Busy Dinners

A new #askmim request appeared in my inbox the other day, this one is from Veena. Ahoy there Veena!

Veena said:

“I’m a fish eating veggie and am going back to a really full on job after having a baby. I want to be able to cook something delicious and healthy when I get home, that isn’t pasta, and doesn’t mean that I spend ages in the kitchen away from my daughter when I should be spending time with her. Any ideas?”

Good challenge. Righteo, I’ve spent some time cooking up a few  ideas this week and come up with 3 tasty new mid-week suggestions for you.

Mackerel Rice Bowl

Easy Mezze

The first was inspired by some of my favourite sushi ingredients. You can vary it too though, tofu would be ace instead of mackerel and any green veg like spinach or green beans could take the place of the seaweed as it can be a bit tricky to get hold of.

Smoked Mackerel Sushi Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients

75g brown rice (dried or a sachet of microwave brown rice)

chunk of cucumber (I used about 50g)

1/2 teaspoon of finely grated fresh root ginger

2 teaspoons of rice vinegar

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

1 or 2 smoked mackerel fillets

To serve

1 tablespoon of pickled red cabbage

a handful of dried seaweed (which has been rehydrated in some boiling water – check pack for guidance) or some wilted spinach

Method

1. If you’re using uncooked rice pop that on to boil for 20-25 mins (check the pack for proper timings). If you’re using the microwave kind (nowt wrong with that – check the pack but all they usually add is a dash of veg oil to stop it sticking together) heat that up at the last minute.

2. Next mix the cucumber, grated ginger and rice vinegar together in a nice bowl or soup dish then nudge it to one side to make space for everything else. Pile the cooked rice in down one side, tuck in the mackerel fillets, add the seaweed or spinach then the pickled cabbage and finally sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the rice. Add a spritz of soy sauce if you like but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Dig in!

Mackerel sushi bowl

Sometimes all I want for dinner is a big sandwich and this one is great as it’s so quick, filling and probably jolly healthy too as the fish is poached gently in water.

Poached Salmon Pittas 

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 salmon fillets
5 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt or sour cream

handful of soft fresh herbs (I used a mix of dill and basil but parsley, chives or tarragon would also be fine)

2 wholemeal pitta bread

handful of salad leaves

1/2 punnet of salad cress

Method

1. Half fill a deep sided sauté pan or medium sized saucepan with water and add the peppercorns. Bring to the boil then add the salmon fillets. Turn the heat right down and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through and when you break a piece off the flesh is opaque pink.

2. Take the salmon out of the water with a slotted spoon, discard the peppercorns and leave the fish to rest just while you pop the pitta bread in the toaster.

3. Chop the herbs with scissors and stir into the sour cream or yoghurt. When the pitta is ready, cut a slit in each one along one of the long sides and divide the herby mixture between them.

4. Peel the skin away from the salmon (if it had it on) then gently break the fish into pieces and put them inside the pittas. Stuff with salad leaves, sprinkle in the cress and serve.

Poached Salmon Pitta

And finally a bit of a treat, even midweek…perhaps especially midweek! Pretty much everything on this platter keeps really well in the fridge, so can be hurled together whenever you need a little lift, like your own mini party!

Storecupboard Mezze

Ingredients

1 espresso cupful of couscous

1 tablespoon of light tahini

pinch of smoked paprika

3 mini crisp breads or 1 flatbread of your choice

few olives

few sundried tomatoes

1-2 tablespoons of feta cheese

1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses

1/2 an avocado

Method

1. Pour the couscous into a heatproof bowl then add 1 1/2 espresso cupfuls of boiling water. Leave to stand whilst you prepare the rest.

2. In a small bowl mix the tahini with enough cold water to make a houmous-like consistency. Keep mixing until it’s nice and smooth then sprinkle the smoked paprika on the top and if you like a little drizzle of the oil from the sundried tomatoes.

3. Once the couscous has absorbed the water, fluff it up a bit using a fork to break up the grains then add the feta and the pomegranate molasses.

4. Pop everything else on a platter and dig in, cold glass of something lovely (alcoholic or otherwise) is a jolly nice addition.

Storecupboard Mezze

Hope you like the recipes, do let me know what you think x

If you would like me to write a recipe for you too or answer a burning kitchen conundrum please get in touch via facebook, instagram or twitter using the hashtag #askmim.

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Riverfood

It’s summertime, so the blogosphere is humming with delicious holiday snaps – pictures of ripe fruits straight from the tree, local village cheeses or fragrant sweets from exotic markets…

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…for the most part I’ll be at home in London, not really known for its fresh produce…although I did rob a bit of elderflower from someone’s garden the other week, ooh and there’s a fig tree near the bus stop (might, also be in someone else’s garden).

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So, when I received an invitation to the launch event for Coopers Restaurant Consultants, on a boat, where all the food was going to be predominantly sourced from the Thames I was excited and dubious in equal proportions.

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We arrived at Festival pier on the Southbank to board the MV Royalty for the #riverfood event. It was a boiling hot but choppy day and the boat rocked enthusiastically from side to side. Once aboard, making our way towards the complementary cocktails I began to recall a sense of wobbly unease, like walking across one of those rope bridges at the adventure playground with your big brother jumping up and down on it at the opposite end.
As Richard and I carefully sipped grapefruit margaritas and watermelon Mojitos we were both unsure how we were going to cope with the seafood based menu should sea sickness fully take hold.

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To our surprise we set sail along the river and even more surprisingly this helped settle us and with wafts of London’s approximation of fresh air drifting in through the windows, we even started to feel hungry.

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Coopers had arranged for some really lovely waiting staff who shuffled along in precarious zigzags carrying huge platters of canapés. The first were Hollowshore Oysters with shallot vinegar and Tabasco jelly followed by a seemingly endless supply of freshly shucked ones. Both were delicious.

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Next we were presented with some zingy Green Tomato Soup with Pickled Whelks served in small painted sake cups.

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Here’s the Estuary Smoked Kipper with Egg & Cress that came next…

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…and I had seconds of the Old father Thames Smoked Pike.

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We snuck out onto the deck to watch the chef in action, barbecuing some zander which was served with smoked bacon, white onions and bay.

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So as well as a pile of fantastic fresh riverfood, I ate my words. London has some wonderful fresh produce, so, fellow staycationers, if the MV Royalty #riverfood ship sets sail again soon get yourselves down to the Thames x

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Getting Festive

It’s the first weekend in December so I have been given permission to put up the decorations!

I’ve been itching to get the baubles and crepe paper out ever since I spied a thrifty Christmas tree alternative out the window, in the form of a rather enthusiastic shoot on the bay tree in the front garden. It’s the perfect Christmas tree shape (in my eyes anyway) and I thought if we lopped it off our housemates might think we’ve been busy doing some really helpful garden pruning (two birds, one stone – hurrah!) ..and bay smells great, triple win!

Christmas Tree

Bay Christmas Tree

I decided that putting up the tree (albeit a few hacked off branches set in a tin filled with plaster of paris) should be celebrated with a festive treat. I often turn to Great British Chefs when I want inspiration for a special meal. Their recipes are easy to follow and their website and apps have some wonderful foodie photography.

For a festive lunch for us hard working streamer-hangers; I whipped this up from their Christmas collection:

Salad of smoked trout with horseradish crème fraîche by Geoffrey Smeddle

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Ingredients

  • 8 small smoked trout fillets
  • 4 tbsp of crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp of horseradish cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 pinch of paprika
  • 200g of mixed salad leaves
  • 1 cooked beetroot, sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

1. Ensure the trout fillets are trimmed and cleaned
and the skin is removed. Check for small pin
bones, removing them with tweezers

2. Place the fillets on a plate, cover with cling film and refrigerate until later

3. Stir the horseradish cream into the crème fraîche, adding paprika and lemon juice to taste

4. Arrange slices of the beetroot in the middle of the plate

5. Arrange the smoked trout fillets on serving
dishes. Dress the leaves with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice

6. Arrange the leaves beside the fish fillets and spoon on a generous dollop of the horseradish crème fraîche, either on the fish itself or just to one side

7. Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side to squeeze over the fish, and eat at once

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I’ve tried this recipe with hot smoked salmon and the combination is still fantastic. The crème fraîche with horseradish is wonderful with smoked fish and I stained the lemon juice and olive oil dressing with beetroot to adorn the plate as much as the tree!

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