Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baked salmon with soy and lemon

Baking salmon steaks, or indeed any fish, is a lot easier than frying or grilling them. Ten minutes in a gas mark 6/200C oven left these steaks tender and juicy. They are anointed with slivers of butter, salt and pepper, and soy sauce. I squeezed over some lemon juice at the end.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Onion bhajis

These bhajis are adapted from an Angela Hartnett recipe in the Guardian. I made two bhajis with plain flour (which she suggests), and two with gluten-free flour. The gluten-free versions - perhaps gram flour would have been even better - were far superior: wheat flour produced a stodgy, crusty texture. I used more spice than the pinches Hartnett suggests.

1 onion, cut in half, sliced into half-moons, then quarter-moons
30g gluten-free flour
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1/2tsp coriander seeds
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten
200ml sunflower or groundnut oil

Warm the cumin and coriander in a small saucepan over a low heat, until they give off a spicy aroma. Grind them in a mortar.

In a bowl, mix the onion, flour, spices, and salt to taste. Gradually add the egg, stirring or mixing by hand until you have just enough to produce a squidgy and coherent mass. Divide it into four bhajis.

Warm the oil over a medium heat in a saucepan or frying pan. Put in a small piece of bread: if it sizzles, gently lower in the bhajis. Fry until brown, turning once.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lambs' liver and onions

I asked the price of calves' liver at my local butcher. £24 a kilo. The lambs' liver? £4.90. Choosing between them did not take very long. The quantity below, plenty for two people, cost less than £1.50.

Olive oil
4 red onions, sliced
1tbsp red wine vinegar
275g lambs' liver, cut into fork-sized slices
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Warm about 3tbsp of oil in a heavy casserole over a very low heat, and throw in the onions with half a tsp of salt. Stir, and cover. Continue to cook gently for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring regularly at first to ensure that the onions do not catch. You should find that as they collapse they throw off enough liquid in which to stew. (If not, add a tbsp or two of water or stock.) Indeed, you may find that there is too much liquid, in which case you can encourage it to evaporate by uncovering the pot.

Once you have a pot full of soft, sweet onions, moist rather than runny, add the vinegar and allow it to evaporate for a couple of minutes. (It is pretentious to call this, as some do, an onion "confit", because no preservation - the process that the name implies - is involved.)

If you were cooking calves' liver, you would flash-fry it in butter in a separate pan, stir it into the onions, and serve immediately. But you may want to cook lambs' liver slightly more thoroughly. Simply stir it into the onions, cover the casserole again, and stew for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through but still tender. Stir in the parsley, and serve.

You may want to add black pepper with the liver. Or you could go for a goulash theme, adding a tbsp of paprika once the onions have collapsed, with a dollop or two of sour cream stirred in at the end.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bean salad

Tinned beans have a somewhat mealy texture. Dried beans would be better here; but you're not likely to want to go to the trouble of preparing them if all you're making is a light lunch.

1 tin cannellini beans, drained
4 spring onions, sliced and soaked in boiling water for about 15 minutes (the water tames their acidity), drained
Handful of Greek-style black olives, pitted
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped
Black pepper

1dstsp red or white wine vinegar
1/5tsp honey
1/4tsp Dijon mustard
2tsp sunflower oil
1tsp extra virgin olive oil

Put the salad ingredients into a bowl.

I usually make my vinaigrette in a jar. Put in the vinegar, add salt to taste, and the honey and mustard. Stir to dissolve them. Add the oils, put on the lid, and shake the jar to amalgamate the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Kerala fish curry

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Easy. Jaffrey suggests sea bass; I used cheap white fish - pouting, and a bit of hake. I didn't want to use only 120ml of coconut milk - what was I to do with the rest of the tin? So my dish includes creamed coconut, which gives the sauce a slightly powdery, but not unpleasant, texture.

For 2.

300-350g white fish, cut into fork-sized pieces
2tbsp olive or sunflower oil
2 banana shallots, sliced
2tsp grated ginger (double the quantity that Jaffrey gives)
1 clove garlic, chopped
200ml water
50g creamed coconut
1/2tsp ground turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1tbsp paprika
1tbsp lemon juice

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over the fish, and toss. (I suppose that the salt is meant to draw out some of the liquid.)

Put the oil into a saucepan or casserole dish and set over a medium heat. Throw in the shallots, and fry, stirring very regularly, until bits of them turn brown. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for a further minute. Add all the other ingredients, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer with the pan covered for 15 minutes.

Add the fish, and stir it thoroughly into the stew. No need to turn up the heat again; simply cover the pan. The fish may well be cooked through after five minutes.

This curry is delicious: creamy, but with the creaminess cut by the peppers, ginger, and lemon juice.