Friday, 16 December 2011

Marinated giant tiger prawns in pasta de achiote on a bed of baby-leaf salad with tomato salsa

"Pasta de achiote is a paste made with achiote, garlic, vinegar, bitter orange juice, and spices. I got my paste from my parents who visited Mexico in November this year. Its unusual taste and colour (strong red) make this dish a real feast! You can find it in most Asian/Oriental food stores, but you can also make it at home (the recipe follows soon). Bitter oranges are to be found in the organic food stores, but you can substitute them by using regular oranges mixed 1:1 with white wine vinegar. It is a perfect starter for a Christmas Eve dinner (specially for Polish Christmas-Eve-fish-eaters). I like it served on a bed of a baby leaf salad with tomato salsa. I promise that my next pasta de achiote recipe will include home-made version of this paste :)".  

Serves 4
500g Giant tiger prawns  (or 4-5 prawns per person) (uncooked, raw or frozen defrosted before cooking)
1 tablespoon pasta de Achiote
3 tablespoons bitter orange juice (or regular orange juice mixed with white wine vinegar 1:1)

For the tomato salsa
2 large tomatoes, in cubes, seeded
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 handfuls baby leaves (rocket, red chard, lamb's lettuce etc.)
1 tablespoon oil

Remove the shells, heads, and legs from the prawns as well as the intestinal vein (black vein) that runs across the back of the prawns. Dilute the pasta de achiote in vinegar or bitter orange juice, and add a pinch of salt. Add prawns to this paste and allow to marinate for ~1 hour in a room temperature. 
To prepare the salsa mix the chopped tomatoes, coriander and onion. Add lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the oil and fry the prawns for 2-3 minutes until pink and tender.
Place a handful of baby leaves in the middle of a plate, arrange prawns around, and garnish with salsa.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


"Creamy, with a hint of an orange zest, simply delightful dessert. I like my cheesecake dusted with a powder sugar, but it is as good as with a dark-chocolate glaze!"

Serves 8-10
750g white cheese
1 cup caster sugar
8 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons potato or sweet corn starch (flour)

Position the baking shelf in the middle of the oven. Grease the inside of the baking tray (26cm diameter) with butter (you can also use baking paper instead of the butter). Preheat the oven to 200C (conventional oven).

For the cheesecake mixture, beat the cheese, egg yolks, vanilla, flour and orange zest with a hand mixer until creamy.

In a separate large bowl whisk the egg whites with an electric beater. Gradually add sugar (a couple of tablespoons at a time) and whisk well between each spoon addition. Egg whites are ready when stiff and glossy     and stand up in peaks. Gently mix the whisked egg whites with the cheese mixture adding the egg whites gradually to the cheese. Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and bake for about 45-50min. When ready, turn the temperature off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 30min (oven's door closed). Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it rest in a room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Rosemary crème brûlée

"A delicious classic french dessert with a hint of rosemary."  

Serves 4  
500ml double cream (36%-48%) 
100g caster sugar 
6 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod (sliced lengthways)
5 branches of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat the oven to 150C. Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl until pale and creamy. Set aside. Put the cream, vanilla and rosemary in a pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour it over the egg mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, then divide between 6 ramekins or other small dishes. Place the ramekins into a baking tray and pour in hot water up to the 1/2 of the ramekins height (bain-marie). Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in a room temperature.
Before serving, sprinkle with sugar over the crème brûlée and then caramelize with a blowtorch. Leave to cool until the sugar hardens. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Stuffed roasted chicken with apples and thyme

"This is one of my favourite stuffed chicken recipes. Apples, thyme and chicken on one plate! Try to use the best quality chicken you can find (free-range, organic) - you will taste the difference! I love to serve the chicken it with a green salad with vinaigrette dressing."

Serves 4
1.2 - 1.5kg organic chicken (or other good free-range chicken)
2-3 large apples (for baking e.g. golden rennet)
a handful of fresh thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons oil (sunflower, rice, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Rub the chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh thyme, then season the cavity. Wash the apples and cut them in four. Sprinkle them with salt and sugar and place the apples together with the thyme branches in the cavity placing one branch between two apples.

Put the chicken in a greased backing tray on its breasts. Roast it for about 45 minutes. After this, increase the temperature of the oven to 180°C, turn the chicken on to its back, place the remaining apples around the chicken and roast for 15-30 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, 18 November 2011


"Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate....For the chocolate lovers there is nothing better than brownies. Try this recipe with nuts, sun-dried fruits or chocolate chips. This time I baked brownie in muffin forms - so there is no need to dividing it into portions."

Serves 20 (muffins)
200g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
6 eggs
100g plain flour
300g caster sugar
200g butter
2 handfuls of nuts, sun-dried fruits, chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175C. In a bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in bain-marie. In a large bowl whisk the eggs with sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the flour and chocolate-butter mixture and mix it all together using a spoon or a hand egg-whisker. Add nuts, fruits or chips and gently mix with a hand spatula.

Grease a baking tray (35cmx55cm) with butter and spoon the mixture over it. If you use muffin forms spoon the mixture up to the 2/3 of the forms height. Bake for approximately 40 minutes but check before turing the oven off with a wooden stick e.g. chopsticks if its dry inside (stab the top of the cake gently in the middle).

Stuffed roasted peppers

"Peppers stuffed with pine nuts, apricots and raisins is one of my favourite stuffed pepper recipes from Rose Elliot's "New Complete Vegetarian". It is simple and delicious dish with a Middle Eastern flavour (as the author of the book promises)."

Serves 4
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
175g couscous
40g raisins
40g dried apricots, chopped
4 -5 red peppers
2 tomatoes, chopped
50g pine nuts
75g pitted black olives
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leave parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (I used 4 tablespoons)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato puree
150ml water

In a large saucepan fry the onion in the oil until golden brown. Add the garlic, coriander and cinnamon and cook for 1-2min more until the flavours will release. Put the pan aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C (conventional oven). Put the couscous in a bowl with the raisins and apricots. Cover generously with boiling water and set aside for a few minutes. Wash and dry the peppers. Slice the tops off (retain them), and scoop out the seeds.

Drain any excess water from the couscous and mix it with the fried onion mix, the tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, mint and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill the peppers with the mixture and place the tops as lids. Stand the peppers in a deep baking dish. Mix the tomato puree with water, salt and black pepper and pour it round the peppers. Bake for 1 hour until the peppers are very tender.