Mellow yellow: Mark Hix cooks with rapeseed oil

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Rapeseed oil is being hailed as a fresh new alternative to olive oil – and very delicious it is too, says our chef

I've been a fan of rapeseed oil for a few years now, ever since I discovered Hill Farm rapeseed oil in Suffolk when writing my book British Regional Food.

I've never advocated it as an alternative to olive oil as it's completely different in flavour and aroma and each have distinct uses. Like olive oil, though, rapeseed oil needs to be used with care as its unique flavour can overpower a dish or dressing. There are lots of rapeseed oils now nudging their way on to the condiment shelves. Some are great and others so-so. I'm still a big fan of the Hill Farm brand as its flavour has an appealing freshness and, of course, that fantastically bright yellow colour, so evocative of the fields of rape flowers that we see in the British countryside each summer.

Rapeseed farmers' potatoes

Serves 8

This dish can be adapted in several ways to suit the occasion. Top the potatoes with some grated hard cheese and make them in individual serving dishes for a simple starter or a light lunch snack with a tossed green salad. Omit the bacon and use the potatoes as a base for a whole roasted fish such as a sea bream or bass, or just serve it as an accompaniment to any main course.

For a vegetarian alternative, add instead either wild mushrooms and Parmesan or rosemary and garlic.

8 medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
150ml rapeseed oil
100g streaky bacon, finely diced
6 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Lightly brush an ovenproof dish or non-stick frying pan with a little rapeseed oil. Lay the sliced potatoes into the dish and build up the layers; season every couple of layers with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little more rapeseed oil, scattering with the bacon, shallots and thyme as you go.

Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, brushing the top with a little rapeseed oil every so often.

Orecchiette with sprouting broccoli

Serves 4

I've had a go at growing sprouting broccoli again this year in Dorset and the plants seem to be harvesting tiny spears at the moment which work rather nicely in a dish such as this.

This is a nice, summery pasta lunch from Puglia that is pretty quick to make. It traditionally uses regular broccoli, but I do like using the sprouting variety. If you want to be really flash you could use romanesco, which is an odd-looking green cauliflower with pointed florets.

240-250g orecchiette pasta or similar
250g sprouting broccoli, trimmed of any woody stem
5-6tbsp rapeseed oil
50g butter
25g pine nuts, lightly toasted
25g raisins, soaked in boiling water for an hour
4 canned anchovy fillets, finely chopped

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for a few minutes, until tender, then drain.

Remove the heads and cut down into smaller florets, if they are large, and thinly slice the stalks on the angle.

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to the instructions, then drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and rapeseed oil in a wide, heavy-based saucepan, add the hot broccoli, pine nuts, raisins and anchovies and toss it into the orecchiette; season with salt and pepper.

Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.

Sichuan sea bass

Serves 10

This is a fiery dish that you often get in Sichuan restaurants, but don't worry, it's not as hot as it sounds and will only give you a slight tingle on your tongue.

In Sichuan cookery a light sesame oil would be used but rapeseed oil, once infused with the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns, will certainly take on this interesting combination of spices.

I've used sea bass here as they are in abundance at the moment down in Lyme Bay, but you could use other firm-fleshed fish such as grey mullet, or even small flat fish such as dabs or flounder.

4x 250g sea bass fillet portions, boned and with the skin left on
250-300ml rapeseed oil
3tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
30 small dried red chillies
A couple of tablespoons of sea salt
A few sprigs of coriander

Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the Sichuan peppercorns, chillies and salt. Add the sea bass to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let the fish sit in the oil for another minute or so. You are not actually deep-frying the fish but rather just simmering it in the oil.

To serve, remove the bass from the oil with a few chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and place on to some kitchen paper. Serve scattered with some more chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and a little oil and a good sprig of coriander.

Gluten-free gooseberry, saffron and rapeseed oil cake

Makes 1 medium cake

More and more people are discovering they have gluten and wheat allergies, but panic not, companies such as Dove Farm are producing gluten-free flours to side-step these allergies and allow those afflicted to join in cake eating with the rest of us.

Olive oil, instead of butter, is used for baking in Mediterranean countries where there are a lot more olive trees than dairy cattle, but here we have plenty of rapeseed oil and if your cholesterol is a tad high as well, then rapeseed is a perfect substitute – so you don't need to feel too guilty about snacking on cake.

250g gooseberries
150g granulated sugar
175ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for oiling
A couple of good pinches of saffron strands, soaked in 2tbsp milk overnight
3 medium eggs, beaten
175g caster sugar
175g gluten-free self-raising flour

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the granulated sugar and cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until the gooseberries are just cooked – not mushy; then transfer to a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juices. Put the juice back in a pan and simmer until you have 2-3 tablespoons.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Lightly oil a round 18-20 x 6-8cm deep, loose-bottomed cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Put the saffron-infused milk, gooseberry juice, eggs and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until light, fluffy and doubled in volume.

Slowly stir in the rapeseed oil, then fold in the flour with a spoon until well mixed; now gently fold in half of the gooseberries and pour the mixture into the tin.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes – if a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, it's done. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the tin and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve with the remaining gooseberries and crème fraîche or mascarpone.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?