Archive for February, 2013

Recipe 17 – A Valentine Special from Valentine Warner (seared trout fillets with mustard lentils)

Monday, February 18th, 2013

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s night than to enjoy a sizzling night of indulgent trout cuisine accompanied by carefully selected Chablis?

Valentine trout Valentine original

And by perfect harmony this recipe comes to us from Valentine Warner himself, crafted and created for the British Trout Association and one of the flagship recipes of the Buy British Trout campaign, a movement close to our hearts and gaining an increased momentum with each new twist and turn of the horse meat debacle.  (See for more delicious recipes and some of the many reasons why we love being part of British trout production.)

Buy British Trout


2 trout fillets (British naturally)
2 bunches of cherry tomatoes, still attached to vine
50g lentils (original recipe uses green, I used red and it was perfect)
2 shallots
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
2 cloves of garlic
120ml white wine
400ml fish stock
Flour, salt and pepper, olive oil, butter

And for the sauce:

Diijon and wholegrain mustard
Parsley, tarragon, thyme
50ml double cream

A word on lentils

For anyone squeamish about lentils take heart.  Olly’s default position is lentil adverse but he gave this recipe 10/10.  The combination of the fish stock and mustard flavouring transform the lentils into a sophisticated complimentary backdrop to the natural flavours of the trout, a sublime combination.

Valentine trout lentil heart


Simmer the lentils until soft but not mushy, drain and leave to one side.

Finely dice (and don’t be tempted to use a processor, you want defined individual pieces) the shallots, carrot and celery.

Valentine trout diced vegetable heart

Add the wine and allow to reduce until virtually evaporated then add the fish stock and reduce until only 3-4 tablespoons remaining.  Add the drained lentils, a generous tsp of each of the mustards and cream. 

Valentine trout simmered diced vegetables

Chop the parsley, tarragon and thyme and add to the lentil, mustard, and cream mixture.

Valentine trout enjoying the process

Valentine trout adding herbs

Stir, season to taste and leave to one side.  Remember to pre-heat your plates to ensure the lentil base remains piping hot once served.Place your two bunches of cherry tomatoes in a small baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and salt and bake in a hot oven for 15-25mins until the skins are withered and beginning to brown, timing this so that your tomatoes come out of the oven just before you are ready to serve.valentine trout cherry tomatoes

Now for your trout fillets. 

If using trout fillets from a large trout then you may want to divide your fillet into smaller fillet sections.

Olly preparing trout fillet steaks

delicious British trout

 Mix the flour with salt and pepper on a plate and lower the trout fillets skin side down making sure the skins get a decent coating. 

Olly preparing delicious trout 

Heat approx 25g of butter with olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and just before the butter begins to bubble add the trout fillets skin side down, applying pressure with a plate or wooden spoon to ensure the skin crisps. 

Watch the delicate pink slowly rise up through the richer pink indicating the transition from raw trout to cooked trout and, when you estimate the fillet is nearly cooked through, flip the fillet and cook skin-side up for a further 30 seconds.

sharas valentine trout ready to go

Once the trout is ready, re-heat the lentils and spoon into the centre of the pre-heated plates forming a bed for the cherry tomatoes which you add next, still attached to the stalks.

Finally add the trout fillets – skin side up for maximum effect –  and serve with a chilled dry white wine such as this delicious Chablis.

carefully selected Chablis

As you will hopefully be able to glean from the slightly fuzzy photograph above this is one of the more impressive looking of our trout blog recipes and an absolute winner if you want to achieve that presentation wow factor. (I did forget to serve the fillets skin side up which was a pity but as Olly hadn’t seen Valentine’s original photo I think I got away with it.)

But finally, and most importantly, this is a delicious and incredibly original recipe in its flavours and textures, and one that is absolutely befitting the great British Trout.

Recipe 16 is Pan-fried Trout Fillets with Balsamic Glazed Vegetables

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Recipe 16 represents a true trout triumph.  Born & bred on a trout farm and raised on meals consisting all too frequently of trout, husband Olly was somewhat apprehensive about the Trout Blog Challenge.  His primary fear was that a return of excess trout in his diet might re-activate a  childhood apathy towards one of the most versatile and healthy fish products on the market.  That, plus a day-to-day interaction with live trout on the farm, was a worrying combination.

However, I am thrilled and delighted to announce that after a mere 15 recipes Olly’s taste buds and culinary curiosity were sufficiently tweaked to induce him to not only suggest the form and content of recipe 16 but to also to take control of the cooking and the delivery, with a small exception being the trout preparation which was outsourced to me.

The result was a triumph: caper and lemon juice marinaded trout fillets gently fried and served on a bed of balsamic glazed vegetables, with the rich flavour of the vegetables perfectly balanced by the  clean subtle taste of the caper and lemon flavoured trout fillets.

We used fillets from small trout (approx 450g or 1lb each) the filleting of which was a first for me since I usually fillet much larger trout around two or three kilos.  However, with helpful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s advice at my finger tips I couldn’t go too far wrong and was delighted to have the left over carcass to make trout stock with ready for my next fish pie, trout cakes, soup, or whatever it may be.

helpful Hughs filleting tips

First we prepared the vegetables.   The wonderful thing about doing roast veg is that you can use pretty much whatever you have to hand, with the essential staple being onions.  By lucky coincidence we happened to conjure up onion, aubergine and sweet potato though in a perfect world I might have added green pepper to complete the colour scheme.

trout recipe roast veg ingredients

In order to retain the shape of the onion slices we mixed the diced aubergine and sweet potato with the olive oil, mixed herbs and salt and paper in the roasting dish and only at the last minute added the onion slices – a little trick learnt from Michel Roux Jnr on Tuesday night.  Once the onion slices had been carefully placed we then drizzled the balsamic vinegar over the vegetables and put them into a hot oven for 45 minutes.

trout recipe balsamic veg

Meanwhile Olly was working wonders with his trout fillets by creating a fresh lemon juice, capers and salt and pepper marinade for the trout to infuse for 20 minutes or so while the roast veg slowly cooked away.

Olly marinading trout

marinaded trout fillets

Once confident the roast veg were almost there (if using sweet poato they are usually the final litmus test, in my opinion they are best when crisp and crunchy on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside) we pre-heated a tea spoon of olive oil in a wide non-stick frying pan.  Once the olive oil was hot and almost beginning to smoke we added the trout fillets skin-side down.  We didn’t turn the fillets half way through but instead watched the soft pink colour of the cooked trout miraculously work its way up from the bottom edge of the fillets to the top edge, allowing us to see exactly when they were cooked through and to prevent over-cooking them.

Olly checking the trout fillets

balsamic veg out of the oven

We then simply served the fillets on a bed of the roast vegetables (taking care not to break up the onion slices when handling), added a slice of lemon juice and happily devoured.

pan fried fillet with balsamic veg

Marks out of 10

Ease of preparation:  7/10 – less instant than some of my trout recipes as you do need to prep the vegetables
Healthiness: 6/10 – there is olive oil involved in roasting the veg and frying the trout
Taste: 9/10 – overall a really good recipe, and as requested by some of my fairer paletted readers, not a hint of chilli