Sunday, 15 February 2009

Fishy Pasta

A light-tasting but delicious pasta dish. Very simple to make, very easy to eat!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1. Salmon (250 gms) plus Pangasius (or other firm white fish) (250) gms
2. 60 gms butter
3. 1 pot of single cream (250 ml)
4. Medium leek
5. Packet of fresh pasta (eg. spaghetti, tagliatelle), 250 gms

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (half a small clove), peeled
  • 1 medium onion (a shallot would be better), peeled
The secret to this dish is the sauce and the "greeny" tang of leek which complements the fish. You might add a little dill as well or a splash of white wine. If you can, shred some fresh basil to garnish the pasta when the dish is ready.

Instructions

First, we need to prepare the pasta, which is done by just following the cooking instructions on the packet. You should do this at the same time as the steps below for preparing the fish pasta sauce so that the pasta is warm. If the pasta is ready before the sauce, then drain it, stir a knob of butter into the pasta (while it is hot) to keep it from sticking together.

1. Cut the fish into chunky cubes, around 2 cm in size
2. Finely chop the garlic and shallots (or onion)
3. Finely chop the leek
4. Place about 40 gms of butter into the saucepan and heat over medium high heat
5. When butter is melted, throw in 1/3 of the chopped garlic and shallot into the saucepan
6. Stir for 10-15 seconds and put in all the fish cubes
7. Stir fry the fish gently, adding salt and pepper to taste. Make sure the fish is seasoned correctly to your taste now
8. When the salmon has changed colour on the outside to light pink (but not fully cooked yet), place all the contents of the saucepan into a bowl or large dish or another saucepan, keeping all the sauce
9. Now place 20 gms of butter into the saucepan and when it is melted, chuck in the rest of the garlic and shallots
10. Stir fry for 30 seconds or so, until the garlic is just starting to turn light brown
11. Now chuck in the chopped leek and stir fry until the leek is softened. If you have dill, chuck in a few strands with the leek
12. Pour in the cream, warm it up and season with salt and pepper
13. When the cream looks like it's starting to boil, put back all the fish and sauce saved in Step 8 above. NEVER let single cream boil hard as it will often clot up, so beware!
14. If you have it, add a splash of white wine, but this is totally optional. If there is not enough sauce, just add some water or whole milk
15. Turn down the heat to medium and gently stir the fish around in the cream sauce until it is just cooked (it's OK even if the salmon is a little pink inside - I like it that way!)
16. Mix in the freshly cooked pasta and serve!

As mentioned, you can also shred some fresh basil leaves on top of the pasta dish. Simple, very tasty, and I guarantee you will prefer this dish over most pasta frutti di mare in the restaurants. It's a bit more expensive, but if you don't have good white fish like pangasius, you can also use frozen baby scallops. Just defrost the scallops thoroughly before using. I personally don't like the defrosted "fresh" cod in most supermarkets and haddock is even worse, but hake is a great fish if you can get it instead of pangasius.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Blue Cheese Potato Soup

A simple and very delicious warming soup for those cold winter months. Or chill it and serve it as cooling soup for the warm summer months. A very versatile soup!

Ingredients

1. 250 gms Stilton or other good quality blue cheese (eg. St Agur, Rochefort, etc)
2. 1 small leek
3. 1 pot of cream (double is best but single is also fine)

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 400-500 gms potatoes
  • Garlic (small bulb) (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • Olive oil (optional)
The secret to this dish is simplicity. Keep to the stated steps and you will always create a great soup!

Instructions

If you are using the garlic and onion, then chop the garlic very finely and slice the onion. In the saucepan, splash a little olive oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium flame until the onion is translucent. Leave everything in the saucepan and continue as follows.

1. Peel the potatoes
2. Over the saucepan, grate the potatoes finely into the pan
3. Finely chop about 6-7 cms of the leek, preferably the green part, and mix in with potatoes
4. Pour water slowly into the saucepan while mixing the ingredients, until the water covers the potatoes
5. Place saucepan over medium heat, and cover
6. Stir every few mins and while stirring add in salt and pepper to suit taste. If the soup thickens too much, add some more water
7. After 10-12 mins (when the potatoes are cooked), break the Stilton cheese into chunks and mix into saucepan. The cheese will start to dissolve almost immediately
8. Keep stirring the soup until the cheese is all melted. If necessary, add in a little more water if the cheese is sticking too much to the pan or the soup is too thick for you
9. Pour in as much (or as little cream) as you like and keep stirring until soup is just rising again to the boil. Turn off the heat at once
10. Adjust flavours one last time with salt and pepper (and cream), and that's it!

The soup is actually best if you can blend it down with an electric stick blender, but it is not crucial. If you can, garnish the soup with chopped chives or chopped spring onions before serving. Serve with toasted bread, or if you make it extra thick, then you can also use it as sauce on pasta. Just add chopped fried bacon on top to make an unusual and delicious pasta dish!