Friday, April 3, 2009

Cookbook Friday: Home Made

With a lovely, market-fresh cod fillet in my fridge I turned to the pages of Tana Ramsay's Home Made for a recipe. She had two: grilled cod with home-made red pesto, and spaghetti with cod in a chili, garlic and white wine sauce. When I read her note on the latter recipe, that it's "a good supper for a lazy night," my mind was made up.

While Tana's husband, world-famous Chef Gordon Ramsay, is known for his Michelin-starred restaurants and fancy fare, Tana Ramsay's cookbooks are all about family-friendly cooking. But family-friendly works for single girls like me who work 9-5 five days a week because the concept is the same: like the busy mother-of-four, I don't want to mess around with complicated instructions and mile-long ingredients lists on my weeknights. Save the fussing for the weekend, when it's a Friday night and I'm dead-tired, I want something easy and fast.

The Ramsays are a health-conscious family so the recipes in Home Made are generally quite healthy. Not diet recipes or low-fat fare per se, but wholesome. There are a lot of seafood dishes, for example Rosemary-infused Monkfish, Sea bass with vine tomatoes, olives and capers, and Scallops with parsley and lemon vinaigrette. There are also a number of hearty soups -- I made the Sweet potato and carrot soup with chili oil before my interview with Ms. Ramsay and it was a perfect winter dish.

With spring approaching I imagine I'll be making lots more from Home Made, including Balsamic lamb salad, Cucumber pappardelle with dill, and Spring greens with nutmeg butter.

Of course I want to make everything in the section entitled Chocolate. I'd like to try the Chocolate and beetroot cake because the combination sounds odd (Tana assures us it works!). As well, the Chocolate souffle cake with cherries and mascarpone sounds sinful, and how can you go wrong with Chocolate Malteser ice cream?!

Back to my supper tonight though. The last time I mixed seafood and pasta was when I went through a Seafood Fettuccini phase back in college. For a time, if I was out in a restaurant and that was on the menu I'd order it. But I always remember it being so heavy and when I finished eating it I always felt bloated. Happy, but bloated. The spaghetti and cod dish was the complete opposite. No cream sauce to weigh things down, just a refreshing mix of heat from the chili flakes, pungency from the garlic, and some fruity olive oil and fresh lemon zest and juice for brightness. It was about as light as a pasta dish gets, but also managed to fill me up.

Spaghetti with cod in a chili, garlic and white wine sauce

300g/11oz haddock or cod
4 slices of stale bread
2 tbsp olive oil
500g/1lb 2 oz dried spaghetti
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 tsp dried chili flakes
splash of white wine
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper

Cut the fish into 4 even-sized pieces to make the cooking times the samd.

Put the bread into a food processor and whiz until you have fairly coarse but even breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan, tip in the breadcrumbs and allow them to toast until crisp and golden.

You need to be quite organized and have all your ingredients to hand now. Place the pasta on to cook in a large pan of salted boiling water as instructed on the packet. Season the fish.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chili flakes, and wine. Add the fish and lemon zest. Allow the wine mixture to come to the boil, turn the pieces of fish over and reduce the heat so that the wine is just simmering. After about 1 minute take out the fish using a slotted spoon and put to one side. The fish should be just cooked.

Let the wine mixture simmer for another 3 minutes or so until it has reduced by about one-third. Add a ladle of the pasta water to this.

Drain the pasta, once ready, and add it to the wine in the pan. Increase the heat until it is bubbling again, then add the fish and sprinkle in the parsley. Gently flake the fish throughout the pasta, add the lemon juice and toss throughly.

Serve in warm pasta bowls, adding a little more parsley on top and a scattering of the golden breadcrumbs as desired.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Courtesy Home Made, Tana Ramsay, HarperCollins, 2008.



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