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Chicken and lobster pie

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Shellfish like lobster and prawns really do go well with the delicate flavour of chicken. For slow-cooked chicken dishes it’s better to use thighs rather than breast meat as they stay more moist and succulent.

2 cooked lobsters, about 500g each
500g boned and skinned free-range chicken thighs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
350-400g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
plain flour for dusting
1 free-range egg, beaten

For the lobster sauce:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
reserved lobster shells
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
60g butter
60g plain flour
a good pinch of saffron strands
a few sprigs of tarragon
1 tbsp tomato purée
60ml white wine
500ml hot fish stock
500ml hot chicken stock
400ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp cornflour (if needed)

Remove the meat from the lobster tails and claws and cut roughly into 1cm pieces. Reserve one lobster head (if making a large pie). Break the rest of the shells up a bit, using a heavy knife. Cut the chicken thighs in half, or into thirds if large. Cover and refrigerate the lobster and chicken meat.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the lobster shells, garlic and shallots over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they begin to colour lightly. Add the butter and, once melted, stir in the flour. Add the saffron, tarragon and tomato purée, then gradually stir in the white wine and the hot fish and chicken stocks.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half, then add the cream. Season lightly with salt and pepper, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half again. (A simmer plate or heat-diffuser mat is useful here.)

Strain the sauce through a colander into a clean pan, moving the shells with a spoon to ensure all the sauce goes through.

Tip about one-tenth of the shells into a blender and add about a cupful of the strained sauce. Blend until smooth, then strain through a fine-meshed sieve into the sauce in the pan.

Bring the sauce back to the boil, add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce should be a thick coating consistency by now; if not, simmer a little longer (or dilute a little cornflour in water and stir into the sauce). Leave to cool.

Stir the lobster and chopped parsley and tarragon into the cooled sauce. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Fill a large pie dish or 4 individual ones with the mixture.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness. Trim to about 2cm larger all round than the pie dish (or cut discs large enough to cover individual dishes). Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Lay the pastry over the filling, pressing the egg-washed sides on to the rim of the dish(es).

If making a large pie, cut a cross in the centre and insert the lobster head, so it sits proud. Cut a small slit in the top of individual pies to allow steam to escape. Leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush the pastry lid with beaten egg and bake the pie for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown (allow 10-15 minutes less for individual pies). Let the pie stand for a few minutes before serving.

Tuna tortilla

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

A can of tuna can often save the day when it’s transformed into a tasty snack or a brunch-type dish such as this. It’s pretty good value for money and it will go quite a long way when you add in a few cooked potatoes.

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
a couple of knobs of butter
8 medium eggs, beaten
a couple of medium-sized potatoes (250-300g), peeled, cooked and cut into rough 1cm dice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 x 200g can of tuna, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a non-stick frying pan and gently cook the onions in the butter for 3-4 minutes without colouring until soft.

Meanwhile, mix the eggs, potatoes, parsley and tuna and season to taste.

Add the egg mixture to the pan with the onions and stir over a medium heat until the mixture begins to set, then stop stirring and allow the tortilla to set on the bottom without colouring.

Remove from the heat and turn out the tortilla on to a plate. Serve hot or cold.

Grouse with polenta and girolles

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

This is an economical way to get four good starter servings out of two grouse. (You can do the same dish with wood pigeon.) Make the polenta the night before; once set, it will last a few days in the fridge.

2 oven-ready grouse
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g butter, softened
a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil for frying
flour for dusting
120-150g girolles
1 tbsp chopped parsley

For the polenta:

500ml milk
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
a pinch of nutmeg
75g quick cooking polenta
75ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
30g freshly grated parmesan

The night before, make the polenta: bring the milk to the boil in a thick-bottomed pan, then add the garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Simmer for 5 minutes then whisk in the polenta and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and parmesan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Line a small rectangular container with clingfilm and pour in the polenta. Leave to cool then refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 240°. Rub the grouse with butter and then season them. Place the two birds in a roasting tray and roast for 12-15 minutes, keeping them nice and pink, then leave them to rest.

While the grouse are cooking, turn out the polenta and remove the clingfilm. Cut into 1cm-thick slices and dust them with flour. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and add a knob of butter. Fry the slices of polenta for 2-3 minutes on each side on a medium heat until golden, then remove and keep warm.

Heat another frying pan with the rest of the butter and cook the girolles on a medium heat for a few minutes, seasoning them while they are cooking and turning them with a spoon. Add the parsley and remove from the heat.

Remove the legs from the grouse with a sharp knife, then carefully remove the breasts. Slice the breasts into 4 or 5 slices. Place the slices of polenta on warmed serving plates and arrange the breasts and legs on top. Spoon over the girolles.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s posh cheese on toast

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

Madame Rarebit, Mrs Rarebit, Jessica Rarebit, whatever you call it, this take on the classic croque madame is a winner. Serves four.

70g unsalted butter
3 tbsp flour
500ml whole milk
200g caerphilly cheese, grated or crumbled into small pieces
¼ tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper
a few gratings of nutmeg
4 thick slices good white bread
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 thick slices cooked ham
4 eggs
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Melt 50g of the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then stir in the flour and cook for three minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, for five minutes until you have a thick béchamel.

Stir in the cheese, then add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until the cheese is melted. Heat the grill and toast the bread. Spread the toast with mustard and top with the ham. Spoon over the cheese sauce and grill until golden and bubbling.

While that’s cooking, heat the rest of the butter in a frying pan and fry the eggs, sprinkling them with a bit of salt and pepper, until the whites are just set and the yolks are runny. Top each slice of bread with an egg, sprinkle with salt, black pepper and parsley, and serve immediately.

Clams with sherry and garlic

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

You could use most types of clams for this dish – or even mussels, cockles or razor clams.

250-300g clams, cleaned
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
60-70ml dry sherry
1 tbsp chopped parsley
a couple of knobs of butter

Put the clams and garlic in a saucepan with the sherry, season, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan every so often until they begin to open.

Add the parsley and butter, replace the lid and cook for another 30 seconds or so until they are all opened. Serve immediately.

Grilled sardines with chickpeas

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

Sardines work with all number of things – beetroot, horseradish, little roasted tomatoes … and chickpeas are very good, too. Their creamy texture and nutty flavour balance this oily little fish that tastes so completely of the sea.

8 very fresh sardines, scaled and gutted
enough olive oil to brush the sardines
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g cooked, warm chickpeas
the juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
wedges of lemon to serve

Preheat your grill. Rub the sardines well with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Lay the sardines on your grill and cook for two minutes on one side before turning and cooking for a further couple of minutes on the underside.

While the sardines are cooking, dress the warm chickpeas with the lemon juice and olive oil, add the crushed garlic and chopped parsley, and stir well to combine.

Once the sardines are cooked, divide between four warm plates and spoon over the chickpeas. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

Smoked haddock baked potato

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

I suppose this is a kind of variation on the famous omelette Arnold Bennett, which was made with smoked finnan haddock.

2 large baking potatoes
200g smoked haddock
enough milk to poach the haddock
100g butter
30g flour
1 tsp English mustard
3-4 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the potatoes on a tray and bake for about an hour or so until soft. Leave to cool a little then halve them, scoop the potato into a bowl and mash with 60g of the butter.

Meanwhile place the haddock into a saucepan and cover with the milk, season lightly, bring to the boil, simmer for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Take out the haddock and put to one side. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the flour, and stir on a low heat for 20 seconds. Return the haddock milk to a low heat and whisk in the flour mixture and mustard. Simmer on a very low heat for about 10 minutes, then add the double cream and continue simmering for 5 minutes or so or until the sauce is the consistency of thick double cream.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and any bones from the fish and flake into chunks. Mix the fish with the sauce and fold half into the baked potato mixture and spoon back into the skins. Put potatoes back in the oven for about 10 minutes, heat up the remaining fish and sauce with the parsley; then, to serve, just spoon the fish and sauce on to the potatoes.

Salmon and leek pie

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

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This is a good way to use up tails and trimmings from a salmon. You could use a puff pastry crust for this but I prefer mash, myself.

1 litre salmon stock
450g salmon tails, skinned
70g butter
60g flour
2 medium leeks, halved, cut into rough 1cm squares and washed
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp double cream
4 servings of mashed potato with about 50-60g butter mixed in
2 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Bring the stock to the boil and poach the salmon tails for 2-3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and leave to cool on a plate.

Cook the leeks in the stock for about 2-3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve the stock.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir in the flour and continue stirring on a low heat for about 30 seconds.

Gradually whisk in the hot stock to avoid lumps forming, season then simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes. The sauce should be really quite thick by now; if not, continue cooking until it thickens.

Break up the salmon into chunks and mix with the sauce, leeks and parsley and re-season if necessary, then transfer to a large pie dish or individual ones.

Season the potato, then pipe on to the pies and scatter with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned nicely and the filling is hot.

Baked clams with lemon and parsley

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

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Half Hour Meals

Garlic, parsley and clams are a classic combination and this dish makes a great sharing starter or part of a selection of starters. Ideally you want to find large clams for this but not the massive ones, like cherrystones or quahogs, as they are really for eating raw and can be a bit tough. You could even use very large cockles or razor clams or a mixture of both.

2kg large clams, scrubbed
4 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100g butter
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
grated zest of one lemon
3-4 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the clams in a large saucepan with a cup full of water, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat, stirring them every so often, until they are all just open. Depending on the thickness of the shell this could take anything from 3-6 minutes; drain in a colander.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Meanwhile gently cook the shallots and garlic in the butter for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often. Put the shallot and garlic mixture in a food processor with the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parsley and season. Blend briefly so that all of the ingredients are well but loosely mixed.

Remove one half of the clam shell from each clam and lay the clams on a flat tray. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture into each clam shell then cook in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve immediately.

Osso bucco gremolata

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

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The bone marrow in the central core of osso bucco is what gives this dish its rich flavour and glossy appearance. Through slow cooking the meat becomes meltingly tender and the marrow so soft and sweet that it can be dug out using no more than a spoon. The final sprinkling of the gremolata adds a freshness and zest to the end dish that is necessary to counteract its rich flavour.

6 pieces of osso bucco, ask the butcher for ones of equal size
sea salt and black pepper
40ml olive oil
3 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped into generous sized chunks
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bunch of marjoram
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
4 fresh bay leaves
1 tin of good quality tomatoes
750ml dry white wine
salt and pepper

For the gremolata:
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

Season the meat well all over, and pour the olive oil into a heavy based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and, when the oil is hot, brown the meat well all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Pour off any fat remaining in the pan and return it to the stove. Turn the heat down and add all the vegetables, along with the garlic and herbs. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Now add the tomatoes, turning up the heat slightly as you do so, followed by the white wine. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then return the meat to the pan. Place a lid on the pan, set the heat to fairly low and cook for an hour and a half. By now the meat will be soft and tender, and the sauce rich and glossy. Taste and adjust the seasoning, it will need more salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

Traditionally, osso bucco is served with risotto Milanese, dense arborio rice generously laced with saffron, but the combination of thick sauce and buttery rice can be too rich for some tastes, so I sometimes serve it with potato gnocchi or even just a leafy green vegetable such as cavolo nero or spinach. I’ve done it here with gremolata.

For the gremolata, place all the ingredients into a bowl and toss together lightly with your fingertips. To serve, spoon the meat and sauce on to a warmed serving plate and scatter over the gremolata.

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