Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Address

I will no longer post at this address. I am moving to A wee bit of sugar, Cupcakes do Trembom and Trembom. I would love to see you there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

pork and beef ragu

I am not a great meat eater any longer. However, I do like to prepare meat dishes every so often. Having been very busy at work and barely having time to cook properly during the week, over the weekend I decided to prepare some food for lunch and this ragu proved a great treat. It is very versatile: can be eaten with rice, polenta (not that I like it), with pasta, in cannelloni, as pie filling. The spices add a wonderful taste to the ragu, very elegant and gentle. I fall in love with every mouthful I take of this delicious ragu. When it comes to seasoning, it is important not to overdo on the salt otherwise the beautiful flavour of the cinnamon and nutmeg will be lost.
When I do not happen to have sage at home, I use rosemary instead. After approximately 1 hour of the cooking of the meat, I like to add approximately ½ cup milk. I feel that it reduces the acidity of the ragu.


30g butter
¼ cup olive oil
8 sage leaves
2 onions finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1cm pieces
2 stalks of celery, halved lengthways and cut into small pieces
2 leeks, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
Large pinch of ground nutmeg
1 stick of cinnamon
250ml red wine
500g minced beef
500g pork mince
2 cups beef stock
2 cups passata
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat butter and oil in a large heavy based saucepan, and add sage leaves, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, leeks and spices and cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat por approximately 10 minutes. Add red wine and cook for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced quite a lot. Add the beef and pork, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, and then stir the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Just go easy on the salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, then cook, covered over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally or until the meat is very tender.

Source: Gourmet Traveller

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cauliflowers and Weekend Herb Blogging

It is that time of the week when I post my contribution to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb blogging. Being a weekly event I always have something to look forward to for my English language posts. If you are reading this post and do not know about Weekend Herb Blogging, please click on the link to get more details about the rules and who is hosting the events in the different weeks. This week it is being hosted by Amy and Jonny from We Are Never Full. WHB is reaching its 3rd birthday and it is indeed a reason for loads of us to celebrate the opportunity to meet so many interesting people who often take part. This week my post is also part of an event that I host at one of my Portuguese language blogs. I was glad that Kalyn was Ok with this dual contribution. I also recommend that you pay Kalyn's blog a visit - Kalyn's Kitchen. it is packed with lovely and very healthy recipes.

I have always loved cauliflower – baked, raw, in soup. Reading a bit more about it in order to write this post I learnt that there are other varieties apart from the white one – the green and purple types. I am not too sure that I have seen them yet. It got me really curious. I did read that it is very rich in fibre, and is also has potassium, is high in vitamin C ( I had no idea), is equally a good source of protein, phosphorous and calcium. It is terribly low in fat and calories. Perfect for a snack. If you decide to boil it, by squeezing lime juice in the water the cauliflower will keep its beautiful white colour.
In this recipe I chose to have it fried. For the first time. It is not deep fried, just shallowed fried. In the end it is coated in lovely spices: coriander, fennel and cumin. I absolutely adored the final result. So unexpectedly delicious. Makes a great side dish to grilled meats. I do confess that I had it on its own as I could not stop picking it. My inspiration was the wonderful book Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark.

1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds
8 peppercorns
Sunflower or peanut oil for frying
1 medium head of cauliflower, stalk removed, broken into florets
(Maldon) sea salt
Lemon wedges to serve

Grind the spices with the peppercorns and set aside. Pour 1cm depth oil into a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and fry on all sides until tender and slightly golden. Drain well on kitchen paper and season to taste with salt.
Mix the spices with the cauliflower by scattering the mixture all over them. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side, and if I were you I would leave the remaining spice mixture at hand just in case you want to sprinkle some more over the cauliflower. It will be difficult to resist.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

sweetcorn polenta and aubergines - weekend herb blogging

I have become a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi..The funny thing is that my recent admiration is for reasons savoury whereas my initial attraction to his work was all to do with sweets bites and his beautiful shop Ottolenghi which can be found at different parts of London. When I bought his book it was for the sweet reasons and then I discovered this wonderful savoury side. The book has some great salad dishes as well as sweet recipes. I know that Kalyn also bought the book and I wonder what she makes of it. Ottolenghi now contributes weekly to one of the Saturday papers in the UK and I have been getting more beautiful recipes as this one here. This recipe attracted me for the use of sweetcorns. I have been getting some in my basket and the thought of making some sweetcorn polenta was irresistible. What with the lovely aubergine sauce to go with it.

I thought that this week’s weekend herb blogging event deserved some beautiful corn. Firstly because corn is one of my favourite ingredients. I lived a great part of my life in a state in Brasil that is big in corn and we would always have it in all forms and shapes: ice cream, soup, croquettes, on the cob smeared with butter, etc. Secondly because of the fabulous goodness in it. Corn contains Vitamin B1 (thiamine, Folate, Vitamin C, Phosphorus, Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid, Vitamin A (more in the yellow corn), Manganese, and several antioxidants including ferulic acid and phenolics. It is an awful lot of benefits and cannot be ignored. Plus sweetcorn tastes so good.

Most recently I read the extract below from a scientific study:
The researchers purchased sweet corn and cooked the kernels in batches at 115 degrees Celsius (239 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10, 25 and 50 minutes. Liu says that the cooking increased the antioxidants in sweet corn by 22, 44 and 53 percent, respectively. The scientists measured the antioxidants' ability to quench free radicals, which cause damage to the body from oxidation, increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease..In addition to its antioxidant benefits, cooked sweet corn unleashes a phenolic compound called ferulic acid, which provides health benefits, such as battling cancer. "It's not a free acid," says Liu. "It's bound to the cell wall and in the corn's insoluble fibers. We found that ferulic acid was substantially increased after the sweet corn was cooked at high temperatures and by cooking it at the same temperature over a longer time."

Sweetcorn polenta
6 corn ears 0r 560g scraped kernels
500ml water
40g butter
200g feta, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Aubergine sauce:
150ml vegetable sauce
1 medium aubergine, cut in medium pieces
2 tsp tomato paste
60ml white wine
200g chopped peeled tomatoes( fresh or tinned)
100ml water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus whole leaves to garnish

To prepare the sauce:

Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the aubergine on medium heat for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain and discard as much oil as you can. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for two minutes on medium heat. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, sugar, salt and oregano, and cook for five minutes to get a deep flavoured sauce. Set aside.

To prepare the polenta:

Shave off the kernels from the corn. Place them in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the water, to cover. Add half the butter and cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes. Then lift out the kernels with a slotted spoon – don’t throw the water out as you will need it, and transfer them to a food processor or blender. Process for a few minutes to break as much of the kernels as possible, and add a bit of the cooking water if the mixture is too dry. Retun the corn paste to the water in the pan, over a low heat and stirring all the while. Let it cook for about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mashed potato. When it reaches this consistency it is time to fold in the remaining ingredients: salt, sugar, butter and feta, and cook for two minutes of a tad longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve the polenta with the aubergine sauce spooned out on top. Sprinkle fresh oregano leaves on top.

I hope that Kalyn and Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook like the choice made for this weeks events. Please check WHB site for future hosts and how to submit your entry. Kalyn's Kitchen is also a great blog full of terribly nutritious recipes so if you have not yet visited it just click on the name and it will take you straight there.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging round up

We received 23 contributions to Weekend Heb Blogging – including my own. I loved reading every single post that came along. The recipes where quite varied and herbs as usual take central stage. I would like to thank everyone who took part and who have made last week another eventful WHB week. I know that I will be experimenting with some new ways of preparing old friends as well as with new ingredients. I hope you also enjoy reading all the posts. I have had some problems with editing so apologies in advance if the final post is not the best looking one.

And here is the round up:

I prepared some butternut squash in a new way - stuffed with
vegetables and cheese
. It is a very versitile dish and I have already
planned on using different fillings for it.
This is my week's contribution to this event that I am so
fond of.

Cheryl prepares some lovely tilapia – one of my favourite fish, with lemongrass from her own garden. As a bonus she gives a tip about growing lemongrass plants to cat owners. In her post you can read about all the nutrients found in the fish as well. Look for parchment tilapia, lazy style in Gluten Free Goodness.

Brii who lives in the beautiful Lake Garda in Italy,
sent us a lovely recipe of mint flavoured sugar to help
use up this herb. The result is a sugar that can be used
in many different ways and that will give whoever tries
it great pleasure. Check her post at briggis recept och ideer.

Jude teaches a lovely recipe with rice flour which is an ingredient that I believe many of us can really do with learning a bit moreabout it. This recipe of gyun-dan – Korean sweet rice balls is very versatile and there can be many different ways of stuffing them. Do check it out at Apple, Pie, Patis & Paté .

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes prepares a really simple but dead nice herbal rub for pork loin - pork loin arista . She came across the recipe when trying to find a quick way of adding flavour to a piece of pork which she had forgotten to thaw in advance .The source of inspiration was The Wine Lover Cooks Italian: Pairing Great Recipes with the Perfect Glass of WIne

Rachel who is based in Saratoga County and writes
The Crispy Cook has a great recipe for brussel sprouts:
brussels sprouts with lemon balm vinaigrette.
The lemon balm is from her own garden and it is still resisting the arrival of autumn. What a lovely way to present the sprouts.

Anna tell us about apple butter all the way from
Mill Valley California. She prepares her mum recipe
and best of all, she manages to reproduce it exactly
as her mum used to make lovely is that?! She
uses sorghum molasses. It is a warm post with a great
introductory poem. The blog is Anna's Cool Finds.

Andrea writes from Virginia in the USA.
Her blog is Andrea's Recipes.
She gives us a lovely recipe of mint ice cream,
with spearmint picked from her own garden. The
inspiration came from one of her favourite cookbooks, Cooking with Shelburne Farms.

Pam from Backyard Pizzeria delivers a great hummus recipe,
hummus bi tahini. She seems to know her food well. Her post
tells a bit about the hummus preparation process and she
presents us with a mouth watering photo that makes one want
to prepare the hummus straight way.

Haalo who has the blog Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once,
has a wonderful recipe of black-eyed beans with chorizo and
. The dish is flavoursome and so nutritious. She has
managed to marry some fabulous flavours here.
On top of that it is also a stunning dish to look at.

Marija from the lovely blog Palachinka contributes to
the event with a twist on a classic: a grape stuffed gnocchi.
The grapes look like lovely dark pearls inserted into
the delicate gnocchi pieces.They are served with grated
cheese, pepper and chives. What a lovely meal they will

Natashya is the host of the blog Living in the Kitchen with puppies and a lover of basil. She grows various types:
Thai, lemon, greek, spicy bush, opal and sweet basil. For this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging she prepared a recipe of shrimp scampi with basil and tomato using two basil varieties: opal and sweet.

Graziana from Erbe in cucina, who lives in Italy, brings a great recipe that will add a special touch to many dishes. She teaches us how to prepare lemon zest, hot lemon peppers and the recipe of marinated fish with lemon pepper.

Jennifer from the blog Do you like to Cook? tell us about her
success with thyme planted in the her garden and how well it
has done. I learnt a lot about some of its properties as well, and
also some successful combinations. We also get a beautiful recipe
chicken with lemon thyme.

Anna from Morsels & Musings sends us a lovely post from Australia and she teaches us all a bit about the wonderfully fragrant kaffir lime which is used widely in Asian cuisine. She gives us three recipes with kaffir lime.
Kalyn, the master mind behind WHB event, and hostess of the blog Kalyn’s Kitchen, comes with a post filled with lovely baked chillies - recipe for chiles rellenos bake. She has learnt this recipe from a neighbour – I wish I had this luck. I am often the one who does the food hand outs on my street.

Annie from House of Annie and who is in California, brings us
not only a recipe for barley with fuchok and guigko nuts but
also teaches us a bit about barley and its goodness and some
great ingredients from Asian origin. I was hooked on her
post – I could nearly hear her voice.

Maggie from Say Yes to Salad – what a great name for a
blog, came up with a great okra recipe. I might be bias
because I love okra and new ways of preparing it – new to me, are always very welcome. This dish has a taste of seafood in it.
It is a gumbo - an okra squash shrimp gumbo. I will be
preparing it as soon as I can put my hands in some okra.

Ning who is in the Philippines and write the lovely blog
Hearth and Hearth has given a bit of a lesson on Lotus and its edible properties. She crowns her post with a beautiful recipe
of chicken soup with lotus root and red dates. You have to
read this post.

Maria who has the Organically Cooked blog always brings
us great things. This time she has brought us a most unusual aubergine dish: Eggplant pizza. For aubergine lovers like me
this is a fabulous new way of preparing it. Check it out – the
photo is so appetizing.

Dhanggit from the lovely blog Dhanggit's Kitchen has prepared
a delicious chicken with lemon preserves and olives amongst all
her busy unpacking and family reunion.
She tells us about it with such lovely prose that you feel as if you
are at the table and about to savour the dish.
After reading it I felt like buying lemon preserve and heading
to the kitchen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stuffed butternut squash and Weekend Herb Blogging

This week is my turn to host the Weekend Herb Blogging event. I am so excited. It is a very successful event that has been in the blogsphere for quite some time and has quite a faithful group of followers. Since Monday I have already been receiving various emails from people who have sent their contribution already. I am amazed at people’s dedication and organization. Thank you to all of you who have already been able to post your share. Contrary to my own record – I tend to post on the last day; I have already prepared my first contribution to the week.
If you are new here and are not familiar with the Weekend Herb Blogging event, it is a weekly occurrence in the English language blogsphere where should you choose to take part, you need to select a main ingredient for your post, prepare a dish with it and in addition to sharing the preparation method with all, also tell us about the ingredient of your choice. Kalyn from the lovely blog Kalyn’s Kitchen is the master mind behind this event. She is one of the sweetest persons I have come across, very kind and due to the success of this event that has been going on for over 2 years I am not the only one who thinks that. If you want to take part in future events, check this link for details about the event, who is posting and future dates - Weekend Herb Blogging.

My ingredient of choice this week is the butternut squash. Last week I received one in my weekly veggie basket and I immediately ran to prepare it. In one of the magazines that I buy every so often, Delicious, they had a recipe for stuffed butternut squash and I just had to prepare it. It is a very versatile recipe as you can play with it and mix and match ingredients of your choice. It just so happened that I used most of the ones in the recipe this time. However whilst preparing and eating it I already thought about how it can be done differently next time. Not because I didn’t like it, on the contrary.It is just that the sweetness of the butternut squash can go so well with many other ingredients, plus it is a fairly quickly dish to put together. And it is full of good things for you. I was reading about butternut squash for this post and found out a few interesting facts:

  • It seems that it was eaten in the Americas over 5,000 years ago – cultivated by the Incas in the 15t Century
  • It belongs to the same family of the pumpking, cucumber and courgette. The butternut squash falls under the winter harvested squash, whereas cucumber and courgette are summer squashes
  • It is rich in complex carbs and low in saturated fat and sodium. It is also a very good source of vitamin A and C, plus betacarotene, magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium
  • They are the longes keeping vegetables. If kept in a cool and ventilated place they can be kept for 2 months or more – I would have never thought that. However, if kept at room temperature or in the fridge they will deteriorate quite quickly

There is also the additional bonus that they can be used in so many different types of dishes: gratin, soups, purees, curries, pasta dishes, risottos..

This is how I prepared my dish:

The ingredients chosen were:

2 buttenut squash halved as described below; olive oil, onions/shallots, garlic, spinach, crumbled goats cheese, sal, black pepper, juice of ½ lemon, pinolli

I preheated the oven to 180oC.

I took two butternut squashes and cut off the long halves of each squash. I got the seeds out of the round end as well as a bit of the flesh. I drizzled it with a bit of olive oil and put it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime I peeled the long bits and chopped them in little pieces. I also chopped some shallot. I heated a non-stick frying pan, put some olive oil on it and softened the shallots and crushed garlic. I then tipped the chopped butternut squash and cooked until starting to get soft – I added a few drops of water at some point. Only then did I throw the spinach in, and stir it until it wilted. I seasoned and added the goats cheese as well as some pinolli. I removed it from the heat, and squeezed a bit of lemon juice in.

I removed the round bit from the oven and filled them with the filling above – you might have some left over as not all will fit in. You can keep that and have it with pasta the next day..Or do what I did which was to have it on the side as well.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Open lasagne of mushrooms and spinach - Weekend Herb Blogging

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging event is being hosted by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.
Next week I will be hosting it and I am so excited. I really like this event. It has been literally the soul of the English version of my blog. It was a long time ago that I told Kalyn, the event creator, that I would love to host it one day.

This week I will make it by the skin of my teeth. I have had a really busy weekend and just had time to stop and prepare something an hour ago to be exact. I have been thinking about this open lasagne since Tuesday. I wanted to have a light lasagne and also a very seasonal one. So I chose mushrooms.

This is what I read about mushrooms which I did not know: The Pharaohs thought they were food from heaven; the Romans spread them throughout their Empire and from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance they were an autumn feast.

I love them because they taste delicious and also because I know that they are a good source of minerals - specially potassium, a good source of vitamins - specially vitamin B, low in fat and have no cholesterol, low in calories, its protein is superior to that of many other vegetables, and they are in season.

I watched this show on BBC2, What to eat Now, and found out that I could watch the first episode on the website. It is all about seasonal food. This is where my inspiration came from.The first show followed Valentine Warner, the new cook on the block – he says that he is not a chef, walking in the woods with a mate collecting mushrooms and truffles. They gathered quite a few mushrooms but no truffles. And they ended up preparing some scrambled egg with truffles that Valentine’s friend had in his pocket. Valentine prepared this lovely oven baked lasagne as well when he got home. I decided that I wanted mine to be an open lasagne. I just thought that it would be much lighter and I wanted to try my idea.

I had no special recipe - just what i saw on the show. I had a bunch of different types of mushrooms which I sliced and cooked in a very hot pan with a bit of butter, finely chopped garlic and thyme. Towards the end I seasoned it with salt. You could add black pepper if you like. I then set the mushrooms aside, boiled water for the pasta and proceeded to prepare the spinach. In the same pan where I had prepared the mushrooms I threw a big bunch of spinach with more chopped garlic and let it wilt. I then seasoned it with freshly ground nutmeg and a wee bit of salt. I transferred the spinach mixture to a colander and let the excess water from the spinach drain. I cooked the lasagne sheets and then once cooked I heated a non stick frying pan and threw a tiny piece of butter in and a bit of ras el hanout, that beautiful Moroccan style spice which has amongst other things rose petals. I just fried it a bit in the oil and then just threw the lasagne sheets in, one by one, so that they got a bit of the ras el hanout on them.

I then assembled the dish: one sheet of lasagne, a bunch of mushroom, another sheet of lasagne, bunch of spinach, another sheet of lasagne and some grated parmesan cheese on top. I thought of adding goat’s cheese to the spinach originally but in the end decided not to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Red peppers wiht couscous and yogurt her sauce - WHB

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging evTent is being hosted by Zorra from Kochtopf. As you all must know by now, Kalyn from Kalyn’s kitchen is the master mind of this great idea that has been going very successfully for the last two years. She has got a very faithful bunch of bloggers who contributed regularly. The recipe I chose for this week had been prepared previously for the event but in the end I decided to go for a completely different one. This time I prepared it again and I am glad that I am going ahead with it.

Capsicum is native to the Americas, and they were already cultivated by the native people of that continent. It can now be found worldwide.There can be red, green or even yellow. Each 100g contains 29kg calories, 1,3g proteins, 0,1g fat, vitamin A, B1, B2, B5, C, 140mg potassium, 16mg sodium, 20mg calcium, 0,5mg iron. I much prefer them roasted as their flavour seems at its best in my opinion. Stuffing them is a great way to prepare. I have done loads of stuffings with meat and herbs, or even rice,meat and herbs. I do much prefer the couscous stuffing. It adds a nice texture, together with the pine nuts. Oh pine nuts, they just lift most of the dishes they are added to. The first time I prepared this dish I added some chopped anchovies to it and the result was quite exciting. I had none in the house this time so had to leave them out. Perhaps you would like to try the combination yourself.

2-3 medium to large, ripe peppers
200g couscous
6 spring onions
Olive oil

2 cloves garlic
½ tsp ground paprika
Grated zest of half lemon
Large handful chopped mint leaves
Large handful chopped coriander
75g toastes pine nuts

For the yogurt sauce:
200g plain,thick yogurt
Handful each of chopped coriander and mint

Pinch of paprika

Preheat the oven at 180oC. Cut the peppers in half, clean them out from seeds and lay all of them cut side up in a baking tin.
To prepare the stuffing, prepare the couscous as per instructions in the packet. I like to use vegetable stock instead of water.
Meanwhile finely chop the spring onions and let them soft in a glug or two of olive oil over a moderate heat. Just before they start to colour, add the garlic, paprika and grated lemon zest ( reserve the lemon juice). Stir in the chopped herbs and the toasted pine nuts. When all is fragrant and starting to darken a little in colour, stir in the couscous and lemon juice. Season to taste.
Pie the stuffing into the peppers, sprinkle some ground black pepper over it and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 45 minutes.
Mix the yogurt with the coriander, mint and paprika and serve.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pasta with aubergine and pine kernels - Weekend Herb Blogging

I spend my whole week thinking of a recipe that is good enough to take part in Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging event - click on the logo above to be taken to the site and find out more about it. I prepare various things and in the end I post my favourite item. This week the event is being hosted by Gretchen from Canela & Comino . I already had a lovely red pepper dish to post, but when I got the paper this morning I came across this aubergine pasta dish, and I decided that I had to prepare it because it might be worth taking it into consideration. In the end I chose this recipe. If anything because it was such a different way to prepare aubergine with pasta.

Did you know that aubergines and tomatoes are related? That’s right. They are from the same family, and some say that growing them can be similar to growing tomatoes. They don't like cold weather.
They are also known in the English speaking world as eggplant or brinjal. My friends from India always say brinjal which makes me think of 'berinjela'which is the portuguese world. Their shapes go from oval to round to sausage shaped. They also come in a variety of colours: dark purple, violet, stripy purple, yellow, white. There are big ones, little ones. When buying them it is best to look for smooth, unblemished and glossy skinned ones. They should feel firm to the touch. They are apparently not particularly high in any single vitamin or mineral. However, they do have the benefit of supplying few calories and being virtually fat free. I was amazed to read that for a while in Europe it was believed that they could cause madness, leprosy, cancer and even bad breath. Only on 18th century it was established that it was a good food item both in Italy and in France.
There are so many ways of preparing them, and I just loved this new way – new to me anyway. I got the recipe from Nigel Slater.

measure pasta for four people
2 large aubergines
Olive oil
A large handful of basil leaves
½ lemon
4 tbsp pine kernels

Preheat oven – 200oC- 180oC fan assisted. Cut each aubergine in half lenghtway, then make criss cross cuts on the flesh nearly all the way down to the skin. Brush with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or until soft.
Boil the water for the pasta and whilst that is getting ready toast the pine nuts on a non stick frying pan.
When ready scrape the flesh out of the aubergine skins to a mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil gradually mixing it with the aubergine flesh until you get to a smooth paste. Season it to taste. I used salt and black pepper but next time I might use some cumin.
Drain the pasta, and mix it with the aubergine to coat it really well. Add shredded basil and the pine nuts. Be generous with them as they add a lovely nutty taste to the dish. As a last touch squeeze a wee bit of lemon. That will bring all the flavours together. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Onion, sweet corn and mascarpone tart - Weekend Herb Blogging

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event is being host by Ulrike from the bilingual blog Kuchenlatein. Kalyn from Kalyn’s kitchen is the master mind of this great idea that has been going very successfully for the last two years. Every week it is hosted by a different blog host.This week I wanted to make a tart. I took the base from an old recipe favourite – with walnut. I also usesd buckwheat flour instead of normal flour. I do have to say that perhaps I ought to have mixed buckwheat with normal flour as I feel that the final result was not the best. I do list only normal flour in the ingredients as this base recipe has been tested and approved. I just love the filling of this tart as I have been getting so much corn at the moment. I lived for a long time in a part of Brazil where corn is very abundant, and we also had it in our diets: corn soup, corn sauce, corn croquettes, corn dessert..Corn is high in nutrients: vitamin B1 ( aids the digestion of carbohydrates), vitamin B5 (helps with physiological functions), vitamin C ( fights diseases), folate ( generation of new cells), rich in many goodness in it. And it tastes just wonderful. You can use frozen corn here but I had my kernels taken straight from the cob.
It is thererefore a very seasonal recipe.And with a great green salad it constitutes a meal in itself.

Walnut tart ingredients – 6 of 10 cm tart tins
250g flour
40g natural yoghurt
100ml walnuts, toasted and ground
125 cold butter, grated
Cold water

Mix the flour, yoghurt and walnuts in a bown, then add the butter and mix it all with your fingertips until you have a crumb like texture. Start adding water bit by bit until you reach an uniform dough. Wrap with cling film and rest for 2 hours in the fridge.

2 talblespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups sliced onions/leeks
1 ½ cups slightly cooked corn grains
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup mascarpone
½ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs at room temperature
3 tablespoon finely grated parmegianno cheese

To prepare the filling:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the corn and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Stir in the basil, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and cool for 10 minutes.

To prepare the crust:
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it in out. Distribute it among the six tart tins. Take it back to the fridge for 30 minutes.

Back to the filling:
In a medium-size bowl, beat together the mascarpone, cream and eggs until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the onions and corn mixture and mix together until the ingredients are well blended. Transfer the filling into the crusts, and sprinkle lightly with the Parmesan. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the filling is set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve it on a bed of greens.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tomatoes in Coconut Cream - Weekend Herb Blogging

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event is being host by Katie from the exciting blog Thyme for Cooking. Kalyn from Kalyn’s kitchen is the creator of this lovely event that has been taking place every week for the last two years. Every week it is hosted by a different blog host.
I am rushing to post this recipe. It has been a very busy week as I hold a blog in Portuguese which is only about events and this week I had loads to do on it.This beautiful recipe was one I prepared for WHB as it just seemed perfect. It is a gorgeous tomato dish with beautiful spices and coconut cream. I could not stop eating it. Honestly. I baked some ciabatta bread and just over ate. I know, not a nice thing to admit to.
Tomatoes are just so wonderful and full of goodness. Tomato is a good blood purifier, it is a natural antiseptic therefore it can help protect against infection, they can be helpful to reduce blood cholesterol, thus helps prevent heart diseases, they contain lycopene (the red pigment in tomato), this pigment is a powerful antioxidant that can also fight cancer cells.
In the summer they are plentiful and I am always looking for different ways of preparing it. This time Nigel Slater inspired me with this beautiful dish which was in the Sunday issue of the Observer Magazine.

3 tbsp olive or groundnut oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 hot, green chillie chopped with seed and all – ok. If you don’t like heat, leave the seeds out of it
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped really finely
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp cumin seeds
6 green cardamom seeds, slightly crushed
12 moderately large tomatoes, cut into slices
50g creamed coconut
Handful of coriander leaves

Preparation: Heat the oil on a high-sided frying pan and then add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Let it all soften over a moderate heat without colouring it. Add the chilli flakes, coriander, turmeric, cumin seeds and cardamom and stir them in. Once they have warmed through throw in 4 of the chopped tomatoes and stir in 100ml water. Mix it all and bring it to the boil. Add the remaining tomatoes, add the coconut cream, mix it all, let the coconut cream dissolve and warm through. From now on the sauce should not boil, just keep the heat. Once the tomatoes are tender, sprinkle the coriander leaves and serve with slices of toasted lovely bread.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

fennel and feta with pomegranate seeds with sumac

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event is being host by Srivalli from the wonderful blog Cooking 4 all Seasons. Kalyn from Kalyn’s kitchen is the creator of this lovely event that has been taking place every week for the last two years. Every week it is hosted by a different blog host.

I bought the Ottolenghi cookbook for the cakes recipes. Having been to their stores many times I just dreamt of being able to recreate some of their creation. Funny enough I have used a lot of their salad recipes quite intensively. In fact I have barely baked any of its cakes. I hear that Kalyn has purchased it as well and I really hope that she I enjoying it.
One of the things that drive me to choosing this or that recipe to take part in the weekly Weekend herb Blogging is trying to add something new and exiting to this event. Kalyn is always preparing amazing salads in her blog and I feel that I ought to keep the game up.

This salad is so refreshing and crunchy. As I have already mentioned here, crunchiness in a salad is something that I cannot resist. The original recipe had salt in it but I chose not to use because of the feta cheese.
Tarragon which is used here, is a herb full of medicinal properties. The ancient greeks chewed it to treat tooth infection I have read.Why you might ask, because it numbs the mouth. It is also known to being a very good digestive. Fennel which is the main actor, is full of so many great properties: vitamin C, dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, folate..Not only is this salad delicious as it delivers a handful of healthy benefits in very mouthful. I had mine with some smoked trout. And it worked a treat.


½ pomegranate
2 medium fennel heads
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon sumac
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons tarragon leaves
2 tablespoon roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
70g greek feta cheese pieces
Sal and black pepper to taste


1.Start by releasing the pomegranate seeds. Some people swear by the wooden spoon treatment: Place half of the pomegranate on one hand, cut side facing down. Hit it with the back of the spoon and you will see the seeds start falling on your hand
2. Remove the leaves of the fennel, keeping a few to garnish and the rest for future use. Trim the base of the fennels, and slice it very thinly lengthwise – I chose not to. Put the olive oil, black pepper, sumac, lemon juice and herbs in a bowl and mix. Throw the fennel slices in the bowl and toss well. I chose not to add salt because the feta cheese has enough salt on it.
3. When ready to serve, place the fennel on the serving dish first, followed by the feta cheese and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with the dill leaves and sprinkle some sumac if you like

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mixed mushrooms with cinnamon and lemon

This is my contribution to this week Weekend Herb Blogging event which is being hosted by Marija from the blog Palachinka. To the blogsphere novices, this event was created by the lovely Kalyn from the lovely blog Kalyn's Kitchen which is packed with great recipe and posts. WHB is now 2 years old and it is a very successful event.

This week I have opted for a mushroom salad. As last week's, this recipe was taken from the Ottolenghi the cookbook. It is one of my favourite books at the moment.

I read that mushrooms contain vitamins A, B, C 7 D. There is a cancer research facility that even suggested that they may prevent cancer.

When it comes to preparing them, remember that they should not be washed. Instead, they should be brushed to remove the dirt on them. The only mushroom that should be washed before cooking is the morel variety.

Every one has a favourite mushroom. I am personally very addicted to shitake. Unfortunatelly I could not get hold of any for this dish. I used button, oysters, enoki and abalone. You can pick your own selection. A lovely thing is to have a nice bread to eat with this salad- use it to mop up the juices

Ingredients for 6-8 people – adapt the quantities depending on how many you will feed:

400g button mushrooms

400g chestnut mushrooms

300g shitake mushrooms

400g oyster mushrooms

200g enoki mushrooms

160ml olive oil

30g chopped thyme

10 garlic cloves, chopped (I crushed mine)

100g flat leaf parsley, chopped

6 cinnamon sticks

25g coarse sea salt

1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

60ml lemon juice

  1. Get your mushrooms ready – clean them without adding water, just using a brush;
  2. put a large non-stick frying pan over medium-heat and add the olive oil to it so that it can heat slightly. Then sprinkle the thyme, the garlic, the parsley and cinnamon stalks. Add the button mushrooms and let them cook for about 5 mins without disturbing them. Then give the pan a good shake and add the oyster mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Stir it a bit and then let it cook for about 3 minutes. Add the enoki mushrooms and then turn the heat off. Add the lemon juice, give it a good shake. Serve still warm with slices of brown bread.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cucumber and radish salad

This is my contribution to this week Weekend Herb Blogging event which is being hosted by Divya from the blog Dil Se. For the ones of you who do not know, this event was created by the lovely Kalyn from the equally lovely blog Kalyn's Kitchen which is packed with great recipe and posts. WHB is now 2 years old. When I was not able to publish in English one of the things that I missed most was taking part on this event. So glad to be back. I missed last week 'sas the posts had to be submitted by the Saturday and I got ready to post my entry on the Sunday, the last day.

This salad is inspired on a recipe from the Ottolenghi book which I purchased in early June. I used to live just down the road from the first Ottolenghi shop in London and have grown quite fond of their creations. When trying to select a salad for the event I thought that this one would be just perfect.

I love a crunchy salad, the ones that make lovely little noises as you chew. They make the jaws work hard, and on top of satiating they also turn out to be great fun – in my eyes anyway. I have mixed feelings about cucumber and whenever possible I try to avoid the seedy ones as they are very watery. I tend to stick to Lebanese cucumbers as they are crunchier. I give it a good wash and try not to peel it as the vitamin A is mostly on its skin. This salad is very simple, very few ingredients, but full of goodiness. Plus it looks so pretty with its greens, reds, whites and the sprinkle of poppy seeds.
We tend to take cucumber for granted many times, but it is rich in vitamin A and C, folic acid and potassium. When I was in my teens I was really into my natural beauty treatments and the cucumber slices over my eyes were popular with me. Raddishes are not only beautiful with their lovely colour but contain a significant amount of vitamin C as well and are linked with anti-cancer properties. As one would say, not only a little pretty thing.


Lebanese cucumbers



Poppy seeds

Olive oil


White wine vinegar
Wash your cucumbers and radishes, pat them dry with kitchen towel. Chop cucumbers diagonally, in medium thickness pieces. The radishes should be sliced not too thinly. Throw both of them in a bowl. Chop the parsley very thinly and sprinkle it over the cucumber and raddish. Make the dressing with olive oil, vinegar and salt.Remember the ratio 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and you will be fine. The poppy seeds are added last. It is ready to eat. Very simple and sure to give you a lot of pleasure.