Langoustine and Tomato Tagliatelle!

The allotment is knocking out some great produce at the moment, especially tomatoes. So I thought I’d try a Marcus Wareing recipe. Langoustine from our local fish monger, well I say local, 7ish miles away, can you believe we live on the east coast of Durham and there’s one fish monger of I know. Anyway I digress, tomatoes, shallots, basil, chili and garlic from our allotment. Tell ya what, it was bluming gorgeous!

Chop a good handful of cherry (sized) tomatoes in half.

Chop up a couple cloves of garlic.

Chop a chilli into small pieces, leave in seeds if you want a bit of heat.

Chop a shallot up into small bits.

Finely slice 2 Basil leaves.

Ok, drop a couple of nests of Tagliatelle into boiling water. Fry the garlic and shallots in a frying pan with a splash olive oil. After a couple of minutes put in the tomatoes for a few minutes while you cook your Langoustines separately. Add the cooked Langoustine, then the basil and chilli. When Tagliatelle is al-dente, drain off water and add to the sauce. Mix in the pasta and serve.

Homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup

It’s started – the polytunnel is producing fruit. As usual, we planted too many tomato plants. We got Shirley’s, Beef, Money Makers, the purple cherry etc. However, Mrs Hiker isn’t a big lover of them so we have a couple of months of lots of tomatoes. So, I have come up with a basic recipe for a soup. Here goes:

Ingredients:

A good handful of assorted tomatoes.

A glug of olive oil

Sea salt, ground pepper, mixed dried herbs

A vegetable stock pot

You’ll probably see I’ve thrown a green pepper and a courgette in for good measure too

All I do is get a roasting pan and pour some olive oil on the bottom. Chop the tomatoes etc in half and space out evenly. Season with the salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Whack in the oven for half hour on 180°c. Boil 500ml of water and make the stock. Once fruit is roasted blitz with the stock. Jobs a good ‘un!

Serve with rosemary focaccia which I’m sure I’ve blogged before!

Homegrown Cabbage Soup

One of our first harvests has been cabbage this year at our allotment. But, due to their size pulling one means we have to come up with a good few recipes to make the most of the whole head. Some of the outer leaves get thrown in the chicken cree and they enjoy them enormously.  As well as using a good few leaves for our Sunday Dinner I searched for a decent cabbage soup online.  Ingredients:

2 small onions
Garlic
2 chicken stock pots
Large cabbage (not white)
Tin chopped tomatoes
Tsp cinnamon
2 Tsp ground cummin
2 tsp ground corridor
Tsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper

Sweat down onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil while you chop the cabbage. Add cabbage to reduce for 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, puree and spices along with the 2 stock pots in a litre of water and summer for 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

I reckon this would be spot on for all cabbages apart from white cabbage.  Hope you enjoy  it, and…apparently its good for you digestion!👍

Home Smoked Mackerel

I’ve got a mate, well I’ve got a few, who like to go fishing, in particular sea fishing and he text me other day asking if I wanted a few Mackerel as he’d had a good session out on the pier and had a few spare.  Snapped his hand off and he brought 3 decent sized fish over much to the dismay of Mrs Hiker who does not like fish, apart from fish and chips but she always complains about the smell…even when they don’t smell!

 

I put them straight in the freezer before Mrs. Hiker came home from work so she couldn’t complain.  She found them a few days later but couldn’t complain as they were frozen and smell free. 

A few days went passed and what I was looking for was a day of good weather, this was because I was wanting to smoke at least one of the fish and my smoker is at the allotment.  Now, I have usually looked at weather Apps in the past when I wanted to know the weather…obviously.  In fact, I might do a weather App blog one day as I do use them quite a bit.  

Anyway I digress, I checked the weather App that’s been pretty much spot on over the Virus period and decided the day after I would get a bit of fair weather.  So I had to cure the fish before I smoked it, now I use a very basic cure recipe and have done for some time.  Basically, I use half salt and half brown sugar and just a few turns of cracked black pepper into the mix.  I put the cure mix into a click lock plastic box and with the fish and give it a good shake, making sure the fish has a good covering.  Pop the lot into the fridge overnight to draw the moisture out.

 

Back to the cure mixture, like I said I’ve used this mix for a few years and not had any problems.  I have an old war buddy who lives in Japan who owns a curing and smoking business and I ran the mix passed him and he said it’s basically the same as his mix, apart from he uses some expensive sugar which smells like treacle, but apart from that, basic is best.

 

Next morning I retrieve the box from the fridge and open.  The mixture should have set firm with the moisture from the fish and the fish should be a little more rigid than when you put it in.  Wash the fish thoroughly to get all the salty mix off as much as you can.  Wrap the fish up in a bit of tin foil and Bob’s your uncle.   

Like I said, my smoker is at the allotment so I packed up the fish and some Jack Daniel’s smoking chips that I was just about to use the last of.  I’ve had a bag for some time and were still kicking out some great smoke.  I took, what I call my Bushcraft bag, and me and the dog walked to the allotment.   

My smoker is a very basic contraption.  I think I bought it from Aldi years ago, it’s one that is also a pizza oven and BBQ.  It’s bent to buggery with over use and from having roaring fires in it in the winter, but with a bit of brute force the doors can still be closed to keep in the smoke.  I set a small fire away in the smoker to get a good pile of embers going for me to sprinkle my smoking chips on.  I also threw a couple of apple wood split logs on for extra flavour.  I did a few odd jobs about the plot until the wood burns to nice silver and red embers then I sprinkled the rest of the bag of chips onto the smouldering pile.  I placed the fish onto the upper tray in the smoker and closed the chimney and the doors at the front of the smoker.  Almost immediately I could smell the chips smouldering away and hopefully smoke getting into the knucks and crannies of the Mackerel.   

After about ten minutes I struggled to open the vent on the smoker, I told you it’s bent to bits, and I could see the fish turning a lovely brown tint.  I left it a few more minutes and then open all the vents.  Oh the smell, the smell!!! The plot was full of a mixture of smoked mackerel and the apple wood, shame I couldn’t capture for smell a-vision!    

I carefully picked the fish of the rack and placed it into some fresh tinfoil.  By this time the dog was going crackers with the smell, he was almost humping me trying to get at the fish. 

I did a couple more jobs just so the rest of the embers were out and I didn’t miss one and burn the site down, the rest of the plot holders wouldn’t appreciate me cooking all their veggies in one go! 

Back at home I striped the fish away from the bone and skin, which was easy as it was nicely hot smoked and the flakes of flesh were dropping off.  Now I didn’t weigh the fish at the start so couldn’t really say how much meat I got off but it was a good old mug full.  I put the fish into my food processor and added about ¾ of a pot of Crème Fraiche and a squeeze of lemon and blitzed it, purposely leaving some flakes of meat visible for texture.  No seasoning need as the curing process does slightly season the fish.   

I pinched a half pound jar out of Mrs. Hiker’s preserve store and scooped it in.  To give you an idea of how much it makes, it covered 6 slices of bread spread thickly.  I cannot tell you how long it lasts for as I’ve usually eaten it all within the week…easily!    

Bubble and Sqeak!

Like most families, we always cook far too much veg for Sunday dinner.

What I do is put all the veg we don’t use into a saucepan and mash it up with some salt and pepper. Then I use a square food press to portion up. Then just pop into the freezer and use as and when.

To heat up I fry in some oil to get a bit of colour and crisp the edges up a bit, then pop into oven on 200°c for about 15 minutes.

‘And sow it begins!!!!’

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Following our relatively successful first year with our new allotment, we are starting the new year off with smiles on our face.  And to start off we sowed our first seeds today to be kept indoors until Spring .

Cauliflower, Brocolli , Shirley Tomatoes and some Sweet Peas all tucked up in compost ready for the Winter to finish, if we have one that is, and then up to the plot.

Just a short one this time but will hopefully remember to blog the progress of our ‘two’ plots! Continue reading “‘And sow it begins!!!!’”

Sausage and Mash Pie and Pan Fried Sprouts.

I really should do a blog about the progress of my allotment as if I do say so myself, it’s coming on grand!  One of the biggest triumphs is our sprouts which have supplied us with a bounty of the sweet little buggers.  We’ve got a glut, even after Christmas but they are all going to get used, I’m going to freeze my surplus.

But tonight, my missus suggested we revisit a recipe from Marcus Wareing’s book, sausage and mash pie, and pan fried sprouts for a crunch.  The pie basically is a lovely swirl Cumberland sausage (bought from The Northumbrian Sausage Company  who, apart from our local butcher, is the supplier of our meat related products) onion gravy and piped mash spuds on the top, finished off with grated cheese.  The sprouts are pan fried in garlic and Soy sauce, leaves them crunchy and not boiled to death.

First, fry off the sausage in a pan caramelising nicely.  Put them to one side in an baking dish and crack on with the mash.  I’m still using my spuds from the allotment which are Maris Pipers and mash really well.  All I do with them is peel and boil in salted water, then mash with a good old dollop of Olive spread, no milk or cream, just elbow grease, plus seasoning with salt and ground black pepper.  Put to one side.

For the gravy, slice a large onion thinly and fry off in a pan.  Add about 200ml of beef stock, tablespoon of plain flour and a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.  Fry until all mixed together, adding water or more stock for personal consistency.  Pour the gravy around the sausage in the baking dish and either spread or pipe the mash over the top covering evenly.  I should’ve said I used 4 decent sized spuds for this!  Preheat my fan oven to 200’c and put oven dish into top of oven for about 20 minutes, shouldn’t take much longer.

Grab a hand full of cleaned sprouts and half, fry off in a pan with the Soy sauce and garlic for as long as you want, obviously too long they’ll burn but if you keep and eye on them till caramelised they still have a crunch.

I’ve made some changes to chef Wareing’s recipe and I have no doubt his would definitely be more of a pleasant experience on the dinner plate, but I hope this version will make good eating.