Archive for January, 2016

A warm salad of smoked mackerel, paprika-roasted cauliflower and red rice

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Looking at this salad now, I feel like one or other of the ingredients should be dropped – maybe the rice, or if not that then the currants. But despite being a bit of a mish-mash, it tasted delicious. The mackerel was very fishy, which played well against the pine nuts, currants and sherry vinegar. The cauliflower and rice gave it all some body and chewiness. A very satisfying lunch.



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half a cup of red rice
half a small head of cauliflower
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon mild paprika
sherry vinegar
half a small bunch of young cavolo nero
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
Dijon mustard
1 small whole smoked mackerel

Cook the rice in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Break the cauliflower into florets and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is starting to become tender and just starting to go golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the paprikas and a dash of sherry vinegar. Toss together and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until cooked but not soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Remove any thick stems from the cavolo nero, then cook briefly in boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Squeeze the water out of the leaves with your hands, then lay the leaves out on a chopping board. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over low heat until they are just starting to colour. If the currants are dry, you can soak them in a little hot water and sherry vinegar to plump them up, then drain.

Make a dressing of sherry vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard to taste; season and shake well to emulsify.

Remove the skin and bones from the mackerel and flake into bite-sized pieces.

Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, add the dressing, and toss gently. Eat at once.

Serves 2.

Golden soup of chicken, ginger and greens

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

For dinner tonight, I made a soup, adapted (mostly in proportions and a little in technique) from this recipe: cold-fighting couscous chicken soup.

I was attracted by the name – I still have this stupid cold and wish devoutly for anything to improve it – and by the combination of chicken, turmeric and ginger, which sounded warming and wholesome.

The resulting soup was turmeric-golden (despite the seeming brownness in the photo below), savoury and warming. I’m still coughing but I feel somewhat less revolting, at least for now.


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olive oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
2 carrots, cut into 1 cm dice
2 sticks of celery, cut into 0.5 cm dice
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 inch thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
150 ml white wine
1 cup home-made chicken stock
2 cups water
1/2 cup moghrabieh
2 chicken thigh fillets, each cut into two or three pieces
1 small bunch chinese broccoli (or other green), quite finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
chili flakes
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a good dash of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and cook for about 8 minutes, until they are golden and softened. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric, and cook for a further minute or two.

Deglaze by tipping the wine in on top of the vegetables and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock, water, moghrabieh and chicken, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, then remove the chicken.

Keep simmering the soup until the moghrabieh is al dente. Meanwhile, use two forks to roughly shred the chicken. A couple of minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add in the chinese broccoli, shredded chicken, lemon juice and chili flakes. Simmer until the broccoli has wilted and warmed through. Season to taste.

Makes two very large servings.