Blogging has taken a back seat recently. At least from the point of writing up recipes and posting them. Life has been hectic with family visiting from Spain and some express house renovations on a new investment property. Good weather has allowed us to get out into our little garden and give it a good tidy up, and May has been a good month for birthdays with both Big Man and my mum celebrating.
Of course, we’ve been cooking and enjoying good food, a lot of which has been old favourites which we’ve already shared with you. Sometimes though, we’ve tried something new but with all that’s been going on, it’s been simple yet delicious food.
Our local fishmonger recently had some beautiful plaice fillets for sale, so I snapped them up and scampered home with them (ok, so you know I didn’t really scamper, it was more of a quick, happy march). The plan was to do what I pretty much usually do with fish, and to grill them. However, someone, somewhere must have wanted to send me a message from above, or from the high shelf of a kitchen cupboard, and when the packet of semolina I usually use to dust my sourdough loaves with fell on my head, I changed the plan. Sometimes you need a knock on the head to shake things up a little!
Serves 2 (easy to scale up for more)
2 cleaned plaice or other flat fish
About 2 tablespoons of semolina, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
1 egg lightly beaten (you’ll probably not need it all but it’s difficult to use any less!)
Olive oil for shallow frying
One roasted pepper, peeled, chopped and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil (or use some from a jar prepared for using as an antipasto)
Coat the fish in the egg then the seasoned semolina. Heat the oil on a medium/high heat in a large frying goan. You may need to keep the first fillet warm while you cook the second one if your pan is not large enough to take both.
Cook for about 3 minutes on one side until the crust is browned and crispy. Flip the fillet over and continue to fry. The second side will probably only take about two minutes. Use your discretion if the fillets are particularly large or thick.
Serve with the dressed roasted peppers and a salad.
Regular readers will know that in our house, pulses rule supreme and we often bring supplies of chickpeas and lentils grown locally in Spain, over to England. In a tidying up frenzy the other day (family are visiting from Spain soon!) we came across further supplies that we had forgotten about. Result.
I decided to try something different from our regular Puchero and came across various recipes using Moroccan inspired spices which I adapted to suit us. I included chicken in this version, but I feel sure that you could quite happily leave it out which would give you an amazing vegan main course dish.
Feel free to play with the spices, next time I’ll double the harissa to give more of a kick. I used my slow cooker but this could easily be cooked (covered) in a low oven, braised gently on the hob or even in a pressure cooker (although I don’t own one so can’t offer any advice on cooking times). If you prefer to use ready cooked, canned beans just skip the soaking stage and use double the volume in the ingredients list which will give you roughly the same quantity as the dried ones after soaking.
Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)
Approx 400ml of dried chickpeas (measure by volume) soaked overnight in plenty of cold water with a pinch of bicarbonate then drained
4 chicken thighs or drumsticks (optional)
Approx 3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of peeled and crushed or chopped garlic
1 level tablespoon of harissa (or chili powder to taste). Use more if you like a little tickle (and who doesn’t?!)
1 teaspoon each of paprika, turmeric and ground ginger
2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and cinnamon
1 can of chopped tomatoes (mine was 390g)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
About 220 ml of water (If using a slow cooker, make sure everything is covered by about 2cm of liquid). You may need to top up with more liquid if cooking in the oven or on the stovetop. Just keep an eye on it and add more hot liquid if necessary.
Salt (season after the dish is cooked to help the chickpeas soften when cooking)
To serve – a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some finely chopped radish, coriander and red onion.
Heat the oil gently ad add the onion and garlic. Cover and soften then add the spices and cook (uncovered) until the spices release their aroma.
Add the chicken (if using) and the tomatoes, tomato puree and liquid. Bring to a boil and cook on high for 10 minutes. Now put everything into whatever you use to cook (casserole dish, slow cooker etc) and cover. I cooked mine on slow in the slow cooker for 6 hours and the chickpeas were soft and creamy with the chicken cooked through and still holding to the bone. Stovetop should take about 2 hours and a slow oven about 4 hours. Add salt to taste once the dish is cooked.
When you’re ready to serve (and it’s even better the next day), ladle into deep bowls and serve with the garnish and your favourite bread. Enjoy!
PS. Because the photos of the stew weren’t great (although the stew was…photo quality is due to a desire to eat quickly!), I have included some gratuitous shots of a recent walk we took in a Bluebell Wood nearby, do hope you enjoy a little burst of English springtime.
If you enjoy chick peas and North African inspired spices, why not try this soup?
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....