Seafood Stew – Quick and easy Moroccan-style recipe
This Moroccan-style Seafood Stew is one of my favourite recipes. It is extremely easy to make and tastes delicious. I find its cheerful yellow colour always puts me in a good mood. It combines warm spices – cumin, coriander and turmeric – with a bit of heat from cayenne in a rich, creamy sauce brightened with fresh lemon.
It is a regular week-night supper in our house. However, it is also perfect if you are entertaining as it can be made in advance. It is also one of those dishes that people always think are much more complicated and time-consuming than they actually are.
This recipe is based on one that I tried many years ago in Morocco. It is Moroccan-style but I have tinkered with it over the years. I am pretty sure that my version would not be considered authentic by anyone who is Moroccan but I think it tastes pretty good.
What you need to know about this Morrocan-style Seafood Stew
This stew contains warm spices – coriander, turmeric and cumin – which add a depth of flavour without without much heat. My recipe also includes half a teaspoon of cayenne. If you want something with a bit more spicy heat, you can increase the amount of cayenne to one teaspoon.
You can make this stew with lots of different types of seafood depending on what you like and what is available. I generally use a combination of prawns and clams. However, other variations include:
Substituting the clams for the same weight of mussels.
Just using prawns (in which case you would need to double the quantity to 700 g).
Making the dish with white fish (such as cod or monkfish) – you would need 700 g if you serving it on its own or 350 g if you are combining it with another ingredient.
I think of this as a “store cupboard” recipe. I buy packs of frozen clams and mussels at the supermarket which I keep in the freezer and use for a range of recipes. Similarly, I generally have frozen uncooked prawns and frozen fish fillets in the freezer. Seafood will defrost quickly so you are ready to go with this recipe within a couple of hours.
It is an incredibly quick and easy recipe. Although it sounds quite luxurious (and it certainly tastes like a more complicated dish) it can be thrown together in just over half an hour and is pretty much fool-proof. I often make it as a week-day supper when I am tired, and possibly a bit grumpy, after work and it is guaranteed to improve my mood! All it needs is a bowl of plain couscous – which just involves pouring boiling water over the grains and leaving for a couple of minutes – and maybe some steamed green vegetables.
You can make the recipe ahead of time up to step 5. Then when you are ready to eat, you just need to add the seafood and finish with the cream and lemon juice and you are good to go. This makes it a great option when you are entertaining as you can actually spend time with your guests rather than fiddling around for hours in the kitchen. It also looks quite glamorous with its bright yellow colour.
You can also freeze the sauce at step 5 point and defrost when required and then add the seafood, cream and lemon juice.
Other “week-night” suppers
This Seafood Stew is a store-cupboard recipe which is great for a quick “week-night” supper but is also special enough for entertaining. You might like the following recipes if you are looking for meals that are easy to make when you get home from work but are tasty enough to cheer you up after a long day.
Savoury Pancakes are a fantastic make-ahead vegetarian supper. In this recipe, I have made a simple filling of garlic-flavoured mushrooms and have included some fresh chives in the pancake batter. The pancakes are rolled around the filling, topped with grated cheese and then heated through in the oven. The finished dish is a bit like a baked pasta dish – lasagne or cannelloni – but using pancakes make it less heavy. The other advantage of using pancakes rather than pasta is that you can put additional flavourings, such as the chives, into the batter.
I love all kinds of pancakes – both sweet and savoury. They are so quick and easy to make and so versatile. You get an almost instant hit of that “home-baked” satisfaction! When it comes to sweet pancakes or crepes, I have very traditional tastes – lemon and sugar is the only topping that I like – but I am a bit more flexible when it comes to savoury pancakes. If mushrooms are not your thing you could try ricotta and spinach or vegetarian or meat-based bolognese sauce.
Mushrooms, lovely mushrooms…
I am a huge mushroom lover. There is something about mushrooms, a savoury almost meaty flavour, which seems to please both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. As I cater to a household with a range of food preferences, I tend to use a lot of mushrooms! In my recipes, you can pretty much use any type of mushroom, or combination of mushrooms, that you happen to have available. However, there are a few rules of mushroom cooking that I think are worth bearing in mind.
First off, generally the larger the mushroom, the stronger the flavour. If you want a milder mushroom taste, stick to button mushrooms.
Secondly, make sure your mushrooms are fresh and perky. No one (and really, I mean no one) likes a slimy mushroom that has been sitting in your fridge for a couple of weeks. If you are going to keep your mushrooms for a few days, make sure that they can “breathe” – if they are wrapped in plastic, remove the covering.
Thirdly, (with reference to my second point), do not over-cook your mushrooms. They need to be cooked through and firm with a bit of a bite not sad, flaccid things which have been stewed for hours.
And finally, make sure you season them well – with salt and pepper and any herbs and spices that your like – in order to bring out their flavour. No one likes a bland mushroom. I think garlic is a particular friend to all types of mushrooms but they also go well with thyme and nutmeg.
These savoury pancakes, filled with garlic mushrooms topped with sour cream and chives, are the perfect vegetarian supper.
For the filling
50 g butter
475 g mushrooms (I generally use chestnut mushrooms but you can use any sort)
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
For the pancakes
100 g plain flour
275 ml milk
Salt and pepper
A little vegetable oil
A little butter
150 ml sour cream
100 g strong cheese (eg cheddar)
First make the garlic mushroom filling as follows.
Peel and chop the onion. Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan, add the chopped onion and cook gently for 10 minutes until it is soft and golden.
While the onion is cooking, remove the stalks from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Slice the mushroom caps.
After 10 minutes, peel and crush the garlic and add it to the pan together with the chopped and sliced mushrooms. Cook for a further 5 minutes and then take off the heat and set aside.
Next make the pancakes as follows.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and break the egg into it. Stir the mixture and gradually incorporate the flour with the egg. Then gradually add the milk and stir until all the flour is combined with it. You will then have a thin batter with the consistency of double cream. Season with salt and pepper. Finely chop the fresh chives and add them to the batter.
Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy-based non-stick frying pan. Then, using a ladle or large spoon, pour a portion of the batter into the pan. Tip the pan so that it covers all of the base. Leave to cook for around four minutes. Then using a spatula or blunt knife, flip the pancake over to cook the other side and allow to cook for a further minute. Then slide the pancake onto a plate. Repeat until you have used all the batter. There should be enough to make six medium-sized pancakes.
At this point, you have a choice. Either you can simply put a tablespoonful of the mushroom mixture on top of each pancake, add a teaspoon of sour cream and a few chopped chives, roll up the pancake and eat it as it is. Or you can put the filled pancakes into a greased, oven-proof dish, top with grated cheese and bake in the oven set at 180 C (400 F or Gas Mark 4) for 10 minutes. If you are eating them immediately, I would recommend the former and if you are making them ahead, I would recommend the latter.
This Easy Macaroni Cheese is the perfect make-ahead supper dish. If is rich, creamy and cheesy with a crispy top. If you are looking for vegetarian comfort food, which will be equally popular with non-veggies, look no further.
A traditional family recipe…
In my family, serving this Macaroni Cheese has become a Christmas Eve tradition. On the day before Christmas, when everyone is gathering, I have to feed a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarians of all ages and a spectrum of general food pickiness. This dish seems to hit the spot as it is warming and comforting and also has a simplicity that is welcome when we all know we are going to have a blow-out meal the next day. I serve it with a green salad dressed with a sharp vinaigrette to balance the cheesy richness of the pasta.
We also eat it on lots of other occasions, in both winter and summer, as it so popular and can be made ahead of time. If like me you are more of a “kitchen-supper” rather than dinner party style of host, it is a great dish to serve. Everything is done in advance – you just need to put it in the oven to warm through – so you can focus on talking to your guests rather than doing complicated things in the kitchen.
…but with a twist
There are many, many recipes for Macaroni Cheese. This one, which has developed over the years, has three elements that I think sets it apart from others. First off, it is topped with breadcrumbs and grated cheese which means that it has a fantastic crispy top which sets off the soft, creamy pasta. Secondly, it is a bit spicy. We discovered that adding a lot of cayenne was a good thing when my daughter made this recipe when she was quite young and mistook a dessert spoon for a teaspoon. We ate the first mouthful with trepidation but discovered that actually having a bit of heat cuts through the richness of the cheese sauce and improves the flavour of the dish. The third and final element is that there is a delicious secret hidden within this traditional-looking Macaroni Cheese. In the middle of the dish is a layer of sweet, soft caramelised onions which work brilliantly to lift flavour of the cheesy pasta.
What would we do without pasta?
I love pasta so much that I sometimes wonder if I might have some unknown Italian ancestor! It is so easy, versatile and so universally liked – by adults, children, vegetarians and meat-eaters – that it appears on our table several times each week. If you are looking for other simple pasta supper recipes you might also like my quick and easy recipes for Creamy Mushroom Pasta and Smoked Salmon Pasta with Fennel.
This Easy Macaroni Cheese recipe combines rich, creamy pasta with a crunchy topping, a dash of cayenne heat and a secret layer of caramelised onions.
125 g butter (25 g plus 100 g)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
350 g macaroni
55 g plain flour
2 teaspoons cayenne
860 ml milk
350 g strong, hard cheese such as mature cheddar
salt and pepper
50 g fresh breadcrumbs
Put 25 g of the butter and the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and place over a very low heat.
Peel and roughly chop the onions and add them to the pan. Cook the onions very gently for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The aim is to caramelise the onions so that they are a light golden colour and their natural sweetness is enhanced. When the onions are done, season with salt and stir in the soft brown sugar. Set aside until required.
While the onions are gently cooking, cook the macaroni in a pan of salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. This would normally take around 10-15 minutes. When it is cooked, drain the hot water from the pasta and put it back in the saucepan covered with cold water to prevent it clumping together.
Make the cheese sauce by melting the remaining 100 g of butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the flour, mix it into the butter and cook gently for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the milk into the butter and flour mixture. Put the saucepan back onto the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened. Grate the cheese and add 300 g to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the cooked macaroni and add it to the cheese sauce.
Pour half of the mixture into a rectangular dish of approximately 40 cm x 25 cm. Spread the caramelised onions on top and then add the other half of the mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining 50 g of grated cheese on top together with the breadcrumbs.
Heat your oven to 200 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 6 and bake the macaroni cheese for 30 minutes. When it is done, it will be hot all through and the top will be crisp and golden.
It is very easy to make your own breadcrumbs by whizzing stale bread in a food processor for a few minutes. They can then be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen for several months.
You can make the macaroni cheese a day in advance up until step 7 and keep it in the fridge. Make sure that you allow it to come back up to room temperature before heating in the oven.
Keywords: macaroni, cheese, pasta bake, vegetarian
This recipe for Caramelised Onion Tart is based on a recipe in Vegetarian Kitchen by Sarah Brown. I bought this book many years ago, in my early twenties, when I was a vegetarian. Subsequently, I have changed my diet to include fish and some meat, but I still love vegetarian food and often cook meat-free at home.
I have cooked this recipe many, many times. It is, in my opinion, simply the best onion tart ever. Occasionally, I will think that I will try a different recipe but I always come back to this one. The key to its luscious loveliness is to cook the onions really, really slowly for a long, long time so that they soften and gently caramelise without burning.
The taste of the caramelised onions is enhanced by the nutmeg, a spice that has a myriad of uses in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is really worth buying whole nutmegs and grating a bit off them when you need it rather than buying ground nutmeg. Just use an ordinary grater, there is no need to buy a special nutmeg grinder. The pungency of fresh nutmeg is a revelation and adds an extra dimension of flavour to the tart.
Large, heavy frying pan, quiche or flan dish (28 cm)
This luscious tart is filled with caramelised onions, subtly flavoured with nutmeg, set in a rich cheese custard. It is fantastic for hot, warm or cold which makes it very versatile. I honestly believe this is the best onion tart!
For the pastry:
275 g plain flour
125 g fat (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
A little water
For the filling:
6 large onions (white or red is fine) plus a further 3-5 onions or shallots for decoration
40 g butter and 1 tbs oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
Grated nutmeg (best to grate this from a whole nutmeg as this has best flavour)
100 ml double cream
100 g strong cheddar cheese (grated)
A little olive oil
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
Peel and chop the onions.
Heat the butter and oil in your frying pan. It helps if the pan is good quality with a thick bottom as this will disseminate the heat evenly and prevent burning.
Add the onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook at a very low heat for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are not burning and stir occasionally. The onions are done when they are light brown, soft and, when tasted, are sweet.
Season the onions with the grated nutmeg to taste (about half a tsp – although I add a bit more as I like it!). You can add a tsp of brown sugar to increase the sweetness of the onions at this stage if you wish.
Set the onion mixture aside to cool slightly.
Roll out your pastry and use it to line your quiche or flan dish. Bake for 5 minutes in the oven to allow the pastry to “set”. This will stop the filling making it soggy!
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the cream, and beat until combined. Finely grate the cheddar cheese and add to the mixture.
Now place the onion mixture in your pastry case. Pour the egg mixture over it.
Thinly slice the onions or shallots that you have set aside for decoration. The aim is to have a number of different sized circles of onion or shallot which you can use to decorate the top of the tart. Arrange artistically (!) and then brush with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place your quiche or flan dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
The tart can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold.