Sunday, 29 January 2012

Summer Prawn and Cucumber Soup

Here is the recipe for the Prawn and Cucumber soup M made last week.  Serve it chilled for lunch or dinner and enjoy.  It is a delicate soup, yet crisp of flavour and delightfully herby, with the mint adding an extra zing to the palate.

Ingredients: Serves 4

25g/1oz/2tbsp butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 telegraph cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
300ml/1/2pint/1,1/4 cups milk
225g/8oz cooked, peeled prawns (shrimp)
1 tbsp each of finely chopped fresh mint, dill, chives and chervil
300ml/1/2 pint/1,1/4 cups whipping cream
salt and ground white pepper

For the garnish:
30ml/2  tbsp creme fraiche (optional)
4 large prawns, peeled with tail intact
fresh dill and chives


Sweat the shallots and garlic in the butter over a low heat, until transparent. Do not brown. Add the cucumber and cook gently till tender.  Stir often.
Add the milk, bring almost to boiling, then simmer gently for about 5 minutes.  Take off the heat, cool slightly, then process with a stick-blender till smooth.
Pour into a large bowl and allow to go cold.  Add the peeled prawns, the chopped herbs and cream.
Cover and place in the frig to chill for at least 2 hours.
Serve in individual bowls.  Add a dollop of creme fraiche to each bowl and hang a prawn over the edge of each dish.  Sprinkle with extra chopped herbs and some chives.

NB:  I found the cream we used too heavy.  When we make this again, we will either use more milk and less cream, use a lighter cream, or use skim milk, not full fat.  Otherwise, the recipe is well recommended for simplicity of preparation and its good flavours.

We are told that this recipe was first found in the "The New Soup Bible", so thank you to them!  We are looking for a copy!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Oriental Salmon Fillet

M cooked  Sunday lunch today, probably the last proper meal he will cook in this kitchen.  In almost eight weeks, we will be resident on the other side of the world and who knows what we will be doing?  Anyway, he did a great job - cucumber and prawn soup, followed by fresh salmon with a Thai - inspired salad and  tiny steamed potatoes.  For desert we had berry strudel from our local cafe, which is owned by a wonderful baker from Germany, with a choice of creme fraiche or thick pouring cream.  We finished with freshly- plunged coffee or mint tea for those who preferred it.
We are in the middle of packing, so everything was rather casual -  paper serviettes and no table decorations or good glassware.  However, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we had a great Sunday afternoon.
Here is the salmon recipe he used.  We have made it many times and now some of our old friends demand it when we invite them to lunch.  I hope that,  if you decide to try it, you will enjoy it as much as we do.

 Oriental Salmon Fillet.

Oriental Salmon Fillet with Thai-inspired Salad and
New Potatoes
Ingredients (for 6)

2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp freshly grated root ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsps caster sugar

1 side or whole fillet salmon
freshly ground black pepper


For the marinade, mix the soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, ginger, garlic and caster sugar in a large, clean zip lock bag.

Place the fish in the bag, close tightly and turn several times to coat well with the marinade.  Refrigerate for between 31 minutes and 2 hours.

Season the salmon with pepper and place on a hot barbecue grill, making sure it is not in direct contact with the flames.  Cook for 6-8 minutes then turn over carefully and cook for another 6-8 minutes until the flesh is just cooked through.

Alternatively, cook in a preheated oven at 200c for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fillet is just cooked through.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

All About Momos.

Our recent stay in Australia gave us several opportunities to taste the local cuisine, mainly cafe food, and we found it a delight.  The ingredients are always fresh and have wonderful flavour. The breads are crisp and light - no doughy white sandwiches where we ate - just Turkish bread, thinner that ours here in NZ and covered in sesame seeds that positively crackle with flavour when toasted.

Where ever we chose to eat, in a shopping mall, or in a little sea-side bar, the standard was the same - generous portions,  fresh flavours and a minimum of mayo - just enough to add  interest  and to hold the ingredients together.  In the Robina Shopping Mall near Burleigh Heads, we had lunch at one of those cafes that are sited in the middle of the concourse.  The noise was abysmal and the crowds were huge, but we decided to eat there anyway.  We were so glad that we had done so.  We each ordered a "melt",  one with grilled chicken and basil pesto, one with chorizo, red onion and tomato and one with bacon, tomato and onion.  Naturally, each came with a topping of melted cheese and a small salad garnish.  Each was delicious,  with plenty of well-cooked topping and just the right amount of soft, tasty cheese oozing over it all.  Accompanied by a reasonable coffee, they were just right for a light lunch and in fact, we returned for the same a few days later.  So - hats off to Australian casual eateries.  They are great!

Making momos at Eumundi Markets in Queensland, Australia.
One of the most interesting new tastes for me was that of momos -  the dumplings of Tibet and Nepal.  We ate these at a large and extremely interesting  market we visited while up in North Queensland.  This market comes highly recommended and is held twice weekly in a small town called Eumundi.   This new food experience consisted of a  plate of Tibetan dumplings, stuffed with, among other things, organic tofu, carrot and cabbage. (You can see the complete list of ingredients on the board in the photograph.)  They were steamed or deep-fried (no residual oil, either) and were bursting with clean, uncomplicated flavours.

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Try making momos using the ingredients above.
They taste great!

Served with thick slices of crisp cucumber, soy,  and chilli dipping sauce they struck just the right note, in the heat,  for a casual lunch under the trees.  These are basically quite simple to put together and are a lot of fun make with your family. They can be made with any meat or as a vegetarian dish and each has its own charm. So suit your momos to your audience!  The video below, shows the basic method of making these tasty treats.