This is sort of, nearly a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s “Little Paris Kitchen”. But typically, we changed it a bit to suit us! It’s a really simple fish dish, just pan-fried, crispy-skin sea bass fillets with a brown butter, lemon, parsley and caper sauce – classic and beautiful. You are supposed to dredge the fish in flour and then fry it but we decided to just whack it in the pan. While we do absolutely love spices and exotic ingredients (as we’re sure you’ll know if you’ve looked at our blog for more than 30 seconds!) sometimes the classics are the way to go and this was definitely a winner with us. We served ours with roasted baby potatoes and salad to keep it light and simple.
Two fish fillets, skin on. Pretty much any would work, we used sea bass but plaice would be lovely too.
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
25g unsalted butter
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp capers, drained
Slash the skin of the fish to stop it curling up and help it cook evenly. Sprinkle the skin side with sea salt and the top with black pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and then add the fish, skin side down. Leave to cook until you can see the flesh of the fish is cooked about two thirds of the way through and the edges are starting to turn golden. Flip the fillets over, turn off the heat and let the residual heat of the pan finish cooking them for a perfectly juicy fillet. If you have thicker fillets such as salmon cook on a lower heat for longer, flip over, keep the heat on for around 30 seconds and then turn off. Bird’s mum taught her to cook fish this way and it’s certainly always worked for us!
Take the fish out of the pan and put on a warm plate. Now it’s time to make a super speedy sauce in less than a minute! Give the pan a wipe with some kitchen roll and put back on a medium heat. Tip in the butter and cook, swirling occasionally until brown and smelling beautifully nutty. At this point squeeze in the lemon juice, it will spit like mad so watch out! Once it’s calmed down tip in the parsley and capers, swirl to combine and that’s it. You don’t want to cook the parsley, you want it to retain it’s beautiful green colour so make sure you don’t keep it on the heat once you’ve added the parsley. Put the fish on your serving plates with your chosen accompaniments and pour the sauce over the fish.
This is such an easy mid-week meal to whip up and it’s healthy yet a little indulgent with the butter, plus it can be adapted to suit almost any fish. Give it a try this week!
If you’re anything like us you’ll have been longing for a glimpse of summer ever since Christmas – as far as we’re concerned, winter can get lost already and make way for some warmth! While this pasta dish can’t quite transport you forward in time 6 months (still working on that one), it is full of the taste of summer and will leave you feeling fresh and with a smile on your face! It’s another of our super-quick specialities, it will take no longer to cook than the pasta.
For 2 people, you’ll need:
About 180g of tagliatelle
3-4 mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Start by putting your pasta on to cook in a large pan of salted water – a couple of large pinches of salt ought to be enough. While it is cooking, slice your courgette into thin ribbons – its easiest if you use a potato peeler for this bit. Chop the herbs while this is happening, and put to one side.
When the pasta is cooked but before you drain it, throw the courgette ribbons into the same pan. Leave them in for just long enough to be stirred in with the rest of the pasta, and then drain it all. Put back in the pan you used to cook them, and add the herbs, half of the lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, and the extra virgin olive oil. Mix it all together and serve! Garnish with some lovely photogenic basil leaves, if you have any lying around, and serve up the rest of the lemon just in case anyone wants an extra squeeze…
That couldn’t have been easier could it? We eat meals like this all the time in the summer – really simple, fresh pasta dishes that are comforting and yet leave you feeling rather virtuous… And in the winter they make a lovely change from soups and stews!
We made these pancakes a long time ago and then forgot to post them… oops! But we’re posting them for you now as so many people will be baking their hearts out in the run up to Christmas (sorry about the c-bomb guys!) and this is a rather neat way of using up some leftovers. Remember when we made these lemon tarts? It made a bit too much mixture and it was far too tasty to contemplate throwing it down the sink so we popped it in the fridge and vowed to make something with it the following night. What we came up with was fluffy American-style lemon pancakes! Neither of us had ever made an American-style pancake before (British ones are more like crepes, they don’t have a rising agent) so it was pure making it up as we went along but these turned out beautifully. The measurements are total guesses, you’ll just have to go on the look and feel of your batter.
Leftover Tarte au Citron mixture
About 75g of plain flour (but this was just a guess based on how much lemon filling we had left)
1 tsp baking powder
A little milk
Simply chuck the flour in to the lemon tart mixture and mix together, add the baking powder and then drizzle in milk while whisking until you reach a thick, liquid consistency. Then just heat a little butter and flavourless oil in a frying pan and dollop spoonfuls of your mixture in! Ours took around 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other but just try to keep an eye on them. They’ll keep warm in a low oven and then eat them with whatever you fancy!
We hadn’t planned on making pancakes so we just had ours with a little butter on top but these would be lovely with some honey, maple syrup, or berries and yoghurt. We had some cut up into strips over yoghurt with some honey drizzled on for breakfast the next morning! If you don’t happen to have any lemon tart mixture lying around then you could make a standard American pancake recipe and add in some lemon zest for a citrusy kick.
This is another recipe that takes us right back to Marrakech. We spent a spectacular last night of our holiday eating on the roof terrace of a glorious restaurant near our riad (Le Foundouk, recommended by those wonderful people at Lonely Planet). We had read that it was beautiful with a gorgeous, romantic roof terrace but we weren’t quite prepared for the candlelit terrace, draped in scented plants which gave tables privacy while the stars twinkled overhead. Bird chose a traditional chicken tagine made with preserved lemons, olives and onions and this is what we have tried to recreate here (although not quite in the epic proportions it was served in Marrakech… a tiny Bird cannot eat half a large chicken!).
Ingredients (for 2 people)
4 small portions of chicken (we used bone in thighs for great flavour)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped into strips
2 preserved lemons, deseeded and finely chopped
A large handful of olives (black or green are fine, we used black kalamata olives)
1 heaped tsp of Ras el Hanout or Baharat spice mix
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
(optional: a pinch of saffron strands – these really do add a honeyed flavour to the dish and beautiful colour but don’t worry if you don’t have any, it will still be lovely!)
Enough chicken stock to cover
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat and once shimmering add in the chicken pieces skin side down and brown. Once they have some colour turn them over to briefly seal on the other side and then remove from the pan. Add in the chopped onions and turn the heat down to as low as it goes. Cook the onions for at least 5 minutes so they are starting to take on some of the brown colour from the chicken and to soften. After this time add in the spices and cook for a further minute until they are aromatic and the coriander seeds are beginning to pop. Make up around half a litre of chicken stock and put the saffron strands in to infuse if you’re using them.
Throw in all of the rest of the ingredients aside from the chicken, stir to combine and then pop the chicken on top, skin side up so it is just poking out of the liquid (you may need to top up the liquid with some water). Unlike a British or French type of stew Moroccan ones aren’t generally thickened in our experience, instead they come with a light liquid which is perfectly mopped up with cous cous so don’t worry if it looks a bit sloppy, it’s meant to! Put the casserole dish in the oven and cook for around 1 hour, making sure to give it a prod about halfway through the cooking time. Serve simply with plain cous cous and some chopped fresh parsley and/or coriander if you wish.
Just a mini post tonight, it was of course Great British Bake Off night (how amazing was Christine’s Bavarian clock??) so it was time for another Tart Tuesday! Because we had some simple grilled plaice for dinner we plumped for a lemon tart for dessert. Bird has made a tarte au citron before but it was with a shop bought pastry case and it was a large one – miniature ones made from scratch were untrodden ground!
We used one of the portions of sweet shortcrust pastry that we made last week and froze, you can find the recipe on our Nectarine Frangipane post. Take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you want to use it and put it in the fridge to defrost, then just take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to use it – easy! So the same as before, roll out the pastry, place it in mini loose-bottomed tart cases (we greased with butter and then coated in a little flour) and chill it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Prick the pastry with a fork, fill the tart cases with baking beans after lining with foil or greaseproof paper and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or so until firm, then remove the baking beans and bake for 3-5 minutes more until dry and pale gold in colour.
So here’s where this one differs a little from last weeks – the pastry has to be cool before you add the filling. We blind baked our cases before dinner, ate dinner and then filled them afterwards so there wasn’t any unnecessary hanging around. Once they’ve cooled make up the filling.
Ingredients (for 2 mini tarts plus some extra)
50ml double cream
90g caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 and a half lemons
Heat the oven to 150°C. Simply whisk the eggs for a few minutes and then stir in the other ingredients, it’s as easy as that! Pour the mixture into your cooled pastry, the easiest way to do this is to place the tart cases on a tray, fill them most of the way up, carry the tray carefully to the oven and slide it in and then fill them up the rest of the way while they’re in the oven. These need to bake for around 15 minutes but keep an eye on them, we turned the oven down to 100°C as they had coloured on top and were still very wobbly! They’re cooked when they have a very, very slight wobble.
Now what you should do is leave them to cool for at least half an hour, release them from the tins, then chill them down more (partly in the fridge) for another couple of hours so they are set firm with a lovely soft texture. We did not do this. There was Bake Off to be watched, Bird had a blood test earlier, Fats had a hard bike ride home – we were in need of a treat and sharp! So ours were a little… gooeyer (it’s a word!) than they were intended to be but they tasted ah-may-zing. What will we make next week? Dare we attempt a custard tart?