Want to know how to steam fish to perfection? Or make a tangy chutney that gets the most out of the fruit from your kitchen garden? Silvena has the answers. Plus she shares more of her recipes, this week making the most of the clean, fresh taste of cucumb
Friday’s domestic diva Silvena Rowe is here to solve all your kitchen glitches.
Food columnist, regular on British TV, award-winning cookery book author – not to mention establishing Quince, a contemporary restaurant at the May Fair Hotel in London – Silvena Rowe has a wealth of culinary knowledge and experience. And she’s going to share it with you.
Celebrity chef Silvena has recently made Dubai her home, and as she immerses herself in the diverse flavours and ingredients of the region, she’s inviting you to join her on her culinary journey.
While she shares some of her favourite recipes with you, she’s also here to answer your questions. If your meringue peaks are failing to pique anyone’s interest, your lasagna is lacking in flavour, or you just can’t hunt down an ingredient for a dish you really want to try, drop her a line and she’ll try to help.
My family and I love chicken when we buy it from a rotisserie or take-away as it’s nice and succulent but when I try to make it at home it turns out dry and chewy. How can I ensure my chicken stays juicy?
Grilling a whole chicken can be quite tricky so start by grilling chicken breast. Always grill on medium heat – not high – and turn the chicken every few minutes for even cooking. Also, while grilling chicken, leave the skin on as the fat in the skin prevents the chicken from drying out. If you don’t like the taste of the skin, remove it after you’ve allowed the chicken to rest. The kind of marinade and marination time also determine the succulence of the meat. I think a simple marinade of olive oil, mustard, garlic, herbs and lemon juice is delicious. Apply it all over the chicken, cover in cling film and then refrigerate overnight for best results.
On one hand, I am excited about how well my tomato plants are doing but on the other, I don’t know what to do with a huge basket of tomatoes that I know I’m going to harvest soon. Please suggest a recipe for a tomato chutney that’ll last a long time in the refrigerator, so I don’t have to give my tomatoes away as I am suddenly feeling possessive about them.
I totally understand how you feel about what comes out of your kitchen garden – after all, these are the fruits of your labour! So here’s a recipe that is not just delicious but extremely versatile too.
Combine 1 cup of white sugar with 1 cup of packed brown sugar, 3 cups of apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder and some salt in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until all the sugar dissolves.
Next, lower the heat and add about 1.3 kilos of tomatoes that have been deseeded and roughly chopped, 2 large onions that have been chopped, 1 cup golden raisins and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Stir well and allow to cook, uncovered, over a low heat for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally.
When cooked, take the chutney off the heat and let it cool down completely. When it reaches room temperature, spoon it into a sterilised jar with an airtight lid and refrigerate. It stays fresh for a month. You can even store it in an uncovered jar in the refrigerator.
I can assure you that you’ll prize this delicious chutney as much as you prize your tomatoes.
Some Middle Eastern recipes ask for pomegranate molasses. What is this and where can I buy it in Dubai?
It is a concentration of pomegranate juice and sugar, which has been cooked to a syrup-like consistency.
It has a concentrated sweet and tangy flavour and is mainly used as a salad dressing. You would have tasted it in a fattoush salad (see recipe on page 69). It also makes a great marinade and an enjoyable drink. Just dilute it with some water or soda and add a pinch of chopped mint for a refreshing taste.
It is widely available in Iranian grocery stores and supermarkets selling Middle Eastern foods. In fact, look for it when you next go to the spice souq.
I think I am suffering from oven phobia and what is adding to my trepidation is the belief that ovens have a mind of their own. Is that true? How do you ‘domesticate’ this appliance?
Ovens can be tricky so when you say that they have a mind of their own, I agree. Every oven is different. The best way to get over your fear is by using your oven as often as possible and making amendments as you go.
It is vital that you know that there are largely two types of ovens. Fan-assisted ovens are commonly those table top three-in-ones that go by the name OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) and the other one is a conventional oven that comes as a part of a gas cooking range or an electric one.
Fan-assisted ovens are preferred as they have a fan inside that distributes the heat evenly and therefore ensure the food cooks evenly. The conventional oven, on the other hand, does not have that feature so it can lead to uneven cooking.
What you need to remember is that most baking recipes give oven temperatures for conventional ovens as they are more common than fan-assisted ones, unless of course specified otherwise.
So if you have a fan-assisted oven, reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. Also, ensure you do not leave your oven unattended. Check regularly to ensure you cook dishes right through at the correct temperature.
Whenever I go to a Far Eastern restaurant or an Indian one, I like to try steamed fish if they have it on the menu. Now I want to try making it myself. Is it difficult to prepare fish this way?
I’m glad you asked this question as I believe steamed fish is not only easy to make, it is extremely healthy and versatile, depending on the flavourings you want to add.
What is vital, however, is the quality of the fish. When buying fish, make sure it is absolutely fresh. Clean it well, season with flavourings you like and wrap it really well in either banana leaf or foil.
It is very important that the fish is well wrapped and there is absolutely no possibility of any steam escaping during the cooking process.
Place it in a hot oven and allow 10 minutes for a 180g fillet.
Remove from the oven and allow the package to rest few minutes, then open very carefully and serve. ● Do you have a question for our Domestic Diva, Silvena? Email her at Friday@gulfnews.com. Please write ‘Domestic Diva’ in the subject line of your email.