Ultimate Fish Finger Sandwich

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screenshot_2016-10-17-23-01-28-1 25/10/2016

More an assembly than a recipe but an amazingly epic sandwich nonetheless. It seemed fitting now I have moved into student digs to post an easy, cheap meal using freezer staples but it still delivers bags of flavour and nutrition too. Plus… fish fingers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 4 fish fingers
  • 2 sliced gherkins
  • A handful of salad leaves
  • Tartare sauce or mayonnaise

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Method:

  1. Heat the grill to medium-high and grill the fish fingers for 12-15 minutes, turning once. Turn off the grill, remove fish fingers and set aside.
  2. Gently warm the ciabatta roll in the residual heat from the oven for a few minutes. Cut open the roll which will be crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside now. Slather with mayo or tartare sauce then line the fish fingers across the bottom ciabatta half.
  3. Top with gherkins and crunchy salad leaves and place the top, sauce slathered ciabatta half on top.
  4. Press down, admire and devour.
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Slow-Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu

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screenshot_2016-10-17-22-20-21-11 17/10/2016

Slow cooked tender beef that pulls apart in a delicious herby, winey, rich tomato sauce intertwines with buttery cheesy pasta for a proper comfort meal that’s packed with flavour. This recipe makes a huge amount and if you do have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ pounds beef shin, in 2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped leaves for garnish
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 400g can peeled whole cherry or plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Method:

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heavy cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef. Stir until beef is well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and sage sprigs, onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and continue to simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring contents of pot to a simmer. Place in an oven preheated to 140C, covered, or on the stove over the lowest heat for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Using two forks, shred the meat and vegetables. Discard herb stems. Loosely cover pan and return it to low heat to keep warm.
  4. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pappardelle to boiling water. As it cooks, scoop out 1/2 cup water and reserve. Cook pasta to taste then drain well. Return pasta to pot and add butter and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; mix gently until butter has melted. Add a little reserved cooking water to loosen.
  5. To serve, lift pasta into each of six shallow bowls. Spoon beef ragù over top. Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of rosemary, and a spoonful of cheese.

Cypriot Flaounes

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screenshot_2016-10-16-17-09-30-11 16/10/2016

Traditionally, this is a celebratory cheese- and egg-stuffed pastry served up during Ramadan and Easter in Cyprus. These delicious snacks also make a hearty breakfast when served with olives, tomato and punchy Cypriot coffee.

Outside of Cyprus, these cheese breads are commonly called flaounes in Greek or pilavuna in Turkish. In BallisticBaker they are called heaven!

You need to make the bread dough first, that acts as a ‘bread pastry’ casing for the filling, of cheese, eggs and mint. Traditionally you would use Cypriot cheeses in the filling such as flaouna cheese and halloumi, but as it is hard to get flaouna cheese outside of Cyprus, I have offered alternatives of punchy parmesan and mature cheddar to deliver a big savoury flavour.

I hope you enjoy these little Cypriot pastries if you make them (which you need to). If you have a sweet tooth, you can also add sultanas to the filling but I prefer them completely savoury.

Makes 3-4

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 375g of strong white bread flour
  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 150-200ml of water, tepid, to mix

Filling:

  • 75g of cheddar, grated
  • 75g of halloumi, grated
  • 25g of Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp of plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of dried mint or half bunch fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 25g of sultanas, optional

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sesame seeds

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, adding more water if the mixture is too dry. Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly oiled work surface. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with an oiled piece of cling film. Leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  3. To make the filling, mix the egg with the remaining ingredients. Add a little of the egg you will be using for the glaze if needed – you don’t want the final mixture to be too runny. If you add the egg and it gets too runny, add more cheese and flour to compensate. The mixture should be stiff enough to roll into balls.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll out each piece to a square or a round and place a ball of filling in the middle. Bring the corners up to almost cover the filling
  5. Brush the pastries with the beaten egg all over and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and sides.
  6. Place the pastries on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the pastries are well risen, dark golden brown and the filling has puffed up.
  7. Serve warm or cold; perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch when sliced and served with olives, cheese and sliced tomatoes… and coffee!

I think these are best eaten about an hour after you’ve removed them from the oven. The bread is so fluffy and fresh and the filling is still slightly oozy. You can eat them cold or reheat in a warm oven for 10 minutes to refresh.

Cheesy Chicken Schnitzel

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screenshot_2016-10-13-20-19-10-11 13/10/2016

Normally, I’d be dead set against ready grated cheese but it tastes incredible in this recipe and delivers a super savoury umami hit along with the crunch of the panko and the succulence of the chicken for a super tasty meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • 75g ready-grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp each smoked paprika, dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • a knob of butter

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Method:

  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting them open to spread them out without cutting all the way through. Cover with some cling film and gently bash them with a rolling pin to tenderise and flatten each breast. You should be left with two large ‘sheets’ of thin chicken about 1cm in width.
  2. Take 3 shallow bowls. Place the flour in one and season. Place the beaten egg in the second. Place the panko, parmesan, smoked paprika and rosemary in the third bowl. Season the breadcrumb mix well.
  3. Take each chicken breast and coat with the flour, then the egg and finally the cheesy panko. Press the panko mix gently so it sticks well to the eggy chicken.
  4. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the chicken breasts and fry for a few minutes until the bottom is crisp and golden and you just start to see the sides of the chicken turning white.
  5. Turn the chicken over to make the other side crispy and golden and ensure the chicken is cooked through. By now, the kitchen should smell of amazing cheesy goodness.
  6. Remove from the pan and slice up each piece to serve. I have served mine with rosemary roast potatoes and a rocket salad.

Lebanese Turkey Meatballs & Cous Cous

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screenshot_2016-10-09-21-52-38-11 09/10/2016

Another brilliant meatball recipe! This time it’s succulent turkey flavoured with rich spices that taste like you’ve been slaving in the kitchen for hours. Really simple to make, this is a real treat and a lovely change from regular spaghetti and meatballs (not that there’s anything wrong with those).

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • ⅔ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, finely grated
  • ⅓ cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 Tbsp. (6 cloves) garlic
  • 2 tsps. each salt, sugar
  • 1 tsp. each allspice, coriander, chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, fennel seeds

Sauce:

  • 1 Tbps. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsps. (4 cloves) garlic, grated
  • 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. each black pepper, cinnamon, allspice

Instructions:

Meatballs:

  1. Combine meatball ingredients and mix well with your hands.
  2. Roll into golf ball size meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven grill to medium-high and place rack in the centre.
  4. Grill meatballs 5 minutes.

Sauce:

  1. Start making the sauce by heating oil in a medium cast iron pan on medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.
  5. Add meatballs. Cover and reduce heat to medium/low.
  6. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve with fluffy cous cous.

Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes

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screenshot_2016-10-01-19-41-38-11 01/10/2016

I don’t know if this is the ‘right’ way to make fishcakes or if this recipe uses the ‘right’ ingredients but I do know that this version is seriously tasty.

I used oak smoked tinned mackerel as my partner can’t stand smoked fish (strange man) so I always have a tin lurking in the back of the cupboard ready to use for when I only need dinner for one. You can, of course, use whatever fish you like but I find smoked mackerel particularly flavoursome.

The rest of the ingredients are also what I had in the cupboards. I made this up the other day as I was craving fish cake and I couldn’t be bothered to leave the house so needed to use whatever I had. To be fair though, I tend to have absolutely everything and anything in my cupboards that maybe a normal (not obsessed with wacky food stuffs) person wouldn’t have.  But I can assure you, this recipe requires bare minimum ingredients and is so easy to make! Again, adapt it to your tastes. If you don’t like something, swap it.

As mentioned, I made this meal for myself so the quantities are for 1 large portion but if making it for more people, use 1 mackerel fillet per person and adjust the other quantities as necessary.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 small new potatoes
  • A chunk of peeled swede, diced
  • 1 tin of oak smoked mackerel, drained
  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g Panko breadcrumbs
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • A few sprigs of sage
  • Knob of butter

Method:

  1. Cut the potatoes and swede into equal sized chunks and boil in a pan until tender. Drain and mash together until fairly smooth. A few lumps are desirable.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, flake the mackerel up and add the mustard and seasoning. Add the mashed veg to the bowl and stir well to combine.
  3. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the panko, parmesan, smoked paprika and a few leaves of finely chopped sage. Season and set aside.
  4. Using a little flour on your hands, shape the mix into 3-4 patties. Dredge the patties in the beaten egg then transfer them to the panko bowl and coat evenly.
  5. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Drop a sprig of sage in to flavour the butter then place the fish cakes into the pan to sizzle in the herby butter and become crispy and golden. After a few minutes, gently flip the fish cakes and fry for a few more minutes until the wonderful smell of herby cheesy goodness fills the house. Remove and serve with a fresh green salad.