Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Soup and Salad

Sometimes when you don’t want to eat meat or pasta or fish or anything solid, soups come as a savior. And especially after indulging in food and pastries and cakes during Eid (Kurban Bayrami) and gaining more than we supposed to gain (I’m talking about me and the tummy!), we craved for a really green soup and more greens on the side!

So as always we opened our Jamie at Home and started with the Creamy Asparagus Soup (without the poached eggs this time but we definitely urge you to add the poached eggs, it twists the zest of the soup) which is very easy to prepare. We started with frying the chopped white onions, leeks and celery (please check the link below for the full list and recipe). About 10 minutes later we added the chopped asparagus stalks (the tips reserved for later use) and our organic vegetable stock to simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on.

onions, leeks, celery and asparagus stalks
In the meantime we prepared the spinach salad with a pack of baby spinach leaves, some cubed bacon pan-fried for 5 minutes, goat cheese slices which are blended in one egg and some breadcrumbs to be fried (in vegetable oil), a handful of sliced mushrooms, a little bit of walnuts and our usual vinaigrette (with juice of half a big lemon, extra virgin olive oilof twice the amount of lemon juice, a couple of drops of balsamic, one teaspoon honey mustard, one teaspoon egg-free mayonnaise, chopped herbs of whatever we have, salt and pepper, one tablespoon water).

goat cheese-spinach salad
blending the soup
When the soup is simmered, we blended it with hand blender (we should have blended more!), seasoned it and put it back to heat with the asparagus tips for a few more minutes. We served the soups drizzled with a little bit of cream and with a slice of toasted country bread.

back to heat with asparagus tips
soup & salad
As our dear guest commented the meal was light yet fulfilling! I would prefer the soup to be a bit more liquidy and also the poached eggs would enhance the zest (as we’d done before). The goat cheese-spinach salad was just right to complete our mini dinner.

Creamy Asparagus Soup from Jamie Oliver

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Incredible pappardelle with parma ham, leeks and porcini

After rushing to If Boutique in the evening for an hour to see its annual warehouse sale with 80-90% discounts on last years’ and summer’s collections (see the note below), I rushed back home to meet the other lazy cook to prepare for the pasta we’ve planned to cook for tonight. We were so excited about it the other day while reading the long recipe with leeks, parma ham, dried porcini, breadcrumbs (why don’t we open a pasta shop as we are obsessed with pasta? But then there is a good chance we will hate it!).

Anyway, first the leeks and parma ham were cooked in a large pan with thyme leaves for about half an hour (parma ham covering the leeks).

In the meantime breadcrumbs and porcini mushrooms mixture with rosemary leaves (which is called pangrattato) is prepared.

For pappardelle we basically bought fresh lasagna, put all the lasagna sheets on top of each other (sprinkling a little flour to each sheet) and cut the lasagna sheets in 1 cm strips. They needed only a minute to be boiled.

All ingredients went back to the pan to be tossed for the last few minutes before serving.

Aside from its juicy sauce; with the pangrattato and on top a good amount of Parmesan cheese, the pappardelle was absolutely fantastic. Thank you Jamie, again!

Full recipe is in Jamie at Home.

A small fashion note: I’m very proud with what I’ve found from If Boutique warehouse sale. It is a limited edition skirt by Geoffrey B. Small which is 7th from 10 pieces only and its AED 300. Also a cotton bag with a mouse printed on it. All 90% off and sales continue until Saturday (If Boutique Facebook Group).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Caponata (fresh from Sicily!)

Well not exactly, but this Sicilian dish is like our Turkish mixed vegetable dish (vegetarian “Turlu”) but with a big twist and lighter and more tender. You can eat it hot (as we did with plain rice) or cold (like any 'zeytinyagli' dishes). And the recipe is from Jamie’s Italy.

big chunks of eggplants getting golden in the pan
So we needed 2 firm eggplants that are cut into large chunks (Jamie advises not to cut into small cubes as they absorb more oil if they are cut small), dried oregano, 1 small red onion (finely chopped), 2 gloves of garlic (finely sliced), a small bunch of parsley (leaves picked and stalks finely chopped), 2 tablespoons of salted capers (rinsed), a handful of green olives (pitted), 2-3 tablespoons good quality herb vinegar (in our case balsamic) and 4-5 ripe tomatoes (roughly chopped).

vegetables simmering nicely
First we started with eggplants to be fried in olive oil (enough to cover the pan) with oregano for a couple of minutes and seasoned with a little salt. When the eggplants turned golden on each side, we added onion, garlic and parsley stalks and continued cooking for a few more minutes. Then capers and olives were thrown in with vinegar drizzling all over the vegetables. When the vinegar evaporated, we added the tomatoes and left it for simmering for 15 minutes. Before serving we drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled chopped parsley leaves (you can add slightly toasted sliced almonds here as well, we didn’t have it). Our rice was ready in the rice cooker in the meantime. And we had a healthy, fulfilling, South Italian dish in our breezy backyard.

Note: So what make this dish different than our usual ‘Turlu’ is obviously adding olives and capers to vegetables and vinegar while cooking them. Also non-peeled big chunks of eggplants and tomatoes make the dish really light and tender (as they don’t absorb too much oil and get squashy).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Turkey Piccatta

When I was shopping for Asli (we always want her to try different things other than usual chicken, meatballs and veggies however most of the time we’re unsuccessful!), I bought turkey thighs in order to make her a turkey schnitzel. And for us as well, of course. As we were scanning one of our new cookbooks (a gift for my 35th), we came across a different version of schnitzel called piccatta. Instead of breadcrumbs he was using parmesan cheese. We thought it would be nicer and decided to cook this one. The book is called "Chef at Home" By Uwe Michelle (he is apparently a chef in Dubai and won couple of awards).

turkey thighs cut into thin slices
So we took the thighs, cut them into thin slices and season with salt and pepper. We combined 2 beaten eggs, some chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese together. We first dusted the thighs with flour, then dipped them in the egg mixture and fried them until they are golden. They looked in fact more like omlettes because of two eggs (I guess) and taste not better than a usual schnitzel (and to be honest a schnitzel is crispier). However with a home-made pesto pasta* on the side and a bottle of beer we had a perfect dinner in the backyard (by the way if you’re ever looking for a non-alcoholic beer, Holsten is the best). And most importantly our daughter liked it (the piccatta, not the beer!).

piccatta and pesto pasta

*For pesto: Combine ½ clove of garlic (chopped), a pinch of salt and a bunch of basil leaves (chopped) and pound them in a food processor. Add a handful of very lightly toasted pine nuts and grind them again. Put them in a bowl to mix with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir while adding some olive oil (just to bind the sauce). After seasoning with salt and pepper, add some more parmesan cheese and olive oil until you’re happy with the taste. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another feel food and feel full pasta – Tuna Puttanesca

One of our favorites for a Saturday night (after a busy weekend) is eating pasta while watching our favorite series (probably I’m repeating this a lot here). This Saturday tuna puttanesca was picked among our favorite pastas list. Especially after we found out that the best source of Vitamin D is fatty fish (as I have Vitamin D insufficiency in one of the sunniest places on Earth!), we try to include fish in our meals as much as we can.

So we started with cooking a classic tomato sauce (from Jamie Oliver). For this, we fried two chopped gloves of garlic with some chopped basil stalks and a pinch of dried oregano for a few minutes. To spice it up we threw in a whole red chili pepper (pinched so it doesn't explode!). Then we added two cans of good quality plum tomatoes, seasoned it with salt and pepper and let it simmer for half an hour. Towards the end we added a swig of balsamic vinegar to sweeten the sauce. 

tomato sauce simmered and the puttanesca ingredients added

For our puttanesca we added a handful of pitted black olives, a couple of anchovies (drained), a handful of capers and a can of tuna flakes. By the way the best canned tuna we’ve found until now is 'Pan de Mar' from the Organic shop or Calvo (from any supermarket). The pasta was ready within 5 to 7 minutes.

two bowls of delicious pasta
We love pasta and Mad Man!