Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simons Super Simple Cider Mackerel

A great dish, very simple and very very good with new potatos boiled in seawater.
Im sure regular readers here know I tend to look to Northern Europe for inspiration for a lot of my dishes, but really it is to Normandy we Irish should look.

I am uploading this while at work - on a ship - so you will have to wait for some better photos folks - sorry, some even upload sideways from here!

Why we never developed a better cuisine culture in Ireland I will never know, probably has something to do with a landless peasant class, and a virtual fuedal system lasting so long, but that is too big a divergence.

I feel that Normandy, with its climate, mixed Celtic and Norman heritage and its food produce is a great place for us to look at, with dairy, seafoodmeat and fruit more like our own than the rest of France.

This dish could not be simpler, with sustainable fish and home grown veg and fruit.
This really is one of my favorite meals.
Use a good medium-dry cider to make a fairly sharp sauce. 
This will contrast well with the rich definite flavour of the mackerel.

There's nothing fancy about this dish, the only advice I'd give is to try and find a good real cider if you can.
English and Welsh readers are spoiled for choice when it comes to organic ciders, especially in the west country, make really good but astoundingly potent ciders they call scrumpy.

I have not tried it yet but there is an artisan cider producer in Ireland I can find based out of Dublin.
Fruit and Vine who produce, among other things, Double L cider, are available from several outlets that you can find online at their website, I'm looking forward to trying their cider and especially the Balsamic Cider Vinegar when I get home.

Also, a big thanks to the beer revolu, a regular poster at who also suggested Stonewell cider from Cork.

I really think it is important to support and promote our own artisan producers, so I'd give them a shot over the big corporations like Magners/Bulmers whose cider need to be mass produced to the same consistency, thats fine for some-like MacDonalds, and has its place, but I like to have variation and choice as well.

  • Fresh whole mackerel, cleaned and filleted as you like (one each)
  • Enough dry cider to come half way up the fish (about 1 or 2 wine glasses)
  • 1 large Bramley Apple,diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • White Pepper 
  • tsp whole grain mustard
Preheat the oven to moderate hot 180 C - gas 4
Gut, clean and fillet fish.
Wipe the mackerel with a bit of kitchen paper.
Put it in an overnproof dish with the onion, cider, mustard and a little pepper.
Peel, core and chop the apples into smallish chunks.
Push some of them into the middle of the mackerel and place the rest round.
Spoon the cider over them and the fish.
Cover the dish and put in the oven or 15 mins.
Remove the cover and cook for another 15 mins.
Lift the fish out onto a warm plate and pop in the (now switched off) oven leaving the door ajar.
Pour the juices into a small pan with some of the apples.
Cook fairly quickly, mashing up the soft apples, to make a sauce.
Put the remaining apples round the fish and pour the sauce over.
Serve with potatoes and some nice garden green - spinach or chard is great with this.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Radish Carpaccio salad with anchovy dressing and a steak sarnie

Radish is a very easy to grow crop. I find it most useful as a marker crop for slow growing plants like leek or parsnip.
Quite often radish is thrown into a salad almost as an afterthought. This simple recipe shows off the radishes finer qualities, and that peppery flavour is an ideal accompaniment to beef steak.
Essentially it is a carpaccio of radish

Carpaccio traditionally is meat or fish sliced very thinly and sometimes pounded, but I like to use the term for veg served like this. For the very daring, the beef could also be served raw, very thinly sliced and with a mustard dressing - but I just fancied a warmed salad.

To add to that I use an anchovy and Parmesan based dressing to add a salty tang to the meal.
The recipe itself was influenced by a kohlrabi recipe by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall.
This is a real surf and turf meal, using beef and fish - Anchovy are a member of the herring family and found in the ocean in coastal areas in large shoals all around the world. They are very strong tasting, but more salty than fishy in taste. For a variation on this recipe, capers would be a good alternative.

At the moment I am back at work, sitting in Inebolu port, Northern Turkey, but had enough sense to bring away some photos of meals etc. with me to update the blog now and again.

My radish were quite small, but my mate Damiens were huge, about the size of a small carrot.
I have two types of radish at the moment, a red French Breakfast 3 type that is available in nearly all seed outlets, and a yellow french type called Jaune d'Or Ovale.

Many people don't like large radish, or find them too hot. For this recipe I like that peppery kick, and the large size makes for better presentation.
For 4 people you will need about 4 large or, of the more usual size that you get in the shops, about 16.

Enough radishes for people to be fed - 1 large of 4 small per person
50 grammes Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Donegal Rapeseed oil.
Tablespoon chopped chives
1 clove garlic, finely minced
4-6 sustainable anchovy fillets, cut into small pieces
For the Anchovy HFW recommends

Small steak, 1 for every two people
Onion stem cuttings, sliced
tomato - 1 per person, cut in half
French bread stick or turkish flat white bread, sliced
Mustard, whole grain

Wash the radish. Using a veg peeler, slice into thin slivers as long as possible into a bowl.
Make a dressing using the garlic, oil, lemon juice, anchovy and grated Parmesan.
Pour the dressing over the radish and mix well.

Plate up and sprinkle over some chopped chives and a few shavings of Parmesan.
I cooked the beef quickly with some onion greens from the garden, using onion stalks that have gone to flower with some tomato's to add bulk and sweetness.
This was simply cut into strips, places on a slice of crusty white bread with a little mayonnaise and wholegrain mustard and plated with the salad. It is a good way to stretch steak, and I do think we Irish tend to overdo red meat consumption.
The salad takes about 5 minutes to prepare, the steak about 10. The meal has great flavours that compliment each other and I love the texture of the radish, that crispy water chestnut like bite.
With that you have the onion and salt tang, the rich chewy beef, sweet warm tomato and the peppery radish kick.
I hope you like the recipe, and as always please feel free to comment - I really like to hear feedback.

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