The three ingredients for this month’s Royal Food Joust are apple, cayenne pepper and maple syrup, picked by Natasha @5 Star Foodie. When I saw this I have everything in the kitchen, Dutch baking apples from our neighbours, maple syrup from Canada and cayenne pepper sitting on the shelf. It immediately inspired me to make a pot roast pork. I like the idea of using roast apples instead of apple sauce. The cayenne pepper did not make the pork too spicy at all because of the maple syrup; the fragrance of the herbs infused into the pork without the need of marinating the pork loin and the masala wine in the gravy sauce made a nice finishing touch for this dish.
It’s almost end of October, just in time to join the monthly Foodie event: Royal Foodie Joust created by Jenn’s The Leftover Queen’s Forum-The Foodie Blogroll. Each month, the previous month winner will pick three ingredients for the following event.
Last month’s winner, Peter from Souvlaki for the Soul had made a tempting Greek dessert-Halvas of which his wonderful picture had certainly caught my attention immediately. He has picked the following ingredients for this month’s event:
Fennel (whole, ground, seeds)
Dairy (in any form)
Personally I am not fond of fennel bulbs (due to the liquorice) but fennel seeds seem to be okay when mixed with other things.
Out of curiosity, I did a little search about fennel seeds and learnt that Fennel Seeds are very effective for digestive problems. These seeds can be chewed for beneficial effects to the stomach. In India, these are routinely chewed upon after meals to aid in digestion after a rich meal while acting as a herbal mouth freshener.
Recently when I spent the holiday in France, I bought three boxes of candies because the tin-containers are pretty (see picture below). Each sweet has a fennel seed inside. I did not know why they have to be like that now I understand the reason behind…..
At first I do not plan to join this month’s event because of the choice of fennel. But tonight, I have a friend coming over for dinner and she hopes I can make something Thai for her so it inspires me to make this Northern Thai curry for her, it’s adapted from Darlene Schmidt’s recipe. We all enjoyed this curry very much, it had a very unique taste that blend the Thai and Indian curries together. I find making curries from scratch are always special because you cannot easily find the same taste in the restaurants. Whatsmore I like mixing things in general since I was little and it’s very nice to see how the spices can produce so many different flavors when mixed together. So here’s my entry:
- 1 small can coconut milk (165ml)
- 400g natural bifudus yogurt
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 shallots, cut into pieces
- 1 onion, cut into pieces
- 1 fresh tomato, cut into pieces
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 red chili & 1 green chili (removed seeds and cut into small pieces)
- 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. fish sauce
- approx 6cm piece of ginger, grated
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp graham masala
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
To put into the curry:
- 1 medium chicken, chopped into pieces
- 4 carrots, cut into pieces
- 1 purple onion
- 2 tomatoes, cut into big pieces
- 6-8 mini yellow aubergines, cut into halves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, break into halves
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, cut with scissors only use the leaves
- Cut the whole chicken into pieces.
- Preheat the oven at 200°C.
- Make the curry sauce by blending all curry sauce ingredients in a food processor.
- Put the chicken, purple onion, carrots, aubergines and the cinnamon sticks into a baking tray and then pour the curry sauce over, stir until they are mixed with the sauce.
- Place the baking tray into the oven and bake at for 1 hour or so until chicken and vegetables are cooked.
- Remove the baking tray from the oven.
- Serve the curry on your favorite dish and generously sprinkle the parley on top.
- Serve with Indian Roti Parathra, basmati or long grain rice
I have joined Foodie Blogroll last week and subsequently in the forum there. I have to say it’s really a great platform to meet other foodies out there who have the same interests as you. There you can feel free to ask any questions. While I was browsing in the forum, I discovered that there is a monthly foodie event: Royal Food Joust. Each month there will be a winner and he/ she will choose 3 ingredients which the following month’s contestants must include in their recipe.
Peter is the winner for July and he has picked Cilantro (Coriander), Seafood and Sesame (seeds and/ or oil) for August.
I felt this is a great idea and so I decided to give a try and have some fun. It feels different when someone choose the ingredients for you than you decide it yourself.
So last Friday I had my creative Friday, my rationale was to create a summer dish that is refreshing and light. I have never cooked couscous but it came into my mind all of a sudden that this is a great combination with the tuna and salad.
So here is my submission: Pan-seared Tuna with Tomato couscous and Rocket salad
- 600g fresh tuna (best to get the ones suitable for sushi or tell the fish monger that you want to pan-seared & ask him to find you a suitable piece, they are usually friendly & helpful)
Sauce for Tuna:
- Handful of (Cilantro) Coriander finely chopped, only use the leaves and thin stalks
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp aceto balsamico
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- few drops of Tabasco sauce
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
Tomato & Coriander Couscous
- 1 big red onion or 2 small ones, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 3 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small cubes
- a handful of cilantro finely chopped
- 200g couscous
- 200ml hot water (a little less if you have a lot of juice come out from tomato, Ratio of water: couscous is 1: 1)
- 1/2 cube of vegetable or chicken bouillon
Rocket (rucola) salad
- 120g rocket (rucola) salad, washed and drained
- half a lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
1. Prepare the couscous
- Heat up some olive oil in a pan, add in the garlic and onion and cook for 1 min and keep stirring
- Add in the chopped tomateo, mix them and sauté for 5 mins in medium heat.
- At the same time, boil some water in a steamer. Put the couscous in a wide bowl that can fit in the steamer.
- Melt the bouillion in the hot water
- Using a big spoon, mix in the tomato mixture into the couscous and then add in the boillion mixture
- Steam the couscous for 30 mins.
- Take out the couscous from the steamer, drizzle about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil & mix in the chopped cilantro and season with a little bit of salt if necessary
- This can be kept aside for the time being
2. While the couscous is in the steamer, prepare the sauce for the tuna and pan-sear the tuna
- Roast the sesame seeds for 3-4 mins on medium heat until they turn slightly brown
- Place the roasted sesame seeds into the pestle and mortar, crush them for about 8 – 10 times and transfer to a bowl
- Mix in the other ingredients of the sauce to the bowl (except the coriander, we put this last) as described above and set aside
- Heat up the griddle pan or a frying pan, then pour in some olive oil. Slowly place the tuna fillets into the pan and pan sear the tuna for approx 2 mins on each side (depends on the thickness of your tuna)
- Remove the tuna from the pan and place them on a plate with kitchen towel for absorbing excess oil
3. Prepare the rocket salad
- Put the rocket salad in a big salad bowl. Dress the salad with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
- Keep aside
4. Now by this time you should have everything ready, you can slice up the tuna carefully
5. Divide them onto four serving plates
6. Put some rocket salad and a few spoonful of the couscous on each plate
7. Lastly you mix the chopped cilantro into the sauce you prepared before and using a spoon, top the sauce on the tuna (Do not top too much liquid from the sauce to avoid the plate too wet, serve the excess sauce aside for dipping). It is now ready to serve.
Note. Normally couscous is cooked in the water for a few minutes when you read the instructions from the pack, I learnt the steaming method from Jamie Oliver’s Cookbook: Jamie’s Italy where he learnt it from an Italian old lady. I think although it takes longer than boiling but the flavor of slow cooking should be better as the flavor of the vegetable should immerse well into the couscous.