Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Italian Roasted Cod with Lemon & Parmesan Courgettes

If you keep an eye on my Instagram grid and stories, there's always loads of pictures of food that I've been cooking. However, I've been just bone idle when it comes to writing down recipes and it hit me last week, as I messaged yet another recipe to a friend, that I really need to start writing them down again.  As part of the "force Russell to eat more fish" stealth campaign, he's been getting more fish than he ever wanted, so I need to up my game and take the focus off the fish and onto the flavour.  His highest compliment is to tell me that "the dog would love this" and he means it in a positive way, honestly!  Sandie the world's greediest Shihtzu would eat my dinner, his dinner and then sit there with a hungry look on her face, claiming that she hasn't been fed in weeks.  She'd love this...

This Italian Roasted Cod with Lemon & Parmesan Courgettes is very simple to put together and cook in under half an hour.  My recipe feeds two people and you can scale it up to feed a crowd by doubling, trebling or even quadrupling the quantities.  Just add a salad or some new potatoes and you've got a delizioso dinner!

Italian Roasted Cod (serves 2)

2 x 150g Cod fillets
10 Basil leaves, finely shredded
7 Plum or baby San Marzano tomatoes, each cut into 3 crosswise
3 slices of Parma Ham
Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 200c / 180c fan / Gas Mark 6 and line a baking sheet with baking paper (don't use foil as the fish might stick.

Place two slices of Parma ham onto the baking sheet, a few cm apart and plonk the cod on top.  Sprinkle each fillet with half of the basil, then artfully arrange the tomato slices over the basil and season with black pepper.

Cut the other slice of Parma ham widthways and cover the cod fillets with each half.  Wrap the rest of the bottom slice over the fish like a little parcel.

Bake for 20 minutes until the cod is opaque and flaky.  Once the cod has gone into the oven, start preparing & cooking the courgettes

Lemon & Parmesan Courgettes (serves 2)

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Courgettes, halved, centres removed & cut into slices
2 Shallots, peeled, halved and finely sliced
1 clove Garlic, crushed
30g Parmesan, grated
Zest of half a Lemon, grated
1 tsp Parsley, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper

Heat a large frying pan and add the oil.

Fry the courgettes for 5 minutes on a medium heat until they start to brown, then add the shallots and cook until they soften.

Reduce the heat to low & add the garlic, cooking gently so it doesn't burn.

After 3-4 minutes, add the parmesan, lemon zest & parsley (I'm a big fan of frozen chopped parsley & use it all the time - easiest to find in the German supermarkets)

Taste the courgettes and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

By this stage, the cod should be ready, so stick it on a plate, pour a large glass of wine (stick with the Italian theme and find a nice Falanghina) and enjoy your dinner.  Saluti!

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'm Still Saving For A Rainy Day

I know, long time no speak.  Please accept my apologies for the radio silence -  it's been a little bit busy in work and at home so Babaduck got sidetracked for a lot longer than planned.  The very lovely Cherry Sue kindly told her Bargain Hunting Mums on the Run group about my savings plan & I figured out it was time to start writing again.

One of the few good habits I've acquired over the years is to save a few bob for a rainy day.  Something always breaks down, radiators leak (today's drama) or there's a fancy holiday on the horizon... Something we've done at home for the past 5 years is gradual saving - we start with €1 on week 1 of the year and increase it by a euro every week.  And if you stick to the plan, you end up with over €1,370 on New Year's Eve!!!

If the thought of shelling out €50 in December scares you silly, just pre-pay it during the year if you have a bit of spare cash, or you can even do it in reverse if that suits you better.

2018's money is now locked away safe to use as our spending money for this year's fancy holiday to Florida.  What will you do with yours?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Zesty Lime Brownies

Some days, when I can't think of what else to bake, I break out the chocolate.  It makes everything taste better, right?  Well, perhaps not everything, but you know what I'm saying.  One thing that always makes people happy is a tray of crisp on top, fudgy beneath brownies - perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.  They go really well with wine too (like the sparkling Muscat which I discovered on holidays recently).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Taste That!

It's hard to believe that Taste of Dublin has been in existence since 2006, where it started in the grounds of Dublin Castle before moving to the Iveagh Gardens, entertaining and feeding people for the past 11 years.  The 2017 Festival kicks off tomorrow at midday and I'm here to give you a sneak preview of what to expect once you've bought your ticket.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Normal service will resume in 3, 2, 1...

I can't blame you for thinking that I'd disappeared off the face of the earth - I'd lost my writing mojo, you see.  After a much longer recovery from surgery than I expected, I was knackered.  I barely had the headspace to cope with the post-op blues, never mind a frenetic return to the day job with an awful lot of travel, so something had to give.  I'm sorry that it had to be Babaduck, just for a little while.

Mind you, I haven't shut up on social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and now IG Stories) - I'm using them all and sometimes I think they all get much more reaction and engagement than the basic written word.  It's time to get my act in gear and sleep less, write more. Well, that's the plan anyway.

So, how have you all been while I blithely ignored you?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coconutty Banana Bread

Since I've been on sick leave, one of my favourite breakfasts is peanut butter & sliced banana on toast. Just add coffee and I'm happy.  However, I invariably buy too many bananas which then linger in the kitchen transforming from bright happy yellow to sullen brown spottiness.  It's use them or lose them time, so I decided to seal their fate by baking a deliciously tender banana loaf, full of crunchy walnuts and dessicated coconut to sweeten the deal.  I wonder what a slice will taste like if I slather it with peanut butter...

Monday, December 12, 2016

My Christmas Books for Cooks List

There's nothing I like more than opening a new cookery book, flicking quickly through the photos & mentally noting the ones that immediately appeal to me, before reading the contents list.  It's always a voyage of discovery, with some recipes I am familiar with, together with many new and exciting ones.  I am a huge fan of ebooks and my Kindle is crammed with books to enjoy, but I can't imagine ever completely moving from the traditional cookery book to an electronic version.  There's nowhere for flour encrusted slips of paper to mark my favourite recipes and my indelible buttery fingerprints on the cover - my cookbooks all happily bear traces of my presence. Today, I'm bringing you some of my favourites from 2016 which might bring you some gift inspiration, either for yourself or for somebody you love.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's (been) oh so quiet

Eagle eyed readers might have noticed that Babaduck came to a screeching halt three months ago, so I thought I should explain myself.  Since my early 20's, I've had endometriosis which was controlled by all sorts of treatments : hormonal, medical, surgical, you name it, I've tried it, but I seemed to be fighting a losing battle.  A chat with my GP sent me back to my consultant, the super glamorous Sharon, and after scans, tests and an MRI, it was decided that I'd be better off without my bits as they weren't fit for purpose any more.  A hilarious chat followed where Sharon declared that she didn't do enough hysterectomies to keep her hand in, so to speak, and I fell off the chair laughing.  That's me, always finding the funny and sniggering inappropriately.  So off I went to her colleague Dr. K.  He wasn't as glam, and would have looked ridiculous in Sharon's heels, but he certainly knows his stuff.  More scans, the discussion that I could also possibly have cancer, and a biopsy was needed to be sure, to be sure.  Dr, K is not a man to walk into a situation unprepared, and I'm all the better because of it.

My nurse.  Napping on the job...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Wine Society at Hayfield Manor

Hayfield Manor is an oasis of calm in the middle of bustling Cork City.  Hidden from view by an innocuous driveway, this family-run hotel delivers a five star luxury experience with charm and grace.  Not only does it offer guests a beautiful place to stay, but Hayfield Manor loves wine, with a subterranean wine cellar and dining room in the basement.  The Vine wine cellar not only contains a collection of exceptional wine, curated by sommelier Sandra Biret Crowley, but also hosts their Wine Society evenings.

I was invited to attend the May dinner which featured Rustenberg Winery from South Africa, represented by winemaker Murray Barlow and whose wines were chosen to complement the five course meal created by Executive Head Chef Mark Staples.  Founded in 1862, the Rustenberg Estate is a family winery in the valley of the Simonsberg Mountain, right in the heart of Stellenbosch. Peter & Pamela Barlow purchased Rustenberg in 1941 and have worked with nature to create a range of truly exceptional wines, some of which were showcased at the Wine Society dinner.  Their son Simon took over in 1987 and his son Murray, who holds a Masters in Oenology, has now joined the team, both making wine and marketing it globally.  What a fabulous job to have!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Review : Summers Under the Tamarind Tree

There are some cookery books that merit more than a quick glance and a once over of the recipes, especially ones which tell a story about life in a faraway land full of recipes handed down through generations. Karachi-born Sumayya Usmani has written such a book, with a lovely foreword by the iconic Madhur Jaffrey. Based in Glasgow, she is a former solicitor who wrote about her nostalgic childhood recipes on her blog My Tamarind Kitchen.  She has now written her first book : Summers Under the Tamarind Tree, a collection of recipes and memories from Pakistan which offers a great understanding of the spirit, passion and flavours of her homeland.