Sunday, 15 February 2009

Fishy Pasta

A light-tasting but delicious pasta dish. Very simple to make, very easy to eat!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1. Salmon (250 gms) plus Pangasius (or other firm white fish) (250) gms
2. 60 gms butter
3. 1 pot of single cream (250 ml)
4. Medium leek
5. Packet of fresh pasta (eg. spaghetti, tagliatelle), 250 gms

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (half a small clove), peeled
  • 1 medium onion (a shallot would be better), peeled
The secret to this dish is the sauce and the "greeny" tang of leek which complements the fish. You might add a little dill as well or a splash of white wine. If you can, shred some fresh basil to garnish the pasta when the dish is ready.

Instructions

First, we need to prepare the pasta, which is done by just following the cooking instructions on the packet. You should do this at the same time as the steps below for preparing the fish pasta sauce so that the pasta is warm. If the pasta is ready before the sauce, then drain it, stir a knob of butter into the pasta (while it is hot) to keep it from sticking together.

1. Cut the fish into chunky cubes, around 2 cm in size
2. Finely chop the garlic and shallots (or onion)
3. Finely chop the leek
4. Place about 40 gms of butter into the saucepan and heat over medium high heat
5. When butter is melted, throw in 1/3 of the chopped garlic and shallot into the saucepan
6. Stir for 10-15 seconds and put in all the fish cubes
7. Stir fry the fish gently, adding salt and pepper to taste. Make sure the fish is seasoned correctly to your taste now
8. When the salmon has changed colour on the outside to light pink (but not fully cooked yet), place all the contents of the saucepan into a bowl or large dish or another saucepan, keeping all the sauce
9. Now place 20 gms of butter into the saucepan and when it is melted, chuck in the rest of the garlic and shallots
10. Stir fry for 30 seconds or so, until the garlic is just starting to turn light brown
11. Now chuck in the chopped leek and stir fry until the leek is softened. If you have dill, chuck in a few strands with the leek
12. Pour in the cream, warm it up and season with salt and pepper
13. When the cream looks like it's starting to boil, put back all the fish and sauce saved in Step 8 above. NEVER let single cream boil hard as it will often clot up, so beware!
14. If you have it, add a splash of white wine, but this is totally optional. If there is not enough sauce, just add some water or whole milk
15. Turn down the heat to medium and gently stir the fish around in the cream sauce until it is just cooked (it's OK even if the salmon is a little pink inside - I like it that way!)
16. Mix in the freshly cooked pasta and serve!

As mentioned, you can also shred some fresh basil leaves on top of the pasta dish. Simple, very tasty, and I guarantee you will prefer this dish over most pasta frutti di mare in the restaurants. It's a bit more expensive, but if you don't have good white fish like pangasius, you can also use frozen baby scallops. Just defrost the scallops thoroughly before using. I personally don't like the defrosted "fresh" cod in most supermarkets and haddock is even worse, but hake is a great fish if you can get it instead of pangasius.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Blue Cheese Potato Soup

A simple and very delicious warming soup for those cold winter months. Or chill it and serve it as cooling soup for the warm summer months. A very versatile soup!

Ingredients

1. 250 gms Stilton or other good quality blue cheese (eg. St Agur, Rochefort, etc)
2. 1 small leek
3. 1 pot of cream (double is best but single is also fine)

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 400-500 gms potatoes
  • Garlic (small bulb) (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • Olive oil (optional)
The secret to this dish is simplicity. Keep to the stated steps and you will always create a great soup!

Instructions

If you are using the garlic and onion, then chop the garlic very finely and slice the onion. In the saucepan, splash a little olive oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium flame until the onion is translucent. Leave everything in the saucepan and continue as follows.

1. Peel the potatoes
2. Over the saucepan, grate the potatoes finely into the pan
3. Finely chop about 6-7 cms of the leek, preferably the green part, and mix in with potatoes
4. Pour water slowly into the saucepan while mixing the ingredients, until the water covers the potatoes
5. Place saucepan over medium heat, and cover
6. Stir every few mins and while stirring add in salt and pepper to suit taste. If the soup thickens too much, add some more water
7. After 10-12 mins (when the potatoes are cooked), break the Stilton cheese into chunks and mix into saucepan. The cheese will start to dissolve almost immediately
8. Keep stirring the soup until the cheese is all melted. If necessary, add in a little more water if the cheese is sticking too much to the pan or the soup is too thick for you
9. Pour in as much (or as little cream) as you like and keep stirring until soup is just rising again to the boil. Turn off the heat at once
10. Adjust flavours one last time with salt and pepper (and cream), and that's it!

The soup is actually best if you can blend it down with an electric stick blender, but it is not crucial. If you can, garnish the soup with chopped chives or chopped spring onions before serving. Serve with toasted bread, or if you make it extra thick, then you can also use it as sauce on pasta. Just add chopped fried bacon on top to make an unusual and delicious pasta dish!


Sunday, 12 October 2008

Korean-ish Bulgogi

A simple dish that is also a good workout as you have to pound some beef as flat as you can! I adapted this from a classic Korean recipe and made it a lot simpler.

Ingredients

1. 500 gm rib-eye steak (for 2 persons, extra 250 gm each for extra persons)
2. Honey (3 tablespoons, extra tablespoon per extra person)
3. Dark soy sauce (unsweetened), (2 tablespoons, extra tablespoon per extra person)
4. Ripe sweet pear (large)
5. Large leek (pick one with lots of white stem)

From your pantry
  • Olive oil (2 teaspoons, extra teaspoon per extra person)
  • Ginger (around 4 cms, extra cms per extra person)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Soy sauce (light) (around 3 table spoons, extra tablespoon per extra person)
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Rice
This dish needs time for the beef to absorb the interesting marinade but once that is done, the rest of the cooking is very simple.

Instructions

Start by cooking the rice, as follows:

1. Wash the rice in your smaller saucepan until the water runs a little clearer (use half a cup per person)
2. Pour off water and add back clean water in roughly 1.25:1 proportion, ie. if you used a cup of rice, now add 1 1/4 cups of water to the WET rice
3. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and cover saucepan
4. Put on gas or electric ring at high heat, until rice boils hard, then turn it down to minimum. Rice will be cooked in 15 mins more.

While waiting for the rice to cook, prepare the marinade as follows:

1. Grate the pear into a bowl, roughly 10-12 tablespoons
2. Grate the ginger into another bowl, then squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger into the pear puree
3. Add the dark soy sauce to the pear & ginger puree
4. Add the normal soy sauce to the
pear & ginger puree
5. Add the honey to the
pear & ginger puree
6. Shake or grind some salt into the puree
7. Grind some fresh pepper into the puree
8. Now mix well. The marinade is complete.

Prepare the meat and leek as follows:

1. Pound the beef on both sides with the meat hammer until it is reduced in thickness by 70-80%; ie. if it started as one-inch thick, after pounding, it should be 0.2-0.3 inch thick.
2. Cut the flattened beef across the muscle grain, into thin slices
3. Place the slices into a big bowl or saucepan and mix the marinade well into the meat, and leave for 30 mins or longer
4. Trim the top and bottom of the leek and cut down the middle of the stem. Wash the leek.
5. Cut the halves of the leek across the stem into 2 cm strips
6. If you are adding garlic, peel and cut strips of garlic; just 2-3 mm thickness is fine.

Cook the leek and meat as follows:

1. After marinading the meat for 30 mins or more, put the olive oil into the frying pan over a high heat
2. When the oil is hot, toss in the leek (and garlic) and stir fry until the leek is starting to wilt
3. Remove the beef from the marinade and fry it in the frying pan with the leek
4. After a minute or so, add the rest of the marinade sauce to the frying pan
5. Stir-fry the beef until it changes colour uniformly (1-3 mins, maximum) and turn the heat off
6. Leave for 1-2 mins while the beef absorbs more of the marinade flavour.

And, er, that's it! Serve the beef and cooked marinade on top of portions of rice and enjoy! If you wish, you can also add beansprouts when frying the leeks. Or chop up some chillis and add that in as well when cooking the meat. Or sprinkle some roasted sesame seed on top of the meat. Or garnish the whole dish with some cucumber and salad. You just can't fail with this delicious dish!


Monday, 25 August 2008

Salsa (sort of Chilean style)

This is a lovely salsa which can be used as the sauce in a tortilla wrap or as a dressing for meat dishes. It is light but with a little kick, and very simple to make.

Ingredients

1. Large beef tomato or 2-3 medium tomatoes
2. Half a fistful of coriander
3. Lime
4. Hot little chilli (red or green)

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Sugar

Instructions


This is really very simple, especially if you use the electric chopper!

1. Make a deep cut in the beef tomato and squeeze out most of the internal juices and seeds
2. Cut off around 1/3 of the tomato and drop into the chopper bowl
3. Whizz the tomato in the chopper into a puree
4. Squeeze the juice of half or 3/4 of a lime into the puree tomato and mix it in
5. Mix in a flat teaspoon of sugar and 1/3 of a teaspoon of salt (add more or less sugar and salt if you like, until it tastes right). Add more lime juice also if you like
6. Chop up the rest of the tomato into fine pieces
7. Chop up very finely the coriander and chilli
8. Mix the chopped tomato, coriander and chilli into the puree tomato mix and leave for 2-3 mins. Then serve!

This salsa is great with meat (eg. the honey mustard chicken or meatballs) and salad. Or slap some salsa in the middle of a tortilla, top with some salad and meat and eat as a wrap. Or try it on crackers with cheese. It's also really good with grilled fish. Use your imagination!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Meatballs (Germanic style)

This is an easy recipe for making delicious meatballs which can be eaten hot or cold. They can also be used in salads and are very convenient for filling wraps and tortillas, or used as the meatballs for pasta dishes. The following recipe will make around 12-20 meatballs (depending on your preferred size), which should be enough for 2 persons.

Ingredients

1. 500-600 gms of minced mixed pork and beef
2. Bunch of parsley (about a fistful)
3. 200 gms of clarified butter (or Indian ghee). If not available, use lard
4. Large egg
5. Half a chicken stock cube (Knorr or Maggi)

From your pantry
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion (medium)
  • Flour (about 1-2 teaspoons)
The secret to these meatballs is the simple preparatory work, which infuses cooked tasty ingredients into the raw meatballs before frying, and this preparation work is done as follows:

1. Finely chop the parsley
2. Finely chop the onion and garlic
3. Spread around 20 gms (or teaspoon) of clarified butter in the frying pan and fry the above chopped herbs until they are softened but not crispy
4. Remove from heat

We are now almost ready to stuff the meatballs but we just need to prepare one tiny extra binding ingredient as follows.

1. Boil around a quarter of a cup of water
2. Dissolve the half stock cube in the hot water
3. Wait a minute for the stock to cool a bit, then add 1 teaspoon of flour and stir until the stock is thickened, like a very very thick glue. If it is not very thick, then add more flour and stir again.

The meatballs can now be prepared very simply as follows.

1. Put the meat in a mound on a chopping board
2. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the meat to taste
3. Make a crater in the middle of the meat and crack the egg into this hole
4. Scrape in the fried parsley, onion and garlic done earlier
5. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients into the meat
6. The meat won't bind very well just yet so pour in some of the floury stock and mixed this into the meat until the meat starts to become smoother
7. Form the meat into meatballs (you can select the size of meatballs you like, but not more than 3-4 cms in diameter). If forming the meatballs is tricky, then add more of the thick stock, mix in well and try again
8. Put the rest of the clarified butter in the frying pan and heat over medium-high heat
9. Using the tongs, place as many meatballs as would fit into the frying pan
10. Fry the meatballs, rolling them every 2-3 mins by shaking the frying pan, or turning them with the tongs, until they are evenly brown
11. Remove from heat onto some kitchen paper
12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 until all the meatballs are cooked.

I like to serve these meatballs with dressed salad wrapped in tortillas or chapatis. Or you can use them as meatballs for spaghetti covered with tomato sauce. Or cut the meatballs in half and use them as sandwich fillers, garnished with salad and mayonnaise.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken

A very simple dish, which can be made even easier with a large freezer bag (which you can buy from a supermarket). Also, you can prepare batches of this in bags, then freeze them to be defrosted later for meals or BBQs!

Ingredients

1. Honey
2. Mustard Powder
3. Chicken legs or thighs (6 pieces for two)

From your pantry
  • Soy sauce
  • Ground pepper (optional)
There is no real secret to this dish. You just create an unusual but very nice marinade, which you smother over the chicken and leave for a few hours before grilling. Best eaten with a salad and rice.

Instructions

1. In a largish bowl, mix 4 heaped teaspoons of honey with 8 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 heaped tablespoon of mustard powder. This will be enough for 2 persons (or 6 pieces of chicken). For each extra person, increase portions above accordingly
2. If you fancy it, add about a teaspoon of ground pepper into the mix
3. Take each piece of chicken and make a diagonal cut through the thickest part of the meat. In the case of chicken thighs, make two cuts, one on each side. These cuts will help the marinade permeate through the meat
4. Put the chicken pieces into a large freezer bag, and pour the marinade mixture in. Now move the chicken pieces around the bag until the marinade covers all the chicken
5. If you don't have a freezer bag, then put the chicken in a large bowl, pour the marinade on top and mix the chicken pieces around until they are covered by the marinade
6. Leave the chicken to marinade for at least 2-3 hours, overnight is even better
7. To cook, put the chicken pieces until a medium hot grill and grill, turning over with the tongs every 7-8 mins or so, until the chicken is cooked. This may take 20 mins or so in total. You can check by sticking a fork into the meatiest part of the chicken and if the juice runs out clear, then the chicken is cooked!

Eat with salad dressed with CC's Dressing and plain white rice. Maybe you can sprinkle some fresh lime juice on top as well. It is simply great!


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Yummy Chicken Nuggets

This is a very easy version of chicken nuggets which is simple and delicious, extremely tender and quite unusual.

Ingredients

1. Chicken legs (3-4 per person)
2. Japanese mirin (sort of sweetened sake). If you can't get mirin, then use Cointreau or Triple Sec liquor, but a rather smaller amount
3. Ginger, around size of your whole thumb (double if more than 5 people)


From your pantry:
  • Soy sauce
  • Flour (spread on a shallow bowl or dish)
  • Olive oil
There is some preparation work to making this dish, and it starts with the marinade, which is done as follows:

1. Peel the ginger
2. Grate the ginger through the fine grater into a small bowl
3. Using the sieve, press the grated ginger into the sieve and collect the ginger juice in another bigger bowl (where you will marinade the chicken). You should have 2 tablespoons or more. It doesn't matter.
4. For 2-4 persons, add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, and one extra tablespoon for every additional 2 persons
5. For 2-4 persons, add 3 tablespoons of mirin, and one extra tablespoon for every additional 2 persons
6. If you don't have mirin, then add only 2 tablespoons of Cointreau or Triple Sec and one extra teaspoon (not tablespoon) for every additional 2 persons.
7. Stir the marinade, and that's it.

The chicken nuggets are prepared quite easily.

1. Take each chicken leg and chop it off around 1-2 cms from the bottom thin end of the leg.
2. Cutting from the thick end down, slice off the chicken meat into thick strips
3. If you wish, you can also remove the skin (it tastes nicer with the skin on, but it's not so healthy!)
4. Put all the chicken pieces into the marinade bowl and mix around thoroughly
5. Leave for 20 mins, mix around the pieces again and leave for another 10 mins (or as long as you like in a fridge, up to 24 hours)
6. If you wish, you can also mix in some ground pepper into the marinaded chicken, but this is strictly optional.

Cooking the nuggets is extremely simple. You need to use the tongs and the frying pan.

1. Scatter a layer of flour, around 1/2 cm deep on a plate or shallow bowl, at least around 30 cms in diameter. The bigger the dish, the easier
2. Heat up a thin layer of olive oil (around 2 mm) in the frying pan on medium-high heat
3. Take several pieces of chicken from the marinade and drop them on the flour. Then roll the pieces around until it is fully lightly coated, and dust off the excess by clapping pieces of chicken together
4. CAREFULLY place the chicken pieces on the frying pan, making sure there is room between the pieces of chicken, around 1 cm between each piece at least, else they may stick and not cook properly
5. Using the tongs, turn the pieces over every minute or so, until the chicken nuggets are cooked (when they are golden brown all around)
6. Place the cooked nuggets on top of some sheets of kitchen paper to drain the oil
7. Repeat steps 3-6 until all the chicken has been cooked
8. If you are making a lot of nuggets, add some more olive oil occassionally to keep the level of oil in the frying pan constant.

My suggestion would be to serve the nuggets scattared over some mixed salad which has been dressed with CC's Salad Dressing, and some slices of French bread. This is a really yummy simple meal.