Jackson Pollock’s fish soup

28 Aug

If I had to choose a style in art that I associate with cooking, it would be action painting. Jackson Pollock was first to splash, drip and spill and he has his place in the pantheon of masters of abstraction styles. Since I turned out not to be so talented in painting, I tried my strengths in the kitchen. And as far as spilling tomato soup on your white table cloth causes more frustration than catharsis, cooking is a very dynamic process. Sizzle, burst of steam, splattering oil, sounds of cutlery and so on and so forth. If you accidentally spill something on your stove, considering theory that art is happening here and now through the very act of creation, you can recognize it as your own artwork. And if the dynamism and abstraction is concerned, instant Chinese noodles should be mentioned. It cause chaos on a plate and insidiously slides off a spoon. I am sure that if Jackson Pollock would be still among us, he would fancy such undisciplined food.  I came to this conclusion while cooking this extremely easy fish soup with sea algae. That is why soup was named after him.

Ingredients:

  • A pound of perch fillet
  • Sesame oil
  • One spoon of peanut butter
  • One liter of fish broth
  • Half a cup of rice wine (dry white wine can do)
  • Grated ginger
  • One spoon of sambal oelek sauce- it can be replaced with one teaspoon of chili
  • Four tablespoons of soy sauce
  • One spoon og brown sugar
  • Lime juice
  • Seaweed, about 100 grams
  • Chinese instant noodles

Rub fish with salt, pepper and sesame oil and cut it into pieces. Cut seaweed with scissors and let it soak in water. In a big pot combine broth and wine, bring to boil. Wait till alcohol evaporates. Add remaining ingredients: ginger, sugar, sambal oelek, soy sauce and peanut butter. Add seaweed and fish.  Check the tame it takes to cook noodles. If it is more than 5 minutes, add it right away, with fish and algae. If less, it is better to wait for a while and add at the right time. It is important to overcook neither fish nor noodles. Finally, sprinkle it with lime juice and mix. Season with salt and chili if it still lacks power. That makes perfect summer soup: light and refreshing even in hottest days.

Seafood served with cuttlefish ink spaghetti

12 Aug

Light, nutritious and abundant in proteins (“light” is obviously a lie, but referring to the old truth that a lie repeated sufficient number of times becomes a truth, I keep telling myself: innocent plate of pasta cannot be a threat to my curves).  Fish and seafood are part of the animal kingdom, which I always happily host on my table.  Everything that comes from the sea is inherently good (unless it is a foreign tourist of dubious beauty or naked local exhibitionist). Walking along the coastline or chilling out on the beach always helps to let off steam. Sometimes probably all of us have impression that every breath of breeze and every wave that breaks down onto the shore, takes away a little bit out of the baggage of worries and concerns. If of course we have any at the very moment. However, now in the summer the issue is getting complicated. Finding free square meter on the beach is bordered on the miraculous. And if you even happen to find something, you can be sure that within one minute, there will appear a pack of wild children or enthusiastic pilgrimage of retirees that feeling youth again are frivolously taking off their baking suits and singing naughty choruses. Anyway, it is still bearable; listening to the Shakira songs featured by the group The Drunk with Sangria is not so bad. The worst are seagull and pigeon feeders that throw them cookies and bitten sandwiches. Then the birds full of carbohydrates and fat are flying sinisterly over the heads of unsuspecting, innocent people. Therefore, in summer it is safer to enjoy the sea eating its contents.

Ingredients:

  • onion
  • garlic
  • leek
  • peeled shrimps
  • clams
  • scallops
  • squids
  • octopus
  • Crab-sticks
  • canned tuna
  • fish sauce
  • herbs and spices

List of the seafood is not strict. Some can be excluded; you can add your favorite. I encourage improvising. Especially, if you live in a country, where access to the seafood is difficult. In other case, if you are happy resident of one of the wonderful places on earth, where every market is teasing with a multitude and abundance of fresh sea creatures, make use of it. And of your imagination as well.

Preparation is extremely easy. In a skillet, fry chopped onion, leek and garlic. Then add shrimps and stir-fry for a while. The next step is to make your own composition adding whatever you think it fits. Stew over low heat and watch the stunning combination of colors in your skillet.

Seafood should start to release juices, which concentrated by cooking process make wonderful sauce. At the end season with herbs and fish sauce. I add only basil as I do not want to disturb natural taste of marisco. Be careful with fish sauce as it is extremely salty.

Pasta should be cooked as it is indicated on the packaging. If you do not have access to the cuttlefish pasta, just replace it with any other kind.

Finding Nemo, fish stew recipe

7 Aug

Well, little curious fish that likes to venture into the unknown depths perhaps is gone forever, but this wonderful fish stew recipe will compensate the feeling of loss!

Preparations for the “Stew Mission” went surprisingly smooth. All the ingredients available just on the corner, pangasius fresh and well filleted. However, when in the evening I started cooking, I put fish onto cutting board, and, in order to document the process of preparing stew, I proceeded to take pictures, I felt, I don’t know, kind of anxiety. It seems to me that if you spend evening making a photo session of the fish, it is really probable that something somewhere went wrong in your life. Nevertheless, fish stew- first class. And it’s cooked on wine, so after all I could guzzle a glass to relief my nerves and block such distressing reflections.

Ingredients:

  • Two pangasius fillets
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Fish broth
  • Can of anchovies
  • Two tomatoes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Sweet paprika powder
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • ¾ cup of dry white wine

In the big pot, melt butter and fry well chopped onions, garlic and leek. The best is to simmer over low heat because only then the taste will concentrate properly. Cut tomatoes and peppers into small pieces, for example cubes, and add to the pot. Add anchovies. Cook constantly stirring about 10 minutes. Now, add fish. It should be cut into medium sizes pieces. Pour the wine and fish stock. Increase the heat to evaporate alcohol. Season it with paprika and, if you want to get spicier flavor, black pepper. Leave for another 10 minutes. Do not overcook because then fish will fall apart. Be careful with adding salt, since both fish stock and pangasius, are already quite salty. Before serving you can sprinkle your stew with lime juice and garnish with coriander.

And by the way, to tell you the truth, Nemo is not my fault. I do not even know if he was edible.

Beef with coriander pesto

6 Aug

„Where is the beef?” In 1984, this slogan made famous one American chain of restaurants called Wendy’s. This opened the window to the wonderful world, full of juicy burgers and overweight people. Doesn’t matter how big is our love to the hamburgers dripping with fat and mayonnaise; we have to admit that there are better ways to serve beef. And certainly better ones to treat your liver. Recipe below is a quick dish made of ground beef marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch.  Fried over low heat, it gradually releases its juices that form aromatic sauce. It can be served with refreshing coriander pesto, which balances intensive taste of meat and soya sauce.

Ingredients:

Beef:

  • 0.5 kg of ground beef
  • Handful of shitake mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • 1/4 cup of soya sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Pesto:

  • Bunch of coriander
  • White onion
  • Five pine nuts
  • Green chilli
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil

First, prepare the marinade. In the capacious bowl, mix together soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch. Then, put meat inside and coat it with the marinade. Marinade should entirely sink into meat. Soak shitake mushrooms in glass of water. Now, you can proceed to the pesto production. Finely cut white onion and cilantro. If you prefer spicy, you can add green chilli too. As for pine nuts, unfortunately, they are a little bit expensive, but they soften the taste of cilantro. Into the mortar, put about two spoons of olive oil and prepared ingredients.  Smash it until it reaches desired consistency. I usually prefer not to get a pulp. Pour it with two teaspoons of lemon juice and it is ready! Now, we can cook the meat. Finely chop the leek and onion and fry it in sesame oil. Then, toss the meat and fry over low heat about 20 minutes. Stir it well, without even breaks to breathe.  After this time, add shitake mushrooms along with water in which they were soaking. Bring to boiling. The dish is ready to serve!

Soupe a l’oignon gratinée

2 Aug

This French recipe is real Mercedes among onion soups. Thanks to long cooking process, onion extracts its natural sweetness and powerful flavours. As a result we get a dish that could wake up dead (just in case someone is in such a need). Seasoned with herbs, in this case, thyme and tarragon, it gains unique character. White wine introduces subtle sour note. My version is additionally enriched by the Italian herbal liquor Galliano that is based on anise.

  • One kilo of onion
  • thyme and tarragon
  • garlic
  • 100 grams of butter
  • glass of white wine
  • two glasses of beef or chicken stock
  • shot of Galliano
  • grated cheese, preferable nice French one, but anything cheaper and available in the nearest supermarket that taste good, will also do
  • baguette

Start with chopping onions. Finely, focusing on the fact that your suffering will be rewarded. In large saucepan melt butter. Add onion and wait until soft. In the meantime, stir and enjoy aroma of onion and butter. However, it is only beginning of your journey into the world of delicious smells and flavours. In the real fairy-tale realm you enter after adding garlic and herbs that gently break the sweet bouquet of onion. You can also add spoon of sugar to make onion caramelize faster. Reduce heat and cook covered 40 minutes. After this time, pour glass of dry white wine and wait until it evaporates. Then, pour two cups of broth. Cook another 30 minutes. Now, just a little bit of Galliano and soup is ready to bake au gratin.

Pour soup into heat-resistant bowls. Normally cut baguette should be place on surface and sprinkled with cheese. However, I prefer to serve bread separately, with garlic butter.  Bake in the oven until cheese turns into golden, brown crust. Voilà!

 

Breakfast On The Grass

1 Aug

Edouard Manet, Breakfast on the grass, source

Picnic is always a good idea to spend lazy weekend.  The main aim of such a way of spending free time is to lie on the grass, eat high caloric food… and perhaps to enjoy yourself with a glass of wine. It is nice to bring a company, for example your couple or a dog, which would cheerfully chase butterflies, and smell the flowers bringing to the scene an idyllic atmosphere. TIP: If you don’t have a dog you can always borrow one from your neighbour.  Scenery definitely should be on the fresh air. We usually go to the beach (however, I am not sure if we are role models if the idyllic scenario is considered, since our weekend picnics do usually consist of chips and cookies, and instead of picnic basket we carry a bag with perfectly chilled beer bought in Pakistani supermarket.  Greetings to Mr. Abdul) However, sometimes we do it in more bourgeois style. Below you will find two quick snacks that can easily be prepared and packed into the basket. Then you can enjoy the fresh way.

Rolls with garlic butter

 

Small, spiral rolls look really cute and preparation is neither difficult, nor time consuming. You will need:

  • 1.5 cup of flour
  • glass of water
  • tablespoon of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 0.5 tablespoon of  yeast
  • Garlic butter- you can easily prepare it from butter and smashed garlic or buy ready-made in the nearest supermarket.
  • herbs, for example, thyme or tarragon

First, kneading the dough. Knead with vigour and enthusiasm until smooth. Coat the dough with olive oil and put aside hoping that it will double its volume. Unfortunately, not every time it ends with happy end. I suppose that all of us got through the traumatic experience caused by the dough that does not grow. Now, prepare garlic butter. As always, I encourage to improvise and to add herbs that suit to your taste.   A pinch of tarragon or thyme will enrich not only the taste, but also the aesthetic aspect, as green colour of spices will nicely blend with gold brown rolls.

 

Time for rolling out the dough. Try to make it rectangular as it will be easier to make rolls. Then, cover it with butter, wrap in  rolls and cut into equal parts. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place rolls on a baking tray and put into the oven for about 30 minutes.

Link to the original recipe

Cherry tomatoes fried in balsamic vinegar

 

Balsamic vinegar is very interesting product due to its versatile use. It enriches flavour of meat, is suitable for desserts, can be added to salads.  That makes it perfect for experiments. I suppose than one of such experiments has brought the author of this recipe to this amazing result (link to the original recipe here). My version differs from the original by type of cheese, and the fact that I used liquid caramel instead of honey. Preparation of this snack will take you only few minutes. Recipe caught my attention with its simplicity. You will only need:

  • cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • balsamic vinegar
  • liquid caramel
  • salad cheese, for example feta

On the frying pan, heat balsamic vinegar and caramel. Stir and wait until it reduces. Vinegar will lose then its sour taste and get subtle sweet flavour. Add tomatoes and fry for three minutes or so. Cut cheese into cubes and stir with tomatoes. You should get amazing composition of sweet, sour and salty. I cannot find words to describe the alluring aroma of this simple snack. I recommend serving it with fresh, rustic bread or garlic rolls presented above.

 

Guacamole, godsend from Mexico

25 Jul

Guacamole is a godsend sent from Mexico. This simple dip based on avocado has probably got as many versions as many aunts, grandmas, and housewives lives in this country. They eat this almost with everything. It is Mexican national sport, where even the last on the finish still has quite good result. It is impossible to make bad guacamole (Exactly the same with the beer. Note that beer is never bad: the cold one in the hot day tastes incredibly delicious, but ‘just a beer’ still is like a god’s nectar). Guacamole is a guarantee of a successful party, as added to anything is making the dish nothing but amazing. It is Mercedes among dips and sauces. Seriously.
Recipe below is one of the many ways to make guacamole so I recommend to experiment and add a little bit of your fantasy. The only indispensable ingredients are avocado, onion, and lemon juice to prevent it from oxidizing. In my opinion, ingredient that adds to guacamole particular character is cilantro. Avocado and cilantro is a couple that should be invited for all your parties.

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