James Street South Cookery School: Ray/skate with Black Butter, Polenta biscuits

FISH is one of the healthiest ingredients we can add to our diet and, living on an island as we do, we have a ready supply. Talking to customers, I am astounded by how many people are still afraid to cook fish at home as it never ceases to amaze me how much fish we sell in the restaurants.

Yet, when we talk to customers, they don't really know what to do with it at home.

These are two great recipes for all cooks, whether new to the kitchen or you have that bit more confidence. Having a lemon, some wine, a shallot and some capers will always liven up any fish dish and I would serve this with boiled new potatoes.

In preparation for the summer holidays, Italy always influences the menus in the restaurants and polenta is a great ingredient to use for biscuits or cake and this week's is a great starting point.

:: Ray/skate with Black Butter

This will serve 2 people


2 200g pieces of ray or skate, skin off

80g unsalted butter

1 tblsp capers

1 lemon, segments only

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 stick celery, chopped

1 tblsp white wine vinegar

100ml white wine

8 black peppercorns, whole

1 bay leaf

1 litre water


flat leaf parsley to serve


Start by making a poaching liquer by placing the onion, celery, vinegar, wine, peppercorns and bay leaf into a pan with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and leave on the hob for 10 minutes to infuse, add the ray and turn off the heat once the liquid is simmering again. Leave on the hob, but with no heat, for five minutes.

Place the butter in a pan, adding the capers with their vinegar, the lemon segments and, once bubbling, place the fish in the pan and brown lightly, seasoning with a light touch of salt and pepper and spooning over the butter. Remove after one minute. Place the fish on the plate and dress with the melted citrus butter and capers. Dress with chopped parsley.

The key thing about cooking this fish is that the fresher, the better.

:: Polenta Biscuits

Will make 15 biscuits which can be stored in an airtight container.


100g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing the tray

100g granulated sugar

150g quick made polenta

100g plain flour

1 pinch baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

½ lemon, zested


Start by preheating the oven to 200C.

Get all the ingredients ready and then place in a mixing bowl and mix well. You can place in a mixer on a low speed but it is not too much work by hand. Once all the ingredients are smooth place in a piping bag and pour all the mixture in.

Grease a baking tray and, using the piping bag with a plain round nozzle, pipe the mix out to about 10 cm in diameter, do not place them too close together as they will spread once the heat gets to work.

Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool serve or place in an airtight container.

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