A Simply Brill day

IMG_3091Whole baked Brill with Clam Broth

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s day, on the grounds that it is almost entirely a commercial exercise, a recipe for rip offs, and most importantly kind of smug. When single you may feel like everyone else is in this loved up club and there are times in life when that may be a bit depressing…and I don’t like to think that someone might feel lonely or low.IMG_3073 However I don’t have anything against people enjoying themselves…loved up, single or otherwise.Neither do I think everyone who is single is sad and lonely, having spent many happy single years – and I am definitely not against romance. That’s my position, just thought I’d clarify it! Just to prove I am romantic, the soundtrack for our lives and the backdrop to our lovely Saturday was courtesy of Van Morrison – here you go…listen along while you read…

So after a really welcome lie in this morning and a hellish week working, we meandered across Vauxhall Bridge with the dIMG_3049awg, and walked down to Tachbrook Market, to our favourite fishmonger. I had resolved to make up for my lack of endeavour in the Valentines card department (oops) by cooking my beloved a nice meal. As we wandered across the Thames, I was struck by how beach like it looked below at low tide.IMG_3040

We had a great weekend beside the beach in Cornwall with my brother and sister-in-law, Karl-Heinz and The Minx, last year – we stayed in a tiny cottage in the dunes and bought fresh crab for tea. The Minx was delighted to learn how to pick a crab. We have a great time whenever we are in Cornwall and I think the availability of great fresh fish contributes heavily to that and it means we are fans of Cornish Seafood. Back to the tale…

DSC_0158I adore brill…. Also eating fish in it’s proper season, which it is right now. Brill stocks are a hazy area but the Marine Conservation Society says you can eat it occasionally so that is what we do. I was so pleased to see this beautiful fresh Cornish Brill and decided splash out – it’s on the pricier end of the seafood scale but totally worth it, look how pretty it is…

So, a morning spent walking, enjoying old London town, a pitstop for a serious coffee at ‘Pimlico Fresh http://https://twitter.com/pimlicofresh

and a little light shopping for supper.

All this was followed by a pint at our local, http://www.duchyarms.com/,and an England victory in the Rugby.

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We decided to bake the brill whole – flat fish is so good cooked on the bone and then once cooked the meat just pulls away cleanly so it’s not one of those fiddly affairs.IMG_3079

I prepped the fish,trimmed off the frill, and placed it on a bed of sliced fennel, added some lemon slices and a few knobs of butter – the strands of samphire were only for beauty at this stage… I seasoned the fish with sea salt and white pepper, and baked it on a gas mark 6 for 25 minutes. (It weighed about 800 grams).

In the meantime, we made a little claim broth to go with the fish. We chose Palourdes, as they are small and sweet.

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I popped the claims into a hot saucepan with splash of water and put the lid firmly on.

After about 2 minutes and when they were all open, I drained the juice from the claims, strained it to get rid of the grit and set the claims aside.

Next we softened some chopped shallots and sliced garlic in a little butter and oil then added a large glass of dry white wine, when the wine had bubbled to half it’s original volume we added the strained clam juice, then added a wine glass of double cream, next we reduced the temperature and allowed the cream to cook out for a minute or two before adding a few knobs of butter a little salt and pepper to taste and then the cooked clams. Finally we added some chopped chives.IMG_3092

Whilst the clam broth was in progress we boiled a few small potatoes.

Finally I blanched some samphire (Israeli at this time of the year as it’s not in season here for a few months, but I do love it so we went with it…) and then plated everything up. It was a feast and there is no denying that we could have fed four.It occurred to us that this would make a lovely alternative Sunday lunch.IMG_3076

The left overs will be well used, as ever, and tomorrow Rocket will be cooking a hare that was gifted to him by his friend ‘Chef Dead Eye Dick’ and Rocket will be guest blogging about that next week….

A great day in our lovely city, spent together, doing what we love…just brill.

Please do comment!   IMG_3079

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