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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just for starters................

An old favourite served with a new twist!
Try scallops and avocado with nasturtium flowers instead of the classic marriage of prawns. Lightly grease a ring mould per plate, press down some avocado pieces into each mould, add a layer of scallops then a layer of dill and lime flavoured mayonnaise. Remove the ring mould and garnish with a sprig of dill, a flower or two and just a trickle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Razor Clams

Bored with prawns and oysters for Christmas and then try one of my top favourite things, Razor clams (pinna bicolor).

I was amazed to find these heavenly clams at the Sydney Fish Markets just recently. I had always believed they were a European mollusk available only to travelers and those lucky enough to live on the Spanish or French coastlines where they are found in abundance. Elusive like Monk fish (Stargazer) in Australia, Razor Clams come from South Australia but are a rare sight and a food experience not to be missed. If I had my way, I would eat them every day and must confess I did exactly that when we were last on the Costa Brava. I could not get enough of them!

Pre-soaking them as follows is a personal choice and not necessary if the clams look clean or if your fishmonger says they have been pre-purged in salt water. If in doubt about their cleanliness fill a sink with water, toss them in and liberally sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of plain flour over the top of the water and leave for an hour or so. The clams ‘take’ in the flour then ‘spit’ it out cleaning themselves in the process. Then rinse in several changes of water. Mussels also benefit from this procedure.

There are several ways to cook Razor Clams depending on your preference.

To steam: Lay the clams in a bamboo basket or any kind of steamer and gently steam them for a few minutes until they open.

For a more rustic approach: pat them dry, turn with tongs continuously on a lightly oiled hot plate (a plancha) until they open and are cooked through.

To boil: Pour a little white wine, a little water , a sliced spring onion and a few sprigs of parsley into a saucepan, add the clams and bring to the boil and cook for exactly one minute. Drain immediately and discard the other flavourings.

I love to eat them coated with just a little garlic-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped parsley, a grinding of black pepper or two and masses of delicious bread to mop up the juices.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Corn Puffs

Zucchini (courgette) and feta fritters are all the rage for breakfast, lunch or as an entrée for dinner according to Good Living Magazine. Reading about them only yesterday rang big bells and prompted me to search for my mother’s recipe for corn puffs (fritters) - something she made regularly during our childhood. Excellent served with tzatziki on the side for a little bit of Greece, or mango chutney if curry powder is used – either way they’re easy to make and everyone will ask for more. Mum used corn now it’s zucchini, where she used curry and mashed potatoes now it’s feta - other than that her recipe is almost identical to anything I could find on the web and more often than not I came across recipes including all three: zucchini, feta and corn. So there you go, Mum, ahead of your time!

Corn Puffs (as Mum gave it to me)

1 small tin corn niblets, drained
1 cup mashed potatoes with a drop milk
½-cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large or 2 small eggs
1 small onion
1-teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Parsley, chopped

Beat eggs, sift flour and add to potatoes together with baking powder, curry powder, salt, lots of ground black pepper, corn, onion and parsley.

Heat oil in a pan, add a dessertspoon of puff mixture and fry on both sides until golden. Serve with mango chutney and lime pickle as one of several Indian dishes.

For the trendy fritter alternative: Substitute 100g feta for the potato mash, 400g zucchini for the corn or use half of each and include perhaps a little garlic and lemon balm just to perk things up a bit. Omit the curry powder and serve with Tzatziki.

Tzatziki: for a more complex and interesting version of this famous Greek side dish: drain the yogurt, add a small amount of olive oil, a few drops of vinegar, grate the cucumber, cream the garlic with salt and finally throw in a little chopped dill and mint.

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