It has been a busy week and this time it had nothing to do with cooking or baking. When you have lived in a home for several years there are inevitable repairs and fresh coats of paint needed. Even though the work was nothing major, the areas in the house being repaired are turned upside down and workmen are in and out of the house all day long. The lingering smell of paint is never very pleasant and I always leave a few large onions peeled and quartered on a tray (in each room painted) overnight, which really helps to remove the smell of paint. Once the repairs and painting have finished (which felt like forever), next comes the cleaning and putting everything back in its place. When everything is so disorganized I like making something quick and easy, to keep in the fridge when hunger strikes… like this delicious smoked mackerel pâté. Continue reading “Smoked Mackerel Pâté with Preserved Lemons”
One of the food blogs that I follow, Jennifer from Delicieux had recently taken part in a food photography challenge, set by another food blogger Simone from Jungle Frog Cooking! Hopping over to Simone’s blog I noticed another photography challenge for September… a dominant white theme… a little colour allowed, but only to highlight the white! With everything around me that I needed… why not give it a try!
I have purposely posted other photographs to show how the lighting and camera settings posed a challenge and affected how some of the images looked. The first and last photographs are the images I am happiest with and I was very undecided which one to put at the top of this post!
With some vanilla olive oil, preserved lemons, feta cheese and props, I set about creating a photograph and recipe around the theme. I used props with different tones of white, some with texture and composed them in a way that appealed to me for this photo shoot… also paying attention to the available natural light and camera settings as I took the photographs!
Placed the prepared recipe of feta cheese, preserved lemons (adding more colour) coated with a little vanilla infused olive oil into the dishes and again some exposure compensations needed adjusting, as I was using aperture setting on the camera!
I stayed away from manual setting on the camera this time and as it was already late in the afternoon, daylight in Bahrain disappears right before your eyes! Trying (which I would have been) to use manual setting and a race against the setting sun would have probably left me in the dark!
A very simple and delicious appetizer that is very easy to prepare! Although I recommend the preserved lemons for their salty lemony flavour and vanilla infused olive oil for its subtle sweetness, fresh lemon zest and a walnut infused olive oil is another alternative! I used a creamy feta cheese which was not so salty, bearing in mind the saltiness of preserved lemons!
Feta Cheese with Preserved Lemon and Vanilla Infused Olive Oil
- feta cheese, cut into 1/2inch cubes
- preserved lemon, finely diced (use your taste as a guide, a little goes along way)
- vanilla infused olive oil
How to make: Pace the feta cheese and preserved lemon into a bowl, drizzle over some vanilla olive oil, you just want the oil to coat the feta cheese. Gently mix together, cover with some cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavours to mingle. Place the feta cheese into small bowls and stick some cocktail sticks into cubes of feta cheese for easy serving!
Would like to know your views and tips when shooting white?
I always like to keep a constant supply of what I call my must-have store cupboard essentials, like home-made vanilla products, dried tomatoes, preserves etc. Even though I refer to them as store cupboard items, some need refrigeration, as living in the middle east does not allow for a cool enough pantry or store cupboard.
Used in Moroccan and North African cooking, preserved lemons are an indispensable and wonderful item to have… at a moments notice food can take on a new dimension both in flavour and taste by adding small amounts of preserved lemons to salad dressings, salads, stews, relishes, pizza toppings, stuffings, marinades and so much more.
When I started preserving lemons I remember following a recipe that used so much salt that I found them inedible and quite horrible, throwing the whole lot in the bin and not thinking much of preserved lemons.
Before satellite TV came to Bahrain my parents would record cookery programs for me and send them by post. Dad was usually in charge of editing but I could always tell when he had nodded off on the job, leaving me to watch cookery programs along with long TV commercials and bits of other programs. And it was in one of those recorded cookery programs I gave preserved lemons another chance… and if you have never tried making them before, it is so worth the effort!
A little goes a long way with preserved lemons, which are salty, tart and intensely flavoursome and when it comes to slicing and dicing the preserved lemons, a good sharp knife is a must, obtaining the finest results.
With a lemon tree (two years) growing in the garden I would so like to tell you that I am using my own organic lemons, but will have to wait until next year… all my lovely little lemons this year turned black and fell off 😦 I am still not giving up… so fingers crossed for next year.
- 5 lemons, (see note below if not using organic or un-waxed lemons)
- 5 rounded tablespoons of sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaf
- extra juice of 3 or 4 lemon (zest beforehand and use in another recipe or dry the peel)
- olive oil
You will need a suitable preserving jar with a tight fitting lid.
How to make: Using a sharp knife cut the lemons lengthways into 4 quarters, stopping just about 1/2cm before the stem, keeping the lemon quarters intact. Open the lemons up a little and place a rounded tablespoon of salt into the middle of each lemon. Tightly pack all the lemons into a clean sterilized jar, adding the mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Cover the jar with a lid and set aside for several hours, by this time the lemons will start to release a little of their juices.
Open up the jar and using the back of a small ladle, push the lemons down into the jar, helping to release more juice. Pour in the extra lemon juice to fully cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the lemon juice and cover with a lid.
Store in the refrigerator for one month before using! When using the preserved lemons remove the pulp and dice or slice the required amount. The pulp can be liquidized and used sparingly in marinades, stews or discarded if wished. Use lemons within six months.
Tip: To help remove and melt the wax from lemons; place lemons into a heatproof bowl and pour over some very hot (not boiling) water. Leave the lemons to sit for a minute or two. Remove the lemons using a slotted spoon or tongs and immediately dry the warm lemons by rubbing them with some kitchen paper or a clean lint free tea towel.
Try using different whole spices like, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamon pods allspice and star anise, you could also add whole dried chilli.
Have you made or used preserved lemons before? What is your favourite way of using them?