Short Order: UK is OK for good food ideas

I'm writing this column in the UK, although by the time you read it, I should be back amid the serenity and calm of the Middle East.

burger image 88 (photo credit: )
burger image 88
(photo credit: )
I'm writing this column in the UK, although by the time you read it, I should be back amid the serenity and calm of the Middle East. My relatives in Edgware, Middlesex, think I'm here to spend time with them - and, to an extent, this is true; but what I have really come for is to see what new cookbooks my sister-in-law has acquired in the year since I last visited. In this respect I have not been disappointed. But first, here is Renata's own recipe for the outstanding starter I was served on the evening I arrived. BEAUTIFUL SOUP 1 medium to large butternut squash (dalorit), peeled and chopped 4 medium leeks 3 large carrots 125 gr. mushrooms 3 sticks celery 1-2 zucchini salt and pepper to taste Chop the vegetables, add water to almost cover them and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Liquidize in the blender. IT WOULD be asking a lot of Short Order to resist a cookbook called Keeping It Simple, in which author Gary Rhodes emphasizes that "quality ingredients are the essence of good food." Here's a recipe that intrigued me. TOASTED SEA BASS AND ORANGES WITH BASIL YOGURT 3 large oranges 150 ml. natural yogurt 1 largish bunch of basil salt to taste 4 175-gr. fillets of sea bass (denise), with the skin on olive oil coarse sea salt demerara sugar, for sprinkling (To segment the oranges, top and tail them using a serrated knife. The rind and pith can now be removed by cutting in a sawing motion down the sides. Cut between each membrane to release the segments, and place them on a baking tray. For the fish to emerge attractively crispy, Rhodes suggests scoring the skin by cutting across it.) Pour the yogurt into a blender with the basil leaves. Blend until smooth, seasoning with a pinch of salt. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water. Preheat the grill (broiler). Grease a baking tray and arrange the fillets on it, skin side up. Brush them with oil and sprinkle on some salt before placing them under the grill, as close to the top as possible. Grill for about 3 minutes until golden brown and crispy, then move the tray to a lower shelf. Sprinkle some sugar over the orange segments and place them under the grill for a moment or two to warm them. This should also cook the fish a little more. (I would check here to make sure the fish is ready; if not, grill a little longer.) Serve the fillets with the oranges and basil sauce. FROM THE same cookbook, I liked this idea for imparting a little zing to a healthy but occasionally bland vegetable. SPICY CAULIFLOWER 1 small cauliflower, divided into florets 1-2 Tbsp. canola oil 1 large onion, sliced 1 clove of garlic, crushed 1 tsp. medium curry powder a knob of butter salt and pepper to taste 1 Tbsp. chopped coriander (kuzbara) 150 ml. natural yogurt a generous squeeze of lime (or lemon) juice Plunge the cauliflower into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for a few minutes, until tender, before draining. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder and sauté for 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add the butter and cauliflower and sauté for 5 minutes more, stirring to coat the florets with the curry flavor. Season with a pinch of salt and sprinkle with the coriander. While the cauliflower is cooking, mix the yogurt with the lime or lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper. Drizzle the yogurt over the cauliflower, or serve separately. LET ME end with another Renata recipe that is tasty, filling and low-calorie (for this you need a George Foreman-type grill, also known as the "Lean, Mean, Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine." Check Google for details.) SLIMMERS' CHICKEN BURGERS 900 gr. minced chicken or turkey 1 large onion, finely chopped 2 eggs salt and pepper to taste generous amount of tomato puree Oil the grill lightly. Mix the ingredients and spoon blobs of it onto the heated grill, shaping them with a spoon. Close the top and grill for 5 minutes. (Optional): Serve with a slightly sweetened tomato sauce flavored with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Makes 14 burgers.