I ♥ Spicy Prawns.

26
Aug

prawn cajun ensalada

With one more week of lodging with some kind and generous people and finding our way in their kitchen, we are coming to an end of the creative use-what-you’ve-got era of 2009.  Soon to move in to our own apartment in London after a long journey, which started in June of this year in New Zealand,  our happy feet are finding their way in a city we are falling in love with all over again.

Tonight though, I remained tasked with creating a meal to share with people who aren’t quite as salad crazy as I am.  I considered what they might find fulfilling in a meal they say usually leaves them hungry.  I’ve come to appreciate that most people like a little heaviness to their salads.  Whether they add scoops of chickpeas, wedges of cheese or some meat to do this, ultimately what they’re hoping to do is create a meal that “touches the sides”.  I usually seek a light salad, especially on an August night, so to make sure we could all happily enjoy the same platter, I made prawns the focal point and ensured much flavor and textural variety was present in the whole dish.

Served on a base of mixed greens and fragrant herbs, the prawns are sweetened with honey and coconut, brightened with lime zest and spiced with a little Cajun seasoning. To add crunch and a flavor to match the prawns intensity, I tossed in some celery, scallions and diced red bell pepper and topped the plate with some fresh Italian basil.  The half a tomato you see nestling to the side was part of the first crop (of two!) tomatoes for the season.

The flavors throughout the meal were bright and pronounced and this will definitely be a meal that becomes part of our regular weeknight rotation in that routine we’re coming to crave and long for.   As it was my body felt satisfied, but I do have a thing for spicy prawns and could easily have eaten double the amount, rather than stretching one packet between the four of us. In fact, seasoned as described here, I could eat a bowl of those prawns, curled up and getting sucked in to a television show any night of the week.

Cajun Prawn Salad

Serves 4… just about.

Ingredients

24 Prawns (or 48!)

1 tbsp dessicated coconut

4 tbsp runny honey

Zest of 1 lime

1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

1 stick of celery

2 Scallions (Spring Onions)

1 Red Bell Pepper

2 Avocados

Mix of greens including arugula (rocket), cilantro (fresh coriander) and chives

Fresh basil leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

And if it so fits, 2 cherry tomatoes from the garden

Method

Mix together the coconut, Cajun seasoning, honey and lime zest in a bowl that will be big enough to hold the prawns once done. Put to the side.

Thinly slice the celery and scallions and dice the red bell pepper.

Divide all the greens, aside from the basil, between the plates. Top with the celery, scallions and bell pepper. Lightly sprinkle sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper over them.

Cube the avocado and place on top of the plated salad mix then drizzle the lime juice over.

Quickly sauté the prawns until they just turn pink, then remove with a slotted spoon to leave any juices behind, and toss in the reserved coconut mixture until covered.

Top the salad with the prawns.  If there is any of the coconut mixture left behind, drizzle in a little olive oil, mix it up and put that on the salad too.

Top with the basil leaves and serve.

Avocado Soup with Mango Salsa.

13
Aug

avocado mango soup

So I’m a little obsessed with cold soups. The reason I especially like them right now (for I love them at any time, really) is I feel they create balance as I try to find a natural and pleasing equilibrium whilst I’m without a home of my own. Being that I’m one of those people who finds much comfort and relaxation chop-chop-chopping away, I also find them really easy. Chop, blend and voilà.

Having just returned from a walk on an afternoon so hot that a haze sat low over the fields, this dish was the first thing on my mind. The soup itself is quite earthy with the hints of cilantro, ground coriander and cumin. The salsa invigorated the dish’s range of flavors and contrasted the creaminess with a slight acidic hit.

I made this soup with what I could see in the kitchen. The mango was admittedly a little over ripe and I used a clementine rather than the called for blood orange. Regardless of the lack of perfection, this was still the most satiating supper I could have dreamed of that evening and I relished every mouthful.

Avocado Soup with Mango Salsa

Adapted from Living Raw food by Sarma Melngailis

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

3 small hass avocados or equivalent, peeled and chopped

1 stick of peeled and chopped celery

1 handful of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves

1/2 a telegraph cucumber, roughly chopped

2 cups water

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest of one clementine

Few pinches of ground sea salt

Pinch of ground cumin

Pinch of ground coriander

For the salsa:

1 Mango, diced

1 Clementine, each segment peeled and chopped

1 Red bell pepper, diced

Leaves from a few sprigs fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped

Method:

Blend all soup ingredients.

Mix salsa ingredients together.

Put the salsa in the center of the bowls, then pour soup around.

avo mango soup prep

Cucumber, Mint & Jalapeño Gazpacho.

08
Aug

cucumber-mint-gazpacho-11

There comes a time when after a vacation, day to day eating habits need to revert back to the place they were before the break.  There also comes a time when, after an evening out with an old friend and a little bit more wine than I’m used to these days, a hydrating meal becomes of utmost importance.

Enter Living Raw Food. I picked this book up when I was in the US this past July.  Wait. That makes it sound too casual. Truth is, I put this book on my Amazon wishlist months ago, then realized it wouldn’t reach New Zealand before we left for the USA.  Hastily upon arrival in San Diego I cantered on down to the Barnes and Noble to retrieve my copy.  I then read it poolside at a friends house in Tucson and inserted little pieces of ripped paper in between the pages which held the recipes I’d be able to make with little to no equipment (my current predicament). With sections for the every day and family-style (as well as the more complicated ones from the restaurant’s menu), I have plenty of material to get started with.*

living-raw-food

As you know from previous posts, I am a lover of blended raw soups. They’re quick, easy and super satisfying. They’re also a good place to start if creating a raw meal for people who are not entirely convinced they want to eat Raw Food.

This soup was incredibly easy to put together (15 – 20 minutes).  Because I like it spicy I then let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to really let the jalapeños start to sing. The result was a soup that was fresh up front but had a soft burn as you neared the last spoonful.

cucumber-mint-gazpacho-2

Cucumber, Mint & Jalapeño Gazpacho

Serves 4.  Adapted from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis.

Ingredients:

4 English Telegraph cucumbers cut into chunks small enough for your food processor to liquidize (leave the skins and seeds intact)

2 Red jalapeños, finely diced

1 Red bell pepper, diced

8 Sprigs of fresh mint, chopped into very thin strips (chiffonade)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Method

Liquidize the cucumbers and place into a large glass bowl.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for between 1 – 2 hours prior to serving.

* I’ll do a full review of the book once I’ve tried a few more recipes

Smoked Salmon & Pea Salad.

06
Aug

salmonpeasaladIn the midst of so much chaos in our lives right now, such as living out of suitcases and perched in someone else’s home, simple food seems the only way to go.  In a kitchen not my own, and ensuring the food suits and satisfies all, I decided upon a salmon salad. Keeping meals simple also helps keep the food budget in tact as well as awakening the pallet to the pure enjoyment of each and every ingredient. It also helps with time. This salad won’t take you more than ten minutes to compile, then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the balmy summer evening, preferably with a glass of rosé to your side.  It would also be really nice eaten al fresco. As it was I ate mine after my glass of rosé and I also ate it inside as we’d just returned from a four mile walk around the tree lined country lanes of Kent and were looking for a little cooling off time.  It was delicious regardless.

Mix it up: If you want to reduce the fat in this salad, you could make it in a bowl and turn it until the leaves are lightly coated with some avocado and then zest and squeeze the lime juice on afterward. It would also work well with grilled prawns in lieu of the salmon.

Smoked Salmon & Pea Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 package of smoked salmon – enough for a thick fillet each (or double them up, as shown in the picture above)

200g (or a cup and a half) of mixed fresh peas including mange tout and sugar snaps

2 medium hass avocados

1 bunch of fresh dill

2 large handfuls of each of the following: baby red chard, baby spinach, wild rocket

1 stick of celery, peeled and finely chopped (optional, but adds a nice fresh crunch)

Zest and juice of one lime

1 tsp Fresh cracked pepper

Pinch freshly crushed sea salt

1/4 cup peppery tasting cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Method

To make the dressing: Zest the lime in a measuring cup and squeeze in the juice. Add the pepper and salt, then using scissors, finely chop half the fresh dill in. Stir it up, then slowly stream the olive oil in, whisking until it’s fully combined.

To compile the salad:  Share the leaves evenly between the plates. Chop the peas on the diagonal in to thirds and place on top. If using celery, add that now too. Chop the remaining fresh dill over the plates evenly. Cut your avocados into quaters and peel them. Place one quater on one side of the salad and unfold some smoked salmon across it. Slice another quarter of the avocado and place on the other side of the plate, slices fanned out. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve with more cracked pepper to the side for people to help themselves to.

5 Simple Summer Salads

02
Aug

salad #5

One of the things I throw caution to the wind with is summer salads. There’s so much fine produce around that I treat myself to all manner of combinations.  Whether we’ve spent the afternoon walking cross country or lazing in a beer garden enjoying some chilled wine, the below salads always hit the spot and leave us fully satisfied. When I put together a salad I like to mix up my textures, as well as use flavors that lend variety to every bite. I think of them as Bowls of Happiness.

#1: To a mound of arugula, add crumbled walnuts, fresh juicy blueberries and a diced avocado. Zest a lime in a separate bowl and squeeze in the juice. Stir in some fruity olive oil and a few drops liquid stevia (or sweetener of your choice). Drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy.

#2: Pile some greens on your plate, add a handful of tomberries, some thinly sliced celery and diced red bell pepper. Smash some Roquefort in to some mashed avocado with a tablespoon of finely chopped scallions (spring onions) and a few sprigs of chopped fresh parsley. Dollop this mixture on to the plated salad. Quickly sautee some king prawns in a dab of coconut butter and douse them heartily in Tabasco. Top the salad with the prawns and tuck in.

#3: Put a mound of baby spinach leaves on your plate. Chop some fresh dill over and add half a chopped red bell pepper. Add some halved baby plum tomatoes and a few dried cranberries. Mix it up with some olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper and top with a few crumbled pecan halves.

#4: Place mixed greens, cilantro and a chopped scallion on a plate. Add eight cherry tomato halves and half a diced mango. Lightly toast some almond slivers and add those to the mix.  Stir/mash/whip together some olive oil, avocado, pomegranate juice and chipotle sauce and drizzle over the salad.

#5: Pile some greens on your plate, add a handful of halved and pitted cherries, zest a lemon over the top, squeeze half the juice in and drizzle with some cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Top with a sprinkle of slivered almonds and a small wedge of blue cheeseThis one is adapted from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook, a book that inspires me time and time again.