STARTER
 
smoked haddock and tomato cream
 
This fish starter is incredibly easy to make and your friends will love the rich deep flavours of the fish combined with the tomato with the parmesan topping.
 
 
Ingredients for 4 people
 
2 fillets of skinned non smoked haddock or skinned cod
1 small carton 142mls of double cream
1 small tin of plum tomatoes
1 small tin of anchovies (about 6)
1 medium sized onion
1 dessert spoon of olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
 
 
Melt the anchovies and the oil from the tin in a small pan over a gently heat (this will melt into an oily sauce).
 
Mix the slightly cooled anchovy sauce into the cream in a bowl.
 
Pour off and discard some of the tomato juice and liquidise the rest in a food mixer. Mix into this the cream and anchovy sauce and set aside. This can be done the day before and kept covered in the fridge if required.
 
Dice the onion into very small pieces and gently fry in a dessert spoon of olive oil until it is translucent.
 
Cut the fish into small bite size pieces, dip into plain flour then divide between 4 greased ramakins along with the cooked onion.
 
Spoon the creamy tomato sauce over the fish and sprinkle a good layer of the grated parmesan on top just before putting into the oven preheated to 180 degrees for 20 minutes. 
 
Put under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until the parmesan is brown and bubbling.
 
You can serve this with some warm bread and a green salad if a more substantial starter is required or if it’s to be served as a light lunch.
 
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MAIN COURSE
 
chicken fricassée with creamy mash potato
 
Chicken fricassée is a classic French stew with a white sauce, being made in 1 pot with a jointed chicken it saves time on that tiresome washing up and avoids carving at the table making this a non time consuming way to create a heart warming dish for either a family evening meal or an impressive tasty dinner party main course served with comforting creamy mash.
 
This dish can be prepared in advance or the day before required and reheated in a preheated oven for 30 - 40 minutes at 180 degrees making sure the chicken is hot all the way through.
 
 
Ingredients for 4 people
 
for the chicken fricassée
 
1 jointed whole chicken or 2 legs, breasts and wings bought prepared
Maldon sea salt or any other sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium sized diced onion 
1 medium sized diced carrot
1 diced celery stick
250g quartered mushrooms, preferably button mushrooms
2 tablespoons of plain flour
200ml of dry white wine
1 litre of chicken stock
1 small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small handful of tarragon leaves
1 bay leaf
2 large or 3 small egg yolks
100ml double cream
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
 
for the mash
 
1kg of floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
150g soft butter
150ml double cream
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 table spoon of Dijon mustard (optional)
 
 
Season the chicken pieces with the sea salt and ground black pepper then place in a large cooking pot with a lid suitable to be put on the hob and in the oven for 2 minutes on each side over a gentle heat trying not to brown the meat too much. If the meat does become browned or you prefer it to have some colour this is fine however the absolute traditional recipe states the meat should remain pale with no caramelisation.
 
After the chicken has been cooked for 2 minutes remove from the pot and put to one side on a plate. 
 
Add 2 table spoons of butter and olive oil to the pot and gently melt. When this has melted add the diced onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft over a gently heat for about 10 minutes then add the chopped mushrooms. As the mushrooms soften they will release some of their natural liquid. Continue cooking for 5 minutes and then stir in the flour. Cook for a further minute and the flour will soak up the liquid released from the mushrooms.
 
Pour the wine and chicken stock into the pot and bring to the boil then stir in the chopped parsley and thyme leaves. Add the chicken pieces together with any juices that are on the plate back to the pot.
 
Put the lid on the pot and place in the oven pre heated to 180 degrees for 40 minutes.
 
Remove the pot from the oven and leave to stand whilst you mix together the egg yolks and cream. Add a small amount of the cooking liquid (a small ladle or tea cup full) from the pot to the egg and cream mixture then add this back to the pot and stir. This egg and cream mixture will thicken the sauce.
 
To finish this dish add the tarragon leaves, lemon juice, the other table spoon of butter and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
 
For the mash simply place the prepared potatoes into a pan of cold, lightly salted water and bring to the boil.
 
Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes until they are tender.
 
Drain, place back in the pan and put back on a very low heat to evaporate any liquid thats left in the pan.
 
Add the cream, salt, pepper and Mustard (optional) and mash either using a masher or a potato ricer.

Dessert - pear and ginger pudding with caramel sauce

 
Who doesn’t like a sticky toffee pudding?
 
It’s still a bit cold outside, we are still allowed some comfort food before we need to think about putting on our swimsuits and this recipe is the perfect way to end a meal.
 
This is another recipe that can be made in advance allowing you to enjoy the whole of your dinner with family or friends without having to worry about what’s happening in the kitchen.
 
 
Ingredients
 
for the pudding
 
100g butter
100g soft brown sugar
415g tin of halved pears in syrup
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 balls of preserved stem ginger
A pinch of nutmeg and ground cloves
1 beaten egg
100g dark brown sugar
75g golden syrup
150ml full fat milk
 
for the fudge sauce
 
100g butter
150 soft brown sugar
300ml double cream
 
 
Melt 50g of the butter together with the 100g of soft brown sugar in a heavy based non stick frying pan that can be put in to the oven over a low heat. I have a tarte tatin pan which is essentially a heavy based non stick frying pan with no handle. If you don’t have a frying pan that can go into the oven melt the butter and sugar in a pan then poor into an oven proof dish approximately 20cms in diameter.
 
Remove from the heat when everything is melted and put to one side.
 
Drain the pears keeping the juice, not for this recipe but this can be frozen in ice cube trays and used at a later date in another dessert.
 
Slice the pears into 1/2 cm pieces long ways and arrange on top of the melted sugar and butter. I usually start from the outside and go around the pan until I reach the middle like you’d see on a traditional French apple tart. When the tart is finished this will be the top of the tart as it is an upside down tart so remember this is what will be seen.
 
To make the sponge part of the pudding sieve together in a large bowl the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg
 
Melt the other 50g of butter in a small pan, take off the heat and mix in the beaten egg, dark brown sugar, golden syrup, milk and diced stem ginger. Stir this into the dry ingredients and spoon over the pears. Slightly smooth over so all the pears are covered then bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes.
 
To prepare the fudge sauce melt together all the above ingredients as above and stir gently.
 
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
 
To turn out the pudding place a place on top of the pan, carefully turn over and remove the pan leaving the pears you had carefully arranged on the top.
 
Serve this immediately with the fudge sauce or alternatively put to one side and reheat later for about 20 minutes in the oven covered with a piece of kitchen foil to stop it from drying out.