Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Viva Italia lunch !

I've stopped eating meat for a while and then suddenly it hits me, a graving for some old-fashioned red meat, but with a delicious sauce, to smother over some pasta or rice.
Yes, that's what I'm totally into right now and with the prospect of having a meatless spring to "clean" ourselves for Greek easter, I think this is a fabulous choice to put on our dinner table !
A great meal for a Sunday lunch, easy on a weeknight, food that everybody loves somehow...
All you have to do is to get the ingredients, put them all together and let the sauce simmer by itself.
This dish can be served with anything from mashed potatoes to your favorite pasta. I am serving it with brown rice, just as great I would say. Side dishes could be some braised baby carrots, a green salad or green peas? Let your imagination lead you on that one...

1 kilo minced meat (pork mixed with veal)
400 gr chopped tomatoes
250 gr cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
3 tblsp. olive oil
1 red onion (chopped)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
pinch of:
sweet chilly pepper
Some salt and fresh black pepper
1 large glass of water
250 gr. mozzarella di bufala  (cut into chunks)
To serve:
handful of grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil !

Start with heating up  two spoons of olive oil in a large casserole.
Add the onion and fry it slowly until it has a golden color. Then you add the garlic, stir a few times and remove both from the pan.
Add the last spoon of oil and now saute the meat. While you cook it make sure to break up all the pieces into little ones, the meat should brown evenly and get a light crust while you cook it.
After about 5 minutes you add the onion and garlic mix again to the pan.
Now stir in the tomatoes, the spices, the water and season.
Leave the sauce to boil at medium heat for about 15 minutes. Then you add the cherry tomatoes, stir a few times more to soften the pieces and take the casserole of the heat.
Stir in the chopped up mozzarella pieces and preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Place the casserole in the middle of the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or so, just enough for the cheese to melt and give that extra touch to your delicious sauce.
When your meat is in the oven you can work on your side dishes and your pasta, rice or whatever you have chosen to serve this with.

Enjoy it like I did !
Serves 4-6

With love,

Monday, February 11, 2013

Involtini with Pine Nuts, Raisins and Parmesan!

Here's what I do when I want to impress, but don't feel like creating a huge mess in my kitchen.
I make involtini's , these are basically meat rolls filled with a stuffing. One can also use aubergines for a vegetarian version.
This recipe is made with pork schnitzels, because it's still kind of cold outside and it gives you this warm, homey, winterly feeling that we all long for every now and then!
I serve my involtini's with mashed potatoes, but a homemade tomato sauce or a big pan of pasta would also be a great combination.
Make your life easier and prepare them ahead of time, so you just have to heat them up when your guests arrive...

Viva Italia once more!


4 pieces of schnitzel (pork or chicken)
4 to 6 slices of parma ham
50 gr. grated parmesan cheese
50 gr. black raisins
50 gr. pine nuts
2 tblsp. chopped parsley
1 glass white wine
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. butter
kitchen rope
salt, pepper
bit of water

Start with making the filling.
Put the raisins, the parmesan cheese, the pine nuts and the parsley in a little bowl and stir so the ingredients get a good mix.
Put one piece of meat flat on your working board and cover it with a slice of parma ham.
Then add about 2 to three tablespoons of the filling on one side of the meat.
Roll up the meat and now your involtini is ready.
Tie up the involtini with kitchen rope, so it will stay in place during the cooking process .
Continue with the other 4 pieces of meat and then heat up the olive oil together with the butter in a large frying pan.
As soon as the oil/butter mixture is really hot you add the involtini's to the pan.
Saute them for about 5 minutes, making sure that all sides of the meat get a really nice golden crust !
Then you lower the heat and you add the wine and some water to the pan.
Leave the involtini's for another 15 minutes on a low heat to cook through and then you're ready to serve.

With love !

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Baking cookies is something I love to do during long winter nights. The house smells of childhood memories and if I want a little snack after a late night out, I can always rely on homemade cookies with a warm glass of milk!
I only have one concern, that it's easy to make and easy to eat. No weird colored icing on top, no awkward decorations, honest and simple is what works for me.
This recipe is very versatile, you can add nuts, cover them with icing sugar, pile them up and smother them with extra melted chocolate, at this hour, anything goes!
These cookies were first made by accident, apparently someone tried to create a recipe with cookies and melted chocolate inside. Well, the chocolate didn't melt, but by eating these one does get the sense of excitement when one gets to the tiny bits of chocolate with every bite one takes.
I guess that's the reason why this recipe became so popular !
Enjoy and do involve friends and family when you bake. It's so much more fun!

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flower
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 spoon hot water
pinch of salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Cream the butter in a bowl, add the sugar, then beat in the eggs.
Continue with the vanilla and slowly add the flower, keep stirring and add the rest of the ingredients.
If you do add the walnuts, try to add them at the very last.
Shape the dough into round, flat cookies, keep them at a distance from each other, cause they will grow during the baking process.
Put them on a baking sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes in your oven.
Depending on the strength of your oven, they might need 2 more minutes.
Let them cool, warm up your milk and you're good to go!!!!

With love !

Monday, December 3, 2012

Carrot Soup !

The days are getting darker , but this doesn't mean that we shouldn't create some light inside our homes.
This soup has one of my favorite winter colors, orange!
The color of light, the color that makes me hungry, the color that makes me smile again and again...
It's easy to make, cause you just throw everything in a big pot and leave it on the stove to bubble away while you're having a beautiful afternoon nap...So much needed during the days before Christmas.

Ingredients :

1 kilo carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 potatoes, also peeled and chopped into cubes
50 gr. rice
1 liter organic vegetable broth
2 tbsp. chopped celery (use the root from the celery if you can find it !)
salt, pepper

You take out a big pot, add all the ingredients to the pot .
Make sure the broth starts to boil and then you lower the heat to let the soup simmer for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile you take a nap and when you wake up you pour the soup into the blender and blend all ingredients together to make a beautiful, smooth, thick soup.
Add salt and pepper to your liking and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt on the side.

Serves 4

Friday, November 30, 2012

Avocado salad for one !

Cooking for yourself doesn't have to be boring, nor time consuming, nor a drag. It should be fun to enjoy taking care of yourself every now and then.
This salad is healthy, a quick fix for your lunch break and it will fill you up till dinner time is knocking on your door ...
It also doesn't require cooking skills, nor do you need a stove, therefor I can definitely recommend it !

I always make this when I know I'll go out for dinner and I want to have a light, healthy meal during the day to keep my energy level up and besides all the good things avocado does for us, it's also very tasty !!!

My Sicilian friend Pio taught me this recipe a long time ago and every time I make it I think of him and the magical moments we used to share in our kitchen.

I wish you a wonderful lunch break !

1 ripe avocado
1 tblsp. virgin olive oil
zest and juice from half a lemon or lime
pinch of sea salt
black pepper
handful of walnuts
1 tblsp. parmesan flakes

Peel the avocado and chop it into chunks. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top ( this way the avocado won't turn brown) and add the zest.
Add all the other ingredients, except the parmesan flakes.
Mix the avocado with the ingredients and add the parmesan just before you're ready to eat.
Believe it or not, but that's it !!
Easy, quick, delicious ....

Serve at once and allow yourself to have a glass or full red wine with this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Middle Eastern Style Lentils with marinated Cherry Tomatoes

Autumn has finally arrived and it's time to stay in, enjoy the warmth of our homes, fill up our lives with seductive smells coming from our kitchen , light some candles and accompany ourselves with our favorite music.
The point is of course to share all this with your loved ones , and to bring some sunshine in the house when the days get shorter and darker.
One of my proposals is to make this stew, the smell of the spices will make you travel to another world , so give it a try.
This dish is pure comfort food !

Ingredients :
250 gr. Lentils 
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground curcuma
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mild chili
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
600 ml beef stock
250 gr Greek style, full fat yoghurt 
For the marinated tomatoes:
20 cherry tomatoes
7 bay leaves
small glass of wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole.
Add the vegetables, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, stir again, stir in the beef stock and let this simmer.
Get creative and sprinkle the spices into the stew while it's simmering away.
Let the stew simmer for about an hour, add more stock if needed, the texture should thick, not watery like a soup.
Meanwhile put the cherry tomatoes into a little bowl with all the ingredients needed.
When ready to serve, pour the soup into individual deep bowls , add a few tablespoons of yoghurt to each plate and finish with a few cherry tomatoes on top of the yoghurt.

Serve warm with freshly ground black pepper .

p.s this stew can easily be made in advance, the flavors come out better if left in the fridge for a day, so make this on a Saturday if you want to serve this for a Sunday lunch.
I usually serve this stew with a loaf of country bread, some goat cheese and a simple mixed salad on the side.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Baked Pastry with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese

This is such an easy appetizer and very popular , even amongst the people who apparently hate blue cheese.
I love to use Roquefort, but a milder choice could be Gorgonzola or just a simple, cheaper, Danish blue cheese will do.
Prepare this ahead and bake it while you pour your guests a glass of beautiful red wine.
Easy, cozy and always a big success !

1 Sheet of puff Pastry.
5 Red onions, peeled and chopped.
2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar.
1 teaspoon fine brown sugar.
1 tablespoon butter.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
160 gr. Blue cheese (any kind you like)

Heat the olive oil, together with the butter in a large sauce pan .
Stir in the chopped onions and let them simmer on a low heat, for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and have a golden color.
Add the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar, stir and cook for another 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius .
Meanwhile lay the pastry on a baking sheet , sprinkle the blues cheese all over and finish with your caramelized onions.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, use a pizza cutter and cut into squares.
Serve warm with your wine and a green salad .

Serves 6.