Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Curried Watermelon

This is an easy to do and complex in flavour watermelon curry from Rajasthan.
The flavour is earthy due to the cumin and coriander, with a hint of heat from the chilli - but once you bite into the melon chunks there is this great burst of sweetness and juiciness - a great combo and a real surprise.

The colour is spectacular, I wish the photos reflected it.

Above, served with a Goan Pork curry with a simple lentil dahl.

This is a great dish, in particular a great, unusual and interesting side for big BBQ's.
It only takes about 20 minutes to do.

Inspired again by the great Camellia Panjabi whose inspiring and definitive  book  '50 great curries of India' introduces accessible Indian food in all its glorious regional variety. 

What also surprised me was how easy it is to reheat - and if done gently the watermelon will retain its bite and form without turning into mush. Harder than you think!

Pretty straight forward - this will easily yield 8 large portions
You will need
1/4 of a water melon
1&1/2 teaspoons of chilli powder
Pinch Turmeric powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Coriander powder
Crushed and pureed Garlic - good Teaspoon.

Teaspoon of Cumin seeds
Ghee, Coconut oil or oil (I used coconut for this - made it vegan)
2 - 3 teaspoons lime juice

De-seed the melon as best as you can
Chop up the flesh of the watermelon into good sized chunks - about 4cm/1.5 inch chunks.

Take about a cup of the chunks and blend them  to a liquid with the chilli, turmeric, garlic and salt to taste.

Now heat the oil in a wok or pan, when its hot chuck in the cumin seeds and sizzle them for about 20 seconds. It gives the oil the earthy flavour.
Add the blended watermelon and spice mix - bring to a simmer and leave sit for about 5 minutes.
Then reduce heat, add the watermelon chunks, spooning over or tossing the chunks gently in the juice.

Add the lime juice about 2 minutes from the end.

Serve and enjoy.

Please feel free to comment or leave feedback - I really appreciate the effort.

Just for fun - how to open a coconut, first take (more about that later)
Thanks to Brian for the camera work

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

John Dory with Lime and Ginger sauce.

John Dory is a sustainable fish, generally a bycatch in the fishing industry.
It is in demand, a really nice meaty fish, so a bit on the expensive side, but sooo worth it.

Apart from John Dory, other good fish are pollock, hake, bream - any meaty white fish.
Also Sea Bass, Bream and Dover Sole are really good alternatives. 

This takes about 20 - 30 minutes for a really lovely late summer light dinner.

Please feel free to comment - I really appreciate the time and effort when people do.

This recipe is really influenced by Tony Singh - born and raised in Leith (with as strong a Leith accent as I've ever heard on TV)  You may have seen him, as I did.

He is among Scotland's leading contemporary chiefs, and coming from Leith really knows fish.
Having watched him on TV, he did make me think, he is quite inspiring - as a chef he takes traditional Scottish food, and re-invents it. 
In a way, this is a meal that is a tribute to his energy and ideas.

I love his demeanor and the way he approaches food. His original version uses Dover Sole. It seems to me to be a sort of Parsee style Buerre Noissette, mine is more like an Indian Hollandaise - if anything, more Indian than the original.

I served this dish with new potatoes and asparagus.

Again, fish sourced from Ballycotton Seafoods in the English Market, Cork. 
So, John Dory - best have it filleted at the fish shop if not given to or caught by you.
Keep the head and bones for great fish stock.
Sustainable Irish Fish - John Dory
John Dory Fillets
4 tbsp Gram flour (you can use plain flour)
½-1 tsp Chili powder  
½ tsp Ground green cardamom pods
Salt and Pepper
1 John Dory, made into two fillets
Donegal rapeseed oil to fry

Parsley to garnish 
140g/5oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz chopped fresh root ginger
4 tbsp Lime Juice
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
Pinch Corriander
(Optional) 1 Egg yolk

Serve with:
New potatoes
Asparagus (or spinach, broccoli - your favorite green veg)

Take enough new potatoes for two (or more) people, I picked small waxy baby spuds.
These take about 20 minutes.

Now, mix the flour, chili powder, cardamom and salt and pepper, dust the fish in it.

Start to make the sauce.
Melt the butter over a medium heat, let it bubble until it turns nut brown in colour.
Reduce the heat to low and ass ginger, coriander and warm through - but don't overheat to avoid the butter separating.

Remove from heat.

Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
As an option whisk in the egg yolk to give a richer, creamier sauce. 
Leave aside.

With about 10 minutes to go, throw the asparagus spears into the boiling potatos, use a basket if you have one.

Get a pan with the oil good and hot.
Put the dusted fish fillets skin side down into the pan, fry for 5 minutes either side - a really nice crisp crust develops.

Plate up fish, potatoes and asparagus - pour over sauce - serve, lap up the praise.
Really quick, really nice

Please feel free to comment - I really appreciate the time and effort when people do.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Turkish style Red Gurnard in a creamy lemon and mushroom sauce

Red Gurnard - a meaty, economic, tasty and sustainable fish, Scale 3 on the Marine Conservation Societies (MCS) list (*See note at end of article)

This type of fish, bony, bottom dwelling, is not usual on the menu - but they are great.
Very common in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, this recipe is inspired by Turkish and Lebanese food. Good recipe for the more expensive red snapper as well.

I like my fish on the bone - but you can use fillets if you prefer.

The fish is not in great demand in Ireland, I picked these beauties up from Cork cities English Market - Ballycotton seafoods - along with the samphire, for €3.50, with rice can easily feed 4 or a greedy dinner for two.

This meal itself is great with rice, giving it almost a risotto effect.
The rice will cook in about the same time as it takes to cook the fish and veg.

The sauce, with egg, lemon and cream is kind of a Mediterranean hollandaise  - rich and velvety.

You will need a pan or heavy based pot with a lid or plate that can cover the pan.

Good knob of butter
Fish - 2 or 4 red gurnard fish/fillets, or red snapper - meaty white fish.
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
115 grm button mushrooms (about 9)
1 tomato - skinned, de-seeded and peeled
1 tablespoon - good squeeze - tomato puree
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Parsley to garnish                                                .

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.
Cook the onion for 2 - 3 minutes until softened or translucent but not browned.
Add Garlic and cook for another minute, then chuck in your mushrooms, tomato and tomato puree and season to taste.
Cook down for about 5 minutes.

Put the fish fillets on top of the veg and pour over the water.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium/low, cover the pan and leave simmer gently for 10 minutes.

There is a trick to this dish.
While waiting for the fish to cook, whisk up the egg yolk and lemon to emulsify- go easy on the lemon juice, you can add more later to taste, After whisking the egg and lemon add the cream and whisk in.

When cooked, remove the fish and keep warm.

Stir the egg/lemon/cream mixture into the veggies and blend, constantly stirring.
Taste the sauce, add pepper and salt to season as wanted, add more lemon juice to taste if you overdo the lemon, a pinch of sugar will bring it back.

Pour sauce over fish and serve.

I served the fish on a sushi rice with tomato and samphire mini salad on the side.
Also very good just with salad.

I hope you enjoy this recipe - please take the time to comment, I really appreciate the time and effort.

Pollock in wine
Paprika Pollack Almondine with Sephardic style spuds
Fennel poached Pollock
Easy Pea-sy Orangy Mackerel
Super Simple Cider Mackerel
Super Simple Herring 

* MCS scale 3 - eat but not too often.
Red gurnard is a fast growing fish and matures early at a large size. Avoid eating immature fish (less than 25 cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the spawning season (summer).

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Scotch Eggs with a Connemara Coat

A quirky way of doing scotch eggs - great for a snack or a starter.
The dish is quicker and easier than the recipe suggests - just always take care when deep frying.
Enjoy, and please take the time to comment.

I am growing tired of TV foodie personalities who simply copy others without giving any credit and promote themselves as a brand.
Along with classic old recipes, I prefer to watch and read original cooks with real innovation who adapt or improve classics like Andy Bates or the Hairy Bikers - or chefs who make complex food more accessible, like Manuika Gowardhan 

Scotch eggs are actually an English invention, but seemed to have originated from India.
Nargisi Kofta, an egg dish from Hyderabad seems to be the source of this much maligned dish.

Because of poor, mass produced versions in Britain, Scotch eggs developed a poor reputation, but with a bit of care and attention they can be the star of the show.

I find chicken eggs quite big for this recipe, and using quail eggs better - although a little bit finicky to shell, it produces a cuter , smaller version - it is easier to cook (larger eggs take a bit more cooking as they have a thicker coat you run the risk of burning the coating) 
As well as that using quail eggs also stretches the coating mix further.

This is influenced by Bates, but using buttermilk and smoked black pudding to give it an Irish character and flavor. 

The Centre
12 Quails Eggs - boiled and peeled
250 Grams of your favorite sausage, skinned and out of their skins
100 Grams black or white pudding - I used McGeoughs smoked black.
Good pinch of mace
Good pinch of nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon of Anchovie Paste
1 teaspoon of Mustard

The Coating
4 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons flour
1 beaten hens egg
Breadcrumbs to coat - I used Panko crumbs.

First, boil the eggs. With quail eggs to prepare, bring a pot of water to the boil.
Plunge in the eggs. 
To soft boil, 2 1/2  minutes, hard boil 4 minutes.
Remove from the water when cooked to desire and put into cold water, under a tap, and leave for 5 minutes. This stops a dark ring forming around the yoke which looks unpleasant. 

In the meantime, prepare the coating.
Mix and season the spices, seasoning, sausage meat, mustard, paste and black pudding well.
On a layer of foil prepare as a patty - keeping your hands wet helps to stop stickyness.
I found spreading a little buttermilk on the foil helped it stop sticking.
Put an egg on the patty and gently scoop up a little bit with the egg and form the mixture as a coat around the egg to make a little parcel - again, keeping your hands a little wet helps a lot, and it is easier than it sounds.

In four small bowls separately and in order put the:
buttermilk -
flour -
beaten egg -
panko crumbs

Dip each parcel into the bowls in the above order shaking off the excess after each dip.

Heat Donegal rapeseed oil to 180C in a heavy based pot. Test the oil by frying a cube of bread which should turn golden in a few seconds.

Deep fry the parcels in small batches (I suggest 4 at a time) so as not to reduce the heat of the oil.

Remove from oil when dark golden brown, and take care - overcooking will burn the coat quickly.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve warm or cold, keeps for 3 days in fridge.

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