If you find the warm summery weather is putting you in the mood for some light fish dishes from the Mediterranean, you are not alone. I too found myself dreaming of such delights yesterday. This is a quick and simple dish and when you make it you will be so glad you did as the smells in your house with this in your oven will simply be out of this world. The onions end up yielding this sweetness, and together with the fennel taste almost jammy. There really are some beautiful flavors in there, I urge you to dry this dish out, you will be so happy you did!
For this dish it is imperative that you choose the most beautiful freshest fish you can find. There should be no fishy smell, it should smell of the ocean. Red mullet is really nice for this but you can use sea bream or red snapped as I did, just make sure your fish has been gutted and scaled at the fishmongers. You could use smaller individual sized fish for each person if you like.
A bulb of fennel ( sliced, keep the green leafy parts aside)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or fresh if you have (2 teaspoon chopped)
1 red snapped 700 grams
lemon wedges to garnish
Heat your oven to 190C or 376 F
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic, onions and the fennel. Cook on med to low heat till fennel is soft but don't let it brown. Season to taste.
Stuff the cavity of your fish with 2-3 tablespoons of the fennel mixture and the green leafy parts of the fennel. Rub your fish with olive oil (please use good olive oil) and squeeze your lemon on top of the fish, season well with salt and pepper.
Grease your baking dish and put the remaining fennel mix on in the dish and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp oregano. Now place your fish on top of this fennel mixture and sprinkle the other half of the oregano on top. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or till just cooked. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with some nice summery salads.
I really love the way the way the Greeks do their potato salad, its really simple and the taste is fantastic! The olive oil and lemon dressing keeps it light and perfect for summer. A good healthy alternative to the potato salads loaded with mayo! I love it served as one of the salads served with some nice fish or meat. It goes with anything really, great for picnics and barbecues too.
Just be sure to cook your potatoes till they are getting just about soft, or they tend to break as you mix in the dressing. I would have preferred mind to be cooked a few less minutes then I did yesterday.
Recipe (serves 2)
2 chopped salad onions/spring onions or 1 small regular onion
500 grams potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces
chopped fresh oregano 2 teaspoons or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
chopped fresh parsley 2 teaspoons if you like
1/3 cup olive oil
2tsp lemon juice
1 tsp white vinegar
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
When boiling your potatoes, use salted water and do not overcook them, they should be just about be getting soft when you drain them in the colander.
Mix your lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and peppers, add the chopped spring onions and chopped oregano leaves, and whisk with a fork to combine. Pour the dressing over your cooked potatoes and mix. You can now chill them for a bit before serving or serve them warm if its winter.
This is one of those really quick dishes to be had mid week, when you don’t have the time and energy to hang around the kitchen! It tastes really divine and is ready in 15 minutes, so you have to give it a go!
I tend to keep some form of ready made frozen ravioli in my freezer for such evenings and am always glad I did on days where I really need to eat something really tasty and nourishing which does not take hours to make. On this occasion I had red chard laying around in the fridge so used that, but I tend to use baby spinach or whatever other greens I may have. I may try kale next!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 an onion, sliced not too thin ( I sometimes add this sometimes not, its great both ways)
1 pack of ready made ravioli (artichoke and three cheese was my choice!)
2-3 cloves garlic
4 leaves of red chard roughly cut up into 2 inch pieces and the red stems chopped into half inch bits
1/4 tsp crushed red chili
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2-3 tablespoons white wine
1/3 cup of cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
Set your saucepan full of water on the hob, add some salt and bring to a boil, cook according to packet instructions but make sure you drop the ravioli in the water so it will be ready by the time your sauce is ready too.
Meanwhile heat your olive oil in a heavy based frying pan. Add your chopped or crushed garlic, and stir, don’t let it brown. Make sure the heat is not too high. Now add in the onion if you are using them cook till a little soft. Add your greens of choice now and let them wilt a little. Add the red chili flakes and the pine nuts and cook for 3-4 mins. Add your splash of white wine and let it reduce a bit, then pour in the cream. Season and taste the sauce, then lower in the ravioli. Toss and cook in the frying pan for another 30 seconds to a minute in the sauce.
Plate up, sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like and enjoy!
Having tried my lovely sister in law Hilary’s amazing home made granola while on vacation a couple of years ago, I realized I could not compare the taste to any other granola I had tried before. I loved the fact that you could add whatever nuts and fruits that appeal to you in whatever combination you choose, rather than the generic combinations out of a box. Dates, pistachios, orange flavored cranberries, dark chocolate chips, anything you like! Also it just tasted healthier and felt like it was better for you. Still it took me more than a year to finally try and make granola at home. The thought of going to the health food store and collecting all the many ingredients I imagined would be needed on a frequent basis put me off.
Anyhow, on one trip to Trader Joe’s while walking through the cereal and health section I realized most of the stuff I needed was right there under one roof and I could get it on my weekly shops rather than having to go to special stores on a mission to collect things. I began my research for the best granola recipe on the internet looking at many. I ended up coming up with my own using ingredients I thought were healthy and wanted to incorporate in my diet. Hence, the addition of chia seeds and flax seeds. I sometimes even add wheatgerm to the mix before roasting. I decided to go with a mix of grains rather than just oats, as I thought a variety would be better not only for texture and flavor but also from a nutrition perspective. You can use oats alone if you prefer.
Ever since I made my first batch, I just can’t eat store bought muesli anymore. The smell of it roasting in the oven and wafting through your house will make anyone around believe they are in the presence of a true domestic Goddess or God! And it really does not take more than 10 minutes of measuring and mixing after you have made it the first time. Then its just a matter of mixing it around a bit with a wooden spoon every ten minutes or so while it bakes.
I now look forward to my scrumptious bowl of granola every morning, and I am the kind of person who really is not too keen on breakfast first thing in the morning! I would usually not have anything for hours other than multiple cups of earl grey tea! This granola is also really yummy with some quality Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey on top.
So thanks to Hilary for sowing the seed and inspiring me to ever attempt this at home. This Granola for the Gods must be made at least once so you can see how it makes your mornings so much more joyful! But be warned, you then won’t be able to eat the stuff out of the box ever again!
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 cups rye, oats, barley, wheat mix (easy to find in Trader Joe’s)
1 cup raw almonds (smashed in a bag with rolling pin)
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup dried coconut chips or shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cup dried fruit of choice (I like blueberry, cranberry, mango medley also available at Trader Joe’s)
3/4 cup dried banana chips
Preheat your oven to 110 C or 230 F
If your coconut oil is solid, place the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl and zap in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and then whisk together. If the oil is in liquid form no need to microwave, simply whisk with a fork till combined nicely.
Mix all your dry ingredients other than the coconut chips and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a large roasting tin, spread evenly and place in the oven. Bake for forty minutes, give it a mix with a wooden spoon 3 or 4 times along the way so it roasts evenly.
Once the baking time is up take out of oven and cool the granola. Once it is completely cool add the remaining dry fruits and the coconut chips. Store in an airtight container and watch it vanish before your eyes!
This is a really scrumptious, make your mouth water type of curry, the smell alone reminds me of being in Goa!! If you make it once you will certainly keep this as your go to fish or prawn curry recipe. It is faster to cook this yourself, then to order a greasy Indian home delivery in NYC which many of us often succumb too after a long day at work. If you have your spice cupboard well stocked, a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer and some coconut milk tins in the cupboard you can have your meal ready in 35 minutes with some rice.
I realize not everyone has curry leaves lying around, but if you do stock up of on some fresh leaves when you visit your Asian/Indian food store, just stick them in the freezer and you have them on hand whenever you fancy. I do the same with my kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass stalks for Thai cooking. Better to have the ingredients at home so you can cook whenever you like! A well stocked pantry is the key here! Who wants to run around collecting ingredients for each meal they cook, I would probably never cook if I did it that way. Get your basic spice collection going and you will find yourself wanting to spend more time in the kitchen!
A mini food processor for your general chopping is something that I feel is essential if you want to cook more. Just saves you a ton of time chopping ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes. Anything that saves time and makes it easier is a good thing in my book, I certainly don’t want to be standing around chopping things for 15 minutes if I don’t have to! With Indian cooking especially I think its a must have.
Another thing to note is when using your tamarind paste or concentrate, you may want to use less or more depending on its potency. If its really strong, just start of with 1/2 a teaspoon, taste and see if the sauce is sour enough and add a little more at a time till you feel it has reached the right level of sourness. Also adjust salt after adding the tamarind, I find I always add a bit more after the tamarind is in and then the flavors really come together.
Also remember if you have some nice fish fillets you can easily substitute them for the prawns, just cook a little longer till your fish is done.
Recipe (serves 4)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 1/2 tsp turmuric
2 whole dried red chilies
10-15 curry leaves
2 inch piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves
3-5 green chilies, chopped
3 onions (med) or 11/2 large, chopped
6 tomatoes (med)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tin coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
Chop the ginger and garlic together in a mini food processor and keep ready.
900 grams shelled raw shrimp (mine were with tails on)
Before you begin if you are using frozen shrimp, just place it in a large bowl with water so they defrost by the time you need to use them.
In a heavy based pan, heat your oil and add the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, and turmeric till you see the mustard pop a bit and smell the aroma. Now add the curry leaves and after a 30 seconds add the ginger, garlic, after a minute or so add the chopped green chilies. Cook on med heat for 5 mins or so. Do not let it burn reduce heat slightly if its sticking too much.
Now add the onions to the pan and cook till they start to go slightly brown on the edge on medium heat. Add the tomatoes after pulsing them in the food processor a few times, you don’t want them too smooth like a puree so don’t blend too much. Add the paprika and chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and a little salt (not too much), bearing in mind you will add more after adding the tamarind.. Cook for 10-15 minutes. When it looks like its starting to come together like a sauce with a nice brick red color, add in the tin of coconut milk and stir. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then add 3/4 cup of water and cook on medium heat till it all reduces down to a nice cream like consistency.
Now add your tamarind concentrate. Mix and taste and see if you need to add more salt. When sauce looks like it is the right consistency, add your prawns on a med heat. Stir and cook for 2-3 mins only. Do not overcook here as they will keep cooking after you turn off the heat and go rubbery if you cook them too long.
Transfer your yummy prawn curry into a serving dish and throw on a sprinkling of some coriander leaves. Serve with rice and maybe an onion tomato lime salad! Enjoy!
So yesterday was my first time ever cooking lobster. I have to say handling live lobster was pretty daunting for me all these years to ever think of attempting to make a meal out of them at home. Once they arrived, I managed to enlist my gorgeous husband to be responsible for any live lobster handling situations (needless to say, with lobster on the cards for dinner, not too much convincing was needed!). The results were extremely tasty and worth the effort, and I have no doubts I will be cooking lobster again and again.
For my first lobster dish, I decided to keep it simple and did a quick butter garlic sauce, and perked it up with some fresh coriander and lemon. It really does not take much time and effort to do this for dinner considering the wow factor. Definitely a good dish to have in your arsenal when trying to do something special without spending hours in the kitchen.
A good thing to keep in mind with lobster is that bigger is not necessarily better. The meat of the smaller lobsters tends to be sweeter and tastier. I bought two 700 gram (1.5 lb) lobsters, the right size for one per person. I served it with a simple salad made with what whatever veg I could find in the fridge.
2 Fresh live lobsters around 700 grams or 1.5 lbs
Place your lobsters in the freezer for an hour so they become less active, easier to handle and some say feel less pain. Get the biggest pot you have and half fill with water. Add salt generously to water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling add your lobsters to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and watch closely when the water starts to boil again. Begin timing for 15 minutes when the water boils (you may want to boil longer if the lobsters are larger). Once the time is up, take them out of the pot and place in a colander to cool a little.
Once your lobsters are cool enough to handle, split them by taking a pointed knife and cutting on the cross mark behind the head. Cut all the way through till the end of the tail. Remove the green stuff and give a quick rinse in warm water. Now you can serve your lobsters in individual plates.
Garlic Butter Sauce
113 grams butter
4-6 garlic cloves depending on how garlicky you like it
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander
Juice of half a lemon
fresh cracked black pepper
salt to taste
Melt butter in a small saucepan, add finely chopped garlic and cook on med to low heat till garlic is softened a little, but no way near brown. Now add the lemon juice, finely chopped coriander leaves, pepper and salt to taste. Taste and adjust lemon and seasonings if needed. Cook on low heat and allow flavors to infuse for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a bowl.
Having just returned from my travels to the Greek Islands back to NYC, I was thinking of how much I love the food of the Mediterranean. I went down memory lane got thinking about some of the amazing food I had tasted in Morocco years ago. Dang, I knew now what I had to have for dinner… a delectable slow cooked melt in your mouth tender beef tajine. I really recommend using a lush thick thyme honey for this dish, which if you taste, you too will fall in love with as I did in Greece recently. I now love it on everything including my yogurt with some walnuts(greek style)!
Once you have the meat simmering away, you can easily leave it on the hob on the lowest heat to bubble away as you potter around the house doing other work. It will need your love and attention again towards the end with the apples and putting it together. I would make sure the meat has a little sauce as you don’t want it to be too dry with the couscous, just add a little water if its getting too dry to get it to the right consistency near the end.
1 kg strewing meat or beef chuck steak cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
40 grams butter
1 brown onion (sliced)
1/8 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 corriander sprigs (tied in a bunch)
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons honey
3 tart apples (granny smith)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Place a heavy based saucepan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and 20 grams of butter and brown the beef in batches. Place the browned meat in another dish. Add the remaining oil as needed to brown meat.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook gently for 5 minutes till onions are softened. Sprinkle in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon and cook for a minute or so. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir well and return the beef to the pan, along with the coriander sprigs tied together. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Add the raisins and 1 tablespoon of the honey, then cover and simmer for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
Meanwhile, wash the apples, halve and remove the cores. Cut each half into three wedges. Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan and add the apples. Cook for 10 minutes, turning the apples frequently. Drizzle with the remaining honey, dust with the extra cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes or till they look softened and glazed.
Transfer the meat to a serving dish, pour the sauce over and arrange the apples on top. Serve hot, sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds.