Mustard-Glazed Salmon with Zucchini Ribbons

Apart from being quick and easy salmon is versatile, light and full of goodness, so I serve it about once a week.

We’re growing yellow and green zucchini in the garden. If they grow too big – which they seem to do very fast when you’re not looking – I use them in this delicious recipe for Zucchini with Tarragon. If I catch them when they’re smaller (10-15cm in length) they’re ideal for making into ribbons.

There were some tomatoes which needed using up, two pieces of salmon thawing on the side and a fridge overflowing with zucchinis. The result was this colourful recipe which was simple, but delicious. Great for a mid-week dinner for two, but snazzy enough to make when you have guests – just increase the quantities. If you don’t have any yellow zucchinis use all green ones. If you find English mustard too strong use a milder one such as Dijon.

Mustard-Glazed Salmon with Zucchini Ribbons2 green zucchinis (courgettes)
2 yellow zucchinis (courgettes)
1 Tbs olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice or equivalent in baby tomatoes
1-2 Tbs chopped fresh basil (or parsley or coriander)
2 salmon fillets with skin, about 180g each
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp made English mustard
2 tsp olive oil, extra
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
Extra virgin olive oil
Cracked Pepper

Wash and dry zucchinis and trim the ends. With a vegetable peeler cut them into ribbons. Cut about 4 on one side, then turn the zucchini and cut another 4 and keep going round till you’re left with the core which is mainly seeds, which you can throw away. Place ribbons in a covered microwave dish with 1 Tbs water and cook on High for 3 minutes then drain thoroughly.

Heat the tablespoonful of oil in a medium-sized frying pan and cook tomatoes, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add basil, salt and pepper to taste and the zucchini ribbons. Mix gently then turn off heat.

Meanwhile heat the extra oil in a small non-stick frying pan. Season salmon and place skin side down in the pan and cook until skin is crispy. While skin is crisping, mix the brown sugar and mustard and spread over the salmon on the three exposed sides. When skin is crisp turn salmon and cook on the underside for a minute or so, then very briefly on the other two sides so they are nicely glazed. When salmon is almost ready reheat the zucchini and tomato for a minute or so. Serve salmon on a bed of zucchini ribbons, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some cracked pepper.

Serves 2

Note: I used 8-10 baby tomatoes instead of bigger ones. There’s no need to peel the tomatoes, but you can if you prefer.

Barramundi with Romesco Sauce & Sweet Potatoes

Romesco Sauce goes well with pan fried fish, chicken, roast lamb or beef, or in sandwiches, as a change from mustard or mayonnaise. It’s quick and easy to make, keeps in the fridge for up to a week and can be frozen.

Here I served it with pan-fried barramundi fillets, cooked until the skin was nice and crispy and mashed sweet potatoes. A delicious flavour combination.

Romesco Sauce:
1 large roasted red pepper from a jar (about six large pieces)
1 garlic clove, crushedBarramundi with Romesco Sauce & Sweet Potatoes
½ cup slivered/flaked almonds or pine nuts
¼ cup tomato paste
2 Tbs chopped parsley
2 Tbs sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Other ingredients:
1 large or two smaller sweet potatoes
25g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces Barramundi (about 180g each), skin on
2 Tbs olive oil
Parsley leaves to garnish

Sauce: Place all ingredients except oil, salt and pepper in food processor and process briefly until chopped. Scrape down the sides then with the motor running slowly add the oil and process till chunky-smooth. Season to taste.

Peel sweet potato, cut into chunks, place in a saucepan with some salt. Cover with boiling water then simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain and mash with butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Place olive oil in a non-stick medium sized frying pan. Pat fish fillets dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place fish in the cold frying pan, skin side down, then turn on the heat and cook for 4 mins or until skin is crispy. Turn fish over and cook for 2-3 mins on the other side or until cooked through. Serve fish on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, topped with a dollop of Romesco sauce and garnished with parsley.

Keep any leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

Serves 4

Israeli Baked Fish with Feta

Our cleaning lady in Israel was also called Linda. My Hebrew was pretty basic, but she spoke Italian and I speak Spanish so we communicated in a weird combination of all three. A certain amount was lost in translation, but we managed.

When Linda’s son had his Bah Mitzvah she invited us to the celebration. We got terribly lost on the way and as we pulled up at the address we had been given – a huge building in the centre of town – we were feeling somewhat frazzled. The sound of a big party was wafting down the stairs so we ran up to find a room packed with over 200 guests seated at tables for 10. Linda was nowhere to be seen, so not wanting to make a point of having arrived late we spotted a couple of empty seats in the far corner and sat down. We were onto our second glass of wine and having a jolly time when suddenly the band started to play, everyone stood up and in walked the bride and groom. “Holy Dooley” said Matthew, “wrong party.”

It was impossible to leave without shaking hands with the happy couple as they were standing at the only exit and probably thinking “who invited them?”  We eventually found our party at the other end of the building.

Linda gave me this easy recipe for a Mediterranean all in one fish dish which uses feta cheese to thicken the sauce. If you have more mouths to feed the onions and potatoes “pad it out”, as my mother would say, but I often leave one or both of them out. If preferred, serve potatoes, rice or Israeli couscous as a side dish.

This recipe makes a quick mid-week family dinner and is easy to halve – as I’ve done in the photo. In fact I don’t usually measure the ingredients, just do it by eye. It looks very colourful when you bring it to the table making it perfect for casual entertaining. It’s just as delicious without the prawns.

Israeli Baked Fish with Feta1.5 kg firm white fish fillets
Or 1kg fish and 500g peeled green prawns
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
300g feta cheese
300g black olives, stoned
12-15 baby onions (optional)
12-15 peeled baby potatoes (optional)
250g cherry tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine or sherry
To serve:
3-4 Tbs chopped parsley, preferably flat-leafed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 200°C . Cut fish and feta into 2-3 cm chunks. If using, cook onions and potatoes separately in boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until almost cooked.

Mix fish (and prawns) with salt, pepper and crushed garlic then spread over a greased lasagne-type dish. Evenly distribute the feta, olives and tomatoes, tucking them in between to make a pretty picture. If using, add the onions and potatoes. Move the prawns, if using, towards the top, so you can see them better. Drizzle with the wine or sherry and then the oil. Recipe can be made ahead to this stage and kept refrigerated for up to a few hours.

Bake for 25-40 minutes or until fish is cooked. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, drizzle with a little more oil and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Serves 6-8

Note: Potatoes and onions can be omitted. Olive stones can be left in if you are in a hurry and don’t have any pitted ones. Use green ones or pimento-stuffed if that’s all you have. If you refrigerated the dish before baking it will take about 10 minutes more to cook.

Smoked Trout Salad with Asian Dressing

One whole smoked trout is enough to make a light meal for two people. Whole hot-smoked trout are sold in supermarkets in Australia in vacuum packs. The use by date usually allows you can keep them for a week or two in the fridge before they need to be eaten. Handy for those occasions when you peer into the fridge thinking “What can I make for dinner with what I’ve got?”

Carefully remove the flesh in large chunks, discarding the skin and bones. I definitely have to wear my reading glasses to do this! Mix with freshly cooked pasta, adding a splash of cream and a few capers or chopped dill. Some halved baby tomatoes or rocket leaves are an optional addition.

Or make this Asian salad which is perfect for a hot summer’s day.

Smoked Trout Salad with Asian Dressing

3 spring onions or small shallots
1 clove garlic
½ small red chilli, seeded and chopped
2 Tbs roasted peanuts
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs tamarind paste (sold in jars)
3 Tbs water
3 Tbs palm sugar, chopped, or substitute brown sugar
1 smoked trout, flesh removed, bones and skin discarded
2-3 cups small salad leaves
1 Tbs finely chopped lime (skin and flesh)
2 Tbs roasted peanuts, chopped
½ cup coriander leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

Dressing: Place onions, garlic, chilli and peanuts in food processor and process until you have a paste, stopping to scrape down the sides halfway. Place paste in a saucepan with remaining dressing ingredients. Simmer for 3-4 minutes then leave to cool. It should be thick and a bit sticky.

Meanwhile arrange salad leaves on two plates. Top with the trout pieces, the lime, peanuts and coriander leaves. Drizzle with some of the sauce, then drizzle a little olive oil around the edge of the plate. Any leftover dressing is delicious served with cold roast meats.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

Note: some supermarkets sell smoked trout fillets without skin or bones.

Variation: to serve as finger food, separate the leaves of 2 heads of chicory (witloof or witlof) and top each with a piece of smoked trout, the remaining toppings and some of the dressing.

Smoked Haddock with Tomatoes & Cream

When I was growing up in the UK my mother used to cook smoked haddock in milk. I have never seen smoked haddock in Australia, but I often buy a couple of fillets of smoked cod and stick them in the freezer to whip out on a busy day.

I invented this dish many years ago and it has become a favourite mid-week dinner. All you need are tomatoes – which we have in the garden at the moment – and some cream. The recipe is easy to halve if you’re cooking for one.

Smoked Haddock with Tomatoes & Cream

2 fillets smoked cod or haddock (about 350g)
3-4 tomatoes
About 1/3 cup cream
Black pepper
Chopped fresh herbs to garnish

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Remove skin from fish, cut into bite size chunks and arrange in a small, shallow, oven-proof dish, lightly greased. If you have time, remove skin from tomatoes by pouring boiling water over them for a minute or so. This is optional – I don’t mind them with the skin left on. Cut tomatoes into chunks and sprinkle over the fish. Drizzle with cream and season with pepper. You probably won’t need salt as the fish is salty. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden and bubbly. Garnish with some herbs and serve with steamed rice or mashed potatoes and a steamed green vegetable such as peas, snow peas, green beans or asparagus.

Serves 2-3

Crispy-skinned Fish with Tomato Salsa

My favourite fish recipes are simple ones like this. With lots of cherry tomatoes in the garden I’m putting it on the menu about once a week at the moment.

Crispy-skinned Fish with Tomato Salsa

2 x 150g thick fish fillets with skin (e.g. snapper, cod, blue grenadier)
2 Tbs olive oil
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Small handful chopped fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, basil)
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dry fish with paper towels then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread one Tbs olive oil over the base of a non-stick frying pan and lay fish fillets on top, skin side down. Turn the heat on to medium and slowly heat the pan and cook the fish until the skin is golden and crisp. Turn fish over and cook for about a minute on the other side or until just cooked. Remove from pan to a warm plate and cover with a large saucepan lid to keep warm while you make the sauce.

Crispy-skinned Fish with Tomato Salsa

Add 1 Tbs oil to the pan with the spring onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook for another minute, stirring. Finally add vinegar and cook for another minute. Tomatoes should be soft but still keep their shape. Season with the salt, pepper and sugar, stir in the herbs and divide between two warm plates. Place fish on top, skin side up. Serve with a green vegetable such as pan fried zucchinis (courgettes) as shown in the photo.

Serves 2

Note: white wine vinegar or verjuice can be used instead of white balsamic vinegar.

Quick Fish Soup

This delicious, creamy Mediterranean-style soup can be on the table in less than 15 minutes. With crusty bread it’s a meal in itself.  You want the fish to stay in chunks and not disintegrate, so be careful not to over-cook it.

Quick Fish Soup

25g butter
1 leek, finely sliced or 1 lg onion, chopped
1 cup white wine
About 12 mussels, fresh or frozen, in shell, scrubbed
3 cups boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube
1/3 cup cream or sour cream
350-400g fish (I like half white fish and half salmon)
200g raw peeled prawns
pinch saffron or turmeric
1 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce (optional)
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley

In a large heavy-based saucepan, melt butter and cook leek or onion gently for 5 minutes until soft but not brown. Add wine, water, stock cube and mussels and bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer. As soon as mussels have opened remove them from the pan and when cool enough to handle open and discard the empty shells. Meanwhile cut fish into large chunks and add to the pan with the prawns, cream and saffron or turmeric. As soon as fish is tender – just a few minutes – return mussels to pan, add sugar and season to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a drizzle of Tabasco, chopped parsley and crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Serves 4

Note: I bought a kilo of frozen New Zealand mussels from the supermarket which was enough to make this soup twice.

Steamed Monkfish with Ginger & Spring Onions

You don’t see monkfish much in the shops and when you do it’s usually quite expensive, but I recently bought some at Costco. It’s a firm, “meaty” fish with a texture similar to scallops. I think the best way to serve it is steamed with Chinese flavourings.

350-400g monkfish filletsSteamed Monkfish with Ginger & Spring Onions
2-3 tsp grated or finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
To serve:
Steamed rice

Cut fish into big chunks. Mix with the ginger and garlic and season to taste. Place on a dinner plate in one layer. Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Place the plate with the fish on top and cover with the saucepan lid. Steam for 7-8 minutes or until opaque and cooked through but not quite flaking. Timing will depend on how close the plate is to the boiling water – be careful not to overcook.

Meanwhile heat sesame oil and soy sauce in a saucepan or in the microwave. Arrange fish on 2 serving plates. Drizzle with the soy sauce mixture and sprinkle with the spring onions. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 2

Variation: use another firm fish such as barramundi

Salmon with Pumpkin and Almond Pesto

We had this recipe from Delicious magazine last night and it was just as yummy as it looks in the photo. I made half the salmon and pumpkin – enough to serve two people – but all the almond pesto. The left-over pesto will be nice served with pasta, grilled chicken or steak, or drizzled over home-made wintery soups.

Salmon with Pumpkin and Almond Pesto

1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed
1 Tbs rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbs
1 bunch parsley, leaves picked off
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup blanched almonds (whole, flaked or slivered)
4 x 200g skinless salmon fillets, pin-boned
Steamed green vegetable to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C and line a large roasting pan with baking paper. Cut pumpkin into 2-3cm cubes and place on the paper with the rosemary and 1 Tbs oil. Season and toss to combine. Roast for 15 mins or until almost tender. To make pesto place parsley, almonds and garlic in food processor and whiz to combine. Add the ½ cup olive oil, scrape into a small bowl and season to taste. I also added the juice of half a lime, to give it a bit more zing.

Brush salmon with remaining 1 Tbs oil, season and add to the roasting pan with the pumpkin. Bake for a further 10 mins or until just cooked. Divide salmon and pumpkin among 4 plates and serve with the pesto and a steamed green vegetable such as beans, snow peas, brussels sprouts or broccoli.

Serves 4

Seafood Mornay

When I was at school in England we made Russian Fish Pies in cookery classes. Steamed white fish, chopped hard boiled eggs and parsley were mixed with a thick white sauce, encased in puff pastry and baked. At the time I thought it was delicious, but I now realise that the fish was over-cooked.

This recipe for Seafood Mornay uses raw seafood mixed into a thick sauce flavoured with cheese and sherry. Either top it with grated cheese and breadcrumbs or make it into pies. Both are delicious – the latter a bit more filling, but not too bad as they only have pastry on the top, not underneath. Either way the seafood is cooked al dente, the way it should be.

Seafood Mornay500g firm white fish fillets, no skin or bones
500g salmon fillets, no skin or bones
500g peeled raw peeled prawns
3 Tbs breadcrumbs (about one slice of bread whizzed in food processor)
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs parsley
60g butter
60g plain flour (about 2 very heaped Tbs)
1½ cups milk
½ cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
2 Tbs sherry
150g Gruyere cheese, grated (you can substitute cheddar or Ementhal)

Cut fish into cubes about 2-3 cm square then place with prawns in a colander to drain while you make the sauce. Melt butter, add flour, cook for a minute then gradually add sherry, milk and cream. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese. Season generously because the seafood hasn’t been seasoned. Remove from heat as soon as cheese melts. The sauce will be very thick, but the fish will create juices as it cooks, especially if it’s been frozen, so you need a thick sauce to counteract this. If it seems unmanageably thick add a dash more milk. Mix sauce with seafood and place in one large buttered ovenproof shallow dish or 8-10 individual dishes.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix Parmesan, breadcrumbs and parsley and sprinkle over. Mornays can be refrigerated, covered for up to 24 hrs or frozen, well-wrapped, for up to 2 months. If frozen, thaw before cooking.

Bake for 30-40 mins until golden brown all over and bubbly. Serve as a main dish with a green vegetable such as beans or snow peas and rice or new potatoes.

Serves 8-10

Seafood Pies

Seafood mixture (see above)photo
1 egg, beaten
Sour Cream pastry:
250g plain flour
125g butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1-2 Tbs cold water
1 tsp salt

Place flour in food processor, add cold butter cut into pieces and process until fine crumbs. Add sour cream and salt and start motor again. Gradually add water through the chute with motor running. As soon as pastry forms a ball tip out and pat into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Divide fish mixture amongst 8-10 buttered dishes, such as soufflé dishes shown in photo which have a one cup (250ml) capacity. Fill almost level with the top. Roll out pastry on a floured surface and cut circles the diameter of dishes plus 2-3cm. Dampen edges of dishes, place pastry circles on top and press pastry on to seal. Cut a hole for steam to escape. Brush with beaten egg then bake for 30-40 mins or until golden brown and bubbling through the steam vent.

Makes 8-10 pies