Salmon with Spicy Tomato Rice

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Spur of the moment invention dinner…

As part of my green journey, I have been slowly reducing the number of production steps between me and the raw materials. Last week, I used the last can of tomatoes from the pantry and resolved henceforth to only use fresh tomatoes where previously I would have used the canned variety.

Obviously this means a little more planning ahead due to the shelf life of fresh tomatoes v their tinny competition. So the tomatoes I bought last we were starting to scream for attention and tonight was the night. I wanted to do something a bit different and also empty out the freezer a little more – still don’t have much space for frozen soups and TV dinners after giving up the chest freezer in the garage.

I took some salmon steaks out and only once they were committed to defrosting did I stop to consider how tomatoes might figure in tonight’s dining experience. I got some ideas from Google, selecting this one for Mexican tomato rice and beans from Fine Foods as my base.

It looked like – and was – a quick cook so I got the rice on first. Now that the last of the white rice is gone, it’s all brown from here on – I’m using a mix of long and short grain – with black held in reserve for special occasions. The spicy tomato bit has this in it:

  • 1 teaspoon of oil (grapeseed tonight)
  • 6 close of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 generous tablespoon of Jalapenos, also finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of black salt (the colour doesn’t really mean anything)
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 can of red kidney beans (also the last can)
  • 440 grams of fresh tomatoes, blended
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of coriander powder (will use crushed seeds next time)

I started by frying the garlic and jalapeno in the oil til the flavours were rally strong – about a minute – before stirring in the spices and slat. After a couple of minutes add the tomato and beans, followed by the herbs. If it looks a tad dry, add about half a cup of water (I rinsed  the bean tin into the pan).

Once this is simmering away, I added the salmon steaks, and let it all simmer away until the rice was done.

Nice a simple. Hot and spicy. Brought out a good sweat on a cold wind wet night…

Took out some more fish to do again with the leftovers tomorrow…

 

Fresh bread

 

Bread baking 1 Jun 16

Jalapeño corn bread on the left, kumara bread on the right, each less an initial tasting slice….

Life is a little intense at the moment so I have been working quite hard to keep busy…idle hands and all that…

I tend to hoover up recipes that interest me and then have trouble find an opportunity to both cook and consume them…last week a flu-ey friend provided an excellent justification for a bake-athon…which proved unexpectedly therapeutic as well…I didn’t finish til after 1AM but was surprisingly refreshed when I emerged from under the covers into the brutal cold of Raurimu at 6AM…

I liked the concept of Jen Rice’s jalapeño cornbread and liked my first attempt at it but it didn’t rise very well. I’m not sure if that is just down to me, the use of beer as a yeast, or the specific beer that I used. It did have quite a good kick though, which is kinda the whole point of putting jalapeños into anything…

To address the rising issue, the next time, I just added the corn and jalapeños into my normal bread mix for the breadmaker. I didn’t reduce the water enough to compensate for the moisture in the corn and jalapeños but it still rose OK although the greater bulk meant that the jalapeño effect was a lot more subtle – it still got a thumbs up from the taste team though…

So, last week, I was keen to master breadmaking sans breadmaker – mechanical breadmaker, anyways – and I had this recipe from the Nadia Lim collection to try.

Ingredients

  • orange kumara (sweet potato) 300g (about 1 medium), peeled and chopped
  • active dried yeast 1 tablespoon
  • sugar 1 teaspoon
  • lukewarm water 1 cup
  • high-grade flour 1 cup + extra for kneading and dusting
  • wholemeal flour 2 cups
  • salt 1 ½ teaspoons
  • Rosemary 2 tablespoons finely chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons

Method

  • Cook the kumara in boiling salted water until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well and mash with a little salt to taste.

  • While the kumara is cooking, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl. Leave on the bench for about 10 minutes until frothy.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt and rosemary. Add the oil, mashed kumara and yeast mixture, and mix until well combined. If the dough is too wet, you may need to add a little more flour.

  • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a floured surface, adding a little extra flour as needed, until dough is soft and elastic.

  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel or clingfilm, and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes – it should have doubled in size.

  • Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the dough in half and shape into two loaves. Place the loaves on lined tray and cut a few 1cm-thick slashes on top of them with a knife.

  • Now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius

  • Leave the dough to rise for a further 20 minutes or so.

  • Dust the loaves with a little flour. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a crust has developed and the base sounds firm and hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before slicing.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to zap the kumara in a microwave steamer instead of cooking it in a pan; using only high-grade four with a 1/4 cup of bran flakes to add the wholemeal content – this is how I do my wholemeal bread and it seems to work out OK; and I’m using black sea salt for all my salt contributions…

I had bought some active dry yeast last year for my pizza experiments – although I had done a few pizzas since, I hadn’t checked the ‘best by’ date which was some time in February. The yeasting issue was in doubt for a while – we can’t just pop down to the supermarket here: the closest one is 40km away, the closest 24 hours one a good two hours away – but everything eventually frothed up nicely after a half hour or so…it helped, I think, putting the bowl up in the mezzanine for a while in the warmer air from the fire…night-time temperatures here have been below zero the last couple of weeks…

Once the kumara bread was safely in the oven, I made up another batch of dough, waited another 30 minutes for the yeast to do its thing and swapped out the kumara and rosemary for a can of drained corn kernels and a half cup of drained pickled jalapeños – you simply cannot buy them fresh here, it would appear – and completed the recipe as above…

As you can see above, the finished loaves look pretty good and they taste pretty good too…I have been toasting 3-4 slices each night to dip into my dinner soup and lunch today will be toasted cheese (still trying to polish off the last kilo brick that I had in the freezer) on jalapeño bread…

This recipe seems to be a keeper for bread from scratch. It is very simple and painless and makes two loaves versus one from the original recipe I was using. The loaves will freeze well and so I may do a stock-up bake in the next couple of weeks: even with the cost of the can of corn and the jalapeños, it is way less expensive than buying speciality loaves from the supermarket…