Thursday, January 11, 2007

Something Fishy ?

With almost more than a gale blowing outside, and worse to come, this evening's meal will be a variation on my Captain's Chowder. A useful dish as it can be served with alternative fish and/or vegetables, in a dish as a chunky 'soup', or with the liquid thickened, the whole lot put into a dish and topped with mashed potatoes or pastry to make Fish Pie.
Captain's Chowder Mark 2: serves four
1 onion, finely diced
2 oz (50g) butter
1/2 pt (300ml) fish stock* or water
1 dessp. double cream or creme fraiche
1 large potatoe, peeled and diced (1/2")
1/2 each red and green pepper, de-seeded and diced
OR 2 tblsp. green peas and 1 de-seeded and diced tomato
1 small can of sweetcorn, drained
1 lb either smoked haddock or cooked salmon or white fish
parsley to garnish
Saute the onion in the butter until golden. Pour in the milk, stock and creme and simmer for five minutes. Add the diced potatoes. Keep the heat down, this shouldn't boil. When the potatoes are cooked, stir in the chosen vegetables then the flakes of cooked fish. Simmer for a further five minutes, then serve in bowls garnished with chopped parsley.
*Fish Stock: When you cook with fish save any fish trimmings, skins and prawn shells. Freeze until needed then simmer with onion, carrot and celery, in water with white wine if you have some. Drain, boil down to concentrate the flavour then freeze as fish stock. Alterntively use a fish stock cube !
Fish Pie: As the above, but thicken the liquid with cornflour to make a sauce. Add a little mustard to this if you wish, certainly add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Put into a dish and top with mashed potatoes or a short or puff pastry lid. Bake in the oven at 180C for about half an hour until the potatoes are crusty or the pastry is golden.
For extra bulk, add more peas, diced cooked carrots, even a few prawns. Grated cheese in or on top of the mashed potato adds even more flavour. With a big family to feed - go for it !

This recipe makes a good party starter, or even a luxury lunch munch:
Salmon Mousse: four servings
approx 10 oz fresh salmon
1/4 pint fish stock (made with wine)
6 oz cream cheese
8 oz smoked salmon
2 tsp dill, finely chopped
Put the salmon in an ovenproof dish and pour over the stock. Add a pinch of dill, cover and cook in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked (alternatively this can be cooked in the microwave). Keeping the liquid, remove fish and flake.
To the fish, add the cheese, the remaining dill and a little of the liquid, to make a softish paste.
Line four small ramekin dishes with the smoked salmon, leaving enough to wrap over. Divide the salmon paste between the dishes and fold over the ends of smoked salmon as a wrap. Cover with cling film and chill for several hours, best kept overnight in the fridge. Serve either in their dishes, or turn out onto a plate. Eat with toast or crispbreads.
Tip: Line dishes with clingfilm to make them easier to turn out.

The Variable Steamed Pudding: makes six servings (F)
To the basic sponge batter, add the variations given below.
basic sponge batter:
4 oz (100g) butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
3 oz (75g) self-raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3 oz (75g) fresh white breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. (at this point you can add other ingredients), stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, then fold in the breadcrumbs. Spoon into a greased 2 pint pudding basin, cover with a layer of greaseproof and then a layer of foil, both pleated (to allow rising), tie securely around top of basin, place in a steamer and cover. Steam for 2 hours. Cool slightly before turning out and serve with custard. OR spoon into greased individual moulds (teacups would do), and these take far less time to steam - (about 30 - 40 minutes).

Honey and Ginger: Mix 2 tblsp honey with 1 tblsp ginger syrup and pour this into the bottom of the basin before adding the batter. Also, add 1 tsp ground ginger to the flour.
Orange Marmalade: Spoon one tblsp. marmalade into the basin, then stir two tblsp. marmalade into the batter after adding eggs and before adding dry ingredients.
Lemon Pudding: Add the grated rind and juice of one or two lemons to the creamed mixture, before adding dry ingredients. For good measure, pop in a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd into the bottom of the basin.
Fruit Sponge:Add some sultanas (which could have been soaked overnight in rum) to the batter, and serve with custard flavoured with rum.
Chocolate sponge: substitute 1 tbslp. cocoa for the same of flour. Serve with a chocolate sauce.
Tip: As this pudding feeds six, then any leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. It should also freeze.