Archive for March, 2009

This is one of those dishes you would enjoy making, every single step of it. First roast sliced potatoes topped with a layer of olive-oiled tomatoes/spring onions/italian peppers mess – the dish within its own right. In the meantime make charmoula – tiny red bird chiles, preserved lemon (bergamot), parsley, mint, scallions, garlic, cumin – i guarantee you’ll lick the bowl clean. Slather a layer of charmoula on thick fish fillets – nice haddock today.
Let it marinade for 30mins, then put on top of potatoes and roast until the fish is ready while enjoying the aroma – i for one tend to hang out around the kitchen while it happens…

And when you’re eating please note the incomparable dense texture of roasted white potatoes…

Fish Charmoula

The inspiration – courtesy of Nadia Roden (via F&W magazine)


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Came up with a new filling: chicken and eggplant.
Two globe eggplants (about 1.5 lb) halved, deeply scored, salted, sprinkled with cumin seeds and brushed with olive oil and roasted on thyme branches in 425F convection oven until sligtly charred and soft. The flesh is scooped out and drained. Don’t discard a skin before trying snacking on it – delicious! The flesh is whizzed in food processor, stopping before it turns to paste.
1lb of boneless skinless chicken thighs partially frozen, cut in 0.5″ cubes and pulsed in food processor until finely cut, in two batches. Mixed with eggplant and some thinly sliced scallion greens added. Salt and a lot of black pepper.
Panfried gently.
Served with greek yogurt and zaatar. And spanish ketchup (minced piperade).

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A drink. A cucumber… and some flower. Like Hendricks gin.
Flower of My Secret perhaps? Or Lavender Sour maybe?… What flower compliments cucumber better?… Or it’s the other way around? The cucumber complimenting the lady flower… Which one it prefers to be with then?..

At the end i was the one who decided:

Cucumber Lavender Sour

Loved the original recipe, and had Hendricks… And homemade lavender honey syrup… Of course it’s somewhat a stretch to assume we stock on Canton… On the other hand there is always a slice of ginger to be muddled…
Nice drink…

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Chebureki, Made Right

Today i was seriously craving chebureki, and it didn’t even matter that we had an overload of deep fried food this weekend.
Well one can get chebureki in any russian grocery here but i don’t care much for the taste. Another option is to make chebureki myself but up until now my attempts to recreate this divine food of my students year pretty much failed.
I opted for the homemade and the magic mercifully happened!
In fact the result was something i lost any hope to achieve: a juicy almost fluid filling, the thinnest crust – both crispy and supple if you can imagine such thing, and those incomparable surface bubbles 🙂
I guess this was the point when all the reading and thinking just came together and my perseverance got rewarded… big juicy time!


Here’s the magic in plain english:
the filling: 0.66lb ground beef (i bet lamb will be even better), 1 med large onion, whizzed in food processor with 3 garlic cloves, some dill chopped, several (8 maybe?) table spoons of rich home chicken stock to get the filling to quite wet consistency.
Used Nasoya egg roll skins – next time i will use Melissa – they’re better but Nasoya worked too.
Formed and pressed the pies by a large dumpling press. Very flat spread out filling. In fact flat is a key here.
Shallow fried in probably 1/4″ of peanut oil: on a reasonably high heat. 1-2mins per side. Lots of paper towels to remove the excess oil though pies came out reasonably non greasy.
And then let them rest in 200F oven, to improve the texture, for at least 30mins.
I feel inspired and will keep refining the technique.

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Time to pull out the deep fryer.
I coated hon shimeji mushrooms with a beaten egg, let the excess to drip off and then coated mushrooms in masa harina and green japanese pepper shaking the flour off. 1 min in 350F – excellent stuff. Next time i’ll use the egg white only.
The coating for the shrimp was made with 1/3 cup of flour, 1tbs of chipotle, 1tbs of paprika, 2tsp of salt and some black pepper. 3mins in 350F. Next time – increase the amount of chipotle and salt. And raise the temp to 275F, for 2mins maybe? Still shrimps were excellent especially those heads on.

Mushrooms tempura and deep fried shrimp

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I was thinking about using a brown rice in paella for a long time. Couple of days ago i took a plunge.
Mushrooms are always a great companion to brown rice and i had some nice king oyster ones. And chorizo (in reality it was some sort of portuguese lomo instead of chorizo in a fridge).
King oysters responds well to brown first braise after treatment but i coudn’t decide how to cut them for an appropriate texture – the choice was among tearing into strings, cutting into rounds or dicing. And then i had an epiphany – duxelles of course!
I decided to soak the rice to shorten the cooking time. Didn’t help – it took the usual 50mins in 350F oven. Next time i will add the meat and mushrooms about 20mins before the finish. And the rice/water ratio should have been 1/2 not 1/1.75 (my standard brown rice formula) due to higher evaporation.

My brown rice of choice is Massa Organics though next time i might try some Lundberg – they have excellent rice mixes.

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The original recipe came from Ezard, and called for roasting duck legs, shredding the meat for filling etc.
I didn’t have much time or duck legs but i had a freezer full of chicken meaty bones waiting there to be used in stock. So the solution was obvious – roast the chicken, pull the meat off and use it instead of duck.
The recipe for filling was promising – hand shredded roasted meat, tiny dice of shiitakes and scallion whites, bound by the paste of raw chicken breast, egg white and heavy cream.
Making a filling was a bit time consuming especially shredding the meat into small pieces. But it once again proved the point that a great dim sum can’t be cheap.
The dish in the Ezard’s book call for steaming dumplings and serving them in a light asian broth.
My easy way was to cook them as potstickers serving with kimchi, radishes, watercress and an excellent tofu tamari dip.
A perfect end of the week dinner. And the funny thing that when i asked Alex what’s is the filling he said duck and simply couldn’t believe it’s a roasted chicken!

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