Weekly menu 25

Feeling fishy this week! I go through phases of craving fish and seafood (which I adore). I know a lot of people who find things like prawns difficult, especially in their raw form and I can understand it as they do look quite alien.  But these days you buy the little buggers all prepared and ready to throw into the pot without any need to get your hands dirty!  Also not sure if you have noticed but in most supermarkets you can buy a whole selection of different sizes frozen and they are so handy to keep in the freezer for spur of the moment meals!  I feel I need to apologise to my veggie readers as you only have 2 vegetarian meals on the menu this week BUT they are both delicious (especially the gnocchi!) and also you can omit the prawns from Monday night’s curry and make that veggie too!

Enjoy 🙂

Saturday: BBQ Mackerel w/ mango and rum salsa
Sunday: Roast wild duck w/ blackbery sauce and celeriac
Monday: Prawn, sweet potato and coconut curry
Tuesday: Grilled asparagus, egg and potato warm salad
Wednesday: Grilled squid salad Provence style
Thursday: Gnocchi gratin w/ wild mushrooms
Friday: Prawn spaghetti

BBQ Mackerel w/ mango and rum salsa

30g raisins
50ml orange juice
3 tbsp light rum
1 mango
1 red chilli, seeded and very finely chopped
6 spring onions, very finely sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
Juice of ½ lime

4 whole mackerel, cleaned
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 limes, sliced
8 bay leaves
50ml olive oil
Salt and pepper

Put the raisins into a small pan with the orange juice and rum and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and leave the raisins to plump up for about 30 minutes. Peel the mango, remove the flesh and cut into small dice. Mix with all the other salsa ingredients, including the raisins and juice. Set aside until you’re ready to serve. Don’t make it too far in advance as the mango gets soft – a couple of hours before serving is fine.

Slash the mackerel horizontally on each side – don’t cut through to the bone – and sprinkle inside and out with half the lime juice and all the ground ginger. Season inside and out and stuff the thyme, lime and bay leaves inside. Leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.

Mix the remaining lime juice with the oil and season. Place each mackerel in the centre of a piece of foil large enough to make a loose parcel, spoon over the seasoned oil and seal the edges. Cook the parcels on the barbecue for about 12 minutes. Open one up to check how it’s doing – the flesh nearest the bone should be cooked through. If it’s not done, wrap it up and put it back on the barbecue for another couple of minutes. Serve with the mango salsa

Roast wild duck w/ blackbery sauce and celeriac

2 wild ducks, prepped and ready for the oven
30ml groundnut oil

300g celeriac, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
600ml whole milk
Good pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2  lemon, juice only
20g unsalted butter

300g duck or any game bird bones, chopped into 2cm pieces
30ml groundnut oil
1 large shallot, finely sliced
15g unsalted butter
100g sliced flat cup mushrooms
1g crushed juniper berries
150ml Cabernet Sauvignon, reduced by half
500ml brown chicken stock or water if you don’t have any
25ml whipping cream
2g sea salt
1g finely ground black pepper
60ml fresh blackberry puree
10ml balsamic vinegar

Roasting the ducks – Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

In a large frying pan on a medium heat, colour the ducks on their side in the oil for 8 minutes per side. Turn on to the breasts and colour for 2 minutes each until golden brown all over. Transfer to an oven tray and roast in the pre-heated oven for 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest breast side down.

For the celeriac puree – In a medium saucepan, bring the chopped celeriac and milk to the boil; simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft. Strain and puree in a blender until smooth, using a little of the milk to help get the right consistency. Season with the salt, pepper, lemon juice. Taste. In a small saucepan, heat the butter until it foams and reaches the noisette stage. Whisk in to the puree. Cover and leave to one side.

For the blackberry sauce – In a medium sized casserole on a medium heat, colour the chopped duck or game bones in the oil for 10 minutes. Add the sliced shallots and mushrooms and continue until golden brown. Spoon of off the excess fat and add all the other ingredients.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and finish the sauce with the blackberry puree. Taste, correct the seasoning and add a dash of balsamic vinegar to balance the sauce. Thicken with a little diluted arrowroot or cornflour mixed with cold water if needed.

Carve the duck as you would a roast chicken onto a flat dish and spoon the sauce over the ducks. Serve the celeriac puree in a small dish on the side. Garnish with whole blackberries.

Prawn, sweet potato and coconut curry

1 onion, peeled
2 tbsp groundnut oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
End of thumb size piece fresh ginger, grated or very finely chopped
400ml coconut cream
750ml chicken or fish stock
500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm (1in) cubes
small handful fresh coriander
350-400g large, shelled raw prawns (defrosted if frozen)
300g spinach, washed, with any tough stalks removed
Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
slivers of deseeded red chilli, to serve
Plain boiled or jasmine rice to serve

Halve the onion, then cut each piece into half moon-shaped wedges, about 3-4cm thick at the thickest part. Heat the oil in a casserole and cook the onion until soft and pale gold in colour. Add the garlic, chillies and ginger and cook for a further two minutes. Stir in the coconut cream, stock and some seasoning. Heat carefully but don’t boil. Add the sweet potato, season again, and add the coriander stalks, roughly chopped, reserving the leaves. Simmer until the sweet potato is tender.

Using a wooden spoon, squash some of the sweet potato to thicken the stew, but don’t break all of it down (you don’t want a puree). Add the prawns and spinach, and cook gently until the fish is opaque – about three minutes. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce, and taste. Add more lime juice or fish sauce, if needed.

Roughly chop the coriander leaves and stir them in. Top each serving with some slivers of red chilli, and serve with rice.

Grilled asparagus, egg and potato warm salad

800g new potatoes
2 tbsp salted capers, soaked for 10 minutes
12 pickled baby onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
5 tbsp groundnut oil
Approx 100ml white wine
50g baby spinach
20 medium asparagus spears
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

Scrub the potatoes. Place in a pot fitted with a lid. Cover with cold water, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain, cover with a folded tea towel or three layers of kitchen roll, top with the lid and leave for 10 minutes. The towel or paper will absorb the residual moisture, leaving the potatoes perfectly dry.

While the potatoes are cooking prepare the dressing. Drain and finely chop the capers. Mix the capers, pickled onions, herbs and 4 tbsp of oil until well blended.

When the potatoes are ready, slice them thickly. Season with salt, plenty of black pepper and drizzle with white wine as you go. The wine will season and saturate the potatoes, so the dressing coats them without making them heavy. Add the spinach and dressing and toss delicately, being careful not to mash the potatoes.

Heat a grill pan. Lightly coat the asparagus with some of the remaining oil and grill for five minutes, turning the spears once halfway through and making sure they are not overcooked – they should still retain their crunch. You may need to cook them in two batches.

Serve the potato salad warm topped with asparagus and garnished with chopped eggs.

Grilled squid salad Provence style

3 medium squid (around 900g), cleaned, washed, drained, cut open along the line of the body, scored on the inside and cut into 3 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 squeeze lemon juice
Sea salt
1 finely chopped red chilli seeds removed
10g grated palm sugar

200g sundried tomatoes
1 medium fennel, trimmed, sliced finely lengthways
1 medium courgette, sliced finely lengthways
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, preferably and aged one
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground
4 handfuls rocket leaves, picked and washed

Parmesan shavings, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to garnish

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, chopped red chilli and palm sugar together in a bowl, add the squid and marinade for 30 minutes.

Place a griddle pan on the stove. Once very hot, brush the courgette and fennel slices with a little olive oil then cook for 2 minutes on one side and remove from the heat. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then reserve.

Get the griddle pan back up to temperature then place the squid in (the pan must be very hot to ensure a quick short cooking and good charred colour) for 30 seconds on each side. Remove from the griddle, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, reserve.

To serve mix the ingredients for the balsamic dressing and dress the rocket leaves in the centre of the plate and place the grilled squid and the vegetables around the outside. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with the oven dried tomatoes, parmesan flakes.

Gnocchi gratin w/ wild mushrooms

100 g butter
1 tsp Cep powder, available online or at specialist food shops (optional)
125 g plain flour, sifted
3 eggs

30 g butter
30 g plain flour
350 ml milk
A small pinch of grated nutmeg
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf

360 g mixed wild mushrooms
Olive oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves, crushed
60 g cheddar, grated
40 g parmesan, or any other Italian hard cheese, grated

For the choux pastry: Bring the 250ml water and the butter to the boil with a pinch of salt and ground white pepper. As soon as it boils, take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour with a spatula. When this is well mixed and smooth, return the pan to the heat. Cook the choux pastry over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring vigorously all the time. Take off the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time. Put the choux paste in a piping bag with an 8mm hole. Gently squeeze the bag over a pan of boiling salted water, and using a small, sharp knife, cut the paste into roughly 1cm lengths as it comes out. Simmer the gnocchi for 5 minutes, then gently lift them out with a slotted spoon. Put them straight into iced water to halt the cooking, then drain in a colander.

For the bechamel: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook until foaming, but do not allow to colour. Slowly whisk in the milk over a high heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and the herbs. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat, pour through a fine sieve, cover and set aside.

For the filling and topping: Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Pan-fry the mushrooms in a little olive oil, allowing them to colour a little. Add the garlic and season with salt and a little pepper. Scatter the gnocchi and mushrooms into an ovenproof dish, about 20x28cm and 5cm deep, or some individual dishes. Pour over the béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with a rocket and watercress salad if you like.

Prawn spaghetti

4 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/2 red chilli
1 tsp tomato puree
150g small, cooked prawn
Large handful chopped parsley
1 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
Grated zest of half a lemon
180g spaghetti
Olive oil

Chop the tomatoes in half, discard the stalk end and seeds and chop the remaining flesh into small cubes. Finely slice the garlic and chilli.

Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a pan large enough to take the spaghetti a little later. Add the garlic and chilli, fry for a couple of minutes until softened, then add the chopped tomato and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato puree, creme fraiche, lemon zest and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Add the prawns and parsley and taste. If the tomatoes are quite acidic, the sauce may need a pinch of sugar.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until just al dente before draining and tossing with olive oil.

Return the tomato and prawn mixture to a moderate heat. Add the spaghetti and toss really well over the heat to give the pasta a chance to soak up some of the sauce.

Divide between two plates. Scatter over a little more parsley and perhaps some basil. Serve with a peppery rocket, spinach and parmesan salad

(Credits: Katriona MacGregor, Levi Roots, Raymond Blanc, Diana Henry, Vava Berry, JJMoola’s Kitchen)


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