Lime and Pepper Crumbed Snapper

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I have known my friend Ian for getting on for thirty years now. We went to school together and stayed in contact ever since, I was best man at his wedding and I returned the ‘favour(?!)’ when I got married.

He emigrated to New Zealand around the same time that we were moving to Sydney, so over the course of the last 6 or so years and 3 children between us later, we have seen each other relatively frequently.

Ian has bought a kayak which spends most of the time in his garage or on the roof of his car (impresses the ladies apparently).

He also bought some fishing lines on the assumption that he could catch his supper whilst paddling around.

Yesterday, I received an MMS which had feet and fish in them. The excitement was palpable, after 27 outings, Ian had caught a fish (or two!) but alas, did not have a clue how to cook them.

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So being the great mate, I rushed to the supermarket and bought my own snapper so I could create a simple recipe for him to wow the family with (Ian is a better kayaker than chef, in fact is probably better at telling jokes(!) than cooking).

The finished dish is deliciously simple and the light citrus notes and the warmth of the pepper showcase beautiful fresh new Zealand snapper.

I served it with a homemade tartare sauce and a green salad. Simple and delicious.

Serves: 4 as a main and 6 as an entreé

Ingredients

Around 500-750g fresh snapper (would work with any good white fish), skinless and boneless.
Zest from 4 limes
6 slices of bread (stale is fine)
2 Tbsp black pepper
1-2 beaten eggs
100g plain flour
Rice bran oil for frying

To serve: homemade tartare sauce and fresh green salad

Method

1) Break up bread slices and place in a baking tray.
2) Put tray in a 100c oven for an hour or so until bread is dried through.
3) Put bread in a food processor and pulse until you have breadcrumbs.
4) Chuck in pepper and lime zest and blitz for 5 seconds.
5) Pour breadcrumbs back into baking tray.
6) The next stage is key to prepare well because once you start, things get messy and happen quickly! You are going to set up a production line with, from left to right – small baking tray of flour, Bowl of beaten egg, tray of breadcrumbs, large frying pan on hob, plate with kitchen paper to drain cooked fish.
7) Heat a scant 1cm depth of oil over a medium heat. It has reached temperature when a cube if bread sizzles gently in it.
8) Dip fish fillet in flour, then shake, then in egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Shake off loose crumbs.
9) Gently place crumbed fish in hot oil and cook each side for around 2 minutes until golden.
10) Drain on kitchen paper
11) Serve with tartare sauce and green salad.

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Classic Italian Ragu (works well for under 5s too!)

My daughter, like most kids does not like to eat her five portions of veg a day.  She does however love pasta with meat sauce.

So, always firm in my belief that something really tasty will always be eaten I give you my take on a classic Italian ragu that is more that good enough for the grown ups – just remember to save a bit for the kids.

Serves: enough for 10-12 portions

Ingredients

500g minced veal
500g minced pork ( you can just use 1kg of any old minced meat, but try this mix if you can)
2 onions finely chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp oil
2 cans plum tomatoes
500ml good quality veal (or beef or chicken) stock
2 carrots grated
I courgette grated
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
4 large Tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Plenty if freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Method

1.  Place onion in pan with oil and gently soften without browning. This will take around 8 mins on a low heat with lid on.
2. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 mins
3. Place onion and garlic in a bowl and place chopped bacon in pan on gentle heat until fat begins to render.
4. Add minced meats to pan in small batches and gently brown.
5. once brown, turn out onto bowl with onion and garlic.
6. Put grated courgette and carrot in pan and fry until it begins to soften.
7. Add meat/onion mixture  back to pan and stir together for a few minutes until well combined
8. Add tomatoes and stock to the pan and bring to the boil.  Once boiled, turn down heat and simmer for around an hour. Keep an eye on the pan to ensure it does not go dry and stir every now and then.
9. Once Ragu looks thick and glorious, stir through basil and season to taste.

Serve with your favourite pasta, plenty of good parmesan and either apple juice or a nice chianti (depending on whether you are dining with plastic bibs or candlelight)…