Many of you will know that Mr E is a helicopter pilot. For many years, he flew helicopters over the North Sea, based in Aberdeen and because of that, we’re always huge supporters of the RNLI whose crews work tirelessly to rescue people and save so many lives (including those of 12 oil workers and two pilots who ditched in their helicopter about 30 miles off the Aberdeen coast in 2012). Did you know that 2016 RNLI lifeboats rescued 8,643 people? And they do all that good work with the majority of funding coming just from voluntary contributions. When Crisp ‘n Dry contacted me to tell me that they’re supporting RNLI’s Fish Supper campaign, I was happy to join in and I’ve got two delicious recipes for you if you want to host your own fish supper, including this yummy, creamy fish pie with sweet potato mash, plus a delicious crispy Baja fish taco recipe coming on Saturday.
So next up on my easy tapas menu from the Disreputable One’s birthday tapas feast were these beautiful pink spicy garlic prawns:
Spicy garlic prawns
1 kg prawns (we bought shell-on and peeled them beforehand – never again!)
Large glug of olive oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely grated or crushed
2 red chillies, chopped and deseeded
2 tbsp sweet paprika
If you bought shell-on prawns, it’s a really nice touch to leave the tail on – it just makes it slightly easier to pick them up. Make sure you provide a finger bowl or two with some lemon slices and plenty of towels – eating these is a messy job! I also left a couple whole just for decoration.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the garlic, chillies and paprika. Fry gently for a couple of minutes (don’t let the garlic burn), then add in the prawns. Put the heat up a bit and fry just until the prawns turn pink. Serve immediately with loads of bread for dunking as the sauce is AMAZING.
I love making risotto. I find the half hour of methodical stirring and adding stock really therapeutic and relaxing. I know from recent discussion on Twitter, though, that other people hate being tied to the stove for that long, so I thought I’d try out an oven-baked risotto.
This is loosely based on a Donna Hay recipe, I think from Fast, Fresh, Simple (the idea and the rough timings), but none of the ingredients or quantities are the same – apart from the stock and rice, obviously…
For the oven baked risotto:
Slug or two of rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
300g risotto rice
Juice (and a bit of the zest) of one lemon
1.5 litres chicken stock
So start (in an ovenproof dish like a Le Creuset with a well fitting lid) on the hob. Heat the oil, add the onion and stir until translucent, then add the rice and continue to stir until well coated in the oil. Next add in the juice of the lemon and a couple of grates of the zest (my kids don’t like it too lemony, but if you like more, feel free to add it – also see my note at the end about parmesan). Now stir in all the stock and put on the lid. Pop the whole shebang into a 200 degree/gas 6 oven and forget about it.
After 30 mins, remove the rice from the oven and give it a stir. It should be perfect, but like any risotto, the quantities needed seem to differ every time you make it, so if it’s a little too liquid, allow it to sit for a while, or maybe pop it back onto the hob for a bit, or if it’s too thick for you add a bit of water. Mine was just about right. Check for seasoning. Often cube or jelly stocks can be a bit salty, so don’t add any in at the beginning.
Allow the risotto to sit while you quickly make the prawns:
1 bag raw frozen king prawns, defrosted (or use fresh if you’re that lucky)
Large knob of butter
1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed with a little salt
So drain the prawns and melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the garlic, stir around, then add in the prawns. Cook them until they are just pink and tender. Serve over the risotto with a large handful of chopped parsley or rocket.
A little note on Parmigiano:
I usually use copious amounts of Parmigiano in my risotto, and actually find that lemon risotto benefits from the saltiness of the cheese. Obviously with fish I left out the cheese (never a good mixture), and both my boys found the risotto too lemony. So if you’re making this risotto on its own or with chicken, I’d recommend a couple of good handfuls of Parmigiano, grated, stirred through at the end. If making with fish – go steady on the lemon, or maybe squeeze it over at the end, to taste.
So we’re home, then.
The last few days have been a bit of a whirl, what with the drunken madness that was the Cybermummy Conference this weekend, but we’ve got everything into the storage locker (the last few things were just hurled in, to be honest) and my long-suffering mum is looking after us until we move in to our new pad. The Ninja Cat of Death was very good on the way over – apart from constant growling and moaning in the back of the car, there was no ‘poo of shame‘ like last time. She was less than impressed to meet my Mum’s cat and dog, but we kept her in for a few days, and now she’s happily roaming the upstairs, coming in and out of the windows like she owns the place, and giving my mum’s poor labrador Ellie a swift backhander if she steps out of line.
So far, from my wishlist, I’ve done the following:
1. Hugged my Dad (and had a nice glass of wine and a chat with him too – AND seen the swish new orange tractor)
2. Hugged Ellie. She still smells and is still hairy. But I love her.
3. Been out to dinner with the hubster (we had really great food… and two bottles of wine *cough* – more of this later)
4. Been for cocktails with my lovely friends (what is it with me and ‘the claw’? Can I not pose for a photo without it?):
5. Been to Waitrose. Happy, happy days. I walked round like a grinning lunatic and came back with all sorts of loveliness. I’m going to have to rein myself in though or otherwise I’ll be bankrupt by the end of July. Still, they had some gorgeous prawns and FRESH PEAS!! I spent a very enjoyable afternoon sitting in the sunshine in my mum’s garden shelling peas and sipping cold white wine. Bliss. Oh, and here’s what I made for tea:
Prawn and courgette pasta with fresh peas
Serves 4 generously
Good quality dried pasta (I generally reckon on 100g dried pasta per person)
1 pack large raw prawns
As many peas as you can be bothered to shell
Splosh double cream
So first get your pasta on. Use the biggest saucepan you have and make the water ‘as salty as the sea’ (not sure where I read that, but I always repeat it to myself when cooking it – I’m a bit sad like that). Linguine works really well here, but I didn’t have any, so ‘tubes’ it is (I’m sure there’s a technical term for ‘tubes’, but you know what I mean).
When the pasta’s well on the way, slice the courgettes and fry in a heavy-based frying pan with a little garlic-infused rapeseed oil. When they’re just starting to turn golden, pop in the prawns (you need to be careful not to overcook prawns or they get that horrible crunchy texture).
When the prawns go in, pop the fresh peas in with the pasta (they’ll only take a minute or two).
Now add a generous splosh of cream (double is better as it’s less prone to splitting, but you could use creme fraiche too. Generously grind over lots of pepper too.
When the pasta and peas are just cooked, drain and add to the frying pan. Toss everything together and serve immediately, with a good grating of Parmesan. Noms.
This is also lovely with crab (a pot of fresh stuff or a tin of white crab meat) and some fresh, chopped chilli.
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