Velvet Sauce Fit for a King

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Fancy a posh fish pie…?

Fish fan extraordinaire, Rick Stein, has one of our favourite fish pie recipes. It’s just a bit decadent with a crisp breadcrumb topping and a hint of truffle oil. The recipe calls for a velouté sauce – one of the five ‘mother sauces’ of French cuisine, coined centuries ago by man of legendary moustache, and more importantly, the ‘King of Chefs’ no less, Auguste Escoffier. (The others for your history lesson, are hollandaise, béchamel, espagnole and – plain ol’ tomato). What’s luxe about a velouté is that it’s translated as ‘velvet’, which is just how your sauce should be. No pressure.

Rick’s tip is to fry the fish first so that it doesn’t thin the creamy sauce in the pie as it cooks. Our tip is get your butter, milk and cream from our obliging Guernsey cows.

1 hour 20 minutes

4 – 6 hungry people


For the velouté:-
600ml fish stock
300ml milk
50g butter
50g flour
2 bay leaves
1 crushed clove
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the pie:-
200g onion, finely chopped
60g butter
30g parmesan cheese, grated
50ml double cream
Juice of ½ lemon
500g mixed seafood: ¾ fish fillet and ¼ shellfish or crustaceans, such as prawns, lobster or crab. You could use cod, monkfish, hake, pollack, or snapper, with crab, lobster, peeled prawns or scallops. Visit our own fish expert Jason Hamon at Surf ‘n’ Turf on the Castle Esplanade.
50g flour
30ml vegetable oil
10g butter
100g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp French mustard
1 tsp truffle oil
For the crust
50g Japanese panko breadcrumbs (trend alert!) or fresh breadcrumbs dried out for 10 minutes in a hot oven
30g melted butter


Boil the stock and milk together. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly and without browning.

When it starts to smell nice and nutty, add a third of your stock and milk mixture, and keep stirring until it thickens and is completely smooth (like velvet, remember?) Add another third and stir again, then add the final third and when smooth, stir in the bay leaves, clove and nutmeg and leave to simmer for about 30 mins.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Slow-cook the onion in the butter for 10 minutes. Pour your sauce through a sieve into the sautéed onions and add the parmesan, double cream and lemon juice. A pinch of salt will bring out the flavours.

Cut the fish fillets into bite-size pieces and turn over in the flour with a bit of salt. Fry for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat using the vegetable oil and butter. Transfer the fish to your pie dish. Fry the mushrooms in the same pan, stir in the mustard and add to the pie dish.

Now time to add the shellfish or crustaceans to the pie dish. They can be raw or cooked, but if raw scallops or prawns are large, slice them in half. Drizzle the truffle oil over (sparingly as it’s pungent!)

Pour your exquisitely smooth velouté over the fish. Mix the panko with the melted butter, and spread over the top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with samphire on the side for extra lushness. Fish pie poshed up.


Sorry, no belly dancers

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Look what we’re doing! For three nights only, James is conjuring up the tastes of the Middle East in the fabulously evocative atmosphere of Ziggurat. Newly inspired by our recent trip to Marrakech, expect an aromatic menu of fusion flavours, and some surprising twists! (Sorry, no belly dancers).

Book quickly, tickets are selling like gold dust!

e[email protected]

healthy hearts

A Hearty Broth

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Raising awareness of heart and health issues at the Healthy Hearts event, Cooked whipped up a steamy storm. On the menu was a Vietnamese Pho  – a noodle broth and a perfect warming dish for an Autumnal day. And if you have a cold hanging around, a bowl of steaming hot pho will see it on its way.

Here’s the how to:

Serves 4 to 6

For the broth:
2 large onions
4-inch piece fresh ginger
2 (3-inch) whole cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
6 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 carrots, peeled chopped

To serve:
1/2 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced and lightly seared
8 ounces dried rice noodles
3 spring onions
1 chilli
2 limes in wedges
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup fresh herbs (coriander, basil, Thai basil, mint)

Here goes:

  1. Prepare the onions and ginger: Peel the onions and cut them into quarters through the root. Peel the ginger and slice it into quarters down its length. Char them over a high temperature.
  2. Dry-roast the spices: Chuck the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds in the bottom of a dry frying pan and roast over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until toasty. Watch out for scorching!
  3. Combine the broth ingredients: To the pan with the spices, add the stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, chopped carrots, and the onions and ginger.
  4. Simmer: Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes to give time for the spices and aromatics to infuse.
  5. Freeze the beef: Put the beef on a plate, cover with cling film, and freeze for 15 minutes. The edges of the beef should feel firm to the touch, but not frozen through. This makes it easier to slice the beef thinly. Slice across the grain, and aim for slices no thicker than 1/4-inch. Once sliced, keep the beef covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
  6. Cook the rice noodles: Bring a second pan of water to a boil, drop in the rice noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain the noodles and run them under cool water to stop cooking. The noodles will stick together after cooking, so divide them immediately between serving bowls.
  7. Prepare the rest of the toppings: Thinly slice the spring onions and the chilli. Cut the lime into wedges. Place the bean sprouts in a serving dish. Roughly chop the herbs.
  8. Strain the broth: Strain the solids from the broth. Discard the solids. Put the broth back over low heat and keep it just below a simmer. It needs to be hot to cook the beef later.
  9. Prepare the bowls: Add a few slices of raw beef to each bowl of noodles. Put the beef in a single layer so that the slices will cook evenly in the broth.
  10. Ladle the hot broth over top: Pour it evenly over the beef in order to cook it. The beef should immediately start to turn opaque. Add the toppings  – and get stuck in!

Pho to go, in a heartbeat.

cupcake 3

Cupcake crazy

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Comic Relief sent us cupcake crazy at the kitchen of Cooked HQ! Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been host to the lovely staff and friends of official Red Nose Day partner Specsavers, whose marketing department pledged to bake a whopping 4500 cupcakes for an epic  island-wide bake-sale.  We’re proud to been a part of such a successful mission; well done Specavers!

Thank you to our suppliers who donated ingredients and baking essentials:  Castel Farm Eggs, Guernsey Diary, Phoenix Foods and Sidlocks.

Ceviche 708

Tiger’s Milk

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Our recent gastronomic tour of London took us to the dizzying heights of many a dining institution. Luck was on our side as we bagged notoriously elusive tables at J.Sheekey, The Ivy and The Wolseley, where we devoured decadent dinners, lunches and brunches, and in keeping with the situation, sipped the odd glass of fizz. But despite the fabulousness of these big smoke stalwarts, it was the relative new kid on the block that really got us going. Enter Ceviche, purveyor of all things Peruvian. On a freezing January night this bustling little Latin American joint warmed us to the bone. It’s a humble sort of space oozing character by candlelight with the colour of Lima popping from retro posters and hot sassy Latino music courtesy of the owner’s record label. It’s a spirited, social and happy place; everybody is busy at Ceviche.

To the food. Well we ate ceviche, signature dish of namesake and country. It’s a simple concept born from the need to eat freshly caught fish with no means of popping it in a fridge. The fish is ‘cooked’ instead in a citrus marinade and then eaten immediately, resulting in super fresh and vibrant flavours. Everything has an exciting evocative taste – chilli, garlic, lime, coriander, pomegranate, ginger – and also has the name to match: Tiger’s Milk (Leche de Tigre) is the marinade; add national drink Pisco to make a Panther’s Milk cocktail; ceviches named Drunk Scallops or Barranco I Love You; and the “daddy of all ceviches”, Don Ceviche. The Japanese influenced Sakuru Maru, a zesty mandarin and soya marinated carpaccio of salmon and rice vermicelli was worth the whole trip alone.

The candlelit menu also offers up old family recipes of the chef and proprietor Martin Morales, like cosy comfort Baked Corn Cakes and Dulce de Leche  condensed milk ice cream, which even on a winter’s night still seems to warm the cockles of your heart in this little place. So herein lies our first restaurant recommendation from us at Cooked, on the discovery of all things deliciously Peruvian: Ceviche, Frith Street, London. If you need somewhere closer the book is beautiful and inspiring, but either way, go forth and eat ceviche.


(Al)pining for Snow

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With winter firmly upon us in the form of driving wind and rain, we’re desperately dreaming of snowy climes. Yes we love to trudge through crisp pure snow, but mostly it gives us an excuse to pretend we’re in the mountains and to exploit the spirit of après ski. While the world goes detox dotty this month, we’re in hibernation mode and are resolutely in favour of cosy comfort food accompanied by a goblet or two of red wine. Sitting by the fire with one fork suppers, we’re indulging in traditional alpine fare to warm us up from the inside out.

A firm favourite is a super-easy potato dish from the Savoie region of France. This recipe serves four people and is perfect to pick at the next day… if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers. Serve with cornichons/baby pickled onions, charcuterie, crusty bread and a healthy big green salad!

What you’ll need:

  • 1.5kg waxy potatoes like Romano. We leave the skins on for ease and a bit of goodness.
  • 250g pancetta or bacon lardons
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • A knob of butter
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 200ml half fat crème fraiche (you can use cream but this is a lighter version)
  • Sea salt but go easy as the bacon will be salty, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole Reblochon cheese. Slice it round the middle to make two rounds and then half so there are 4 semi circles. If you can’t find Reblochon, Camembert would do but it won’t have the nutty quality that’s the star of the show here.

Here’s how to create this beauty:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 7.
  2. Par-boil the potatoes whole in a pan of boiling water until tender then drain and put aside.
  3. Heat a frying pan, add the knob of butter and fry the bacon, onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the crème fraiche. You should now have a quite splendid sauce.
  4. When the potatoes are cool, slice them thinly (about 0.5 cm) and place a layer into an ovenproof gratin dish. Cover with sauce and layer potatoes on top. Continue this process until you finish with a thin layer of sauce. Layer the lovely Reblochon slices on top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is oozy and golden.

Now put on your PJs, pour a glass and grab a fork. Et voilà, alpine fare extraordinaire.


Jumping for Joy

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We’re thrilled with our fabulous article in December’s ‘Joy’ GBG magazine! Thanks to Tamara for her lovely words introducing Cooked to the scene, and to Etienne for his inspiring photo shoot that saw James on a knife edge as he (don’t try this at home) practiced his juggling skills. See this months’ full issue here


The Queen of the Canapés

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We don’t mean a soggy vol-au-vent, a devilled egg, or a cheese and pineapple cocktail stick à la 1980. We mean a beautiful, elegant little work of art; a marvellous miniature bite, delicately assembled with love, and a steady hand. At Cooked, we just love the queen of the canapés; enter the magnificent Smoked Salmon Blini.

She’s queen for a reason; let us tell you why. Take the blini, the food of the Tsars and an optimistic little pancake that in Russian heritage is a symbol of the sun. Traditionally prepared to celebrate the end of winter, it’s a cheerful place to put your salmon. A lovely peachy pink piece on top, with a good cream cheese before it completes this simple, but regal bite sized morsel .

Luxury encapsulated, she loves to hang out with the champagne. She can’t help her classic glamour but she can go bling in an instant with a touch of caviar and a crown of gold leaf. She has a variety of outfits; a marinade of dill and mustard and topped with microherbs, puts her on trend in the Scandi spirit. Also in her closet is a twist of lemon, cucumber pearls, a dash of balsamic, a grind of black pepper, a slice of beetroot ceviche, or for a feisty surprise, a drop of hot horseradish.

Whichever way she decides to dress at your party, you’d better catch her quick. She holds court only briefly and leaving her bereft subjects behind, her exit is swift, usually along with the champers.


A Plump and Boozy Pudding

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The festive season is upon us with gusto, and we’re all cooking and baking our heads off. The most coveted item in the Ferguson household is our very splendid Christmas pudding, which is ceremoniously (and precariously after a tipple too many), carried aflame to the table to great rounds of applause. Created with ritual, and a marble, Stir-Up Sunday is a cherished day in a dark rainy November. The festive smell alone will have you dancing like the Fezziwigs.

It’s a rare occasion that we share our Cooked secret recipes, but since we’re all friends, here it is.

You will need:

175g currants

175g sultanas

300ml brandy (plus a glass for the chef)

175g white breadcrumbs

140g frozen Guernsey butter, unsalted

40g unrefined dark brown sugar

1 egg


Butter, for greasing

Greaseproof paper

1.2 litre pudding bowl

A marble

Here’s how to make it:

The day before, give your fruit a good soak in the brandy until they’re delightfully plump and boozy. Make sure you stick your butter in the freezer too.

Now get your apron on, take your rings off and prepare to get stuck in. This is a sleeves-rolled-up kind of time.

First grate the frozen butter. Then tip all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix until it all comes together rather nicely (we use clean hands). Hey presto a pudding.

Grease your pudding bowl with butter, and put a disc of greaseproof paper at the bottom. If you feel like being fancy, place a slice of orange in the bowl before the mixture.

Put a circular double layer of greaseproof paper over the top of the bowl, big enough to allow the pudding to expand. Then cover with foil and make a ‘handle’ with string. Lift your creation into a big pan and pour in boiling water half way up. Enter the marble! Put it in the pan and it’ll rattle until a top up is needed.

Steam for 5 – 6 hours (open a window!) Leave to cool, remove the get-up and cover with cling film. Put it in the fridge, and feel very pleased with yourself.

To serve, re-steam for an hour or quick blast it in the microwave. For your moment of glory, give it a tot of brandy and set alight. Present to the table and await your applause. Ta-dah!


Souper Dooper

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Cooked by James Ferguson was proud to support Guernsey Cheshire Home and Bridge2 as The Big Soup Kitchen arrived once again for its annual appearance at Town Church. We’re delighted to learn that our Filipino Chicken Noodle Soup won Bronze! Congratulations to Christophe (Red) and Colin (La Fregate) for Gold and Silver! A great event and always a pleasure to be involved – see you there next year!