All posts tagged: recipes

Baked Fish with spicy Tahini and onion sauce

This is my take on a traditional Lebanese sauce to go with baked fish. It’s simple to make and the cholesterol free Tahini(sesame paste) sauce I use makes it a much healthier option than cream. The lemony, garlic flavours combine with the nutty flavour of the Tahini and sweet, slightly caramelised onion and spicy chilli into a delicious creamy topping to go with the baked fish. We had it here with a mixed salad including  artichokes which complimented the middle Eastern flavours well. Prep time:  5 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients: 500g firm fish fillets like  flathead or snapper 1 lemon finely sliced into rings 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup Tahini sauce 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic crushed 1 medium onion thinly sliced in half moons 1 large red chilli finely chopped 1/3 cup cold water 1/ 2 teaspoon cummin powder 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander Method: Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius (400 Farenheit) Line an …

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Crispy Asian Roast Pork Belly Salad

This is a delicious way to eat pork belly with crunchy crackling and moist roast pork tinged with the flavours of Asia – soy sauce, coriander, chilli, and hints of black vinegar. All it really needs is some steamed greens and jasmine rice on the side for a complete meal. It would also be a very good pre-prepared dish made for sharing or as part of a buffet. i have read many very different techniques for getting crunchy crackling but I just stick to the simple method of keeping the pork uncovered in the fridge for an hour or two and then drying with a cloth and rubbing the scored skin with generous amounts of salt before putting into oven. (Seems to work every time for me.) And, as most of the prep and cooking time is just drying out the pork in the fridge and then roasting in the oven, you can get on and do other things without too much fuss. Prep time: 2.5 hours  Cooking time:2 hours Ingredients: 750g boneless pork belly, …

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Homemade Borlotti Baked Beans

My six year old neighbour Martin is coming over for lunch today. A few months ago Martin popped in to say hi and I had just taken my homemade baked beans out of the oven. Martin was astounded to find out that baked beans don’t just come out of a can. He was even more intrigued when I showed him the actual raw beans. “They are like nuts”, he said. I gave Martin a small taste of the freshly cooked beans and he loved them. Since then whenever I see him he talks about the baked beans,so I thought it only appropriate that I should make a batch for lunch. Whilst they take time to make, due to having to soak the beans, then twice cook them, the results are so much better than using beans out of a can and the cooking process gives you the opportunity to use herbs and spices to your taste in the sauce. I use Borlotti beans for this recipe, but you can also use white beans or cannellini …

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Salmon En Croute with fennel, dill and chilli butter

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver who both have very different versions of the classic Salmon en Croute. According to my google search the term “en Croute” refers to food cooked in pastry in the oven, most commonly salmon or beef. For the Salmon En Croute, Rick Stein in his recipe book Seafood Cookbook uses a butter with currants and mace spiced butter filling, whereas Jamie Oliver uses a spinach and watercress creme fraiche filling. As I decided to make this after I had already done the grocery shopping, I thought I’d try a filling with ingredients I had which I knew would go well with salmon. The resulting pastry parcel with a homemade fennel, dill and chilli butter was absolutely delicious seved with a homemade kale,carrot and red cabbage coleslaw with avocado and tomatoes. It was easy to make using store bought frozen pastry and you could just experiment with the type of flavoured butter filling you’d like. I would recommend using some substantial ingredients, like the thin fennel slices I …

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Fish Briyani with Tomato Chutney & Turmeric Rice

This Fish Briyani is based on a recipe from my Aunty Vimala who inspired my interest in cooking when I was young. I can still vividly recall the enticing smells of spices cooking and the delicious flavour combinations that came from her kitchen. I wrote this recipe down, taking notes as she made it, when I last visited South Africa in 1997. The spicy tomato chutney, fresh herbs, sweet caramelised onions and lightly fried fish combine to create a more-ish, layered fish dish that is delicious on its own or with youghurt, mango or mint chutney and pickles to the side. This is a lovely dish to serve as part of a buffet lunch or dinner as it is actually nicer warm, rather than piping hot, and even better the next day. Don’t put off by the number of steps and spices, it really is a matter of making each of the components seperately and then combining into the completed layered dish. Once you’ve done the prep it’s just a matter of putting it in …

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Mussels in Thai Broth

An easy, healthy and delicious main courses or starter – can be served with crispy bread rolls or jasmine rice. Make sure you use fresh mussels. It’s all the better made using homemade Thai prawn stock(see recipe below) but bought fish or chicken stock will do if you are short on time. Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 10 minutes Ingredients: 1 kg of mussels, beards removed (do not use any broken mussels) 1 small brown onion finely diced 2 cloves garlic finely chopped 2 pieces ginger/fresh galangal finely chopped 1-2 hot red chillies chopped 1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 teaspoon sugar 6 coriander stalks and roots cleaned and chopped, leaves reserved for garnish thai basil for garnish 750 ml prawn or fish stock 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Method: Heat oil in large pot that has a tight fitting lid Add onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and sautéed over medium heat until onions are translucent Add coriander, stock, fish sauce and sugar Add mussels, fit on lid and bring stock to boil. Shake pan and …

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2015 in review

Here’s the completed “Year in Review” post! Happy New Year!! As we start the new year I thought I’d reflect on the first six months of my Free Spirit Food blog. It’s certainly been very interesting starting this blogging journey and I was amazed to receive my “annual report” from WordPress telling me that there had been almost 5,000 views since June 2015 – apparently almost the equivalent of four full New York subway trains! My aim when I started was to get to 100 followers by the end of the year and as we enter the new year I would like to say thank you to the 105 people who find my recipes and reviews of interest. Some of you are friends and family, but the majority of you are from around Australia and the world with very informative, interesting and beautiful blogs of your own. I wanted to say a special thank you to my most loyal supporters and give their great blogs a plug: From the family table What’s Bec Cooking My little …

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Snapper in Indian “Crazy Water” Broth

This dish is based on the Italian inspired recipes by Marcella Hazan and Neil Perry for “fish in crazy water”. Having previously made and enjoyed Neil Perry’s recipe, I had found the original light broth reminiscent of the texture of the South Indian soup known as Rasam that often accompanies meals. This version is of my own creation and includes the distinct aniseed flavour of star anise and the fruity sweet-sour flavour of tamarind. You can also easily play around with the combination of herbs and spices to suit your palette. This dish is perfect to serve with blanched spinach for a light and healthy dinner. Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 55 minutes Ingredients: 2 large snapper fillets with skin on 3 large, very ripe tomatoes 3 cloves garlic 3 red chillies 1/2 tspn sea salt small handful coriander leaves small handful mint leaves 1.5 tsp tamarind concentrate or 2 tspns tamarind juice 1/2 tsp turmeric 2 star anise 60ml olive oil 900ml water Method Place tomatoes in bowl of boiling water, then peel …

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Spice Temple Cooking Class – Sydney Seafood School

On a cold and drizzly Monday night in Sydney I ventured down to the Sydney Fish Markets for a cooking class at their Seafood Cooking School. They offer a big variety of courses often featuring well known Chefs and I’d booked in to the class by Head Chef Andy Evans from the Neil Perry restaurant, Spice Temple. Both Andy Evans and Neil Perry have travelled extensively in regional China, and Spice Temple features their especially created recipes featuring regional Chinese cooking with a  spicy kick! The amphitheatre at the Seafood School was full of enthusiastic foodies and the class started with Andy outlining the order of proceedings and the menu. We were each given a booklet with the 3 recipes we would be making: Tuna with Blackened Chilli Dressing, Prawn and Peanut Relish and Spanner Crab Omelette with Oyster Sauce. The high tech set-up in the amphitheatre which has video screens displaying what is happening on the kitchen bench and stove makes it easy to watch the cooking demonstrations. It’s almost like watching a cooking …

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Lamb and spinach curry with lime

This is my version of lamb and spinach curry which is fresh and zesty through the addition of mint, coriander and lime to the traditional lamb and spinach combination. It goes really well served with rice or naan/flatbreads, and a side salad of tomato and cucumber. Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Ingredients: 750g diced lamb 1 bunch fresh English spinach, cleaned, washed and chopped finely 250g packet of frozen spinach defrosted 1/2 bunch mint – leaves only 1/2 bunch coriander – chopped 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic crushed paste 1/2 lime cut into thirds, other half reserved 2-3 red chillies, left whole 1 onion finely diced 1.5 tomato chopped 1 tspn salt 1 tspn cummin powder 1/2 tspn chilli powder 1/2 tspn turmeric 2 pieces cinnamon 4 cardamom pods 1 tspn cummin seeds Handful curry leaves 3 tbspns vegetable oil Method Heat oil in large heavy based casserole pot Add cinnamon, cummin seeds, curry leaves and cardamom pods and cook until fragrant, taking care not to burn the spices Add onions and …

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Singapore-style Poached Chicken and Chicken Rice

This recipe is inspired by the delicious chicken rice we had at Loy Kee Restaurant in Singapore recently. It seemed to me that it couldn’t be that difficult to replicate the tender and delicious poached chicken at home so I did a bit of reading and compared a number of recipes to come up with this easy to make version. Whist there are few different components involved if you want to have an authentic chicken rice meal with sauces and bok choy, none of it is difficult or complicated. I also found that the leftover chicken was delicious for a shredded spicy chicken salad like the one we made at Spirit House Cooking School when we visited Yandina, Queensland about  a year ago. You can find my version here Simple shredded chicken salad In fact, I would now use this method to make delicious poached chicken just on it’s own to use in chicken salads and/or sandwiches. You could vary the poaching ingredients, if you didn’t want the Asian ginger, garlic and spring onion flavour, but …

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Durban-style mince and pea Samosas with spring roll pastry

These crispy mince and pea pastry triangles are very different to the more commonly found “Indian” version which has a thick crusty pastry. I am not sure what the origin of this style of pastry is other than this is how they are made by the Indian community in Durban, South Africa and this is how I grew up eating them. Back then in South Africa with larger households often with dedicated cooks,hours were spent making the crispy pastry from scratch and creating these delicious appetisers for special events or just afternoon tea. When we moved to Australia my mum, Tilly, found the ideal replacement pastry to be spring roll pastry initially found in Chinese and Asian specialty shops but now readily available in mainstream supermarkets. Fillings can vary between fish, potato and peas, chicken mince curry…but my favouite remains the lamb mince and peas. All my friends loved coming over to Tilly’s for her freshly made samosas and she has actually been called upon for lessons by some samosa addicts! Here’s the recipe with …

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Taco Tuesday: Baja Fish Tacos

Originally posted on Fabulous Fare Sisters:
Baja Fish Tacos I’ve read that about fifty years ago, somewhere in Baja California someone created what is generally considered to be the original Baja fish taco.  This tasty taco traditionally consists of a lightly battered mild white fish that is deep-fried, then served in a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, a sour-cream- or mayonnaise-based sauce, a bit of salsa, and a squeeze of lime. I’ve changed the original just a bit in this recipe – using a cornmeal crust and using only a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil instead of deep-frying the fish. I tossed the shredded cabbage in the mayo-sour cream concoction along with some fresh cilantro and the zest and juice of a lime. The flavor combination is amazing! I hope you give these a try on your next Taco Tuesday! Baja Fish Tacos 4 fresh cod or tilapia fillets 3/4 cup cornmeal 1 tablespoon paprika 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon oregano 1 tablespoon cumin 1 tablespoon garlic powder salt & some fresh ground pepper 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2…

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Pondicherry Prawns with zuchinni, preserved lemon and herbs

This is an unusual recipe hailing from Pondicherry, originally a French colony in Tamil Nadu, India. Pondicherry is truly unique with French style street signs, French colonial architecture and police that wear French style Kepis. We loved our visit to this special part of India, staying at the UNESCO world heritage ward winning Hotel De L’Orient. The restaurant at the hotel, Carte Blanch, is atmospherically set in the open air atrium of the hotel and features a special menu of creole cooking combining Tamil spices with French flavours. Recently flicking through Rick Stein’s India recipe book I found this recipe inspired by a meal he had at the hotel. I’ve adapted it using fresh green Australian king prawns and a slightly different mix of spices, spring onions and some green chilli. The use of preserved lemon gives the dish a fresh tangy flavour and the mixture of thyme, rosemary, basil and coriander is delicious. An excellent dish for entertaining as you can prepare all the ingredients and stir fry it just before you serve. Prep …

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The spirit of sharing: foodie adventures from far and wide

I started my blog in the spirit of sharing my foodie adventures with likeminded people. Free Spirit Food is inspired by my travels and (mainly) foodie adventures including reviews of cooking classes, markets and restaurants. Having spent my early childhood in South Africa I grew up surrounded by the smells and taste sensations of my extended family’s delicious Indian cooking. I also took for granted our weekly Sunday roast dinners or sampling traditional African food. Then when we moved to Australia my horizons expanded to Italian and of course Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese delights. My travels have also fanned the flames of my interest in cooking and exploring the tantalising flavours of the world. I hope my recipes, reviews, tips and tales will inspire you to try some new foodie adventures at home and afar. Shanthini image

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Herb and Mustard pork neck with roast beetroot

I always remember Aunty Mary’s delicious, tender pork neck roasts when she would have us over for weekend lunches when she was still entertaining at home.This version is a bit more herby and peppery and the vegetables probably have a more Contemporary feel to her traditional English accompaniments but the moist tender pork neck is a tribute to those hearty lunches we used to enjoy at her place. The beetroot cooked alongside the pork is a delicious sweet, crunchy alternative to apples. One of these days I’m going to return the favour and cook this for Aunty Mary! Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 1.5 hours Ingredients 750g-1kg boneless pork neck 2 tspns Dijon mustard Handful Rosemary leaves stripped off stalks 1 tspn dried oregano 3 cloves garlic 1 tspn Maldonado sea salt 2 tspns cracked black pepper 1 tbspn olive oil 1-2 fresh beetroots cut into wedges 1 small fennel bulb cut into wedges 2 carrots cut into medium size pieces 400g Pumpkin cut into pieces 2 parsnips cut into medium size pieces Broccoli …

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