Mexican night

In the legendary words of Hannibal Smith “I love it when a plan comes together”.  Dinner tonight was inspired by Mexican flavours and the discovery of an amazing marinade for our chicken and fish barbecues.  Anna had some left over pickled chipotle peppers in the fridge and I decided to try it out in a marinade for some cod fillets.  The corn salad that accompanied the fish was an experiment to avoid wasting some unripened heritage tomatoes that fell off the vine when moving pots.  End result is one kick ass marinade (literally not for the faint hearted – I didn’t realise chipotle peppers packed that much of a punch) and a fresh corn salad with green tomato salsa as the dressing.  What made making the salsa most enjoyable was having our little son in tow in the kitchen with his plastic knife (courtesy of his Dubai aunt).  He wanted to help out and I must say he makes one helluva sous chef.

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Chipotle Fish

What do I need to make it?

  • 4 cod fillets (tends to take on different flavours well)
  • 5-6 pickled chipotle peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced finely
  • 1 tbsp Manuka honey
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • Handful chopped coriander
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it.?

Place peppers in a blender and puree to a fine paste.  Then add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir.   Clean and pat dry the fish fillets and coat both sides with the marinade and refrigerate for a couple of hours.   Take the fish out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature before baking in a pre-heated 200 degree Centigrade oven for 20-25 minutes (the last five minutes switch the oven to grill to char the top of the fish).  Serve with fresh tomato salsa and corn salad.

Corn salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 3 ears of fresh corn – roast on open flame
  • 3 small heritage tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 Apache green chillies (use jalapenos or any other fiery green variety) – picke fresh from our garden
  • Juice of a lime
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First roast the corn, then shuck it and keep aside.   Mix all the salsa ingredients in a bowl and then add the corn to the mix.

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Gluten free pasta with tomato and basil sauce

Ever since Anna & I have switched off wheat and gluten (lifestyle choice) our consumption of pasta has plummeted.  It wasn’t until recently that we tried gluten free pasta (made from rice and maize flour) and we quite liked it.  Contrary to popular belief that gluten free means tasteless – you can dispel this myth – it’s a lot lighter than normal pasta and the texture is slightly different but once mixed with a good sauce it is delicious.  Last night I prepared a tomato and basil sauce pasta with a medley of vegetables and finally garnished with some fresh basil grown in my sister’s garden (never expected to  find fresh herbs in a garden in Dubai!!).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms gluten free pasta of your choice
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1/2 each yellow and red pepper – washed, de-seeded and cubed
  • small onion peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into pieces
  • 7-8 closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 7-8 broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  •  4 tbsp sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3-4

How do I make it?

Crush the garlic and red chili flakes in a pestle and mortar.  Boil and cook pasta with a little salt till done – strain and keep aside.

Heat big saucepan and add oil and garlic/ chili paste – fry for 30 seconds and then add onions and peppers.   Stir constantly for 5 minutes before adding remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes before sprinkling Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and salt.  Then add the tomato passata and cook for another 5 minutes – add some water if the sauce is too thick.  Once done adjust seasoning and add the pasta and give it a good mix.   Garnish with freshly chopped basil and serve hot.

Salad therapy – Arabian delight

Admittedly my trip to Dubai has proven to be a bit of a challenge for my elder sister Magi as to what to make for lunch everyday.  She enjoys cooking as well (my nieces can attest to that) and has made me a different salad everyday along with a couple of vegetarian subjis.  Today she introduced me to a dressing which I hadn’t considered before and is definitely going to form part of my repertoire moving forward.  I would like to share this with you as I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you do to.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 packet rocket leaves
  • 1/4 large cucumber peeled and cubed
  • 6-8 small red radishes finely sliced
  • 4-5 large green pitted olives sliced
  • Handful of grapes – we had red seedless but I am sure green would work just as well
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • Dollop of mutabbal (aka baba ghanouj – roasted egg plant with garlic, olive oil and tahini sauce)

How much will I make?

Enough for 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

How do I make it?

Place rocket leaves in a bowl and sprinkle other ingredients.  Adjust seasoning but bear in mind that the mutabbal has enough salt.  Serve the salad in a bowl with a dollop of mutabbal and enjoy.