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Week 2 revisited: Cod with cheesy breadcrumb topping

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

I cooked a variation on the fish with breadcrumb topping from week 2. This time the topping was grated pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs. It was cooked for 20 minutes at gas mark 6 again, but this time I served it with home made potato wedges and samphire (which was boiled then tossed in melted butter and a sprinkle of black pepper).

Week 2: Cod with panch phoran topping

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This meal was a combination of two different fish recipes. The original inspiration came from a booklet from the British Heart Foundation which I found myself reading at lunchtime on Friday. This recipe was for sea bass with panch phoran (which is an Indian spice mix - the name literally means '5 spices' but the mix is very different to the more common chinese 5-spice).

I didn't have any panch phoran but was fortunate to have all the individual spices in the kitchen. I started by putting equal amounts of Cumin,Fennel,Black Onion, Fenugreek and Yellow Mustard seeds into a pestle and mortar and started to crush them. I added a pinch of coarse sea salt to help crush the seeds.

The breadcrumb topping was based on a recipe from the BBC website. Their original recipe used herbs and garlic as seasoning but I simply used the spice mix instead.

Cod with breadcrumb topping

To make the breadcrumb topping, I took 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, added ½ a teaspoon of each of:

  • the spice mix,
  • chilli flakes
  • turmeric

along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mixed everything together before spreading it over the fish. I baked it in the oven at gas mark 6 for around 15-20 minutes.

Cod with spicy breadcrumb topping

Now I think this is the first time I've ever made a breadcrumb topping for fish and it surprised me by how quick it was to make. The spice mix went well with the fish.

Cod en croute

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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.

Smoked Cod
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.

Smoked Cod with pesto sauce
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.

Smoked Cod en croute
The fish parcels were baked for about 25-30 minutes at gas mark 5.

Mackerel with Tomatoes and Capers

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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.

Mackerel with Tomatoes and Capers

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.

Tuna Bhuna

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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.

Pasta Paella

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

The year before last I tried to cook (or at least eat) a new different recipe each week. I probably won't be able to do the same thing again this year but I will endeavour to try more new recipes, since last year we weren't as adventurous with our cooking. I do enjoy cooking different foods but we are both going to be very busy this year, which is why I am not going to make any promises.

Last night we cooked a roast chicken so today I made a chicken stock using the bones, along with some herbs, peppercorns, garlic and the outer leaves from some leeks. Tonight I decided to make a risotto using the stock and remaining chicken. Since we had fish in the freezer and saffron on the shelf, this morphed into a paella. Although we do have some paella rice, I decided to try my normal paella recipe but using the small orzo (or risoni) pasta instead. I tried to stay faithful to the risotto method but I added the orzo to hot stock, instead of the other way round, which is more usual for risottos.

Ingredients and Method

  • Dice and fry some vegetables, including red pepper, leek, courgette, garlic.
  • Put the fish in a pan of boiling water then turn the heat off and let the fish cook in the remaining heat.
  • Add a couple of cups of chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to the boil. Stir in a few strands of saffron and add a cup of pasta.
  • When the pasta is cooked halfway, add a cup of shredded chicken and a squirt of tomato puree, along with any seasoning.
  • When the pasta is cooked, stir in a tablespoon of cream cheese followed by the cooked fish.

To serve, all it needs is a grind of fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan. I know that isn't the right way to serve a paella but we like it that way.

Two new recipes

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We tried a couple of new recipes at the weekend. On friday we did rustic roast cod. It was ok but took much longer to cook than the recipe suggested, possibly because our roasting tray completely fills our tiny oven and the heat doesn't get around it properly. Last nights recipe was completely new: Baked chicory with chicken. It's not very often that we try a new ingredient and neither of us had cooked with chicory before. We didn't have any dijon mustard but we had wasabi paste (which is similar...) and some yellow mustard seeds, so they went in instead. We think it worked well, we could probably make the recipe again using different veg depending on what we had in the house.