When design over-rules functionality


I’ve written many times about measuring cups, as I don’t think a kitchen can really be without a set. Mine are a very dull, stainless steel set that I’ve had for years, but they do the job.

And my recent trip to the Spring Fair showed sea creatures as a definite trend in motifs for the kitchen. So at first I just thought Sainsburys were really on it with this set of fish shaped measuring cups.


Fish measuring cups - design over function?


Lovely looking, until you look at the detail. There’s no 1/3 cup, and the big cup is 1 1/2 cups. Now, I’ve always found myself perfectly capable of doing 1 1/2 cups from my existing set with the 1 cup and 1/2 cup measure, but a little more tricky to guess 1/3. And heaven knows baking is not really fond of guesswork.

But of course the 1/3 cup would not make this look quite such a good value set, as losing the largest one would definitely lose some of the impact on shelf. But then this therefore makes the set about retailing need, not usefulness.

Whale Measuring Cups

I would say, don’t buy this one. If you want something along a similar theme, then try this whale set from John Lewis. Yes, it’s another £5 but at least these four are useful sizes for every recipe you’ll make. Not to mention on trend, if that’s important. But at least trend has not over-ruled function.


Time to put more fishes on your dishes


It was great to see the update on Hugh’s Fish Fight and to see the great progress being made to stop the outrage that is discard. If you fancy the hi-tech approach, then try the new Fish Fight app, which is great for showing which fish are ok to eat, where to eat them, and how to cook them. And it’s free, so worth a download and look see.

If you like the old school approach, then try the Fishy Fishy Cookbook by James Ginzler, Paul Shovlin and Loz Talent. I was sent a review copy of this, not really knowing anything about this trio, but they run a fish restaurant in Brighton along with Dermot O’Leary, who appears to be quite the food lover on the quiet. I would say this was pretty perfect for those who haven’t done a lot of cooking with fish and seafood, but want to do more. (UPDATE: the restaurant is no longer open, but the book is still available).

There are recipes for starters, and for stuff that you can do on the barbecue (should the summer every return). There’s stuff that you could do on any weekday  night, like these classic fish burgers taken from the book.



600 g line-caught pollock fillet (or any other white fish), skinned and boned
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon cornichons
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley flour, for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ciabatta rolls, to serve
1 large tomato, sliced
few lettuce leaves

Makes 6

  1. Dice the fish into 5-cm cubes, place in a food processor and process to a rough purée. Transfer the purée to a large mixing bowl. Put the shallot, cornichons, capers, parsley and seasoning in the food processor and purée until evenly blended. Tip out and mix with the fish purée.
  2. With floured hands, shape the mixture into 6 burgers. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the fishburgers, two at a time. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Take care not to overheat the pan or the fishburgers will burn. Once cooked through and crispy set aside and cook the remaining burgers. Serve in a ciabatta roll with a slice of tomato, a lettuce leaf and some mayonnaise.


There’s also an app to support the book as well, so I guess you could go book for them, and app for you. Or maybe the other way round. Keep the fish fight going!


Quick pick – choose your seafood wisely & seasonally


It looks like it’s going to be all about fish whilst I am away, with the start of Fish Fight. So, once you’ve signed up to support that, how about something to have around to help you choose the best each month?


A seasonal sea food tea towel - great gift for a food lover who likes to keep in seasonal

This teatowel shows 47 species of fish and seafood, including a sustainability rating for each fish. Make sure that the dishes you’re drying up with it have had some great fish dishes on, something out of the usual, and from a local fishmonger if you have one.


Nothing fishy about fish



Gone fishing!


I was really interested in an article that got tweeted earlier about the fish cooking masterclasses that RockFish Grill in Bristol are running, to give people more confidence in choosing and cooking fish and seafood. You can pop in for the free weekly masterclass on a Wednesday at 11am, if you happen to be near Whiteladies Road, and I would think it was very worthwhile doing so. Lets face it, it could be 15 minutes that ramps up your cooking repertoire, and I am sure you will end up coming home with a bit of fish you’ve been inspired to cook!

If you really want to start digging into the subject, then RockFish do a full day cookery class on a Monday, which is £175 for the day.Given that includes lunch and a glass of wine, I think that’s a great deal, and would make a great gift for any foodie. If you’re down in Devon, then you can join owner Mitch Tonks to have a day of learning to cook fish in his kitchen in Brixham, same deal, just even fresher fish! (UPDATE, sadly these masterclasses seem to have stopped now)

Red Letter Days offer three fishy gift experience, from sushi making through to a fish and seafood masterclass, and Last Minute have a day with Keith Burke learning the tricks of the trade.  And of course, you could always learn at Rick Stein’s school, he’s pretty hot on fish apparently!

If you have a local fishmonger, then please go out and support them, and also ask their advice. Ask them what fish is good, how to cook it, how they can prepare it for you. We are in the Midlands, not renowned for its proximity to the sea, so a bit short on fishmongers around here. If you want to buy online, then you can buy from the Cornish Fishmonger, Wings of St Mawes, who have been in the business for over 25 years.

I know people who have ordered from The Fish Society and been really pleased with it, and as a gift the selections seem really well thought through and interesting. I have to say, I thought they were quite expensive though. Seafood Direct may not be quite so sophisticated but the fish seemed better value. If I wanted to send some interesting fish though, I would check out Forman & Field.

Right now though, I would fancy fishing for my own somewhere warm! My best fishing day was with King David tours in Tobago, catching bonitos and taking them back to Cuffie River where they got served up for all the residents for dinner. What I wouldn’t give to be there right now! Virgin, book me a space!

Fabulous fishing photo by papalars on Flickr.