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Trout with brown shrimp butter

Trout is one of my favourite fish. Growing up it was a rare treat, so when cooking it I like to keep the dish as simple as possible to preserve the flavour. With this recipe I like to add some brown shrimp which adds a bit of sweetness and you get a wonderful contrast with the sharpness of the lemon. The trick with this recipe is not to overcook the trout and not to take the butter too far and burn it.

1 trout filleted and pin boned
30g butter
Juice of a quarter lemon
5ml oil
100g brown shrimp

To cook the trout
Cook with a little oil or butter skin side down on a high heat for 3-4 mins
Turn the heat off and flip the fillets onto the flesh side and allow to sit in the residual heat for 1 minute
Remove from the heat to a warm plate

To make the brown shrimp butter
Place the butter in a pan on a high heat and cook until the butter starts to brown and you start to get a nutty smell from the pan
Immediately remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and shrimp to stop the butter cooking further
Pour over the trout

Cheese and onion focaccia

This is a recipe that inspires comfort, which is well suited to this time of year and also tastes delicious. It is a focaccia style bread which only requires one prove, so not too much waiting around involved. Its a great tear and share type bread, one to put in the middle of the table for everyone to get stuck into. Great accompaniment for a fondue or dip or the building blocks for a great steak sandwich.

450g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
5g salt
300ml water
200g comte or emmenthal cheese
2 medium onions sliced and sauteed till soft and left to cool
Sprig rosemary finely chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Add the flour, salt, yeast, rosemary, cheese, onions and mustard into a bowl
Mix together to combine and add the water to form a wet dough
Knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth
Place on a greased baking sheet and cover and place in a warm place until the dough has risen to twice its volume
Place in an oven at 190c (fan) 200c (normal) and bake for 40 minutes. 
If cooking on the BBQ use indirect heat or platesetter at 200c for 40 minutes

Beertails and other botanicals - Lowlander Beer

When I first encountered Lowlander beer, it was at the launch of Justin Brown's The Chippy in Amsterdam. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of complexity from both the nose and the flavour in the beers. 

Photos courtesy of Typhoon Hospitality

My next encounter was at Taste of Amsterdam in June, it was on a more formal basis as I attended one of their beer (and beertail) tasting sessions where I got to taste the full range of the beers. I also had the pleasure of meeting the founder Frederik Kampman at the event.  We agreed to meet up again and talk more about Lowlander and their beers and finally got round to it recently.

We met first at Jacob Hooy in Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam, where Frederik was keen to show where they buy their botanicals. For those of you unfamiliar with Jacob Hooy it is one of the oldest pharmacies dating back to 1648 and the reason for us beginning our evening there was to highlight the emphasis the Lowlander brand has on history and it's influences on what we eat and drink now. 

Botanicals are not uncommon within the brewing processes, but Lowlander places a keen emphasis on them in bringing out the best in the beer's character. Frederik's background in the distilling industry has had a major influence on this. They don't look at what's trending or popular, but focus on quality of product and more unusual flavours.

Lowlander started life a few years ago, but have only recently come into the spotlight in the last 18 months. What started as experiments with looking at how different botanicals react with different flavours, then progressed to how they worked with beers. Frederik decided to start brewing his own.  

They've deliberately avoided the craft beer tag and rightly so as the beers do stand out from the crowd. Word of mouth has spread and many bars in Amsterdam proudly stock it as well as it being served at the Historic Wijnand Fockink (which was one of our next stops) distillery in the heart of the city. They have also teamed up with the distillery to produce some new recipes for beer tails.

They currently have 3 beers on offer; a White Ale, an IPA and a Poorter with another 2 in the pipeline which I've been asked to keep top secret! 
They also like to play with flavours in their beertails which essentially use the beers as a key ingredient in the cocktail rather than as something to top up the drink. Their recipes can be found here on their site

The white ale has elderflower, curacao orange and chamomile, blended in a way so that the ingredients produce a smooth flavour. Elderflower provides a good depth of backnote flavour.

The IPA is my favourite of the three, it has white tea and coriander, the tea gives a lovely tannic element and the coriander a freshness.

Now to the Poorter, I'm not the worlds biggest fan of these types of dark beer as I often find them on the sweet side. This poorter however did surprise me as the vanilla and liquorice give a hidden depth to the drink. I like to use this in cooking and it works well with the traditional porter cake recipe that I published last year.

For more information on Lowlander and their beers go to www.lowlanderbeer.com

Tomato and marscarpone pasta bake

Pasta Bake is something I really like to make. Nothing special or fancy just good old fashioned pasta with a great sauce that tastes just as good cold as it does straight out of the oven.

1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 dessert spoon dried oregano
1 tin anchovies in oil chopped
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tin tomatoes ( my preference is San Marzano)
50ml passata

15g tomato puree
200g penne cooked
30g mascarpone
50g parmesan grated
Sugar, salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onion until soft on a low heat, add the garlic, chilli flakes and anchovies and cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the tomatoes, passata and puree and simmer for a further 20 mins.
Add the oregano and the mascarpone, stir well to combine

Season with the salt, pepper and sugar to your taste
Add the penne to the sauce
Add the grated parmesan and stir through 
Place in an oven proof dish and bake in the oven for 25 mins at 160c (fan) 170c (normal)

Beetroot and white choc chip brownies

Beetroot, right at the end of its season now and not something you would normaly associate with cakes or desserts. The sweet earthy notes of the beet work really well with both white and dark chocolate. Simply grated into the brownie mix, it adds a moistness and an unexpected depth of flavour.

165g salted butter
165g chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa, max 65%)
100g plain flour
3 eggs (room temp)
160g caster sugar
100g grated red beetroot
60g cocoa powder
100g white chocolate chips or white chocolate cut into small chips

Pre-heat your oven to 160c (fan) 170c (normal)
Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt, you can either do this in the microwave or place the bowl over a pan of hot water ensure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, stir until both have melted
Allow the chocolate and butter to cool slightly
Whisk the sugar and eggs together until they double in volume and are pale and fluffy
Add the chocolate and butter mix to the eggs and whisk through
Next fold in the cocoa and the flour
Lastly stir through the beetroot and the white chocolate chips
Pour into a greased or lined baking tray and cook for 30 mins
After 30 mins open the oven door slightly and leave to sit in the oven for a further 20 minutes

Beef cheek and heart cottage pie

Another seasonal favourite during the cold weather is my take on cottage pie which I call "Shepherds pie". I know the purists (aka my other half) amongst you will complain about naming conventions, but it is what my mother called it, so the name stuck. 
I prefer it with beef and yes it should be called cottage pie, but old habits die hard and I'm sticking with it! 
I like to use lesser known cuts of meat and this recipe is no exception. I've used minced beef cheek and heart which gives the gravy base a meatier flavour. 

Meat base
1 onion chopped
1 medium carrot diced
1 stick celery diced
250g beef cheeks minced

200g beef heart minced
150ml beef stock

100ml red wine
10ml worcestershire sauce
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour mixed with a small amount of water 

Salt and pepper to season
oil for frying

Sauté the onion and carrot on a low heat until soft
Remove the veg from the pan 
On a medium heat cook the mince mix until brown
Place all the sautéed veg back in the pan, add the stock and simmer for 15 mins
Add the worcestershire sauce and stir through
Thicken the sauce with the cornflour, ensure to stir well to avoid lumps
Season to taste
Place in a casserole dish and allow to cool

Mash topping
300g boiled potatoes (I put these through a ricer to get a smooth consistency)

100g boiled celariac (put through a ricer, like you did with the potatoes)
50g butter melted
50ml milk warmed
Salt and pepper to season

Mix all the ingredients together until you get a smooth mash, season to taste

To finish the pie

Top the meat sauce with the mash
Place into a hot oven at 180c fan, 190c normal for 30 mins

If you like you can top the pie with grated cheese, my preference is a mature cheddar, I use about 100g and then place the pie under a hot grill until the cheese has melted.