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Ceviche 2
Tried a Mackerel ceviche this time. It made Rachel cry, but that might have been more to do with the recent phone call from her ex than tears of joy at the happy memories it evoked.
This recipe started off at the BBC's Good Food
Mackerel Ceviche
starter raw fish
Ingredients
  • mackerel
  • lime juice
First debone and peel off the papery layer coating the skin (even if you're going to shred the mackerel - it's hard to find the bones afterwards). You can slice the mackerel fillets into 1cm cubes and soak in lime juice for an hour or so.
I quite liked these actually - they were rather tasty.
Alternatively shred the fish off its skin with a fork and cover in lime juice. When you are ready to eat you can squeeze this mixture by working it in a fine sieve with a spoon until it's dry.
This wasn't quite so nice - might have worked better with some grated onion, even the grated carrot that Rachel fancied.
Still, the fried mackerel and salad worked pretty well.

And this is the original BBC Good Food recipe verbatim.
Basil & lemon chickpeas with mackerel
starter main fish
Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 bunch spring onion, sliced
couple large garlic clove, crushed
zest 1 lemon and squeeze of juice
2 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150ml vegetable stock or white wine if you don't have any stock to hand
85g SunBlush tomatoes, halved
½ fennel bulb, shaved
Grilled red pepper, peeled, sliced
4 mackerel fillets, skin on
1 large bunch basil
Rocket
Method
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large, shallow pan. Add the spring onions, garlic and lemon zest, then cook for 2 mins until the onions are tender but still very green. Add the chickpeas, then stir until well coated in the onion mixture. Lightly crush with a potato masher, then add the stock and tomatoes. Simmer for 3-4 mins or until the liquid is absorbed, stir in the fennel and red pepper, then set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, dry-fry some ground pepper, then heat the remaining oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the mackerel fillets for 3 mins each side, starting on the skin side. You'll probably need to cook these in two batches.

Add the basil, rocket actually a softer leaf would have been better - a frisée perhaps and a squeeze of lemon juice to the chickpeas, then season to taste. To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas spoon onto serving plates, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and top with the mackerel fillets.

Pretty nice combination. Make sure the chickpeas aren't too wet, and it would be nice if they were pretty well softened.
Basil & lemon chickpeas with mackerel
Fried Green Tomatoes Olives
Here's a little dinner I cooked up at 9 minutes past 9 on the 9th of September '09.
Ok, it was actually the 8th of September, but a man can dream can't he?
The olives come from a marie claire cookbook, in fact the only reason I bought the book in the first place was because this green olive recipe caught my eye.
Good job they were so tasty...
Deep-Fried Olives
starter snack
Ingredients
5g, ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
50g, ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
20 large LARGE pitted green olives
30g, ¼ cup plain flour
1 egg, at room temperature, beaten
50g, ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ cup grated parmesan
100ml vegetable oil for deep-frying
raisin and sun-dried tomato slivers for stuffing
Method
Mix together the parsley and feta. Stuff a little of the mixture into the centre of each of the olives. Press the odd sliver of raisin or sun-dried tomato too.
Use large olives or you'll be at this for hours.
I also tried stuffing with a caper, but don't do that - it's just too salty.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl, the beaten egg in a small bowl and the breadcrumbs in another bowl. ln a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Toss the olives, a few at a time, in the flour, then dip into the egg and finally roll in the parmesan and breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the olives for l minute, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining olives.
I rolled the olives in flour, then mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice (I foolishly soft-boiled all the eggs as a side-dish) then grated parmesan then the breadcrumbs.
Be careful not to have the oil too hot or the olives will explode, shrivel and burn

These are very tasty little numbers, but very strongly salty. They need serving with something which can absorb this flavour. I (very) soft-boiled a couple of eggs and was going to serve them on the Greek side-salad but they worked pretty well just served in a dish with the olives on top. Some heavy tomato-based condiment might work well too.

Serve with a nice Greek salad. Fried Green Olives
Ceviche
Rachel has been demanding ceviche "like her Mother(-in-law) used to make" for ages now, unfortunately the ceviche her Mother-in-law used to make was apparently shredded with a fork before being soaked in lime juice, which is a bit hard on any less-than-stridently flavoured fish, and tends to turn my face inside out. Rachel says they used to mix in grated carrot, coriander and possibly onion, leave it overnight, then squeeze out the lime from the fish by hand, which might help I guess (though the implication is - you need to make handfuls). This was then served with onion and chopped tomatoes on tostadas.

Apparently Mexicans prefer "fatty" seafood, such as mackerel and pompano, though I've also seen plenty of recipes using red snapper

The Starbucks where I buy coffee. every. day. has a Borders bookshop around it, and since they have strategically placed their bargain cookbook island between the entrance and the coffee, I am forced to examine their latest cheap(ish) cook book offers. every. day.
Today's book has a ceviche recipe so I decided to give it a bash for tonight's offering, and also, rather foolishly, decided to scrape the lemon sole off its skin with a fork rather than slice it into strips for the marinading.
Lemon Sole Ceviche
starter raw fish
Ingredients
400g lemon sole fillets
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
juice of 4 limes
1 small chicory bulb, quartered lengthways and cut into 1cm strips
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado
3 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
100ml extra virgin olive oil
salt
Method
Scrape the lemon sole from its skin with a fork (the original recipe calls for skinning the fillets then cutting into 5mm strips) and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with the diced chillies and pour over the lime juice. Toss to coat, then cover and leave in a cool place to marinate for 15 minutes. (The acid from the lime will cure the fish and turn it opaque.) If you prefer your fish 'cooked' a little more, leave it a bit longer.

Drain the fish of the lime juice and toss with the chicory, onion, tomatoes and green pepper. Halve, stone, peel and dice the avocado. Add to the fish mixture with the chopped coriander, pour over th olive oil and toss well. Leave to stand in a cool place for 10 minutes.

Season the ceviche well with salt and spoon into the centre of coool serving plates. Drizzle any remaining dressing around the plates. Serve immediately, as a starter.
OK, so the ceviche was mouth-twistingly misjudged, with the lime hopelessly overwhelming the poor delicate lemon sole but the salad was still surprisingly dull.
You can liven it up a little by dressing it with the tarragon vinaigrette, which helps some.

Rocket or Watercress Salad
salad raw veg vegan
Ingredients
Rocket and spinach or watercress or other leaves

Tarragon Vinaigrette
Juice of ½ lemon
120ml white wine vinegar or maybe a bit less
salt and pepper
pinch of caster sugar
500ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3 tarragon sprigs or more
Method
Make the vinaigrette - blend the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic and a few tarragon leaves, pour in the olive oil slowly whilst blending.
Store in a jar with a few extra tarragon sprigs.

Dress the salad and serve.

Squid Tempura
starter main fish

Ingredients
500g fresh baby squid
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper
groundnut oil for deep-frying
flour for dusting
lemon juice to taste

Batter
45g plain flour
30g cornflour
15g baking powder
125ml sparkling water, chilled
4 ice cubes

Minted Mayonnaise
150ml mayonnaise
15g mint leaves, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
Tablespoon crème fraîche (optional)
Method
First prepare the mayonnaise (you can do this the day before to allow the mayo to take on more of the mint flavour if you like). Mix the chopped mint into the mayonnaise and add salt, cayenne pepper and a little lemon juice to taste.
I substituted a minted hollandaise.
But a wasabi mayonnaise - just generous wasabi paste, mayonnaise and some crème fraîche is lovely.
Clean the squid, rinse well under cold running water,separate the tentacles. Cut the pouches into 1cm thick rings, pat dry on kitchen paper and set aside with the tentacles.

For the batter, combine the flour, cornflour and baking powder in a bowl and add a pinch each of salt and cayenne pepper. Slowly add the sparkling water, mixing the batter with a spoon or chopstick. Don't worry if there are a few lumps - this is normal for tempura batter. Finally add the ice cubes and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

When you are ready to eat the squid, dress some rocket leaves with a tarragon vinaigrette.

In a suitable pan for deep-frying, heat the oil to about 180°C. Dust a handful of squid with seasoned flour, dip into the batter to coat, then immerse in the hot oil. Fry until the pieces rise to the surface and float, indicating that they are ready - this only takes a minute or two. Don't overcook the squid otherwise it will be tough and rubbery. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat until all the squid is cooked.

Make up the hollandaise. Season the squid with salt and pepper, and drizzle over the hollandaise (or serve with minted mayonnaise alongside). Garnish with the rocket salad.
Much more of a success. The original recipe called for mint mayonnaise, and although my hollandaise was nice, I think the thicker mayonnaise might have worked better.
The squid was lovely and tender, though the tempura might have been crisper.

Monkfish Ceviche
starter raw fish
Ingredients
  • monkfish
  • lime juice
Prepare the Monkfish as for the Lemon Sole Ceviche.
I served it with the Fennel Salad and its Blue Cheese Dressing below.
Nope. Not good. The monkfish goes rather chewy, and the flavour is a bit dull.
Rachel thought the blue cheese dressing rather overwhelmed the Fennel salad. She might be right.
Must try cooked monkfish with that dressing.
Yeah that works, monkfish and blue cheese dressing are nice together, but I pan-fried the monkfish rolled in flour, and it was still rather chewy. I wonder if it might not be better grilled (or roasted) with a blue cheese stuffing?

Fennel Salad
salad raw veg
Ingredients
Fennel, thinly sliced
Carrots, thinly sliced or grated.
Red onion, thinly sliced.
Physalis, sliced.
Coriander leaves
Capers
Red chillies, sliced as a garnish
Pine nuts or walnuts might have worked

Blue Cheese Dressing
Shropshire Blue cheese (Roquefort was better)
Lime juice (still prefer lemon)
Tarragon


Method
Dress the salad with olive oil, a splash of sesame oil, and a drizzle of lime juice.
Muh. S'OK. Wouldn't go out of my way to make it again.
Indoor Barbecue 2
This time I half planned the backup rainy day alternative of grilling the kebabs. It had to be done though - I've been promising Rachel something in a Satay Sauce for ever.

Oh, by the way - if you ever get to cook on a real barbecue - blackened pineapple slices (about ½" thick) are absolutely lovely. Peel off the outside, but don't core them or they'll fall apart.

Tomato and Feta Salad
salad raw veg
Ingredients
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Red onion, sliced
Mixed salad leaves
basil leaves
Feta cheese, diced

Dressing 1 lime, juiced
Olive oil
Seasoning
Method
Quarter the tomatoes, slice the onions, dice the Feta into generous cubes and mix with basil leaves.
Wash the salad leaves and serve piled with the tomato salad.
Serve.

Mixed Kebabs
main meat fowl fish

Kebabs1 Kebabs1 Kebabs1

Ingredients
Fennel bulbs, quartered or wedges
Chicory heads, halved

Kebabs
Bamboo skewers, soaked
Chicken
Chicken breasts, cubed.
Banana chunks plantain, sweet potato or even butternut squash might work
Pork
Pork fillet, cubed
Fresh/tinned pineapple chunks
Onion segments
Scallops
Scallops
Bacon
Prawns, peeled
Fresh coconut flesh pieces

Marinade
For the Pork and Chicken
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 Tbsps soy sauce
finely grated rind of 1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dark muscovado sugar

Simple Satay Sauce
For the Pork and Chicken
6 fl oz/¾ cup coconut milk I used all the creamy part of a can
6 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
couple garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark muscovado sugar
splash fish sauce
a touch of chilli paste

Lime Butter
For the Scallops
1 lime, grated and juiced
1 egg yolks actually I used two - one didn't look like being enough
6 Tbsps melted butter
feathery fennel leaves
Method
Marinade
Place the onion, garlic, soy sauce, lime rind, spices and sugar in a blender or food processor. Add two pieces of pineapple and process until the mixture is almost smooth. Add a little lime juice if necessary.

Kebabs
Marinate the pork and chicken pieces.
Wrap the scallops in the bacon I used smoked but I think it was a little overpowering - try unsmoked
Thread the skewers with pork, pineapple and onion, with chicken and banana, and with wrapped scallops, prawns and coconut.
The chicken and banana was pleasant enough, but they didn't quite work together.
You could try chicken and mushrooms (been there, done that), kiwis (interesting but rather tart), plums (nice contrast)
The coconut scorches nicely though it does have a tendency to burst into flames

Satay Sauce
To make the sauce, pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and stir in the peanut butter. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and heat gently over the barbecue, stirring until smooth and hot.
Cover and keep warm on the edge of the barbecue

Lime Butter
Place the egg yolk the finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime in a small bowl and whisk until pale and smooth.
Gradually whisk in the melted butter and continue whisking until thick and smooth. Finely chop the reserved feathery fennel leaves and stir them in. Season to taste.

Serve the pork and chicken kebabs with the satay, the seafood with the lime butter and salad and lime wedges on the side.
All quite delicious, except that the scallops were huge and the prawns tiny, so being on the same skewer the prawns ended up being rather overcooked. It might be better to use smaller scallops, bigger (fresh) prawns, or cook the scallops straight on the grill or barbecue (if you're lucky) with the bacon secured by cocktail sticks.
A salad with a yoghurt dressing might work better than the feta cheese here.
A More Complicated Satay Sauce
dip veg
Ingredients
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 asian shallots, finely chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
2 tsps Thai curry powder
1 Tblsps tamarind purée
1 Tblsps chilli paste
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups coconut milk
2 tsps palm sugar

Method
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic, Asian shallots and lemon grass for a minute.
Add the Thai curry powder and stir until fragrant.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring slowly to the boil.
Add enough boiling water to make a spoonable sauce and simmer for 2 munutes.
Season with salt to taste.

I need to see if this is any more popular than the simple version!

Another Satay Sauce
dip veg
Another, simpler, satay sauce recipe found amongst an old recipe collection.

Ingredients
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • ½ tsp chilli
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tblsp soy sauce
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice
Method
Slice the onion and saute with the crushed garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until transparent.
Add the chilli, water, peanut butter and sugar.
Stir well and bring to the boil, then stir in the soy sauce and lemon juice.

Jamie's Satay Sauce
dip veg
Jamie Oliver's Amazing Satay Sauce. Very popular on the interwebs. Apparently.

Ingredients
  • ½ a small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • ½ a clove of garlic
  • 3 heaped tablespoons good-quality crunchy peanut butter
  • soy sauce
  • a 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 limes
Method
Put the coriander (stalks and all) into the food processor with the chilli (seeds and stalk removed), peeled garlic, 3 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter and a lug ooh a lug - mockney tosser of soy sauce. Peel and roughly chop the ginger and add. Finely grate in the zest of both limes, then squeeze in the juice from 1 of them. Add a couple of splashes of water and whiz to a spoonable paste. Season to taste. Spoon into a nice bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. But don't do that - that would be horribly inappropriate.
An Indoor Barbecue
No sooner had we decided on a barbecue for dinner, and I'd spent quite a lot of pennies on a lovely big chunk of monkfish and some monster tiger prawns, the heavens opened, it poured rain for the rest of the day and I was forced to resort to grilling as a pale imitation of a bed of hot coals.
Monkfish With Peppered Citrus Marinade
main fish
Ingredients
Courgettes, sliced
Fennel bulbs, quartered
2 Monkfish tails or one huge one
1 lime
1 lemon
2 oranges
handful fresh thyme
2 Tbsps olive oil 1 Tbsp crushed mixed peppercorns
salt & pepper
Method
grill courgette slices.
grill quartered fennel bulbs brushed with the dressing or olive oil

Using a sharp kitchen knife, remove any skin from the monkfish tails. Cut carefully down one side of the backbone, sliding the knife between the bone and flesh, to remove the fillet on one side.

Turn the fish and repeat on the other side, to remove the second fillet. Repeat on the second tail. (If you prefer, you can ask your fishmonger to do this for you.) Lay the four fillets out flat on a chopping board.

Cut two slices from each of the citrus fruits and arrange them over two of the fillets. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and sprinkle with plenty of salt anf freshly gound black pepper. Finely grate the rind from the remaining fruit and sprinkle it over the fish.

Lay the other two fillets on top and tie them firmly at intervals

Squeeze the juice from the citrus fruits and mix it with the olive oil and more salt and pepper. Spoon over the fish. Cover with clear film and leave to marinate in the fridge for about 1 hour, turning occasionally and spooning the marinade over the fish.

Drain the monkfish, reserving the marinade, and sprinkle with the crushed peppercorns. Cook on a medium-hot barbecue for 15-20 minutes, basting with the marinade and turning occasionally, until the fish is evenly cooked.

Meanwhile, thickly slice the courgettes diagonally and quarter the fennel bulbs. Grill these with the fish, basting also with the marinade or with olive oil.
Serve with a blue cheese salad
Hmm, really tasty way of doing the fish.
I noticed in passing that the St Agur was nice with the monkfish too - would a nice blue cheese dressing work instead?
Yes, but!.

Monkfish With Peppered Citrus
Macaroni Cheese
main pasta
Totally has the Georgina seal of approval
Probably feeds 8, or 1 Eldorado family for day after day after day after day...

Ingredients
1lb Macaroni
6 oz mascarpone
4 oz Gruyère, finely grated or maybe 6 oz
4 oz Parmesan, finely grated
1 oz butter
2 Tblsps olive oil
8 oz cubed pancetta
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed
2 oz plain flour
20 fl oz milk
¼ whole nutmeg, grated
4 large eggs, separated
salt & pepper
Method
Weigh out all the ingredients, grate the cheeses, separate the eggs, mix the mascarpone and egg yolks to a smooth paste, chop the onion, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry up the pancetta until cooked through, add the butter and onions and let them soften uncovered without browning for 5 minutes, add the garlic purée.
Add the flour to the pan, stirring in to make a smooth paste, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring vigoroulsy with a wooden spoon. Then switch to a balloon whisk and keep whisking until you have a smooth sauce you may need extra milk. Season and add the nutmeg and leave the sauce to cook gently for 5 minutes.
After that turn off the heat and whisk in the mascarpone and egg yolks, followed by the Gruyère and half the Parmesan. Preheat the oven to 180-200°C, Gas Mark 6 and put in the baking dish I just used the pasta water to warm the baking dish, but maybe you need it hotter?.
Boil the macaroni 4-6 minutes until al dente (it will cook further in the oven).
Whilst the macaroni is cooking whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Drain the pasta in a colander, shake off excess water then tip it back into the pan and stir in the cheese sauce until evenly coated.
Now lightly fold in the egg whites, using a cutting and folding movement so as to retain as much air as possible. Don't overdo it. Remove the warm dish from the oven, fill with the pasta mix, scatter the reserved parmesan over and return to the oven top for 15 minutes or until the top is puffy and lightly browned.
Serve immediately

Really tasty - the topping is deliciously crunchy if the egg whites are not too well mixed in and there's something of a cheesy meringue layer still floating on top.
It really cries out for a tomato and red onion salad on the side, rather than the crispy leeks.

Macaroni Cheese

Crispy Leeks
side veg vegan
Ingredients
Oil for deep frying
A leek
Plain flour
Method
Heat the oil in a small deep-sided pan
Shred the leek into matchsticks My strands were quite long - probably around 6 inches which might explain why they were a bit chewy
Test the oil with a leek strand to see if it fizzes up. Fry the leeks in batches until starting to colour then remove and strain. Dust with plain flour through a sieve. I thought this might help make the leeks crunchy, but I don't think it did.
Reheat the oil and when it is hot enough finish off the leeks until golden.
Drain on kitchen roll and serve.
As mentioned, the leeks were rather chewy.
All the online methods I've found don't use flour, and seem to have shorter lengths of leeks - I could try that...
Fishy Friday II
Trying out the method I used earlier on Razor Clams...
Mussels with Fennel Seeds
starter main fish
Ingredients
Couple pounds cleaned mussels
Fennel seeds
Olive oil
Butter
Minced red onion
Minced garlic
Diced tomato
Red wine NO!

Method
Dry-fry the fennel seeds until they release their aroma, add olive oil to the pan and crisp the garlic and onion.
Throw in the tomato, stir, then add the red wine and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and steam until they open (5 minutes) shaking regularly.

Strain the mussels into a colander, discarding any that didn't open. Return the liquor to the heat and reduce to a sauce consistency.
Add the mussels back to the pan, stir and warm through, then serve in the pot or decant to bowls.
Turns out that red wine does not go with mussels. Should have used white wine!
Some butter would probably have been nicer than just olive oil.
Oh and make sure the mussels are well enough cooked (and have opened nicely). They can be a bit slimy otherwise.
Broad Bean and Tuna Salad
salad fish
I noticed half-price broad bean pods in Sainsburys, and thought I'd try them out since I haven't tried fresh ones before.
Though they can be a little bitter, especially if you leave on the skins, the result was surprisingly nice...

We seem to have a working evening pattern now: Rachel cooks for the girls,
whilst I shop on the way in from work and cook later for the two of us.
And Sophie again - who seems to be eating for two these days and likes to try my experimental food,
though she did steal half the peas.

Note To Self: Buy extra peas.

Ingredients
Fresh Broad Beans
Pod Peas
Asparagus tips
Lemons or Limes Rachel likes lime!
Olive oil
Muscavado sugar
1 small red onion
2 slices stale bread or toast
Mint
Thick yoghurt or crême fréche
1 generous Tuna steak
Ground cumin
White wine vinegar
Rocket salad
Dressing
Mix Olive oil, shredded mint leaves, a little white wine vinegar and lime juice. Season.

Method
Pod the peas and the broad beans.
Blanch the peas (just bring minted, salted water back to the boil with the peas in). Drain.
Simmer the beans for 3-5 minutes, or less if small. Pop the (larger) beans out of their skins.
Blanch the asparagus tips
Cover the vegetables in olive oil and stir in shredded mint leaves. Add about half the quantity of lime juice. Leave to marinate.

Finely chop the onion, fry slowly in a little olive oil until starting to colour Jamie adds bashed cumin seeds and dried chilli - I like the chilli idea.
Process the stale bread to fine crumbs, add to the onion and fry until crispy.
Scatter with sieved Muscavado sugar and stir through in the pan

Dress the salad leaves.
Whip a little cream into the yoghurt to thicken it if you like.
Cut the tuna steak into chunks and flash fry. Scatter with grated lime peel to finish.

To serve, sprinkle the plates with cumin powder, pour on a small puddle of dressing. Place a pile of tuna pieces on the puddle. Spoon on yoghurt and pile the marinated vegetables on top, finishing with a generous heaping of the breadcrumb mixture.
Toss some dressed salad on the side and serve.

Broad Bean Salad
Pretty nice - quick too. Good ElDorado approval rating! Could make the tuna "ceviche" style instead of frying it. Even grilling the tuna might be better - I overcooked it.

Bass Rock
On 21st June Mrs Eldorado, Mr Munro and I visited this noisome island, partly for calisthenic purposes, and partly lured by reports of a cavernous entrance to the Underworld At The Centre Of The Earth.
Contentedly settled on Seacliff beach 'neath the lowering cliffs of Tantallon castle, surrounded by picnicking paraphernalia, spouses, and combined offspring I have to relate that we were completely deceived by the seductive morningtide whose softly swelling seas and gently suckling breezes lured us to her watery depths.
We scarcely imagined, from the comfort of our sandy beach, the wild and terrible storms shortly to descend upon us.
Donning protective garments we launched our three sturdy coracles into the calm clear waters and after paddling some thirty minutes with light effort we obtained the Eastern seaboard of the Great Bass. Rising ponderously from the ocean, the swollen craggy mass swarmed with the foul airs and lice of a million pestilent seabirds. Screeching herring gulls and poison-necked gannets drenched us with ordure from above as they swirled and skulked in their intricate layers of choreographed aerial assault.
Seeking protection of the great overhanging cliffs we began investigating the narrow defile within whose watery cleft is reputed to lie the immense cave whose entrance is only accessible "at dead ebb of spring tide". Since we had meticulously timed our visit for high water, we expected to find meager evidence of this subterranean chasm, and were therefore little disappointed when we determined no obvious means of ingress.
Thus rebuffed we determined to circumnavigate the vast and stinking adamantine block, and set off with a stiffening wind at our backs for the western side, to seek out the furthermost entrance to this unyielding fastness, passing on our way numerous twitching adventurers, biliously clad in yellow oilskins aboard gaily coloured motor vessels whom we regarded with great scorn.
Rounding the island's rocky northern promontory, we at once found ourselves in the alien climate of Southern Italy.
The sweeping western bay sheltered us utterly from the sea breezes beyond, and adrift in a vast mattress of choking feathers, the pitiless face of the midday sun now directly overhead beat down heavy rays which stirred not a breath of air in this fetid, stifling cove.
Conscious of the deadening hand of this oppressive atmosphere I cautiously drifted stern-wards into a deceptively narrow crack in the inner wall of the bay and was treated to a brief view of the tremendous cavern within before a sudden and terrifying assault from an army of spectral-eyed, raven-toothed sea monsters rising from the deep forced my hasty retreat.
Returning with my reinforcements, together we three friends were finally able to beat back the family of frightened seals and Mrs Eldorado, penetrating further into the deathly gloom than we others dared, reported sight of a glimmer of light deep within the vastness.
And so, braving the jeering shags circling overhead and the surging tide which crashed and groaned before us, we made to beach our slender vessels on the pebbly beach within, struggling to hold them ashore against the grasping tow.
Having taken great care in our preparations for the voyage we carried not a lamp between us and were therefore hopelessly blind in the now stygian gloom.
So girding our loins and linking our bodies for safety we thrust our way by feel and touch forward into the greasy depths, all the while fearing further attacks by killer seals or a sudden fall into the bottomless Bass pit we sensed yawning mere inches from our feet.
Pitching rocks and pebbles before us to cast forth shadows of sound we crept on our way like bats, though the plunging stones spelunking into the oily pools ahead only served to increase our unease.
Tightly sheathed in rubber as we were, however, we had little to fear from the watery hollows and were soon climbing sturdily towards the waxing sunlight, though truth be told straining against its intensity as we were, this made our progress more difficult.
Finally we burst forth into the light of the Eastern shore, high in the inaccessible defile we had glimpsed in our earlier reconnoitrings, and gazed down in relief at the great frothing cobblestones below.
Though we saw no prospect of easily accessing this entrance from the sea, we were able to descend close enough to touch the surface of that surging liquid and thus lay claim to having successfully penetrated the secret passage of the Rock. The first to our knowledge in One Hundred years.
Fortunately the return journey was more easily accomplished with the light of experience and sunshine now behind us, and the shallow puddles between us and our trusty canoes seemed now a trivial barrier.
Launching from the pebbly beach into the rolling waves was merely a matter of delicate timing, and bidding farewell to the friendly seals cautiously shadowing our progress we paddled from the shady grove and the slumbering shelter of the mighty rock out into the throat of a veritable tempest.
Unbeknownst to us whilst we took our pleasure within, a violent storm had arisen without and lashed up wind and wave to ferocious assault, but we had little choice than to do battle.
So we hardy souls lowered our heads, stiffened our sinews, pointed our fragile boats into the teeth of it and made hard for the distant shore.
Though we were never so relieved to reach the safety of St Baldred's Beacon and our sandy bay many hours later, nonetheless Mrs Eldorado took time, tossed and lashed as we were, to laugh at the seas tempestuous might and stopped, casually, to drink from her water canister mid-crossing.

We were a little disappointed, perhaps, at not obtaining the fabled Land Beneath The Sea, but our survival of the journey was certainly not the least interesting incident in a climactic day's adventuring.

K. Sourville
Kayaking With Karl The Monster Rises The Dragon's Lair Into The Monster's Maw In The Belly Of The Beast


But enough of that - the important thing I wanted to tell you is that when we got back to shore, hungry as I was, I came across Mrs Munro admiring a photograph of a rather delicious looking fillet of crispy battered cod.
Cod Fritters

The instant her back was turned I was able to borrow the magazine, and on finding several promising looking recipes was, of course, then obliged to rush in to Sainsbury at the earliest opportunity and buy the damn thing for myself.
I consoled myself with the thought that it does have a section by Nigel Slater (on Meringues) and nothing I could find by Jamie Bloody Oliver.
Scottish Series and Nigella's Tagine
This year I joined the crew of Hobbes to compete in the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Series at Tarbert.
It was a fairly windy (and rather moist) weekend and we had to work hard,
but I got the feeling that we were moving the boat pretty well - she seemed to be sailing fast, and we made few mistakes with no disasters (!).
Definitely worth the aches and pains and we had a real blast yet still we only managed 8th out of 13 in our class.
Sigh. Must go faster.

On Rachel's recommendation we made up one of Nigella Lawson's "Express" recipes to freeze and take with us for one of the crew meals.
Lamb, Olive and Caramelised Onion Tagine
main meat nautical stew
Like all stews, this benefits from being cooked in advance, so it makes sense to cook this on a day when you've got time and reheat it when you're in more of a hurry

Ingredients
1kg/2lb 3oz leg of lamb, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves, but unpeeled Can this be right? We peeled ours to avoid the mouthful of skin!
1 x 350g/12oz can pitted black olives in brine, rinsed and drained to give 150g/5oz drained weight
100g/3oz caramelised onions, from a jar Or make your own by slow-frying two spanish onions in olive oil and butter. It just ain't that hard.
4 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
1 x 75cl bottle red wine
Method
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2
Place all of the ingredients into a lidded casserole or heavy-based ovenproof pan, pouring in the wine last and giving everything a good stir.
Bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for two hours, or until the lamb is very tender.
The quickest, and most suitable, accompaniment would be a bowl of couscous, pale and plain or studded with a can or two of chickpeas.
Rachel rather likes mashed potato!

The result is incredibly sloppy and tasted, well, mostly of red wine to be honest.
The olives in brine are frankly anaemic (better to use olives marinated in oil), and though it's possible the flavours would have mellowed and improved if left for a few days I don't think there's any substitute for just taking your time.
Express my arse.
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