Top Food Blogs

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Fish with Coconut and Chilli Relish

This is not a southern Indian recipe but  a similar one from a health kick diet I went on recently. It is so reminiscent of many fish dishes we had on our recent tour. Chilli and coconut, lime juice and mustard seeds all ingredients that are used constantly in southern Indian cuisine.
This dish is beautiful and light on calories. The fish can be panfried or grilled depending on the type of fish used.
If you use a thick oily fish it will lend itself to chargrilling or barbecuing beautifully. If a white fish that is small fillets like whiting or flathead then flour and pan fry.
This recipe will feed 4 and is very easily increased

1 piece of fish per person ( I used flathead )
1 tablespoon of plain flour per fish piece
40 grams shredded coconut
1 red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 geen chilli ( more if desired )finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1 teaspoon castor sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 bunches asparagus
250 grams green beans
Rylstone olive oil


Place the fish pieces in a plastic bag with the flour and add some salt and pepper. Toss the fish around in the bag until it is coated very lightly with the flour. Set aside.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions with the mustard seeds. Add the coconut and toast lightly. Set all aside to cool.
Once cool add the green chilli and chopped coriander to the mixture.
Mix the lime juice with the crushed ginger and castor sugar  Stir together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the lime juice dressing to the coconut mixture and set aside for serving.
Steam the asparagus and green beans.
Heat the oil for the fish in a shallow pan and gently fry the fish until it is white rather than opaque meaning it is cooked. This doesn't take long if using flathead or whiting , so be vigilant. If you are using a thick cut of fish it will take longer and you could do this on the barbecue.
Place the steamed asparagus and beans in a mound on the plate and cover with the fish pieces.
Drizzle the coconut lime dressing over the fish and around the plates.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Culinary Tour of Southern India


Old Rice Barges converted to stunning luxurious houseboats
Kumakoran Lake Resort


We have just been on another tour of India to the south this time.
From Kerala to Tamil Nadu we learnt about the ancient spice traders and the cuisine that the locals
are so proud of. Quite different to the north in many ways but fabulously interesting in different ways.
So many of our favourite spices are grown in this rich land with pepper being gold
Lush plantations of tea adorn the hillsides and palm trees are abundant on the coast.
Coconut is used in many of the dishes and seafood is prevalent.
We started our trip in Mumbai and had our first street food of the south at Chowpatty Beach.  We sampled the most delicious snacks and my mouth still waters at the thought of them.
Pav Bahji Vada Pav and Pani Puri to name a few.
Nutmeg freshly picked
We then flew down to Cochin the queen of the Arabian Sea. An active port and the commercial hub of Kerala. We enjoyed a cooking demonstration and dinner of Syrian Christian cuisine.
A tour of a couple of farms Thomas Chettans and Phillipkuttys had us captivated by the size and quantity of fruit vegetables and spices that grown there.  Beautiful tropical greenery everywhere
They both entertained us with a wonderful lunch of organic home grown produce


A night on a houseboat cruising the enchanting  backwaters of Kerala was a highlight for many. The houseboats are converted rice barges and were equipped with every modern convenience of a beautiful hotel. Animals at dawn feeding at the waters edge were a plenty.

The next night we spent in the Kumakoram Lake Resort another glamourous tropical hideaway.

We ventured to the Chettinad area of Tamil Nadu. Not the opulence of the north but grand and amazing architecture never the less. The Chettinad region became a focus of internationalised tastes. As well as the food , the Chettiars constructed  palaces or forts of teak and marble sometimes running to 50 rooms adorned with chandeliers and richly patterned tiles for their families. Times have changed and the families have now ventured to other parts of the world to make their fortunes and the houses sit abandoned. They are used for wedding ceremonies if at all.
Abandoned mansion of Chettinand
Ready for anything on the early morning boat cruise 

Thanks to Unesco, these villages and the vast number of old mansions, are being preserved.
We were lucky to stay at the beautiful Bangala hotel . This heritage hotel builds its menus around the basic Chettiar cuisine and adds from a variety of cuisines from countries the Chettiars have travelled. The food is influenced from the late 18th century when they established businesses in  Burma French Indo China, Dutch East Indies, Malaysia and Singapore


We stayed at the Bangala in the town of Karaikudi near Madurai The hotel is a family owned building originally and has an exotic collection of antiquities gathered by the owner. We enjoyed another cooking class here and loved it so much we all purchased the cook book.
Chettinadu had an old village of  300 mansions that now sit abandoned. The homes of old traders.....
The french town of Pondicherry was so different you could imagine you weren't in India. Our cooking class was with Shyama who entertained us through the food and flower markets. This was prior to a fabulous and informative cooking class in her home




Some of the gals and our favourite cooking teacher Shyama
Spice markets of Pondicherry
House boat luxury
At the Taj Hotel in Mumbai
Pru at the beautiful Bangala Hotel
So many memories, so much beautiful food and new friends made. Another wonderful group and fabulous tour. The people and the guides we meet along the way help to make the trip an unforgettable experience. A big thank you to our gorgeous kind and entertaining driver Ajeesh who looked after us all so well from Kerala to Chennai.
Just planning the next tour !!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Summer Chicken and Rice Salad

Christmas is over. My turkey was absolutely delicious the brine made such a difference.
We had a little left over and I made this salad instead of using chicken. It worked a treat. It is a  suitable main meal actually and readily adaptable. It is so easy and absolutely delicious.
So if you want to have more turkey through the year try it with this salad through the warmer months.
It is a variation of many recipes you find in Middle Eastern Cookbooks and reminds me a little of an
Ottolenghi. I use a mountain blend rice as I find it a bit nuttier and more interesting than regular rice which you can also use if desired

1 whole cooked chicken you can also use just cooked breast if preferred
2 cups mountain blend rice This is sold in a small box in the supermarket and is a blend of Wild Red and Brown
1 large red onion
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup hazelnuts ( again change it around if you have other nuts you prefer almonds and macadamia are also lovely
1/2 cup craisons or raisons
1/2 pomegrante
1 large coasrsely grated carrot
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup coriander

DRESSING
1/2 cup Rylstone olive oil
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablepoons red wine vinegar

Mix the dressing in a small jar with a lid.
 Remove the chicken from the bones and toss with some of the dressing.
Sauté the red onion in a little olive oil and remove from the pan.
Fry the nuts in the spice mixture until slightly golden.
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or using your favourite method. This mountain blend does take 30 minutes not or usual 10.
Toss the nuts, onion, craisons and rice together. Season with sea salt and pepper.
 Then add the grated carrot. Lastly top with the chicken and pomegranate seeds and the chopped herbs. Drizzle the dressing over just before serving.

Most of this meal can be done ahead and add the chicken and herbs just before serving.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Brining the Turkey

We have all heard of bringing meat. It is usually white meats than can be dry after cooking, Turkey Chicken and Pork.
Our grandmothers did it and it appears to be back in vogue.
There are 2 types of brine a wet and a dry.
Both brine's require salt. A wet brine in a salted water solution often with sugar and some spices or aromatic]s. Dry brine just requires the bird to be rubbed with salt mixture.
The downside of the wet bringing of a turkey is the large container you require to submerge the bird in the bring solution.
Both need to be done about  6-24 hours before cooking and left in the fridge. They can be done 3 days ahead.Some say, cover, some say, don't. For me, I cover it, especially if you have a fridge that is being constantly opened or you are storing other food products in the same fridge.
The whole process is a kind of osmosis.
Certain muscle proteins are naturally dissolved by the salt in the brine solution. Once these proteins are dissolved, muscle fibres lose some of their ability to contract when cooking. Lack of contraction of the fibres leads to less internal moisture loss which in turn leads to juicier meat in the cooked bird.
Of course you still must be careful with the cooking of your bird but the brining will give you a very succulent turkey.

Dry Brine
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns crushed
2 tablespoons  thyme
2 tablespoons sage
zest of a lemon and orange

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Rub the whole turkey generously with a smaller amount on the legs and wings. Place in a large dish in the fridge and cover with cling film.

Rinse and pat dry the day of cooking. You may like to put some butter under the skin of the turkey prior to cooking or cover in bacon rashers.

Place the turkey in a preheated oven at 200 and cook for 30 minutes.
Turn down the heat and cook for a further 2 hours. If browning too quickly cover with foil.
A meat thermometer is a great idea and they aren't expensive. The internal temp must be 75 degrees at the thickest part. If you haven't covered with bacon brush often with butter in the final stages of cooking.
Happy Xmas



Thursday, 7 July 2016

Samosa

As the weather turns even bleaker and colder one tends to stay indoors and perhaps if you are like me
cook. I have just made for the umpteenth time some delicious Samosa. These wonderful savoury little snacks involve a little bit of work if you wish to make your own pastry. You can also use bought pastry but the taste isn't quite the same but less work of course.
They can be made as vegetarian or meat. I like both but probably tend to do the meat option more.
We cooked the vegetarian way in Jaipur which is just as yummy . The Indians also use ghee a lot which changes the texture of the pastry. They are great to have in the freezer as a standby for entertaining or pre dinner drinks. Tasty filling and usually generate a bit of chatter as people haven't had them a lot and love them. Serve with a very good chutney or a simple plain yoghurt with mint.
The chilli component is up to the individual and could be omitted if wanted. The meat filling can be done ahead as well.


Pastry
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of oil or ghee
1/2 cup warm water

You can also use spring roll wrappers if you want.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl make a well and add the oil and water. Mix it all together from the inside out. Once all combined knead the dough for about 10 mins Set aside and cover with glad wrap whilst cooking the filling.

Filling
         
500 grams of minced beef
2 small onions finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 small potato finely diced
1/2 cup green peas
1-2 green chillies
2 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon chopped coriander
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying


Vegetarian filling

Omit the meat and add cashews and raisons if desired

Fry the onion and garlic with the ginger in the tablespoon oil. Add the salt and garam masala and the chillies. Stir through the minced beef until it changes colour. Add the potato and peas and the cup of water. Cover the pan and cook until the liquid has absorbed.
If you wish to add pre cooked potato and peas wait to add after the meat is cooked.
When cooked adjust seasoning you can add more salt and garam masala . Stir through the chopped mint and coriander. A favourite ingredient is mango powder but it isn't easy to obtain here. If you can get it use 1 teaspoon. Let the mixture cool.

For the pastry divide into small pieces. Roll out into a circle about the size of a saucer or 4inches approximately. Cut the circle in half.
Take each semi circle and fold diagonally into a cone. Place a teaspoon of filling into the cone and seal edges with a little water.

If using spring roll wrapper. Cut into strips lengthways approx 2 1/2 inches wide. Place a teaspoon of the filling at one end and fold diagonally over a couple of times to form a triangle. Seal with water and a beaten egg.

To cook they are deep fried. the process is quite quick in a hot oil as the pastry is all that needs to be cooked. I use a wok to do it in as it is deep. They will float to the surface and be puffed up. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with accompaniments.



Monday, 30 May 2016

Fish Curry or Meen Molee

As I am planning for our next trip to India, I am cooking lots of the dishes we did whilst there. In fact this curry has been a popular one with the group on tour. It is not too spicy and very easy to make. If you love fish and are perhaps a little timid about curries, I promise this will please. Its origins are more southern India with the main ingredients being fish and coconut milk. Molee means stew.
We had a fun couple of hours learning with Smita, and as the sun went down we enjoyed our efforts on the rooftop overlooking Jaipur.


1kg  thick white fish fillets ( cod, ling )
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh finely grated ginger
2-3 curry leaves
2  chopped chillies  red or green are fine (or to taste)
1 large ripe tomato chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup coconut cream
lemon or lime juice


Wash the fish, pat dry and rub with a mix of salt and turmeric. Set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, and curry leaves in a tablespoon oil. Cook until onions are transparent.
Add the coconut milk and simmer gently.
Chop the fish into serving size pieces. Add to the coconut milk. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until
cooked. If you need to turn the fish do so gently so as not to break the fish. Add the the coconut cream and chopped tomato. Heat through for a minute. Remove from heat and add the lemon or lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with rice.

Penny a keen student who has made Meen Molee many times with our teacher Smita

Meen Molee



Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Delhi and Rajasthan with Want Food Ideas

We have just returned from another fabulous tour of some of the most colourful cities in India.
We started our journey in Delhi, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. There is much history to see and learn dating back to 1000 BC.. It is a city of extremes in every way from Old Delhi to New Delhi. The city has a rich food culture a mixture of its long history and increasing influences of the world. We began with a meal at the best  Indian restaurant you will eat in, Indian Accent. Beautfiul innovative fusion Indian food, like Duck Kurachan. Delicious moist shredded duck in a cornetto with herbed yoghurt and chilli chutney. Tandoori bacon prawns and meetha achaar spare ribs all just part of a tasting menu.

Duck Kurachan











Cooking chips at the markets




Budding chefs at The Oberoi
We went from the sublime to the street food of Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi.
 We wound our way through a diverse maze of streets procuring food from vendors whose families have been there for 5 generations. Delcious morsels of food that sell out before lunch. This is the everyday life of Delhi and an important part of our food tour. Julab Gaman, Parathas, dal Tarka Samosas mint and coriander chutneys to name a few. The lanes were interspersed with stores selling colourful jewellery, saris, ribbons and braids that are so cheap.
We enjoyed a fun few hours with the head chef of the Oberoi Gurgaon in a cooking class to finish our Delhi stay.

Carolyn and Prue also waiting to taste the results of the cooking class

Chillies chillies and more chillies

Your outfit must match your produce

Happy Purple day at the markets

Saying good bye at the Oberoi Udaipur

Night street food

reverence at the Shik temple Kitchen

City Palace Udaipur

On to Agra to view the Taj Mahal and sample street food of a different kind. Delicious, so  inexpensive and freshly made, it sufficed for our evening meal. We were lucky enough to have another cooking class and tour of the Oberoi kitchens.
Jaipur the much loved capitol of Indias largest state and the gateway to Rajasthan. Forts and majestic temples , colour, energy and magic are all part of this amazing city
Cooking classes with  Dr Smita ....... in her home. A tiny kitchen but we managed to have lots of input and dined on the rooftop overlooking Jaipur.
Block Printing Jaipur

Fabulous colours of the street markets

Afternoon boat ride Lake Pichola Udaipur

Jan and Di waiting to eat after cooking  class

The girls at the palace in Udaipur

Dr Smita and husband Manoj our wonderful hosts for cooking classes

Spice classes in Udaipur were a relaxing way to finish our our trip after touring the food markets there. Beautifully presented produce that unbelievably sells out every day. Piles of colourful ground spices and simmering vats of oil to make chips. Saris hanging from windows and wide eyed children fascinated by the foreigners.
All of this eating is also broken by culture and of course shopping.
Carpets, jewellery, block prints from Jaipur, cashmere shawls and miniature paintings to name some of the purchases that we were lucky to make.
There is so much history to take in and so many sights to see. The people are wonderful,full of humour and eager to please.
The stunning Oberoi Hotels added to the experience. Palaces in themselves with staff that can't do enough for you. One could be forgiven for thinking they are a Maharani.

Very hard to swim in this pool Oberoi Agra

Very happy with that relaxed cooking class

Jan and our wonderful guide Ravi


Hot afternoon class in Jaipur waiting for our food

Mandy and Di enjoying their boat ride to dinner at Ambrai Udaipur

Just a taste of the splendour of the Oberoi Udaivillas

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Easter Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce


The egg is a symbol of Easter for Christians as it represents new life or re birth as Jesus rose from the dead.
As well as millions of chocolate eggs that are available for you to consume, have a look at some other ideas for eating eggs at Easter.
Shakshuka or eggs in purgatory has it origins in Tunisia, some say and Israel likes to claim it as theirs It is also similar to Mexico Huevos Rancheros. So whatever its origins it is so delicious and far more exciting than scrambled eggs or bacon and eggs.

The basic common ingredients are onion, tomato and eggs,and it is served in the pan it is cooked in.
A delicious dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce is so satisfying great for all,simple and quick.

If you are having an Easter brunch with family and friends this is a perfect dish to cook. The sauce can be done way ahead and the eggs popped in just before you are ready. If serving to children or guests who don't like spice just adjust accordingly
Serve it with some of your favourite toast to dunk in the egg or warmed pita bread.
Experiment with many different recipes adding bacon, minced meat, spinach, eggplant for a heartier dinner meal. Serve a salad as a side . This will serve 2 or 4 people depending on appetite and whatever else you have with it.

 2 tablespoon Rylstone olive oil
 1 finely chopped onion
 2 cloves finely chopped Garlic
 1/2 red capsicum finely chopped
 8 black olives sliced
 at least 2 Anchovies more if you love them
 1 teaspoon chilli
 1 teaspoon cumin
 1 Tin chopped tomatoes
 4 eggs
handful of chopped coriander and parsley
good chunk of feta
To serve pita or toasted sourdough

Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic onion and capsicum and cook until onion is transparent. Add the anchovies these will melt into the mix. Add the tomatoes, olives and spices
and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes stirring the mixture. You may season with salt and pepper at this point. Make four wells and add the eggs.
Traditonally you are meant to eat only when the whites are cooked and yolks are runny.
If you would like it slightly more cooked than this cover the pan for a minute. It is nice to have a bit of runny to dip your toast or bread into.
Garnish with chopped herbs and feta .Take your pan to the table.











Thursday, 10 December 2015

Cookbook Gifts for Christmas

Each year so many cook books get published. The three listed below are my favourite for this year.
I have so many in my collection, but these three are my go to at the moment. I have cooked so many recipes from each of them and so far loved them all.
The other wonderful and inspirational thing about them is, each of these chefs have a  food show on television which you all must watch. They are a culinary history and a great travel log.
Anyone interested in food, cooking and travel would be more than excited to receive one of these beautiful cookbooks for Christmas.

Nopi

Another in the Ottolenghi collection, named after his London restaurant.  I have all of his books and love this as much as the others .Vegetables, meat dishes. amazing salads and pulses with a twist. From the Far East to the Middle East a wonderful collaboration of flavours. Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast is worth viewing as well.

Rick Steins India

The photography alone is enough to get the taste buds going. It is stunning. The recipes are  part of Ricks search for the perfect curry. However there are many full flavoured recipes that cover all facets of Indian food. The complexities of the various spice blends, help you to understand what makes all their dishes so different.
If you can watch Ricks Indian Odyssey it will also inspire you to try it all.

Shane Delias Moorish Spice Journey

This is the book of the television series on SBS. Shane goes to Morocco and Spain to search the moorish roots of food in the area, that goes back thousands of years.
Delicious, creative and truly inspirational. I have also really enjoyed his television series of Mediterranean Food on SBS.
If you are in Melbourne any time soon a visit to his restaurant Maha is a definite.





Thursday, 24 September 2015

Granola

A big change of heart for me. I have never been a cereal lover, always preferring a fruit or protein option. One of my friends daughter started making Granola and having tried it and thoroughly enjoying it I decided to give it a go.
Breakfast out has become the norm. Try to get in anywhere on a week end without booking and you will do it New York style wait in a queue. We had a great breakfast at Two Hands run by Aussies in Soho. You must try it if in NYC casual, the americans are going crazy over their simple delicious health menu.
You can enjoy all these delights at home. Why not ask a few friends around for brunch and give them some homemade granola, with beautiful yoghurt. Freshly squeezed juice, egg and bacon rolls or avocado toast sprinkled with a little chilli flakes and lemon. Eggs Benedict or acai bowls sprinkled with granola and fresh berries. ricotta toast with berries. The combinations are endless and half the price of a cafe. Of course it does involve a little bit of work but not nearly as busy as preparing for a dinner. Maybe a little champers to go with it....
I am sure there are many Granola recipes, bt this works for me and hasn't too much extra sugar.

1 kilo rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons cinnamon
150 grams pumpkin seeds
250 grams roasted unsalted nuts my favourite is a cashew and almond mix but the choice is yours
250 grams dried fruit. I have used raisons or sultanas or cranberries.

Preheat oven to 160 C.
Place the oats in a large bowl and stir through very thoroughly the coconut oil, honey and cinnamon.
If you need to use your hands do so as the honey can tend to clump the oats into small balls. Stir through the pumpkin seeds.
Layer on a flat tray and place in the oven.  The amount will probably fill 3 trays .Turn and move the mixture every 10 minutes or so until slightly coloured. You can't leave the kitchen and must be attentive as it can burn easily.
This could take approx 1/2 hour depending on your ovens heat. If you want it to roast faster you can turn up the temperature, but be careful.
Remove and cool.
Add the nuts and dried fruit. Done
Store in a 3 litre sealed container.

Breakfast at Two Hands