Thai Green Fish Curry

This recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s The 30 Minute Cook, a book which has yielded many successful recipes – but I can’t recommend this particular dish.

I think the first mistake was my choice of fish – plaice – which just sort of dissolved into the sauce as it cooked. The end result felt like we were just eating sauce with nothing in it.

The other problem was the creamed coconut which gave the whole dish a really gritty feel. Maybe I used an inferior brand of creamed coconut (I’ve no frame of reference). Maybe it’s because I skipped the step to strain the liquid through a muslin cloth… but to be honest if you have to do that then this is getting away from the kind of convenience I expect from a 30 minute meal.

On top of all that, my sauce split. Sad face.

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.

The Ultimate Fish Finger Sandwiches

Growing up in the north west of England, I didn’t realise how unique Booths is. For those who don’t know, it’s a chain of supermarkets but they don’t spread much outside of Lancashire – they have a couple of outposts in Cheshire but that’s as far south as they go, and they go no further north than the Lake District.

But Booths is amazing… it’s a high quality supermarket with an emphasis on locally produced food. Think Waitrose (or Whole Foods for the Americans) but with a local twist. Regrettably we’re not close to any of their stores (there is only one in Manchester and it’s quite a way from us), but that doesn’t stop us looking at the recipes on their website and we decided to give this one for “the ultimate fish finger sandwiches” a go.

It’s incredibly easy to put this together. Cut some white fish into pieces and dip them in flour, followed by beaten egg, and finally a mixture of breadcrumbs made from bread, parsley and lemon zest. Fry them in a pan and then serve up on sandwiches assembled from thick cut white bread (buttered, obviously) with some watercress and sliced radish. Tartare sauce is optional, except in our house where it’s mandatory.

Not only did this look good, it tasted great too. Proper comfort food, but without the usual level of guilt!

Puttanesca Style Haddock Stew

The official name of this recipe is “puttanesca style monkfish stew” but the supermarket didn’t have any monkfish and we ended up going with haddock instead. It’s another recipe from John Whaite’s Perfect Plates in Five Ingredients. As such, it’s another pretty straightforward recipe – although I think using anchovy stuffed olives is a bit of a cheat to get down to the give ingredient minimum; I’m pretty sure you could use separate olives and anchovies to make this.

The first bit is really easy – just bash together chopped garlic, chopped chilli and stuffed olives in a mortar and pestle. Then fry the resulting paste until it becomes aromatic and add the chopped tomatoes. Bring it to the boil, turn down to a simmer and sit the fish on top. Cover the pan with a lid and leave it for about 10 minutes.

To serve, I added some plain cous cous on the side for a bit of carb. For such a simply recipe it makes a good puttanesca sauce with a great flavour.

Indian Spiced Cod

It’s been a while since we cooked anything from Simply Nigella, so we dusted the book off the shelf and decided to give this recipe a go. It’s a pretty quick and easy to put together – just right for a warm evening after work.

The recipe is very easy. The spices all get mixed together with some yohurt, lime juice and lime zest. Nigella uses coconut yoghurt (that’s the dairy substitute, not coconut flavoured regular yoghurt!) but says you can use Greek instead. I used Greek because we had some in the fridge. Nigella also suggests cutting back on the lime if you use Greek yoghurt… I missed that particular instruction and used the full amount, and it ended up with a very strong lime flavour which was a bit much for me but marked loved it.

You then thickly coat your cod with the sauce and bake in the oven at 200 Celsius for 15 minutes… and that’s it! Done! I did a side of mashed potato and peas to go with this. Maybe not in keeping with the Indian flavours, but it went well enough for my liking.

Fish Pie

We’ve made fish pie before, but the last time was a recipe with mushrooms from How to Eat… this time it’s a recipe from Appetite by Nigel Slater. As ever from that book, it’s a rough guide to a basic fish pie with suggestions on how to customise it.

Nigel’s recipe is quite involved though, with mussels being cooked in wine and lots of transferring various liquids between pans so I went for a much simpler variation. I poached some fish in milk with a couple of bay leaves and put some potatoes on to boil for the mash. Then I melted some butter and added some plain flour and cooked the mixture for 5 or ten minutes in a pan before mixing in a glass of white wine. I then added the poaching liquid to the mixture, cooked a little bit longer and seasoned. The fish was then added back into the sauce and poured into a dish (well, silicon cake tray actually!) and then topped with mashed potatoes. About half an hour in the oven and it was done. Pretty damn tasty!

Fish and Porcini Pie

We’ve had a lot of recipes from Simply Nigella recently, but today we went all the way back to her very first book – How To Eat. I love this book but it’s much harder to find recipes from it because of the way it lacks pictures. That said, every time we’ve chosen a recipe from here it’s been a winner.

In keeping with some other recipes from the book, it’s not the simplest of recipes – several pans and pots were involved, plus jugs and bowls and the whole kitchen felt like it needed demolishing and rebuilding at the end. The other issue with this book is that a lot of the recipes are for 4+ people, but this one scaled quite neatly for two.

End result was a complete winner – thick and creamy sauce, beautiful fish a crispy crust on top of fluffy mashed potatoes. It would probably work better for a larger quantity (our fish was spread thin and I struggled to get full coverage with the potato topping) but this is a rustic looking dish which doesn’t matter if it’s not the most beautiful looking dish.

Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Purée

Continuing this week’s Simply Nigella theme, tonight it’s another recipe. Given all the bad press which processed red meat has been getting, it’s probably a good thing that we’re having fish for dinner too.

I had to double check the ingredients for this a few times – although the recipe is for two people, it calls for 500g of frozen broccoli (that’s nearly 18oz) which seemed a huge amount. However, when you cook it and blitz it into puree, the volume reduces dramatically. The end result is that you eat a hell of a lot of vegetables without really realising it.

We made a couple of substitutions – no coconut oil for the puree, so we used butter instead. And in the absence of gluten free flour we just used the plain stuff. I must admit, I didn’t think that the ginger and paprika in the seasoning were all that noticeable, but the end result was a nice bit of fish and an interesting variation on mushy peas / cooked broccoli.

Pan-fried White Fish, Chorizo and White Bean Broth

A combination of all typically Spanish things, this BBC Good Food recipe seems a fairly good balance between simplicity and authenticity. Chorizo and cubes of white bread are fried with garlic to make croutons, while white beans (we used haricot) are boiled with thyme and bay leaf. 

Fry an onion with paprika, add the drained beans and some chicken stock: there’s your broth.

Pan fry the fish, and serve on the broth (not forgetting the sprinkles!)

In hindsight, the execution wasn’t quite as straight forward as I’d hoped, and I can’t help but wonder whether Nigella has any recipes like this – it’s right up her street, and her version would be much more streamlined and simple. Maybe it was the large quantity of washing up for a ‘bowl food’ meal. My haricot beans came from a tin unlike the dried beans described in the recipe, so perhaps they could be cooked straight in the broth. Then, close to the end of the broth’s coking time, the fish could be pan fried, set aside, and the croutons and chorizo rapidly cooked in the same frying pan.

Baked Cod with Mashed Potatoes

Sunday afternoon and the rain is lashing down outside, so we’re having a simple and consoling dinner. Once again the inspiration comes from Nigel Slater’s Appetite – the great thing about this book is it points you in the direction of something tasty but the exact detail of how you get there is up to you.

So today we had some cod baked in the oven with butter, salt and pepper served up with some mashed potato. As usual we left the skins on the potatoes for a bit of extra fibre. We served it up with some broccoli but in the absence of oyster sauce we fried the broccoli in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine and sliced garlic.

It’s not a fancy dinner, and the ingredients are deceptively simple, but the end result is worth it. The mash is consoling, the cod really tastes of cod because it’s not overwhelmed with other flavours, and broccoli with soy sauce is just the best on any day of the week.