Saturday, December 22, 2007

Something Fishy

Most fish dishes are quick to cook, and often these dishes can be prepared in advance.

Prawn and Tomato Pan-fry: serves 4
2 - 3 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
half tsp sugar
12 oz (350g) large, frozen, peeled prawns, thawed
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) feta cheese
cooked rice or pasta for serving
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute gently for about seven minutes until softened and beginning to turn brown. Add the tomatoes and the sugar and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes.
Drain the prawns well, and add them to the pan with seasoning to taste, and heat through for about five minutes until the prawns are heated through.
Serve on a bed of hot rice or pasta and sprinkle over the parsley.

Often we find we have one small frozen cod steak, one smoked haddock fillet, or maybe a small piece of salmon and the end of a bag of prawns etc, at the bottom of the freezer basket. So although this next recipe used just the one fish, it could easily contain a small selection of what you wish to use up.
Easy Fish Risotto: serves 4
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 pints hot veg. or fish stock
9 oz (250g) risotto rice
9 oz (250g) smoked haddock, or fish of your choice
half pint measure frozen peas, thawed
2 oz (50g) butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
If the fish is frozen, thaw and poach in some of the stock for 10 minutes, then drain (reserve the liquid) remove any skin and bones and cut the fish into chunks. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until softened, then stir in the rice until it coated with the oil.
Add the stock the fish was cooked in, stir and simmer until absorbed, then add a further ladle of hot stock, and repeat as the stock is absorbed, until the rice is nearly cooked, but still has a white core. Stir in the peas and fish with a ladle more stock and heat through. Cover and leave to stand for a couple or so minutes to allow the rice to absorb the liquid then stir in the butter. Season well with the pepper and serve garnished with the lemon.
Tip: the rice in a good risotto should end up slightly 'runny' when spooned onto the plate, and not as with normal long-grain rice where the grains are meant to be separate. But neither should risotto rice be too sloppy - so towards the end, always add the stock in small amounts to gain the best result. By the way, it is best not to stir risotto once the stock has been added. Just shake the pan if you feel it needs a bit of a mix.

This next fish dish can be prepared up to the point of cooking, then left to rest in the fridge all day to be baked on return from work. Again, the fish can be a personal choice, and if you have to resort to canned salmon and tuna, then so be it. It is often said that cheese and fish do not go together, but I have found a mixture of grated cheese and breadcrumbs used as a topping only enhances the dish, not spoils it. Again, a matter of choice. Instead of breadcrumbs/cheese, it could be mashed potato or grated potato loosely piled on as a rosti. But if preparing ahead, only the mashed potato can go on top, the crumbs/cheese or rosti is added during the cooking. Details below.
Your Choice Fish Dish: serves 4
9 oz (250g) smoked haddock, or white fish
9 fl.oz (250ml) milk
4 oz (100g) large frozen cooked prawns, thawed
4 oz (100g) frozen peas
knob butter
1 tsp plain flour
salt and pepper
4 tblsp either Greek yogurt, creme fraiche or fromage frais
2 slices bread, crumbed
2 oz (50g) hard cheese, grated
Put the milk in a pan and add the fish, poach gently for five minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon (keep the milk). Take the skin from the fish and flake the flesh into chunks and place in the base of a shallow ovenproof dish, scattering over the prawns (shelled) and the peas.
Put the butter into a small pan and heat gently until melted, then stir in the flour. Cook/stir for one minute then gradually stir/whisk in the reserved milk. Bring to the boil, stirring until a smooth and thick. Stir in the yogurt, season to taste (only a little salt, plenty of pepper) and pour over the fish. Mix together the breadcrumbs and cheese and scatter these over the top. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden.
Tip: if preparing ahead, the dish obviously will start off colder, so tent lightly with foil and allow 10 minutes in the oven before removing foil and sprinkling over the crumbs/cheese, or rosti, then bake on for the time given above.

Keep several different curry pastes and/or sauces in the cupboard. Korma is a mild one, Tikka Masala a medium, Madras moving more to the hot. Avoid Vindaloo unless you are a curry addict as it could blow your head off. However, the hotter the curry, the more it can be modified by stirring in yogurt.

dishes using the curry sauce:
Creamy Prawn and Mushroom Curry:
Put one batch of the curry sauce into a pan and stir/heat for 5 minutes until thickened. Then quarter or slice 250g pack of button or closed cap mushrooms and add to the sauce along with 200ml coconut milk. Bring to the boil, stir and add a 400g pack of defrosted shelled prawns and 2 - 3 tblsp mango chutney. Cook for a further five minutes until the prawns are heated through. Serve with rice (for speed use a microwave pouch).
Quick Chicken Curry:
Put 1 tblsp sunflower oil in a pan, heat through then add 450g diced chicken breast. Cook/stir for five minutes. Add 9 oz (250g) cooked dice potato and 7 oz (200g) frozen (thawed) spinach. Pour over one batch of the curry sauce, and simmer cook for 10 minutes until the chicken has cooked through. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of thick yogurt, then serve with rice or naan bread.

This final recipe is fairly adaptable as almost any plain cake will do, because when you pull the recipe to bits, all it is is cake crumbs mixed with custard - and the cream just makes it that much richer. If no cream then use evaporated milk or just use all milk and add an extra egg (gaining an extra white means you can make more meringue, but allow an extra 2 oz caster sugar when beating.
Queen of Puddings: serves 6
1 oz (25g) butter
11 fl.oz (300ml) milk
11 fl.oz (300ml) double cream
5 oz (150g) Madeira (or other cake) crumbed
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, separated
5 tblsp red jam
Heat the milk and cream together until just about to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and 1 oz (25g) only of the sugar, the lemon zest and the cake crumbs. Leave to stand for 15 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks. Pour into a buttered ovenproof dish and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for half an hour or until just set (with a very slight wobble in the centre). Remove from oven and spreak the jam over the top of the sponge. Whisk the egg whites until very stiff then gradually beat in the remaining sugar until thick and glossy, then pile the meringue on top of the jam. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until the meringue is light gold with a crispy surface. Serve hot.