Scandi smorgasboards for dinner

A light summer dinner on the terrace at home, we went for some smoked salmon and cured tuna, trimmings of cucumber, radish, and dill, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice.

On the side, a chopped salad of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms and feta. A perfect, light dinner for a warm summer night!

Preserved Lemons

 

I love making chicken tagine, and the recipe calls for preserved lemons (this is the recipe that I use, it’s relatively easy and you don’t need a tagine dish to make it.)

This weekend, it was cold and rainy out, so I decided to finally make a jar of preserved lemons, as I have been telling myself I would do for the past year or so.

I used a recipe from SimplyRecipes.com, as it was the most simple (no chilis or spices).

Ingredients: 8-10 unwaxed lemons, extra lemon juice if needed*, 1/2 cup of kosher salt – sterilized jar

1. Pour 2 TB of salt into the bottom of the jar.

2. Cut the lemons. Cut any stem off, then cut 1/4 of an inch off of both ends of the lemon. Slice the lemon lengthwise

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Other ideas for preserved lemons… on top of fishes or chicken – on top of quinoa or couscous salads – in a pasta or risotto – in stews… lots of ways to use them!

* This is important. I ended up using the juice of an additional 4 lemons to cover the lemons in the jar.

Dinner party, Ottolenghi style!

I had friends over for dinner Saturday night… and decided to make a few recipes that I had been eyeing in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book.

Not the best pictures in the world… but I served some roasted cauliflower and celery salad, served with pommegranate seeds and hazelnuts – some roasted butternut squash and red onion salad with tahini and za’atar spices – and the best salmon I have had in ages… salmon steaks in chraimeh sauce, a spicy red sauce.

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The food was a great success, and a good backdrop for a catch-up with friends…

 

Detox 2015!!!! – Part 2

More recipes…

FENNEL AND WATERCRESS SALAD

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This is one of my favourite finds, inspired by a similar recipe I found at a restaurant the other day… Of course adjusted for the detox! It’s great because the chili and the coriander give the recipe a Thai flavour that makes it taste just a bit different from everything else I’ve been eating over the past few days. It’s all about variety!

Ingredients: juice of two limes, half a chili (diced into tiny pieces), large bunch of watercress, half a fennel (sliced, I used a mandolin) and two tablespoons of coriander

Mix all of the ingredients and serve.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

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Ingredients: Three cups of cauliflower florets, broth (I used about three cups of vegetable stock), tablespoon of thyme, one garlic clove (sliced), small bit of butter

Simmer the broth, thyme and cauliflower until soft, about 15 minutes.

In a pan, sautee the slices of garlic in a bit of butter until crisy (like chips).

When the cauliflower is softened, purree with a blender.

Serve the soup topped with the garlic crisps (and any butter still in the pan!)

CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI STIRFRY

This may be the best-tasting thing I’ve made during the detox. I got the recipe from a very random website on-line and adjusted it for the detox (the original recipe calls for cumin and for chili powder instead of fresh chilis).

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I mean… look at this. It actually has flavour. Delicious. I think next year, I’m going to put chilis, garlic and ginger on everything.IMG_8047

Ingredients: 1 chicken breast (diced), half an onion (diced), 2 garlic cloves and one inch of ginger (minced), 1/2 TB of turmeric, half a red chili (chopped), large bunch of broccoli, unsalted butter

1. Sweat the onions in a small amount of butter until clear, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and ginger for a minute, until coating the onions.

3. Add the turmeric and chili and stir again for another minute.

4. Add the broccoli and chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through but still tender.

Detox 2015!!!! – Part 1

You may remember that I followed a terrible, terrible detox regime last year for two weeks in January. Feeling about the same before starting this one, I felt that it was time for another reset – and when is better than the beginning of the year? (And, honestly, when do you have time to lay low like that except for the beginning of the year?)

BUT I received some good news before starting. My “friend” Michelle (is she really a friend if she’s getting you to detox?) who originally introduced me to the detox and who is also doing it again this year sent me a revised list of foods. Which includes many more vegetables than I limited myself to last year. Whew.

You can also have:

Spices and herbs: turmeric, chilis, basil

Vegetables: swede, turnip, endive, string beans, cauliflower, leeks, and watercress.

So I have been trying out a few new recipes this time. My chicken soup (check out last year’s detox) has been a favourite again, as it’s filling and warm!

But I’ve also come up with a few more recipes/permutations of all these ingredients. I have been eating seabass quite a few times, and have a few versions that I like:

STEAMED SEABASS FILET WITH GARLIC AND GINGER

I finally found a reason to use the Asian steamer that I recently bought… this might not be dim sum but it still looks delicious! I chopped up about two table spoons of ginger, two garlic cloves, and stuff half into the fish, putting the other half in the steaming water. Let the fish steam for 6-7 minutes, until steamed through

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It made a nice accompaniment to charred leeks, fresh spinach, and a watercress soup.

WATERCRESS SOUP

The first day of the detox, I made my own vegetable stock; you get  really cold when you’re detoxing, so all you want is something warm to eat or drink. But just pureeing vegetables in water doesn’t make the most flavourful soup… and when you can’t use salt, you don’t have many other options! So, I made a big batch and froze it.

Stock:

add to a boiling pot of water: three carrots, one onion, four celery sticks, all loosely chopped (you aren’t going to eat those vegetables), tablespoon of thyme, and 1-2 bay leaves. Let simmer for an hour.

The soup: simmer a package of watercress (or a large bunch) in stock until softened (10 mins max). Blend and puree.

Now, I found that this soup was still pretty bland, so I ended up adding a tablespoon of chopped coriander and two tablespoons of lime juice.

MICHELLE’S ROSEMARY ROASTED SEABASS

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This was a great recipe that I ate many times last year.

Ingredients: seabass filet, one clove of garlic (sliced), tablespoon of rosemary, small knob of butter, tablespoon of lemon juice, parchment paper or tin foil

Heat the oven to 180 (fan) or 200.

Prepare the fish in the parchment or tin foil: top with the slices of garlic, rosemary, and divide up the butter into small bits along the fish. Add a bit of water and the lemon juice over the fish before closing the package.

Roast for 12 minutes, then once out of the oven, let wait in the package for 5 minutes before eating.

IMG_7988WHOLE ROASTED SEABASS

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I couldn’t find any good fish at the supermarket, so bought a whole bass at the fishmonger. He scaled the fish for me and gutted it, but left it whole. I was planning on baking.

Ingredients: two inches of ginger (diced into small pieces), two cloves of garlic (diced), juice of one lime, and half a chili. One whole (gutted and scaled) seabass.

Pre-heat the oven at 180 (fan) or 200.

Mix the first four ingredients, mashing them as you go. Once you get a paste (mine wasn’t a smooth paste, more of a jumbled mix), score the sides of the fish (I made four slices) and add the mixture to those holes, stuffing the rest into the cavity of the fish.

I baked my fish in tin foil, covering the whole fish up. Let cook for 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes once out of the oven before uncovering.

 

 

Restaurante El Gran Cafe, Barcelona, Spain

During the Christmas to New Years week, I am going to post a few old blog posts that I never sent… from Istanbul, Italy and others. They were written at the time, and I for some reason never posted them… so enjoy!

(September 2014)

The day after the wedding was cold and rainy. I went to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, which had a number of good, small exhibits going on.

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Then, practically swimming in the pouring rain, I made it back to the Gothic quarter for lunch. This was one of the only places open, and, having advertised a paella lunch (I had been up dancing til three that morning), they got my business right away!

The inside of the restaurant had a 1920’s, art nouveau feel to it, and the dark wood interior felt perfect given the rainy day outside.

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It seems that most restaurants have their own way of serving bread… while I had no garlic or tomatoes this time, olive oil and balsamic vinegar were sitting on the table waiting, along with salt, pepper and a small bowl for me to dip from. On the side was a brown paper bag filled with fresh brown and white bread.

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As a main course, I got the fideo paella with seafood. Most paella is made with rice, but fideos are small vermicelli noodles, chopped into short pieces, and are mixed with squid ink to make a particular brand of paella… this one served with calamari, mussels, and shrimp. I have to say, this dish was perfect, exact what I needed.photo 3 (1)

 

Afterwards, the waiter tempted me to take a look at dessert… and I went for this odd concoction. It was basically a slightly firmer cottage cheese served with honey and walnuts (and some fruit coulis). You know what? It was really good. The cottage cheese was a bit tart, which worked perfectly with the honey and the crunch of the walnuts. This is the kind of thing that I might try to repeat at home, with it’s simple, strong flavours.

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