Friday, 31 July 2015


Banana Rossa con Sesamo, Zenzero & Miele
Healthy Red Banana with Sesame, Ginger & Honey


Remember back in the 70's, when you first tried the deep-fried bananas at your local Chinese restaurant and they seemed so exotic, but we're so totally decadent and delicious? Yeah, I can to! And they were indeed, yummy in the extreme!

But at the same time, we all know that we don't need to be eating that kind of fatty and overly rich food... So we do without, right? Wrong! We use some smarts and make something equally as delicious without any of the guilt or conscience, right? Right!


You can do the same thing with any kind of banana of course, I just happened to have this incredibly pretty red banana given to me by my lovely colleague Annette today... Thanks so much! It turned out to be super-delicious!


You can't get any more minimal than this! All you will nedd is a banana, any kind, a little sesame, a little ginger, a little honey and a little time! No fat, no batter, just the pure, intense flavor of the banana, with that hint of ginger and a touch of honey and sesame... It's all you need!


Just 1 good teaspoon of honey is all it will take to make the most of the bananas natural sweetness and aroma, the sesame adds depth and the ginger adds spice... Less is more! And it means you can have more and more and more of it too!


Peel and halve your banana and press each half into sesame seeds to get them nicely coated. Cut a few thin slices of ginger, ready to add to the frying pan and get ready to rumble!


Pop the bananas and the ginger into a dry pan, on a medium heat and toast them on each side for 2-3 minutes. After that time, add a little splash of water, flip once more and allow to carry until all the moisture has evaporated away again and the sesame begins to brown again... Just 2-3 minutes.


No fat... No problem! I learned a similar method to this from an old Thai colleague... And have to say that the result is pretty phenomenal!


There is no need for any more richness, sugar or spice right here- it is what it is... And it is mighty fine!


Excuse me for just a second, dear readers... I think I am going to pop into the kitchen and make myself another!

Fusion- No Confusion!

Insalata di Vermicelli di Riso con Olive Cinese, Pomodorini & Salsa Thailandese
Rie Vermicelli Salad with Chinese Olives, Cherry Tomatoes & Thai Sweet Chili Sauce


Quick, light, refreshing, easy and totally different are all words that I love to be connected with my food- how about you?

This was a spur of the moment, improvised little dish- and what do expect on a Friday evening? Necessity breeds creativity after all... And I had nothing left in the fridge and was in need of a feed! Thankfully, just 20 minutes later, this was ready and I was happy! Just like you will be too!!


Basically, if you can boil water, you can prepare this dish! There is no real cooking involved... Which is one more reason to love it... As well as the great flavor it has of course!

You may or may not be familiar with Chinese, preserved olives... If you are, you will surely love them... If you're not... You better get down to the Asian supermarket real fast and fall in love with them! And whilst you are at it, you might want to pick up another couple of simple ingredients if you don't already have them at home... Read on and find out!

For one good portion of this salad, you will need, surprise-surprise, 1 portion of rice noodles (brown in this case), 5-6 cherry tomatoes, a couple of slices of ginger, about 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese olives, fresh mint, parsley and basil and a little soy sauce for seasoning, sesame oil for dressing and sweet Thai chili sauce for extra flavor.

Simple stuff that you should always have at home... Trust me!


Tossed together, you will have the refreshing Mediterranean flavor of tomato, parsley and basil, combined with the rich flavor of the Chinese olives, which are such a pleasant change to our own and the sweet Thai chili sauce... You'll be surprised at how well they go together!


The only cooking you will need to do is to boil a couple of slices of ginger in some water for around 10 minutes, to infuse it with flavor, before adding the vermicelli to soak.

Whilst they soak and "cook", you will have more than enough time to slice up your tomatoes and chop your herbs... That's all the work there is to it!


The Chinese olives that you can find in the jar at your Asian supermarket are usually a combination of both the olive itself and the leaves, chopped up, shredded and fermented a little... They are mild, smooth-tasting... A little hard to describe... But I have yet to encounter one person who didn't instantly fall in love with them! Trust me... You will too!


After 10 minutes or so, the vermicelli will be good and can be drained off. Whilst they are still hot, add about a tablespoon of the chopped olives, the finely chopped mint and parsley and some sesame oil. Stir through thoroughly and season with a little soy sauce.

Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, so that all of those great, subtle flavors get combined and soaked-up into the noodles.


Serve with the chopped Tomatoes and finely sliced basil, add a good drizzle of Thai sweet chili sauce to taste... And prepare yourself for how good something so simple can taste!


You can enjoy healthy meals, sill have fun and not have to feel you are missing out on anything... It's easy when you know how!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Little Pepper Pots!

Sfogliatine Salate con Ricotta, Peperone, Pancetta & Erbe Miste
Savory Puff Pastries with Ricotta, Red Pepper, Bacon & Mixed Herbs


These lovely little puff-pastries, savory and delicious as can be, were quickly put together in next to no time... And they were probably eaten up every bit as quickly- or even quicker!

With next to nothing in the fridge, but plenty of imagination... and an always useful roll of emergency puff-pastry, I managed to come up with these great snacks for this evening, which would be super-wonderful next time I am throwing a party!

I could have made an omelette or a frittata I suppose, or a pepper stuffed with rice or something... Three things that would have been nice suppers too...

But, instead, I made these!

I can't help being so brilliant sometimes... It just happens! Haha!

To make enough filling for 4 little pastries, I needed just 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of fresh ricotta, 1 shallot, 1 sweet red pepper, a small handful of chopped bacon and some fresh herbs- rosemary, parsley and mint in this case. I seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg- with a little pinch of cayenne just to make them a little more exciting!

If the sight of these little beauties doesn't make you happy... And hungry... Then I don't know what will! But I am not going to spend too much time pondering that thought... I am going to carry on eating mine whilst I write-up how to make them for all of you good people out there!

Here's some good news... The only prep work you need to do is to finely dice maybe a quarter of the pepper... As for the rest of the ingredients, they can be coarsely chopped, or in the case of the herbs, simply plucked from the stems... Because they are all going to end up in a blender all the same!


Put the ricotta, egg, herbs, pepper and spices into your blender and give them a good whizz for 1-2 minutes. In the meantime, turn on the oven and get it ready for action!


Cut yourself circles of pastry that are almost twice as big as the dishes or ramekins you are going to use... Or if you are going to make more of them, you can always use a muffin tray too!

Ease the pastry down gently into place and press down carefully, so as not to stretch the soft dough and make it too thin- it would be a shame if any of that filling was to spill out!


Spoon in the filling and sprinkle with the finely chopped bacon and pepper to give them a colorful and decorative finish, then bake in a hot oven, at 180C, for 25-30 minutes, until they are puffed-up, golden and delicious!


Doesn't that just look delicious!?!

Wonderful piping-hot, but probably also cold... Except that I ate mine all up, straight from the oven, so I guess I will never know! Unless I make them again, that is!

And do you know what? Somehow I think I may do just that!


The pepper gives the ricotta and egg batter such a deep flavor, that with all of those fresh herbs and the salty bacon, these really are a winning combination! And if you dare to add that hint of cayenne, they become even better as party snacks... Your cocktails will never have tasted so good as with these! Give them a try and I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Mamma Mia!

Melanzane della Mamma
Mothers Eggplant


Everybody loves their mothers cooking of course... but let me tell you, my mothers eggplants will have your heads spinning, delicious as they are! And they will have you begging for more, too!

I have slightly elaborated on her recipe, by adding a couple more herbs, but the main ingredients and the method remain the same and the result remains phenomenal!

I love you Mom!


Are you familiar with Italian playing cards? If you are, then you will realize just how incredibly similar these look to the ace of clubs- which is pretty hilarious!

And it is also pretty cool as it is one of my favorite images and always draws to mind those wonderfully decorated, traditional Sicilian horse carriages... So colorful and lively... Just like this dish!


All you need to know here is the method and the ingredients that are necessary... When it comes to quantities... That all depends on the size of your eggplants and how many hungry mouths you need to feed! You need to cut your eggplant into quarters- so plainly, you will have 4 pieces of eggplant to serve up individually... So... You do the math!

For my supper this evening, I needed 1 medium sized eggplant, 4-5 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 clove of garlic, fresh parsley, mint, basil and rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil... a little Parmesan for grating... And some crusty bread to accompany it!


This is a perfect dish to serve either aa a "contorno" (side dish) or an "antipasto" (appetizer)... But like I said, with some good crusty bread and a glass of wine to o with it, you have a typical, light little evening meal on your hands too... Or at least I did this evening!


Begin by peeling the eggplant and cutting it into 1/4ers, then cut 2 slits into each quarter and sprinkle with salt on the outside and the inside. Let the wedges of eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes and then squeeze out any excess moisture... And of course most of any of the bitterness that your eggplant may have.

Next, slice up the cherry tomatoes thinly, shave the garlic into the thinest slivers you can manage and then slide thes, together with plenty of the 4 herbs into each of the eggplant pieces 2 slits.


Fry in a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes until you begin to see the eggplant turn slightly golden around the bottom edges.


Using tongs, carefully flip the wedges over, add just the tiniest drop of water and then put on the lid and allow to steam and bubble away for 5-6 minutes at a moderate heat.


Make sure not to have your pan too hot, make sure to keep the lid on top and after around 15 minutes cooking time in all, you will be rewarded with succulent and flavor-packed eggplant that is golden and juicy and delicious!

They are as pretty as a picture just as they are...

...but with a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan they become something quite sublime!
Me and my mom... We make a winning team! And we make a pretty fantastic eggplant... And that's for sure!!!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

So Sweet, So Sour, So Try It!

Okra & Riso in Agrodolce con Peperone, Limone & Pomodori Secchi
Sweet & Sour Okra & Rice with Sweet Pepper, Lemon & Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Okra- one of those foods that you either love or hate... and being as I love it, I decided to do a little something different with it this evening, to try to change all of you haters minds! Haha!

I decided to follow my instincts on this one... And good golly, did I get lucky this time! This is a dish that I will definitely be making again and one that I will probably prepare for friends as well... It really is that good! And anyway... I love to challenge people now and again! Hehe!


Does this look a little different to the squishy, somewhat slimy-looking okra dishes that you may be used to seeing, or that you have tried in the past and disliked? I bet it does! And although I am not really one to brag... I have to say that it is definitely one of the nicest looking okra dishes that I have ever seen and definitely one of the nicest I have ever made!

But the best thing about it is the flavor! This is easily my favorite preparation for okra so far! Sweet and sour and scrumptious!


Possibly what made these especially delicious was the fact that they were very young and tender okra. Try to get the smallest and juiciest okra that you can, they will definitely taste much, much better than the large ones.

To make two servings, I needed only: 2 handfuls of okra, 1 small sweet red pepper, 2 sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato purée, 1 shallot, 1 lemon, some fresh parsley, dried oregano, salt, pepper, sugar and of course some good olive oil. Oh! And a cupful of rice!

Another thing that made preparing this meal so much fun, was that I used my tajine to cook it in! But fear not, if your saucepan has a lid, you should be fine, haha!

Seriously though, the real secret of this dishes success is the fact that all of the great flavors of these tasty and simple ingredients get trapped, rendered down and absorbed completely by the rice and okra, by the time it is finished. And you hardly have to lift a finger to make it happen!


Preparation here is simple... You just have to chop up all of your ingredients as finely as possible- haha! Grate or finely chop the zest of around 1/3rd of the lemon and squeeze the remaining juice, ready to add later on.

By the way, the green things you can see are the stalks of the parsley... I never throw those away and you shouldn't either! They are packed with flavor!

Pop your tajine or saucepan on the stove top with a little olive oil and whilst it heats up, trim the ends from the okra and give it a good rinse.

Begin by frying the shallot, pepper and parsley stalks in olive oil, with a good pinch of oregano and a teaspoon of sugar. Fry until the shallot becomes translucent.


Next, add the washed okra and the sun-dried tomatoes, toss quickly and go grab yourself a scoop of rice!


Now add the rice and the tomato purée and stir-in well. Add enough boiling water to cover everything well and reduced the heat to a low simmer, before putting on the lid and kissing it goodbye for 10 minutes.

Make sure you have plenty of water in there, but fear not, as it will all get absorbed and the tomato purée and sun-dried tomatoes will will make sure that the flavor will be rich and delicious.


After 10 minutes add the juice of the lemon, stir things through and return to a rolling boil with the lid on for a further 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes more, turn off the heat but do not remove the lid anymore. Allow to sit and to finish cooking in the residual heat and steam.

And when you finally remove the lid, after 20-25 minutes of cooking, you will be rewarded by a fluffy, delicious and unctuous dish like this!

Check the seasoning before serving and add lemon juice or sugar as necessary for a good flavor... but you will find that the tangy lemon juice and the sweetness of the pepper and sugar, together with the sun-dried tomatoes, the purée and the lemon zest, all go to give you an explosion of flavor! And I think you are going to love it!