Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lemon Baked Mackerel

Andrew and his Godson, Kodai, went out fishing on the weekend and came back with a sizable haul of mackerel - I kept four and sent Kodai home to his mum with eleven! sorry......Kodai's Mum.... but you can have too much of a good thing .......

We often catch mackerel around this part of the coast, along with bass, and I have come up with a number of simple ways to deal with them  -  we are usually away from home and are camping or sailing at the time so simple is important!

Here are two of my favourite ways of preparing & cooking mackerel - they are simple enough that I have done this for beach barbecues and also in the little camping oven on the boat.

First off you will need to clean & gut your mackerel. I like to keep the heads on if I'm baking or grilling them, Just give the fish a quick rinse off and then make a slit along the belly from just passed the gills to the start of the tail. All the insides are to be discarded so give it all a quick pull and it should come out in one piece. Give the insides a quick rinse out and check that the cavity is clean. Now if you don't want to be bothered with this all fishmongers will clean a fish for you so just ask......However, if you've caught the fish yourself I'm assuming that you are not squeamish and can get on with it!

Once your mackerel is clean you can be really simple and just put it on the barbecue or beach fire and just cook it through for a few minutes - this is actually one of the nicest ways of eating extremely fresh mackerel the flavour is superb. I remember when my nephews were little the youngest one, Jason, was sat on the deck of our boat fishing (as he did everyday of that holiday - actually would have 24/7 if we'd let him!) and he caught a mackerel - great excitement & I was summoned to gut and cook - before Jason had finished sorting out the rod and was ready to start fishing again a cooked mackerel arrived for him to eat - he could not believe that a - it was so easy & quick to cook and b - how good just simple pan fried fish can taste! He later became a chef I like to think that this experience influenced his taste buds......good fresh food can not be beat!

Anyway back to my recipes.......first up lemon baked mackerel

to serve 2

2 large mackerel
6 fresh bay leaves
6 slices lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper

Per-heat your oven to 200C/Gas 6

Lay your fish on a baking tray and make 3 deep slices into the flesh. Insert a bay leaf into each slice and then place 3 slice of lemon, per fish, into the cavity. Give all a good slug of olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Pop in the oven and bake for around 12 to 15 minutes. A good way to test if it's done is just to tug the top dorsal fin - if it comes away easily it's good to go if not just pop it back in for a little longer.

Serve with either a simple salad and new potatoes or just with a spicy tomato chutney and a little bread & butter - heaven

Option two is a recipe I devised for those extra mackerel you don't want to waste but done want to eat there and then....

As many mackerel as you want just increase the quantities below to suit
1 lemon cut in rings
1 onion cut into rings
8 bay leaves
some fennel flowers or fennel leaves
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 6

Place the onion, lemon bay and fennel on to a baking tray - spread it out evenly so the fish gets a flavour from each

Prepare your mackerel as described earlier but remove the head and tail as well. Place the mackerel on a board top side up and gently put pressure on the back bone to splay the fish out......

Place on the baking tray,add some olive oil and season with the salt & pepper (be generous with the pepper)

Pop in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes

One it's done leave to coo on the tray and then remove everything and place in an air tight container. Pop in the fridge and it will keep for a couple of days - you can eat it with a salad for a simple lunch or make it into fish cakes. It makes an excellent starter with a little spicy tomato pickle or horseradish sauce.

This dish also freezes really well but use it with in two months as the fish oils always seem to go a bit yucky if you keep them frozen for too long.

The colours on the mackerel skin were absolutely stunning I just had to take some close up picture....

Have a great Wednesday

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Simple Salad

I made this salad last night to go with some seared steaks and it looked so good when I finished (and tasted even better) I thought I would photograph it - sharing it with you for a quick post today......

It was really easy to make. I just washed & placed a variety of salad leaves in a bowl - I used baby spinach, baby kale, rocket and watercress.

I then chunked up a wedge of stilton and threw it (sorry placed it) on top of the salad along with a good handful of chopped prunes.

The dressing was a lime and parmesan mayonnaise.....

To make this dressing - in a bowl add 2 tablespoons of a shop bought mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons natural yogurt, juice & zest of a lime, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan, 1 clove of garlic crushed, a pinch salt and some freshly ground pepper - whisk it all together to make the dressing.

Spoon the dressing over the salad just before serving........ the prunes went really well with the stilton and this salad complimented the steaks rather nicely.

Have a great Tuesday - I'll be covering how I cooked the steaks a bit later in the week......

Liz x

Monday, 20 October 2014

Pears & Bacon

I don't know where I got the idea for this dish - I can remember serving it up for a starter a few Christmases ago and I can only surmise that it was because I had bacon, pears and feta in the fridge...

............  and thought ' hey - they would go together'

                                   ........ well, however I came up with the recipe, we've stuck with it and every now and again it re appears as a starter or light lunch.

Anything wrapped in bacon takes on a new yuminess and these pears are no exception......

You will need:-

1 pear per person
1 rasher of smoked bacon per pear
250g square feta
Some Olive Oil
Fresh thyme leaves

to serve
Green salad leaves
Stilton ( or another blue cheese)
Olive oil or french salad dressing

Pre heat oven to 190C / Gas 5

Select your pears they can be any variety but should be firm to the touch. I have use conference pears this time but have used William and Comice pears with excellent results.

Split your pears in half lengthwise and, using a teaspoon remove the core and gently pull out the stringy section that leads to the stalk.

 Lay the pear halves on a baking sheet

and add a lump of feta to the centre of each one  - I like to use feta because it holds it's shape when baked not melting and spilling out of the pear.

Put the pears in the fridge whilst you prepare the bacon.

I used some fantastic dry cured smokey bacon from our butchers for this recipe. I have tried it with unsmoked but find you do need that smokey taste to make this dish work.

Remove the rinds

Now taking a rasher at a time and spread them out on a chopping board. You then need to  run a knife over them to stretch the bacon out.

Here you can see how much the rasher can stretch out and this way it's easier to wrap around the pear.

Lay your rasher out and place the pear in the centre

Wrap the bacon around the pear and place on your baking sheet

Drizzle with olive oil and the fresh thyme leaves

Place in your preheated oven for about 40 minutes.

They are done when the bacon is crispy and the pears are still firm to the touch but cooked through.

Serve on a bed of green salad with chunks of blue cheese and drizzle with olive oil or french vinaigrette.

This makes a simple but impressive starter or a yummy light lunch.

Have a wonderful Monday