Berrynana Smoothie (1)

Mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme, garlic and roasted bone marrow

This is without doubt one of the most deliciously mouth watering recipes I’ve ever devised, for obvious reasons I guess. Roasted bone marrow spooned over garlicky mushrooms and salty jewels of bacon and perfumed woody thyme… what’s not to love? These mushroom toasts would be ideal for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner party. Just go easy on the garlic so as not to knock your guests side ways with your garlic breath.

This recipe really packs a punch in terms of flavour and it’s just so simple. Aside from waiting for the bone marrow to cook it only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, so even when you’ve still got some last minute wrapping to do you can find 10 minutes right?

Bring some restaurant elegance into your home

It is easy to bring a little bit of restaurant into your own kitchen. In fact, Christmas has to be the ideal time. Your guests will really appreciate the touch of elegance it brings to the dinner table, plus you’ll look extra chefy. All you have to do is ask your butcher for some femur bone cut into small discs and pop it into the oven. Job done! Well almost…

The inspiration for the recipe

The inspiration for this recipe came from a book I recently bought for a friend. It’s a book I feel compelled to share with all foodies I know. ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ is always on hand in my kitchen. If you’re a foodie and you’ve not heard of it or read it I urge you to pop out and grab a copy. As the title suggests, the book is set out like a thesaurus and is a bible of parings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. On many an occasion I’ve taken inspiration from the book, perhaps when I have a random ingredient left over and I’m not sure what to pair it with. I can always count on The Flavour Thesaurus to come up with the goods.

The recipe

Garlic mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme and roasted bone marrow
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter, Main, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Shiitake), roughly chopped
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 disks of femur bone (bone marrow) - ask your butcher for this
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn the oven on to the highest temperature and pop in the bone marrow (in a roasting tin). It will take about 35-40 minutes.
  2. When the marrow has only 10 minutes from being done heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add a splash of wine and allow to cook until reduced. Season to taste.
  5. Pop the slices of sourdough bread under the grill. Remove when lightly toasted and whilst still hot rub them with a garlic clove.
  6. Remove the bone marrow from the oven and carefully spoon out the soft marrow from the middle - stir this through the mushroom mix.
  7. Pile the mushroom mix on to the toasts and garnish with a little fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

 

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

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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Berrynana Smoothie (1)

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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Fish-Stew

Tuscan Inspired Fish Stew with Cheesy Croutons



“That’s the best thing you’ve ever made for me” said the boyfriend to the girlfriend – WOW – what a statement! Obviously I’m more than happy with that. Hopefully you’ll love this recipe as much as Richard did. I must say I rather enjoyed it myself. It’s a tomato based fish stew with delicious cheesy garlic croutons. If you’re watching your weight (it is January after all), then you can have this stew without the croutons, but I’m sure one wouldn’t hurt.
I absolutely love seafood, especially mussels and prawns, but you really could make this with any fish, monkfish would work very well as it’s about as robust as fish comes, making it perfect for stew. This is a Tuscan recipe, inspired by a recipe I found in my Italian Cookery Course book and resembles many fish stews. I decided to make it using a cooked seafood selection, which makes it super quick and fuss free; no shelling and pre-cooking necessary.
There is something quite wonderful about a crispy, cheesy garlic crouton to mop up your deliciously fresh fish stew. I popped in a couple of finely chopped green finger chillies too, which isn’t typically Italian, but it really works. You get a devilishly spicy note which makes this dish perfect for a cold evening. If you don’t like very spicy food then you can omit the chillies, or take the seeds out – but I simply love spicy food.
Cooked seafood selection (mussels, prawns and squid)
3 tbsp olive oil
Red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine (preferably something Italian)
400g chopped tomatoes
750ml fish stock
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
Parsley to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
A handful of grated cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino)
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, and then rub them with the sliced clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little cheese and return to the grill to melt.

Meanwhile add the seafood and parsley leave for a few minutes then serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons.