Tag Archives: food

Kale.

Kale-Salad-(5420)

I really like kale. Pity that I only discovered it a few months back. I’m really not a vegetarian at heart but veggies are good for you, or so they say, so I make an effort. Especially when it comes to salad options. Too much of a good thing is…well…not good. You know what I mean. I grew tired of the same old salad leaves that I bought a bunch of kale on a whim without knowing what to do with it. When I opened the fridge I had the answer. I chopped up some garlic, one shallot, a few grams of cured chorizo, a red pepper, a yellow one and tossed them in a pan with some olive oil. I washed the kale, added it to the pan, heated it up with the rest of the ingredients, placed everything in a large salad bowl, seasoned it with pepper and added some toasted almond flakes. It makes one good side dish, and it’s so quick that you can make it while you chat to your friends in the kitchen.

Ham-and-Kale-(5423)

Enjoy!

Rob x

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Poached Pears in Red Wine Syrup

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I wanted to post this recipe in time for Easter. (I’m also preparing for Christmas!) If you’re celebrating with family and friends this could be an option for you whether you’re having some other pudding or not. If you are having a second for dessert I would suggest serving some kind of chocolate fudge pudding or chocolate fondant. Chocolate and pears are a great combination I promise you! I must tell you now that this is a combination of two recipes. J has been making these since I’ve known him, but recently I have found one in The National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Book by Sarah Edington. It’s ideal for special occasions and gatherings or even a romantic supper for two. For mega impact prepare this with the largest freshest sweetest pears you can find. They mustn’t be too soft because they’ll just crumble on you as you heat them up with the syrup and wine. You can also prepare them a few days ahead of when you want to serve them and keep them for up to five days in the fridge. It’s also easy to scale up or down – you only need one pear per person! As a guide for 6 people you’ll need:

  • 500ml red wine
  • 110g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 6 large pears
  1. In a stainless-steel saucepan, one big enough to hold all the pears upright, pour the wine, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Heat these very gently until all the sugar has dissolved in the liquid. Then bring this to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes.
  2. Peel the pears with a good peeler as thinly as possible. Try not to remove a lot of flesh from the fruit, and leave the little stalk on the top, just because it will look nicer. Place the pears into the hot syrup and make sure you have enough so that the pears are completely immersed (it’s very important to pay attention not to burn yourself here), cover the pan and leave to simmer for around 15 to 20 minutes or until the pears are tender. They will also turn rich deep red in colour.
  3. Remove the pears from the pan using a slotted spoon and place each one in a bowl. Taste the syrup for sweetness and add a tablespoon or so of caster sugar. Boil the liquid quickly without covering the pan to allow the wine syrup to reduce.
  4. Some recipes tell you to let the syrup cool a little bit before you pour it on each individual pear. I, on the other hand prefer it hot (don’t ask me why but it’s so comforting) but this totally depends on your personal preference.

Just serve as is, plain, simple without any fuss. Happy Easter!

Rob x

Penne with Summer Vegetables.

Pasta-with-Summer-Vegetables-(5147)

Perhaps it is too early to talk about summer, especially because I’m writing this on a chilly day. Early days indeed. It will soon be here. That’s what I keep telling myself. To me, summer is about long walks, blue sky, fresh good food and minimal time in the kitchen. That’s why I think of pasta as fast food – not necessarily the unhealthy kind either. Though it could easily be also! I must confess though that these days I prefer whole wheat pasta. I love white pasta too and wish I could eat it more often. I have discovered the half whole wheat half white type during these past few months and I like to keep this in stock in my pantry for a quick supper solution. Pasta recipes are so versatile that you can use whatever you like. This recipe serves up to 4 people, depending on how hungry you all are. The sauce is a bit spicy so adjust the chilli according to taste. I know that some people cannot eat chilli due to allergies, so substitute it with pepper instead. For this simple recipe you need:

  • 500g penne rigate
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced
  •  400g polpa di pomodoro (or chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrate)
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  2. In a shallow pan, but big enough to hold the pasta for later, pour in the olive oil, and throw in a small piece of onion. When it starts to sizzle add the onions and garlic. After a few minutes add the courgettes and diced pepper. Toss the vegetables together and listen to the sound of the pan. Yummy.
  3. Then add the polpa di pomodoro, chilli flakes, paprika, brown sugar and tomato paste. If you have fresh tomatoes please use those instead. I rarely find good tomatoes where I live, even in summer, which is such a pity!
  4. Leave the sauce to simmer and taste it for seasoning. Add pepper if necessary. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, toss it well in the sauce. I find that penne rigate are one of the better kinds to use here. The sauce will adhere better to the pasta. But again – this is only a guide!

Grab a plate, help yourself and eat this preferably outside underneath the Sun. Enjoy!

Rob x

Honey-glazed carrots.

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This is such a simple side dish which can be prepared in minutes, when you’re in a hurry or you need just one more thing for supper. J really likes it and although it’s not one of my favourites I can honestly say that I do need to eat veggies more often!

You just need to have at hand some carrots, usually one or two per person, a knob of butter (around 25g) and two tablespoons of honey. All you need to do is to wash and peel and chop the carrots. To avoid chopping you can even use baby carrots. (Fresh please – not from the tin.) Drop the butter in a very hot pan and tip the carrots in. Stir well and cook for around 10 minutes, depending on how al dente or not you like your vegetables to be. Finally add the honey and leave to bubble for another 5 minutes.

If you like you can season with salt and pepper but since this is meant to show off the sweetness of the carrots I wouldn’t suggest using too much. A quick and easy recipe – just what you need when you have guests at home…

A note for those who don’t like honey – you can also use some dark brown sugar in it’s place. Around 2 tablespoons will do.

Enjoy!

Rob x

Moist Almond Cake.

Almond-Cake-(5255)

This recipe goes quite a few months back. I had an unusual number of lemons lying around doing nothing. This is not the norm in this house. As any good Mediterranean foodie I really really love lemons…in anything, not just in baking. That makes it perfect for use all year round.

Now how about this: the following recipe has almost nothing to do with lemons, so why am I rambling on about them you ask? It’s because the *original* recipe used the zest and juice of two lemons, but being such a klutz in the kitchen I zested my lemons, juiced them, placed the zest and juice into two small ramekins ready to go into the batter…yes…and of course I forgot about them!  I tipped the batter into the cake tin, into the oven it went and by the time I went about doing other things like checking any mail and cleaning the kitchen in between prepping other dishes, it was too late to add the lemons. This is definitely not the first time something like this happened, but nonetheless I was still angry with myself. I thought that the cake would lose out too much on flavour and maybe it would have lost some of the moistness. I am happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. One has to admit one’s mistakes! The cake was good and moist. Thinking back, how couldn’t it not be?

This recipe is taken from How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Nigella says: “It is a plain cake, but gloriously plain.” It’s not meant to be a warning – this cake is meant to be made and enjoyed like all the simple things in life. It’s a cake for all seasons with or without the lemons. J preferred it without because he loves almonds. I think that it’s great either way. One thing I love here is the minimal amount of flour used; there are only 50g. The ground almonds take care of the rest. Here’s the recipe without the lemony element. I will make a note for those who would like them to be included as I go along. Here it is then!

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened or slightly melted
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence (I used ¼ teaspoon almond extract instead)
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons if using*
  • a piece of kitchen foil big enough to cover the top of the cake**
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and line or grease a 23cm springform tin. (I tried this cake twice also using a normal round cake tin. Make sure you *really* grease the tin well. But be careful; this cake is damp and very fragile.)
  2. In a large bowl beat the sugar and butter together till you have a white mixture. Be patient – it *will* turn white. Beat in the eggs one by one and also add the flour, one quarter of it at a time. (Beating the eggs properly ensures some rise in the cake as there is no raising agent here.)
  3. Now add the ground almonds, the almond essence, and if you like tip in the zest and juice from the two lemons at this point.* Stir very very gently. This is important to keep the air in the batter.
  4. Tip the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for around an hour. This is only a rough estimate (as you can see in the book). Mine took 55 minutes exactly in both cases. So always keep an eye on it. After around 25 minutes cover the top of the cake with some kitchen foil to avoid burning.** You want it to turn a nice golden colour. Any more than that and it could burn. When the cake is done the skewer should come out clean. Don’t worry if there is a little gooeyness stuck to the knife or skewer. It’s ok if there’s just a little!
  5. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the tin for a little while. Then turn it on to a wire rack and let it cool completely. What I did at this point, and this is totally up to you, is to melt around 100g of dark chocolate with a knob of butter on a small pot of steaming water. Drizzle this over the cake. It’s an unfussy way of putting a little decoration. I don’t bother with anything else at this point – it will be gobbled up anyway! Nigella has some great tips on how to serve this cake too: either with some lemon ice cream or with raspberries or both! Enjoy and tell me what you think if you try it.

Enjoy!

Rob x