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Flaked Fillet of Salmon with a Medley of Mediterranean Vegetables

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Strictly no salt, butter or dairy products. No chocolate or coffee! That was the damming verdict of the doctor who is treating my husband for alarmingly high blood pressure.

Hubby, being a non smoker and having already given up alcohol, may just have, then and there, thrown in the towel.  I selfishly lamented the decrement of my culinary creativity and cast off my crown as ‘Queen of the Cream’.  Mon Dieu, quelle catastrophe!  With a penchant for French cuisine and cream based sauces, these words were neither welcome or pleasing. Not to make immediate changes to his diet and continue blithely, I would have been complicit in his premature demise – the doctor’s words were both somber and sobering. Determined to see it as a challenge to my creativity and to increase my understanding and knowledge of alternative flavour enhancers; I am enjoying working with new ingredients and combinations of herbs and spices.

With all this at the forefront of my mind, I concocted yesterday evening’s meal by baking and flaking salmon fillet and mixing it with a medley of finely chopped Mediterranean vegetables served with fluffy rice. I used more pepper than usual, lots of garlic (proven to be very good for the heart) and just a touch of fresh ginger to give a hint of tanginess. And all without a grain of salt!

Flaked Fillet of Salmon with a Medley of Mediterranean Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 350g of salmon fillet
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 large leek, chopped finely
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 courgette, chopped finely
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 1cm piece of freshly chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp of good olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • chopped parsley or basi to garnish

Directions:

  1. SERVES 2
  2. Wrap/seal the salmon fillet in foil that has been lightly oiled. A squeeze of lemon juice is good.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees centigrade / 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes.
  4. Open the foil and flake the salmon when cool.
  5. Place all the chopped vegetables in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil olive and cook gently for 20 minutes.
  6. Mix the flaked salmon with the medley of vegetables and serve on a bed of rice or olive oil mashed potatoes.

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Scallop & Prawn Sea-sation!

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This was my Sunday Sea-sation treat to the family!

Living here in Portugal, very close to the Atlantic coast, we are very lucky to have oceans of fresh fish to feast on. And feast on it we do, but yesterday I decided, instead, to delve deep into my freezer for some lovely treats, also originally from the sea!

Scallops and prawns are a great combination – these beauties pictured here, I dressed with a creamy shallot, leek and celery sauce, perched aloft some delicious new boiled locally grown potatoes. The combination was a triumph and it’s success was confirmed by the words of my teenage son, “Can I have more Mum?”

Scallop and Prawn Sea-sation!

Ingredients:

  • FOR 4 PEOPLE (Main course):
  • 12 large scallops (mine had tails on)
  • 16 large raw prawns, peeled
  • 500/600g of new potatoes
  • 2 small leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery finely chopped
  • 2 small spring onions, finely chopped
  • a cup of white wine
  • 200ml of cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • sweet balsamic vinegar to drizzle and chopped parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Defrost and peel the prawns if frozen. Defrost the scallops if frozen.
  2. In a pan, with a tablespoon of heated olive oil, fry and season the vegetables.
  3. Add the wine and reduce for 5 to 10 minutes minutes.
  4. Boil the potatoes.
  5. In a large heavy based pan, cook the prawns (they turn from a translucent colour to white).
  6. Add the scallops. Be very careful not to over cook,
  7. Add the cream to the vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes.
  8. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half. Arrange on a plate.
  9. Place 3 scallops on the top of 3 halved potatoes with 4 prawns.
  10. Drizzle with the sauce reduction.
  11. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  12. Optional: sea salt and cracked black pepper

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A Monkfishy tail!

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It was my suggestion – let’s have something special for dinner on Valentine’s night rather than go to a restaurant serving food at hiked up prices (I’m sorry to all restaurateurs, I used to be one myself)! So that let Peter off the hook. Ha,ha …… fish, hook!! Okay, not that funny. I hear you sigh, so I’ll get on with the tail ……..

I bought a large frozen monkfish tail from the fishmonger – it weighed about one and half kilos, so needed a day to defrost. I also bought some frozen cooked prawns – they didn’t really add anything to the taste or texture of the dish, so next time I’ll buy a few frozen uncooked tiger prawns. In hindsight, I don’t know what possessed me not to buy the real mccoy – I’ve made this dish many times and not compromised it before!

A monkfish tail weighing about a kilo will feed four people – I made far too much as usual, despite having a permanently hungry teenage boy in the house. I think monkfish is one of my favourite fish because there is no fiddling around with little bones, allowing one to be confident in getting stuck in. The meat is dense so you don’t really need copious quantities and it marries well with prawns, especially the bigger bite size ones. The added vegetables increase the flavours and textures and a dash of Moscatel wine gives a slight sweetness and depth to this deliciously velvety sauce.

It was a truly fishilicious meal and I recommend it all!!

 

Monkfish and Prawns in Moscatel Wine and Cream with Rice

Ingredients:

  • A monkfish tail (a kilo would serve 4 people)
  • 400g prawns 
  • 2 leeks, chopped into rounds
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • a good ‘glug’ of Moscatel wine, or white vermouth
  • a cup of fish stock
  • salt and pepper
  • double cream
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. If frozen, defrost the monkfish tail.
  2. Remove the meat from the central bone.
  3. Remove the membrane and cut the meat into chunks.
  4. Set the chunks of fish on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Defrost the prawns.
  6. Add 3 tablespoons (approximately) of olive oil to a pan or wok and place on the heat.
  7. Add the prepared leeks, celery, pepper, garlic and carrots to the oil.
  8. Season generously.
  9. Add the Moscatel and the fish stock and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Add the cream and mix together.
  11. Add the monkfish and if the tiger prawns are uncooked, add them also.
  12. If using pre cooked shrimps add these for just a minute at the end.
  13. Cook until the monkfish turns from a translucent colour to white.
  14. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with rice.

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Tiger Prawn Tagliatelle

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I love prawns! Prawns, grilled, sauté, barbecued, sweet and sour prawns, prawn curry, prawn just about anything! The only thing I don’t like about prawns, is peeling them! It’s time consuming and yucky, mucky! But ……. every cloud has a silver lining and these prawns were certainly worth the effort. Creating a meal with with fresh raw prawns is so much better than buying cooked peeled prawns which are often tasteless and watery.

 

Prawn Tagliatelle

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of shell on raw prawns of a good size (serves 4 people)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 sweet Italian pepper, deseeded and cut into thin rounds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup of Portuguese Moscatel wine or a semi sweet white wine
  • 200ml of cream
  • Fresh tagliatelle
  • Parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel and remove the vein that runs along the upper length of the prawn. Set aside.
  2. In a frying pan, add the olive oil and pan-fry the garlic, leek, celery and red pepper to soften. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Add the Moscatel or semi-sweet wine and continue to cook until the liquid reduces slightly.
  4. In the meantime, boil a pan of water and cook the tagliatelle.
  5. Add the cream to the mixture in the frying pan and combine thoroughly.
  6. Add the cooked prawns to the sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  7. Drain the tagliatelle and serve into bowls. Top with the prawn sauce.
  8. Grind the sea salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Stuffed Squid with Garlic & Roasted Red Peppers

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This is amazingly easy, but just a little ‘fiddley’, to prepare! The ‘fiddley’ part is the stuffing of the squid, but I have concocted a method to hold the end of the squid tube open; and that is by using the large open ring of a piping nozzle.

I love this meal at lunch time (ten squid tubes like the ones pictured here are perfect for two) – it’s light (so long as one is not tempted to mop up all the delicious juices with wedges of crusty bread), healthy and will unquestionably tantalise your taste buds. The roasted red pepper zings with colour and sweetness; the squid is tender and succulent and the stuffing can vary, depending on the ingredients you fancy. I find being good difficult and often can’t resist the temptation of dunking chunks of freshly baked bread into the scrumptious oily, peppery, salty, garlicky sauce. It’s utterly Mediterranean and could only improve, if polished off with a chilled glass of white or rose wine!!

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Pre-cooking. The squid cleaned, de-veined and stuffed.

I bought fresh squid with the tentacles attached, which for this recipe, I removed. It is important also to remove the translucent spine – this is quite easy and just needs a firm tug. For the stuffing, I simply mixed couscous (just follow the instructions on the packet) with finely chopped garlic, red peppers and sultanas. Once these ingredients were combined with the couscous, I mixed in a few drops of olive oil, a good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I filled the squid (this is a little time consuming and can be ‘fiddley’) by using the nozzle of a piping bag without any attachments. Once filled, a wooden tooth-pick was used to secure the squid tubes. I chopped a red pepper into pieces and placed them in an oven dish with the prepared squid and sprinkled them with some more finely chopped garlic. Finally, I drizzled over a good quality olive oil (making sure that everything was well coated), then added a generous pinch of sea salt and a good twist or two of ground pepper. Covered with tin foil and baked in a preheated oven – 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for a further 5 to 10 minutes to brown.


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Monkfish and Prawn Risotto ~ a devilish tail!

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This is in my top five favourites! It’s rich, creamy, filling and flavoursome! It’s almost a one-pan dish and incredibly easy to produce. I use a large cast iron pan or wok, but a good sized saucepan would do the job. I say it is almost a one-pan dish because I choose to cook the monkfish and prawns before adding them to the mix. In this way, I can make sure that the monkfish doesn’t over-cook and that the prawns are also cooked through to the point that they retain the correct texture without becoming ‘rubbery’.

Living here in Portugal we are enormously fortunate to benefit from an abundance of fish and shellfish, offered at very reasonable prices. I was shocked during a recent visit to the United Kingdom by the price of fish and especially prawns of any reasonable size. What is going on there? I buy loose frozen raw prawns, here in Portugal, and can purchase a kilo of these for around €10.00.

While in England, staying with friends, I offered to cook this dish for my hosts; so took myself off to a local ‘superstore’ to buy the ingredients. What an eye-opener! Hold the horses James!!! I would have needed a mortgage to buy the quantities I required to do the meal justice. Monkfish was an equally ridiculous price. Why, I must ask again? I regularly buy both these ingredients, in a European country, in frozen form and cannot understand why the same products are not available at the same, or similar, prices in Britain. I believe it is called – ‘what the market will bear’! I can understand slight variations between countries because of relative trade overheads, but the price differences were so great that I would find that argument hard to swallow. Alas, I did not cook the monkfish and prawn risotto that evening, but promised my friends that I would serve it on their next visit to Portugal.

For this recipe, I use frozen monkfish tails and frozen raw tiger prawns. It always seems quite incongruous to me that such a monstously ugly fish can yield such a delicious meat. The monkfish, sometimes referred to as a frog-fish or a sea-devil is found deep in the waters of the North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is sad that both over fishing and also the method used to catch these fish are endangering future supplies and damaging the marine environment. I must make it my business to know more about the ethos of sustainable fishing. I feel that it is the duty of all mankind dwelling on earth to look after the planet that has been loaned to us. As I am growing simultaneously in girth and years, I find that I am more deeply touched by the seriousness and responsibility that we have for our fragile environment. For the time being, I will resist the role of a pontiff and return to the tail and tale of my ugly fish!

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Imagine taking a dip in the ocean and coming across this fellow!

It is certainly easy to see why this creature is known as the ‘devil’ of the sea, with its pointed needle-like teeth that slope inward to trap unsuspecting prey. This is a great example of not judging a book by its cover, because the meat is dense, sweet and very similar in texture to lobster.

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Pan-fry to soften the vegetables.

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Add the wine, stock and risotto rice.

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Add the monkfish and then the prawns. Stir through the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes.

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Et voila!!

 

Monkfish & Prawn Risotto

Prep Time: 1 Hour Cooking Time: 50 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour 50 Mins

Ingredients:

  •  2 x Monkfish tails, remove the meat from the central bone, remove the ‘sacking’ and cut into chunks
  • 800g shell-on raw tiger prawns (shelled)
  • 1 tbsp spoon of olive oil + a knob of butter for pan-frying the monkfish and prawns.
  • Sea salt
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cups of fish stock
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 300g Arborio Risotto rice
  • Water, as required
  • 250/300ml of cream
  • Parsley to garnish

Directions:

  1. Thaw the prawns and the monkfish.
  2. Remove the shells from the prawns and the sack running along the spine – it’s a slimey and laborious job, but worth it!
  3. With a sharp knife, remove the monkfish meat off the central bone and also remove any membrance. Cut into chunks.
  4. Pan fry the prawns in the oil + butter. A twist of sea salt is good! They will turn from grey to pink. Once cooked through, remove and set aside.
  5. Pan fry the monkfish, it will turn from translucent to white. Be careful not to over cook it. Again a twist of sea salt is good. Set aside.
  6. In a large pan, add about 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, leeks, red pepper, and celery. Add salt and pepper. Saute until softened a little.
  7. Add the wine and cook on a ittle more.
  8. Add the risotto rice and the fish stock. As the rice absorbs the juices, add more water as necessary. Keep tasting!
  9. When the rice is cooked, add the prawns and the monkfish. Then stir through the cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
  11. The cooking times are approximate, because it takes time to peel the prawns and, if it is the first time you have peeled raw prawns, it can be a very slow job!

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Salt Cod (Bacalhau) with Rough Mashed Potatoes and Cream

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Dried salt cod (Bacalhau) is, unarguably, the most outstanding ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. The tradition of drying and salting this fish dates back to the 15th century and was/is a method of preservation. Caught in the cold wild seas of the North Atlantic, the fish was salted in the hold of the ship and kept, sometimes, for many months or years. Given salt cod is not caught off Portuguese shores, it is bizarre that it became such an important part of Portugal’s food culture. On average, a Portuguese person eats around 10kg of dried salted fish per year and it is the main ingredient served in celebration at Christmas. It is used in hundreds of dishes and can be cooked in a multitude of ways; but I have chosen one of my favourite methods –  known in Portugal as bacalhau com nata (cod with cream)! I state now, that it is my recipe! The Portuguese are very possessive about their cuisine and I know that one of the cooks that I worked with in my restaurant, here in Portugal, would have raised her eyebrows ….. and more. Forgive me, Cristina!

 

All supermarkets here sell bacalhau or dried salt cod. In its preserved state, it looks quite unappetising. Miracles happen after soaking in water as the meat starts to take on its original form.

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I always ask the fishmonger to cut the fish for me into pieces easier to soak in a pan.

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It is important to soak the fish for at least 2 days, changing the water regularly.

Remove the fish from the water, rinse and place in a baking dish. Cover with milk or a mix or milk and water; seal the tray with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade. Remove the dish from the oven – be careful when peeling the foil off (steam’s hot!) – remove the cod from the liquid and allow to cool.


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Thick flakes of juicy cod.

The white meat will flake away very easily. For me the next part is very important!! Take time to remove any bones – I pick over the meat fastidiously – as I know that my son would down knife and fork instantly on unearthing any offending item.

Follow the recipe below to create the creamy sauce – and then combine all the components. Serve with buttered carrots. It’s absolutely fishilicious!!


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Add the vegetables to the pan and simmer until softened

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Serve with cracked black pepper and buttered carrots!

Bacalhau (salt cod) with vegetables and cream

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 40 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • I cup of fish stock
  • bacalhau, soaked, cooked and flaked – discarding the skin and bones
  • bunch of parsley, chopped
  • a knob of butter
  • 200ml of cream
  • 600/700g of potatoes
  • salt (be cautious as the fish will be salty, despite soaking)
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large deep pan, add the olive oil.
  2. Add the garlic, celery, leek and carrot.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes and add the fish stock. (I make stock in batches and freeze it like ice cubes)
  5. Simmer until the vegetables soften. Add a splash of water if the mixture becomes too thick.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, boil the potatoes. When cooked add a knob of butter and rough mash the potatoes. Set aside.
  7. Add the cream to the sauce and mix together.
  8. Gently fold in the flaked fish, rough mashed potatoes and parsley.
  9. You can serve the meal at this stage (carrots are a great accompaniment) or transfer to an oven proof dish, sprinkle the top with some grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes at about 180/190 degrees centigrade.
  10. Enjoy!

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Fish Pasta – Paulo’s recipe!

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Last night we feasted heartily on two plump sea bass (see my previous post), but the quantity of meat yielded, meant that there was enough over for a recipe that I had wanted to try following a ‘foodie’ conversation with a young Portuguese waiter that works in the restaurant at our local golf club in Espiche. He is enormously enthusiastic about food and flavours and, for his young years (to me, anyone under 40 is young), he really knows his stuff! He recounted to me how he gained this knowledge and appreciation of food and flavour combinations while working alongside his mother and grandmother. It is unusual to find a young person these days with such a joyous passion for food and, therefore, I wanted to share his recipe!

Like many Portuguese recipes, it’s quite simple to prepare and therefore, simply healthy and delicious. Using fresh ingredients, the flavours marry together very well. I served a bowl to my son (photographed below) at lunchtime – he is always hungry – and he loved it! What a fabulous way to use up the leftovers! Thank you Paulo for the inspiration!

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“Hey Mum, I’m eating! Promise you won’t publish that photo!” – “Of course not, Jonathan!”

 

 

Paulo’s Portuguese Fish Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 500g (approx), white fish (cod) or salmon – baked and flaked
  • 500g Penne pasta (fresh is best) 
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • A good squeeze of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Portuguese Moscatel Wine (or Vermouth)
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

  1. For this recipe, I used some sea bass that I had cooked the previous night. Any white fish or salmon fillet can be used. Just wrap in foil with butter and salt and bake for 15/20 mins at 180 degrees centigrade. Flake, removing any bones and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring salted water to the boil in preparation for the pasta.
  3. In a large frying pan add the olive oil, onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, tomato paste and the Moscatel wine.
  4. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and the liquid reduces a little.
  5. While this is simmering, put the pasta into the boiling water and cook until soft.
  6. Gently mix the cooked fish into the sauce.
  7. Drain the cooked pasta and top with the fish sauce.
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon. 
  9. Optional – a good twist of sea salt and ground pepper.

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Atlantic Croaker

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This post is published a little late! Travel back in time a just three weeks please!

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Here he is before his meeting with the oven ……..

I needed inspiration for dinner. It’s August (the coast is teeming with tourists) and it’s warm here in Portugal (high 30’s), so didn’t want to prepare anything too heavy. I have also been lacking in energy but feel guilty for being sloth-like! In an effort to summon some inspiration, I took a drive to the fish markets in Lagos, in the hope that something would catch my eye. And it did!! On the quay, there are several seafood specialists, one of which I ambled into – it was humming with activity – and had, in tanks or on display a colourful array of shrimps, prawns, crabs, percebes (barnacles), crawfish, oysters, clams and lobster. Ummhh, I thought! Fresh lobster would be a real treat. Determined to hold my place in the queue (ha! no-one forms an orderly queue on the continent), feet in flip-flops firmly planted to the wet and slimy fish-gut floor, I was spurred on by the price the lady in front of me (Portuguese) had just paid for three lively lobsters of a very respectable size! I was envisaging the dish – prawns and crab claws, topped with a regal lobster, salad and new potatoes – we would enjoy that very evening on the terrace, enjoying the warm summer air, a glass of Chablis or two to help the prized meats slip down while listening to the melodic sound of crickets and birdsong!

No more inspirational shopping for me . . . . we’ll not in August anyway! Driving away from the port in my oven-like car, I headed straight to the counter of my usual fish supplier in town. Confident in the knowledge that his displayed prices were for everyone, I selected a handsome Atlantic Croaker (Corvina in Portuguese).

 Who Needs Lobster?

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And here he is ready to be feasted upon …………..

Who needs lobster? This fine fish did not disappoint us with his sweet flaky white meat. Stuffed with lemon butter, garlic and fresh dill, then sealed in foil and baked in the oven – he fed three of us very generously. The local new potatoes and asparagus from the north of Portugal, garnished with sea salt and slathered with butter were a mouthwatering accompaniment.

We did eat on the terrace – the air was warm but the wind had developed a sharp edge, the sound of birdsong and the melody of the crickets were drown out by the the children next door shrieking in the pool. And I washed the delicious fish down with a glass of two of local plonk! But life was and is still good when one considers the horrors of war and unrest being endured by too many in our world today!

 

Baked Atlantic Croacker

Prep Time: 15 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 45 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Croaker fish or similar ( based on 2.5 kilos) which would feed 3 or 4 people
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 3 springs of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of fresh dill
  • butter
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. To make the stuffing – mix 2 tablespoons of softened butter with a good squeeze of lemon and the chopped garlic.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the body of the fish (I always ask my fishmonger to prepare the fish for me).
  3. Add half the lemon – sliced, the dill and the rosemary.
  4. Butter a large piece of foil and wrap the fish, making sure that the parcel is air tight.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for  about 30 minutes – ovens vary! After 25 minutes check how the fish is cooking by using a thermometer (55 to 60 degrees centigrade).
  6. Serve with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and a good squeeze of lemon. The meat should just flake away from the bone.

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Sea Bass

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I’m having a penchant for fish at the moment! Maybe it’s the warm weather (the winds have abaited a little), but I am being drawn to fish counters when out shopping and there is rather a splendid array of specimens from which to choose. Being in close proximity to the southern coast of Portugal, what else would one expect! Fish are easy and relatively quick to prepare for the oven, so on a balmy summer evening, what better meal to feast on.

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Here are my stars of the show – two plump sea bass stuffed with lemon, garlic and dill

Having taken a rest from my restaurant kitchen, I am eating rather more and inevitably the kilos are increasing! It’s enormously tedious, this debt to pleasure! When I was cooking commercially, I didn’t have time to sit down and eat a full meal and I must admit that by the end of service, I didn’t feel like food. My ‘carrot’, at the end of the day, was a glass of chilled wine. I mostly survived on nibbling and tasting the dishes in preparation during the day. Alas, that has all changed for the moment – to the detriment of my hips, ‘tum’ and bum. I am enjoying experimenting with recipes and cooking at home and, inescapably, eating the results – in fact, clearing the plate and often replenishing it. Quel horreur!  Therefore, my intentions are good in selecting fish for dinner, which eaten with a crisp green salad, would be extremely healthy and probably hold the kilos at bay! But, I am weak (I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from a disease called ‘will power deficiency’) and I can’t pass on the potatoes. My particular partiality to potatoes must have its roots somewhere in my Irish ancestry. Locally grown potatoes, which I buy at our village market, are simply irresistible. They ‘taste’ how I want a potato to taste – often creamy with a slight sweetness, not watery and bland like so many of the supermarket offerings.  The potatoes in moderation (like everything in life – huh!) would probably be fine; but I like mine with lashings of good quality butter and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Those people interested in cautious eating, should not follow my blog!

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Just about cooked!

After 25 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade sealed in foil, plus 5 minutes with the foil unwrapped at 200 degrees centigrade, we had two beautifully baked bass. These fish weighed about one kilo each – the meat just fell off the bone. It served three of us very generously with oodles over for lunch the next day.

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Just look at this succulent meat!

As there are three of us and I had two fish, I served it off the bone with a lemon butter, garlic and dill sauce – new potatoes and carrots. Salad next time …. maybe! Or, perhaps, I’ll start running to the market!!


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