Fish tagine with potatoes, tomatoes and olives

We had some white fish in the freezer, so I had another go at making this, from a recipe book called Moro. The first time I made it, the fish was wildly over-cooked, so it is adapted to take cognisance of the random bits of fish we sometimes get. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Approximately 600g fish – white fish fillets, prawns, etcetera
  • A bag of approx 20 small salad potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 tbsp oily black olives
  • 100ml water
  • salt and pepper

Marinade ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil. 

METHOD:

  • Make the marinade. Crush the garlic to a paste with the salt. 
  • Add the cumin and paprika, and continue to crush together, adding the other ingredients until reasonably well blended. 
  • Cut the fish into portions
  • Mix about two thirds of the marinade mix with the fish, cover and set aside. 
  • Next, prepare the other ingredients:
    • Boil the new potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain, cool and peel. Cut into halves.
    • Slice the four garlic cloves
    • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
    • Take the stems off the green peppers, and scrape out the seeds. Put them in a microwave dish with a lid and cook on high for about seven minutes. Take them out, and remove the lid after a couple of minutes. Peel the outer skin off the cooked peppers. Chop the peppers into strips. 
  • In a medium pan, heat the olive oil, and over a medium heat, fry the garlic for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown. 
  • Add the tomatoes, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the green peppers and the rest of the marinade, and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Put the cooked potatoes in the bottom of a large flat casserole dish or tagine dish. Cover with most of the tomato mixture, then add the fish in a layer, still coated with the marinade. Then complete with the rest of the tomato mixture, and the olives.
  • Add 100ml hot water, and cook for a further 6 minutes or so, until the fish is just cooked through. 

Serve with bread and salad. 

Lamb and Carrot Stew with pickled sour grapes

So delicious. I tried this recipe from the marvellous book, ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. I had to order the grapes pickled in brine from Persepolis in Peckham. They also have excellent quality saffron and other essential Persian spices. If you can’t get pickled grapes, something else sour would do, such as lime or lemon juice, or small gooseberries. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • around 400g boned lamb, for example, leg steaks or boned shoulder, cut into fairly large chunks. 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 500g carrots (around 5 medium carrots) chopped into batons around 3cm long. 
  • a tiny pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 4 tbsp pickled sour grapes. 

METHOD:

  • Over a medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil, until beginning to brown. 
  • Add the meat, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, and fry until the meat is browned. 
  • Stir in the tomato paste and salt, and stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the meat, bring to a simmer and set to cook over a low heat for an hour and a quarter or so. 
  • Meanwhile, cut the carrots into batons and fry in the butter until beginning to caramelise at the edges. 
  • When the meat is almost cooked, combine with the carrots and add the saffron water, and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or so.
  • Check the seasoning, add the pickled grapes and stir. When you are sure the meat is really tender, serve with basmati rice. 

 

Italian Sausage Casserole

In the freezer I had a large Italian pork sausage, flavoured with fennel. I made this stew, which could be made with any good quality coarse pork sausage, for example a Cumberland sausage. The stew is very easy to make, and we served it with creamed potato and celeriac mash, and sea kale florets. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 coarse Italian pork sausages (around 400g) or similar
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or other chilli powder
  • 1 tsp date syrup, or treacle
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (I used the mystery herbs from Italy)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Fry the sausages in the oil in a large frying pan for around 8 minutes, until they are browned. Transfer to a casserole dish. 
  • Fry the onions in the same pan over a medium heat, for around 5 minutes, until they are beginning to brown.
  • Add the crushed garlic and chilli, and cook, stirring for another couple of minutes
  • Add the stock, tomatoes, puree and herbs, and bring to a simmer.
  • Pour over the sausages in the casserole dish, and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

This tastes better if it is not boiling hot, let it sit for a few minutes whilst preparing the mash and vegetables. 

Venison and Guinness …

You could make this into a pie, a stew, or a steamed pudding. I added dumplings, rather than going out to buy potatoes. The venison came from Storas Uibhist. You can get this locally by visiting Eat Drink Hebrides. 

INGREDIENTS:

For the stew:

  • 500g venison, cubed 
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small celeriac
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 150ml guiness
  • 100ml stock
  • salt and pepper

For the dumplings:

  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g shredded suet
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 3-4 tbsp cold water

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion finely, peel and dice the celeriac. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole pan and fry the vegetables until they are just beginning to brown. 
  • Add the herbs and the meat, and fry until the meat is browned.
  • Sprinkle in the cornflour, stir, and then slowly add the Guinness and stock. Bring to a simmer, and then season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven at 140C for an hour and a half – then add the dumplings.
  • Make the dumplings so that you can add them to the stew for the final cooking time.
  • Mix the flour, salt, herbs and suet in a bowl and then add the water to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, and cut into 8 bits. Roll each dumpling into a ball, coating with a little flour.
  • Drop the dumplings into the stew, and return to the oven at 200C for a further 20 minutes.  

If you are going to make the stew into a pudding, make a suet pastry using 110g self-raising flour, 110g fresh white breadcrumbs, 110g suet, a pinch of salt and approx 140ml cold water. Line a greased pudding bowl with 3/4 of the pastry, fill with the stew, cap with the rest of the pastry, and steam for 2 hours. 

Venison Stew with Membrillo

It is time to make the most of what is in the freezer. I am avoiding going out as much as possible, and eating some of the odd ingredients that are stashed in our freezer. I often take inspiration from recipes from the internet, adapted to what I have. In the freezer, for this recipe, I had some venison diced for stew, and I also had an old pack of membrillo, a quince paste that is generally served with Manchego cheese. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g diced venison
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml stock
  • 1 tbsp membrillo paste
  • salt to taste

METHOD:

  • Marinade the meat for at least two hours, and preferably overnight, in the wine and olive oil, seasoned with black pepper and dried rosemary. 
  • Strain the marinade and set aside. 
  • In a casserole dish, fry the venison in a little more olive oil,
  • When the meat is browned, add the strained marinade, stock and membrillo paste. 
  • Cook in a slow oven, around 140 C for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, when the meat should be tender. Season to taste

I served this with kale tops and mashed potatoes. 

Pheasant casserole

A shout-out to all of you who are thinking about seeking out the food in your freezers in an emergency, to all of you who have found a couple of pheasants in there. I love a good basic pheasant casserole, it works very well in a coq-au-vin style stew. This version is from Norman Tebbit’s recipe book ‘The Game Cook’. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 pheasant (I usually joint the pheasant but you don’t have to.)
  • 120g streaky bacon, lardons or similar
  • 1 large onion
  • 200ml red wine
  • 600ml stock
  • 225g mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • Bayleaf
  • Pinch of dried thyme leaves (or use a bouquet garni)
  • 1 tbsp flour blended to a paste with 25g butter

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan and brown the pheasant, transfer to a large casserole dish
  • Saute the bacon in the frying pan, along with the finely chopped onion, until the onion begins to brown
  • Add the fried onion to the casserole dish, along with the wine, stock, herbs, salt and pepper. 
  • Cook in the oven for a couple of hours. 
  • When the pheasant is almost cooked, add the mushrooms. 
  • Once the mushrooms are cooked, you can thicken the stew with the butter/flour mixture. Adjust the seasoning, and serve

I like mashed potato and celeriac with this casserole.

There are other options to add flavour to this casserole. A spoonful of rowanberry jelly or red current jelly adds a fruity twist, or you could add a little cooking apple. Another option would be to add a splash of cream at the end. You could swap the onions for shallots or leeks. 

Lamb and prunes (Persian Style)

This is a classic combination of lamb and prunes, found across many cultures and cooking styles. This particular recipe is from the north west of Iran, near the border with Turkey. It is totally delicious and relatively easy. I found the recipe in the magnificent book ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Of course, we don’t have 100% of the ingredients in South Uist, but she makes suggestions that helped me to adapt to local circumstances. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 400g lamb neck fillets or lean tender lamb (I used boned lamb chops)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped in half
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tsp salt 
  • 100g yellow split peas
  • 8 prunes
  • Oil to fry the potatoes. 

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a heavy pan, and fry the onions over a medium heat until they are browning. 
  • Add the meat, turmeric and curry powder, and continue to stir and cook until the meat is browned. 
  • Add the tomato paste, cook for another couple of minutes, and then cover the meat in boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour and a half, until the meat is tender. 
  • Meanwhile, soak the apricots in water for at least 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, cook the yellow peas – put them in a small saucepan and cover with water, and simmer over a low heat. The peas should be soft but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water. 
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes, and put them in cold water with the salt. 
  • When the meat is nearly tender, drain the apricots and add to the stew along with the prunes and split peas. Add a little water if needed to make sure all the ingredients are covered. Bring back to the boil and continue to simmer until the peas are soft. 
  • About 30 minutes before serving, check for seasoning. Drain the potatoes, and fry them in hot oil for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden and crispy. 

Serve the stew with the fried potatoes on top. This goes well with plain rice. 

Venison Curry

For Christmas, we had pot-roast venison, with a lemon and horseradish gravy. We had a lot of venison for two people, so I also made this curry. It is adapted from a very odd recipe from the BBC website – the quantities were mad, and didn’t match between imperial and metric, so I sort of made up the gaps. It was delicious, although rather hot. I’d like to make it again, so here is what I did. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg venison, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2cm of ginger root, grated
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp kashmir chilli powder, or 1 tbsp ordinary chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp crushed juniper seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp molasses sugar or other brown sugar or treacle
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • greek-style thick plain yoghurt
  • 500ml stock (I used the lemon gravy)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole dish, and fry the chopped onions over a medium heat. 
  • After around 5 minutes, add the crushed garlic, grated ginger and chopped chillies. 
  • When the onions are browning, add the venison, and stir in to cook and brown the meat.
  • Add the spices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring them in well. 
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer. 
  • Cook over a low heat on the hob or in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. If you are using left-overs, half an hour should be enough. 

To serve, stir in two tablespoons of yoghurt, and garnish with the chopped coriander. Serve with nan bread or rice, and with a side-dish of yoghurt. 

Venison casserole with red wine

I am lucky to live in a place where wild venison from red deer is readily available. This year I have bought my venison from South Uist Estates. We’ve now got rather a lot in the freezer, and the Christmas Day menu is sorted. 

Tonight I made a casserole using the recipe in The Game Cook by Norman Tebbit. I did add a few variations, couldn’t help myself. It was very very good. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g shoulder of venison, diced
  • 100g smoked pancetta, or streaky bacon cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml stock
  • 150ml red wine
  • 100g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Bouquet garni (I used the mystery herbs with added bayleaves)
  • a couple of good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

MARINADE INGREDIENTS:

  • 150ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brandy or rum
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Peel of 1/4 orange, shredded

METHOD:

  • Put all of the marinade ingredients in a plastic box with a secure lid. Add the venison, shake it all around to mix, and then leave overnight in the fridge. 
  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Take the venison out of the marinade, wipe off the chopped onion and orange, and set aside. Strain the marinade and save that as well. 
  • Heat the oil and butter together in a large casserole dish, and gently fry the pancetta. Once it starts cooking, add the chopped onion, carrot, garlic and celery, and continue to cook until the vegetables are beginning to brown. 
  • Toss the venison in the seasoned flour, and then add the flour, herbs and meat to the pan. Keep stirring the meat in the pan until it starts to brown. 
  • Once the mixture is really dry, add the marinade, the red wine and the stock, a good splash of Worcestershire sauce, and  bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. The liquid should cover the vegetables and meat. 
  • Add the mushrooms, check for seasoning, and then put the casserole into the oven for a couple of hours. 

Serve with mashed potato, and a green vegetable. Try adding celeriac to the mash, or serving with roasted parsnips. 

Wild goose with carrots and pomegranate molasses

This is a bit of a riff on a Persian recipe, but as I didn’t have some key ingredients, I went off-piste. This is probably frowned upon by the purists, but it was delicious. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 wild goose breasts, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 20g butter
  • 500g carrots, cut into batons (about the size of your little finger)
  • 1/2 tsp saffron water (a tiny pinch of saffron in boiling water)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, over a medium to high heat. Add the chopped onions, and fry for around 10 minutes until they are browning. You’ll need to keep an eye and keep stirring to stop any sticking or burning. 
  • Add the goose, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, and fry until the meat is browned. 
  • Stir in the tomato paste, salt and pomegranate molasses, and cook for another couple of minutes, until it is all hot through.
  • Pour in enough water to cover everything by a couple of centimetres. and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for an hour and a half. 
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to foam slightly, add the carrot batons, and lower the heat. Gently fry the carrots until they start to brown slightly around the edges. 
  • Add the carrots to the stew with the saffron water. If needed, add a little more water to the stew. Bring back to a simmer, and then keep cooking until the carrots are very soft. 

Serve with basmati rice.