Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Welsh Breakfast

Just a very quick post to say how much I love kippers for breakfast.
I didn't think I would but spending a weekend at Tintern, South East Wales, in a lovely B&B, proved me wrong. I immediately liked the smoked kippers with scrambled eggs, mushrooms and hash browns for breakfast and they surely kept me going until the end of the day. I even made them myself at home the following weekend.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Salmon Andre-style

Almost a month without a new post...that's due to the Christmas preparations, my sister visiting me and then the holidays. So I'm coming back with an every-day recipe, something that I make very often and thought I should share with you: It's salmon with a twist.
My friend Andre had prepared salmon for dinner when I visited him and Evi in Porto. Salmon was not my favourite fish even though I love fish and seafood in general. But this one was prepared with Andre's vinaigrette which makes the salmon taste less "fishy" and oily so I have been using this recipe ever since whenever I make salmon - which is pretty much once a week! So, credits to Andre for this!
Ingredients for two:
2 salmon fillets
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
oregano or any dried herbs (such as parsley, tarragon etc)
1 bag green beans, trimmed
2 tbsp sesame seeds
olive oil and vinegar 

-Prepare the vinaigrette: Mix the 2 tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and oregano or herbs. 
-Place the salmon fillets on a baking tray/dish and cover with the vinaigrette. Add the crushed garlic cloves and place in the oven for about 15 minutes (depends on the oven too) covered with aluminium foil so that it doesn't get too dry. Towards the end, uncover and leave for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven.

-Place the sesame seeds under the grill for 5-10 minutes and toast them.
-In the meantime, bring 2 litres of water to a boil and add the green beans for just 3 minutes. They should not be raw, bust should still have a green vivid colour and be crunchy.
-To serve, place the salmon fillets on the serving plates, add some beans and sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the beans. Add olive oil and vinegar to the salmon according to your taste. Very healthy!

I am now trying to decide what to make for New Year's Eve when all my family will sit together for dinner and the most likely of choices is a Boeuf Bourguignon. I need to see which recipe to use though as I've only made a quick one in the past and this has to be the long and hard one - with 18 hours of marinade and 4 hours of cooking. I'm between the Julia Child recipe and a traditional French one (not that the Julia Child one isn't traditional) and it's very likely that I will do a mix of both.
Will post recipes of all the delicious food I've eaten during the holidays soon including my grandma's turkey and yummy stuffing!!

Have a great start into 2011!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Pasta + Tomato sauce + Mozzarella Bake

Obviously, this has been a carb-full weekend but it's a shame to open a bag of penne and not use it all. So the deal is that for the rest of the week, we're only going to have proteins. With half a bag of penne, which is what was left after making the three onion and feta cheese pasta yesterday, a home-made tomato sauce and plenty of mozzarella, I made this pasta bake which is also perfect to take with me to work (I'm trying to avoid eating at the canteen here). Again, pretty straight-forward and the only time you actually have to wait is when making the sauce, as you want to reduce it to a good consistency. My recipe is for about 4 portions but if you want to cook for more than 4, adjust the quantities (double etc) and the sauce cooking time.


250 gr small pasta, such as penne
800 gr peeled canned plum tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes). I always use a combination of canned tomatoes plus some fresh tomatoes that I cream in the food processor.
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
salt, red wine vinegar
100-150 gr parmesan cheese, grated
3 balls fresh mozzarella 
fresh basil leaves

Place the tomatoes with their juices into a saucepan and add the butter, onion halves, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. 

Cook over medium heat stirring, for about 20-30 minutes (30-45 if you're making double the sauce). 

Remove from the heat and discard the onion halves. Put the sauce in a food processor and blend until as smooth as it can be.

Return in to the saucepan and simmer over low-medium heat for 20-30 more minutes (30-45 if you have doubled the quantities) or until the sauce has thickened to a good consistency (you don't want it to be too loose). Taste and adjust the salt, or add a splash of vinegar.

Preheat the over to 200 C.

Before the sauce is ready, cook the pasta in salted water, drain it and toss it with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of parmesan.

Put a layer of pasta in a baking pan ( mine is a small one, as per the picture below. If you have doubled the quantities, use a larger one) followed by some of the remaining tomato sauce, a handful of parmesan, some chunks of mozzarella, and a couple of torn-up basil leaves. Then repeat these layers until all the ingredients are gone, ending with a layer of cheese on top.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until warm and bubbling and golden on top.

Penne with 3 different onions and feta&parmesan cheese mixture

I am a big fan of "Orangette" and a few other food blogs. And sometimes, like yesterday, I get inspiration from them as to what to make that is not boring but not too complicated either. I wish I could dedicate many many hours to cooking, but I don't have that much time at the moment. Wondering what to cook to accompany the chocolate puddings (these were a sure deal) I came across a pasta recipe from Orangette called "Rigatoni with five Lilies and Ricotta salata". It sounded fancy. When I got to read it though, I discovered it was a pasta with different kinds of onions and herbs, basically whatever you have from your garden. Very simple. My recipe is an adaptation of it, which, in turn, is an adaptation from a recipe taken from the Babbo Cookbook and the San Francisco Chronicle.
I decided to use a mixture of feta and some parmesan cheese for topping instead of Ricotta salata (the salty and hard version of Ricotta) and found it delicious but maybe that's just because this taste is so rooted in me. I also skipped the scallions as there weren't any at the supermarket and used the penne that I had in my pantry instead of the rigatoni pasta.


3 tbs olive oil (always extra virgin, the best you can find)
1/2 kg sweet onions cut in half from the stem and then cut to slices
2 tbs unsalted butter
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 kg leeks, cut into rings and washed
1 big red onion, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 kg penne
feta and parmesan cheese to top
1 bunch of finely chopped fresh parsley to top

1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat and add the sweet onions. Reduce the heat and cook over medium-low until softened and translucent. Then raise the heat to medium-high and cook until deeply golden and caramelised. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the onions to a bowl. Set aside.

2. In the same skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When it has stopped foaming and is thoroughly melted, add the leeks, garlic and red onion and cook until really soft and golden. Add the water and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and stir in the caramelised onions.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until tender but al dente.
Drain the pasta and add to the onion mixture, toss for 1 minute over medium heat and serve immediately, topped with plenty of feta and parmesan cheese and sprinklings of parsley.

Soufflé - or to "Puff Up"

I have been wanting to make and eat chocolate soufflé
 for some days now. So, I found a Gordon Ramsey recipe that seemed yummy and relatively easy to execute. Only that when I returned home after doing my grocery shopping, I realised I had forgotten the cornflour...damn. So I had to opt for a less fancy recipe, one that I kept as a back-up and that wasn't actually for chocolate souffles but for chocolate puddings.
I took it from the DK cookbook and it was very straight-forward and quick to make. Make sure to serve them immediately after baking them though and to have ice-cream or cream to accompany because I served them after a while and they had begun to shrink and also, together with the cornflour I had forgotten the ice-cream which is pretty basic in order to enjoy a chocolate pudding! 

Ingredients for 4:
(You will need 4 pudding moulds)

45 gr butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250 gr dark chocolate, chopped
115 gr caster sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
45 gr plain flour
pinch of salt

1. Butter the bottom and sides of the moulds and preheat the oven to 200C. Gather all your ingredients.

2. Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Stir for 5 minutes or until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside.

3. Beat the butter and the sugar (I do it with an electric mixer) until blended and smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and salt together and gently stir in the egg mixture, then stir in the chocolate. Divide the batter equally between the moulds - bear in mind that the mixture should not fill them to the tops, some space has to be allowed for it to rise.

4. Put the pudding mould on a baking tray and in the oven for 12-25 minutes, or until the sides are set but the centres are still soft when slightly pressed with your fingertips. Be careful not to over-bake them.

5. Put an individual plate on top of each mould and then invert both so that the pudding sits on the plate. Serve hot!

While making the puddings I had Gram Parsons playing in the background.