Friday, 10 December 2010

Spain Salmon and Poppadums!!


Time goes by so quickly it is scary! We are here again doing the mad Xmas rush planning our wonderful feasts to please our friends and family.... the one time we say never mind the calories lets eat eat!! This months recipe was inspired by my good friend Carmen who is my local vino supplier! She wanted something special for her 50th birthday and ironic as it sounds wanted English fare roast beef, chutneys etc, she mentioned that whilst living in London she saw a beautifully decorated salmon in a restaurant and had never forgotten it, so as a surprise I did one for her! She was so pleased as were her Spanish guests but the best part for me was she requested a prawn curry which I accompanied with Poppodums on the Monday she informed me the food was fab but " oh that lovely bread Papdoomies were the highlight of the day!!" Just shows how we take things in our culture for granted!!This salmon is something to impress as a centrepiece on your Christmas or New Year buffet and whilst looks impressive is in reality so so easy to do. Be as artistic or as simple as you want the end result will always please and served with a nice mayo flavoured perhaps with lemon or a little smoked paprika will definitely give your handywork the wow factor! I am so pleased to have been in this months Town and Village and love receiving your comments so please keep them coming and let me know how you get on with the recipes.
We are still loving our time in sunny Spain, I did a weird thing yesterday ... bought our tree at it was 22 degrees, a mackerel sky tinged with pink waiting for the sun to set quite surreal I have never bought a Christmas tree in warm sunshine before!! Especially as I hear just 2 hours away in England it is icy and freezing!
I would like to wish you all a very Merry Xmas a Prosperous New Year and lots of happy eating!!

Camelia xx

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Whole Decorated Salmon

Can you believe it has been one year since I left the UK to live in sunny Spain.
I have had an amazing time, even visiting family in Australia and New Zealand, and to make it even more special, it was my 50th year.
We have found a heavenly spot to live in southern Spain. Of course cooking has been a huge feature and due to local demand, I have set up The Home Cooking Co. I go to beautiful villas and cook mostly Andalucian food for families of all nationalities.
The recipe I would like to share with you was requested by my friend Carmen who had seen a decorated salmon in a restaurant in London and always remembered it. As a surprise I prepared one for her birthday and it made me remember how simple it was to cook and decorate. A decorated salmon always has a wow factor and makes a fab centre-piece for a Christmas buffet.
You can be as artistic as you like. My father taught me to practice on a tinned sardine first! Have a go, I’m sure you will be pleased and surprised at how easy it is.
Merry Christmas to you all and I look forward to sending more recipes in 2011.

900g whole fresh salmon, gutted
At least 4oz butter

3 to 4 bay leaves

salt and black pepper

A splash of white wine (optional)


Pre heat oven to gas mark ½, 250of, 130oc.
1. Wipe the fish with clean kitchen paper, then place a large piece of double foil in a baking tray and butter very well. Ensure the foil is large enough to cover all the fish with room around and above to make a tent effect.
2. Place half the butter inside the fish with the bay leaves and smear the rest over the outside of the fish. If you want, you can make a ball of foil and place inside the cavity. This will help retain a good shape when cooked. If using wine just sprinkle over the fish. Season well with salt and pepper and scatter the bay leaves.
3. Wrap the foil around the fish to make a loose but tightly sealed parcel.
4. Place the tray and fish into the oven and bake for 1 hr 30 mins. For larger fish, cooking times are 3lb (1.3kg) 2 hours, 4lb (1.8kg) 2 ½ hours.
5. Once cooked, leave the fish to become cold, and when you are ready to decorate carefully remove the outer foil and the piece inside. Then remove the skin which will come away easily, leaving the skin on the head and the tail. If the salmon is large it may have a layer of grey fat which is easily removed with a sharp knife, being careful not to tear the flesh. You will end up with a nice pink salmon.
6. To decorate you can be as artistic as you like. The simplest way is to make scales from cucumber, simply cut thin slices of cucumber then cut each whole slice in half and place where required. I have also used radishes cutting the same way. Large pieces of Lollo Rosso lettuce placed on the serving plate with wedges of lemons also add colour and look attractive.
7. Now you should have a masterpiece to feel proud of. Simply serve with a bowl of good quality mayonnaise.
Have a very happy Christmas and enjoy!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Celebrating a Great British Classic

When I tried to think about which recipe to write this month to celebrate National Sausage Week, I went through the usual bangers ‘n mash and sausage casserole type dishes. But for me, one of the best ways to serve sausages has to be the great British classic ‘toad in the hole;’ sausages wrapped in a crisp batter with a lovely rich onion gravy and fluffy buttery mashed potato.
One theory is that toad In the hole began in the 18th century when cooks wrapped a small piece of mutton in a large piece of suet crust to make the meat go further. This was thought to resemble a toad in a hole and has now become the dish we all know as sausage in a Yorkshire pud batter. You can also make these into individual toads using a larger ringed Yorkshire pudding tin. If you want, throw a couple of sprigs of rosemary into the batter to make it more interesting.
It’s British and it’s comfort eating at its very best - who cares about those few extra calories, it’s definitely worth it!

Toad In The Hole

Serves 4

8 good quality sausages
sunflower oil

4 sprigs rosemary (optional)

2 red onions peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced

500ml gravy made with gravy granules

dash of red wine (optional)

Large knob of butter

1 bay leaf

For the batter

285ml/1/2 pint milk
115g/4oz plain flour

3 eggs

pinch of salt


1) First make the batter. Sift together the flour and salt into a bowl and break the eggs into the middle. Stir well then add the milk a little at a time beating hard (I find a fork is best) until you have a smooth batter the consistency of cream. Leave to stand.

2) Heat the oven to its highest temperature and place just under ½ an inch of oil in a baking or roasting tin in the middle of the oven. When the oil is smoking hot, carefully add the sausages, allowing them to colour to lightly golden.

3) When browned, carefully remove the tin, keeping oven door shut to retain the heat and my little tip is to throw in a splash of cold water and quickly beat before carefully pouring the batter mix over the sausages, putting the rosemary in if you want. Place the tin back into the oven and do not open for at least 20 mins. Only remove when golden and crisp.

4) Meanwhile, slowly fry the onions and garlic in the butter until soft and caramelised , then add the wine if using, followed by the made up gravy and bayleaf (to give more flavour use the water from potatoes or greens). Simmer for a few minutes and you should have a lovely onion gravy.

5) Serve with potato mashed with butter, milk, salt and pepper, and perhaps some greens, serving the onion gravy on the side.

Remember guilt doesn’t come into this one!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Hello again!


Cant believe I have been in Spain for one whole year! It has been an inredible experience and of course food has been the highlight. I have been cooking as a personal chef, running courses and generally sampling new flavours exploring the deepest depths of Andalucia. This albondiga recipe is a classic which I have adapted and always remains a strong favourite in my family. I set up The Home Cooking Co and it has been hugely successful the best part meeting so many interesting people from all over the world, and cooking the flavours of my roots have been a joy. Next year we are hoping to explore Morocco which I am looking forward to and hopefully will bring some middle eastern flavours to the blog! Thank you for your support and comments, and if any of you need a personal chef contact me on

Take care. x

Friday, 1 October 2010

A simple hearty supper

It’s already autumn and the children are back at school, thoughts of Christmas and chilly days ahead. I like this time of year, a good excuse to eat comforting wholesome food and feel good about it. This month I would like to share one of my autumnal favourites - meatballs, they are cheap to make and so tasty and can be made from any mince. Here are two of my favourites using the same sauce.

Pork and Beef Meatballs
Serves 4

2 tblspns olive oil
1 onion finely chopped in a
1clove garlic finely chopped in a
250 grms lean minced beef

250 grms minced pork

1 tspn dried oregano

½ tspn salt

½ tspn black pepper

Mix all the above thoroughly together and make into 12 golf ball size meatballs.
Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the meatballs for 5 mins turning occasionally.
Remove from pan and make tomato sauce in the same pan as below adding the meatballs as directed.

Middle Eastern Lamb Meatballs
Serves 4

454 grms minced lamb
1 onion

2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon grnd cumin

Handful fresh coriander

Handful fresh mint

½ tsp salt

½ tspn black pepper


Chop the onion, garlic, coriander and mint in a food processor.
Add to the mince with the cumin and seasoning.
Make into 12 meatballs.
Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the meatballs for 5 mins turning occasionally.
Remove from pan and make tomato sauce in the same pan as below adding the meatballs as directed.

Tomato Sauce

1 tblspn olive oil
1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ red chilli deseeded and finely chopped (optional)

1 400grm tin chopped tomatoes

150ml red wine

150ml beef stock either fresh or made with a cube

salt and pepper


Using the same pan you fried the meatballs in add the olive oil and fry the onion, garlic and chilli until starting to soften.
Add the wine bringing to the boil and then add the stock once the wine starts to reduce scraping all the meatball juices in the pan.
Bring to boil and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and stir for a few minutes to incorporate all flavours.
Reduce to simmer and carefully add the meatballs to the pan simmering for 15 to 20 minutes making sure you turn the meatballs occasionally.
Taste for seasoning.

Serve the pork and beef meatballs with mash, rice or spaghetti.
Serve the lamb meatballs with rice.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Paella for Meat Lovers!

The word paella literally means Valencian frying pan as indeed this dish we have come to love is from Valencia probably originating from the Moors. We tend to think of one type of paella, chicken, fish and vegetables cooked with a saffron flavoured rice but there are many variations and my Spanish grandmother would often cook arroz (Spanish for rice) in many different ways. There are a few important rules for a successful paella, firstly the rice should be a short grain variety called Calasparra or Bomba (available in supermarkets) secondly the main body of flavour comes from the “sofrito” the slow cooking of the onions, pepper and garlic getting it all softened and caramelised before adding the rest of the ingredients. Thirdly keep the heat low shaking the pan rather than stirring until there is a layer of liquid on the surface, then turn off the heat and leave to stand allowing the rice to absorb the liquid and flavours without losing its texture. This richly flavoured paella is very Spanish in flavour and one I often cook at home... Buen Apetito!!!

Paella with Pork, Chorizo and Spinach

Serves 4 – 6

454 grms pork fillet halved and cut into strips roughly 7mm
120g chorizo cut into small chunks

2 large onions finely chopped

1 large green pepper seeded and chopped

4 to 5 garlic cloves finely chopped

250g Calasparra or Bomba paella rice

1 tspn smoked Spanish paprika (La Chinata available in supermarkets)

Red chilli deseeded and finely chopped

900ml hot chicken stock either stock cube or fresh.

275 grms spinach

7 tblspns olive oil

Salt and pepper

Lemon cut into wedges

1. Heat the olive oil in a 30 to 40 cm frying pan or paella dish.
2. Fry the pork a little so it is just cooked. Season with the salt and pepper in the pan.
3. Remove the pork and put to one side.
4. On a medium to low heat fry the chorizo for one minute. Add the onion and pepper and cook slowly for 20 minutes stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and cook for 5 to 10 mins. The sofrito should be caramelised and sweet.
5. Stir in the rice and coat with the sofrito. Season with salt and pepper and add the chilli and paprika. (You can prepare up to this point and finish later if you wish).
6. Pour in the hot stock and gently simmer for about 15 mins until there is a layer of liquid on the surface of the rice, (you can add a little more stock or water if the rice needs longer).
7. Meanwhile wilt the spinach in a large pot with some salt and put to one side.
8. Add the pork and drained spinach to the pan pushing down into the rice, quickly turn the temperature up then turn off covering the pan with foil and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
9. Serve with lemon wedges and I like to serve with a tomato salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Taste the Mediterranean this Bank Holiday

I love the simplicity of fish and sea bass is particularly good at the moment. I once caught one in Poole Bay and was inspired to cook this simple recipe full of flavours from the med. A great all in one dish to impress your guests over the Bank Holiday. Romesco is a famous Catalan sauce traditionally made with pounded almonds, hazlenuts, dried peppers, garlic and tomatoes. It is served at the beginning of the year when calcots (green onions) come into season. “Calcotada” is an occasion where calcots are char grilled and dipped into large bowls of romesco. This versatile sauce is wonderful with fish, chicken, lamb or grilled vegetables and it is well worth trying my simplified recipe for a fuss free and fabulous fish dish.

Whole Baked Sea Bass with Romesco

Serves 4 people. Easily halved.

Prep 20mins. Cook 45mins.

2 x 1kg whole sea bass scaled and gutted (Available from most supermarkets)
1 large red onion cut into wedges
4 red peppers cut into large chunks
Half a red chilli deseeded (optional)
2 yellow peppers cut into large chunks
5 large tomatoes cut in half
4 whole large garlic cloves
2 lemons sliced
2 tspn balsamic vinegar
4 tblspn olive oil plus extra for drizziling
2 large handfuls of fresh herbs e.g (rosemary, thyme, coriander)
25 grms whole toasted hazelnuts
25 grms whole toasted almonds


1. Heat the oven 220c/gas 7. Put all the vegetables into a deep roasting tin with the unpeeled garlic. Toss in the 4tblspns olive oil, season well and roast for 20 mins until starting to soften.
2. Slash the skin of the fish. Season the inside of fish and stuff with the lemon slices and half the herbs. Place on top of the veg and scatter the remaining herbs, drizzle with olive oil and roast for a further 20–25 mins. The fish is cooked when the flesh feels firm.
3. Carefully lift the fish onto a serving plate with half the vegetables, cover and keep warm.
4. Place the remaining vegetables and juices into a food processor. Add the almonds, hazelnuts and vinegar blending together until smooth. Season.
5. Serve alongside the fish with the vegetables. Lifting the fillets off the bone.