I have never been keen on slaving over hot stoves, cookers, burners, hobs and ovens…….this includes hot pressing irons….which is why I am happy to pay to get my clothes ironed……but I digress….

A quick easy way to prepare meals is to use a variety of complementary spices in making the dish. Pilau rice is a fantastic example; it is big on flavour and requires minimum effort to throw together.

The spices I used in making it comprise of cloves, cardamon, pepper corns, cassia bark, cinnamon, cumin and dry coriander and ginger. Some mixes may include, chili and turmeric. It sounds like a lot but with balanced proportions these aromatic ingredients lend themselves beautifully to the dish.

In some parts of East Africa such as Tanzania, pilau is served only at special occasions like weddings. This so because spices like cloves are highly valued in that region and in fact are exported globally as cash crops.

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock or water
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
1 tbs pilau spice mix (ensure that all spices are represented)
1 tbs vegetable oil.
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste ( adjust quantity depending on stock or if using using plain water)

The “How To”

Using a shallow skillet wide frying pan ( that has a lid) heat the pan dry and then add your spice mix as well as the chili or cayenne. Toast them in the dry hot pan for about a minute; this “activates” the spices, releasing their oils and intensifying their flavours.
Next, add the vegetable oil and chopped onions, garlic and green pepper stir for about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent; be careful not to burn them. Add the rinsed basmati rice to the pan and coat it completely with the spice and onion mix.

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Pour in the stock/water, turn the heat down and put the lid on. Minimise opening the pan until,the rice is cooked. When it is cooked (between 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the quality of the rice) let it sit for a few extra minutes with a dish cloth over the pan, fluff with a fork before serving.

I was feeling extra lazy the day, I made this meal so it went with some grilled beef sausages and a coconut cream sauce.

For the sauce you need 50 grams of butter, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp corn flour, 1 tsp black pepper and salt to taste.

Mix butter and corn flour in a sauce pan over medium heat until you have a roux. Then slowly add in the coconut milk stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. It is ready when you have a homogenous sauce that lightly coats the back of a spoon.

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When a dear friend and her daughter came round to lunch the other day, I was frazzled because the munchkins were running me ragged. My guests needed nourishment for their tummies.

Rice and fish came to mind but I wanted it to look like I made an effort. The result? Sunny bright saffron rice and lemony herby fish.

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Ingredients
For the fish
2 large white fish fillets (I used cod)
2 tbs herbed butter
1 lemon
1 1/2 Black pepper
1 1/2 cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter
3/4 tbs salt.

For Saffron Rice
2 cups Basmati rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 good pinch saffron threads
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter (optional)
Salt (to taste)

The “How To”

Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius
Place the the fillets on a shopping board and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. You may halve them or leave them whole depending on your preferred portion size.

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Sprinkle the fillets liberally on both sides with black and cayenne pepper. Then carefully, and evenly season both sides with salt.

Line a roasting pan with foil ensuring that you have an over hang on the sides to allow to allow you wrap the fish up in a parcel as it cooks. Heat a skillet with the table spoon of butter and sear the fellows for about a minute on each side then transfer them to the roasting the pan and squeeze half a lemon over them. Place a couple of slices of lemon on them and distribute the herbed butter as well. Wrap them up and place in the oven. After 17 minutes take them out and leave them to rest for a further 5 minutes stilled wrapped.

For an accompanying sauce, use the recipe described above for the pilau rice but add the pan drippings to it to infuse with the lemon and herbs.

To make the saffron rice simply add all ingredients except the butter in a skillet, bring to a boil, put the lid on and simmer until the rice is cooked. Least the rice sit for a few minutes in the pot for a few minutes then add the butter and fluff with a fork.

I added a small salad to garnish the plate and cleanse our palates as we dined. It was essentially sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with a wasabi dressing (it’s purely optional).

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Dessert was a berry treat. In my next post I will share the recipe for the 2 berry poke cake that promptly vanished after lunch.

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It was a delightful day and I enjoyed playing hostess.

FFF tip of the Day

Instead of using better as set out in the recipes here, you could replace with olive oil for a healthier alternative. Even your fresh herbs can be preserved in olive. Simply place washed herbs in ice trays and pour oil oil over them. Freeze and use as desired.

I enjoy trawling the net for recipes, sifting through endless information that I can use as inspiration in my food making experiments. So you can imagine my joy when I found Caroline’s food blog a few days ago. Her mango ice cream was a recipe I knew I was fated to make especially since my mum had just supplied me with a basket full of mangoes.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now; I love mangoes and with the onset of the rains signaling the end of the reign of mangoes for this season I couldn’t have chosen a better way to commemorate this fruit. This would be the first time I have ever attempted to make this kind of dessert and I was nervous and excited.

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The recipe was simple enough and it took no time at all to put it all together.

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I don’t own an ice cream maker so I had to churn the ice cream by hand periodically before letting it set in the freezer. It may sound laborious but trust me, you don’t know hard labour until you have to fend off a six foot sweet tooth. Yes, my ever willing food sampler of a husband was more than feverish with anticipation at the prospect of sampling this homemade treat; come to think of it, so was my gelato-loving friend who lived next door 🙂
Caroline had indicated that the ice cream worked well when it followed a curry based meal and since I had some left over coconut milk, I decided to make a curry for lunch.

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Before serving up the dessert, I prepared a chilli syrup which would be topping. I had never had chilli and ice cream before so I was keen to try it.

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When I took the first spoonful, the burst of flavour took me by surprise. The cold sweet full bodied mango flavour with a subliminal tangy hint of lime married well with the chewy slivers of ruby red chilli which provided a warm heat. The coconut milk gave this treat a lovely velveteen texture and the syrup finished it off with a glassy sheen. All these elements combined made for a very refreshing, pretty-looking dessert.

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After hubby had polished off the last spoonful, he declared rather theatrically (think Shakespeare play) that he would never look at ice cream the same way again.
And so I thought to myself, “Well then, if this could bring out the Shakespeare in him, I’d better uncover another dessert gem to make and fast!”
And so commences my dessert making chronicles.
TIP OF THE DAY: When a recipe calls for the use of a specific type of sugar you may substitute it for another type. However ensure that they have similar qualities such as texture and colour. For instance, I substituted icing sugar for caster sugar in this recipe but I used more icing sugar because it is not typically as sweet as cast sugar.
June 2, 2012
By popular demand, mostly by hubby, I have an encore of this delight-some dessert. This time though I have made the dairy version by incorporating lashings of cream as well as coconut milk. The topping is a double treat with chilli syrup and desiccated coconut.

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