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John Dory with tomatoes

Classic Italian flavours and a beautifully simple preparation.

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tb flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

half a small green capsicum, finely chopped
1 x 1 kg whole John Dory, cleaned

Heat garlic in the oil in a large non-stick pan until it starts to sizzle. Add tomatoes and break them up. Add salt, chilli, capsicum and parsley and simmer 2o mins.

Add fish to the pan, turning over to coat with the sauce, cover and cook on low heat for around 12 minutes and just done. Baste with the sauce several times and turn half-way through.

This works as well with fillets, of other firm white fish, and a shorter cooking time. Take the pan to the table and serve onto everyone’s plates.

Source: Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey

smoked roe deer heart

I am not much of a fan of all the organ meats that are popular in traditional Viennese cuisine. But when I bought a whole roe deer from a hunter last week, he told me that usually, hunters keep the heart for themselves. For a good reason, apparently it is the most delicious cut of meat. Tempting! Since I recently had a hay-smoked goat’s heart at the wonderful Koya restaurant in London, I made up the following dish which proved to me that the hunters are right. Continue reading smoked roe deer heart

Beef burgers (makes 5)

The essence of a burger is not overcooking it.

750 g beef skirt, or another cheap, lean cut with 10 – 20 % fat
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp black pepper

Trim the meat of any gristle, dry thoroughly and cut into 25 mm pieces, including the fat. Put 200 g portions into food processor with the steel blade and coarsely mince with twenty 1-second pulses. Note the colder the meat is, the better it will mince. Spread the meat out thinly and sprinkle seasonings over then mix them in thoroughly with your hands.

The Danish option: finely chop 4 tb capers and add.

Take 150 g portions and press tightly into a ball with your hands, then slowly squeeze flat between your palms, keeping the edge in shape with your fingertips. Aim for a thickness of 18 – 25 mm. Make a shallow depression in the middle of the top side with your fingers, like the beginning of a doughnut. This will disappear as the burger cooks ensuring even thickness. Brush both sides with oil and either barbecue over moderate heat or fry in a lightly oiled cast-iron pan over moderately high heat. Allow 4 mins for the first side then 2 for the flip, giving a burger just cooked through. Rest a few minutes.

For those secret admirers of McD’s, eating these with thinly sliced gherkins, mayo and ketchup will  pretty much get you there.

Osso buco with gremolata (serves 6)

I don’t have much experience of osso buco, but this was simple, light and tasty, and could well benefit from further recipe enhancement. It shows how far you can get with just the essential Mediterranean flavour base of garlic, onion, carrot and celery. The onions dissolve into the sauce.

2 hind shins of veal (or beef or venison) cut into 5 cm lengths
plain flour, seasoned with pepper and salt
50 g butter
1 tb olive oil
2 garlic cloves, 2 onions, 2 celery sticks, 1 carrot, all finely chopped
1 large glass of white wine
450 ml light stock
finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tb chopped parsley

Dust the meat in the flour. Heat butter and oil in a generous shallow casserole and brown the meat pieces, remove. All the vegetables and cook until softened, return meat pieces and arrange in a single layer cut side down. Pour in the wine and reduce by half, add stock and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours until the meat is coming away from the bone, either on the hob or in a very low oven. Turn the meat once or twice.

Mix together the remaining ingredients to make the gremolata and sprinkle over the meat once served.

Source: The River Cottage Meat Book (Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall)

marsala chicken

A classic Italian dish, fast, easy and very satisfying.

2 chicken breasts
a handful of mushrooms (optional)
150 ml marsala (sicilian desert wine)
100 ml full fat cream
butter for frying
salt & white pepper
a few sage leaves for garnishing

Butterfly the chicken, wrap in cling-film, flatten with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Salt and dust with flour. In a non-stick pan, heat a large knob of butter, fry the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side, set aside on a warm plate. (If using the mushrooms, slice them and fry with the chicken.) Tip most of the butter out of the pan, deglaze with the marsala and simmer until reduced to half of the original amount. Add cream, let thicken a little bit more and season with salt and white pepper. Fry sage leaves in a bit of olive oil, drain on kitchen paper. Serve with fettuccine, rice, new potatoes or mash, garnish with the fried sage leaves.