In the past my attempts at cooking sea bass have failed, with cooked, but rather tasteless fish on the plate. However recently I have been getting better results by pan frying the sea bass in butter and lemon, with parsley.
The key I found was to cook the fish skin side down, but then cover the fish with crumpled up greaseproof baking parchment as a kind of loose lid on the pan.
When eating prawns, either with salad, or on paella, I much prefer cooking them from raw, rather than heating up cooked prawns.
One thing I do which I learnt after eating prawns in a restaurant (which I don’t remember which one) is to reverse “butterfly” the prawns. I find this makes them quicker to cook, adds flavour and they look more attractive on the dish.
I take my raw prawns and then holding them down on the chopping board, slice through the back of the prawns, but not all the way through. As with the squid I discussed earlier, let the knife do the work and try not to press down otherwise you will find you are merely cutting the prawns in half.
I call this reverse butterfly, as I think you usually butterfly prawns from the front.
In a hot pan I add some olive oil and then quick flash fry the prawns. They can then be seasoned and served, though I also use this method when adding prawns to my paella dishes.
I have a very simple way of cooking squid, it does require some preparation time, but I find that the end result is tender tasty squid.
I take squid tubes and split them into a flat piece of squid, then I score the squid in a checked pattern on the inside of the squid. The key here is to cut into the squid, but not all the way through. With thicker pieces of squid this is easier than when the squid is quite thin. The technique I do, is let the knife do the work and not to press down with the knife. You really do need a sharp knife for this.
In a hot pan I add some olive oil and then quick flash fry the squid. What should happen is the squid should cook and roll.
This can then be seasoned and served, though I also use this method when adding squid to my paella dishes.
I made some gluten free white chocolate chip biscuits or cookies using my normal recipe which is in this blog post. This is the same recipe that I use to use before I needed to bake a lot of gluten free cakes and biscuits.
1 standard egg.
Take the same weight of the egg in cold butter.
Twice the same weight of the egg in plain gluten-free flour.
Same weight of the egg of sugar.
Handful of white chocolate drops or chips
Take the flour, and add the cold butter, cut into small cubes. Combine the butter and flour by rubbing the butter into the flour, until there are no lumps and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Then stir in the sugar and the white chocolate chips. You could of course use milk or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.
Add the egg and vanillla essence combine until the biscuit dough is smooth.
How you could take spoonfuls onto a banking sheet, but what I do is wrap the dough in cling film and cool in the fridge for a fair few hours. This firms up the dough, so then you can roll it into a 2cm roll of dough and then slice it into 1cm rounds.
These rounds can the be placed onto a baking sheet or tray.
Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 180 degrees for about six minutes until the edges are brown. Be careful as they will go from done, to overdone very quickly.
The way I cook red cabbage, usually for Christmas, but nice for anytime of year.
knob of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced or chopped
1 x 500g red cabbage, shredded finely using a food processor (white core discarded)
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
splash of Port
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tsp redcurrant or cranberry sauce (optional)
Heat the butter and oil in a large lidded saucepan. When hot, add the onion and fry gently until softened. Stir in the spices. Add the cabbage and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until glossy.
Stir in the sugar, apples and Balsamic vinegar. Cover with a lid and let it cook gently for 30 minutes.
Stir in the redcurrant or cranberry sauce (if using) and cook for a further 10 minutes. If you aren’t using the sauce, taste the cabbage and add a little more sugar if it’s too tart for your taste.
I have used Jus-Rol’s gluten free puff pastry quite a few times now, it is easy to use and works well.
It comes as a ready rolled sheet, so using a different method to what I did before, on the short edge I added the filling. I did two kinds of fillings, both using the meat from standard sausages (I removed the skins), but with one I added some diced apple.
Having laid out the filling I rolled the pastry across the filling, that gave me an indication where to cut. I brushed the join with egg and then sealed the join. I then cut them into three rooms, before I placed them on a baking tray, made slices in the top and brushed with beaten egg.
This was then baked in a hot oven for around twenty minutes, until they were golden brown.
They worked very well, the pastry I think it needed to be a bit more flakey, but it was really easy to use and tasted very nice.
When asked what was wanted for a birthday meal, the response was a seafood paella. Okay this is not paella, but is a dish inspired by paella. I have had authentic paella in Spain and from street food stalls in Bristol. I have been cooking this dish for a fair few years, but got told once by a Spanish person that what I was cooking wasn’t authentic paella, which is correct, so I normally describe this as a Spanish inspired rice dish.
In a large paella pan add a splash of olive oil. The add some pancetta (or chopped chorizo), a diced red onion, a diced onion, diced red pepper and diced yellow pepper. This is then cooked off slightly before I added some diced mushrooms and some sliced mushrooms.
Once the onions are softened I add the paella rice and stir it into the onions and peppers. I added a paella mix from Waitrose, but you could, of course, use your own spices, herbs and saffron. I then added some stock, I used a Knorr fish stock. I then added some tinned cannellini beans.
With hindsight I should have added the cannellini beans later in the cooking process as they got slightly overcooked and some fell apart.
I then gave everything a thorough stir. Then leave it to cook, don’t stir it again. As the stock reduces, add more stock to ensure that the rice cooks evenly.
I cooked the whole prawns on a griddle and did the same with the squid. I usually score the squid to make it look nice, but was out of time, so it went it as is. I also cooked some plain prawns and added them.
I usually cook the cooking chorizo separately as they seem to “leak” a lot of oil when cooking. I always try and using cooking chorizo rather than the dried ready to eat version you can buy. It’s softer and tastier I think in a dish like this.
I added the cooked fish, cooked chorizo and quartered lemons to the top of the dish and then served.
Having used the Jus-Rol Gluten Free puff pastry to make sausage rolls I decided to make them again, but also decided to try something new and make some Mushroom, Spinach and Bacon Puffs.
The Jus-Rol Gluten Free puff pastry comes as a ready rolled sheet which I sliced into squares. Into the middle of each square I put a mixture of mushrooms, chopped bacon and cut up spinach. I did consider pre-cooking the mixture, but decided not to. I then folded the corners into the middle and I then brushed the pastry showing with beaten egg. These were then placed on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
The puffs were then baked in a 180º normal oven or 160º fan oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
If I was to make these in the future I would probably add some cheese to the mix, as they were a little dry. Fresh mozzarella would add some moisture, but cheddar would add flavour. Something to think about if I made these again.