Somehow August managed to get the better of me. Two and a half weeks in France and four days in Northern Ireland, and for the first time since I started this blog over four years ago, I failed to meet my own target of at least one blog per month. Shame on me. OK, a fire ban in France was no help, and desperately trying to keep up with self employed work commitments also got in the way. I'm just trying to convince myself of course, as there is NO excuse. So here I am, visiting friends in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland, about to tell a story about an evening we had in Herefordshire, just before our summer holiday. And somehow, it's September already.
Remember my South African foodie mate Ben? Most recently he gave me a cast iron potjie for my birthday (the one that fell off the Vespa), and he also saved up a special cockerel for one of our visits (A Tale of Two Cockerels). I also designed a purpose made outdoor braai for him in Oxfordshire before he sold his house and moved to paradise (aka Bringsty Common). We have much foodie stuff in common and so much look forward to seeing the Van Vuurens at any opportunity.
We were counting down the days and squeezing in as much work before departing for our traditional two weeks in France. A chance phone call to the VV's and we found that we were all free to meet up the weekend before we travelled, and at very short notice. So off we went to stay with them one Friday evening.
Ben had decided on sea bass as a main course, baked over a bed of herbs and vegetables. His starter was an incredible assembly of smoked duck, blue cheese, strawberry and broad beans with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Beautifully presented and amazing to eat.
The great thing about Ben's sea bass main course is that it is a one pot dish, fish and side dish of herby vegetables all cooked and served from one dish. The fennel complements the fish beautifully and the potatoes are perfect for soaking up all those lovely juices.
- 500g new potatoes, parboiled
- 20 Cherry tomatoes
- 1 large bulb of fennel, sliced
- Chopped chives
- Chopped oregano
- A few knobs of butter
- 4-5 whole seabass, cleaned
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
Lay all of the ingredients (except the fish) in a baking dish and bake uncovered in the Weber (or oven) for about 30 minutes. Make a few slashes in the skin of the sea bass, rub in some olive oil, place the fish on top with some extra fennel leaves and finish with a dose of coarse sea salt. Bake for a further 20-30 minutes until the fish has cooked through.
|Ben's amazing smoked duck breast starter|