Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
Last weekend we had a few Chinese friends over for a kind of informal 'dumpling dinner party'. It was great fun hosting a party with people cooking all around us and being at their beck and call to provide everything they needed in the way of utensils, pots and ingredients. The result was a sumptuous meal of delicious pork dumplings, sautéed vegetables, hot and sour soup and a roast duck. The spread was enormous - a bit like Thanksgiving Day in January; the company convivial and appreciative. A good time was had by all - especially by us. I'll post more pictures very soon, I hope!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Coconut Fish Curry; Kerala, South India

South Indian Fish Curry
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
This is the first time I've tried cooking a fish curry. In truth, I've only ever twice had a fish curry - both times at The Rice Boat, a restaurant in Cambridge specialising in the cuisine of Kerala, South India. I'd never tasted anything like it before. On later perusal of our favourite Indian cookbook, Indian Essence (Atul Kochhar, Quadrille Publishing, London) I discovered a recipe that promised to be every bit as sumptuous. Had I not experienced the subtle tastes of fish and Eastern spices at the Rice Boat, I doubt I would have tried this recipe myself. The ingredients are relatively simple but the resulting dish is something not to be missed. I hope you agree.

For the fish, I used frozen Kingfish steaks, available from any good Asian market. I would say that, in my humble opinion, 'curry leaves' are essential to the full appreciation of this dish. Although they can be hard to find, being available only in specialist Asian food stores, they freeze well and keep for months.

Coconut Fish Curry

4 sea bass fillets, each about 150g (I used Kingfish steaks instead)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
6 green chillies, slit lengthways
3 garlic cloves, sliced into thin strips
25-30 curry leaves
2.5 cm ginger shredded
400 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
coriander sprigs, to garnish

First, mix 1/2 tsp salt with 1 tsp turmeric and gently rub into the fish steaks.

Then, heat the coconut oil in a wide pan and add the onions, chillies, ginger and garlic.  Sauté for a few minutes then add the curry leaves and keep cooking until the onion is translucent.  Take out half of the curry leaves and set aside for the garnish.

Next, add the rest of the turmeric and salt to the pan,  Pour in the coconut milk and heat through, then add the fish steaks and simmer very gently for 3-4 minutes until just cooked. 

Serve immediately, garnished with the reserved curry leaves and coriander.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chicken and Vegetable Couscous

This was the 'second generation' of a meal we served when a couple of friends came over for dinner one night. One of them was a life-long vegetarian and I was looking for something that would be tasty, filling and warming to eat (it's January, after all!). Having cooked this for myself and Steve years ago, I trotted out the old recipe and tried it out on our friends. The result was so surprisingly good that I made it again, the following week - but this time with the addition of chicken pieces (jointed and skinned wings with bones). This, too, was very pleasant to eat.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chettinad Chicken Curry

Chettinad Chicken Curry
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
This is an example of 'Midweek Madness' wherein Steve and Lisa get the urge to cook up a storm. We were, of course, both exhausted from a good day's work but were unable to resist the temptation of cooking a big Indian meal. We cooked this Chettinad Chicken Curry, Aubergine in Yoghurt (both from Indian Cooking Made Easy, my newest cookbook) and I made a tarka daal to go with these. We had this with plain white basmati rice. It all tasted as good as it looks...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Refridgerator Suey"

"Refridgerator Suey"
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
What to eat after Christmas over-indulgence when you're stuffed full of rich food, meats, cheeses and wine?  Well, I looked through the fridge this evening and came up with a treasure-trove of vegetables to play with.  What better foil for vegetables after troughing at the horn-of-plenty?  I came up with this - noodles with shrimp, snow peas, spring onions, wakame seaweed, bamboo shoots, red (bell) pepper, leek and mushrooms.  It's a good idea, I think, to have a well-balanced larder!  Yin and Yang.  Moderation.  It makes sense, doesn't it?

However,  I managed to get a lot of other stuff in my wok....

Like onion, garlic, soy sauce (light and dark), ginger, white pepper, Chinese cooking wine, ground white pepper, Japanese mirin, and...... lots o' luv! :) It wasn't too bad...

Happy 'Post New Year's day' ;)


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Brunch, New Year 2008
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
Happy New Year, everyone!

This is our traditional New Year Brunch - and Christmas Brunch and Birthday Brunch and... We started our New Year celibrations with a dinner of quail and polenta. After dinner I called my good friend Mary-from-the-Bronx whom I haven't spoken to in quite a long time. just before midnight GMT, Steve opened the Prosecco and we raised our glasses all together. We sipped to Big Ben ringing in the 2008 on the radio. Hope your celebration was fun and we both wish you a healthy and happy New Year.

All the best for 2008!

New Year's Eve

Quail and Polenta
Originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.
As the title suggests, we had quail and polenta for dinner on New Year's Eve. Two quail each was probably more than we really needed (is it just me or are quail really getting bigger???) but that just means it was twice as good!  Steve made the polenta with butter and parmesan (and he made the beans, too) and I roasted the quail, coated with sage, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The result was an uncomplicated meal that was relatively easy to make and simply delicious.

I probably will blog a lot less, now that the vacation is over - I'll be busy at work! See you soon!