Zesty lemon and butter baked angelfish

As I was wandering through my favourite Woolies food on Thursday and found an irresistible bargain- two pieces of fresh angelfish fillets (with an expiry date for the next day) for the price of one.  I love angelfish, and knowing that it is on the SASSI green list, as well as caught responsibly for Woolies, it was a must have.  I don’t often eat fish and have stopped eating canned tuna altogether. Unfortunately, all of our SA caught tuna is canned in Thailand, and although I know Woolworths goes out of their way to ensure that it is done in a sustainable and dolphin-friendly manner, the carbon footprint of canned tuna is too big to support with a good conscience.

 

Hence my excitement about the angelfish!  Caught locally and sustainably, I could dig into my angelfish with a clean conscience and had a fantastic time trying new recipes… I cooked the first angelfish in a more traditional manner: I lightly floured the fish, heated butter in the pan, and grilled the fish in the pan until done and golden on both sides. I added some lemon zest and parsley to the fish, and removed it form the pan. I then deglazed the pan with a drop of white wine, added two blobs of butter, and reheated the fish in the sauce.  Although delicious, this is not the recipe I am sharing with you today.  The next fish fillet was done in the oven and this is how I did it:

 

1 large angel fish fillet

lemon zest of 1/4-1/2 a lemon

handful fresh, chopped parsley

70 grams butter

juice of 1/4-1/2 a lemon

handful breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grate the lemon zest, and add to the breadcrumbs. Add the parsley to the breadcrumbs and mix well.  Melt the butter in a microwave proof dish in the microwave, and mix well with the lemon juice.  Lightly flour the fish, and place in a greased, oven proof dish. Cover the fish completely with the lemon-butter sauce, and cover with the breadcrumb mix.  Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until done.  I switched the grill on in the last 2 minutes to ensure y breadcrumb coating is crunchy. The fish dries out very easily so it is important to keep an eye on it whilst in the oven. It is ready when the fish is flaky and can easily be pulled apart with a fork.  I tested it at 10 minutes where after I gave it another 3 minutes and 2 under the grill. Serve with fresh lemon and a side of salad.

 

Hungarian Pörkölt (or what we wrongly refer to as goulash)

I was very privileged to visit the incredibly colourful country of Hungary two years ago- steeped in rich history with remnants of a communist past and filled with colour to banish that dark history. It is here that Danube flows ever so blue dividing the two great cities of Buda and Pest that only become one late in the 19th century.

The history of Hungary is one filled with occupation, war, and revolutions, and it is evident throughout the city.  They did however, successfully maintain their own identity, and it can be seen in the art and architecture throughout the country. It is also very evident in their food and goulash, paprikash and pörkölt are some of their most famous dishes today. There is also, of course, a strong historical influence found in dishes such as speatzle which has a German/Austrian origin.

I was very surprised to learn that the meaty stew that we commonly refer to as goulash is actually a soup that contains meat and vegetables, whilst the meat stew is called pörkölt and does not contain vegetables. There seems to be some debate surrounding this, but I base my recipe on what I was told at a cultural centre in the Hungarian countryside. There we got to sample some of their fantastic dishes and were entertained by traditional Hungarian dances and music. On a different note, the countryside and historical oak forests are well worth a visit with very rich history and architecture dating back to almost a millennium ago.

 

Back in Budapest I  retried all of the dishes (as far as I know paprikash refers to a creamy paprika based sauce which is often served with chicken), and came back to South Africa knowing that beef pörkölt is one of my new favourite dishes.  I attempted to recreate what I tasted in Hungary several times and this recipe is the closest that I have gotten. This is also where my love for paprika originated and when I refer to good quality paprika in recipes, I have the real Hungarian stuff in mind.

With easter weekend upon us, and time to spend in the kitchen this is the perfect slow food recipe for a great family meal.  Like all good things in life, it requires a lot of patience and some good quality paprika!  This recipe serves 4-6 people.

600 grams cubed beef (on the bone works just as well, and have a bit of fat on the meat doesn’t hurt either)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams; fresh tomatoes can also be used)

2-4 large tablespoons of both spicy and sweet good quality paprika

Enough stock or water to cover the meat completely

sour cream to serve (optional)

Heat the oil over moderate heat.  Brown the meat (I do dust mine in flour, but this is not the Hungarian way to do it), and remove from the pot. Add the butter, and sauté the onions and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the paprika, and saute for another minute. Place the meat back in the pot, add the tomato paste and stir well. Add enough stock or water (I use water), to cover the meat completely and turn down the heat.  Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will gradually change in colour, becoming a darker red and almost shiny (glisten).  If the meat is butter soft, and the sauce has thickened the  pörkölt is ready to serve. I serve it with egg noodles (german speatzle or known as nokledi in Hungarian) but I will give you the recipe (and manner to make it) that I was taught by a very good German friend of mine.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

To prepare:

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

white pepper, salt and nutmeg to taste

Sift the flour in a large bowl and add the nutmeg, white pepper and salt to taste.  Whisk the egg and milk together in a separate container and slowly add to the flour whilst stirring to prevent lumps forming.  It should be the consistancy of thick pancake batter.  Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Spread some of the batter on a cutting board, and using a long, sharp knife separate the batter and flick it into the pot using a quick motion. This should result in something that is a longish noodle shape. Don’t make them to thick! Allow the noodles to boil until they float to the top and remove with a slotted spoon.  Once all the noddles are cooked, melt butter in a pan over high heat, add the noodles and fry them for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Add a large handful of freshly chopped parsley and mix well.  Pörkölt is traditionally served with buttered egg noodles.

Buttered pumpkin gnocchi

This is the first recipe that I will share with you.  My hunt for an alternative to potato gnocchi came about when my boyfriend insisted that we need to cut back on the carbs.  Pumpkin gnocchi is a low-carb option and can be served with about any topping of your choice!  I found some ricotta-pumpkin gnocchi recipes but being on a budget and cutting down on the carbs (which mean less flour) meant some serious reconstruction of the recipe.  Also, I have masses of frozen, cooked Hubbard squash in my freezer…

For 2 large portions:

To make the gnocchi you need:

500 gr cooked squash (e.g. Hubbard, butternut)
1/2- 3/4 cup cake flour
salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg, separated

Ideally, once the squash has cooked and been drained, return the squash to the warm pot for 5-10 minutes to get rid of any remaining water. Whilst the squash is cooling, separate the egg, and whisk the white until soft peaks form. Keep separate for time being.  Once the squash has cooled, puree it with a blender, add the egg, salt and cumin and mix well. Now slowly add the flour whilst mixing. The consistency will never be stiff, but add enough flour to bring everything together.  Now gently mix in your egg white. Your gnocchi mix should have the consistency of a mousse.

Bring water to boil, and add small teaspoons full of gnocchi mix to boiling water. The gnocchi should float when it’s done.  Scoop the gnocchi out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside until ready to proceed.

Butter sauce:

I used the herbs available in my garden at the moment, but the most popular choice for pumpkin gnocchi seems to be a sage and butter sauce.  I really do belive you can serve this gnocchi with any sauce of your choice.

2-3 tablespoons butter
1-2 chillies (optional)
fresh parsley to taste
chives or sping onion to taste

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat and gently add you gnocchi to the pan. Do not stir as it will make the gnocchi sticky and break it up. Now add all the herbs of your choice the pan and fry for 10-15 minutes.  Prevent the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom of the pan by gently shaking and flipping the pan as you would do with a pancake.  Once done, and browned to taste dish, and garnish with fresh herbs, parmesan or any topping of your choice!