It is a long weekend in Sydney. The October long weekend is when daylight savings time kicks in, and the weekend that heralds the start of summertime. A lot of Sydneysiders use the opportunity to make a pilgrimage out of the city and head up the coast. Staying at a friend’s place for the weekend, and the start of BBQ season is the inspiration for this recipe, Marinated Fish skewers with Satay Sauce.
I used Monkfish for my skewers, as recommended by my fish monger. You could use chicken, tofu or prawns instead of fish if you prefer. Kecap manis is a thick, Indonesian soy sauce, normally found in the Asian section of your supermarket. Kaffir lime leaves add a citrus tang. You can add chilli to taste to the sauce – I like things spicy so added more to make sure there was a bit of heat to the sauce. This is not an authentic Indonesian or Balinese recipe, because I have added ginger to the marinade and sauce, but I think the flavours work well together.
It was hard to get an appetising photograph of the satay sauce, but I assure you it tastes delicious and quite different to anything you buy from the supermarket out of a jar or bottle.
Serve your skewers with the satay sauce as a snack on their own, or with rice, salad or vegetables for a more substantial meal.
What I was cooking this time last year: Guacamole
Marinated Fish Skewers with Satay Sauce
- 1kg monkfish fillets
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 heaped teaspoon grated ginger
- 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded finely
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- wooden skewers
- 150g raw unsalted peanuts
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large tomato
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
- 2 red chillies, or to taste
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup warm water
- Soak the wooden skewers in water. This prevents them burning when they are being cooked.
- Add the shredded kaffir lime leaves, garlic, ginger, oil and kecap manis to a bowl.
- Chop the fish into cubes and add to the bowl.
- Toss to coat the fish in the marinade, set aside to soak up the flavours while you prepare the satay sauce.
- Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan and add the raw peanuts.
- Cook the peanuts, stirring regularly, until lightly golden brown. Set aside to cool. (The peanuts will continue to cook once they are removed from the heat so don’t allow them to get too golden brown when they are on the heat.)
- Add the garlic, ginger, chillies, tomato, kecap manis kaffir lime leaves and peanuts to a blender jug. Add 1/4 cup of warm water.
- Blend the sauce until smooth and combined. Taste, if required add more chilli or water until you are happy with the heat and thickness of the sauce.
- Transfer your satay sauce to a bowl and set aside.
- Thread the cubes of marinated fish onto the soaked skewers.
- On the BBQ or a medium-hot frying pan, cook your fish skewers for a couple of minutes on one side.
- Turn and cook for a minute or two on the other side, or until cooked through.
- Serve the cooked fish skewers alongside the satay sauce. Enjoy.
What is your favourite BBQ recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
This is not so much a baked risotto, but a risotto with roasted flavours. I wanted to experiment with some winter ingredients and used roast chestnuts and roast butternut squash.
Chestnuts are not that common in Australia, but are referred to in British and American literature – I thought I was missing out on something exciting. I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about, but they did add a nice texture contrast to the risotto. If you can’t get your hands on chestnuts, or don’t like them, you could use some toasted pine nuts instead. The first time I tried to roast chestnuts, I didn’t realise that there were some tricks to preparing them, and they consequently exploded and splattered all over the inside of my oven. For tips on how to successfully roast chestnuts, refer to this article over at the Healthy Chef blog.
If you have some home-made vegetable stock, feel free to use that instead of the stock powder and hot water. I used a little butter to finish the risotto, and skipped the cheese, but feel free to add some parmesan or other cheese as well as or instead of the butter.
What I was cooking this time last year: Date, Apricot and Walnut Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Roast Butternut Squash and Chestnut Risotto
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of arborio rice
- 250ml white wine
- 500g butternut squash
- 8 chestnuts
- 30 sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder (I use vegeta brand)
- hot water from the kettle
- 20g butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Turn the oven on to 200°C.
- Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Chop into small 1cm dice.
- Add the diced squash to a baking tray, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of oil and tuck in the two garlic cloves unpeeled.
- Put the squash into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the chestnuts.
- Cut an x into each chestnut top, place them in a baking tray and add to the oven.
- Cook the squash until it is tender, then remove from the oven.
- Cook the chestnuts until they split their shells and are cooked.
- Remove the cooked chestnuts from the oven and wrap them in a tea-towel until they are cool enough to handle.
- Shell the chestnuts.
- Finely chop the red onion.
- Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Fry the sage leaves until crisp, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon. Set aside to use as a garnish at the end of cooking.
- Add the chopped onion to the sage infused oil, cook for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Squeeze the roast garlic cloves into the pan, the soft centers should end up in the pan and you can discard the skins.
- Add the chopped rosemary, vegetable stock powder and rice to the pan, and stir to combine.
- Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the white wine and stir. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the wine has evaporated.
- Add 1/2 a cup of hot water from the kettle at a time. Keep adding liquid, cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is almost cooked. Taste to test the rice, it should be slightly too firm but almost ready.
- Add the roast squash and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes more until the squash is heated through and the rice is cooked.
- Add the butter and chopped chestnuts and stir to combine.
- Add the salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the fried sage leaves to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite winter ritual? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
I am honoured to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by a fabulous blog I have been following, Life is Like a Dumping. Thank you Gen for the vote of confidence. I tried to find out where this award originated from, but was unable to track down details. It is a great way of getting to know other blogs though.
Liebster Award: The rules:
- Post 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions made by the person who nominated you.
- Create 11 questions for the bloggers you pass the award to. Choose 11 bloggers to pass the award to and mention them in your post.
- Go to their blogs and let them know that they have been nominated.
- No tag backs.
11 Random Facts About Me:
- As much as I am a foodie, my favourite food of all time would have to be Nachos. The version of nachos we are familiar with here in Australia is not authentic Mexican, it’s not glamorous or sophisticated, but the perfect combination of textures and temperatures and my all time favourite.
- My favourite ingredient or flavour would have to be lemon. I add it to most things and love the citrus tang it contributes. I try to make sure I use the zest as well as the juice whenever possible. I also freeze zest for later use if it isn’t required for the recipe I am making – frozen lemon zest is great to add to a glass of sparkling mineral water.
- I am a pescitarian, in that I eat a vegetarian plus seafood diet.
- I am Australian, I was born in Sydney and grew up in the Blue Mountains. I have lived in London for three years.
- I have been lucky enough to travel to 31 countries and counting.
- My first overseas trip was to visit a friend who was working in the Maldives. The Maldives is an Islamic country made up of lots of clusters of islands. I saw quite a different side of the Maldives to the one most visitors experience, I did spend a bit of time at an amazing resort with the whitest sand and amazing fish, but I also go to explore the capital island Malé, and Villingili, and went on a safari boat for a week travelling to some very remote atolls.
- My next trip overseas is to Thailand, which I am lucky enough to have been to before, but my next new destination will be Cuba in November.
- I am not sporty but I did get my PADI scuba diving licence in Dahab, Egypt, diving in the red sea.
- Seahorses are my favourite animal (and the reason I learnt to dive and have a fish tank).
- I had my first job was when I was 14. I worked as a kitchen hand at a local guest house, Pegums (no longer in existence). I quickly progressed from being in charge of the dishwasher to helping with food preparation and being in charge of the deep fryer. My favourite part of the job was plating up dessert, I would always try to plate up extra because I got to take the leftovers home with me (and quite often mum was waiting up to see what was on offer so I would have to share my spoils with her).
- I have a fierce sweet tooth, as a result lots of my recipes are sweet. I have been known to be able to polish of a family block of Cadbury chocolate in one sitting, or a mars bar for breakfast when I was younger.
Questions for me from Life is Like a Dumpling:
1. What is your favourite book? Shantaram by Gregory David Robert. I was very daunted when I first picked up this book due to it’s mamoth size, but I felt like I had lost a friend when I finished reading it. If even a fraction of the story actually happened (it is a true story), what an amazing life. One of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading.
2. What is your most memorable dining experience? Lunch at the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, England, headed up by Heston Blumenthal (at the time ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World). A truly amazing experience, and one I was lucky enough to share with my parents who were visiting me in the UK at the time. I love Heston’s approach to food, although am too daunted to try many of his scientific recipes at home.
3. Favourite cuisine? Mexican. What Australians know to be Mexican food is actually more Tex Mex (nachos is one such dish). I discovered authentic Mexican food when I travelled to Mexico a number of years ago, and love the vibrancy and freshness of authentic mexican food.
4. What is your favourite meal of the day? Dinner time is my favourite meal of the day. I love a lazy weekend breakfast, but during the week breakfast is a bit more of a struggle as I can’t stomach eating first thing when I wake up. Lunch is good, but dinner time is where I unwind from the day and have the chance to be a bit more creative.
5. What is your least favourite food? Within my pescitarian limits, there isn’t much I won’t try or like. Although, I don’t like Vegemite, I can’t even stand the smell of it – very un-Australian I know.
6. Do you prefer cooking for yourself, or others? If I am experimenting I like the freedom of only having to cater for my own tastes, but I do also love to cook for others. My place at the moment is small, but I still have managed to cram quite a crowd in for Easter Sunday lunch or a dinner get-together.
7. Favourite blogs on the internet? Non foodie blogs include Seth’s Blog, Changing What’s Normal, Unclutter and The Art of Nonconformity. Foodie blogs include Chocolatesuze, Nosh On It, Greek Vegetarian, Food Stories, Melbourne Food Snob and Chez Chloe.
8. One place you would love to travel to? One place that has been on my list for a while is Cuba. I’ve booked my tickets and will be off in November. I’m not sure about the food in Cuba given it is a communist country and still subject to rationing, but I want to get there before Castro goes (although if you believe some of the conspiracy theories he’s already gone) and everything changes.
9. Casual dining or fine dining? It depends. I love the excuse to dress up and taste amazing food that only fine dining allows. I also love to eat good quality fish and chips on the sand at the beach straight from the paper wrapping with my fingers.
10. Salt or pepper? If I could pick both I would, but if forced to choose, I think it would have to be salt. Salt works wonderfully in sweet or savoury cooking.
11. Spicy food: yes or no? Absolutely yes. I love spicy food. Spicy doesn’t always need to mean hot, but I do like things pimped up in the chilli stakes too. I enjoy learning about the history of spices, for instance nutmeg originated from Indonesia and was responsible for the Spice Wars between the British and Dutch for many years. I also enjoy experimenting with native Australian spices.
I’d like to nominate…
- One Wet Foot
- The Melbourne Food Snob
- Emily Cooks Vegan
- Chocolate Suze
- Lucy’s Friendly Foods
- The Little Loaf
- Lemongrass and Ginger
- Chez Chloe
- Food Stories
- Cook Up A Story
- Dinner of Herbs
Questions for my Nominees:
- Where did you learn or who taught you to cook?
- What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
- What is your favourite flavour combination?
- Sweet or savoury?
- What is your most memorable meal and why was it memorable?
- What is on your foodie wish list?
- What is your secret indulgence dish you cook for yourself when no one else is around?
- What is a recipe you can make in your sleep or on auto-pilot?
- What ingredients are you experimenting with or inspired by at the moment?
- Who is your favourite TV chef or cook and why?
- What is your favourite foodie smell?
It is Autumn in Sydney still, with a lovely sunny day today but a crisp and cool evening as the sun sets. Apples are in abundance and my inspiration for this post.
One of my favourite cosy, comforting desserts as the temperature drops is apple crumble. I used beautiful green granny smith apples, which are perfect for cooking because they retain some of their texture when cooked. I cook my crumble topping separately because I like the contrast in textures between the soft apples and crunchy crumble topping and want to exaggerate that contrast.
If you happen to have any left-over crumble topping, store in an airtight container and use again next time (or sprinkle on whatever takes your fancy).
Cloves and apples are a classic combination, but because I didn’t want to have to go fishing whole cloves out at the end of the cooking process, and I didn’t have any ground cloves on hand, I used mixed spice instead.
What I was cooking this time last year: Spinach Dal
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 50g butter
- 125g walnuts
- 4 large granny smith apples
- 50g butter
- 50g brown sugar
- To make the crumble topping, add the oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and mixed spice to your food processor bowl.
- Process until everything is combined.
- Transfer crumble mix to an oven proof dish and add the walnuts. Stir to combine.
- To prepare your baked apples, add the butter, brown sugar and mixed spice to a saucepan.
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Heat the butter and sugar mixture, stirring, until the butter is melted.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and prepare your apples.
- Peel and core the apples, and slice.
- Add sliced apples to the saucepan and stir to coat in the butter and sugar mixture.
- Spoon the coated apples into 6 individual oven-proof serving dishes or 1 large oven-proof serving dish.
- Add the crumble mixture to a medium shelf in your pre-heated oven, and your apples to a bottom shelf.
- Cook the apples and crumble for 30 minutes, stirring the crumble mixture occasionally to ensure it cooks evenly.
- Remove your apples and crumble mix from the oven.
- Spoon crumble mix on top of your baked apples. Serve with cream, ice-cream, custard or natural yoghurt. Enjoy.
What is your favourite warming dessert? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
A friend is currently in the US and has raved about the New England Clam Chowder he discovered in Boston. This got me thinking about the Seafood Chowder I tried and loved when I was in San Francisco a few years ago. There are many variations on the chowder recipe, normally inspired by fresh produce available in different regions in the US, and further back in history, several parts of Europe. I decided to try to make my version of chowder now that the weather has got cooler here in Sydney.
You could use any type of seafood that inspires you and is fresh; prawns, fish, shellfish etc. I used clams, as my fish monger had fresh ones available vacuum packed in their own juice and ready to go. I left the clams in their shell, purely for aesthetic purposes. A lot of recipes use bacon, but as a pescitarian, I substituted smoked salmon to give a smokey depth of flavour. I love things spicy so I added cayenne pepper for heat and smoked paprika to pimp up the smokey stakes. If you don’t like things quite so hot, skip the cayenne and just use the smoked paprika. Some recipes use a roux (a mixture of flour and fat) to thicken the soup and leave the potatoes chunky, I skipped the flour and blended the potatoes to thicken my soup.
You can serve your chowder with water cracker biscuits (which I think are similar to the American style oyster crackers), crusty bread, croutons, or as it was done in San Francisco, in hollowed out sour-dough bread.
What I was cooking this time last year: Pasta Pronto
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
- 100g smoked salmon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1kg potatoes
- 1kg vacuum pack fresh clams
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- cream (optional, for serving)
- Bread or crackers, to serve
- Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery.
- Pick the thyme leaves off their stalks, and the parsley leaves off their stalks.
- Finely chop the parsley leaves and set aside.
- Finely chop the tender parsley stalks (discard any that are too thick).
- Heat the oil in a large pan.
- Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, parsley stalks, thyme leaves, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
- Cook, stirring occasionally while you roughly chop the smoked salmon.
- Add the smoked salmon to the pot and continue to cook and stir while you peel and chop the potatoes into 1cm dice.
- Strain the clam juice from the vacuum pack (you should end up with about 1 cup) and add to the pot.
- Add 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of water to the pan and cover with a lid.
- Cook until the potato is soft, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Blend the soup until smooth.
- Add the clams to the soup pot and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until the clams are hot.
- Your soup is ready to serve. Dish into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy.
What is your favourite soup? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Next Sunday (the 2nd Sunday in May) is Mother’s Day in Australia, and lots of kitchens will be preparing breakfast in bed as a special treat for mum.
I first got the idea of using cottage cheese in pancakes from a Cheesecakelets recipe by Nigella Lawson, in her book Feast. Nigella’s recipe calls for separating the eggs and whisking the whites. This does produce lovely light pancakes but I think facing a whisk first thing in the morning is a bit much, especially if you have little helpers assisting with the cooking.
Cottage cheese is an under-utilised ingredient, it is a great alternative to ricotta cheese in cooking if you are trying to watch your fat intake. I am not using cottage cheese in this recipe because of it’s low(er) fat properties, but because the cottage cheese retains its curds, and once cooked, they melt and give a delicious oozy texture to the pancakes.
If you haven’t tried strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar you may be skeptical, but the acid from the vinegar draws out the strawberry juice and you end up with a sweet sauce. You could add a little sugar to the vinegar and strawberries if the strawberries are especially tart, but I don’t find it is required. My only tip is to not leave the strawberries marinating too long (I wouldn’t leave them overnight) or they will continue to break down. Preparing the strawberries just before you start making the pancakes is sufficient time to allow the flavours to develop. Strawberries are expensive in Sydney at the moment, so if you wanted to skip them you could serve your pancakes with maple syrup, lemon and sugar or other fresh or defrosted berries.
What I was cooking this time last year: Bircher Muesli
Pancakes with Marinated Strawberries
Serves 2 – 3
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
- 250g cottage cheese
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 100mls milk
- 20g butter (plus extra for frying if you don’t have a non-stick frying pan)
- 1 punnet of strawberries
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- Wash then hull your strawberries and roughly chop. Add your chopped strawberries to a bowl and add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Set aside to marinate.
- Measure out the flour, sugar and cottage cheese into a bowl.
- Add the egg to the bowl with the flour.
- Zest the lemon peel into the bowl.
- Juice the lemon and add to the bowl.
- Add the milk and stir everything to combine.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over low heat. Add the melted butter to the pancake batter and stir to combine.
- Heat your frying pan over a medium heat and add spoonfuls of the pancake batter to the pan.
- Cook on one side, your pancakes are ready to turn when bubbles start to appear on the top of the pancakes.
- Flip your pancakes and cook on the other side until golden brown.
- Dish up straight from the pan or place in a low oven to keep warm until all of the pancakes are cooked.
- Top the pancakes with marinated strawberries. Enjoy.
What is your favourite breakfast in bed? Has this post inspired any new ideas?