Tag Archives: fish

I’m typing this in the dark, while watching cricket

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers.
~ Emily Luchetti

At this hour, I can’t remember why I am doing a cook-through-a-cookbook project and worse, blogging about it now, at midnight when the lights are off and I am touch-typing while John and Jono are sensibly sleeping and Matt is sleepily watching cricket here.

On account of my current sleepy brain, swiftly curtaining eyelids and strange inclination to blog anyway, I can’t come up with a smart sassy title or promise a coherent post.

Twas a busy day at work – and I was well ready to start cooking in the kitchen by the time I came home! I invited Jian & Nish round, and Char came too – so we bustled around in the kitchen and Jian helped me to take photos before we all sat ourselves down for dinner with my flatties and the things you talk and laugh about while eating fish, then chocolate. Tonight’s attempts from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:

#24 Triglie Al Pomodoro (Red Mullet with Tomatoes) – Page 312
#25 Baked Chocolate Puddings – Page 370

Made the puddings first. Dessert first is just a novel way to go about things… especially when there are chocolates and ramekins involved…

I still struggle to know when beaten egg whites have reached the stage of being “soft peaks”? Mine emerged frothier than my last bubble bath and as they folded in to the chocolate mixture like ugly rubble I was disheartened. Spooned the mix into ramekins anyway and popped them into the oven, toes and fingers crossed…

(Oh, and with no caster sugar at home, I used a little muscavado sugar and normal white sugar instead.)

40 minutes later, they emerged a little like chocolate-flavoured creme brulee, soft, mellow and slightly custardy within with a very slight crust on top. Sweet. A good conclusion to dinner. Nearly perfect… I think I would make these again.

(And yes, we were good kids and ate them after dinner)

Icing sugar carpets do make all things better too.

As for the fish, it ended up looking nothing like the picture, of course. I had to substitute red mullet (which New World had none of) for monkfish. And besides the capers, olives, tinned tomatoes and garlic the recipe called for, I added some sugar, basil, oregano, more salt & pepper – resulting in nicely flavoured monkfish with a good sauce that could coat pasta or bread nicely.

Dinner was served with pesto-ed pasta and a side salad of mesclun, spinach, orange + red capsicum, red onion, orange zest, orange cubes and kiwifruit slices.

Fun times… always so, with cooking and friends and sun streaming through the windows. And now it really is time for bed, since I am getting up early for a nice Saturday day-trip… good night!

Dinner for 10

If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.
~ Fernand Point

At my friends’ wedding a few weeks ago, a few of us came up with the idea of having a dinner party sometime. And it happened tonight! In a way that these well-intentioned “we should do…” discussions often never lead to. :-)

Thank God for the power of words, and super friends.

We had an amazing dinner party tonight. 10 of us for dinner, 4 of us to cook (Tim, Matt, Claire, myself). Nice, modern, sleek apartment kitchen to cook in & lounge to dine in (thanks Tim!).

7 dishes were cooked and served, all from the cookbook – 1 repeat (gotta stop repeating the oven-baked fish) and 6 new attempts.

Oven-Baked Fish with Tomato & Parsley – Page 105 (repeat)
and
#18 Chicken, Coconut & Cashew Nut Curry – Page 352
#19 Rice with butter & lemon – Page 356
#20 Carrot Salad with Cardamom, Ginger & Lemon – Page 357
#21 Prawns with Lemon, Peri Peri, Garlic & Feta – Page 102
#22 Lachmajou – Page 159 (topping only, as I have made pitta before)
#23 Lemon Creme Brulee – Page 262

We all did bits and pieces of everything, but I admit I stayed FAR away from the creme brulee, because the recipe was just a little intimidating… so full credit for the wonderfulness of this goes to Tim and Claire (the only thing I dared to do was separate some eggs for the 16 egg yolks required). Matt made the fish tonight, and it looked better than the picture – I certainly did not manage this in my last two attempts of the recipe!

Getting rid of prawn excrement for around 1kg of prawns was probably the most tedious part of the entire cooking process for me. Above is a picture of a prawn sitting perched on the grater…

We decided on who would do what pretty quickly, and then it was a flurry of chopping, frying, whisking, etc…

So it all went well, and time went by fast but not too quickly. And there were moments of relaxation, spilling a few things on the cookbook, laughing, feeling tired… and eating of course. All things necessary for life.

I feel like I want to write so much, about the sound of my friends’ voices and laughter, the sunset outside the window, the way the pools of rainwater splashed the car windows from the ground as we drove through town today, my fear of making creme brulee, the way it felt crumbling feta between my fingers (onto the prawns), the nice focus this cookbook project brings, the way I feel like my friends support my madness of cooking through a book…

About the earthquake that’s happened in Haiti, about the world at large, about the way it makes me feel alive each time I drink plain water, about the seductive nature of cooking, about the great satisfaction I find in feeding people…

About art, psychology, womanhood, books, walking, nature, dreams, thoughts…

But it is getting quite late… and this post already looks so long.

I am gratified to have received a few comments, online and in-person, about this blog – and to see on the blog stats page that I have around 20 readers on average daily!

I was going to share my (slightly modified) version of Tessa’s prawns… but I think I might fall asleep here on my laptop, sitting on the ground – so better roll into bed…

Good night! And have a splendid Sunday.

PS. Re last post, the milk tart turned out OK. :-) Almost like Dan’s.

Leg of lamb, and others

I tried to commit suicide by sticking my head in the oven, but there was a cake in it.
~ Lesley Boone

Today I set myself to play in the kitchen again to prepare dinner for 6 of us – it took around 2.5 hours including cooking time, but there were no complex procedures involved. And the obedient, intelligent oven did most of the work.

I do love ovens, they simplify life so.

Tonight I decided to do 1 new recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries” (leg of lamb), 2 repeats of Tessa-recipes (fish and tzatziki), 1 impromptu salad, 1 impromptu potato dish. The new dish was:

#14 Leg of lamb with oregano & lemon – Page 111 (pictured below)

Bread & tzatziki not pictured here, but this was the main part of our dinner. The lamb was easy enough, marinaded simply with oregano, lemon juice, salt, pepper – browned quickly then baked for 2.5 hours with the potatoes for company – it emerged brown and victorious, but not soft as they make it in good restaurants in New Zealand where the meat is just falling off the bone like clouds in heaven. Hmmm! Will have to work on that one.

This simple salad consisted just of orange zest, orange cubes, watercress & lettuce leaves, cucumber slices. Served with balsamic cream and olive oil on the side. A good mix, I conclude, and an excellent side dish which won’t overpower your main – but I don’t think I’ll try eating watercress salad again (frightful). It reeked so much of ‘grass’ I felt like I was a cow.

These babies… red potatoes, peeled, cut, boiled for around 10 minutes, then dressed with a little olive oil, orange zest, rosemary, black pepper & salt. This tasted light and refreshing. I think it is a good side dish (especially for lamb/chicken) when you are out of ideas and need to make something quickly.

The ling fish fillet was most wonderful – white and innocent, a delight to prepare. This is what it looked like with parsley and a tiny drizzle of olive oil before the rest of the sauce went on it…

The fish was a repeat of the oven-baked tomato, celery & parsley-dressed fish I did not too long ago – except I had to reproduce it from memory, since I do not have my book with me here. I think it tasted better today!

    Recipe adapted from Tessa Kiros’ ‘Falling Cloudberries’:
    Ingredients:
    4 stems celery – would’ve included the leaves, but we had none left
    700g firm white fish – cut into squares/size of your preference
    1 can tomatoes – chopped
    2 fresh tomatoes – chopped
    a handful of fresh chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
    juice of 1 lemon
    4 cloves garlic (adjust this to your preference), finely chopped
    1 shallot, sliced
    salt & pepper to taste
    olive oil
    Simple, simple method:
    Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Lay a deep baking tray with foil, and coat it thinly with a little olive oil. Lay the fish out in a single layer.

    Combine all other ingredients in a bowl, stirring it gently until it combines in an even mix. Pour this over the fish.

    Cover the tray with foil, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

    Remove the foil, and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes. It should smell very fragrant and the fish should be juicy and very tender.

    Serve with crusty bread/salad/both.

Cathy came for lunch

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was a privileged guest at my friends’ fun wedding yesterday where we celebrated with them in speeches, feasting, dancing… and awoke this morning to a most glorious day which melted away any resulting sleepiness. Breakfasted with Ian in the Botanic Gardens in the midst of raging roses, and then it was time for a quick shop and some even quicker attempts to have lunch prepared for my guest Cathy.

Cathy is one of the sharpest, kindest, funniest people I know – and it was a real pleasure cooking for her… this time I decided to pick from “Falling Cloudberries”:

#9 Oven-Baked Fish with Tomato & Parsley – Page 105
#10 Allan’s Mum’s Sweet Potatoes with Sugar, Cinnamon & Orange Juice – Page 244

The fish took less than 2 minutes to prepare and put into the oven. Snap, done. Fresh parsley is pretty darn different to dried parsley too, so good.

The sweet potatoes took a little more effort, but the bubbly sweetness was pretty rewarding in due time… this particular recipe called for sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, orange juice – things like that. Mutually complementary sweetness.

Sweet potatoes are one of my Grandad’s favourite foods in the world – he adds them into everything, barbeques, Chinese rice porridge, dessert… anyway, today I thought about him as we ate them soft and spiced and sweet and comforting…

I’d asked the fish man at the supermarket which white fish to use for baking. I really love how his eyes lit up as he pointed to the monkfish right away, chattering about how the flesh held together perfectly for baking, etc… and I really LOVE how the fish smelled so FRESH and perfect when I came home, I nearly forgot it had to be cooked!

Much of the rest of today was spent with nature!