On the menu last night was blue eye cutlets with cumin – or at least it would been if I had been able to purchase any blue eye travella or indeed any cutlets from my fishmonger of choice. Instead (and just as delciously, I think, we had gold band snapper fillets with cumin. Close enough I reckon. I mean they even look the same, in a dark room, with the sun behind them, right.
The fish was paired with an orange, olive and fig salad, which due the absence of an orange and olive salad in Stephanie’s book, was based on recipes in one of my other favourite cookbooks, Crazy Water, Pickled Lemon.
Despite the difference in the fish and in the portion, this recipe was both easy and tasty – a magic combination that often results in a ‘definitely make again’ rating which is what it achieved from the diners.
Robert was, apparently, a former employee of Stephanie Alexander who had a way with dried beans. And based on this recipe (under dried beans, page 89 of the book), this would seem to be true – at least as far as I am concerned but then, I don’t mind the odd bean based meal.
This recipe had the added advantage of including artichokes. This was only the second time I had prepared artichokes and despite reading how to do it in the chapter on these veges in the book, I am still not sure I did it right. Maybe youtube is the way to go. And for a first, I got to cook the artichokes in a blanc which is a combination of flour whisked into water, lemon juice and (in this case) some thyme which prevents the artichoke from discolouring (see below).
All in all, a good recipe but not one that (despite my best efforts) received the highest rating possible and it had to settle for a hearty ‘would eat it again’ rating from the punters at dinner on Sunday night. Which is good, because I liked it and I cook dinner and so it will definitely be made again in the future.
Almond and honey slice (in the honey chapter and on page 349 in my edition of the book) was on the agenda on the weekend (between the nanna naps that I was taking because of the continuing jet lag that I was suffering. Despite the trying conditions, I managed to bake enough of these beauties to send some to both my and my wife’s work on Monday. Hopefully, they met the work morning tea minimum standard for baked goods from home. Having eaten a few myself, I am sure that they did.
With almonds, honey, cream and brandy, all supported on a base of shortcrust pastry, it would be hard to go wrong with these little morsels. There is also a bit a sugar in this but the taste is definitely honey rather than that sugary sweetness you sometimes get in pastries and cakes.
Straight out of oven
This is also a pretty easy recipe, assuming you are ok with making pastry. Once the pastry is done, all the other ingredients go into a pot and get mixed around to a boil and then spread (quite liberally based on the size of the base that I made) over the pastry. Into the over and 15 minutes later,a golden slab of sweet, sweet goodness comes out.
As for a rating, my wife does not have much a sweet tooth but she managed to help herself to a few bites of this over the course of the day. I would say that would mean a rating of “make it again”
Hot and spicy fish or samak harra (under Coriander, page 234 in my edition of the book) was my first recipe since returning from 2 weeks holidays overseas. My jet lag forced to me to look for something that was going to be easy and this certainly fit the bill. But its ease to make was overtaken by its tastiness from the first bite.
The combination of coriander, garlic, lemon and walnuts (left over from previous walnutty recipes) together with a small palatte of spices was simply a superb sauce / baked topping that perfectly accompanied the beautiful whole sweetlip that I picked up in the morning from my favourite fishmonger. While Stephanie gave no serving / accompaniment suggestions, I took advantage of the additional space in the baking tray to bake some zucchini in the sauce which worked (I think at least) well with the fish as well as reducing the number of pans that had to be washed up the next morning.
This was rated by the punters at last night’s dinner as a “definitely a make again” recipe.
Apologies for the lack of a picture with this recipe. I had some left over rhubarab and the rapsberries that had been steeped in white wine vinegar (from the old fashioned vinegar recipe) which it seemed a waste to, well, waste. So I made a vinegary raspberry and rhubarb crumble with custard. Now I have made crumble before but my daughter made her own custard and so the emphasis on this recipe was the custard. And I have to say that, while not perfect (the custard was a bit grainy I thought), it tasted pretty darn good.
The verdict from the guest punters last night who were over to bid farewell to my son who is going on a two year stint overseas was that they wouldn’t wait for him to come back before eating the custard (and the crumble presumably) again. That sounds like a positive rating to me.
This, by necessity, is the first part of what is going to have to be a two part post. The reasons is that this recipe has not yet been tasted and is being stored in a cool dark place for an un-determined period of time before we all get to savour the delights of old fashioned raspberry vinegar.
So to the cooking! This recipe could not be easier (so I am sort of hoping that it tastes fantastic). Another trip to the market led to the purchase of more cheap but delicious raspberries and so another recipe from the berry chapter of the book.
More to come sweet followers, more to come…
It was party night at our house last night and my son’s desire to have pork ribs and BBQ sausages (in the middle of winter mind you) meant that it was a great opportunity to cook Stephanie’s sauerkraut recipe (on page 156 in my edition of the book). Note that means that you buy the sauerkraut and add things to it – not make it from scratch which suited me fine.
Now, the most important thing to know about this recipe is that unless you are having about 50 people over, you probably don’t need to make as much as the recipe says (unless of course your guests really REALLY love their sauerkraut I suppose) but this was not the case with most of the 20 somethings that congregated at our house last night. In those circumstances, the best thing to do would be to buy a half decent bottle of the old methode champenoise, divide the recipe in half and enjoy a sneaky glass or two of the champers that is left over while doing the cooking.
This is not to say that this dish was not delicious. I liked it and so did a whole bunch of other people at the party. It is also easy to make and if you have to cook for crowds then this is probably the perfect accompaniment to porky goodness. We will certainly be having left over sauerkraut with some left over pork sausages for dinner tonight.
Overall ratings from the punters were hard to come by last night but I would say this dish should receive a “make it again” rating particularly when you next have a pork laden BBQ feast for 50+ people (or if you have fewer guests, just plan on drinking a half bottle of sparkling wine in the afternoon).
Tonight’s dinner was the very white macadamia fish curry. Everthing in this is pretty close to white – onions, fish, garlic, coconut milk. Its only the small amount of belacan and chilli paste that provides any colour to this dish. I added coriander as a final touch to at least add some green.
It even tasted sort of white – you know, it was OK, not great, not bad. It was a “I would eat it again if it was made by someone else” sort of meal. Maybe its because I like my curry with a bit more spice and heat in them. Maybe its because this was just a little bland or, you know – white!
Tonight’s main meal was a vegetarian delight – parsnip curry soup. A pretty thick puree of parsnip and, well, curry. This soup used my favourite curry ingredient – curry leaves which grow like weeds in our backyard. So much so, I had to stop the landscapers pulling them out.
Anyway back to the soup de jour. This was another quick, easy and tasty recipe that you could make after work. Smelled delicious and tasted just as good. It was one of those dishes though that you a left wanting something more – and more something that is not soup. (A takeaway chicken burger would have done me tonight if I could have convinced someone to get it for me). In the end, I ended just having a cup of tea and now 3 hours later, have found myself not hungry at all. The lesson here children is, don’t go and get chicken burgers and ruin a perfectly good vegetarian meal – you will probably feel better for it.
Anyway, to ratings. I did not receive any formal ratings from the punters tonight but I would give this dish an “eat this again” rating. Possibly as an entree to a nice formal dinner party.
Question: What do you do with the left over picked crab meat when you went crazy and bought way too much for the Vietnamese Crab Soup?
Answer: Cook the Crab Cake Recipe on the next page of course.
This approach is even better when the two recipes share a lot of the same ingredients – crab, coriander, spring onions – OK then just three of the same ingredients but it meant that I had all three in the fridge calling out to be used. And no tapioca flour in this, so no need to worry about making great glumps of gooey glue!
These were very easy to make – mix everything together in a bowl, roll them in breadcrumbs and fry them. I made them last night and left them in the fridge so they firmed up a bit making them easier to cook this morning with a little olive oil. An unconventional breakfast (for us at least) but still very tasty and filling. We had them with a little of the mayonnaise (as suggested by Stephanie) that was left over from the weekend.
A meal of left-overs that everyone would be happy to have again. Certainly I would I would be.
Rating: A solid “Make it again”.
Maybe for a spring time lunch paired with a nice salad to balance out the richness of the crab and mayonnaise.