Tag Archives: fish

Food News & Awards 2010

THIS YEAR’S BIG STORIES

Food inflation
Food inflation was an all too regular topic on this blog, with the doom-mongers telling us almost weekly how a carrot was soon going to cost the same as a small dog. It was revealed that food prices had risen at twice the rate in the UK as in the rest of Europe. Then in October inflation hit a 15-month high after rises in the cost of wheat and oil.

Gordon implodes
It was a bad year for Gordon Ramsay. Pub after pub after restaurant closed down. He re-opened Petrus only to have it almost universally panned. Then he was done for employing illegal immigrants. He acrimoniously split with his business partner and father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, before sending what can only be described as a batshit mental open letter to his mother-in-law. Then he was sued for pulling out of a speaking tour in New Zealand. And this week it was revealed that he’d had a hair transplant. Let’s hope he regains some semblance of dignity in 2011.

Cloned meat given the go-ahead
It was the year in which scientists OK’d the production and sale of cloned meat and milk. Campaigners were, predictably, horrified by this, claiming insufficient research had been done in the field. The palaver began in the summer, when it was revealed that cloned meat had been sold to consumers. In November scientists suggested the meat was ‘unlikely‘ to pose any problems. Sounds like sufficient research to me.

We need to look after our fish
With news in May that the decline of UK fish stocks is worse than previously thought, it is clearer than ever that we ought to be more concerned about our fish. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launched his Fish Fight campaign to curb the cuckoo practice of ‘discards’, and we found out that even species as ‘plentiful’ as mackerel are being overfished.

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GOOD NEWS
* Cider tax is scrapped.
* English sparkling wine beats champagne.
* And Cornish Blue wins at World Cheese Awards.
* Tourists come to Britain for its food.
* Jamie Oliver breaks publishing records.

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BAD NEWS
* Kraft takeover of Cadbury mired in controversy.
* Health benefits of organic food questioned.
* Junk food kills 40,000 people a year.
* Take caution over promises of ‘local’ and ‘fresh’.
* Processed food is destroying our taste buds.
* Village life dying out as country pubs close.
* Biodegradable crisp packets abandoned for being too noisy.
* Water from glacier goes on sale. At £6 a bottle.

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BONKERS BOX
* Pizzas in Naples fired with wood made from coffins.
* A sandwich in a can. A candwich.
* Pea plant grows inside man’s lung.
* Deep-fried beer invented in Texas.
* The Berlin ‘cannibal’ restaurant that was exposed as a fake.
* Woman fends off bear attack with a courgette.
* A mouse is found baked into a loaf of bread.
* Fat people can sniff out food better.
* A man ate nothing but potatoes for 2 months.
* A wild boar attacked a butcher in Germany. Bad move.

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BEST BITS OF THE YEAR

Best restaurant

Polpetto

Best dish

Cassoulet at Les Deux Salons

Best drink

Basil Grande at Casita

Best cookbook

Balthazar Cookbook

Best website

Hot Dinners



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Recipe | Salmon rillettes with cucumber pickle, capers and pink peppercorns

I’m all for a rustic, slapdash approach when it comes to cooking. Food that is over-manicured and fussy has no place in the home kitchen, and will only lead to a maniacal cook and unrelaxed eating. That said, it is possible to create a dish that looks elegant and striking without the use of tweezers and paintbrushes for presentation. This recipe is incredibly simple, and yet looks (at least I think looks) delightful. Serve with toast and butter.

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Serves 4 as a starter

For the cucumber pickle

Half a cucumber, thinly sliced

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

175g sugar

120ml cider vinegar

Salt

For the rillettes

1 glass of white wine

500ml water

1 bay leaf

250g skinless salmon

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Juice of a lemon

Salt and pepper

To serve

Pink peppercorns

Capers

Dill

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– Make the cucumber pickle by mixing the vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. Pour over the cucumber and shallot, cover and refrigerate. Can be done up to 4 hours in advance (any longer and the cucumber starts to discolour).

– For the rillettes, put the wine, water and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the salmon. Simmer for 2 minutes, then take off the heat, put a lid on and leave for a further 4-5 minutes, until the salmon is cooked.

– Remove the fish and put in a food processor with the creme fraiche and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and blend. You could also do this with a fork for a rougher texture. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if necessary. Cover and stick in the fridge until ready to serve.

– To serve: place a quenelle of the rillettes in the centre of the plate. To one side lay a few slices of pickled cucumber. Round the outside alternate pink peppercorns and capers. Garnish the rillettes with a frond of dill and serve with toast. Or, if you can’t be arsed with the fancy bollocks, sling a bowl of rillettes in the middle of the table, along with the jar of pickle and some toast and let everyone pile in.

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Recipe for the weekend – Mackerel on toast with broccoli and chilli

How often do you walk into a supermarket without a list, hoping to wing it? Probably quite often. It is in those moments when you just can’t quite decide what you want to eat, and so you eventually just wander aimlessly into the shop in the hope that some heavenly arrangement of ingredients will magically leap off the shelves and into your trolley. More often than not they don’t. Usually you end up having a panic attack on aisle 12 and start stuffing chamois and windolene into your basket before buying a frozen pizza and returning home for a dinner of disappointment and MSG.

On a rare occasion this week I managed to employ this tactic and leave with my sanity in tact. I knew that I wanted something on toast, and that was about it. Sashaying through the doors and into the vegetables (it was a fresh shop, you see), some tenderstem broccoli winked at me. Then some chillies and spring onion, a mackerel, and some bread. I was home 5 minutes later, and eating lunch after another 15. A quick, delicious lunch, and it cost me less than a fiver.

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Mackerel on toast with broccoli, chilli and mustard seeds

Serves 1

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200g tenderstem or purple sprouting broccoli

2 spring onions, washed and sliced

1 chilli, deseeded and sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2 mackerel fillets

1 loaf of ciabatta, sliced horizontally

– Preheat the grill to 220C.

– Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli. Simmer for 1 1/2 minutes, drain and run under cold water.

– In the same pan, heat a little olive oil until almost smoking and add the chilli, spring onion, garlic and mustard seeds. Stir for a minute then add the broccoli. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and turn down the heat to low.

– Drizzle bottom half of the ciabatta with olive oil and pop under the grill. Get a frying pan right hot with a little oil and fry the mackerel, skin side down, for two minutes. Turn onto the flesh side and turn off the heat. Turn the bread and grill for a further minute, before piling the broccoli on top, followed by the mackerel and a squeeze of lemon.

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