Tag Archives: recipes

Kitchen Heroes: Rapeseed Oil


A finishing touch..

An exciting new series begins this week, with the first of ‘kitchen heroes’.  Adding to my best kept secrets, recipes and restaurant reviews, ‘kitchen heroes’ will highlight every day ingredients that can make the world of difference to your cooking in some of the simplest ways.

There is no better place to start for me than rapeseed oil.  A mellow flavoured, yet sunset yellow oil that can finish off a soup or sauce wonderfully with a splash or swirl.  It is becoming quite the trend, with infused varieties from garlic, chilli and even smoked.  A few drops of smoked rapeseed oil in your favourite mashed spuds is next level stuff, trust me.

Any readers that exclusively watch TV celebrity chefs as their inspiration for cooking would be forgiven for thinking that there is any other cooking oil than the olive variety.  And as smashing as olive oil is, for dressing a salad or kicking off a risotto alongside a knob of butter – it has a relatively low burning point.  That means you are never going to get anywhere near crispy enough potato wedges, or roasted vegetables.  It allows roasting tray ‘on the hob’ cooking before transferring to an oven and is wonderfully light and low in saturated fat.

So grab yourself some cold pressed rapeseed oil and toss generously with par boiled potatoes cut into wedges – throw into a pre-heated roasting tray with some fresh rosemary and garlic.  Crank up and roast at 210c and you will not be disappointed with the results.

Have a browse of the Stainswick Farm site and see if there are any that take your fancy:-



Pan seared sea bass, lemongrass risotto

A classic risotto is a wonderful thing, but with a Thai twist, you can be far more creative and drop a lovely fresh piece of pan fried fish on top.  A can of coconut milk is the perfect substitute for stock, when serving 2 people.

Pan seared sea bass, lemongrass risotto

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • 200g risotto rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped & separated
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp thai fish sauce
  • 160g frozen petit pois/garden peas
  • Cornish sea salt
  • Pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  1. Start your risotto in the normal way by choosing your best non-stick pan and gently sweat the onion and celery in the olive oil with a pinch of good quality sea salt for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, lemongrass, chilli and coriander stalks, continuing to fry gently for 2 more minutes until fragrant.
  3. Pour in your risotto rice, stirring continually to coat the rice until it becomes translucent.
  4. Zest the lemon into the pan and continue stirring as you add the coconut milk little by little as the rice absorbs all the liquid.  Juice the lemon and add alongside the fish sauce and some crushed pink peppercorns.
  5. When the rice is nearly cooked, stir in the peas for 2 minutes before folding in the chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Season to taste, take off the heat, cover.
  7. Take your sea bass fillets and score the skin as pictured with a sharp knife. This will prevent the skin curling up in the pan and increase your chances of a crispy skin and soft flesh.  Season the skin with sea salt, getting in between those grooves you have scored.
  8. Bring a non-stick frying pan up to a medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil, placing the sea bass fillets skin side down.
  9. Cook skin side down for 2-3 minutes, be confident!  You need to do 85% of the cooking on this side.  You will start to see the flesh turning bright white.  Season the fish on the flesh side whilst cooking.  Flip and cook for 1 minute further.
  10. Dish up your risotto, serving the fish on top and adding some lemon wedges and coriander leaves to serve.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare with Cucumber Ketchup

A stunning but simple starter to impress your dinner party guests.

I put this together for Christmas 2016, as a starter to blow away any prawn cocktail…but despite its wonderful colourful presentation – anyone can throw this together in a matter of minutes.  The smoky, rich tartare compliments the sweet beetroot and sharp but refreshing ketchup.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare with Cucumber ketchup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 peppered smoked mackerel fillets
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 2 pickled gherkins
  • 4 tbsp homemade or good quality mayonnaise (I like rapeseed oil mayo)
  • chopped dill
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon to your taste
  • 4 Sourdough crispbread
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum
  • 2-3 cooked beetroots in their own juice (not pickled)
  • radish slices
  • microherbs or salad cress for garnish
  • good quality salt flakes


  1. Make the cucumber ketchup ahead of time by roughly chopping the cucumber. Heat the vinegar and sugar together in a pan until the sugar dissolves.  When cooled, add alongside the cucumber to a blender and blitz until smooth, seasoning with salt.  Turn the blender back on and add the xanthan gum, mixing well.  The mixture will now be gelatinous and ready to put in a squeezy bottle for the final presentation.  Pop in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.
  2. Skin the mackerel fillets and roughly chop on a large board.
  3. Quarter your boiled eggs and add to the board.
  4. Slice the gherkins and add to the board.
  5. Chop the dill finely and sprinkle over the mixture on the board.
  6. Dollop over the mayonnaise and start bringing together the mixture with a spoon.
  7. Using a large kitchen knife, chop through the mixture continually for as long as it takes to bring together a fine mixture that resembles a sandwich filler consistency.
  8. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt to taste.  Refrigerate in a container until you are ready to assemble.
  9. Cube the cooked beetroots.
  10. To assemble, stick each crispbread to a plate with a dollop of your favourite homemade fish pate – I have a very simple smoked mackerel recipe that works wonderfully with this dish.  Use a cooking/presentation ring to layer up the smoked mackerel tartare and then beetroot cubes.  Lift off the cooking rings before adding small blobs of your ketchup, radish slices and the garnish of your choice.

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This perfect, posh cheese on toast goes hand in hand with a fresh prawn salad

This recipe is inspired by one of my father’s many kitchen creations, adapted into a light, fuss-free Summer supper. A posh cheese on toast!

Cheese and fruit are a well known combination, but there are so many mis-guided concoctions on our supermarket shelves. For me, the sight of overly sweet dried cranberries, hammered into the side of a lovely mature piece of cheese is a crime against good food! Despite that, the sweet but tangy mango and lemon in this recipe works perfectly with the power of any blue cheese, finished beautifully with a drizzle of runny honey.

To make the dish fit for a simple homemade main course, I’ve chosen to add a really quick dressed salad with cooked king prawns.

Stilton and mango, the Wisdom family hereby patents the combination!

Stilton, mango and honey ciabatta with a king prawn salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 long white ciabatta rolls
  • 1 lump mature stilton
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts
  • 24 cooked king prawns
  • runny honey for drizzling
  • mixed leaf salad of choice
  • 1 lemon
  • balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning


  1. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise and arrange evenly on tin foil ready for the grill.
  2. Season the ciabatta rolls with coarse rock salt, cracked black pepper, drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little grated lemon rind.
  3. Slice the stilton and arrange on top of the ciabatta rolls before placing under a pre-heated grill until the stilton is melted and nicely browned, the ciabatta toasted. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in small dry frying pan over a moderate heat until gently browned.
  4. Peel and slice the mango into chunky strips, laying them over the top of the stilton.
  5. Scatter the toasted pine nuts over the top of the stilton and mango ciabatta.
  6. Drizzle the honey lightly over the dish.
  7. Dress a mixed leaf salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and cracked black pepper.
  8. Place a small salad portion each side of the ciabatta and top with three king prawns each side.
  9. Finish the dish with a little drizzle of lemon juice and a good helping of cracked black pepper.

Changing of the seasons

Firstly, a big thank you to my first group of blog readers and followers! It’s been an interesting first few weeks exploring what I want to achieve from this adventure, and I am really pleased that plenty of readers are already signed up to hear what I have to say on all things food!

The first BBQ of the Summer called for some tasty venison burgers

The first BBQ of the Summer called for some tasty venison burgers

Easter Monday yielded the very first BBQ of the year! We thoroughly enjoyed tucking into some lovely venison burgers and enjoying the great weather on the South Coast.

So a bit of a teaser on what’s coming up on Wise words on food as we drift through Spring and (hopefully) into Summer…

I’ll shortly be sharing a handful of cracking recipes with everyone, including my highly recommended ‘Thai Fish and Chips’ and ‘Stilton, Mango and Honey Ciabatta’. We’ll be looking at a couple of recent visits to local restaurants, with ‘The Jetty’ in Christchurch firmly on my radar for early May. Not forgetting my popular ‘best kept secrets’ archive, which is almost certain to soon feature where you can find the best cappuccino on the South Coast of England, and a humble high street haven for sourcing oriental ingredients on a budget.

A final encouragement to comment and get involved with everything I post, I’m always interested to hear your views and help shape what you want to hear about.

Speak soon,


Beetroot cured Salmon Gravlax

Beetroot cured salmon gravlax is an impressive homemade alternative to smoked salmon and combines beautifully with scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast

Beetroot cured salmon gravlax is an impressive homemade alternative to smoked salmon and combines beautifully with scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast

My first blog recipe is a new favourite of mine, inspired by my recent visit to ‘Charlotte’s Place,’ Ealing, and adapted from an 80s Swedish classic.

Gravlax, Scandinavian for ‘grave’ is a dill, salt and sugar cured salmon that historically found itself wrapped in bark, weighed down with bricks and buried six feet under. The beetroot, horseradish, lemon and peach schnapps are my modern twists to bring this classic to life with a colourful, spicy and fruity tang.

The quantities in this dish really are rough and it’s very much down to your personal taste. A trial and error exercise that you can keep your own secret version of locked away!

I choose to use this colourful cured salmon as an alternative to smoked salmon and the flavours combine nicely with creamy scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.

Beetroot cured Salmon Gravlax

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 medium sized salmon side fillet, skin on, pin-bones removed
  • 3-4 tbsps coarse rock salt
  • 1-2 tbsps demerara sugar
  • 1 fresh beetroot, peeled, finely grated
  • 2-3 tsps fresh horseradish, peeled, finely grated
  • 25 ml peach schnapps
  • 1 lemon
  • large bunch of dill, coarsely chopped


  1. Place the salmon fillet skin side down on a deep enough tray to hold the moisture extracted from the fish during the curing process.
  2. Evenly spoon over the coarse rock salt and demerara sugar until the salmon fillet is covered.
  3. Spread the beetroot and horseradish across the salmon fillet, ensuring the beetroot is covering all of the flesh to allow for maximum colour penetration.
  4. Drizzle over the peach schnapps and evenly scatter over the dill.
  5. Grate over the lemon, before pouring over the squeezed juice.
  6. Pat down all of the ingredients on top of the salmon to allow for an even distribution of flavour.
  7. Cover the salmon tightly with cling film, weigh down with bottled water or large fruit juice cartons and refrigerate for 48 hours.
  8. After 48 hours, remove the tray from the fridge and gently scrape away the remaining topping from the salmon.
  9. Separate the skin from the fillet by carefully running a sharp knife underneath the salmon, angled towards the skin.
  10. Slice thinly across the top of the salmon into long strips, ready to arrange on your dish of choice.
  11. The remaining salmon can be covered with cling film and kept in the fridge for 4-5 days.

The journey begins…

Over the cliff tops of Branscome towards my Sunday lunch

Over the cliff tops of Branscome towards my Sunday lunch

My fondest childhood memories seem to be consistent with a love of fresh food. Whether it was the anticipation of a hearty beach side Sunday lunch, earned by completing a gruelling but liberating 3 mile cliff top walk, or the fragrant scent of Thai Green Curry emanating from the family kitchen; I always did kick the trend of settling for the usual kids’ fayre of Turkey Dinosaurs, Chips and Peas.

Inspired by my father’s cooking, my experiences of fine to far from fine dining, and my own developing culinary expertise; I hope to take my readers on a journey through the very best restaurants, recipes and best kept secrets across the South of England and beyond. It won’t be all plain sailing…my critique pulls no punches and drives straight to the heart of what we all look for from that first bite…’Wow’.

Simplicity is best. I’ll be looking for the greatest examples of how a simple and fresh set of ingredients can be transformed into a culinary masterpiece.

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