Wednesday, 20 July 2011

And then there was one

This is not a sad story because at the centre is a new, brilliant, life changing adventure.  The only sad part is that it cannot be done together and that basically sucks. 

At the beginning of the summer Bo got the news that he had been accepted onto the course of his dreams, one that will totally kick start his dream career in horse racing.  He loves horse racing as much as I love food, which is a fair amount.  Some nights when reading in bed I'll ask him 'What are you reading about?' and he'll say 'Horses', and then he'll ask me 'What are you reading about?' and I'll say 'Food'.  That is our life.  It's lovely.  He has blagged work on anything connected to the industry for the last year; showing round VIP's on race days, manning the Scottish Racing trailer in the pissing rain, chatting up old dears on the train about course loyalty cards; and he has loved every single second.  So the fact that he was accepted as part of the British Horseracing Authority graduate scheme came as absolutely no surprise - to me anyway but I'm biased and think he's ace.  The course began at Newmarket for two weeks and then on to his placement in Newton Abbot, Devon to learn all about small racecourse management.  If you are interested in any of this (and you don't have to be, I do because I'm sleeping with him) he is writing his own blog on his experiences for Scottish Racing.  It's good too, he learnt from the best! 

Bo looking serious at the races.

So on Saturday 26th June he moved so very far away.  I stayed, had 'crying' face for about a week and got very drunk with my brother.  Our wee home suddenly echoed and I soon realised that goldfish don't talk back.  There was a pathetic lack of potatoes in the potato drawer, no milk was bought (it gives me the hibbies) and suddenly realised I had nobody to please apart from myself.  Which can be a bad thing.

It's been a month now, a month of throwing myself into work and making pillow people to sleep beside, and it's getting a little better.  Apart from the phone bills, they're getting worse.  Those of you that read this blog regularly (hi mum!) will know all about Bo's famous vegetable phobia so I decided to turn my hearts loss into my stomachs gain and eat LOTS OF VEGETABLES!  I honestly think that I can count on one hand how much meat I've had in the last month. 

Anyway, where were we, ah yes - vegetables.  I don't mean having a plate of carrot and radish followed by a parsnip chaser for lunch, I just mean meals that are not centred around carbohydrates and animal protein.  Interesting, semi healthy, quick and most importantly with my new status, easily adaptable for one.  My first purchase was Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and finally found out what all the fuss was about.  The most beautiful book that truly celebrates the world of vegetables in the most innovative and exciting way.  I know from the core of my being that this will be a cookbook that I treasure for the rest of my days.  Get it.

I realise I've divulged too much, this is a food blog and you are here for a recipe not a potted history of my mental state over the last month.  For that I apologise and hope that this simple fish supper for one makes up for any boredom or offense caused.  This meal is my new TV dinner, to be enjoyed when watching crap detective dramas and followed by 2 squares of Green and Black's Maya Gold.

Sea bass and Fennel Parcels with Tomato Salad

serves 2 - ironically

2 large seabass fillets (or 1 whole but the cooking time will be longer)
1 lemon
1 bulb of fennel
1 clove of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
small glass of white wine
salt and pepper

For the tomato salad:
4 ripe tomatoes - from the windowsill, not the fridge
large bunch fresh parsley
1/2 a red onion
dressing of your choice, mine was made with white wine vinegar, rape seed oil, lemon juice and a little French mustard

Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Or fire up the barbecue because this would work just as well either on the grill or nestled into cooling coals.

For the tomato salad, finely slice the tomato and red onion, season, add the parsley leaves and dress.  Place on the side while you cook the fish. 

Cut the fennel as finely as possible, for this you will need a pretty sharp knife or mandolin.  Be careful but the nearer you get to transparency the better.  Slice the garlic to a similar thickness.  Slice the lemon and pile this up with the fennel, garlic and thyme on a large sheet of tin foil.  Season generously and drizzle with olive or rape seed oil.  With a sharp knife, score each fillet about 1 cm apart.  Not all the way through but just enough to let the flavours penetrate the fish.  Lay the fish on the bed of fennel.  Bring up the sides of the tin foil to create a large, cornish pasty shaped, parcel.  Before closing completely add the wine, it will steam the fish from within.  Scrunch the foil together tightly, making sure that nothing can escape but leave room within the parcel for the steam to generate.  Cook for 20 - 25 minutes until the fish is opaque.

Serve with a green salad, crusty bread to mop up the juices and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc.

Last night I braved the Flybe website (why so many questions!) and booked myself a wee holiday to the land of cider, crabs and handsome ginger men.  Photos, recipes and adventure stories coming soon!