I found a packet of black spaghetti in my excellent local farm shop, and I pounced upon it with great enthusiasm. Black pasta is dyed with squid ink which gives it a very faint fishy flavour, an ideal and dramatic complement to a fish sauce.
I wanted to use crayfish for this recipe but there was none to be found, nor lobster neither, which would have been a lovely treat, so I settled for king prawns instead which is still a treat.
This dish needs to be served really freshly cooked so that nothing goes soggy, so prepare the ingredients before you start cooking.
SEAFOOD IN DILL CREAM SAUCE WITH BLACK SPAGHETTI
Seafood in cream dill sauce with black spaghetti
1 x large pan for the spaghetti
1 x medium pan for the sauce
1 x small pan for the courgettes
8-10oz / 240-300g Black Spaghetti
2oz / 60g Butter
1 x small onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
2 small Courgettes – cut into fine Julienne strips (skin on for colour and texture)
4 floz / 125ml White wine
4floz / 125ml Cream
3 ½ oz/ 100g Cream Cheese
½ tablespoon fresh Dill – finely chopped
4-6oz / 120-180g Prawns / crayfish / lobster – cooked
Cook the spaghetti as per instructions – probably about ten minutes
Melt the butter in the small pan
Add the courgettes and cook briefly until just cooked through.
Drain the butter off into the medium saucepan and keep the courgettes warm
Add the onion and garlic and cook on a medium heat until just soft
Add the wine and cook on a high heat to reduce down just slightly
Add the cream and whisk for one minute
Add the cream cheese and dill and whisk for one minute
Add the shellfish and courgettes and cook until everything is hot
Season to taste and serve on top of the hot, black spaghetti
As I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to drink on my own, but every so often I get a craving and last night was one of those nights. Quite out of the blue I got a craving for a Brandy Alexander. I love creamy cocktails like Pina Colada and Harvey Wallbanger but I’m averse to any cocktails with deliberately saucy names – I need not name them.
I couldn’t remember how to make one so, as with any alcohol related question, I rang Sister the Second, renowned soak of this parish (shurely connoisseur. Ed.).
“How do you make a Brandy Alexander?” I asked.
“Why do you want to know” she responded quizzically.
“I’ve got a craving.”
“That’s spooky. We’ve just had one!”
Pause for tinkly discordant music from ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.
1 x jug or cocktail shaker
1 x spoon if you’re using a jug
1 x glass
Ingredients: (per person)
1 measure of brandy
1 measure of Creme de Cacao
1 measure of cream
1 sprinkling of fresh ground nutmeg
Mix the brandy, Creme de Cacao and cream together
Pour into a glass
Grate fresh nutmeg on the top
I am obliged to tell you now that I only had cooking brandy left over from Christmas. I also didn’t have any Creme de Cacao, so I mixed a teaspoon of cocoa with a little sugar and a little hot water to form a thin paste and added that. It did the trick but was nowhere near as nice as the real thing.
It’s all fish with me at the moment. This recipe is really quick and tasty and full of chickpea goodness. You can use any firm, white fish – I used Whiting because it was on special offer in Waitrose and I happened to have half a tub of humous leftover from yesterday’s lunch. I’m afraid we had troughed it down before I remembered I should have photographed it. Next time.
WHITE FISH WITH HUMMOUS
1 x frying pan
1 good knob of butter (approx 2oz / 60g)
White fish fillets
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley (1/2 tablespoon of dried)
Salt & Pepper
Melt the butter in the frying pan over a medium heat
Place the fish fillets in the pan
Sprinkle the fish fillets liberally with lemon juice
Sprinkle over the parsley
Give each fillet a good twist of salt and pepper
Smear 1 generous tablespoon of humous over each fillet
Cook the fish over a medium heat, turning occasionally
When the fish is cooked through add a couple of tablespoons of cream to the pan
Cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce has thickened
Put the fish onto warmed plates, spoon the sauce over and serve with new potatoes and crisp vegetables
There is a mushroom called The St George mushroom or Calocybe gambosum which is one of the few edible fungi to be found at this time of the year. It is so named because it only appears around the time of St George’s Day which, as I’m sure you all know, is 23rd April.
St Georges Mushroom
It is fairly common and widespread in the UK and can be found on grassy verges, the edges of woodland and at the roadside. As well as being a culinary delicacy, it is thought to have some anti-bacterial properties and has been reported to lower blood sugar levels. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you never to eat fungi that you find growing wild unless you are absolutely, 100% sure what you’re doing. I do not want a poorly executed recipe on my conscience.
I love mushrooms in all their wide variety and they are an excellent source of mycoprotein. Creamed mushrooms make a delightful and tasty lunch or supper, served piled up on hot buttered toast. This recipe will serve 2-3 so why not get in your favourite mushrooms and have this dish for lunch on Saturday; a portion for yourself, England and St George. Or something.
2 x medium saucepan
1 x wooden spoon
1 x toaster
1lb / 480g mushrooms – halved, quartered or left whole depending on the size
1oz / 30g butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3floz / 90ml double cream1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon cider or apple juice
1/2 tablespoon parsley – fresh and finely chopped
hot buttered toast
Melt the butter in the pan and add the mushrooms
Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or so, making sure not to burn the butter
Sir in the lemon juice and half of the cream
Simmer for about 8 minutes and season if you wish
Pour off the liquor into the other pan and keep the mushrooms warm
Pour in the cider, the parsley and the rest of the cream and turn up the heat
Cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce had reduced by half
Return the mushrooms to the sauce then serve immediately on toast
I seem to have ended up with a glut of oranges, I can’t quite remember why, and I needed something to do with them. Now, this is going to sound a bit crap but, despite being very fond of oranges and their products, I absolutely hate peeling them. I hate the bits of pith up my nails and the fact that they make my fingers sore and I don’t like the sticky, sickly smell that only occurs when someone else is peeling them. What makes a human being think it’s ok to eat an orange on the London Underground for example?
There was a 30-second flash of sunshine yesterday, so I decided to make ice-cream. The recipe I use calls for four egg yolks, which leaves four egg whites with which to make meringues. Hurrah! I have an ice cream maker which does all the churning for me. If you don’t have one, you need to semi-freeze the ice cream, take it out, whip it again, then return it to the freezer.
Also remember, you could use lemons for a lovely tangy alternative. Or indeed mangoes.
ORANGE ICE CREAM
1 x lemon squeezer or juice extractor
1 x medium bowl
1 x grater with a fine-grating side
1 x electric mixer or a wooden spoon and a firm hand
1 x small saucepan
1 x medium saucepan
1 x heatproof bowl to go on the top of it
1 x freezerproof container with a lid
4 large oranges
4 egg yolks
4oz / 120g castor sugar
½ pint / 10floz / 300ml single cream
¼ pint / 5floz / 150ml double cream – lightly whipped
2oz dark chocolate drops or grated chocolate (optional)
Squeeze every drop of juice out of the oranges and put to one side
Finely grate the zest of the oranges
Put the grated zest into a heat proof bowl with the egg yolks and sugar
Beat thoroughly until slightly lighter in colour
Heat the single cream in the small saucepan until almost boiling
Stir the single cream into the egg yolk and orange zest
Place this bowl of a medium pan of simmering water
Stir until thickened, then remove from the heat
Add the orange juice, stir well, then set aside in the fridge to cool
When cold, fold the whipped double cream into the mixture
If you have an ice cream maker, put the mixture in it with the chocolate drops and let it do its work
If you don’t, pour the mixture into the freezer-proof container & put the lid on
Place in the freezer until it resembles slush
Take it out and beat it again – add the chocolate if you’re using it
Return it to the freezer with the lid on again and leave until frozen.
Remember that with home-made ice cream, you need to take it out of the freezer at least 20 minutes before you intend to use it or you will need a pneumatic drill to get it out of the tub.
Home made fudge
There isn’t a child on earth who doesn’t like sweets and I confess that I have an exceptionally sweet tooth myself. I see no reason to deprive children of sweets as long as they’re a treat and they’re eating plenty of good healthy stuff as well. I constantly remind my children that if their everyday diet is good, from time to time they can eat rubbish with a clear conscience.
But have you ever looked at the ingredients on some of the stuff they like? Not for nothing is something called ‘Toxic Waste’! If you make your own, you know exactly what’s in it and homemade sweets are really easy to make. Fudge is also made using storecupboard ingredients so can be made at the drop of a hat.
Warning: This fudge is so delicious it has to be locked away or you will find that you take a piece every time you pass the plate and you may find you have gained 20lb in two days. I know I have. And, as you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, have a look at these truffle recipes.
I would recommend buying a sugar thermometer if you don’t already have one, as it saves a lot of time dropping boiling gloop into saucers of water. If you don’t have a thermometer, the mixture has reached ‘Soft Ball’ when a teaspoon of the mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when rolled between your finger and thumb.
1 x large, heavy based saucepan
1 x electric whisk
1 x shallow tin about 10” x 8” – buttered
1lb / 480g granulated sugar
2oz / 60g butter
¼ pint / 150ml cream
¼ pint / 150ml milk
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Put all the ingredients except the vanilla into the pan
Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved
Bring to the boil, then keep it on a good, rolling boil stirring from time to time
When the mixture has reached 115oC / 240oF or soft ball, remove the pan from the heat
Place the pan on a cool surface and add the vanilla essence
Beat the mixture until it becomes thick and creamy and starts to develop a slightly grainy texture round the edges
Pour it immediately into the buttered tin and leave until cold
Cut it into squares in the tin when set.
Filed under Food, Recipes