Tag Archives: fooking

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


#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!


Lemon Cookies… I mean Fookies!

IMG_0271Continuing my Fooking spree (the things a person would do to avoid studying, right?) I made lemon cookies. Cookies, lemon, only 1/2 cup sugar, what else is there to say? Oh, yes, that we ate them in one day.

Seriously.

Just so you know, I don’t use a cookie cutter, because, you know… I don’t have one! I rolled the dough into a log and cut it with a knife. That way, my cookies (fookies) turned out (almost) round and normal!

They don’t take too long to make, they are pretty easy, the most time consuming thing (obviously) is the three hours the dough needs to rest in the fridge. But, you know, you can do all sorts of things in between!

So, here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
Some (a little) Salt

And what you’ll do:

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Set it aside. Take the lemon, grate the zest and keep it, then squeeze it and keep the lemon juice. You’ll need 3-4 tablespoons of that, unless you really really love lemon, in which case, use as much as you want. Meanwhile, separate your egg and keep the egg-white covered and refrigerated – we will need it down the road.

In your mixer bowl, add the (softened) butter along with the zest and beat until it’s united. Then add the sugar, gradually, while beating, just until it is one. Add the egg yolk and half the flour and mix and beat until they are combined. Then add the lemon juice, the vanilla and the rest of the flour and beat until everything is combined. Do not overbeat, there’s no reason for you to do that.

Now for the fun part: Take your bowl and empty it on a flat surface. Take the dough and form a log. The diameter of the log should be a bit smaller of the size of the cookies you want to serve! Once you’re done, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 3 hours.

Three hours later, preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius – 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your log, unwrap it and cut it in cookies. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place your cookies on that. Lightly beat the egg-white you saved in the fridge with a splash of water (a couple of tablespoons, no more), and brush your cookies with that mixture. Sprinkle with some sugar and place them in the oven.

You can place both baking sheets in the oven at the same time, just remember to switch places halfway through baking.

Now, you know your oven, each oven is different, so you will need to keep an eye on them. They can take from 8 to 15 or 16 minutes to bake. Take them out when they are golden around the edges. If you touch the center and it is soft, that’s ok. The cookies keep baking even after you’ve taken them out of the oven, they will go harder as they stand.

Let them stand in the baking sheets for about five minutes and then transfer them on wire racks, to cool. Or eat them warm, that’s what I did.

There’s also video evidence that I made them, which follows. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.


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


Chicken, Rice and Everything Nice

IMG_0145Keeping up with my recent Fooking-mania (which is cooking with the Foos, that is with the Foo Fighters), I made one of Mr. S’s favorites yesterday: Chicken, rice and veggies, in the oven.

His mom usually makes this for us, but this past year she has been wildly unavailable for cooking (ugly unforeseen circumstances keep her away from her normal life), and, well, we missed it.

This dish is savory and heartwarming and juicy and all I want to eat on a cold Sunday, curled up in my blankets on my couch, watching football (sorry, soccer) and reading books. It is a bit time-consuming, but most good things are. Having said that, don’t think that you’ll be slaving in the kitchen all day long, it simply takes some time for the soup/broth to make and then 30 more minutes in the oven. And you’re done.

So, this is what you’ll have to have:

3 chicken breasts (now, that’s what I used, but you can use any part of the chicken you like. I hear legs are awesome, because they give it an extra whomp! So, why not?)

1+1 onions (you’ll need one whole onion for the broth and then a diced one for the oven)

2 bay leaves (or 3 if you’re a big bay fan)

2 cups of rice (use what you would normally use for chicken soup, but again, whatever you prefer is fine)

2 carrots

1 can of mushrooms (I used canned because it was Sunday, we were out of mushrooms, blah blah, you can use fresh if you want)

Salt and pepper (remember to season more than I season my food, I have a low salt sensor!)

Oregano (or any other herb you prefer, I am not a herb nazi!)

What you’ll need to do:

First prepare the broth (or the chicken soup, as we like to call it). Easy peasy, just throw your chicken, one onion and bay leaves in a pan, SEASON with salt and pepper, cover it with cold water by about 2 inches, wait for it to start boiling and when it starts lower the heat to medium and let it boil for 35-40 minutes. When your time is up, check to see if your chicken is done. If it is, take it out and save the broth/soup. You will not need the bay leaves or the onion (which has lost its taste by now).

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Chop your onion and carrots and throw them in a pan with some oil. Let them soften a bit, tossing them around and then add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms take out their juices and, when they do, throw in the rice. Mix it all and cook for a few minutes, until everything has absorbed everything else’s taste. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. At this point you can also add some cayenne pepper or some cumin. It takes it to a whole other level.

When that’s done too, take a deep oven dish, put some oil in it and start assembling. First add the chicken and then the rice mixture around it. Make sure there are no empty spots in the dish. Now is the time for the broth. You need about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of broth for every cup of rice you have used, depending on your oven (the stronger the oven, the more liquid is evaporated). I used about 5 cups of broth for two cups of rice. Remember to measure your broth with the same cup you used to measure the rice. You WILL have a juicy dish in the end, not too juicy, but juicy enough, so don’t worry about it. Also, after a couple of hours, the juice magically disappears, I am convinced that faeries fly in and suck it with flower stems. Sadly, I have no proof.

So, once you’ve done this, put your food in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the rice is done (it does take about 30 minutes!). Take it out, don’t let it stand for too long, it’s beautiful when it’s warm.

Enjoy it with some feta cheese, or some greek yogurt. Their coolness against the warmth of this dish is a very welcome contradiction!

Well… Now you know what we do when we want to heal our souls!

Enjoy the food, hope you enjoy the video too!


Gemista – the video

Gemista name

A few months back, I cooked Gemista for this blog. A summery dish, gemista seem to make cameo appearances on our menu over and over and over again, being so fresh and cool and wholesome and, well, awesome (someone watches a lot of “Supernatural” now).

So, one of those many many times that I made them, I decided to shoot one more video and post it, where else? Here!

Now, a few clarifications: I had no spearmint, so I didn’t use any. Many people use many herbs in gemista, and that’s the right thing to do. Herbs give gemista that special fulfilling smell and taste that make them an all time favorite and make us come back to them, again, and again.

Also, remember that you can stuff other vegetables too, like eggplants or zucchini, or those round zucchinis that are so pretty! Whatever you stuff, add its insides to your mix. The more the better!

The only reason I didn’t use the inside of the pepper, is that I’m not a huge fan of peppers. But you can absolutely use it, in fact it is advisable!

Uhm… That’s pretty much it! The rest you can see or read!

Oh, as you can see in the end of the video there, have some feta or greek yoghurt on the side of gemista. It. Is. Heaven. On. Earth!

For your convenience, I will copy the recipe exactly as it was in the other post, here. I’ll leave the comments there, though, just for the fun of it 😉

The video is at the end of the post.

Enjoy!

What you will need

5 large (not huge, but large) bell peppers (I always use green ones, of course you can use other colors, but my grandma always used green ones, and so do I. It is a matter of memory!)

5 large tomatoes (not huge, but absolutely not small ones)

3 onions

1 verrrry full Tb shortgrain rice for each pepper or tomato, plus 3 more (that makes… uhmmmm *calculates* 13 Tb of rice. OK, add 14, 13 is an unlucky number!)

Some tomato passata

oil (I use olive oil for cooking, unless it is for frying)

1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped (or a little less if you don’t love it, but remember that herbs are the essence of gemista!)

2-3 leaves of fresh spearmint, chopped (or if you absolutely love it, use more, it’s up to you)

salt, pepper

2 potatoes

What you will be doing:

Preheat your oven at 200 degrees Celsius (or higher, depending on your own oven). Now, start with the tomatoes. Cut the tops off, but not all the way, so that you will make a nice pouch with a cap. If it gets cut off, don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal! Use a teaspoon and empty the inside of the tomato. Don’t throw it away, we will be using that! Do that with all the tomatoes, place the insides in a food processor and whizz it, until you have a thick tomato paste. Open up the peppers in the same way and clean them from the seeds (which we will not need, throw them away).

Chop up the onions and saute them in some oil. Add some of the tomato paste (keep enough to pour over the pan in the end) and some passata. I don’t use a lot, just to give your stuffing a nice coolness, but, again, it’s up to you. Still, don’t make it too watery. Where were we? Oh, yes. Add some tomato paste and passata and heat it through. Add the rice (1 Tb for each vegetable, plus 3-4), add the herbs, season with salt and pepper and let it boil a little bit – not long, you don’t want to cook it, just a couple of minutes, to allow the tastes to blend.

You are now ready to stuff! Take the pepper – or tomato – in one hand, open it up and stuff it with the rice mixture. I usually don’t fill them all the way to the top, but my mom does. The rice comes out and makes a roasted crust and it is amazing. Why don’t I do it? I’m weird. Sometimes I do. You pick where you will stop, but make sure you are close to the top – we don’t want people to think we are poor and have no rice to stuff our peppers, right?

Arrange them in your pan and if you have any rice mixture left, don’t be afraid to put it around the peppers. Cut the potatoes in thick sticks and place them between peppers/tomatoes. Pour the tomato paste over your gemista, pour some oil over them (in the old days, when we didn’t care about calories – or money! – we used to use a lot of oil to «bathe» the gemista. This is not important. Use some oil, but don’t overdo it. Half a ladle is more than enough), and place them in the oven.

Believe it or not, you are done! That wasn’t so hard, was it! Bake them for about an hour. They are ready when they are nice and wrinkled and have developed a slight black burn on top. This is why I always put the caps on top, so that I won’t «lose» any of the vegetable to the burn!

Enjoy them with some feta and fresh hot bread. And of course with the ones you love. Food is only meant to be enjoyed that way!


Kreatopitakia

kreatopitaki plasio“Kreatopita” is meat-pie in greek, and it is very very well loved in Northern Greece (where I’m from). In fact, in my area, Pieria, we even cut it instead of Vasilopita on New Year’s Day. Of course, us being food lovers, we eat both!
But I digressed. Kreatopitaki (Kreatopitakia being the word’s plural, yes, greek is complicated!) is a small meat-pie, say, one portion.
That’s what I made, after all of these months of hiatus. Believe me, it is a good comeback! The story behind these is that I was looking for a few good beer snacks, because we were having people over. It wouldn’t be anything formal, it would be just us, sitting in the balcony, enjoying the beautiful summer night and having a beer. Me being me, I thought “we should be snacking on something”.
I ended up with this:
IMG_8261

That’s nachos and spinach muffins, bruschette caprese, with eggplant and garlic, and mushroom and bacon, kreatopitakia, chilli, sausages, and then sweet muffins and chocolate pie for desert. We ended up just eating, I’m not sure anyone even had any beer, we all just had coke or wine. I know how to ruin plans, you know?

Anyway, that being said, I got calls the next day, and messages on FB about my kreatopitakia, by our friends that were there and also by their girlfriends or in one case the girlfriend of a friend who wasn’t there but heard it from another friend, you get the picture. So, I thought, yup, this is worth a post.

Or a video.

I’m playing around with Final Cut again, and thought I’d give video-cooking a shot. I know that’s not even a term, but so what? I grabbed my iPad (and my phone in some cases, when the iPad had run out of battery, for some reason it is always close to death, did someone say Words With Friends?) and recorded most of the process. So, there it is, right underneath the recipe.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them. I actually know you will!

What you need

2 sheets of short crust pastry
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g minced meat, beef
1 onion, sliced
200g mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
200 ml red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
250 ml beef stock
Rosemary
salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

What you need to do

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Cut out 12 x 12 cm rounds of pastry. They don’t have to be precisely 12 cm, just around 12 cm, in order to form a good basket with the help of the muffin tin. Press them into the base of each muffin tin. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. Bake for about 15 minutes until ready (they should be near “golden”, which in real life terms means “you know, ready, like you see in cookbooks”).

Leave them aside, to cool down, and in the meantime prepare your meat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over a high heat. Brown the meat and then remove from saucepan. Add the remaining oil in your pan, reduce the temperature, add your veggies (you could probably add some red chilli pepper here, for a kick) and cook for about a minute. Return meat to the pan and stir through the flour. Cook for one minute then add the wine, tomato paste, stock and rosemary.

Cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until ready. While it’s cooking, check it regularly, give it a stir, see how it’s doing, don’t just let it do this on its own! When it’s done, season with salt and pepper to your liking and set aside to cool.

At this point, fight your urge to eat the meat. It’ll be a struggle, but you can do it, I believe in you.

While the meat is cooling down and to give you something to do in order to help you not eat it, spread the puff pastry on your workstation (I’m doing that on my kitchen counter) and cut out 12 x 10 cm rounds of puff pastry. Again, they don’t have to be exactly 10cm, but keep it close. Remember to preheat your oven again, if you turned it off (I suggest you do, do not waste energy!). 200°C will be fine.

Now, spoon the meat in the pastry baskets and place the puff pastry rounds on top. Press the edges so that they’ll stick, brush them with the egg, pierce the tops and bake them for about 12-15 minutes or 20 or until they are nice, golden and look done. Mine took around 20 minutes.

My advice is to eat them and not store them, as they don’t drive me crazy when cooled in the fridge. But if you want to store them, do so in the fridge!

Enjoy!


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