Mussels Carbonara

Mussels Carbonara – a pescetarian version of the classic Italian dish made with plump sustainable mussels and fresh linguine coated in a light sauce infused with the taste of the sea.

mussels carbonara

This little quick-cook dish is like a happy and contented marriage between two enduring, time-honoured recipes. The quintessential French moules meniere and the ever-popular Italian pasta carbonara.

Although the french might not be too thrilled about anybody messing with their moules meniere by adding in pasta, I reckon the Italians would probably be ok with me swapping out the bacon.

And it’s bacon that’s the key flavour in any carbonara recipe. Traditionally it’s guanciale (cured pig’s cheek) that’s used, but I’m betting most people use pancetta, I know I do.

Both of these cuts of pork are unsmoked, but they are cured, and if you’re looking for a similar salty kick then mussels are the ideal fishy replacement.

Mussels are filter feeders and it’s the reason for their innate saltiness. They feed by opening up and syphoning seawater through their systems catching any little plankton that happen to be floating by.

It’s also why they’re the number 1 sustainable seafood on the planet because unlike other forms of aquaculture they don’t need to be fed (I’m looking at you salmon and shrimp) With the added benefit that they leave the water in a cleaner state than they found it.

Mussels are now farmed worldwide because of their low impact and when it comes to sustainability and the environment it’s one seafood you don’t have to worry about and should definitely be eating more of.

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The Sustainable Fish Pie Recipe (5 Guilt-Free Species To Use)

A classic fish pie recipe, made using responsibly sourced seafood from sustainable sources.

fish pie recipe

Sometimes it feels like the humble fish pie has gone the way of other classic dishes and is now only eaten as a ready meal.

Small amounts of overcooked seafood, of questionable quality and origin, swimming in a bland sauce, and heated in the microwave feels like a disservice to this iconic dish.

You never see it on a restaurant menu and you’ll rarely lay eyes on it in a bar or pub either.

Does anyone make fish pie anymore?

Bite-size chunks of perfectly cooked fish, coated in a silky white sauce, and topped with fluffy mash potato is pure comfort food.

Although making your own from scratch can be a labour of love, it’s the only way to control what goes in it.

The quality, freshness, and sustainability of the fish. The consistency and seasoning in your sauce, and the topping (more on this in a minute)

Coming up, we’ll be giving you a couple of tips on how to make an awesome fish pie.

A list of some of the more sustainable species of fish to use, so you can avoid the usual suspects, and cook with a clear conscience.

As well as, of course, a recipe.

But first….

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29 Quick And Easy Oyster Topping ideas To Inspire You (Recipes Included)

Traditionalists will tell you the best way to eat oysters in the half shell is naked, freshly opened, with nothing at all.

It’s a nice way to enjoy them especially if you’re feeling lazy and the only work you want to do is a bit of shucking.

Personally, if you gave me a dozen oysters, half a lemon, some tabasco, and a couple of pints of Guinness than I’d be a happy man.

oysters and guinness

You might find both these ways of slurping down natures viagra a little boring and want to spice them up a little. And the great news is that the creamy texture and sweet briny taste of oysters can handle a lot of different flavours.

Sweet, sour, hot, and spicy all go well with oysters. The trick is to restrain yourself a little, you don’t want to overpower the delicate natural flavour of the oyster.

Most of the oyster topping recipes that follow are quick and easy with minimal prep, chopping, or slicing. You could easily whip up a batch in under 5 minutes.

There’s some tasty vinaigrettes flavoured with different fruits, spices, and herbs all designed to complement sweet brininess of the oyster.

I’ve got a few ice cool granita oyster topping ideas for you to try (more on those later) as well as a couple of really quick hot toppings. Which are my own personal favourites.

Let’s get to it….

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Marinated Artichoke Salad With Green Beans And Mushrooms

A marinated artichoke salad with crunchy green beans and sauteed portobello mushrooms. Dressed with a piquant pumpkin seed, shallot, and balsamic dressing.

Marinated Artichoke Salad

Do you like artichokes?

The nobbly Jerusalem variety are delicious and make a tasty soup or work great as a vegetable in their own right either boiled, roasted or pureed.

It’s the globe artichoke that up until very recently I was never really the biggest fan of. Once cooked they taste fine, it’s just that their a complete pain to prepare. Pulling off all the tough outer leaves, before scooping out the tightly packed fluffy centre, then trimming down the hard base. It’s an awful lot of work that seems to take forever.

All this has got to be done at speed, you’ve got to get your artichokes into acidulated water or else like an apple or a banana they’ll oxidize and turn black right before your very eyes.

And you’re not finished yet….Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to squeeze another couple of lemons for the juice to cook the artichokes in. I’ll often use so many lemons in my effort to keep my artichokes as white as possible that they’ll end up tasting just a little pickled.

A while back I rediscovered the joys of artichokes in a jar where all this fiddly work is done for you. The particular ones I bought were actually baby globe artichokes which are smaller, sweeter, and more tender than the bigger variety. As an added bonus they  came pre-marinated in some olive oil, a little garlic, and basil. I’ve got to admit…..they taste great.

marinated artichokes

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Shrimp Head Stock – Plus 5 Delicious Reasons To Save Those Shells.

Have you ever eaten a shrimp head? Personally, they’re not my thing, though I have been known to knock up a shrimp head stock now and again.

shrimp heads

In fact I don’t just use shrimp heads but the heads and shells of any crustaceans. Lobster, crab, prawns, and crayfish shells all make flavoursome, umami-packed stocks.

In some Asian countries, the humble shrimp head that we often throw in the trash is considered a bit of a delicacy. Fried till crispy and eaten as a snack. Or just split in half and the juices sucked out….. which I’ve tried and can report the flavour as a little bitter. Stick to the sweet-tasting tail meat I say.

That doesn’t mean that you should bin those shrimp heads though. And don’t throw them just because you don’t have a use for them right away, pop them in the freezer for another day.

The price of crustaceans like lobster, crab, and shrimp are at an all-time high because of overfishing and responsible cooks should extract every last drop of flavour.

With that in mind here’s 5 ways to use up those shrimp heads, lobster shells, crab carcasses, or whatever crustacean shells you’re left with after dinner.

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Brioche Mincemeat Doughnuts

brioche mincemeat doughnuts

Brioche mincemeat doughnuts – A sweet buttery brioche dough stuffed with fruity mincemeat and coated in a spiced sugar flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

My guess is that anyone who’s organised and into a bit of seasonal baking already has their Christmas confectionary well under way. Cakes already made and probably iced, while Christmas pudding are left maturing for the big day. All that’s left is to make an alternative dessert for the punters who don’t like pudding (there’s always a few) and of course the mince pies.

I’ve got to put my hand up and admit I’ve never made a Christmas cake and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cooked a pudding. Mince pies, however, are definitely my thing. In every restaurant I’ve worked in down the years they’d be on the menu for the month of December. Either a mini version served as a petit four with coffee or full size as a proper dessert….warm from the oven with lashings of cream, custard, or my personal favourite smooth vanilla ice cream.

brioche mincemeat doughnuts

If you’re a mince-pie maker chances are you might have a little of that spiced mincemeat left over from a batch of pies or you might like to do something a little different with it for a change. If so, then this brioche mincemeat doughnut recipe is for you. It’s a culmination of three of my favourite foods. Buttery soft brioche, spicy mince-pie filling and filled  fritter doughnuts.

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