Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sea Bass Spring Rolls with Pineapple Dipping Sauce

I caught Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers on Friday and loved the idea of his guests’ Anh Vu & Van Tran spring rolls, especially as I had a frozen sea bass in the freezer left over from my last fishy foray.
It was slightly time consuming but easy apart from the gutting and scaling of the fish which I did very inexpertly! As there was lots of marinade left over after the fish was put on the grill, I added it towards the end of stir frying steamed asparagus and courgette to infuse them with the lemongrass, chilli and citrus flavored liquid.

  • For the marinade, combine 1 Garlic Clove, peeled and chopped, 1 Red Chilli, finely chopped, 50g Fresh Ginger, chopped, 2-4 Sprigs of Dill, chopped, 1 tbsp Sugar,  4 tbsp Lemon Juice and 4 tbsp Water. Add some Fish Sauce to taste (about 2 tbsp).
  • Put 1 whole gutted and scaled Sea Bass in a dish. Make three slits through the skin of the fish on both sides. Place 1-2 stalks of bruised Lemongrass in the slits and rub the marinade all over the skin and inside the fish. Leave for 20-30 minutes.
  • Heat a BBQ or grill pan to high and cook the fish for about 10 minutes on either side. N.B. My skin stuck so I’d drizzle some oil over the skin beforehand.  Set aside to cool.
  • For the dipping sauce, combine 250g fresh Pineapple, puréed, 3 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice, 1 Red Chilli, finely chopped.
  • To assemble: Have ready 12 Rice Spring Roll Wrappers, a bowl of Water, 100g cooke Rice Vermicelli, 200g Carrots, grated, ½ Pineapple,  ½ deseeded Cucumber and ½ Courgette all cut into thin matchsticks and a bunch of fresh Dill.
  • Wet a rice paper sheet by dipping your fingers in the water and running over the surface. Place a pinch of the Noodles and a tbsp of Sea Bass flesh in the centre and fold the paper in half over the filling. Then add 1-2 pieces of Pineapple, Cucumber and Courgette and a sprig of Dill. Fold the sides in and roll up.

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Apple and Blackberry Italian Trifle

    This pudding is a bit undecided; on the one hand it is fruity and looks like a trifle, but the savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone cream that make up its layers are borrowed from a tiramisu. So Italian Trifle seems appropriate. Essentially I thought up this due to my family loving trifle/hating tiramisu, me loving tiramisu, a glut of cooking apples and blackberries picked in the woods. It tastes delicious, especially about two days after hanging about, so it’s a good one to make on Friday evening for Sunday lunch.

    Serves 6
    • Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Peel, core and slice 3 Large Cooking Apples into 8 wedges and toss with the juice and zest of 1 Lemon in a baking dish.
    • Melt 150g Butter and cook until it turns golden. Then add ½ Tsp ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg and 4 Tbsp Soft Brown Sugar. Pour over the apples and roast for 30-40 mins or until the edges just start to caramelize. Leave to cool.
    • Beat 2 Egg Yolks with 90g Caster Sugar until pale and thickened. Stir in 250g Mascarpone.
    • Beat 1 Egg White until stiff and fold into the mascarpone mixture.
    • In a jug mix 100ml Milk and 100ml Rum, Masala or other liqueur together.
    • Have ready approx 16 savoiardi (or lady's fingers) biscuits. One my one soak 8 of the biscuits in the milk/liqueur mixture and arrange in a glass serving bowl.
    • Spoon over the apples and then 1/3 of the mascarpone cream.
    • Arrange the remaining biscuits (soaking as before) on top of this and then another layer of 1/3 of the cream. Refrigerate for up to 2 days (chilling the final 1/3 mascarpone cream also).
    • Just before serving, spread on the remaining cream and arrange a punnet of Blackberries on the top. Dust with grated Nutmeg and serve. 

    Thursday, 15 September 2011

    Mauve and Green

    I have always been drawn to mauve and green. Show me a wall covered in the wide curved leaves of a fig tree laden with purple clots and I’ll be happy. I like my porridge studded with blueberries (not with Bruce Forsyth precision, piled is ok) and if you want to make me blueberry pancakes, that’s even better. Wisteria, lilac and purple irises are my favourite plants (even my favourite rose…is shades of dark and light mauve). I even got excited about a men’s mauve candy stripe linen shirt the other day, and I am never without my green wool winter coat (particularly fetching with my faded mauve cord skinny trousers!). 

     So when I saw Nina Campbell’s Barrington fabric from her new Montacute Collection (to be launched at Decorex at the end of September), in all its mauve and green lilac-ness, I fell in love, and am determined to cover the walls of my bedroom in it. Below is an image from The English Home September issue of the fabric used in Campbell's own guest room. I like the way she has used mahogony furniture and crisp, purple-edged linen and the way the room feels traditional but not at all chintzy or twee. In my own room I have a gorgeous double mahogany and cane bed which would look fab set against this wallpaper and then I'd have very plain, heavy, off white curtains, perhaps edged in mauve or green so that the effect is not to girly. I better start saving...

    My bed, And So To Bed (poodle not included!), Paint in String, Farrow & Ball,  Ashburnham Quilt,  OKA

    I also have been coveting for some while Cole and Son’s Madras Violet wallpaper which is a slightly edgier floral print.

    Finally, true to form, I almost bullied my mum into using this gorgeous Sheila Yates Butterfly Ball fabric for the blinds in the renovated kitchen of our seaside house (sadly no longer ours, along with the fabric which I hope the new owners appreciated!) Taking the duck egg blue coloured AGA as our starting point we chose a colour scheme of said blue with mauve, cream and green which were brought out in the tiles behind the AGA and above the sink. The blinds were also lined in a fresh green candy stripe to look nice from outside and when rolled up.

    Friday, 9 September 2011

    French classic...Croque Monsieur

    Continuing with the French theme, I made that perfect French cheese on toast – a Croque Monsieur. Like the myth that French women don’t get fat, the myth that French people are averse to fast food is equal tosh – they are known to be the 2nd largest consumer of McDonalds. This fact seems strange because they have the option of such good bad food and still could get fat if they wanted – they invented butter-rich croissants, baguettes and frites! What do they want with cardboard burgers and creamy milk shakes? I guess you can't argue with a 3.50 euro Big Mac. Anyway, here is a quick and far better recipe…

    Makes 4
    • Make a white sauce by melting 20g Butter and stirring in 20g Plain Flour to form a paste. Cook gently for a minute (to take away the floury taste). Then gradually whisk in of 300ml Semi-Skimmed Milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking, until it thickens.
    • Stir in Salt and Pepper, 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard and 80g grated Gruyére Cheese.
    • Have ready 8 equal sized slices of Sourdough Bread. Spread one slice with a generous amount of the sauce and top with a couple of slices of Ham. Spread a little sauce on another slice and place on top of the first. Spread a thick layer of the sauce on top of that. Repeat with the other six slices to make four sandwiches.
    • Sprinkle another 20g grated Gruyére on the top and then place in the over for ten minutes. Finally place them under a hot grill until bubbling and golden.
    • Serve with a dressed green salad.