Fish. Arabian red grouper

 Hello-hello! Many of us know that fish is loaded with lots of important nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, plus it is a low-fat and high-protein food. But let’s speak honestly: do you consume it at least once a week? I bet you often stick to the same preferences, it sounds “easier” to cook “favourite” chicken thighs or simply grill sausages… Maybe because you don’t know how to cook fish properly? or don’t like its smell?
 And for those of you who really like fish, what type do you prefer? Have you ever wonder how do you choose it: is it common salmon or tilapia, or do you buy whatever is sold on the market? Do you always stick to the same recipes or experimenting is your motto?
What are your thoughts, guys?
I like fish, most often I cook salmon, sea bream or sea bass. The easiest way to cook fish is Bake it. You need season fish, arrange it on a baking sheet/dish and bake until it’s done. Sounds easy, but if the cooked fish is too flakey that unfortunately means your overcooked it, and most probably it became dry and tastes not that nice as it should be. Well, it’s not a secret that I overcook fish quite often, especially fillets… I think I need to buy a special thermometer.. because how on earth I should check that fish color turns from translucent to opaque without flaking the fish? If it’s not right, I have to bake (cook) it longer and then flake it again..? So, finally, you will serve ruined-flakey fish instead of a whole piece of fillet. I prefer to cook it a bit longer that it has to be. I desperately need a fish thermometer! Red grouper with citrus slices and fresh herbs
This beautiful fish called ‘grouper’, it was caught in the Arabian Gulf (i.e in the UAE; I like to try everything local and that’s s why I chose it). When I don’t have any new ideas how to cook fish, I stuff it with fresh herbs and beautifully aromatic citrus slices, sprinkle with some extra dried ones plus seasoning and bake; and it turns out always good. If the fish itself is fresh and good, you can’t spoil it, right?
Red grouper

Baked Arabian red grouper

Tip: I have read 140F/60C is a desired internal temperature.
What You’ll Need
2 red grouper fishes
fresh coriander
fresh fennel or dill
some chopped garlic
few lemon slices+juice
few lime slices+juice
1/2 tsp dried fennel
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
EV olive oil
How to Make It
  • Wash, pat dry fish. Arrange on a baking tray.
  • Drizzle with lemon or lime juice, and season inside and out.
  • Stuff with fresh herbs and citrus slices.
  • Sprinkle with dried fennel and extra seasoning.
  • Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  • Bake in preheated 360F/180C oven for 15-18 minutes or until it’s cooked.

Enjoy!

Arabian Red grouper

Leftovers wholemeal galette

 If you could have a look at my freezer you would found there a disc of shortcrust pastry. It’s very handy to have one there, so once you don’t know what to cook or unexpectedly a friend decided to come over, you can prepare a nice tasty galette (or mini quiches, click here for the ideas) in almost no time. Tip: make a couple of crusts ahead, shape into discs (it takes less space in the freezer and then easier to roll out) and freeze. For the filling you can use almost whatever you can find in your fridge or even freezer, wether it is savory or sweet stuff. And another tip: freeze roasted or boiled chicken, deli ham leftovers; or if you bought too many fruits and berries, clean and cut them and freeze as well.
 This time I had a roasted chicken and gammon leftovers, I combined both. Gammon was a bit dry, so probably I won’t use it next time. But the chicken tasted quiet nice, especially mixed with lots of leeks sautéed in a butter and few cherry tomatoes. Some cream cheese (on any other cheese) on top makes this delicious wholemeal galette only better.
Leftovers Wholemeal Galette
If you fancy to try sweet galette click here. Cherry one!  😉

Leftovers wholemeal galette

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients 
Wholemeal shortcrust pastry
100g wholemeal flour
100g plain flour
120g butter
1-2 tbsp iced cold water
Filling
roasted chicken leftovers
leek, sautéed in butter&oil
few cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
2 quill eggs (1 egg yolk separated), optional
some cream cheese
S&P to taste
Method
  • For the pastry combine ingredients, shape into a disc and keep in the fridge for 30 minutes, or freeze until needed.
  • Roll out the pastry into 2-3mm thick disk, arrange filling. Pour over slightly bitten eggs, if using. Dot with creame cheese. Fold in the pastry edges. Brush with remaining egg yolk.
  • Bake in preheated 180C oven for 30 minutes.
Enjoy!

Dates&Figs Tart

When experiments in the kitchen end up like this amazing tart, all I can say is – you have to try it as soon as possible! Really! It is luxurious and creamy, and as many other my recipes is very easy to prepare, especially if you already have a ready shortcrust pastry in your fridge or freezer! Preferably homemade.. Seriously, don’t go out and buy ready pastry. Do try to prepare it yourself, at least once and you will see how easy it is. 😀 Have a look at my unsweetened pastry recipe here (super tasty quiches).
 The tender custard-ish filling was done in almost no time. Simple and unbelievably good! Of course it’s hard to get fresh figs, so I do think you can substitute with dried ones, but then reduce the sugar. Fig&Date tart-2
 Sweet and tender fruits, rich and flaky crust – all these words make my mouth water!
Fig&Date tart-1
What you need is to get ingredients and follow instructions. Very easy recipe, believe me. And don’t forget to stand back and admire this beautiful tart before enjoying! 😉
Date and fig tart

Dates&Figs Tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 2h
  • Difficulty: easy
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For 20cm baking tin
*Substitute with orange juice or simply omit.
Ingredients
Unsweeten or sweet shortcrust pastry, any one you like/have.
10-11 medium-size dates
3 fresh figs
1 tbsp orange liqueur or cognac*
2 large eggs
80g brown sugar
250ml creme fraiche (30%)
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
almond flakes
Method
  1. Line the baking tin with baking paper if need. Otherwise, roll out the pastry to fit the tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork and chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. If you have a time you can prebake the pastry base.
  2. Pit the dates, keeping them whole; cut figs; put both in a bowl and drizzle with liquor and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
  3. Beat eggs with sugar.
  4. In another large mixing bowl, whisk creme fraiche with vanilla, nutmeg, add the egg mixture and whisk again.
  5. Arrange the dates and figs over the pastry. Pour over the batter. Sprinkle with almond flakes.
  6. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 20-25 minutes or until the centre is set. Leave to cool in a tin, then carefully take the tart out and serve.
Enjoy! 
DATE TART

Blini spiral pie

 Maslenitsa or Butterweek is going on in Russia right now. It’s a winter festival, saying goodbye to the cold winter days and greeting the warm and sunny spring. During this week people prepare and eat lots of blini. For breakfast blini can be served simple and quick with melted butter and sugar or some homemade jam, for lunch – again blini, and for the dinner, especially when the whole family is getting together, is really nice and festive to serve the delicious salmon pie or this one – soft, aromatic and nourishing spiral meat pie.
 Blini and the filling can be prepared a couple of days ahead, so you can assemble the pie whenever  you have the time or just before the dinner. Succulent stewed cabbage, tasty beef and aromatic dill along with coriander and parsley make the filling truly wonderful! Moreover, blini will be soaked in a mixture of sour cream and eggs, that adds extra moisture and taste.
blin_pie-2
 Maslenitsa is a very kind and light time, each day has a special meaning according to old tradition. For example, Wednesday is called “Gourmand”. On this day huge tables and stalls were settled on main squares, where people could drink hot honey-based sbiten and aromatic tea, enjoyed gingerbreads, fresh buns and some other sweet treats, and definitely taste the unlimited blini! But the main event was the visit of son-in-law his mother-in-law, and the mother tried to prepare the best blini she could to show respect and love to her daughter’ husband.
 On Friday, the mother-in-law returned the visit, then her daughter made pancakes and the son-in-law had to please the mother and her other relatives.
blin_pie-1

Blini spiral pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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The quantity of the ingredients is given approximately, as it totally depends on the taste, quantity of blini, etc. 
*For the pouring mixture, you can use either sour cream or double cream; even milk will work, just reduce the quantity.
Ingredients
~8 blini
Filling
250g mince beef
250-300g raw white cabbage
1 medium red onion
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
dried herbs: dill, crushed whole coriander, marjoram
salt&pepper to taste
some oil for frying
2-3 tbsp sour cream (15-20%)
100ml double cream (30-35%)*
2 eggs
Garnish
sour cream
Method
  • Make blini. The recipe is here.
  • Heat some oil in one frying pan, add chopped onion and beef, season with marjoram and salt and pepper. Fry on a high heat for few minutes, breaking up the lumps with spatula. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 10-15 minutes more. Then add some warm water, if the meat is too dry, cover with the lid and simmer until tender or while you’re preparing the cabbage.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and shredded cabbage, fry on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, allow cabbage to brown but not to burn. Fry until cabbage is brown, then sprinkle with dill and coriander, season, cover with a lid and cook until the cabbage is soft.
  • To assemble, you need any round baking dish, covered with baking paper and drizzled with oil. Mix meat with cabbage and fresh parsley. Take one blin and put one-two tablespoons of the filling into it, roll. Make as much as fits to the baking dish.
  • Mix creams with eggs and pour over the blini pie.
  • Bake in preheated 190C oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with  a dollop of sour cream.
Enjoy! 

Russian Beetroot Caviar

 This bright beetroot dip doesn’t contain salmon or any other fish raw. In my home-country vegetable spreads and dips that are mushed into a non-smooth consistency are often called caviar. In USSR fish caviar was an expensive product and most of the time was served over special occasions, but people have always wanted something tasty not only during holidays or weekend; and such vegetables as an eggplants, marrows and beetroots were cheap and available almost throughout the year, thus I guess economical version of the “caviar” was created.

russian-beetroot-caviar

 The recipe I found in a book dated 1990, it calls to boil beetroot, fry onions and press through the  meat-grinder machine along with other ingredients. Easy-peasy. It turned out so tasty, that i have already made it few times in a row! Moreover, it was a hit at the home-party, especially when I served this dip nicely decorated with little festive crackers; needless to say, guests asked for the recipe!
 The original Russian recipe calls for the salted pickled cucumbers, which are usually watery and personally I don’t like its taste, so I used regular crunchy pickled cucumbers and the beetroot dip was absolutely amazing and delicious! I prefer slightly coarse a caviar-like texture, so I don’t blend ingredients too much, but if you wish – just blitz it more to get the smooth dip. Enjoy!

Russian Beetroot Caviar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients 
400g/2 medium-size beetroots
2 tps olive or sunflower oil, for frying
1/2 large brown onion
~100g pickled cucumbers
2 cloves of garlic
Salt&Pepper, to taste
Method 
  1. Boil beetroots until soft. Cool, clean and chop.
  2. Chop the onion and fry in a oil until soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Finely chop cucumbers. Also finely chop or mush garlic.
  4. Blitz all ingredients in a food processor until desired consistency.
  5. Check the seasoning. Serve with rye bread or crackers.
Enjoy!