New Year Fish Supper

An annual tradition in our house is to have a fish supper on New Year’s Eve. This year we had a great selection of fish and seafood.

I bought some prosecco & lemon butter lobster tails from Aldi, these were rather good.

I made some crispy squid, using some fresh squid, which I then coated in seasoned flour and fried in oil. A combination of a crisp crunchy coating and sweet tender squid.

I also cooked some queen scallops, simply pan fried in butter.

I did baked lemon salmon fillets in the oven.

The prawns were cooked in a pan with herbs and butter.

All served with homemade paella.

German Pasta

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer, and then collected your food from the kitchen. I had started with soup, after finishing that, I then went back to the screen to order some pasta.

I ordered the linguine with beef tenderloin, shrimp, lobster sauce, carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, spring onions, basil, brandy. I liked how you could use the type of pasta in your dish and add extras if needed (such as cheese).

The pasta was perfectly cooked and the rest of the dish was very tasty, though I didn’t really taste the lobster in the lobster sauce. 

It was certainly an interesting pasta dish and I enjoyed it. In some ways it was a strange combination of ingredients, though you often have prawns and steak together as a surf and turf. Would I have it again, probably.

At the airport, time for a quick lunch

I had been on a visit to Scotland and was making my way home. I really didn’t fancy eating on the plane, it was a short flight, but it was over lunchtime. So having time at Edinburgh airport I went to All-Bar-One for a quick small lunch. I did in fact fancy tacos from Bar Burrirto, but the airport branch didn’t sell them. The branch of Yo! Sushi, which I had visited before, had closed down in 2020. Liking the idea of small plates I went to All-Bar-One. I ordered two small plates which arrived promptly. This is kind of important in an airport situation as you are often time constrained.

The calamari was excellent and it was a good sized portion for a small plate dish. 

The squid was tender and the batter was crispy. It was served with a sweet chilli sauce. I really enjoyed the squid and would have it again, if I ever fly from Edinburgh.

The prawns in panko breadcrumbs was though slightly disappointing. When it arrived I actually thought they had bought me the wrong dish. What I got was in fact a skewer of prawns, which was then covered in panko breadcrumbs. 

I felt that this was a difficult small plate to eat (and would be difficult to share). The dish lacked flavour and I couldn’t really taste the prawns. 

My gate number was called, so it was time to pay the bill and head to the plane.

Homemade Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

So after enjoying my recent attempts at gluten free Frito Misto, I thought I would cook it again. I went with the recipe I had used before.

Again I used the mixed seafood mix from Lidl. As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. As I said before I do think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it is a good mix of seafood. I did take some of the squid rings and cut them into smaller pieces.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour and then left it for a while, a couple of hours all in.

I cooked the seafood by deep frying in hot oil. The end result was a crunchy coating on the seafood. This was then seasoned with a little salt.

Time for Tapas

Staying in London I did fancy some tapas one evening, we decided to head to La Rueda Tapas Bar in Ealing.

La Rueda Tapas Bar is a one-of-a-kind culinary establishment with a menu inspired by the idea of simple and honest cooking. Starting in 2000, we developed a unique dining experience for all of our guests using fresh and sustainable ingredients—taking you on a culinary journey like no other. From classic recipes to new-age kitchen adventures, each dish reflects our passion for high-quality food presented in a simple yet pleasing manner. 

We were given a nice warm welcome and allowed to choose where we wanted to sit. We could have sat outside, but it’s quite a busy street, so we sat inside. We looked over the menu and chose what to have. In the end we went with five different dishes.

Knowing me, I probably would have chosen the calamari, but this time I decided I wouldn’t choose that dish. I was also tempted by the paella, but in the end we went with the tapas selection.

We started off with some olives marinated in garlic and herbs. These were really nice, just the thing to nibble, whilst waiting for the dishes to arrive.

The first of these was the Patatas Bravas. Tripled fried potatoes served with a spicy Brava sauce and a helping of aioli. The potatoes were nice and crisp, the Brava sauce was quite spicy, but this was offset with the nice aioli that had a good flavour of garlic. I think I would have liked the spiciness to be taken down a notch, but otherwise it was a nice dish.

The next dish to arrive was the Gambas al pil pil. This was prawns with chilli, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. This was an excellent little dish, the prawns were nice and tasty. They hadn’t been peeled, but they were easy to peel.

The dish after this was Pulpo Gallego. Galician style octopus, saffron potato mash, pimenton. 

This was one impressive dish, and one kind of dish I have wanted to try for a while. The dish was a mound of saffron flavoured mashed potato topped with two grilled octopus tentacles. The octopus was very nice, tender and tasty. I think the mash could have been smoother (more butter), but was tasty.

Our final dish was Chorizo al vino, the classic Spanish sausage cooked in red wine sauce.

The chorizo was lovely and tender and I liked the sauce.

Overall the food was beautiful cooked and it was delicious. I do hope to visit La Rueda again.

More Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

So after enjoying my recent attempt at gluten free Frito Misto, I thought I would cook it again. I decided though, this time, to try a slightly different recipe.

Again I used the mixed seafood mix from Lidl. As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. As I said before I do think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it is a good mix of seafood.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour and then left it for ten minutes. 

I cooked the seafood by deep frying in hot oil. The end result was a crunchy coating on the seafood. I think this was better than my previous attempt.

Gluten Free Fritto Misto

Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

Though I have bought the Lidl Fritto Misto from their Italy week quite a few times, the reality is that it’s okay, but not good. It’s mainly squid, in a crispy batter. Also, the other downside is, it’s not gluten free.

As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. Personally I think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it was a good mix of seafood.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour before coating in a gluten free batter and deep frying in hot oil.

The batter I made from gluten free plain flour, egg and milk. Mixing to a consistency that ensures a smooth coating of the seafood. As well as the seafood I added some prawns and cooked those as well.

Overall I was quite pleased with the dish, it was better than the Lidl Fritto Misto I have had before. The only issue I did have, was that the batter didn’t stay as crisp as I would have liked.

Time for a Spanish inspired rice dish

paella

Well we call this paella, but I know it isn’t paella, but it was inspired by paella.

This is a regular dish in our household and this pan of paella was finished off at dinner time.

What goes into the pan, depends on what we have in the house and whether I have been shopping or not. If I am out of the shops knowing that I am going to cook paella, then I will probably buy some cooking chorizo, some squid, and maybe even other kinds of seafood such as langoustine or clams. This time was what we had in the house.

This serves about four people

In preparation I diced a red onion and a large pepper. Well actually I diced half a red pepper and half an orange pepper.

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon and a small amount of diced (dry) chorizo. I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a splash of white wine (we had that in the fridge). Recently I have been using some Spanish sherry I got from Aldi for Christmas, but that was all finished off the last time I did paella, sorry Spanish inspired rice.

I then (cheated and) added a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. In the past I have used herbs, spices and saffron when making paella, however I do like the jar that Waitrose do as it does taste quite authentic and is quick and easy. Tesco use to do a sachet of paella herbs and spices, but they’ve stopped selling that now. I use to prefer that. 

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Last time I did paella I used a fish stock, but didn’t have any of that in the cupboard.

Stir once and then leave. 

I once got “told off” by a Spaniard for stirring my paella, so now I just as advised, leave it to cook.

In a separate pan I cooked off the remaining dried chorizo I had sliced, I also added some sliced linguiça sausage from Lidl I had picked in their Iberian week recently. In previous Spanish themed weeks Lidl have done some nice cooking chorizo which I have liked using in my paella dishes. This time though in their most recent week they didn’t do it, hence picking up the linguiça sausage. Not quite a replacement, but worked well with the paella.

We had some cooked prawns in the fridge, so I warmed them up in a pan with some olive oil and mixed herbs.

The prawns, chorizo and lemon slices were added to the top of the paella, with some chopped flat leaf parsley and served.

Overall, delicious.

Paella

paella

Though I have been told that what I cook and call paella is not paella, in our house we call it paella. Outside the house, this is a Spanish inspired rice dish!

First I cook off some diced bacon (usually pancetta) in a large frying pan, or if I am cooking a lot in my large paella pan. I then take some chopped mushroom, onions and pepper and add that to the pan. Once the onions have softened I add the paella rice and ensure it is coated with the cooking oil and liquid. I always use a specialist paella rice in my paella dishes these days. To this I added a dry paella mix from Tesco. I also like the jar from Waitrose that you can get. Occasionally these days I will use saffron and my own selection of herbs and spices.

I then add fish or chicken stock to the pan, to cover the rice and then leave to cook. As I was told by a Spanish friend, don’t stir it (unlike risotto which you do).

Add some sliced chunks of lemon. I usually cook the fish (in this case just prawns) and chorizo in separate pans and add to the paella just before serving.

Time for some Seafood Ramen

Cooked a ramen dish this time last year. I based my ramen on the ramen dishes I have had at Wagamama.

In a bowl I added some cooked rice noodles. On top of this I added some sliced shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, pak choi and sliced red pepper. I then added some homemade ramen broth.

On top of the ramen I added scallops, prawns, squid and a tea-stained hard boiled egg. I also added some gyoza dumplings as well.