Friday, 29 August 2014

Stirring Stuff!

Risoni con Pomodorini, Basilico & Zenzero
Risoni with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Ginger


 

This evening it was time to make some of those slinky, delicious Risoni noodles again. Once in a while I love to cook them up with something nice and tasty and this evening I decided to keep things simple but flavorful with ginger, basil and juicy cherry tomatoes...

Quick, easy, healthy and perfect for a tasty, no-stress meal- the kind you can whip together out of nowhere even when you think you have nothing there to eat ...


 

As opposed to boiling the risoni andd then adding other ingredients, flavors and aromas later, I decided to cook the risoni in a similar way to a risotto. By adding liquid little-by-little as they cooked and by adding the noodles to the other ingredients, right from the beginning, all of the flavors cooked right into the risoni and the result was sooo yummy! 'Twas a good idea, I'd say!

 

You will need next-to-nothing to make this... obviously, the risoni, then cherry tomatoes, Spring onion, fresh ginger and plenty of basil. Oh- and around 20 minutes, with a bit of stirring added-in. You can do it!

 

With a yummy bowl of pasta like this as your reward- what is a little stirring in exchange? Fear not- this is less labor-intensive than a risotto, much less fattening as it has no butter or cheese- but so, so tasty with the ginger and basil! It's absolutely worth its while- and then some!

 

Whilst you boil yourself a kettle of water and turn on the heat under a saucepan to which you have added a splash of olive oil, quickly slice-up the onion, cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters and finely chop the ginger.

 

Fry the onion and ginger together for a couple of minutes first and then add the tomatoes and season with salt and plenty of pepper.

 

Add the risoni and the basil and stir together until everything is coated in the oil and juices, then add a little nutmeg and a tad more olive oil. Stir for 1-2 minutes and then add enough boiling water to cover everything, reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow to boil for 4-5 minutes.

 

You may need to stir it occasionally, but it should not be as labor-intensive affair as with a risotto... just every now and then will do. The risoni will absorb quite a bit of water (and all of the flavors boiling into it of course), so keep adding just enough to cover it, stir it through and then allow it to simmer and cook-in all of that great aroma- and yes! It will be smelling terrific!

 

I topped up mine 4 times in all until the risoni were soft and delicious and the broth had become slightly thickened by the starch from the risoni and the continual stirring... who needs more in the way of butter and cheese when you have the great flavor of the basil and ginger? Not I!

 

And around 20-25 minutes later you will have a wonderful, hot, tasty bowl of pasta, ready to be served with plenty of freshly ground pepper and a hearty, "buon appetito!"

 

I'd say that is plenty "unctuous" and delicious without any extra added fat! And I am betting you will agree if you give it a try... so do so! 

 

And despite being such a simple bowl of food, this still looks mighty fine- don't you think?

 

The ginger gives a touch of extra spice than makes this really come to life- just a little bit different and a whole lot more special than a plain old classic tomato sauce... but it's the little things that matter after all! Enjoy!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Have You Bean to Mexico?

Frijoles & Berenjena Pibil
Kidney Bean & Eggplant Pibil


 

No, it doesn't always have to be a "chili con carne"- at least that's what I decided this evening, when I came up with the idea for this dish. It seems that the only thing that kidney beans are ever used for is for that yummy... but lets face it, done-to-death dish.

So I decided to do something a little different and combine it with succulent eggplant and season it with Achiote powder, fresh chili and lime. Yup- that worked just fine! I think I have a new favorite dish on my hands here!


 

Achiote is another ingredient that I love and that I have experimented with... but still associate mostly with delicious "puerco pibil"- a slow-roasted, stewed or bake pork dish, seasoned with the deep orange-red powder or paste made from Annato seeds- rich, mild and delicious. Made firery-hot with jalapenos and tangy with lime and tequila, it is a bona-fide Mexican classic. This is not! it is not at all Mexican... this-here gringo invented it! But I raise my sombrero to Robert Rodriguez, who inspired this dish after immortalizing puerco pibil in his movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico- and I wish you all a lot of fun in trying out my dish if you please!

 

To make this great bowl of food, you will need 1 medium eggplant, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 lime, 1 Spring onion, 1 tablespoon Achiote powder- or paste, some fresh parsley and some tortillas as an accompaniment.

 

There is no meat missing and you will not feel disappointed when you try this out- trust me! This is not a chili con carne, it is a whole different thing, tangy with lime juice and oregano, but every bit as spicy and satisfying! Try it- you'll like it!

 

Cut the eggplant and the onion into a fine dice and fry together in a little olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then add the achiote powder, or paste, whichever you happen to be using, some finely chopped chili pepper- as much as you dare, and continue frying for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep stirring until everything is nicely coated and beginning to turn nice and brown.

 

Next, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, add the kidney beans, including the juices from the can and continue stirring for 4-5 minutes.

 

Add enough boiling water to cover the eggplant and beans, sprinkle generously with dried oregano and allow to boil away for a further 4-5 minutes until the water has cooked-down into the eggplant and beans and spices and has begun to thicken into a nice sauce.

 

And after around 25 minutes, your eggplant and beans will look a little something like this and taste absolutely wonderful! And maybe even a little better than that!

 

Serve piping hot with some extra slices of chili for the brave, a couple of slices of lime as a garnish and plenty of toasted tortillas on the side- and you have a meal and a half right there! Inexpensive, quick and delicious!

 

 Absolutely all you need- and as much flavor as you can handle! Es verdad amigos! Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Greek Rarebit

Panino "Greco" con Feta, Olive, Capperi, Pancetta, Uovo & Rosmarino
"Greek Rarebit"  with Feta Cheese, Olives, Capers, Bacon, Egg & Rosemary


 

Ok People- it doesn't happen often, but this evening was one of those rare occasions that i really didn't want to be fussing around in the kitchen. I got home late, I got home hungry, I got home feeling even a little "cranky" and more to the point... I got home without having any idea of what to make for dinner!

But before I started getting worked-up about it, I just kicked into auto-pilot mode and got busy making something from nothing, using the bits and pieces I had in the cupboard and in the fridge... and voila! A new invention and a quick and delicious one at that!


 

Armed with a pack of "emergency" rye bread rolls, the left-over Feta cheese from the other night and a few bits and pieces, I decided to put together a little topping and to simply toast them in the oven... knowing full-well that they needn't end up tasting "simple" and that I could make something much more delicious out of them...

 

So I created a topping made using egg and cheese- which made it into a "Welsh Rarebit" of sorts- especially with the bacon and onion in there... but then I added olives, capers and rosemary- and of course, having used Feta cheese in the mix... it made this into something that was much more Greek than Welsh!

 

Well of course I took a huge bite out of it! Wouldn't you have too? I think so! And I think I should tell you how I made these so that you can go ahead and make them yourselves!

 

This is so simple to make... Just chop the Spring inion up finely, crumble the cheese and chop of the olives...

 
 
In a small frying pan, give the bacon and onion a little toss together for 3-4 minutes... In the meantime, you can toast the bottoms of the bread rolls in the oven, ready to be topped in just a few, short minutes!


 

Add the bacon and onion to the cheese, egg and herb mixture and stir everything together well.

 

Once everything is thoroughly mixed together, you are ready to top those rolls and to get them toasting away!

 

Add a generous amount of topping to each roll and bake them first in a very hot oven for a couple of minutes, to get the cheese melting and the egg cooking and then turn on the broiler to get them nice and brown on top.

 

And just 5,6,7 minutes later, depending on your oven... you will be looking at some incredible delicious snacks like these!

 

Perfect snacks for a lazy night-in... But also delicious enough to serve to guests at a party, I'd say! Sometimes you really do not need to go to a lot of trouble, to whip up something that is a whole lot of delicious!

 

Pretty as a picture! Almost like a Greek landscape... Haha!

 

So make sure to make plenty of them... because they will be gone much quicker than you think!

 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Oriental Comfort

Chorba di Ceci, Bulgur Turco & Tamarinde
Chickpea Chorba with Turkish Bulgur & Tamarind


 

The weather has turned so wet and so cold that I am at the point that my thoughts are veering towards the "comfort food" part of the food spectrum. We sure could do with some comforting here in Frankfurt!

So I decided to make a warming and comforting bowl of chickpeas with some Oriental "chorba" spices... turmeric, ginger, oregano, lime leaves, cloves, garlic, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg... because spices always make me happy!


 

I added some wonderful, Turkish bulgur with tiny, toasted, full-grain vermicelli in them- one of my favorite discoveries at the Turkish supermarket! Such a perfect addition to turn a few simple ingredients into a full meal! And ready in just 25-30 minutes too!

 

To make 2 servings, I needed: 1 can chickpeas, 2 cups Turkish bulgur, 1 small stick of celery, 1 small carrot, 1 Spring onion, 1 tablespoon tamarind paste, 1 teaspoon chorba spices, 1 teaspoon of Turkish Ajvar fresh parsley and a few tender celery leaves.

 

The added tamarind paste gave this dish a tangy "kick" that made it really special and cooking it in a tagine made it a little more fun... but tamarind or no tamarind, tagine or saucepan, this is a simple and delicious dish that is fun to make and certain to be enjoyed!

 
All that needed to be done by way of preparation, was to finely chop the carrot, celery and Spring onion and then the sort through the tamarind paste, discarding any stones or seeds in it... and to get the tagine on the stove top and warmed-up and ready to go!

 

I started off with the finely diced vegetables, which I sautéed in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. frying them until the onion became transparent and the tamarind began to infuse everything with its wonderful tangy flavor.

 

After frying for 3-4 minutes, I added a splash of boiling water, the chickpeas and the chorba spice and ajvar, then stirred everything together. I then added 2 cups for boiling water and let them boil for the next 5 minutes.

 

5 minutes later, the mixture looked like this!

 

Next, in went the bulgur and vermicelli, on went the lid and off I went to set the table for the next 5-6 minutes...

  

After 5-6 minutes of further boiling, I turned off the heat and decided to let the bulgur sit and fluff-up and continue to soak up all of those good and spicy and tangy flavors.

 

Rich, tasty and delicious- this is my kind of food on a cold and dreary day!

 

I enjoyed mine with some of the tender, pale leaves from the inside of the celery and plenty of finely chopped parsley... more great flavors to make this dish more special!

 

 I wish I had made a little bit more- this stuff tasted terrific!