Harissa baked cod with lemon cous cous

I’ve recently done a ‘stock take’ of all the less perishable ingredients lurking in my kitchen, these items don’t tend to be as much of a priority to use up as the perishables from my fridge, but never the less they build up over time and can become forgotten about until it’s too late and the use by date has approached.

The worst offending culprits for being forgotten about in my experience tend to be condiments and other items that come in jars. I often buy such ingredients, as I’m sure may of us do, for a particular recipe that only requires a miniscule amount of the total jar. TV cooking shows have a lot to answer for; introducing us all to new and exciting recipes that call for unusual and exotic ingredients that outside of the recipe they’re demonstrating are difficult to use up in every day cooking.

Harissa was one such offending item that I had left in my fridge, I wanted to use it for a quick and simple supper, however all the recipes I could find were complicated and called for a multitude of other ingredients, that if I was to purchase would contribute to another load of half-used jars in my fridge.

So I decided to ignore any complicated recipes that I had come across and create my own simple and flavoursome Middle Eastern inspired dish.

INGREDIENTS

For the fish:

  • 3 x tbsps natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 x cod fillets

For the couscous:

  • 100g couscous
  • 150ml boiling water
  •  1 x garlic clove crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon

For the roasted vegetables:

  • 1 x red pepper cut into chunks
  • 1 x yellow pepper cut into chunks
  • 1 x onion chopped
  • Olive oil

METHOD

Mix together the yoghurt, harissa and half of the lemon juice, cover fish and leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 mins

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200c

Place the chopped veg in an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for 20 mins

20140706-180138.jpgWhilst the vegetables are cooking ,mix together all the ingredients for the couscous and leave to stand for 5 mins (or as per packet instructions)

Remove the roasted veg from the oven, mix with the couscous and transfer to an oven proof dish

Place the harissa coated fish, skin side up on top of couscous and vegetable mix and pour over the remaining lemon juice

20140706-180131.jpgBake in oven for 15-20 mins or until fish is cooked

This is a fantastic way to use up left-over harissa paste, the simple mix of yoghurt and harissa can be used to marinate a whole host of fish, poultry or meat which will ensure a jar is never left to fester in the back of my fridge again.

 

 

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Cheat’s Tzatziki

There are a few items that I used to buy straight from the supermarket without questioning how they were made and what they contained, particularly sauces and dips.

In all honesty, I never really started cooking anything adventurous until my mid twenties, if I could buy an item in a bottle or jar, then I would, and it probably wasn’t until I moved to London and in with my partner that I became slightly more creative as I began to cook for two as opposed to just myself.

I think I initially discovered how simple Tzatziki was to make when the supermarket had ran out in advance of me entertaining a group of friends, rather than going without one of my favourite dips I decided to make it myself, and ever since that evening it’s now very rare that I purchase any pre-made sauces. One of the main benefits of this is that I find portion sizes of sauces and dips sold in supermarkets are often too large for the serving required; by making your own, you can make just the amount you need.

Now this recipe is entitled Cheat’s Tzatziki and that’s because I’ve replaced one of the core ingredients; yoghurt, with crème fraiche. The reason for this was purely that I had a half a tub of crème fraiche to use up, and in keeping with my mantra of food waste, I’m never afraid to experiment and substitute key ingredients when I have an item to use up.

Crème Fraiche generally has a runnier consistency and a more sour taste than yoghurt which will be the main taste difference you’ll find if you do choose to substitute yoghurt with it. If you prefer to stick with tradition and use yoghurt, than the recipe below remains the same.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 ml Crème Fraiche
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 x garlic cloves crushed
  • Fresh pepper

METHOD

Mix together the crème fraiche and lemon juice

 Peel the cucumber and grate

Squeeze the excess water out of the grated cucumber (I just use my hands, but I believe the professional way to do this is by wrapping in a clean tea towel and squeezing)

Mix the grated cucumber and crushed garlic into the crème fraiche and lemon mix

Season to taste

And that’s how to make a super simple cheat’s tzatziki, delicious as a dip for nibbles or crudités or a delicious condiment with Greek dishes such as Pork Gyros.

 

Caerphilly Cheese Scones

On Saturdays’ check of the fridge, I discovered a whole host of dairy products dangerously close to their use by date. A couple of eggs, the remnants of a yoghurt pot and a whole block of Caerphilly cheese that I’d bought (despite all my own advice) in a BOGOF offer.

Lacking in inspiration, the only meal idea I could come up with was a cheese omelette and a high cholesterol omelette at that. Also, following a rather unhealthy few days of eating out, the thought of a cheese filled week was filling me with indigestive dread.

But a quick google search  came to the rescue showing  me that caerphilly cheese and eggs are the perfect base to a delicious batch of savoury scones. I followed the following recipe from  Goodtoknow.co.uk:

Ingredients

  • 200g (7oz) self-raising flour
  • Good pinch of cayenne pepperImage 5
  • 100g (3½oz) butter
  • 125g (4oz) Caerphilly cheese, grated
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 2 level tbsp plain yogurt

The best thing about the recipe, was that I had all the items (except the spring onions) already in stock. I opted to buy a bunch to use later in the week,  but I’m sure the scones would still taste great without them.

Now I’m not much of a baker but even for the me the recipe was super simple to follow:

Method

  • Set oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200°C. Sift flour and cayenne pepper, into a bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add just over three-quarters of the cheese and the chopped spring onion, and mix well. Stir in the eggs and yogurt. The dough will be very soft. Knead very lightly on a floured surface.

I got to the breadcrumbs stage pretty quickly:

Image 1Image 4

However, I was uncertain about the consistency of my  dough. It was super sticky but rather than adding more flour to the mix, I just made sure my work surface and rolling pin was super floured and rolled extra gently.

Image 3

  • Pat out dough to about 2.5cm (1in) deep and cut out 5 rounds. Knead the trimmings and pat out, then cut out another 2-3 scones. Put the scones on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, and more cayenne, if you like.

I’m also not sure I’m very good at measuring as my scones certainly weren’t 1 inch deep.

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Best served warm with butter and a sliver of cheese

Despite the sticky dough and my inability to measure, the scones turned out super fluffy and light and are a great snack sized portion.

Image The best thing about the scones is that they can be frozen, so 3 ingredients on the edge of their use by date have now become a great savoury snack to be eaten at a later date.

I also can’t wait to sample Goodtoknow.co.uk suggestion of having them as a savoury meal with some poached egg and spinach.

And, if you’re wondering what happened to the rest of the block of cheese and remaining spring onions, I discovered a delicious recipe for some Caerphilly Cheese & Leek Pancakes where I substituted the leeks for the left-over spring onions and half a red onion that I found in my fridge.

So from potential food waste came 2 delicious meals, all costing pennies in additional ingredients, and no boring omelette in sight.