€Grilled Mackerel Fillets With Roast Rhubarb and New Season Asparagus

This is a very simple dish and perfect for a quick lunch or light supper.

First prepare the asparagus by bending each stem and letting it break where it is tender. (don’t throw the ends away, Put them in a bag in the freezer, Bring them out in February when the snow is on the ground and make a soup with the asparagus and let your mind wander to the warm summer months.

Begin to sauté the asparagus in a little butter or rape seed oil until it begins to turn a rich Lincoln green. Cut the rhubarb into fingers and add to the pan on a low heat. Keep it moving but be gentle so’s not to break the rhubarb and turn it into mush.

Take your mackerel fillets and season them with salt and pepper before dusting them in flour. Heat a little oil in another pan put the fish skin side down. (don’t worry if the fish curls up, It will flatten out) fry for 2 minuets on each side.

Put the fish on your serving plate and dress with the rhubarb and asparagus. Take the pan which had the asparagus in and splash a little balsamic vinegar into it and swirl around to collect all the flavours in the pan. Pour your dressing around the fish and add a wedge of lemon

Posted On: Monday, July 21st, 2014 @ 9:28 am by Simon Cook
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Salt baked fish

Any whole fish will do for this dish because this a cooking method as apposed to a recipe. but the finer fish are more suited to this style of cooking. Try a whole turbot or small halibut for a dinner party.

Firstly take 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and douse in a little rapeseed oil place in a dish and cover with oil and bake in the oven. This is going to be the base for the aioli to go with our fish. I like the taste of garlic but in things like aoli i happen to like the taste of cooked garlic a it is a lot milder and has a more rounded flavour after it has been baked in its own skin. Its a bit like the difference between sautéed onions, which are superb but they don’t have the flavour of onions baked in their skins underneath a joint of beef.

So while the garlic is cooking Take two large handfuls of course salt Maldon salt is the best for this as it has a deep iodine flavour that we sometimes don’t always get from the other ground table salts. As i am originally from Cheshire my relations who worked the salt mines of Nantwich would probably turn in their graves on hearing me using sea salt but on this occasion it is the best salt for the job! Add two eggs and some coursly ground black pepper corns and some grated lemon zest. And mix the bowl to a glupy mess. (that’s a technical term you understand!)

Place a third of the mix on a baking tray and place your fish on top. Leave the scales on the fish but let your fish monger take out the gills and guts. Fill the cavity with herbs. I like fennel, parsley and tarragon but you use what comes to hand in the way of soft herbs. Cover the fish with the rest of the salt mix and make sure it is fully sealed so that all the juices turn to steam and keep the fish moist. It will take about 15 minuets to cook a small fish but remember the heat needs time to penetrate the thickest part of the fish including the salt crust.

When it is cooked take it out of the oven and let it rest while you make a great salad to go with your fish.

Mean while the garlic (remember that?) should be cooked and cooled. Take the cloves and squeeze them from the thick end. You should have a straw coloured mass which smells sweet and garlicky. To this add a pinch of saffron and place in a pestle and mortar. Grind the mix and slowly add the olive oil a little at a time being very careful to incorporate all the oil before you add some more. Continue adding the oil and grinding until it is all incorporated and has a golden yellow appearance and smells like the mediterainen.

Take the fish to the table with the salad and the aioli and open the crust in front of your guests. The smell will get their juices flowing and the aioli will excite their taste buds.

Posted On: Monday, July 21st, 2014 @ 9:27 am by Simon Cook
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Liver and bacon.

4 Slices of Ox liver (Ask the butcher to slice it thinly and take off any membrane)
8 Slices of Good dry cured streaky bacon
Flour for dusting
Salt and pepper.

For the sauce.
Two large onions thinly sliced
A small glug of vinegar
A small hand full of white sugar
2 oz of butter
2ox of plain flour
1 pint of good beef stock (stock cube)
A desert spoon of tomato puree

People are usually concerned about using ox liver because it has a bad reputation form years ago. Nowadays ox liver is sweet and creamy as apposed to the strong and bitter liver of old. This is due to the age of our beef when it goes to slaughter.

Add the onions to a pan containing a small splash of hot oil or butter and stir to get the onions started. Turn down the heat and allow to cook slowly until they begin to lightly brown. This should take about 10 minutes.

In another pan melt the butter and add the flour. Stirring all the time cook until the flour mixture begins to turn light brown and add the tomato puree.

Slowly add the stock stirring all the time and beating out the lumps! Bring to the boil and turn down the heat until you have a good simmer. You should end up with a brown sauce which is neither too thick nor too thin. Season to taste. If it needs to be a little darker don’t be afraid to use some gravy browning.

By this time the onions are going to be very soft and sweet. To this pan add two cap fulls of vinegar and a small pinch of sugar. Keeping your nose away from the vinegar vapours taste the onions and add more sugar if needed. Season with salt and black pepper. Strain the sauce onto the onions and mix and re boil.

Heat a heavy base frying pan and add some oil Lay the liver in the flour and season. Turn over and re season.
Fry the bacon in the pan until crisp. Remove the bacon and add the liver. Fry for about 30 seconds each side and serve!! Don’t STEW!!!

Serve this dish with braised red cabbage and mash!!

Posted On: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 @ 6:23 pm by Simon Cook
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Raspberry fool in a white and dark chocolate cup

A little chocolate (White or dark or both)
1/4 pt whipped cream
1 punnet of raspberries
Icing sugar to taste
1 sheet of gelatine
6 acetate strips (food grade)

First melt the chocolate use good chocolate for this. Prepare the acetate strips by making a crease in the middle and placing them on a sheet of paper. Make two paper piping bags.

Pipe the chocolate onto the strips until it is well coated. Secure them with a bulldog clip and place in the chillier to set.

Puree the raspberries with icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and add a sheet of gelatine, Fold into the whipped cream and pour into the moulds. Smooth the top and chill.

When good and cold carefully peel away the plastic and plate up.

Posted On: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 @ 8:04 pm by Simon Cook
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Friday Evening bread!!

Make some bread! Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well if you read lots of cookery books it isn’t! But if you remember that people have been making bread of some sort or another for hundreds of years without the aid of thermometers or humidifiers or what ever else is the Latest gadget it is! With three main ingredients and a little time we can all make bread.

Remember making bread is a very relaxing hobby.

Get home on Friday evening and spend 15 minuets making a dough.

2 pound of flour,

2 packets of easy blend yeast

Enough cold water to make a soft moist dough (about a pint)

a teaspoon of salt

Open the wine and pour a glass. Take a sip and find a big bowl. Add the flour and yeast and mix, add the salt and ( remember at this stage to take a sip of wine as your hands are going to be busy for a while)

begin to add the water and mix until the dough begins to form. Stop adding water at this stage and work the dough with your hands until it begins to become smooth Tip it on to the work top if you like and push it with the palm of your hand and pull it back with your fingers like you may have seen on the tv its called kneeding which ever way you do it.

Then put it back into the bowl and cover it with cling film of a plastic bag and put it into the fridge.

Finnish the wine and go to bed.

In the morning take the dough out of the fridge and half it. Put half back in the fridge and let the other half come back to room temperature whilst percolating the coffee. Mold the dough into balls and place on a baking tray. cover it with a cloth and let it rise until it looks like rolls. Heat the oven to your normal cooking temperature and put the tray in.

when they are brown they are done! Breakfast rolls what could be simpler?

Posted On: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 @ 8:39 am by Simon Cook
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Bavarian apple braised red cabbage

As you may gather this is a winter warming dish of deep flavour and rich ruby red colour. It makes a great hot vegetable to go with Offal, Game, Venison and all of those steaming Braised beef stews and pies. Steak and kidney pudding with onion gravy and braised red cabbage is a real treat! This is also as good cold with cold cuts and pickles!

  • 1 Whole red cabbage thinly sliced.
  • 1 Onion thinly sliced
  • A Piece of smoked ham rind or snippets of smoked streaky bacon. (Optional)
  • 4 juniper berries
  • A pinch of caraway seed.
  • 1 clove
  • 8 whole black pepper corns
  • 2 Cooking apples peeled and cored and quartered
  • A good glug of red wine (two good glasses)
  • Half a handful of dark brown sugar.

As this takes a while to make it is better made in larger quantities and kept in the fridge as the flavours develop with time.

In a heavy base pan heat some oil and add the onions along with the Ham rind or bacon.

Before they start to colour and when you can smell the smokiness of the meat add the spices and allow them to release their flavours.

Add the sliced cabbage to the pot and turn it all over a couple of times to coat all the cabbage.
Add the wine turn down the heat to low put on a tight fitting lid and allow to cook. Don’t stir the pot or you run the risk of losing all that great colour!!

After about 40 minutes carefully remove the lid and take a look! You should have a nice looking and smelling pot.
At this stage add the peeled and cored apples and lay them on top of the cabbage. Sprinkle with a good handful of Dark brown sugar. Return the lid and leave it alone!

After 15 minutes the apples should be cooked and soft turn the cabbage over a few times and draw the cabbage to the side of the pan leaving room for the liquid to form a pool Turn up the heat a little to allow the liquid to simmer. Prepare a little Potato starch or corn flour and mix with a little water to form a paste.

When the liquid is gently simmering tip in a little of the potato starch until it thickens like a soup or sauce. Turn the mixture over in the liquid and Add salt to taste. Allow to cool then refrigerate. Don’t forget to remove the ham rind if used.

Posted On: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm by Simon Cook
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Time for something sweet

3 Williams pears
7oz caster sugar
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch chilli
1 sheet puff pastry
A squeeze of lemon juice
A nob of butter

Peel the Williams pears, Half, core and drizzle with lemon juice to stop them discolouring.

Heat the sugar gently in a pan until melted and a pale gold colour. Add a knob of butter and carefully shake the pan until it is full incorporated. Don’t let it get too hot or it will burn and become bitter. Add the pears round side down into the caramel which you have dusted with cinnamon and chilli. (The cinnamon adds flavour and the chilli adds a little bite to the pear) and allow o cook for a second or so. Divide the caramel into four oven proof dishes. Lay in carefully the pear halves.
Cover with a sheet of puff pastry and tuck in the manner of tucking in the baby!

These can be prepared earlier in the day and cooked later. (It is best to warm the caramel on the stove before cooking as this stops the caramel from sticking to the dish)

Bake the dishes in a hot oven until the pastry is crisp, golden and well risen. Let them rest for a minute or so (but not too long) to allow the caramel to settle down and turn out onto a plate.

Raspberry fool in a white and dark chocolate cup

A little chocolate (White or dark or both)
!/4 pt whipped cream
1 punnet of raspberries
Icing sugar to taste
1 sheet of gelatine
6 acetate strips (food grade)

First melt the chocolate use good chocolate for this. Prepare the acetate strips by making a crease in the middle and placing them on a sheet of paper. Make two paper piping bags.

Pipe the chocolate onto the strips until it is well coated. Secure them with a bulldog clip and place in the chillier to set.

Puree the raspberries with icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice and add a sheet of gelatine, Fold into the whipped cream and pour into the moulds. Smooth the top and chill.

When good and cold carefully peel away the plastic and plate up.

Vanilla Crème Chantilly

Split and scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod add to the cream with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Whip until light and fluffy.
Chill until needed. Form into neat egg shape with a warm spoon.

Soft butter
4 oz granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 400°; place a heavy baking sheet on middle rack.
Coat 6 (8-ounce) ramekins with butter, and sprinkle each dish with 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, shaking and turning to coat.
Place egg yolks and sugar along with the liqueur in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed 5 minutes or until thick and pale.
Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 1 minute or until foamy using clean, dry beaters. Add the salt; beat mixture until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into liqueur mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture; divide evenly among the prepared ramekins.
Place soufflé dishes on baking sheet in oven; bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until tall and golden brown (soufflés will rise 1 1/2 to 2 inches above the dish rim). Quickly dust soufflés with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Posted On: Thursday, October 7th, 2010 @ 9:45 am by Simon Cook
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Roast pork tenderloin.

Pork tenderloin is a wonderful piece of meat because it is guaranteed to be tender. However just like beef tenderloin it is a very easy piece of meat to over cook and let it become dry and tough. To prevent this happening it is vital that you take it out of the oven just before it is cooked and let the meat rest.

Its like when you have spent the weeks housekeeping budget on a big rib of beef for Sunday lunch, Which you have spent time coating with honey and mustard and roasted until it is just perfect. Take it out of the oven while the Yorkshire puddings are finishing off cover it with a piece of foil and never let it enter the oven again. If it was perfect when you took it out what could you possibly gain from putting it back in?

Take your fillet of pork and coat it in some crushed peppercorns and some chopped herbs and drizzle on some rapeseed oil, this will carry all those flavours into the pan. Heat a small frying pan but don’t add any oil or butter. When the pan is good and hot sear the pork on all sides (it is a good idea to get the pan smoking hot for this job as the flavour comes from the browning on the outside of the meat) take the meat out of the pan and place it on a baking tray in a moderate to hot oven. Mean while take a good hand full of peeled shallots and whole peeled garlic cloves and perhaps some apple quarters (use eating apples as they keep their shape and some of their texture add these to the hot pan and caramelised over a brisk heat. When you have some good colour turn the heat down and add a good splash of balsamic vinegar and a tea spoon of sugar, Let this reduce before covering the pan with a sheet of puff pastry, Cut to size and tuck in like when you put the baby to bed. Put this in the oven (don’t glaze the top as you are going to turn it over when it is cooked) check the pork it should feel slightly springy.

When the pork is cooked take it out of the oven and put it onto a plate covered with a piece of foil. As the pork rests it will produce a little jus on the plate this is pure flavour and should be drizzled over the pork when it is served to give a real meaty flavour.

When the pastry is golden and puffed up take the pan out of the oven and carefully put a plate on top of the pastry and invert the whole lot. Take the pan away and you should be left with the perfect shallot and garlic tartin the shallots are dark and all of those flavours will be soaked into the pastry.

Carve the meat and serve on a slice of tartin with a good blue cheese melting on the top.

As a variation why not try the tart with blanched root vegetables for a meat free lunch dish. Try roasted beetroot. Onions, butternut squash or any other good roasting vegetable. The shops are full them.

Posted On: Monday, September 20th, 2010 @ 10:44 pm by Simon Cook
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The best fish cakes.

Smugglers famous fish cakes.
Fish cakes are some times quite a trial to make, egg everywhere and breadcrumbs sticking to everything but the cakes. Well there is an alternative. Made along the lines of my grandmothers rissoles. Usually served on Tuesday and made from the remnants of the Sunday roast, minced and made in the same way.

We are using salmon and king prawns.

Firstly you need some of last nights mashed potatoes (make sure when you mash the potatoes you don’t add any milk or cream to the mix as this will make the cakes fall in the pan) there is no need to peel the potatoes just scrub them well and cut them small and boil in salted water.

Take a supreme of salmon and dice it along with a packet of king prawns. Mix these with a small quantity of potatoes (Make it a 70/30 mix in favour of the fish) along with a good twist of fresh chopped herbs (parsley. Tarragon, chives or chervil)

Take a spoon and drop the mix onto a plate of plain flour in pieces about the size of a bantams egg. Roll them in the flour until they are well coated while the frying pan is heating up with a drop of oil.

Drop the balls of fishcakes into the pan and flatten slightly with your fingers. Let them cook until they are a crisp golden brown. Turn once and cook on the other side. Meanwhile dress a little salad and make some tar tar sauce by chopping a handful of capers, gherkins and red onion with a twist of parsley. Mix this with a spoon full of good mayonnaise.

Place a handful of salad on your plate and then pile on two of your fish cakes dress with a spoon full of sauce and a wedge of lemon. pour a glass of chilled Sancerre and Enjoy!

This is my basic recipie which you can adjust to make it your own. Try adding some finley chopped chilli to the mix or a splash of Worcester sauce.

Posted On: Friday, August 27th, 2010 @ 7:20 am by Simon Cook
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Healthy summer dishes.

The summer inspires healthy eating. We all think of those light dishes we all need to tickle our appetites when the weather turns hot. Here we have put together some ideas that are designed to inspire a little summer healthy dishes created from fresh some times local ingredients which are all available from your local store. Remember you should use any recipe as a guide or a source of inspiration from which a beautifully unique dish will flourish.

Supreme of salmon.
This dish calls for a supreme of salmon which means a slice of salmon taken from a fillet of a whole fish. We some times think of salmon as a delicate fish and needs to be poached and treated in a gentle way. This is true to some extent but if we think about the life of the fish and the work it has to do in its life we realise it deserves more than just a plate of salad and some mayonnaise. The salmon is robust enough to take most of the rigours of a good hearty method of cooking.

Try to get your salmon with the skin on as this enhances the flavour, presentation and texture of the dish. In a frying pan put a dash of sunflower oil (don’t use olive oil at this stage as the cooking temperature will make the oil taste bitter) heat the pan and season the fish. When the pan is good and hot place the fish flesh side down (this is the presentation side) don’t shake the pan or turn or poke the fish let it cook and form a golden brown crust on the bottom.

While the fish is cooking prepare the asparagus by breaking the stems where they are tender. (Keep the ends of the asparagus in a bag in the freezer until October and you can have a taste of June when the weather is cold) Add some butter and a splash of olive oil to another pan and heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the asparagus and toss and season in the pan. Turn the heat down and toss occasionally throughout the cooking.

Mean while gently turn the salmon Supremes over onto the skin side. You should have a golden crust on the top. Again don’t shake the pan just let the fish cook gently.

In-between tossing the asparagus put a packet of leaves in a bowl and dress lightly with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add a twist of black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Dress the salad on the plates and top with the asparagus and then the salmon which should be just pink in the middle with a golden crust on the top and a crisp skin on the bottom. Take some raspberries out of their punnet and tip into the pan. Toss briskly until they just begin to lose some colour and collect all those juices from the fish. Pour these over the salmon. Serve with a glass of chilled white wine.

As an addition try a soft-boiled egg gently peeled and halved on top of your salmon.
Or some nice creamy Buffalo mozzarella or feta cheese tossed into your salad.

Warm duck salad.

Duck is some times branded as unhealthy meat as it contains a high quantity of fat. And that is true however if we cook it in the right way we can crisp the skin and drain off most of the fat. And in addition we have some tasty duck fat to use in other dishes!

Take your duck breasts and score the skin season the flesh side. Get a pan hot on the stove and add a small splash of oil. Place the duck carefully in the pan skin side down. Leave it alone and let the fat render out of the skin and make it crisp.

While the duck is cooking take the seeds out of a red pepper and cut paysanne style (into quite large pieces about the size of a 2 pence piece) do the same with a red onion and begin to fry in another pan until all the vegetables are coated. Turn the heat down and let the onions and peppers caramelise shaking occasionally.

When the duck fat is nicely golden brown carefully tip off most of the fat and turn the breasts over onto the flesh side.

When the onions have released their sweetness and have turned a very satisfying dark brown colour take the stalks off a punet of fresh cherries and add to the pan. Toss the pan and add a small slash of balsamic vinegar and reduce until sticky. Turn off the heat and cover the pan.

While the duck is finishing off Take some of last nights mashed potatoes and with your hands form them into balls. Roll them in flour and flatten them in the frying pan along with a little more oil, Fry them lightly until golden on both sides.

Take the duck out of the pan and put on a plate to rest while you tip off the rest of the fat and deglaze your pan with a drip of red wine. Place the potatoes on the plate top with the onions and cherry mixture and then with your carved roasted duck. Drizzle round the pan juices.

Posted On: Thursday, June 24th, 2010 @ 10:42 pm by Ian Tearle
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