Juicy, tasty morsels with a little spice
Finally I have dug myself out from under the pile of work that filled my last few months. Finally, finally I have a little time and energy to post a recipe again – I have been missing it!
So to celebrate the occasion I threw myself a tiny little party. All very private and exclusive: just me and a plate of nibbles.
I got off from work much too late to buy fresh ingredients. But my mad working hours have made me rather good at stocking up the freezer. So I grabbed some frozen fish and prawns and within no time I had these lovely fish cakes sizzling in the oven. (Actually I even grabbed the coconut milk from the freezer – whenever I have some left-over I freeze the rest in an ice-cube tray and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag).
The amazing thing is this really is a store-cupboard/freezer dish – you need nothing fresh (I do admit I would suggest adding the fresh coriander, but I have done it without plenty of times).
I’ll be honest these are not quite authentic Thai fish cakes, but they are so tasty and healthy so I have stuck with these. ( I love them as a starter or side to zucchini “Pad Thai”)
By the way, you can play with the texture of these by adjusting the baking time. Baking them longer makes them a little chewy and more like the fish cakes I have eaten in Thailand. If you cook them for a shorter time they are more succulent and airier. Either way, they are fabulous.
The only thing I have to admit…..this recipe is not coming to you very ‘fresh’. It has been over a
week month since I threw myself that I-finally-have-time-to-blog-again party. I guess I still need to do some work on the recipe for the perfect free – and work time balance.
(a hardly altered from the blog ‘45 Degrees‘)
350 g white-fleshed fish fillets( frozen is fine) (I have used cod, red mullet)
150 g uncooked, peeled prawns (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp ( low-fat) coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/3 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp brown sugar
optional: 1 kaffir lime leaves (I find mine in the freezer section of my Asian supermarket)
1 spring onions
small handful fresh coriander
2cm piece ginger,
3 cloves garlic
1 red chili (alternatively 1/2 tsp dried crushed chili)
- Rinse the fish and prawns and pat as dry as possible.
- Cut in chunks and place in food processor.
- In a cup combine coconut milk, fish sauce, chili powder, cumin, coriander and brown sugar. Pour over the fish.
- Use scissors to cut the lime leaf into strips.
- Slice spring onion.
- Chop coriander.
- Grate the ginger.
- Mince the garlic
- Chop the chili.
- Add all the above ingredients to the fish.
- Pulse to create a thick paste.
- Use your hands to form the paste into little balls (about the size of a golf ball). Press to make a thick disk. (Tip: wet your hands to make the rolling easier. If your paste is too wet you can add a little flour or breadcrumbs.)
- Refrigerate the cakes for 10 min (you can scip this step but I find it makes for juicier cakes).
- Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place cakes on tray.
- Bake 15 min. Turn and bake another 10-15 min. The cakes will still be quite moist. If you prefer a chewier cake bake for a little longer).
- Serve with a dipping sauce or Sweet chili sauce, a lime wedge and a few coriander leaves.
- Plain as a starter
- As a side to zucchini Pad Thai
- All the ingredients can be stored in the freezer (and the coriander can be left out.)
- Left-over coconut milk can be frozen in an ice cube tray and then stored in a freezer bag.
Celebrate the season in style by sipping a warm glass of Halloween blood
A moment ago we were still enjoying the carefree warmth of long summer days and suddenly the nights are turning long again. By late afternoon the shadows already begin to creep up. By early evening an inky blackness has spread. And as every child knows danger lurks in the dark; monsters, ghouls and unimaginable horror. All of a sudden it is Halloween again – the marker of the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death.
Time to usher in the winter season and to celebrate an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.
Kick off your Halloween party with these elegant little “blood” shots as appetizer. To stay in the theme serve them with some black grissini.
Should you have already had your Halloween celebrations there is no need to wait until next year to enjoy this little treat. These beetroot shots are a stylish amuse for any dinner party – great for the festive season that is right on our doorstep. (Although in that case I would leave out the plastic spiders….)
Not only do these little shots look stunning and taste fantastic, they can be prepared ahead and can either kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for up to a month in advance.
(I have made these shots for years and have no idea where I found this recipe or who I have to thank for it)
About 1 liter which makes 20 glasses of 50ml
Optional: black plastic spiders
1 bunch (15g) fresh tarragon
200ml yoghurt (use a liquid
2 red onion
3 tbsp light brown sugar (NL: gele basterdsuiker)
75ml red wine
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 liter vegetable stock (hot)
500g cooked or roasted beets*
- Bring some water to the boil and pour over the plastic spiders to clean them.
- Chop the tarragon and blend all but 2 tbsp with the yoghurt.
- Optional: place a spider half-way in each ice cube.
- Spread the yoghurt in an ice cube tray, cover with cling film and allow to freeze.
- Peel and finely chop the onion.
- Place the onion in a pot and add the sugar. Cover with a lid and cook for 10min on a medium flame. Keep the lid on the pot and shake once in a while.
- Add the red wine and vinegar. Cook until it reaches a syrupy consistency.
- Peel the beetroot, cut into small cubes and add to the pan.
- Pour in the hot stock.
- Add the 2 tbsp of tarragon you reserved. Allow all to cook gently for about 15min.
- Blend smooth using an (immersion) blender.
- Pass the puree though a fine meshed sieve.
- Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Serve the soup in small (shot) glasses with an ice cube.
- To store: The soup can be cooled and kept in the fridge for a few days. Alternatively it can be kept in the freezer for up to a month. Remove from the freezer a day before serving to allow to defrost in the fridge. Heat for 5min on a medium flame.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following
I prefer roasting beets but they can also be cooked. Heat oven to about 200C (400F) Wash the beets. No need to peel. Fold a large piece of aluminum foil double. Place the beets on top and rub with oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the foil loosely around the beets make sure the foil is closed well. Roast the beets for 40-60 min or until a knife pierces the beets easily. The beets keep in the fridge for up to a week.
More Halloween party treats
Tradition to some, adventure to others either way these are simple and fabulous
Do you know how frog’s legs became a traditional French delicacy?
Apparently in the 12th century Catholic monks were growing so fat that the church introduced additional days for fasting when meat was forbidden. The monks were quick to have frogs categorized as fish rather than meat, which meant they could be enjoyed without restriction. Devout peasants followed the example and the tradition of eating frog legs was born.
The first time I had frog legs I was a kid and we were having one of our rare meals out at the local Italian. The frog legs where smothered in a tomato sauce and I remember the adventurous feeling of eating them more than the actual taste. I have not had them often since so I have no idea what inspired me to google a recipe for them the other day. I was blown away to discover how easy they are to prepare. They are hardly any effort, look spectacularly exotic and taste amazing: fabulous little morsels of succulent and delicate meat.
Now I know that they are said to taste like chicken, but really…..they don’t. Especially paired with the deep flavours of grassy parsley and pungent garlic they have an earthy taste that reminds of a shallow creek.
Serves 4 as a starter
500g frog legs
ca. 1/2 liter milk
30 g (2 tbsp) flour
2 cloves garlic
12 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
20-40g (1-2 tbsp) butter
- Defrost the frog legs in the fridge over night or for 15 min in a bowl of cold water.
- Place the legs in a bowl, cover with milk. Let the legs soak in the milk for 30-60 minutes (or if you have the time 8 hours…overnight…). Or if you are rushed then skip the soaking all together.
- Pour off the milk and dab the legs dry with kitchen paper.
- Place flour on a wide place and combine with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan.
- First add oil to the pan. When it is hot add the butter.
- Dredge the frogs in the flour, shake off excess flour.
- Fry the legs on medium heat for about 5 min. Flip and fry another 5 min.
- Mince the garlic and add when the meat is almost done.
- Chop theparsley. Sprinkle half over the legs and toss.
- Place the legs on a serving plate and sprinkle with the rest of the parsley.
- Serve immediately.
- Just some crusty bread and a lemon wedge
- or for a main meals you can add some fried chanterelle of blanched green beans
- oven roast potato wedges
I have mentioned before, that I started blogging because I wanted to keep a record of what I cook (just for myself) and wanted to find a way of sharing my recipe with friends and family (without bombarding them with endless emails). Little did I know that blogging would introduce me to a whole new world of blogging friends that share my passion for food. I have met so many lovely new people, like Vanya who I have really been enjoying to get to know through her stories, recipes and the comments she leave on my posts.
And then one day Vanya took me by surprise by invting me for a visit – blogger style. A few weeks back she hosted me as a guest on her blog and I brought some Beet Muffins to celebrate the occasion. Of course I immidiately wanted to return the honour, by inviting her to do a guest post on my blog. She had a few suggestions for recipes of which one immidiately caught my eye: Arabian Fried Eggs. I was mystified and curious. But let me make way for Vanya to explain this magnificent recipe further:
Fried hard boiled eggs are a common feature in many Middle Eastern households but you will find this most commonly in Egypt. I first came across this recipe in the Middle Eastern cookbook, Traditional Arabic Cooking by Miriam Al Hashimi. According to the author, if you take a walk through the markets of Cairo, you can find traders selling tiny packets or conesof blended spices which are used for flavouring the fried eggs.
There are several different variations based on the blend of spices. The one I decided to try was the sumac-sesame seed blend.
Sumac is a flowering shrub and the dried fruit drupes of this plant is ground to get a crimson red tangy spice that is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking. This spice has a tangy, lemony, citrusy flavour that goes well in salad dressings and with grilled meats. Sumac is easily available these days at most supermarkets or in specialty Middle Eastern food stores.
This dish makes a delicious and pretty accompaniment or starter to any meal. So here’s the recipe for Baid Mutajjan or fried hard boiled eggs rolled in sumac-sesame seed spice blend.
5 fresh eggs
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp sesame seeds
salt – to season
fresh coriander leaves – finely chopped, for garnish
- Hard boil the eggs, remove shell and cut into halves. Season lightly with salt.
- Dry roast the sesame seeds till light golden; make sure not to burn.
- Coarsely grind the sumac and sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle and keep aside.
- In a flat pan, heat oil (on medium heat) and place the eggs yolk side down. A bit of splutter is expected. (You can fry the eggs whole too without cutting into halves but ensure that you prick a couple of holes with a fork to avoid the eggs from exploding.)
- After a minute or two, turn the eggs over and fry another minute. Remove from flame.
- Roll or dust the eggs with the sumac-sesame seed blend. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves just before serving.
For more of Vanya’s amazing recipes visit her site Skinny Chef de Cuisine.
Quick and easy, fragrant bread
The other week I got a mysterious souvenir gift: a little jar labelled “Charoset”. I had to go by the picture of dates on the front to guess at its content as all the other words on the jar were in Hebrew. This little mystifying jar had travelled half-war round the world. Not only that, it had to travel most of the way all on its own: It started its trip comfortably nestled in the safety of the suitcase my friend CL was carrying on her way back from Israel. At the airport however security was suspicious of this little vessel with its dark content. So this little jar was packed off all on its own for the long trip to Europe. How foreign that little parcel must have looked on the baggage belt amongst all those huge and well travelled suitcases.
This weekend I was holding this little jar in my hands, impatient to discover its content. But after it had travelled all this way I could hardly just dive in with a spoon for an unceremonious quick taster. Bread was needed! But I had none, not even a single slice was to be found in the freezer. And I certainly did not have the patience to bake a loaf. So I pulled out my favourite recipe for super-fast, emergency skillet bread.
This bread comes together in minutes. It takes no more than a quick stir to make the batter and then a few minutes in a skillet on a stove. The combination of buckwheat and quinoa give this skillet bread a strong nutty flavour. It is a great side for a cheese plate but just as nice with a spoon full of jam – or as it turns out, charoset. When I make it to go with something sweet I often throw in a teaspoon of nigella seeds to enhance the fragrant flavour of the bread. But this time I left it plain as I wanted the charoset to take the star role.
But I had no need to worry, the charoset was one powerful combination of flavours: deeply sweet with a hint of earthy spices. The taste made me even more curious to find out what I was eating. A quick search in Wikipedia revealed it to be “a sweet, dark-coloured, paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its colour and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres “clay.”
A big thank you to CL for this lovely gift and amazing discovery that doubled as a good excuse to share my recipe for this humble but ever so versatile and tasty skillet bread.
(found on the blog ‘Natural Noshing’)
40g (1/3 cup) quinoa flour
40g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour
80ml (1/3 cup) water
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened rice milk*
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
optional: nigella seeds (DE: Schwarzkuemmel, NL: zwarte komijn)
- Combine the quinoa and buckwheat flour.
- Make a well in the center. Add in the water, milk, lemon juice and the egg. Use a fork or whisk to beat together the egg and the liquid and then the mix with the flour.
- Allow to stand for 5 min. While you heat a skillet (20 cm / 8 inch) over medium heat.
- Sift the baking powder into the batter.
- Grease the pan with a little oil.
- Pour in all the batter.
- Cook for 6-7 minutes.
- Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Serve warm and cut into wedges.
Tips & Variations
- instead of the rice milk you can of course use regular or other grain based milks
- the original recipe also suggest replacing the milk and lemon juice with yoghurt, but I have not tested this
- besides nigella seeds you can experiment with other spices or fresh herbs
- cheese and fresh grapes
- butter and jam