The Table #3

2017-10-17 08.45.30

Welcome into the kitchen, come on in this week we are serving up Roast Pumpkin and Polenta Salad with Hake.  I enjoyed it the fish so much last week that we had it again this weekend with the boys.  I gave Nigel Slaters Hazelnut chocolate cake with sultanas a go from his 2018 Autumnal recipe selection.  A labour of love…but definitely a keeper.   If you were staying for tea we’d be having braised lamb with home-made pasta, followed by a slice of the cake.

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment…a novel.  The Memory Stones, Caroline Brothers….one of those rare moments of luxury where you get to browse a bookshop, feel the covers, check the shelves and choose something new and inviting.   A welcome change from some of the management books I’ve been reading of late.   Then I broke my promise to myself around the new Nigel Recipe book – Christmas Chronicles.  In my defence it was on offer and starts from November in terms of the recipes.

I’m grateful for the extra hour today….the clocks went back!  Imagine what you could do if someone gave us an extra free hour every weekend!

I’m now counting days rather than weeks to a 10k race I entered months ago.  The last 10k I did was the same race last year!  I’ve been training on and off and got myself up to the 7.5k mark, hopefully it’s enough.  Have to say my back is twinging at the thought of it.

For the cinema goers amongst you….I can definitely recommend Thor: Ragnarok.  Full of good humour and a great addition to the Marvel Studios range of films.

Enjoy your week, and hopefully see you next week at the table as part of the #DSFWeeklyRewind.

Roast Fillet of Fish

Roast White Fish

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy - faith and stick to the timings
  • Print

Avoided the Saturday queue by popping into the fish shop on my way home from work on the Friday. The downside being the remains of the day. As a result I discovered and cooked Silver Hake for the first time.

I share this recipe more an aid memoir to myself, part of the recipes for life file. I tend to forget whether the skin goes down first or last and as I write this it feels obvious…..but I swear I forget time and time again.   Pan fry the flesh first before turning onto the skin and placing into the oven.   This gives the fish a lovely colour on top for serving and the Skin protects the rest of the fish whilst in the oven as it cooks through.

Credit: A nod to Nigel Slater and his Kitchen Diaries

Advice: Heat and timing key for this, if your serving with a salad get that done up front. Both a hob and ovenproof pan is needed.


  • 200g chunky fillet of fish with skin on
  • Knob of butter, or a tblsp or so of olive oil


  1. Crank up the oven, 220°C
  2. In the oven proof pan, bring the oil to a high heat on the hob
  3. Whilst your bringing the heat up, season the fish with salt and pepper
  4. Skin Side up if the key. Place the fish into the pan and fry for a few minutes until starting to turn golden
  5. Turn over onto the skin and then place the pan into the hot oven
  6. Depending on the fish it will take 7-10 mins.       I set the timer for 7 mins…easier to cook for a few minutes more than it is to roll back the clock if it’s over cooked.

Tales from the table – October Challenge

2017-10-17 08.45.30

Welcome into the kitchen, it’s Friday at last and I’ve poured us a glass of Beaujolais. A light and fruity wine made from the Gamay grape (I’ve just discovered). I left work early (around 4) and made it to the fish shop on the way home where they were clearing up for the day. Eddies fish market is always welcoming and they were very quick to ask me how my cookery course had gone on Tuesday (I’d bought fish then last thing!). I shouldn’t have been surprised this lady is the warmest lady you could ever wish to buy fish from and been tracking my boys progress through school like a long lost ant. She gives you feeling that your there only customer and always willing to find what you are looking for.

When it comes to fish, I’m not very knowledgeable or confident to experiment, the choice is immense. Things come with bones, eyes and with all manner of textures and methods and a broad range of costs depending on the fish. Then you need to think about the whole supply and demand thing. What was caught yesterday, what was in the net so to speak. So the whole confidence thing comes into play when you walk up to the counter with a specific cut that’s in a recipe. I usually look at the window and pick something very similar to what I had last time and it’s easy to point. This is what I did with the fish for my cookery course. I’d had Coley before and knew it would fit the bill.

For the Saturday night tea though I didn’t want to scrimp on price and I wanted to stay true to the recipe. So bold as brass I asked for a nice piece of white fish for roasting…..there was a pause and a look at the window….it was half empty or half full depending on your inclination….it was close to closing so I’m going the empty route. I was about to use the I can come back in the morning card….when she leaned over and fished(!) out 2 long fillets. Silver Hake….and then we went into a conversation about eating the skin and chicken feet!

The Nigel Challenge……well he’s got a new book coming out in a few days and I’ve almost got a full bookshelf dedicated to the guy….he was the one….the cook who turned my endeavours around in the kitchen and gave me hope!  So the new book called Christmas Chronicles I believe covers the winter period with the run up to the main event in his foodie writing diary style. I already have Kitchen Diaries 1 through 3, with untried recipes, so how could I justify the next might tome, to add to bookshelf already creaking. So I’ve got myself a list of all the recipes in each diary for October through to December and I’m going to pick them off. A good 150 or so in all. There are some…that I’m just not going to attempt, most likely the game birds (see fear of fish shops and apply to butchers!) and a couple of repeats from KD1 and KD2 (pear chocolate crumble and ham with butter beans). I never really got into KD3, just felt different.

This weekend sees me tackling, Roast Haddock….(Except using Silver Hake) with bacon, Fennel, Watercress and Pear Salad (With addition of Kale!), English Apple Cake and then Orzo with Courgettes (Something the boys can take on for Sunday night tea)!

Blackford Beef

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#snow and #arthursseat

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Nothing like snow to bring out the joy of life especially when you don’t need to get to work in it.  The boys couldn’t contain their excitement as we agreed to go up blackford hill.  It was a two cups of tea breakfast just to get the body moving and awake. Our boots magically appeared all lined up at the door.  A realisation from the youngest that if he kept himself busy, at the same time as aiding the cause then we would get out there quicker.

Yesterday had been a good day in the kitchen.  I’d turned my perusing and pondering into reality.  

From Kitchen Diaries iii

  • Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Aubergine gratin
  • Slow roasted beef ribs
  • Focaccia

Notes to self:  Start the cheese cake the day before needed.  Less of a faff than first thought and it’s a keeper.  Just delicious and does get better with age.

Aubergine just loves olive oil! It’s very thirsty.

The beef ribs were massive, they caught with in the first hour, resulting in tin foil (our inherited oven does  have heat spots and not very good at regulating the temperature). Did I say the ribs were massive, more than enough meat.  I ended up stripping the bones rather than presenting on a plate and we had more than enough for two meals.
All three served as a meal worked well.

Don’t pretend you will only eat half the bread and save the other for the next! Just won’t happen.

Leave Overnight

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Next time read the recipe! #cooking

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A homey Saturday, with January in full force outside and that means full on cave dwelling.  I’ve got a few jobs to do like curtain rail hanging and some cooking plans.  I’ve been organised enough to get my ingredients into the big shop so all that was left to do was look at timings.  I’m never this organised and then I read…..leave to cool then transfer to fridge overnight.  Flipping heck…….recipes that tantalise the taste buds should come with an international symbol that gives you some measure, some indication that your in for a rough ride if you start at tea time! 

Beef Ribs

Holding true to my goal of challenging my cooking habits and trying to mix things up in the kitchen I’m trying the rib recipe in diaries number iii this weekend.

This makes me nervous on so many levels…..

  1. My oven experience at the moment is either on or off.  Great for cremations not so good for slow cooking.
  2. Our butcher is great, but I’ve never seen beef ribs in the display cabinet.
  3. I’ve been given free reign for Saturday night tea…..but have I been given the off piste free reign that this is taking us?
  4. The recipe calls for marination, that means up front preparation, and that means thinking ahead!

One of those rare nights when I’m on duty for pickup of both boys from their respective points of education with a tight timescale of getting one to their music lesson.  If I add on 5 mins I can squeeze in the butcher.  Knowing full well our butchers is open early doors and closed sharp.

We got there around 16:45, to find all the trays gleaming and empty….bad times I thought.  The butcher beckoned us in, ‘what you after?’.  A couple of sausages for the boys tea, no problem….anything else.  Do you have any beef ribs?  A long shot going through my mind and the dread of some rebuke.   Only in the freezer and they are £2 each.   Stunned, the price seemed fine, what did ‘each’ mean.  As he opened up the freezer and got a glimpse, too late to say no now that he’d gone to the trouble…..definitely looked like it would cover the 8 I needed.  At £4 I knew I’d got a steal, and covered the main ingredient……I left with a smile and two frozen rib bricks.

As I got the bricks home and thought about the practicalities, realisation sunk in, the recipe asked for short ribs.  No way we’re these babies going to fit in a zip lock bag!    The hunt for a container ensued and success was found in using a large cake Tupperware box.

The marinade was pretty easy and filled the kitchen with a lovely aroma, given the size of the ribs though, not sure it was enough.  Committed to the cause though, I applied it last night and gave it a turn over this morning ……….and that is where we leave this adventure for now!