Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 2: Heinz Beck’s Recipe for Green Tortelloni with Frutti di Mare]

Making Heinz Beck’s Green Tortellini with Fruitti di Mare 

So,  you have just been out foraging for clams with a 3* chef. You have fallen over on the boat (just a few scratches), and you have a wicker basket full of clams. What do you do next? Head to the kitchen, of course.

Getting a chance to cook with Heinz Beck in his kitchen at Gusto at The Conrad, Algarve was a treat. He is (obviously) talented, but he is also very thoughtful, helpful and open to food writers blundering around his kitchen. We cooked 2 dishes, Bacalhau with Herbs, Pepper sauce and Fennel and Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare, both flavourful, light and healthy, and just what my body is screeching for at the moment. I am on a bit of a fresh pasta kick – you will have noticed – so I will share the pasta recipe with you now. It seems complex, but it is all achievable, and it is a perfect lunch for friends. Just give it time, perhaps get your friends to pitch in as you do it.

Enjoy!

Ps. – passionate pastanistas out there, there are only 2 places left for my full day pasta cooking class on Saturday 18th October. There are still places for the later dates, but they are filling up.

RECIPE: Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare

adapted from Heinz Beck 

Continue reading “Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 2: Heinz Beck’s Recipe for Green Tortelloni with Frutti di Mare]”

Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 2: Heinz Beck’s Recipe for Green Tortelloni with Frutti di Mare]

Ras El Hanout Prawn Kebabs with Cous Cous & Chilli Tomato Sauce

Harissa Prawns with Tomato Chilli Sauce and Cous Cous
Ras El Hanout Prawns with Tomato Chilli Sauce and Cous Cous

It is hot. It is muggy. I know we aren’t supposed to complain, but hey, I have no air con and I work from home. I do love the bright light and long evenings, and firing up the BBQ, though. For the first time in 12 / 13 years in London, I have a little garden (same one as last year, but I am still rejoicing in it).

Summer has been busy, in a good way. I have had work related travel, travel related work, and lots of recipe development to get on with. Project Bacon is nearly there. I had forgotten how traumatic writing a book can be, or I thought that the second would be easier. Right now, I am the bottleneck and I have to finish it and let it go. I have a fabulous team who are waiting for me too, and have other projects that they are juggling.

Project: Bacon means a lot to me. It is a very personal project that will be a limited edition, firstly. So, it is special. There will be a digital one but right now the only hardback versions are available for pre-orders only (I need to get Shopstarter to change the date but you can still order there, if you want to). I love cooking, especially for friends and I want this book to inspire you to do the same. I want it to be different, brilliant and fun and I want it to send you rushing to your kitchens. I aspire for your faces to be joyful when you taste the results, and for you to want to share everything. Bacon is the ultimate seasoning, and while amazing on its own, it really brings some cakes, drinks and sweets to life too. It also contains a whole selection of bacon condiments, which are fun and utter flavour bombs too. Continue reading “Ras El Hanout Prawn Kebabs with Cous Cous & Chilli Tomato Sauce”

Ras El Hanout Prawn Kebabs with Cous Cous & Chilli Tomato Sauce

Recipe: A little Indulgence with Chorizo, Smashed Pea, Mint & Scallops

We don’t eat enough fish. We really don’t. I don’t know why, for islanders, we have such an aversion to it and why it is so difficult to source good fresh fish.

Of course, there are great fishmongers and we need to support them. Fish is so good for us, healthy and quick too cook too. It’s an ethical minefield but your fishmonger will advise what is good to eat. Ethical fish is often inexpensive too, there’s a lot of fish which we usually don’t eat – and therefore over fish – that tastes great too.

Now, you hear scallops and you probably think ‘eeeek, they’re so expensive!’ And they are. Especially if you buy the ones that don’t harm the sea floor and taste better – and please do buy hand-dived scallops from your fishmonger if you can. However, there are ways of serving a scallop dish where it becomes a bit of a bargain. And that is to serve them with other ingredients that suit and also bring down the cost of the over all dish.

This dish is a perfect starter or grazing snack if you have friends round. One large scallop will do per person, and will feel so luxurious that everyone will be happy. Serve with a crisp white wine on cold winter night and remember summer while you toast your toes in front of the fire. Of course you can also serve it as a main or just make a lot for yourself.

Chorizo is a dream with scallops. It’s bolshy big, strong and is a perfect partner with the more delicate scallop, and in small amounts it doesn’t overwhelm. The sweetness and delicacy of the humble pea – and frozen is fine – pitches in perfectly, and some fresh mint livens it all up. Some onion serves as a gentle base adding some further sweetness.

This takes 15 minutes – honestly – and rewards you with flavour in spades. If you want to be a bit more luxurious, add some cream, although it is perfectly nice and fresh without it.

Recipe on iVillage: A little Indulgence with chorizo, smashed pea, mint & scallops | iVillage UK

Recipe: A little Indulgence with Chorizo, Smashed Pea, Mint & Scallops

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Crab claws are very common on restaurant menus by the sea in Ireland, but I rarely see them here. Perhaps this is because I don’t spend enough time by the sea here (I don’t), or perhaps we just love them more in Ireland. Either way I bet many of you don’t cook them much at home? I don’t either. I don’t know why that is.

At the market at the weekend, the fish stall had 1 kg of crab claws just sitting there, and I thought, oooh, I bet they would be lovely in a wild garlic butter sauce! They were, they were really good, but not just because of the wild garlic but also because of the robust smokey and warm undertones provided by some chipotle that I had brought back from the US with me on my recent trip there (you can get it very easily online here too).

They look like a lot of work, both to cook and to eat, and they are a little bit for both. I had to prep them a little bit to get rid of random broken bits of claw stuck on the end, but it took minutes and wasn’t too gruesome. To eat, you can suck the meat out or tease it out with a fork, I prefer to smash it with my crab claw pincer things. A nutcracker would do the job very well too.

If you can’t deal with the crab claws, and it’s ok if that’s the case, I think this sauce would be terrific with scallops and prawns too.

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Serves 2 as a starter or more to graze

600g crab claws, raw
50g butter
2 tbsp chopped wild garlic
1 tbsp chipotle, roughly chopped
100 ml white wine

Reduce the white wine by about a third in a hot shallow pan.
Add the butter, the wild garlic and the chipotle.
When the butter has melted add the crab claws and cook for 6 – 8 minutes over a medium heat until cooked through.
Season to taste.
Serve warm with good sliced bread to mop up the delicious sauce.

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Where’s my pork chop?

Eh?

Brainchild of Dan of Food Urchin and wild garlic distribution fame, where’s my pork chop is a side project, born out of frustration from reading our collective tweets about our dinners, while poor Dan is stuck at work, working late shifts and watching hungrily from the sidelines.

He came up with a solution, and asked if we’d be willing to offer him our leftovers and he’d give us something in return. I thought it sounded great and was only delighted to take part, and that’s how I found myself at Oxford Circus one lunch time, cradling leftover prawn curry. That’s also how I got my free tickets to Taste of London, I’ll blog about that another time. Thanks Dan!

Why prawn curry? It’s one of my favourite dishes, homely and comforting, fruity and fragrant. Light and perfect for summer, with a fruity tomato base, and creamy cocnut overlay, it seemed a good fit for a man stranded in an office, watching life go by on the internet as he slogged away, all the while analysing dinner tweets. 

The truth is, I had wanted to make him chickpea & chorizo stew but Dan of Essex Eating beat me to it. I hadn’t made prawn curry in months, so it was due, and I was quite looking forward to indulging myself also.

I had a few hurdles to cross. Firstly, it was a gorgeous day in London, so after work I met a friend for a glass of wine on the South Bank, which quickly became half a bottle. Oooops. Then I had to go buy prawns, they needed to be as fresh as possible, as they needed to survive two rounds of cooking and still be edible. Having sourced them, I trekked home and put my key in my front door at 10pm. Late. Crap.

Like I said, it had been a long time since I had made these and I was soon to find out how long, as my spices had lost their ooomph. Crap. I was very disappointed. Normally this curry is fragrant and bright, my dull spices would not make this dish sing. However, it was late, and I had no time to buy new spices or line up and alternative so I persevered.

11pm and my curry was done, and having packaged Dan’s portion for the next evening, I sat down in front of Sex & the City and indulged. It was nice, but the spices were dull on the palate and that was a shame. Never mind. Dan enjoyed it and that makes me happy. You can read about it here.

If you’re interested in making it (and I recommend that you do, but with fresh spices), the recipe is here – Prawn Curry.

Where’s my pork chop?

Summer Pasta #1 – Crab Linguine

crab linguine

I adore light summer pastas, so I thought that I would do a little series, starting with one of my favourites, crab linguine. Crab is a wonderful delicate meat. Light and fluffy and tasting of the sea. One of my favourite restaurant dishes ever, was a River Cafe starter of crab on toast with a light salad. It was so simple and gorgeous, with stunning fresh ingredients.

Growing up in Ireland, I thought that eating crabs was plain insane. Our elderly neighbour used to catch enormous ones in a bucket at a rocky beach near our house and boiled them up for her alsatian dog. I envy that dog now but at the time I felt it was an act of cruelty. I was also terrified that she would come near me with her bucket of living sideways walking friends. I was afraid of crabs, and really anything living in the sea, I remember standing on an isolated rock shrieking with horror as the crabs ascended. I thought that they would eat me. They didn’t but that’s another story.

You don’t need to go to such enormous lengths for this dish. You can buy perfectly good fresh crabmeat already prepared for you. It seems expensive at roughly £5 for a small tub, but this goes a long way, especially in this dish. If you can, it’s better to get a fresh live crab, then you have the benefit of it’s gorgeous fluffiness and the deeply savoury brown meat. I had mine delivered along with an Abel and Cole veg box, they now do lots of other things, and one of these things is fresh Cornish crab meat, which was delivered very cold surrounded by ice gel packs. Very handy for a busy girl like me. Which brings me back to the recipe, which is also very handy for a busy girl like me, as it’s super quick and tasty. This made enough for three, add more crab meat if you’ve got it.

crab linguine

Ingredients:

300g linguine
the very best unwaxed lemon you can find
flat leaf parsley, a handful, chopped
White crab meat (100g)
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
nice fruity extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Cook your linguine according to packet instructions so that it’s just shy of al dente (it will cook a little when you add it to the crab).
Heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the chilli and stir for about 30 seconds.
Add the crab and stir until it’s nice and hot.
Add the linguine to the crab and chilli, and stir through, ensuring that the pasta is nicely coated, drizzle with some more oil if it’s dry. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste, and some lemon zest with the parsley. Season with fresh ground S&P. Stir through and serve immediately.

It’s a keeper, I think!
Add the cooked linguine

Summer Pasta #1 – Crab Linguine

A decadent Saturday – Selfridge’s Oyster Bar

My sister and her fiancée were visiting this past weekend and we wanted to do something nice. We ended up being extremely decadent indeed, starting in the morning at Ladurée in Harrod’s, moving onto the Oyster & Champagne Bar in Selfridge’s for smoked salmon and champagne and finishing with a beautiful Japanese meal in Sushi-Say in Willesden. It was more decadent than I have ever been in my life, I really must make more of a habit of these little treats. Occasionally, of course ;)

I am going to talk about Sushi-Say in it’s own post later as it deservss it’s own space and I have a few pictures of the beautiful food to share. I only had macarons in Ladurée and I’ve done that before so we’ll get back to that at another time. For now, I want to talk about the smoked salmon in Selfridge’s.

I have passed by the Oyster and Champagne bar in the Selfridge’s Food Hall countless times but it never appealed to me, it seems quite clinical thrown to the side of the cheese counter and, I’ve always thought that if I am going to be decadent it would be nicer to do it in better surroundings. My visitors really wanted to try some Oysters, however, and we were going to Selfridge’s anyway so it seemed like a good option for a quick stop. So, in we went and perused the menu. The smoked salmon looked great so we got that and some blue prawn salad. Also, some oysters, although I didn’t have any.

The smoked salmon was from Frank Hederman’s Belvelly Smokehouse
in Cobh, Cork (Ireland). I have heard about his smoked eel, it’s supposed to be beautiful and as there was no eel I had to have some of the salmon. It has got great credentials, they’re affiliated with the Slow Food Movement in Ireland, have been featured in the NY Times, Bridgestone Guides, Rick Stein’s Food Heroes and they supply Rick Stein & Ballymaloe among others.

Continue reading “A decadent Saturday – Selfridge’s Oyster Bar”

A decadent Saturday – Selfridge’s Oyster Bar

Prawn Laksa – an interpretation

Laksa is food for the soul. It’s delicious – spicy and fragrant and packed full of goodness. I always feel so good after eating it! It’s messy, it’s true, but I think that adds to the value. Although, I did have to suffer through an afternoon at work recently with laksa all over my top having treated myself to one for lunch. My lunch partner, who shall remain nameless, was also drenched in laksa. I think we pulled it off. Looked like it should have been there! Erm, maybe not.

There are several types of laksa originating from Malaysia and Singapore. It’s essentially a spicy noodle soup, usually containing seafood, sometimes chicken. It’s hugely popular in Sydney which is where I came across it. There are many types, the ones I normally make (and haven’t blogged yet) are penang & singapore laksas – I’ll blog these soon. This one is a little different, fruity with the addition of tomatoes with a lovely sourness provided by the tamarind.

Laksa recipes seem fiddly and time consuming but they’re really worth it and not all that bad. The laksa spice pastes that are available in oriental shops are never the same as a homemade paste. I usually make double the amount so that I can make two meals from that one effort.

Enjoy and let me know how it works out for you. I am curious! Continue reading “Prawn Laksa – an interpretation”

Prawn Laksa – an interpretation

Prawn Curry

You’ve probably noticed that I like prawns. Alot. I would say that we have them at least weekly if not twice a week. They’re so tasty and so quick to cook and are perfect for something speedy and healthy after work. I also love Indian food so a prawn curry is a real treat. Some people don’t like to make curries from scratch because they think that working with the spices is an ordeal, but all you need to do is bung all of the spices in a pestle and mortar and grind them before adding them to the pot. It couldn’t be easier.

This recipe is based on one that I found online – Caril de tomato, a goan prawn, tomato and coconut curry. I have adapted it to my taste and to suit the ingredients available to me. It’s an old favourite and requires about an hour in total for prep and cooking and once you’ve sorted out your spices it’s relatively painless. I buy my prawns with their shells removed and deveined to save time and effort. Continue reading “Prawn Curry”

Prawn Curry

Prawns with chilli, garlic & parsley in cava

I am calling this a tapa but, in truth, I didn’t have something like this in Spain. But, Spain inspired me to make it. And, I am using cava. Can I get away with that? It seems like something you would get in Spain, perhaps with less chilli? Anyway, here it is.

I love prawns. We eat them really often, preferably from raw. I don’t like buying the precooked ones – they’re too tough and overcooked. I can be quite lazy and frequently buy the ones that are uncooked but have been deshelled & deveined for you to save time. We usually have them in a curry or in pasta with the occasional breakout to piri piri or a fish pie. This time they’re cooked briefly in cava with chilli, garlic & parsley and served on toast. Continue reading “Prawns with chilli, garlic & parsley in cava”

Prawns with chilli, garlic & parsley in cava