Catalan Fish Casserole

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This dish was a bit of an experiment but I’m delighted with how it turned out …

I have mild excema and in an attempt to improve it I went to see a nutritionist last year as recommended by Mary B.  Her name is Gaye Godkin and she is excellent, I’m not so excellent though – I followed her recommendations (which really were not difficult) for some time but I’ve slipped back into my old ways of late so I must start eating more sensibly again!

She recently posted this recipe on her Facebook page – though with no instructions or measurements just basically ‘made a sauce with x y z then added a bit of this and that’.  It looked lovely though and I fancied something light – obviously I added some wine and bread to my meal, not very light or healthy but they did compliment the dish perfectly 🙂

I gave it a go – below is what I used, it was very easy, and really really tasty. I didn’t use chickpeas on this occasion – Colin had a bad experience with them recently and he’s not over it yet, but I might slip them in next time!

It was my first time using fennel (I had to google how to chop and prepare it… the shame).  I wasn’t sure about it, I’m not normally mad on aniseed so I only used about 1/3 of a bulb, but there was not a strong flavour from it in the final dish so I’d definitely add more the next time!  The guy in front of me in the supermarket queue got very excited when he saw it, told me how much he loves fennel and that he would often eat it raw. I’m not quite there yet….

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1.5 Tin Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 stock cube (I used chicken but I guess veg or fish would be better!)
  • 1/2 Fennel Bulb chopped
  • 2 Carrots chopped
  • 2 small onions (or 1 large) chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped or crushed – my crusher wouldn’t work 😦
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Chorizo/Salami/Seranno ham – a few slices
  • 10-12 raw shelled tiger prawns
  • 1 fillet cod – cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 fillet salmon – cut into bite sized pieces or any fish you have
  • 1 tin butter beans (or 1/2 tin butter beans 1/2 tin of chick peas)
  • sweet paprika
  1. Saute the onion and add the carrot, fennel, 2 cloves of garlic and celery – fry for another few minutes
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes and about 300-400ml of stock (depending on how thick you want the sauce), 2 tsps of tomato puree and 1/2 tsp of sugar
  3. Simmer until veg is cooked then blend to a smooth sauce.
  4. Fry off the chorizo or whatever you are using and add it in with the butter beans and/or chick peas, let it simmer for another few minutes before adding the fish and prawns along with the last clove of garlic, parsley, corriander and fennel leaves plus some sweet paprika (I forgot to add this!).  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked.
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Avoca Fish Pie and a day off work.

The weather here has been terrible.  It hasn’t been very cold, but it’s been very dark and very very wet, it has felt almost like night time all day long.  Unusually however the weather gods decided to save up the sunshine for the weekend which was nice!  And even nicer it spilled over onto Monday which was a holiday (for some of us!).

I sit in my office today (Tuesday) and it’s grey, dull, and wet outsite, also our heating is broken so I’m freezing.

But the weekend was lovely, it was cold, bright, sunny and full of autumn colours.  Yesterday was 11th November and was a public  holiday in Belgium, although as many of my friends and loved ones work for one or other of the various European Instituions who do not have the day off it was a bit of an odd holiday!

I had a lovely day though, after a run in the morning, a bit of toast with the last remnants of Sylvia’s Ginger and Rhubarb Jam I went and met her for a coffee and then we took a stroll down to Bois de la Cambre where we walked for about 2 hours.

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After that we stopped in Cafe de la Presse for some lunch, which was lovely and warm and cosy.  We spotted a friend and his son strolling by so we strolled home with them.

By the time I got home the cold had run through me so no better way to warm up than spending some time in the kitchen.  My Mam had sent me this recipe the week before so I gave it a bash and it turned out very tasty!

Avoca Fish Pie
Serves 4 to 6

  • 300g cod fillet
  • 150g smoked halibut
  • 150g smoked makarel

(the original recipe called for 600g fish – I think you can probably use any combination – but smoked fish gives a really good flavour – I used the above combination because it’s what I had in the freezer)

  • Small glass dry white wine
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Approx 400-450ml of fish cooking liquid (milk)
  • roux  made with 50g flour and 50g butter
  • 1 lemon halved and zested
  • Tablespoon chopped parsley, stalks speerate
  • tablespoon of chopped dill (I didnt have this so used chives instead)
  • sea salt
  • freashly ground black pepper
  • 100g of grated mature cheddar cheese (optional)
  • creamy mash
Method
  1. Start by preparing the fish, remove the skin and all pin bones then dice into squares.
  2. Make the roux (melt butter and add flour and cook a little).
  3. Zest the lemon.
  4. Cut the grated lemon in half and place in a shallow saute type pan along with the diced fish, some of the parsley stalks, the white wine and just enough liquid to cover.  I used milk here – it worked out fine in the end though initially it looked a bit curdled probably because of the wine! I’d do the same again as the wine gave a lovely flavour but if you prefer you could either use water and wine to cook it in, or if using milk add the wine at a later stage while making the sauce.
  5. Simmer the fish gently for 6 – 8  minutes, no longer, dont worry if its not totally cooked it will be cooked in oven later.
  6. Using a slotted spoon gently remove the fish from the stock and place in an earthenware dish.
  7. Remove the lemon and parsley stalks from the stock and continue to simmer until it has reduced to around 125 ml if using stock.   ( I didn’t do this I just cooked fish in milk added parsley stalks then the lemon and removed them and used the milk for the roux) it was grand.
  8. Cook carrots and celery in a little water until al dente 6 to 8 minutes. Simmer liquid and allow to reduce.  Remove veg and add to fish, reserve the cooking liquid and add it to sauce later, to lighten the sauce if necessary.
  9. Place both types of stocks in a large saucepan and add the cream and lemon zest and heat gently.  Once the liquid is hot start whisking in the stock cook until sauce thickens.  Add the chopped parsley and chives. 
  10. Now pour the sauce over the fish and veg in the ovenproof dish mixing it gently between pieces of fish, sprinkle with the remaining herbs.   Sprinkle grated cheddar on top if using.
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  12. Then pipe on the mash.
  13. I cooked for 25 to 30 minutes at around 180degrees or until the mash is crisp and golden
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Paprika Cod with Chorizo and Puy lentils

Come Dine with me, by Jane and Gill

Well – we tried. We tried to have our own Come Dine with Me experience.

Unfortunately, we were the only episode if I recall correctly.

But the food was good – if I do say so myself.  It was my first real experience of lentils and I’ve made that part of the dish several times since on it’s own as it was so easy and tasty!

We also served it with mashed potatoes.  There was an almost disaster there which involved using a hand held blender and finishing the cooking in the microwave – lesson is: Always make sure you have enough time to fully steam your spuds!

For the Puy Lentils

  • 200g Puy Lentils
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 3tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 small (or 1 large) spicy chorizo sausage, thickly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black papper
  • dash red wine vinegar

For the cucumber garnish

  • 1 large cucumber, skin removed, flesh cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, seeds disgarded
  • salt

For the cod

  • 1kg cod fillet, skin on
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp paprika
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • knob of butter

For the dressing

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  1. For the Puy lentils, preheat the girll to its highest setting
  2. Place the lentils into a measuring jug and note thier volume.  Place them into a pan.  Ad the chicken stock to the measuring jug and top up with enough water to bring the volume of liquid to double that of the lentils.  Add the liquid to the pan with the lentils.
  3. Bring the lentils to the boil and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and chorizo and fry until the onions have softened and the chorizo is golden brown.  SEason, to taste, with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  5. Drain the lentils, return them to the pan and stir through the cooked onion, garlic and chorizo, as well as the red wine vinegar.
  6. For the cucumber garnish, place the cucumber ribbons in a sieve or colander to drain, sprinkle generously with salt and cover with kitchen paper and a plate.  Set aside for 20 minutes.
  7. For the cod, make slashes in the skin of the cod using a sharp knife.  Mix the olive oil, paprika and seasoning together in a small bowl.
  8. Melt the butter in an ovenproof frying pan and add the cod, flesh-side down.  Fry for exactly two minutes.
  9. While the cod is cooking, pour over the oil and paprika mixture, then season the skin of teh cod with the salt.
  10. Transfer the cod to the grill and cook for 6 minutes (or less, depending on the thickness of the cod fillet), until the cod is just cooked through and the skin is crisp.
  11. For the dressing, mix together all of the dressing ingredients until well combined.
  12. Just before serving, place the cucumber ribbons into a bowl.  Pour the dressing onto the drained cucumber ribbons and mix to coat thoroughly.