Blakean Fish Pie

Tucked away in the Dinner chapter of Nigella’s How to Eat you’ll find this recipe.

Most of the recipes in this part of the book are for large groups of people and consist of suggestions for several courses, but right at the end of the chapter there are some ideas for quick suppers, of which this is one. Apparently the term “Blakean” is referring to the colour of the dish which is rather yellow. Nigella gets this using powdered saffron but we just used some saffron from the cupboard and mixed it in – we got a yellow colour but perhaps not as vibrant as the powdered version would have offered.

This isn’t a complicated recipe – it’s a pretty standard fish pie with the added excitement of the colouring. Ours could have done with a little longer in the oven (the potato topping could have been crispier), and I had a bit of trouble with quantities which made the whole thing a bit more liquid than desirable, but it was a tasty and comforting dinner which really hit the spot.

Halloween Sausage Stew

With Halloween approaching, this hearty stew looked like a good contender. We found it on the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website, but their version looks much better than ours because they go to the effort of decorating tortilla pieces to look like gravestones and using herbs to create a grass effect. Voila – a graveyard for dinner!

It’s a quick and easy meal to knock out. First brown the sausages, then cook the other ingredients and once it’s all simmering add the sausages back in and leave it to simmer. With all that simmering it takes quite a while to cook but it’s a very “hands off” affair with virtually no effort required and very little washing up is generated either.

Pork Bolognese

Looking for a slightly different source of recipes this week, I wound up on the Waitrose website and found this recipe for pork bolognese. Apart from the pork mince, we had everything in the cupboard already so it seemed like an easy option.

An in truth, it is. Chop the onion and carrot and fry them with the pork mince. Once cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, then refill the container with water and add that too. Also add a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree, some oregano and a chicken stock cube. Then you can leave the whole thing to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes and get on and cook some pasta.

The recipe says this is for two people, but I think that may be a typo and it’s actually for four. It calls for 500g of pork mince, which seems a lot, but also for 500g of pasta which makes for a monster of a meal. I actually dialled the pasta back to just 200g and it was still a really substantial meal.

Taste wise? It was OK. Not terrible, not bad, but not spectacular.

Carrots with Lime and Thyme and Salmon

This recipe is another of the ones you’ll find in John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients. The five ingredients are really simple – carrots, onion, fresh thyme, a lime and some salmon fillets (plus the usual seasonings and oil).

It takes quite a while to cook because the carrots need to roast in the oven for an hour before you add the salmon on top and cook for a further 15 minutes. We also did some new potatoes to serve this up with. To be honest, I thik my carrots could have used a little longer in the oven but that’s probably because I used regular carrots rather than baby carrots as John suggests.

End result was very tasty – the lime and thyme combination works really well with the carrots. Also the whole dish basically just uses one roasting tray so there’s very little washing up afterwards.

Ojingeo Bokkeum (stir fried spicy squid)

We’ve been enjoying so many of the recipes from Our Korean Kitchen that we may need to book our next holiday in Seoul. This recipe required a bit of preparation, but the actual cooking process was incredibly quick. In fact, the thing which took longest was waiting for the rice to cook.

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You make the marinade first and put it to one side, then cook the vegetables before adding the sauce and then the squid. The squid cooks in a matter of minutes – I was a bit paranoid about it being undercooked, but also worried about overcooking it and making it chewy. I think I did overcook it a little, but not enough to cause any upset!

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Once again, the combination of gochugaru and gochujang make all the difference here. If you don’t have access to these, it would be pretty much impossible to replicate this dish (and several others from the book)… it’s really worth tracking down the real thing if you’re going to cook some recipes from this book.

Beef with Vegetables & Noodles

Another recipe from Our Korean Kitchen here, and another success story! I was quite apprehensive of this because there’s a significant amount of preparation required – from making an egg dish, boiling noodles, grating vegetables, marinating beef…

…but the whole thing comes together wonderfully! Lots of different flavours and textures which all work really well together. We were supposed to use sweet potato glass noodles but couldn’t track any down and just went with udon noodles instead because we had some in the cupboard. Accident or not, they worked really well!

Steak Pie

Sometimes only a pie will do. After the success of chicken pie last week it seemed appropriate to give a steak pie a try, but a quick skim of our recipe books didn’t really turn up anything suitable. So this recipe is put together from two places. Firstly, it uses the “Steak & Kidney Pie” recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat, but because we were making it for two people we had to scale down the ingredients and as part of this we ditched the kidneys. But rather than making a pastry using self raising flour as Nigella does, we fell back on the good old reliable shortcrust recipe and technique we picked up from John Whaite.

It takes a while to make this one. You chop the celery, carrot, sage and onion finely and fry for a few minutes. Then the beef is tossed in flour, pepper and nutmeg and browned in a pan. The beef is then added to the vegetables along with some stout and beef stock in a casserole dish, then popped in the oven with a lid on at 150C for 2 hours.

In the meantime make and chill the pastry and line a dish (should be a pie dish but we used a cake tin!), then transfer the cooked steak into it, glaze the top with milk and bake in the oven at 190C for about half an hour.

The resulting pie looked spectacular and tasted great. The only grumble was that it was a bit bitter – I think this was because in scaling down the ingredients I’d not used as much beef stock as I should have and used too much stout. But this wasn’t enough to detract from what was a bloody marvellous pie!

Jjampong (Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup)

It’s another Korean recipe tonight from Our Korean Kitchen, and another chance to try out cooking with gochugaru powder. Despite being a seafood dish, there’s quite a lot of meat in here in the form of two pork loin steaks. Technically it’s supposed to include some shell-on mussels, but because we were cooking for two instead of four, I just bought a pack of mixed seafood from the supermarket rather than buying lots of different things.

Cooking is surprisingly easy and – apart from the noodles themselves – this is a one pot meal which doesn’t generate much washing up. Fry the powder first, then add the pork and carrot and fry some more. Now add the onion, garlic, grated ginger and mushrooms for a bit more frying, before finally adding some light soy sauce, fish stock and the seafood. Let it bubble and then serve with the noodles.

The most striking thing about this dish is the bright red colour of the sauce. It’s delicious and spicy but not overwhelming; we continue to be impressed with Korean cuisine (or at least our attempts at it!).

Dak Doritang

Another recent purchase of ours is Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo. Our only real exposure to Korean food up until now have been a few of Nigella’s recipes which call for gochujang sauce. We’ve enjoyed those, so decided to branch out into some more east-Asian recipes after our journey to Japan.

There was on extra ingredient missing for this meal which was gochugaru – Korean red chilli powder. We managed to track down a bag at one of Manchester’s great east-Asian supermarkets, and it was well worth it. The flavours of this dish were just out of this world – possibly a new favourite? It’s a nice and easy one pot recipe too.

I suppose technically this is a winter recipe – it’s English name is “warming chicken and potato stew” – but it’s so delicious it can definitely be enjoyed at any time of year.

Ishikari-Nabe (Salmon and Miso Hotpot)

We’re continuing our exploration of Japanese cooking through Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home. This recipe uses quite a lot of miso paste, a product which we made an interesting discovery about this week.

We’ve bought miso paste in the past from Sainsbury’s – it comes in a small jar of 100g and is their own brand. It’s the only one we can get when doing an online shop with them. However, this week we were in a local Chinese supermarket and found a large jar of the stuff for the same price, made by Yutaka. You can buy it on Amazon (unfortunately at a much higher price) via this link.

The shock discovery is that the Sainsbury’s miso paste is not miso paste! The ingredient list is totally different. The smell is different. The consistency is different. The Yutaka stuff is much nicer and much, much more authentic.

THis recipe takes a little while to make but isn’t hard. Cube the potatoes and put them in a big casserole dish on the hob, along with some konbu, chopped onion, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Add a large volume of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it’s boiling, remove the konbu and simmer for about 12 minutes. Then add chopped carrot and cabbage and simmer for another 12 minutes. Finally, blend some miso and butter and add this to the mix, along with some salmon. The salmon should only take a few minutes to cook and then you’re ready to eat.

We found it a bit messy to eat – the cabbage leaves and liquid resulted in a lot of splatter – but this was a tasty, umami flavoured dish. I think I enjoyed it more than Mark did though.