Fantastic, Delicious, Easy and Light Thai Salmon. Seriously Good Stuff.

Fresh, green and with bags full of flavour!
Fresh, green and with bags full of flavor! Photo by Naila Fateen

Midweek dining generally is devoid of creativity, by the time my wife I and hit the kitchen it’s usually around 9, so we often resort to a nice big salad or tried and tested easy favourites (usually still very tasty, but tried and perfected many times previously) that can have us eating at a somewhat godly hour. There are a few times, however, when one of us is struck with a bolt of lightning-like culinary inspiration and a new favourite is born. This here dish is one such case; it’s a very simple fillet of salmon topped with a very quick and easy to do paste (very similar to green curry paste) that’s stuck in the oven for a few minutes and out comes a near-perfect piece of fish, a little sweet, a little spicy, a little zest, very fresh and extremely well cooked, and the best thing about it, you still get to taste the salmon in all its glory. I seriously recommend it hehehe. You’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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The Ultimate Creme Brulee. Guaranteed.

Absolutely Delightful
Absolutely Delightful

Ladies and gents, thanks to this recipe I came accross in BBC Good Food (my current culinary website of favour), I present you with the world’s best creme brulee. If I could offer a money back guarantee I would, as a matter of fact, I would go as far as betting on this being the best creme brulee you’ll ever try. It’s perfectly balanced, rich without being overpoweringly so (you’ll polish a single ramekin no problems) it’s sweet without being cloying and the 1 1/2 teaspoons of burnt sugar on top provide the perfect bitersweet crunchy crack with which the creamy treasure is exposed for your enjoyment (A crack so perfect that Amelie can’t resist but let out her signature sigh…) Sadly it is the good people of BBC Good Food I have to thank for this, as my input here has been zero. Credit aside, click below to find the recipe for this creamy sea of delight.

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Fantastic and Good for You (I think) Roast Vegetables and Lemon Chicken Salad

A added a couple of croutons for the picture, they're neither in the recipe or recommended. I shouldn't have done that hehe
A added a couple of croutons for the picture, they’re neither in the recipe or recommended. I shouldn’t have done that hehe

Finally another salad! See it’s not all just protein and sauces and butter on this blog. Sometimes I come across flavours complex and interesting enough in a salad to actually give it the time of day here. This salad here is mostly light and refreshing, filling and very very tasty. It’s pretty easy to make and will probably be a great accompaniment to a barbecue on a hot summer’s day! The flavours of the roast vegetables we all can relate to, while the rocket, the feta and the lemon zest provide the zing to freshen it up and then the roasted almonds round it off with the sweet smokey flavour. You’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli with a Burnt Sage Butter. How Can This be Anything but Amazing?

These little pockets of creamy pumpkin delight were perfectly countered by the rich buttery sauce and the salty Parmesan
These little pockets of creamy pumpkin delight were perfectly countered by the rich buttery sauce and the salty Parmesan

 

Simplicity is beautiful, one of life’s most overused clichés, but also one of the most apt descriptions of what’s going on here. A tried and tested classic flavour combination. It’s perfectly cooked fresh pasta enclosing a creamy pumpkin tasting filling, just the right balance of sweet and salty, all drizzled with the epitome of richness; a burnt sage butter and sprinkled with pine nuts for texture and lots and lots and lots and lots of freshly grated Parmesan. Quick note, I found the filling quite lacking in salt once cooked, so make sure to amply salt it before cooking, even if you think you may have gone a bit over, it looses lots of its saltiness once stuffed in the pasta and cooked. You’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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Pan Fried Grouper with a Lemon and Clam Beurre Blanc Sauce, Diced Tomatoes and a Bresaola Crumble.

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Shame I fried one skin side down, doesn’t look as nice. But all in all it tasted quite good and made up for the lack in presentation.

A beurre blanc sauce is another one of those things that’s got a bit of an unnecessarily harsh reputation at being difficult to execute, however it is one of life’s most decadent and guilty pleasures. What do you expect from a sauce that’s just basically some white wine and melted butter? Coupled with the juices of the clams, the hint of citrus and then topped with the almost perfectly cooked lean white fish and then accented with the crispy sprinkles of the bresaola crumble… ohmy. Although quite a few different ingredients go into this dish, none of the processes are too difficult or time-consuming or complex. However, when a make this plate again, i would probably leave out the clams; they didn’t bring much in terms of flavor and just cluttered the plate while also adding an extra step. The crumble was helpful in adding an extra dimension to the flavor profile, it was both herby and meaty. Anyway, you’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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Spaghetti with a Decadently Rich Beef Shank Jus. Honestly, One of the Best Pasta Dishes I’ve Ever Made.

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Every bite was perfectly covered with this thick meaty gravy. Oh, so good!

Imagine this: Freshly made linguine, cooked to al-dente perfection (mine was a tad over-cooked, but we’re imagining here) drenched in a thick sauce that’s made of the braising juices of beef shanks (with all the melted marrow) cooking in wine and stock for almost three hours, thickened with a buttery blond roux, accented with slivers of the melt-in-your-mouth beef and some mushrooms, pan-fried and then finished in the sauce, all under a big heap of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Omygod. Lolwut. I’m dying here just remembering this plate. A caveat though, my wife thought it was a bit much, and would’ve preferred something zingy or zangy to freshen it up a bit (I respectfully disagreed, but I mention this in the spirit of full disclosure). So in conclusion, if you want to try the beefiest, richest pasta to end all pastas, you’ll find the recipe after the jump.

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Golden Kiwi Baked Custard Tart with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

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I know, I know, the custard is clearly over-done, should’ve taken it out of the oven 10 minutes earlier. But honestly, the flavour was great.

So the wonderful people at Zespri have called again, and this time to offer me a box of one of the most amazing fruits I’ve ever tasted, the Golden Kiwi. Much sweeter, less tart and more delicate in flavour than its bolder green cousin, I felt that it’s flavour would best be highlighted in a dessert rather than in a savoury dish (Re: this entry from way back when). We’ve all had custard gateaux with jellied kiwi slices laid out on top, i wanted to make a custard that actually incorporated the kiwi flavour within. The result was very successful, albeit overcooked (don’t worry, I’ll fix the cooking time below), the custard was sweet without being overbearingly so, and the freshness of the golden kiwi was able to shine through in all its glory. The recipe is after the jump. The creamy bittersweet flavour of the ganache added richness and another dimension to the dish, overall definitely worth a try.

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Tomato Ice Cream, Honey Roasted Cherry Tomato, a Chili Parmesan Cracker with a Balsamic Glaze. Light, Fresh and Really Surprising!

I would've loved to have been able to churn the ice cream for longer, but my ice cream maker wasn't cooperating at all.
I would’ve loved to have been able to churn the ice cream for longer, but my ice cream maker wasn’t cooperating at all.

Every now and then I think up a dish I’m quite proud of in the originality department, why they’re usually starters, I don’t know, but this here is definitely one such dish. I wanted the dish to look like a dessert at first glance, with the tomato ice cream passing for strawberry, the cracker for a tuile, the cherry tomatoes for macerated cherries and the balsamic glaze a caramel. I don’t know how successful it was in this respect, but it did certainly look quite good and tasted great. There was a sweet/salty theme running throughout the plate, the roasted sweet tomatoes with the honey like glaze providing a great counter to the creamy gelato and the slightly hot cracker. The recipe is after the jump.

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Home Made Gnocchi with Basil Pesto with a Garlic Lemon Ricotta. Che un Piatto Bello!

This stuff tasted so fresh, it was like a garden sprouted in my mouth!
This stuff tasted so fresh, it was like a garden sprouted in my mouth!

Gnocchi are one of those things, when executed well they can be soft pillowy parcels of ecstasy and joy, but when done poorly, they can be stodgy doughy tasteless dumplings. I’m not saying that I make world’s best gnocchi, but let’s just say that this was a pretty damn good effort. When sauced with the lovely fresh green pesto, one gains further appreciation of La Cucina Italiana with every bite. It’s such a simple flavour profile, but tastes oh so good! And honestly, there’s no comparing freshly made pesto with the store-bought jar variety. With the fresh type of pesto you control all that goes into it, the cheese, the pine nuts, the basil. And then making sure you chop it manually with a knife rather than using a food processor (while a bit tedious) allows you to savour the micro-variations in texture this sauce provides. The little quenelle of ricotta was on the plate just to provide a counterpoint to the tangy pesto, a creamy point of reference, while an ample sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and Parmesan shavings rounded out the whole dish together. Semplicemente Delizioso! (Recipe after the jump)

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Hearty, Creamy, Spicy Lobster Bisque.

With the flaky lobster meat, this was fantastico
With the flaky lobster meat, this was fantastico

I am a huge fan of soups, they taste great, can be used with a whole bunch of ingredients and flavors, can be light starters or hearty meals. There’s just so much you can do with soups. Soups can also hit that sweet spot deep inside like no other food; be it a flu or a hangover (probably hangover) there’s no other meal that can quite dig deep and give your insides a hug. While I also love a whole variety of vegetable soups, I feel the king of soups has got to be this behemoth of flavor and the goliath of calories; the lobster bisque! (cue crowd gasping then applauding) A bisque is generally thought of as a spicy and creamy crustacean soup that uses the shells of the animal to extract its flavor. Bisques are usually thickened with rice. What you end up with is a creamy and smooth soup with a deep seafood flavor punctuated with the spiciness of herbs and chilies added. Recipe after the jump.

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