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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Express Post: Farmers' Market Tiny Haul

1. Red beets- for a chicken dish and for juicing. Beet is good for you :)
2. Tomatoes- for a summer salad
3. Lola Rosa Salad - for salads
4. Spring garlic- amazing at this time, the cloves are formed, but the skin on them is not yet dried. Amazing flavour, if you find it like this, definetely give it a try
5. Spring onion- again for salad, but also for sauces
6. Some bread- covered in seeds
7. New or early potatoes- the spring staple in our kitchen
8. Cucumbers- the smaller, the better, the spikier, even better. Also, look for the remainings of the flower on one end of the cucumber, that means they are fresh.
9. Avocado- not from the Market, but in the same bag and healthy
10. Strawberries-  so in right now! Bought them for a healthy snack, but with a lot of dessert recipes in mind.
11. Tarragon- found it fresh, so we are going to use it with some oven-roasted chicken
12. Parsley- we always buy parsley, that's it!
13. Lemons- again, not exactly from the Farmers' Market. For dressings and iced tea or lemonades.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Greek Sour Soup with Lemon, Egg and Cream

This is such a great refreshing sour soup that you will want to make it  over and over again. You can use any type of chicken meat, we used soem chicken breast that we had left in the freezer from another dish.  You would expect the soup to taste a lot like lemon, but the eggs and cream make it really creamy and nice.

I would say it is a simpel recipe to follow, the only tricky part might be to not separate the creamy mixture when you add it in the end. But if you do as shown below, you should be safe.

For 4l of water we used:
1 large onion
2 -3 carrots
2 parsley root or 1 parsnip
1 chicken breast or your chicken meat of choice (for soups, boned meat is always better)
3 egg yolks
150 ml sour cream
2 lemons
1/2 cup of washed and drained rice
a handfull of dill, parsley and coriander

Bring the salted water to a boil, add the meat (we sliced it in cubes) and gather any foam that rises on the top of the pot. You should to this  4-5 times until no foam rises. When you meat boils in clear water, add the chopped vegetables and let them boil.

When they are almost boiled, add the rice and let that cook. Check it often you don't want it to get to sticky, to cook it to much. Meanwhile, you can prepare the "sauce". In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, then add the lemon juice and the the sour cream. Mix them well so you don't have any lumps.  Now you have to make sure that between the temperature of the egg mix and the soup is not a huge difference, otherwise the egg yolks will cook. Not what we are going for with this. With that in mind you should take 2 scoops from the soup with a ladle and slowly add it to the egg mix and stir slowly.

Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat  and remove the soup from the heat and only then add the egg-lemon-cream "sauce".  To prevent the mixture to split in the soup you just have to remove the soup from the heat, but to make sure it is still super hot.

After that, check for salt and add the parsley, dill and coriander. I must say, coriander is really good in this soup, somehow they get along perfectly. Enjoy it with some pickled hot peppers!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quattro Formaggi Homemade Tagliatelle

This pasta dish is without the shadow of a doubt one of the most popular ones out there. You can find so many variations, combinations or mixes that is really hard to say which one is the best or better than others. For me, this pasta is important because it goes with my culinary beliefs about recipes: they shouldn’t restrain you into using those exact ingredients (a very valid exception: cooking sweets or pastry), but rather give you some guidelines to how to get to the end result. So, in my opinion, Quattro Formaggi means choosing the types of cheese that I feel like eating and melting them in this wonderful dish. 

For the pasta, I used 2 eggs for 200 grams of white flour, resulting into 3 (rather generous) portions. As for the sauce, 200 grams of cream (15% fat), Gruyere, Cheddar, Gorgonzola (the strong taste kind, similar to roquefort) and Brie, 150 grams of each and 2 tbs of olive oil. I just heated the oil on medium heat, added the cream, brought to a simmer the added the cubed/crumbled cheese. Stir constantly until it turns into a paste and there are no more chunks. I undercooked the pasta just enough to mix it with the sauce (heat off) for 1 minute, so the result would be some al dente tagliatelle. The only spice I used was some black pepper and I garnished the plate with some parmesan crisps. Feel free to add some basil, I wish I could have, but I was out.

So, there you, super easy pasta, that you can twist and mix to your own liking, without major problems (make sure you choose a type of pasta that melts, Mozzarella is not ok for Quattro Formaggi). You can add garlic, maybe some nutmeg or you can replace the cream with a milk and flour mix, it’s all up to you, and in my opinion, that’s the beauty of this dish.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pan Seared Tuna in Sesame and Poppy Seeds

You guys watch Discovey? Those shows about dangerous fishing, deadliest catch, or whatever? Did you ever imagine that one of those gigantic crabs or tunas or swordfishes found a way to your kitchen? No?  I’m gonna be honest and say that that fantasy is the only reason I watched those shows, I  REALLY don’t like fishing, but I also REALLY like fish. 

So imagine my joy when I managed to get my hands of this (rather small compared to its TV relatives) tuna, weighing around 2 kilograms. With this opportunity at hand, I decided to try and cook this fish using a technique that I saw being rather hip, namely pan searing it with a poppy seed coating. I added sesame to this mix, and (thanks to the genius of Gordon Ramsay) a couple of other ingredients. 

So, here they are:
  •           The fish, I just cut some sections of it, this recipe works best with some pieces of tuna steak (if you have those in your fridge right now, I would really like to know where you live)
  •           Sesame and poppy seeds
  •           Soy sauce, light
  •           Wasabi paste
  •           Olive oil

Really heat up your oil, while it does that coat the fish in : 1. Soy sauce, 2. Wasabi (don’t go overboard with this one), 3. The seed combo. Fry the fish for 2- 3 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your cut.

If you are using pre-cut tuna steaks, you need to bring the meat to the point in which it has 1-2 centimeters of white on the sides and the rest of the meat still has a powerful, dark red (if the meat is overcooked, it will flake and be impossible to cut into sections).

As a side dish, I opted for cous-cous and some oven baked veggies. 

Quantity wise: cous-cous (just pick whatever quantity you need), 1 zucchini, 1 red bell-pepper, 2 medium red onions, 200 grams of cherry tomatoes, 2 tbs of fresh chopped coriander leaves.

For the grain, make sure you have some nice, hot, vegetable stock, pour that on top of the cous-cous until it covers it for about 2 centimeters, cover the cous cous with some cling film and wait for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, mix around with a fork to fluff it up. 

As for the vegetables,  cut the first 2 in small cubes (2-3 centimeters), the onions in medium thickness rings and the tomatoes in half, coat everything in olive oil, salt and pepper and pop it into the oven at high heat (in a non stick tray or by using grease proof paper), cook for 40 minutes.

Add the coriander leaves on top after the veggies are done. Put all of the cooked dishes on a plate, make a ½ lemon, 4 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs white wine vinegar, salt pepper vinaigrette, and sprinkle that on your fish and side dishes generously. 


Sneak Peak- Coming Up Soon

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spaghettini with Stuff-we-had-in-our-fridge Sauce

I’m not really going to try and explain the reason behind selecting the ingredients of this dish, the title is pretty much what you need. One can argue that this is a slightly altered version of a pomodoro basilico recipe or just a very lazy person’s putanesca. In real honesty, we wanted to have some pasta and this combination hit the spot after a long, hard day at work.

I won’t insist pasta wise, we just bought a case of spagettini (love the name, by the way, I just keep picturing some Mario style Italians saying this over and over). In case you wanna go home made, we already covered our pasta making wonders in previous posts (in case you forgot, check it out here). 

For the sauce: 1kg of tomatoes (that I cut in half and used a fine grater to transform them in a fresh sauce), 1 large onion, 4-5 cloves of garlic (sounds like a lot to you? Maybe you should read this), about 2 handfuls of olives (a mix of kalamata and black olives, both whole and diced), 1 handful of chopped fresh basil. So, the magic went like this: heavy base pan, 2 tbs of olive oil (on a personal note: in dishes like this one, where the ingredients are few and I try to really make them shine, I like to use a strong, fruity kind of oil, I use Spanish, but you can get the same taste from Italian, Greek or Turk, just make sure you see that dark green kind of color), high heat, diced onion, olives in, cook for 5-6 minutes, add garlic, another 1-2 minutes, then add the grated tomatoes (make sure the skins are not in there), bring to boil, reduce heat to  medium-low, cover, let it simmer down until it reaches your desired consistency , add the chopped basil, cook for another minute. 

Add the pasta cooked al dente (read the instructions on the case or, my favorite, taste often) to the sauce, coat the pasta with the sauce and let it stay in there for another minute. Serve with some olives thrown and on top, and, most naturally, with grated parmesan on top. 

A really nice, light dinner with not a lot of fuss and a lot of great, summer taste. If you manage to get your hands on nice rose wine for this one (and maybe a garden with a view to the sea), you got yourself a great evening.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Strawberry Sauce

This strawberry sauce is amazing with pies, cakes, cheesecakes and, for the lazy ones, with ice cream. Last summer we made this sauce many times, people love it. It has the greatest impact when it's on cheesecake, it is like they were made for each other.

I remember the first time we came across the recipe we were very proud that we get to use balsamic vinegar in a dessert recipe. :)

For 500 g of strawberries we used 1/2 cup of sugar (1 part muscovado sugar and 3 parts white sugar for a special touch), 2 tbsp water and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Combine all these ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer, then let it simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

Don't worry, we did wash the fruits after we took the picture!:)
I a bowl mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp water and add to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. That's it!

You will find that if you use dark sugar the sauce tends to thicken more so you might consider adding the cornstarch is not necessary.

You can choose to blend it afterwards, but we like to have to fruits whole, it feels more natural and you don't have to wash the blender. :))


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beef Steak with Double Trouble Salad

Sounds good, right? What could it be? To be honest, it’s not something we haven’t cooked before, but the combinations we used this time were really good, with some surprising tastes.

So, the beef, you already know the drill, sear it in a pan on high heat, pop it in the oven for how long it takes to get to your desired taste (for extra help, this is how I do it, it’s really simple and intuitive, and I bet you already knew this).

Now double trouble salad. Kinda cheated here, the 1st salad is a fried new potato salad, we’ve done it before, it is one of the starts of our kitchen and the combinations of herbs and small, delicious potatoes never ceases to amaze me. So for about 500 grams of potatoes I used 1 handful of chopped parsley (the curly leaved type one), 1 handful chopped tarragon, and about half a handful of chopped spring garlic (only the white part). 

For cooking the potatoes, bring to a boil a pot of salted water, pop the washed spuds in there (don’t bother peeling them, just wash and clean them with a towel) with a bunch of parsley (don’t chop it, put the whole thing in there). Let it boil for 4 minutes, remove from water (discard the parsley), let it dry for 1-2 minutes, and the put the potatoes in a heavy base pan with a generous amount of olive oil, on high heat (make sure the oil is nice and hot; for an extra kick you can also fry the potatoes with one or 2 chilli, the spuds will infuse with their hotness). Cook like this for about 5 minutes, coating the potatoes with the hot oil, the reduce heat to medium high, cover the pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes (or more, depending on the size of the potatoes). 

After they are done, transfer them to a big bowl, drop the herbs on them, mix everything together and add some more salt and pepper.

Now for the second salad. In my opinion this one brought the whole dish together, with some very nice and green combinations of flavours. So take around 6 baby carrots, same amount of small cucumbers (not the big, watery kind, use the small, hard ones), about of 2 tbs of chopped fresh mint, 1 tbs of grinded cumin seeds, and about 25 grams of fried pine nuts. Use a veggie peeler, cut the carrots and cucumbers in thin strips and mix it with the mint, cumin, salt and pepper. 

Prepare a simple lemon juice olive oil dressing (for 1tbs of olive oil, we use 2 of the lemon juice), fry your pine nuts, and mix everything together. The result is a very fresh, nutty salad that goes really well with the meat and the potato salad. Pair it with a nice bottle of Syrah, and you got yourself a very nice dish.

Almost forgot, you can make ahead a very nice and easy sauce for the meat: just wisk together 100 grams of cream (I used 24% fat), about 1 tbs of English mustard (tried this recipe with Dijon, liked the English one better), 1 tbs of olive oil and 2-3 tbs of lemon juice (feel free to add more if you feel the sauce is to heavy), salt and pepper. Mix it up and store it in the fridge until the meat is done, super easy and very nice in this combination.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Spinach and Ricotta Frittata | You've Got Meal!

This is a very nice dish for an weekend brunch, especially if you plan on putting it next to a nice sparkling wine (go for a medium dry rose Cremant de Bourgogne, you won’t regret it).

So for 2 (very generous) portions we used: 5 eggs, 100 grams of spinach, 100 grams of valerian salad, 200 grams of ricotta cheese, 2 medium onions, 3 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Start by cooking the chopped onion in heavy base pan, on high heat for about 4 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Turn off heat, add the coarsely chopped spinach and valerian and mix until the herbs get start getting softer (it shouldn’t be more than 2 minutes). We used 2 separate ceramic pans for this dish, feel free to just use one oven appropriate pan then transfer the contents to a plate. 

So, put in the cooked onion and herbs, put the eggs (wisked with the salt and pepper) on top of those, and then just crumble some ricotta over. This goes  in the oven, high heat for 20 minutes or until the dish gets a light golden brown color. We paired the frittata with a very simple valerian, spring onion, radish salad, with a lemon juice – olive oil dressing.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chicken Salad with Yogurt and Mint Dressing

If you have some leftover chicken meat or you are left with some strips after deboning a chicken breast you can make a great salad.

We sometimes make this with some leftover grilled chicken breast to give it a different taste the next day.
First, if the chicken isn't cooked, you should just put it in a lightly oiled skillet, season it with salt and pepeer and let it cook for 8-10 minutes until it turns light brown on all sides.

In your salad bowl mix some iceberg salad, tomato slices and optional, some spring onion. Add the meat and then the dressing.

For the dressing you will need 150 g greek yogurt, the juice from 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp of dried mint  and 2 tbsp of water to make it less thick.

Enjoy your weekend!

Summer Drink- Fresh Ginger Lemonade

It is getting pretty hot outside, so it's about time we talk about refresing summer drinks. I like to make some lemonade or ice tea, pop it in the fridge in the morning to enjoy it when we come back from work.

For a special touch, we made a ginger lemonade, that we first saw on Ligia Pop's blog. It is super fast, easy to make and it makes us forget about our Pepsi addiction for the day. No need to tell you ginger is really healthy for you, it helps with nausea, headache and high blood pressure.

In a blender you have to mix the juice from 2 small lemons, 3 tbsp of honey, 1 thumb-size piece of ginger peeled and finely sliced and 1,5 l water. Then you have to strain it to remove the ginger. Serve cold or on ice.

Amazingly refreshing! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stuffed Tin Foil Fish

We try to eat fish at least once a week, but of course sometimes we don't find enough time to cook a complicated meal, that is why we always try to find ways to make cooking the fish fast or at least super-easy. That way, no time excuses are accepted.

Cooking the fish in tin foil make the meat tender and it just cooks amazing. Also, you don't have many dishes to wash in the end. For more aroma we chose to stuff the fish, this time with garlic, lemon, chopped parsley and chervil, which is more delicate that parsley and it ressembles aniseed and, in my opinion fennel leaves. After you stuffed it, season it with some salt and pepper and then drizzle some oil on it and a small splash of lemon juice.

Warp it in tin foil, leaving some space for the air to circulate  and pop it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. We served it with new potatoes (shocker!) also topped with parsley and some mixed salad for the oh-so-needed spring crunch.

Hope you try it, it's so simple and amazing, you don't have reasons not to.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Family Dinner- Moist Roasted Baby Goat Legs

We went to my in-laws' on Sunday and we got surprised with some delicious oven roasted baby goat legs. Deboned, gorgeous- looking, moist and full of flavour.

It was marinated overnight with lots of spices and served with early new potatoes and spring salad. What else can you do when new potatoes are found at the Farmers' Market and they just melt in your mouth?

We also had a sauce to top it with: the sauce from cooking the meat, sour cream and herbs.

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