Some people are able to run their lives like well-oiled machines – stable, unchanging. Some people rock it with crazy happenings everyday and live by the motto of “go get ‘em or else”…For me, I feel like I’m just unsettled – not simple, not rocking it either. Probably due to the fact that we moved to a whole different continent about 4 months ago. Although it’s back to where we call home, the feeling like we haven’t quite completed our journey is still hovering around.
Hubby and I are super blessed to have found an apartment to rent really quickly, we found jobs speedily too and we’re back into life as we once knew. Well…not quite. I’ve resigned from my brand new job – yes after just 2.5 months of action. It just wasn’t what I expected. It just wasn’t something I could see myself doing for the next few years. I had to leave. I’ve never ever done this in my life – probation period definitely holds new meaning for me now! So yeah, it’s back to square one.
Plus I just read an update from an acquaintance’s blog of their thoughts from a recent miscarriage. Made me super sad, which explains why I’m so melancholic at the mo. Sorry!!!
However, having said all that, I know I should be thankful – for all of God’s amazing blessings in my life. Especially for my hubby who is ever so gracious and supportive – I could quit a thousand jobs and he’ll still be okay with it. Thank you hunny! You’re the best! It’s now written for the world to see, so you can’t take it back !!! I love you!
I am also thankful that simple, pleasurable things do exist. Like this baked swordfish dish I made a while back, and the fact that tomorrow will be the first day of spring. Yippee!
EASY BAKED SWORDFISH WITH HERBS
Adapted from cuisine.com.au
- 4 medium sized swordfish steaks (about half an inch thick)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 ripe tomatoes, halved, juice and seeds removed, and chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Splash of white wine
- Juice of half a lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 180C.
Season fish with salt and pepper and place in an ovenproof dish. Combine the tomatoes, herbs and garlic in a bowl, then sprinkle over the fish. Add the white wine, lemon juice and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through.
I’m off to Singapore and Vietnam tomorrow for two weeks of food and festivities. It’d be my first time visiting Vietnam and I’m looking forward to it. Most of the time will be spent celebrating the union of my brother-in-law and his future wife, but trust me, I’m definitely going to try and fit in copious amounts of food sampling. Yay me!
Nothing exciting happening in my own kitchen though…it seems my boxes and beloved cookware have now gone past the Mediterranean and enroute to Singapore, possibly somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Fingers crossed the boxes will go through a smooth transfer to another ship before making its way down under.
For now, I’m dusting off an older post, birthed in my London kitchen. It was inspired from my trip to Miami, the land of giant and delicious crab cakes.
EASY CRAB CAKES
Makes about 6-8 cakes
3 x 170g canned crab meat
1/2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup of cooked potatoes, chopped or crushed
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup of yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
pinch of cayenne pepper
a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice
a handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs together.
Divide the mixture into 6-8 portions, shape into patties, coat lightly in breadcrumbs and shallow fry till golden brown.
Serve with lemon wedges and a side salad.
Enjoy!! See you in two weeks time (I may blog while I’m away but no guarantees, I may be too busy eating!)…
“Recorded from 1803 with uncertain origin, but possibly a euphemism for Holy Mary, with Mackerel being a nickname for Catholics because they ate the fish on Fridays. Another suggested explanation is the practice of selling mackerel on Sundays in the seventeenth century (because its quality deteriorates rapidly), so it was known as a holy fish.”
Just a titbit of information to start this post off. Holy fish, I’m on a roll! (All puns intended)
I’ve recently fallen in love with my local waitrose’s fish deli. Fresh fish is not readily available in central London’s supermarkets, but here at Waitrose there’s quite a decent selection.And that was where I first locked shiny eyes with a whole mackerel. Slim, beautiful, glossy body with a slightly grumpy face. I love that there are no (or hardly any) scales and it’s easy to clean and cook.
I’m not very well versed in the language of fish and I hardly cook whole fish. Namely because I do not get them easily here, and my beloved other half balks at the thought of fish bones and ‘fishy-smelling’ fish. I think I snagged myself an Atlantic mackerel this time and I took the opportunity while the hubs was out of town for business to grill it up for my dinner for one. Holy mackerel – it was delicious!!
Mackerel is definitely not a delicate fish and is what the hubs would consider a ‘fishy-smelling’ fish. To me, it was heavenly. I simply grilled it stuffed with orange slices and parsley, drizzled with orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The sugars from the orange juice caramelised the fish beautifully and gave it a citrus-kick. As I tucked into the meal, I was brought back to my vacation in Portugal where i could easily eat grilled sardines with rice every day. Oh my. Those were wonderful times. And then the hubby got home and said ‘Wow, the house needs some airing.’ Oops – while I enjoyed my grilled fish, I had forgotten to open the window to air the place out and we had ‘eau de mackerel’ wafting all around.
Fishy fishy…yummy, yummy!
Grilled mackerel with orange and parsley
1 x fresh whole mackerel gutted and cleaned
1 small handful of flat leaf parsley (stalks included)
2 orange slices
Juice of 1/4 of an orange
sea salt & black pepper
Get oven grill going on high. Score the fish on both sides. Place fish on baking tray lined with parchment. Stuff the cavity of the fish with parsley and orange slices. Squeeze orange juice over both sides of the fish, drizzle with oil and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Grill the fish for about 10 minutes on each side. Check that it is cooked through. The flesh should be white (you should see it clearly from the scored slits).
Serve with a drizzle of lemon juice (optional) and a side of plain or egg fried rice.
Oh, and remember to keep a window open!
Happy New Year! It’s the fourth day of 2011, and I have to admit – I’ve been a slacker. No greetings, no new posts, no photos from my Swedish vacay. Tsk Tsk! I just cannot bring myself to get going…it’s going to be a very slow start, plus it’s my birthday week, so all I really really want to do is a big, fat n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Yup, if only I can lie in bed, watch chick flicks, read books, read blogs, play computer games all day long…like i said, ‘if only’. But nope, I’m back at work today, and it sucks. Like totally.
So grumpiness aside, new year new beginnings. Droolfactor has come quite a long way in 2010. There’s so much more to learn, to try and experience, to develop and grow. I am looking forward to a new year of cooking, photos, experiments and participation in the blogging community. There are loads of recipes I am yearning to try out. Many more failed ones that I want to try to make a success of.
2011 will be busy. And I like it already.
To start the year off I’d like to share this Saffron Fish Stew recipe. I bought some precious saffron from that wonderful and colourful spice store while in Greece last year and this is the first dish I made with it.
Saffron is known to be the world’s most expensive spice (by weight). It is from the dried stigma of a saffron crocus flower and is normally used as a spice to inject fragrance and colour to a dish. On its own, the beautiful rich and red stigmas look gentle and fragile but when soaked in water, it produces the most robust golden hue.
This recipe is one of the most fuss-free fish stew recipes I’ve come across. Along with the saffron, the other ingredients are standard, shop-bought stuff like onions, fennel, fennel seeds, chilli, tomatoes etc. If you can get your lucky hands on a bunch of fresh seafood, then all the better. I only used what I could get from the supermarket.
This is a great dish to cook in under 30 minutes. It’s fresh and full of goodness. A comforting dish for a cold day. Eat it steaming hot with fresh bread or rice. Enjoy it! Happy days…
SAFFRON FISH STEW
Adapted from The Independent
*A generous glug of olive oil
*1 red onion, thickly sliced
*1 small fennel bulb, cut into chunky slices
* 2 small leeks, cut into chunky rings
*3 garlic cloves
*1 bay leaf
*1 red chilli, thickly sliced
*1 teaspoon fennel seeds
*250ml white wine
*600ml hot fish stock
*500g ripe tomatoes, chopped
*1 large pinch of saffron strands, pounded in a little warm water
*200g any firm, white-fleshed fish, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used cod)
*300g mixed seafood such as prawns, mussels, squid
*1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
*Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then fry the onion and fennel until softened and just beginning to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the whole, peeled garlic cloves and bay leaf and then the chilli and fennel seeds. Cook for another three minutes, then splash in the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape off all the bits caught at the bottom of the pan and cook until the wine is reduced by half. Pour in the hot stock and add the tomatoes and saffron. Cover and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Once the stew has thickened a little, add the fish and cook for five minutes. Then add the rest of the seafood, cover the pan and cook for three to four minutes. Scatter parsley over the stew and serve with fresh bread.
Originated from Baja California in Mexico, these fish tacos are super popular in California. I’ve never been to the west coast of US, and my experience with fish tacos are limited to my incessant drooling over my food trawls on the internet. Well, I finally took control of that, and decided to bring fish tacos to my casa! Woot!
Numerous web pages later, I decided that I’m not going to follow any recipe and go with my own ‘killer’ instincts. With the exception of the fried fish, everything else was store bought anyway…so really, it’s not brain surgery.
I wanted the fried fish fillets to have a little kick to it, so I coated them in spiced cornflour before I shallow fried them. Turned out to be the best part of the tacos! They were very, very tasty and I wished I had loads more…
I used crisp taco shells and it turned out to be MESSY! I had to so some contortioning of my neck to get the right angle to crunch into those overflowing taco shells. Quite a challenge but they were so yummy, I’d happily contort…anytime. Actually, next time I might go for the soft flour tortillas instead…and save on those chiropractor bills. Kidding!!!! No chiropractors were involved in this experience.
This one’s definitely a keeper. Now to wait for my beloved hubby to take me on a Californian holiday so I can try the real thang! *hint hint* Love you babe!
Spiced fried fish fillets
2 haddock fillets skinned, deboned and cut into thick strips (cod would be good too)
3 tbsp of cornflour
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp of paprika
¼ tsp of stock powder
Salt & pepper to season
Clean, dry and cut the fish into manageable taco-size strips.
Mix the cornflour and seasonings on a plate. Coat the fish strips with the spiced cornflour lightly.
Heat a pan with vegetable oil, and fry both sides of fish strips. The fish cooks very quickly, so don’t wander away…once cooked and crispy…drain on kitchen towel.
½ a cucumber, deseeded and cubed
Handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ a red onion diced
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Splash of olive oil
Splash of white wine vinegar / lemon juice
Salt & pepper
To complete my fish tacos, I also added shredded lettuce, refried beans, hot pepper sauce and sour cream. Messy but totally delicious.
I’m always at a loss when it comes to cooking fish so I’ve been trying out different recipes and I’m glad to say it’s been very rewarding…no more teriyaki or sweet chilli salmon for a while. Hurrah! This also means that I’m using different types of fish (other than salmon or trout). It is a bit of a challenge getting good fresh fish in central London and the variety isn’t great. I blame it on supermarket shopping. I should just get my act together and make my way to fresh food markets on weekends! Bah!
With this recipe – I used cod – the only other white fish (besides haddock) easily available at the supermarket. To give the dish a little bit more body, I used 400g of de-shelled prawns as well.
I’d have to say, this isn’t making it to my favourites list. It is good, but somehow I feel that the combination of the seafood and passata with chorizo didn’t quite click. I can imagine the sauce would be fantastic with sausages or meatballs….(hmm…that’s a thought)…but with the fish…it was just not quite there. I went back and read some of the comments on the website, and found that a couple of people felt the same way too…but tons of others loved it. As did my hubby. Oh well…I might just give it another chance – at a much later date.
I was at Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant ‘Jamie’s Italian’ at Westfield London recently and had the most delectable Fish in a Bag. I didn’t have my camera with me so no pictures – sorry! I loved the dish so much I went back home, scoured through Jamie’s cookbooks and found a similar fish in a bag recipe which I could easily adapt to replicate the same delicious meal I had at the restaurant.
Preparation was seriously painless…Plonk all the ingredients in a foil bag lined with parchment paper and that’s it! It’s so clever, and saves up on washing – big time!
The stock combined with the melty anchovies, natural fish, tomato and lemon juices cooked and flavoured the couscous and tenderised the fennel, making everything taste wonderful and fresh. Once cooked, tear open the top of the bag, and let the amazing aromas waft through. Accompanied with a nice, chilled glass of chardonnay. Mmmm…
Fish in a Bag
Adapted from ‘Jamie’s Italian’
One bag per serve…in each bag:
1 cod fillet
½ small fennel, finely sliced
Handful of couscous
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of basil and parsley leaves
2 anchovies, roughly torn up
Juice of half a small lemon, and couple of slices for cooking with
¾ cup of stock
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C. Tear off a big piece of foil, line it with parchment paper, lay your fennel and couscous first, then the fish on top. Place the herbs, tomatoes, lemon slices and anchovies all over the fish and couscous. Season with salt and pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil over the lot.
Use another piece of foil, cover the pack, and squish three of the edges real tight (don’t want the yummy juices leaking out – Jamie used egg to seal the edges but I don’t find it necessary). Leave one of the edges open, so you can pour in the stock. Seal the last edge tight and bake it in the oven for 20 minutes.