14 March 21

We’ve been eating well this week, a lemony mince pork pie, lovely leftovers soup, bistro steak frites and Cornish seafood in www.rickstein.com Fresh Fish Box Large. Read all about it here.


Early morning knock at the door and there is No 1 son and his No 1 son bearing Mothering Sunday gifts: a bouquet of rhubarb from Zach and a pack of M&S croissant from Caspar. Ah bless. Very touched. The B and I head off with Red for a walk, a gorgeous Mother’s Day, the sun shining, almost warm enough for lunch in the garden. We have lovely leftovers from Chinese takeway; Chinese broccoli stir-fried so the stalks stay crunchy but tender with a slick of ginger sauce is a favourite, delicious with Chinese Beansprouts with Noodles. Dinner is favourite Sunday night roast: chicken, sausages, roast potatoes and buttered cabbage, gravy made with white wine and lemon juice from the roasting dish. Yum.


Casting around for something for supper, supplies low and stuck indoors. I then remember I’d frozen Ragu with Lemon and Chilli, plenty for 4 portions. Decided to turn it into a pie, making pastry with 400g plain flour, 150g butter and 50g lard, adding about 5tbsp cold water to the crumbly mix, resting covered for 30 minutes then rolling to line the pie tin with a thin layer of pastry, saving enough to make a thicker lid. Glazed with beaten egg, the edges crimped and ‘glued’ with water, a central air hole and it emerged from the oven (200C/gas mark 6) golden and glorious after 30 minutes. I roasted slender carrots at the same time and cooked more sweetheart cabbage – sliced, dropped into salted boiling water for a couple of minutes then tossed with butter, lemon juices and lots of freshly grated nutmeg. Highly recommended.


Made another leftovers soup with remains of Chinese broccoli from Saturday’s home delivery (www.shikumen.co.uk), the austere but highly recommended restaurant at the Dorsett Hotel, Shepherd’s Bush. I added leftover rice and cooked peas with chicken stock. Very good indeed, surprisingly well-balanced cream of green with hints of all the ingredients coming through. Extra good with a crumble of feta cheese. Made stock from the bones and debris from Sunday’s roast chicken and started making a pile of fridge-tidy bits and pieces to turn leftover meat into another hot meal. Onion, red pepper, carrot, tomatoes, spinach, chillies and some of the stock became a fresh and vibrant pile-up with the chicken that went very well with quick baked potatoes (Lamb chops, Diamond Jackets and Minted Pea Puree). So next time you have leftover roast chicken (or buy a couple of portions), remember Leftover Roast Chicken and Red Vegetable Stew.


My beautiful bunch of Mothering Sunday rhubarb lies forlornly in the fridge wondering what is its destiny. Soup? Lamb Khoresh? Jam? Roast to eat with something creamy? Tart or Pie? When I check over some of my rhubarb recipes from 12 years writing Dinner Tonight in the Times, I couldn’t believe the versatility of this vegetable we eat as fruit. If you have a copy of Dinner Tonight there is a pretty line drawing of Roast Rhubarb and Orange Marzipan Tarts (pg 186) which comes highly recommended. Another lovely quick, simple idea is roasting 1cm thick slices of rhubarb, snuggled up close on a shallow roasting tin, dredged lightly with sugar and covered tightly with foil. Roast for 8 minutes at 180C/gas mark 4 then leave covered to cool. Whip 200ml cream and spoon it into 6 meringue nests. Scoop the rhubarb with a metal spatula over the cream and scrape passion fruit over the top. For my Mother’s Day rhubarb, perhaps it will be rhubarb jam with orange but I’m not in the mood to make it today. Rhubarb goes deliciously well with passion fruit and I often serve stewed or roast rhubarb topped with passion fruit and serve it with something creamy. A smarter version of that is Roast Rhubarb Fool with Passion Fruit. Dinner is steak and chips, the meat is onglet, also known as hanger steak, a cut from beneath the diaphragm near the flank. Because it’s placed quite close to the liver, it has a gamey flavour and needs to be cooked rare or medium rare quickly over a high heat. Rest for a few minutes before slicing across the lean, tender oblong steak to avoid toughness. I often serve it with a dollop of salsa verde but tonight it’s Dijon mustard with the frites and a green salad to follow. You can learn all about it here: Bistro Steak with make-ahead Pommes Frites.


The B got an unexpected windfall last week to be cashed in at Rick Stein’s empire. Instead of a home delivery meal he ordered their Cornish seafood box; crab, hake, scallops, that sort of thing. It’s arriving today, so it’s fish for supper. I can’t recommend the box enough; it arrives safely packed and everything ready for the freezer if that is what’s required. Unexpectedly, each item – 6 scallops in their half shell, 2 plump, well trimmed hake fillets, 2 tiny sea bass neatly filleted in 4, 2 huge dressed crabs in their shells and a generous bag of diced fish mix ready for fish pie – comes with a recipe-related sauce or recipe. What’s great about the fish box – all spanking fresh – is that there are cooking and recipe tips next to cute line drawings and a recipe for Seafood Gratin. Tonight we are having a house favourite of crab and frites with a pot of deliciously wobbly Rick Stein mayo. I freeze the fish pie mix but tomorrow it’s hake and Sat will be scallops and sea bass.  


Am so impressed with www.rickstein.com fresh fish box large. I love the fact that each item has sauces and ideas for cooking. Tonight I’m making meen kulambu curry with the two hake fillets and the pot of curry base in the box. It’s simplicity itself to make; just cook out (a cheffy expression that means cooking out the rawness or astringency or alcohol in a sauce) the curry sauce in a large pan with a little water, add a can of coconut milk, simmer and season to taste with salt. Use now or leave (covered) for later then poach the fish in the hot sauce for 5 minutes and serve with a coriander garnish. I augmented this with 100g frozen petit pois and 2 peeled and diced tomatoes added right at the end and served it with 100g basmati rice (rinsed) in 150ml water, brought to simmer over a low heat, covered and cooked for 10 minutes then left covered for a further 10 minutes before forking up. I also had mango chutney on the table. The South Indian curry sauce is neither too hot nor bland, but spicy and interesting. Very delicious. I haven’t checked yet but there is sure to be a recipe in one of Rick’s books and several on line. A key ingredient is tamarind, so add that to your shopping list. I am.


In the Rick Stein Fresh Fish Box Large are 6 scallops on the half shell that have been trimmed and washed but are still attached to the shell, which means when you eat them, slide a knife under the scallop to remove it before you start eating. There is a simple tip for cooking them, laying the rinsed scallops on a tray, add a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning of salt, then cook under a hot grill for a couple of minutes and eat with a squeeze of lemon. I went a step further and added a splash of white wine to the scallops, topped them with a slice of the hazelnut and coriander butter that came in the box and topped that with a teaspoonful of my home made panko breadcrumbs. Popped under a hot grill, the butter melted into the wine to make a buttery sauce, the crumbs crisped golden whilst protecting the scallops from potential scorch and absolutely loved the result, juices mopped up with Hedone white from www.bayley-sage.co.uk. Dinner was similarly simple to cook and similarly delicious. Sea bass in hot and sour sauce. The slender bass fillets are seasoned with salt and pepper and quickly fried in a little vegetable oil at a high heat (to prevent sticking), starting with the skin side. The idea is for the skin to crisp (mine didn’t, it was so delicate and thin it just curled and rolled to one side). The fillets are then served with warmed sauce (provided in a little carton) over the top. Absolutely FAB. Highly recommended. I did look up the hot, sour and sweet sauce and discovered it’s a Thai sauce featuring in Rick’s Far Eastern Odyssey pg 104. It too requires tamarind, so another reason to invest in some. It was a treat dipping into the book again. Do search it out.