Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hearty winter delights 4: Creole and Cajun

Made a lovely Louisiana style meal the other day: my version of shrimp Creole for an entrée and version of salmon in Cajun court bouillon for a main course. Totally delicious!
The shrimp Creole was made by sautéeing raw prawns(I used Australian banana prawns for this) in butter, laying aside and making the Creole sauce: chopped onion, garlic, celery, capsicum(green), tomatoes, a bit of paprika, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce, all simmered in butter and a little olive oil(my own addition), till thick, then add the prawns, heat through, and serve--I served with some gorgeous garden-fresh steamed spinach, to provide a nice colour contrast. I made the main dish on a base of prawn and fish stock(used the prawn shells and heads etc, plus the fish skins--bought salmon fillets with their skin on), and the addition of chopped parsley, capsicum, garlic, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms which had been previously sautéed in some butter. A bit of gumbo roux--flour and oil paste, stirred over a low flame till it got to a golden colour--was added to this to thicken it up Louisiana-style. The fish was poached in this court-bouillon for about 8 minutes, and the whole served with all the vegetables from the stock spooned over the fish. The stock can also be served separately if you wish.  I served sautéed sweet potato with it( amazingly, the sweet potato also came from the garden--our first and only plant produced a single big fat root!)All very easy, and delicious. And totally rib-sticky, a great meal for winter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Succulently simple entrée

Tasmanian salmon is one of my favourite fish; it lends itself so well to all kinds of dishes, both hot and cold. Here's one of my favourites--a version of sashimi crossed with ceviche served on grilled toast, with a gorgeous salsa, super simple to make and super delicious. It makes a spectacular entrée for very little fuss.
Make a salsa with lots of chopped herbs, whatever you have to hand. we used Vietnamese mint, coriander, and garlic chives. Add chopped garlic, salt, pepper, chilli(we used some of our own home-grown small chillis, but with seeds removed as they are super hot), lemon juice, and olive oil. The mixture should be fairly thick. Slice salmon fillet very thinly, set the individual portions on grilled toast on the entrée plates and spoon the sauce over it. Serve at once. Wonderful!
Another way I love to use uncooked salmon is marinating thin slices of fillet in red wine vinegar(nothing else)overnight. Serve the next day, either just with a little salt and pepper, or a variation of the above salsa. Gorgeous and unusual, and dead simple too!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hearty winter delights 3: Buckwheat kasha

I've often read about this dish in Russian novels and fairy-tales but never tried it before today. Basically kasha can be a kind of porridge suitable for breakfast but it can also be a dinner or lunch thing, like rice or couscous. It's made with different grains--barley, millet, buckwheat--but buckwheat is the most common, and most beloved.
Not hard to see why--it has a lovely nutty flavour and a good texture. And it's easily made. We used the whole grains that you can buy these days from any supermarket, quickly dry-fried them in a pan for a few seconds, then put them in a baking dish, poured hot water over them just to cover, added a little salt, and left the dish in the bottom compartment of the wood stove overnight. In the morning, the grains were fluffy and cooked through but not soggy at all. We had some for breakfast with cream and sugar(as pictured), and it was delicious. But as we prepared quite a lot of it, it's also going to feature on the dinner table tonight, warmed through with fried onions and herbs stirred throughout, to accompany roast chicken!
You don't have to wait for it to cook overnight, of course; the grains cook in about 30 minutes on top of the stove. An excellent alternative to rice, couscous, etc, and very nutritious.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Introducing a great new French-Australian magazine

It was very exciting the other day to get my first copy of a brand-new and wonderful new magazine, French Living, which perfectly fits the frangourou ethos: written, edited and published in Australia, by Australian and French writers(and some French-Australians, like me!) it's all about the love affair many Australians have with France, and all things French, including, of course, food! And it's all gorgeously illustrated with striking photographs.

I'm writing a regular bilingual column in every issue and in this launch issue I've written about memories of the Basque country as a teenager, including a gorgeous meal in a little cafe by the Nive River.

You can either subscribe directly to French Living, or buy it from Alliance Française offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.