Happy New Year

Well I’ve been a way for a long time. Coming to terms with post-uni life has distracted me but what better way to start off the new year by getting back in to the swing of things with my blog!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday period and managed to avoid getting glutened. In the winter months its very easy to be overly indulgent. I don’t want to look at another piece of cheese, chocolate or roast meat for a good few months so I’m going to be cooking delicious healthy, feel good food with maybe the odd treat thrown in.

The first dish of the year is a tasty sea bass recipe with a polenta mash. This is the first time I’ve ever used polenta. Its been sitting in my cupboard for months and I really don’t know why I haven’t experimented with it.

seabass

To make this for two, you will need:

2 fillets of seabass

8 cherry tomatoes

2 large handfuls of spinach

sea salt

ground black pepper

a drizzle of olive oil

For the polenta mash:

1 cup of polenta

2 cups of water

a large knob of half fat butter

salt

pepper

a tbsp of natural yoghurt

a small handful of parmesan cheese

For the dressing:

three tbsp of natural yoghurt

juice of half a lemon

tsp of dried tarragon

I started by making the polenta mash. I was pretty apprehensive about getting this right as timing seems to be everything when working with this grain.

Bring the water to boiling point and slowly whisk the polenta in to the water until it thickens. Turn the heat down and continue whisking on the heat. If you think it is thickening up too much take it off the heat and whisk. Ideally you want to make sure its softened and doesn’t feel grainy when you eat it.

Stir in the yoghurt, parmesan and butter. Most recipes call for cream but as I am wanting to cut down on my fat intake I used low fat natural yoghurt, which worked really well. Finally season with salt and pepper. I was looking for a rather creamy mash but I ended up having a more solidified polenta. It actually worked really well with the dish so I wasn’t too upset that I didn’t get the polenta mash I’ve tasted in restaurants before.

I left the polenta on a very low heat, just so it didn’t go cold. This didn’t affect the character of the mash at all but ensure it’s a very very low heat as you don’t want it to solidify entirely.

Now you can prepare your seabass. Make some shallow cuts in to the skin of the fish. Grab a piece of kitchen roll and gently blot away any moisture on the skin. This will help your skin crisp up perfectly. Rub some sea salt and black pepper on the fish, both sides.

In a pan drizzle your olive oil and fry the cherry tomatoes on a medium heat. I’m allergic to raw tomatoes so I need to ensure these are well cooked before I eat them, which is why I put them on before the seabass but you can serve them whatever way you want them.

Gently place your fish fillet on the pan, skin side down. Cooking this for four minutes should ensure the skin of the fish is nice and crispy. As the fish is cooking, make your dressing by mixing the yoghurt, lemon juice and tarragon together.

After four minutes, turn the fish over and cook on the other side for two minutes. Your fish should be perfect. Take the pan off the heat, and add the spinach. the heat of the pan should cook the spinach nicely and give it flavour from the fish and tomatoes.

Now all you have to do is plate up. I tried to make it look ‘chefy’ but the dollops of dressing make the plate a bit messy. I’m sure someone with a better eye for detail could make the dish look more pleasing.

People may think seabass isn’t really within the ‘student budget’ I themed my blog on when I first started but its important to shop about. I managed to get these two fillets, along with two salmon fillets and a large portion of lean beef mince in Sainsburys on the 3 for £10 offer. Its good value for a weeks worth (if not more) of meat and fish.

Now that I’m working and can no longer take time out of studying to cook long dinners, I want to cook food that I can eat soon after I get home. This dish is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle, it took about 15 minutes to make (eh Jamie?) and didn’t require a lot of dishes.

I’m excited to blog a lot more now and to hear your feedback about my recipes.

Happy 2014 to you all!

Dom

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