Mustard-baked mackerel

Mustard-baked mackerel

Mustard-baked mackerel


This is is a super simple recipe I concocted today, inspired by a Nigel Slater recipe.  Its ideal for a one-person dinner, or for a family.  The mustard and lime lift the richness of the oily fish and are amazing for you too.




For 2:

2 fresh mackerel fillets
1 dsp coarse grain mustard
1 dsp fresh lemon or lime juice
Generous pinch black pepper
Pinch Himalayan salt/sea salt
1/2 tsp dried tarragon if you have it
A little olive oil to grease your roasting tin
To serve:
2 cupfuls sliced carrots
4 cupfuls broccoli florets

1. Heat your oven to 200C and while it is heating steam your vegetables and keep warm.
2. In a little bowl mix the mustard, pepper, salt, citrus juice and (if using) tarragon.
3. Oil your roasting tin, lay the fish skin side down, slather with the mustard mix and bake for 12-15 minutes.  When the fish is done, it will no longer be translucent and the point of a knife or skewer will go through it easily.
4. Enjoy.

Why this is good for you:
We all know that omega 3 oils from wild mackerel are great for our brains and hearts.  But did you know that having enough omega 3 affects every cell in your body – from helping you avoid diabetes (or get rid of it if you have it), to helping your body react efficiently to all your horrnones.  Eating more oily fish is a no-brainer.  Mackerel is one of the best oily fish as its always wild so its leaner and cleaner.  Mustard is a spice and is powerfully antioxidant.  It even helps prevent eczema breakouts.  If you want a healthy brain and body for many many years to come, get the spices in to your everyday eating.  Spices AND herbs (like tarragon) pack a powerful antioxidant punch to lower inflammation and help you age agelessly.  And they liven up your plate.  What’s not to like! 

Christmas gravdlax or gravadlax (dill cured salmon)

Christmas gravdlax or gravadlax (dill cured salmon)

This is a recipe I love. We eat it Christmas day with a simple salad of watercress and lambs lettuce.   Instead of doing what the recipe says (wrapping everything in foil while it cures) I use a glass box with plastic lid to keep everything compressed during 5-8 days or curing.  Much less fiddly.  Lime zest/beetroot are optional but give an amazing taste and a lovely deep pink colour.  Before you start, freeze the salmon for at least 24 hours to help kill any parasites.  The salt, pepper and dill in the cure and the mustard  in the sauce also help kill any unwanted visitors to your tummy!

For the cure:
1 large side of salmon, organic if possible, cut into 2 roughly equal shape pieces
Zest of 1-2 organic limes
1 large bunch fresh dill
115g sea salt/Himalayan salt – flakes or fine it doesn’t matter
50g coconut sugar (use brown sugar if you don’t have coconut)
75g xylitol or erythritol (from health shops)
15g freshly ground black pepper (coarse is OK)
Optional beetroot – 1 raw, grated (cooked might work too)

For the sauce (to serve with the fish on the day):
1 tbs chopped fresh dill
1 tbs English mustard powder (if you don’t need gluten-free you can use ready-made English mustard from a jar)
1 tsp coconut sugar, erythritol, xylitol or brown sugar
1 tbs virgin (cold pressed unrefined) sunflower/peanut/rape/sesame oil
2 tbs kefir*, creme fraiche (for dairy-free use unsweetened additive-free soya yoghurt)
1 tbs white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

*home made fully-fermented kefir is usually  tolerated by people with dairy sensitivity

1. For the cure (5-8 days before you want to eat the fish)
Roughly chop the dill and mix thoroughly in a bowl with the zest, salt, sugar, xylitol/sugar, lime zest, optional beetroot and pepper. Lay out a sheet of foil about four times the width of a salmon fillet. Spread a quarter of the pickling mix over a fillet-size area on one side of the foil with a good 15cm/6in margin for folding over.

2. Place one piece of fish, skin side down, on top of the pickle mixture and cover with slightly more than half of what is left. Place the second fillet on top, skin side up, to make a sandwich. Scatter the remaining pickle mixture over the skin.   Wrap up the parcel tightly, tucking the ends and edges in underneath the fish.

3. Put the package on the tray and place a similar size tray, or a plank of wood on the top. Weight it down, with a brick or two or anything else handy (the contents of the fridge?). Turn the package daily for at least five days, and no more than eight. Do not discard the pickling liquid that oozes from the package unless it threatens to spill over the side of the tray.

4. At least one hour before you wish to serve the fish, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake well together. Leave to stand and shake again to emulsify before serving.

5. To serve, unwrap the gravalax and wipe off any excess pickling liquid. I like to scrape off the bits of dill and beetroot and give everything a quick wipe but you don’t have to.   Slice fairly (but not too) thinly then serve with the sauce and a green side salad (I love watercress and lamb’s lettuce with this).  Unused gravalax can be re-wrapped in clean  foil or airtight glass box and kept in the fridge for up to five days.

Smokey Cajun hake with pesto kale

Smokey Cajun hake with pesto kale

I was in a hurry last week and came up with this. Its super-fast on a weekday, provided you’ve already made up the Cajun spice mix (which only takes a couple of minutes). I’ve posted this mix already on the blog but its so good it deserves a reminder.  I use it (when I remember) for grilling chicken fillets, salmon darnes and sometimes lamb chops.  Rub the fish/meat with lemon juice first so the spice blend sticks on.

For 2:

2 hake fillets or darnes, about 160g each
Smoked paprika
Large bag of black kale (Cavolo nero) or curly kale
Sundried tomato paste, dairy-free red pesto (or if you are not dairy-free or on SC diet any good quality tomato pesto will do)
Fresh lemon juice (you will need about a teaspoon for the fish)
Extra virgin olive oil

Cajun spice mix:
You will need tinfoil and a roasting tin or dish
For the Cajun spice mix (store in an airtight glass jar away from heat and light)
½ level tsp chilli powder (omit or just use a pinch if you don’t like much heat)
1 level tsp Himalayan (pink) salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 rounded tsp dried thyme
1 tbs each of:
Coarsely ground black pepper
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Ground coriander

Optional extra:
Cauliflower mash (see post) to serve

1. Turn on the oven to 200C.
2. Prepare the kale – wash, destalk and slice thinly. Boil your kettle and put the kale in your steamer over at least 2cm of boiling water. It can take quite a while to become tender.
3. While the kale is steaming, put the fish skin side down in an roasting dish with deep sides, rub the fish fillets with some lemon juice.  Sprinkle Cajun mix and a good pinch of smoked paprika on each fillet until well coated.
4. Cover with tinfoil and give it 10 minutes in the preheated oven. After 10 minutes, test with a skewer to see if it is tender (this depends on the thickness of the fish). If not, give it another 5 minutes, covered again with the foil to stop the fish drying out.
5. Meanwhile, warm a vegetable dish for the kale. Into the dish put a generous heaped teaspoon of the pesto or paste, a dessertspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a good twist of black pepper if you have some. As soon as the kale is done to your liking toss with the pesto/paste to coat and keep warm.
6. Serve the fish on top of a pile of kale.

Optional extras:
Cauliflower mash (see blog post).  This freezes well.  I like to make a big batch then freeze leftovers in single portions.  Reheat in a saucepan, stirring from time to time.

Why this is good for you
Herbs and spices are a powerhouse of vitality-boosting qualities.  They protect the food during cooking from generating toxic inflammatory compounds (e.g. amines) while also protecting ourselves and our brains from accelerated ageing.  Herbs and spices have hundreds of times stronger antioxidant properties than fruit and veg, weight for weight.  Kale is a dark green leafy veg so its rich in magnesium and folic acid.  We need both of these for making us more resilient to stress as well as for a healthy digestive system and good skin. 

Simple Cajun chicken or fish

Simple Cajun chicken or fish

Cajun spiced fish

This is gorgeous and super fast.  I love this on a weekday when I come in late, hungry and don’t feel like spending more than 15 minutes cooking dinner.  It works beautifully for small fillets/darnes of chicken, hake, salmon, or cod and I have used it for lamb chops too.  Yum!  Make up more then you need and store in an airtight jar somewhere dark, so it keeps its precious volatile oils and flavours.

For two:
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or a whole teaspoon if you use very mild chilli)
1 tsp Himalayan or Atlantic Sea Salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs each of:
Coarsely ground black pepper
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Ground coriander

2 x small (100g) chicken fillets, 130g-150g darnes/fillets of salmon/white fish or 4 lamb centre loin chops

For cooking:
Juice of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon (or a little olive oil if you don’t have lemon)

  1. Mix everything well and store in an airtight jar away from light and heat until ready to use.
  2. When you want to cook the meat or fish, pour some of the spice blend onto a plate.  Rub with a little lemon juice on your meat/fish.  Dip/roll the meat or fish in the spice mix until totally coated on all sides.
  3. Cook in the oven on an oaked baking sheet or under the grill.
    Oven: 1/2 an hour at 180C for small chicken fillets, 15 minutes for fish fillets
    Grill: Around 7 minutes each side for chicken or around 3-4 minutes each side for fillets or darnes of salmon, hake or cod.Serve with:
    2-3 cups steamed broccoli, green beans, runner beans or peas per person, dressed with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a knob of coconut oil.
    A large mixed salad of green leaves, sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber or courgettes, dressed with one of my salad dressings from this blog.

Why this is good for you:
Herbs and spices are a fantastic way to get even more taste and vitality into your day.  They are antioxidant, anti inflammatory, heal the digestive system (chillies can help heal ulcers!) and keep you younger longer by holding back the ageing process.   Many help alleviate skin conditions by supporting your liver function.  Black pepper contains piperine, a substance that increases your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals in the meal.  Herbs and spices contain tens or hundreds of times more antioxidants than fruit and vegetables, weight for weight.  Vegetables (and small amounts of fruit) are still a powerhouse for wellness but don’t forget the herbs and spices.