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Italian Stuffed Aubergines

1½ hrs

serves 4

2 large solid baking sheets, 16in. x 12in.
baking dish 16in. x 12in. or larger
2 medium to large aubergines (eggplant)
6 large ripe tomatoes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
10 large basil leaves, torn up
4 tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste
2 rounded tbsp. drained capers

12 drained anchovy fillets, chopped
(or 2 extra tbsp. drained capers)
300g./10oz. soft fresh Mozzarella, drained
3 level tablespoons fine fresh bread-crumbs
4 level tbsp. Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), freshly grated
4 tbsp. olive oil
16 large fresh basil leaves, lightly oiled
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4. Wipe the aubergines, trim off stalk ends. Using very sharp knife cut each lengthways into about 8 thin slices about ¼in./5mm. thick. When you get to the bulbous sides these slices should be chopped into small pieces and kept for the filling. Arrange the slices of aubergine flat on the baking sheet, brush each lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven on a high shelf for 15 minutes by which time they will have softened up enough to roll up easily.

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds and central juicy bits. Chop the tomatoes into ¼in./5mm. dice. Heat 1tbs. olive oil in a large solid frypan and fry the onions, chopped aubergine (eggplant) and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, torn basil leaves and sun-dried tomato paste and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Give everything a good seasoning and add the chopped anchovies and/or capers. Then remove the pan from the heat and let mixture cool

Chop the Mozzarella into ¼in / 5mm dice. As soon as the aubergine slices are cool enough to handle, sprinkle each with the chopped Mozzarella, placing it all along the centre of each slice. On top put an equal amount of stuffing mixture, leaving a border for expansion. Roll up the slices and put them in the oiled baking dish making sure the rolled up ends are tucked underneath. Brush each with oil, combine the bread-crumbs and Parmesan, sprinkle the mixture over them, topping with an oiled basil leaf. Bake in the oven (same temperature) for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Good with wild rice or brown rice.

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Oriental Salmon

2 hours

serves 4

2 tbsp. (30 ml.) hoi-sin sauce
2 tbsp. (30 ml.) dark soy sauce
1 tsp. (5 ml.) toasted sesame oil
large pinch Chinese five-spice powder
1 tbsp. (15 ml.) clear honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. (5 ml.) fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
4 salmon steaks or fillets, each about 150g. (5 oz.)

Combine all ingredients, add the salmon and marinate for 1-2 hours. Remove from the marinade and grill or B-B-Q, basting with the sauce. Serve with a Chinese stir-fry of thinly sliced carrot and courgette (zucchini), beansprouts, mange-tout, baby sweetcorn and broccoli florets, or lightly steamed courgette ribbons sprinkled with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and toasted sesame seeds

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Pan-Fried Lamb Steaks w/ Sage and Balsamic

¼ hour

serves 2

1 lb./454g. lamb steaks (2-4)
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ oz/15g butter
70g pancetta, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp./15ml. balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp./60ml fresh chicken stock
1 tbsp./15ml crème fraîche

Season the lamb with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Heat a frying pan, add the butter and seal the lamb. Pan-fry over a moderate heat for 10 minutes (medium), turning halfway through cooking. Remove and keep warm.

Add the pancetta and shallot to the pan and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the sage and boil for a further minute. Skim off any excess fat.

Add the vinegar and stock and boil for 1 minute. Stir in the crème fraîche. Return the lamb to the pan and heat gently.

Serve with Wilted Spinach Salad and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

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Caesar Salad

15 min.

serves 4

2 romaine lettuces
garlic croutons

Dressing:
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
lots of crushed garlic
freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
grated parmesan cheese
whole grain mustard (optional)
1 raw egg, beaten (optional)
anchovies (optional)

Wash and tear up the romaine lettuce into a large salad bowl.

Like all salads, the dressing should be added to the lettuce just before serving. There are two ways to make the dressing—one is to add the dressing ingredients to the lettuce, throw in the croutons and toss; the other more traditional way is to add all the ingredients to a blender or mixing bowl and whip thoroughly to a creamy consistency, pour onto the lettuce, add the croutons and toss. Use this latter method if using the mustard and/or egg and/or anchovies.

As to proportions and amounts, just experiment until you find what suits you

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Orange Roughy with Pawpaw Salsa

1 hour

serves 4

 

 

Note on Papaya / Pawpaw seeds. They are wonderfully healthy, and taste like a combination of mustard and pepper. They also contain a digestive enzyme that is very good for you. You can add them raw (straight from the papaya) to salads, soups, etc. or dry them and use them in a peppermill like a milder version of black pepper...

1 ripe pawpaw (papaya)
1 green chili (jalapeno), de-seeded and finely chopped (wash hands thoroughly with soap after handling the raw chili !)
4 spring onions, finely chopped
30ml (2 tbs.) fresh coriander leaves, chopped
juice of ½ lime
15ml (1 tbs.) whole peppercorns, coarsely crushed
5ml (1 tsp.) salt
4 fillets orange roughy (or similar white fish like sea bass), each approx. 175g (6 oz)
30ml (2 tbs.) olive oil

Peel the pawpaw/papaya, cut in half and remove black seeds. Cut flesh into small 1/8 inch dice and place in a bowl. Add the finely chopped chilli, spring onions, coriander and lime juice. Mix together, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

NOTE: The salsa must be made fresh; it does not keep well, even for one day. Therefore, it is best to use all-fresh ingredients. You can, however, use frozen chili peppers — to freeze chilis, cut in half, remove all the seeds and stems and seal in a ziploc bag with as much air removed as possible.

Mix together the crushed peppercorns and salt and sprinkle over both sides of the fish fillets, pressing it in well.

Heat the oil in a frypan. When hot, add the fish and fry for 2-3 minutes each side or until cooked through. Serve with the pawpaw salsa, sliced lime wedges, and for instance, new potatoes and/or green beans.

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Gravad Lax

48 hours

 

1 kg fresh salmon filetted, or 2 x 500g sides with skin on

75g coarse flaky sea salt

2-4 tbsp / 75g golden caster sugar (or white)

lots of dill (85g), very finely chopped

1 tbsp black / white peppercorns, crushed well

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp gin (optional)

Pat salmon dry with paper towel and take out all bones (including the little bones deep in the flesh). Blend salt, sugar, peppercorns, dill, lemon zest to get wet green ‘cure’ mix.

Unravel some plastic wrap (cling film) but leave attached to roll. Lay 1st salmon side skin-side down and spread ‘cure’ evenly over flesh. Drizzle with gin, if using. Place other salmon piece flesh-side down over 1st side sprinkle on the salmon along with the dill. Roll sandwiched filets tightly with plastic wrap.

Place package in shallow baking dish and lay another dish on top of fish and weigh down with cans. Place in fridge for 1 day, then turn over fish and put back in fridge for at least 1 more day. The longer you leave it fridge the more cured it will be, but 2 days is best. Before serving, unwrap, throw away any resulting fluids and brush away marinade with paper towel.

Slice the fish in classic slices leaving the skin behind, or remove the skin and slice straight down. Sprinkle a little chopped dill over the slices before serving (optional). Eat within a week.

For the Gravad Sauce (for 4 persons):

2 tbsp sweet mustard

2-3 tbsp strong Dijon mustard

2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp olive oil (or quality vegetable oil)

2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

50g fresh dill, finely chopped (stalks removed)

pinch of salt and ground white pepper

Mix together the mustard, sugar and egg yolk. Add oil drop by drop while stirring to create a smooth emulsion. Then add the vinegar, salt and pepper, and the dill. Or tip all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.

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Garlic Roasted Potatoes

1½ hour

serves 4

6-8 potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
4 tbsp. olive oil
6-8 whole garlic cloves

Parboil the potatoes for about 3 minutes then drain well. Heat the oil in a roasting tin. Remove casing from each clove of garlic, but keep whole. Add these, with the potato chunks, to the hot oil, turning to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 for about 40-45 minutes, then increase the heat to 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6 for a final 20-30 minutes until nicely browned.

The roasted garlic cloves can be squeezed over the meat dish to add even more piquancy.

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Pumpkin Pie

2 hours

serves 12

If not using a pre-made pie shell, use this recipe:

For an 11 inch pie (or two 9 inch pies), serving 16 to 20

A buttered pie-pan 11 inches in diameter (or two buttered 9-inch pans).
1½ cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
½ cup (70 grams) plain bleached cake flour
¼ tsp. salt and 2 tbs. sugar
6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup (2 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening
½ cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SUGGESTED: A food processor with steel blade

Blend flour and butter. Have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use. Put the flour, salt, sugar, and diced butter in the processor and pulse (on-off half second clicks) 5 or 6 times to roughly break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately put in the ½ cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the dough—it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together (it is important not to over-mix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If too dry, pulse in more droplets of water. From now on work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.

Final Blending. Turn the dough out onto your work surface, press it into a rough mass, For the final blending, with the heel (not the palm) of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6 inch smear.

Resting and Chilling. Form the dough into a cake—it should be fairly smooth and pliable. Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

The Basic Pumpkin Mixture:

3½ cups cooked or canned (solid pack) pumpkin
1 cup/140g light brown sugar
1 cup/140g granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tbs. light molasses
3 tbs. bourbon whiskey or dark Jamaican rum
3 tsp. each cinnamon and ground ginger
¼ tsp. each nutmeg and ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup milk, or more if needed
5 egg whites
Optional garnish: whipped cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream

Preliminaries: Preheat the oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8. Roll out the chilled dough and fit it into the pie pan, making a strong, fluted rim that extends about ½ inch above the top of the pan. (Do not prick the bottom of the pastry.)

The pumpkin mixture: Blend the basic pumpkin ingredients together in a mixing bowl; the mixture should hold its shape softly in a spoon; beat in droplets more of milk if it seems stiff. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and beat a quarter of them into the pumpkin mixture. Delicately fold in the rest.

Filling the shell: At once, ladle the mixture into the pie shell, filling only to the rim of the pan. Proceed at once to the baking.

Baking — about 1 hour, starting at 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8: Keep your eye on things here, since if the filling cooks too fast it can turn watery.

Start: Immediately after the shell is filled, set the pie in the middle level of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Minute 15: When the rim of the crust colours lightly, reduce the heat to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 6 and bake 15 minutes more. (Lower heat if the pastry begins to brown too much.)

Minute 30: Turn thermostat down to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 5, and continue baking another 15 minutes or so, until a skewer or knife blade comes out clean when you insert it 2 inches from the edges of the pie.

Minute 45 to 50 Turn the oven off, and leave the door ajar for 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve the pie warm or cold depending on your taste.

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Tiramisu

1 hour

serves 6

3 eggs
3 tbs. (not heaping) of sugar
extra large cuilliere biscuits
cocoa powder
coffee
250g mascarpone

Mix the three egg yolks with the sugar and mascarpone. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture. Soak the biscuits briefly in the cold coffee and place in a layer in the buttered pan. Cover with mascarpone mixture. Add another layer of biscuits and cover again with mascarpone. When you have used up the mixture, liberally sprinkle cocoa powder on top. Leave in the fridge for 6 hours and serve.

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Tarte Tatin

45 min.

serves 4-6

Each ingredient below has two measures. Use the first set if you cook the tarte in a 9-10 inch pan; use the 2nd set (in brackets) if you use a larger 12 inch pan. The simplest pan to use is a plain cast iron fry pan, or even better an enamelled cast iron pan like those Le Creuset makes (they are easier to clean afterwards).

6 (or 9) Granny Smith apples (or similar)  — peeled, cored and quartered

100g (or 120g) butter

Bit of lemon juice (optional to keep apples from oxidizing)

200g (or 240g)  granulated white sugar

Puff pastry (pate feuilleté) NOT mille feuille or filo pastry, rolled out to at least 2 inches bigger than pan diameter

9-10 inch (or 12 inch) pan which can be heated on the stove and baked in the oven

If you do not have a specialty tarte tatin dish, a 10-inch or 12-inch cast iron frying pan will work wonderfully.

Alternatively, an older Pyrex glass dish which allows cooking on both stove-top and oven will allow you to see how it is cooking on the bottom.

Preheat the oven to 230C / 450F / Gas Mark 8.

If you are using frozen pastry, make sure it is thawed before starting. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute over the bottom of the pan; place pan on low heat over a large burner. As the butter melts, sprinkle ½ of the sugar evenly over the melting butter. Let mixture bubble and caramelize until it is quite brown and thick. If your stove element is smaller than the pan, move the pan around to heat evenly.

 
Note about caramelization
: You need to cook the butter-sugar mixture for a while first without the apples so they do not go soft and mushy. The longer you cook the mixture the darker and richer the flavour. Too long and it will burn and stick. Experiment to find the best timing for your taste and your pans.

 

Carefully place apple quarters on the browning butter-sugar mixture (it’s hot !) so they are on their sides in a ring around outside of the pan, with the thicker end towards the outside. Place more apple quarters in another ring inside (or however they will fit) until all space is filled. Cut remaining quarters in smaller pieces to fill in any gaps. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples as they cook for about another 5-10 minutes, then move to next stage.

Take pan off the heat and lay the pastry circle over the pan and tuck edges INSIDE the pan rim. Put in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry is well-browned and puffed. Remove from oven and allow pan to cool a little, but not long as you don’t want the caramelized sugar to set in the pan. Put serving platter over pan and turn upside down so the tarte falls out onto platter (it may take a moment to come loose from pan).

WARNING — do not let cool too long before turning over or it will stick to the pan and be very difficult to remove.

Serve with Crème Fraîche or vanilla ice cream

from Eillen Sellam

   

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