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Green curry and broccoli soup

I enjoy hearty dishes in the first cold days of winter, but comes January, I start craving something lighter. This is my perfect January soup: bit spicy, warming and fully comforting, but light and green at the same time.

When you look at the recipe, it might seem like a lot of work, but it's not. The recipe is super easy and putting everything together will take a maxiumum of half an hour and that includes making the curry paste and crispy broccoli topping. And you can always use a good store-bought green curry paste and limit the toppings to fresh coriander and sesame seeds.

Recipe: Green curry broccoli soup

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • one large broccoli, divided into small florets
  • 800 ml vegetable stock
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 limes
  • a handful fresh coriander
Method
  • Heat a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add broccoli florets and cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the stock and coconut milk, combine, cover and bring to boil.
  • Simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are tender - 5-10 minutes .
  • Before serving, blend or process until smooth.
  • Season with lime juice.
  • Top each serving with fresh cilantro and crispy broccoli florets.

Recipe: Crispy broccoli florets

Ingredients
  • a handful broccoli florets
  • one tbsp coconut oil
  • one tbsp soy sauce
  • one tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
Method
  • Heat coconut oil in a small pan, add broccoli and fry for one minute.
  • Add soy sauce combined with honey and continue cooking, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add sesame seeds and combine.

Recipe: Green curry paste

Ingredients
  • 5 medium green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • a bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, chopped
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • one tbsp coriander seeds
  • one tsp ground cumin
  • one tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
Method
  • Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

Seared tuna chunks with sesame seeds

I love tuna! Especially when it's lightly seared outside and almost raw inside. You have to try out this recipe: seared tuna chunks with sesame seeds with amazing dipping sauce with tamarind paste, soy sauce and honey. Perfect for ligh lunch or with a bottle of wine and fine conversation. It's a kind of dish that I appreciate the most: minimal effort, maximum results. The preparation takes 20 minutes tops, looks lovely and is really delicious. Give it a try!

Recipe: Seared tuna chunks with sesame seeds

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 200 g thick tuna steak
  • 3-4 tbsp black and white sesame seeds
  • one tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper
  • one spring onion
  • a few leaves of fresh mint
  • a few leaves of fresh coriander
Method
  • Slice tuna into smaller chunks and coat them in sesame seeds.
  • Heat sesame oil on a pan and sear four sides of each chunk for about 15 seconds per side.
  • Finely chop chilli and herbs.
  • Cut the tuna chunks into 3-4 cm slices.
  • Place tuna on the plate. Top with chilli, spring onion, mint and coriander.
  • Serve with a dipping sauce.

Recipe: Dipping sauce

Ingredients
  • 3 tbso tamarind paste
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • one tsp honey
  • one tsp sesame oil
Method
  • Whisk all the ingredients together.
  • Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Ceviche

I love ceviche: it's delicious and full of flavour, beautiful and super easy to make. It probably derives from Peru, but is popular in many coastal regions of South America. The dish is made from fresh fish, cured in leche de tigre - a marinade made of citrus juices with coriander, chilli and onions.

Citric acid from limes or lemons cooks the fish. I like my ceviche semi-cooked and raw inside, so I usually leave the fish in the marinade for 15-20 minutes. If you're not a fan of raw fish, you can leave it to marinate for a few hours. Some chefs think the best marinating time for ceviche is as short as 2-3 minutes.

I have prepared two recipes - a very basic tuna ceviche and a sea bass ceviche with coconut milk and roasted sweet potato. There's plenty of room for experiments: modify the marinade adding juice from different citrus fruits, use various kinds of fish and seafood or play with the toppings, trying avocado, corn, grapefruit or pomegranate seeds. Make sure to use very fresh, good quality fish.

Recipe: Tuna ceviche

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 300 g fresh tuna steak, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • one garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
  • a few coriander leaves
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Place the tuna in a bowl, add salt, combine and set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Combine lime juice with ginger, coriander, garlic and chilli.
  • Pour the marinade over tuna, delicately toss together and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Before serving, combine with red onion and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or tortilla chips.

Recipe: Sea bass ceviche

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 300 g fresh sea bass, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3-4 tsp coconut milk
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
  • one small sweet potato, roasted and diced
  • a few coriander leaves
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Place the sea bass in a bowl, add salt, combine and set aside for 2 minutes.
  • Combine lime juice with coconut milk, ginger, coriander and chilli.
  • Pour the marinade over the fish, delicately toss together and set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Before serving, combine with red onion, roasted sweet potato and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or tortilla chips.

Roasted fig salad

Light salad with rosemary-roasted figs, watercress and feta. Simple, easy and delicious. Perfect with a glass of dry white wine for autumn dinner.

I hope for many sunny, relatively warm days before winter. Maybe this fall wan't be all warming soups and mulled wine. Just maybe.

Recipe: Roasted fig salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 5-6 ripe figs
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • one tsp brown sugar
  • a handful of rosemary springs
  • 2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Cut the figs into quarters and place them in a baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped rosemary.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes.
  • Divide the watercress between two plates and top with slightly cooled figs.
  • Top with crumbled feta and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

Oysters with mignonette sauce

Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?

I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.

Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.

Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauce

Serves: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
Ingredients
  • 6 fresh oysters
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • one tsp frehs thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Shuck the oysters and place on ice.
  • Serve with mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.
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