her food his wine

Cooking for a wine fanatic

Leave a comment

Death by chocolate

Following on from the overall success of last weeks fish fest, I thought if it ain’t broke  don’t fix it. Fortunately i’d got some home made gravadlax in the freezer so only had to come up with a main and dessert (obviously not fishy!). I got some nice big plaice fillets and clams from Waitrose however despite a pretty large recipe book collection couldn’t find anything inspiring (sounds like an excuse to buy some more books), that was until I went back to Gourmet food for a fiver. Using Bourride of pollock as the base of my recipe I manage to seize victory from the jaws of defeat.

There was no tweaking dessert – not having a sweet tooth, and usually being fairly well oiled at that point of a meal, I tend to go for something pretty simple and having not done a huge amount of baking in my life, stuck to the recipe. Again, Gourmet food for a fiver came to my rescue and I made the chocolate brownie. Maybe brownies are meant to be really chocolately  – I think I can safely say that I have never eaten one before. Boy, I felt like I had overdosed on the stuff, and can see how people get hooked on it.

To go with the Gravadlax  I made pickled cucumber, mustard and dill sauce and Bentley’s soda bread – the black treacle in Richard Corrigan’s soda bread makes a huge difference to the flavour however I halved the amount of salt – 10g is far too much.


We served it with a 2009 Belondrade Y Lurton from Valladolid in Spain. We had a private tour and tasting at the vineyard a couple of years ago, which is where the picture at the top of my blog came from – it’s made from the labels of their wines. This wine can be drunk straight away or aged for up to 10 years, which gives a completely different experience. It’s 100% verdejo and has lovely honeyed qualities.

On to the Bourride. It’s basically fish in a sauce that looks very similar to a bouillabaisse. It is thickened with an aioli which my garlic was a bit past its prime for, so I substituted wild garlic which is beginning to come out in the garden. Made with our own eggs it gave a great density, not to mention colour to the finished sauce.


We served it with a 2010  Wine & Soul guru from the Douro valley in Portugal. It is a blend of Viosinho, Códega, Rabigato and Gouveio, and has a smooth and ripe lemony nose.

Finally on to the death by chocolate. It was topped with a vanilla salt and it is true what they say – salt really does bring out the taste of the chocolate. As Greg Wallace would say, it was like a great big gooey, chocolatey snog! I served it with a Wattleseed ice cream – i’d like to say i’d made it however I ran out of time so mixed a pinch of coarsely ground wattleseed into a couple of scoops of Green and Black vanilla. It has a very distinctive chocolate, hazelnut, coffee taste, a pleasant texture and comes from the seeds of a type of acacia tree found in Australia.

Chocolate Brownie

We served it with a 2005 Crociani Vin Santo di Montepulciano. As i’d used a 67% dark chocolate it was quite bitter sweet therefore didn’t need an overly sweet dessert wine.

Bourride of Plaice and Clams

Serves 2

12 clams

2 skinned plaice fillets

1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot

1/4 red pepper

1 tbsp chopped celery

1 pinch of saffron strands

1/2 birds eye chilli

finely grated zest of 1/4 orange

250ml chicken stock

3 tbsp aioli (see below)

sea salt and pepper

2 slices of toasted baguette

1 tsp finely chopped chives

coriander leaves

Samphire fried in butter to serve

  1. Clean the clams under cold running water. Rinse the plaice fillets and pat dry. If you have both fillets from one side cut in half lengthways. Starting from the tail end, roll up the fillets and secure with a cocktail still. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots, red pepper and celery and fry gently for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the saffron, chilli and orange and cook for a further 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the plaice fillets, put a lid on and cook for 4 minutes. Add the clams and cook for 2 minutes, or until open.
  4. Take off of the heat and carefully remove the fish and clams and keep warm. Discard any clams that don’t open.
  5. Blitz the broth in a blender until smooth and slowly add the aioli. When the mixture thickens pour back into the saucepan and add the chives. Warm gently and whisk with a balloon whisk or hand blender.
  6. Arrange the plaice and clams in a warm bowl on top of the samphire then pour the broth over and around. Place the toasted baguette, spread with some aioli on the side and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Wild garlic & saffron Aioli

Makes about 200ml

pinch of saffron

handful of wild garlic, chopped

2 medium egg yolks

150ml olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the saffron and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk. 
  2. Slowly add the olive oil until fully incorporated. Season well and stir in the wild garlic

Chocolate brownie with vanilla salt and wattleseed ice cream (Jason Atherton from Gourmet food for a fiver)

Serves 4


210g butter, plus extra to grease the tin

320g good quality dark chocolate (I used 67% Madagascan)

100g plain flour

80g cocoa powder

4 large eggs

260g caster sugar


2 tbsp sea salt

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking parchment. Grease the parchment with butter.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick, about 7-10 minutes. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa mixture.
  4. Pour in a quarter of the melted chocolate mixture and fold together. Repeat until all of the chocolate is incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  6. For the vanilla salt, put the salt into a small bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the bowl. Mix with the salt.
  7. When cool, lift the brownie from the tin, and cut into slices using a serrated knife dipped in hot water.