What’s in Season with Claudia Sylvester


We are re-launching our food blog this month – What's in Season. What's in Season champions the use of seasonal produce and each month a new presenter will create a recipe from a selection of ingredients.

Claudia Sylvester This month Claudia Sylvester is kicking off with a tasty fish delight created from food list below. Enjoy!

February food selection:

  • Chicory
  • Celeriac
  • Guinea fowl
  • Halibut
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Mussels
  • Purple sprouting broccoli

I have a love for cooking that has grown and grown since our own little family expanded. Without fail we have a fresh cooked homemade meal every single night. If I know I'm going to be busy or back late from work then I always use my slow cooker. On those days we tend to have a chicken stew or 'big soup'. 

Buying fresh fish is always a treat and although the recipe I have written out for you is quite rich and naughty it could be best served for a special occasion meal. I don’t worry about using wine for a sauce occasionally as it evaporates a lot and usually loses its potency by the time the meal is cooked, and if it's for a special occasion I vote its ok. Otherwise, I usually poach my fish and don't use the butter either – it's healthier that way. But, go for it today – it's cold and we can all do with a treat from time to time…

Steamed halibut with leek tagliatelle and mussels
(Ideally you will have a stove top or plug in steamer, you will need some greaseproof paper too).
Halibut is in season and its great news as it’s probably one of the most versatile and easiest fish to cook. With mussels easy to come by now too, this is a great way of combining the two great tastes of both. If you are fond of the big chunky (if a bit ugly) fish halibut then do have a go with my favourite recipe to cook it by, its truly delicious;…

The shopping list

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 900g mussels (2lb)
  • 100ml white wine (doesn’t need to be anything flash)
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon butter plus two large knobs for greasing and brushing (yeah I know, bye bye Diet Chef)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 x 6oz fillets, skinned halibut (I use five now that Blake is big enough to join us for the same size meal)
  • Course sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

You can see by the ingredients list that it's going to be a really delicious recipe so don’t be backing out on me now!
How to cook it

1. Trim the tops of the leeks and the stalks from the base of each leek. Split length-ways and get rid of the outside tough layer. Rinse the leeks well then chop the split leeks into 1cm strips.
2. Wash the mussels well in plenty of cold water, scraping away any barnacles and beards and get rid of any that feel heavy or don’t close on being tapped. Drain them well.
3. Heat the white wine in a large saucepan. When it starts to boil, add the mussels and cover with a lid. They only take 4-5 minutes to cook. During the process, shake the pan a few times to ensure even cooking. Drain in a colander – but save the juice. 

4. The mussels are now ready to be picked from their shells. (This is usually Bella’s favourite job.) Keep them to one side.

5. Strain the cooking juice through a fine sieve to remove any grit and then bring back to simmer point. Mix together the teaspoon of flour and the teaspoon of butter, this is known as a 'beurre-manié'.  When added to warm sauces, the melting butter helps the flour find its way evenly into the juice, thickening as it goes. Once the mussel liquor is simmering you can whisk in the beurre-manié, return to simmer point and cook for a further two minutes.
6. Butter four small squares of greaseproof paper, season with salt and pepper and place a halibut fillet on top of each. (I have used foil when I didn’t have greaseproof paper before.) Season the presentation side with course sea salt (Maldon is lovely) and place the fish in a steamer above rapidly simmering water. You can use a stove-top steamer or a plug-in steamer. The fish takes about 8-10 minutes to cook through. When the fish is steamed, the mussel sauce and leeks can be finished.

7. Add the cream to the sauce and check if more seasoning is needed. Squeeze in some lemon juice and finally whisk in a knob of butter. 
8. Melt the second knob of butter in a large pan and add two tablespoons of water. Once bubbling, add the leeks and cover. Remove the lid and stir from time to time. It’ll take about five minutes. Season with pepper then you're ready to serve.

9. Zak helps with the next bit - Remove the fish from the steamer where it has been waiting to keep warm (not steaming now of course) and place onto a pre-warmed dinner plate and brush with a tiny amount of the butter. Spoon the mussels next to the fish and top with a pile of the leek tagliatelle. Spoon any remaining sauce over and around the leeks. 
I normally serve with some Basmati rice or new potatoes too… enjoy!

Let me know if you would like to try any more of our favourite family recipes and if you enjoyed trying this one!
Claudia xx

Check back each month for another What's in Season recipe. 


  1. Vanessa February 3, 2010 at 9:54 am -  Reply

    Hi Claudia
    This recipe sounds lovely, but I dont like mussels. Would it spoil the flavour of the dish to leave them out.

  2. Claudia Sylvester February 7, 2010 at 12:21 am -  Reply

    No No No it won’t as I can’t eat mussels right now being pregnant and I cooked it last week to make sure I had my recipe right. Funny, cos I did it without mussels this time and it was LURVLEYxxxxxxxxx yum yum.
    In fact, the kiddies are all in bed (except my Bella who is on the school ski trip and I miss her like mad) and i’m sitting here at about midnight catching up on my emails. The thought of this dish RIGHT NOW is just driving me barmy.
    do try it… i’ve got many more to let you know about. Fancy cooking West Indian Curry Goat (only I use lamb)! Now thats gorgeous.

  3. Claudia Sylvester February 7, 2010 at 12:22 am -  Reply

    By the way guys… there is NO pasta in this dish…

  4. Emma February 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claudia
    Like you I’m a working mum and must say very impressed to find that you are able to cook a home made meal every evening. I have a slow cooker but have never got the hang of it. A few of your recipes would be really great to get me started again with home cooking.

  5. Claudia Sylvester February 8, 2010 at 11:46 am -  Reply

    Dear Emma
    Oh what would I do without my Slow Cooker. In fact this morning I have put some lamb in to make a casserole for tonight, and I did that at 8am this morning and with it on slow it will be perfect for 6pm, There is nothing better than coming in with the children from school and the waft of dinner greets you. I can’t put my fav recipes on this little section so if you can hold on I will talk to the interactive team to try and put up something like ‘recipes for busy Mums’. Heavens we need all the help we can get don’t we?…
    Lots of Love

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