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Because I can…

I am a creature of habit. I’ll be the first to admit that I like certainty, security, knowing my path… then 2010 changed everything. It cascaded into my life like the most terrifying and unexpected tidal wave. It cut me short, took my breath away, broke me. I was underwater tumbling, overwhelmed by the huge rush of white noise. The darkness of grief, the heartache of someone lost and the resilience I had to find within myself to get through those gloomy hours have changed me. Life is short and from darkness, pain, hurt, can emerge something better. A reinstated vigour for life. And hope. Because without hope, we are nothing. It’s no longer dusk, it’s finally dawn.

2011 is about breaking free, moving out of my comfort zone, finding my true calling and living every day as fully as I can. Because after all, this is it. One journey, no returns, no refunds.

Changes are afoot. Big changes. They’ve been brewing for a while. Slowly. Surely. I promise to tell. Not long now.

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Smokin’

Smoked haddock. Whenever I cook it, it reminds me of my Granny’s house. Westbury Road: with the ominous sounding doorbell, the blue and pink hydrangeas, the patterned carpets, the familiar smell of home, the verdant garden and the badminton matches played on the lawn on balmy summer afternoons. I still dream about that house from time to time, it makes me feel happy and safe.

Whenever Granny made smoked haddock, poached in milk, it felt like a treat. The flaky texture of the fish, the smokiness combined with the saltiness, it is quite simply magnificent. The perfect winter fare. I like it in risotto with leeks: gratifying, nutritious, comforting, just how food should be at this time of year.

Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto
Adapted from roast figs sugar snow food to warm the soul by Diana Henry


Ingredients

10g butter
1 medium leek, sliced finely
125g smoked haddock
450ml of chicken stock (plus some for poaching)
75g risotto rice
20g parmesan, grated

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the leeks for about 15 minutes. Remove any skin from the fish and poach in the stock (make sure it covers the fish). When it’s cooked, leave covered with stock so it stays moist.

Add rice to the leeks making sure it is nicely glazed with the juices. Have your stock simmering on the side and slowly add it, one ladle at a time. Always make sure the liquid is fully absorbed before adding any more. Stir constantly during this process, which should take about 20 mins. Near the end, use some of the stock the fish has been poached in, not too much or it could be too fishy and salty!! Taste as you go along.

When the 20 minutes is up, add tbsp of parmesan and delicately break the fish into chunks and stir into the risotto. Add some black pepper if you wish.

Serves one generously.