Mussel, spinach and bacon gratin

This may not be the simplest way to serve mussels but it is an incredibly tastey way. It took me around an hour to prepare this dish but on a rainy Friday in September I couldn’t think of a better way to start a lazy weekend at home.

The dish was rich and comforting, packed with the flavour of mussels and perfect served with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. We both loved this dish and I will cook it again some time no doubt. Continue reading

Fishy fishy cookbook review & a giveaway

This competition is now closed.

I’ll be honest before I was approached to review this cookbook I’d never heard of Fishy Fishy brasserie. I have learnt it is a Brighton based restaurant opened up by Dermot O’Leary, James Ginzler and Paul Shovlin. They share a passion for fish but most importantly for locally source, in season and sustainable fish. In their first cookbook they share their passion for fish and their expertise in sourcing and preparing fish.

The book starts out by explaining the importance of eating fish when they are in season, explores different fishing methods and explains how to buy and prepare fish. As well as this information, I found the chart at the back of the book particularly useful for knowing which fish are in season when.The main body of the cookbook features over 90 recipes, most of which include a beautiful photograph of the dish to tempt you in to preparing the recipe. There are chapters on starters, barbecue & al fresco eating, everyday fish and shellfish, special occasions and finally a chapter on sauces, side dishes and desserts. The recipes appear simple to prepare and there is a wide variety of fish and seafood used as well as a variety of recipe styles. Everything from pasta & risotto, fish cakes, salads, fish cooked whole and simply cooked fish fillets are included.As a self-confessed fussy fish eater who’s fish cooking skills are somewhat lacking, I have to say I really like this book and look forward to cooking more recipes from it (I know, I’m shocked too). I really think this is a good fish cookbook for novice fish cookers. The recipes are straight forward yet inspiring, there is lots of information on how to buy and prepare different types of fish and the book is full of beautiful photography. In case you missed it, I posted a recipe from the book a few days back – Sticky mackerel, I loved this dish and will be making it again this month before mackerel goes out of season. Other recipes I hope to try include warm mackerel salad with rhubarb chutney, fishburgers, quick crab, chilli and basil linguini, Provencal-style mussels, whole roasted grey gurnard and baked plaice with garlic and thyme new potatoes.

If you’re considering buying this book and want a bit more of a preview why not download their free app from itunes. 10 of the recipes from the book are included as well as a few demonstration videos. The video on preparing crab made it look so straight forward I’m think of buying one to have a go myself!


I have one copy of this cookbook to giveaway to one of my readers. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning a copy of this great cookbook is leave me a comment telling me your favorite way to cook fish. For a bonus entry please tweet about this giveaway using the button below and come back and leave me a comment to tell me you have done so.

The rules

This competition is only open to readers with a UK mailing address. The winner will be selected using an online randomiser and I will announce the winner in a post on this blog (and notify them by email) as soon as possible after the giveaway closes. Giveaway ends 7th September 2011, 7pm.

Please leave a separate comment for each different type of entry.

Please make sure when you leave a comment you include your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Thank you to New Holland publishers for my review copy and for sending one of my readers a copy too.

Sticky mackerel recipe

This might have become my favorite recipe for fresh mackerel (this was my previous favorite). The sticky sauce is packed with flavour and every mouthful tastes a bit different. This recipe is from Fishy fishy cookbook (review to follow later in the week) and is also included as a video in the free fishy fishy app. strangely though the recipes differ slightly between the book and the app (and even between the video and the text recipe on the app). I watched the video and then got the book out to cook from but found there were a few differenced between the two.

Firstly the book uses onion powder in the sauce and the video shallots and secondly book talks about making the sauce by bringing the sauce to the boil on the hob and then simmering for 5 minutes. Thirdly the sauce is applied to the fish whilst it is in the griddle pan in the video (and cooked for less time in the oven) where as the sauce is applied 5 minutes from the end of the cooking time in the oven. I’ll be totally honest with you I used half a small onion in my sauce as I had neither shallots or onion powder in. I also stuck with the videos method of applying the sauce (and not pre cooking it)to the fish whilst in the griddle pan as I felt this would caramelise the skin and maximise the flavours. I’m no expert though so perhaps the other method would have worked as well or better.

Sticky mackerel
serves 4

4 x 500-600g mackerel, cleaned and gutted
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper,

For the sticky sauce
50ml ketchup
25g brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder (or 1 shallot, finely diced)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  • Put a griddle on to heat over a high heat. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
  • To make the sticky  sauce, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend.
  • Make small cuts along both sides of the mackerel and season with salt and pepper. Rub some olive oil over the skin too. Place on the griddle pan once hot and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Paste the sauce over the top side of the fish and turn the fish over. After a 30 second to a  minute of caramelising the skin and sauce repeat by applying the sauce and grilling to the other side of the fish.
  • Line a roasting with baking parchment. Transfer the fish to the tray and bake for 3-5 minutes until the fish is cooked. Serve immediately.

Adventures in sustainable fish

I’ve never really eaten enough fish. As a child the only fish I ate were fish fingers and tinned tuna. As a teenager salmon (but only if flaked into a tomato sauce for pasta) and prawns were added to the list. My husband loves fish and seafood so when we moved in together four years ago I started to try to cook and eat more fish. I discovered Rose Prince’s cookbooks last year and they really made me think about eating fish sustainably. I watched Hugh’s fish fight this January which only convinced me even more that I needed to try more varieties of fish.

Since then I have been making more of an effort to try more types of sustainable fish. Some fish I have liked and others not so much but I’ve tried them. I don’t enjoy white fish like cod/coley/pollack so much but I have had some success using coley in paella and fish soups (although I don’t like fennel so I am still trying to find the perfect recipe). I’ve discovered I like rainbow trout, fresh sardines (although I do get fed up of all the bones) and we have started eating more mackerel. We ate a lot of fresh mackerel last summer that my husband and his dad caught (read about it here and find a delicious recipe for mackerel with Asian spices). I’ve also been buying and using smoked mackerel (instead of smoked salmon) in risotto.

My husband and his dad off mackerel fishing, easter weekend 2011.

So my days of mindlessly throwing pre-packed salmon fillets in to the supermarket trolley may be behind me but as a result I don’t think we eat enough fish (not sure we did before either though). I would go as far as to say cooking fish is my biggest weakness in the kitchen but I’m determined to change that. This is the first in a series of posts on fish (including book and app reviews, recipes and a giveaway) that will be featured on this blog in the next week or so. Who knows perhaps this will even be the start of a regular monthly feature on fish, I know I need something to push me to cook more fish.

A week in my kitchen (including River cottage bread baking)

I can’t believe it’s a week since my last post. It’s not through lack of cooking/baking though so this post is a bit of a catch up with my River cottage bread baking experience and a few other things I have cooked and want to bookmark (plus share with you) for future cooking over the last 8 days.


I’ve been baking my own pizza’s from scratch for some time now to the point where I know longer look at a recipe to make the dough or remember where the recipe came from. But in the spirit of baking my way through the River Cottage bread handbook I followed the recipe in the book last week. I’m so glad I did! The River Cottage recipe uses half plain flour and half bread flour making the resulting dough much softer than I am used to and the end result was a perfectly thin pizza base. I also used a recipe in the book for garlic infused olive oil to make a garlic pizza bread as well. The topping in the photo above was spinach, feta and prosciutto. This pizza dough recipe was previously published in the guardian here.


I baked my first full sourdough bread last monday following the recipe in River Cottage Bread. It started with making the sponge the night before and then the following day I followed the recipe to make the dough and let it rise as directed. You can find a sourdough recipe here on Belleau Kitchen. The bread turned out well, I’m just not sure we enjoyed the sourness enough to be worth the time it takes to make sourdough. I’m still keeping my started alive as I think I will use it to try some recipes from Dan Lepards the handmade loaf but I’m not sure if I’ll make another sourdough (even though there are several different sourdough recipe I haven’t baked in RC).

Simple pasta sauce

I shared my secret to delicious, simple pasta sauces here.

Malted and seeded loaf

I’ve updated my post on the malted grain loaf to include details of a very similar bread.


I baked a big batch of pikelets from the River cottage book. I love crumpets but don’t have any of the rings needed to cook them in. Pikelets are really simple to make and they taste delicious toasted spread with butter (the recipe made a lot so I froze most of them and I am happy to report they toast well straight from frozen). I can see these being baked a lot in my kitchen.

Smoked mackerel and pea risotto

In an effort to eat more sustainable fish, I cooked a smoked mackerel risotto. I just cooked a basic, plain risotto and added frozen peas and flaked up smoked mackerel with the last ladle of stock and finished it off with a squeeze of lemon juice. If your looking for more of a recipe to follow you can find one here.

Mackerel with Asian spices

I don’t know about anyone else but I am loving the new River cottage series (channel 4, Thursdays, 8pm) and finding it very inspiring. Last weeks episode was on fish. I’m fairly new to eating fish, I hated it when I lived at home. These last three years of living with my boyfriend and really getting in to cooking has pushed me to try more and more fish. He loves his fish and seafood (except prawns which unfortunately I love). Now when we eat out I regularly order fish (I had a gorgeous risotto of saffron, shrimp, chorizo and peas with a fillet of sea bass on top a few weeks back which can eat every week it was that good). I’m starting to cook more fish at home too. I like recipes which give the fish flavour or where I can serve the fish with something with lots of flavour (I’m not keen on fillets of fish (particularly white fish) with simple potatoes and veg).

This summer we have eaten a lot of mackerel, that my boyfriend and his dad, have caught off the coast of Anglesey. Mostly I’ve cooked it quiet simply (I find mackerel much more flavourful than the white fish fillets I was used to, so simple was ok), either on the griddle or in a foil parcel in the oven with a bit of oil and lemon.  Then I saw River cottage last week, where Hugh also cooked mackerel in a foil parcel but as well as oil he added a fennel, fresh ginger, chilli, garlic, star anise and soy sauce. Inspired to try this idea, I put it to the test last night. I omitted the fennel as I personally don’t like it. The flavours were taken on really well by the fish and we both loved the recipe. I served my fish with some green beans (stir fried with some sunflower oil, grated fresh ginger and a splash of soy sauce) and some noodles. Hugh’s serving suggestions are noodles, mash or rice and some wilted greens, such as spinach, pak choi or choi sum which would equally be a perfect accompaniment. We’ll certainly be having this recipe again, it’s just a shame that this was the last bag of mackerel in our freezer.

Mackerel with Asian spices
Serves 2

Sunflower oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
Half a star anise, broken up
2 medium mackerel (fillets would also work)
Soy sauce

  • Take a piece of strong kitchen foil, big enough to sit your fish on and then form a parcel. Cut slits in to the fish, on both sides, so the flavours can infuse the flesh. Place your fish in the middle of the foil, sprinkle with sunflower oil. Sprinkle over both fish the ginger, garlic, chilli and star anise. Season with soy sauce, then bring up the sides of the foil and scrunch them together tightly to form well-sealed but baggy parcels.
  • Place the parcels on a baking tray, transfer to an oven preheated to 190°C/Gas Mark 5 and bake for 15 minutes. Open up the steaming, fragrant parcels and pile the contents, including all the lovely juices, on to 2 warm plates.
  • Serve with noodles, mash or rice and some wilted greens, such as spinach, pak choi or choi sum.

Bill’s basics review

I must confess to being a big fan of Bill Granger. I love his simple, laid back way of cooking and presenting. In this cookbook he presents over 100 recipes that are his favorite, classics (think coq au vin, spaghetti carbonara, fish and chips and ‘fried’ chicken) which he has worked his magic on, not only simplifying but also putting his spin on them to modernise them. Examples include fish and chips, where the fish is coated in bread crumbs and shallow fried (instead of battered and deep-fried), coq au vin which can be made in less than one hour and ‘fried’ chicken which is oven baked yet he says still has all the flavour of southern fried chicken (this recipe is next on my list to try, so I can not confirm this).

Of course there is a chapter on his trademark breakfasts as well as baking, soups, meat, seafood, chicken, vegetables, rice, pasta and bread, salads and desserts. The recipes all appear simple and straight forward, the photographs are stunning and Bill’s passion for food and good home cooking is evident throughout.

So far I have tried Bills coq au vin, which he cooked on Saturday kitchen (and is also in this months Sainsbury’s magazine) and the recipe can be found here.  The recipe was straight forward to cook and tasted delicious (it reminded me of this dish from his last book feed me now). I also cooked his fish and chips with tartare sauce recipe. The fish had a subtle hint of paprika which I really enjoyed and the chips were deliciously crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle.

Fish and chips
Serves 4

75g plain flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1tsp ground cumin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80g fresh breadcrumbs
500g firm white fish fillets, cut into fat strips
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra just in case
25g butter, plus extra just in case

    To serve

    Oven-baked chips
    Tartare sauce
    Lemon wedges
    Chopped flat leaf parsley

        • Mix the flour, paprika and cumin with sea salt and ground black pepper in a bowl. Season the breadcrumbs well with sea salt and black pepper and put in another bowl. Put the eggs in a third bowl.
        • Dip each piece of fish in the flour, then the egg, then in the breadcrumbs.
        • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the fish strips, in batches, for about 2 minutes on each side until lightly golden, adding a little more butter and oil to the pan if needed.
        • Serve with oven-baked chips, tartare sauce, lemon wedges and a scattering of parsley.

          Oven-baked chips

          1.25kg potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
          3 tsp olive oil

              • Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8 and put a couple of baking trays in the oven for 20 minutes to heat up. Cut the potatoes into chips, dry with a clean tea towel, toss with the oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
              • Put the chips on baking paper on top of the hot baking trays and bake for 30 minutes, turning once, or until golden.

                Tartare sauce
                serves 4

                4tbsp mayonnaise
                2 gherkins, finely chopped
                2tsp tiny salted capers, rinsed and chopped
                1tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
                1tsp snipped chives
                Lemon juice to taste

                    • Stir together all the ingredients.

                      Thank you to Quadrille publishing for sending me a review copy of Bills basics.

                      Daring cooks – Salmon en Croute

                      The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.This months Daring cooks challenge struck the balance between keeping up the festive feeling without being another turkey dish! I really enjoyed this challenge and think it would make a perfect boxing day or new years dish.

                      Mine wasn’t the best looking salmon en croute but the salmon was flaky and succulent and the sauce tasted delicious with the fish and the pastry. I will most likely make salmon en croute again possibly with a healthier sauce and filo pastry.

                      Thank you Simone for a great December challenge.

                      Salmon en croute:
                      Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
                      Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach – 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
                      Shortcrust pastry – 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butter version such as Jusrol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or… make your own!
                      Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
                      egg – 1 medium sized

                      1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
                      2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
                      3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test whether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.

                      Shortcrust pastry
                      While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry

                      450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
                      200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
                      pinch of salt

                      Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
                      Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

                      For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

                      Daring cooks – Sushi

                      Not that long ago, if you had asked me to eat sushi, I would have point blank refused, stating that I don’t like raw fish (even though I had not tried it!). Thankfully I seem to be getting much more adventurous and willing to try new things. So when I read that this months Daring Cooks challenge was sushi, I surprised myself by getting quiet excited about the challenge. The next weekend we gave up or usual coffee and cake shopping break and instead opted to visit the Yo-sushi bar in our local shopping centre and try a few different types of sushi. I loved the set up of the sushi bar with the conveyor belt where you can pick which dishes you want to try and the ability to watch the chef’s preparing the sushi whilst you eat. However it was with some trepidation that I took my first bite of a raw salmon nigiri sushi. It was actually quiet nice! so much so that I went on to try a tuna one as well! I have to admit to still being a bit freaked out by the thought of fish roe but I tried a dragon roll with fish roe on the outside of the rice and it wasn’t bad but I wasn’t rushing to eat any roll containing large amounts!

                      After our research trip to Yo sushi I started to think about making sushi at home. I was unconvinced about buying fish fresh enough to eat raw locally so I decided to stick with smoked salmon and cooked prawns as my fish element. I also used avocado, cucumber and roasted red peppers.
                      The challenge had four parts:-
                      Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
                      Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling
                      Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut
                      Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings

                      The most time consuming part of the challenge is preparing the rice but once you have this done and all your filling ingredients prepared the rest of the process is easier than I expected and so much fun. You can get as creative as you like with the fillings and in particular presenting the dragon rolls.I really enjoyed preparing and eating the sushi rolls for this daring cooks challenge. I think it has been my favorite so far. I tried (& liked) raw fish sushi for the first time, I had fun preparing my own sushi (even if I cheated and didn’t use raw fish) and I was very impressed with how my sushi turned out!

                      Thanks to Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen for picking a great challenge!

                      The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

                      PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)

                      Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
                      Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
                      Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
                      Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
                      Finishing the rice: 15 minutes


                      • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
                      • 2½ cups water
                      • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

                      Optional Ingredients

                      • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
                      • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

                      Sushi vinegar dressing

                      • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
                      • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
                      • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

                      Rinsing and draining the rice

                      1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
                      2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

                      Soaking the rice

                      1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminium foil to make the seal tight).
                      2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu.
                      3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

                      Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

                      1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
                      2. Heat on low setting.
                      3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
                      4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

                      Cooking the rice

                      1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
                      2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
                      3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
                      4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

                      Finishing the rice

                      • Turning out the rice

                      1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
                      2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
                      3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

                      • Dressing the rice with vinegar

                      1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
                      2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
                      3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

                      • Fanning & Tossing the rice

                      1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavour, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
                      2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

                      • Keeping the rice moist

                      1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

                      * Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

                      * Tip: While the rice is draining, soaking and cooking prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings.

                      PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)

                      Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
                      Cooking time: about 5 minutes (grilling the eel)

                      Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls


                      • 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
                      • 1/2 Japanese cucumber
                      • 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
                      • Glazed Barbecued Eel (ungai) (about 3½ ounces or 100 grams)
                      • 1 Avocado
                      • Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
                      • Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)


                      • 2 tablespoons (25 grams or 1 oz) Fish Roe (Fish eggs)

                      1.Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
                      2.Grill (broil) the eel for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Cut into two lengthwise strips.
                      3.Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
                      4.Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
                      5.Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
                      6.Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
                      7.Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
                      8.Arrange one of the eel strips across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks next to the eel.
                      9.Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
                      10.Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional fish roe along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
                      11.Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
                      12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
                      13.Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

                      * Tip: The most common mistake is having too much filling the golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

                      * Tip: Dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut – this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

                      * Tip: Excellent videos on making Dragon Rolls

                      PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll
                      This is easiest ‘decorative’ sushi roll.

                      Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

                      Yield: One Roll, cut into 8 pieces


                      • 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
                      • 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
                      • Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)

                      1.Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm).
                      2.Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
                      3.Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
                      4.Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
                      5.Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
                      6.Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
                      7.Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
                      8.Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.

                      Make each groove about a finger-width wide they will hold about 1-2 tablespoons of filling. Use fillings that compliment each other and are highly coloured. Use parboiled vegetables cut into strips, seafood, left over eel, smoked fish or chicken, whole cooked beans, edible flowers etc….

                      PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi
                      Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.

                      Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice

                      Yield: 14-16 pieces of sushi


                      • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
                      • 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
                      • 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice


                      • Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
                      • Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)

                      1.When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
                      2.Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
                      3.Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
                      4.Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t let sushi touch or they’ll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
                      5.Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form ‘battleship’ sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
                      6.Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
                      7.It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.

                      * Tips: A great video on making nigiri sushi
                      A great web page on slicing fish for nigiri

                      Able and Cole – Summer range

                      This month I have a selection of food including dips and spreads from the new Able and Cole summer range to tell you about. I will start off completely up front and say I received these free of charge in return for a blog post review of them.

                      I received the following items:

                      Black Olive Houmous, Abel & Cole (200g)

                      White Cornish Crab, Seafood and Eat it (100g)
                      Riserva Prosciutto (55g)
                      Taleggio (250g)
                      Roast Pepper and Feta Quiche (340g)

                      First off we had a quick Sunday night meal of quiche with the black olive houmous spread on homemade bread. Both were delicious! Black olives were a nice addition to an otherwise very tasty houmous and something I would eat again and perhaps even have a go at making myself.

                      The houmous had just the right balance of flavours and worked really well with my seeded, wholemeal loaf. The quiche its self was also really tasty. I love feta in quiches but would not normally choose anything with peppers in but I actually quiet enjoyed this combination and the sweetness due to the pepper being roasted first.I had never eaten crab before I received this so I can’t compare the quality of this product to anything I have previously bought but it was absolutely delicious! I did a bit of searching on the Internet and found a recipe for crab linguine. The resulting dish was delicious. The chilli, lemon and garlic really enhanced the crabs flavours. The crab didn’t go in to the dish until near the end but I decided to try some without the additional flavours and loved it so it was lucky there was any left by the time it was needed!

                      That just leaves the prosciutto and the taleggio. Taleggio was completely new to me, never heard of it, let alone tried it. After some research on the Internet I discovered it was a good melting cheese as well as being delicious spread on bread. I tried it both spread on bread (tasty but a little too strong in flavour for me) and I tested out its melting properties in two dishes. The first also used the prosciutto (which had a very nice flavour and seemed very good quality to me) and was my version of stuffed courgettes. I started by scooping out the flesh of two courgettes. I then gently sauteed a small onion, a clove of garlic and the courgette flesh in a little oil. I tore up the Prosciutto and layered it with the onion/courgette mixture in the courgette skin ‘boats’ and topped it off with the taleggio before baking in the oven. Boy does this cheese melt well!! There was almost more on the baking tray than left on the courgettes! I did prefer the taste when it was melted and it combined well with the Prosciutto.
                      The final dish was more of an accident than planned. One evening I decided to make pizza certain I had a ball of mozzarella sat in the fridge just waiting to be used. However after rolling out the pizza dough and covering it with tomato sauce I went to the fridge and couldn’t find any mozzarella. I was faced with the choice of cheddar, taleggio or feta. As much as I love cheddar I’m not a big fan of it on pizzas and I wanted something that melted more than feta so I decided to try the taleggio. I first put tinned tuna on the pizza followed by grated courgette and finally topped off with the taleggio. The end result was delicious.
                      All in all I was very pleased with the quality of the items Able and Cole sent me and with the delivery and packaging of the items.