Scallops with Black Garlic, Black Pudding and a Balsamic Jus with Pea and Mint Quenelles

You’ll have to excuse me for this blog post. It slightly pains me to post it if I am being honest as the photographs are all wrong…in the sense that I took them in the evening with no light. This is a major no no for food photographs and normally I always shoot in daylight but for this post I could not reheat the dish and as much as I love scallops I really did not want to eat them for lunch and supper. So please overlook these dark shots and believe me when I tell you this is a seriously quick, tasty and stylish dish that is guaranteed to please anyone you present it to.

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Fresh scallops are wonderful, but I sometimes buy frozen from my local fishmonger and they work pretty well and are relatively good value. I am also a HUGE fan of black garlic. I wrote an article about black garlic for Country and Townhouse Magazine which you can read here. It will tell you all about them so have a peek at the article. Black garlic is beginning to pop up in some supermarkets but I sometimes just order it directly from either The Garlic Farm,  Merchant Gourmet or The South West Garlic Farm.

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Some people are squeamish about black pudding, but please people seriously there is nothing to get worked up about, unless you are vegetarian/vegan then I apologise. The fact is the saltiness from the black pudding works brilliantly with the scallops and the black garlic adds a umami (I wrote an article about this too – read here) sweetness that bursts in a flavour explosion in your mouth. I have added a balsamic jus to bind it all together and then added little quenelles (oval shape mounds of food) of pea and mint puree.

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The colours and flavours are magical. I think it probably works best as a starter or you could just add a few more scallops and black pudding to turn it into a main.

Scallops with Black Garlic, Black Pudding a Balsamic Jus and Pea & Mint Quenelles

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

16 1/2 inch slices of black pudding

1 tbsp butter

16 scallops

16 slithers of black garlic

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp boiling water (optional)

300g frozen peas

8 mint leaves

salt and pepper to season as required

1. First place the oil in a frying pan and when it is hot add the black pudding slices and cook on both sides for a couple of minutes, by which time they will have darkened in colour and crisped up slightly. Set aside in a warm place.

2. In a separate pan boil the peas and add the mint to infuse. After 5 minutes, drain and then puree using a blender. You can add a little chicken stock at this stage if you want a smoother more runny puree. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Using the pan that you cooked the black pudding heat the butter. Once it is melted and hot, but not burnt, add the scallops and gently heat for max 2 minutes on each side, so that a slight bronzing occurs on both sides. Add the black garlic once you have cooked one side of the scallops and then add the balsamic jus just before you take the scallops out of the pan. Ladle the balsamic jus over the scallops and then place them on a warm plate.

3. Raise the temperature slightly and add the boiling water if you want more of a jus and boil for a few minutes so the jus reduces and thickens slightly.

4. To plate up (use pre-warmed plates) add the black pudding followed by the scallop and then the black garlic. Next create quenelles with the pea and mint puree. They are easy to do. Watch the quick video below to show you how to do them.

5. Finally pour the jus over the scallops and around the plate.

Serve immediately so that it is still hot.


Chipotles En Adobo – a store cupboard essential

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If there is ONE new thing you do this year I urge, beg and plead you to try making your own ‘chipotles en adobe’, homemade chipotle sauce to you and me. If you like chutneys, relishes and jellies, and chilli of course, then this is culinary nirvana. OK, you probably think that I am going a little over the top here, but seriously you will thank me once you have made some pots of this sauce. It’s addictive and tastes seriously good, so much so that it is not unheard of for me to have it with my breakfast (whether it be french toast/fried egg toastie/grilled tomatoes/bacon buttie – basically it goes with anything, well maybe not cereal!) and then again at lunch time by placing a little dollop of it in my sandwich.

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Chipotles chillies, originate from Mexico and are in fact a smoked and dried jalapeno chilli. They are not like their spicier cousins, such as the serrano or the chile de arbol, instead they have wonderful smokey notes that give warmth and a little spicy kick that beckons you back for more.  They are sold dried or in an adobo (sauce).

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Now I can just hear you all saying ‘where on earth can I get hold of those types of chillies’? Yes it does take a little bit of forward planning, but as I don’t have a farmers market next door or a store that holds them near by, I get mine online from a range of Mexican grocers including Mex Grocer. It takes literally a few minutes to log on and order and hey presto within a couple of days you have your beautiful dried chipotles chillies. I imagine if you live in the US they are likely to be even easier to source as I know that Mexican food and products are far more commonplace than they are here in the UK.

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Making the sauce is incredible straightforward and the sweet smells coming from the cooking pot are wonderful.
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The sauce itself lasts for months so it’s great to have a private hoard in the store cupboard for personal consumption, although I will probably give a couple of my pots away to those I deem worthy of such culinary pleasures – basically family and friends who I know like chillies.

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My life has been made so much easier since I invested in my kilner wide neck funnel (see photo above). I know it will get a lot of use with all the chutneys and jams I make over the course of a year.

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Chipotles En Adobo

adapted from Thomasina Miers’s recipe in Mexican Food Made Simple

Makes 6 jars

200g chipotle chillies

1 white onion, chopped

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp fresh oregano

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

350ml white wine vinegar

50ml balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp black treacle

3 tsp tomato puree

6 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp sea salt

1. Cut the storks off the tops of all the chillies and then place them in a colander and wash in cold water.

2. Transfer to a large pan and cover with water and simmer gently for around half an hour, by which time the chillies will be soft. Strain the water and place six of them into a blender along with the onion, garlic, herbs, cumin and 200ml of water. Blend until smooth.

3. Heat up a large pan (my Le Creuset pot is perfect for this) with the olive oil and when it is very hot add the blended chilli paste and stir continuously for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato puree, sugar, salt, vinegars, black treacle, along with 100ml of water. Turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes before adding the remaining chillies.

4. Simmer gently for a further 15 minutes, stirring throughout.

5. Transfer the sauce to a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend once again until you have a smooth sauce.

6. Place into your steralised jars and store in a dark, cool place.

This amount makes 6 small kilner jars, as shown in the photos. Whilst it lasts for months, I can bet that it won’t last too long once you have tried it as you’ll be putting it in and on everything.

Best of luck, a little bit of effort will reward you royally.


Roasted Cod with Fennel, Red Onion and Tomatoes in a Lemony Balsamic Jus

OK I admit it, I wasn’t telling the whole truth when I put together the grand title for this dish. It only takes a passing glance at the photo above for you to see that there is a sprinkling of fresh chilli in this dish. It’s totally NOT essential, so if your palate prefers the absence of chilli – or if you are feeding it to little ones, then please omit the chilli part as it still tastes really good.

We try and eat fish and seafood a couple of times a week, which reminds me, I must put up another of my squid recipes as squid gets a big thumbs up in our household. My six year old, known as big A in this blog (as she is my eldest daughter) has loved it for as long as I can remember; she is a joy to cook for as she eats and tries everything. She has her sights set on junior Masterchef, way to go girl.

This dish is perfect with white fish and cod works particularly well as it does not flake too readily during cooking. This dish is rustic and juicy and has the definite thumbs up from Mr B. There are a lot of flavours going on in the dish, from the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar, red onions and tomatoes to the subtle aniseed taste of the fennel and the wonderful kick from the chilli. I find they compliment each other so well, I hope you agree.

Roasted Cod with Fennel, Red Onion and Tomatoes in a Lemony Balsamic Jus

Adapted from a recipe by ‘Delicious Magazine’

Serves 2-4

600 g filleted cod

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (set the fronds to one side)

juice of one lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 large red chilli, sliced (not essential)

seasoning, as required


1. Prepare the fennel, red onion and chilli and place in an oven proof dish with 1 tbsp of olive oil and the juice from one lemon. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees if you are using a fan oven and 20 degrees more if you are not or gas mark 6, for 10 minutes

2. Add the tomatoes and roast for a further 5 minutes. Now place the cod fillets, balsamic vinegar and remaining olive oil on the vegetables and roast for 10-12 minutes. Do not overdo the cooking of the fish as it will begin to dry out. It needs less cooking time than you think!

3. Serve immediately with the fennel fronds scattered on top to garnish. I like to eat this with rice, although it would also work equally well with little cubed roast potatoes.