Wright Brothers: Bringing Fresh Fish to London

I tend to like all types of food but fish has to be one of my favourites, that’s why on Friday night when my boyfriend asked where I fancy visiting for dinner, the Wright Brothers Oyster House came straight to mind.

Located in London Bridge, Soho, Spitalfields and Cornwall, Wright Brothers is rapidly expanding and although each venue delivers the same concept and style of food, they all have their own individual charm. My favourite is probably London Bridge; this tiny Oyster and Porter House is nestled in the heart of Borough food market and with an open kitchen, communal tables, barrels, counter seating and authentic brickwork, this quaint dining room welcomes you right from the start. The Soho restaurant still delivers a similar style of dining with open kitchens and counter seating, however it is a much larger venue split over two floors with the upstairs having a more traditional restaurant experience.

Last Friday, we fancied a buzzy evening so decided to head to Soho. We had requested to sit downstairs at the kitchen counter bar as we love to watch the chefs at work, preparing the shellfish and serving up a range of delicious dishes. We were presented with the menu, which is always simple with a shellfish and oyster section, four to five starter dishes and a small number of meat and fish options. There are also daily specials which offer pastas, risottos or the catch of the day. Most diners choose the shellfish which can be ordered individually or on mixed platters, both of which are equally impressive.

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On this occasion we ordered from the main dishes with my boyfriend choosing Devilled Squid (£9) followed by Cod, Pancetta and Samphire with a Gem salad (£22.50) and myself opting to skip the starter and pick a main course sized mussels with fresh bread (£15.50). The wine list offers a great selections of wines with the option to order wine by the glass, carafe or bottle. We chose a carafe of Sauvignon Blanc, which was so good we ordered a second half way through our meal.

The Devilled Squid starter was basically calamari, with a light and crispy batter and accompanied with tasty harissa mayonnaise. Our only criticism was that it was slightly too salty but my boyfriend still wiped the plate clean so it was not a problem. The cod was the best meal of the evening, giving me slight food envy when it arrived. It was fresh, meaty and presented beautifully, complimented with fresh samphire and crispy pancetta pieces. This with the fresh baby gem lettuce salad delivered the best fish dish I have tasted in a while. My mussels were also delicious, served in a large tin and with a flavoursome white wine and shallot butter – perfect for dunking bread into when all the mussels had been eaten. We opted against a dessert on this occasion as the menu was a little uninspiring but in the past we have enjoyed many of their scrummy fruit crumbles.

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When our plates were cleared the waitress told us a brief story of the Wright Brothers; Initially the brothers set out in 2002 as wholesalers supplying London’s top restaurants with fresh French oysters and after a number of years decided to open their own restaurant. Today they have four restaurants and their wholesale business, however now deliver both French and British oysters and shellfish throughout the UK. The waitress also told us that the Soho restaurant was going to be closed over the next few weeks for refurbishment as they are working to formalised their restaurants slightly, delivering the same fresh fish concept but creating more of a high-quality dining environment. Personally I don’t think they need to change things as all of their restaurants are pretty great but they obviously know what they’re doing.

The Wright Brothers restaurants aren’t cheap but when you receive such high quality produce and some of the best sea food in the UK it really does seem worth it. Overall our bill came to around £100, but with great service, atmosphere, food, drink and plenty to observe, we walked away feeling like it was definitely money well spent. We look forward to visiting again soon and checking out the changes they have it store!

Square Meal

Lamb Shanks with a Chorizo & Tomato Sauce

Our local supermarket, Booths, is fantastic for locally sourced meat, fish and vegetables. Therefore last weekend, with my boyfriend coming to stay, I decided to take a trip to Booths to buy some tasty treats to enjoy over the weekend. With such an array of delicious food on offer it is never easy choosing what to cook, however when I saw the large, meaty lamb shanks behind the counter I knew that they had to be bought.

After giving my mum a quick call for some recipe inspiration, I decided to cook lamb shanks in a chorizo and tomato sauce, a meal my mum had promised was easy to make and was highly praised when she had cooked it for guests in the past.

As usual my mum was correct, the dish turned out absolutely delicious; the meat was tender and flavoursome, the sauce think and fragrant and accompanied with crushed new potatoes and green vegetables, it was a perfect and comforting way to end a rainy Lake District day. My boyfriend even said that it was the best lamb he had ever eaten, he may of said this to be polite but he did eat every single bit.

I cooked the lamb the day before serving so the flavours had chance to soak into the meat and intensify, however if you are pushed for time cooking it on the same day is not a problem.

The recipe:

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 very large handful of chopped coriander

1 table spoon of mint sauce

2 chopped garlic cloves

1 large sliced onion

Half a dessert spoon of tomato puree

1 small packet of diced chorizo

2 lamb shanks

1 chicken stock cube

1 dessert spoon of plain flour

1 knob of butter

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Olive oil

2 tablespoons of Madeira or white wine

Method

  1. Place the lamb shanks in a casserole dish and rub each shank with a little mint sauce. Sprinkle the lamb with plain flour and mix around.
  2. In a separate sauce pan sauté the onions in a knob of butter and put a lid on the pan to sweat the onions, stirring regularly.
  3. In another pan gently sauté the chopped chorizo, garlic and tomato puree in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the Madeira or wine and the tomatoes to the pan and reduce by half.
  4. Add steps 2 and 3 to the shanks and cover with chicken stock.
  5. Oven cook for 3 hours at 170c.
  6. Once cooked, remove the shanks from the casserole dish and on the hob reduce the sauce by half until you have the right consistency.
  7. When the sauce has reduced add the shanks again, sprinkle with coriander and leave to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. When you are ready to cook the following day, remove the layer of fat from the top and reheat for 25 minutes at 170-180c.
  9. Sprinkle with the rest of the coriander and serve with whatever you fancy. Although the crushed new potatoes worked well, I think next time I would serve it with mashed potato.
  10. If you would like to cook and eat it the same day, follow steps 1 to 7 and as soon as you have reduced the sauce by half cook for a further 25 minutes at 170c and sprinkle with coriander to serve.

Santorini: A Greek Island with a Difference

I have just returned from a week’s holiday in beautiful Santorini. I must admit that before visiting the small island I hardly knew much about the place, other than it is the setting for the Müller yogurt adverts and renowned for its volcanic scenery.

Located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km South East from Greece’s mainland, Santorini is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. Basically, Santorini is what remains of an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the formerly single island many many years ago.

Not knowing the island very well, my boyfriend and I thought that a beach holiday would be best and booked to stay at a small hotel located on one of Santorini’s most popular beach resorts, Perissa. Perissa was a lot smaller than expected and the roads on entering the town were in parts neglected, therefore on arrival I was a little nervous. Nevertheless, I stayed positive and became extremely relieved and excited when we got to the resorts attractive town centre and our hotel, Meltimi Village.

Meltimi Village is a traditional Greek hotel consisting of a collection of hotel rooms, suites and studios. The building was quaint, charming and pretty with white washed walls, fuchsia flowers draping over roofs and verandas and had a large swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, comfy sun loungers and a bar. Our room was basic and although we had booked self-catering it was pretty impossible to cook in, however it was comfortable and cleaned everyday making our stay perfectly adequate. The main reason we picked Meltimi from the Thomson catalog was because of its excellent reviews which I can confirm were all correct. Meltimi was also only a hop, skip and a jump from many bars and restaurants and of course Perissa’s long, black beach.

Outside our studio

Outside our studio

Hotel pool

Hotel pool

Perissa’s beach features unique characteristics such as black sand, crystalline waters and with its gigantic mountain at the end of the stretch, it is the best protected beach from the summer Aegean winds, which is quite crucial as the winds in Santorini can be destructively strong. The beach front is lined with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops all offering traditional Greek dishes and of course tourist favourites such as pasta, pizza and grills. In the past I have not been overly keen on Greek food and Perissa didn’t really change my views, however we did find one or two really good places which I would recommend.

Perissa beach & mountain

Perissa beach & mountain

If you are visiting Perissa, I recommend visiting the following:

  • Tranquilo, a laid back bar and restaurant with a hippy vibe, offering a wide menu, fantastic cocktails and live music.
  • Poseidon, a Greek taverna and one of the better ones we found, serving delicious Souvlaki (marinated kebabs) and fresh fish.
  • The Magic Bus, a relaxed bar with two extremely friendly owners who always went out of their way to make us comfortable, they also serve a very good Mojito.
  • The Fish Tavern, the only taverna we found to serve fresh fish straight from the boat.
Tranquilo Cocktail

Tranquilo Cocktail

The Fish Tavern, Grilled Prawns

The Fish Tavern, Grilled Prawns

Perissa is around 20 minutes away from Santorini’s capital, Fira, which is a city of white-washed houses built on the edge of the 1,312 feet high caldera on the western edge of island. Fira is made up of narrow paths lined with all kinds of shops, bars and restaurants and is noticeably wealthier and cosmopolitan than the rest of Santorini.

We were told to visit Fira to watch the sunset, so mid-way through our holiday we hopped on a local bus which dropped us off at the bottom of the capital and clambered up to see the view. We took a seat in a small bar perched on the edge of the cliff which had a magnificent views of the volcanic landscape; it was truly magical. As the sun began to set, the streets were full of visitors all taking photos and capturing the moment with their loved ones. The white washed walls of the capital’s buildings began to change colour from the glare of the sun and with the donkeys passing below, the sea still in the distant and the sun stronger than ever, I have to admit it was an hour in my life that I will never forget.

Fira

Fira

Fira & the Caldera

Fira & the Caldera

Fira Sunset

Fira Sunset

During our holiday we also set sail on a sunset cruise which was a great excursion enabling us to take in the island from the waters. It also gave us a greater insight into Santorini’s astonishing history and how this beautiful place was created from such devastating events.  When our tour guide announced “we are currently sailing over one of the world’s most dangerous, active craters” I did become slightly alarmed, however there is something comforting about the island that makes its most prominent danger actually quite an enticing and mysterious attraction. Although the volcano could pose a threat to the future, without it Santorini would not be what it is today and its millions of tourists wouldn’t flock to the island providing its largest revenue stream.

Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

Overall my boyfriend and I had a wonderful trip that I certainly will never forget. Unfortunately we didn’t get chance to visit Oia (pronounce EE-ah) and were informed that this is also worth a visit so if we holiday in Santorini again that will be our first stop.

My recommendations for if you’re visiting Santorini are:

  • Check out the black sand beaches.
  • Take in the views and watch the sunset in Fira or Oia.
  • Don’t head to the beach on a windy day as it can be painful on the eyes (when I say windy I MEAN windy).
  • If you are looking for a holiday on a budget stick to Perissa and Kamari.
  • If you would like something a little more lavish head to Fira and enjoy the views from your own private pool in one of the many stylish hotels.
  • When visiting Tranquilo for food don’t order a salad each, share one – you won’t be able to finish one yourself they are massive.
  • Don’t expect to cook a five course meal in a Greek self-catering studio; however do expect to meet some of the friendliest people around.
  • For transport, take the local bus around the island. The buses are only 2.20 Euros each way and are very frequent and air conditioned.
  • Visit anytime between March and October, they don’t get much rain at all particularly in these months. September for us was perfect as it was vibrant but not overly busy and still HOT HOT HOT.
  • Enjoy it no matter what – time flies and now I’m back I miss it a lot!

The Swan at Chapel Down

I must admit I am a little obsessed with Chapel Down; their wines are delicious, their vineyards are beautiful and although I’m not a lager or ale drinker I have been told that their ‘Curious’ drinks are also superb.

My first trip to the Chapel Down estate was about two years ago when Richard Philips ran the restaurant sat above the wine shop. The meal and drinks were great, so when I heard that he’d left the restaurant I was a little disappointed. Nevertheless every time I visited Kent I continued to pop by to purchase a bottle of their lovely wine.

Fortunately the restaurant has now reopened as The Swan at Chapel Down, which is the third opening from the owners behind The Swan in West Malling and The Swan at the globe on London’s Southbank. Encompassing a large restaurant, a patio area overlooking the vineyards and a charming bar with oversized leather chairs and communal tables, the Swan has created a modern and unique atmosphere whilst still retaining the charm of its location and the restaurant it was before.

Last Saturday evening I was lucky enough to visit the Swan for dinner and from the moment we walked through the door the dining experience was fantastic. The menus focus heavily of local, British and seasonal produce with so many choices it made it difficult to make a decision. Whilst viewing the menu I sipped on a glass of Chapel Down Brut which never fails to disappoint and was given homemade bread and tapenade to ease our hunger a little.

Cucumber water & tapenade

I opted to miss out a starter and chose Skate wing with capers and shrimps for my main course accompanied with a house chopped salad. My boyfriend chose Scallops to start, followed by Sea Bass. All dishes were perfectly cooked, delicately presented and although I think that the Sea Bass was a little too plain for my boyfriend, we both still thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. To end our meal we shared a chocolate mousse, which was extremely rich but also absolutely delicious. With our meal we had a bottle of Chapel Down’s Flint as this dry and zesty wine complimented our fish dishes perfectly.

Scallops

Scallops

Skate wing

Skate wing

After dinner, we relocated to the bar area and enjoyed two very strong cocktails and some small homemade truffles – a lovely touch to end the evening.

Bar area

Bar area

Overall the staff were enthusiastic, friendly and efficient, the food was delicious, fresh and satisfying and the atmosphere relaxing, candle-lit and somewhere I could have stayed all evening. Our bill came to around £100 for two courses each, one bottle of wine, a bottle of Curious Brew, a glass of prosseco and two cocktails, which we thought was pretty reasonable for what we received, however I may have to stay in for the next few weeks until I can afford the next outing.

Artisan, Manchester Restaurant Review

Manchester is one of my favourite cities, although its restaurant selection can be a little bland. Don’t get me wrong there are a few gems; Teacup for amazing brunch dishes, smoothies and cakes; Grill On The Alley for a relaxed dinner with the occasional acoustic guitarist strumming whilst you eat; the popular San Carlos for its traditional Italian food served in an extremely busy setting and bursting with footballers. Nevertheless visiting Manchester at least once a month, it is about time there was somewhere new and innovative to try.

Living Venture’s is a successful restaurant group whose portfolio includes Manchester’s Alchemist, The Oast House, Australasia and Grill On The Alley. Although very hip and trendy, the majority of their establishments I prefer to sip cocktails in rather than eat. That’s why when I heard they were to open a new restaurant, Artisan in Spinningfields, I wasn’t filled with much optimism. Although, one for always giving a place a try, on Monday evening after a busy day of business seminars and meetings, I decided I would give it a try.

Snuggled away in Avenue North off Bridge Street sits Artisan, discreetly hidden at the top of the complex. Upon entering the building you are met with nothing but exposed brick work and a large set of stairs adding to the anticipation of what is going to be revealed when you reach the top.

At the top of stairs we were wowed by the dramatic architecture of the building, the heavy wooden fittings, herb gardens and colourful artwork. We were greeted by too extremely friendly receptionists who showed us to our table, handing us a very simple yet large paper A3 menu.

The restaurant has a ‘not finished’ vibe, encompassing of bare concrete floors and ceilings, along with an open kitchen and a bar which is more of a selection of large wooden dining tables stood side by side covered with an array of alcohol, juices, fruit and decks. Although quite dingy, the décor works a treat and with its soft lighting, eclectic music and comfy seating you quite frankly don’t want to leave.

Kitchen & herb garden area

Kitchen & herb garden area

The barbecue smells drifting from the kitchen were a clever trick, making us so ravenous that we chose far more off the menu than we actually required. The menu contained a variety of ‘not so small’ small plates, fish, meat and vegetarian dishes and a selection of Artisan’s speciality pizzas. My mum and I opted for four small plates to share which included mussels, prawn and avocado salad, sticky pork rib and hummus and flat breads. When the plates arrived we were a little shocked to see that each small plate was the same size as a main course, however they tasted so delicious that we were secretly happy that we had ordered so much.

Small Plates - mussels & ribs

Small Plates – Mussels & Rib

Ribs

Sticky Rib

Curry & Spinach Mussels

Curry & Spinach Mussels

The mussels were the star of the show, consisting of a tray of fresh mussels in a curry and spinach sauce, enclosed within a baked bread roof which you had to tear open to get to the shellfish – an ingenious and innovative idea. My Dad chose ‘The Club’ pizza which had a thin, crispy, home baked base topped with chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado, egg and Caesar mayo. This did not disappoint, as for a man as fussy as my Dad saying it was “the best pizza I have ever eaten”, this pizza must of been good. After the mountains of foods and wine, we decided to stay clear of the desserts even if the hot chocolate pudding and apple turnover were extremely difficult to resist.

Overall our bill came to around £60 which wasn’t at all bad considering what the three of us received and how much we enjoyed it. The staff were all bubbly, enthusiastic, attentive and certainly enjoyed where they worked. Everyone around us also seemed to be having a lovely evening, with most people diving into the plates of mussels and enjoying inventive cocktails and glasses of Prosecco.  We did get told that it can serve up to 650 covers on a Saturday night so if I was visiting for a weekend I would probably just pop in for a drink and leave the food for a quieter evening.

It was about time Manchester shook its dining scene up a little and Artisan has done just that. If you are in Manchester and looking for somewhere to eat or drink with friends, family, colleagues or your partner, I would highly recommend that you give it a go as soon as you can – Oh and David Beckham eats there so what better reason to go, hopefully you’ll see him too!

Chili & Garlic Prawns

In my family’s old house in Spain we used to spend many evenings sat on the balcony, watching the sunset and enjoying fresh prawns cooked with oil, garlic, shallots and chili and served with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

I must admit that Spanish olive oil is a lot stronger and more flavoursome than the UK’s oil, however this dish tends to taste great no matter where you are. José located in London Bridge, serves one of the best prawn tapas I have tried and uses large, shell-on prawns with a generous amount of chili to give it a fiery kick.

To make this dish I often shop at my home supermarket Booths and purchase their butterflied, tail-on prawns which look delicious and are reasonably priced. Once home it takes five minutes to cook the prawns and I can then enjoy this Spanish tapas in the garden with a glass of Oyster Bay…perfect!

This recipe serves two people:

Ingredients

4 Shallots

4 cloves of garlic – 2 crushed and 2 finely sliced

1 red chili finely diced

1/4 pack of butter

Olive oil (any amount you wish, the more you use the more you have to soak up with your bread at the end)

10 prawns

1 large handful of chopped parsley

Pepper to season

Method

  1. Sauté the shallots, chili and garlic in the butter and olive oil until soft.
  2. Add the prawns and cook for 4 minutes, turning them as they cook.
  3. Take the pan off the heat, add the parsley, season and serve.
  4. Serve with crusty bread and a wedge of lemon.

Pil Pil

Fish & Chips to Celebrate the British Summer

The sun’s shining and it’s the perfect day for a stroll on the beach, sunbathing in the park or sipping on a Pimms in the garden. It is also a great day to celebrate the seaside and tuck into one of the nations favourite dishes ‘Fish and Chips'; yes it’s hardly light and healthy but never the less it taste good!

I must admit we do fish and chips well here in the UK, however there have been many occasions when the batter has been a little to soggy or the fish not fresh enough. Therefore, to celebrate one of our most renowned dishes and the long awaited arrival of this amazing beach weather, why not try your own with the following quick and easy recipe.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Vegetable oil, for frying
400g plain flour
3tsp baking powder
550ml very cold beer
4 pieces of haddock or cod

Method

  1. Heat the fat in a deep-fat fryer to 185C.
  2. Just before you cook the fish whisk the baking powder into the flour, along with ½ tsp salt, and then quickly whisk in the cold beer until you have a paste.
  3. Dip your fish into the batter and then carefully lower it into the hot fat, and move the frying basket to prevent the fish sticking (don’t put more than 2 pieces of fish in the fryer at a time).
  4. Cook the fish for about 5 minutes, until it is crisp and golden.
  5. Lift out of the fat and drain on kitchen paper then serve immediately.

Batter

For times sake I usually serve my fish we chunky frozen chips, however making your own chips is always tastier. I also serve mine with a side of mushy peas and shop bought tartar sauce. If you’re a fan of the newspaper wrapped effect, I am sure you can find one lying around the house that you can use – please make sure it’s clean though!

Time for Tea

I am a tea lover so afternoon teas and coffees shop trips are one of my favorite things to do on a quiet day.

Luckily living in the Lakes we have numerous tea rooms and coffee shops serving a wide array of cakes, bakes and freshly brew beverages. The Samling in Ambleside is the best in the area for afternoon tea and although on the luxurious side and only for special occasions, it’s offering of dainty cakes and finger sandwiches is certainly impressive. If you are looking for something a little cheaper but still good, Low Sizerge Barn in Kendal always serves beautiful scones and flapjacks which you can eat whilst looking over the farm and milking parlor, this place is definitely great for families.

Moving away from the lakes, I visited Devon last week, a beautiful part of the England that I had never visited before. Although quite remote, Devon is a wonderful place full of picturesque scenery, friendly people, fantastic boutiques, quaint towns and ports and delicious seafood. Devon is also home to one of the best tea spots I have ever visited; Vintage Tea located in the small town of Totnes, is a traditional Victorian tea room oozing with charm, character and class. I must admit everything was on the chintzy side therefore probably a targeted more to females and the older generation, however my dad, brother and boyfriend still seemed to enjoy it.

The delicious scones

The delicious scones

The place setting

The service was on the slow side and at times the atmosphere seemed somewhat dull, but with fine bone china, white linen table cloths and well mannered staff there really wasn’t anything to complain about. As for the food, I have to say it was the best cream tea I have ever tasted; the scones were baked to perfection and served warm, the accompaniments were fresh and the tea made from loose tea leaves was perfect. The boys enjoyed smoked salmon and cream cheese and chunky sliced ham sandwiches, all served on freshly sliced bread with posh crisps and a simple side salad.  Vintage tea isn’t the cheapest or the fastest coffee shop I’ve visited but it does serve the best scones in the country … well I think so!

If you’re out and about this week, go on treat yourself, one scone isn’t going to hurt you!

Hampstead & Gin

Just a quick post today as work’s been a little busy but I wanted to share some places that I became very fond of last weekend whilst visiting London.

As most people I know are aware, I love a G&T. To be honest it doesn’t have to be a Bombay Sapphire or a Hendricks gin with Fever Tree or Fentimans tonic, I am usually the happiest when sipping on a good old fashioned Gordon’s and Schweppes…as long as it has lots of ice and a wedge of lime. Due to my love of gin I have been dying to visit The Port House on the Strand after hearing that they do some pretty tasty gin based drinks. Therefore, on arrival into London my boyfriend and I hopped on the bus to the Strand and stopped by.

The Port House is a quaint, low lit tapas bar tucked away on the high street next to the Adelphi theatre. On arrival staff were welcoming, seating us at the bar and handing us, much to my excitement, a GIN specials board. Containing a range of different types of gins and tonics, I opted for a strawberry flavoured gin with Fever Tree tonic and fresh strawberries and Tom choose a classic Hendricks with fresh slices of cucumber. The gin’s were served in large rounded glasses with lots of ice and accompanied with juicy fresh olives. The drinks were £8-£10 each so definitely just a treat and after trying two small tapas dishes I would stick to the drinks rather than the food, but all in all it’s worth a try.

The Gins

The Gins at The Port House

Also over the weekend, when the sun decided to peek out of the clouds, we took a tube to beautiful Hampstead to take a walk and see what we could discover. Hampstead is full of lovely yet expensive shops and boutiques, small cafes and restaurants and deli’s to die for. During our visit we found two fantastic gastro pubs – The Wells and The Old White Bear. I know I am sounding slightly like an alcoholic in this post but with places like these it’s hard to stick to the orange juice when you can enjoy some of the best Pimms, wines and lagers around.

The Wells was a relaxed establishment which had the sport showing, decent drinks, great food and a friendly and lively atmosphere. The Old White Bear on the other hand was a little more sophisticated, yet still friendly, charming and relaxed. When visiting The Old White Bear I suggest trying some of their bar snacks, particularly ‘Habas’ (chilli roasted broad beans) as they are a delicious accompaniment to a refreshing drink. The food menu looked reasonable and extensive, however we decided to save having a meal for our next visit.

The Old White Bear

The Old White Bear

My weekend was fantastic and yet again we found some amazing London establishments, I can’t wait for my next visit, next on the list has to be the recently opened The Grain Store.

Spanish Memories – Paella for 2

Growing up my family and I spent a lot of time in Spain and I have many happy memories of us sat on the balcony tucking into a colourful paella, full of chicken, chorizo, mussels , squid and amazing flavours and herbs. It was always a monthly treat, especially as the best bit about the paella was scooping the rice up with crusty bread bought from the local Spanish bakery, talk about carbohydrate overload.

As last week consisted of mainly healthy salads and soups and with the beautiful weather we were enjoying, I decided to bring Spain to home and cook paella for my friend Sarah and I. Although I love chicken, this time I opted for just seafood and instead of squid I added loin of cod, a meaty white fish which doesn’t flake too much when cooked.

The paella was quick and easy to make and accompanied with a glass of chilled Cava, it took me back to the wonderful Andalusian Mountains in the comfort of my own home.  Sarah seemed to enjoy the meal too and with clean plates all round, it was definitely a huge success.  One of word of warning, don’t make a pudding, you will be full!

Paella recipe for 2-3 people

Ingredients

225/8oz chorizo, cut into thin slices

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 large Spanish onion, finely diced

½ red pepper, diced

300g paella rice

1 tsp paprika or 2tsp Ducros Colorante Alimentario (you can find this online)

500ml hot chicken stock

110g/4oz fresh or frozen peas

125ml/4fl oz good olive oil

12 jumbo raw prawns, with or without shells (I prefer with shells, but if you can’t find these like me this time, without shells is fine)

450g/1lb mixed fish- smoked haddock, pollock or cod, salmon chopped into bite-sized pieces

5 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley or coriander

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Gently fry onion and garlic in the olive oil in a paella pan or shallow heavy-based saucepan until lightly golden.
  2. Add chorizo and red pepper and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover with rice with the paprika or colorante. Gently turn the rice into mixture until it has completely absorbed the moisture.
  4. Turn the heat to high and add 125ml stock until reduced.
  5. Add rest of the hot stock and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the prawns and gently turn for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the fish and peas – season with cracked black pepper to taste- gently stir the mixture for 3 minutes until the fish is cooked.
  8. Add the chopped parsley or coriander and serve immediately with freshly baked bread and wedges of lemon.

Paella

Paella - CopyBy the way, if you’re anything like me and you love Spanish food, you should visit José in Bermondsey, London, it is definitely one of the best tapas bars in the UK.