Summer Seafood Salad

As a child celebrations were always marked with great big meals for friends and family. Starters were a giant “antipasto” – the dish before the main meal. This became more elaborate the bigger the crowd and the grander the celebration.

Of course, the temptation was to fill up on the antipasti and then bemoan the fact that we were too full to enjoy the pasta, the meat, the fish, the cheese and salad and the desserts that followed. A lucky predicament to be in.

Seafood Salad (1)

My mum was great at pickling and grilling vegetables, a mainstay on the Italian table. But for me the highlight was always her seafood salad. Back in the day it wasn’t as easy to buy affordable, fresh seafood as it is nowadays. And to be honest, even now it’s still a luxury and for many people, living far from the coast, it’s not always available. This great thing about this dish is that, as you’re packing it full of so many fresh and zingy flavours, frozen seafood is fine. Yes, you heard it here, don’t be ashamed of making your seafood salad with frozen seafood – just be sure you defrost and cook with care and store chilled until serving. No one will be any the wiser!

Another great thing about this dish is that quantities are not important. If you can’t get squid, add octopus, if you can’t find mussels, leave them out or add a few more prawns. It’s up to you, so this is not really a recipe, just an inspiration for you to mix it up your way. What is important is to make it ahead, at least a few hours, or even overnight to allow the dressing to soak into the seafood and the flavours to develop.

Ingredients

  • For the seafood mix, use peeled king prawns, small prawns, sliced squid or baby squid and mussels. Ensure all the fish is cleaned and defrosted and well drained if necessary. Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic and reserve.
  • For the dressing make up a vinaigrette with two thirds extra virgin olive oil, one third acid (I use part lemon juice and part white wine vinegar), a sprinkle of sugar, half a teaspoon of made up mustard (or ¼ teaspoon of dried mustard powder) and salt and pepper. Put it all into a jar and shake it up well.
  • As a main course for 2 people, one tin of drained cannellini beans and two sticks of celery finely chopped.
  • For the salad a mix of finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, red onions, and flat leaf parsley. For garnish and flavour at the end, some finely sliced hot chilli pepper and the zest of a lemon.

Keep the seafood separated out (each item takes a slightly different time to cook). In a wok or large frying pan add some olive oil and the garlic. Heat the oil gently and add the king prawns. Cook until the prawns have turned pink and the garlic is just starting to turn brown. Spoon out the prawns and garlic into a large bowl. Add more oil if necessary (no more garlic) and stir fry each of the seafood ingredients and add to the bowl. Mix the seafood together and allow to cool. Don’t worry if you are left with some lovely fish flavoured juices at the bottom of the bowl, these will add flavour to the dressing. If you are using pre cooked seafood, just mix it all together and move onto the next stage.

Seafood Salad (3)

After the seafood has cooled down, add the celery and beans and pour over the dressing. Mix well and chill for a few hours or overnight.

When you are ready to eat, bring the seafood and beans back to almost room temperature and add your salad ingredients. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. Plate up and garnish with the chilli and lemon zest.

Perfect as a filling main course, a special starter or as part of a celebration antipasto. Buon appetito!

Advertisements

Honey, Ginger and Soy Glazed Salmon

It’s summer and some days the weather turns warmer, hurrah!  Lighter, quicker to prepare dishes are firmly on the menu.

This is not an unusual dish, I am sure we all have variations of something similar in our repertoire, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of ways of preparing dishes that we’ve loved and then forgotten.

Sticky Soy Salmon (3)

Ingredients (per person)

  • 1 salmon fillet (sustainably farmed if you can find it)
  • ½ teaspoon runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon finely chopped ginger (or grated)
  • ½ clove of crushed garlic

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and leave the salmon in it for at least 15 minutes but up to a few hours if you have time (remember to turn it over occasionally).

Drain then fry the fillets in a non stick pan (you won’t need any oil) for a couple of minutes each side until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and pour in any remaining marinade and cook quickly until it bubbles, pour this over the fish. I served this over a green salad packed full of gorgeous things like rocket and asparagus. A cheeky glass of white wine is most definitely recommended!

 

Smoked Prawn and Smoked Bacon Chowder and a Down by the Sea Salad

I’ve just tried something new for the first time – it’s quite exciting at my age to do that! Nothing saucy or involving dressing up in latex…I’m talking food here of course. What else?!

Smoked prawns are what have got me all excited and giddy. Am I just late to the party or is this something new? I came across them in our little Down by the Sea fishmonger’s the other day and they are sold in the traditional measure for cooked prawns here – by the pint.

Of course, I had to try them and along with two cooked and dressed crabs I had a delicious salad in mind for supper. It was utterly delicious and with some homemade mayonnaise for the crab (some of which I turned into a Marie Rose sauce for dipping) and a balsamic vinaigrette for the salad and some new potatoes drizzled with olive oil it was a wonderful meal. But not really a recipe to impress you with.

DSC_0017

I still had half a pint of prawns left (25 of them to be precise) so the next day I decided to make a kind for chowder for lunch. I don’t claim this to be a completely authentic chowder as I didn’t have any corn, so it’s more a cross between a chowder and the lovely soup from Scotland, Cullen Skink. Strange name, great soup.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • About 24 peeled prawns (smoked or plain)
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • Half an onion finely chopped
  • 2 small sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • Half a litre of liquid (I used a mix of milk and fish stock made with the prawn shells)
  • 1 tablespoon of crème fraiche
  • A finely chopped spring onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Smoked Prawn & Bacon Chowder (2)

Gently fry the onion and celery in a little olive oil until it starts to soften then add the bacon and fry until it starts to crisp. Add the prawns and plain flour and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the stock/milk and bring slowly to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, it will thicken. Taste and season if necessary. To serve stir in the crème fraiche and sprinkle over the spring onion.

Runner Bean Salad and Back Home Up the Mountain

Another hectic few days in the UK, but more of that in a moment. It was a good trip, and I even got to meet my blogging buddy Claire from Promenade Plantings. We had a wonderful little break sitting on the sea front, drinking rosé wine and getting to know each other better.  And then she gave me a bag of her super delicious peppery radishes. How lucky am I?!

As ever, I came back with some goodies to enjoy here Up the Mountain. A fabulous Ottolenghi cookbook, which is already inspiring me with some amazing recipes. Can´t wait to try them out.

I also bought myself some cooling racks for my baking which I had wanted for ages. Well, I had been balancing an oven rack on top of tin cans which wasn´t ideal. And in the shop, next to the baking racks I spotted some adorable mini loaf tins which just pleaded with me to leap into my suitcase. Of course, I obliged them!  I expect you have also spotted my guilty (not so) secret of Cheese & Onion crisps.

Big Man had kept busy in the veggie garden in my absence and picked tomatoes, courgettes and almost three kilos of runner beans…and I had only been away for four days.

Some of the beans went into a delicious salad at lunchtime today. Thinly sliced raw runner beans, tomatoes, sweet onions and green peppers with chopped basil and a lemon and garlic vinaigrette.  All from our garden, it did make me feel a very happy Chica.

Then, just when I thought my first day home couldn´t get any better, my lovely neighbour came round with a fantastic present for me. Look at this beautiful mixer. She said she had it stored away in her garage and hoped I would make good use of it. You bet I will!

And now for some exciting news. Regular readers may have noticed that I have been making more trips than usual back to the UK in the last few months. Well, they weren´t all back to London to visit my family, but to sort out a project that Big Man and I will soon start working on. We will be heading over to a little seaside town on the south coast of England, called Bexhill on Sea. In just under 3 weeks in fact, so not long to go now. We will pack up the car with tools, supplies, two dogs and almost definitely some Spanish cheese and jamon. We will drive across Spain and France and when we get to the UK we will be setting up base in a little Victorian house which is in need of some love and attention.

Scary carpet…this house needs some love!

Hopefully over the course of about a month we will be able to restore it to a liveable condition (while we live in it ourselves). We will be polishing floorboards, putting in a kitchen and bathroom, unearthing the little garden and breathing life back into it.

I think there´s a pretty little garden hidden in there….

It´s going to be hard work, it´s going to be stressful but it´s going to be fun and a wonderful experience.  While we do this we´ll have to cook and eat and we´ll be sharing our little adventure with you before we head back to Spain once it´s all done. I do hope you join us for the ride, and please be prepared for dust, rain and laughter along the way.

Out with the Old and In with the New – Broad Beans, Garlic and Chicken

Things are really shaping up in our huerto, our little vegetable garden. Yesterday the last of the broad beans were harvested and they leave us with a nice patch to fill with something else tasty.

Our garlic, which is a variety from Granada, is now just about ready for harvesting.

As you can see, it´s a small variety, slightly pink, and it tastes very sweet.  Here it is alongside one of our onions which we had expected to be bigger, but no matter…they taste great.

So, we now need to pick our 320 garlic bulbs and dry them out a little. We already have a waiting list of people who want a few, so my worries about how on earth we would use that many are already being addressed.

In order to celebrate the new garlic I made a simple dish of chicken joints, potatoes, small chunks of a whole lemon, a bulb of the fresh garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and some rosemary and oregano from our garden. I was inspired by this lovely simple recipe from Mary Cadogan over on the BBC website, but played around with it – I hope she won´t mind!

Into the oven it went, after having a good slug of local dry sherry poured over, where it sat cooking slowly at a medium heat for about 2 hours.

A little salad of finely chopped tomato with some chopped garlic and the last few fresh broad bean pods was my final tribute to the garden.

Simple, tasty and a perfect pick me up for the Up the Mountain garlic pickers!