Spicy Prawn Creole

I write regularly for a local magazine called the Moulsham Times, and last month this was my recipe! I wanted to make something seafoody after our trip to cornwall. (It seems so long away now, sob!)

Spicey Prawn Creole

Some of the best prawns I ever ate were eaten on this holiday when we rewarded ourselves with fish and chips at Rick Steins fish shop after a big walk to Padstow. The chips were amazing, a perfect mix or squishy and crispy. I had king prawns with garlic mayonnaise instead of the usual battered cod and instantly knew I had made the right decision, they were juicy and the mayonnaise was AMAZING! Very garlicky…

This recipe is adapted from one of the Leon recipe books. The books are full of healthy, hearty and easy food so I highly recommend them to a cooking family!

  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 tin whole tomatoes
  • 1 bag prawns
  • 3 medium chillies, chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 tbs soft brown sugar
  • 400 ml fish stock
  • Corn on the cob, rice and a dollop of sour cream to serve.
  • Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
  • First fry off the onions, peppers, chillies and leek in a big glug of olive oil until partly soft. Adjust the type and amount of chilli pepper to suit your taste.

Spicey Veg

  • Add the tinned tomatoes, fish stock and sugar and mix together. Then leave on a medium heat for 25 minutes to simmer.

Bubbling Veg

  • Transfer the spicy vegetable mix into a heatproof dish and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile cook your rice and corn on the cob so they are ready to serve with the creole.
  • Remove from the oven and leave the mix to settle while you serve up the rice and sweet corn. Dowse your sweet corn in butter, and spoon the prawns and sauce onto the rice. To cool the dish down a bit, use a spoonful of sour cream.

This dish is great all year round. You could BBQ the sweet corn and serve the prawns with light peach couscous while you eat alfresco in whatever remains of the summer, or warm up from a cold walk in the winter, by serving it with warm buttered fresh bread.

 

Spicy Prawn Creole

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Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

Fresh pesto is my new obsession. I can’t describe how much better it is than that stuff out a jar! It’s cheesier, garlicky-er, basily-er, errrrmazing.

You can buy it from most supermarkets in the bit where they sell fresh pasta and italian stuff. Me and my italian-food obsessed friend want to make pasta soon, and I can’t wait to pair mine with some of this pesto.

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

We used Cod, but you can use any white fish. Make sure it’s from a sustainable source, and preferably has one of these symbols on it because fish are friends and the ocean is cool.

Fish guide

You will need:

  • 1 pot fresh pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • white fish fillets- one per person
  • green beans
  • Organic tomatos on the vine
  • British asparagus spears
  • New potatoes- boiled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

1) Set your oven at 180C. Prepare your green beans and asparagus. To get rid of the tough ends on the vegetable, bend the spear from the base and it should snap at the point where it is less woody. Then blanche the greens for 6 minutes until supple. Pop these to one side while you prepare your fish.

2) lay the fish fillets onto a large deep baking pan with a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the beans, asparagus and vine tomatos to the pan, then place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. If you want you can add your new potatoes to the pan and squash them slightly with a fork to oven roast them.

3) After 10 minutes, remove the pan and spoon 1.5 tbsp of fresh pesto onto each fish fillet before returning to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

4) When the fish is baked, serve and enjoy al fresco or at a dinner party.

Pesto is also pretty easy to make, so you could try it with your own! Let me know if you have any great pesto recipes.

Baked Fish and Fresh Pesto

Spicy Sweetcorn Fritters

I had never made a fritter before, but I liked the word! And I liked the taste, over all a win.

If you are like me and eat straight sweetcorn out the tin, restrain, and make these instead it’s worth it!

Spicy Sweetcorn Fritters- The Vegaquarium

I would have had them with halloumi cheese and avocado, but I was lacking in halloumi and my avocado wasn’t ripe, so I settled for garlic mayo and sweet chilli sauce.

Which brings me to this request: could someone please invent an instant fruit ripener? Thanks.

They only take about 4 mins to cook, are both crispy and squishy at the same time, and have a bit of a kick!

You will need:

  • 300g sweetcorn
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pint milk (I used soya and it worked just as well)
  •  1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tbs fajita mix
  • 1 tsp paprika

1) Whisk together the flour, egg, milk and spices into a smooth batter in a bowl. Then add the sweetcorn, garlic and onion into the batter and mix it all together.

2) Heat up about 2 tbs of olive oil in a pan, then spoon in the mixture into the oil, you can usually fot about 3 good sized fritters in one pan.

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3) When they have crisped up on one side, flip them over and crisp up the other side. They are a bit like cooking pancakes.

4) Serve with a dip! If you eat meat apparently they go well with bacon. I reckon they would also be nice dipped into a fried egg with beans.

Spicy Sweetcorn Fritters- The Vegaquarium

Halloumi Mexican Wraps

I laaaaaaavvvv mexican. And Halloumi, and lemon salted courgettes, and avocado. So I combined them all in a wrap and fed them too my hungry housemates.

Bethany even said the words “this is the best thing you have ever cooked me.” plus she didn’t put ketchup on it, so it must have tasted OK.

It is a great meal for sharing, and it gets a bit messy so is fun to eat! Unless you don’t like mess in which case use a knife and fork, clever.

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

This served 3. You will need:

  • pack of 6 wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 block halloumi
  • 1 tin tomatos/passata
  • 2 chopped red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 pack of fajita spice mix
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • handfull chopped spinach

For the courgette:

  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • half lemon squeezed
  • pinch pepper

1) Start with the courgettes as they need roasting which takes about 40 mins. Simply chop them into batons and shake them on the baking tray with the salt, a generous amount of oil, and some pepper.

2)Pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for 40 mins. While they are cooking you can get going on your wrap sauce!

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The VegaquariumFor the sauce:

1) Fry off your onion and garlic with a pinch of sugar, then add your kidney beans and fajita spices to make a pastey looking mix!

2) After about 5 mins, add your tomatoes and leave to simmer for 30 mins.

3) 10 mins before you are ready to serve, chop up the avocado and prepare on a plate with a squeeze of the rest of the lemon you used earlier. Then slice up your halloumi into strips.

4) Fry the halloumi with a bit of oil and tsp of paprika in a frying pan, turning every few mins, after a while they will start to brown off and go crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, this is why I love it!

5) Then put everything on the table, with the wraps and some sour cream/ greek yoghurt to serve, and let them get stuck in!

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

If you want to follow suit, we then had Ben and Jerry’s for desert!

Posh Mac and Cheese

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my house mate Bridget. Last night I returned from a night out where, by the way, I proudly performed a top rendition of Shakira’s Wherever Whenever. I think she embodied me. It was 2:30am and to my amazement she was cooking a cheese sauce from scratch and making a macaroni cheese! Fair play to her, I can barely manage to butter toast at that sort of time.

Anyway, since then I had been craving a mac and cheese, so I decided to make my own. However at a slightly more normal time…

You will need:

  • 40g of plain flour
  • 40g of butter
  • 1 pint milk
  • 250g grated cheese
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 slices of that fake plasticky cheese (Ok this really isn’t posh…)
  • 250g pasta tubes
  • 2 balls of frozen spinach, you can get it in the frozen veg aisle and it’s genius
  • handfull of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 chopped spring onions

1) Cook your pasta for 10 mins and leave until needed. Then set your oven to 200 degrees.

2) Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stirring in the flour. Cook that for 2 mins before pouring in the milk bit by bit and whisking. Bring it all to the boil, then turn it down and keep whisking until it thickens into a gloopy sauce. This takes about 15 minites.

3) Stir in all of your cheese, including the plastic one which you may want to slice up. Leave a little bit of parmesan to go on top!

4) Pop in the spinach balls, and while it defrosts in the sauce fry off the tomatoes with oil and sugar. The sugar may sound strange but it works! Fry them till they’s squidgey and add them to the cheesy sauce.

4) Put your pasta tubes and the sauce in a bake-proof dish then top with the cheese and spring onion. Grill for 10 mins. Then serve. I had mine with avocado which worked really well. Oh I also put Quorn chicken in incase you are wondering what the chunks are! But that is definitely optional.

Vegan- Day 4

First, I am sorry, but day 3 got lost in the post…

Today is our 4th day of being vegan!! which means my 4th day without chocolate. I couldn’t hack it so I went out and bought a vegan chocolate bar, which was surprisingly nice.

If being vegan is doing anything to me it is making me think. The fact that so many every day items like chocolate and crisps contain milk and eggs makes me realise how huge the farming industry must be. Obscure products which you wouldn’t expect to contain animal bi-products, do! Did you know some wine is not vegan? Weird…

I am still missing mayonaise a lot. I hate ketchup so sauce is fairly limited!! Yesterday I made my sweet potato wedges, but they were incredibly lonely without their usual mate Garlic Mayonaise.  *Double sob* In an attempt to comfort them, I made a creamy avocado dip which went a little like this:

You will need:

  • Avocado
  • Handfull of spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic

1) Chop the spinach finely and wilt it. This can be done in the microwave with a bit of water.

2) Crush a garlic clove and mash it up with the avocado flesh. Then stir in the spinach. Done!

Dinner tonight was an amazing lentil thai curry made by Bethany. She proved that vegan food is definitely not tasteless! And we all cleared our bowls. Her lovely recipe is from one of my favourite blog sites- Pinchofyum. You can get it here!

She made it her own by adding lemon salted courgettes, which I will be posting separately in just a sec! Along with the Paella I promised you. Pinky promise.

Thank you Bethany dinner was amazing!!!

Vegan- Day 2

Today was fine, I kept all strange vegan bars at arms lengh and tucked into some peanut butter toast. Peanut butter is up there in my top 5 favourite foods of all time so my day was always going to be at least slightly good.

I have also realised that I probably eat vegan more often than I think. I had baked beans in a toasted wrap for lunch; vegan but nothing out of the ordinary. Then a dinner of gnocchi, courgette, aubergine, chickpeas and pine nuts was cooked by the lovely Louey and I can’t wait to cook it again! I usually like to have a sauce with gnocchi, and it is often something cheesy, but this recipe was sauceless and tasted amazingggggg.

What’s more is that it’s an all in one dish, so less washing up.

The special thing about this meal is that the gnocchi is roasted! I won’t lie to you, when Lou first mentioned roasting it I was a little skeptical. Baked gnocchi? What?! But it is so good.

I’ll share her special recipe with you so you may try it yourself.

You will need:

  • 2 courgettes cut into batons
  • 1 sliced aubergine
  • 2 onions in quarters
  • 1 pack of vegan safe gnocchi
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 3 glugs of oil
  • salt
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 100g pine nuts

.Set the ovan to 200 degrees and put the oil in a large baking pan. Throw all the veg in the pan with the ghochi and the chickpeas, then season with salt and chilli powder.

.Roast for 40 mins

.Add the pine nutes and roast for another 10 mins

.Then it is ready to serve.

Vegan has never been so easy or tasted so good. Thank you Lou! Hopefully tomorrow will feel as normal, maybe peanut butter and roast gnocchi is the key!

The Perfect Fishfinger Sandwich

Vegaquarium by name but unfortunately not by nature… Until now.

It occurred to me that while I claim to eat fish, I have never actually shared any fish related recipes with you. I am currently a fraud. So, of course the only place to start is with the humble fishfinger sandwich, one of my all time favourite go to meals. They are perfect for any time of day, and they are an especially good hangover cure!

Lets face it, this isn’t exactly a recipe, but there are some certain techniques which will perfect your sandwich.

You will need:

  • 2 slices of thick, squishy fresh farmhouse bread. Granary or white.
  • 4 proper fishfingers. NO Asda’s smartprice malarky, I honnestly thought I had just eaten chicken when I tried one, and the fish is very unlikely to be sustainably reared! Classic Birdseye will do you fine.
  • Spread of salted butter
  • Handfull of green leaves, I prefer spinach.
  • SAUCE: This is up to you what sauce you use, but make sure you use one! There is the classic ketchup option, but you could also try tartar sauce, mayo, garlic mayonaise (my personal favourite as I am such a garlic whore) or sweet chilli. Or a combination of the above!! Mayo and sweet chilli is amazing.

1) Set your ovan to 200 degrees on GRILL! Grill your fingers!! It makes the bread crumb coating crispy, which is the best contrast to the soft squidgey bread. Once the ovan is heated, put them in for 6 mins on one side, then turn them and cook for another 6 mins on the other side.

2) Spread the butter then thickly spread your sauce on both sides of bread.

3) Why 4 fishfingers? Because this is the perfect amount for fitting onto your bread. Placing your fingers together is key because you don’t want a bare bit of bread with no fishfinger. It is an art. Then place the green leaves on top (if you like them) and pop the other bit of bread on. Sorted.

How it cures a hangover, science bit: the omega 3 in the fish help mop up horrible things which are produced when alcohol is broken down. Vitamines in the green leaves detoxify your body and are strong antioxidants. They help replace the salts you lost when dancing your little self into the next morning. Serve with a glass of orange juice full of vitamine C, to protect your liver, and sugary coffee or coke to wake up your suffering brain and start to hydrate it!

I promise to provide you with a few more fish recipes from now on!

Aubergine curry and garlic rice

It is cold and raining outside, however things were getting hot and steamy up inside the Palace today (Our student house.) Curry was on the menu, and it was good.

I love a takeaway curry, especially with an onion bhaji! But home cooked curries are just as good and almost as easy. One time I went to a farmers market and bumped into the self named Bhaji Man. He is a big believer in cooking your own amazing curries, and has set up a business around it. You buy a box containing the different spices, the recipe, and when to add them, so you can create your own curry! He also sells onion bhaji mix and its so yummy.

This curry was made without the Bhaji Man’s help, but it is still easy as. Me and my housemate Lou enjoyed it with her amazing garlic rice on a less amazing hangover. It is both creamy and tomatoey, the aubergines go really squishy and absorb loads of flavour, its good. And you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like!

You will need:

  • 1 aubergine cut into wedges
  • 1 sliced courgette
  • 2 chopped red onions
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 tbs mixed spice
  • 1 tbs curry power (whichever strength you like)
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 can tinned toms
  • 1 can coconut milk

For the rice:

  • Basmalti rice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Splash of olive oil

1) Fry your aubergine in a large heavy bottomed pan for about 7 mins, until it becomes squidgey. Then add the courgette, onions and garlic with the spice and curry powder. Fry all of this together until all the vegetables are soft and cooked!

2) Add the chickpeas to the veg, followed by the tomatoes and coconut milk. Then just leave to simmer for about 30 minutes; simples!

Lou cooking rice in her onesie like a rice munching teletubby

3) Now for Louisa’s genius rice. Mush up your garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt then fry it in olive oil for a few minutes but do not burn it! Burned garlic is not the one. Then add your rice and fry it for 1 minute before adding some boiling water. My mum’s friend Peow is from thailand, and taught her that the perfect amount of water is just enough that it covers your hand on top of the rice. It works every time for me. Leave it so simmer for 20 minutes.

4) Spoon up your rice and pile on the curry! And don’t forget to try the Bhaji Mans onion Bhaji mix with it one time!