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.

Bangers with Mustard Mash

Some comfort food here from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.

It’s going a bit far to call this a recipe really – you basically just cook the sausages as expected and make some mashed potato. The trick is adding the cream and mustard to the mash which gives it a richer and more interesting flavour – plus the wholegrain mustard adds a little bit of extra texture as well.

There’s not much can go wrong here. We served it up with some peas for a hearty and warming supper.

Potatoes and Peppers

Time for a veggie option, this time coming from Nigel Slater writing for the Guardian. The ingredient list is nice and simple – potatoes, peppers, garlic and chicken stock.

Cut the peppers into big strips first and fry them so they soften a little. Then fry the sliced potatoes so that they brown a little, throw in the garlic and the chicken stock with the peppers and let the whole thing simmer and reduce. You end up with beautifully soft potatoes and a tangy garlicky sauce – this is comfort food at its best.

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.

Chicken Casserole with Cannelini Beans and Mashed Potatoes

This meal requires some advance prep – the chicken has to sit in its marinade for several hours, ideally overnight. So this one went into the fridge the day before; the chicken sits in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs de Provence, plus a couple of peeled cloves of garlic and some bay leaves.

The next day, you take the chicken out and brown in it in a pan, then transfer to a casserole dish. Next, fry the chopped leek in the same oil, and then add the rest of the marinade and some water and bring it to the boil. Add the drained cannelini beans and the hot liquid to the casserole dish, put a lid on and stick it in the oven.

This recipe is from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries, and he recommends putting it in the oven for 2 hours. However, he also makes this for a bigger number of people so I used less water and put it in the oven for an hour.

The end result was… nice. Not amazing, but no bad. It actually smelled much more flavoursome than it actually tasted. This is possible because I used chicken thighs rather than a jointed chicken, and I was probably a bit stingy with my seasoning. It may also be that I didn’t leave it in the oven long enough, so the liquid wasn’t reduced down enough.

Mashed potato on the side is a work of genius though – it really helps with mopping up all the juices.

Cod with Warm Potato Salad

Mark was away visiting his parents and I wanted something fairly light for dinner to help recover from the indulgences of Easter so this recipe from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food looked like a good option.

  • One cod loin or fillet
  • One medium/large potato
  • 1 onion
  • A few springs of parsley
  • A few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The method is really incredibly simple. The potato is chopped into chunks and boiled in salted water, and the cod is poached in another pan of water. You then make a dressing out of the lemon juice and olive (just whisk them together) with the black pepper. Once that’s done, drain the potatoes and put them with the dressing, flake the cooked cod into it and add some chopped onion and chopped parsley. That’s it. Done.

It’s not the most visually appealing meal – it’s very white looking – but it’s a satisfying supper. I’d suggest going heavy on the black pepper though – and be prepared to smell of onion all night!

Roast Chicken

Nothing fancy here – a whole chicken, smothered in olive oil and sprinkled with a little oregano and sea salt flakes.

Served up with some mashed potatoes and some broccoli fried in soy sauce, this makes for a surprisingly simple and easy dinner. There was chicken left over… looks like another recipe in the pipeline…

Cottage Pie

This is another one of the recipes tucked away in the “children” section of Nigella’s How To Eat but which, as an adult, I would most happily eat.

Although it’s notionally a pie the assembly is a bit different. Chop the carrots, onions and celery and soften them in a pan. Add the chopped onion and then sliced mushrooms. When cooked, add the beef mince and when it’s cooked add a good slosh of marsala, another of Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce) and a small tin of chopped tomatoes, pop a lid on it and simmer for about half an hour.

Once it’s done, top with mashed potato and put under the grill to crisp the top, then serve up. It’s a wonderfully filling and homely meal. I also added a few frozen peas whilst it simmered – partly to increase the vegetable count but also because the moisture from them helped stop the filling from burning to the pan as it simmered.

The end result was lovely and calming. Could have used a bit of salt and pepper – that probably wouldn’t have been an issue if I’d used soy sauce instead of Worcestershire, but I like the tang which comes from the latter.

Lancashire Hot Pot

I was born and raised in Lancashire (in fact, a bit of family history shows one branch of the family has been in the Preston area since the mid 1700s), so traditional Lancashire Hot Pot is something I was raised on and it always holds a soft spot in my heart. When I used to come home from University it was one of the first dishes my mum would make for me.

With that in mind, I decided to make one and settled on this recipe from James Martin. However, when it came time to actually cook it I realised it would take forever since it’s supposed to simmer for a few hours before you even add the potatoes. Therefore, still craving the taste of my homeland, I decided to wing it.

The other oddity with the recipe as printed on the BBC Food website was that the quantities looked wrong. Simmering something in 100ml of water for 2 hours seems like a recipe for disaster, so I adjusted quantities accordingly. The end list of ingredients was as follows:

  • 450g diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 500g potatoes
  • A few small pieces of butter

I browned the meat in a casserole dish with a bit of olive oil, then added the tomato puree, followed by about 500ml of beef stock made up using a stock cube. I brought this to the boil and simmered, covered, for about 30 minutes before adding the chopped carrot, onion and celery. This was all left to simmer, covered, for another 10-15 minutes before adding the chopped mint and the cornflour which had been mixed with a little water. Finally, slices of potato were put on top and the whole thing went into the oven, spotted with butter on top, for about 30 minutes. The oven was at 180ºC but I cranked it up a bit at the end to try and make the potatoes crispy.

The end result was super tasty and delicious. Maybe not wholly authentic (I don’t recall my mum using celery!) but very nice indeed!