Postcards from India… or my kitchen

friedfish

This fish in a spiced chickpea flour batter and it fried up really nice and crisp but light and airy. It was just Tilapia and still really tasty. Perhaps my best deep frying effort to date. I still hate all that boiling oil though. (Here is a gluten-free variation of the Julie Sahni recipe)

The dal was leftover that I made before and I  had in my freezer. 

The rice is an easy Judith Jones recipe for leftover rice. Sauté it with some onion, mushrooms, hot green chili, cumin, and coriander. Are mushrooms a common ingredient in Indian cooking? 

 

salmon for me

salmon

Rob was being a vegetarian but I was on my own for dinner this particular Saturday night and therefore the single girl salmon sounded like the correct choice.

Recently I was told that I eat a lot of fish and I don’t think that is true. It is possible that I often blog about fish, which gives the impression that I eat more of it than I actually do. Besides, fish is delicious, healthy and easy to purchase and make in single-sized portions.

 

fiery fish spectacular

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This is a killer recipe…whole fish, twigs, European liquor that Americans tend to ignore and setting things on fire! Loup Flambe au Fenouil

I have only attempted to flambe something on one other occasion, and so was expecting a similar fiery inferno…especially because this one had tinder! I didn’t really have the “dried wild fennel twigs” that Ms. Willam calls for so those are just regular fennel stalks that I dried.  The directions said to warm the Pernod, and well,  I warmed the alcohol right out of it!  Then I wasn’t having much luck getting it to light, so Rob tried it and finally I just poured some alcohol fresh from the bottle, not warmed, and he got it lit. Yay!  The fennel stalks burned a little…but it was pretty tame so I’m not sure if we got the full flambe flavor.

I do love cooking whole fish (this is grilled bass) and I love fennel and anise flavors so it was quite delicious. While I had the grill going I also grilled some eggplant, zucchini and fennel bulb to go along with the fish. It all felt a little like a summer meal in Provence, even in these sunny but frigid late winter days. Full disclosure. I have never been to Provence.

On a side note. Never go to the grocery store hungry, and especially not the grocery store next-door to possibly the best banh mi place in Chicago. Double especially when you know you must go home and eat leftover pesto pasta with potatoes and green beans. Because even though this pasta is very delicious, it won’t seem quite as good today because you were dreaming about banh mi. Just saying.

Thai-Vietnamese? salad

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I’m not exactly sure why this salad is Thai-Vietnamese….the peanut sauce and basil seems a little Thai inspired but I’m not sure about the Vietnamese part…doesn’t it have to have fish sauce to be be Vietnamese?

Here is the assembly list if anyone has some insight for me, although there are a few Chicago winter substitutions/omissions.

lettuce (green leaf and romaine)
snow pea shoots
shredded carrots
green onions
cucumber
red onion
fresh mint
fresh basil
toasted sesame seeds
toasted almonds

chicken
soy sauce
canola oil
salt and pepper

tuna steak (Yes, it is cooked through. Sacrilege! This was day two leftovers and I reheated it)
canola oil
lime juice

white vinegar
white grape juice
peanut butter
grated fresh ginger
cayenne pepper
canola oil

soba soup and a messy life

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I wish my life was just a bit tidier but this is probably an accurate representation of it.

The meal? Asian noodle soup with carrots, bok choy and tofu and buckwheat soba noodles and some broiled whitefish in sweet soy (kecap). I needed to use up some miso. So I made vegetable broth (which always feels like a waste of vegetables to me) and then made it into garlic broth with some roasted garlic and miso and then made the soup.

Remember: Don’t try to save leftover soba in broth because you end up with very thick gravy and buckwheat mush, the tofu also doesn’t hold up all that well either.

tastes like Africa to me

I’m always so proud of myself when I make a whole fish, which is silly. I didn’t kill it or clean it. I rubbed some harissa, garlic and olive oil on it, put a couple lemon slices inside, set it on top of some onion, tomato and lemon slices with a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and baked it for 25 minutes. It is ridiculously easy actually.  I made this dish because I wanted to try the tahini sauce you are supposed to eat on it, which by the way I think ruined it; I liked it better without.

You may want to skip this next part because I get sappy….

The smell started the memory action and then while eating it… I was back in Africa. I love Africa. I even love the things that I hate about Africa. The first time I went to Africa as an idealistic recent college grad out to save the world, I informed my host family that I would not be eating any fish, we weren’t close to any large bodies of water so it probably didn’t matter. Then I went to visit another family in another village. I guess I forgot to tell them. Every night for a week I was given half a small fish…the head end. I was later informed that this was just polite. I was the guest and “the head is the best part.” Now up to this point I didn’t even like to eat unidentifiable beer battered filets. It was all kind of traumatizing… I swear there were more tiny bones than meat. I still ate it. It would have been really rude not to!  I’m sure they were totally confused by the intact head and pile of tiny bones I left on the side of the plate each night.  Every day I prayed for something different and every night it was half a tiny fish again and I was, well, getting really hungry…but now I thank them. I learned to not only like fish but to love it!  I was forced to get past my stubborn idea that I did not like fish and actually taste it. The best gift someone can give you is to teach you something, even if they don’t realize they are doing it.

When I went to Senegal a couple of years ago with my now good friends, we also ate a lot of delicious fish. This specific recipe may be a middle eastern one from an Australian cookbook, yet it brought back all those amazing memories and many many more. You may not agree, but it tastes like Africa to me, and that is all that really matters.

grilling cheese


This was my first attempt to grill cheese. Apparently this is special skill of this cheese called Halloumi, that it can be grilled.  It doesn’t just melt through the grill grate. It does get kind of spongy. Of course I didn’t leave it on there very long.

And the tomato relish was delicious, sweet, but delicious. I just don’t understand how you eat it on corn…. It was really good on a leftover hamburger the next day. (shrug)