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Moroccan-style pasta

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 23.08.14I used to feel like there’s nothing better and quicker to create tiny explosions of taste in a relatively simple dish that cinnamon or cumin. Or both. Then, it was Gino D’Acampo that introduced me to the crackling, satisfying feeling of toasted almonds in a dish, and he did it with his Moroccan – style pasta.

This recipe is very heavily based on Gino’s recipe in his book Fantastico!: Modern Italian Food – I’m saying “based” and not “taken from the book, simply because I have left out the coriander (which I simply cannot stand) and, quite frankly, am liberally seasoning the dish with cinnamon and cumin. One teaspoon is simply never enough. We also used tagliatelle.

We also almost omitted the oil (you will notice we only use about a teaspoon and a half at the beginning) because we are on a diet.

Stop laughing!

Stop!

OK, now that you’re all better, let’s move on.

We also #fooked*, because it had been a while and we had missed it! Those of you who are new to fooking, I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

1 onion, sliced

About 4-5 tomatoes, diced

Cinnamon and cumin

About 1 cup cooked chickpeas (we cooked ours)

About 100gr flaked almonds

About 250gr tagliatelle

Parsley

 

Preparation

Start by cooking the chickpeas, if they are not already cooked. You know, no salt while they are cooking, then add some at the end and don’t forget the lemon.

Add the onions with some oil in a deep pan and cook them for about five minutes, until soft and slightly brown. Add the diced tomatoes and the spices. Let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down, their juices are making a nice, thick sauce and the aroma is filling your house.

Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle and, in a small pan, toast the flaked almonds. That’s really easy to do, just put the almonds in a small saucepan over medium heat. Also remember to toss them every once in a while, because they will burn quickly if you don’t.

When your sauce is nice and ready, add the chickpeas and cook for a further five minutes. Or longer if you want. What you are looking for is for all the smells to integrate with the chickpeas. When it’s done, add the tagliatelle and the parsley (keep a little bit to add when you serve) and cook for another a minute.

When it’s done, serve it, add the almonds and some more parsley and serve immediately.

Enjoy it with some cold beer (Mr. S added some feta cheese too, but what else is new!)

As always, let us know what you think!

Grazie Gino!


 

* Cooking with the Foo Fighters

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Cumin mushrooms and pancetta quesadilla

cumin mushroom quesadillaSaturday night usually calls for Supernatural. And Supernatural usually calls for a snack – mainly because Dean always eats something, and then we get start to drool and then we lose our concentration and the whole world knows that Supernatural demands our full attention, so we like to be prepared.

Last night we tried to keep it simple, because of everything that we have eaten these past few days. Our favorite Canteen reopening this Sunday was also a huge factor to our trying to keep the calorie intake to a minimum (well… ok… we’ll call this a “minimum” and we’ll all stay friends, ok?). When trying to do that, veggies help, and whole-wheat products help and, of course, pancetta doesn’t help much, but we’ll just keep this between us.

I won’t even call this a recipe. It is merely a suggestion for the next time you crave for something and don’t know what to make. Most houses have a few mushrooms, some tortillas, some pancetta (or bacon), some cheese, a few peppers…

By the way, there were no peppers in this house last night, so I didn’t use any, but I’ll add them to the “suggestion”, because I really wish there were.

 

Ingredients

250gr mushrooms, sliced

4 slices pancetta

½ onion

1 red bell pepper, sliced

4 slices yellow cheese (we used Gouda)

4 tortillas

A pinch of cumin

 

Preparation

Heat some oil in a large pan and add the pancetta to your desired doneness. Remove pancetta from the pan. Add the onion and the pepper and cook over medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms, some salt and pepper and the cumin. Cook about 7-8 minutes, or until the mushrooms are done.

Remove from the pan. At this point, if you have a non-stick pan, don’t even bother with cooking spray. I used nothing and nothing stuck! If your pan is not non-stick, then add some cooking spray. Place one tortilla on the pan, over medium heat. On it, place a slice of cheese, some mushroom mixture, two pancetta slices and another cheese slice. Top it off with another tortilla. Cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes or until tortilla is nice and crispy. Very carefully flip your quesadilla over and cook it for another couple of minutes.

Remove it from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat for the second quesadilla.

We placed one on top of the other, cut them both with a serrated knife in four and enjoyed it with some weissbier and a simple valeriana salad (dressed only with some salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil). And with Sam and Dean, of course!

 


Jamaican spiced chicken and curry flavored brown rice fajitas

Jamaican fajitas

It’s a sunny mid March Sunday, you go out for a stroll, maybe some coffee and some hanging out in the sun, and when you get back home you find yourself desperately looking for something nice to eat. Preferably something that can be prepared in no time and taste like, well… a sunny springtime Sunday.

So, how about some fajitas? Jamaican spiced chicken and curry flavored brown rice (basmati rice is also great) fajitas to be exact. That’s what we thought and fortunately for us, we thought about it before we went out for that stroll, which was helpful because it meant that we took the chicken out of the freezer so that it would be ready to be cooked by the time we came back!

(But, you know… Having a microwave that is not broken like ours is something that can do the defrosting job if you don’t think about cooking chicken before you go out for a walk!).

So. All you need is some chicken (we used three chicken thighs), a cup of rice (we used brown rice), an onion, a red pepper, one tomato, a couple of lettuce leaves, a few tortillas and about 30-35 minutes.

 

Ingredients

3 chicken thighs

1 cup of brown rice

1 onion

1 red pepper

1 tomato

6 corn tortillas

3 lettuce leaves

Olive oil

Salt

Jamaican spice pepper

Curry powder

Yogurt  (or sour cream)

Some grated cheese

 

Preparation

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Place an empty frying pan on high. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with salt and the Jamaican spice pepper. Sprinkle some olive oil on the chicken, lower the heat to medium and place the chicken in the pan.

Put a cup of brown rice in a small pan. Season with salt and some curry powder, add two cups of boiling water and let it cook for ten minutes.

Slice the onion and the red pepper, cut the tomato in small pieces and slice the lettuce.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and let it rest. In that same pan add the onion and red pepper and cook to your liking (we cooked it for about 5 minutes, or until the veggies were soft).

Take a large piece of greaseproof paper, put it under the tab and get it all wet. Squeeze it so that most of the water goes off, wrap the tortillas in it and put them in the oven for 3-4 minutes.

Before you serve your fajitas, slice your chicken pieces so that then can be better used in your tortilla.

When everything is done and ready, place in individual plates and assemble your fajitas to your liking. We added some yogurt and some shredded mozzarella, but you can also use some mexican salsa, guacamole or just about anything.

And, of course, let us know what you think.

 


Delicious Onion Pie

onionpieLast week we went to this place on via del Corso in Florence that sells mainly pies. The place is called “Pulia” and sells mainly dishes pugliesi, i.e. from Puglia. Everything was great, but what really stuck with me was the onion pie.

It was actually called “onion pizza”, but looked like a pie, and the dough was focaccia dough, and it’s all very complicated, so I think I may just have to move on to the recipe, because the recipe is actually much simpler than explaining the pie!

 

So, there you have it:

Onion Pie

300gr flour

10gr fresh yeast or 3gr dry yeast

200ml tepid water

5-6 onions (or scallions, or both, I used 5 regular onions and 2 scallions)

2-3 anchovies

a handful of olives (NOT pitted olives, nobody likes pitted olives)

salt, pepper, oil

 

Preparation

Add the yeast in the water and just stir it around with your hand until it dissolves. Add it in the flour and mix it, forming a dough. Add about a tsp of salt, 2 TB oil and work your dough until it is homogeneous and just a tiny little bit sticky. Leave it to double for about an hour.

Meanwhile, and while your dough is rising, preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (400F) and chop the onions in thin slices. Add some oil in a pan and add the anchovies. Let them dissolve in the oil and add the onions, with a little salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and let the onions cook for about 20 minutes, until they are nice and soft. Then add the olives and some pepper. Give it a stir and remove it from the fire.

Now your dough must be double in size and your oven warm. Oil a 30cm pan and your hands. Take the dough and divide it in half, making sure that one piece is slightly larger than the other (slightly!). Roll it in a round that fits the bottom of the pan and place it in your pan. Put the onion mix over the dough in the pan and roll the other piece as well. Place it on top of the onions and seal the edges. Brush some oil on the surface and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it. Put it in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.

When it’s done, let it cool and enjoy it. Maybe with some red wine. Or tea. Or coffee. Oh, who am I kidding, just have the pie!

And as always, let me know

onionpie1


Lentil Moussaka

7Leonardo Di Caprio won the Oscar for sleeping in a horse’s carcass. That alone, no matter how truly amazing he was in the movie (I can’t tell you, I haven’t seen it) makes us want to steer clear of meat for at least a few days, even if I have honestly been #teamLeo, ever since the Basketball Diaries, I swear.

We had some potatoes and some eggplants in the fridge, so Mr S and I looked at each other and telepathically decided to make a veggie moussaka.

I have had this book for a while, it is called The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook and have only tried a few recipes, which turned out pretty good. It is a vegetarian book, one of those “Hungry student” things, and, honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it. But my first couple of efforts turned out ok, so I decided to give it another go.

Lentil Moussaka was right in there, so I thought “why not?”

Now, this recipe asks for a lentil moussaka without potatoes. Keeping in mind that recipes are merely suggestions, I tweaked it a bit, and I hope the author won’t mind. Because, honestly, I don’t know why anyone would skip the potatoes.

All the rest was awesome, though, so thumbs up, book!

 

Lentil Moussaka

6

1 large potato, cut in thin slices

For the filling

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves

about 200gr lentils (more, less, I always opt for more) [See Note 1]

2 eggplants, sliced thinly (not paper-thin, let’s not go crazy. Normal) [See Note 2]

Cinnamon

Oregano

One can chopped tomatoes or about 1 – 1 1/2 cup tomato passata

Salt and pepper

For the topping

300gr full-fat greek yogurt

60gr flour

2 egg yolks

Grated cheese of your choice

 

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius

1

While the oven is preheating (seriously) place the sliced potato in a pan and stick them in there, seasoned with salt and pepper. Leave them there while you’re preparing the rest, making sure you don’t burn them. If you see them start to brown, take them out, we just want them to be nice and tender.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for five minutes, add the garlic and cook a couple of minutes more.

2

Add the eggplant and cook for about 15 minutes, until soft and starting to shrink. When you see that happening, add the tomato, the lentils, the cinnamon and oregano and season it well. Let it bubble.

While it is bubbling, add all the ingredients for the topping save the grated cheese in a bowl and whisk. Be careful because the flour will go everywhere! Do it slowly!

Once everything is done, it is time for the assembly. In a large baking dish, first layer the potatoes.3

Follow that with the lentil – eggplant mixture and then the topping. To make the topping go everywhere, just smooth it with the curved side of a large spoon towards the edge of the dish.

4

Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and put it in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes (depending on your oven).

5

We ate it so hot, I can still feel my tongue as we speak.

I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

 

Note 1: I am really not used to canned lentils. I don’t get them. If I want lentils, I make them. That’s what I did here. I boiled about 200gr of lentils, a garlic clove and half an onion until they were done, and used that. But if you want to use canned lentils, by all means.

 

Note 2: I sliced the eggplants, but you can also cut them in small squares or rounds, whatever you like. Like I said, recipes are mere suggestions. Just make sure they are cooked.

 

Note 3 (unrelated to cooking): Out of all the gorgeous dresses from last night, Kate Blanchett completely nailed it. That dress on her, oh my, it was like Mother Nature hugged her, blessed her and sent her off to the Oscars. Good job, my lady.

cate-blanchett-oscars-2016-in-hollywood-ca-2-28-2016-2


#Fooking Samosas

samosasIt has been a while since I last cooked something for this blog, and I say this a lot, but in the past five years it seems like it’s always something, right?

Sometimes I let the bad things take control and sometimes I try to shake them off and start surviving. And those are the best times and I will try to make them happen more. Everything that’s happening is beyond my control, but I, me, myself, I am not beyond my control. Right?

Hopefully, at least 😉

Well, this past couple of weeks has had its ups and downs, politically, historically, Greece has come and gone, things in our lives have come in circles, losses, gains… We realized that we are experiencing a concentrated version of life, with its joys and disappointments, shocks and fears, losses and reliefs – and epiphanies like this require strong doses of food and celebration.

So I made samosas. We ate them watching football, drinking beer, spritz, with yoghurt, sausages, salad, cats, friends.

Then I made the video. Because, Foo Fighters. And cooking. Fooking. It makes me smile and laugh, not necessarily in that order.

A word about the food. Folding the samosas can be tricky. Watch the video, it makes the folding part pretty clear. Once you’re through with the folding, the filling is nothing. Also, feel free to use other spices you like. Garam masala will probably work miracles in this. Don’t omit the coriander, it smells exactly like i imagine a baby angel’s hair will smell like. Seriously. But, if you don’t like it, by all means. Add or leave out anything you want. And let me know what you changed and how it turned out.

Also, I don’t fry. So I baked them. But you can also fry them, and they will be crispier and, well, tastier. People who fry, know that. But these have fewer calories and are a bit healthier, so yay for that!

What you will need:

For the dough

3 cups flour

3 TB olive oil

½ TB thyme (dry)

½ tsp salt

less than a cup of cold water

For the filling

3 – 4 potatoes

some peas

1 onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 small carrot, grated

1 small chili pepper

1 tsp coriander seeds, broken

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

1/3 tsp ginger

½ tsp sweet paprika

Some lemon juice

What you will need to do:

To make the dough, mix the flour, the oil, the thyme and the salt in a big bowl, add some of the water and mix with your hands, continuing to add water until you have a soft dough that doesn’t stick. Cover it with a towel (you can even touch it with some oil to keep it soft) and leave it to rest for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and, towards the end, add the peas.

When the potatoes and peas are done, heat some oil in a large pan and sauté your spices, until they are fragrant. At this point, you love me, because your house smells like heaven. Now, add the onion and cook until it is translucent and soft, about 2- 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and peas, the garlic, the carrot, the chili and cook for 4-5 minutes, until everything is brought together and smells like the spices. Take the potato mixture out of the pan, transfer it to a big bowl and add some lemon (as much as you want, don’t add too much, a couple of squeezes will do) and some pepper. Now take a fork and start mashing it, making sure you don’t end up with a pulp. Mash it but not too much, we want some pieces in it.

Let it cool.

Go back to your dough and take a bowl of water and a rolling pin with you. Take your dough, divide it in 8 equal balls, and start rolling them. Once you’ve rolled the first one pretty thin but not paper thin (you’re not making a pie!), cut the circle in half, take one half in your hand, dip your fingers in the water and wet the round edge, roll it and make a cone. This involves some hand crossing and some imagination, but you can check out the video and see how it is done. It’s pretty easy once you’ve seen it and made your first. BTW, the first two always suck, then it gets easier. Take your cone, fill it with your filling, dip your fingers in the water again, wet the remaining edge and close your samosa. Make sure you keep the shape.

At this point I separate myself from tradition and don’t even regret it. At this point you can fry your samosas in some non-fragrant oil and they become crispy and amazing.

But I don’t fry.

Ever.

Only if I absolutely have to, but I always try to find alternatives.

And alternative I did find.

So, at some point before starting to roll your dough, preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Once ready, place your samosas on an oiled baking sheet, brush them with some egg and put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the oven, or until you see them turn golden and beautiful (whichever comes first).

Have them with some greek yoghurt (I suggest full fat or more!) or a chutney of your liking, and bon appetit!


Eggplant Loaded Orzo

Eggplant-orzoI made another video yesterday, after my good friend Dana, whose blog, Just a Rez Chick, not only do I highly recommend, but actually believe you already know and follow by now, asked me to cook something with an eggplant.

I would cook Mousaka, but that will have to wait, because it was a workday, it was unexpected, had no meat and will have to come over my fear of frying. That will happen soon, just… you know… not yet…

In time…

Anyway, today being a workday and all, this is what I have time for. I will give you the ingredients and you can watch the How-To on the video.

A couple of notes:

a) If you do not have Harissa (why don’t you have harissa!!) you can use red chillies, they are equally awesome. Just throw them in there 30 seconds before you add the eggplant.

b) I salted and let the eggplant stand, because it smelled bitter. Don’t judge me, I work with smells. Eggplants are sometimes bitter and letting them stand for 1/2 to 1 hour in salt helps solve that. It also helps them not absorb much oil when you fry them, making them a bit less fattening, so that’s one to think about, right?

c) I added cumin, but you can also use cinnamon, especially if you don’t use harissa.

That’s about it. Hope you enjoy the dish AND the video!

You will need:

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 eggplant

1/2 cup sweet white wine

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp harissa

Tomato sauce

salt, pepper, cumin

You will do:

PS. To refresh your memory: Fooking = Cooking + Foo Fighters


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