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Tuscan Fish Stew – a firm family favourite

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Tuscan fish stew; the ultimate favourite in our house, well amongst everyone except Max (Richard’s son, the fussy eater) who opted for sausage and chips over this delicious feast… I despair I really do. We also had a rather heated 20 minute debate about him not wanting a vegetable with his sausage and chips, he was given the option of beans or peas – “neither”  he stubbornly exclaimed. Now this just doesn’t wash in Miss Friday’s house, everyone has to have vegetables and that’s that! Daisy (Richard’s daughter), on the other hand, well she devoured the fish stew.

You may recall that I have posted this recipe before, but as it’s so popular I’ve tweaked it a few times and thought there was no harm in sharing it once more. I honestly think that each time I cook this dish Richard falls in love with me a little bit more. I joke. But he does love it, and he always comments and makes sure I know how much he enjoyed it – then again they do say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In this case, I think it’s true. Few things make me happier than pleasing Richard with food. Given that he’s an excellent cook, there is often stiff competition – but he will never cook this one as well as I do. Note: that’s confidence, rather than arrogance.

What I love most is the lightness of the dish, it has such a fresh delicate flavour. It’s really not the sort of meal that sits on your stomach for hours after, which is a welcome relief after all the heavy festive foods that we’ve experienced over the past couple of months. Let’s face it, we all have leftover Christmas cake – and it has to be eaten right?

I’d advise you to buy the freshest fish you can afford, the flavours in the stew are so simple because it’s really all about letting the fish shine through. We bought the fish from a local market in Saffron Walden. Known for being a market town and famous for it’s rich heritage of buildings dating back to the medieval times, Saffron Walden is well worth a visit if your in the area. The market is held every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year and hosts a wonderful array of stalls for foodies, everything from olives, meats, breads, fish and a huge fruit and vegetable stall (if you can bear the noisy del-boy esque market trader).

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Tuscan Inspired Fish Stew
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Fish
Cuisine: Tuscan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • Fresh fish (such as haddock, mussels, clams and king prawns)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200ml white wine
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml fish stock
  • 2 medium red chillies, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Parsley to garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ciabatta loaf, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped in half
  • A handful of grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, fish stock and chillies and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, rub them with a clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little parmesan and return to the grill to melt.
  4. Meanwhile, add the seafood starting with the white fish, followed by the shellfish, lemon and parsley. Place the lid firmly on the casserole dish and allow to cook until the mussels and clams have fully opened and the fish is cooked through (this doesn't take long). Serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons.

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Puttanesca Mussels Recipe – and why I don’t diet in January

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I sit for what can only be described as a rare moment in time. I am alone in the house. No boyfriend, no baby and no boyfriends children – and I don’t even feel guilty that I am utterly enjoying my own company. Something very strange has happened to me since becoming a mother. My camera roll on my phone is filled with baby pictures, rather than foodie ones. I’ve found it impossible to find time to blog lately – something any new mother will surely understand. But I’ve missed it. Once Jemima is asleep I begin the long task of washing and sterilising her bottles, tidying away her toys and bath things, washing her clothes, making my dinner, clearing and washing up – there is just no time. Giving up my blog isn’t an option. It’s my one hobby that’s wholly mine – something I can get lost in, and really it’s an excuse to eat just about anything that takes my fancy. That’s not something I’m prepared to give up just yet.

Speaking of eating anything you like. I am probably in the minority as I’ve decided that starting a healthy eating regime in January just doesn’t make any logical sense. You’re already feeling blue, given that the glistening lights of the festive season are a distant memory and the bank balance is looking somewhat dire. Not to mention the fact that the cupboards are stacked with indulgent unhealthy leftovers. What’s a girl to do? Struggle through the entire month trying to resist the last few Quality Street or that delicious cheese that calls my name every time I open the fridge? No!

Rich and I decided that we’d eat our way through what’s left of Christmas and start our health kick when I return to work (after five months of maternity leave) on the 1st of February. So, I have about two weeks left to enjoy being that smug person that isn’t having a ‘dry’ January and eating salad every night of the week.

Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I happened upon because of leftovers. This week I made a huge batch of my favourite pasta dish – spaghetti puttanseca and used the left over sauce with mussels. It was utterly delicious. Puttanseca is a wonderfully pungent tomato based sauce – with ingredients like anchovies, chillies and capers it really packs a punch.

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Puttanesca Mussels
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main, Starter, Snack
Cuisine: Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe will serve two as a main meal with bread and butter, or four as a starter.
Ingredients
  • 1kg Mussels
  • 50ml dry white wine
  • 75ml Scrumpy cider
  • 2 shallots, finely shopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 medium heat red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 canned anchovies in oil (reserve the oil)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp of capers, drained
  • 10 black olives, roughly chopped
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Start by cleaning and de-bearding the mussels in cold water. Discard any mussels that don't fully close when tapped. Place the mussels aside in a bowl.
  2. For the puttanseca sauce:
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, fresh and dried chilli and and anchovies (along with the oil from the anchovies). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted away. Add the parsley, capers, olives and chopped tomatoes, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse.
  4. Place a separate large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat, add a little oil and fry the shallots until translucent. Add the mussels, wine and cider. Spoon in about 150ml of the puttanseca sauce and pop the lid on. Cook until all of the mussels have fully opened.
  5. Serve straight from the steaming pot with a stack of buttered bread and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.

If shellfish isn’t your thing, you could always use up your leftover puttanseca sauce with grilled chicken and salad – that’s also great. And perfect if you’re watching your weight.

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