Fish cakes

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Definitely, not my Mother’s pasteis de bacalhau [codfish pastries]… Still, a very good effort for half the calories and (almost) all the flavour.

On a side note – and because I don’t see myself doing codfish pastries Portuguese style anytime soon, I better say it now before I forget it for ever.  My Mother and I have kept having a surrealistic conversation every time I went back to visit my family. “So, is there anything special you want me to cook for you?”, she would ask. “Not really… unless maybe pasteis de bacalhau”, I would say. “No, no, no…. anything but that.. it is such a hassle”, would invariably be her reply, in a tone which didn’t allow any further witty remarks. If I remember well, the only time she has cooked them herself it was when I admitted I went for dinner with a friend whose Mother had graced with a batch of homemade pastries. “What!”, she said. “No no need to go out to have pastries!!! I’ll cook them for you tomorrow!!!!!!”. And she did, much to everybody’ surprise and delight. I almost feel tempted to send her this pic in case she decides to prove me wrong and cook this once again. I should probably by a roll-eyes moment, followed by some scorn over using paprika and forgetting the parsley.

Fish cakes (adapted from a Hairy Dieters’ recipe found on the GoodFoodChannel)

Ingredients 

  • 275 g potatoes  peeled and cut into rough 3cm chunks
  • 300 g cod, unskinned
  • 100 g smoked haddock, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ lemons, finely zested
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • Enough olive oil for spraying
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

 Method

Put the potatoes in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. 

Drain the potatoes well in a colander, tip them back into the pan and mash them until smooth. Put the mash in a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper.

In the meanwhile, put the cod fish fillets in a large saucepan, placing the thicker fillets on the bottom. Cover with cold water and add the bay leaf. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately take the pan off the heat and leave the fish to stand for 5 minutes. Once the fish is poached, drain the fish really well in a colander and break it into large chunks. Be careful to discard the skin and any bones as you go.

Put the all the fish  – cod and haddock – in the same bowl as the mashed potato.  Stir in the lemon zest and spring onions with a large wooden spoon, trying not to break up the fish too much.

Divide the mixture into 4 balls and flatten each ball to about 3cm thick. If the mixture is too soft to shape into balls, cover and leave it to cool for a while.

Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika in a large bowl. Dip a fishcake into the egg, coating it on all sides. Allow any excess egg to drip off the fishcake and then place it in the breadcrumbs, turning it and pressing firmly to get an even coating of crumbs on all sides. Prepare the remaining cakes in the same way. Leave them to chill in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Use them within 24 hours, though.

To cook the fishcakes, preheat the oven to 220C.  Cover a baking tray with parchment and slightly grease it with olive oil  Place the fish cakes on it and brush (or spray) them with the olive oil. Bake them for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve with vegetables or a lightly dressed salad and some lemon wedges for squeezing

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Fish stew

fish stew

For a couple of days, I start to believe it was possible, after all, to feel the Spring. I even looked for my sun glasses and rush to the basement to a light coat… Well, much for my dismay, it seemed that Summer was last Tuesday, right on the very day I had a TC I could not reschedule. Wednesday was a bit iffy, Thursday, autumnal. Saturday, we all woke up to snowfall.

Not a single comment on Facebook or Twitter, but…. Fish stew it is. It could have been my mother’s caldeirada – it tastes as good as – but her recipe has a completely different method and a much briefer list of ingredients. In any case, it was delicious and warming. Comfort food doesn’t get much better than this… 

Fish stew (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, very finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • • 250g potatoes floury potatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • Good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml white wine
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  •  600ml cold water
  • ½ fish stock cube
  •  2 tsp superfine sugar
  • ½ tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
  •  400g thick white fish fillet
  • 200g cooked and peeled king prawns, thawed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or wide, heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion and celery for 8 minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Don’t let the garlic burn or it will give your stew a bitter flavour. If the onion starts to stick, add a splash of cold water to the pan. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 2cm chunks. Deseed the pepper and cut that into chunks too.

Stir the ground coriander, saffron and bay leaves into the casserole and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over the wine and let it all bubble for a few seconds before adding the yellow pepper, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, water, stock cube and sugar. Season with the ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of ground black pepper.

Bring the stew to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are softened but not breaking apart. Trim the green beans, cut them in half and add them to the pan, then return to a simmer. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the skin from the fish fillets and cut the fish into rough 2.5cm chunks. Drop the fish pieces on top of the bubbling liquid and cover the pan with a lid. Poach the fish over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until it is almost cooked. Remove the lid and very gently stir in the prawns, trying not to break up the fish too much. Cover again and simmer for 2 minutes more or until the fish i opaque and the prawns are hot. Don’t let the prawns overcook.


Fish wrapped in ham with crushed peas and warm tomato

Another MaMafalda Pinto Leite’s Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time]. It is quick, easy and a spectacular combination of flavors. I was a bit too slow, but the author probably only set up the alarm clock once she got all the ingredients prepared. Still, it is worthwhile doing it.

Fish wrapped in ham with crushed peas and warm tomatoes

Ingredients 

  • 4 rosemary springs
  • 4 white fish firm fillets (I used fresh cod)
  • 4 prosciutto or jamón slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek cut in slices (only the white parts)
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1/2 of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped minth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put the rosemary springs on top of each fish fillet. Pepper it. Wrap each fillet with one ham slice.

Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan in medium-high heat. When it is hot, put the fish in, and cook for 4 minutes or until it is done. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Fold the tomato into the same frying pan and cook for about 1 minute or until it is warm.

In the meanwhile, heat the other half of the olive oil in a medium size sauce pan. When it is pipping hot, fold in the sliced leeks and sauté until they are soft. Poor in the stock and let it boil. Then, add the peas and bring to boil for about 6min. When ready, add the mint, salt and pepper to taste. Crush the peas.

Serve the fish together with the tomato and the crushed peas.


Pizza Bianca with Potato and Anchovies

You don’t like tomato sauce on your pizza? Don’t worry, we have  have something for you: a pizza bianca, courtesy of Gary Mehigan and Masterchef Australia  This elegant combination of flavours and textures is so good, you  will have you wish you had made two pizzas. The Classic Pizza Margherita  is good, but this one is something else…

Pizza Bianca with Potato and Anchovies

Ingredients

  •  semolina and plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 x 120g dough portion (I used already made pizza dough)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (I replaced it with granna padano)
  • ½ cup aged provolone, coarsely grated (I replaced it with Gruyere)
  • 1 waxy potato, such as Desiree, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup wild rocket leaves, washed, drained (I replaced it with baby spinach)
  • 60g buffalo mozzarella, torn
  • 6 anchovy fillets (optional) (only had anchovy filled with cappers, so used it instead).

Method 

Place an unglazed terracotta tile into an oven and heat to 250°C. Sprinkle a clean work surface with semolina and flour and use your fingers or rolling pin to stretch out the dough until about 25cm in diameter or to desired thickness. Dust a wooden paddle or sheet of baking paper with semolina and flour and place dough on top.

Step 2: In a small bowl add garlic, 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt. Brush the dough with the oil.

Step 3: Combine cheeses and scatter over dough, leaving a 1cm border around the edge. Strip leaves from remaining rosemary and sprinkle over dough.

Step 4: Lay the potato slices evenly over the dough. Brush with oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Step 5: Slide pizza onto hot terracotta tile and bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove pizza from oven. Brush the crust with olive oil.

Step 6: Mix rocket with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Scatter mozzarella, anchovies, and rocket over pizza. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.