Fish & Shellfish

Cod with Spring Greens (& Creamy Mash) (Serves 4)

This is the type of dish which would make an easy midweek meal, yet is also special enough to serve for an ‘occasion’ dinner. The cod is served on a bed of spring greens, flavoured with pancetta and garlic, and served with a creamy sauce; admittedly, it is quite an indulgent dish, made with butter and cream, but hey, once in a while, we must live! If you are feeling virtuous, you could leave the cream and butter out of the sauce so that it is more of a broth – depending on my mood, I sometimes cook it this way, it is still very tasty! I recommend that you serve the cod on a bed of creamy mash potato – heaven! (find the recipe here).

4 skinless cod fillets

100g cubed pancetta

3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

1 clove garlic, chopped

400g spring greens, roughly chopped

150ml chicken stock (hot)

100ml double cream (optional – see note above)

50g butter (optional – see note above)

(To serve: mashed potato – recipe here)

  1. If serving with mashed potato – first of all make your mashed potato, and keep warm.
  2. For the greens, fry the pancetta in a large saucepan until browned and crisped. Add the thyme leaves and garlic, and stir. Now add the spring greens, then the hot stock, cream and butter (if you making the recipe without the cream/butter, just add a large knob of butter instead to bring the sauce together). Cover with a lid, allow to steam for a few minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times until cooked.
  3. Meanwhile fry the fish until just cooked through (about 3-4 minutes on each side)
  4. To serve: Place some spring greens with their sauce on a plate and, if serving with mash, place a dollop beside them, then top with a the fillet of fish.

Lemon Sole with Spring Onions and Peas (Serves 4)

This dish is full of lovely fresh flavours. It is served with a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs which are flavoured with lemon zest; if you are gluten free like me, you can either substitute the breadcrumbs for gluten free ones – I use ‘Mr Crimbles Gluten Free Ready to Use Breadcrumbs’, or you can omit the breadcrumbs – it will still be delicious simply sprinkled with lemon zest and juice . Keep this dish simple – just serve with steamed new potatoes.

4 lemon sole, filleted and skinned

100g butter

Olive oil

12 spring onions, sliced

220g peas (defrosted if frozen)

16 basil leaves, roughly chopped

8 tablespoons vegetable stock (such as Marigold Swiss  Vegetable Boullion)

Plain flour for dusting (gluten free if required)

4 lemon wedges to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

For the breadcrumbs:

4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs (see above for gluten free option)

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of chilli flakes

  1. Firstly toast the breadcrumbs in a frying pan, with a drizzle of olive oil. Mix with the lemon zest and chilli flakes, and put to one side.
  2. Place the butter, spring onions, peas, basil, stock and a little olive oil in a saucepan and season with salt. Cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. Check the seasoning and keep warm whilst you cook the fish.
  3. Dust the fish with the flour. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the fish for about 3 minutes on each side (you will probably have to do this in batches).
  4. Place the lemon sole on plates, spoon over the pea mixture and sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs, serve with a wedge of lemon on the side and some steamed new potatoes.

Hake with Bacon, Peas and Cider (Serves 4)

This recipe, from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook ‘At My Table’, is a wonderfully quick dish, all cooked in the same pan – ideal for a midweek meal. It is great simply served with some steamed new potatoes. I think it is one of those dishes which will appear on your weekly menu again and again! (You can easily substitute the hake for another firm white fish of you choice).

4 Hake fillets (or other white firm fish), skin on – about 200g each

Olive oil

130g streaky bacon, snipped into 1cm strips

400g frozen petits pois

500ml dry cider

Large bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a pan (with a lid), fry the bacon until crisped and golden, then add the frozen peas, give them a good stir.
  2. Pour in the cider and bring to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer for about 5 minutes, until the peas are cooked. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the fish, skin side down, to the pan and cover with a lid, allow to gently simmer for about 10 minutes until just cooked.
  4. Place each fillet on a plate. Stir most of the parsley through the peas and bacon in the pan (check the seasoning), then spoon it around the fish along with the lovely cidery juices. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve – simply steamed new potatoes are delicious with this dish!

Potato and Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise (Serves 3-4)

I used to make this recipe years ago, but as Felix grew older, I made it less as he isn’t a fan of mackerel. However, now that he is away at university I am a free to cook what I want, so this dish has recently reappeared on my cooking list! It’s a great midweek supper dish, as you literally throw everything in a dish and leave it in the oven for an hour! I serve it simply with rocket, drizzled with a quality olive oil. The recipe is from one of Nigel Slater’s original cookbooks, ‘Real Food’. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, from personal experience, I think that for four people you should double the recipe and make two dishes – you can always reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day!

450g waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte

225g smoked mackerel fillets

2 bay leaves

300ml double cream

200ml full fat cream

1 tablespoon grain mustard

(Rocket to serve)

  1. Wash the potatoes, there is no need to peel them, slice them lengthways (about 3mm thick).
  2. Put them in a shallow baking dish about 30cm in diameter. Break up the mackerel fillets into large bite-sized pieces (remove the skin), and toss them gently with the potatoes. Tuck in the bay leaves.
  3. Mix together the cream, milk, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven, 190’c fan, for about an hour until the cream is bubbling and the potatoes are tender.
  5. Serve with some rocket drizzled with a quality olive oil.

Salmon with Chilli Ginger Sauce (Serves 4)

This recipe is one which my sister recommended to me, she found it in a ‘Hairy Bikers’ cookbook some years ago. I must say that it is a fantastic recipe and it makes a great midweek treat as it is super easy; just remember to marinate the salmon for 30 minutes before cooking it. I like to serve it with Japanese Sticky Rice and Stir Fried Swiss (or Rainbow) Chard (recipe here).

4 salmon fillets, skin on (about120-150g each)

2 balls of stem ginger in syrup (and 2 tablespoons of the syrup)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly slices

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 orange, juiced (and the grated zest of ½ an orange)

½ large red chilli, thinly sliced

Black pepper

  1. Slice the ginger balls thinly, then slice these into matchsticks.
  2. Place the ginger ‘matchsticks’ in a bowl, with 2 tablespoons of the stem ginger syrup, garlic, chilli, soy sauce, orange zest and juice; mix well. Add the salmon fillets to the bowl and cover with marinade, seasoning with lots of black pepper. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment. Remove the salmon from the marinade, wiping off any excess bits of marinade. Place them on the baking tray, skin side down. Season with more black pepper.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 12- 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  5. While the salmon is cooking prepare the sauce. Place the marinade ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil, simmer for about 6 minutes until it has reduced and the garlic has softened – you want enough sauce to pour over the salmon but not swamp it!
  6. Remove the salmon from the oven, carefully lift them on to plates, lifting off the skin as you do so. Spoon over the hot sauce and serve with sticky Japanese rice and stir fried swiss (or rainbow) chard (recipe here).

Old Fashioned Fish Pie (Serves 4)

This is a great, simple midweek fish pie recipe, I like that the fish is poached first in milk and that this milk, with the fish flavours, then makes the sauce. I like to serve this simply with peas.

4 Eggs

300ml full fat milk

200g smoked haddock fillets, skin on

300g cod fillets, skin on

50g unsalted butter

250g leeks, dark leaves discarded, the rest thinly sliced.

1 tablespoon flour (gluten free if required)

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped

For the Topping:

1 kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper

125ml hot full fat milk

Large knob of butter

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, drain and shell. Cut each egg into quarters.
  2. Pour 300ml of milk into a wide pan and lay the fish fillets skin side up in it. Heat gently until the fish is just cooked and the skin peels away easily. Remove the fish from the pan, break into large pieces and put to one side. Strain the milk onto a jug.
  3. Melt half the butter (25g) in a saucepan and cook the leeks until soft, then stir in the flour. Cook for a minute or so then gradually add the reserved poaching milk. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4.  Stir in the parsley and gently fold in the eggs and fish, trying not to break them up too much. Season and place in a pie dish.
  5. Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes up into equal chunks and steam until cooked through. Mash with 125ml of hot milk and the large knob of butter.
  6. Finally top the pie with the mashed potato and dot with the remaining 25g of butter.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with peas.

Cod with Braised Lentils and Prosciutto (Serves 4)

This is another recipe form J.Sheekey’s cookbook ‘Fish’ – it really is worth investing in this book as it has some great, easy recipes. The portion of lentils is very generous and you will probably have leftovers – which are great for lunch the next day as a soup – either as they are or if you want them smoother you could blend them. One of the reasons I love this recipe is that it gives me a good lunch the next day! In fact the lentil recipe is so good that I will be posting it on my Side Dishes page, as they are great with other dishes, such as sausages.

4 slices of prosciutto

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

4 cod fillets, about 180g each

For the Lentils

250g puy lentils

40ml extra virgin olive oil

100g cubed pancetta

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 leek, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped

1 litre chicken stock

30g unsalted butter

½ bunch of parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. If you have time and remember, soak the lentils in cold water for an hour before you cook them. The recipe calls for this, but these days most puy lentils (I use ‘Merchant Gourmet’) don’t require soaking, but there is a theory that they are more digestible if soaked?!…
  2. Spread the prosciutto out on a baking tray and place in a preheated oven, 160’c fan, for about 20 minutes until crisp – keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to burn!
  3. Pour 20ml of the olive oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan and gently cook the cubed pancetta, onion, carrot, leek, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the lentils (drained if you soaked them), stir, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until they are soft to toast – not too mushy. The consistency should be sauce like.
  5. Heat a frying pan with the sunflower oil. Season the cod and gently cook skin side down for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  6. To serve, reheat the lentils and gently stir in the butter and parsley, check the seasoning. Spoon the lentils onto plates, place the cod on top and garnish with the crispy prosciutto – delicious!!

Halibut with Creamed Peas & Bacon (Serves 4)

This recipe is good enough to serve at a dinner party but easy enough to serve midweek as a family meal – a winner whatever the situation! It is from J. Sheekey’s brilliant cookbook ‘Fish’. You could substitute the halibut for another firm fleshed white fish, such as haddock. Try to get pea shoots as they give more flavour, but if they aren’t available you can use baby gem lettuce. I would serve this dish simply with steamed new potatoes.

4 x 180g halibut fillets, skinned (or another firm fleshed white fish – ask your fishmonger)

200g peas

60g unsalted butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

50g smoked bacon, diced

50ml vegetable stock

120ml double cream

3 spring onions sliced

A handful of pea shoots (or baby gem lettuce), roughly chopped

1 lemon, cut into wedges (to serve)

A little olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Place the peas in a pan on boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt 20g of butter and gently soften the shallot with the bacon, without colouring.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and simmer until it is reduced by three quarters.
  4. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and simmer to reduce by half.
  5. Add the peas, spring onions and pea shoots (or lettuce), and continue to simmer until the sauce is just thick enough to coat the peas. Add the remaining butter, check seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Heat the a little olive oil in a frying pan. Season the halibut and gently cook for 5 minutes then turn over and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  7. To serve, spoon the pea sauce on plates and top with the halibut fillets. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with steamed new potatoes.

Spaghetti with Monkfish and Cherry Tomato Sauce (Serves 4)

Often nicknamed ‘poor man’s lobster’, monkfish is a lovely meaty fish making this dish totally satisfying. It is best to have all the ingredients prepared before cooking as the sauce cooks quickly. It is a very special yet quick and simple pasta dish…

400g monkfish fillet, sliced into 1cm slices

400g spaghetti

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 red chilli, chopped (or less according to your taste)

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

350g ripe cherry on the vine tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons white wine

2 tablespoons of capers

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Season the monkfish ad place in the pan, allow to colour, stirring. Then add the dried and fresh chilli, and the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and wine to the pan followed by the capers, cook over a high heat for a couple of minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  4. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the pan with the sauce along with the parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice (to taste). Toss everything together and serve. Easy!

Plaice with Crab and Olive Stuffing (Serves 4)

This is a very impressive, elegant dish yet unbelievably easy to cook – my favourite kind of dish! The crab stuffing is the star of this recipe, any unused stuffing is equally delicious spread on toast for lunch the next day or stirred through spaghetti as a sauce. I only use crab in my stuffing, but you could cut it with fresh bread crumbs, using half crab, half breadcrumbs – which will keep the cost of the dish down. I serve this with sautéed spinach with garlic (you can find this recipe on my ‘Side Dishes’ Page) and steamed new potatoes. This recipe is from the London restaurant, J. Sheekey, and can be found in their cookbook ‘Fish’.

4 skinned plaice fillets

50ml white wine

1 lemon, juiced

Olive oil

For the stuffing:

50g unsalted butter

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped

200g white crab meat (or 100g crab meat and 100g fresh white breadcrumbs – see note above)

30g black Kalamata black olives, chopped

½ bunch parsley, chopped (and a little extra to serve)

1 lemon, zested (use lemon from above)

Olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. For the stuffing, heat the butter in a saucepan, add the shallot, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes, then, if using breadcrumbs add these and cook for a further minute.
  2. Remove from heat and add the crab meat, olives, lemon zest and parsley – season and mix well – if it seems a little dry add a splash of olive oil.
  3. Lay the plaice fillets out flat and place some stuffing in the middle of each fillet, roll the fish up from the tail end.
  4. Place each rolled up fillet in a baking dish. Splash the olive oil, lemon juice and white wine over the fish and place in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle over the remaining parsley and serve with sautéed spinach and steamed new potatoes.

Baked Sea Bass with Lemon Potatoes (Serves 4)

This is a lovely, simple recipe which I found in a cookbook, ‘Cook; A Year in the Kitchen with Britain’s Favourite Chefs’, just as it’s title indicates, it contains many different recipes from various chefs; this particular recipe is by Bill Granger, and is one that I have cooked on numerous occasions. Cooking a whole fish can seem daunting – but believe me this recipe is particularly easy! It is worth cooking this dish simply for the lemon potatoes – they are delicious, I often make them on their own to serve with simple roast chicken or other fish recipes.

*You can see the video of this fish dish being made by clicking on this link to my Instagram Page

1 whole seabass for 4 people

1 bunch of coriander

10 spring onions

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

For the Lemon Potatoes:

1 kg new potatoes (waxy potatoes)

3 tablespooons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

125ml fish or chicken stock

60ml lemon juice

100g pitted black olives, sliced

1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. For the lemon potatoes, cut the unpeeled potatoes into thick slices and place in a roasting tin. Add the olive oil, garlic, stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes
  3. Meanwhile put the coriander, spring onions, chilli flakes, olive oil and salt in a processor and process to make a coarse paste.
  4. Make 3 slashes on each side of the fish and place on a baking tray. Spread the paste over the fish rubbing it into the slashes.
  5. After the potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 180’c and place the fish in the oven on the shelf below the potatoes.
  6. Bake the fish (and continue baking the potatoes) for 20 minutes or until cooked through, 5 minutes before the end of cooking add the olives and the parsley to the potatoes.
  7. Serve immediately

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Serves 4)

This dish is one of my all-time favourites – one of ‘my last supper’ dishes. It is extremely simple to cook and ready in minutes! I really do believe that using prosecco or sparkling wine improves the flavour of the sauce – giving it a sweetness. I buy the mini 20cl bottles of prosecco from my supermarket. I like more rather than less clams, so I suggest 1.25kg for 4 people, but you could use 1kg.

400g spaghetti

1.25kg small clams, such as palourdes (see note above)

200ml prosecco or sparkling wine (a 20cl bottle)

40g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 garlic cloves, 2 sliced, 2 chopped

¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

  1. Firstly, rinse the clams in cold water, making sure that they are all closed – tap on those that are open and discard them if they do not close, and discard those with cracked or damaged shells.
  2. Put the clams in a saucepan over a medium to high heat, add 150ml of the prosecco. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes, occasionally shaking the pan. You will be able to hear the clams popping open as they cook. Remove the lid to check if the clams have opened, if there are still some unopened continue to cook for a minute or two.
  3. Drain the clams in a sieve over a bowl – you need to keep the cooking liquid.
  4. There maybe a couple of clams that will not open – discard these. Put 12 clams with their shells to one side, these will serve as decoration. Remove the remaining clams from their shells(discard the shells). You will be left with a small bowl of clams and the 12 with their shells.
  5. Start cooking the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile cook the vongole sauce. Melt 30g of the butter and the oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic, lemon zest and chilli flakes, fry for a minute or so until the garlic is just beginning to colour.
  7. Add the reserved cooking liquid, the remaining 50ml of prosecco and the lemon juice. Cook over a medium to high heat, allowing it to bubble and reduce.
  8. Add the remaining 10g of butter which will slightly thicken the sauce, and all of the clams including those with their shells plus the chopped parsley, cook for a further minute. Check seasoning.
  9. Finally, drain the cooked spaghetti, add to the frying pan and mix well with the clams.
  10. Serve, placing four clam shells on each of the plates.

*Visit my Instagram Page to see a video of this recipe being cooked!

Sea Bass Baked with Fennel & Potato (Serves 4)

This is a simple ‘all in one dish’ – you simply cook the sea bass over the vegetables. I found this recipe in Sally Clarke’s book ‘ Thirty Ingredients’. Sally Clarke has had a restaurant (and a bakery/shop) in North Kensington for many years, if you get the chance to eat there I would definitely recommend it, it is a lovely experience, she is renowned for using the best fresh, seasonal ingredients. I like to serve it with a salad with lemon vinaigrette.

4 sea bass fillets, pin boned (ask your butcher to do this)

3 Désirée potatoes (or other roasting potatoes)

2 fennel bulbs

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

60ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

4 bay leaves

Peelings from an orange

1 bunch of dill, leaves picked

100ml orange juice

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Although your fishmonger would have pin boned the fish fillets, I suggest you go over them again with tweezers – by doing this you really will avoid bones in your cooked dish.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes thickly. Slice the fennel bulbs and reserve any leafy fronds.
  3. Toast the fennel seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant (a few seconds), then crush with a pestle and mortar.
  4. Place the vegetables in a roasting tin with the olive oil, salt and pepper, bay leaves, orange peel, half of the dill leaves and half of the crushed fennel seeds. Mix together using your hands and spread out flat in the tin.
  5. Place the tin in preheated oven, 180’c fan, roast for about 25 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender.
  6. Once the vegetables are almost tender, place the sea bass fillets on top, skin side up, sprinkle with the rest of the fennel seeds, remaining dill leaves, the fennel fronds, salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes then pour the orange juice over the vegetables – not over the fish, as you want the skin to crisp!
  8. Cook for a further 5-7 minutes until the fish is just cooked and the skin is crisp.
  9. Serve with a green salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette – I also like to sprinkle some of the reserved fennel fronds over the salad.

Fillet of Sole with Sauce Vierge (Serves 4)

Sauce Vierge is a french sauce generally made with tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs, there are many variations but my favourite version is one I found in a cookbook by Nina Parker, ‘Nina’s St Tropez’. It balances the flavours of the vinegar and lemon juice perfectly with the herbs, and is an ideal accompaniment to a delicate fish like sole. It is also a great sauce for pasta – so keep any leftovers for lunch the next day (click here to see the recipe on my Recipe Pages )! This fish dish should be kept simple so that the delicate flavour of the sole is not overpowered – so  serve simply with fine green beans and steamed new potatoes.

large knobs of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

4 sole fillets

Juice of 1 lemon, plus one lemon quartered to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

For the Sauce Vierge:

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 shallots, finely chopped

Bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

300g tomatoes, about 4 medium

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Juice ½ lemon

60ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, deseed, discarding any liquid – pat them dry on kitchen roll, slice into strips, then finely dice, add to a bowl along with the other sauce ingredients, mix well and season to taste.
  2. To cook the sole, melt a knob of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat, add half the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium, add two of the fillets, skin side down, cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Just before turning the fish add half of the lemon juice. Carefully turn the fish over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove to a warmed plate whilst you cook the other 2 fillets in the same way.
  5. Serve immediately with the Sauce Vierge and the lemon wedges, fine green beans and steamed new potatoes.

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime served with Rice and a Spiced Cucumber Salad (Serves 4)

This recipe is taken from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘How to Eat a Peach’, it is a beautiful book (the cover is textured like a peach skin!), the recipes are grouped into menus according to the season. This recipe is super easy to cook, just prepare all the ingredients so they can be quickly thrown in the pan, ready to cook in minutes. The cucumber salad is an important accompaniment as its subtle spice gives the whole dish more depth. Start by preparing the rice, I like long grain white rice with this stir fry. Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the cucumber salad and all of the ingredients for the stir fry, then start cooking it just as the rice is cooked. If you are gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce for the cucumber salad. *For a vegetarian option I would replace the prawns with a large handful of cashew nuts and some baby corn or cauliflower florets!

*You can see the video of this dish being made by clicking on this link to my instagram page

Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime

350g raw, shelled king prawns (defrosted if frozen)

200g sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (use less according to taste)

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Juice of lime

20g basil leaves, picked

unsalted peanuts, chopped, to serve (optional)

  1. Dry the prawns on kitchen roll – the drier they are, the better they fry.
  2. Halve the sugar snap peas along their lengths, so that the peas peep out.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, when hot, add the sugar snaps, fry for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the prawns, chillies and garlic, reduce the heat a little and cook until the prawns turn pink.
  5. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime, stir it all around until the sugar has dissolved, finally throw in the basil leaves.
  6. Serve straight away with rice and the spiced cucumber salad (sprinkle with chopped peanuts if using).

Spiced Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1-2 teaspoons mild chilli powder (according to your taste)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional)

Black sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Cut the cucumber into wafer thin slices
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli powder in a bowl (depending on how spicy you would like it, you can add more or less chilli)
  3. Toss the cucumber into the bowl along with the spring onions, and if using, also add the sesame oil and seeds.

Plaice with Almonds & Thyme (Serves 4)

This is a lovely dinner, perfect for a summer evening and very easy to cook. I serve this dish with Baby Roast Potatoes and a Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. These ‘staple side dishes’ can be found on my Recipe Pages. The recipe for the plaice is from ‘Nina St Tropez’ by Nina Parker, this is a cookbook full of the flavours of the south of France, along with fantastic photographs of the beautiful Côte d’Azur!

The plaice cooks very quickly so it is important to get your timings right with the potatoes, they need about 30 minutes in the oven – therefore start cooking the fish 20 minutes after the potatoes have been put in the oven.

If you are cooking this for four people you will have to cook two fish at a time as there won’t be enough space in the pan for four plaice fillets, therefore half the ingredients per pan accordingly (I have noted this in the recipe below). If you want to make this dish gluten free, substitute the flour for gluten free plain flour – I use ‘Doves’.

125g plain flour (or gluten free flour)

4 plaice fillets

20 g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 – 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

40g blanched almonds halved lengthways

1 lemon cut into wedges to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. First of all, mix the thyme leaves, garlic and almonds together, half this mixture into two small bowls ready to add to the fish pan during cooking.
  2.  Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip each fillet into the flour, coating it thoroughly but shaking off any excess.
  3. Melt half the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, when it is beginning to sizzle add two of the plaice fillets (I find it easier to do them skin side up first). Fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn them over and add the herb mixture from one of the bowls, moving it around so that the almonds and garlic begin to colour. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the plaice from the pan and pour over the herb/butter mixture, keep warm.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to cook the other 2 plaice fillets.
  6. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges, the baby roast potatoes and a salad of your choice with a lemon vinaigrette.

Crab and Sweetcorn Chowder (Serves 4)

I must admit to cooking this recipe more than once during lockdown, as not only is it a delicious family favourite but it is also super easy to cook and deceptively filling! A definite winner in my humble opinion. I suggest you serve it with some fresh crusty bread (and butter), as I am gluten free I can’t eat the bread so instead I make a gluten free oatmeal bread – you can find the recipe on my Recipe Pages.  This recipe is from Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Recipes from My Mother’ – as the name suggests, this is a book with lots of comforting recipes.

I used to buy the fresh crabmeat from my fishmonger but I have since discovered a fresh brand available in supermarkets called ‘Seafood & Eat it’ (great name!), which is very good, they sell it in 100g packs, one is pure white crab meat and the other is ‘fifty-fifty’ – half white, half brown, I find mixing these two packs gives the soup a fuller flavour. I actually use tinned, unsweetened corn for this recipe as opposed to frozen corn kernels, as I find that they have a softer texture and are sweeter, which I think works well with this particular recipe. I use fresh stock bought from the supermarket, ‘TRUEfoods’ chicken stock is very good if you can get it.

30g butter

200g onions, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

300g potatoes, diced

600ml chicken stock (see note above)

200ml milk

200g sweetcorn kernels (see note above)

200g fresh crabmeat (I usually use 150g white/ 50g brown – see note above)

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon

50ml of double cream

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, add the onions and garlic with the salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sweat until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally so that they don’t brown.
  3. Add the stock, sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and are just beginning to thicken the soup.
  4. Finally, add the crabmeat, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, chopped herbs and cream. Check the seasoning and bring back to a gentle simmer, to heat through.
  5. Serve with lots of bread or the oatmeal bread (the recipe can be found on my Recipe Pages)