Archive for September, 2011

fish stew and harissa

I served the fatayer from my last post with this fish stew and having vaguely referenced bouillabaisse recipes, I made my own version of the spicy “rouille” it is normally served with. Ever the over ambitious I even decided to make my own harissa which is an ingredient in the “rouille”. This comes with a serious health warning, I saw a recipe that told you to cut up dried whole chillies which I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND. Just buy chopped dried chillies unless you want to end up breathing in chilli dust and nearly choking to death as your lungs burn. Even wrapping my scarf over my face like a kitchen ninja didn’t help.

The fish stew became a bit of an exercise in how many herbs I could throw in a pot, to which the answer was: lots. If you wanted to simplify it I’d say the parsley is the priority, followed by the bay leaf, then the thyme and the fennel last. You could use any white fish instead of the tilapia  like cod or pollock, and any smoked fillet instead of the smoked haddock.

fish stew serves 4 generously

for the stew

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 anchovies
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tins tomatoes
  • bunch of parsley finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • a handful of fennel fronds
  • a few strands of saffron
  • a bay leaf
  • 1 satsuma or clementine
  • 1 fillet haddock
  • 2 fillets of tilapia
  • 1 fillet smoked haddock
  • 1 fillet of salmon
  • a handful of prawns
  • salt to taste
for the rouille
  • 2 tsp harissa (see recipe below, or use a pre-made paste)
  • 1 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 bunch coriander finely chopped
Skin the fish fillets, and chop into bite size chunks. Select a heavy based pan and fry the anchovies, garlic , onion and the chopped stalks of parsley until the onion and parsley are softened.  Then throw everything apart from the fish in, and make sure you cut the satsuma in half, squeeze the juice in and then add the two halves to flavour the stew more. Rinse out the tomato tins with water and add the water to the pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, remove the satsuma halves and then add the fish. Simmer for a further 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and season to taste. To make the rouille just stir all the ingredients together. Serve the stew in hot in bowls, with a dollop of rouille on top and fatayer or hot bread.
harissa makes 1 jar
  • 50g dried CHOPPED chillies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wholle coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp whole caraway seeds
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 50ml olive oil
Soak the dried chillies in boiling water for an hour and then drain. After that I was really lazy and didn’t chop anything just chucked it all in a blender and blitzed it until it becomes a rough paste.  Store it in a sterilised jar in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top to seal it. It should keep for 6 months. To sterilise a jar  preheat the oven to 120C, wash the jar soap and water, then rinse with very hot water, place in the oven until completely dry (roughly 20 minutes). Alternatively take hot from a dishwasher, in both cases just make sure you don’t dry it with a tea towel.

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Hooray! I finally made it back in the kitchen this weekend! Needless to say there were liberal sprinklings of flour and coriander by way of celebration.

So, fatayer then. I hadn’t heard of them either until I decided to cook them today, and apparently they are a middle eastern snack food. I came across them because  I made a bouillabaisse-ish fish stew for dinner (recipe in the next post soon) and was pondering the ways I could include more vegetables without going down the obvious side salad route. I thought about the Greek spanakopita, spinach filo pie, but wanted something more bready to dip in the stew. It crossed my mind that someone MUST have considered filling bread with spinach. Lo and behold, those middle easterners had, and I found this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, which I promptly fiddled about with liberally. Here’s the result.

Fatayer (or mini-spinach-bread-parcels)

for the dough

  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • 150g wholemeal bread flour
  • 1tsp dry active yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 40ml warm milk
  • 70ml lukewarm water
  • 40ml sunflower or vegetable oil

for the filling

  • 200g washed spinach or baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts

Start by warming the milk to skin temperature and then adding the dried active yeast. Leave for 10-15mins whilst you combine all the dry ingredients for the dough in a bowl. Make a well and combine the milk and water gradually. Once it is combined, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, rest for 2 and knead again for 10 minutes (if you happen to have a bread mixer, or a mixer with a dough hook check back on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe). Oil the bowl the dough was first combined in, pop it back in and cover with a clean tea-towel. Find somewhere warm and leave the dough there to rise for 45 minutes.

Whilst you are waiting combine all the ingredients for the filling and leave to marinade. You could probably add some feta too if you wanted, but I didn’t think it would work with the fish stew I was making them for.

The dough should have doubled in size after 45 minutes, and now is the time to preheat the oven to 200C. Divide the dough into 12 portions with a knife. Roll out the pieces in rounds on a floured surface, the original recipe says to make them 10cm in diameter, which is a lot smaller than you think (or I thought…), I found the right size was nearer 12.5cm on average , but whatever. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of mixture into the middle of the round, making sure you drain any excess liquid first to stop the dough going soggy.

Now, imagine a triangle in the circle of dough. Fold along two of the sides of the triangle, pinching the edges of the dough together. Now fold along the last side to make a Y shaped seam and something which resembles a tiny tricorne hat. Place the 12 parcels onto a lined baking sheet 2cm apart, and prick with a fork. Leave to rise for another 20minutes, then brush them with oil and bake for 20minutes. Cool on a rack and eat as a snack or serve with soup or stew.

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