Coley fish(lieu noir) in crispy filo pastry.

I make only easy, simple and quick food. I have done the difficult, intricate thing, but now I enjoy doing relaxed cooking. This is another very simple, very versatile recipe, which I’m sure many a home has in its possession. Only the presentation differs from the one occasion to the next and the one family to the next.

Suggestions:

  • Use any other white fish.
  • Instead of folding the pastry in rolls, fold them in triangles.
  • serve as a cold apéritif before dinner with a cold dry white wine.
  • The same recipe can be used in different ways: as a crumble with a breadcrumb, butter and oats topping and baked in the oven. OR topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven, OR with flour and butter and eggs added for some fish cakes…
  • Can be served small as a starter or larger as a light lunch with a big mixed salad.

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Some Koi images. I’m not truly a fish person, but Koi can fascinate me with their movements, their colors and their behaviour. they really have personalities, which I didn’t believe until I saw it for myself. I have done some paintings and some studies of them, but find it very difficult…it is much easier to capture the personality of a person than a fish!

…Koi…

Have a great weekend!

à bientôt

Ronelle

Salmon and spinach koulibiac..and feeling salmoned out!

I’ve been struggling with this koulibiac for two full days. The first one was far too dry, so I took on a second one.  Terrifying colors!  The third tasted complicated..and by that time, I couldn’t trust my judgement any more either! Tasting the same thing for two days…the same salmon, the same spinach, the same onion mix etc, truly numbs the taste buds. Finally I came back to the first effort with a few changes here and there. It is how it works with my painting as well. The first effort is always the most spontaneous, most honest rendering. Writing too. Those first thoughts should never be changed…only polished maybe, but never changed.

Just for interesting sake, here is the last effort..remember…the one with the complicated flavors?

Salmon and spinach koulibiac(pie)recipe

  1. Clean about 700g of fresh salmon fillet and poach for about 10 minutes or until flaky, but not dry and colorless. Leave to cool. Flake, remove all skin and the bones. Add lemon juice and  zest of 1 lemon, season to taste and mix lightly. Add alittle poaching liquid to the flaked salmon to prevent it from being dry.
  2. Sautée 2 small onions in olive oil. Add about 1 cup(250 ml) white arborio risotto rice, add salt, and 500 ml water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice is creamy. Stir in 1 TBSP of butter. Remove from the heat and leave aside(covered) to cool.
  3. Rinse and dry 2  large handfuls of fresh young spinach leaves. Chop roughly.
  4. Finely chop 2 large bunches fresh dill. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
  5. Grease a bread tin with butter, (12cx24cm).
  6. Roll out 500g puff pastry, (pre ordered from your baker).Cut a rectangle large enough to line the bottom and sides of your bread tin(about 1/3 of the 500g). Keep in the fridge until needed along with the rest of the pastry.
  7. Fill the puff pastry base with some rice, cover with spinach leaves, the chopped dill, the flaked salmon, chopped dill again, some spinach leaves, and end with a layer of rice.
  8. Roll out the rest of the  puff pastry and cut a rectangle a little bigger than the bread mould. Place over the rice topping and wet the fingers to glue the sides of the top neatly together with the pastry base.
  9. Roll out the rest of the pastry into shapes of your desire and decorate the top as you wish. Replace in the fridge for an hour to get cold.
  10. Brush the top with 1 egg and make a hole in the top of the pastry with some baking paper to serve as a “chimney” and let heat and steam escape.
  11.  Bake for abut 40 minutes. Cover with a sheet of baking paper or brown paper if the top browns too dark.
  12. Bake a sauce of Bulgarian yogurt and crème fraiche, season with salt and pepper, a spoonful of mustard and lemon juice.
  13. Serve sliced with a fresh green salad and pungent vinaigrette.

Serves 8 people

Suggestions:

  • When poaching the salmon, add a carrot, an onion, lemon slices, dill and parsley stems to the poaching water to flavor the salmon. Strain afterwards and save the water for a soup.
  • The rice should be slightly sticky which will keep the rice layer together for better cutting of your koulibiac.
  • The success of puff pastry depends on as little handling as possible, working with cool hands, and being put very cold into a hot oven. The temperature can be lowered afterwards.
  • Don’t layer too much rice so you end up having a whole lot of rice and a lot of too little salmon! I tend to add too much rice to my layers..
  • Try whole wheat rice, wild rice or quinoa instead of white rice for a more healthy option.
  • Add a sprinkling of dried yellow/orange flower petals between the rice and spinach layer for a colorful version…zinnia petals, nasturtium, begonia, geraniums, marguerites, sunflowers, nasturtiums…
  • Have fun creating your own versions!

…doesn’t look too bad when goinginto the oven(remember that I’m at coin Perdu, baking in the wood burning stove…I’m sooo good!!)

…and the sortie out of the oven after 40 minutes doens’t look too bad either(except for some bad photography!)…

Why do I prefer the first effort?

*The flavors are clean and simple and along with the sauce it combines into perfect harmony. The biggest challenge of this effort is to make sure your koulibiac isn’t dry. So my tips would be to: add some poaching liquid to the salmon, make sure the rice is moist and sticky, but still white and plump(chicken stock tends to color your rice).

In the next two efforts?

*I added roasted fennel, combined it with the dill and added as an extra layer. The result was that the flavors were just too complicated and overpowering for the whole ensemble. Much like an electrical guitar playing in a symphonic orchestra…

*I also added chopped red onion to the salmon, which ended up with some ugly purply  spots between the delicate pink of the salmon.

*Oh, and don’t forget that wobbly silicone bread pan-business-thing which I’ve tried for the first time…cost me an arm and a leg! It “stretched” in the middle so the bread shape plonked out…you can see it in the first image. I was a very unhappy woman… In the second image I used my ole trusted normal bread tin and just look at the difference…a lovely square shape.

The lesson: Simple ALWAYS works! You may have to adapt a little here and change a  little there, but staying on the simple road is to be on the success road.

No sketch with the recipe today…too tired, too fed up with salmon, too heavy from all the tasting…a good chef alwasy tastes his food, they say. I did that and look where I am now…?

No story from my side either…aren’t you happy!? I have no first thoughts left after these two days.

And now please..

“Please don’t feed me no more salmon…

I could do with a little bit of famine…

My kitchen makes me ill…

for lack of clean… plates and place to chill..

and I am now ready for that thing they call in French…”régime”?

Oh man…how to lose these salubrious omega 3’…sss

So I can again be the lanky woman of my man’s dream…sss!”

a bientôt … from the gleaming omega omnivore!!


Sushi..and Singapore.

We were in Singapore for a few days and with a food repertoire stretching from East to West, you could enjoy anything you desired. My prime choice of course was sushi! It was wonderful. I couldn’t get enough , but did put several other foods to the test, especially at the “hawkers stalls”, where you could choose to your heart’s delight between Malay and Indian, vietnamese and Indosian and Cambodian, thai and chinese…the list goes on…

…scattered sushi( chirashi sushi)..

Suggstions:

  • There are many different types of sushi, of which the most known would be the rolled sushi. But if you shy away from making rolled sushi at home, becasue of the effort and time consuming aspect, (or you are too tired, like I am since being back!), try making the scattered sushi, which is quick and easy and just as tasty.
  • Use fillings and accompaniments that you have in the house…fresh vegetables, fruit…
  • Make that extra little effort to cut the vegetables into attractive shapes…it is what Japanese cooking is all about.
  • Keep the portions small and serve several small helpings of servings, like a broth, a fresh simple salad, and fresh fruit.
  • Keep attractive bowls and small dipping bowls in the kitchen, square plates, oblong plates and mix and match for an interesting table setting.
  • Serve extra soya sauce(shoyu) in an attractive  small teapot.


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..chinatown..

…Street scenes from chinatown…

…buddha temple in chinatown…

…Jamae mosque in chinatown…

…colonial civic district – firestation…

…the indian cricket club, the city hall and old supreme court…

..more of the civic district…

..chinese chamber of commerce,

…modern singapore …

…Kampong glam(malay district)

…Masjid sultan…

…colorful surfaces…

…behind the scenes…

…Architecture in Kampong glam…

…Little India…

…Street scene in little India…

…Architecture in little India…

…Shopping…

**My Singapore sketches are on Africantapestry.

**All uncollaged photos of Singapore can be seen on Travels

à bientôt!

Ronelle

Cucumber cups filled with shrimp and goats cheese…and a life around bicyles.

As said before, I’m not fond of cucumber. But it is a handy vegetable to use as a basis for a cold summer soup, or a summer sorbet or as in this case, here in a European winter…a cup with a filling. The combination of shrimp and goat’s cheese , dill and capers, seasons the watery cucumber. And even though cucumber is not in season at the moment, I feel like fresh foods after the heavy holidays.

Suggestions:

  • The quantities are only approximate, use to your own taste.
  • The filling can be varied to your taste too.
  • Decorate the skin of the cucumber by scraping shavings off with a peeler, or use a fork or a small lemon scoop to scrape off strips..
  • Use sardines instead of shrimps, or shredded white fish or chopped smoked salmon.
  • Use fromage frais with chopped herbs or diced seasonal vegetables.
  • Add mustard or pesto to ricotta and mix with shredded ham.
  • Consider chopped almonds with a finely chopped chicken filling.
  • Serve with a vinaigrette of your choice.

…a life around bicycles…

Do you remember all the times we got pulled over by the policemen for me carrying you on the handles of my bicycle? “, he asked.

She laughed. “Oh yes! … such fun and carefree, irresponsible years!”

That happened of course in the university years of this couple. They relived these moments while reminiscing over past times and paging through all the old photo albums. They remebered the times when they both grew up in their childhood homes, each with their bicycle, driving to different schools in different towns. Then they met at university and continued cycling everywhere  together…to class, to tennis matches, to university functions, to town, to the movies, to dances, to river picnics. Those years, most of the student population owned bicycles rather than cars. It was cheaper. And easier. And if yours got “borrowed”, you would just “borrow” the next one. Then after a while it got more romantic for the guy to carry his girl in front of him on the bicycle handles…his ox, as his bike was called…that way he could smell her hair waving in his face and have her close to him, and she enjoyed her Titanic-moment in front on the handles, with her guy doing all the pedalling work. So it happened many times that study hours were to be spent at “the dam”.She would ride in front on the handles, carrying their books and he would pedal for death to reach the top of the bridge crossing the rail road track  so they could free down on the other side at an exhilirating speed. Suddenly a siren would honk beside them, forcing them to stop at the foot of the bridge and obediently and humbly they listened to the policemen’s rant about their criminal act of lifting on the bike handles. But when the stern officer of law disappeared in the distance, they continued on their course, unperturbed by the mean little piece of paper in the pocket.  It is just what a student does in a university town. Laws don’t apply to students of course…which is why they carry student cards..

When this guy finally married this girl and entered the professional career world, they continued their cycling ways for a while, until they couldn’t hide behind their student faces any more.the fines started burning a hoole in their pocket, so they decided it would be cheaper for the girl, now a grown-up wife, to pedal her own bike again. Gone were the carefree riding on bicycle handles.

..the first cycles..

When two daughters enriched their lives, the tricycles and bicycles started taking up more and more space in the garage… The young guy was now a father and he trained his girls on thier bikes in the garage where it was safe, thenmoved into the garden andfinally he pedalled beside them to pre school across the big, scary main road. And on their firm demand, he watched them pedal the last two metres to school, where they turned and waved a proud little hand back at him. It continued for many years, and they enjoyed every minute on their bikes… doing their tricks, racing their father, chasing the dog, racing around the pool, falling into the pool…where the safety net proved its worth by allowing only their behinds to get soaking wet.


As young students, the girls too depended on their bicycles to get around and now, as young adults, they race their bicycles up and down mountains and in the challenging traffic of Paris and Toulouse. And the young student-couple of years ago, still ride their bicycles too…of which one is still a black ox and the other a cute pink velo with a basket for fruit and a flask of coffee and two old leather bags for art stuff. And like in their student years, the guy still holds the back line, and although he can’t feel  her hair waving in his face as he did so long ago, he can now appreciate  her cute derriére as she pedals frantically in front of him.

..riding my bicycle..

Bonne 2011 et à la prochaine fois!
Ronelle