Sea Trout parcels (or salmon, or trout, or….)

Sea Trout Parcels:

You can use quite a number of different fish here.  It is easy, quite quick, safe, doesn’t stink out the kitchen/house/flat and won’t break the bank.

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main/Supper/Dinner party

Serves:        As many as the number of fish pieces….

Rating:         2.  Easy.  Just have confidence and it’ll be great.

This method – en papillotte/en poche – is a favourite way to cook most types of fish.  See the ‘salmon in a dishwasher’ recipe for the ultimate fish parcel.

Find:

  • One portion of trout/salmon/sea trout/sea bream/sea bass/marckerel/whatever fish per person.  With or without skin but definitely without bones.
  • White wine – a splash, or perhaps a little vermouth instead, especially if you have the vermouth and don’t have fennel seeds…….
  • Lemon – or lemon juice from a bottle if pushed
  • A few fennel seeds….. perhaps up to 10 per parcel – be careful with them
  • Seasonings
  • A tiny splash of olive oil
  • Foil to make the parcels
  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • Kitchen
  • Gas or electricity…..or wood….peat?

Method:

  • Set the oven to 200 dges C and switch it on (it helps….)
  • Rinse and pat dry the fish portions.
  • If cooking a whole fish on the bone, ensure that it has been gutted, washed and de-scaled fully and completely first.  Sea bream/sea trout especially.
  • Take a length of foil, longer than it is wide so that there is plenty of room for air inside the parcel, and lightly oil it in the middle.  Crimp up the corners to make a sort of tray – you don’t want the liquid contents to escape.
  • Place the fish portion into it, skin side down (whether it has skin or not).
  • Cut the lemon into slices and place a slice on each fish portion.  If it’s a whole fish, pop a bit into the cavity as well.  If you don’t have a lemon, you can use bottled lemon (or lime) juice instead.
  • Splash some white wine or vermouth over the fish.  Don’t drown it. (HA!  How can you drown a fish when it’s dead, eh…..don’t be silly, Colin!)
  • Sprinkle the fennel seeds evenly.
  • Season with a little salt (milled sea salt is best, but…..) and an amount  of freshly milled black pepper or 5 bais (See Tricks’n’Tips….)
  • Wish it a bonne voyage, and carefully fold in the ends and the top of the package.  It should be fairly securely sealed, but don’t get paranoid about it.  It’ll be in the oven, on a baking tray and won’t be jumping around a great deal, so it shouldn’t leak.
  • Put all packages onto the baking tray and pop into the middle of the oven and leave it for half an hour or so.  Not long enough to nip down t’pub, but long enough to crack a tinnie or pop a cork…….  But you have the rest of the meal to get ready, so have your tipple as you get a wiggle on…..
  • After 30 mins or so, take the baking tray out of the oven and put each parcel onto its own plate and let everyone oopen their own parcel.
  • This is lovely served with a nice, light Basmati/jasmine  rice, together with posh veg.  The sauce will be lovely, the fish gorgeous and the faces of the diners a picture….especially as their glasses will steam up when opening their parcels.
  • Oh yes, and have a bowl of cold water ready for them to plunge their scalded fingertips into as the resultant steam takes their skin off!

Ticklish Salmon & Sauce Bercy:

Ticklish Salmon & Sauce Bercy:

 

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      25 mins, plus stripping the skin & flaking afterwards

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Buffet

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         1:  Piscatorially easy

Find:

  • Salmon pieces
  • Butter
  • White wine if you haven’t drunk it all last night
  • Oil
  • Seasoning (including a twist of a chilli seed mill if poss)
  • Shallots
  • Chicken stock
  • Slices of lemon
  • Lemon juice
  • Oven dish
  • Foil?
  • Platter
  • Salad garnish as desired

Method:

  • Find an oven dish/tin/ big enough to take the salmon (or use two).
  • Take as many salmon pieces as you have (I had 8), place them skin side down in an oiled roasting tin or singly ‘en papillote’ (individually in foil packets). Add sea salt, ground black pepper and a few twists of the chilli pepper seed mill.
  • Pour in some white wine, drizzle (I HATE THAT CHEFY WORD – but I have to use it because it says it as it is, dammit!) extra virgin olive oil all over and then throw fresh thyme on top. Then put a thick slice of lemon on the top of each piece.
  • Close the oven tin with foil or close the foil packet.
  • Bake for half an hour on 180 C.
  • Sauce Bercy is a traditional French sauce. (Look it up on the net.)
  • My version is: Put just about too many roughly cut shallots (some almost whole) in a pan with olive oil, fry them off for a few mins, then add about three or four finely chopped cloves of garlic (how big is a clove of garlic….?……got any long bits o’string?) and white wine.
  • Also, add chicken stock. It’s up to you how you get your chicken stock – see Tricks’n’Tips for mine.
  • Salt and pepper can go in when the cauldron has been boiling for 5 mins, after the alcohol has burnt off (cos it’ll taste bitter till then) and cook for 20 mins on a rolling boil (in other words, just slightly bubbling away).
  • Serve the salmon next to a bunch of rocket, water cress & salad bits, with boiled new spuds and the Corbieres tomato salad that you know about, and the Sauce Bercy spooned over the top.

Yummy or what?

Yup….. YUMMY!

Flaky cold salmon:

Flaky cold salmon:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      25 mins, plus stripping the skin & flaking afterwards

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Buffet

Serves:        As many as……

Rating:         1:  Piscatorially easy

Find:

  • Half a side of salmon
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Water
  • White wine if you haven’t drunk it all last night
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Lemon juice
  • Oven dish
  • Platter
  • Salad garnish as desired

Method:

  • Buy the salmon. (Half of a side will do for part of a buffet for 6 people.  A whole side will normally feed 6 for a main course or 8 for a fish course.  But you’re not into six course dinners yet, are you.

(Are you?  Cor!  You’d better come teach me!)

  • Find an oven dish/tin/ big enough to take the salmon (or use two, because it’s going to be flaked anyway, so nobody will spot where it has been cut!).
  • Oil the base lightly (to stop the skin sticking) and spread it about evenly. Put the salmon, skin down, into the dish/tin/whatever it is.  Put in milk & water/ milk & wine, whatever proportions you wish, to just about cover the salmon.
  • Plop a few bits of butter on top. How many?  Well, for this very technical question, there are two possible answers:
  • Twice as many as half.
  • Yeah, that’s right.
  • Put into a pre-heated oven at 180 degs C for 25 mins. Take out and lift (using two wide spatulas or a fish slice and a spatula – or two bits of plastic that have been lying in the drawer for years) the salmon onto a large plate, this time skin side up.
  • Tease the skin away from the flesh using a flat bladed knife and pull completely off. Discard the skin into the dog (you might as well get the most from your purchase – and the dog will most certainly be eager to co-operate).
  • Or cat.
  • Retain the poaching liquid for making a sauce for either this or another fish dish – it freezes well. See ‘Sauces’.
  • As the salmon cools, use a couple of knives to separate flakes. Look for and remove bones at the same time.  I like to make the flakes big’n’chunky.
  • Season well. Sprinkle the juice of a lemon/half a lemon (depending how lemony you like it) and then gently turn the flakes to distribute the seasonings/flavourings.
  • Lay out on a platter and garnish with salad leaves. Red salad leaves look particularly good.

Six Crusty Crab Cakes:

Six Crusty Crab Cakes:

(Six crab cakes of a crusty texture; not six crab cakes made from crusty crabs…..)

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        6 as a starter, 3 as a snack, 2 as a main

Rating:         3:  Moderate

One would make a nice starter, two a nice snack, three a nice light main course.

Find:

  • 2 cans crab meat (use a discount shop like Aldi/Lidl as they normally stock it at an advantageous price)
  • 200g dry breadcrumbs (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to do dry breadcrumbs)
  • 250g potatoes, in mash form
  • Onion or shallots
  • Half of a green capsicum pepper
  • Fresh herbs – parsley, coriander, chervil, dill…… any or all (if not, just use dried Mick’s Terbs)
  • 1 egg
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Plain flour
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Peel the spuds, cut into smallish bits and boil, then do the mash. Allow to cool. Remember to do the breadcrumbs.
  • Chop the herbs, the green pepper, the onion or shallots and throw into a bowl. Drain off the cans of crab meat.
  • Throw the crab meat into the bowl with a small dollop of whole grain mustard. Mix it all up with a fork.
  • Fluff up the cold mash with a fork so that it is light and airy. Throw in the mash and mix really well with a big fork – a carving fork is good, if you have one.
  • Taste, add seasoning. Make fishcake-sized circular crabcakes, squeezing everything together well.  To try to coat the crabcakes at this point would be suicide as they would simply break into itsy-bitsy bits; they need to set and settle first, so imprison them in the fridge, covered, for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.
  • Now to coat the little blighters. Ok, sleeves rolled up, hands clean, pinny (apron) on?  Here we go:
  • Crack an egg into a smallish bowl and beat it a bit to make it all sort of, well….. beaten. Put some flour into another small bowl, and the breadcrumbs that you did (you did remember to do them, didn’t you?) into a third bowl.
  • Just rub the surfaces and edges with your dry fingertips to encourage a tiny bit of moisture to the surface of the cakes, now roll them all in the flour to dust all surfaces. Done?    Now for the messy bit.
  • Take each cake in turn and coat with the beaten egg and immediately coat with breadcrumbs. They will not coat perfectly – they never do (well, they never do when I do them).   If necessary, dip and coat them again.  Arrange them on a plate, ready for frying.
  • Use your best frying pan (that’s right – it’s your ONLY frying pan) and put a good amount of clean oil in it. Get it hot (you may need to open a window and close the door to stop the smoke alarm going off….) and carefully place the crabcakes into the hot oil – be ready for them to spit a bit.  They need to form a cooked crust.
  • Turn when the crust has formed and they are taking a good colour.

Lovely subtle, stylish crabcakes.  

Serve with a salsa and salad of some sort – I suggest watercress

Tuna & Sweetcorn Mayo:

Tuna & Sweetcorn Mayo:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      None required.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Sandwich filling

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         1:  Incredibly easy

I am not one for tinned tuna.  I find it dry and unappealing.  However, this combination just works – even for me.

Find:

  • Can tuna chunks in brine
  • Can sweetcorn (can use frozen, but it’s not so easy)
  • Jar of mayonnaise (I much prefer Lesieur French mayo, but I doubt that you’ll be able to get it.  A nice, rich, yellow mayo will be ok)
  • A bowl large enough.

Method:

  • Open the can of tuna. Drain out the liquid (give it to the dog or cat).
  • Open the can of sweetcorn. Drain out the liquid (I wouldn’t give it to anyone – yuk!).
  • Mix the two together in a bowl.
  • Add mayo to taste.
  • Season with lots of ground black pepper & sea salt.
  • Or have it with a salad.
  • Or spread it onto bread for lunchtime sarnies.

Moules Gratin:

Moules Gratin:  A lovely seafood starter.

Mussels appeal to some people and not to others.  I would ask both groups to try this as it is simply gorgeous; and it is most unlike any other mussel dish I have ever had.  It really is worth a go.

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Starter

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Easy, if a little fiddly to prepare

Find:

  • 1 kg mussels, in season (or a 300g pack of mussel meats)
  • 1 slice bread to make the fresh breadcrumbs – I used granary multi-seeded bread, but we’ll modify the recipe to suit; see method.
  • 100g hard cheese, grated
  • Dried dill (or, even better, FRESH dill)
  • Butter
  • Optional: Extra seeds, if you have ordinary brown or white bread.  Fennel seeds.
  • Bowls
  • Food processor to make breadcrumbs
  • Ramekins

Method: (including the Golden Rules of Mussels)

Golden Rules, NEVER to be ignored:

  1. Mussels should be closed tight when they are being prepared. They are living and they should be tight shut as they are being moved.  If one is slightly open, tap it with a knife handle and it should close.  If it doesn’t close, bin it straight away because it’s dead, and you don’t know how long it has been so.
  2. Sometimes you will get a mud mussel. This is where the mussel has died of natural causes in the wild (probably been consumed by a sea creature) and the shell has filled up with mud.  The shell may be closed, but if the two shells are slid across one another, the mud will be exposed.  If it is a live mussel, it won’t shift.  A mud mussel can rather ruin the rest when they’re cooking as the mud seeps out.  If you get a mud mussel, bin it straight away.
  3. After cooking (yes, we’ll get to that bit in a minute – be patient) the mussels should be open. Any that are closed will indicate that they are not to be eaten, so bin any closed ones straight away.  Don’t investigate them, just bin them.

If you keep to these rules, you should enjoy every mussel that you eat.

Cooking method:

  • Take your mussels and chuck them into a cleaned kitchen sink. There should be no water in the sink.  Take a normal table knife in one hand and a mussel in another.  Look at the underside of the mussel – there may be what looks like seaweed or plant roots hanging out.  Just pull it away,  You may wish to hold this ‘beard’ between your thumb and the knife to gain a little more purchase to pull it away properly.  Don’t be too pernickety, it is not earth-shattering if the last little bit won’t come away.  Check over the shell and scrape off any barnacles (they look like hard zits or tiny volcanos) into the sink.   The mussel shell may be dirty, but don’t worry about that at this time.  Ensure that it is firmly closed (Rule 1), try to slide one shell across the other (Rule 2) and if all is ok, put the mussel into a bowl and pick up the next one.  I spend about 2 or 3 seconds on each mussel, so you will get quicker (or you’ll starve at the kitchen sink, to be found days later, haggard and under-nourished, slouched over the draining board mentioning something about “I will de-beard this bugger if it kills me….”). 
  • When all of the mussels are de-bearded and de-barnacled, rinse all of the mussels under running water, twice, then drain all the water away (three times). Do not leave them sitting in fresh water because they don’t like it and they will die.
  • Put a large pan onto the stove and put a high heat under it. Splash a tiny bit of water  (or white wine)into it.  Drain the mussels again and then put them into the pan, putting the lid straight on.  Rinse out the bowl, as you’ll need to put the cooked mussels back in there in a few minutes.  After a minute or two, hold the lid on and shake the pan vigorously to move the opening mussels around and give ‘em a proper headache.  Have a quick peek – some of them should be gaping by now.  Replace the lid.  Give another shake.  Another minute, another shake.  You can use a big wooden spoon to chivvy them around a bit. If necessary, give another shake, another peek.
  • When they appear to be all just open or opening, tip the whole lot, including the juices, into the bowl. As the mussels have opened, they will now take up more room in the bowl – it’d better be a big one.
  • If you need the juices, drain them off into a separate bowl.
  • The mussels are now cooked.
  • If you are making Moules Mariniere, the cooking will be slightly different as wine is involved. Moules Carbonara involves bacon.  Moules a la Crème involves cream.  The above is the simple way to cook mussels so that they can be removed (evicted, I suppose) from their shells so that we can do something else with them.
  • Take a mussel shell, now gaping open, in one hand and pick out the mussel with the other, dropping the mussel into another, much smaller bowl. Don’t force the shell open as you are now going to transfer that shell to the other hand and you’ll use it as pincers to take the other mussels from their shells, dropping them all into the little bowl.  Well, I say ‘all’, I actually mean ‘all that you don’t eat as you take them from their shells as they look so nice and taste so lovely’.  Put them aside.
  • Don’t be surprised at how little mussel meat comes from one kilogram of live mussels. It will be enough.
  • Take one slice of granary, multi-seeded bread, or one slice of bread and some seeds (pine nuts, sesame seed, pumpkin, sunflower, etc) and break into the food processor bowl. Give it a good blitzing to reduce it all to a soft crumb.
  • Grate the cheese using a large grater (a greater grater?) and mix this cheese with the crumb. Add a good amount of coarsely ground black pepper and mix again.
  • Method 1. Load the mussels into four ramekins.  Sprinkle with dill – preferably fresh, but dried will do – and then add the crumb and cheese mixture.  Finish off with a couple of blobs of butter to each ramekin.  That’s one way.  Or:
  • Method 2. Mix the cheese, breadcrumbs and mussels and a few fennel seeds) together and then top with more grated cheese.  Finish off with a couple of blobs of butter to each ramekin.  That’s another way.  Or:
  • Method 3. Put a little crumb & cheese mixture into one half-shell, then lay one or two mussels on top, then a little more mixture…. and do that for each mussel shell until you run out of mussels (I told you not to eat ‘em all!).  Top with a small (tiny) blob of butter.  Lay them all on a baking tray.  Yes, it’s blinkin’ fiddly!  But it looks great!
  • Either way, pop them into a pre-heated oven, gas mk 5, for about five to ten mins and you have it; a wonderful seafood starter with an interesting texture.
  • Serve on a little bit of green salad.

Prawns’n’Peas:

Prawns’n’Peas: A lovely little rice starter.

(This is the full recipe, on which “Pi**-easy-prawns’n’rice” came from).

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Starter

Serves:        2

Rating:         2: Easy

Prawns & peas go together wonderfully.  This starter can be made well before-hand and left in a container ready to fry up with a little more butter over a high heat at the last minute.

Find:-

  • A one-mug batch of Delia’s white rice done in a saucepan
  • 200g frozen prawns – the larger they can be, the better
  • 200g frozen petit-pois
  • 1 red onion
  • Half a red pepper
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Thai stir-fry herb mix (contains lemon grass, etc)
  • Light soy sauce
  • Seasoning
  • Frying pan with a lid or a lidded frying pan – your choice.

Method:

  • Do a pan of white rice with a mug of white basmati rice, following Delia’s recipe.
  • Chop the onion and the red pepper quite finely and soften in an oiled frying pan with the lid off for ten minutes whilst the rice is cooking in its own pan.
  • Put the peas and prawns in to the frying pan with the onion and pepper, stirring to distribute evenly.
  • Season well and add a few Thai stir-fry herbs. The prawns are pre-cooked and the peas need little cooking so just put the lid on and turn out the heat.  Let it all sit there steaming until the rice is ready. A Thai-style herb mixture is widely available these days.
  • When the rice is done and quite dry, take the lid off the frying pan, turn the heat to full, drop in the knob of butter, stir thoroughly and follow that with the rice. Stir the rice together with everything else until all is thoroughly muxed ip.
  • Serve in small bowls.
  • Have light soy sauce available should anyone want some.

Simple Salmon Steak:

Simple Salmon Steak:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        1

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • 1 salmon steak
  • Butter
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Lemon juice from a bottle / a lemon
  • Splash of white wine?
  • Kitchen foil
  • Oven (baking) tray
  • Seasoning

Method:

  • Set the oven to preheat to gas mk 5 and don’t put anything in until it is up to temperature.
  • Place the buttered salmon steak, skin down on a piece of oiled kitchen foil in excess of 300 x 300, sprinkle on a few drops of water, dried mixed herbs and lemon juice – and a splash of white wine if you have it.
  • Season lightly and make a sealed parcel with lots of air in it – a really tightly sealed parcel.
  • Place the parcel on an oven tray and put into the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Take out of the oven and serve with lovely mint-boiled new spuds and frozen peas – but cooked, please, not still frozen.  
  • Taste and health on a plate.

Salmon Sandwich – with a difference:

Salmon Sandwich – with a difference:

As a cold, posh, summer lunchtime dish, this is simply a knock-out with a chilled rose wine.  

Hot it is also wonderful.

NOTE:  This does not have to use full sides of salmon.  As long as you can get pieces of similar size and shape, you could so this for as few as two people.  Use your brain to work it out.  It really is worth the effort.

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        According to size of fillets obtained, but a normal size of

2 complete sides would feed around 8 -12 people.

Rating:         4:  A little more challenging – but worth it.  Impressive but not over-costly.

Find:

  • 2 full-length salmon side fillets (from the same fish, as they are to be put on top of each other in a sandwich type of thing) – already pin-boned by the fishmonger
  • Fresh breadcrumbs (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Clove of garlic
  • Toasted pine-nuts (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to toast yer nuts, peeps)
  • Dried apricots
  • Butter
  • Seasonings
  • Couscous
  • Mayonnaise
  • A splash of white wine
  • Optional: fresh dill and/or parsley?
  • Kitchen foil
  • Mixing bowl & wooden spoon, etc
  • Oven (roasting) tin

Method:

  • Rinse the salmon sides and pat dry with kitchen roll. Place one fillet, skin side down on a piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, just lightly buttered to stop the salmon skin sticking to it.
  • Chop (or cut with scissors) the pieces of dried apricot into thin strips. Toast the pine nuts to bring out their flavour and, after they have cooled, just chop them randomly or give them a good smacking by means of a pestle & mortar.
  • Peel the garlic and chop it really finely. Do a batch of fresh breadcrumbs (see Tricks’n’Tips, as usual) and mix all those filling ingredients together with whatever seasoning you wish and just enough butter to hold it together – don’t go mad, there will be more added later.
  • Have you got fresh dill? Fresh parsley?  It would be nice for some to land in there, roughly chopped.  I know that you won’t have chervil; that would be brill too….. but as you haven’t got it, I don’t know why I mention it.  Remind me to make an appointment with my therapist.
  • Spread the mixture on the flesh side of one fillet. Put just a little more butter in small splodges along its length to add a little moisture and loveliness.
  • Season the flesh of the other fillet and place on top. Wrap the sandwich as though it’s a sandwich…. Ok, nuff-sed.
  • Place the packet in an oven tin and splash a little white wine into the tin as well. Put the foil over the top and seal around the edges.
  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mk 4 and pop it in for 20 minutes.
  • Take it out and close the oven door. Remove the foil, snip off the paper from the top and put the salmon back in for ten more minutes – but with the oven switched off as soon as you have put it back in.
  • Take the salmon out, cut into however many servings you need, place onto couscous that has been flavoured with whatever you wish (see Tricks’n’Tips as always) and you are there.

Alternatively, leave until cold, cut and serve with a salad.

Oh, by the way, if anyone wants the recipe, tell them to contribute to this site – the Hospice needs the cash!

Lemon Sole in white wine:

Lemon Sole in white wine:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Lunch or main

Serves:        2

Rating:         2:  Easy – Honest, it’s easier’n’fallin’ off a cliff

Find:-

  • 1 pack of 2 lemon sole fillets (hopefully from the supermarket reduced cabinet…….. just look)
  • Some left-over white wine (…..what’s that?) from something (quantity is immaterial, really, but it does need to be white)
  • Butter
  • Veg – whatever you have, basically, but having something green & something red is nice just for the colour range.
  • … or rice….. or couscous…….. who cares
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Ok, do whatever veg & spuds/rice/couscous you want (I suppose a nicely flavoured couscous would be ideal, but…).
  • The fillets of fish (please don’t attempt this with whole fish, and don’t try filleting them either – flatfish are not easy) should be rinsed, patted dry with kitchen roll and placed carefully into a frying pan onto just melted butter.
  • Fry the sole on the skin side over a medium heat for a couple of minutes (note the usual accurate and specific cooking times ……not!), turn it over and turn up the heat.
  • Immediately add the white wine (only a glass…. unless you have more, in which case….) and bring to the boil quickly to evaporate off the alcohol (an excess of remaining alcohol would taste bitter – that’s BITTER not better).
  • Take out the fish using a wide spatula or a large fish slice and serve onto plates – be careful as the fish will break up very easily.
  • Boil the sauce a few moments longer and perhaps add a little more butter.
  • Taste and season accordingly.

The real beauty of lemon sole is that it cooks through so quickly.

This really could do with a cushion of something scrummy to put it onto.  How about wilted spinach?  Really Posh Cabbage?  Buttered sweet potato mash?  Red pepper confiture?