Jul
17
2010
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Cooking Fish

The best food in the world, if you treat it right

The fresh perch that we’ve been catching recently in our lake has reminded me that great food isn’t at all about complicated recipes, particularly when it comes to fish. Why is it that so many children dislike fish? Because the fish that lands on their plates is most likely over-processed, over-handled and not particularly fresh. While not everyone has a lake to pull their fish out of every day, one can certainly address the first two points.

Making a great fish dish has much less to do with what you throw into the frying pan or pot (other than the fish), than it has to do with how long you cook it. Due to phobias about bacteria in fish, we usually consume our fish overcooked. A bit of salt and pepper, a bit of butter or olive oil and the courage not to overcook  usually delivers excellent results when it comes to fish.

So what happened to the perch? I filleted them, melted  a dollop of butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, lowered the heat to medium and placed the fillets in the pan. Fillets suffer from over-handling. So, don’t start shuffling and flipping until you see that the fillets are starting to turn white around the edges. Flip once and then remove from the heat. If your fillets are very thin, which is usually the case with perch, leave the pan uncovered. If you have thicker fillets, cover the pan with a top so that a bit more cooking takes place.

Serve the fish with a few new potatoes and steamed vegetables. There are few main courses that beat this.

Written by Admin in: Fish,Fish Dishes,perch,Savoury Food | Tags: ,
Jul
17
2010
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Using Gooseberries

The perfect balance between sweetness and tartness

My fingers are feeling tender, but they are certainly worth picking. Is there a berry with a more perfect balance between sweetness and tartness than the hard-to-get gooseberry? When they have reached a state of perfect ripeness, I find that quite a few do not make it to my kitchen counter. They are shamelessly devoured right at the bush which is of course the most healthful way to enjoy them. Gooseberries have more vitamin C in them than most fruits and they are rich in antioxidants which protect against a wide range of modern-day diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

However, for those that do make it to the kitchen counter, I’ve got a couple of good ideas. The first is one that my husband reminds me of each year when the gooseberries ripen. “Grandmother made a wonderful cold gooseberry soup with whipped cream,” he reminisces. Of course, I have no idea exactly how grandmother made her gooseberry soup and unfortunately I cannot ask her since she took her recipe with her to heaven some decades ago. Here is my best guess which is tried and tested, and makes a superb dessert or a light lunch on a hot summer’s day.

Gooseberry Soup
Serves 4

1 liter or 1 quart gooseberries, hard ends removed
Water (as per preparation instructions)
Contents of one vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 lime
Honey or sugar to taste
4 tbsps cornflour blended with a bit of cold water

Place the gooseberries in a cooking pot and pour in enough water so that the gooseberries are not quite covered by the water. Add vanilla pod or vanilla sugar. Cook over medium heat so that the berries soften – ensure that the mixture does not boil. Remove from heat and add honey or sugar to taste. Once blended, add the cornflour mixture and allow to thicken over low heat. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into a serving bowl and grate over the rind of 1 lime. Serve with the option of whipping cream.

Recently I discovered that gooseberry makes a delicious sauce for roast chicken (and I am sure turkey). Everyone at the table, particularly my children, agreed. Take about 2 dl or 1 cup of gooseberries and pour over 2 dl or half a cup of water. Allow to cook over low heat until the berries have softened. Add a little sugar and a pinch of salt and blend so that the berries are crushed. Don’t make the sauce too sweet – remember this is a savory topping. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Serve at the table in a pitcher as an option with the roast chicken. Don’t serve anything spicy with this dish – perhaps a few roasted or boiled vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and parsnips – so that the wonderful gooseberry flavor can be allowed to stand out.

Written by Admin in: Fruit Soup,Gooseberries |

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