This is a great, messy, spicy dish that is suited well to the barbecue and outdoor eating. Soft tortillas encase spiced fish and a lively pico de gallo salsa (which means 'rooster's beak', but is really just a fresh salsa with as many variations as there are cooks).
600g flathead fillets or other firm white fish, cut into 2cm dice
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime
20 soft white corn tortillas, 10 cm diameter
2 garlic cloves, hit with the flat of a knife and skin discarded
1 green capsicum, seeded and finely diced
6 roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1cm dice
1 small red onion, finely diced
1-2 small red or green chillies, finely sliced
6 coriander stalks, including roots, well washed
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tsp chipotle powder or similar chilli powder
To make the salsa, combine the garlic, capsicum, tomato, onion and sliced chilli. Finely chop the coriander, including the roots. Add the half you chopped from the bottom end to the other ingredients and reserve the rest for later. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Stir well and let stand for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, make the fish spice using a mortar and pestle to crush the combined fennel, coriander and cumin seeds with ¾ teaspoon salt until it forms a fine powder. Mix in the chipotle powder, scatter over the fish and toss to coat the fish evenly.
When you're ready to eat, warm the tortillas by heating each one on the edge of the barbecue hotplate (or in a hot cast-iron pan) for a few seconds on each side and store in a folded clean tea towel. The tortillas will stay warm and soft.
To finish the salsa, add 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and the reserved chopped coriander leaves to the salsa and stir just to mix it well.
Oil the centre of the barbecue hotplate and fry the fish, stirring often, until cooked through. When it has changed colour, it's cooked. As soon as it is ready, scoop from the hotplate into a warmed bowl and squeeze the lime juice over.
Lay all the ingredients on the table and let everybody help themselves. You make a taco by reclining a warm tortilla on your plate, topping with a little fish, plenty of salsa (avoiding the garlic cloves), and rolling it up. Perhaps put some hot chilli sauce on the table for heat-lovers, too.
THE PERFECT SUMMER BREAKFAST TRIFLE
1 tbsp sugar
250g strawberries, stems removed, halved
125g toasted muesli
2 yellow peaches, stones removed, cut into bite-size pieces
100g natural yoghurt (try goat, sheep or buffalo if you can get it)
2 tbsp honey
100ml pure cream, lightly whipped
Pop the raspberries and sugar into a small saucepan and put it over a modest heat to melt the fruit slightly. Remove from the heat and add the halved strawberries, stirring well to coat. Set aside to cool.
Take four large tumblers and put a tablespoon of muesli in each one. Plop a quarter of the peach pieces into each one and then spoon the berries over evenly. Add another tablespoon of muesli to each glass. Whisk the yoghurt with half the honey, then stir in the cream. Spoon this mixture over the fruit and muesli, then top with a little more muesli. Drizzle a tiny bit more honey over each glass and serve at room temperature.
PEACH & RASPBERRY PAVLOVA THAT'S SPECIAL ENOUGH FOR CHRISTMAS
6 eggs, separated
360g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp cornflour
a few drops of natural vanilla essence
200ml pure cream, lightly whipped
2-3 drops rosewater (optional)
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tbsp water
250ml lemon curd
100g blueberries or silvanberries, or both
Preheat the oven to 160C. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then whisk in the sugar, then the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla essence. The mixture should be stiff by now. Tip onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and use a spatula to form a steep-sided round, 6cm high and 25cm diameter.
Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven to 140C and bake for about 90 minutes, checking that it doesn't brown too much – if at all – and turning down the oven further as need be. Allow to cool in the turned-off oven (some modern ovens may need to be wedged open so the meringue doesn't sweat).
Combine the mascarpone, cream, rosewater (if using), icing sugar and seeds scraped from the vanilla bean. Stir well, taking care not to overwhip or the mixture will split. Heat half the raspberries over gentle heat to break them down to a sauce. Allow to cool and stir, in one or two quick motions, into the mascarpone mixture, so it's kind of rippled.
Heat the blackcurrants with the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat to melt and soften. When fruit is soft, press through a sieve and discard solids.
Spread lemon curd over the top of the pav, cover with the mascarpone mixture, then garnish with sliced peaches, the remaining raspberries and the blueberries and silvanberries, if you have them. Drizzle on the blackcurrant syrup to serve.