Sweet and Sour Fish with Tomato, Broccoli and Red Pepper


This is a quick and delicious one-dish meal which appeals to children and adults alike. It recalls the gorgeous sweet and sour fish that I often enjoyed in many of Singapore`s food centres on its eastern coast – where the fish, nabbed while swimming carefree in a giant look-how-fresh-your-fish-is aquarium – was coated in corn flour and fried golden and crisp (yet remaining succulently moist inside), then plunged in a tangy, morish, deep red sauce.

Being a bit of a nutrition policewoman, there is none of that frying stuff going on here and I had two little ones who demanded immediate gustatory gratification.

The dish can be pepped up with a diced chilli, and its entire preparation from chopping block to mouth (including a quick escape for blog modelling) should take 15 minutes tops. This amount will serve four children or two ravenous grownups.

  • Salmon or firm-fleshed fish, 1 large fillet, cubed
  • Onion, 1 medium, diced
  • Garlic, half tsp, chopped
  • Ginger, half tsp, grated
  • Chilli, optional, 1, diced
  • Sesame seed oil, a few drops
  • Canola oil, 2 tbsp
  • Broccoli florets, 1-2 handfuls
  • Tomatoes, 2, skinned and diced
  • Red pepper, half, diced
  • Water, as needed, posibly a third cup
  • Honey sake teriyake sauce, about 1 tbsp
  • Balsamic vinegar, 1-2 tbsp
  1. In a wok or deep pan, pour the oils and add onion, garlic and ginger (chilli if using)
  2. Saute till fragrant and translucent
  3. Add red peppers, stir for two minutes, add tomatoes and broccoli and some water
  4. Stir and simmer for a few minutes
  5. Pour in the honey-teriyake sauce and balsamic vinegar, stir and taste
  6. Adjust the flavours accordingly, adding extra vinegar for more zest
  7. Add the cubed fish, stir very gently and leave to cook for about 2-3 minutes
  8. Check that fish is done and remove pan from heat
  9. Serve with freshly steamed brown rice

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July 30, 2008. Tags: , . Asian, Chinese, Dinners, Fish, Kids Cuisine, One-dish meals. 1 comment.

Sticky Gooey Rainbow Brownies


I rustled this up with the help of my older son, to cheer up the younger one who is resembling our resident porch raccoon after weeks of sleep-deprived summer holidays.

If the idea of rainbow-coloured mini marshmallows puts you off – and do note they will melt and add extra goo which may appeal to some – this brownie is easily adapted to the more refined palate with the addition of macadamia or pistacchio nuts and fat chunks of dark or white chocolate.

It’s ludicrously easy to make and its warm, moist chocolatiness worked a treat to bring a smile to the face of my bedward-heading son.

  • butter, 250g (about 2 sticks and a bit)
  • semi-sweet chocolate, 5 squares or 150g
  • premium cocoa, 60g
  • soft brown sugar, 500g
  • flour, plain or wholemeal, 150g
  • eggs, 5, large
  • pinch salt
  • *mini coloured marshmallows, 1 1/2 – 2 cups
  • (*or substitute with white mini marshmallows, or macadamia nuts and white chocolate chunks, or pistachios and dark chocolate chunks)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave, in 10-second bursts, stirring in between. Add salt
  3. In a separate bowl, combine together the sugar, cocoa and flour
  4. Add the choco-butter mixture to the flour-sugar mixture, stir to combine
  5. Break the eggs into the rich batter and mix with a handwhisk
  6. Fold in marshmallows (or substitutes)
  7. Pour into lined baking tray and bake for about 25 mins
  8. Remove from oven and cool before cutting

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July 28, 2008. Tags: , . Baked Goods, Cakes, Desserts, Kids Cuisine. Leave a comment.

Gazpacho


There is no soup as divine on a blazing hot summer’s day as a chilled, tangy and flavoursome gazpacho, a melange of chopped vegetables and herbs which hails from southern Spain’s Andalusia region. What I adore about this soup, aside from its addictive aroma and flavour, is the fact that no cooking and stock are required, and that gazpacho is, in effect, a part-liquidised salad. For anyone in a rush, it could be a quick meal, served with crusty, buttered bread.

The only trouble with making gazpacho is that however much I produce in the hopes of returning to it often as a snack, the refrigerated bowl rapidly empties because, well, the soup is so darned yummy.

  • Tomatoes, 5 or 6, ripe, and large
  • Green pepper, 1, large
  • Red pepper, 1, large
  • Spanish onion, 1, medium, chopped
  • Garlic, 1 tsp, minced
  • English cucumber, 1, large, chopped
  • Celery stick, 1, chopped
  • Green or red chilli or jalapeno, 1, remove seeds and chop
  • Coriander or cilantro, 1 large bunch, chopped finely
  • Tomato juice, about 3 cups
  • Tomato paste, 1 small can
  • Balsamic vinegar, about 2 tbsp (to taste)
  • Red wine vinegar, 1-2 tbsp (to taste)
  • Lime juice, to taste
  • Olive oil, extra virgin, about 3-4 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bread, day old, a few slices chopped into squares
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in freshly boiled water for 1 minute and remove skin
  2. Chop tomatoes, peppers, onion, cucumber, celery and chilli
  3. As you cut up the above, reserve a quarter of each, cubed attractively, in a separate bowl to use as a garnish
  4. In a blender, add the chopped vegetables and cilantro (ignoring the 1/4s of each put aside) with about a cup of tomato juice and all the paste. Whizz till smooth, adding more juice as needed – I used about 3 cups in this recipe
  5. As you blend, watch the colour if you prefer it to be a red gazpacho (it could quite easily be a green one easy with so many green ingredients)
  6. Add the vinegars and olive oil , tablespoon by tablespoon, tasting after each one. It’s easy to add vinegar and lime juice but hard to remove them if the dish is overzealously zested
  7. If the soup needs sweetening, you could add some honey or a teaspoon of brown sugar
  8. Taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice as required
  9. Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours to allow the flavours to meld
  10. To make the croutons, spread the bread squares on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over them. Bake in a preheated 200C overn for about 6-10 minutes, watching them closely so they only go golden brown and don’t burn
  11. To serve, scoop into bowls, sprinkle the croutons and reserved chopped veg and cilantro over the soup. It’s also delicious with a couple of splashes of smoky tabasco sauce. Enjoy!



All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.

July 27, 2008. Tags: , . Salads, Soups, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Blackberry Tarts with Vanilla Cream Filling


I apologise for my silence up until that fig and mango salad – it was easier setting up a few recipes to go out during our visit to New York than it has been attempting to update my blog while juggling work, a holiday-neglected house and an impending move to the neighbouring country.

As a peace offering (ie bribe), here’s a sweet treat that won’t take too long to put together.

  • Blackberries (or any berry)
  • Sour cream, 150 ml (2/3 cup)
  • Cream cheese, 250g (one slab)
  • Sugar, 4 tbsp
  • Shortcrust pastry (readymade will do)
  • Eggs, 2 large
  • Lime, rind of
  • Vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp (or scrape seeds off a vanilla bean)
  • Plain flour, 2 tbsp


  1. In a blender, mix sour cream and cream cheese till smooth
  2. Add vanilla, sugar, lime rind
  3. Add flour, blend, add egg
  4. Add the fruit and stir with spatula by hand till just blended
  5. Prepare tart shells – roll out pastry, cut out rounds and place in empty tart shells
  6. Pour the cream and fruit mixture into the tart shells
  7. Bake in middle of preheated 190C oven for about 18-20 mins.
  8. Filling should be just set and the pastry golden brown
  9. This amount of cream filling should make 24 medium sized tarts.

July 25, 2008. Tags: . Baked Goods, Desserts, Summer. Leave a comment.

Fig and Mango Salad


This salad was inspired by a recent shopping expedition at Brent Cross in London. Having often made do with whatever sandwich I can find so that I can return as quickly as I can to the task at hand (ie an urgent shoe hunt), I was excited to come across a hitherto unnoticed place serving a massive array of salads and huge toasted panini or foccaccia sandwiches. I was also delighted to see my mother-in-law polish off her entire (and very generously portioned) salad.

The dressing is mine – coconut and cummin to add a bit of an eastern touch which I think goes well with the tropical fruit. And I believe the restaurant served their figs and mango on a bed of arugula, whereas I use spinach and have added some pine nuts and toasted pumpkin seeds for bite.

Salad
spinach, bed of
mango, a ripe one, sliced
fig, sliced, 2
pine nuts
pumpkin seeds, toasted

Salad dressing
yoghurt, full fat, 4 tbsp
coconut milk (optional), 2 tbsp
rice wine vinegar – 1 tbsp (or lemon juice)
poppy seeds, 1 tbsp (roast them first)
cummin, ground – 3/4 tsp
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil, 2 tbsp (optional)

Layer the salad, spinach first, arrange mango and figs as you wish
Sprinkle the seeds over
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Yum!

July 23, 2008. Tags: , , . Salads, Sides, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 4 comments.

Grilled Salmon with Soy and Coriander


Another family favourite and one of the easiest ways to do salmon. My cilantro plant had started to flower and I added some because it was pretty – the scent isn’t as strong and seems to please my younger son more this way.

  • salmon, filleted
  • soy sauce, good drizzling of
  • sesame oil, few scant splashes of
  • lemon juice, squeeze of 1/4 lemon
  • coriander or cilantro leaves

  1. On some aluminium foil, place the fish with all of the above
  2. Wrap up, leaving a bit of room to breathe
  3. Place in preheated 230C oven for about 8-9 mins
  4. The fish will be just done and beautifully moist
  5. Serve with salad , spuds and veg, or, my kids’ choice, rice and dhal (lentil curry)

July 17, 2008. Tags: , . Barbecue, Dinners, Fish, Grill, Kids Cuisine, Mains, Spring, Summer, winter. 2 comments.

Lunch is a Wrap (in 5 minutes)


I am away this week (we are hunting for houses and schools in New York for the big move in August) but am attempting to keep up some virtual blogging. This is a version of one of my favourite quick meals – sometimes I grill the veg, sometimes not, or add cheese, jalapenos, spinach and so on. Tasty and good for you too.

  • wholewheat wraps, 2
  • hummus
  • red peppers, grilled (or not) and sliced
  • courgette or zucchini, grilled & seasoned, sliced
  • salt and pepper

It’s a wrap! No instructions needed.

July 17, 2008. Tags: , . Dinners, Kids Cuisine, Lunch, Lunchbox, Mains, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Chicken Curry with Three Herbs


I am a generation removed from a time when cooking a curry involved a fixed recipe, a hard copy of which no one possessed, from which no one deviated, and which followed many hours of labour – from buying the fresh chillis, coriander and cummin seeds and turmeric, to washing, sun-drying, roasting, hand-milling and placing them in fresh, clean jars. All this might sound romantic but I just ain’t got the time for all that palaver!

Here’s my version of the family’s chicken curry, which I’ve pepped up with my favourite Southeast Asian herbs. You may as well, as I do, get your dry spices from the nearest Little India, where their speedy turnover should guarantee a degree of freshness.

  • Ground coriander, 1 tbsp
  • Ground cummin, 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Onions, 3 medium, chopped
  • Ginger, a few slices, chopped fine
  • Green chilli, 1, chopped
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, sliced
  • Tomatoes, 2, chopped
  • Chicken fillets, 4, cubed
  • Potato, 1, cubed
  1. Saute the onions, ginger, chilli and garlic in about 3 tbsp canola oil till fragrant and translucent
  2. Add the three dry spices. Stir on medium heat till foams and the oil begins to seep through the spice mix – a sign that the dry spices are ‘cooked’
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, saute till softened, adding a bit of water if needed
  4. Throw in the cubes of chicken and potato, add enough water to allow the meat to simmer
  5. Put a lid on it, leave for about 10 minutes on low-to-medium heat

Add these:

  • Thai basil or other basil, 1 handful
  • Lime leaves, 4
  • Galangal, 4 slices
  • Coconut milk, 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar, 1 tsp
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Taste and adjust the seasoning, allow to simmer another 10 minutes.
  2. Check if meat and potatoes are done. You may want to remove the bits of galangal which I’ve added for flavour and scent but aren’t the tastiest thing to bite into
  3. Serve with rice, chapati or naan bread and steamed veggies 😀

July 15, 2008. Tags: , . Asian, Dinners, Indian, Mains. 2 comments.

Cheers to Breakfast! Yoghurt, Fruit and Cereal


Here’s to my favourite meal of the day! Thought I’d put my breakfast in a cocktail glass this morning.. rather pretty. Layers of plump blueberries (two handfuls), a thick swath of 2% fat yoghurt, and today’s cereal guest star, Fibre One. Finish with a swirl of honey or maple syrup if desired, though I think it perfect as it is.

July 13, 2008. Tags: , . Breakfast, Brunch, Nutrition, Summer. 3 comments.

Wholegrain Lasagna


Another one-dish meal that makes for great leftovers. I won’t pretend that the preparation is straightforward, but if you fancy one, there’s no getting around it. Unless you’re satisfied with the boxed variety .. containing ludicrous amounts of fat and sodium 😀

  • 300g ground beef
  • 300g ground turkey
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tbsp cummin
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 60g butter
  • nutmeg, pinches of
  • cheese, lots of, grated
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2-2 cups milk
  • *parsley and rosemary, 2 handfuls total, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • (*herb substitutions: oregano and basil)
  1. Saute the onions, garlic, chilli in the oil till translucent.
  2. Add meat, stir till browned, add cummin and cayenne, cook 4 mins
  3. Throw in the tomatoes, paste and mushrooms
  4. Cover with lid, leave to simmer 20 mins
  5. Boil the lasagna noodles about 8 mins or till nearly done, drain, set aside.
  6. Prepare the bechamel sauce: In a pan, add milk, flour, butter and pinch of nutmeg and salt
  7. Keep whisking until mixture starts to simmer, whisk till it thickens
  8. Take it off the heat and stir into it about a cup of grated cheese. Set aside.
  9. Start layering the lasagna noodles in a baking dish, covering the bottom of the dish
  10. Add a layer of bechamel sauce, then the meat sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
  11. Keep layering thus until the lasagna is as high as you want it to be. End with layer of meat and cheese.
  12. Bake in preheated 180C oven for about 25 mins. Serve with a crisp salad 🙂

July 11, 2008. Tags: . Dinners, Mains, One-dish meals. 1 comment.

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