Friday, 29 May 2009

Mimosa of the Ocean

This is another example of our invention on the whim turning out as a big success, when we had the following ingredients on hand. It also looks extremely lovely esthetically (the coconut-lemon-saffran condiment does look like mimosa, where we invented the name from!), another dish which could easily win over the usual anti-fish bunch!! :-)

4 fillets of haddock, ocean perch or cod (any ocean fish with firm white flesh)
salt & pepper
flour enough to coat the fish
1 egg + milk for dipping the fillets
bread crumbs
olive oil
flesh of 1 coconut
1 large lemon
50g butter
1 sacket of saffran

Slice the fillets into bite sizes or strips, season with salt and pepper.
Dust the fish evenly with the flour
Beat the egg with about 1/4 cup of milk to make a coating for the fillets.
pour sufficient amount of bread crumbs into a large plate.
Dip each pieces into the egg mixture, then coat them with bread crumbs.
Fry the fillet pieces in sufficient amount of hot oil, until they are golden.
Place the fish on an absorbent paper and keep warm.
In a mixer/food processor shred the coconut into fine flakes.
Grate the lemon zest.
In a separate plate lightly sautè the coconut flakes and lemon zest in butter.
Before turning off the heat, add the saffran and mix well to distribute the colouring.
Distribute the coconut mixture over the fish fillet strips.
Squeeze the lemon juice over and serve hot.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Classic Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of the finest example of the delicious simplicity of the true Italian cooking!! This traditional Italian "antipasto" is not just for a starter, but also is a great snack or light meal which is really easy&quick to prepare... it is also a perfect variety for a barbeque cookout, throw on some slice of bread on the barbeque grill and dress it up as you go!
you can experiment with endless options of toppings, various grilled vegetables, cheeses, patè etc., but this is the most classic, most loved version, prepared with fresh ripe tomatoes and basil leaves, it does carry a wonderful summery flavour!

Large crusty loaf of bread
Garlic cloves, about half per slice
Tomatoes, ripe but firm, chopped. (Eliminate the seed if too soggy, but better with skins intact to maintain the texture.)
Good quality extra virgine olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, chopped*
salt, pepper

In case fresh basil leaves are not available, use crushed dry oregano.

Slice the bread, not too thinly, broil both side.
Cut the garlic cloves in half, put the sliced surface in contact with the broiled bread, still hot, and rub into it evenly.*
Pile the tomatoes on the slice, sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil leaves to taste.
Drizzle the olive oil over.
Serve immediately.

*Alternative preparation
For people who are disturbed by the strong aftertaste of raw garlic.
Roast the garlic in the oven and then mash it, or sautè the minced garlic in just enough olive oil, and sprinkle them over the toast evenly.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Veggie Briouats

Briouats originates in Morocco, but like other certain food the basic idea seems to be pretty global, it is quite similar to Indian Samosa, or Lumpia from Philippines and alike. It can be shaped in triangle like classic Samosa, but I went for the cigar shaped version as it is easier to form... :p The fillo is very delicate, so take care in its handling, keep it cool and dry, and also chill the filling completely. While rolling the briouats, if there are many of them put them in the fridge as you go! Slightly tedious procedure will be definitely paid off as they are absolutely delicious!! As you get the hang of it, you can experiment with different fillings, like cheeses or minces, or sweet version with nuts and dried fruits!!

1 packet of fillo pastry sheets (270g)
1 small courgette
1 small bell pepper
2-3 porcini mushroom*
1 medium carrot
1 small onion
1 spring onion
1-2 clove of garlic, crushed
salt & pepper
Olive oil
frying oil

*you can use a regular button mushrooms mixed with a small amount of soaked dried porcini (you can utilize the soaked liquid to flavour the vegetables), or substitute with shiitake.

1. (if bought frozen) take out the fillo sheets from the freezer at least half a day in advance (better the night before) and defrost in the refrigerator.
2. finely julienne all the vegetables.
3. sautè the vegetables in just enough hot olive oil with garlic. Start with onion, carrot, bell pepper, then courgette and mushrooms, spring onion goes last just to pass the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cool the vegetables completely, and let them rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.
5. take out the fillo sheets, carefully roll them out and slice them into about 20x15cm (approx., depending on the original size of the fillo sheets)
6. add about one tablespoon full of the vegetables on each sheet and make a thin line of it near the centre.
7. fold over the both sides of the fillo sheet, to keep the vegetables from falling out from the ends.
8. Roll up each sheet like a cigar.
9. Let it rest in the fridge again to chill.
10. Deep fry the rolls (a few at a time at the most, not too many) at about 175-180°C, until golden.

Serve piping hot, they are delicious by itself, or enjoyed with various sauces/condiments like mango (or other type) chatney, tahini, tzatziki, curry etc.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Risotto agli asparagi & formaggi (asparagus & cheese)

This is a deliciously seasonal springish risotto, loaded with fresh asparagus. If you enjoy the famous combination of broccoli and cheese, this will be a surefire hit, one of my favourite way to showcase one of my favourite vegetables (and only enjoyed for too short a period!)!!

For 2 people
-1 cup of carnaroli rice (if you can't find it arborio is fine, but carnaroli is the ideal type for making

-One onion, finely chopped
-300-400g of fresh green asparagus
-60g (or more if needed) butter
-100ml white wine
-500-700ml of hot good quality broth, not too salty
-80g maasdamer (or edam, fontina, gouda, ementhal or similar type of cheese), diced
-60g gorgonzola in chunks

Prepare the asparagus. Wash them, then break off the tough part. You can bend each asparagus
carefully and find the spot where breaks off easily, somewhere between halfway to 2/3 of the length from the tip. After this procedure, you can check the bottom stems, there maybe some parts usable by shaving off the tough outer skin with a fine knife.
Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces.

In a large skillet sautè the onion with butter over medium heat. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring thoroughly, until rice becomes semi-transparent.
Add the wine, raise the heat level and bring to boil.
When the wine is almost absorbed, start adding the broth one ladleful at a time, adding another
ladleful when the previous batch of broth is well absorbed (but the rice should still remain wet),
stirring constantly.
Keep the broth hot by keeping it in a saucepan on a low heat, or microwaving from time to time.
Repeat the procesure until the rice are cooked "al dente" (firm, not crunchy not mushy)... it should take about somewhere between 20-25minutes more or less.

In the meanwhile, sautè the asparagus lightly (for a few minutes) in a separate skillet. Asparagus should remain bright green and pleasantly crispy.
When the rice is almost done, add the cheeses and sautèed asparagus, mix them well to blend in the cheese until they are melted and mixed in evenly.
Serve them immediately piping hot.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Chicken with un "tocco di marocco" (touch of morocco)

This dish bursts with a wonderfully exotic flavour, the original idea was taken from La Cucina Italiana (the best of Italian cooking magazines) a couple of years ago, it was a lamb dish but since I don't eat lamb I substituted with a chicken breast. I also added some pancetta to give a savoury kick, which worked wonderfully although perhaps not a traditional option for this dish originated from northern africa. Pancetta can be left out to stick with the tradition, of course!

100g smoked bacon/pancetta, diced
70g crushed almond
150g dried prune, deseeded and chopped
30g brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Orange zest from one orange
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
100ml water
500g boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced or pounded thin.

Sautè the bacon/pancetta and almond in just enough evoo until golden.
Add the prune, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and orange juice and the water, lowering the heat once starting to boil.

Let it simmer on low heat for about half an hour, adding a little amount of the water if necessary,
until it forms a thick sauce.

Brown the chicken in evoo in another skillet (ideally on a cast iron or barbeque grill for maximum
flavour), then slice them into strips.
Smother with the sauce, serve over a hot cooked bulghur or couscous.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Orange parmigiano cream sauce

I just mixed up these ingredients on a whim in order to jazz up the ready made tortellini, which are a bit bland. And it was a smashing success!! It's simple and quick, and it makes an impressive difference to these store bought stuffed pasta!!

for 2 people

1 orange
20g butter
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano or grana padano
200ml cooking cream
some drops of milk

Thinly peel the orange skin, then grate it finely.
Sautè the grated orange peel lightly in the melted butter, just for a minute or two
Add the juice from orange, cook for about 5 minutes and let it condense itself a little
Add the cheese and cream, stir well and heat thoroughly. Add some drops of milk as needed to keep the sauce from getting too thick.
Serve over piping hot pasta, it is ideal for ready made spicach and ricotta tortellini!