So the weirdest thing happened about a month ago. I got an email from someone telling me that they follow the blog and read it (as if that alone isn’t surprising enough) and they wanted to know whether I was interested in trying out some fresh premium produce harvested by a company they represent and whether I may incorporate it in a recipe. My reply was a resounding yes (who passes up on a freebie?) but was he aware of how small my readership is? He was not deterred, and sure enough, a couple of weeks later, a box of delicious Zespri Kiwifruit shows up on my doorstep. It was now up to me to come up with a recipe that was somewhat innovative and allows the kiwi to shine through and do its thing.
After some thought, and with the summer heat quickly rising to near unbearable levels, I figured a nice fresh ceviche would allow me to both use the kiwis in a not-so-expected way, and make up a dish that would be season-appropriate. There really isn’t very much to making a ceviche, it’s actually a bit of a glorified salad where the seafood added to it is marinated in acid for a bit rather than cooked by exposure to heat. I added the mango puree at the bottom because I felt that without it, the dish might fall a bit flat and the kiwis’ acidity would get melded in the that of the lemons while its sweetness would get lost in all the acidity. What we end up with is a fresh, tasty and bright dish that can be a great start to any summer meal. For extra special results, make sure to wash down with a glass or two of some sweet, full-bodied white wine, a Riesling or similar. Recipe is after the jump.
At long last, an attempt at North African cuisine! This dish here checked all the right boxes; it was very easy to make (threw everything in a large baking dish and let it do its thing in the oven), it was tasty and different and quite light. The flavor of Harissa is very distinctive and absolutely delicious and can add that extra bit of zing to your mid-week repertoire. The chicken (kept moist by the yoghurt marinade) coupled with the sharpness of the baked lemon slices, the sweetness of the raisins and onions and the nutty taste of roasted almonds all came together to make an unassuming yet very delicious dish. Recipe after the jump.
Oh the Glory that is a ball of meat! There’s just something alluring about a big ball of meat on your plate. Like a sophisticated hamburger patty. Maybe. Either way, they’re great, you get to infuse the meat with some delicious flavors, and if cooked correctly, they can be almost as fulfilling and as refined as a nice steak. I had some issues trying to get this mega-ball retain its roundness, but alas, it ended up being some odd platonic solid on the plate. I tried to do some research online to see how others may have overcome this problem, and basically found out that there isn’t much you can do to make the meatballs retain both shape and flavor when dealing with such large sizes. Some people recommend a quick boil or fry before searing them off, honestly,I think this might just dry them up quicker during cooking. So, for shape retention, my only bit of advice would be to be as delicate with your hands as possible, and gently and frequently turn the meatballs during the searing process so that they don’t rest on any one surface for too long.
But back to the dish. Said meatball was accompanied by some of the best mushroom sauce in the world and a lovely (and will send you to the doctor because it’s so rich) Parmesan polenta. There was no flavor here that was out there or daring, just some tried and tested flavor combinations coming together to make a great but very (very) hearty main course. The recipe is after the jump.
Usually I’m a sucker for rich and decadent treats. Although I enjoy fresh and light dishes, I don’t usually consider them treats owing probably to some deep seated self destructive issues that relate enjoyment of food with impact on gut hehe. But seriously, it’s easy to forget that there are some really great flavours out there that are both, easy to execute and friendly to the waste-line. This here is absolutely one of them, the sea-bass fillets are pan-fried in a dash of olive oil and are simply seasoned with salt and pepper, while the salsa verde is an explosion of freshness and tanginess that leaves you wanting more and more. It’s important to make sure you cook the fish right, and to help make sure that the skin is nice and crispy, please do take a look here. Recipe below.
All trilogies must come to an end, and finally, I’m able to close the chicken trio chapter, it’s certainly taken a long time to get to it (and I’m sure you’ve all been dying of excitement, right? hehe). This here was the lightest of the three elements and the most “chicken-ey” of the them. You could really taste the humble chicken leg in probably its best light; juicy, soft, tender and packed full of flavour. A buttered up parcel of puff pastry adds the textural component, while the truffle cream ties it all together. Technically this isn’t a confit, because a confit is something that’s cooked in its own fat, but the result is pretty much the same. On another note, the excess oil from the confit can be reserved and used for general cooking afterwards, it is delicious and full of goodness and will fill your lives with happiness many days after this dish has been eaten and enjoyed!
So I haven’t posted in a while, and seeing that we normally tend to start meals (or cleanse palates) with soups, I figured a post about soup would be a good way to re-start the journey. This dish here was originally served as an in-between two mains as part of a 5 course meal. It was light and fresh, the ginger and lemon zest lifted and balanced the rich sweetness of the carrots while the labnah countered the deep heat. Serve it up with a crusty piece of bread and you’ll be sure to hit a home run.
So this was the first of 2 mains in my 5 course dinner opus. Generally, it’s a festive Korean treat that’s supposed to be a filling and hearty affair. However, owing to the fact that it was part of a larger meal, I tried to make the portion size a bit smaller than what you’d expect from a single main. As I understand from reading the various “authentic” recipes online, you’re free to add whichever vegetables (usually root veggies) to the braise; carrots, radishes, potatoes etc. I opted to use just potatoes, and serve the ribs on a bed of the potatoes to serve as the dish’s starch. I also topped the ribs thin strips of a very light and thin omelette (cold) and a light salad of coriander, green onions, red chilis in an asian dressing, just to freshen the dish up and add a bit of diversity to the flavor profile. What you get with this dish is a richness in flavour that’s deep and decadent as any braise normally is, along with the umami-ness of the soy marinate, the sweetness of the molasses and accented with the spicy freshness of the salad. Honestly, this was one of the most successful and enjoyable things I’ve ever cooked.
I wanted to cook this dish as an opener for a pretty heavy 5 course dinner that I had been planning for a while, and so I was looking for a dish that was more amuse bouche than appetizer, something tasty, light and striking in appearance. In the end I think this plate here checked all the right boxes, and was a huge success. Although all the individual components are fairly simple, the final result is a mouthful of complex, layered flavors that was totally enjoyable. For those with a less adventurous disposition, I recommend replacing the caviar with 4-5 Parmesan shavings per plate. It comes at the expense of appearance but works just as well (basically adding saltiness to an otherwise predominantly sweet dish)
Below are the directions to preparing this great starter, quantities adjusted to make about 5 servings (you’ll be left with some granita and beetroot purée however)
This isn’t much of a tip honestly, it’s more of an observation really. Ever since I’ve started trying out Asian cuisine, namely Thai, I’ve grown to realise the importance of adding some measure of sweetness to savoury dishes in order to create a well-rounded and balanced flavour profile in every bite. Now I’m not saying to go adding sweetness to something like this prawn pasta here, it simply won’t work, but in dishes that intend on generating a deep and rich flavor profile, some sweetness will go a great way in enhancing the general taste. Braises are one such example, something like an Ossobuco, I’ve found that adding a teaspoon of sugar or honey to the braise will elevate everything just a bit, the same goes for a long cooking tomato ragu, or a beef stew. I guess what I’m trying to share here is that experimenting with a teaspoon or two of sugar or honey in traditionally savoury dishes can be exciting at times, you might (probably will) miss the mark every now and then, but when it does work, the addition of a very subtle sweetness can take a dish from good to great.
The combination of olive oil, garlic, chili and prawns is just a time tried and tested winner, so there’s nothing new to this dish at all. It’s just such an easy and quick dinner that is quite healthy and very, very tasty. Even though the dish is made up of a limited number of ingredients, they hit so many different notes, each bite feels complete. Plenty of people demonize the notion of adding Parmesan cheese to a seafood dish, honestly, i don’t care, I love it, so feel free to pile on the freshly grated Parm over the finished plate if your heart so desires. Hope you enjoy the recipe below: