Pan-fried spiced sprats with a fennel salad

Gavin WrenFish & Shellfish, Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads

Pile of pan fried, spiced sprats
I have distant memories of being a small child, in a pub garden in Surrey with my parents, when I first discovered the dish that is a plate of tiny little fried fish which you ate whole; whitebait. I became inwardly obsessed with them, always longing to find them on the menu when eating out, waiting for that crunchy little fish that I could souse with vinegar and devour whole. In later life this eating-seafood-whole obsession was overtaken by the discovery of soft-shell crab, something I first tried in Singapore and have since longed to see make an appearance on more menus, allowing me to grab my hit when possible. Then, when I was last in the fishmongers I noticed a large tub of sprats nestling amongst the various other marine bounty on display, and I pondered if they were any relation to whitebait, or if they could be eaten…

Blog posts are like fish – Mackerel on Rye

Gavin WrenFish & Shellfish, Main Dishes, Recipes

mackerel on rye bread with poached eggs and mustard yoghurt sauce
Benjamin Franklin once said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”. As well as being very true, it’s also how I feel about posting recipes on this blog. Inspiration for a recipe may come to me at any time, and is often so fleeting that it must be written down immediately, or it may vanish forever. However, if it is retained, then follows the step of developing the idea into a workable, tasty recipe; something which I can take as long as I want over, I’ve spent months working some ideas out. “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Benjamin FranklinBut finally comes the commitment of buying the ingredients and setting myself up to cook the recipe. This is where the three day countdown timer starts. I interact with the food by chopping, cutting, mixing, heating, crying (depending how badly it goes) until the dish is…

Smoked trout salad with fennel & dill and a horseradish, lemon & yoghurt dressing

Gavin WrenMain Dishes, Recipes, Salads

smoked trout fennel and beetroot with dill salad
You really can’t go wrong with this recipe. I mean that in two ways as it’s both easy to make, so no scope for going wrong there, and it also holds it’s ground in the fabulous tasting stakes, so no wrongness to be found there either. Originally, I was determined that this receipe was to be made specifically with hot smoked trout, rather than the cold smoked fish that I’ve used. If you’re unsure of the difference, hot smoking uses hot smoke, which cooks the fish leaving it light pink in colour, as if cooked normally. Cold smoking, which is the type applied to ‘traditional’ smoked salmon, is done with cold smoke, leaving the fish looking more like raw fish. However, monsieur Sainsbury and his staff were against me when I went shopping. Despite prolonged efforts and no matter how intently I stared at the chilled fish section, hot smoked…

Ironic Thai fried rice with Tofu & (or) Prawns

Gavin WrenFish & Shellfish, Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Thai fried rice with tofu beans pak choi lime and chilli
Occasionally, I spend some time online reading other food blogs (although I try not to, as it’s an endless task). Quite often, as I work my way through the first few sentences or even paragraphs of a post, I find the introduction is some kind of whimsical, limp wrested observation which has little or no relevance to the subject in hand; food. It reminds me of listening to dreary, insipid sermons at church*, where awful analogies were dragged out, such as comparing God to a carrier bag, because carrier bags are very useful in our day to day life, they hold our food and keep everything together. You could feel that every last thread of energy that could be summoned had been twisted and squeezed into the creation and delivery of that sermon, yet it was merely killing time, it wasn’t contributing to the enhancement of anyones faith. Yet, we…

Feta, rosemary and hazelnut crunch

Gavin WrenRecipes, Spreads & Dips, Vegetarian

Feta hazelnut and rosemary crunch spread in a bowl
Two weeks ago, Guardian Witness asked for people to submit recipes on the theme of ‘poached’, with the best entries to be published in the Saturday edition of the newspaper’s ‘Cook’ food supplement. I looked at my nearly-brand-new blog, knowing that my third recipe featured a poached egg, and, somewhat scared, submitted the recipe. I was completely shocked when a few days later, I got an e-mail informing me that they were posting my recipe on their facebook page! Surely the glory of seeing my own recipe in print was within grasp! So, on the Saturday of reckoning, I rushed home from the shops with the newspaper, clawed my way past the Sport, Family and Money supplements (but had a quick look at the magazine) and then got to Cook. But alas, my moment in the spotlight was short lived and I had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws…

Cooking in a field; Pineapple and chilli prawns

Gavin WrenFish & Shellfish, Main Dishes, Recipes

Prawns with pineapple chilli cooked on a camp stove
Firstly, I’d like to offer my apologies for the lack of recent posts. My absence was due to a lovely, yet short, holiday in Sussex, where we stayed in an absolutely delightful shepherd’s hut at Hawthbush Farm, an organic working farm with added ‘glamping’. We stayed in a little hut made for two named ‘Aggie’, who was tucked away in her own peaceful and secluded field. She came fitted with a wood burning stove and a very comfy bed featuring a wool duvet; these are absolutely brilliant and now on my ‘want’ list. She also had a little field kitchen to one side, which, of course, became my home for the week. And I did spend quite a lot the week in the kitchen, as our morning routine of porridge and coffee for two, made on a single camping stove with little shelter from 20mph winds can take a…