Tag Archives: fish

Smoked salmon and asparagus creamy pasta

I thought this would be a great moment to introduce a light, but rich and tasty lunch or supper dish.

fanny ad brenda's quick to make salmon and asparagus pasta

With just a few ingredients, most of which will likely be on standby in the fridge anyway, you can prepare this from start to finish in less than 45 minutes. It’s probably only the asparagus you’ll need to pop out for – and speaking of which, this makes a change from serving  this wonderful vegetable as a starter with hollandaise or just butter.

Asides from anything else, we’re currently right in the middle of the English asparagus season so whatever you do, whether it’s part of this recipe or one of your own, do make the most of it. You can get it all year round of course, but I wouldn’t recommend it…… plus I try to do my bit in offsetting Brenda’s vast carbon footprint by avoiding out-of-season pale imitations of the real thing, flown in from Peru.

Ingredients – serves 3-4

340g butter
1 medium onion or shallot – finely diced
1 small glass vermouth/ dry white wine
150g cream cheese/creme fraiche (or mix)
juice ½ lemon
300g asparagus - each spear cut into 3
300g spirali or spaghetti
80g smoked salmon – cut into strips
Olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
3 tsp lumpfish roe/caviar (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill

Method
Do all your prep first, including snapping the slightly woody end off the asparagus spears. If, like me, you had some quite fat ones, I also gently peel the skin at that end but use  a light touch. The “spear” end should always be left as is. Cut each into about 3 pieces.

Melt the butter in a pan, then fry the  onion/shallot for around 5 mins until softened. Then add the wine or vermouth and and boil to reduce to by half – another few mins.

Meanwhile, pop the kettle on and get a pot ready for the pasta and once the water’s boiled, add to the pot and switch on, making sure it’s well-salted and with a good glug of olive oil. Put the pasta in to cook.

Going back to the onion pan, now stir in the crème fraîche and/or cream cheese season and stir through to get a smooth sauce the consistency of custard. Leave to simmer very gently.

When the pasta is three minutes from being cooked, add the asparagus chunks to the boiling pasta. Mine was quite thin linguine which took 6 minutes, therefore I added the veg only three mins after starting to cook it.

While the pasta and asparagus finish cooking,  squeeze in the lemon juice to the creamy wine sauce and toss through the strips of smoked salmon. The hob should now be switched off completely, with the residual heat being more than enough to warm through the salmon and only very slightly cook it.

Drain the pasta/asparagus through a colander, ensuring about 100ml of the pasta water is retained. Now tong the pasta/asparagus through the sauce, ensuring everything is gently, but thoroughly combined. Add enough pasta water to ensure it stays smooth, glossy and  loose – it’s meant to be a delicate Spring eat, plus no-one likes claggy pasta!

Serve  a few twirls onto warmed bowls garnished with a teaspoon of caviar, if using, and a sprinkle of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill.

Salmon & Prawn Chowder

After a period of slackness (Brenda being very familiar with this concept already…), I decided to kick this week off with a creamy, easy-to-prepare, and of course delicious, chowder.

fanny and brendas delicious salmon and prawn chowder

There are many variants on which main ingredients can be added – I happened to have a couple of frozen salmon fillets and a handful of raw prawns lurking at the back of the freezer so this was a great way to use them – gentle, blanketing heat bringing out the best flavour and texture in delicate ingredients. You wouldn’t always swamp absolutely fresh, caught-this-morning prawns, or the firmest spanking fresh fish in a milky sauce, though if you have them, then great!

By the way, I used ham stock which might seem unusual in a fish dish but many recipes call for smoked bacon (cured pork products and seafood have a long history together – like Brenda and me) so, despite having some bacon available, I decided to leave it out and try the ham stock instead. We think it worked, but please don’t worry if you don’t have it, just use chicken or fish stock instead. It’s up to you if you want to fry up 75g or so of bacon with the onions.

Here goes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g salmon – cut into bite-size chunks
200g raw prawns, shelled and deveined
400ml ham stock
400ml full cream milk
100ml double cream
500g potatoes (which is about 3 medium size spud) – cut into bite-size chunks
1 extra large Spanish onion (or 2 medium ones) – chopped medium
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
2 corn on the cob – run your knife down the uncooked cobs to cut the kernels off – or use a small tin of sweetcorn
100g French beans – topped, tailed and cut into 2cm long sections
pinch of ground mace
pinch of cayenne
40g butter (40g is about a heaped tablespoon)
25g flour (25g is about a heaped tablespoon)
olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 lemon – juiced
small bunch fresh parsley – roughly chopped

Method

1) Heat a little olive oil in a medium size saucepan over a moderate flame and saute the chopped onion for 8-10 mins, stirring regularly, until translucent and beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and butter for the last minute or two and after the butter has melted, the flour – cook for a final minute or so.

2) Meanwhile microwave your stock till virtually boiling (or boil the kettle and make up the stock, if using a cube) and add fairly gradually to the pan once the flour’s cooked off. Stir to ensure thorough mixing and then tumble in the cubed potatoes – add the mace and cayenne plus a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Add the milk, bring up to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

3) After 10 mins or so, the potatoes should be mostly cooked and you can now add the sweetcorn (if using fresh – add later, with the beans, if using tinned). Also gently fold in the cubes of salmon.

4) Allow to simmer for another 5 mins, then fold in the prawns and beans and simmer for a further 2 mins – the prawns turn from grey to pink.

5) Now add the lemon juice and a handful of chopped parsley, stir gently through and bring just back to simmer then switch off and serve, with a final sprinkle of fresh parsley.

fanny and brendas delicious salmon and prawn chowder

Fanny’s Scurrilous Fish Pie

Last year when we were staying with the ghastly Mrs Clam, Fanny cooked a delicious fish pie and here is the recipe with the video demo. This is fabulous comfort food and good for a supper dish with family and friends. You won’t have any leftovers!

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

INGREDIENTS – Serves 6

250g haddock

300g lightly smoked Scottish salmon

225g raw prawns – deveined

medium size (usually 200g) bag of fresh spinach

2 medium onions – peeled and cut into quarters

6 free range eggs

1 litre full cream milk

4 bay leaves

8 cloves

tspn black peppercorns

several sprigs lemon thyme

small bunch parsley

200g frozen peas

bunch of chives

1 large lemon

50ml Vermouth (white, extra dry – not that I would believe any of our gorgeous viewers would have even thought to use the sweet red one at the back of granny’s cocktail chest!)

2 heaped dstsp of flour

sea salt

fresh cracked black pepper

1.5kg potatoes

small bunch (about 4) spring onions – finely sliced, white parts and green

100ml full fat creme fraiche

200g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

METHOD

1) Start by peeling the potatoes and halving any larger ones – simmer in salted water for 25 mins until really tender. Meanwhile……

….2) Boil a full kettle of water

3) Place the haddock and salmon in a deep wide frying pan – there is no need to cut the fish in pieces or skin it. Stud the onion quarters with 2 cloves each and put these in with the fish, along with the bay leaves, parsley and lemon thyme, nestling the herbs in and amongst. Pour over the milk and sprinkle the peppercorns on. Simmer for 8 mins or so until the fish is just cooked – just translucent and flaky. Leave to cool and infuse.

4) Put the spinach in a colander and pour over the boiling water – set to one side to drain

5) Check the potatoes are done, drain and return to pan to steam dry for a few minutes then mash and add 100g butter, the creme fraiche, Gruyere (reserving about a quarter of it), spring onions and salt and pepper. If it feels too stiff, loosen slightly with a little milk but you don’t want a puree either, as this will tend to cause the mash to sink into the filling below once in situ as the crowning of this fabulous pie.

6) Melt 50g butter in a small jug by microwaving for 40 seconds and switch on the oven to 170C(fan assisted) now

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

7) if using individual pots, which I highly recommend, arrange a ring of wilted spinach around the bottom of each one, pour a little of the melted butter inside the spinach ring then crack an egg onto the buttered space inside the spinach ring.

8) Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the by-now fragrant cooking milk, take the skin off any pieces which have it and flake the fish fillets evenly into the pots, over the spinach/egg on the bottom. You can now arrange the prawns evenly amongst the pots, along with the peas.

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

9) In a medium size saucepan, melt 25g butter until it’s foaming then add your flour and whisk on a medium heat to make a roux – it should turn no darker than dark golden. Brown means burnt so avoid this. Then strain the cooking milk/herbs mix through a sieve directly into the roux and whisk quickly to ensure a smooth sauce. As the milk will still be hot, or at least quite warm, it should take no time to come up to the boil. Whisk most, if not all the time while continuing to boil for about 5 mins. The consistency you want is a bit thicker than double cream. Add the juice of the lemon and the vermouth, snip in the chives, season well with salt and fresh cracked black pepper and lastly whisk in the remaining 25g butter for the final, glossy touch to this delicious and satisfying but professional and nutritious pie

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

10) Now pour the sauce over the pots which should JUST submerge the ingredients you’ve already put in.

11) Spoon over the mash direct onto the mix in the pots and top with a sprinkle of the remaining Gruyere (and I cheated for even more “mmmmm” factor by further topping with a couple of teaspoons of fine, home-made breadcrumbs and a few small dots of butter)

12) Place in the oven and bake for 20 mins until there’s a golden crust and some of the sauce is bubbling artistically over the side – you might want to cover the baking sheet in tinfoil as you know my motto of “save the washing up”.

13) Serve still in their own pots to your salivating guests, with naked pride……..as nothing else is needed. Apart from a lovely glass of Chablis or citrussy Muscadet…

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

Potted Shrimps

potted shrimps recipe from fanny and brenda

We don’t often say this, largely because we think a lot of quick recipes simply aren’t up to scratch, but this one can be done in a trice and is absolutely delicious. Please see the video which shows that with five ingredients and seasoning, you can have this recipe ready to chill before serving within 15 minutes.

Ingredients

250g butter
2 bay leaves
Half a lemon
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
(about 200g) Brown shrimps (we had enough for 5 ramekins)

Method

Melt butter in pan with a pinch or two of cayenne pepper and bay leaves

Place brown shrimps in ramekins

Pat down and add butter to submerge the shrimps

Decorate with parsley leaf on each ramekin

Place in fridge to chill

Preview of our visit to Mrs Clam, Brighton’s ghastliest landlady

fanny klunge arrives at mrs clams in brighton slightly intoxicated ready to start filming fanny and brenda

Here we have the preview to our visit to Mrs Clam, the ghastliest landlady in Brighton. I had to drive to Brighton, while Fanny sat in the back being chauffeured. Trouble is she can’t stand my driving (she’s an appalling passenger), so to overcome the problem Fanny hit the bottle. This caused me concern so obviously I drove at higher speeds than would be desirable at any other time, and the faster I drove the more Fanny drank! This was a disastrous start to filming, but after we arrived (and luckily for all of us) I remained unmoved and just yelled viciously at Fanny to sober up. Fanny, lying on the floor while being eyeballed by me sinisterly was understandably, able to sober up remarkably quickly…

Fresh Mussels in cream and white wine

This is a delicious meal which is easier to produce than you may believe. In the video that we have produced here, I take you through the basic steps, revealing the possible pitfalls. If you are a fan of mussels watch the video at your leisure.

Ingredients

1kg fresh mussels, in their shell
½ onion, finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
large glass dry white wine
50ml double cream
small knob butter
fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

French bread and lemon wedges, to serve

fanny and brenda show how to cook delicious mussels

fanny takes delight in being rude about fanny as she cooks the musselsBrenda is not amused as Fanny takes delight in being rude about her as she cooks the mussels

Method

Scrub the mussels well in a large bowl of cold water, removing the beards and any barnacles. Also discard any with broken shells or any that don’t close tight when tapped on a hard surface. This is because any displaying those characteristics, are probably already dead and therefore decaying. I know Brenda is decaying too and that doesn’t stop her, but we prefer our bivalves to clamp tightly shut upon being disturbed…. By the way I actually did 2 or 3 water changes about an hour apart and it really made the difference as it’s the first time I’ve ever eaten mussels with no sand in – it having all been purged and sunk to the bottom of the bowl of water. When ready, drain, but don’t dry, the mussels.

fanny and brenda show how to cook delicious mussels

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, bay leaf and thyme, and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for a further minute.

Put the oven on 200°C ready for your main course, more of which in a minute, and place in the French bread and bowls- enough heat will have built up by the time you’re ready to serve.

fanny and brenda show how to cook delicious mussels

Pour over the wine and simmer for 1 minute. Tip in the mussels then cover and steam, shaking the pan every now and then, for about 3-4 minutes or until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that stay shut. This is for the same reason as before only in reverse, i.e. any dead ones which were already clamped shut, will not suddenly open in the heat!

fanny and brenda show how to cook delicious mussels

Stir in the cream and chopped parsley, check the seasoning (it probably will not need much as, despite the fresh water purging, they do release their very distinctive briny juices…) and serve in the warm bowls with the bread and lemon wedges…. although do feel free to lift the bowl to your lips and down any remaining which might otherwise escape

cameraman james finds the wall more stimulating than the conversation
Cameraman James finds the wall more stimulating than the conversation

Summer nights -ideal to barbecue

fresh barbecued sardines

Fanny was shopping on her own (yes I know normally I have to watch over her) and came back with some fresh sardines. It didn’t take her long to have them gutted and filleted, and marinading ready for the evening’s barbecue.
“We could do with a light meal” she said looking at me rather accusingly.

fresh barbecued sardines

Ingredients to serve two:

6 fresh sardines

bunch of spring onions
olive oil
lemon juice
sugar
black pepper
red or green chili

Marinade for two hours:

At least two hours ahead of when you want to cook, head and gut the sardines. Place in a dish with olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper and thin rounds of either red or green chilli – as many or few as you like, depending on your tolerance/enjoyment of heat! Return to the fridge till you’re ready for them

Take the sardines from their oily bath and at least drain well, if not wipe a little to ensure no excess marinade clings as this will only drip in an incendiary way onto the charcoal. While this is not a disaster – the flames really adding that “done at the beach taste” – it may be less stressful not to have to retrieve your fishies for turning (which will probably be only 1 1/2 -2 mins later) from 2 feet of flame! Another 1 1/2 – 2 mins later and your sardines are grilled to perfection – enjoy with copious fresh lemon juice and some sea salt – the marinade will have given them a really great Portuguese taste.

fresh barbecued sardines

Quick and delicious Prawn Pil Pil

Prawn Pil Pil – it’s small, hot and immensely flavoursome. It’s very satisfying and although we have listed it as a starter, it can also double as a light main course for a summer’s evening.

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 200° and put ramekins or small pots in to heat up.
6-8 jumbo king prawns per person
A red chilli per person
A clove of garlic per person
A squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped parsley

Chop dried red chili and garlic
Remove the digestive tracts from the prawns
Fry lightly in 50ml of oil per person
prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter
Add the prawns to the pan of chili and garlic until they go pink. (Approx 3 minutes)
prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter

prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter
Empty the contents into the preheated dishes
Add a quick squirt of lemon juice and some chopped parsley, serve with some lovely fresh bread, and you’re ready to eat.

prawn pil pil - a simple but delicious starter

This should be served bubbling at the table. It’s hot, spicy and outrageously wonderful. The prawns probably don’t agree.