Along the Grapevine


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G&T Coriander Walleye

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This recipe was inspired by two recent events. First, I had just made the most delicious tonic water ever which I was keen to use in as many ways as possible. The other is that I was the lucky winner of a draw for a fabulous cookbook, Pimp My Rice by Nisha Katona thanks to a lovely blogger, Anjana, author of At the Corner of Happy and Harried. She wrote a very compelling review in this post which will help explain my pure delight in receiving this collection of varied and inspirational recipes using every kind of rice I know of for sweet, savoury and everything in between.

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To add my own thoughts on this book, it appeals to me for two main reasons – its sheer diversity of origins and the use of what I consider to be really good ingredients and flavours. To wit, I have found some of my old favourites, like Indonesian gado gado, Portuguese piri piri and kedgeree from the British raj – all pimped in such a way it is like discovering these dishes for the first time. There are others not so familiar but which I look forward to trying such as Fig Anise Dribbled Pancakes, Hibiscus Lime Sherbet and Tea Steeped Chickpea Pot to name just a few.

As for the ingredients, I was particularly drawn to those I have in abundance in my garden but am still looking for ways to use  – lavender, rose, juniper berries, rhubarb and capers. Also lots of great spices and no shying away from using beer, wine or even the hard stuff for flavouring in a few recipes. Definitely my kind of cookbook!

My original intention was to follow her recipe for Gin and Tonic Coriander Salmon and follow it rigorously, using of course my own tonic water just because I can. However, at this time of year my freezer is pretty full and I try to limit myself to using what I already have, so the one thing I did differently was to use some local walleye (aka pickerel) which I had picked up at a gas station just a week ago. In the recipe I write, I will just refer to fish fillets, and as long as it is a good firm variety, you can pick your own, although the salmon is rather pretty!

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The other change I made in the recipe was to omit the ‘tenting’ in foil. Instead, I baked it in a shallow, covered casserole dish which worked just fine.

G&T Coriander Walley

  • Servings: 4
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1/2 tsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 juniper berries, crushed

grated zest and juice of 1 1/2 limes

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp chopped coriander leaves, plus extra to serve

3 tbsp gin

5 tbsp tonic water

1 – 1.5 lbs fish fillets (original recipe calls for 4 x 4 oz salmon fillets)

1 lime, cut into wedges

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the oil, garlic, juniper berries, lime zest and juice, ground coriander and leaves and gin and tonic in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put the fillets, flesh side down, in the mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (I did about 20)

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 400 F/ or Gas 6.

Select a shallow heatproof casserole. Transfer the fish and the juices to the casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Spoon the cooked basmati rice around the sides of this into the juices. Sprinkle with a few coriander leaves, grind a little black pepper over the top and dot with lime wedges to serve.

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Her recipe for the rice is exactly the way I make it. Rinse and drain 1 cup of rice and put it in a heavy based saucepan with 2 cups of water (a little salt is optional). Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the rice has absorbed almost all the water. Clamp a lid on the pan, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes.

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Linked to Fiesta Friday #97


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A Forager’s Potpourri

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As 2014 draws to a close, I would like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year. On this occasion I am sharing something seasonal to mark the occasion, and something a little different from the usual recipe post. The idea came from one of my favourite DIY blogs I read the other day on how to make your house smell amazing, a sort of stewed potpourri made of winter greens, fruit and spices. I decided to make my own version using mostly fragrant ingredients from my own garden. It seemed sumac, among other things, would be a good addition, as I’ve noticed whenever I dry sumac berries the house smells wonderful.

This is what I used:

a few sprigs of spruce, juniper and cedar

3 or 4 clusters of sumac berries

2 sticks of cinnamon

4 cloves

a few fresh lemon slices

Place all these ingredients in a pot, cover with water, heat and allow to simmer for a few hours.

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The aroma is not overwhelming, even from very close, but is a subtle woodsy outdoor smell which really does make the house smell amazing. I intend to repeat this and vary the ingredients a little each time, perhaps with some surviving herbs and berries, but in the meantime, wanted to share this easy, inexpensive potpourri with you all.

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Pulled Venison with Wild Grape Ketchup

At this time of year, our hunter friends often regale us with a good supply of venison –  a real treat. I have learned how to cook it through experiment. As all game, it can be tough and needs some special care and attention, especially if it is not a young animal.  I  learned that an acidic marinade of wild fruit and berries, sometimes beer or wine is what it really needs as a tenderiser. So when I decided to try a pulled venison and found no suitable recipe on-line, I used my wild grape ketchup I made in the summer. As it is already rich in flavour, I added only some juniper berries as a spice along with garlic and onion. My own junipers are buried in snow, so for the time being cannot experiment with them. I used some commercial ones which you can find in most good shops selling spices.

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If you don’t have any wild grape ketchup on hand, you can use the recipe I have given and simply use a dark grape juice.

Pulled Venison

1 venison roast (approx. 4 lbs)

1 1/2 cups wild grape ketchup

2 onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

10 juniper berries, crushed

1 Tbsp liquid smoke (optional)

1 tsp salt

Cut the roast into four pieces. Place it in a slow cooker. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over it. Turn the slow cooker on to high, and once it is good and hot turn to low and cook for 6-8 hours, until the meat can be pulled.

Remove the meat from the sauce, pull it with two forks. Meanwhile, continue cooking the sauce while pulling the pork. Remove about 1 cup to be used as a sauce, and put the pulled meat into the remaining sauce and heat through.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could do it in a heavy, covered pan in the oven 325 F to begin with and then when hot lower it to 275 F for roughly the same amount of time.

This can be used as a sandwich filling, but I served it on a bed of mashed turnip, potato and parsnip with sauteed brussel sprouts on the side. It was every bit as tender and tasty as I expected it to be.

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