If Love is ever sustaining, which I believe it is, where best to find it? Definitely not locked away for special occasions, no Sirree! It is here with us now, every step of the way, right here, right now, feel the beat in your heart? That’s as good a place to start as any, and with every breath you take the possibility to feel love grows! Like the most beautiful of seasons, soon to come, my favourite being lustrous spring.
Now past and present are all around us. Big Ben chimed a new year not less than a week ago; our resolutions will us to make this a healthier and fuller one. All the while we move into 2011 with hopes and dreams that we may not have realised yet - these may soon be unravelled and discovered, and what joy there is in discovery. In discovery we find truth, and through friendship we learn grace. When I think of grace, a few friends spring to mind very quickly, and I’ve written this post for one in particular, who sadly died in December. It’s for a beautiful young woman named Petra, she gave the world much more than she knew, and I was fortunate to know her. Her grace and generosity of spirit are an inspiration and it is without doubt that another Angel lights our night sky, twinkling.
A poem for Petra
In the river of life there you may see,
A radiant Angel of lavender hue,
A girl with a smile, the friend we once knew.
Most beautiful flowers seem never to know,
How much love they bring, wherever they go.
Now gently serene, your memory we will never tire,
You were ceaselessly enchanting, like an acrobat on a wire.
And what happens when their petals fall and float?
They flutter and dance towards the most silent note.
What then, for their brightness once in bloom?
A world without colour, is surely one of gloom?
We share our memories to bring thoughts that heal,
Through our tender goodbyes, we surrender, we feel.
When I see beautiful flowers, it is of you I will think,
Your heart was so generous, the brightest pink.
|A rose amongst Xanthe Pom Pom's|
I hope everyone is feeling rested and restored, and ready for some lovely warming recipes. For me January is a month of cleansing, with gorgeous spices sprinkled over silky scallops, sumptuous celeriac and firm white sea-bass, that is as fresh as the frost falling – all these juxtaposed to December’s traditional chestnuts, hearty game, pleasing pates and dense fruitcakes, make January a lighter, though spicier month for sure.
The first recipe I'd like to share with you in 2011 was a favourite of Petra’s, who though no-longer with us, leaves a lasting and heart warming legacy. It is fresh, beautiful and vibrant, cook with love for your dearest of friends and cherish today, it is with close family and friends that everything is best.
Often our favourite flavours reveal much about our characters. Is it any wonder our appetites remain ever changing? Much like our relationships, when we add the right balance of ingredients magical things happen.
Sea bass Petra's way is deliciously light, and after the prep work of making the sauce, you're good to go, it's a matter of minutes before a delicious delight - it makes for a perfect fish supper for friends as you'll be able to relax and forget about cooking, before quickly pan-frying the sea-bass. When buying sea bass, choose wild if possible, making sure that it’s line or net caught, as with all fish avoid the treachery of trawling. Lets protect fish from extinction - now is a good time to enjoy this sea gem, though not between March to June as they are spawning, it's important we adhere to this in order to protect declining stocks and support our eco-systems.
Special tip – Be a conscious shopper. Petra gave me a bright yellow bag that wraps into a tiny bundle. I carry it with me in my handbag, ready for shopping, we can all make a difference if we make the simplest of changes, say goodbye to carrier bags and hello to Mother Nature!
Sea bass in many ways are the fashionistas of the Oceans, their skins are snake like in appearance, shimmering with a pale iridescent sea green tint, the French refer to them as 'the wolf of the sea' and as the Queens favourite fish, this truly classic fish is oceaniliciously, deliciously lovely, Petra's way. Be sure to kindly ask your fishmonger to scale and gut the sea bass, give an extra wink and smile before asking him to remove the gills as well. This is lovely served with lightly steamed mange tout, drizzled with sesame oil, brown rice and a sprinkling of salt. Oh, and if you don't have a good non-stick pan, now's a good time to invest in one, the difference it will make to your cooking is gastronomic.
Sea bass Petra’s Way
sea bass, 4 fillets
extra virgin olive oil, 50 ml
limes, 3 juiced and zested
Thai fish sauce, 2 tsp
Pineapple, 100g cubed
Passion fruit 2, pulp removed
Ripe mango, 1 stoned and roughly chopped
Garlic cloves, 4 bashed
Red chili, 3 deseeded (temper this to suit your taste buds - the sweetness of the fruit balance the heat of the chili)
Coriander leaves, one small bunch
Mint, 2 sprigs, leaves only
SPRINKLE salt over the skin side of the sea bass fillets and leave to one side. This will give you a lovely crispy skin, that tastes delicious!
MIX all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz for a minute or so, until silky smooth.
PAN – FRY the fillets for five minutes skin side down.
TURN fish over and cook for five minutes on the other side.
HEAT sauce in a pan for a few minutes until gently bubbling.
TRANSFER fillets onto your favourite plates.
SERVE with sauce, best shared with a dear fiend. Whoever is lucky enough will truly appreciate this; expect good conversation, as sea bass is a good source of omega 3.