Friday, 26 June 2009

Happy Days...

I've been neglecting my cooking blog! Not because I haven't been cooking, but just lack of time. Anyway I was in receipt of a lovely shiny new cook book yesterday. (Mr PM: "Of course, you really need another cookbook. Quite obviously you haven't got enough already..." Sarcastic rolling of eyes, etc. See photo. It's not that many...).

But food, like clothes, develops over time. There are fads and fashions. Things go out of date. Why am I justifying myself?

So, I'm not going to review the new book (which was Rachel's Favourite Food by Rachel Allen, for those who want to know) instead I'm going to revisit an old favourite and tell you the tale of a favourite recipe from it.

Here it is:
This was from the days when young Jamie was still 'nobbut a lad', before he got into the politics of school dinners and the fact that people may watch his programmes by the million, but they don't actually cook (mostly because they can't).

It's an excellent book, full of lovely stuff that I love to cook (as the fact that it is bristling with green Post-It notes testifies).

So which recipes have I cooked most often? Beef Stew with Newcastle Brown Ale and Dumplings; Roasted Cod with cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella; Baked Cod with Avocado, Prawns, Cream and Cheese; Chicken Breast Baked in a Bag with Cannellini Beans, Leeks, Cream and Marjoram; Chicken Breast Baked in a Bag with Mushrooms, Butter, White Wine and Thyme, are the ones I have cooked more than once without really altering them, although we do have Smush Ins, which is more of an idea than a recipe, but the king of recipes is Rosemary Skewered Monkfish with Pancetta and Bread.

Actually I have never cooked this one with monkfish or pancetta and I don't use the rosemary skewers or the recommended ciabatta either. Mine's a more British version.

What I do (for four) is buy a couple of nice fat skinless, boneless salmon fillets from the fishmonger (okay, I'll admit, it's in Tesco. Sigh.) Cut these into neat cubes, then cut up some nice white bread from an unsliced loaf (or an uncooked garlic bread) into similar-sized cubes. Thread them alternately with the fish on to metal skewers.

Take some nice smoked streaky bacon from kindly-reared happy British pigs and stretch it and wind it around the kebabs. Them bash a few needles of fresh rosemary (about a tablespoonful or two) and a clove of garlic in a pestle and mortar until, well, bashed. Add some green extra virgin olive oil, stir and then drizzle over the kebabs. (You can leave this bit out if you've used garlic bread, which is a really fast cheat's version of this recipe.)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 6 (Jamie says 7, but I always cook it at 6)/22o degrees C/425 degrees F until the fish is cooked and the bread is golden brown and crispy. I usually serve this with some steamed broccoli or a green salad and I remove the skewers in the kitchen.

If we're feeling really hungry I might par-boil potato wedges for nine minutes, then spread them on a tray, spritz with oil and cook them on the highest shelf in the oven (and definitely as Gas 7 - or even 8 - this time.)

A great meal, loved by all the family (you can make dinky cubes for small children) and one we have at least once a month, if not more often. It could probably be barbecued in the summer too. I've known fish-hating children eat this (it has bacon sandwich flavours with lots of garlic and the fish is well hidden) and the bread soaks up all the good Omega oils from the fish, so even if they don't actually eat the salmon, they get all the good stuff in the crispy bread cubes (and I've never known anyone turn those down).