Potato Cakes with Fish and Spinach

DSCI2102This is a great way of using up leftover boiled potatoes or simply starting from scratch, to make a tasty alternative use of our very versatile and humble root vegetable.

Ingredients

Makes 8 portions

700g potatoes

250g white fish (any kind will be fine and we used a basic range, frozen as the fish will absorb the added herbs and their flavours)

100-150g spinach (washed)

4 tbsp creme fraiche (we used reduced fat)

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4tsp of nutmeg (ground or grated from a whole nutmeg)

1 tsp of dried marjoram (or fresh, chopped)

1 tsp of dried chives (or fresh, chopped)

Dash of milk (any kind: we used skimmed)

Salt and pepper to season

Method

  • Peel and boil the potatoes in a large enough saucepan, covered with boiling water with tiny pinch of salt added until they are cooked.

Dawn: This takes approximately 15-20 minutes and you can test if they’re cooked by sticking the fork into the potatoes while they are in the saucepan: if the fork goes in without any pressure applied and they are soft, the potatoes are cooked.

Andrew: You may prefer to steam as an alternative form of cooking well as well as thinking about the possibility of cooking the potatoes in their skins: all scrubbed clean and washed beforehand. 

Dawn: That’s right, Andrew. There’s a lot of goodness in the skins of lots of our fruit and vegetables – but always, always make sure you wash everything thoroughly before eating it raw or prepping it for cooking.

Andrew: Sound advice, Dawn. Shall we crack on? This dish won’t cook itself!

  • Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.
  • In a frying pan, pour the milk and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and add the fish. Cook for 3-5 minutes both sides on a gentle heat. Lift the fish from the milk and set aside on a plate to cool. Discard the used milk.
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, 220°C electric.
  • Place a saucepan of boiling water on the hob and add the spinach. Cook for approximately 3 minutes until it is wilted. Drain and physically squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Roughly chop.

Andrew: Spinach does retain water and it is very important to remove as much of it as possible because too much water will interfere with the potato cakes consistency making them sloppy rather than firm in texture. 

  • Take the cooled potatoes, egg yolk, creme fraiche and mash them with a potato masher, adding the herbs, nutmeg and wilted spinach. Season with a little salt and pepper to personal preference.
  • Place on a non-stick baking tray and cook in the centre of the oven until lightly golden brown.

Dawn: A wee experiment was conducted here – four were oven baked and four were very shallow, almost dry fried. The results are here:DSCI2086DSCI2087

Andrew: The baked potato cakes (above pic) rose like small bread baps whereas the almost dry fried version (below photo) were what you’d expect from cooking this method.DSCI2113

Dawn: And this dish is so easily a vegetarian meal by simply omitting the fish. 

Andrew: One further tip – these don’t freeze so prep and cook straight away, serve with a mixed green leaf salad for a healthy and filling meal.

For more recipes, food tips and cooking advice, follow the Cooking Duo’s blog here – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com – hop across to Twitter @Love_Food_UK, as well as finding us on Facebook and Mumsnet Bloggers Network. 

 

 

 

How to Make Bread

DSCI2661 How to make bread has changed little over the years. Most breads include yeast and require kneading, which then need to be left to rise and shaped before popping in the oven. There are breads known as ‘quick breads’ that don’t need to be left to rise and a few breads that don’t require any raising agent (yeast) which are called unleavened breads.

Andrew: So what are we making today, Dawn?

Dawn: We’re starting with white bread. My first time, too! How exciting!!!

Ingredients

700g strong white flour

7.5g dried yeast

10g sugar

2tsp salt

20g butter or margarine spread

450ml tepid water

Method

  • Place a piece of greaseproof paper on a baking tray or alternatively, lightly grease a non-stick baking tray with a little butter or margarine.
  • Put the dried yeast in a small bowl and add the tepid water (luke warm in temperature). Sprinkle the sugar on top and stir. Set aside in a warm place for approximately 15 minutes until there appears a froth on top.

Dawn: A radiator is an excellent place to stand this while the ingredients work their magic. 

  • Put the flour and salt in a large bowl along with the butter and rub the ingredients together between your fingertips.

Dawn: There isn’t really much of a difference in texture when you have rubbed the ingredients together. Just make sure the small amount of butter is blended into the flour and salt, that it’s become part of the ‘whole’. 

  • Make a well in the centre of the flour ingredients and add the dissolved yeast in tepid water liquid mixture. Stir it in with a spoon.
  • Using your hand(s), work the ingredients into a firm ball adding a little extra flour if it becomes too sticky. The aim is to have the ball of dough leave the bowl clean. Don’t let the dough become too stiff in texture as this makes the bread heavy and not light in texture when it is baked.
  • Dust a work surface with flour and turn the ball of dough out on to it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it feels firm, elastic-like in texture and isn’t sticky.
  • Shape into a ball and place back in the bowl, covering the bowl with cling film.

Andrew: The cling film stops a ‘skin’ forming on the dough.

  • Leave the dough to rise until it is double its original size. The dough should spring back when pressing it gently with a flour-dusted finger.
  • Turn the dough back out onto the flour dusted work surface and knead well for a further 2-3 minutes.

Dawn: Make sure you use your knuckles firmly to release any air bubbles that may be trapped in the dough.

  • Smooth over the top of the dough and tuck the ends under it. Place on the baking tray and dust the top of the dough ball with flour.

DSCI2649

Andrew: Or glaze the dough to your preference.

Dawn: Yes, we’ve dusted this loaf with flour but you can use a glaze made from 1 part salt dissolved in part 3 parts warm water, brushed over the top to create a crusty top. We’ll be writing more about bread glazes and bread in general in another article. 

  • Place the baking tray in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 8, 230°C electric for 35-40 minutes until it has risen high and looks golden brown in colour. When it’s cooked, it will have a hollow sound when you turn it over and tap the bottom of it.

Andrew: There are variations on bread from what flour is used, liquids added and toppings used. We’ll cover these in more detail in seperate recipes and articles to this blog. 

  • Serve the bread warm with lashings of low fat soft cheese or a smidge of butter and salivate at its sheer moreishness with each bite!DSCI2667

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Posh Fish and Chips

DSC_0010

A healthy version, rather than ‘posh’, here we use cod, but any fish will do in this dish.

Dawn: I love the bright orange! Is that sweet potato?

Andrew: It is! Actually it is sweet potato wedges rather than chips per se.

Dawn: And the posh bits?

Andrew: Ah! You’ll see!

Ingredients

Serves 2

1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and sliced into wedges

2 pieces of cod fillet, skin on

1 small chorizo, chopped into small cubes

1 portion of puttanesca sauce ( see https://forfoodlovers.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/pasta-puttanesca but leave out the tomatoes)

Cumin seed

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Olive oil for frying

Method

  • In an oven at 200ºC/Gas Mark 6, place a baking tray with the sliced sweet potato wedges, drizzled in a little olive oil, and sprinkled with a few cumin seeds.
  • Season well. Cook for 25-30 minutes, turning part way through so evenly cooked.
  • After about 15 minutes, heat a little oil in a pan, and cook the fish, skin side down.
  • Turn after 5-7 minutes, then scatter the cubed chorizo into the pan.
  • The chorizo will crisp up while the fish continues to cook.
  • When cooked through thoroughly, plate up the dish.
  • Arrange a few slices of sweet potato in a fan shape, place the fish below, scattering the chorizo on and around the fish. Place a generous spoonful of the puttanesca sauce alongside the fish.

Dawn: The puttanesca makes a pungent alternative to mushy peas doesn’t it?

Andrew: The chorizo allows for a bit of crispy bite, and if you wish adds some orange to the oil, which can also be drizzled over the fish.

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