Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Is it hot enough for ladies fingers?

what we have planted......
Nothing´s ever too hot for ladies fingers. Okra needs two main things to be outstanding: It needs to be de-slimed, and it needs assertive spices to augment its mildly peppery flavour. Okra, sometimes called Lady Finger, Bindi or Gumbo, is a kitchen garden essential for cuisine such as Cajun, Indian, and African. It is a heat lover and grows best when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees. Okra,you probably love it or hate it, and if you are in the "love it " category like me you will have considered planting it.

We are experimenting with growing the bindi bush in the garden for the first time this year and having planted the seeds are hoping that it will be a way of adding a little tropical flare to our garden.It belongs to the hibiscus family so when mature it displays a fine bush with blooms like a creamy white hibiscus. Most of us garden for pleasure and when what we have grown ends upon our dinner table it´s a double whammy, and to have a beautiful ornamental plant to boot things cant be so bad.
....and what we are hoping for

you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/okra/okra-companion-plants.htm
Okra, you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/okra/okra-companion-plants.htm
Okra, you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/okra/okra-companion-plants.htm
 In Portuguese its called Quiabo and there are a wealth of recipes from Portuguese, Brazilian and Goan traditions.I have spotted it recently in some supermarkets here in the Algarve. It seems to be having a bit of a fashion revival which is what revived my interest.The African slaves brought the plant to Bahia where it was very quickly adopted into the local cuisine. From eating the vegetable over the years in Indian restaurants I have more often than not associated it with tomato sauce.It was really hard to find an "okra in tomato sauce" recipe - even in all six  of my Indian cookbooks. This,  my first revelation was a great find.The sauce was more than flavourful and it could easily go vegetarian with water instead of chicken broth if you were that way inclined. I'm going to try adding a bit of tamarind next time in an attempt to approximate a dish I had in a restaurant once, that had a tart foil to the sweet tomatoes.

Curried Okra with tomatoes
    1 1⁄2 lbs fresh okra
    4 cups tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and crushed or 4 cups canned tomatoes, crushed, preferably organic
    1⁄4 cup peanut oil
    3⁄4 cup onion, chopped fine
    1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine
    1 tablespoon curry powder
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    2 tablespoons hot green chili peppers, chopped (optional)
    3 tablespoons coriander leaves, fresh, chopped
    3⁄4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade and unsalted (or vegetable broth)
    salt and pepper to taste

      Trim off tough stems.
      Put the tomatoes in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
      Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the tomatoes are reduced to about two cups.
      Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium high heat and add onions and garlic.
      Cook, stirring, until the mixture is softened.
      Sprinkle with curry powder and ground coriander and cook briefly.
      Stir in the tomatoes and cook about five minutes; reduce heat if mixture is sticking.
      Stir in chilies,if using and fresh coriander.
      Add the okra, chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste.
      Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until the okra is tender.

      Monday, 18 June 2018

      It’s all the Raj: Go-to Green Apple and Mint Chutney

      I’m sure I’ve said this before,but I will say it again, I am a condiment fiend. One look in our fridge, with all its jars, tubes, and bottles will convince even a skeptic of my affliction.I am always on the look out for new chutneys and everywhere I have looked recently it seems "fresh" chutneys are all the raj.Who needs to sweat over a preserving pan of vinegared fruit when one finger on the pulse of a processor can give you a chutney as fragrant and as fresh as any you´ve ever tried.Ok the shelf life is going to be shorter but then again fresh chutneys are there to be eaten and when I´m around they disappear sharpish. 
      I wanted to avoid cooking and this totally innovative green apple chutney caught my eye. I needed to make something which is quick and something that can be enjoyed with my sandwich for lunch.I had picked up 3 Granny Smith apples at the market and was wondering how to fit them into a recipe!I peeked into the fridge and got out all the stuff that goes into a regular chutney-mint leaves,coriander,ginger,green chilies and put them all in the blender with the cored and peeled apples. That’s when my delicious sweet and fresh tangy Apple Chutney was born!
       Green chutney, also known as coriander or hari chutney, is a refreshing Indian condiment that goes with nearly everything from samosas to seafood,for lunch it can go into sandwiches or salads, and for dinner the possibilities are endless. It works especially well with seafood, be it seared scallops or grilled fish or prawn dishes.Try this green apple chutney for a hot and spicy way to eat your apple a day! This easy recipe pairs well with everything from rice to rotis to steaks and roast chicken.This chutney is a must-have go-to for every fridge.
      Here’s what I blended together for the Green Apple Chutney
      Green Apple and Mint Chutney 
      The lemon juice helps prevent this chutney from turning colour once stored.  
      2 Granny Smith apples/tart cooking apples(peeled,cored and chopped)
      Mint leaves-10 numbers
      Coriander leaves/Cilantro-2 tablespoons
      Green chilly/Serrano-1 no.
      Ginger-1/2″piece
      Lemon juice-2 tablespoons
      Jeera/Cumin seeds-1 tsp(roasted)
      Jaggery/Stevia-2 tsp/to taste (optional)

      tsp cayenne pepper
      Salt-to taste

      Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend till you get a fine paste.
      Adjust salt and sugar according to your taste.
      Serve the Green Apple Chutney with sandwiches, as a dip or as a salad dressing.

      Friday, 15 June 2018

      Greek Yoghurt Chicken Shish Kebab

      Something for the weekend
      I'm not a dietetic diva or anything I swear, I'm not, but if I don’t have a carton of yogurt in my fridge, I can barely eat. I mean, I start almost every single day with the stuff. I'm either dolloping it into my smoothies, stirring it into my morning oats, or topping it with granola and bananas (by far my favourite breakfast).
      And that's just the first meal of the day. For lunch, I´ll stir it through a potato salad, and wait for it, for tomorrows dinner I'll use yogurt as a marinade for my meat.
      Yogurt has two things working for it as a marinade: microbes and lactic acid.The active bacteria in yogurt breaks down protein, making chicken breasts  moist and tender.
      Yogurt has been used for centuries as a tenderizing marinade in the cuisines of India, Iran, Turkey, Greece, and North Africa. If your mouth is watering at the mention of these regional styles of cooking, you’re probably thinking about their characteristically fragrant and flavourful spice blends. Spices flourish in yogurt, in the same way they do in hot oil. And since the yogurt also penetrates meat very effectively, it’s the perfect vehicle for delivering the flavour of spices into steaks, chops, fillets, poultry, and skewered meats of almost any kind. You can use virtually any mix of spices and seasonings, or take inspiration from these classic combinations:

      Indian tandoori style: garam masala + saffron + ginger + garlic
      Greek style: oregano + garlic + lemon
      North African style: ras el hanout + harissa + paprika + preserved lemon + garlic
      Indonesian satay style: Turmeric + coriander seed + lime zest + ginger + garlic + chile

      Don’t forget the salt and pepper. You only need a light coating of seasoned yogurt to make a really delicious and effective marinade. Using re-sealable plastic bags allows you to maximize the contact between the marinade and the meat. Things like prawns and delicate fillets should only marinate for about 45 minutes – other meats can take between 4 and 12 hours and even overnight. It really depends on thickness and density.
      And the limit to the flavour combinations you can create in  pursuit of perfecting your own signature yoghurt-based marinade really only depends on your imagination.so get your marinade in the fridge, light the barbie and Whoooooosh.....Kebabs for dinner.

      Greek Yoghurt Chicken Shish Kebab
      Prep 10 min
      Marinade 4 hr+
      Cooking 15 min
      Serves 4-6
      For the marinade
      100ml greek yoghurt
      ½ tsp ground cumin
      ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
      1 tsp sweet paprika
      ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
      2 garlic cloves, minced
      2 tbsp olive oil
      1 tbsp hot red pepper paste 
      Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
      1 tsp salt
      ¼ tsp ground black pepper

      FOR THE CHICKEN
      8 chicken thighs, boned, skinned and quartered
      4 thin metal skewers, 40–45cm long

      TO SERVE
      Home made pan cooked yoghurt  flatbread
      2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush
      Spring onion, chopped
      Fresh oregano leaves
      Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the chicken, massage the marinade into the meat until well coated, cover and leave in the fridge for at least four hours – preferably overnight.
      Put the chicken pieces on the skewers.
      Grill the skewers directly over medium-hot embers, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through – check with a knife (or to 70C with a thermometer).
      To serve, transfer the flatbreads to a big plate, put the kebabs on another, brush with olive oil, then scatter with the spring onion and oregano leaves.

      Thursday, 14 June 2018

      Avocado Chickpea Tuna Salad with lemon garlic parsley dressing

      Avocado Chickpeas,celery,tuna and a zingy lemon dressing.What´s not to like?
      There is suddenly an abundance of deliciously fresh vegetables ready to eat, and my all time seasonal favourite is the avocado.This year in the Algarve and Andalucia avocados are just falling off the trees like its a production line."Make hay while the sun shines they say. Make guacamole and bruschetta I say, avocado salsa, avocado ice cream, avocado open sandwiches, avocado and mint chutney.I make up a huge batch of this tuna salad (without the dressing or avocado) at the beginning of the week and throw it into an airtight container. When ready to eat, I chop up the avocados, add them in and drizzle with ready made dressing - So easy.
      Avocado Chickpea Tuna Salad 
      This avocado chickpea and tuna salad with a lemon dressing is perfect for lunch or dinner. Quick and easy for meal prep. Healthy and filling, it is not only packed with amazing flavours, it is also a bowl full of protein, fibre and healthy fats.

      FOR THE SALAD:


      15 ounces (425 grams) Tuna, canned in brine or olive oil
      14 ounces (400 grams) can chickpeas, drained
      2 large Avocados, peeled and pitted
      2 large vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
      1 large cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced
      1/2 of a red onion, sliced thinly
      FOR THE DRESSING:
      1/4 cup olive oil
      2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
      1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (plus extra to serve)
      1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 large garlic cloves, minced)
      1/4 teaspoon salt

      Whisk together dressing ingredients in jug or jar.
      Mix together all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Season with pepper and extra salt if desired.

      Make-Ahead Tip: Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl (except the dressing), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, drizzle with dressing.

      Monday, 11 June 2018

      "Give me the poke"

       " beauty is in the bowl of the recipient"
      People used to poke their friends or friends of friends on Facebook for a lot of reasons (for example: just saying hello, to attract their attention or possibly just flirt?).
      My notion of a fresh poke is completely different, and its when I get a spontaneous urge to get in the car and  drive across the bridge to Spain to eat "food thats way too cool." My first thought on arrival is always give me the poke.
      If you’ve never eaten Ahi Poke (POH-kay),you've probably seen poke bowls on social media, overheard the buzz, or seen them on menus... Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish, normally tuna, served up as a raw fish salad.There are tons of variations and most people  make it to their own taste.Fabio Zerbo at ATUNA certainly does that,and by putting his own signature on it he makes it to everybody´s taste."Sheer enjoyment" is a phrase that should be reserved for a visit to the LPA MINI BAR "Atuna" for the consumption of a glass of Veuve Cliquot, a tuna hot dog and an Ahi poke bowl.What more could I ask for.
      tuna hot dog,Ahi poke bowl and a cold beer
      Poke is one of freshest, tastiest, healthiest new food trends around. You can consume 4 ounces of poke for just under 150 calories, only 5 grams of fat, and 24 grams of protein.

      Sunday, 10 June 2018

      Plush Pizza with Caramelized Onion & Prosciutto

      Roll out the red carpet. I had some leftover pizza dough (which is the best kind of pizza dough there is) in the fridge last night, so I whipped up this yummy and exceedingly easy-to-make pizza. Sweet, caramelized onions…very thinly sliced salty prosciutto…beautiful fresh mozzarella, tangy creamy chevre and a splash of flavourful balsamico. It all married together in beautiful harmony.The quantity you need is one HALF of my trusted pizza crust recipe(below). I used the first half for Monday’s Pizza; this half had been sitting in a bowl in the fridge ever since.The pizza crust is better if you prove it a day or two in advance.
      Add some olive oil to a hot pan…Throw in the onions, which need to be pretty thinly sliced.Throw in some flor de sal and if you want, sprinkle on some brown sugar so the onions will really caramelize. Of course, you can caramelize onions without adding sugar…but because the prosciutto is so salty, some like their onions to be sweet.  Toss/stir them around and let them cook very slowly for at least an hour. You want them to be lovely and brown and delicious.Really lay them on thick! Onions are the whole point of this pizza.


      My trusted crust
      250g strong white bread flour
      250g fine plain white flour
      15g fresh yeast
      10g salt
      325ml warm water
      About 1 tbsp olive oil
      1 handful coarse flour or polenta for dusting


      In a bowl, mix the flours, yeast, salt and water to form a sticky dough. Mix in the oil, then turn out on to a clean work surface and knead until smooth and silky. (Alternatively, if you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix the flours, yeast, salt and water on a low speed, add the oil and knead for 10 minutes). Shape into a round, and leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag, until doubled in size.
      Preheat the oven (and pizza stone or substitute) as high as it will go. Take a  piece of dough and roll it into a  round the size of your stone. Dust a rimless baking sheet or pizza pan with coarse flour,stretch the carpet of dough across it.

      Monday, 4 June 2018

      Monday supper -Take a wok on the wild side. Worktop to dinner table top in ten minutes tops

      Take a wok on the wild side
      Left over chicken from yesterday´s lunch? Hack it up and wok it.This one´s super tasty and super quick,like all stir fries,the only thing that takes more than a moment is the prep.So get your ingredients sliced up ready to go and you´ll have dinner on the table in ten minutes tops.The perfect Monday supper,love it.
      Chicken and cashew nut stir fry
      serves 2
      FOR THE SAUCE
      1 tbsp peanut oil 
      Soup spoon chilli flakes
      3 garlic cloves crushed
      1/4 cup chicken stock
      1 tbsp golden caster sugar
      1 tbsp soya sauce
      1 tbsp thai fish sauce

      375g chicken breast,sliced crossways into 1 cm strips
      1 small red pepper,sliced lengthwise
      1 small green pepper,sliced lengthwise
      1 small orange or yellow pepper,sliced lengthwise
      1 carrot,julienned
      1 small red onion,halved and thinly sliced
      1 small bunch of spring onions cut into 3cm lengths
      generous handful chinese leaf,shredded
      75g unsalted roasted cashew nuts

      Put the first 7 ingredients in a large non-stick frying pan or wok over a medium heat and cook until thick.Throw in the chicken.Stir fry until the chicken is just cooked through, 5 minutes or so.Set aside and keep warm.Add all the prepped vegetables except the cabbage and spring onions and give it a good stir to mix.Add a little more water if drying out.Cook for 2 -4 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.Finally put the cashews,cabbage and spring onions into the pan.return the chicken to the pan and cook for just long enough to heat everything through through.Serve with wok noodles.

      Stir-Fry store cupboard at the ready
      Here are my recommended pantry items to always be stir fry ready!
      Fresh garlic
      Fresh ginger (you can keep it in the freezer and easily grate it as needed!)
      Sambal Oelek
      Sriracha sauce
      Soy Sauce (a variety is nice – light, dark, low-sodium and regular. 
      Tamari is a great gluten free alternative for soy sauce)
      Sesame Oil (you can also add toasted sesame oil if you want to expand your pantry)
      Preserved ginger in syrup 
      Fish Sauce (Nam pla)
      Rice Vinegar
      Coconut Milk
      Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder, for a gluten free option), for thickening sauces
      Chicken stock (I always have some on hand. I love the Better than Bouillon™ stock concentrate, so I can mix up as needed in small quantities)
      Wok noodles

      Saturday, 2 June 2018

      Who says fish fingers are just for kids?... says the boy who never grew up

       Home made salmon fish fingers with crispy fried "seaweed"

      There’s something about this time of year that just brings the kid out in all of us, isn’t there? The sun is finally shining,there is a smell of new mown grass in the air and one can finally enjoy the great outdoors. It’s one of my favourite times of year and reminds me so much of my childhood. So why not celebrate  never growing up,with a twist on a childhood favourite: fish fingers, chips and peas.These delicious salmon fish fingers are a great recipe for feeding a crowd, as you can just double, or even triple the recipe, and it’s also a really great way to encourage kids to eat a bit more fish too. You can swap the usual potatoes for sweet potatoes, and create delicious dips for dunking too.Here are two different twists on good old Captain Birds Eye, or as we call him in Portugal, Capitão Igloo.Who said fish fingers were for kids? Take it from the boy who never grew up.
      Thai spiced salmon fish fingers
      makes 24 sticks in total
      small bunch coriander
      4 sticks lemongrass
      1 thumb sized piece ginger
      4 small red chillis
      1 kg salmon fillet
      2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
      3 tablespoons Nam pla( Thai fish sauce)
      Corn meal for coating fingers


      The all new catch of the day!!!
      Chop the coriander,lemongrass,chillis and ginger in a processor.Add the rest of the ingredients and process again.Line a shallow freezable container with cling film and fill it with the processed mixture.Put in the freezer until firm but not frozen,(about 1 hour).Shape into fingers,carefully lay on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 10 minutes turning once.


      Salmon fish fingers with harissa crumb
      Make these salmon fish fingers using  breadcrumbs and spicy harissa paste for a delicious Middle Eastern flavour. Serve with frozen peas and a side of chips of your choice,sweet potato ,chickpea ,polenta or regular fries.


      Prep time 20 minutes
      Makes 10 fish fingers

      Ready in 35 minutes, plus chilling time
      Cooking time 15 minutes

      200g home made breadcrumbs
      28g pack flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
      2 tbsp harissa paste
      ½ lemon, juiced and zested
      4 tbsp plain flour
      1 egg, lightly beaten
      1 kg salmon fillet, skin removed and cut into fingers
      150g light mayonnaise, to serve (
      optional)



      Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Cut the ciabatta into rough pieces and place in a food processor. Blitz until you have course textured breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add the flat-leaf parsley, harissa and lemon zest. Stir well so all the crumbs are evenly coated with the harissa paste.Crumble the salmon into the breadcrumbs and mix well.carefully form the mix into fingers.
      Place the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates, and the egg in a shallow bowl. Dip each finger first in the flour, then in the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs, turning continuously until the whole finger is well coated. Transfer to a lined baking tray and repeat with the rest of the fingers Chill the fingers for 15-20 minutes to firm up, then bake for 12-15 minutes, until crispy.
      Meanwhile, mix together the mayo(if using) and lemon juice and season with black pepper. Serve the fish fingers with the mayo on the side.


      Crispy Chinese "restaurant style" seaweed
      125 g green cabbage pak choi or spring greens
      900 ml groundnut oil
      1 tsp flor de sal
      2 tsp sugar

      Set the oven to 130°C/gas 3. Separate the stalks from the stem of the bok choi and then cut the green leaves from the white stalks. Wash the leaves in several changes of cold water, then drain them thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner.
      Roll the leaves up tightly, a few at a time, and finely shred them into strips 5mm wide.
      Spread them out on a baking sheet and dry them out in the oven for 15 minutes (they should not be completely dry or they will burn when fried). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. This can be done the day before.
      Heat a wok over a high heat, and then add the oil. When the oil is hot and slightly smoking deep-fry the greens in three or four batches. After about 30-40 seconds, when they turn crisp and green, remove them immediately from the wok and drain well on kitchen paper. Leave to cool.
      Toss the crispy greens with the salt and sugar.Serve.

      Monday, 28 May 2018

      "Surf and Turf" risotto com espargos e camarão

      Some things signal the return of spring better than a calendar: birds chirping in the morning, blossom abounding, and a small sea of green-speared asparagus. I love making a simple, superb springtime meal with that in-season inspiration.Asparagus is really only worth eating in the springtime.However we have a history of getting het up over cooking asparagus. So much has been made of getting the thicker end of the stalks tender without overcooking the thinner tips, that some of us avoid cooking it altogether. What is the simplest thing on earth - boiling a vegetable - suddenly becomes shrouded in mystery. There are several reasons not to eat asparagus, including  the fact that it makes some people's wee smell funny, but cooking it shouldn't be one of them.This is the most foolproof easiest and tastiest way that I have found yet to get that wonderful in-season inspirational flavour. 
       The colour of this risotto is really fun, and with the addition of prawns and asparagus it is a complete, but still light, meal. In this recipe the combination of land and sea (surf and turf) works perfectly.
      Risotto com espargos e camarão
      Serves two
      16 asparagus spears (300g), peeled and trimmed
      1.5 litres (2¾ pints) unsalted chicken stock
      30g (1oz) unsalted butter
      8ml (¼fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
      2 shallots, finely chopped
      3 cloves garlic,thinly sliced
      170g (6 oz) Arborio rice
      60ml (2fl oz) dry white wine
      6g (¼oz) finely grated fresh Parmesan
      15g (1oz) mascarpone cheese
      200g small prawns or shrimps

      Cut off the top 5cm of each asparagus spear and set aside. Cut the next 5-7cm into 1cm-thick rounds; discard the remaining portion.
      Put four asparagus tips, ¼ of the asparagus rounds and 45ml (2fl oz) of water in a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside. Pour the stock into a milk pan and bring to the boil over medium heat; reduce to a simmer.
      Melt 25g (¾oz) of the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallots,asparagus rounds,garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until just translucent, about five minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir for about five minutes, then add the wine. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the liquid has evaporated. Add a cup of the stock, stirring often, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid. Add another cup of stock. Continue stirring and adding the stock, 250ml (9fl oz) at a time, until 1 litre (1¾ pints) has been added. At this point, taste the rice. Usually it will need another 500ml (18fl oz) stock and a few more minutes to cook.
      Stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan, mascarpone, and the asparagus purée. remove from the heat. Season to taste. Cover and keep warm.
      Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus tips and warm through, about three minutes. Add the prawns  and continue to cook for three to five minutes; season. Spoon the risotto into warm soup plates, top with the warmed asparagus tips (halved lengthways) and prawns, and serve immediately.

      Thursday, 24 May 2018

      "A cooking Guinea pig" eats Seared Tuna and spiced lentil salsa

      How often does a dish come along that has all the wow factor needed to send it soaring across the globe? This simple seared tuna dish stems from that great London Institution,The Ivy, but is now flagged up by food bloggers and on some of the best food websites in the world, such as Epicurious.When I was asked in 1997 by Richard Erlich,then food and drinks columnist for the Independent on Sunday, to be a"cooking Guinea pig" and put the recently published book, "THE IVY THE RESTAURANT AND ITS RECIPES", to the test,this recipe somehow missed my attention.So how could something so delicious have passed me by? 21 years later it has returned to haunt me, and though long since gone from the Ivy menu I am now adding it as a prominent starter and tasting menu item to the casa rosada portfolio.
      Lentils and tuna are a wonderful combination.Lean tuna replaces the fattier beef loin steak,and a surprise side of lentils, adds an earthy boost of fibre.
      The finest blue fin tuna loin must be used for this dish.The tuna should be cut into approximately 10cm long,4cm x 4cm square,blocks.The fish will be sliced after cooking.If you are serving this as a starter allow about 100g per person or 170g as a main course.The lentil salsa is better for being  made the day before.
      Seared Tuna loin and spiced lentil salsa
      serves 4

      4 x 170g Blue fin tuna steaks

      FOR THE LENTIL SALSA
      100g Puy lentils, soaked for an hour in cold water and washed
      20g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
      1 medium-sized mild chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
      1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
      1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
      ½tsp ground cumin
      ⅓tsp cumin seeds
      2tbsp water
      ½tbsp balsamic vinegar
      ½tbsp sweet soy sauce or light soy
      1tbsp tomato ketchup
      ½tbsp sweet chilli sauce
      2tbsp olive oil
      1tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
      Salt and pepper
      Cook the lentils in salted water for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. Drain and cool them. Place the chilli and ginger in a pan with the onion, garlic, ground cumin and seeds, water and balsamic vinegar and simmer with a lid on for a few minutes, stirring well so that all the flavours infuse. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour into a bowl with the drained lentils. Add the soy sauce, ketchup and chilli sauce, stir well and gradually add the olive oil and chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper, cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight (if time allows). Season the pieces of tuna and cook them on a griddle pan or heavy-bottomed frying pan for 2 minutes on each side. The ideal way to eat tuna is rare, otherwise it becomes dry. Once cooked, serve the tuna on warmed plates with a couple of spoonfuls of lentils and if you are inclined some salad leaves, such as rocket, lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.