I can’t really remember the last time I wrote a recipe so quickly. The problem is not the recipe itself; it’s the intro which gives me grief many times. The thing is I just cannot bring myself to publish anything, in this case a recipe, without saying something about it. It does happen sporadically – I just start to ramble on, and after that you may get a teeny weeny paragraph at the end. That’s called writer’s block. Oh, those dreaded words…a creative slowdown, the loss of a deadline or the ability to produce new work, as Wikipedia defines it. The nerve! In my case, listening to Ed Sheeran isn’t helping. (Fans please note: this is not his fault. Of course.)
This is definitely a Throwback Thursday recipe. I promise I didn’t plan it on purpose. What’s true is that I’ve been thinking about writing about it for ages. I never did until now because the photo isn’t good at all. It almost went in my not-to-publish file, but I’ve changed my mind. This recipe turned out well so why not?
It goes back to the first month or so in my kitchen here in Malta, when I was barely doing any serious cooking. We moved back in the middle of the summer months, when being in the kitchen, I think, is totally unbearable. The heat is just too much for me, so I either cook late in the evening or very early in the morning, although those two options don’t always work for me either. We end up eating loads of salads and the likes instead, and there’s no need to say that baking stops almost to a complete halt.
Before I write anything else I have this to say: to all those working in bakeries and kitchens, hats off to you! You are my heroes! Now, I would be lying if I told you we didn’t bake anything in the last two weeks (I baked once in the past 14 days)! I did promise myself not to, until it cools down a bit. I kinda like this weather though (I hate the heat – there I said it, but please don’t hate *me*) because my fridge is stocked with as many fruit and veggies as it can hold. And after running errands all morning I bought a seasoned roast chicken because I just couldn’t face the stove. I have plenty of leftovers and will make some salad wraps for dinner later today. Nice and easy. But…
The reality is I cannot avoid cooking a hot meal for too long and I don’t think I can handle eating cold salads everyday for however long this heatwave is going to last. So I came across this recipe which I really really like: something new from Takes 5 by James Tanner. It’s a book I have liked ever since it was published three years ago I believe, well worth the money. I have cooked from it time and time again, and some of the recipes have become part of my off-the-cuff list of dishes. Not to mention what a lovely person James is: apart from being a great chef (we all know that), his heart is in the right place. James’ new book is finally out now, and here at C&T we are very happy about it. Until our copy arrives
and we will wait eagerly by the door just in case the doorbell is not working properly and we miss it, we made this recipe with minor changes* which we had with grilled steak.
- 4 leeks, washed and cut into 1cm pieces* (James uses baby leeks)
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
- 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar*
- 450ml water
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 200g ricotta
- pinch of salt*
- splash of extra virgin olive oil*
In a large pan, pour in the vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped leeks. Bring to the boil once more, then cover the pan and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the leeks turn soft. Remove the leeks from the pan and drain (you don’t need the liquid).
Turn the grill on to high. Using the sharpest knife you have (taking care it doesn’t go on your fingers) cut the already chopped pieces of leeks in half and place them on a baking tray or tin. Top them with the dried chilli and chunks of ricotta. Grill for 5 minutes until the ricotta turns a little golden.
I will try this with some glazed ham, when the weather’s cooler. Enjoy!
(Adapted from Takes 5 by James Tanner, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2010.)
This is my second recipe for fajitas. By all means I am not saying that these are authentic; here you will find my take and of course they are open to changes. For me, the best thing about writing here is learning everyday and sharing everything about my kitchen adventures with everyone. While I appreciate the fact that there’s not many changes you can do with baking recipes, the opposite definitely applies to cooking. Well, I like to think so anyway. If you want to make my day, tell me about how you changed and adapted one or more of the recipes you can find in this blog, and writing about it.
Marinating the beef is easy, but very very important. So for this you will need:
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin (or Chinese 5 spice if you want a replacement)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
- 3 large garlic cloves, mashed or finely chopped (if you don’t like lots then reduce the amount)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Just enough water to thin the marinade, approx. 2 teaspoons
- I don’t bother to drain the marinade before stir-frying so place the whole lot into a very hot wok, or deep frying pan similar to the one above, and let the meat cook for however long you like. As you can see in my photo I cooked it for too long. For me, there’s nothing better than rare beef. If it’s good quality, from a good butcher you trust, then go for it. You will never look back.
- Wrap as much as you like in a tortilla (or two) with lots of fresh veggies and munch away.
I want to give you another list of ingredients for the marinade. It’s one by Tyler Florence. I am including it here because it reminds me of when I started learning how to cook at home in Michigan. I have fond memories of the place; where the TV was on the Food Network all day. You will need:
- 1 orange, juiced
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 chipolte chiles, in adobo sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped (also known as Mexican coriander or Chinese parsley)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Puree all the ingredients together with a blender and cover the beef with it. Put the beef in a dish and cover it completely with the marinade.
- Place in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours. Drain the meat and use the grill if you like.
I also love this recipe and there is a place for both, at least in my kitchen. As always, enjoy! R x.
When I have less time to cook or when the weather is miserable, or both, there’s nothing I love best than some inside grilling. So I open all the windows in my tiny kitchen, close the door, heat up the grill pan and switch on the extractor.
I coat two pieces of salmon with a tiny bit of olive oil, tarragon, add salt and pepper for seasoning and on the pan it goes.
I served with some seasoned pre-boiled potatoes which are also grilled, and salad. Eat up and enjoy!