Category Archives: Home cooking

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Cod Cakes in tomato sauce

I saw this fishcake alternative in Yotam Ottolenghis’ Jerusalem book. To me it looked like a the sort of dish that you would expect to be served to a large family. It sounded both healthy and hearty and suitable for a weekend dinner, which I made in April.
This dish would be a good one to try on a bank holiday weekend, if you have friends round and no BBQ.
You should be able to make 8 cakes, I managed 7, it will feed 4 adults and leave them full, but no room for pudding.
Alternatively you could serve this to 6 people and add some greens and a pudding.
The best thing about this method is that you can freeze the remaining cakes and sauce, leaving you a nice treat for an easy midweek meal.

Cod Cakes
White bread, crusts removed 3 slices
Cod (sustainably sourced), or pollock fillet, skinless and boneless 600g
Medium onion 1, finely chopped
Garlic cloves 4, crushed
Flat-leaf parsley 30g, finely chopped
Coriander 30g, finely chopped
Ground cumin 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Large free-range eggs 2, beaten
Olive oil 4 tbsp

I missed out the parsley and coriander in the cod cakes step, which might be why my cakes seemed paler than the books beautiful photo. Either that or my oil needed to be hotter, which I suspect was the case!

Tomato sauce
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Ground cumin 1 tsp
Sweet paprika ½ tsp
Ground coriander 1 tsp
Medium onion 1, chopped
White wine 125ml
Chopped tomatoes 400g tin
Red chilli 1, deseeded and finely chopped
Garlic clove 1, crushed
Caster sugar 2 tsp
Mint leaves 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid, and add the spices and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.


While the sauce is cooking make the fish cakes. Place the bread in a food processor and blitz to form breadcrumbs. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with the bread and everything else, apart from the olive oil. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. I had some ring moulds which I used here, it achieved very neat cakes but perhaps handmade would be more rustic. The mixture should make 8 cakes. If they are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.

Heat up half the oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for 3 minutes on each side, so they colour well.

Add the remaining oil as you fry the cakes. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 200ml. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with mint.
Serve with bulgar, rice, couscous or bread, alongside sautéed spinach or Swiss chard.


I will certainly be trying this dish again, with all of the ingredients next time.


Chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice

This dish is definitely for those of you wanting to serve up a comforting dish to your friends and family, especially as it’s been so unusually cold and now, although now it is perhaps warmer, we appear to be stuck with our friend the rain!
This one pot dish can be had on its own or served with spinach or other greens that you might fancy. You could add chilli flakes if you wanted to spice things up. It’s quite a simple dish which can be suited to your taste. Take a read through and find the ingredient list at the end!

Caramelising your onions:
Heat half the oil in a large pan, with a lid, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15mins, until the onions are deep golden brown, not burnt. Transfer the onions into a bowl and set aside, wipe your pan clean.

The Chicken:
Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1&1/2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and mix with your hands to mix well.
Heat your large pan and place the chicken and spices inside. Sear the chicken for 5 mins on each side and remove from the pan, don’t worry that the spices stay in the pan. (This will have part-cooked the chicken so don’t try to jump over this step.) Remove most of the remaining oil, leaving about a millimetre.

Add the rice, caramelized onion, 1tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Add in your currants. Stir well and the add the seared chicken, push it into the rice, don’t just pop it on the top.

Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 30 mins. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid and quickly place a tea towel over the pan, then seal the pan with the lid. Now leave the dish for 10mins.

Before you serve, add your herbs, and stir in while fluffing up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you wish.

40g sugar
25g currants
4tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 whole chicken, divided into quarters or 1kg chicken thighs
10 cardamom pods
1/3 tsp whole cloves
2 long cinnamon sticks
300g basmati rice
550ml boiling water
5g parsley
5g dill
5g coriander
100g Greek yoghurt
1 tea towel (although I’m not sure what this does.)





I would like to say a big thank you to Tony Brett who supplied this guest blog to me at the start of the month. It’s been a manic month but this might give some of you an inspiration for … Continue reading

I do love a curry… Sea Bream

So Valentines night… What did you do this year? If the V word hadn’t already irritated you by Thursday night then I’ll let you into a casual secret meal that we made for Thursday 14th Feb 2013.
A takeaway was tempting, but I had received a great cook book at Christmas from my boyfriend, so it was a good night to try it out for the first time! The book in question was:
‘The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook’ Viveck Singh.

After flicking through many mouthwatering pages and refraining from temptation and expense for a midweek meal we plummeted for: ‘Spice crusted sea bream wrapped in banana leaf with green mango and coconut chutney.’ Our meal was made without banana leaf and without any coconut, but it was still tasty!

Our Sea bream was bought at Oxford’s covered market, Hayman’s fisheries, a fantastic gem within Oxford city, in my opinion. My favourite grocers within the covered market is Bonners, where the staff are always friendly, the quality and prices beat any ‘supermarket’, supplied all the veg necessary for our meal, as always!

One thing I couldn’t get was curry leaves, but Cowley road saved the day and with its mystery shops selling many various food items from all over the world, I got more curry leaves than I actually know what to do with! (Ideas welcome!)

So the about the meal itself:

You’ll need a bream per person, get this filleted from your fishmonger if you can. Or DIY it!

Sprinkle the fillets with:
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp veg oil
Set this to marinade for half an hour. I did this when I got in from work. So 17.40.



When you’re ready, or once you’ve had a glass of vino and catch up move to the next step:

Spice crust
5 shallots
4 garlic cloves
20 black peppercorns
1tsp red chilli powder
20 curry leaves
2 tbsp veg oil
1&1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Pound the shallots, garlic and peppercorns to a coarse paste in a pestle and mortar, if you want a work out! Or you could electric mix it in your food processor, so much easier! Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover the bream fillets on both sides and set aside.

If you have a spare pair of hands, friend or other half get them to make the chutney:

Mango chutney
We didn’t use the coconut, but it still worked well.
3 mangoes peeled pitted and diced.
1 shallot
1 garlic
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp veg oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp water
(80g coconut if you like it)

For the chutney add everything into the food processor and blend to a smooth paste.



Once you are ready you can cook your fish in a heavy based frying pan. Add 1tbsp oil to your pan once it sizzles add your Sea Bream. Cook for 3-5 mins on each side.

We served this with naan, pilau rice and the home made mango chutney! It was delicious and although not a dry curry it wasn’t doused in sauce either. Worth it for an occasion, or a regular Saturday night!


Seafood broth

Seafood broths and Thai soups are delicious, if you love fish and spicy things then you will enjoy broths. They are lighter than a curry but I find they satisfy the spice need. The off-putting thing when making a broth is the amount of ingredients involved and the bother of clarifying the soup. I find that if you prep all of your ingredients first this cuts out a lot of ‘faff’. I didn’t clarify this broth either, only because I wasn’t entertaining.

Serves 4
1 inch fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 limes, juiced and reserve a strip of lime
3 pints of fish stock
1 lemongrass stalk, use the outer leaves for the stock.
1 red birdseye chilli, cut in half or chopped
1 tbsp thai fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
8 headless raw prawns, save the shells for the broth
1 dressed crab, you’ll only need the white meat for this dish and the shell
15g rice noodles
100g cod fillet, thinley sliced
2 spring onions, chopped and finley sliced.
25 bok choi, cut into chunks
25g beansprouts
To garnish:
1tbsp each of coriander and mint leaves
2 birdseye chillies
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
You’ll need 3 pans, 2 medium and 1 small.

Peel the ginger, save the peel and cut the ginger into thin slices
Remove a strip of zest from one lime, this piece is for the stock. Juice both limes and discard the limes. (save the strip!)

Pour the fish stock into a large pan, add 3/4 of the sliced ginger, the ginger peel, the strip of lime zest, lime juice, outer leaves of the lemongrass, birdseye chilli, fish sauce and soy sauce. Gradually bring this to the boil.

While this is coming up to the boil. Decapitate your raw prawns and remove the shells, add the shells and heads to your stock pot. Take your dressed crab and scoop out the white meat, and set aside for later. Scoop out the brown meat, and put it in a bowl and refrigerate for a pate on another day. You’ll be left with the shell which should also go into the stock pot. Cover and simmer for 20mins*.


Now sieve the stock into another medium pan, discard the items left in your sieve. This stock is now ready to use.

In the smaller pan you need to bring lightly salted water to the boil. once at boiling point add the noodles and remove the pan from the heat, leave to soak for 2 mins. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop your ginger that you sliced earlier. Chop the lemongrass in half. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer and add the prawns, cod, ginger and lemongrass. Cook for 1 min.

Add the noodles, white crab meat, spring onions, bok choi, and beansprouts. Simmer for 30 seconds and remove from the heat.

To serve mix your mint and coriander in one bowl, mix your chillies and rice wine vinegar in another bowl.

Divide your broth into suitable bowls with a ladle and garnish to your taste.

*After the 20mins you can clarify the stock if you wish.


Butternut squash with garlic and chilli soup

As I’ve been under the weather for the past week with flu, this week looks like it might be a full week of: work, health and some ski fitness activities!
So to kick off my week I have created a soup that will keep all germs away, as well as help me get back to full strength. Well this was what was in my head when I created it, I just hope it works!

1 Butternut squash
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 heaped tsp of ‘very lazy’ chilli
1.5pints of vegetable stock
Half a pint of orange juice
1 tbsp of Vegetable oil and a knob of butter
8 Anya potatoes chopped or 4 regular sized roasting potatoes. (You decide)

Heat your oil and butter in a large pan, chop your onion and garlic first, now add this to your hot pan. Lower the heat and allow to cook until your onions soften.
While your onion and garlic sizzle, peel and chop your butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds and discard them, or you could keep the seeds to grow some more in your garden, if that’s your thing! Chop your potatoes into similar sized chunks to your squash.
Add your: Squash; Potatoes; Heaped tsp of ‘very lazy’ chilli into the onion and garlic and make sure to mix this well.
Turn the heat up, to mid temp, leave this on the heat for about 5 mins.
Prepare your stock, once it’s ready pour this and the orange juice into your pan.
Leave the soup ingredients to simmer for 20-30mins and then allow to cool before blending.

This should keep me going for the working week, I hope the chilli and garlic combo will also boost my immune system up to full strength. And the orange juice if I’m honest just felt like a good addition, so you can take it or leave it when you make your soup.

Pheasant and Rabbit Pie for New Years Day

Every new year I make a meat/game pie and a veggie/fish pie for the veggies. i’ve been doing this now for the past 6 years, they are always different! I’ve made this game pie before at new years and it has been requested again for the 1st Jan 2013! Its from a handwritten cookery book that my mum has at home. I’m making this ahead of New Year’s Day, but I will leave the pastry for New Year’s Day, just before it hits the oven, the preparation makes the final stages so much simpler! (Especially if you over did it the night before)

Pie Ingredients
1kg 20g Pheasant
680g Rabbit
(The meat should equate to 1kg without the bones)
226g carrot
170g celery
170g onion
56g butter
4tbsp vegetable oil
‘Jus’Rol’ Puff pastry, (Enough to cover the top of your dish!)
4level tbsp plain flour
3/4 pint Chicken stock
4tbsp brandy
1 Bay leaf
1 egg beaten
Salt and pepper

This pie is straight forward and certainly seems to help with any hangovers on New Year’s Day!
I bought the Pheasant and Rabbit this year from the covered market at M Feller the veg was from the grocers.

Put all of your meat into a large bowl, and set aside.
Dice the carrots and celery into quarter pieces
Chop the onion roughly
Heat the oil and butter in a heavy based pan and add the vegetables, cook until lightly brown. Then lift this out of the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Stir the flour and seasoning through the game pie mix, then add a little at a time in the residual oil. Once all the meat is in the pan, replace the vegetables back into the pan. Add the stock, brandy, bay leaf and gravy browning to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Leave this to cool overnight. On New Year’s Day roll out your pastry and cover the top of the pie, I have a blackbird for my pie, to raise the pastry and create the hole in the middle.
Cook the pie at 200C for 30mins. Then lower to 180C for a further 20mins, if necessary then cover with foil. This way you won’t burn the pastry.

This year I’ll be serving the meat pie with hassle-back potatoes and some greens, hopefully the diners will enjoy!