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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Roast Chicken Salad | You've Got Meal!

This week we had a great organic chicken to cook and for such a beauty we had to make a roast,a simple, full of flavor whole chicken roast. There is only the two of us in this household, so we can't be done with a whole roasted chicken in one dinner, so the next day we had to use the leftovers in a fresh and healthy salad.

This is also a great way to take some of the previous evening dinner at the office for lunch. Plus, it happens to all of us, once the spring arrives we just want to make the most of those beautiful fresh vegetables.

You will need:

  • chicken leftovers (for 2 portions we had half of the breast and a thigh)
  • 2  handfuls of cress
  • about 6-8 radishes
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds
  • 1 medium red onion

For the dressing:

  • 150 g yogurt
  • the juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • salt and pepper

Wash the cress leaves thoroughly, place them in a salad bowl with the chicken. We cut the chicken pieces in big cubes. Add the tomatoes, halved and the radishes cut in quarters. Cut the red onion in thin rings, add it to the bowl, then sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top.

For the dressing, crush the garlic, add it to the yogurt, pour the lemon juice over them and season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped coriander and mix well. 

Pour the dressing over the salad and you are done! It would be great if you would comment below telling us how do you use your weekend roast leftovers.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nettle, Wild Garlic and Feta Ravioli | You've Got Meal!

Finally, spring is here! After all that snow and cold it was about time nature kicked things up. And the coming of spring translates into the rebirth of some great seasonal greens that are best in this time of the year: nettle and ramps. 

What can be said about the nettle? Yes, it hurts when you clean it and prepare it for cooking, Mrs. G’s blistered hands are a testimony to that. But after you manage to wash it and you boil it down, the result is a true health bomb. Nettle is high in iron and it’s great for getting out of the winter. In my opinion, nettle  basically represents spring’s way of kicking winter right in the, well, let’s call them almonds, if you catch my drift. Around here, nettles are foraged from the edges of the forests, but you have to be careful about the plants, make sure you get the young, spring, nettle, not the remnants of the nettle from last fall. I might get overexcited about nettle, but I have to bring this up. 

There are a couple of foods, that for us, mean more than just taste, they also mean memories of family, childhood or loved ones. And nettle means one single thing: Mrs. G’s grandmother’s garlic and nettle stew, served with some baby salad sour soup and polenta. She only makes that once or twice, in the beginning of spring and it’s the healthiest thing we’ve ever had, using only 3-4 ingredients that are handpicked by her from her garden or from the forest. Absolute delight.

Now, ramps. Also known as wild garlic, these tasty greens have a fragrant (you’ve guessed it) garlic punch, maybe a little bit of onion when they’re younger. You can eat the leaves, but also the bulb, although I have to admit we’ve never tried it. Ramps are also an amazing source of vitamin A and C, and are great in salads or in seafood side-dishes.
And on top of using nettle and ramps, we had some amazing, fresh, crisp, slightly peppery wild cress, also foraged, that we used to garnish the pasta. What can I say, it was a feast of spring.

So, I think I rambled enough about early spring greens. Let’s get cracking on the ingredients: :

  1. home made pasta dough for the ravioli, 
  2. 300 grams of washed and cleaned nettle leaves, 
  3. 150 grams of ramps/ wild garlic, carefully cleaned, 
  4. 150 grams of good quality feta cheese, 
  5. pepper, 
  6. parmesan, 
  7. good quality olive oil, 
  8. dried chili seeds, 
  9. wild cress. 
We’ve talked before about how we made the ravioli, specifically here, so I’m not going to dwell on that. 

  • For the filling, boil the nettle – be prepared, it will take a couple of hours on medium heat in order for the plant to reach that state where it basically melts in your spoon. Another health tip here, don’t throw away the water you boiled the nettle in, it’s can be very healthful in treating anemia, just make sure you strain it in order to avoid getting small amounts of sand or straws in your drink. 
  • After boiling, remove the nettle from heat and drain it well, make sure there isn’t any liquid left in the wilted leaves. 
  • Next, finely chop both the nettle and the fresh ramps. You can cook the ramps for a minute or so, to reduce that too, but these leaves were fairly young and I preferred them fresh. 
  • Mix the greens with the feta and some pepper- I think the cheese has enough salt, but feel free to adjust according to your ingredients. 
  • Make the ravioli and cook them for about 3-4 minutes on salted water. 
  • As a sauce for the pasta we wanted to keep things very simple and elegant, so we decided to just use a very nice, slightly spicy and fruity olive oil. For another layer of kick, we added some chili seeds and some dried and grinded chili. We just put the chili and the oil in a small glass, covered it with a coaster, and gave it a good shake- you’ll get a sort of fast forward infused oil. 
  • Drip, don’t pour, this oil on the ravioli, grate a small amount of parmesan and cover the pasta in a generous amount of fresh cress leaves. 
  • For a small variation, we also poached an egg that we’ve placed on top, it was a nice touch, but you can decide to leave it.

Normally, I can’t leave a nice pasta dinner without a glass of wine, but seeing as this whole recipe was about health, I’m going to leave that part out…. Who am I kidding, don’t forget to grab a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc for this one and get eating. The greens have enough health in them to save that one glass (bottle) of wine, I think….


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Duck Breast with Fennel Sauce and Oyster Mushrooms | You've Got Meal!

It’s duck season in the Youvegotmeal! kitchen, so it’s only natural that we had to cook a duck breast recipe. We had a whole duck that we portioned  into different cuts for different dishes, keeping the legs and the wings for some “confit de canard” and the breast for this recipe. You might recognize the last part of the title- the oyster mushrooms from a previous post. Frying them in tempura batter was a great side-dish for the meat. 

  • 2 duck breasts, about 200 grams each, 
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, 
  • 400 ml of coconut milk, 
  • 250 grams of oyster mushrooms, 
  • tempura batter
  • cloves, 
  • ground cardamom, 
  • salt, pepper, 
  • soy sauce, 
  • sugar, 
  • chili, 
  • fresh coriander leaves.

A couple of notes about the meat. We had a free-range duck (can I say that? Is it a thing?), meaning that the layer of fat that covered the meat was a bit thicker than what you would normally get. That’s an important thing to take into consideration because you want that fat rendered and, also, it affects the whole cooking time of the breast. Before actually cooking scar the breast on the skin with a sharp knife, careful not to reach the meat- this will help the fat reduce and give a you a nice look on the breast. Also, rub the duck meat with salt, pepper and ground cardamom.

 We started with the fennel sauce for this dish, the only reason being is that it took the most time. In a tall sauce pan, pop in the coconut milk, the finely sliced fennel, 1 tbs. of soy sauce, 1 tsp. of chili flakes or half of a fresh, medium hot chili, finely diced, 2-3 cloves, the sugar. Boil it down on until the fennel is soft enough to be pushed through a sieve into a sauce – 15-20 minutes.

  1. For the meat, use a heavy base pan, put the meat skin side down in it and place it on the stove on medium heat. 
2.  We cooked from a cold pan to give the fat enough time to slowly melt and not just burn. 
3.  Cook the breast skin side down for around 10-11 minutes, turn and cook for another 2 minutes. 
4.  Remove from the pan and let the meat rest for 5-7 minutes on a warm plate.

Plate the meat, the mushrooms and the sauce, and sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves on top.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tempura Mushroom with Wassabi | You've Got Meal!

If you Internet people out there have read any of our previous posts before (who am I kidding, I know you love us), you’ve probably noticed the fact that we talked a lot about the pleasure of keeping, sometimes, things simpler in the kitchen. 

Of course we love to get fancy, combining spices and ingredients, adding and taking quantities, but, in the end, we get the best satisfaction from the simple or the classic (take our home-made pasta or the duck fat fries). Same thing goes for frying veggies in tempura batter, and I remember last spring when we had the best baby zucchini ever, just fried in some tempura.

We’re not really describing a recipe here, we’re rather telling you of a great cooking experience when we combined tempura batter and some beautiful oyster mushrooms.

Making the tempura batter couldn’t be easier, you just need some fizzy water and wheat flour. I guess you do have to be determined to do it, I remember Mrs. G saying “I’m gonna own this batter” before starting. We used one egg, 200 ml ice cold sparkling water and 250 g smooth flour, but the thing you have to remember is 1. Use ice cold fizzy water, or even add an ice cube to the mixture and 2. Don’t overwork the batter.

For a bit of a kick, we added about 1 tsp. of wasabi paste in the tempura, just enough to give it a slight punch.

Separate the oyster mushrooms and dip the separately in the batter for a couple of seconds, dripping the excess of tempura. Fry the oyster mushrooms in some super hot cooking oil, until it gets a nice golden color on each side, and you’re done. Don’t keep the mushrooms for too much in the oil, the batter will burn and they will get soggy, you want to keep a firm texture.

We used the mushrooms as a great side-dish for some great duck breast, but that’s a story for another time.  


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mascarpone & Meringue Cake | You've Got Meal!

I started thinking about this recipe as a great one for the 8th of March, International Women's Day, but honestly it is a good one to keep for all special occasions. It is "absurdly" simple, so it is a nice choice for everyone who actually can't bake, but want to make a sweet surprise for the women in their life.

I chose to use a store-bought sponge cake because it is way easier, but you can find many recipes online if you want to bake it yourself. Actually, if you use a round  one, you get an awesome anniversary cake, but you can always go for a square or rectangular one and serve them as dessert squares.

As far as the cream goes, the cake had 3 cream layers plus the top. For such a simple recipe I just had to use a Mascarpone cream, because I love it the most and it makes any dessert so smooth and silky. You can't go wrong with Mascarpone. To mix things up, I added some apricot jam and some crushed meringues for fun and for a lovely, crunchy surprise. Of course you can make your own meringues also, but I saw some lovely colorful ones in a bakery and I figured they would look great on the top cream layer.

That being said you will need:

  • 1 simple cake/ sponge or cake mix
  • some jam of your choice (apricot worked perfectly, great would also be peach, fig or orange, cherry or strawberry might overshadow your cream)
  • Mascarpone cream (see recipe below)
  • some crushed meringues (preferably colored, so they can be spotted through the white cream)

For the Mascarpone cream:
  • 250 g Mascarpone cheese
  • 70 g sugar
  • 2 eggs

  1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix is smooth and creamy. 
  2. Add the Mascarpone to the egg yolks and fully incorporate the cheese. 
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form.
  4. Add the egg whites to the cream mixture, fold it in fast but gently with a spatula.

1st layer: (jam + cream) Spread some apricot jam on the first sheet, then spread some cream over the jam.
2nd layer: (cream) Time to keep it simple, just spread some Mascarpone cream.
3rd layer: (jam + cream) The same as on the first layer.
4th layer, the top one: (cream and meringues) Crush some meringues, leaving some bigger bits and sprinkle them over the remaining cream. Fold the meringue bits gently and spread the mix on top of the cake.

Save some more meringues to sprinkle on top before serving. Store in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. If you have dense, hard cake you can pour a bit of simple syrup or fruit liquor on each layer before spreading the cream and you will get a softer, moist cake.

It is a dessert recipe worth trying, it is just sweet enough, it is super fun to make if you prepare ahead and there is no baking involved.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli | You've Got Meal!

This is our first ravioli making experience, so we wanted to cook something on the easy side, but also a well known dish, so we went for safe and picked the spinach and ricotta recipe. 

We used 4 sheets of pasta dough, about 40 cm long and 6 cm wide, enough to make around 20 pieces of ravioli. 

For the filling: 
  • 200 grams of fresh spinach leaves- hard stems removed, 
  • 130-150 grams of ricotta, 
  • 4-5 tbs. of parmesan, 
  • nutmeg, 
  • salt and pepper. 

We also made a fresh tomato and basil sauce using: 
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, 
  • 300 grams of passata, 
  • 3 garlic cloves, 
  • 2 tsp. of dried basil leaves, 
  • salt, pepper, 
  • cloves, 
  • olive oil. 

  1. Start of by making the dough for the pasta -  as usual, we used 200 grams of plain flour and 2 free range eggs, resulting the sheets of pasta described above. 
  2. While the dough rests, awaiting to be rolled, cook the spinach in a couple tbs. of olive oil for 2 minutes, enough for the greens to melt. 
  3. Remove the spinach from heat, dripping any excess of juices that remained in the pan – those will make the filling way too runny and most likely cause the ravioli to open while cooking. You can choose to leave the spinach leaves whole, finely chop them or just coarsely break them, take your pick. 
  4. After the spinach cools for some minutes, mix them well with the ricotta, nutmeg, salt, pepper and about 4-5 tbs. of Parmesan. 
  5. You can either cut the ravioli pasta pieces before putting in the filling or you can spread lumps of the spinach&ricotta mix on the sheet of pasta, and then cut it. Use a beaten egg to brush the edges of the pasta so that the pasta sticks -  you can also use a fork to press the edges of the ravioli, but make sure to remove the air from inside before. 
  6. The ravioli cook fast enough in the salted boiling water, about 4 minutes. 
  7. When removing them from the water lightly drizzle them with olive oil to make sure they don’t stick.

The sauce keeps the same super easy line of cooking – on medium heat, bring to a boil the canned tomatoes (use a wooden spoon to break them in the pot), 300 ml of tomato passata, the finely sliced garlic cloves, the basil, salt, pepper, 2-3 whole cloves, and cook until the liquid is reduced to about two thirds. Next, push the sauce through a fine sieve (don’t forget the garlic slices, they will be soft enough to be pushed through) in order to create a smooth, light tomato and basil sauce. 

That’s it really incredibly easy to make ravioli, accompanied by an light and elegant sauce that will complement the pasta perfectly. Garnish with some fennel leaves or basil or parsley, grate some Parmesan on top and you are done.


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