Monday 25 May 2009

The Company Shed

The Company Shed


As the name implies, this restaurant really is a shed! It's at the end of the 'seafront' in West Mersey, Mersey Island. Don't be fooled into thinking this restaurant will serve typical seaside fayre though; its the fresh fish platters its renowned for and you won't be disappointed. The vinyl tablecloths, mismatched chairs and tables and 'bring your own everything else apart from fish' really do add to its charm and memorability!

You arrive and ask for your name to be added to the chalk board inside. Then you sit in the sun with a good book and wait to be called. The 40 minute wait will always be worth it. We popped inside and asked for a couple of glasses to go with our bottle of wine we'd taken along! A perfect pre-dinner drink!

Appearance and Taste

As you can see, the fish is all fresh and you can choose from a simple range of fresh cold dishes, substituting different types of fish, or a few 'hot' dishes. All dishes are very well presented, on plates rather than the huge iced platters you see in more expensive restaurants but here there is no need for the ice as the fish really is that fresh!

And the taste? Well, it's clean, salty and fresh. The fish actually has its own individual taste, rather than the 'fishy' taste you might normally get. I know that sounds a bit odd, but it is true! It even invited me to try crab claws and greenlip mussels! The hot dishes all also looked fantastic and the scallops were great. Cooked to perfection with a bacon and tomato salad and warm dressing, it was simple, but tasty.

We took our own bread and butter, a must I feel, if only to go with the smoked salmon. We also took a chilled bottle of white and a jar of mayonnaise! Delicious!

Value for Money

The fish platters were about £9 and the hot dishes about £6. We shared a platter and had a plate of scallops each - we wanted to try other dishes but both fancied the scallops as they came recommended. Excellent.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Herb Pork with Bean Puree - from the garden!

As we move into Summer, I find myself using more and more from the garden in my cooking. One recipe I tried out this week was, unusually, an Ainsley Harriot one from this week's SFTW. Simon Rimmer is still off with his poorly achilles tendon snap, but I tuned in none-the-less. All the recipes looked good, in particular the Herb Pork with Bean Puree. I used parsley, thyme, rosemary and cabbage spring greens from the garden and will soon be able to add garlic and onions to the list. The only thing left now is to grow the pig itself!

The recipe link is above, but I'll paraphrase and alter it to make it briefer here! It's really not as complicated as it looks. As you know, I tend not to add quantities as it's up to you and your tastes how much of what you'd like! Herbs - you need enough to cover the pork. Onions and garlic - again, as much as you would like to mix with the the can of beans. Easy!


chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh thyme
pork fillet, fat trimmed
apple, cut in half, core removed
brown sugar
onion, finely chopped
garlic cloves
canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
cheddar cheese, grated
chopped fresh parsley
chicken stock
cabbage, shredded
caraway seeds - I used fennel seeds instead and it still tasted good!


1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cover the pork loin in olive oil then roll in the chopped rosemary and thyme. Fry for 1-2 minutes until browned.
2. add a blob of butter to the pan and place the apples halves in , cut sides down. Fry off til golden brown, turn over and sprinkle with a little sugar.
3. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the apples have caramelised. Remove the pan from the oven and set the pork aside to rest (reserve the pan juices). Keep warm.
4. Fry the onions and garlic and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Add the beans and continue til warmed, then the grated cheese and stir until melted. Blend with the parsley until smooth and puree-like. If you need to add a few tablespoons of the chicken stock to loosen, then do!
5. Ainsley used caraway seeds but I only had fennel seeds (again, from the garden!) so used those instead. Fry off for a few seconds, then add the shredded cabbage. I used a few outer leaves. If it begins to catch, add a few spoons of the stock and continue to fry until the liquid evaporates. Season according to taste.
6. To serve, spoon the bean and cheese purée into the centre of two serving plates. Pile the wilted fennel cabbage on top. Arrange the pork slices on top of the cabbage. Place one caramelised apple half alongside each serving. Drizzle over the reserved pan juices.

This really isn't as phaffy as it sounds and is absolutely delicious. It's a case of frying the meat and apples, frying the onions, garlic and beans, then frying the cabbage. Ok, reading it back it sounds like a lot of frying, but use olive oil and leave out the butter if you're worried about the amount of fat! You could steam the cabbage and add the fried fennel seeds? I believe that the taste is the most important, however, and this really was good. I'll definitely be making it in the near future.

Sunday 10 May 2009

Duck with Warm Potato Salad

I had collected many home-grown bits and pieces from the garden and wanted to put them to use in my version of salsa verde. Also had two duck breasts so this is what I did...

Roast Duck Breast, Hot Potato Salad and Warm Salsa Verde
with Duck Crackles

For the potatoes, simply peel, cube and boil. When just cooked, mix with several dollops of creme fraiche, chopped chives and mint and season with salt and pepper. Push into cooking rings and brown under a hot grill.

For the duck, pan fry on a hot heat to sear the outside then pop into the oven for a few minutes to finish off.

For the salsa verde, I wanted to use all the new spring greens from the garden so finely sliced cabbage leaves, a range of herbs including parsley and sage, broad beans and leeks. Simply pan fry all until just soft. Make a quick vinaigrette with 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar and toss into the veg.

The Duck Crackles is simply the skin, placed directly onto the oven shelf and roast at 140 degrees for about 40 minutes. I'd advise a tray underneath to catch all the fat! Don't worry if it still looks soft when you take it out - it'll crisp up as it cools!

It's an easy and quite quick dinner. In hindsight, I'd cook the veg for less long and remove the broad beans from their pods, even though they were quite young and soft. It was a sort of first attempt at this meal, so I'll definitely make it again and, hopefully, improve go by go!

Thursday 7 May 2009

Squid and Chorizo Salad

I saw this recipe on SFTW with Simon Rimmer a week and a half ago and have only just got around to actually making it. The last time I remembered to get the squid out from the freezer, we mixed it with chilli and lime and threw it on the barbeque!

On my second attempt at remembering, I finally managed to have a day where all the required ingredients were in the fridge at the same time, so went ahead and gave it a go, picking up a few limes on the way home. When I say 'gave it a go' this is not a dish I would usually cook, despite its simplicity. The main reason being that I am still 'getting used' to squid.

It was, however, delicious, even though it didn't fill up the other half, and he insisted on making himself a bowl of pasta to follow: Maybe it would be better as a summer lunch with a glass of chilled white rather than an evening tea when you've had a hectic day?

It was also so simple and quick to make. The recipe is easily adaptable, but its just a case of pan-frying the chorizo, making a dressing with olive oil, sherry vinegar, mint and lime juice, frying the squid in the oil from the chorizo and tossing it all together with some watercress, or in my case, bottom of the fridge salad. Throw in a few capers - that the boyfriend will push to one side and refuse to eat - and there you have it.
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