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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lemon and Garlic Chicken- Slow Roasted Goodness

This turned out to be the perfect dish for us during this weekend. The time spent preparing the ingredients is minimum, but the result is perfect. While the chicken is cooking, you have time to watch some bad TV to do other things around the house, but because is slow roasted, the chicken is very tender and juicy, so nobody will complain.

You use few ingredients, but with great impact and flavor:
1 free range chicken, cut into pieces
2 lemons, cut into chunks (we peeled most of the skin because it was very waxed)
7-8 garlic cloves
some thyme
1 glass of white wine
3 tbsp oil

Place the chicken in an oven tin, add the garlic, thyme and lemon, then the oil and rub the chicken on all sides to soak in the flavors, then pour the white wine. 
Cover the tin with foil and put in a preheated oven for 2 hours at low heat, as Nigella suggests :).

After 2 hours, remove the foil and let the chicken cook for another 45 minutes, at medium-high heat this time.
As you can see, we used free range chicken, it was pretty wild, a fatty compared to the ones we usually find in stores. The skin is thicker and it won't win first place in looks, but the taste is so much better. Cooking it this way just brings out the best in it.

The lemon, alongside the wine and the slow roasting, makes the chicken sooo tender, but also caramelises the skin in the end, when the foil has been removed. Delish!!! Try to think of a reason not to try it....see? No reason not to try it.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Potato, Broccoli and Spring Onion Mash

We don't post very often recipes for side dishes exclusively, but we had the opportunity recently to cook a very nice and so brilliantly simple mashed potatoes dish that we had to give it the spotlight. We started this with the classical recipe for champ in mind, wich is basically mashed potatoes with butter, milk and spring onions.

With that in mind, we mixed things up a little by using cream instead of butter and we added another ingredient to the recipe, some crisp broccoli.

For 1 kilo of spuds, we used
250 grams of cream (24% fat-feel that cholesterol),
about 4 spring onions and
250 grams of broccoli. 

Regarding the last ingredient,  we only cut the flowers and used only those, finely chopped. The ideea is that the  broccoli doesn't need cooking as it will be mixed with the hot potatoes, and get done by the residual heat. In all honesty, we have to admit that we just ate the rest, all that crunchy goodness.

Boil your spuds, mix them with the cream, salt and pepper,  then mix in the broccoli and the finely chopped onions, only the green part. The result is surprisingly interesting for such a simple recipe, with a nice smoothness from the cream and some subtle  crunch from the greens.

We served it on the weekend with  some slow-roasted lemon and garlic chicken, so stay tuned for that recipe also.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meatball Madness (II) Italian Style Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Meatball madness! What? Again? You can't escape the madness! Especially when you have a lot of them hanging in your fridge, in wich case you can make them shine again with an easy and super delicious sauce. 

Now, the results of the original madness were some meatballs with a definite sweet touch, so I wanted to make a more sour sauce. 


the juice of 4 big, ripe, red tomatoes(just use a grater), 
1 medium onion, 
2 garlic cloves, 
200 ml of red wine, 
250 grams of tiny cherry and plum tomatoes, both red and yellow, 
half a handfull of basil leaves, 
salt and pepper

Saute the diced onion and garlic in some olive oil, add the wine and let the liquid reduce by half. Next put in the tomato juice and the tomatoes, chopped basil, salt, pepper and bring to a simmer on low heat, pop in the meatballs and cook with a lid on for about half an hour. a very simple but great tasting sauce that brings a wonderfull zing to the meatballs, so get your madness on and start cooking those meatballs.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Meatballs Madness (I) Meatballs with Ricotta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Did you ever think about who was the first person who thought of saying meatball madness? Who ever saw an indefinite amount of meatballs and screamed: This is madness! I keep imagining some 17th century dude, in his tight pants, being absolutely bedazzled by the sight of meatballs. So, with that image in mind, I decided I need to have  reason to say meatball madness, thereforeI had to cook some tasty  beef meatballs. 

I used: 
  • 500 grams of minced beef, 
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced, 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, 
  • 150 grams of ricotta cheese,  
  • 100 grams of sun dried tomatoes and about 3 tbs of the oil they were kept in, 
  • parsley,  
  • thyme, 
  • 2 eggs, 
  • flour, 
  • salt, 
  • pepper, 
  • some oil for cooking. 

Just mix all the ingredients together really well, except the flour. 

Make sure the onion, tomatoes, garlic and herbs are all finely chopped,  so you can mix then evenly.  Add the flour to thicken the composition, I used around 150 grams, both for putting it in the meat and for lightly flouring the meatballs. Heat up some olive oil on medium high heat, and fry you golf ball size meatballs until golden brown on all sides,  shouldn't take long. 

As a side dish, I just boiled some delicious,  fresh green beans and seasoned them as mentioned here

This meatball recipe, with  definite Italian influences is light, fresh and a delicious way to bring some ordinary and common meatballs to the next level. The ricotta make them moist and very light. There is definitely gonna be a next time cooking these.


Express Post: Simple Green Bean Side Dish

I will start by saying that Mr. G. is really a little obsessed with green beans. He could have them as a stew, with or without meat, boiled in a salad, in soups and so on. Actually, I think is pretty cool considering that green beans are good for you, they are rich in beta-carotene (pretty surprising), lutein, B vitamins and antioxidants. Not to mention they are so easy to cook.

No wonder that, in the summer, using fresh green beans as a side dish becomes such an easy solution. Just boil them and season them however you like, complementing the taste of your main dish.

We served it with some Italian style meatballs that will be in the next post and we kept it simple, just drizzled some olive oil on top, salt and pepper, parsley and some thin garlic strips.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's Elementary! Roasted Eggplant Spread- Rustic Style

This is a spread I used to have all the time as a kid. For some reason, Romanians just love eggplant. In the summer, everybody is roasting them and making their own versions of spreads and dips. It is a shame we don’t eat it that much in other ways, but we dig dips. J

I roasted 2 eggplants in the oven. Make tiny holes with a fork all over the eggplants so that they don’t explode all over your oven walls. Then, put them in the oven in a tray on some baking sheet.  I let them roast for 40-45 minutes, until you can fell that the inside is soft.

Let them cool a little and then peel the roasted skin off them. After that you have to beat them and mix them with a spatula to make them like a cream. The easy way is to use the food processor, of course.

While the eggplants are roasting, grate one onion with a manual grater or just chop it finely using your food processor. Then chop as fine as you can (don’t worry too much, this is supposed to be rustic and have a crunch) one medium bell pepper.

Mix the eggplant paste with the onion and bell pepper, add some salt, 2 tbsp of olive oil and some lemon juice if you feel it needs it. I like this version because the bell peppers give it a crunch and a nice sweetness.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oven Baked Whiting with Fennel Fondue

We bought this fish for the 1st time and wanted to see if it’s worth keeping it on our sights. The price was a reasonable one and the fish proved to be a quite tasty one, so we will be cooking it again for sure.

When trying new types of fish, I tend not to overdo it, just keep cooking to a minimum, so I can really taste the meat, in a very natural form, without overshadowing it with too many flavors.

So I just cleaned the fish (we had 2 whiting fish, about 250 grams each), drizzled it with some olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and I popped in a hot oven, in a tray with some oven proof paper, for around 10 minutes. For the fennel, I used 1 onion, 1 fennel (reserve the leaves for garnishing), 3-4 cloves of garlic, 200 ml of dry white wine, in this case a 2010 Chenin Blanc form South Africa, some lemongrass, 75 grams of butter, salt, red pepper, sugar, lemon, cream (optional).

Start of by melting the butter and cooking the sliced onion, fennel, and garlic on high heat for 2 minutes, then turn the stove down to a minimum, add the sugar, lemon grass, salt and pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, and let it reduce. After that you can add some cream and mix for another minute, but I preferred to do this without it. Plate the fish and the fennel, sprinkle generously with lemon juice and fennel leaves.


Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Spice Beef and Chinese Fried Rice

Initially I was thinking of going for a Thai based rice, with some coconut milk and saffron, but in lack of a proper main dish to go with it, I decided I wanted to show you that Chinese takeout can be done in your own kitchen without a lot of fuss. Now, this recipe requires a lot of fuss… What? No, just kidding, it’s a super easy recipe that you can cook in a flash and impress any Chinese food lover.

For the rice (and this is where I kinda screwed up) make sure you use a type of grain doesn’t stick to one another. Use basmati or jasmine, make sure you don’t try this with Arborio or carnaroli, typical risotto rice. I have to admit that I was too lazy to actually go and buy a bag of basmati so I used the package of Arborio that I already had in my pantry. The taste is good, but it makes things difficult to actually fry the rice. For 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water, cook the BASMATI (final warning) rice until it is done or the liquid is absorbed, and set it aside to cool a little.

You will also need: 1 medium onion, diced, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 thumb sized ginger, diced, some crunchy veggies (peas, beans, water chestnuts, baby carrot, baby corn, etc.), 1 or 2 eggs (depending on how much rice you have), spring onions or chives(optional), soy sauce, sugar, pepper, peanut or sesame oil. You will have to do this in batches, in a wok, so start by cooking the ginger, onion and garlic for 3 minutes in a tsp of oil, set it aside. Next, add in the crunch (you can either get them fresh or frozen, the cooking time is different for each), and stir fry those for another 4-5 minutes tops with the sugar, until they are cooked enough but still hold some serious crunch. Set aside. 

Mix the egg(s)  with 2-3 tbs of soy sauce, beat them together, and cook the eggs like an omelet or scrambled, 2-3 minutes. Set that aside as well. Now, in a tbs of oil add the rice and stir fry it for 2 minutes, then add the other already cooked ingredients and mix them together, add more soy sauce if you feel like it needs salt.

For the beef, again, super easy, just rub the meat with some sesame oil, salt and 5 spice condiment and cook in a hot searing pan for 3 minutes on each side or for how long you want, depending on what degree of rare you want. I used a piece of tenderloin that I cooked roughly 3 minutes on all sides for a medium rare outcome.

Plate the meat, sliced, the rice (with some chives or spring onions on top), and, if you care for it, some wasabi paste to kick things up.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Drinks: Flavored Ice Cubes

It seems summer is all over us these days, it's getting so hot you just wanna live underwater or in a fridge.
Summer drink will help us get through though. Previously I showed you some ideas to flavor your ice cubes to get a refresing cold coffee/ mik drink. Below you have 3 alternatives for your lemonades, ice tea or fizzy water.

This time I added mint, lavender flowers and grapefruit juice.

You just have to fill an ice cube tray with water or lemonade and then add mint leaves or lavender flowers. For the pink grapefruit one, my favorite, just fill the tray with grapefruit juice with or without the pulp, however you like it.

Here is an example of some fizzy with the grapefruit cubes. You really feel like in a spa and the effort is minimum.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Ricotta and Tomatoes Puff Pastry Galette

Last night I was getting hungry and I just needed a quick snack. I remembered we have puff pastry in the freezer and I never get to use it.

I was in the mood for something rather salty, but ironically the only cheese we had was ricotta (not so salty).

I just rolled the puff pastry on a clean surface, dusted with some flour and divided the patsry in 6 equal squares. I sprinkled some salt on the dough, made some tiny holes with a fork, so that ot won't puff to much while baking. Then, I just added some ricotta cheese and thin slices of tomatoes in the middle leaving the edges clear. Brush the edges with a beaten egg and seal them so that the juices don't spill in the oven. Garnish it with some basil leaves and in the oven it goes.

After just 20-25 min you have a great snack and I have to say it is actually quite filling. I liked it best warm to room temperature, but cold would also do if you want to make smaller galettes and pack it for work/school.


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