Friday, December 30, 2011

Croquettes. Oxtail for now but anything will do

Post Christmas there's always bits and bobs of leftovers lying around in various pots and bags in the fridge. Once the ubiquitous Boxing day sandwiches have been presented, the curry has been made, the soup and the risotto, there's only so much left to do with all those half portions of random. Kroketten are a traditional Dutch snack food, often served with French fries. This authentic recipe takes some time but the results are far better than anything you can buy ready-made. I'm not for once suggesting many people have a handy little pot of beautifully braised oxtail spare at home, but this as a guide works with almost anything blended through a thick béchamel and deep fried "til perfectly crisp. Happy New Year!

Oxtail Croquettes

Makes 20 pieces

For the stock
900g/2lb oxtail .
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g/3½oz butter
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 tblsp salt
2 bay leaves
Bouquet garni
6 coriander seeds, crushed
1 beef stock cube

For the ragout
6 gelatine leaves
100g/3½oz butter
150g/5½oz plain flour
1 tsp curry powder
few drops Worcestershire sauce
1 litre/1¾ pint beef stock
Oxtail meat, from the stock

For the finishing
4 free-range eggs, beaten
100g golden breadcrumbs
50g plain flour
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the stock, season the oxtail with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the butter in a pan and fry the seasoned oxtail until browned all over. 

Add the onions and carrots and continue frying until the onions are softened and beginning to brown. 

Add 2.5–3 litres/4½-5¼ pints of cold water, the tablespoon of salt, bay leaves, bouquet garni and, if using, the crushed coriander seeds. 

Bring to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat and leave to simmer on the lowest possible setting for a few hours. The longer this cooks, the better it tastes.

Very carefully, sieve the hot stock through a clean tea towel, then transfer the oxtail bones to a plate and leave them to cool. Discard the onion and carrot. 

Check the seasoning of the stock and add salt or a beef stock cube if you like. Remove the meat from the bones when they are cool and throw away the fat.

Next, make the ragout. Place the gelatine leaves in a small bowl in a little cold water to soak. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan, but don’t let it brown. Add the flour, curry powder and Worcestershire sauce and stir until crumbly. 

Start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. At first, the mixture will form a smooth ball, but gradually it will become a thick sauce – the mixture has to be really firm and thick to make the kroketten.

Add the meat and stir into the sauce then squeeze out the gelatine leaves and mix them thoroughly into the ragout.

Season the ragout to taste with more salt, freshly ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce or curry powder.

Leave the mixture to cool in the fridge until it is really cold. Put the beaten eggs in a low, wide bowl and the breadcrumbs and flour in separate bowls alongside. Take a spoonful of ragout and roll it in your hands into a sausage shape. 

Roll this in the flour, then the egg and lastly the breadcrumbs, making sure the kroketten are well covered all over. 

Continue until all the mixture is used up, then roll the kroketten in egg and breadcrumbs once again.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan to 180°C/350°F, or until a cube of bread turns golden-brown and crisp when dropped in.

Fry the kroketten, a few at a time, until deep golden-brown. If they start to sizzle, take them out of the pan, as this is a signal that the filling is starting to leak. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

Serve immediately, but take care – they will be very hot...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Scallops and sprouts

As its pretty much Christmas and if you haven't yet, better get the sprouts in before the annual panic buying frenzy strips the shelves. Sprouts aren't just for the turkey, I hope we can all agree on that. This is simply a perfect little canape idea for your Christmas eve...

Scallop and Brussels sprouts with Jalapeño salsa
Serves 4

4 large scallops
Sea salt
20 Brussels sprouts
1 tblsp plus 1 tsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp clarified butter
Beetroot strips for garnish

Jalapeño salsa
1 red onion
A few coriander leaves
½ jalapeño chilli
1 tblsp Jalapeño dressing

Start preparing the jalapeño salsa: finely chop the red onion, coriander, and jalapeño. Place all of these in a bowl.

Salt the scallops. Peel away the individual leaves of the sprouts.

Put a small frying pan over a medium heat and add a little grapeseed oil to it. Sauté the scallop in it until very lightly browned on both sides.

At the same time place another larger frying pan over a medium heat and add some oil to that. Salt the sprout leaves and quickly and lightly sauté them. They should remain slightly crunchy. Finally add the clarified butter to the sprout leaves and quickly heat through.

Place the scallop in the middle of the plate and pile the sprout leaves around the scallop.

Finish the jalapeño salsa by adding the jalapeño dressing to the red onion, coriander and jalapeño, and blend swiftly together. Top the scallop with the jalapeño salsa. Garnish with a little beetroot.

Aim to sauté the scallop so it is lightly browned on the outside, but still medium-rare on the side.
The jalapeño salsa ingredients should be mixed with their dressing just before serving, to best enjoy its flavour and piquancy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meatloaf is the new foie

No really, it is...  Have a bash at this now it's freezing cold outside, you really ought to trust me. Quite a lengthy ingredients list, but there's nothing over the top and about half should be store cupboard staples anyway. Bit of mash, braised red cabbage and a splash of gravy and all is good with the world again.


Serves 4-6

50g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely sliced
1 green pepper, finely chopped
4 spring onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tblsp chilli sauce
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
125ml evaporated milk
125ml tomato ketchup
750g minced beef
250g minced pork or sausage meat
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
250g breadcrumbs
Freshly ground salt and pepper 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, celery, pepper, spring onions, garlic, parsley, chilli sauce, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes.

Add the evaporated milk and ketchup and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Discard the bay leaves. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Place the beef and pork in a large bowl; add the eggs, breadcrumbs and vegetable mixture, and season. Place the mixture in an ungreased roasting dish and bake for 25 minutes. Raise the temperature to 200C/Gas 6 and bake
for a further 35-40 minutes.

Serve from the roasting dish

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wagyu weekend treat

It's the day of rest, and no better time for a deserved weekend treat this evening. Don't hold back on ordering the roast chicken, or pork even, but save any beef urges for later tonight, I certainly will be. This is utterly Cantonese in its inspiration, fun and fresh. Steam a bit of rice, and some greens, then whack this together in your wok. Perfectly comfortable and of course you don't need to go the whole wagyu hog, but it isn't really a treat if you don't.

Pan-fried diced wagyu beef in teriyaki sauce 

Serves 4

600g wagyu beef (cut into dice)
12 stalks of fresh asparagus (peeled and trimmed) cut into 4cm lengths
2 tblsp teriyaki sauce
½ tsp cornstarch, dissolved in a tblsp water
300ml chicken stock

Heat a splash of vegetable oil in a wok and sauté the asparagus for a few seconds, remove with a wire mesh skimmer and drain well

Heat the wok with water, when boiling blanch the asparagus again for a few seconds (remove excess oil) drain well, clean the wok and pour the chicken stock to cook the asparagus for a further 3 minutes. Remove from wok and place on a plate.

Reheat the wok with another splodge of vegetable oil, just enough to coat the surface, place the diced beef in the wok and fry hard until golden brown all over, remove from wok and place on plate.

Pour teriyaki sauce into the wok, add chicken stock and seasoning when boiling, adjust the fire and stir in the dissolved cornstarch to thicken the sauce then spoon over the beef and asparagus and serve.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There's nothing much better than a Mackerel sky

Generally speaking, I'm a massive fan of mackerel on a barbecue in the summer, slathered with a fist of lemon juice and a heavy hand with the seasoning including a smatter of chopped green chilli. Although becoming (already become) quite the fashionable fish, it's still relatively cheap and very available while being very good for you in an oily fish kind of a way. Barbecuing aside, there's a ton of recipes out there for the mackerel, the only thing I'd say is catch it (or buy it) and cook as quick as you can, it does have a tendency not to stay at it's best for too long.

Here's a thing for you, a mackerel sky is one of those views as you look up at a seemingly endless sea of extensive clouds that look like fish scales on a bright day. Clouds that are small and white, and usually line themselves up in groups in a regular pattern are something we might not see again for a while now summer is as good as officially over... 

Back in the kitchen though, autumn flavours are starting, and a most welcome change in tempo indeed. This is a terrific one oven tray dinner, but for a great finish to the mackerel, run a blowtorch over the fish to blacken and blister the skin just before serving. This gives it a certain smokiness, really brings out a new dimension to the flavour and makes a massive difference. 

Mackerel with new potatoes and bay leaves

Serves 3-6

1kg new potatoes, scrubbed, the bigger ones halved
2 red onions, halved and sliced

12 bay leaves

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled but bashed to break the skins

2 lemons, halved and thickly sliced

3-4 tblsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

30g butter

6 mackerel fillets

Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Scatter the potatoes in a roasting tin with the onions, bay leaves, garlic, lemon slices and olive oil. Season well; toss everything to combine, then dot the top with the butter.

Roast in the oven until the potatoes are browning and tender, rattling the tin once or twice – about 30-40 minutes.

Carefully take the tin out of the oven. Season the mackerel fillets and lay them skin-side up on top of the potatoes.

Return to the oven and roast for a further six to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the mackerel is just opaque. Serve with some lemon wedges and an interesting salad - the fish can take bold flavours so don't be afraid to throw a few capers, maybe some chilli or some pomegranate into a bit of extra dressing here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't forget me. Love, Sir Loin

Have we fallen out of love with the once grand sirloin of beef then? I truly do hope we haven't. It's still a decent piece of meat I get great enjoyment from, and continue to be able to use it in all manner of preparations - from dicing it for burritos to the perfect steak sandwich meat. I cooked a decent piece for lunch yesterday, in the fashion below, and was really most pleasantly happy with the outcome indeed. This would be great with a lovely creamy purée of parsnips or some braised silver beets or Swiss chard, but yesterday I slow roasted some split unpeeled shallots in the beef juices, garlic and thyme, and plopped it on a cauliflower purée. 

The perfect amount left over for some cold roast beef sandwiches for lunch today. Watercress, English mustard and a scraping of mayonnaise on white bread. Leftovers are King. Sir Loin rocks.

Sirloin pot-roasted with bay, garlic and red wine vinegar

Serves 4-6

1 kg whole sirloin of beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsp olive oil, for browning
55g butter
10 fresh bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
375 ml Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar

Trim the fat on the piece of beef to about 2cm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern at 1cm intervals across the fat. Season lightly with salt, but add plenty of pepper.

Heat oil in a large heavy-based flameproof pot., add the beef and brown on all sides, leaving the fatty side until last. Reduce the heat and slowly brown the fat. Remove the beef from the pot and drain off the fat.

Melt the butter in the pot until foaming and then add the beef. Add the bay leaves, garlic and 5 tablespoons of vinegar. Moisten a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the pot.

Push the damp paper into the pot to rest on and cover the beef entirely. Simmer over a low heat until the vinegar reduces by half. Add a little more vinegar and when that reduces, add a little more.

Continue in this way until the beef is cooked to medium, for about 50-70 minutes. The sauce should never completely reduce because you are trying to create an emulsion. Add water, if necessary.

Turn off the heat and rest for 10 minutes. Slice the beef and serve. Spoon the sauce over the beef and garnish with bay leaves and garlic.

Random but pretty, this is what the soup looked like before the soup was added. If you're still with me, more on that soon...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The humble crumble

It always amazes just how simple things need to be in order to inspire a bit of positive thinking. Last night was yet another odd one. A collection of some very intelligent people coming together and brainstorming ideas of how to raise much needed cash in today's climate to make better lives for those who need the help more than others. Meanwhile those very people in need were being simply guided to prepare and serve the nourishment required to fuel those thought processes. 

The star of the show last night? Other than one of the young lads who has had a life more dreadful than we can comprehend but somehow manages to exude the willingness of a fresh and innocent kitchen recruit? Easy, it was the simple crumble.  Everyone loved it, we loved cooking it, the boys and girls loved being it. Don't change this recipe one single bit, apart from if you're doing this for the kids, replace the liqueur with some orange blossom water if you'd like to.

Fig and orange crumble

Serves 6

Butter for greasing
2 oranges
About 12 ripe figs
2 tblsp soft brown sugar
2 tblsp Grand Marnier
Vanilla ice cream to serve

For the crumble
175g plain flour
Pinch of fine sea salt
100g cold unsalted butter, diced
75g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
50g porridge oats
50g nibbed almonds or crushed hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 190C/Gas 5. Lightly grease a deep baking dish and set aside. Cut the top and base off the oranges. Stand the cut side of an orange on a board and cut away all the peel and pith, then cut out the orange segments from their membranes. Do this over a bowl so you keep the juice. Drop the segments into the bowl, then repeat with the other orange.

Cut the figs into quarters. Place them in the bowl with the oranges and gently toss with the sugar and Grand Marnier. Spread the fruit evenly over the prepared baking dish and set aside.

To make the crumble, put the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and blend until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Alternatively, rub the flour, salt and butter in a bowl between your fingertips. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugar, ginger, oats and nuts. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the figs and oranges.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit soft. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice-cream or maybe a ginger lemongrass infused custard if you really want to show off your smarty pants.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pasties in the graveyard and tomatoes in your salad

Please tell me, when ever indeed did the Cornish pasty become the fashionable snack of our railway station concourses? Or have I been under a rock for so long of late it isn't even funny anymore? Maybe one leg up is that the tiddy oggy has recently been awarded Protected Geographical Indication, something that not only specifies the recipe and method by which they can be made, this now gives them location specific status that the likes of Stilton and Parma ham can lay claim to - moving in the circles of special company indeed. Anyway, enjoying a properly made one, crimped down the side and eaten from end to end after visiting a long lost friend is extra special too, whatever your thoughts on the pasty, dining with the dead, or a combination of the two. 

That was lunch, loved loved it. At home, dinner was tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, and an English style feta from Belton farm in Cheshire, watercress from Hampshire and some chocolate mint from the garden. A couple of olives, a few slices of cornichons and a glug of olive oil all tumbled on top of home made granary bread. Delicious in silence.

Cornish pasties

Makes 6 pasties

12oz (350g) plain flour
3oz (90g) margarine
3oz (90g) Trex vegetable fat
12oz (350g) beef skirt
3-4 medium sized potatoes
2 onions
1 egg beaten
Salt and lots and lots of black pepper
A few knobs of butter

Fan oven 180°C/non fan ovens 200°C

First of all make your shortcrust pastry. Whizz the flour, margarine and Trex in a food processor until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Tip it into a bowl and as you cut with a knife, add enough drops of water to make a soft dough which leaves the edges of the bowl.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for half an hour to rest. This prevents the pastry shrinking when you cook the pasties.

Cut the skirt into small pieces. Dice the onion and peel the potatoes. Divide the pastry into six. With a rolling pin, roll it our into six round pieces, less than a quarter of an inch thick. Chip the potato into very small pieces and divide between each pasty. Season.

Add an equal amount of beef to each one, and season again. Then you add a small amount of diced onion. Season.

And then add a small amount of potato on top of that and two small knobs of butter to give it a bit of juice. Final seasoning.
Pull edges of the pasty together, dust your hands with flour and crimp the edges together.

Brush with beaten egg and cook for 35 minutes. Ten minutes before the end, brush again with some more egg to make ensure the pastry is very crispy. Cool on a wire rack

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What to do with an oyster and a truffle?

Reflecting after a fantastic day out at Borough Market, showing around a group of boys and girls who for one sad reason after another heartbreaking one had never been in the fortunate position to have ever been around such a tantalising variety of terrific food stuffs, is just the thing to bring it all back home. This food obsession we all seem to have adopted of late - where almonds simply have to be from Marcona, and if I have to even smell another anchovy that isn't hand reared in the Cantabrian Sea I will simply die - is all well and good, but in the fear of sounding like a food wanker, it is only food after all.

What we did last Friday wasn't groundbreaking, but when we ordered up our variety of hot kebab filled baguettes, the thing that struck the hardest was that some of the crew were ordering some food items they'd never eaten before, ever. I am as guilty as the next person who counts working with food as their livelehood just an exercise of survival. When I take a piece of grilled meat in a lump of bread as a lunchtime filler for granted, this day out at the market was particularly momentous.

I always seem to throw in a recipe, and this one is no different. But this is what we're going to do when I get these guys back into the kitchen and actually handling food for themselves. Pay back, a chance to make a difference, call it what you will. But to do something striking with food for some less fortunate than some, I think there's a whole lot more we can all do.

Lamb brochettes

Serves 4-6
 This dish is really versatile, it can be served as bite-size snacks, as a filling for buttered baguette with chutney and some salady crunch or as a light meal with a lightly dressed salad. They really benefit from being marinated overnight but leave it for as long as possible. If you leave it overnight, leave it in the fridge, covered with cling film and take out at least 1 hour before you start to cook it. Serve with fresh green chutney or dip into cool cucumber and mint raita and serve with naan. Alternatively, serve with the spinach rice as a main course.

450g boned lamb, cut into 2cm cubes and pierced with a fork

For the marinade
150ml Greek style thick yoghurt
½ small onion, roughly chopped
15g garlic, peeled
8g ginger, peeled
2 tsp each garam masala and cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp fennel seeds, powdered
¼ tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tblsp coriander leaves
½ tsp red chilli powder or to taste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt or to taste
1-2 tblsp melted butter

6 wooden skewers, soaked

Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor till smooth. Stir in the lamb pieces, mix well and leave to marinate for as long as possible, overnight in the fridge would be best. Bring back to room temperature 1 hour before cooking. Discard the marinade.

Thread the cubes onto the skewers and place under a preheated grill. Cook until tender, around 5-6 minutes turning halfway through cooking. Alternatively cook in an oven preheated to 200°C for 10 minutes.

Baste with the butter and cook another minute or two for slightly pink meat.

Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side, or as we'd all prefer to be honest, crammed into a baguette with some salad on the run

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A mushy pea fritter by the sea, or fancy crispy squid?

There are few British delights left, that are quite quintessential as a poke of chips by the water. Whether it's on a promenade, a shingle beach, a pier or a pathway, this food sensation and the water's edge are destined to be. The fish and chip shop is as competitive a market as I've ever seen, and creativity abounds in a place where not so long ago you'd be hard pushed to see much more than cod or haddock, let alone an offering of posh prawn cocktail, followed by sea bass with a side of Caesar salad. But this is all good in the continuation of the British food movement forward, a subject close to more artery clogged hearts than you think.

Excuse the shabby phone pic, but this delight was from a pristinely clean place called Alexander's in Mudeford, Dorset. Where the 20 minute wait for the cooked to order cod, advertised at today's market price, was worth the lengthy queue. A splash of chilled pear cider and a seaside sunset and all was good with the world.

The thing that's most bothered me of late though, is the speed at which our chips go limp. No matter how quickly you get them out of the wrapping, or dig them from the bottom of the flower pot at the Bog and Chuckle I wanna be a Gastro pub, your chances of keeping them fresh are as slim as you'd be through the research process of such a dilemma. Anyways, don't think that the death of the chippy is upon us, far from it for that matter, but just in a let's spice things up with a wee bit of something super crispy from the kitchen.

Crispy paprika salt squid with aïoli

Enough for 4 to snack on

400g prepared squid tubes
vegetable oil, for deep frying
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp Spanish hot smoked paprika
1 tsp salt

For the aïoli
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 large egg yolks
60ml light extra virgin olive oil
100-125ml vegetable oil, such as sunflower

First make the aïoli: put the garlic and salt in a mortar and using the pestle, grind to a paste. Put the garlic in a small food processor, add the egg yolks and mix well. With the machine running, slowly add the combined oils, a little at a time, until the mixture is very thick. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container or jar and refrigerate for up to two days.

Rinse the squid under running cold water and pat dry using kitchen paper. Cut the tubes along one side to open them out. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the inside surface of each tube in a criss-cross pattern, making sure you do not cut right through.

Then cut them into about 4cm pieces. Cut the tentacles into bite-sized pieces. Fill a heavy-based saucepan with vegetable oil and heat to 190C, or until a small cube of bread turns golden in about 30 seconds. While the oil is heating, combine the flour, paprika and salt in a bowl. Add the squid and mix until well coated. Shake off the squid and add to the oil in batches, cooking for 1-2 minutes each batch, or until golden and crispy.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve warm with alioli on the side.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

If anyone wants to cook my father's day lunch...

It's tomorrow by the way kids, so the shopping window of opportunity is pretty much NOW, and I can't hint strongly enough but shall just continue here to jot a few words down.

Since scaring myself down to a maximum of two fish moments a week at the moment, and trying my level best to hold back on red meat while increasing the vegetable intake. The gaps left seem to be utterly filled with depleting my Chinese instant noodle stockpile, so life isn't all that grim. The reserved approach to meat does ensure that on special occasions (please do refer to tomorrow as SPECIAL) then a mahoosive fat and juicy steak is completely justifiable, and so the hints keep on coming.

The mass of expertise around steaks; rearing, choosing, storing, cooking and serving is insane, and everyone and their mother is an expert on this topic of course. But there are some cool people out there who know what they're talking about while not making a meal out of it. Foodurchin's great guide to getting the beast just right is hilarious. While the wonderful people of Edinburgh are experimenting with their 22 hour beef at home show us just what is possible.

It doesn't need to be all bells and whistles you know, I'm just asking for something that I can sleep off tomorrow afternoon in front of the telly. But if I had to choose for myself i think I'd go with the larger joint approach which has tended to satisfy my weekly beefy like urges of late. 

As far as what to go with it are concerned, I'm a classic steak cliche all bundled up in a chef's jacket here. Chips - large, but not fries. Watercress leaves, but not rocket, dressed lightly with a mustardy vinaigrette. Horseradish of course, but if possible freshly grated into a little creme fraiche with an extra squeeze of lemon. I'll be happy for sure.

A drink to go with that Sir did you say? Well it is a wee bit predictable but I think something rich, red and rounded might help the food slip effortlessly down, I have just the bottle of the most perfect Napa Cabernet Sauvignon brought back from the US recently that has tomorrow written all over it. The topic of American wines I have a strong opinion of which will come another day. But as I'm awaiting the arrival of the feast, I think I can indulge in a little imperfect perfection. It is my day after all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The ethics in fish and chips

From warm water shrimp and anchovies to haddock and cod, there are now almost 70 types of seafood that should remain in the sea and off the menu if we're going to tackle our sustainable lifestyles in a proper manner.

These lists, compiled by all manner of expertise, are an ever moving target. But you can be sure of one thing in that a little research and some local provenience doesn't take 5 minutes before you buy.

Just recently, a few more poor fish I've noticed being added to the not-to-eat list
include common and Dover sole from the North Sea or Irish Sea, albacore tuna from the Mediterranean and South Atlantic and certain types of Atlantic cod.

Some other fish I'd be happier if you avoid include Bay of Biscay anchovy, any type of large shrimp that has not been caught organically, Chilean seabass, conger eel, Atlantic halibut, wild Atlantic salmon, many types of shark, and nearly every type of skate. Herring too, unless from Norwegian waters are having a hard time right now too. I've just spent a few magical days in Stockholm where herring is an integral part of their daily lives, and was safely assured that everything I ate came from sustainable sources.

With a heavy heart I have to say one of my absolute favourites is in the red with all types of tuna needing to be avoided – apart from albacore tuna from
the American Albacore Fishing Association in the South Pacific and skipjack caught by pole and line methods in the Maldives or the western and central Pacific.

There is some light my friends. Hardshell cams and Pacific cod along with salmon certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, preferably from the Pacific or Alaska have moved into the category of fish that is safe and ethical to eat, along with scallops from farmed stocks. Coley and common mussels are also right up there in the good books right now too, so it's not all that bad for lovers of fish. There are always fantastic initiatives banging away to help, you just need to get out there and look. The always brilliant Lizzie has reported back on Crayfish Bob in London , tasty, fun and the absolute right thing to do to protect our water stocks.

The buzz here is buy local and in season, get to know your fish expert at the market or shop, limit yourself to fish a couple of days a week at most, and start eating more vegetables.

Lecture over, and happy (ethical) cooking!!

Clam pasta and chips for 2

What better dish to serve on a balmy summer evening than steaming plates of clam pasta. Sweet clams are steamed in a light broth of fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and white wine and served with spaghetti or linguine pasta, topped with garlic chips for a spot of unique crunch. The ingredients here are few and simple as the clams give it most of its delicious flavour.

25 small clams
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves finely sliced to fry
1 small brown onion, diced
100ml dry white wine
2 tblsp of finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tbslp of olive oil, and 200ml or so to fry the garlic
1 tblsp of butter
Spaghetti or linguine for 2

Boil some water in a large pot for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and have it ready around the same time as the clams or just a bit before.

Thinly slice the garlic, on a japanese mandolin if you have the nerve, and drop in the hot oil to crisp, drain onto absorbent paper and season with salt.

Soak the clams in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

Heat the oil and butter over a medium heat in a large, heavy-based pot. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes and salt and stir for about 20 seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for about 7 minutes until their juice starts to evaporate.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the clams to the pot. Cover with a lid. After about 2-3 minutes add the wine to the pot. Cover again and shake the pot from side to side.

Cook the clams for a further 5 minutes or until they open. Add the parsley and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover and shake pot again.

Drain the pasta and then pour the clam mixture on top. Stir well, sprinkle over the garlic chips and serve immediately.