This week was an unusual and rather exciting one, consisting mostly of cooking, a hell of a lot of eating, for an article i’ve been writing.
I was commissioned by Zoosk (the online dating site,) to write an article on an assortment of aphrodisiacs. A list of ten foods thought to get those..ahem.. juices flowing.. and two cracking recipes that that use them. This has meant that for the last week my kitchen has been a riot of experimentation. You name it, my kitchen has seen it. Chocolate sauce, figs, asparagus, strawbs, oysters… all in the name of research. What else..
In all this fun I have had to come up with two romantic, delicious, pantie dropping recipes, which I though would be a no brainer. Romance = Oysters, Champagne and a bucket load of chocolate-dipped strawberries. Job done.
Of course, It wasn’t so simple. The Oysters proved a little trying when my first attempt at shucking resulted in nearly sliced my own arm off. Recommending to anyone that they DIY their own oysters was a definitely no no.
My next thought was getting the fishmonger to do it and how ridiculous that thought had escaped me in the first place. By the time I got round to this (and eaten the second batch too..) it occurred to me that not only was there no cooking involved in the preparation of Oysters, unless I prepared to perform an act of sacrilege and Rockefeller them, but that the majority of the UK hate them. In fact they are on the list of top 10 most disliked foods in the UK. Crazy people.
So I was back to square one, Oysters off the table. It was around this time I decided it might be an idea to try foods actually favoured by the lovely public since there was always the hope that someone would actually make them. Recipes that actually involved a little cooking as well, since that was the idea.
Hmm Asparagus.. tis the season after all and chocolate, what else… in a main course. Hells yes.
A few hours of whittling and whistling and I had my winning recipes. Fillet Steak in a Port-Chocolate Sauce served with fluffy, soft Mash and fresh Figs, loved by my brother (for my more regular readers you know this means its good) and Sea Bass served with Curried Parsnip Puree, griddled Asparagus and Buttery-Chive, baby New Potatoes. Mmm baby, lip nibblingly good…
I have also thrown in a cheeky snap of the Fillet Steak and Port-Chocolate Sauce.
Ingredients – (Serves 2)
- 40g/3oz Butter
- 1 small Onion, chopped
- 2 Parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 tsp Mild Curry Powder
- 60ml/2fl oz Milk
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice, plus more for garnish
- 2 fillets of Sea Bass, cleaned and skin on. – scored
- 2 tbs Sunflower Oil
- a pinch of Chilli Flakes (optional)
- 250g/1lb Baby New Potatoes, scrubbed
- 20g Butter
- 1 heaped tbs finely chopped Chives
- 8-12 stalks of Asparagus, depending on width
- Salt and Pepper
To make the Parsnip Purée, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the Onion and Parsnips, season with the Curry Powder and salt. Cook on a low heat until very soft and easily squished with a wooden spoon. If the parsnips look like they are colouring or sticking to the bottom of pan, add a little water.
Wash and half the New Potatoes. Add them to a saucepan, cover with cold water and a generous couple of pinches of salt. Bring to the boil, over a medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Once the Parsnips are cooked add them to a food processor with the milk and blitz until really smooth.
Correct the seasoning, add the lemon juice and set aside. Once the Potatoes are cooked add the butter and chives, season and set aside
Oil the Asparagus lightly and place on a hot griddle. Cook for 6-10 minutes, depending on size of the Asparagus. Turn them oven once halfway through cooking.
Trim each Sea Bass fillet so they are the same shape. then score the skin, cutting into the flesh slightly, at 1-2cm intervals.
Season the Sea Bass with a little salt and pepper and the Chilli flakes just before cooking. Heat the frying pan until very hot, add the oil and lay the fish fillets in the pan, skin-side down. Press the fillets down with a spatula to stop any from curling. Cook the fillets for 2 minutes side side down, turn it gently and cook for a further minute or two, depending on thickness.
Serve the Sea Bass hot, on top of the asparagus spears alongside the Parsnip Puree and the New Potatoes and finish with a little squeeze of lemon over each fillet of sea bass.