Bucks Fizz, Iochdar style

This Saturday’s cocktail was Bucks Fizz. I like my Champagne really dry for this, and all the ingredients and glasses well chilled. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 bottle of brut Champagne
  • 100 ml triple sec, such as Cointreau
  • 200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice

METHOD:

  • Mix the triple sec with the orange juice
  • Pour the champagne into champagne flutes, and top up with the supercharged orange juice, in a ratio of 2:1. This makes about six moderate glasses of Bucks Fizz. 

No pictures – it is all gone. 

 

Leek and Yoghurt soup with dried mint

This is totally delicious, much more than you’d think. I made this tonight, because of a constellation of ingredients in my fridge that inspired me to try. The trick with the egg and yoghurt really works for keeping the soup smooth. 

INGREDIENTS;

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1/2 tsp Turkish chilli flakes (pul biber) or paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried miint
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 150ml greek yoghurt
  • 250ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 20g/person caramelised butter
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the leeks: slice them in half lengthways, rinse and slice finely. 
  • Heat the olive oil and butter together until the butter starts to foam, and then fry the leeks over a low heat for ten minutes. 
  • Add the chilli and dried mint, cover and continue to cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, checking regularly to ensure that the leeks don’t stick or burn. 
  • Meanwhile, mix the egg yolk with the flour, to a smooth paste, and then beat in the yoghurt and stock. I used a soup wand to do this. 
  • When the leeks are cooked, sweet and soft, pour on the yoghurt and stock, and heat gently, do not allow to boil. Keep stirring as the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • To make browned butter, put around 20g per person in a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. The white milk solids will sink to the bottom. Keep cooking until the milk solids start to turn a gentle brown. Remove from the heat. 
  • Pour a little browned butter into each bowl before serving.

Prawns with caraway, tomatoes and green peppers

This dish is sensational. We bought 3kg of small Dublin bay prawns from a local fisherman, and boiled them for a couple of minutes in batches. The cooking water was flavoured with a pinch of saffron. We peeled them after they had cooled. Then I made this sauce and served them with toasted pitta bread and a green salad, as well as a stupendous white burgundy. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooked peeled prawns, as above
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 small dried hot chillies, crumbled
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp honey or sugar
  • chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, and fry the garlic over a medium to low heat until it starts to brown.
  • Add the caraway and the chilli and cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the green peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes, so that the sauce is reduced and thickening. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to your taste. 
  • Add the prawns and simmer for another couple of minutes to heat them through. 
  • Serve in a bowl, garnished with chopped parsley. A rocket salad and toasted pitta bread is ideal as an accompaniment. 

 

Pork chops in a cream and mustard sauce

We had guests round, and I had some pork chops in the freezer. This was delicious, nothing left at the end. Here are quantities for two. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pork chops
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • around 150ml white wine
  • around 150ml double cream
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Cornichons (optional, around 4 per serving)

METHOD:

  • Before cooking, season the chops with salt and pepper and set aside for at least half an hour
  • In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil together, and add crushed garlic, and then the chops. Brown the chops on each side and then cook until they are no longer pink inside, taking care not to over-cook them. 
  • Set the chops on a warm dish and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, pour off any excess fat and oil, and then add the wine to the pan. Bring to the boil and scrape any delicious sediment in the pan so that it dissolves. 
  • Pour in the cream, bring to a gentle boil for a very short time, stir in the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • If you are using cornichons, you can add a tbsp of the liquor from the jar to the sauce. 
  • Pour the sauce over the chops and serve with mashed potatoes. 

 

 

Gin Julep

Another Saturday evening cocktail with gin. Still working through the gin gifts from last Christmas. This time I used the Ramsbury gin from my brother. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves plus a separate wee sprig for a garnish
  • 1/4 floz (1 tsp+) fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 floz (1 tsp+) fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 floz (50ml) gin

METHOD:

  • Put the mint, lemon, lime and sugar in the bottom of a tumbler and crush them together
  • Add ice, and then the gin. 
  • Add a garnish of mint

Death in the gulf stream

Saturday cocktail hour. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 floz gin (50ml)
  • 1 1/2 floz lime juice (35ml) – about 1 small lime
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 3-4 splashes of Angostura bitters

METHOD:

  • Put a load of ice in a tall highball glass
  • Pour in the gin and the lime juice and stir
  • Add the bitters and sugar and stir again
  • Twist a strip of lime peel over the drink and then drop it in

Chicken, pepper and mushroom stew

We were given a marrow, a vegetable that I am not that confident with. We made stuffed marrow rings, and I didn’t get it right, so you’ll need to wait for a more successful version. Just to say that the marrow was not well-cooked. The redeeming feature was this stew, which I made to be the stuffing. We ended up eating it with couscous. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 250g mushrooms
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 can chopped tomatos
  • 500ml stock
  • 2 tsp cornflour (I mixed marigold stock powder with the cornflour before adding water)
  • salt and pepper
  • a good pinch of paprika
  • a good handful of chopped mint and dill (or 1 tsp each of dried mint and dill)

METHOD

  • Prepare all the ingredients. Chop the chicken into small pieces. Chop the onion finely. Core the pepper, remove the seeds and slice. Prepare the mushrooms and slice coarsely. 
  • Heat the oil in a casserole dish, and when it is hot,  gently fry the onion and peppers until soft. 
  • Add the chicken and mushroom, and fry for a further 4 minutes or so until the chicken is sealed. 
  • Meanwhile, mix a little stock with the cornflour to make a smooth paste, and then add the paste back to the stock and mix. 
  • Add the tomatoes to the chicken in the pan, and bring to a simmer
  • Add the stock, paprika, salt and pepper and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the stew starts to thicken. 
  • Cover the casserole and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes max.

Serve with couscous and garnished with chopped herbs, such as parsley and dill. 

Elderflower Collins

Last Christmas was the Christmas of Gin. I’ve just opened the bottle from my sister Louise, very nice Dockyard Gin. It came with a recipe for Elderflower Collins. Very good. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50ml gin
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 25ml elderflower cordial
  • 10ml simple syrup, or to taste
  • Soda water, or sparkling water

METHOD:

  • In a tall glass, over ice, add the cordial, syrup, lemon juice and gin, and stir together. 
  • Top up with soda and garnish with lemon peel. 

Very refreshing. 

Rhubarb and ginger jam

I mentioned the large quantities of jam in our house to Spaid, and he started reminiscing about rhubarb jam, the best jam in the world if you come from the Hebrides. I made some, adds good vibes to work. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 kg summer rhubarb, chopped into very small segments
  • 25 g crystalised ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 kg jam sugar

METHOD:

  • Chop the rhubarb and put it in the jam pan, with the finely chopped crystalised ginger, and the lemon juice. Pour the sugar over the top. Leave the mixture overnight. 
  • The next day, heat the rhubarb and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved, and then quickly bring to a fast boil, and boil until setting point is reached. 
  • Pour into warmed jars. 

 

Tunisian seafood stew with fennel

This is a delicious recipe, you can use it with just about any seafood you like. We made it with some fish that Hector gave us, and some squat lobsters. Any mixture of fillets of white fish, mussels, prawns, etcetera could be used. I started with a recipe in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. A few adaptations were made – I want to use local fresh seafood, and good cooking tomatoes are not always available. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into thin segmental wedges
  • 1 large firm-fleshed potato such as Maris Piper, or 200g of any waxy potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes.
  • 700 ml fish, vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 a medium preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • mixed prepared seafood – enough for four people, around 600g
  • 3 tbsp raki or similar spirit
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a wide casserole dish over a low heat, and add the olive oil, and gently fry the garlic for a couple of minutes
  • Add the fennel and potato, and cook for a further three to four minutes
  • Add stock, preserved lemon, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 12 minutes, until the potatoes are done. 
  • Add the chilli, tomatoes, paprika, saffron, half the parsley, tarragon, and cook through for another few minutes. Add the raki and bring to the boil.
  • Add the seafood, and enough boiling water to cover, bring back to the boil and cover, cooking fast for three to five minutes, until the fish is just done. 
  • Serve over couscous, garnished with chopped parsley.

The original recipe suggests taking out the seafood once it is cooked , and then adding the raki, reducing the sauce then adding the fish back in. I didn’t have the patience.