Inspiration 18 December 2015

Comfort food for cosy winter days

Take one cozy kitchen, a great seafood recipe and time out to enjoy cooking.

Take one cozy kitchen, a great seafood recipe and time out to enjoy cooking, and you have the ingredients for a perfect winter lunch with friends. Now it's getting dark early, remember to stretch it out so you can light candles whilst you're eating seconds.

Our wonderful Arighi Bianchi chef Geof (I know, we love it too!) was happy to share one of the cafe's all time favourite dishes - Seafood Thermidor - which is really easy to make (trust me, I'm rubbish in the kitchen and this was a doddle), but be prepared to fight over who licks out the sauce pan!

Here's the recipe and some photos of my friend Becky cooking it, with the help (and kitchen) of our other friend Em. And if you've never tried cooking with friends before, I'd highly recommend it - one of the nicest afternoons ever, passing each other ingredients, sharing stories, tasting things as we went...

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Recipe for Seafood Thermidor
Serves 4

Ingredients:

400g cooked seafood
(prawns, crab, crayfish, mussels, squid etc)
400ml double cream
100ml milk
1 banana shallot
1 garlic clove
250ml white wine
50ml brandy
2tbs Dijon mustard
100g grated mature cheddar
Juice of 1 lemon
Seasoning
50ml chicken stock

Method:

Fine dice shallot and garlic and add to a hot pan with a splash of vegetable oil - sweat gently until translucent (no colour), add white wine and brandy, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid by half.

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Then add remaining liquid - chicken stock, double cream and milk - and heat gently (to boil will spoil!). This should reduce by a quarter, and then add lemon juice, Dijon mustard and cheese, which will help thicken the sauce.

Gently heat until all the cheese has melted and the mustard has combined. You should now have a fairly thick, unctuous and dreamy, creamy sauce. Season to taste.

Add your seafood and serve immediately with crusty bread or transfer to an overproof dish and cover with a herby, parmesan and breadcrumb crust. (Em had some homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer, which was mighty impressive - and really handy. Might have to steal that idea).

Place in a moderate oven for 15 mins or until breadcrumb has toasted. Seafood Thermidor. Done!

(And if you don't fancy cooking it, you can always drop by our Cafe Bar at Arighi Bianchi and see if it's on the menu!)

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I got a little carried away in the supermarket and bought some uncooked seafood from the fish counter too, including langoustine, scallops, shell-on prawns and mussels. Everything just looked so...interesting. I've never cooked any of these before, but it turns out they're pretty simple to prepare as well, and look great as an extra garnish on the plate. What a delicious way to spend a winter afternoon!