Simple cod burger with gnocchi sardi salad

So, its now April apparently and it very much seems like March was one of those months that disappeared faster than a horse running at the national. The months seem to fly now that the clocks have changed and even though it is incredible to be having some lighter evenings to relax outside, it just seems like time goes a little bit faster when your enjoying yourself in pub gardens and having barbeques at home.

All the more reason to make the most of all this sunshine were currently having! The bank holiday was an absolute beauty weather wise and there certainly was no shortage of people taking their chance to have a pint by the canal at my local, the Fox and Anchor near Coven.

It is not very often I rave about a chain pub but I do love the Fox as it has a great ambiance in the winter when they light the log fires and even more so when they are buzzing with summer beer garden seekers. I even got a little bit sunburned. Which is not exactly hard as I burn like an ant under a blow torch.

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Now that we have all emerged from our wintery cocoons its time for some lighter food to compliment the bottles of Corona on the lawn (slice of lime optional but advised). White fish comes to mind as its quick, fresh and light on the pallet while being full of protein and really satisfying, paired up with this pasta salad which is the true star of this dish,makes a great meal. Enhanced further by the fact that its full of all the good stuff you can fit in without it becoming unbalanced, you’ll be feeling very pleased with yourself afterwards. No guilt. No hastle.

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Try this recipe on for size next time your feeling lazy on one of these warmer evenings.

Serves 4

For the burger:

  • 2 cod loins. Both halved.
  • 4 wholemeal buns.
  • Tartar sauce.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Pepper.
  • Few salad leaves of your choice.
  • Olive oil.

Pasta salad:

  • 400g gnocchi sardi.
  • 1 small box of cherry or small variety of tomatoes, all halved.
  • 1 courgette, diced.
  • 1 red and 1 orange pepper, diced.
  • 1 small can of sweetcorn.
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped.
  • handful fresh parsley, finely chopped.
  • 5 tablespoons of zero fat Greek yoghurt.
  • 5 tablespoons light mayonnaise.
  • 1 tablespoons dijon mustard.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta to pack instructions.
  2. Add the pasta to a large mixing bowl and stir in all of the other ingredients apart from the courgette.
  3. Preheat a frying pan on a medium heat, add a tiny bit of oil and fry the courgette until it starts to brown a little, then remove and mix into the salad.
  4. Give a good few turns on a salt and pepper mill.
  5. Chill for 20 minutes.
  6. Use the preheated pan and add a little more oil.
  7. Add the cod loin halves and fry on a medium heat for around 4 minutes. Turn over and repeat.
  8. Turn the heat up to high and add a tablespoon of soy sauce, give the pan a shake so it reaches all of the fish, do this for around 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  9. Cut the rolls and put around a teaspoon of tartar sauce on both halves. Lay a few leaves on the bottom half, followed by the soy fried fish, along with anything else you want to add. (Go crazy, its a blank canvas).
  10. Finish with one big sprinkle of black pepper, cap it off with the top half of the bread and serve with a big spoon full of the pasta.

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Its another very simple but very effective recipe to fill a void after a hard day at work when the evening is best spent enjoying the sunshine outside!

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The Honu burger

As some people are aware I am very much associated with burgers. Everybody always asks me if I have any new burger recipes or if I still cook the recipe I took to the battle of the burgers final in 2013, this in fairness is completely justified as I do love making and eating a nice burger! There are so many flavour combinations that can be slotted under an equal amount of buns or breads, its the gift that keeps on giving.

 

I have a huge passion for food as you can guess, but I also have an equal amount of passion for animals and wildlife. Birds and sea life in particular. I have been reading for the past few years about the decline in the sea turtle or “Honu” population and it was heart breaking to come to terms with the fact that they had got to a point where they were near extinction. Such a gracious, docile and beautiful creature driven to the precipice of oblivion, not surprisingly accelerated by the western world starting to haunt the shores of Hawaii. However there is an upside, populations are making a gradual recovery thanks to designated conservation sites and a huge effort from the sort of people who don’t want to see the beautiful gifts the earth has given us disappear.

You can read more about this here if you wish: http://www.wildhawaii.org/marinelife/turtles.html

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So its for this reason I have decided to write a recipe and name it in honour of an icon of Hawaii. A symbol of conservation in the western hemisphere and a wonderful creature that deserves our attention to keep it around for the next generation to appreciate. The fact it is slightly easier to pronounce than the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a burger also is a contributing factor! (The Hawaiian state fish)

Which brings me onto the ‘Meat’ of this sandwich. The recipe. It uses the zingy fresh tang of tropical pineapple to cut through the luscious beef patty and salty smoked bacon, creating an all round enjoyable experience that should hopefully bring a little bit of sunshine to meal time! Recipe should cover approximately 4 people.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 medium wholemeal buns.
  • 600g beef mince.
  • 12 pieces of smoked streaky bacon.
  •  4 rings of canned pineapple, chopped.
  • Your choice of salad leaves.
  • 4 slices of Emmental cheese.
  • Worcester sauce.
  • Salt and pepper.

Method:

In a bowl combine the mince with a tablespoon of Worcester sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper. Mix well with clean hands until well combined however try not to overwork it as the burgers will become tougher to eat. Get both hands in the bowl and work into a ball.

Break the ball of mince into 4 and squash into round shaped patties of equal size (around 1cm or so thick). Leave in the fridge for a minimum 30 minutes to rest. Make a small thumb print in the middle of the burger to stop it popping up too much during cooking.

pre-heat a frying pan and a griddle pan on a medium heat, lightly oil both sides of the patties. Add the burgers to the pan 2 at a time and fry for around 4-5 minutes a side. Pop the bacon in the griddle pan and dry fry until crispy on both sides (or to your own preference).

On the last turn of the beef, add a tablespoon of chopped pineapple, toped with the cheese. Turn the heat off and allow them to rest for a minute or two in their own juices. The cheese will relax and spread over the fruit, locking it to the top of the patty.

Remove the bacon and leave on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any unwanted grease or fat.

Cut the buns, add a dollop of mayo or ketchup on the bottom half (your choice, go wild!) and a few of the leaves. Cross 3 pieces of bacon over the salad and sit the burger on top.

Pin it with a skewer so it doesn’t all try and escape…And your done! I served mine with roasted new potatoes for a healthier option to chips or fries.

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So there you have it. The “Honu” burger! A burger that in my opinion makes meal time a little sunnier. A tip of the hat to an ancient and very awesome member our oceanic heritage. Here’s to you turtles!

Summer collection (MKT repost)

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What an amazing few weeks were having here in the UK. The sun is beaming down with such intensity I cannot go inside for fear of missing out, but even then cant go from under the shade due to me burning like a rose petal in a furnace with the slightest lick of a UV ray!. It even smells summery in the garden most days with the humidity and the flowers, the only draw back being the mammoth sized bee’s flying around the flower beds, but I can deal with that.

I have a few things I have done this week to post all together in what I am calling the Gecko summer collection. Both super easy, One is for my friends at ‘forever’ and the other one is just purely indulgent on my part. Lovely, full flavoured beauties that can compliment your barbecue or give you something to pick at after you have finished watching the rugby highlights, Wimbledon or the German F1.

First up, for the ‘Forever together’ detoxers and healthy people among us:

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My ‘Sunshine salad’ Approx 400 calories per serving give or take

3 eggs, boiled.

3 Basil leaves

Big handful of mixed leaves of your choice.

3 spring onions

1 Medium sized red chili

4-5 sundried tomatoes

6 thin slices of cucumber

Vinaigrette of your choice. (I used a raspberry one that I picked up at the food festival last week)

Method:

1) Put your handful of leaves in a large bowl, tear up any big ones roughly. keep it comfortably bit sized throughout!

2) chop the chili, basil, spring onion, cucumber and sundried tomatoes and add to the bowl.

3) Lightly drizzle with your vinaigrette and gently toss .

4) Place the salad onto a plate and slice to eggs in nice thin sections.

5) Scatter the egg around the salad and top with a slight, waist friendly hint of cheese to add an alternative texture to the dish.

…Now I don’t care where in the world you are, you shouldn’t resist at least trying this!. Its super easy but very satisfying when the modd doesnt allow you the motivation to make something too taxing. Salads are a quintessential part of summer eating and this is a fresh, tasty way to spend lunch in your garden.

Number two, Another fairly healthy one but this one will make your mouth feel as hot as it is outside.

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My ‘Oriental noodles with grilled salmon and firecracker sauce’.

To serve 2 you’ll need:

4 small Pak choi

handful of button mushrooms

4 baby corns

1x dried noodles. (usually flat packed in packs of four)

mixed peppers, sliced length ways.

4 spring onions

2 decently sized pieces of salmon fillet

Pinch sea salt

for the Firecracker sauce:

1 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons red cooking wine

1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 long chili’s (I used 1 green and one red)

1 tablespoon of honey.

This is a beautifully aromatic sauce that smells amazing and provides intense taste while providing a real punch. If you aren’t a fan of the spice just leave the fresh chili’s out and add a touch of mild powder or none at all even.

Method for the sauce:

1) Add the stock and wine and bring to a gentle simmer. Chop the chili’s finely.

2) Once at a simmer add the honey, garlic, ginger and chili’s (including the seeds!)

3) Now leave on a medium heat for around 15 minutes until it reduces a little, then take it completely off the heat.

Method for the noodles:

Preheat your grill at a medium to high heat. (mines goes from 1-4 I put it on 3)

1) Add the salt to some water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then add the noodles and leave for approximately 5 minutes on a high heat.

2) Pat dry then add a little salt and pepper to one side of each salmon fillet and place under the grill. grill for around 4-5 minutes each side. the flesh should release a milky, mayonnaise sort of looking fat into the grill pan and will flake really easily once cooked. (Keep an eye on it and don’t over cook it as it really is key to the dish to have that lovely salmon on top!)

3) Chop the corn into thirds, the mushrooms into halves and the Pak choi into quarts.

4) When the noodles start to loosen and separate in the pan, add the corn and leave for 3 minutes to simmer on a medium to high heat.

5) Add the Pak choi, mushrooms, spring onions and the peppers and cook for a further 3 minutes. I prefer my veg a little crunchy so cook for a little while longer if you need to.

Serve a decent grasp of the veggie noodles onto a plate, top with the grilled salmon and serve the sauce on the side to top as much as your brave enough too!

Now my advice is to get in the kitchen real quick while somebody else grabs the garden furniture, run outside with this pair of fabulous summer platters, and smash it with a nice cold glass of ginger beer or elderflower cordial before it starts to rain again!

Phil

Strawberry and vanilla ice cream cake

Firstly happy saturday to you all, and today I’m going to give you a sweet treat to serve after your imminent barbecue or to nibble on yourself gradually, doing away with the whole thing without realising it. Its your cake so its your choice after all, either way its refreshing, sweet and a tint bit naughty.

First off you’ll need the following:

A cake tin
1 box of soft scoop vanilla ice cream, melted
1 pack of oaty biscuits
150g melted butter
Clear honey to drizzle
100g of finely chopped strawberries
Mint leaf to finish.

Method:

1) Crush the biscuits in a bowl until your left with a rough powder (the odd chink doesn’t matter) and add the butter.

2) Mix well until bonded and the butter is evenly spread, roll around the bowl leaving no crumbs behind!

3) Spread the mixture onto the base of a greased cake tin and press down. Making sure it is even and tightly packed. Chill for 20 minutes.

4) Remove from fridge and add a swirl of honey on top of the base. Scatter the strawberries (sort of) evenly.

5) Cover with the melted ice cream to the top of the tin and freeze (make sure its even or it will freeze at an angle!) for 3 hours.

7) Remove from freezer 4-5 minutes before serving, cut into triangles and serve with a single mint leaf, a slice of warm brioche and a small drizzle of honey. Winner.

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