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Quick Meal - Gnocchi with Shrimp in Harissa Sauce

Quick Meal - Gnocchi with Shrimp in Harissa Sauce

The thing in this dish is really the garlicky harissa sauce that gives it the warmth that otherwise is the domain of a cheese sauce. Smashed garlic and generous teaspoon of harissa slowly infuses the oil in which the shrimp is cooked and then add pasta and arugula blanched in the pasta water and you are gold!

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Comfort Coddle

Comfort Coddle

What is the dish that you crave on a cold, blustery Winter morning?

Me? I like a good egg with runny yolk, creamy polenta and some spice. Give me that and I am a content woman {note to sig. other. ha!}. It is the simple things that make a world of difference to me. In that I can be rather finicky. The polenta has to be creamy but not runny. The egg soft with fully cooked whites but not crispy anywhere. And, certainly, a delicately raw yolk that separates itself in a quick stroke from the cooked white self-ramekin. 

Anyway, now that I have gone on about the perfect consistency that turns a frown into a smile, you must want to know how to. Well, the secret for both the egg and the corn is ........! 

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Everyday Meals... a Ramen and a Salad

Mushroom Ramen

So many times in our blogs, we try to reach for the stars in flavors, in creativity .. showcase our talent by doing something different from the many, many blogs out there... that it really does feel like a competition sometimes. One that can consume your time without remorse and turn into an obsession bordering on addiction.

Salad Ingredients

Anyway, one of the days I was craving something warm and soothing and just wanted Ramen. But, I also wanted something vegetarian and I had picked up some great looking Shitake and Bunashimeji mushrooms and went with that.

Salad - Arugula, serrano ham, quail eggs and mayan prawns

For another meal, I decided on the opposite end, a lovely light salad of arugula, HUGE Mayan shrimps, quail eggs, pear and Serrano ham.. simple ingredients that each bring a layer of flavor that work beautifully drawn together with a light drizzle of good olive oil and shaved Parmesan.

Mushroom Ramen

(I used peanut oil to cook this ramen because it really adds a lovely earthy flavor to the dish.)

1 small basket Shitake mushrooms
1 small basket Bunashimeji mushrooms
1 square of egg noodles
1 bunch of bokchoy
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch garlic, minced
4 cups chicken/vegetable broth
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 chicken bouillon for the noodles
siracha sauce, plum sauce and toasted sesame seed and oil for garnish

Mushroom Ramen 1

Saute the onions, garlic and ginger until soft in peanut oil. Add salt, chilli and cumin and saute for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until the browned. Remove and reserve some of the mushrooms. Add the bokchoy and the stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil. Add the bouillon and the egg noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve the noodles.

To serve, divide the noodles into large bowl. Add the broth, top with the reserved mushrooms. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and drizzle sesame oil. Serve the sauces on the side to add per diner's choice.

Laksa Lemak - Velveteers Oct 2010

Laksa Lemak

This month, the Velveteers challenged each other to go traditionally Asian with a classic seafood noodle soup, Laksa. A simple search will tell you that the Laksa is pretty popular in many East Asian cuisines with each region creating their own take on the spices composing the broth as also the noodles that are served in it.

I was super thrilled when we decided the dish for the month, since this spicy, coconut-y seafood soup has been on my to-do list for a very long time! I love seafood and any dish that use multiple varieties of it to create depth of flavor is a must-have, like the Bouillabaisse. Speaking of which, I had an epiphany as I was sauethe base paste today; Laksa is really an Asian Bouillabaisse!

After debating over the different types of Laksa from the apparently easy Laksa Kelantan to Curry Laksa to the Laksa Lemak, I decided to make the last. I have always liked dishes with freshly ground spices and the idea of creating the base for the soup from scratch using dried shrimps et all, sang to me. It was a done deal.... until I went shopping!

Laksa Lemak close up

Armed with the actual list of ingredients, I set off to find them. Little did I expect to make-do for quite a few of them. My first hurdle was with finding Laksa leaves. I read somewhere that it is Vietnamese mint but the guy at the store said they are similar to curry leaves, which, fortunately I had on hand. Next, was Laos powder, which is galangal powder. I didn't expect to find that but I failed to find even fresh galangal. So I subbed with regular ginger.

Anyway, despite these initial hiccups, the rest went smoothly. The recipe itself is very easy and making fresh shrimp stock really develops a wonderful flavor in the soup. My only negative would be that the fish seemed to be out of it's depth in this dish. Unlike the bouillabisse, this soup was heavily one note and I felt, it would be just fine with just the shellfish in it.

Laksa Lemak 1

Verdict: For it's ease in making it, wonderful flavors and a sheer perfect meal for Fall, I will definitely make it again!

Laksa Lemak
serves 4

(adapted from the recipe

1/2 lb shrimps, cleaned and shells reserved
1/2 lb cat fish, cubed into 2 inch pieces
5 cups water
2 cups bamboo sprouts
5-6 curry leaves
3/4 cup thick coconut milk
sambal ulek for garnish
fresh lime for garnish
rice noodles, as needed

For the soup base:

4-5 red chillies, deseeded
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 stalks of lemon grass, only white parts
1 medium onion
a big chunk of ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder

salt and oil as needed

In a sauce pan, heat the oil and add the shrimp shells. When they turn pink, add the water and a little salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and the simmer for about 45 minutes until it has reduced to half. Drain out the shells and reserve the broth for the soup.

Soak the chillies in hot water for 10 minutes. Grind together the chillies, ginger, onion, lemon grass, shrimp paste to make a smooth spice paste. Heat a wok and saute the spice paste until the raw onion smell goes away. Add turmeric and coriander and saute for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp broth and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes for flavor to develop.

Add the coconut milk and cook for another 10 minutes. Then add fish. While the fish is cooking, lightly saute the shrimps and add to the Laksa. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles per instructions and keep ready.

To serve, portion out the noodles and then top with the Laksa. Top with bean sprouts and a couple of curry leaves and serve with sambal and lime wedges on the side.


Velveteers was started by Aparna, Asha, Alessio and Pam, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used. If you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment or drop me a line at You can also visit our google group, The 4 Velveteers.

Please visit our group to check out what everyone has created this month!

Their Recipes ....

Fig, Apricot, and Nut Biscotti
Fig, Apricot and Nut Biscotti - I tried to stay with the recipe but I don't like hazelnuts. So, I subed with almonds. Worked beautifully.

I was having a conversation with Al, the other day, on Twitter (yep, the 140 characters don't seem deter the long discussions :)). We were discussing how we rarely seem to actually try other bloggers' recipes or atleast blog about having tried them. Al's take was that it was the result of too much creativity and too little time...

Anyway, the discussion happened and was pushed to the back on my mind, until the photo contest at Leite's Culinaria happened. The idea of the contest was to recreate a recipe on the site and photograph it for the contest. Which, ofcourse presented the opportunity for point in para 1...

Shrimp & Grits
The classic Shrimp and Grits tuned up with pancetta, goat cheese and spinach.

Ofcourse, it would be very rare indeed to recreate another food blogger's work without any modifications at all. From the most innocent reason of not having the exact ingredients (and hence improvise, drop some etc.) to the grandiose of "I just know that this flavor combination would work so well in this recipe!!".

I have to confess that I am guilty of this as well :). Out of the three recipes, I wanted to point to here, only one, the Chocolate Torte below, is a true recreation. The others I must beg innocence on showing off, it really was a case of using what I had rather than going out and buying ingredients which I didn't think were so critical to the dish's success... :)

Almond Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Torte - True recreation.

Btw, I share these three because you must try them.. as is or your interpretation of them. But, do..make..them! :)

Fig, Apricot and Nut Biscotti - Leite's Culinaria
Shrimp and Grits - Leite's Culinarya
Chocolate Torte - Lemon Pi

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK