Apr 24 2016

Parmentier de Canard (Duck Shepherd’s Pie)

Category: RecipesDave @ 15:19

What it is and how it came about

Basically, this is a “shepherd’s pie” with the red meat replaced with duck. For those not in the UK or France who may not be familiar with either shepherd’s pie nor a parmentier, it’s a layer of cooked minced or shredded meat, possibly with some vegetation added, placed in a large flattish dish and covered with a layer of mashed potato. The dish is then baked in an oven (to cause some amalgamation of flavours and also to heat everything through thoroughly) and lastly grilled to make a crisp layer on the top of the potato.

This came about after buying this dish ready-made in a French supermarket. It was pretty good, so the next time we visited, we bought a couple of them, at one a day or two later & froze the second for later use. The duck in these dishes was confit de canard – duck slow cooked at a low temperature in its own fat. I didn’t have the time to do this so cheated and this is the result. We think it’s a lot better than the shop-bought variety… although we kept the name.

This recipe uses a slow cooker as an alternative to cooking the duck legs “confit”. The result isn’t identical but it’s equally good. So you will need a slow cooker, although a large cooking pot with a heat reducer under it on a very small heat source on the stove top would probably work. You will also need an ovenproof dish – ceramic or cast iron – around 30 x 18 cm.

Ingredients for four portions

The duck
  • Four duck legs
  • 2 large shallots or equivalent
  • 500 ml boiling water
  • Enough of a vegetable stock cube for 500ml of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 dozen black peppercorns
  • Small handful of herbes de Provence
The mash
  • 1 kg potatoes suitable for mashing
  • 50 ml milk
  • 20g butter (if you’re using salted butter, use a little less salt in the water for the potatoes)
  • One large or two small eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water. Stir to disperse, pour into the slow cooker >and switch the latter on to “high” to warm the whole thing up quickly.
  2. Add the salt, peppercorns and herbes de Provence to the slow cooker and put the lid on.
  3. Peel the shallots, cut them lengthways and then across, so you get four pieces from each one. I find this creates a reasonable surface area for the flavour to get out whilst not leaving a load of tiny pieces to be strained from the cooking liquid later. Lift the slow cooker lid, pop the shallots in and close the lid again.
  4. If you have a good non-stick pan, you won;t need any kind of fat or grease for this next step; if not, use a little vegetable oil – say 10 ml. Get the pan hot then put in the duck legs. Cook for around 10 minutes, turning frequently, until the exposed meat is browned and some of the skin on the back shows signs of being cooked.
  5. Remove the frying pan from the heat and get it as close to the slow cooker as possible. Use a pair of good tongs to lift the legs and place them in the slow cooker. If the pot is big enough, don’t overlap the legs. If you have to overlap them, overlap the long bones so that the main part of the meat is in the liquid. Scrape any liquid/fat remaining in the frying pan into the slow cooker pot.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and leave for two hours.
  7. Test the duck with a sharp object – a skewer should pass straight through the thickest part of the meat with virtually no resistance; when withdrawn, any liquid that exits the hole should be clear (as in, not pink). If the duck isn’t quite done, leave it for another half hour and test again. Repeat until it’s completely done – the meat will also have shrunk back leaving the long bone almost empty.
  8. Remove the duck legs from the cooker carefully – they may try & fall apart as you do! Place them one by one on something which has a draining channel, such as a carving dish. Using a sharp, pointed knife, such as a filleting knife, and a fork, remove the skin and any remains of the layer of fat underneath it. Discard them. Now, using a pair of forks, strip all the meat from the bones, roughly shredding it into bite-sized pieces or smaller. If it all ends up completely shredded, that’s fine, as is anything in between.
  9. Peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly equal-volume pieces of around 4cm each dimension. I prefer to leave potatoes unpeeled, especially for chips, but having the peel present doesn’t work so well for this recipe.
  10. Put the potatoes in cold water, add the teaspoon of salt and heat on a high light until boiling, then turn down to a rolling boil until the potatoes are soft – usually around 10 minutes but can vary from 6 to 15, depending on the potato variety, the size you’ve cut them to, etc.
  11. Drain the potatoes, add the milk and the butter, then mash them with your preferred implement. There is nothing like a proper potato masher for this job but finding a good quality one, especially at a reasonable price, is really hard nowadays.
  12. Crack the egg into the mash and mix it in really quickly with a fork (if the potatoes are still hot – if they’re cold, you can take your time 🙂 )
  13. Spread the duck meat in a reasonably even layer in the bottom of an ovenproof dish – ceramic or cast iron – around 30 x 18 cm. Moisten it bit by sprinkling some of the cooking liquid over it. We used 6 or 8 tablespoons but you can adjust that to your taste.
  14. Spread the mash in a reasonably even layer over the duck. Run a fork along the length of the mash to produce “tramlines”, so the whole surface of the mash is covered with parallel lines.
  15. Put the dish into an oven pre-heated to 200C (fan oven) or 210C (non-fan) and bake for 35 mins.
  16. Grill the dish for 5 minutes at a high setting.
  17. Serve immediately with a selection of vegetables and a good red wine.


  1. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, wash and slice a dozen Chantenay carrots. Steam them for ten minutes. Add them to the duck meat when spreading it into the dish, before adding the mash. You could also use steamed asparagus cut into 1/3 cm lengths. Don’t use too much asparagus or it may overwhelm the duck.
  2. Add 100ml or so of robust red wine (e.g. Italian Sangiovese) to the liquid in the slow cooker before putting the duck legs in and give things a bit of a stir. If doing this, use 100 ml less water for the stock.

Mar 13 2013

Haddock With Asparagus and Prawn Sauce, Sauté Potatoes

Category: RecipesDave @ 14:00


There is a small problem with this recipe: I didn’t write it down when I created it so what’s here is what I would do if I attempted to cook it again.  I went through the process in my head but I haven’t yet had time to test it, so for example the ingredient quantities are not as accurate as usual. If you feel something doesn’t seem quite right, go with your intuition!

Haddock in Asparagus and Prawn Sauce, Sauté Potatoes

Ingredients (remember: quantities are approximate)

2 haddock fillets, around 100gm each (or as you prefer)
1 large shallot
60 gm raw prawns.
80 gm asparagus
20 ml EV olive oil
250 gm thin-skinned potatoes
100 ml peanut oil or pomace
80 ml white wine, e.g. vermentino (something with a strong flavour & a bit of bite to it)
Two desertspoons (30 ml) creme fraiche
Salt and white pepper (not black!)


There are three elements to this recipe that have to come together at the same time. Whilst it is possible to cook them separately and combine on the plate, this is not so satisfactory as getting them all together at the same time, so I have put the three things into three columns as a sort of “timeline”.

Haddock Sauce Potatoes
Clean the potatoes but don’t peel them. Cut them into small bite-sized pieces, around 1.5 cm on a side.
Peel and finely chop the shallot.

Slice the asparagus stalks into little circles around 2 mm thick. As you get to the bottom of the stalk it will get harder; reduce the thickness of the slices but stop when the knife won’t go cleanly through. Discard the tough end (it shouldn’t be more than a few cm long and is usually around 1 cm).

Par-boil the potatoes until they are just beginning to soften. This can be anything from two to five minutes depending on the potatoes. If you overdo this stage, make duchesse potatoes instead 🙂 Drain the potatoes, rinse with cold water and set aside to cool further until needed.
Heat 10 ml of the olive oil in a frying pan, large enough to hold the fish fillets. Heat 10 ml olive oil in another frying pan and put the shallot and asparagus in on a low light. Leave to cook for a good ten minutes – the shallot should be quite well sweated and the asparagus softened. Put the peanut oil or pomace in a deep frying pan (yes, a third frying pan!) and heat to smoking point. You can use a deep fryer for the potatoes, in which case follow your normal procedure.
Add the prawns to the shallot and asparagus and stir in. Season lightly with a little salt and white pepper. Don’t use black pepper – even a small amount will totally overwhelm the delicate flavours
Put the fish in the pan on a low-ish light, skin side up. Keep your eyes on it and turn it over when needed Whilst the potatoes and fish are frying, turn up the heat under the shallot, asparagus and prawn mixture. Add the white whine, stir and reduce. Once most of the alcohol as gone (three to five minutes), stir in the creme fraiche. Wearing an apron, oven gloves and glasses, spoon the potato pieces into the hot oil in the third pan – it is very likely to spit, possibly violently so! Once in, give them a little shake/stir from time to time. They will all need to be turned over at ;east once to cook them evenly. Remove them from the oil when they’re a nice golden brown and place in a bowl lined with kitchen paper towels for a minute or two, whilst plating the fish and sauce, to absorb any excess oil.
When all three components are ready, serve as shown in the photo with more of the wine the sauce was cooked with.

Dec 05 2012

Frutti di mare sulla pasta, in fretta – Mixed seafood on pasta in a hurry

Category: RecipesDave @ 22:42

This isn’t in quite such a hurry as I had hoped but it’s still quicker than my other, similar recipe. It takes around 40 – 60 minutes stat to end.

Ingredients (for 3 portions)

1 whole squid tube (around 8 inches/20cm long)
1 White (brown) onion
1/2 red onion
1 red or orange sweet pepper
200 gm mushrooms
150 gm chowder mix (mixed bite-size fish cubes)
150 gm king prawns
Zest of ½ orange
Zest of ½ lemon
1½ desertspoon oregano
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
15 ml olive oil
10 gm butter
1 garlic clove or 5ml garlic-infused olive oil.
1 tin chopped plum tomatoes
⅓ tin tomato puree
1½ teaspoons palm sugar.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil & half the butter.

Slice the onions 3 – 4 mm thick, then quarter the slices. Put them in the pan on a low light.

Cut the pepper into 1 cm wide strips & cut the strips into 3 – 4 cm lengths. Add them to the pan

Mince or chop the garlic and sprinkle it over the contents of the pan (or add the garlic-infused oil instead).

Roughly chop all but two medium-sized mushrooms. Reserve. Very finely chop the two medium-sized mushrooms and add them to the pan.

By now, the onions should be starting to soften. If not wait until they are, then give everything a brisk stir to mix it all up. Add the white pepper, paprika and 2/3 (one desertspoon) of the oregano. Stir again. Add the citrus zests and stir yet again.

Slit the squid down a crease and open it out flat. Cut it into strips about 2 - 2.5 cm wide (2.5 cm = 1 inch), then into squares.

Put the lid on the sauté pan and leave it on a low light whilst you put on the water for the pasta and measure/weigh/guess the pasta (we used spaghetti).

Add the tomato puree and chopped tomato to the pan, turn up the heat & stir for a few minutes until the temperature in the pan is back up to a gentle bubbling, then turn the heat back down again

Add the fish and squid, stir well in and replace the lid.

You need to time this so that the pasta goes in the pan at the right time so it and the "sauce" are ready at roughly the same time. The fiush and squid should not be cooked for longer than 10 minutes total. Any longer than that and the squid may get a little tough.

Five minutes before the pasta is ready, test for flavour and if required, sprinkle over the rest of the oregano. Add the palm sugar and stir. Add the prawns to the sauté pan and stir well in, ensuring they are mostly covered by the hot sauce.

Replace the lid. and leave, still on a low heat.

When the pasta is ready, serve into warm dishes, check the squid is cooked (it should be solid white, no longer slightly transparent), then spoon the "sauce" over the pasta. Garnish with abundant grated Parmigiano and serve with a good, full-bodied white wine (or a rosé)... Pino grigio dello Trentino (bianco or rosato) or Chablis.

Jul 29 2012

Turkey in a creamy lemon sauce on rice

Category: RecipesDave @ 17:02

Preparation time: about 40 minutes

Another one of those spur-of-the moment dishes that happens when you look through the cupboards, fridge & freezer and find everything in there boring – a kind of food ennui. This very easy to make and is a good summer supper.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 500g turkey breast in cubes around 2 cm on a side
  • ½ a medium onion, roughly chopped or the equivalent in spring onions (scallions)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 150g mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • ½ long sweet red pepper, roughly chopped
  • One large aubergine (eggplant), cut into cubes around 2cm on a side
  • A few handfuls of spinach leaves – as much as you want to use
  • ¾ coffee spoon ground cumin
  • ¼~½ coffee spoon paprika (depending on how spicy you prefer it).
  • Vegetable stock cube made up in sufficient water for the rice
  • 16 – 20 saffron stamens, finely chopped or ground in a pestle & mortar (or use ready-powdered) then steeped in hot water for at least 5 minutes.
  • Sufficient rice for four people (you could use pasta instead, in which case omit the stock and saffron)
  • 4 coffee spoons honey (nothing too strong-flavoured) or guava syrup or a couple of teaspoons palm sugar
  • One pot of full cream lemon yoghurt (preferably the type with lemon zest). Don’t use low/no fat yoghurt or it won’t be creamy!
  • Salt to taste
  • EV olive oil
  • Zest of one small lemon (or a lime)


  1. Place the aubergine in a bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, cover with water and place a plate on top to keep all the cubes under the water. Ideally, this should be done a couple of hours in advance (and change the water after an hour or so) but 30 minutes will remove the worst of the aubergine’s bitterness if you change the water after 15 minutes.
  2. Add the saffron stamens/water to the stock. Take the stock, the rice and a suitable pan and cook the rice using your favourite method. Try and time it so that the rice is be ready at about the same time the sauce is.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large sauté pan to cover the bottom when it’s well spread. Add the shallots and onions/spring onions and cook over a high-ish heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes. Add the cumin powder, paprika and salt to taste (¼ coffee spoon is a good place to start). Stir well in. Add more oil if the spices have stolen most of the first lot of oil.
  4. Add the aubergine pieces, turn the light up and, effectively, stir fry them, tossing them in the onions/mushrooms/peppers, until they start to go brown. Turn down the heat to medium and add the turkey pieces; continue to stir fry for 10 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes, throw in the spinach leaves >and stir in.
  6. Sprinkle the honey/guava syrup/palm sugar over the mixture and stir in. Taste to test it. It should still be slightly sharp as the yoghurt will add more sweetness.
  7. Stir in the yoghurt and lemon/lime zest; continue to stir fry for another 2 or 3 minutes. Turn out the heat and put a lid on the pan.
  8. Check that rice is done. If not, leave it a few minutes more. Once it’s completely cooked, share it out into large bowls (e.g. pasta bowls) then spoon the “sauce” over it and serve.


  • The turkey can be substituted with duck but use orange or cherry yoghurt instead. Use orange zest for orange yoghurt and no zest for the cherry one.
  • Fairly obviously, the turkey can be substituted by chicken.
  • Different flavours of yoghurt might make interesting variations, as would varying the spices used.

Updated and errors corrected April, 2015

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Jan 18 2012

Beef Pot Roast

Category: RecipesDave @ 19:24

Preparation time: about 30 minutes

This is one of those dishes where you can hack the recipe about mercilessly and it'll still come out delicious, so this is just the way that I do it and have found that it produces a dish that my family & guests have raved about. So hopefully, yours will do the same about what emerges from your slow cooker (which I also call a crockpot).


One beef joint, preferably brisket, around 2.5 Kg (for a 6 litre crockpot). Silverside can also be used and cooks quicker.
4 medium parsnips
6 medium carrots
2 large onions (one red, one white, if available)
4 shallots
a dozen medium sized mushrooms, whole.
150gm coarse cut, strong-flavoured Italian or German smoked salami or equivalent amount of chorizo (not too spicy - or reduce the amount of cayenne)
750 ml boiling water.
1 vegetable stock cube, preferably with no MSG or salt.
8 cardamom pods, whole
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (reduce accordingly if stock cube contains salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
small handful herbes de Provence
One star anise (or 1/4 teaspoon ground green anise)
4 whole garlic cloves
12 black peppercorns, whole
1/2 bottle strong-flavoured red wine - a good plonk is ideal.
Olive oil or pomace


Put the boiling water in the slow cooker and switch to high. Add the stock cube, garlic, peppercorns, star anise and cardamom pods. Put the lid on.

In a large frying pan/skillet (or whatever you have that's big enough to hold the joint of meat) put about 20 ml olive oil, the herbes de Provence, turmeric and ginger (also the ground anise if using); mix it all up & coat the cooking surface with it. Allow to heat over a low light whilst you peel the parsnips and, if necessary, the carrots. I prefer to just top & tail the carrots if they're clean enough as so much of the nutritional goodness is in the "skin".

Cut the carrots and parsnips into pieces around 5cm long by 2cm square. It doesn't matter if they aren't square! The idea is to get them roughly the same size so they cook evenly - so you will probably have to split the thick ends of some of them into 2 or 4. If they're shorter, make them thicker.

Peel the onions and cut them into four pieces each, longitudinally. Peel the shallots and cut them in half longitudinally.

Turn up the heat in the pan and drop the carrots, parsnips, onions and shallots into the pan. Fry them over, turning often, over a medium heat, for around 5 minutes. Lower the heat and tip the veggies into the crockpot, being careful not to splash yourself with boiling stock 🙂 Replace the crockpot lid.

Cube the sausage - around 1.5 cm a side is good but again, don't sweat the precision. Turn the heat up in the pan, add a little more oil if the veggies have sucked most of it up, and add the sausage. Fry, turning often, for around 5 minutes or until the pieces look fairly oily. Tip the sausage pieces into the crockpot and replace the lid.

Score the meat between the strings with a very sharp knife. If you can do this all the way round, good. If not, no matter, two sides will do. Rub cayenne into the meat, especially the slits you've just made and put it into the pan on a medium heat.

Go and wash the cayenne off your hands before you forget and rub your eyes!

Turn the meat every few minutes until it's browned on all sides; I use a couple of turkey forks (those 3-pronged very wide ones that normally only come out at Christmas) to hold the meat up on each end to brown those ends and seal them. Again, don't worry if you can't do this - it does carry a real risk of dropping the meat on the floor and watching it going skidding across the floor leaving a trail of grease you'll probably slip on whilst chasing it.

Once the meat is as browned as you are going to get it, place it carefully in the crockpot. If you can get it resting on top of some of those bits of veg, all the better. Leave the lid off the crockpot for a minute: pour the wine into the pan and deglaze it (incidentally heating the wine) then tip the oily, spicy wine into the crockpot. I use a silicone-bladed spatula to scrape as much as possible off the pan and into the stock, helped by using a non-stick pan.

Put the lid on the crock pot... and rest. After an hour, turn the crockpot heat down to medium, take the lid off for a couple of minutes (allows alcohol vapour to escape) and cook for another 4 hours or to low and cook for another 5 to 6 hours. Probably the shorter time is better for silverside, the longer for brisket. During cooking, more liquid will be liberated. After that first hour, if the joint is not completely immersed in the liquid, turn it over. Turn it over again a couple more times at roughly 2 hour intervals. This turning isn't essential - it's just one of those tiny things that edges things towards perfection 🙂

When you can no longer stand the perfume, remove the meat from the crockpot and leave it rest for a short time before trying to carve it (or pull it apart, as appropriate). Carefully remove the vegetables from the soup and strain the soup to get rid of the peppercorns, star anise and cardamom pods. You can optionally remove the garlic at this point. Re-unite the veggies and soup.

Serve in deep, wide dishes on rice (I prefer brown rice and I think it suits the dish). Around 130-150gm meat per person is usually enough. Add some of the vegetables and enough soup to soak the rice and then some more.

Serve with Italian Mostarda di Frutta in a side dish.


Some people prefer to cook this without any kind of sausage. The sausage is there for two main reasons:

  1. Add smoke flavour! Obviously, you can just add smoke flavouring instead 🙂 Or use anything else suitable - or just leave it out. It'll taste different but I'd guess still very good.
  2. The fat from it helps prevent the joint drying out, something which one would not expect but can still happen - i.e. all the fat leaches out of it and despite it being immersed in liquid, when you eat it, it seems dry.
    You can probably counteract this by simply adding more olive oil to the pot - about 50 ml maybe? Some kind of meat fat would probably work better I suspect but some experimentation is needed here... 😉


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Oct 08 2011

Pasta ai frutti di mare in salsa salmone affumicato

Category: RecipesDave @ 18:09


This kinda happened the other night when we wanted something like the seafood dish I often make on a Friday evening but didn’t fancy any seafish in it… apart from, perhaps salmon. I had a rough idea of what I was going to do when I started out but it evolved as I went on.


It is, I am assured very, very good.



Ingredients for four people


Two 20cm/8″ squid, cleaned & pen removed, per 2 people. Use tentacles chopped into fairly large pieces, if present.
230g/8oz salmon fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces.
230g/8oz Raw tiger prawns
115g/4oz smoked salmon, very finely chopped.
4 large shallots, very thinly sliced
Olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, depending on taste. Don’t overdo it or you’ll kill the smoked salmon.
3/4 teaspoon ground dried lime peel


Use a very large frying pan or deep paella pan. Add sufficient olive oil to lightly coat the surface, and a large knob of butter.


Heat gently until the butter has melted then add the shallots & adjust the heat until they are cooking very gently. As they are cooking, add the finely chopped mushrooms, ground dried lime peel, oregano, tarragon and pepper. Stir well.


Sweat the shallots for 5 minutes or so, stirring & tossing the mixture occasionally.


I use frozen salmon fillets for this recipe and they are in individual plastic bags. When you thaw them, there’s a load of salmon-y liquid in the bags. Don’t waste it! Add it to the pan – it’ll quickly turn into a cream-coloured “stuff” – and stir it in. The clear liquid remaining is OK to leave there. If you’re using fresh salmon & don’t get that liquid, you may want to add a little fish stock if available. Add a little more olive oil if it has become too watery overall – we want to fry things, not boil them.


Add the salmon pieces and fry, coating with the shallot mixture. Turn the pieces so as many “sides” as possible are face-down. I use a pair of tongs for this but a small spatula and a palette knife work too. They should be done in 5 minutes or less. Very slightly underdone doesn’t matter as (a) the outside surfaces will be mostly sealed and (b) they will shortly be reheated. They aren’t left like this long enough to pose a health threat.


Carefully remove the salmon pieces from the pan, leaving as much of the shallot mixture behind as possible – I use the side of the tongs to scrape the mixture off of the cubes. Put the cubes in a ceramic/china/glass bowl and cover.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required.


Add the roughly cut mushrooms and stir them in.


If you’re using frozen squid, you can use any liquid from the defrosting that you can collect and add that to the pan as well (not too much!) Add the squid rings and tentacles if using, stir in and fry until just cooked, stirring pretty much continuously.


Remove the squid and add to the salmon pieces in the bowl, leaving behind as much of the shallot and; mushroom mixture as possible, as for the salmon.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required.


Add the prawns, stir in and fry until just cooked, stirring pretty much continuously. Make sure each prawn is turned over once so they are evenly cooked without one side going rubbery.


Remove the prawns and add to the salmon pieces & prawns, leaving behind as much of the shallot & mushroom mixture as possible, as for the salmon.


Give the mixture in the pan a good stirring. Add a little more oil if required and add the smoked salmon. Stirring continuously, cook for three or four minutes until the mixture is starting to look vaguely like a sauce.


Add the sour cream, stir in vigorously and keep stirring until it has “taken effect” keep going until it will coat the back of a spoon and stay there.


It’s now too thick for a pasta sauce so add the sherry. Also, add the cooked seafood back in, together with any juices that have collected in the bowl. Use a spatula to get every last drop of them. Stir continuously on a low light to evaporate off the alcohol but try not to let the mixture boil. It may bubble a bit but that’s just the alcohol leaving. This can take another five minutes. Check the “thickness”: it should now be more-or-less right for a pasta sauce. The seafood should now be well heated through, so spoon over long pasta in large, preheated bowls and serve.


Keep any kind of black pepper well away from it!


Wine: A good Prosecco or Pinot Grigio del Trentino or Alto Adige – not del Veneto! Probably a Chablis would be good, but not too good an example as the flavour would be too strong.


There’s not much in the way of vegetable in this dish to keep it balanced so either serve a separate side salad, afterwards, or a side bowl of hot fine beans with it.





If you don’t like smoked salmon, leave it out and add the flaked salmon fillets to the sauce instead of the smoked salmon, mashing it into the sauce it as it cooks. Use another fine-flavoured fish instead of the salmon fillet to provide the bite-size pieces. I would probably go for monkfish but use whatever’s good where you get your fish, as long as it will complement the other flavours.


The sourness of the sour cream doesn’t really come through very much but it is noticeable. You can use double cream or yoghurt – the latter plain and unsweetened for preference. It doesn’t work that well with low-fat substitutes if you are using smoked salmon as the mixture can be somewhat sharp and salty.


The classic other alcohol to use in a dish like this would be Pernod, assuming you like aniseed.


It would probably go rather well on tagliatelle all’uova. I guess it’d also be OK on rice – I’d go for brown rice with perhaps a small amount of vegetable stock.


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Jan 07 2010

Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s

Category: RecipesDave @ 12:28

Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s

Ingredients for two people

1 Medium onion (red or white, as you prefer. I use red.)
120gm Squid or squid rings
120gm Prawns – your favourite type but huge, meaty king prawns work well in this. Thaw them before use.
6 Largish mushrooms and one medium mushroom, or equivalent.
6 to 8 Frozen asparagus spears
150 gm Arborio (risotto) rice
400ml Vegetable Stock
100ml White wine
1/5 Teaspoon white pepper
1/5 Teaspoon ground dried lime peel (or some lime zest & juice, to taste)
Butter and olive oil


This is a proper risotto and, after you start adding the stock to the rice, requires standing at the stove for 10 - 15 minutes. You can't leave it for more than about 30 seconds! It has to be Arborio rice - nothing else makes a proper risotto although you can get a rough approximation to it with other types and it will still taste good. Continue reading "Risotto ai 1’s e 0’s"

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Nov 23 2009

Spaghetti quasi allo scoglio

Category: RecipesDave @ 17:16

This dish is hard work but I am assured it’s worth it. If you do all the preparation yourself, before starting the actual cooking, it takes around 1 1/2 hours. If you get help with the prep and do some of it whilst bits of it are cooking then you can easily get it down to 1 hour.

There is a variant of this (actually this is the variant - the other is the original) which is a cross between a risotto and a paella. Neither is better - they're just different.

Ingredients for 3 people

1 onion (red for preference)
1 clove garlic
1/2 red pepper, de-seeded & cut into 1/2 cm squares
100 EV olive oil
50 gm good butter
200 gm mushrooms cut into roughly 1 - 1.5 cm cubes
50 gm mushrooms chopped as finely as you can manage.
18 large, raw king prawns
300 grams Monkish (angler fish) tails or side bits. Remove membrane and cut into bite-sized pieces
150 gm squid - rings or whole. You want to end up with strips about 1 cm wide, so if they're rings, just cut them in one place. If whole, slit all down one side, lay flat and cut across into ever-decreasing strips.
150 gm mussel meat (cooked)
100gm clammeat (cooked)
One of:
300 gm salmon
300 gm tuna
300 gm swordfish
200 gm sole or other flatfish fillet

If you're feeling really piggy, you can put more than 1 of the above in - then you'll probably have some left over for the next day 🙂 It keeps well & matures

100 ml white wine or dry sherry. Probably 50 ml of cognac with 50 ml water would work well.

Your favourite thickener (arrowroot, cornflour, extra-fine matzo meal, potato or rice flour)

As much of your favourite pasta as you want (around 100 gm per person). It does seem to go well with spaghetti. I wouldn't try it with egg pasta - it'd be too rich. Unless you want to serve small portions with, say, 50 gm of pasta as a starter.

A small handful of herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon dried lime peel
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel (I'd run out of lemon so used orange - not a lot of difference 🙂
tip of a teaspoon each of paprika and white pepper (not black!)


In a very large frying pan (at least 30 cm & preferably non-stick), melt about 1/4 of the butter and add enough oil so that, between the two of them, the bottom of the pan is running with oil. Put the water on for the pasta. I'll leave you to decide where in this method you should put the pasta in the water 🙂 Have a heavy-bottomed 25cm saucepan to hand.

Add the onion to the frying pan and allow to sweat on a low light.

After 3 or 4 minutes, add garlic, herbs and spices, the peppers and the finely chopped mushrooms.

Carry on with the sweating, stirring occasionally. Watch the oil - it can all easily be absorbed. If so, add some more of both oil & butter, enough to ensure nothing sticks.

Once the onions are sweated, move the mixture to the sides of the pan - i.e. make a big empty circle in the middle. Add some more oil if necessary and then dump the squid in the empty circle. Stir occasionally taking care not to mix the squid with the veggie mixture. Some mixture is inevitable and the objective is that the seafood fries in oil/butter flavoured by the vegetables & herbs etc.

When the squid is just done, take it out (I use plastic tongs. Yes, it is fiddly). Put it in the 25 cm pan and cover.

Adjst the oil in the frying pan again if necessary and add the monkfish pieces. Fry over for around 5 - 6 minutes, turning every 2 minutes or so until they are cooked. Remove them and add them to the squid in the saucepan.

Add the rough cut mushrooms when the onion/pepper/fine cut mushroom mixture has turned into a goo - usually after around 15 minutes. Spread them around circle of goo then mix them in and re-make the circle.

Adjust the oil in the frying pan again and add the salmon/tuna/whatever you've chosen. Cook, turning occasionally, and add to the other cpoked seafood. Repeat as required until all the seafood that needs cooking is done and in the saucepan. Don't overcook the prawns - they should be only just done, if that.

Add the clams and mussels to the saucepan and stir gently in. Put the pan on a low light.

Add a couple of teaspoons of thickener to the saucepan and gently stir to coat everything with it. If that's not enough, add more until everything is coated. Add about 50 ml of hot water and stir until it starts to look vaguely sauce-like. Add more thickener if you want.

Tip the veggie mix from the frying pan into the saucepan and gently mix it in.

Heat the now empty frying pan and tip in the wine. Roll the now boiling wine around to dissolve all the nice fishy flavours off the pan, wait until most of the alcohol has gone then tip the residue into the saucepan. Gently stir it in for a minute or so. By now the clams and mussels should be heated through and it's ready to serve.


I actually added the clams (small - about 1cm across) to the goo when I judged there was about 5 mins cooking left to be done in the frying pan. You could also add the mussel meat about 5 mins before that. Doing this makes overcooks them somewhat & they start to disintegrate - just what's needed to make a proper sauce. If you use uncooked clams & mussels then the clams would need about 10 mins total cooking & the mussels 15.