Grilled Tilapia with Coriander and Thai Basil

We love fish and I always look forward to preparing it a different way. Today I fancied something grilled with coriander and basil and threw this together. The marinade can be made in minutes and smells divine!

  • 2 fillets, tilapia or cod, haddock, snapper or firm white-fleshed fish
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • handful coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • handful thai basil
  • 3-4 tsbp breadcrumbs
  • a few small chunks of parmesan
  • oil to drizzle, canola or olive

  1. Whizz together in a small food processor all the ingredients except the fish
  2. Place fish fillets on oiled baking sheet if it’s heading ovenwards
  3. Spread crumbly topping over the fish generously
  4. Drizzle canola or olive oil over fish
  5. Place under broiler of oven for about 13 mins or bake in middle of 200C oven for 15 mins The fish can be barbecued, covered in foil or banana leaves, till done.
  6. Serve with grapefruit salad

May 28, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Asian, Barbecue, Dinners, Fish, Grill, Mains. 1 comment.

Chocolate Creme Brulee

I pause from my own recipes to give tribute to this luscious one by Delia Smith. The process is a bit fiddly as it involves several stages, but I have attempted to simplify it at least visually. I’m confident a true chocoholic won’t be deterred 😉

I have also changed the brulee method. Delia caramelizes the sugar and pours it onto the cooled pudding (takes 15 minutes). But I suggest the two-minute method of adding sugar to the pud and grilling it, which involves less washing up and results in a tastier topping which won’t require you to find an axe before you can enjoy the chocco creaminess beneath…

570 ml whipping cream
6 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
150g dark chocolate
1 tsp cornflour
175g sugar, keep aside for caramel

Stage 1

  1. Melt chocolate in 10-second intervals on high in microwave with 150ml of the cream.
  2. Stir still shiny

Stage 2

  1. In separate bowl, whisk yolks, sugar and cornflour till fluffy and thickened

Stage 3

  1. In a pan, heat the rest of the cream till just starting to simmer
  2. Add a little cream to the yolk mixture’s bowl from stage 2, whisk well
  3. Add the rest and mix till combined
  4. Return this mixture to the pan, cook about 3-4 minutes till it thickens

Stage 4

  1. Whisk the chocolate mixture in its bowl till shiny
  2. Add a little of the custard mixture from Stage 3, then add it all. Combine well.

Stage 5

  1. Pour the chocolatey soup, through a sieve, into ramekins, leaving 1 cm at the top for the brulee (burnt sugar or caramel) later on. Refrigerate overnight.

Stage 6 (not Delia’s)

  1. The next day, pour about 1-2 tbsp sugar onto each pot of chocolate cream, shaking off any excess
  2. Place ramekins on a baking tray and directly under the grill, watching carefully till it bubbles and turns a light caramel brown, barely 2 mins
  3. Remove from oven when done and serve immediately, or allow to cool, cover loosely with foil and return to fridge till needed.

May 26, 2008. Tags: . Baked Goods, Desserts. Leave a comment.

Spring Greens with Grapefruit and Avocado

This was conceived and eaten within the last hour. Mmmm…

  • Mixed spring greens – lettuce, arugula, radicchio, baby spinach
  • Grapefruit – sliced
  • Avocado, skinned and sliced
  • Olives, black – a few
  • Goat’s cheese, slices of
  1. Arrange on a dish or in a bowl, starting with the leaves and the rest on top.

For the dressing:

  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
  • handful fresh basil, torn into smallish bits
  • salt and pepper, dash of each
  1. Whisk all the above together till creamy
  2. Drizzle over the salad. 🙂

May 24, 2008. Tags: . Salads, Sides, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Kids’ Pasta with Tri-Veg Tomato Sauce

What makes this a kids’ dish is just the fact that a couple of wild horses held me back from throwing in a chilli or two and turning it into an arrabiata! I added no salt as the stock is salty, and blended some of the sauce for a creamy backdrop to the remaining chunks of tomato, peppers and carrot. Feel free to blend the lot for kids who fuss about vegetables, or leave it chunky for the whole family.

  • 3 tomatoes, scalded a minute in boiling water, skinned and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into little squares
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • stock, chicken or vegetable, as needed
  • 1 tbsp raisins (if the tomatoes aren’t sweet)
  • balsamic vinegar, dash of
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste

  1. Cook the onions in about 2 tbsp olive oil till translucent, add garlic
  2. When the garlic is fragrant but not brown, add the red pepper and grated carrot
  3. Saute a few minutes till the peppers soften
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, raisins if using (some tomatoes from the supermarket can be pretty tasteless, even on the vine!)
  5. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar, check the seasoning, add more stock if needed
  6. The dish doesn’t take long. When the tomatoes soften and the carrots are done, whizz 2/3 of the sauce in a blender, then return that to a bowl or container along with the non-blended sauce. Voila, you’re done!
  7. Serve on top of pasta with a good grate of parmesan!

May 23, 2008. Tags: . Dinners, Kids Cuisine, Mains, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Chilli con Carne II

Another version of this one-dish wonder, which was popular with my former flatmates from countries as far flung as Britain, Denmark, Malaysia and Sweden. I’ve substituted kidney beans for chick peas, added slivered carrot for colour, courgette (zucchini), some cummin and coriander, and pepped it up with cilantro and thyme. I only lacked green peppers, which do add a lovely flavour and colour. Click on the title for the full recipe of the original.

May 22, 2008. Tags: . American, Dinners, Mains, One-dish meals. Leave a comment.

Whole Wheat Waffles

I love lazy weekend mornings, or at least the mornings when I attempt to be lazy, but am interrupted by children jumping into our bed, giggling and demanding cuddles. We chat and perform impromptu plays or musicals with their soft-toy animals in starring roles. All this effort works up an appetite, and soon one of them chants, “We want breakfast, pancakes, PANcakes!” while the other invariable goes, “I want waffles, WAAAFFLES!” They love each other, my sons do, but they agree to disagree on any matter on which they can!

Here’s a recipe I devised for healthy, grainful waffles, with a good dollop of protein in it – they go down a treat, and I always feel smug, knowing every calorie is chock full of goodness. They may not be mountainously high, but they are totally natural and don’t even need baking soda 😉

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 cup *soy flour
  • 1/2 cup *oatmeal
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp sugar or sweetener
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 egg whites, to whisk till stiff separately
  • (*instead of half soy-half oats, you may use 1 cup of oatmeal)
  1. Whisk the two whole eggs with the milk
  2. Add wholewheat flour, mix, add soy/oatmeal
  3. Blend the salt and sugar and vanilla into mixture
  4. Keep that mixture aside
  5. With a clean whisk, whip up the four egg whites till stiff and peaky
  6. Fold egg whites into the milky-flour batter until just combined
  7. By ladlefuls, pour into oiled waffle maker, use setting 3 for a nice brown crust.
  8. Serve with butter and maple syrup, fruit, cream, jam or anything you fancy!

May 20, 2008. Tags: , . Breakfast, Kids Cuisine. 2 comments.

Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Thyme

This bird is easy and quick to prepare. Just ten minutes of your time at the start, then do some yoga, play with the kids, sort out the laundry and voila, dinner’s ready!

  • 1 free-range chicken, about 1.8 kg (or any weight really, just adjust the cooking time lower or higher)
  • rosemary, a few stalks
  • thyme, about ten sprigs
  • sea salt
  • lemon juice
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  1. In a food processor, whizz half the herbs, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, the red chilli and 5 garlic cloves
  2. Add salt, about 1 tbsp, and rub the creamy, orange preparation with red and green flecks all over the chicken and into its cavity
  3. Stuff the other five garlic cloves, whole, into cavity
  4. Add extra lemon juice if you like into cavity with a sprig of thyme and rosemary
  5. Drizzle with olive oil, chop the remaining herbs and sprinkle on top
  6. Bake in 200C preheated oven for 60-90 minutes
  7. Remove from oven when done and leave to rest 5 minutes before digging in.

May 17, 2008. Tags: . Dinners, Mains. 2 comments.

Grilled Red Peppers with Goat Cheese

This is an approximation of the stuffed peppers my mother-in-law regularly makes in the summer, the recipe for which I’ve been too reticent to ask. I could quite easily devour the lot of them, with the flavoursome juice dribbling everywhere and onto (as usual) a white shirt. Well, maybe with a mite less enthusiasm in front of my parents-in-law!

  • 4 red peppers, halved and seeded
  • 4 large tomatoes, halved
  • anchovies, fresh (bottled is fine)
  • garlic, chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • basil
  • goat cheese, sliced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  1. Spread the peppers out on aluminum foil or a baking tray
  2. Place half a chopped garlic and one or two anchovies in each pepper
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over
  4. Tear basil leaves into each pepper
  5. Stuff peppers with half a tomato each
  6. Add a slice of goat cheese on top
  7. Grind black pepper over, sprinkle with sea salt
  8. Drizzle with olive oil
  9. Bake in 180C preheated oven for about 50-60 mins or till done
  10. Or cover the stuffed peppers in foil and grill on the barbecue till done.

May 16, 2008. Tags: . Barbecue, Sides, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Coffee cake, anyone?

I whipped this up in 15 minutes this morning, just as a friend arrived for a cup of tea 🙂 We only had to wait 40 minutes as it baked before we dug into the fresh, warm, fruit-studded cake. While I’d love to say I sit around all day gabbing and having tea, ridiculously, this was the first time Lisa and I have gotten together without the children in the three years since we met at the kids’ school. It was about time, really!

I have a packed day ahead, with two children’s spring concerts to attend later today, which involved creating – also this morning – a surprise bee outfit, replete with striped tshirt (felt stripes on an old yellow T), bee antlers (sports headband, pom poms and fuzzy wire) and cardboard wings which really did appear out of nowhere. I had been told the kindergarten children’s role in the concert would last just 10 seconds, but I think my effort was worth it after seeing the big grin on the face of my son, who is now a bee.

Back to the cake, I would have added some other fruit, if they had transpired suddenly before me. Feel free to substitute the blueberries with chopped strawberries or cherries or apples or anything else you like.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yoghurt and milk, half and half
  • zest, of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (or any fruit you like that’s bakeable)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (omittable)
  1. Sieve together flour, soda, baking powder and salt in one bowl.
  2. In another, cream sugar and butter together
  3. Add eggs and whip till creamy and bulks up in volume a little
  4. Add vanilla and zest, blend
  5. Alternatively, add a little flour and the yoghurt-milk mixture to egg-butter mixture, until all the flour and yoghurt has been incorporated
  6. Stir in the blueberries and white choc chips if desired
  7. Bake at 175C in preheated oven for about 40 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Turn out cake onto cooling tray or serving dish and dust with icing sugar

May 15, 2008. Tags: , . Baked Goods, Breakfast, Brunch, Cakes. 2 comments.


At long last, I have organized some herbs in my garden, after years of putting up with bruised basil and wilted cilantro and mint in measly, expensive, environmentally unsound store-bought packets. These herbs would look sad and droopy, and even if they were perky when I bought them, they would commit suicide en masse as soon as I’d plucked the first handful, torn with grief at the fate of their brethren.

I had proud and ambitious plans. A lovely large white container from a deceased indoor plant was diverted toward the herby project. Potting soil was purchased and the neighbourhood scoured for the best potting-herb offerings.

Then, I got lucky. Tubs of already planted herbs of different flavours magically appeared at a store nearby, as if having heard my inner groans about the task at hand. The decision took two seconds, and a family of sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives and spearmint had found a new home. Oh, what possibilities await!

I’ll still have to scout around for the oft-used cilantro, basil, fennel, dill, marjoram…

May 11, 2008. Tags: . Herbs. Leave a comment.

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