Recipe: Hake on a bed of paprika butter beans

One-pot cooking

It’s been way too long since I shared a recipe with you…very remiss of me I know. So today I’m going to make up for it by starting a new series of recipes for one-pot dishes. Quick and easy to make and requiring very little washing up afterwards, they are also going to be absolutely delicious. Like this one.

It captures the flavours of Spain perfectly, with its smokey paprika tones and sweetly salty chorizo flavours. And there’s a lovely little chilli kick to the sauce.

If you can’t find hake you could use any firm-fleshed fish like cod or haddock. It sits on the bed of beans and steams perfectly, coming out flaky and light, a great match for the sauce.

Recipe: hake and beans

The sweet hake steams on the bed of beans

The ingredients

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil

150g cooking chorizo, chopped

1 x tin butter beans, drained

100ml water

8 cherry tomatoes

1 tsp paprika

1 dried chilli

2 hake fillets

Recipe: ingredients

Red ingredients ready to cook with the beans

The process

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the chopped chorizo to the pan. Fry for about 5 mins.

Add the paprika and crumble the dried chilli into the mix.

Add the drained butter beans to the pan and mix well.

Recipe: beans

The paprika and chorizo add a lovely colour to the beans

Pour over the water and bring to the boil, then turn down to low.

Place the whole cherry tomatoes on top of the beans.

Lay the fillets of hake on top of the tomatoes.

Recipe: hake

The fresh hake rests on the bed of beans

Cover and cook on low for 15-20 mins until the fish is cooked through.

Recipe: final dish

Close up on the delicious dish

Do you have a favourite one-pot recipe?

I’d love to hear about it and try it out, so do get in touch.



Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker

Today I’m experimenting with a new piece of cooking kit – yes, again. And it’s a serious one – the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker. A shiny, stylish oven where you can cook and smoke to your heart’s content.

We’ve been having a lovely October in London and would you believe it was even warm enough to eat al fresco one recent weekend. So we invited some friends over and I experimented with hot smoking a large fillet of salmon. My long-suffering friends do have to put up with a lot of test dishes from my kitchen.

This time they were certainly winners as this smoked salmon is one of the nicest things I’ve served up. Wonderfully moist with a touch of sweetness from the honey and sugar, a salty hint from the soya sauce and that wonderful smokiness finishing it off. I used apple wood chips which created quite a bit of smoke and certainly intensified the flavours. And doesn’t it look amazingly professional. I was so impressed with the way it turned out.

Find out more about this fabulous smoker by clicking here.

Char-Broil: salmon

The beautiful smoked salmon nestling on a bed of rocket

Honey and soya hot smoked salmon

Serves 6 as a starter

800g fresh salmon fillet

3 tbsps brown sugar

3 tbsps soya sauce

3 tsps honey

To serve

1 bag fresh rocket

2 lemons, quartered

8 cherry tomatoes

Rinse the salmon fillet under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen roll.

Mix together the sugar, soya sauce and 2 tsps of the honey.

Spread thickly over both sides of the salmon.

Cover and leave in the fridge for at least three hours, ideally overnight, turning occasionally.

Remove from the fridge at least an hour before putting it into the smoker and drizzle with the remaining honey.

Add your wood chips to the drawer – I used apple wood.

Prepare your smoker to a temperature of 121C.

Place the fillet flesh-side down on the grates.

Smoke for one hour.

Remove the grate from the smoker (using oven gloves so you don’t burn your hands!), place a baking tray on top of the fish and then flip the fish and grate so the baking pan is on the bottom with the fish on it.

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Serve on a bed of fresh rocket with cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges.

Char-Broil: Smoker

The stylish smoker is a great addition to any kitchen


Char-Broil: Smoker

There’s plenty of space for plenty of smoking

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Big Easy barbecue

Okay summer still hasn’t really arrived in London – sometimes it never really does – but I am certainly not going to let that prevent me from getting out into my garden and lighting the barbecue. Especially now that I have my brand new Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue which has the power to roast, smoke and barbecue. You can read all about the UK’s first three-in-one smoker, roaster and grill in one package here and also discover some lovely roast chicken recipes to try out.

Today I’m getting more adventurous (as promised) and trying something for the first time. I’m going to hot smoke some lovely fresh salmon. First step is to make a marinade and give the salmon 2-3 hours to soak up the flavours.

Getting ready to marinate in front of my CharBroil Big Easy

Honey Jack Daniels marinated smoked salmon

Serves 2

The marinade

3 tbsps Honey Jack Daniels

2 tbsps brown sugar

2 tbsps soya sauce

1 tbsp dijon mustard

Mix all the ingredients and marinate one piece of filleted fresh salmon per person for 2-3 hours

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon

Give the salmon fillets time to absorb the flavours

While the salmon is marinating get your smoker ready. There is a pull out box on the side of the Char-Broil Big Easy where your wood chips go. You can buy a range of wood chips from many places. I got mine from and today I’m using some of the plum chips.

Measure out the chips you need and soak in water for about half an hour. This is to ensure you get a lot of smoke for your cooking. Drain, spoon the chips into the smoker box and insert into the barbecue.

Light the barbecue and put it on to high. Leave for about 10 minutes or until you can see smoke start to appear.

Fold tin foil into sizes slightly bigger than the salmon, take the salmon fillets out of the marinade and place on the foil. Place on the rack inside the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes – checking regularly.

The sugar and honey in the marinade will make the skin crispy and add some slight blackening, which I love. You’ll find that the salmon is beautifully flakey and moist inside.

Beautifully soft and flavoursome salmon with chilli corn and potatoes

Today I served the salmon with some Jersey Royal potatoes (they are in season after all) and lovely sweetcorn which I cooked on the grill section of the barbecue above the smoking rack. Plus I made a simple sour cream sauce. Here’s how.

Sour cream sauce

150ml sour cream

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsps chopped fresh dill

Mix all the ingredients at least three hours before serving and keep cool in the fridge. This amazing and simple sauce is wonderful with all kinds of fish – and tastes amazing on potatoes, too.

This sour cream and dill sauce goes perfectly with the smoked salmon

Sweet chilli barbecued sweetcorn

2 ears of corn

2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce

A few knobs of butter

Place each ear of sweetcorn on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it in.

Spread the sweet chilli sauce over the sweetcorn with a knife. Add a few knobs of butter to each parcel.

Wrap the corns up fairly tightly and place on the grill of the barbecue which is at the top above the smoking .

Put them in at the same time as the salmon and they will be perfect by the time your salmon is cooked.

 You can read all about the fabulous Char-Broil Big Easy – the UK’s first gas three-in-one barbecue at 

And watch this space for more great alfresco cooking ideas. Next week I’m going to be roasting some vegetables Moroccan-style (yes, in the barbecue) to match with our delicious local lamb chops. My mouth’s already watering just thinking about it.

Recipe: Tuna, anchovy and asparagus salad

Sometimes the easiest way to decide what to make for lunch is to see what’s in the fridge and store cupboard. And it’s especially efficient when we’re in Spain for a limited period and need to polish off all the food in the house before we head for home.

I love the food in Spain, even the supermarket is a joy to visit. Everything from the tinned tuna to the fresh fruit and vegetables taste fabulous so rustling up a beautiful salad is simple. Here’s a fishy delight I came up with that looks stunning, too.


Beautiful greens and yellows and plenty of tasty fish

Serves 3

2 tins of tuna, drained

4 tbsps mayonnaise

1 bag of lettuce

1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced

5 spears of bottled white asparagus, sliced into thirds

100g frozen peas, defrosted

2 large slices fresh pineapple, chopped into bite sized pieces

12 anchovies in vinegar, drained

French dressing


Succulent salad up close

Mix the mayonnaise and the drained tuna thoroughly.

Lay the chopped lettuce on the bottom of a platter.

Add the cucumber slices, pineapple, peas and asparagus.

Drizzle with French dressing.

Top it with the tuna mayonnaise.

Lay the anchovies on top of the tuna and it’s ready to serve.

The ingredients of Spain: Paprika and Saffron

I love Spain! It could be partly because it’s in my blood with my ancestors originating from the fishing port of Cadiz. And also because I love their attitude to life, family values, beaches, scenery and ever-blue and sunny weather.

Then there’s the food. This trip I’ve packed several Spanish recipe books for my initial inspiration…the rest I get from checking out the fresh ingredients in local markets and supermarkets. There’s so much stuff to choose from dinner takes a lot of decision making.

This week I decided to make a Catalan-style fish stew. Actually a pretty simple recipe that takes a little bit of time but, most crucially, you need the best ingredients. Which is easily achieved when in Spain.

Two of the key ingredients in this amazingly flavoursome and fresh-tasting dish are paprika and saffron, two classic and frequently-used Spanish ingredients. So I thought I tell you what makes them special.

Paprika (or pimenton in Spanish) is made from air dried peppers. The flavours vary by country and in Spain you tend to get three varieties – dulce (mild), agridulce (moderately spice) and picante (very spicy). The peppers are smoked which gives it a wonderfully earthy flavour and the pimenton dulce has a lovely sweetness that adds a unique taste to any dish.


A mound of the beautifully smoky and vibrant pimenton

Saffron was introduced to Spain by the Arabs and comes from the stigmas of the beautiful purple crocus flower. They bloom at dawn and need to be picked as soon short as possible as the plant withers quickly and the stigmas lose colour and aroma. It’s harvested in autumn between dawn and 10am, and because of its delicate nature, it needs to be done by hand – a seriously back-pain-inducing process. More than 85,000 flowers are needed to produce 1kg of saffron. That’s a serious amount of flowers. No wonder it’s the most expensive spice in the world.


The beautiful flowers produce the amazing, delicate stems

Historically, saffron has been used as a dye, in perfumes and as a drug as well as a cooking ingredient. Cleopatra is said to have used it as a seductive essence and in Ancient Greece it was a remedy to sleeplessness and to reduce hangovers as well as being used to perfume baths and as an aphrodisiac.

Most of the world’s saffron comes from Iran and Spain who are generally regarded as having the best quality. And I’m happy to say that it’s sold at my local market in Spain for a bargain price – a tightly sealed box for a snip at €3. You don’t need a lot to flavour dishes, I guess this purchase will last me for about a year’s worth of cooking.


Saffron makes for a beautiful field of purple

So now you know all about these two amazing spices. And here’s a delicious dish to make using them, which shows how well they work together.

As I’m beside the sea, the fish is all wonderfully fresh and again, great value. I used hake, prawns and clams today but you could include any kind of shellfish or white fish (like monkfish or cod).

Catalan-style fish stew


Juicy prawns, sweet clams and succulent hake in the rich tomato and pepper sauce

Serves 6

A large pinch of saffron threads

6 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 tbsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

2 red peppers, cored, deseeded and chopped roughly

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sweet paprika

250ml fish stock

24 live clams, rinsed in water

18 raw prawns, heads and tails removed

600g hake fillet, skinned and cut into 5cm chunks

Put the saffron threads in a heatproof bowl and pour 4 tbsps boiling water over them. Set aside to infuse while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion for about 10 mins until golden but not brown. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves and red peppers and fry for about 10 mins until the peppers are soft.

Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer for another 5 mins, stirring.

Add the fish stock and saffron water and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce to a simmer for 10-15 mins until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Add the hake gently and spoon the sauce over it – don’t stir it in or it will break up too much. Put in the prawns and clams, making sure they are gently mixed into the liquid. Reduce the heat to very low, put a lid on the pan and simmer very gently for about 10 mins until the hake is cooked through, the prawns turn pink and the clams open. Discard any clams that don’t.

Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices.


The stew in the pot just after the fish is added

Recipe: Prawn, pasta and pineapple salad

I hate throwing food away, my leftovers always go back into the fridge. All very good except for the fact that a lot of the time they end up in the bin a few days later. Not anymore…it’s time for me to get creative and think of ways to use those leftovers in delicious dishes. I’m pretty impressed with my first effort.

When we have pasta I always seem to cook too much, hate the idea of there being not enough, I guess, so I had a generous portion of cooked penne in the fridge. I’m in Cape Town at the moment and the weather was sweltering, so I came up with this lovely salad recipe.

The secret with the seafood-style sauce is to make it using twice as much mayo as ketchup. Although, of course, if you prefer different predominant flavours it’s easy to experiment until you’ve got your ideal ratio.

Serves 2


A tasty salad for a hot summer’s night

For the sauce (per portion – so double for this recipe for two)

4 tbsps mayonnaise

2 tbsps ketchup

A squeeze of lemon juice

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

For the salad

150g cold cooked penne

250g medium sized prawns, cooked and peeled

3 slices of pineapple, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 handful of chopped fresh mint leaves

Half a small iceberg lettuce, chopped

1 tomato, quartered

6 slices of cucumber

Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce.

Add the prawns, pasta, pineapple and mint and mix together thoroughly

Serve in a bowl with the lettuce on one side and the prawn salad on the other, tomato and cucumber arranged around.


The pasta salad all mixed and ready to serve

Do you have favourite recipes using leftovers? Get in touch and let me know, I’m always looking for new dishes to try.