30 Aug // what a difference a day makes

My rather revolting mood continued yesterday. I think it's still this whole weaning myself off burgers, boys and gin. I've caught up on sleep though (I think!) and woke up this morning feeling decidedly fresh faced and ready for action. I had leftovers for lunch, which always makes me happy because a) it's usually healthy and b) it's free! Well, pre-paid at least. My friend Lucy has taken up residence as the latest squatter in our Aro Valley stronghold, and being a pescatarian we celebrated Monday with fresh Monkfish. I made a surprisingly tasty fish stew, and with crusty sourdough, it was just the pick-me-up I needed. That, combined with walking home in daylight, and a boomer list of songs coming through my headphones on shuffle while on said-walk meant that things were on the up and up.

I'm pretty sure "stew" is about the un-sexiest dinner title there is. It conjures up images of being a child filled with dread, having regretted asking what's for dinner over breakfast. "Casserole" is up there on the unsexy food list, but don't let the name put you off. Don't think of overcooked meat slopping around your plate in a watery gelatinous mass; think of a gorgeous ceramic hand painted bowl, and a fishing village in Italy, or a dark restaurant in Spain. Think fresh fish, and saffron, and fresh green beans which retain their crunch. Mop it up with a chunk of crusty sourdough hot from the oven and I can nearly guarantee you'll feel infinitely better.

It really is a simple and tasty end-of-winter meal - a totally sexy and impressive dinner, despite the name. And with that, my bad mood has banished and the inspiration is back. Watch this space for chocolate, chocolate and who knows what else next!   

Mediteranean Monkfish Stew, with fresh green beans

(served 4 for dinner and 3 smaller portions for lunch the next day. Very loosely adapted from Julie Le Clerc's seafood stew in her book Feast and from something my Mum once made)

  • 3 small onions, diced
  • a large garlic clove, sliced, and a dollop of crushed garlic
  • 1 leek, quartered lengthways and sliced into chunks
  • 1 x 800g tin of tomatoes, and 1 x 440g tin also
  • 1 cup (and a bit!) of white wine (dregs of parties gone by meant it was a mix of sauvingnon blanc and riesling)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I just used powdered stock from the cupboard. I'm sure homemade fish or chicken stock would be far superior)
  • the juice of a lemon
  • Pinch of saffron threads, left for a minute or two in a 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 600g fresh fish - firm white fillets. I used monkfish and it was ideal.
  • salt and pepper
  • green beans
  • 3/4 cup risoni pasta (or orzo. you could replace with couscous if you like)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley and lemon zest to garnish

 

  1. On medium heat, place a good glug of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy based saucepan. Add garlic, onions and leek and cook for between 5-10 minutes until soft.
  2. Add wine, stock, saffron, and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add lemon juice and fish. Then add risoni, and green beans, stirring in well. Keep an eye on it.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes, ensuring the risoni doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled in chopped parlsey and lemon zest.