Spring has truly arrived on this little island. The Sun was out beautifully this morning and it was a lovely day. Temperatures are so mild during the day, but we still need to keep the jackets out for the evenings. It’s the perfect weather. Not too warm, not too cold.
During the past few days I’ve been feeling as if I had a nasty fall packaged with a good blow on the head, leaving me with a headache and some bumps, lumps and scratches. Said fall could have been a result of a serious lack of concentration. My mind could have been somewhere else. It could have happened…
Continue reading Vegetable Soup, or a variation on Minestra
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good break over the past few weeks, and that you enjoyed the holidays. It was a very busy time here of course, and my kitchen worked overtime this year. I’m so happy that it did though. I also had the time for some baking for family and friends. There was no better time for switching on the oven and turning on the heat. It wasn’t that cold in December, but let me assure you that January has started off with a kick. We’re feeling it here in Malta this week. It’s going to be a cold weekend. Some are loving it, relishing it even, others are fuming
excuse the pun because they’d rather be sweating it out in August.
Continue reading Restorative Chicken and Vegetable Broth
J and I just returned from Ghent (or Gent), a delightful medieval town approximately 50 minutes from Brussels. Last Friday I spent a good number of hours doing some exploring while J was at the university attending a seminar and giving a lecture at the end of the evening. So I was pretty much left alone for a whole day. The tram journey into the town centre was so much fun, although I was practically stuck to my map counting the stops. Everything was in Dutch. But hey, I was up for a little adventure. The weather was so rotten however, that my plans for major exploring/walking/taking-plenty-of-photos went down the drain. All was not lost though; I found a charming salad bar and sandwich shop (tucked away in between the touristy restaurants and shops) which I almost missed. LKKR is a small family business run by Dahlia and her husband, both lovely and friendly. This is the place where to have a healthy, delicious, homemade lunch, plus coffee, of course. You could also have a cookie if you wish like I did on that rainy morning. I liked the place so much that I just had to take J for lunch there on Saturday. I felt so in-the-know! Soup was on the menu for him – it was *cold*. I had a chicken curry sandwich. Just what I needed. If you’re in Ghent, do yourself a favour and go. Prices are reasonable and if there’s no seating inside, you can take a table outside, people-watch while wrapped around a cozy pink blanket you will find on your chair. Nice. The frites, mussels, fish stews and waffles can all wait until you arrive in Brussels. Even nicer.
Continue reading Yellow Corn Soup
I’m trying to update this blog from top to bottom. I have been wanting to do this for ages but the procrastinator in me told me that it was going to be a chore and therefore I would hate it. Fact is I’m really enjoying it, although I do have to apologise for being such a patronising git during the early months of writing. I don’t like being patronised and I’m sure you don’t like to be either. I hate being that person! That being said I’m trying to find ways to avoid making mistakes, but that doesn’t always work, and after all the most important thing is to learn from them.
Rummaging through photos and recipes I found this one, which I wrote about a long time ago. It was hiding in another post, which I now re-wrote, and I’m including this soup recipe here. I think that as long as a recipe is valid it should be given at least some thought. I haven’t made this in quite a while but I made a promise to myself to make it again as soon as possible, especially for this time of year, when we generally tend to overindulge!
To the original recipe I add celery, potatoes and green lentils mushed to make a thick creamy concoction either for an easy supper or to take along for a picnic in a thermos jug. Leave out the lentils if you don’t want to fuss about too much, but feel free to use tinned ones instead.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 100g green lentils, soaked and cooked
- 200g frozen peas
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- pepper, to taste
- 100g pesto (approx. half a jar)
- 2 litres vegetable stock
In a large pot gently stir the garlic, onion and celery in the oil. You could add a little bit of butter here if you wish.
Add the potatoes and peas and coat these with the onion mixture.
Add the stock and the lentils. Leave to cook for around 30-35 mins or until the potatoes are completely cooked. All the other vegetables will be ready by this time anyway. Leave to cool slightly, blend everything and eat. Serves 4.
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Express, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)
For the past few days I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to have someone else prepare a meal for me during those few days that I’m either too tired to cook or when I’m less inspired or lack ideas. Yes it happens to all of us…*sigh*. In fact today is one of those days. Thankfully I have dinner ready in the fridge so I don’t have to worry about that now. However even though occasionally I tend to keep ready-made pesto for a quick plate of pasta, there are easy solutions for those instances when only a little stirring is required.
Easy can mean a lot of things; soups, pasta and rice dishes or even a roast would do. Two posts ago I gave you a recipe from James Tanner which is almost too easy to believe, and it beats the usual bread and cheese supper. As for desserts he has a recipe for a Chocolate and Almond Torte which I want to try very soon. This recipe for risotto is slightly adapted from Nigella Bites. You need:
- 2 spring onions or one small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 60g butter, unsalted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300g arborio rice
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons grated cheese, parmesan or kefalotiri
- 60ml cream
- pepper, to taste
In a wide saucepan, heat the oil, 30g of the butter, onions and celery. Cook this until softened, stirring almost continuously. Add all the rice, again stirring to coat with the onion mixture. Meanwhile prepare the vegetable stock. (I find that using stock powder, like Marigold gives you a more delicate flavour than using a cubes. In an ideal world you would use fresh stock which you can get at the supermarket.)
Pour some stock into the rice and keep stirring till this is absorbed. Repeat this till the rice is cooked. You may need all the stock and add some boiling water from the kettle.
Stir the lemon zest and dried rosemary in the risotto. In a separate small bowl beat the egg, lemon juice, grated cheese, pepper and cream. Remove the risotto from the heat and add this cheesy mixture to the rice and add the remaining butter. You could also add some salt to taste.
Serve on it’s own or with some grilled salmon, which I rub with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh lemon juice. The risotto serves 2 – 3.