15-minute Lemony Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Kale

My writer-friend Chad made this for a working lunch for us one day, using homegrown kale from the garden at the lovely home she shares with her partner Kath, and I was immediately hooked by the strong and satisfying flavours. I demanded to know how she made it and then had it three times over the following two weeks – I couldn’t get enough of it. Since then it’s become one of my favourite ‘when your brain is still on the train’ meals. Getting off a commuter train from London is about as compatible with cooking a large meal as…er… duh…can’t think of anything smart cos my brain is still on the train.  (Geddit?)

Anyway. When your inspiration is as lame as that joke, this meal will fill the gaping void.

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Smoked Mackerel Pate

This couldn’t be easier. Smoked mackerel is still cheap even when it’s a quality posh version, and this will be much nicer with a really deep-flavoured fish, properly hot-smoked and not just with some smoke-tasting chemicals thrown on it. This means buying it from a fishmonger – I have a great one called Brighton and Newhaven Fish near me – or a good supermarket, (ahem, Waitrose). Having said that, if all you can get is cheap mackerel it will still taste pretty good. The cream cheese can be plain old Philadelphia or similar. I use an own-brand version that costs 40p!

I’m not going to beat about the bush, I’m just going to get on with it. This will serve four people as part of a lunch spread.

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Quick Fish with Tomatoes

Hello. Today is Sunday which is a nice day to laze in the kitchen and make a cake or a roast. I hear a shout of disbelief out there. Yes, I know, some people think the word ‘laze’ and ‘cook’ do not belong in the same sentence. So if that’s you and you prefer not to cook at all today but just to look at the sky and say ‘hello sky, hello clouds’, or to write a novel or swim the channel, then try this amazingly quick and satisfying dish. We owe the genius Yotam Ottolenghi the credit for suggesting how to do the tomatoes. 

I like to eat this simply with some good bread and butter to soak up the juices. For some reason bread and fish is something I absolutely love. Loaves and fishes – it’s not a new thing. Catherine has it with pasta. Or you can fry some potatoes or even have some oven chips. Though the chips will take much longer to cook than this recipe so start them off first.
simple ingredientsThe following is needed for each person eating:

  • About 125g of white fish
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a bunch of fresh parsley that when scrunched gently in your hand is about the size of an egg.
  • salt and pepper
  • butter and olive oil for frying 

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Lovely Fish Paella

There are plenty of foods (..er..most of ’em I fink) that I find it possible to sit dreaming about during the day as I look forward to my meal that evening. Plain white rice isn’t one of them. I’d much rather have a potato. BUT there are three rice dishes that I adore, and they’re all on the comforting side of the spectrum.  No dry tasteless bits of starch here. One is kedgeree, which I posted about recently, the second is risotto, which we’ll post about soon. The third is this ‘ere paella. It is, in no uncertain terms: lush.

It’s inspired by a fantastic recipe from Rick Stein. Actually it’s not ‘inspired’ at all –  it’s basically his recipe, I just alter bits and bobs depending on which ingredients I have available. Like a lot of recipes on this blog, it doesn’t matter if you’re not exact with the quantities or if you change things. Good home cooking is NOT about putting exactly the teaspoon of that and exactly the weight of the other or following a recipe like a slave. Mostly it’s about making it so that it tastes the way you like it.  I hope Rick Stein will forgive the mash-up of his recipe.paella ingredients

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Kedgeree

I had this last night, it is one of my favourite comfort foods. The brilliant thing about kedgeree is that it’s incredibly moreish but is also good for you. It uses a decent amount of butter, but on this blog we believe that butter is good for you, unlike sugar, which we believe isn’t.

A word on ingredients.

I implore you not to be put off by the fact that I use brown rice.  Our mum Mavis uses brown, which is why I do. Catherine uses white rice in hers. It’s a matter of preference. What I like about brown is that it makes it more chewy. So it’s a buttery smokey creamy chewy bowl of moreish loveliness. The fish can be fresh or frozen, but if you make it for the first time and think ‘…hmm… This dish is chewy but it’s not the rice, it’s the FISH that’s chewy’!’, then one of two things has happened to mess with Kedgeree Heaven: 1) the fish was not so great to start with,  or more likely 2) you’ve cooked it too long. Tips on this below.

The main tip about this dish is not to stint on the butter and onions. Or it will not be as nice. You have been warned.

I’ve put it as a commuter cook (half hour) as well as a longer cook, as strictly speaking if you put the rice on and cook it for 20 minutes, you can cook the rest of the ingredients within that time, so you could cram it into half an hour.

Serves 2 generously. Cost per plate : £1.39!Kedgeree basic Ingredients

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Smoked Mackerel Gratin

This is a recipe from Nigel Slater, who is one of our greatest food writers. He understands about simplicity. It’s taken from his book Real Food and the only difference here is that I put in quite a lot more potatoes than he does. He likes his food very rich…

We often have this when there are just two of us and we have it two days running. It’s just as good heated up the next day. So we might have it with a green salad on day one and a beetroot or tomato salad on day two. It works really, really well with a beetroot and lemon salad. You certainly want some sharpness or bitterness (rocket, watercress, lemon, tomato etc) to cut through the richness of the cream and mackerel.

About the ingredients:

If you’re feeling flush you can get a lovely whole smoked mackerel from the fishmongers (in which case you might use some of it to make a mackerel paté as well) but you can also buy smoked mackerel in little packets in supermarkets (Lidl, of course, is great) and it’s really not expensive. Mackerel is incredibly good for you, is local to British waters and highly sustainable. And it’s delicious.

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Fish Pie

I was in Snowdonia once and as there was nowhere to eat (the glorious Pete’s Eats being shut) we bought a fish pie from the Spar and heated it up in the self-catering oven.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything so claggily, glutinously, blandly nasty in my life.   Nasty, nasty packet fish fie.
Our Life Is Jam fish pie, however, is positively regal. Rich and comforting, creamy and nourishing.  

About the ingredients:

  • The potatoes on top are sliced rather than mashed, which somehow lends it a sophistication. And is quicker to prepare.  
  • The recipe suggests a combination of salmon, smoked fish and prawns and you can of course use whatever combination of fish and shellfish you like – squid, mussels, scallops, prawns – but I would suggest that you always include some smoked fish in there. Don’t even think about making it with white fish alone unless you’re trying to recreate my ghastly Snowdonia Spar experience.

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