This recipe shows how I use my Wok to make perfect vegetable dishes. The basic concepts for Wok-cooked vegetables are: (1) Fresh vegetables sized to cook evenly, (2) High heat, (3) Oil, (4) Stir-fry technique, (5) Steam with chicken broth. One of the main benefits of this technique is that you can taste the vegetables at any time while they are cooking, and stop the cooking as soon as they are tender, but not yet mushy.
Medium-large size, very fresh bunch of Swiss Chard (called Silverbeet in New Zealand and Australia)
4 to 5 large Garlic cloves, sliced into large pieces
1/3 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, packed in oil, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
1/4 cup of the flavored oil from the jar of Sun-dried Tomatoes
Freshly ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Chicken Broth
Equipment: Large Wok with a lid, 2 spatulas.
Pour the flavored oil into the Wok.
Cut the ribs out of the leaves of Swiss Chard, wash them in a bowl of water, drain, and cut into strips about 2 inches wide. Place into the Wok.
Add the remaining ingredients to the Wok and turn the temperature up to High.
Using 2 spatulas or a spatula and a wooden spoon, toss the ingredients in the Wok until all the leaves are covered with oil, and continue to toss as the Swiss Chard heats, cooks and slowly shrinks.
When the Swiss Chard is about 1/3 its original volume, pour the Chicken Broth into the Wok and cover with a lid. Turn down the heat to medium high.
After about 5 minutes of steaming, open the lid and remove a piece of Chard with a fork. Allow to cool and taste for tenderness.
As soon as the Swiss Chard is tender, remove the Wok from the heat and pour the contents into a heated serving dish. Cover the serving dish with a heated lid until you are seated at the dining table and ready to eat.
New Zealand, 2012
When my grandson and I were looking in the fridge for ingredients for dinner one day, we found my packet of Hot Smoked Salmon and decided to make Pasta with it. Fortunately I had observed my son-in-law make proper pasta dishes so was confident that we could whip up something delicious. This is a quick and easy main dish for lunch or dinner, for 4 people. You will have to work quickly from start to finish, so don't let anyone interrupt you halfway through making this dish.
- 16 oz (450 grams) Spaghetti, or other pasta of your choice. Penne pasta is good here, too.
- 16 oz (450 grams) Hot Smoked Salmon, flavored with pepper or Cajun seasonings
- 1/4 cup Capers, drained
- Good quality Olive Oil
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, until al dente tender.
- Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water before draining, and set aside.
- Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Break the Hot Smoked Salmon into medium-sized chunks and heat gently in a little Olive Oil in the pasta pot, just enough to warm it.
- Add the Capers and the drained pasta to the pot with the Salmon.
- Add a little Olive Oil and toss.
- Then add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to help make the sauce. Add more of the water only if the Pasta seems to need more sauce.
- Toss to mix and serve immediately.
Hot Smoked Salmon was one of our great discoveries in Hobart, Tasmania. I always keep one or two packets in my freezer for a quick meal. By the time you have pre-heated the oven, the quiche will be ready to bake. Puff Pastry is a fun shortcut for a quiche crust. Filo Pastry can also be used in this recipe.
- 2 sheets frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (or 4 sheets Filo Pastry, thawed)
- 5 large eggs
- 2-1/2 cups light milk
- 200 grams Hot Smoked Salmon, preferably flavored with pepper or other spices, thawed
- 1/4 cup chopped or sliced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
- 1 tsp Salt, or less, according to your taste
- A 9-1/2 inch deep-dish (2 inches deep) or 10-inch in diameter regular pie plate, or quiche dish
- Pre-heat oven to 220 C (425 F).
- Cut the Puff Pastry and fit into the pan with 1/2 to 1 inch to spare around the edges. If using Filo Pastry, just fit the four sheets into the pan, turning each sheet to avoid overlapping corners. Trim off excess pastry if you wish. Or turn the extra pastry edge under itself and crimp decoratively. I like to leave extra crust around the quiche. It becomes crisp and flamboyant in the oven.
- Whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Break the salmon into medium-sized pieces and add to the mixture. Add sun-dried tomatoes.
- Pour filling into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 200 C (400 F) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the center is set, and a knife comes out clean.
- Transfer the quiche to a rack to cool to warm or room temperature before serving.
During our first visit to Nelson, New Zealand in 2003, on our way to Alaska, our friend Eva Brown introduced us to Dukkah at a Nelson restaurant. I discovered that I could buy it in New Zealand grocery stores, and we liked the “Egyptian” almond Dukkah the best. When I decided to make my own Dukkah, we tried many combinations of nuts and spices and the following recipe is our favorite. We have also used Macadamia nuts and Cashew nuts, with different results.
- 2 cups shelled Almonds
- 2 tablespoons whole Coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole Fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole Cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole Black Peppercorns
- 1/4 cup toasted Sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Sweet (not hot) Spanish Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- Toast the nuts in a hot (250 C or 450F) oven for 4 or 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them, stirring after 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- In the same hot oven, toast the seeds of Coriander, Fennel, Cumin and the black Peppercorns, for approximately 2 minutes, being careful that they do not burn. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Toast the Sesame seeds separately for 2 minutes.
- In a food processor, or with a rolling pin and a strong plastic bag, chop and crush the toasted nuts until the mixture is in chunks of many sizes. Do not over process, or you will have almond butter.
- In a motar and pestle, or in a spice grinder, grind the toasted seeds and peppercorns (not the Sesame seeds which you will leave whole).
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the crushed nuts, ground seeds and peppercorns, whole Sesame seeds, Smoked Spanish Paprika and salt. Store Dukkah in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
For an appetizer, place Dukkah in a small bowl and extra-virgin olive oil in a second bowl. Dip cubes of fresh crusty bread first into the oil, then into the Dukkah. Or you can dribble the oil onto the bread, then sprinkle Dukkah onto the oiled bread.
Another appetizer can be bite-sized cubes of soft white cheese on toothpicks, dipped into the Dukkah. Or spread the cheese onto a cracker and sprinkle with Dukkah.
As a main dish, our favorite way to pan fry fresh fish fillets is to coat the fish with oil and sprinkle liberally with Dukkah on the top side, after you have placed it in a hot pan. Cook the fish on one side; turn it over; sprinkle with more Dukkah, and cook quickly until just not quite done. Add a little more oil around the edges of the pan if the fish begins to stick to the pan. The fish will finish cooking on your heated plate. Scrape all of the nuts and spices from the pan onto the top of the fish on the plates.
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The posters advertised a Typical Big Sicilian Party where we would find tastings and sales of local products and handicrafts and refreshments. Visiting the festival in Florence's Piazza Annigoni, we were not disappointed.
I first came upon meters and meters of almond cookies (pasta di mandorla) and small marzipan sculptures of fruits and vegetables.
The cheeses were extraordinarily varied and were offered in sizeable portions.
In the center of it all was an exquisitely painted horse cart. We were in Italy!