Lemon and Garlic Cod, Truffled red pepper puree, pearl barley risotto and crispy pine nuts. Pimms Jelly, Avocado mousse and Vanilla and raspberry macaroons.

I’m sure it appears that my house is an endless stream of dinner parties at the moment. This is mostly because my parents have been storing up invitations to dinner until I came home, giving me an opportunity to practise my cooking before next year. This time it was the turn of some very good family friends of ours who I credit for helping further my career with advice and investment. They were the first people to listen to the ideas of a precocious 17 year old and trust me with catering 21st birthdays, engagement parties and even help me out with my brief hamper business. So no pressure with actually delivering something which lives up to their high opinion of me then… I was tasked with creating something not too heavy and of course given the dreariness of the British weather, something enticingly summery to counteract the rain. But then who in England isn’t extremely used to drinking Pimms outside whilst a faint mist of drizzle falls around them?

   

 

Lemon and Garlic Cod, truffled Red Pepper puree, pearly barley risotto and crispy pine nuts (serves 4)

Cod

4 skinless, boneless cod fillets, 4 garlic cloves, 1 sliced lemon, fresh coriander, black pepper, groundnut oil

Pepper Puree 

3 red peppers, drizzle truffle oil, 1tsp dried oregano, 1tsp dried basil, 1tsp chilli powder, 1tsp paprika, 1tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp white wine vinegar, 2tsp sea salt 

Pearl Barley Risotto 

2 onions, 4 garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, 3tbsp sherry, 2tsp each dried rosemary, parsley, thyme, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp chilli powder, Fresh Coriander, 280g pearl barley, 1 stock cube 

75g pine nuts

  1. For the cod, place fillets on a piece of foil. Scatter with chopped garlic, slices of lemon coriander and black pepper (nb NO SALT) and drizzle with groundnut oil. Fold up into a parcel and crimp the top like a cornish pasty.
  2. Roast the Peppers whole in the oven on the highest setting for 20mins, turning halfway, or until skin is blackened slightly and blistered. Leave to cool.

  3. For the risotto, chop the onion and garlic and sauté in oil and a sprinkle of salt until translucent. Add the sherry and some lemon juice followed by the spices. Add pearl barley and cook for 2-3mins. Add 600ml water and stock cube. Leave to simmer stirring occasionally until water has mostly gone and barley is cooked. Add more water if needed. Stir through herbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This can be heated up just before serving, if doing this, leave a little undercooked and add more water before heating.

  4. To finish the puree, remove the skin and seeds of the peppers. Using a blender liquidise all the ingredients, adjusting seasoning to taste.

  5. Bake the fish at 180 o C for 7-10mins. Meanwhile toast pine nuts on a medium heat in a frying pan for 3-5mins, then crush in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. To serve, spoon puree onto plates, top with risotto, then fish and finally crushed pine nuts.

  

Pimms jelly, Avocado Cream, Vanilla and Raspberry macaroon

Jelly 

125g sugar, 100ml water, 4 sheets gelatine, 125ml pimms, 100ml lemonade, selection of berries to serve, mint leaves

Avocado Cream 

1 avocado, 2tbsp greek yoghurt, pinch salt, 2tbsp icing sugar, 1tbsp lime juice

Vanilla and Raspberry Macaroons 

2 egg whites, 2tbsp caster sugar, 110g icing sugar, 175g ground almonds, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 75g frozen raspberries, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 2tbsp caster sugar

  1. For the Jelly, Bring the sugar and water to the boil and boil for 2-3mins. Meanwhile soak gelatine leaves in cold water. Remove syrup from the heat and add gelatine leaves, squeezed out. Add pimms and lemonade and stir. Pour into 4 teacups. Leave to set at room temperature for 1 hour. Add fruit, leave to set in fridge for 2 or more hours.

  2. For the macaroons. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Add caster sugar to form a meringue. Fold in icing sugar, almonds and vanilla bean paste. Scoop mix into a piping bag and pipe into circles on greaseproof paper. You may find it easier to draw templates on the paper first. Preheat oven to 210 o C. Drop trays onto a flat surface from a low heat to remove any air bubbles and peaks. Leave macaroons for 20mins to set the tops. Put in the oven for 5mins or until the macaroons start to brown. Immediately turn the oven off and leave for 30mins.

  3. For the filling, Heat raspberries, caster sugar and vanilla paste over a medium flame. Stir and mash the raspberries together as they defrost. Leave to simmer till dark and jammy Remove from the heat. When room temperature, sandwich to macaroons with the jam.

  4. For the Avocado cream, blend all ingredients together and adjust to taste.

  5. To serve, pipe cream onto the jellies, top with a mint leaf and serve macaroon on the saucer.

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Chicken Mole or Chicken with chocolate sauce…

  
It has taken a good 7 years of gentle coaxing but we have finally got to the point in the Gullifer household where my father drops hints that he wants to be served a dish as exotic as Mole. I can see the appeal to Gullifer senior. Any dish that combines chocolate and meat cannot be faulted, especially when served with creamy guacamole and crunchy flaked almonds. So upon the highly anticipated arrival in Oxford of the German gal and the slightly spontaneous invite of the man who lives upstairs to dinner, I decided to give in to my father’s subtle demands. At least this way I could at least indulge in the sauce and guacamole alongside my soup on my liquid-only-aching jaw induced diet, even if I missed out on the flaking chicken thighs and buttery rice served alongside….. The day cannot come soon enough until I can eat anything with more texture than jelly, or at least dull the pain for a while with painkillers while I indulge. The dessert of Dime Bar Crunch ice cream with pecans was especially cruel to watch, at least liquid diet includes wine.

4tbsp sesame oil

4 chicken thighs

2 onions

4 garlic cloves

2tsp cinnamon

2tsp chilli powder

2tsp coriander

3tbsp tequila

2 stock cubes

50g dark chocolate

  1. Brown the chicken thighs in 2tbsp sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Remove from the pan. Add the onions and garlic and another pinch of salt and black pepper and sauté till clear. Add the spices, cook for 2 mins. Add the tequila. Add the chocolate, stir until melted. Add the browned chicken, remaining sesame oil, stock cubes and 1l water. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 20 mins. Scatter with fresh coriander and serve with buttered rice (see below).


Buttered Rice

Place 150g long grain rice in a pan with 600ml water, 1 stock cubes and 1tbsp butter. Cook for 15mins or until water is absorbed.

Optional additions

Toasted flaked almonds (scattered over at end), raisins (added 5mins before end of cooking), flatbreads (200g wholemeal bread flour, 1tsp salt, 100ml warm water: kneaded for 5mins, rolled into thin flat circles and fried for 3-4mins on either side in 1tsp sesame oil), guacamole

Summer Salad: Pesto Salmon, Roasted Tomatoes and Green Bean Salad with a Yoghurt Basil dressing and Giant Garlic croutons.

I’ve been busy, as you might have guessed due to the lack of blog posts. Having returned from my travels as far afield as New Orleans, Sardinia and Kent (blog post to follow) I have made the move all the way back to the family home. Since officially returning to the nest I have spent many hours sorting out all the crap that builds up over 22 years. You know you’re a nineties baby when you find such treasures as the high tech palm pilot, a walkman boasting anti-bumping mechanism (so you can listen to CDs in the car without them skipping) and a Furbie which finally died from neglect. It was while sorting out another area of my life, which I had neglected almost as long as the Furbie, that I was given devastating news. After a trip to the Dentist I managed to dislocate my Jaw in a minor fashion, meaning I am currently on a liquid diet for the foreseeable future. You never know how much you take the ability to chew for granted, and how depressing it is only being able to drink your meals until you have no choice. Thoroughly annoyed at my situation, I have decided to live vicariously through my Parents at meal times. Tonight as I sat down to a large portion of Sweet Potato and Cumin soup, they dug into Pesto Salmon, Roasted Tomato and Watercress Salad, with a Yoghurt Basil Dressing and Giant Garlic Croutons.

  
2 Salmon Fillets

2tbsp pesto

5 cherry tomatoes

dried basil

green beans

2bsp Greek Yoghurt

2tbsp lemon juice

4 garlic cloves

knob of butter

2 slices brown bread

olive oil

Watercress

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Spread a tbsp of Pesto on each Salmon fillet and place in the oven with a drizzle of oil for 15mins. 

  2. Meanwhile halve the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and basil, place in the oven.

  3. For the croutons, chop the garlic finely. Heat the butter with 1tbsp oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2mins. Quarter the bread slices and fry in the pan for 2-3mins on each side. Scatter with parsley if you wish.

  4. To plate up, boil the green beans for 2-3mins then drain. Meanwhile mix the yoghurt, lemon juice and dried basil and season to taste. Dress the watercress and place in the middle of the plate. Top with green beans, then cherry tomatoes and drizzle over excess oil. Finally top with Salmon fillet and place croutons on the side.