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.

 

Deboned lamb rib roll with Turkish apricots, bacon and thyme

It might be a bit late for this post but after a fabulous summer I realised that there might be a need for a menu and posts discussing only braai-related recipes. Although I have mentioned that the weather is cooling and there is a bite in the air, we are still experiencing stunning late summer days in Cape Town, and always have a mild and sunny winter day or two to look forward too that is perfect for braaiing.

This past Easter weekend was one of those perfect weather weekends and included a trip to the beach, soft serve ice cream and of course a braai or two!  Lamb tends to be traditional on Easter and I thus decided on lamb with a twist.

We recently bought a quarter lamb pack that included a lamb rib.  The deboning of the rib was done by making incisions just beneath the bone and pulling the bone away. This is something that you can also ask your butcher to do for you. I adapted this recipe from Huisgenoot’s “Braai” recipe book, edited by Carmen Niehaus and published by Human & Rousseau.

1 deboned, lamb rib

white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon whole coriander

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 slices back or shoulder bacon, finely chopped

1/2 brown onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup Turkish apricots, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons cup parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, shredded

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste

 

Rub the rib with the vinegar and coriander and allow to rest at room temp for 1-2 hours. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and bacon and saute until the bacon becomes crispy.  Add the apricots, herbs, breadcrumbs and wine. Let it simmer until everything comes together in a paste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once the stuffing has cooled, spread it over the rib, add salt and pepper to taste and roll the rib, starting at the thinnest end. Once its rolled up tightly, bind it together with twine.

Prepare enough coals to be able to braai for an hour and a half over a high grid. First lower the grid and give the lamb some colour, before moving the grid higher. Cover the roll with  a single layer of foil, and braai for an hour and a half approximately, turning occasionally to prevent it from burning. Once done, remove from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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.

Spaghetti Bolognaise

I often make a bolognaise sauce, which I use in many recipes, including pancakes and lasagne. You can opt for a vegetarian bolognaise sauce and replace the beef mince with lentils, which lends the sauce a more nutty flavour and is also high in protein and low in carbs.  This recipe includes spaghetti, which is of course high in carbs, but I absolutely love pasta and the fresh Mediterranean tastes associated with Italian food.

My bolognaise recipe has been developed over years- it started based on my mom’s recipe, but has grown to include friends’ recipes based on what their mothers or grans used to do.  This is my fail safe recipe and is my boyfriend’s favourite type of food. The trick for me lies in how long I cook the bolognaise sauce (the longer the better!), and the addition of red wine. This is a rich, meaty sauce that is filled with fresh flavours and can be served with pasta or rice, or used for lasagne or cannelloni.

This recipe gives four large portions:

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

400 grams lean beef mince

50 grams diced, smoked bacon

1 carrot, finely grated

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can cherry tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup wine

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the bacon and brown.  Now add the mince and brown.  Add the tomato paste and carrot and mix well. Add the canned tomato, wine, water and oregano.  Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes to an hour or until most of the fluid has reduced and thickened. Add all of the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

Prepare pasta of your choice according to the instructions and serve with the bolognaise sauce and a fresh green salad on the side. The spaghetti bolognaise featured here was also served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Creamy beef stroganoff with paprika (and a bit of history)

Some days I just need  a wholesome and filling home-cooked meal.  Days when the weather is miserable, or when you are missing someone. A home-cooked meal, reminiscent of times spend with family, and a warm kitchen filled with laughter, stories and the rich aromas of simmering pots of food. Yesterday I had a day like that, and after rummaging through my fridge, armed with mushrooms, cream and beef strips, I realised the answer was beef stroganoff.

I feel very strongly about plagiarism, and usually try to create my own recipes using standard guidelines, or if I adapt them, reference the source. It’s a bit more difficult with recipes-how do you find the original source?  Recipes are like plants, they grow and adapt to their environment and people use them according to personal taste.  For the stroganoff I followed the basic principles (or so I thought)-cream, onion, beef strips, mushrooms and cream, but added smoked paprika-an ingredient which I absolutely love and have come to respect after an incredible visit to Hungary. But that’s a story for another day.  Imagine my surprise thus, when I did a google search into stroganoff and found paprika in its history!

Beef stroganoff, as the name suggests, has Russian origins, dating back to the 19th century. Back then it was beef cubes made with mustard and bouillon, and served with a dollop of sour cream, but it is only in the 1938 publication of Larousse Gastronomique where beef strips were used and tomato paste and mustard was optional. Today, it is a widely popular dish served around the world, either on rice or noodles (favoured in the US), usually with a creamy white wine style sauce. Larousse Gastronomique lists the recipe with cream, paprika, veal stock and white wine, but many recipes exist today with or without white wine, tomato paste and sour cream (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Stroganoff).

It thus seems that I reinvented the wheel by adding paprika, but I am very glad I did!  It contributes a slight smoky spiciness and brings out the flavour of the beef. This is another wonderful example of an evolving recipe that grows and adapts to its environment and the culture that it is used in.

This recipe gives 3-4 portions:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

200 grams beef strips

100 grams mushrooms, sliced

1 brown onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

5-100 ml cream

1 tablespoon good quality paprika

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1 cup rice, cooked according to instruction

Cook the rice according to instruction and set aside when ready.  In a large pan, heat the olive oil over moderate heat, and sauté the onion and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the paprika and fry for another minute. Add the beef strips and fry for 10 minutes or until almost done. Add the butter and sliced mushrooms and fry for another minute or 2 before adding the cream. Simmer for 5- 10 minutes and add the parsley. Stir through, and serve a a bed of rice.