Tag Archives: recipe

Quick and Easy Fish Pie

Like most people who care about good food, I’m a vocal (and now digital!) advocate of keeping food simple and relying on the quality of the ingredients. Fish pie is one of those dishes that can easily be overcomplicated, and so be daunting to make. This version takes little preparation and will be at the table in under an hour.

Ingredients

half a swede, a couple of parsnips or a celeriac

half a head of cauliflower

some mild cheddar cheese

a knob of butter

2 fillets of smoked haddock (or any fish you fancy or need to use up)

2 handfuls of raw prawns (shellfish such as mussels or clams are good too)

300ml double cream

a good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley (if I don’t have parsley I use spinach or rocket)

a pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

 

Boil the swede, parsnip or celeriac in salted water and steam the cauliflower until soft enough to mash (15-20 minutes). Steaming the cauliflower prevents it from making the mash watery. Mash the cooked vegetables (I use an electric hand blender), adding the butter, cheese, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the fish into bite sized pieces (don’t waste the skin!) and place in an oven dish.I make this recipe for two and use two individual oven-proof oval dishes. Scatter a the prawns over the fish and finish with the chopped parsley. Mix the fish, prawns and parsley a little then pour over the cream. Grate a dusting of nutmeg over the top.

Top with the slightly cooled mash, smooth and fork to create peaks that will brown in the oven. Dot some butter over the top of the mash. Put the dish or dishes in the centre of the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until the cream is bubbling and the mash has browned to your liking.

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Primal Biscuits and Energy Bars

When making low-fat food, it is usually easy for the non-dieting guest to detect that fat and sugar have been omitted. A polite acknowledgement to the chef is usually made, but in my experience the food is usually bland and unfulfilling. When I served up these biscuits at Christmas, family members could not believe that they were our ‘diet’ food. Of course, to a person who consumes a high carbohydrate diet and has the subsequent high insulin level, these biscuits might contribute to weight gain. For those of us who have our insulin under control, the high fat and moderate carbohydrate content will pose no such problems and give a tasty boost during longer bike rides.

Adapted and from two sources (Mark’s Daily Apple and This Primal Life) , I have a basic recipe for the biscuits, which I embellish as my mood takes me and store cupboard allows. For energy bars, I form the biscuit ‘dough’ into bar shapes which I wrap in cling film and put in the pocket of my jersey or food pack on the top tube of my bike. For biscuits, I make rounds or just dollop the mixture on to the baking tray with a tablespoon.

The biscuits are energy dense, and one is satisfying enough with a cuppa, although I can get through 3 or 4 bars on an epic ride.

Dry Ingredients

1 cup ground almonds (almond flour)

60ml scoop of whey powder (optional)

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

A pinch of sea salt

Put these ingredients in a bowl and give them a mix. To this mixture, add the other dry ingredients that you have decided to use, such as roughly chopped nuts, coconut flakes, chopped dark chocolate, cocoa powder, a small amount of non-sweetened dried fruit (I dry my own blueberries) or some spice, such as dried cinnamon or ginger.

Wet Ingredients

5 tbsp of butter or coconut oil

1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or honey (vary depending on the other sweet ingredients that you add, fruit, coconut and chocolate add their own sweetness)

A few drops of pure vanilla or almond extract

Heat the wet ingredients in a small pan until the fat has melted. Stir the wet mixture into the dry to form a biscuit ‘dough’. If the mixture is very wet, add more ground almonds. If it is dry, add a little water. Mix and cool a little if you have added chocolate to enable it to stay in defined lumps when baked. Form the mixture into your desired shape and place on some baking parchment and bake in the oven at 180C for 10-12 minutes until slightly golden. Cool on a rack.

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Crispy Fish Skin

Primal humans ate as much of a beast as they could, cooking and processing food to make it easier to digest possibly even further back into our evolutionary history than we have traditionally thought. Some cultures still do, famously the Chinese. I have always been an experimental carnivore and relish scoffing new and exciting animals. I have often wandered around zoos contemplating the taste of one animal or another imagining I’m following in Darwin’s footsteps.

Preparing some smoked haddock for a fish pie this evening, I caught myself walking to the bin with their incredibly fragrant skins, skins with a good bit of flesh still attached. It occurred to me that I should freeze them for stock. An even better thought then popped into my head: ‘Fried, crispy fish skin’. Crispy fish skin is often seen on the menus of swanky restaurants, and for a good reason. As well as being delicious, it’s profitable due to the usual place fish skins end up. The bin.

I snapped the bin lid closed and in 10 minutes, with the help of some hot olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, transformed the skins into a fantastic cook’s treat.

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I cut the skins into squarish pieces of about 2 inches and put about half an inch of oil into a pan, heated it and dropped the skins in. They shrivelled up when they hit the oil, but relaxed out again after a few seconds. They fried for a minute or two in the oil, until golden, and then drained on a piece of kitchen paper and sprinkled with some sea salt flakes.

Potato crisps are one of my cheat foods. I’m not talking about the tasteless, uniformly beige things, laden with overpowering flavouring, but a good, earthy bag of thicker cut artisan crisps. The fish skin scratched the same itch I have for crisps and qualifies as primal food. They are like fishy pork scratchings. Crunch!

If you are trying to find me tomorrow, I’ll be at the fish market hunter-gathering in the bins.

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Primal Cherry Crumble and Custard

Ahh, crumble. Homely, satisfying and great for a January treat. I’d been thinking about making a primal crumble with custard for a while and suddenly had the inspiration to give it a go.

I was happy with my effort; sweet/tart cherries, crumbly topping and creamy custard. Any other frozen berries would be good and gathered blackberries would be sublime. I split the crumbles into two separate bowls so scale up or down as required.

Ingredients

2 x handfuls frozen, unsweetened cherries
2 x handfuls ground almonds
½ tablespoon maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons butter
Around 10 roughly chopped macadamia nuts (pecans or walnuts would be good for a ‘nuttier’ flavour)

1 small pot of thick cream
2 egg yolks
Vanilla extract or vanilla pod

1. Put the oven on to heat at around 180C.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix the almond flour and chopped nuts. Put the butter and maple syrup into the bowl and twiddle the mixture between your fingers to create a crumble. It’s not quite the same consistency as when using flour and my mixture had quite a few bigger blobs of buttery almond flour, so I cut the amount down a little for this recipe. This didn’t really affect the final crumble ‘mouth-feel’.

3. Put a handful of the cherries into an oven proof bowl and cover with a layer or the crumble mixture. Place in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes until the crumble has browned a little and the cherries have defrosted, cooked and gone a little syrupy.

4. Meanwhile, put the cream into a small pan with the scraped vanilla seeds or extract and heat gently. Whisk in the egg yolks and keep whisking until the custard is thicker in texture. Be careful here as it’s easy to heat too fast and scramble your eggs. If this happens, add a little water to cool the mixture down a bit and whisk harder. Turn the heat off when the custard goes as custardy as you like it.

5. Pour the custard on top and tuck in!

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