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Recipe: Fish cakes with parsley sauce

Fish cakes with parsley sauce
Fish cakes with parsley sauce

Ingredients;

For the fish cakes:
450g potatoes, cooked and mashed
50g butter
1 large onion, finely diced
225g smoked trout, flaked
225g fresh cod, poached & flaked
225g fresh salmon, poached & flaked
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley (divide into 2 equal halves)
Zest of 3 lemons, finely chopped (divide into one-third and two-thirds)
6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs (approx 2 slices bread)
3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil

For the parsley sauce:
1 medium onion, finely diced
100g butter
75g plain flour
600ml milk
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped (keep the stalks separate)

Makes 8 fish cakes (2 per person is a very decent meal) and enough sauce to cover them. If you are going to chill / freeze some of the fish cakes, reduce the ingredients for the sauce proportionately.

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Directions on how to make speedy mashed potatoes can be found here.

To poach the fish, cover in cold water, add 1 bay leaf and bring to boil. After boiling for 5 mins, remove from heat and flake the fish, discarding the skin and the bay leaf. Remove any bones at this point and throw away.

Heat the 50g butter and sauté the onions over a medium heat for about 10 mins, so they are well cooked but do not take on colour.

In a large bowl combine the breadcrumbs, half of the chopped parsley and one-third of the lemon zest. Tip out onto a plate. On a 2nd plate, spread out your flour. Finally, on a bowl (or plate with high sides), pour out your beaten eggs.

In your empty bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, flaked fish, cooked onion, dill, chives and the remaining parsley and lemon zest. Mix well with your hands and divide into 8, forming into fish cake shapes. Dip each fish cake into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, coating well and set aside. The fish cakes can be chilled or frozen at this point for later use – 24-48 hours in fridge, 1 month in freezer.

Now turn your oven on to 200 C. Begin to cook the parsley sauce while the oven heats. Melt your butter over a medium heat and add in the chopped onion and parsley stalks, frying gently for about 10 minutes until softened, but not coloured. Reduce the heat and add in the flour, stirring well. Start slowly adding in the milk, about 2-3 tablespoons at a time, stirring in well to avoid lumps. You may need to play with the heat here, keep your mix just below a simmer.

Just after you start adding the milk to the sauce, heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Be careful not to use too much heat as they will burn easily. Once fried, transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

All this time you should have been keeping an eye on your sauce, adding the milk until you get to the consistency you desire. With about 2-3 minutes before the fish cakes are ready to come out of the oven, add in the chopped parsley and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper – this is very important as the sauce will be incredibly bland without added salt!

Note: if you can’t get the specific types or quantities of fish listed here, feel free to substitute smoked salmon, tinned tuna, etc, as needed.

Recipe: Sweet Chicken Curry

Sweet Chicken Curry served on a bed of rice
Sweet Chicken Curry served on a bed of rice

Ingredients;

4 chicken breasts, diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 chilies, finely diced
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely diced (or half a teaspoon of ground ginger)
80g butter
1 teaspoon turmeric
500ml of hot water
Half teaspoon of ground coriander
50g salted peanuts
40g raisins

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I like to use those “generic” chilli peppers you see in most supermarkets these days as they don’t give a lot of heat. This brings all the other flavours to the forefront and allows you to really enjoy them more than any curry I’ve ever tasted.

If you prefer your curry a little hotter, then you can adjust the strength of the chilli that you use, we’ve made this same recipe with Scotch bonnets and found that the extra heat changes the flavours and gives you a curry flavour not unlike the chicken curry you’d get down your local Chinese restaurant.

Fry the onion, garlic and peanuts in the butter until they start to colour (approx 10 Min.). Then add chili, ginger and turmeric and stir well.

Now, add the chicken and allow this to cook until it starts to brown. Follow this with the water and raisins, cover your pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep simmering until the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally. (approx. 20-30 Min.)

Once the sauce has reduced then you’re ready to serve on a bed of fresh boiled rice.

Recipe: Caesar Salad Dressing

a jar of Caesar salad dressing
a jar of Ceasar salad dressing

Ingredients;

3/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2/3 cup of milk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 level teaspoon smooth French mustard
1 anchovy fillet, minced

Makes approx 300ml

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Caesar salad dressing has gotten a bad reputation in the last few years as being extremely fattening. In truth it is quite fattening but part of the reason that it has earned this reputation is actually nothing to do with the dressing itself and more to do with fast food chains and the eaters’ own lack of self control, or more precisely, lack of portion control.

So in order to restore the balance a bit and also because it’s something I like, I recently went about looking into some recipes so I could make it at home and not buy the bottled ones with god only knows what in them.

The result of roughly 6 hours of research is this recipe, there are elements of a lot of different recipes that I found online in this and one of these days I may even decide to make my own mayonnaise to remove that unknown from the recipe, in the meantime I’ll stick with a low fat mayonnaise. Oh, and if you think that makes a difference to the taste by all means use full fat but I don’t find it lacking in anyway as it is 😉

So onto the preparation, this really is easy to make, but there are a few little tips I’ll give you to make the result even better.

As with most recipes the better the quality of the ingredients, the better the result, but even more so when it comes to salads and dressings. If you can get your hands on a more mature Parmesan cheese, do so. A good 24 or 36 month old will make a world of difference.

For the garlic, I use a garlic press and then chop the pressed garlic as finely as possible, there is nothing worse than the look on a guest’s face if they get a lump of fresh garlic in their salad. It’s only momentary but best avoided!

The anchovy can be equally as strong as the garlic, so I’ll go back and forth across it with a knife until it’s all stuck to the blade then scrape it off and repeat at least two or three times. The rest of the recipe is so quick it’s worth spending at least five minutes on both the garlic and anchovy to avoid “the face”!

Now once you have all the ingredients prepared, just mix everything (except the milk) together well then add the milk slowly until you get the consistency you prefer.

Pour this into a sterilised glass jar or bottle and store it in your fridge until you’re ready to use it. It should keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, just remember to shake the jar well before using it.

Recipe: Memphis Soul Stew

Hahaa April Fool! :)

Obvious? maybe a little but what the heck, this track also acts as an introduction to the next month’s recipes.

In case you haven’t made the connection yet, I’m diving into the world of Soul Food. A style of cooking most associated with the American deep south, however it is, what I like to call, a hybrid cuisine whose roots can be traced to Africa, the southern Indian tribes and even has hints of the Cajun and Creole styles.

It’s also a style that “inspired” a lot of junk food, think deep fried chicken and fish, in particular. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t really sit right on a site called Not Junk Food, but you’d be wrong. With a little care in the ingredients and the cooking, even deep fried food can be part of a healthy balanced diet. That said, these recipes are (mostly) best kept as treats and for special occasions.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of Soul Food I’d strongly recommend this Wikipedia article. Either way, I’ll be posting some of my thoughts and memories of Soul Food over the next few weeks.

Weekly Meal Planning

I’ve decided I’m going to share how I plan our weekly meals, with you all. There’s no big secret hear, it’s mostly common sense combined with a bit of what ye fancy. Most of the time these days it starts with a few simple questions.

  • Are we out any nights this week? If yes then how many?
  • Are we having guests for any meals this week? If yes then how many?
  • Are there any special food events this week? (Paddies day, Good friday, christmas etc.)
  • Is there anything in particular that we want to eat this week?
  • What’s in the freezer/fridge?
Meals
Image Via Wikipedia

So, lets say we’re out one night in the week and We’re having 2 guests for Sunday lunch. That’s six evening meals, lunches for me, 2 lunches over the weekend and breakfasts to think about as well.

Breakfast is the easy one, I have Porridge and Elly has whatever the heck she feels like :) and thankfully looks after it herself. So i only have to make sure I have porridge in the press and Bannanas ’cause I like to mash one in with the porridge.

If there’s something in particular that we want to eat, I’ll have to make sure I have a recipe or come up with one.

Finally I’ll have a quick look at what’s in the freezer so I know what’s there and hopefully cross off one or two meals in the week.

During winter, meal planning tends to go along the lines of I’ll do a big pot of stew and that takes care of a couple of days evening meals and lunches, but as we now seem to be heading towards summer (fingers crossed) there’s going to be a lot more salads, so less cooking but more preparation.

I’ll also try to vary the meals during the week and not have the same meals one week to the next, variety is the spice of life and it’s also important to vary what you eat to remain healthy.

Once I’ve got an idea of my meals for the week, I’ll start getting ready to go shopping.