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Crab ravioli with a lobster bisque sauce

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Ingredients

For the pasta;

550g ‘00’ flour
4 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
1tblsp olive oil
Salt to taste

For the Ravioli;

200g fresh crab meat
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1tblsp chopped chives and chervil mixed
Seasoning
1 egg white

For the Lobster Bisque Sauce;

1kg lobster shells
1kg langoustine shells
200ml of brandy
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
2 carrots
50g tomato puree
400ml white wine
6 tomatoes
1tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
250ml double cream
100g unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Method;

For the pasta;

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together  they’ll all bind together to give you one big, smooth lump of dough!
You can also make your dough in a food processor if you’ve got one. Just place everything in, blend until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands.
Once you’ve made your dough you need to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise your pasta will be flabby and soft when you cook it, instead of springy and al dente.
There’s no secret to kneading. You just have to work the dough hard with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, pulling it, stretching it, and squashing it again. When your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, then the dough is ready. When ready wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it. Make sure the cling film covers it well or it will dry out and go crusty round the edges.

For the crab ravioli filling;

Finely chop shallots and garlic and combine with crab meat. Add chopped chervil and chives and seasoning to taste. Add 1 egg and mix well.


For the lobster bisque sauce;

In a large saucepan, fry lobster shells and prawn shells in a little olive oil for 5mins. Add the brandy and flambé. Add chopped onion, garlic, celery and carrot, and fry for a further 5mins. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further 2-3mins, stirring all the time. Add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Add chopped tomatoes, paprika and bay leaf, season to taste, and stir well. Cover with water and bring to boil and then gently simmer for 1 hour, skimming the surface periodically to remove scum.
Pass through a fine-meshed sieve and return to saucepan and gently reduce to half the volume. Gently whisk in double cream and bring back to the boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until sauce thickens, add lemon juice and add seasoning to taste.

To Serve;

Roll the pasta as directed in the pasta recipe on this blog under base recipes.
Lay the sheets onto a work surface and cut with a large pastry ring. Place tablespoon of filling into the middle of each pasta ring. Brush around the filling with the beaten egg and place another pasta ring over the top. Press down around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Place the ravioli’s onto a well floured surface and continue with the same process with the other 3 quarters of pasta dough.
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the water and cook the ravioli in batches until all are cooked al dente.
Drain and serve in large bowl with lobster bisque sauce. Garnish with micro cress, wilted spinach and tomato concasse.

Seared scallops with butternut squash purée, creamed leeks and crispy bacon and morels.

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The best scallops can be found in and around the shores of Scotland and Northern Ireland and those that are handpicked by divers as opposed to dredged are the best quality of all, as they are free from grit and have not been damaged through dredging. If you are buying scallops in the shell (which seem to be becoming increasingly harder to find), make sure they are tightly closed when you buy them, as this shows how fresh they really are.
Although you don’t need the orange coral for this recipe, don’t throw them away. They can be used in a variety of different ways. They make a great base for a Velouté (cream based sauce), or they can be dried and ground into a fine powder and used as a seasoning or a flavouring and used in risottos and sauces.
This is fantastic dish (well worth the effort to make this at home), with a great depth of flavour. The sweet flavour from the scallops and butternut squash purée all work brilliantly with the salty, crisp bacon. These flavours are all pulled together with the creamed leeks and morels, making this dish a great way to start a gourmet meal.

Ingredients;

For the butternut Squash puree;

1 butternut squash, cut into rough chunks
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Sprig of thyme
50ml olive oil
10g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
50ml double cream
20g cold butter, diced

For the creamed Leeks;

2 leeks washed and cut into very fine Julienne strips
1tblsp of butter
100ml white wine
200ml double cream
20g Glebe Breton cheese or Gruyere grated
Salt and pepper to taste

For the potato bread;

4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved  
1 pinch salt       
¼ cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting  
1tblsp melted butter

To serve;

50g thin slices of dry cured streaky bacon
12 medium Irish scallops, White meat only, trimmed off all coral
Salt and pepper to taste
1tblsp olive oil
25g butter
Squeeze of lemon
12 morels, washed and lightly cooked in butter
Reduced Jus

Method:

For the butternut Squash puree;

Pre heat the oven to 170c.
Place the butternut squash onto a large roasting tray with the garlic, sprig of thyme, olive oil, butter, season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the tray into the pre heated oven and roast for 40-45mins or until the squash flesh is very tender. Remove from the oven and scoop out flesh with a spoon. Place the cooked butternut squash into a blender and purée with the double cream until very smooth. Add the 20g butter to and blend again until all of the butter is incorporated. This will give the purée a beautiful glossy finish. Adjust seasoning.
If making the purée in advance, don’t add the butter until ready to serve. Chilli the purée and store in the fridge. Reheat when ready to serve and add the butter at the last minute.

For the creamed leeks;

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat until the leeks are just starting to soften. Turn up the heat under the pan and add the wine, reduce until almost evaporated. Add the cream and bring to the boil, turn the pan to a simmer and cook until the leeks are well coated in a light sauce, about 5-7mins.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheese, season to taste.

For the potato bread;

In a pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on medium-high heat until the centre of the potatoes are tender when pricked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Drain, return potatoes to pot and allow to completely dry out over remaining heat. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Place warm mashed potato in medium bowl. Stir in flour, salt and melted butter. Mix lightly until dough forms. On a well floured surface, knead the dough lightly. The dough will be sticky. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the potato mixture. Cut the potato bread into small cakes using a small ring cutter.
Sprinkle a little flour into the base of the skillet or a dry frying pan and cook the farls for 3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned and cooked through.

To serve;

Place slices of bacon onto a metal baking tray. Place another tray on top and cook in the pre heated oven for approx 7mins or until the bacon slices are very crisp, be careful as they will burn quite easily. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Place a large none stick frying pan over high heat. Add a little olive oil, Season the scallops with salt and pepper and panfry over high heat for 1 ½ minutes. This should give the scallops a lovely golden caramelised surface. Turn the scallops over and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt and spoon the butter all over the scallops; cook for a further 45seconds or until just cooked through and no more. Add a squeeze of lemon and remove from the heat.

Spoon the butternut squash purée across the centre of a warm serving plate. Place a slice of potato bread at the top of the plate and top with a little of the creamed leeks.
Place 1 of the scallops on top of the leeks. Place the other 2 scallops at the front of your plate. Garnish with crisp bacon slices, morels and drizzle with the reduced jus.
Serve at once and enjoy!!!!!


Beetroot and Goat’s cheese risotto

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I love beetroot and this is a fantastic way to show off its vibrant colour.  This is a very simple recipe to make and is great for a starter or a vegetarian main course. The saltiness of the goat’s cheese work incredibly well with the deep earthy flavours of the beetroot and the addition of the cooking stock adds a wonderful, but subtle sweet and sour notes to the dish.
Well worth a try!!!!!!

Ingredients;

For cooking the beetroot;

3 large beetroot washed well
1.5ltr vegetable stock
100ml red wine
75mlred port
75ml sherry vinegar
60g sugar
Seasoning
6 sheets of gelatine soaked in cold water

For the risotto;

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g Aborio rice
150g St Tola Irish goat’s cheese
A handful of fresh thyme, oregano, parsley and chives
Sea salt and fresh black pepper

Method;

For cooking the beetroot;
Place the beetroot, water, red wine, port, sherry vinegar and sugar into a medium size pan.
Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, simmer the beetroot for 2 hours or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow the beetroot to cool in the stock. When cool enough to handle peel the beetroot and strain the cooking liquid through a very fine sieve, season to taste. Reserve 800ml of cooking liquid.

For the risotto;

Gently heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and sweat until transparent.  Add the diced beetroot and cook until the beetroot starts to brown (5-10mins over low heat).Add the Aborio rice and stir until all the grains are coated with oil.
In a seperate pan heat the stock. Add the stock to the rice pan a ladle at a time, gently stirring after each addition until it is absorbed. Continue until the risotto is cooked but retains a slight bite. Just before serving, add the goat’s cheese and herbs and season to taste with salt, pepper

Classic Lemon Tart

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This is a very simple tart that is the perfect finish to any dinner party. The recipe is very easy to follow but it is very important that the tart is just cooked and no more with a slight wobble in the middle, if it is over cooked it will taste and look like scrambled eggs. If you have a blow torch the tart can be glazed just before serving giving a lovely added crunch to the dish.
I love to serve this tart very simply with a scoop of crème fraîche, some fresh raspberries and a little raspberry coulis. ‘A classic combination’

Serves 8

Ingredients;

For the pastry;

200g plain flour
50g icing sugar
100g cold butter, diced
1 egg, beaten
1tsp water
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk


For the tart;

10 eggs
3 egg yolks
500g caster sugar
375ml double cream
Grated zest and juice of 5 lemons

Method;

For the pastry;

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, water and salt and mix together, turn out onto a flour surface and knead until soft, smooth dough is achieved. Wrap in cling film and rest for 1 hour in the fridge. Remove from the fridge and roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, enough to line a 23cm tart tin. Line with grease proof paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake like this for 20mins at 180c then remove the paper. Brush the base all over, evenly with the egg yolk and bake for a further 5mins. Remove from the oven. Brushing with the egg yolk over the base of the tart case will help to prevent any leaking when you add the wet lemon mixture.

For the tart;

Mix the eggs, yolks and sugar and whisk until smooth, add the cream and whisk again. Finally add the lemon juice and zest and mix well. The mixture may thicken, don’t worry.
Pour into the prepared and blind baked pastry cases and cook at 160c for 30mins or until just set. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 30mins.
Serve at room temperature with crème fraîche, fresh cream or ice cream of your choice, and some fresh raspberries.

If you have a blow torch simply sprinkle icing sugar over the tart quite generously and use the blow torch to glaze the tart making sure you get an even colour.





Scallop, prawn and salmon gratin

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Monday night in our house is cooking night with the kids. I started this when the kids were quite young to encourage them to eat a diverse range of foods and to get them to enjoy cooking as well as eating. I have found that when children cook they really start to enjoy food. It has worked a treat and now my kids will try anything before they decide whether they like it or not.
The children always decide during the week what we will be having for dinner on Monday night. Last week they choose to make a seafood gratin. They both love seafood so much so they were very excited about making this dish. They made this dish with very little help from me; I was just there for support.
I know we all have busy lifestyle but it is well worth trying to find a little time to spend with the kids in the kitchen. They really do enjoy it and they do start to look at food in a completely different way.
I will start to post a lot more of the dishes that I cook with my children, because I think it’s a very important life skill to have, and a healthy diet means healthier kids.

Jasmine's knife skills on display, skinning the salmon

Jasmine cutting the salmon

Jake grating (tasting) the cheese

Jake making the bechamel sauce

Jasmine grating the bread for fresh breadcrumbs

Poaching the fish

Draining the fish

Placing the fish carfully into the cooking dish

Pouring over the remaining sauce

Jake finishing touches with the cheesy breadcrumbs


He looks proud of the finished dish, ready to go in the oven

Jasmine shows off the finished dish


The finished dinner!! 'Wow it tasted amazing'

Ingredients;

300ml Milk
2 bay leaves
250g Salmon, skinned, pin boned and diced
200g Scallops, white meat only
200g Prawns, peeled
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
30g butter
30g flour
100ml white wine
3tblsp chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
200g breadcrumbs
200g grated cheddar cheese
Mash potatoes, steamed broccoli and mixed salad to serve

Method;

Pre heat the oven to 180c.
Place a medium pan over high heat and add the milk and the bay leaves. Bring to the boil and turn to a very low simmer. Season all of the fish. Add the diced salmon and simmer for 1 minute, after a minute add the scallops and continue to simmer for a further minute. Add the prawns and remove from the heat. Allow the fish to sit in the pan for 2minutes only, then strain and set aside. Reserve the milk.

In a separate pan add the butter and the diced onion and the garlic, cook over low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Add the white wine and reduce by half, slowly add the hot fish milk a spoonful at a time until all of the milk has been used and you have a smooth velvety sauce. Remove from the heat and add the chopped parsley and the lemon juice. Season to taste.

Place the fish mixture into a oven proof dish. Mix together the breadcrumbs and the grated cheese and sprinkle over the top of the dish.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 10-12min or until golden brown.
Serve with mash potatoes, steamed broccoli, mixed leaf salad and freshly cooked bread.

For the mash potatoes;

Use a potato peeler to pare off the potato skins as thinly as possible, then cut the potatoes into even-sized chunks – not too small; if they are large, quarter them, and if they are small, halve them. Put the potato chunks in a steamer fitted over a large pan of boiling water, sprinkle the salt all over them, put a lid on and steam the potatoes until they are absolutely tender – they should take 20-25 minutes. The way to tell whether they are ready is to pierce them with a skewer in the thickest part: they should not be hard in the centre, and you need to be careful here, because if they are slightly underdone you do get lumps.
When the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the steamer, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan and cover with a clean tea cloth for about 4 minutes to absorb some of the steam, then add the butter, milk and crème fraîche. When you first go in with the whisk, use a slow speed to break the potatoes up, then increase it to high and whip them up to a smooth, creamy, fluffy mass.
Taste and, if they need it, season.

Grilled tuna with caponata and cazzilli potatoes

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On a holiday in Sicily, my wife Andrea and I visited a small restaurant for lunch it was a very simple restaurant with no frills and relaxed and friendly service. We looked at the menu and I noticed fresh tuna served with caponata and a side dish of cazzilli potatoes (Sicilian croquette potatoes). I ordered it and was amazed at how simple the dish was but how intense the flavours where. I was so impressed with the caponata that I asked the chef for the recipe, he gave me the recipe and from then on I fell in love with this dish.

The caponata recipe below makes a lot more than you will need for this recipe, but it keeps for a month if stored in a sterilised seal jar in the fridge and is such a great chutney to have on hand. Try it with your favourite cheese, on a sandwich or with mixed cured hams.

Ingredients;

For the cazzilli potatoes;

500g mashed potatoes
1 egg yolk
1tblsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
½tblsp of mixed, mint and tarragon chopped
1 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic crushed
50g toasted pine nuts
50g parmesan grated
50g Parma ham, finely chopped
Seasoning
100g plain flour
2 eggs mixed with 50ml milk
100g breadcrumbs

For the caponata;

4 aubergines, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
Olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
6 cloves of garlic crushed
4 sticks of celery, diced
200ml tomato paste
250ml red wine vinegar
4tblsp caster sugar
25 black olives, pitted and chopped
50g capers
1 cup of mixed parsley, basil and tarragon chopped
Cracked black pepper
Seasoning

For the tuna and to serve;

4 x 150g portions of very fresh tuna steak
Maldon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1tblsp olive oil
4 deep fried basil leaves

Method;

For the cazzilli potatoes;

Place the potatoes into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, season to taste.
Roll into desired shapes. Lay out three flat trays. In the first tray place the plain flour, in the second the egg wash and in the third the breadcrumbs.
Dip each croquette first in the flour then the egg and followed by the breadcrumbs, making sure they are completely covered. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

For the caponata;

Salt the aubergines for 1 hour then rinse well and pat dry.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a large pan and fry the aubergine in batches over high heat until golden brown, remove to a pepper towel and drain.
In a large pan heat some olive oil and add the onions, garlic and celery, cook until browned then stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for 5mins. Pour the vinegar and the sugar into the pan and cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the aubergine, olives and capers to the pan and simmer for 30mins, remove from the stove and add the herbs, allow to cool. Store in the fridge until ready for use.

For the tuna and to serve;

Heat a deep fat fryer filled with oil to 180c. Deep fry the cazzilli potatoes in the hot oil until golden brown and heated through.
Place a grill pan over high heat. Take each tuna steak and season well with salt and pepper. Brush each steak with olive oil on both sides. Cook the steaks in the hot pan for 1-2mins per side; this will leave the tuna nice and rare in the centre.
Place some of the caponata into a small pan over medium heat and heat until the caponata has been heated through.

Place the tuna into the centre of a serving plate, place 2 croquettes to the side. Add a spoonful of caponata on top of the tuna and garnish with a deep fried basil leaf if using. drizzle a little of the oil of the caponata around the tuna.

Serve with a simple dressed green salad and some crusty bread for a complete meal.

Caesar Salad

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Caesar salad must be one of the most popular salads in the world; it is a great salad if made with a little care and good ingredients. Buy good parmesan and good quality anchovies as this will make all the difference to the end result. The recipe for the dressing will make more than is needed but it will keep for a week in the fridge and is handy to have on hand.
I find it works very well a spoonful stirred into lightly crushed new season potatoes served with pan fried cod and some crispy streaky bacon.

Ingredients;

2 egg yolks
1 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 anchovies, drained
1tsp Dijon mustard
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Juice of half a lemon
500ml of olive oil
50ml anchovy oil
100g grated parmesan
Cracked black pepper

1 large cos lettuce
A day old baguette, crust removed and thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2tblsp butter
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
8 slices of streaky bacon, baked until crispy and chopped, reserve any oil left from cooking
4 soft boiled quail eggs, each cut in half
50g shaved parmesan

Method;

For the salad;

Discard any bruised leaves from the lettuce, wash the remaining leaves and dry thoroughly and set aside. Melt the butter in an oven tray with the garlic. Once melted, drizzle the melted butter over the slices of bread, transfer to an oven and cook at 160c until golden, 10-15mins, keep checking the croutons to prevent them from burning. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.

For the dressing;

Place the egg, garlic, anchovies, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice into a blender and blend. Mix the oils together (including the bacon oil if using, it adds a wonderful flavour), and with the motor still running in the blender, slowly trickle in the oils until a thick creamy sauce is achieved. Stir in the parmesan and the pepper, and check to see if a little salt is needed.

To complete the dish;

Rip the cos into large pieces and place into a bowl, add a generous amount of dressing and mix to coat the leaves. Add the croutons, anchovies and cooked bacon, mix well and place into a large serving bowl top two quail egg halves and shaved parmesan and serve.