was quite good too, despite being from the supermarket's economy range.
Saturday is our regular pizza night and we occasionally struggle to think of new toppings to try. This means we often get stuck in a rut and keep repeating ourselves with various combinations of chicken, vegetables and chilli. Last night we opened one of those Heinz 'fridge jars' of baked beans, which means we have to finish the pack within 5 days. We don't have baked beans very often but Emma suggested combining beans and pizza and replicate the baked bean pizza which was available back in the mid-90s.
I started off by spreading a few tablespoons of baked beans over the pizza base then added sliced chicken, chillies, mozarella and grated cheese.
This post also appears on the Pizza Blog
After a week of poor weather and almost non-stop rain, today started dry so this morning we walked into town. There were old cars on display near various Coventry University including near the Cathedral. The range of cars included Alvis (which were built in the city on a site which is now a shopping centre). There several other old cars and sports cars and also what looked like a Japanese TV camera crew filming the collection.
It has been a long time since I've been to Wing Wah (the all you can eat Chinese restaurant) in Coventry, so when Emma said she was meeting some people there for lunch and asked me if I wanted to join them, I agreed.
The food doesn't seem to have changed in the intervening period but people don't go there for a constantly varying or challenging menu. People go there because it is a great value eatery with good quality food (as good as you can reasonably expect for £s; 7 during the day).
One area where Wing Wah do sometimes get a bit imaginative is the presentation of their desserts. A few years ago I had a jam tart with a sprig of parsley on top so when I saw a jelly with what looked like a green bean on top, I expected the worst.
It turned out to be a sliced jelly sweet - the long tube shaped sweets with a fondant filling.
A few weeks ago I planted two pots of rocket and left them on the windowsill in the front room so they would get plenty of sunlight. I had two different packets of seed and thought it would be a good idea to compare them. Unfortunately I forgot to make a note of which pack went into which pot so now the rocket is grown, I have no idea which is which.
One of the packets is clearly doing better than the other, with the plants growing at roughly double the rate. Unfortunately this is the year when I forgot to label most of the things I planted. I have several different types of chilli pepper and tomato growing in various rooms of the house and in tubs in the garden but in most cases I have no idea what is growing where.
Some of the chilli plants are doing quite well and have a few flowers on them but the tomatoes aren't doing very well. A lot got eaten by slugs and some seem to have been affected by the bad weather and haven't grown an inch in several weeks. The courgettes seem to be doing ok so far so at least there will be some veg from the garden this year. The less said about the strawberries, the better. None of the seeds germinated. Same for the parsley. I will have to buy fresh seeds for next year.
Some photos taken in and around Warwickshire this month. The Kenilworth Castle photos were taken on a day when they were doing some medieval displays and re-enactments.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
For tonights tea I made a Tuna Bhuna, using the diced tuna from Waitrose and based on a recipe from the internet.
I made some onion and garlic puree by chopping 2 small red onions and a few cloves of garlic and simmering gently in a small amount of water. When they had softened I put them in the food processor and mixed until everything became a uniform paste. I made a seed mixture by taking a pinch each of coriander seed, mustard seed, onion seed and cumin and crushed them in a pestle and mortar. I dry fried the seed mixture for a minute then added a tablespoon of oil and 2 finely chopped red onions and fried them until they started to soften.
I made a paste from ½ tsp powdered ginger, 2 tsp curry powder, ½ turmeric, ½ tsp chilli flakes and a little water. This was added to the pan then the tuna went in. I then mixed a generous squirt of tomato puree and a dollop of yoghurt (I didn't measure how much) with the onion paste. This went into the pan and everything was simmered for about 10 minutes or so, until the tuna was cooked through. I then added 1tsp of garam masala and cooked for a couple more minutes before serving it with rice.
We ate it before I realised I hadn't taken a photo for here.
I cooked a couple of new recipes this week. The first was a Chicken and Paneer satay-style curry.
The sauce was equal volumes of milk and chicken stock to which I added:
- 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon each of curry powder and garam masala
- 2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
I fried 2 chicken breast and one red onion and added them to the sauce, leaving them to simmer for a few minutes. Towards the end of the cooking, I diced the paneer and gently fried it in a small amount of oil, adding it to the pan just before serving.
The next recipe was a Cheese and Sausage Spatzle.
The Spatzle came from Lidl - we bought it because it was a bit different and we hadn't cooked with it before. While it was boiling, I fried a couple of red onions and a few sausages, and added a pinch each of salt, chilli flakes and thyme leaves. I also grated the cheese.
I placed half of the spatzle in the bottom of an oven-proof dish followed by a layer of the onion and sausage mixture, then a layer of cheese, then repeated the layers. I baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes at gas mark 4, until it had heated through and the cheese had melted.
It worked well for such a simple recipe. The rough texture of the spatzle would work better than a traditional italian pasta, which tends to be smoother, and wouldn't have held together as well.
Emma made this cheesecake today. The recipe came with some money-off vouchers for Oreos so we decided to make the recipe using the genuine article instead of a cheaper substitute biscuit.