Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Simply Rolling in It!

Rotoli di Manzo al Sesamo sulla Pasta di Grano Saraceno & Funghi Shtick
Sesame Beef Rolls & Shtick Mushrooms on Buckwheat Noodles

I really hate having to work late- it keeps me from cooking, photographing and writing for all of you after all! All I can say is- thank goodness that I am pretty good at making quick, easy and tasty meals!

This one was whipped up using the last bit of steak from yesterday evening, a couple of shitaake mushrooms and couple of Spring onions and a portion of buckwheat noodles... looks pretty good for so few ingredients, wouldn't you say?

I started off by sautéeing the coarsely chopped shitaake's in a little sesame oil at a high temperature- keep the oil to a minimum and the heat to the max here, as the best way to get a lot of flavor into a mushroom is to give it a bit of hell ;-). Season with salt and pepper and set to one side... we will add these to the noodles in just a while!

The noodles come individually wrapped in single portions- as you can see in the photos, which makes them very user friendly! The other thing that makes them user friendly is that fact that they cooked and ready in just 4-5 minutes! And you have gotta love that! Once they are done, add the fried mushrooms to them including any juices that may have accumulated- that's all good flavor! Add chopped parsley and chives to taste.

I marinated the beef strips in a little sesame oil, soy sauce and a pinch of brown sugar, along with some grated garlic and ginger. Considering I only had 20-30 minutes time to let the meat soak up those flavors, it wasn't half bad! But I still recommend at least 2 hours for a better result.

Heat up your griddle pan or grill and set the rolls down on their sides first, flipping them over onto their adjacent sides- I would say 2 minutes on each side at the most. Splash them with a little lemon juice, sesame oil and honey, remove them from the pan/grill and wrap them in aluminum wrap to "rest" a little before serving. And whilst that happens, you can grill a couple of Spring onions cut into 2" strips. A short cooking time at a high temperature - sounded good to me this evening! And tasted good too! Especially when served up with a last drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds! Yummy! Enjoy!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Flanks and Braise!

Straccetti di Manzo e Bulgur con le Erbe e Ajvar
Braised Beef Strips and Bulgur with Herbs and Ajvar

Flank steak- cheap, tasty, but not such an easy cut to cook with I know. But I remember this from when I was growing up and still love the rich flavor. Back then my mother used to make a great pasta soup with a rich and delicious broth and we would have the steak, steaming hot, with potatoes that hat boiled in it for our "secondo". Sigh! Nothing beats a mother's cooking! But that doesn't stop me doing the best I can!

This is going to be a very different dish of course- and one that I prepared using my trusty rice-cooker- hurray! I actually love using it as a kind-of slow cooker, it is small and handy and perfect for a single person or couple. Stephen- this is "one of those dishes" in case you are reading this- the ones that I claim are easy to make- lol!

I started off by marinating the beef for a whole day (or night). I cut it into 1" strips and popped it into a ziploc bag this morning with some crushed garlic, sesame oil, lime juice and a bay leaf. So when I opened the bag this evening, it was wonderfully infused with these flavors, aromatic and tasty already- and ready to go!

I turned the rice cooker on and as soon as the plate was hot, added the meat, stirred it once and let it sizzle away without the lid on for 2-3 minutes until it began to brown. I then deglazed it with a splash of white wine, covered it in boiling water, put on the lid and let it simmer away. When I set my cooker to "warm", it maintains the temperature but does not quite let the content boil which is great! Obviously, I can't possibly know if your rice cookers will do the same- but I wish you luck!

Whilst it was cooking, I chopped a nice handful of parsley finely, grated a little carrot- just a couple of inches will do and a little celery and added these to the broth. I let it simmer for around an hour and then tried a piece to see how it was doing. It was fine, but still a little tough, so I left it for another 15-20 minutes before adding the bulgur.

The bulgur takes around 15 minutes to cook and at the end of that time I added a heaped tablespoon of Ajvar and a good shot of Tabasco. A small squeeze of orange juice and a last sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley and supper was served!

So this wasn't exactly one of those quick meals- but it was very cheap and very tasty! 2 good reasons to give it a go! I know I am glad that I did!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

May I Propose a Toast?

Funghi Cantarelli su Pane Tostato con Formaggio Cremoso
Chanterelle Mushrooms on Cream Cheese Toast

Mushrooms on toast- that stuffy, old "classic" from Britain in the 70's. Oh it was a perfectly fine snack, for sure, or else its popularity would never have grown to the extent that it did... but you know? Sometimes you just want to do things that little bit better... and this was one of those times!

This is just really, really simple and maybe a tad decadent, but still, chanterelles are in season here right now and this more than generous portion you can see here, for sure cost less than a fast-food meal. It was a million times more delicious, healthy, gorgeous and simply GOOD, so I would say it is good to be decadent every now and again!

Of course the first thing to do here is to prepare the toast., which does need to be cold or at least cool in order to not cause the cream cheese to run and look unsightly- also, it will retain a little crispiness for a longer time this way. I chose to use these English muffin type rolls rather than regular bread, but of course you can use any bread you prefer. These were wholemeal muffins which had a nice robust flavor, to hold up to the tasty mushrooms and cream cheese- just perfect!

Cleaning the chanterelles is a bit of a tedious task as they do tend to be particularly covered in fine dirt always... but I have a trick for you all! Fill a bowl with water and drop in your mushrooms, then sprinkle a couple of spoons of flour onto them and start to rub them together gently under the water. What happens is that the dirt will stick to the flour as you gently rub the mushroms together. You will see that the white flour will go a muddy gray color which is a clear sign of how dirty the mushrooms are. Pour the water off and repeat- twice should be enough! And then let them dry out a little- as a rule, I hate to wash mushrooms as it always makes them a bit soggy and slimey and I usually choose to either peel away the outer layer of skin or to brush them. Alas, apart from the stalks, you won't get far with that method with these fellows! But they are worth the extra effort!

Once the mushrooms are clean and dried a little, get your frying pan really hot and add a pat of clarified butter. When it is melted and bubbling slightly, add the mushrooms and sautée them for 2-3 minutes. After this time, add a crushed clove of garlic and a couple of chopped Spring onions. Season with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper and a little nutmeg and keep frying at a high heat until the mushrooms have a wonderful golden color- around 5 minutes total time.

Spread the rolls generously with cream cheese that has had freshly chopped chives added and then spoon the mushrooms on top. Sprinkle generously with finely chopped parsley and enjoy that wonderful, pure mushroom flavor! I sure do love chanterelles!

Boat Loads of Flavor!

Indivia al Forno con Purè di Patate, Pancetta e Formaggio
Baked Endive with Mashed Potato, Bacon & Cheese

This is another quick and easy snack or appetizer that I came up with, which is a great way to do something cool with leftover potatoes. We all love that classic Dutch or Flemish dish of boiled potatoes and steamed endive wrapped in ham, simple and tasty but also a little bit ho-hum. So I am hoping that is version of basically the same dish is a little more oh-yum!

There is something nice about the combination of the mildly bitter endive, the smooth mashed potato and the crispy bacon and cheese that make this really nice. The bitterness makes the flavors complex rather than boring, despite the fact tthat the ingredients are so... well... ordinary! Which is one of the things that makes this delicious Summer dish so extraordinary!

I started off by pepping-up the potatoes a little. First of all, obviously, I mashed them- I did this simply with a fork, then added finely chopped chives, a little Spring onion, a splash of milk, a dusting of nutmeg and of course salt and pepper.

I cut the endives in half and removed the centers and then spooned in the mashed potato. I smoothed it down carefully, making sure to fill out the endive evenly. I sprinkled them with finely diced bacon and just a little Parmesan cheese and pushed them into a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the endives should be softened up already, the cheese melted and the bacon also cooked... so all we need to do now is to get everything golden brown! And how do we do that? Just turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes of course! And in that time go open a nice chilled bottle of Chardonnay, which would go wonderfully with this... and prepare to enjoy !

Oh Nuts- I Blew up the Breakfast!

Souffle di Banane e Noce
Banana & Walnut Souffle

It's Sunday morning and so of course that means that you are going to get another breakfast idea from me! And of course, it also means it is going to be cheap, easy, quick and delicious!

This "souffle" is actually more of a high-rise pancake... but then again, isn't that all that a souffle actually is after all? This may not be the classic method, but it was MY method this morning and it worked! As far as I am aware, the word "souffle" translates to meaning "blown" or "puffed up" and this was pretty fluffy and puffy so that was good enough for me!
So if that is good enough for you- then read on!

Ok- get ready, because this is going to be quite an extensive ingredient list today. You will need: 1 egg, 1 banana, 3-4 walnuts and the rest is not even worth mentioning! Seriously- this thing was THAT simple to make! First things first- we need to separate that egg. Done it? Cool! Now, mash half of the banana down with a fork, add it to the egg yolk and add 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of Stevia (or sugar to taste... but you know me by now!) and then whisk it together into a smooth paste. Add a little nutmeg and vanilla- either fresh or a little essence- either will be fine for this small serving.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until it is nice and stiff and then fold it gently into the yolk/banana mixture. Begin to fill your oven proof bowl, a couple of spoons of souffle mix at a time, with a sprinkle of walnut pieces and the other half of the banana cut into chunks. This way the banana and nuts will not all sink straight to the bottom- it is just better to do this in 3-4 layers.

Now, place your bowl into another container, on a piece of folded kitchen roll and with about an inch of boiling water. The steam produced from this water bath is what is going to help the souffle to rise and puff up. The baking powder will reinforce that and the spoonful of flour will help to make the mixture a little firmer. Into a pre-heated oven it goes, at 400°F for around 40-45 minutes. And no- do not open the door to take a peek before it is finished! Good luck! And remember- don't have too high expectations, as it is in a souffles nature to collapse again after a few minutes... so serve it while it is hot and enjoy!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

What's Good for the Gooseberry...

Budino di Semolina al Forno con Uva Spina
Baked Semolina Pudding with Gooseberries

Here is another ultra-simple dessert, made special by using seasonal and local fruits- in this case Gooseberries! I love their tart and sour flavor, but despite the strong taste, they are actually very delicate and soon disintegrate when heated up- so you need to get the timing right for this to work!

I have recently rediscovered semolina pudding again and love how easy it is to make, creamy, filling and light. In this combination with the tangy gooseberries it makes for a mild counterbalance that works wonderfully! Read how easy it was to make and then try it our for yourselves!

For the semolina, simply bring milk to the boil which has been flavored with vanilla, a hint of nutmeg and either Stevia, sugar or honey or sweeten it. Add the ground semolina and stir, stir, stir! As soon as it begins to thicken to the same consistency as a nice, light mashed potasto, spoon it into a baking dish and allow to cool for a minute or so.

Place the gooseberries decoratively on top and then bake for 9-10 minutes to bring everything back up to temperature. Remove from the oven, drizzle lightly with honey, sprinkle lightly with sugar and cinnamon and bake for a further 1-2 minutes under the broiler until the honey and sugar caramelize and become golden brown... delicious!

Smooth Oberräder!

Insalata Mista con Carote Rossi e Ricotta alle Erbe
Salad Mix with Purple Carrots & Herb Ricotta

This beautiful salad is a local mix, sold here at the Frankfurt market hall, grown in nearby Oberrad... but please don't ask me the names of those individual leaves! The vendors there didn't know either- but all that I know is that they were very, very tasty! Oh- and btw... the name translates to : "Rabbit-feed from Oberrad" ;-)

This was a selection of particularly robust, peppery and earthy leaves and they went really well the purple carrots! With a honey/ricotta/olive oil dressing, this was a refreshing treat on a grey and humid day! Come to think of it- it would taste great even on a Sunny day :-D

The other fun ingredients here were the aformentioned purple carrots- and these ARE earthy tasting. Obviously, when sliced so thinly, 1 carrot goes a long way! Drop the thinly sliced carrot into boiling water for 1 minute- just long enough to soften the structure slightly.

Arrange the ingredients evenly and not too densely, so that you have space to add that creamy ricotta in a few minutes- because the ricotta is what is going to both highlight and also bring all of this together.

For the creamy ricotta, pop it into a regular foodmixer or use an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes until it is really creamy and light. Add finely chopped chives, parsley and a little mint and little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and keep things simple- the salad is already crazy enough!

Season the salad and ricotta with rock salt, sprinkle with a few more chives and then drizzle with olive oil and honey. The herbs mixed in the ricotta will make for a wonderful and lush dressing... go ahead and leave it simple for a change! And yes indeed... enjoy!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Sansho Pepper Skewers!

Spiedini di Pollo con Miele, Pepe di "Sansho" é Couscous
Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers with Sansho Pepper on Couscous

One of the great things about breasts is that they come in two's- haha! So after last night's Mediterranean-influenced meal, I decided to turn the second of the chicken breasts I had in the fridge into something a little more of the Asian persuasion :-)

These 5 skewers of honey-coated chicken are made from 1 breast, marinated in ginger, light soy sauce and lime, glazed in honey and then brought to glorious life with a sprinkle of intensely citrusy Sansho pepper to knock your socks off! I served them on a Tandoori-spice and lime-infused couscous on a bed of arugula, with a couple of juicy cherry tomatoes to counter-point the strength of the Sansho. Oh-and one last thing... it was a delicious combination!

The chicken breast consisted, as is usually the case if you buy it intact, of one large portion of meat and a second, smaller fillet that is attached on the under-side. I had one of these smaller fillets left-over from yesterday, and looking at it, was inspired to cut the other breast into similar sized pieces, so that it would all cook in the same length of time. So yes- there was even some common-sense to cutting the chicken this way!

I put the strips of chicken into a plastic bag, added a few drops of sesame oil, a little light soy sauce, a 2" chunk of ginger and a clove of garlic, grated, along with the juice of 1 lime and let them marinate for a while. Cut to this thickness they don't need to marinate for too long- I only had them in for 30 minutes and they were fine, but a couple of hours would probably have been better.

I prepared 2 cups of couscous by covering it with boiling water, adding 1 chopped Spring onion, a handful of finely chopped parsley and honey and 2 Tablespoons of Tandoori spice. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, added a little sesame oil, stirred it well and allowed it to sit and "cook" for 10 minutes... easy!

The chicken skewers went onto a hot griddle for 2-3 minutes from each side- of course they would have been even better if I had made them in a grill... but alas! Once the skewers are lightly brown on each side, deglaze the pan with a little splash of rice wine if you have it, or regular white wine if you don't and add a drizzle of honey... and quickly rotate them to get them coated on both sides! I said quickly! Because that honey will soon become too dark and turn bitter on you if you are not careful!

Serve the skewers on a bed of couscous and arugula and sprinkle with Sansho pepper for that added "kick". I shall leave it up to your own discretion how much of it you use as it IS pretty potent stuff! But the intense citrus flavor is out of this world- and I am sure you are going to love it!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

New Lesson in Old School

Budino di Semolina al Arancia e Basilico
Orange & Basil Baked Semolina Pudding

I know, I know- you can hardly get any more old-fashioned than semolina pudding! For me, it brings back recollections of the 70's, as that was when I used to get semolina pudding served up as part of my school dinners... for the older ones of you out there- you may remember the 60's or indeed the 50's! Yes- it is rather out of fashion now and that is just the way it is.

But that does mean that it is a good thing that semolina fades away from our dining tables- that would be a real shame! I love how easy it is to prepare and how versatile it is- there is no end to the kinds of flavors you can add to it! Orange and basil- both full of delicious tasting and smelling essential oils and perfect to perfume this delicate little dish... so what are we waiting for?!! Let's get started!

I started off by boiling 2 cups of milk which I sweetened with 2 teaspoons of Stevia- feel free to use sugar or honey if you prefer. Once the milk came to the boil I added 3-4 leaves of basil, a little 1" piece of vanilla pod and the finely grated zest of half an orange. I turned off the heat and let the milk infuse with these flavors for 5 minutes, before removing the basil and vanilla. I then heated it back up again to a light, rolling simmer and proceeded to stir in the semolina, whisking it in all of the time to avoid any lumps.

Onc it had thickened to a smooth and creamy consistency, I whisked it thoroughly and then poured it into an oven-proof dish and popped it into the oven for 10-15 minutes at 300°F.
After that time, I took it back out of the oven and added a few strands of orange zest and a light sprinkle of sugar. Back into the oven it went, under the broiler for a final 2-3 minutes to become a lovely golden color and to crisp-over. And there you go! The easiest, coolest dessert- again, delicious hot or cold! All you have to do is enjoy!!!

Keeping a Breast of it All

Pollo al Limone con Olive Verdi e Capperi
Lemon Chicken with Green Olives & Capers

How do you transform that simple, single chicken breast you were going to grill and have with a side of salad into this incredible dish here? Well- truth be told- it was probably a lot easier than you think!

What looks like a lot of food here is as I said, one chicken breast and two small potatoes, a couple of pickled onions, 1 fresh Spring onion, half a lemon, a handful of olives and a handful of capers. So it really is not a lot of food- but together with a couple of fresh herbs,  it makes for a very flavorful, filling and satisfying meal... and one that may be a little more interesting than the regular grilled chicken breast after all!

Start off by slicing your potato into bite-sized slices and boiling them for 10 minutes in salted water. This will give you time to get busy with the chicken! Heat a little olive oil, add crushed garlic and a couple of sprigs of rosemary and fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes from each side. Easy. Remove from the frying pan and fry the lemon slices for 2-3 minutes too until they become golden and begin to caramelize from their own juices and the chicken juices in the pan.

Now drain the potatoes and add them to the pan, along with the chicken and a good splash of both red wine vinegar and water. You can use any vinegar you prefer actually, but this is what I used. Add a good sprinkle of oregano, cover and allow to steam for 2-3 minutes. This will loosen up any flavors that have burned-into the pan and all of this will get soaked up by the potatoes and chicken...mmm!

Remove the lid and add the capers and olives. I seasoned with some of my now almost legendary "Salt of the Earth" mix- but you can make a simple version for this dish by grinding salt, pepper, a little sugar, rosemary, sichuan pepper, lemon and lime zest with your mortar and pestle. Set the breast to one side and transfer the other ingredients to a fire-proof dish. Arrange nicely and then slice the chicken breast and arrange it on top. now add the pickled onions and a last sprinkle of oregano leaves, drizzle with honey lightly and bake in a hot oven for 5 minutes and then turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes towards the end to get some great color in there... perfect! And the best thing is that this tastes wonderful both hot and cold- which makes it an excellent Summer dish! Hope you like it!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

It's the Little Things that Matter

Piccoli Pasticcini di Albicocca & Mandorla con Zucchero alla Lavanda
Mini Apricot Eccles Cakes with Almond & Lavender

The idea for these little treats came to me whilst easting an apricot the other day... I cut it in half, opened it up and looked at it, and how similar the stone looked to an almond. Which gave me the idea of using a half apricot, with an almond to replace the stone, as a filling for a little "Eccles Cake", rather than the blueberries that are used in the original recipe... you have to use the ingredients whilst they are in season and at their best after all!

So... the oven was still on and still hot from my mushroom quiche and there was a piece of puff pastry left over. So I decided to give it and go and the rest is history! And yes, my simple little bite-size pastries will make history for you if you give them a go- I promise!

The only real prep-work to be done here is to prepare a little sugar for seasoning and decorating. I made this by simply grinding lavender and sugar together with my mortar and pestle- the smell and the flavor is amazing! And it is so easy!

Next, I split the apricots in half, removed the stones and added the almonds in their place. I sprinkled them lightly with the sugar and got busy cutting the puff pastry into circles of roughly twice the size of the apricots. I used one of those pastry/cookie cutter things, but you can always just use a glass or cut the pastry free-hand. 

I sprinkled the pastry lightly with the sugar and laid the half apricot on top, then proceeded to fold over the edges of the pastry until it was sealed. If you end up with any open areas, simply patch it up with a little piece from the off-cuts- you will be placing them in the oven with the sealed side down anyway.

Once the pastries are sealed, set them down with the folded edge facing down and make 3 cuts into them. Don't worry about cutting all the way through- rather a little deeper than too shallow is my advice. But basically... that is all there is to it! At 350°F, these lovely little beauties will be ready in just 20 minutes- which leaves you with enough time to decide if you want to eat them hot or cold- because either way you are going to love them!

The apricot tastes a little tangy and tart from the baking and the sugar smoothes out the flavor and makes it mild again- and with that little hidden crunch from the almond and the subtle perfume of the lavender- these are perfect little Summer snacks! Add a little vanilla ice cream or a little custard... and they become truly fantastic! Enjoy!

Shut Up and Quiche Me!

Torta Salata con Pancetta, Funghi, Pomodori Secche e Salvia
Bacon, Mushroom, Sun-Dried Tomato & Sage Quiche

It was the flavor of the mushroom and sage together in yesterday evening's rice salad dish, that got me thinking that I really need to try something else out with that self-same combination... and so this simple but delicious little quiche was born!

This was a delightful, individual serving, a 6" quiche made from 3 mushrooms, one egg, a little chopped bacon, 2 sun-dried tomatoes and that little bit of puff pastry for the base. A little parmesan cheese on top and there it was- a lot of flavor, a lot of fun, next to no work and inexpensice to boot! Yay! Want to know how easy it was to make? Well- let me just say it was easier than pie!

I started out by lining a 6" baking dish with greaseproof paper, then pressing down the pastry into shape and refrigerating it again until I was ready to add the filling- just so that it would retain its shape better. And then I started on the filling!

First of all, the finely dice bacon went into a dry, non-stick pan- no need for extra fat there folks! Once it began sizzling, I added the chopped mushrooms, a chopped Spring onion, the sun dried tomatoes and 2 finely chopped sage leaves. I sautéed these for 2-3 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg, then removed them from the heat to cool down.

In a small bowl, I cracked and beat an egg, seasoned with salt and pepper and added a little grated Parmesan- I kept a little extra to sprinkle on top later! I began pre-heating the oven to 350°F whilst the mushrooms cooled down and took the pastry out of the fridge again... it was time to start pulling things together!

As soon as the mushrooms are only lukewarm, add them to the egg and stir in well. Remember- if you add them too soon and they are still hot- you are going to end up with scrambled eggs!

Now everything is nicely mixed, pour it carefully into the pastry base, sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and delicious! And it is delicious either hot or cold- which is a good thing on these changeable Summer days over here! So I hope that you enjoy as much as I did!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Rice to the Occasion

Insalata di Riso con Zucchini e Funghi Crudi & Pancetta e Salvia Croccante
Rice Salad with Raw Mushrooms & Zucchini + Crispy Bacon & Sage

Summer is a time for potato salad, for pasta salad and yes indeed for rice salad- but you know what? I don't usually like rice salads so much, not the usual kind anyway. So I decided to try to come up with a version of my own this evening, something a little different and hopefully a little more unusual a flavorful.

I decided to use mushroom and zucchini as the main ingredients and thought that lemon, parsley and sage would be great flavors to enhance them. Oh... and that itsy-bitsy sprinkle of crispy bacon bits too of course. So carry on reading and I will tell you how I made this...

I began by cooking my rice in the usual way- boiling for 10 minutes and then simmering with the lid on, on a minimum flame for a further 10 minutes so that it finished by "steaming". For this dish I used a mix of white and wild rice,  so that it would have a little more "bite" to it. As soon as the rice was done, I added a good handful of very finely chopped parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and allowed it to sit and continue steaming.

In the meantime, I sliced a small zucchini and a couple of mushrooms as thinly as possible and set them to one side, then chopped a Spring onion and very finely chopped a couple of good-sized sage leaves. That was almost all of the prep work done already!

Next step was to fry a fine dice of bacon in a dry frying pan until it became crispy and brown. Once it was done, I set it to one side and added the sage leaves into the pan and kept the heat relatively high. And I stirred the sage around... soaking up any remaining oil from the bacon, as I went. After 1-2 minutes, the sage is still nice and green but has dried out and begun to get crisper.

Once the rice had cooled down, I began to layer it: rice, mushroom, zucchini, rice, mushroom and zucchini and so on. I made a simple dressing of olive oil, honey, lemon and white balsamico, which I poured into a jar, added salt pepper and a drop of green Tabasco and shook vigorously. I gave a light sprinkle of the dressing on each layer as I put the dish together and added the crispy sage and crispy bacon at the end as a wonderful finishing touch... and it was delicious! Try it... you'll like it!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hot Potato!

Insalata di Patate con Spezie Indiani
Indian Spiced Potato Salad

No, no, don't be afraid! I am misleading you a little maybe with the name of this post and the appearance of this spicy potato salad may also make you think it is going to be too hot to handle (or rather to eat!), but the truth of the matter is that it is spicy but mild and most definitely delicious!

Potato salad is fine and a good potato salad can be great... but the truth of the matter is that potato salads usually are neither fie, good OR great! They are usually boring! My idea of a good potato salad does not include mayonnaise- I am more for the oil and vinegar dressings and the lighter version. What I like in potato salad is flavor and plenty of it! So that is what I whipped together, a yummy Indian-influenced spicy potato salad that is perfect on a hot Summer evening.  

I started off by scrubbing some lovely, little new potatoes clean and then steaming them for 10 minutes on a bed of mint leaves. Whilst that was happening, I ground a tablespoon of Panch Puren spices in my mortar and pestle- just a little, so that the flavors could blend more easily. 

After 10 minutes of steaming, I transferred the potatoes to a frying pan, added a little clarified butter and sautéed them for 4-5 minutes to get them lightly brown... and delicious! I added a little crushed garlic, the panch puren, a little turmeric, a little garam masala and the other ingredients- diced bell peppers and Spring onion. 

What happens now is that all of the flavors begin to mingle and come together in the most wonderful way... but there was more to come! After 3-4 minutes, I added some finely chopped mint and parsley, some small tomatoes, cut into quarters, a last tiny pat of clarified butter and a sprinkle of tandoori spice- yum, yum, yum! The finishing touch is a good squeeze of lime juice and a deliciously different potato salad is done! Allow to cool and then chill before serving- and enjoy! Because spice is the variety of life! At least in the kitchen! ;-)