Salmon Baked with Herbs & Caramelized Lemons

When I saw Gordon Ramsay make baked salmon with herbs and caramelised lemons, I had to make it!
Now he used a whole salmon but obviously for two people this would have been an overdose! So, I used a 400g piece of filleted salmon but still with the skin on, which I removed one it was cooked.
To serve 2 you will need:

Salmon fillet about 400g
1 lemon - thickly sliced
Olive oil to drizzle
a couple of fresh bay leaves
a couple of fresh sage leaves
a few basil leaves
a sprig of two of each - fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley
1 lemon grass stalks - cut in half and bruised with the back of a knife
3 garlic cloves, skin on - cut in half
Freshly ground black pepper
2 whole star anise
The picture below shows the salmon ready for the oven.

Get your self a large piece of kitchen foil. make a few cuts in the skin side of the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
Now lay the parsley on the foil and place the salmon onto the foil skin side up.
Put the rest of the herbs on top of the salmon. Now in a small frying pan put a bit of olive oil, once it's heated up add the slices of lemon along with a little salt and pepper to season. Fry the lemon slices until they start to caramelise.
Now add them to the salmon, placing two underneath and two on top. Now bring the foil together to form a parcel.
Bake in a preheated oven 200C/400F/Gas 6
It will take about 20 minutes - depending on the size of you salmon. Don't be temped to open the foil. The salmon will be perfectly cooked and the smell will be amazing.
Remove all the herbs from the salmon - reserving the lemons. They can be served with the salmon, they taste delicious.
Carefully remove the skin from the salmon, which will slide off easily with a pallet knife. Cut the salmon into two pieces and serve.
I served mine with a few leaves and a lemon butter sauce.
I also did a few baby potatoes with a little butter added along with some freshly snipped chives.
This salmon is really so easy to do and so very tasty. The best thing is the smell as it cooks with the best to come once the foil parcel is opened. The kitchen smells amazing.
Too make the lemon butter sauce:
30g finely chopped shallots
30ml white wine vinegar
30ml of water
45ml of dry white wine
15ml double (heavy) cream
120g unsalted butter - cut into cubes and kept cold in the fridge until needed
Juice from half a lemon and the zest from a whole lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper

How to do it:
Put the shallots into a pan with the white wine vinegar, wine and the water. Reduce to a quarter of the original amount liquid wise. This is important or your sauce will taste of vinegar.
Add the cream and boil for a minute.
Now, whisk in the butter cubes a few at a time, keep whisking whilst taking the sauce on and off the heat and keep adding a bit more butter.
The sauce should look smooth and shiny but with no sign of an oily film.
Now whisk in the lemon juice and zest and season to taste with a teeny bit of salt, black pepper and the cayenne pepper.
Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the shallot and serve immediately.
If you would like the bake a whole salmon you can see Gordon Ramsay's recipe here.

Camembert Baked in the Box with Bruschetta

I first raved on about Camembert baked in it's box back in April 08 but since then I have quite got into serving it with Bruschetta - home made of course.
Please see my updated baked Camembert post here.


Marks and Spencer included baked Camembert as one of the starter courses in their 'Valentine's Dine in for £20' offer this year.
They sell it wrapped in foil ready to bake, but I like to bake it in its box adding a little wine and garlic for extra yumminess!
Also it looks great served in its box. However you decide to bake it, it's really easy and so very, very yummy. See how to do the Camembert below.
 Print Recipe
For the Bruschetta:
You will need half of a day old French stick - or as much as you fancy making of course.
Cut into thinnish slices drizzle a shallow baking tray with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Then press each piece of bread into the tray and turn over. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add a little more salt and pepper.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 25 minutes or until golden and crisp.
They emerge from the oven like this, crispy and crunchy and perfect for dipping.
Baked Camembert
For Two to Share, you will need:
250 g Camembert Cheese,1 clove garlic - peeled, half a teaspoon of white wine
How to do it:
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
Remove the cheese from it's box - take off the wrapping then put the cheese back in the box.
Make a good amount of tiny holes with a fork all over the top rind of the cheese. Now rub the garlic all over the top of the cheese - The smallest amount of olive oil will help you to rub the garlic easier.
Now drizzle the wine into them and put the lid back on the box.
Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Keep an eye on it though as you don't want it all running out like mine almost did.
Also if you bake it in foil it will cook quicker so check it at around 15 minutes.

The result is sticky, gooey, melty cheese that oozes in it's box. Just dip in the bruschetta.  Oh and a glass or two of wine is vital.

Pancake Recipe for Pancake Day!

As everyone probably knows, yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, which means Pancake Day!
Every food supermarket had displays of lemons, milk, flour and sugar!

Print Recipe


To make about 6 - 8 you will need:
a light weight frying pan - about 8 or 10 inches in size
110g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
200ml milk mixed with 75ml water
a good knob of melted butter to be used for greasing the pan



To serve:
sugar and lemon juice
How to do it:
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then whisk in the eggs with a balloon whisk.

Bring in the flour from around the edge of the bowl so it all gets well mixed together. Now you can gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, whisking all the time until all the milk and water has been added and it is quite smooth - no lumps please!
You will now have a quite thinnish batter.

When that's done, I always transfer the mixture into a jug so it's easier to pour.
Using a piece of kitchen paper dip it into your melted butter and use this to grease the frying pan. Get the pan really hot and then turn the heat to medium. Pour a little of the pancake batter into the hot pan - enough to almost cover the bottom completely. Don't make the pancakes too thick. My nan bless her, used to make pancakes that were about half an inch thick - At least it saved all the messing about as no one could eat more than one!
Anyway, as the batter goes into the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter.
The pancake will only take a minute - if that to cook. Now flip the pancake over with a pan slice and the other side will need a few seconds to cook.
Once cooked the pancake will have nice golden spots on. Now slide the pancake onto a serving plate.
I can't be doing with any fancy fillings, just a little sugar sprinkled over and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Personally I don't think they can be kept warm and stay nice, so eat that one and get on with making the next one!

Jan's Hot Berry and Apple Dessert with Mascarpone Brulee

Yesterday I invented a dessert - at least I think I did.
We had Paul's mum and dad coming over for dinner and I couldn't decide what to make for dessert. I had bought come Bramley cooking apples and was going to make a simple apple pie. After much mumbling to myself I thought that apple pie, yummy as it is, is just too ordinary.
In my freezer I had half a packet of raspberries and half a packet of blueberries. After adding some sugar and heating them through there wasn't enough of them put together to make enough of anything. So, armed with my cooking apples I used two of them to bulk the rest of the fruits up!
I cut the cooking apples into chunks and added a little water and sugar and simmered in a saucepan, lid on, until tender.
Now I had enough fruit to fill four ramekins. Feeling pleased with myself, I had the idea of dolloping the top of each ramekin with some Mascarpone cheese. When it came to serving, I heated the ramekins in the oven just so the fruit got warmed through. Then after adding the Mascarpone, I sprinkled a good amount of sugar on top of each. Out then came my cooks blowtorch making the sugar caramelise into a brulee type topping.

I suppose you could put them under a hot grill but it wouldn't be as much fun as using a blowtorch! Served with ice cream - double yum on a plate!

For our starter I did fresh figs, dollop of goats cheese in the middle and warmed in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese just started to get on it's way to melting. Out came the blowtorch to give it a bit of colour. I had some Prosciutto (Parma ham) left over from the main course and with a few salad leaves drizzled with a mixture of equal amounts mixed together of balsamic vinegar and Extra Virgin olive oil.
Now, they won't be too pleased with me for this. But this is Paul's mum and dad, Anita and John.
For our main course, we had chicken. When I tell you what I stuffed the chicken with you will think nooooo - as it was 3 kinds of cheese and spinach!
Yes, that means every course had cheese in it!
I'll blog about the main course in another post. That's a total of 5 different cheeses in one 3 course meal - do I hold the world record?!
All in all it was a really good night, even if my menu was a bit 'experimental'!

Gremolata

I love, love, love Gremolata!
So, for that reason (and because the picture I took came out not too bad) Gremolata is what I'm raving on about today.
Gremolata is an Italian garnish or condiment which, in my opinion, is really at it's best when served with roast chicken. Spoon a huge dollop over hot roasted chicken and the smell is amazing. Just imagine, lemon and garlic along with parsley mixing with some of the pan juices from the chicken. A good chunk of bread is vital for dipping and moping!
The other good news is that it's really easy to make!
A good handful of flat leaved parsley - leaves picked and finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves - finely chopped
the zest of two lemons - finely chopped
Give the lot another good chop then mix together, seasoning with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now add a little extra virgin olive oil, give it a good squeeze of lemon juice......
Job done.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Scottish Salmon and Other Good Things

Have you ever wondered what to do for dinner but don't know what you want? Happens to me all the time! Anyway, I had two lovely lightly smoked, Scottish salmon fillets in my freezer that really don't take too long to defrost.

So, I made this up as I went along, as I do most of the time with my cooking. The end result was delicious, tasty, succulent (there's a big word from me) salmon that just fell apart.

Preheat your oven to 160c/325F Gas3

So, armed with two large pieces of kitchen foil, I placed a salmon fillet in each.

I then made a couple of slits with a sharp knife in each piece of salmon. Drizzled them both with a little Extra Virgin olive oil and seasoned them with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and gave them a good squeeze of lemon.

I added some very thinly sliced red onion, lemon slices, freshly chopped parsley and yes, this may sound strange, but I added some cubes of feta. I've added feta to foil baked salmon before (see here) and it is actually rather very nice indeedy says I!

So with my salmon ready for the oven all there was to do was place them both on a baking sheet and pull the sides of the foil up loosely around each salmon to make a parcel. They will take about 20 minutes in total but this will depend on the size of your salmon, so you will need to check on them.

For the last 5 minutes undo the parcels so the cheese gets slightly melted.

They will be falling apart so the best thing is to serve them as I did in the picture below in the foil.


While the salmon was cooking, I made up 100g of Bulgar wheat as per the packet instructions. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and added the following:

some red onion - chopped into small dice
red and yellow bell pepper - both chopped into small dice
cucumber middle part removed as it's too wet otherwise also chopped into small dice
a good amount of lemon juice to taste and a little extra virgin olive oil.
Give it all a good stir and serve with the salmon or whatever else you fancy.

Ultimate Garlic and Parmesan Bread

This is proper garlic bread as it ought to be!
We've all seen those horrid ready made garlic baguettes in the supermarket. They also sell the same ones but call them 'cheese and garlic' baguettes.
 Have you ever stopped to look at just how much cheese they actually put in? 
I doubt there's more than two pinches and for that they charge an extra 50p!
Whatever, there really is no comparison to what you can make very simply at home. For the sake of five minutes preparation, you have a crispy loaf that oozes buttery garlic and gooey cheese.

The Meadow Inn at Ironbridge - A Review

I'm not telling anyone that it's my birthday on Monday. But seeing as it is, we went out for lunch yesterday at one of our favorite places to eat, The Meadow Inn at Ironbridge.

I must point out that since about October/November 08 The Meadow has had new owners. Since then, the already high standards have been upped and it is now a really lovely, friendly place where we could just sit, drink and eat, quite happily all day!
We arrived not too long after they'd opened for lunch, hence it was a bit quite, but not for long. We walked there, which normally doesn't take very long but because of the snow we've had we had to walk a long way round or we'd have slid on our bottoms all the way there!

The picture above is one of the bars - they have another one to the left.
Now, there is nothing that can be faulted with The Meadow Inn. The staff are really nice and friendly. It's very clean (the loos are spotless) and the food is excellent!
The Meadow is one of those places where you want to eat everything on their menu. They do smaller portions if that's what you want, or you can add just £2.50 for a larger sized meal. The small portions aren't that small either!

For starters I had the Char-grilled King Prawn skewers with a sweet chili relish - very nice indeed - I could quite happily had a whole plate of those!
As well as their main menu they have a blackboard which has a few more yummy dishes to choose from. So, from the blackboard, Paul had warm goats cheese with dressed leaves and walnuts.
For the main course, he had their double stack burger, which as you can see isn't small! I was cooked perfectly and the chunky chips were lovely and crisp, just as they should be.
I had to have steak, of course! The steak was cooked to absolute perfection - I always have steak medium rare.
They do a larger steak but this size (8oz) was just fine for me. I also had Bearnaise sauce, which was included in the price. Everywhere else you go, seems to want to charge £2 to £2.50 extra for sauce!
Now, another good thing about The Meadow Inn, is that their beef is minimum 28 day matured and is from Welsh border farms. It always bothers me that in some places you just don't know where they get their meat from.
Now, we didn't have dessert as we were FULL!
In my opinion The Meadow really does serve the best steaks and not just in Ironbridge! If you're ever in the area you must go there and see for yourself.
You wont be disappointed.

Really Yummy Leek Onion and Potato Soup

Today I felt the need to make soup!


You will need - to serve 4:


3 leeks
- washed and sliced into 1 inch chunks
3 medium potatoes - peeled and cubed into 3/4 of an inch
pieces
1 medium onion - diced

50g butter

500ml chi
cken stock (has to be 'Knorr' says I as for some reason, 'Oxo' just is not the same for soup making)
250ml whole milk
salt and pepper to season

How to do it:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. When the butter starts to foam, add the leeks, potatoes and onions. Keep the vegetables moving about until they are well coated with butter.
Add a little salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Now cover with a lid or some foil and let them cook over a gentle heat for about 15 minutes. You don't really want them to colour - just to cook through.

Meanwhile, put your kettle on to make the stock. When the vegetables are soft but not coloured add the stock and milk and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and nicely cooked through.

Have a taste to check for seasoning.

Now, let it cool a bit before you purée the soup in a blender or food processor. You may want to heat it up again in a clean saucepan, if you do then do so over a gentle heat taking care not to boil the soup.

Pour into bowls to serve. If you're going to be fancy like me, pour a little double cream into the middle of each bowl and top with a few snipped chives - getting posh aren't I?!!

Hot Chocolate Fondant

I came across a Gordon Ramsey recipe for Hot Chocolate Fondant. As I'd never made chocolate fondants before, I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out fine.

I've made these twice now and both times I baked them in a preheated (fan) oven for exactly 12 minutes and they turned out fine both times - something not too short of a miracle for me ah?!

Being no photographer, my picture doesn't do it justice, although you can see the center was still soft and oozed chocolate goo as it should do!

To serve 2 you will need:

50g unsalted butter - plus a little extra to grease
2 tsp cocoa powder - for dusting
50g good quality bitter chocolate (I used one with 85% cocoa solids), in pieces
1 free range egg
1 free range egg yolk
60g caster sugar
50g plain flour
Icing sugar - for dusting
How to do it:
Preheat oven to 160C/300F/Gas 2

Butter two ramekins, about 7.5cm in diameter, then dust liberally with cocoa, shaking out any excess.
Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl set over a pan of hot water, then take off the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Using an electric whisk, whisk the whole egg, egg yolk and sugar together until pale and thick, then incorporate the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon.
Divide between the ramekins.
Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
Turn the chocolate fondants out on to warmed plates. You may want to use a sharp knife to run around the edge of the ramekins, although they should come out easily anyway.
Dust the tops with icing sugar and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

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