Springtime fricassee with pan fried sea bream

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll notice by now that, not only do I enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients as far as possible, I also have a penchant for pan fried sea bream. I love how delicate it is whilst also being able to stand up to a range of flavours. If you can’t find sea bream then sea bass will also work well. When fish is fresh you really don’t need to do much to it to bring out the best in it so keep it simple. I have chosen to pair the fish with spring vegetable fricassee; asparagus, peas and broad beans are in plentiful supply at the moment so take advantage of them whilst they are at their best. I served the fish and fricassee with roasted garlic mashed potato to bring the dish together and indulge in my other love in life- garlic!

Ingredients- serves 4
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
4 sea bream fillets- pin boned and skin left on
1 shallot- finely chopped
200g asparagus
200g shelled broad beans
200g podded peas
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper to season

For the mashed potatoes
1 bulb of garlic
Olive oil
500g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and quartered
100g butter

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take the bulb of garlic for the mash and remove some of the outer papery layers. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut the bulb across the top to expose a little of the cloves. Place the garlic on a sheet of foil, drizzle with some olive oil and gather the side of the foil to make a parcel; roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the garlic has softened. When tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle the garlic. Squeeze all the garlic from the bulb and use the back of a fork to lightly mash it down; set aside.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a little salt. Cook the potatoes until tender; drain well and set aside before mashing with the butter added. Pop in most of the roasted garlic and combine well. Keep the mash warm.

3. Next up you need to make the fricassee and this could not be more straightforward. Bring a medium pan of water to a vigorous simmer but just below a boil. Take the asparagus and quarter each spear before then chopping each quarter to give thick sticks of asparagus. Add to the water and blanch for 1 minute before removing with a slotted spoon and refreshing in a bowl of ice cold water. Take the shelled broad beans and do the same for 3 minutes and then do the peas for 2 minutes.

4. In a medium pan add a glug of oil and soften the shallot. Pop in the remaining roasted garlic. Add the asparagus, broad beans and peas and pour over the double cream. Simmer gently for a few minutes until the vegetables are nice and tender. Taste and season well.

5. As the fricassee is finishing off get going with the fish. Heat a non- stick frying pan over a medium- high heat and add a good knob of butter and a glug of oil. Lightly season the skin of the fish and place skin side down into the hot pan; when the butter and oil starts to bubble then its ready to use. Fry the fish for around 4-5 minutes before gently flipping it over and cooking for a further minute or two. Serve the mash and fricassee and mash in deep bowls and top with the golden pan fried bream; serve immediately.

Springtime vegetable fricassee with pan fried sea bream- a celebration of seasonal ingredients!

 

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Sri Lankan style cauliflower, potato and pea curry

Sri Lanka has an abundance of ingredients and spices that lend themselves to a flavourful experience. With its historical links with trade you can imagine the range of influences that it brings to the cuisine. I have kept this curry recipe simple, using limited spices to ensure that each of the flavours speak for themselves so read on and get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side 
1 medium cauliflower
200g potato
100g fresh or frozen shelled peas
300ml coconut milk
Fresh curry leaves
1 large white onion- chopped
1-2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 green chilli- left whole and pricked with a knife
Strands of angel hair chilli to finish (optional)

For the paste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp black onion seeds
1 green chilli- finely chopped
1 garlic clove

1. Get going by separating the cauliflower into small florets and cutting the potatoes into bite size chunks. At this stage you can steam or boil the cauliflower and potatoes until part cooked and set aside. In the meantime make the paste by adding all the ingredients together and giving it a quick whizz in a processor or using a pestle and mortar which I prefer so you have greater control over how coarse or how smooth the paste is.

2. Take a large frying pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until softening. Throw in a few curry leaves and the whole green chilli; cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the curry paste to the pan and fry off for a further minute until is begins to release its flavour. Next up the cauliflower and potato needs to go in and cook for another couple of minutes; toss the vegetables in the spice mix and try and get a bit of colour on the potatoes as they cook. Add in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender and the coconut has reduced down; this should take around half an hour.

Just a couple of minutes before the vegetables are ready you need to add the peas and cook these in; if using fresh you may like to quickly blanch before adding. If you prefer a more moist curry then either add a little more coconut milk and simmer it for a while longer but make sure that the vegetables don’t go soggy and overcooked. You could always lightly steam them before they get to the parboiled stage to enable this. I added a few strands of angel hair chilli which looks like saffron and gives another hit of colour to a dish rather than bringing heat so time to pretty it up!
Serve in deep bowls with flatbread on the side if you like.

Cauliflower, potato and pea curry laced with spice and the sweetness of coconut- the perfect balance!