Grilled Snapper with Chermoula and Pan-Fried/Grilled Trout with Butter, Dill/Parsley & Lemon

Dear Cousins!

Lately I have taken on experimenting with various varieties of fresh fish available in the Victoria Market here in Melbourne.  Have I told you about this market earlier?? I think no, and even if I have, please bear with me again coz I just love that market!!! Its like a gold mine for foodies like us…you get everything….from Indian veggies like Karela or bitter gourd, to Southeast Asian fruits like Durian, to the Latin American Tamarilloyou really get everything there…and that’s not just the fresh fruits and veggies am talking about!! There is also an exhaustive Deli section with a lovely spread of cured meats, cheese and chocolatiers; a Meat wing where one can buy crocodile meat to quail & rabbit meat; and last but not the least a Seafood section where numerous varieties of fresh fish, molluscs and crustaceans are available!!

Trust me, this is THE place to be for foodies who love to cook and try out new things. Since Niloy and I are totally adventurous when it comes to food, we have tried out many new things…since I had experimented with many things during my stay in Germany and South Africa, it was easier for me to buy them here and cook them as well.  I can happily say that now our normal day to day food does not have the Indian daal chawal roti sabji fare…instead it consists of things like oyster mushrooms, silverbeet,  celery, leeks, shitake mushrooms, sausages, hams, cured meats and cheese…recently we have started our fishy encounters 😀 (how can we ignore our Bengali pheeshy blood?). These days fish varieties like snapper, silver whiting, trouts, salmon and trevally  find their way to our dinner table (and we are planning to try out John Dory and Flounder next).  Hence today’s post is about the fish recipes that I have cooked in the last weeks. We don’t get these varieties in India, but pomfret, prawns or any other boneless fish steaks can be used to replace these. I derived the concept of baking the fish in a parchment paper bag from the classical French dish, ‘Fish en Papillote’.  It is made by placing a fish steak or whole fish with herbs, lemon, butter and other seasoning in parchment paper which is then sealed from all edges and baked. One can even use foil instead of paper.

Grilled Snapper with Chermoula

Baby Red Snapper with Chermoula marinade

Baby Red Snapper with Chermoula marinade

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Chicken Salami Pizza with Homemade Dough and Sauce

My dear Rinki,

Rizi has been pestering me these last few days to bake him a pizza, you know how it is here, no Pizza Hut or Dominoes to order from! I was wondering how great it must be for you to just go to the supermarket and pick up ingredients from all over the world…here i have to look really hard to find even a capsicum ( or should i say bell pepper now that you are living in Australia!)…sometimes it is hard but hey it is fun and adventurous. Do you remember the days when i didn’t have an oven and used to bake bread in a saucepan on the gas hob ! I remember you asking for the pizza base recipe so darling here goes. It takes a little time but nothing beats the aroma of fresh pizza…… I can almost hear Rizi shouting Yipppeeee

Chicken Salami Pizza with Homemade Dough

Basic bread recipe ( can be used for pizza, calzone, rolls )

Ingredients

Flour                                    400 gm

Dry Powder Yeast           1 heaped tsp

Salt                                        1/2 tsp

Sugar                                     2 tsp

Warm Water                       2 cups

Oil   (Olive oil )                   2 tsp

Method for Dough

In a bowl sprinkle 1 tsp sugar, add the yeast , pour about half a cup of warm water and cover. In a few minutes the yeast will have started to bubble. This is indicative of your yeast coming alive. Test the warmth of the water by sticking your finger in it. It should be comfortable warm. Hot water will kill the yeast instantly.

Take the flour in a bowl sprinkle the rest of the sugar(1tsp) over it, make a well in the center. Do not add the salt now. Adding Salt to the Yeast directly will kill it.  Pour the frothy yeast in the center and mix with the flour. Now you may add the salt. Bring the whole thing together by adding more warm water. Add water very sparingly or you will end up with an unmanageable slurry. (You may not need the whole water or you may need more! cup sizes are rather arbitrary)

Next turn out the sticky mix on to your counter, sprinkle a dusting of flour and knead…knead and knead some more. Using the heels of your palm, stretch the dough away from you, then collect it back into a ball and stretch away again. This action helps to create the gluten in the dough and will result in a good bread texture. Do not add too much dry flour or your bread will go hard and doughy. After exercising your biceps for about fifteen minutes, if the dough looks satiny and smooth then it is done. It will be springy to touch. Make the dough into a ball. Oil it and keep it in a bowl covered with a tea cloth.

Depending on the temperature of where you live, the quality of yeast and flour, the dough will take anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour to double in size. This is the first proofing. Knock back the dough and and knead it again. Use just the lightest dusting of dry flour. Again oil the dough ball and let rest for another twenty minutes, the dough will rise again. This is the second Proofing. Now roll out your dough into whatever shape you want, you can make dinner roll shape, bun shape, add filling to a circle of rolled dough and fold over making a calzone. Let the dough rest finally for another twenty minutes prior to baking.

If making pizza  Roll the dough out in a circle,or like you see in the picture I have made a large rectangle ! not traditional but saves me the trouble of making multiple ones in a not so large oven. Sprinkle the baking sheet with a little dry flour before keeping the rolled dough on it. Now would also be the time to prick the base with a fork to prevent it from rising like a loaf.

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For Pizza Sauce, please refer to our Basic Chutneys and Sauce post.

Assembling the Pizza

Ingredients

Pizza dough ( see above)

Pizza sauce ( see above)

Onion                                                          2 nos cut into thin round slices

Capsicum (bell pepper)                       2 cut into thin strips

Chicken/pork salami                            as many as you wish

Olive oil( or any white oil)                 for drizzling

Cheese                                                        as much as you want!

( mix of mozzarella and cheddar is good although I’m thankful for whatever I can get here, which is usually processed cheese); ( your veg pizza option could be mushrooms, pineapple, baby corn, paneer, tofu) and most important get your kids to help…my son loves to assemble the pizza, resulting in a magical reduction of the salami!

Step 1.    Spread olive oil on the pizza base and bake blind( without any topping) for ten minutes n a very hot oven ( 250 degree C )

Step 2.    Take it out and spread generous amounts of sauce on the base .Reserve about a third of the sauce for drizzling on top.

Step 3.    Spread all the various toppings on the sauce-y base : )

Step 4.    Smother it in cheese, then drip the reserved sauce over the toppings, and finally drizzle olive oil over the whole pizza

Step 5.   Bake in a very hot oven , 250 degrees C, for about twenty to forty minutes depending on shape, size and thickness of your pizza .Best way to judge is, the veggies will seem nice and grilled, the cheese will be bubbling, the base will no longer appear doughy but would have taken on a border of crispy brown, but most importantly your tongue would most definitely be  salivating from the wonderful aroma of freshly baked pizza !

I always have trouble in keeping Rizi still while the pizza is being sliced…I wish he would eat his dinner just as fast every day! I hope you will make the pizza, if not you can make the dough separately for bread, or you can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge for later use. The sauce keeps for a few days easily in the fridge. I use leftover sauce for sandwiches or even fish curry! Tell me your experience with the recipe, it isn’t bound in cast iron, you make changes and tweak it as you wish to. Happy Pizza eating!

Till next time,

Didi

Crispy Ham and Dumpling ‘Bourguignon’

Dear Didi and Daibi,

Do you know about Boeuf Bourguignon, a famous French recipe?  The step-by-step documentation of this dish was first done by Auguste Escoffier who popularised and modernised  the French cooking methods.  His techniques were based on Marie-Antoine Carême who is regarded as the King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings.  He was an early practitioner and codifier of French haute cuisine which empashised on meticulous preparation and elaborate presentation of food.  Now keeping with the tradition of haute cusine, Boeuf Bourguignon takes about 10-14 hours to cook as a traditional chef would also make the bouillon or the beef stock right from the scratch which itself takes about 4-5 hrs of cooking (and people say Indian cooking is slow!!).

I first learnt about this dish from my friends from Germany, Paruedee and Marco who saw the movie Julie and Julia and followed the cooking frenzy shown in the movie.  Unfortunately when they cooked it (and I tell you it took 14 hours for them), I was back home in India .  So my Romanian friend, Gabi decided to cook the dish, but with lamb (coz I my tummy goes on vacation whenever I eat beef); and all I can say about it is…mmmmmmmmm…..

Yesterday I decided to make my version of the dish, a much simpler one though which still took me 3 hrs…but the satisfied look on Niloy’s face when he had it, made the 3 hrs worth!  I added some ‘Dakhina Touches’ to the dish and would provide options if someone doesn’t eat Pork 🙂

Crispy Ham and Dumpling ‘Bourguignon’

Ingredients: Serves 3

250gms Ham (or shredded goat meat)

1 large Onion

2 big cloves of Garlic

1/2 stick Leek (or 1 onion+1 big clove of garlic)

2 Carrots

1 Red Pepper

2-3 Celery sticks (or radhuni seeds for almost similar flavour)

7-8 Mushrooms

1 cup Red Wine

My Bouquet Garni – A twig or two of thyme, rosemary, sage, 1 Bay leaf,  few peppercorns

4 tbsp Butter

For Dumplings

3/4 cup White Flour

1 heaped tsp Baking powder

Dried herbs like Dill or mixed herbs

4 tbsp Butter

150ml warm Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

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First wash and cut all the vegetables into dices.  In a big pot saute the ham/meat in 2 tbsp of butter till they are crispy and caremalised.   Transfer them in a plate and to the same pot (let the caramelised burnt oil stay) add 2 tbsp of butter and throw in the onions and garlic. Once the onions and garlic are brown, add the veggies, salt and pepper powder, and cover for 5-7 mins.  Then add the ham/meat, bouquet garni and wine and let the stew cook on medium heat.

Take the flour and rub in the butter, herbs, salt and pepper.  Add the milk and make a sticky dough (the sticker it is the softer the dumplings are).  In boiling water, drop teaspoon-sized balls made from the dough (if the dough sticks too much, apply some oil in your palms).  The dumplings will rise to the top when cooked.  When the whole lot is done, transfer them to the stew pot.

Check seasonings and let the whole stew simmer for another 30-40 mins on slow heat.  Serve hot with freshly-made loaf or baguette!

Let me know if you guys decide to make it.

Lots of love,

Rinki