Pissaladiere (ish)

Did you know Jus-Rol pastry doesn’t have any dairy in it? Useful to know. I cooked Beef Wellington for a Christmas meal with my family on the 30th, using all-butter pastry but made Salmon Wellington for Jo using Jus-Rol. I had some sheets of pastry left so I knocked up a quick canapé type thing with it for a NYE party we went to. It’s based very loosely on a recipe I saw ages ago for something called “pissaladiere’ and always fancied doing. This is as easy as making pizza from a base, and you can vary the toppings according to your audience (vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore!). I believe the ‘true’ pissaladiere is filled with very slowly cooked and caramelised onions and then criss-crossed with anchovies, hence the ‘ish’.

Take a sheet of puff pastry, place on some baking parchment on a baking tray. Score with a sharp knife all the way round about half an inch in from the edge – this will let the outside puff up while the middle is held down by the topping.

Brush the middle area with sun-dried tomato puree, and then arrange some asparagus spears, halved lengthways, in a criss-cross pattern over it. Add some roasted peppers or cherry tomatoes or both.

Bake in a preheated oven according to the pastry instructions or at 180 for about 15 minutes.

Some good variations are swapping the sun-dried tomato puree for pesto (vegan if necessary), or adding some sliced mozzarella or goats cheese (obviously no longer vegan!). I’m a fan of draping some anchovies over as well but that’s not to everyone’s taste!

Slice it into pieces – small for canapés or if you wanted you could serve larger pieces with a dressed salad for a starter or a light lunch.

I would have included a photo but it went too quickly! Sorry!

Miso Salmon with egg fried rice

I fancied experimenting tonight, and came up with this. Nice and easy, some lovely flavours!

First, the salmon. Marinate four fillets in teriyaki and garlic for 15 minutes, or longer if you have it. Sear them on the non-skin side of a hot pan for a couple of minutes, then flip and do the same. Turn the pan right down and pour over the remaining teriyaki and a cup of miso soup (boiling water plus some of this stuff). Leave to simmer very gently for about ten minutes.

For the rice – cook some rice normally (Tip for rice that I learnt from my mum – use a 1:1.75 ratio of rice to water by volume, and all the water will be absorbed and the rice will be perfectly fluffy, and not too wet). Meanwhile, gently cook an onion and a clove of garlic in a frying pan (a wok is good!). Chuck in a good dose of frozen peas, then stir in the cooked rice. Add a glug of soy sauce and worcestershire sauce, then beat an egg and stir that in too. Turn the heat off and leave it to continue to cook on the residual heat for a minute or two.

Serve the salmon with a bit of the miso soup on top, rice on the side and maybe some steamed veg. I felt a bit of chilli sauce livened it up so feel free! Next time I do this, I will probably chuck some ginger in somewhere (probably in the salmon) so feel free to try that if you fancy it!

Give it a go and let me know how you get on!

Quick and tasty prawns

I should think of a better name for this one, to be honest! I’ve cooked probably a million variations on this theme, but this one is my current favourite. It’s a really good, quick and fairly healthy meal – and you can use frozen prawns and spinach if you don’t have fresh so it makes a good emergency dinner!

Serves one really hungry person (me after a game of basketball) or two less hungry people:

Chuck a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan (a wok works well), and add a chopped clove of garlic. Throw in a packet of fresh, raw, prawns and stir fry gently until just about cooked. Stir in a spoonful of sun-dried tomato puree until it coats the prawns. Throw in a good handful or two of fresh spinach (go BIG on the spinach, as it disappears to almost nothing), wilt it down, and add a tin of Green Giant Salad Crisp Sweetcorn (really important to get the right corn – this stuff is amazing!) and at the last minute, turn the heat off and stir in a tablespoon of chilli jam.

That should have taken you about 10 minutes – just long enough to cook some pasta (your choice – I prefer spaghetti, but I’ll give you some artistic license here). Drain it and plonk the prawn mixture on top… Beautiful!

You’ll notice this is dairy-free so far – but if you happen to have some parmesan in the back of the fridge, a smidgen on top works wonders. Don’t smother it in cheese – you want just enough that the sharpness cuts the sweetness of the tomato, chilli jam and sweetcorn.

I’d have taken a photo, but hey, I was hungry!

My new favourite thing…

We went to visit my little brother in London last weekend. He and his gf, the lovely Vic, live close to Borough Market, so after some lunch and a half of ‘Ale Fresco‘ (punderful!) at The George, we went for a wander round. Iris must have eaten her own body weight in free cheese samples… She loved a cheese from a stall called De Calabria – don’t know what it was called but it was a nice mild sheep’s cheese. I bought some smellier stuff with some impressive crust on the outside….

Anyway, the point of this rambling is to tell you about some wonderful stuff the De Calabria chap had on his stall. It’s a mix of extra virgin olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, wild oregano, wild fennel seeds and chilli. It’s just fabulous! The sweetness/saltiness of the tomatoes, the slight aniseed of the fennel and a hit of chilli is a winner! I served it stirred into some spaghetti with some pan-fried trout, steamed tender stem broccoli and carrots. Oh, and a smidgen of that strong cheese, of course! I reckon it would be amazing stirred into some chopped tomatoes and simmered with some red onion and a drop of wine…

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If you are passing Borough Market, I thoroughly recommend it… Ian, you know what to get me for my birthday…

Salmon or Chicken Pepperonata

So I invented something new on Sunday night – and really, really simple! This works equally well with chicken or salmon, so if you have a meat eater and a fish eater at the same table, no problem. I guess it would work with Quorn fillets, but I haven’t tried it. So, here we go:

Take four chicken breasts (or salmon fillets – or mix and match), and a jar of marinated roasted peppers in oil. Drop a bit of the oil into an oven-proof dish, pop the chicken in and drizzle a small amount of the oil over the top, with a squiz of black pepper. Roast in the oven – about 35 minutes for chicken, 15-20 for salmon. It’s worth basting the chicken halfway through – not so important for salmon. When it’s done, take it out and spoon some of the peppers from the jar over, and pop it back in the oven for five minutes (no more!).

How easy is that? If you feel like it, a small amount of grated cheese on top is nice if you aren’t dairy-free. Awesome served with potato wedges – the recipe for which will follow shortly….