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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Comfort Food: Fish and Beans Soup | You've Got Meal!

A tasty, delicious Italian inspired soup that combines the subtle taste of zander with the hearty taste of Cannellini beans, all brought together by a touch of tomatoes and basil.

Fish soups, for me, aren’t really all that much of a great choice in comfort foods, but when combined with some Cannellini beans things change. And with the coming of winter this dish brought a little piece of warmth and comfort into the kitchen. There a still a lot of fresh flavors in this recipe to keep things relatively close to summer, but adding the soup shifts the recipe in a whole different direction.


  • 400 grams of fish fillets, cut into 5-7 cm pieces (we used zander), 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (400 grams), 
  • 200 grams of passata, 
  • 800 grams of vegetable stock, 
  • 250 grams of cherry tomatoes, both halved and whole, 
  • 3 leeks, only the white parts, 
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, 
  • 2 tbs. of capers, 
  • 2 rosemary twigs, 
  • 2-3 bay leaves, 
  • 15 medium sized basil leaves, 
  • 3-4 tbs. of chopped olives, 
  • fennel seeds, 
  • salt, pepper, olive oil.

  1. Start by cutting the leeks into slices- cook them with the garlic in some olive oil, on medium heat, until softened. 
  2. Next add the olives and capers and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  3. Pop in the tomatoes (canned, passata and fresh), rosemary, bay leaves, salt, pepper, grounded fennel seeds and the stock, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. 5 minutes before the end add the canned cannellini beans – if you’re using uncooked ones make sure you boil them in advance. 
  5. In the final 3 minutes add the fish, after which, near the end, throw the basil leaves in the soup- they need about 1 minute to soften and infuse the soup. 

You can add a touch of lemon juice to the soup, to make things fresher, or you can use a touch of yoghurt in the same purpose.

All in all, an easy to make soup  that can serve either as a great reminder of summer or a comfortable companion for a cold day.

Enjoy 8e5baa17709cf14ece6cea98478e5def9198be9f4387789663,

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fish in Puff Pastry (Julia Child style) | You've Got Meal!

I’m actually super excited about writing this post, it was a wonderful thing to cook and the making of the pastry, although fairly time consuming and not easy, is incredibly fulfilling. Could be just me, but I just loved making the pastry and using it here.  I took the recipe for the puff pastry from this site.

It’s thoroughly explained and detailed and I followed every step there. I’m going to try and give you as much feedback as I can, but let’s be honest you’ll probably check Julia Child and Michel Richard. For my pastry I used half the quantities given by the 2 masters as I didn’t need all that much pastry.  

  • 375 grams of all purpose flour, 
  • 150 ml of ice cold water, 
  • 200 grams of cold butter, 
  • 1 tsp. of salt. 
They say all over the internet that the trick behind making pastry is respecting the temperature of the ingredients and there is no room for error there. The way Child makes the pastry is by first creating a dough from the flour, ice cold water and salt. A food processor does do the trick, but I used a whisk and my hands. 

  1. First note here – try and use your hands at least as possible as they will heat the dough and, especially, the butter. 
  2. After the dough was done, I let it cool in the fridge for 15 minutes, covered in some paper towels. 
  3. For the butter, place it between  2 cling films and press it down to a 1,5 cm thickness – give it the form of a square and put in the fridge. Like I said before, limit the direct use of your hands. Also the faster you work, the more steps you can make before having to return the pastry in the fridge. 
  4. Take the dough, place it on well floured, clean, dry and flat work surface and shape it in a square shape, about ½ half bigger than the butter square. 
  5. Next, with your rolling pin, create sort of flaps form the corners of the dough – those wedges will be thinner and the middle will remain thicker. 
  6. Place the butter in the middle of the dough and cover it with the thinned down corners. The thing I did next was to fold the dough one more time, creating something like a rectangle or a book. Keep the work surface well floured. When butter popped out of different places in the dough (and trust me it sure did) I just sprinkled some flour on top. 
  7. Next, create another square by rolling the dough with your pin, make the same flaps as before and repeat the folding process.  I only did 2 of those at a time, keeping the pastry for 40 minutes in the fridge. In total I made 6 folds-I would have done more, but it was getting kind of late and I was hungry. 
  8. Keep the pastry in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. 

Now, I think, vaguely, I said something about some fish? I got a little carried away with the pastry, so let me get to the filling.

  • 3 pieces of perch, 100 grams each (cod works just as well, like sea bass or sea bream), 
  • 3 pieces of leek (the white part) cut into slices, 
  • 1 chili- optional, 
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, 
  • parsley, 
  • dill, 
  • salt, pepper and olive oil. 

  1. Start of by cooking the leek – you can do this while the pastry cools in the fridge. This way will also give you the time you need for the leek to cool, as it needs to be this way before being put in the pastry. Cooking the vegetable is super easy, on medium-low heat sauté the leek (and the finely chopped chili- if you choose to add it) in 3 tbs of olive oil for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Crush the garlic with some salt in a mortar, add 50 grams of water on top, mix and pour the garlic in the leak pot. Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the leak has softened enough to create a base for the fish to have under. 

You can now begin to assemble your dish, roll a sheet of pastry, about 0.5 cm thick, big enough to fit your piece of fish. Place some leek on the dough, the fish on top, sprinkle some salt (careful here, remember that the leeks have also been salted), pepper and some whole leaves of parsley and dill. Close the dough creating (in my case) a wallet. Brush the dough with some whisked egg white, this will close the pocket and it will give a nice shine to the dish. Place the fish in a preheated oven, on medium high heat for 15-17 minutes or until the pastry has a golden- slightly brown color.

The result is a versatile dish, that can be served warm or at room temperature, you can make it in smaller portions and serve it as an appetizer. Use some fresh, crunchy boiled green beans as a side dish, or maybe similar mange tout. Give yourself the time (and the courage) to try and make the dough, it will be worth it. If you’re in a hurry, use some premade frozen pastry and just follow the instructions on the package. Whichever way you approach, you can be assured that this French themed dish is a definite keeper in your kitchen. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Easy Chestnut Gnocchi Recipe | You've Got Meal!

It is entirely Mrs. G's merit for introducing chestnuts in our kitchen and it was a stroke of inspirations from her. We first ate the woody fruit boiled and, although I have to admit my reticence, I really enjoyed the sweet, nutty,  taste of the chestnut. And, from that to gnocchi there was just one more step.

Chestnut gnocchi is a dish cooked in North Italy, in the mountainous region where wheat flour was often substituted with chestnut flour or buckwheat flour (Pizzoccheri della Valtellina comes to mind here). The gnocchi is really easy to make, either with pureed fruit or with flour, depending on what you can get your hands on. There isn’t much of a difference in texture or taste, but you have to keep in mind the fact that if you boil the chestnuts and mash them, they will have some water left in them. If using flour, also use potatoes (boiled or baked) and replace the wheat flour (all or part of it) with the chestnut flour.

Anyway, this the way we made the gnocchi: 
  • 300 grams of blitzed (in a blender) boiled chestnuts, 
  • 200 grams of wheat flour,
  • 1 egg, 
  • a healthy splash of a good quality, fruity olive oil, 
  • salt.

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, adding more water if necessary to make the dough. Knead it until you get a silky outcome and let the dough rest in the fridge for half an hour. Quick note here: love the color of this gnocchi – dark brown, similar to a classic toffee. 
  2. Next, we split the dough into 4, and worked each piece into a, let’s call it snake form, 2 cm thick. 
  3. Cut each string of rolled dough in equal 2-3 cm gnocchi dollops. 
  4. In order to give them the classic look, roll each gnocchi on the back of a (preferably long) fork. 
  5. In order to cook the pasta, bring to a boil a nice amount of salted water and put in it some gnocchi, put make sure you don’t overcrowd the pot, they will need room to rise and cook – I kept mine around 4 minutes longer after they’ve raised to the surfaced. 
  6. Remove from the pot and let them steam for 2 minutes.

You know from previous posts that we enjoyed the butter-sage mix for the gnocchi, so we decided to play it safe for our first chestnut cooking attempt. 
  1. Melt 75 grams of butter on medium heat and cook 2-3 tbs. of chopped sage in it for 30 seconds. 
  2. Pop the gnocchi in the pan and mix well in order to make sure it is well coated with the sage and butter, cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Plate and grate a fair amount of Pecorino Romano, maybe add a tiny splash of olive oil. 

As a couple of conclusions to this dish, I have to say that chestnut gnocchi is not a bad option at all from the classic recipe, I would come back to it on special occasions, but I think I would stick to the spuds for the “everyday” gnocchi. 
The sweet and nutty taste is something special and it does give a rather unique feel to the whole dish -  also quite filling, I couldn’t eat my usual portion of pasta. And it does have the wow factor when presented at a dinner table, so keep that in mind when trying to figure out a menu for an occasion like that. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thai Chicken and Salad with Rice and Caramelized Onions | You've Got Meal!

Sticky, full of flavor chicken/ Infused Thai rice/ Balsamic Caramelised Onions/ Thai salad with pears

 The most complicated thing about this recipe is actually coming up with the name – and what a fine job that was! This recipe lets shine that beautiful Thai combination of sweet, spicy and sour, each one of them underlined by one of the components:  the meat, the rice and onions and the salad. So this is how it goes!

For the meat:

·     1 piece of deboned breast (let’s say 400 grams) cut into equal pieces of about 3 cm,
·      the juice of 2 limes,
·      half a  thumb size ginger,
·     1 mighty powerful chili,
·      garlic (5-6 cloves),
·      honey (4 tbs.),
·      salt, pepper,
·      mint,
·      vegetable oil.

Quick note here: the idea is to get a spicy-sweet taste to the meat and we had a sublime chili jam (you can spell it confiture if you’re feeling French) that did exactly that. If you have such a thing (which is made of chili, sugar and vinegar, no spices) tone down the use of honey.

1.       Start of by making a marinade for the meat by mixing, well, everything in a bowl. Cover it and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour and then give the meat 20 minutes to get close to room temperature.
2.       Cook the meat (get rid of any excess marinade before cooking, otherwise the honey will burn fast) on medium high heat, in a few drops of vegetable oil, for 5 minutes on each side- you might need to cook the meat in batches.
3.       When all the pieces are done pop the remaining marinade in the pan, throw the chicken in there and coat it with the glazing marinade. Be careful not to burn the honey or whatever sugar you are using, shouldn’t be more than 2 minutes.
4.       Garnish with a couple of coriander leaves and you’re done with the meat.

For the rice and onions:

§  125 grams of Thai/Basmati rice (that’s enough for 2 people),
§  star anise, ginger, coriander stalks, salt, pepper,
§  400 grams of cleaned, small, red or yellow onions,
§  balsamic vinegar (4-6 tbs) and
§  sugar (1-2tbs.)

The idea here is that we are going to use the rice like a pretty neutral base (neutral in the Thai sense of the word) and we are going to bring a fantastic Italian touch with the “cipollini agrodolce” – sour and sweet onions.

1.       Infuse salted water with the star anise, some roughly cut pieces of ginger, coriander stalks (reserve the leaves) and pepper corns. Give 15 minutes for the water to really steal the flavors from the spices then cook the rice in it. A good idea is to either use the kind of rice that you can buy in a special cooking bag or use a tea satchel to keep the condiments in it.
2.       Meanwhile, boil the onions on medium heat for 20 minutes. Be careful when cleaning the onions, don’t cut too much out of the ends of the vegetable, you need that for them to stay intact while cooking, otherwise the layers will pretty much get loose.
3.       Remove the onions from water, let them steam for a minutes then cook them in a couple tbs. of olive oil, on medium low heat for another 10 minutes.
4.       Add the vinegar and sugar and mix well, to make sure that the cipollini are all covered in the sour and sweet goodness, shouldn’t take more than 3-4minutes.
5.       Plate the onions on top of the rice, with some of the cooking juice from the vegetables and some soy sauce for saltiness.

For the salad: roughly chopped iceberg salad, 2 carrots cut into strips with a veggie peeler, a medium red bell pepper cut into sticks, 3-4 tbs. coriander leaves, 1 pear also cut into strips with the veggie peeler, tiny, adorable, delicious and incredible cherry tomatoes (try and get as many colors as you can, it will bring a nice touch to the presentation), salt, pepper, lime juice.

1.       How to: just mix everything and you’re done. J

The idea behind the way we presented this (these) recipe(s) to you was that we started off with the sweet and we went from there to sweet & sour to just sour. All 3 components really stick together and the combination delivers a great dining experience that will make your day or bedazzle any friends that need reminding from time to time that you are a God in (your own ) kitchen. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Beef Steak with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

One of our favorite dinners in the YOUVEGOTMEAL kitchen is a tender, juicy, delicious beef tenderloin steak. And when paired with some crispy on the outside, tender on the inside potatoes, these 2 make for a memorable dinner (red wine also helps- it ALWAYS helps). We had 3 pieces of beef, about 150 grams each, 500 grams of potatoes, cut into wedges and washed 2-3 times in cold water, 4-5 garlic cloves, a couple tbs. of fresh rosemary, olive oil, 2-3 tbs. of red vinegar, salt, pepper. 

This whole meal screams comfort food, and you can choose to add some ingredients both to the meat or to the spuds -  for example use some herbs to crust the meat or change the flavor package for the potatoes (I’m gonna get to that in a while). 

Take the meat out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking it, heat up a non-stick pan with 2-3 tbs of olive oil and fry the steak on medium-high heat for 1 minute on all sides. Next, pop the meat in the same pan that you’ve seared it in for 7-10 minutes (depending on how rare you want it)- make sure the pan doesn’t have plastic components.

The potatoes- put them in salted water and boil them for 7 minutes, then remove them and let them steam for 3 minutes- make sure you give each wedge plenty of room. Next, put the potatoes in an oven tray, again, making sure, they have enough room, and give them a small splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes on medium heat for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, lightly crush the garlic cloves and mix them with the rosemary leaves and the vinegar, plus a little more olive oil. Sprinkle this mix on top of the potatoes and cook them for another 10 minutes. 

We served everything with a fresh and crispy salad made of salad leaves (something lettuga bowl) and  endives with a simple lemon-olive oil dressing. Sometimes, less is more, even in the kitchen.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Healthy Beet Juice | You've Got Meal!

I am not a juicing addict, but I have to say I do appreciate from time to time the benefits of a whole salad in a glass. When I drink them, I like my juices simple. I like to add apples almost every time, I use carrots for added sweetness and a quarter of a lemon every time to neutralize other tangy tastes. Actually, I have learned that I am pretty tolerant to any juice, celery being my least favorite, but if I know it is good to me, I am gonna drink it.

For one super simple version of your morning juice you will need (besides a juicer):

  • 1 medium beet
  • 2 medium apples
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1/4 lemon

I know not everybody loves beets, but I think that it is one of those foods you need to discover and acquire tastes for in order to fully appreciate it. And you better appreciated it, because when it comes to health benefits nothing beats the beets. It is a fuel for your body without any saturated fats, it can actually fix your sugar cravings without harming you, it is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and not to mention folic acid.

So, go ahead and just juice all of that one at a time. Now you have a nice, pink, energizing drink to start your day properly. I promise it is not that bad, you would actually enjoy the taste after the second one.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Noodle Soup with River Bass | You've Got Meal!

River bass is one of my favorite fish. The meaty, lean, white, subtle fish is very versatile and can be cooked in so many ways that is too bad that I don’t get my hands on bass very often.

And considering the fact that Mrs. G’s name day was coming, I decided to turn this fabulous fish into an Asian style noodle soup. To say she loves those is an understatement, and I would really like to see what she would do in a Ramen restaurant.

Cooking this soup is super simple and it’s composed of 3 parts: the fish, the stir fry, the boiled ingredients and the broth (the base of the soup). This feels like actually building the soup from different parts, the ingredients for each being: green onions, carrots, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce  (1 teaspoon each for the last 3) for the stir fry; broccoli and instant noodles to boil; cardamom, allspice, star anise, pepper, salt for the broth.

Start of by  gutting and cleaning the fish. Next, take all the ingredients for the broth and put them in a tea satchel. Place it in salted water and boil until the liquid has been infused by the spices. Next, massage the fish with some salt and a hint of 5 spice and place it in the oven, high heat, on a rack that has a tray under. Depending on the size of the fish, it will take to cook from 8-15 minutes.

Remove the fish from the oven and set aside. The next 2 parts take literally 2 minutes. At  the same time, boil the broccoli in the broth and stir fry the vegetables in a wok, in a little peanut oil .

Time to plate your soup. First, place the vegetables from the wok, then the instant noodles (that’s the kind I used here, but you can choose a different kind- just be careful with the ones that take longer to cook – boil them in the infused broth before adding them to the soup ), soup (up to 90% of the bowl), pieces of broccoli and flaked pieces of bass. Let the noodles cook- it takes 2-3 minutes, they will absorb a fair amount of liquid so feel free to add more broth to the soup if you feel like necessary.

Now, I’m gonna go and say here that the resulting dish was a comforting, savory soup. Thing is, in order to fully demonstrate this would be to actually show you Mrs. G just munching it away in under a minute (but she hid the recording). Like I said before, she LOVES her noodle soups.

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