Pascale's Kitchen: Time for readers to choose

This week, I am including three recipes that were requested by readers that I thought would be a shame not to share with everyone.

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Every week, readers send me comments about and requests for my food column. Sometimes people want to share childhood memories they recalled when they tried out one of my recipes, or they write to me with requests for certain recipes. At other times, I receive requests to come up with some new variation just to spice things up.
This week, I am including three recipes that were requested by readers that I thought would be a shame not to share with everyone.
The first one is a fish recipe that is about as easy as it gets. It doesn’t require any special ingredients you don’t already have in your pantry, and it literally takes no more than 5 minutes to prepare. You can cook the fillets in a pan that you bring straight to the table for serving.
The second recipe is for portobello mushrooms that are filled with eggplant and cheese. This can be served as a starter or the main dish, and always brings about lots of compliments.
The last recipe is for spelt cookies that are baked as a roll. The recipe calls for date filling, but you can really use any filling you choose – such as chocolate spread – and you can store the cookies for up to two weeks.
Makes 3 rolls (35-40 cookies).
3 cups spelt flour, sifted
2 eggs
200 g. butter
1 tsp. rum extract
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 packet baking powder
1 container date spread
Zest and juice from 1 orange
¾ cup chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnuts or almonds, chopped
2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbsp. sugar
Powdered sugar
Add the flour to the bowl of an electric mixer and form a well in the center. Add the eggs, butter, rum extract, vanilla sugar and baking powder to the center and mix on medium speed until dough falls away from sides. Alternatively, you can knead by hand.
Split the dough into 3 sections. Flour your work surface and roll out each section until it’s ½ cm. thick.
To prepare the filling, add the filling to a small pot and add the orange juice and zest. Cook over a low flame until mixture is smooth.
Add the chocolate chips. If the mixture is too thick, you can add some more orange juice of water.
Spread 1/3 of the mixture on each section of the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with 1/3 of chopped nuts. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on each one, too.
Roll up each layer of dough starting from the side closest to you. Pinch ends to secure them well.
Place dough rolls on a baking sheet and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 30 minutes or until they’ve turned golden brown. Remove and let cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice and serve. Store in an air-tight container.
Makes 5 servings.
5 sea bream fillets
2 spicy green peppers
6 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. pickled lemons, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and dry the fish. Cut the pepper into thin slices and remove the seeds. Peel the garlic cloves. Slice some of the cloves and cut others in half.
Pour the oil into a large pan. (It’s very important that each filet have its own space in the pan.)
Add the small garlic pieces and sauté. Place the fillets skin side down, and press down lightly on each filet with a spatula so that the entire filet is touching the pan. After a minute or two check to see if the bottom half is cooked through and then flip over filet and cook for another minute on the second side.
Remove the cooked fillets and start another batch with the remaining fillets. When they’re all done, return all the fillets to the pan and then add the rest of the garlic, the pepper slices and more olive oil if necessary.
Cover the pan and lower the temperature. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the pickled lemon, parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper. Cover and cook another 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.
Makes 6 servings
6 portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red or yellow onion, chopped finely
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium eggplants, cubed
150-200 g. salty or Safed cheese, cubed or crumbled
½ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup scallion, chopped
1 XL egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Tomato sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped finely
3-4 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp. thyme leaves
½ tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1½-2 cups water
Cut off the stems of the mushrooms, then rinse and dry them well. Set aside. Slice the mushroom stems thinly.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped mushroom stems. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the eggplant cubes. Add the salt and sauté until vegetables have softened.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and then add the cheese, parsley, scallion and the egg. Mix well.
Take a bit of the mixture and fill the mushrooms. (If there’s any leftover filling, you can bake it in a separate dish.) Sprinkle panko on top.
To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a pan that can be used in the oven. Sauté the onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes until they’re translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Stir.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Arrange the stuffed mushrooms inside the pan. Spoon the sauce onto the mushrooms. Cover with foil and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180°C (around 355°F) for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin