My Favorite - smooth and silky Palak Paneer (Spinach with Cheese)

| 19 comments
What do you all suppose this is? Can you guess what dish my dad made with this?

Ok, amazing guessing work going on here! It's great that you all take such an active part in my little guessing games here. I really have a ball playing with you all and I hope you enjoy playing with me too.

A few did guess right ... it was fried paneer which is a cheese made from clotting milk and hanging up to releae all the fluid. Now those who have stuck around my blog from the beginning will know I have so often complained that in Germany I just hate the fact that I cannot enjoy my favorite paneer dishes because we do not get ready made paneer in the stores and making it from scratch is nothing for me. After trying it twice I decided it was far too much hard work to make it on a regular bases.

This is a store bought frozen fried paneer from an Indian store in St. Louis and when I saw it I had to get my dad to make his fantastic palak paneer. Palak in hindi is spinach and this is so tasty with the paneer, nothing comes close.

It is my all time favorite Indian dish. I love the great combination of the spinach and the spices.

My dad is an amazing guy! He has worked and built some of the finest hotels in the world, traveled the globe and now after an early retirement is not only writing a book but has learnt to cook some fine tasting recipes, which can go up into competition with my mum. Don't let my mum hear that though, because she'll say "who taught him all this!" Now my mum works and my dad cooks! The cool thing about him though is that he finds a way to make these tedious Indian recipes really quite simple, so you don't feel all that intimidated.

Even this recipe is rather simple and I just love it. My dad believes that when Indian food is cooked properly it is the healthiest of cuisines in the world. He likes his spices but he likes to let the flavours of each vegetable take the main role in the dish. So, here you will notice he does not use garlic because with the ginger the spinach has a great partner and garlic would just add another powerful taste to it, taking away the attention from the spinach. Even the spices are very limited here, but it still has a strong aroma of all the indian flavors.

So, as I sit here basking in the warm Californian sun in San Francisco I hope you will give my dad a warm welcome and enjoy his great palak paneer.



Ingredients:

500g frozen spinach
2 onions - finely chopped
2 tomatoes - chopped
turmeric powder
small piece of ginger - mashed
green chilies - finely chopped
salt and pepper
250g fried paneer
clarified butter



Method:

Start by frying 1 1/2 onion in the butter until it takes on a nice rich brown color. Add the tomatoes and simmer until all the juices have incorporated well. Now add the turmeric powder, mashed ginger, chilies, salt and pepper and continue the frying. In hindi this process is called "bhoon"-ing (I hope I spelt that right). Just frying until everything has left it's juices and flavors and combined as one entity.

Squeeze the fluids out of the spinach and roast in a separate pan in some clarified butter. Once this is done add the tomato mixture to the spinach and simmer for another 5-8 minutes.

Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Put back into the pan and add the paneer. In another frying pan fry add the rest of the onion in some butter until brown. Pour this mixture over the top. This is called "tarka" in hindi and is used in different varieties in several Indian dishes like daals.

Serve this with rotis. My dad bought whole wheat tortillas with this and they tasted great.



Verdict:
Yup, he does it everytime. My dad always make this dish unbeatable than anyother palak paneer recipe I have ever had. Even Soeren, who normally is not so hot on Indian food ate a large portion of this. You'll all laugh at the way he ate this - with a portion of farfalle pasta!! If that is not fusion for you! I ate far too much and could not move for a day. But I would have been sorry if I did not indulge in this while I had the chance.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
19 comments Continue »

Sweet Cinnamon Apples

| 10 comments
Ummmmm! What can be more comforting than this?

Hi y'all! Here is the roving foodie, reporting today from wonderful St. Louis. Thanks to all who wished me a nice vacation. I am having a fantastic time and eating like a hog ;-) So many different types of cuisine to go through that one just forgets about that slim waistline.

But there is one thing you gotta love about America and the Americans - it is a land of huge opposites and contradictions. Take this scenario: We are at McDonalds (for those in Europe - yup those supersize meals are HUMUNGUS), in comes a slightly larger person and orders one of these supersize menus and his drink - a diet coke of course!!!

Everytime time I go into a supermarket here I always find it a whole new experience. I was wondering what does a single person do here? I mean have you ever seen the portions of cream cheese they sell here, or the butter. I cannot believe that everyone has a family of 10 to feed! Then of course you get those tiny mini bagels, for example, which is cool but the bag size is so big that you are intimidated by it.

Well I did make a nice breakfast for my family the other day. Thought I would buy that bag of mini bagels and make a kind of french toast reinvented sort of thing. I was not happy with just plain fench toast so I thought something has to go along with this to really spoil my parents, bro, his girlfriend, her daughter and my Soeri.

This is what I served up. Beautiful sweet apples caramalized in cinnamon sugar, what could possibly be more spoiling than that?






Ingredients:

2 Pink Lady apples - chopped in bite sized pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
extract from 1 vanilla stick
100g sugar

bagels - mini ones are great
4 eggs
a squirt of milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
butter
maple syrup
honey






Method:

For the cinnamon apples: In a very hot pan add the sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Allow to melt well. Now add the apples and caramalize them until soft. I like having a few chunks of caramel in the apples as it adds a touch of crunch to the whole thing. So, if you have a few clumps of caramel don't worry.

For the french bagel: Beat the eggs with the milk lightly. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk well. Cut the bagel in half and soak in the wash well. In a hot pan melt the butter and fry the bagels on both sides until a nice gold color.

Serve with the warm cinnamon apples and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.





Verdict:
French toast is boring in comparison to this. The mixture of all the beautiful spices harmonized so well with the apples and the bagel. My french toast/bagel reinvented came on really well. This was so good that my gang actually thanked me for this. How sweet? So, if you are looking to spoil someone special then you know what to serve them.

Soeren ate his with Nutella but he loved the apples. Now he seems to think that apples will always be served this way. Which I will be filing in my brain for the The Daily Tiffin when I am back home again.
10 comments Continue »

Chocolate Chip Crumble

| 6 comments

This is my last post before I take off tomorrow for the US. I will be on vacation for 3 weeks to return on June 4th!

Guys, don't freak out on me now ... I do have plans for a few posts during my vacation. I would not be Meeta if I did not have a perfectly organized plan.

Like I said it is a plan, implementing it is another story. Providing, I have the facilities to get to the internet, I plan to step down from my Chef Cook position and hand over the wooden spoon to a few great cooks. My mum, dad and my aunts - all are exceptional cooks and I am sure you will enjoy their recipes. I will just take on the role of photographer and hope to take a few good pictures. I am looking forward to this and hope that I can manage a few posts.

Keep your recipes for the Monthly Mingle coming in. I will do the round-up when I get back.

I leave you now with a delicious recipe. Here everyone loves this when I make the Chocolate chip crumble. As a matter of fact our neighbors seem to have memorized the aroma of this into their noses. Every time I do make this they seem to come knocking on the door!!

I have tried it with strawberries, raspberries and pineapple. The original recipe is with rhubarb and apricots. I am not such a rhubarb fan but do plan to make this with rhubarb the next time I make the crumble. Today I substituted rhubarb for strawberries and canned peaches for the apricots.

I used a amazing new chocolate for this with 78% Cocoa!! As a matter of fact I learnt something new when I bought this bar. I've just copied the text from the back of the cover so you can see how good chocolate really is ;-)

"The special properties of the cocoa bean have been known for hundreds of years. In their natural state, cocoa beans contain valuable vegetable substances, so called antioxidants. These substances have various positive effects on the human body. They strengthen and protect our health in a purely natural manner.
With ACTICOA, Sarotti has developed a unique technique to preserve the valuable antioxidants in the cocoa beans by processing them particularly gently."


I knew that the cocoa bean had healthy properties but I was unaware that in was actually antioxidants. Well you know what's up next don't you?

I will be entering this to Cate's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.

Hope you enjoy it!





Ingredients:
2 cans of peaches - each at 424g - reserve juice (I used peaches in natural juices which is better than the syrupy type)
175g strawberries - cleaned and cut
125g flour
50g sugar
75g butter
salt
70g bitter chocolate - chopped into chunks



Method:
Pre-heat oven at 190°C.

Mix the peaches and the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of the juice.
In one large or several smaller oven proof bowls place the fruit at the bottom.

In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt together. Cut up the butter in small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using your hands rub these together until it resembles bread crumbs.

Mix the chocolate chunks with this mixture and spread over the fruit.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.



Verdict:
This was my last treat for Tom. He will be staying back. :-(
Both Soeri and Tom have sweet teeth and can never resist a good dessert. This is no exception. I make these in small bowls and always plenty for seconds, thirds or even fourths. Both compete with each other who can eat how many first!
The strawberries really taste refreshing but I think I will slowly start experimenting more with rhubarb.
The fruit is soft , mushy and warm. Together with the vanilla ice cream a beautiful contrast. The crunchy crumbly topping with the chocolate adds such a tantalizing touch to the dessert that one is just not enough. You want the truth, I never eat this with the ice cream ... this way I have more room for an extra crumble!!

I hope you folks enjoy it too.
6 comments Continue »

A Dessert with a Twist - Strawberries, Asparagus with Orange filets

| 13 comments

A few people mailed me and asked what did I make with these luscious looking strawberries. Well, now I will reveal all.

Has this ever happened to you? You are paging through a cookbook or a cooking magazine and you come across a very unusual recipe. You kind of look at it and say "This can't possibly taste good!" Or can it? It happens to me very often. I kind of shy away from unusual combinations and ingredients because in my mind I am sure it just will not taste good.

Ever since I have started to food blog I have however become slightly more daring in this respect.

So, when the lovely Barbara announced her theme for Spice is Right II, I knew at once what I would be making.

I had seen this recipe in a magazine and at the time thought "Strange combination!" and put the magazine aside. But this recipe just did not leave the deeper spheres of my brain. I kept thinking about it and was rather inquisitive to experiment with the ingredients.

Pepper is a world wide used spice and I always knew it to pep up savory recipes. Which is why this recipe intrigued me - not only the use of asparagus but also pepper and it is still called a dessert!!

Well, the story does not end there! Kevin, over at Seriously Good, is hosting Asparagus Aspirations, an event I really wanted to take part in.

So, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone, in this case, two events with one recipe, and make this delightful dessert.

I am sure everyone will agree that this is a very unusual type of dessert!



Ingredients:

200g white asparagus - I got these lovely German organic asparagus - peeled, cut in approx. 2 cm sticks and steamed for 8 minutes
salt and sugar
500g strawberries - cut in quarters
1 Orange - filleted and juice reserved
1-2 teaspoons honey
fresh cracked black pepper
Ginger - about a centimeter thick and mashed
mint leaves



Method:

In a bowl mix the honey with the orange juice until combined. Add the cracked black pepper and mashed ginger and mix well.

In a larger bowl mix the strawberries, cooled asparagus and the orange filets. Pour the dressing over this and mix well. Cool for about an hour.

Dish into serving bowls and sprinkle some mint leaves and black pepper on top.

Voila!

Verdict:
I would like you all to send in your verdict to this one. If you do decide to make this let me know what you think.

I had made this dessert for a barbecue party and had many comments to this dish. However, I am keen on what you all think of it! Is the combination of this desert something you liked or was it too asparagus-sy to be called a dessert. Did the black pepper do a good job of pepping this up or should it stay where it belongs - in savory dishes.

I look forward to your comments and mails!

PS. Don' forget this month's Monthly Mingle Event I look forward to having you over for the hottest game this season and some fantastic tasting food.
13 comments Continue »

Blog Swop: Spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola

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This was my recipe I cooked extra for Pam at Posie's place in our blog swop! It was fun and look forward to doing this again.

Pam and I decided to surprise our readers with a Blog Swop. We discovered, in our virtual friendship, that we have a few things in common and really took a liking to each other. One thing we both love is Jamie Oliver and his current Jamie's Italy. The recipes are all fantastica! That is why it was rather difficult for me to decide what could I cook for Pam.

At first I thought of making something sweet but then decided to go with this recipe:
Spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola - Spaghetti with jumbo prawns and rucola. I had a few great ideas how I could photograph the prawns ;-)!

I did make one or two very minor changes to the recipe though. For example instead of using white wine I used vegetable stock (I have a 3 1/2 half year old son and substitute alcohol for stocks). I used normal tomato paste and chopped up sun dried tomatoes into the sauce. Jamie recommends using paste from sun dried tomatoes or puréeing 6 sun dried tomatoes into a paste. Instead of lemon juice and zest I used limes. Those were my only changes otherwise I tried to stick to the recipe as much as I could ;-)!

I hope you liked our little surprise and enjoy this great tasting recipe.


Ingredients:
500g Spaghetti or Fettucini - try getting some fresh pasta if you can, it always tastes much better
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
400g large jumbo prawns
good extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1-2 dried red chili - broken into flakes
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 - 8 sun dried tomatoes - chopped coarsely
zest and juice from 1 lime
2 handfuls of rucola - chopped coarsely



Method:

Add some of the olive oil in a large pan and heat. Add the garlic and sauté. Jamie recommends to also add the chilies at this point and sauté with the garlic but as I am cooking for a child I always add the spice later. When the garlic starts to take on a nice color, put in the prawns and fry for approx. 1 minute. Now, add the stock (or wine) with the tomato paste and chopped sun dried tomatoes. And allow to simmer for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions. Once these are ready drain, saving some cooking water for the sauce. Pour this into the sauce until it has you preferred consistency. Now you can take a small portion out if you are also cooking for kids and in the rest add the chilies. Throw in the spaghetti in both sauces and mix well. Pour the lime juice and add some of the chopped rucola. Quickly serve on individual plates sprinkling, a bit of the zest and the rest of rucola over the pasta.



Verdict:
This was just delicious. Soeren once again thought the prawns were chicken. I wanted to explain to him that these were prawns but as I have a very inquisitive son he would have wanted to see what they look like in real. Well, I thought I would save that for another day. He enjoyed the dish very much ... after all all kids love pasta. This is a nice variation to the usual pasta and tomato sauce or the famous bolognese! Of course it is a finer type dish and therefore perfect for when you have guest over.

Tom (my better half), is being spoilt the last few days as I have been cooking for a few blog events since the weekend! He loved the slightly limey taste this had and with the prawns he just relished the pasta. For some reason we did not talk much at the dinner table! I wonder why?
3 comments Continue »

Blog Swop: Pam presents Ricotta Fritta Con Piccola Di Pomodori

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When Meeta suggested a Blog Swap I thought it was an great idea, we have such similar tastes in food and I love Meeta's food photography, she's really talented. Since we're both huge Jamie Oliver fan's we decided that a tribute to Jamie would be the perfect theme for our swop. We decided to pick recipes from Jamie's Italy (any readers of my blog will know that this is currently my favourite cookbook).

It was so difficult trying to decide which recipe to choose for this swap, so many delicious recipes....

Here is what I finally picked, I hope you enjoy it!

RICOTTA FRITTA CON PICCOLA INSALATA DI POMODORI - FRIED RICOTTA WITH A LITTLE TOMATO SALAD


INGREDIENTS:

  • 455g Good crumbly ricotta cheese (Jamie suggests that you buy your ricotta from a good deli and that ricotta from the supermarket generally won't work.)

  • 2 Tbsp Freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Flour

  • Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

  • 1 Large egg (preferably organic)

  • 1 Large handful mixed, ripe tomatoes (I used roma tomatoes), seeds removed and finely chopped

  • 2 Sprigs of fresh basil, torn

  • 1 Fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Red wine vinegar

  • Olive oil

  • Nutmeg, to serving





PREPARATION

  1. Mix the ricotta with the flour, cheese, seasonings, egg and place in the fridge. I now understand what Jamie was going on about when he said to try and get your ricotta from a deli, I use supermarket ricotta, it was quite wet and so needed much more flour to get a workable consistency. I found this out after the first couple of "pancakes" fell apart whilst being fried.

  2. Mix the chopped tomatoes, chilli, basil and season with salt and pepper. Add some extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

  3. Heat a nonstick frying pan containing some olive oil and fry spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over a medium heat until golden brown on each side.

  4. Serve hot with a rasp of nutmeg, grated Parmesan and some of the tomato salad


I thought these were really tasty, I think they would make perfect starters but don't think I would make them as hot canapés. If I'm making hot canapés I prefer them to be something which can be put in the oven but that is only personal preference.



4 comments Continue »

Red Lentils - Vegetable Daal

| 15 comments
What did I make with these great looking lentils?

Vaishali already knew what I was making here, because we were chatting on the phone while I was making this recipe. The phone rang and her lovely voice filled my ears. It was the first time we talked on the phone and I thank her for taking the initiative! Another person that got a sneak preview of what I was making was Pam as just prior to Vaishali calling me, we were chatting via MSN Messenger and I had just taken the first 2 shots for this post.

Well this post will really go down into my memory as one of the best. It is proof of how great blogging is. Never can one imagine that by food blogging you meet people who become more than the usual anonymous face on the internet. By the time I did the write up for this post , I was also chatting to the lovely Nandita via MSN Messenger.

The people I am getting to know through this hobby are amazing and I am just basking in the rays of their warm friendship. Let's keep it up folks!

So, the real reason I made this dish was for Cate's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday! This time with a little twist: We had to present a dish from another blogger.

I don't know about you guys but this happens to me often. I get a job assignment and am so excited about it that I can't wait to start it. The ideas are pouring out and you actually have all the information at your fingertips. Then you sit down to try and sort your thoughts out. Once you get to this phase you start to feel deflated! There is so much information there that you just don't know where to start.

That's how felt with this assignment from Cate. I have been collecting so many recipes from many of my favorite bloggers that my bookmark section in my browser looks completely chaotic. Even though I am very careful to sort them properly I just had too many recipes that I wanted to make. AHHHHRGHHH!

I really took the entire weekend to think about this one. I made a new bookmark section called "Consider for Cate's" and started adding the bookmarked recipes to this bookmarked folder! One by one, checking and re-checking, deleting and pondering. I finally came down with the last three. You know what? I cannot even remember the actual reason I finally decided to go with Shammi's Vegetable Daal. I just thought the lentils will look good in a picture with the set up you see here and all those vegetables will make such a nourishing dinner.

Well it was to be the Vegetable Daal!

However, once I started to cook this my fantasy took control and after a first read of the instructions I put it down and started going with my own flow. I guess, we can say that I adapted Shammi's recipe.



Ingredients:

200g lentils - I used only one type - masoor daal or red lentils. But you can use a variety of three as in the original recipe.
Vegetable stock - enough to cook the lentils
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 cups vegetables - chopped in bite sized cubes - I used:

  • 1 zucchini

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 1 kohlrabi

  • 2 carrots

  • 1 potato

  • 100g frozen spinach


2 large tomatoes - chopped
2 onions - chopped
2 garlic cloves - chopped
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 teaspoons garam masala powder - you can also make your own from the original recipe, but I decided to go for the ready made stuff.
salt and pepper
coriander leaves - chopped



Method:

Cook the lentils with the vegetable stock and the bay leaf in a pressure cooker. Cook only till the lentils slightly soft. Open and gently boil further. Add the frozen spinach and cook further.

In the meantime put the "hard" diced vegetables (carrots, kohlrabi, potato) in a bowl with water and nuke it for approx 7 minutes.

In a wok heat up some oil and add the onions, garlic, garam masala and ginger paste. Cook for a few minutes until all the aroma has unfolded - approx. 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further few minutes. Throw in the bell peppers and the zucchini and simmer gently.

Now, add the rest of the vegetables and a bit more of the vegetable stock. Simmer, covered, for approx 5 minutes. Once the vegetables have blended with the juices of the spices add the lentil spinach mixture, which should be a creamy texture, to the wok.

Allow all the ingredients blend together.

Verdict: I served this with a wild rice / basmati rice mixture. I was not too sure how Soeren would take to the spices used here but apparently it must have tasted great. He did not put his spoon sown once, just shoveled spoon after spoon till his plate was empty. After that he sat back and just smiled with that satisfying look!
Tom is always delighted when I decide to make Indian dishes. So, he was excited when he took a peak into the wok when he came home. "Another blog event?" he asked to which I sheepishly nodded. He smiled and said "Never knew blogging would spoil me so much! Mexican one day, Indian the next, what's on for tomorrow?"

I looked at him and winked "Just wait and see ... tomorrow is a surprise!"
That goes for you folks too, Wednesday I have a little surprise in store for you ... see you then!

PS. Don't forget the Monthly Mingle's theme. A few early birds have already entered their recipe so I am looking forward to those who still are interested in taking part.
15 comments Continue »

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #5 - Chiles Rellenos

| 8 comments
The theme for the Cookbook Challenge this time round is Cinco de Mayo. A fantastic theme and it was clear that I definitely had to take part.

For those who are not familiar with this, it is a national celebration in Mexico which takes place on May 5th! It commemorates the Mexican victory over the French forces back in 1862 in the Battle of Puebla.

OK! That was what I learnt in American History. What I really remember are the fantastic and colorful celebrations that our Mexican friends had. The fantastic food and just being part of some fun with family and friends. Cinco de Mayo is widely celebrated in the US and is an officially recognized holiday there.

Well I dug out one of my old cookbooks that I really had not used in years. When I first came to Germany I was not able to cook nor speak the language. So, I decided to combine both. Buying cookbooks became a hobby and as I got better in both, German and cooking I was intrigued with trying out different types of dishes. I wanted to try every type of cuisine. It was in this phase that I came across a series of cookbooks that specialized in various recipes of the world. I loved these books as they were so much more than just cookbooks. There were detailed stories about the country, people and of course the foods! I relished not only the recipes but the stories.

Somehow when I started getting more confident in cooking all my cookbooks started gathering dust. I just started to make things up as I went along and found that I did not rely on cookbooks that much anymore.

It is a shame because when I did dust of this cookbook I started reading the stories again and enjoyed the fantastic and colorful photos. I look at these photos with other eyes now of course, as I myself enjoy food photography. It gave me a satisfying feeling that I was cooking with the old cookbook of mine that gave me pleasure all those years back and today, once again I found a new type of pleasure in it.

So, thank you Alicat and Sara for bringing these challenges to life!




Ingredients:

4 Green bell peppers
250g cream cheese
1 egg
large bunch of coriander leaves - chopped
1 medium sized onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves -finely chopped
600g tomatoes - skinned, de-seeded and chopped
2 jalepeno - chopped
olive oil
bay leaf
salt and pepper




Method:

Remove the tops off the bell peppers and get rid of the seeds from the inside.

Mix the cream cheese with the egg until smooth and creamy. Add the coriander leaves, salt and pepper. At this point, if you are cooking for kids, fill the bell peppers for them. In the rest of the cream cheese mixture now add the chopped jalepenos.
Fill the rest of the bell peppers with this and set aside.

In a large pot (I used my wok) heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic gently until the juices have combined. Now add the tomatoes. Mix together. Add the bay leaf and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place the bell peppers on top of the tomato mixture, cover the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes.

I served this with spicy fajita style chicken and tortillas.



Verdict:
You know there are some recipes that you can eat continuously for months on end. Well I think I just found one that would go well into this category. Together with the chicken and tortillas this made a filling meal. The peppers were smooth and the filling beautifully creamy. The tomato sauce went so well with this as the garlic taste harmonized the entire dish. Soeren actually only wanted to eat the bell peppers. Tom's eyes widened and said "Wow this looks great" as he came to the dinner table. I said I made this for a blog event I wanted to take part in. He looked at me and said "Viva Blog events!" After this huge meal we all needed a well deserved SIESTA!
8 comments Continue »

Creamed Asparagus and Leek Soup

| 3 comments
What do you do when you have used up these gorgeous organic asparagus on the previous day to make an unusual type of dessert? What do you do when you have nothing big planned for lunch the next day?

I decided to use the stuff you throw away and make something for lunch with them! Actually whenever I make asparagus I always save the peels and the ends for asparagus soup the next day. I have tried many different variations and find that the asparagus is always a thankful type vegetable. It gives you pleasure even with the remains ;-) How many vegetables can boast of that?

We bought a new bed and mattresses today, so it had to be a quick lunch today, as we were busy putting the new furniture together. I knew that it would be asparagus soup as I had saved up the peels and ends from yesterday's dessert. I just was not sure what kind of asparagus soup.

After checking out my pantry and freezer, I started forming a recipe in my head. Leeks, basel, wild garlic ummmm. Looks good, cream? Bingo!

Thus came about my recipe for creamed asparagus and leek soup. There is one thing I do have to admit though - the picture above was actually taken yesterday - for another dish I made. However, the whole series turned out really good so when I do post that dish I can use another one from the series. Then you can tell me which one you preferred, OK?



Ingredients:
Asparagus peels and ends
120g leeks - chopped
200 ml cream
2 - 3 leaves wild garlic - chopped
handful of fresh basel - chopped
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper




Method:

For those using asparagus in their entirety, peel the asparagus and chop off the ends. Cut the rest of the asparagus in bite sized pieces and steam for 7 minutes. Set aside.

Use the water from this and pour over the peels. Add some more water till the peels are covered. Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Place a sieve over another pot and drain the peels, retaining the asparagus water.

Add the leek and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Purée the soup till thick. Add the cream and keep beating with the purée machine. When the soup has thickened add the chopped garlic, basel and wild garlic. Salt and pepper to taste and allow for one quick boil. Add the asparagus sticks (if using) at the end and warm through.

Serve with croutons.



Verdict:
A quick and easy lunch. No hassles and no painstaking time spent in the kitchen. Nice way to go for a Saturday. Soeren really liked the taste and had 2 bowls full and Tom also relished the soup. It was just lovely. Asparagus with a leeky aroma and just a hint of garlic. Yummy!
3 comments Continue »

Awesome Aubergine - Melanzane alla parmigiana

| 15 comments
Aubergines are awesome. I love them and they are found very commonly in Italian cuisine. What did I make with this?

I know it was not fair from me to keep you waiting. But I am sure you will love what I am about to serve!

How many of you have Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Italy"? I am sure there are plenty of you all nodding or raising your hands at this moment. Isn't it great? I liked Jamie before, especially for his fantastic offensive for healthy school meals in the UK. If anyone has seen it on TV will agree with me that what he achieved was amazing!

Now, I love him! After spending a few months in Italy, he has come out with this book/cookbook with so much more than just recipes.This would have been my kind of trip, Jamie!

Pam and I wanted to surprise you with something different today (I won't spill the beans yet) but the surprise has been postponed till next week, as Pam is in bed with the flu. Hope you're feeling better, sweetie.

This one's for you!

Jamie's gorgeous aubergine tomato gratin with lovely fresh tomatoes, aubergines, parmesan cheese and the herby scent of oregano and basel makes it a delight to relish. It is a simple yet gorgeous dish that can be served on the side or as a main meal.




Ingredients:

3 large aubergines - sliced in approx. 1 cm thick slices
1 medium sized onion - finely chopped
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 kg ripe tomatoes - skinned, seeded and chopped
fresh basel - chopped
salt and pepper
white balsamic vinegar
100g parmesan - grated
4-5 tablespoons bread crumbs




Method:

Jamie recommends grilling the aubergine slices on a barbecue grill. I am sure this tastes great as it leaves the flesh creamy. I used a frying pan with grill perforations instead and fried the slices until slightly brown in olive oil. Once you have cooked the aubergines, using whichever method you prefer, set aside.

In a pot heat up some olive oil and sauté the oregano, onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. After the sauce has thickened, add the fresh basel, salt and pepper and a squirt of the balsamic vinegar.

Jamie also recommends to puree this sauce but I did not do this as I prefer to have a few tomato pieces in the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a oven proof dish pour a bit of the sauce to cover the bottom. Sprinkle some cheese over this and add a layer of the aubergine slices. Repeat this process, leaving the top layer with sauce and cheese.

Mix some dried oregano in the bread crumbs and fry in some olive oil until nicely toasted. Sprinkle this over the top of the gratin and bake for 30 minutes.

I served this with some garlic foccacia bread. But it can accompany any meat dish too.




Verdict:
I had pre-prepared this in the afternoon and baked it for 15 minutes, so that in the evening it just needed another 15. After I had prepared it I carried on working on a project in the living room. I had the aroma of this dish in my nose the whole time. So by the time dinner came around I was salivating over it.

I was not too sure how Soeren would take to just plain aubergines. He has eaten them several times before but always mixed with other things. For some reason when I spooned a portion on his plate he thought it was spinach. When he started to eat it he really liked it. Watching him as he spooned it into his mouth was like literally seeing the taste bud lights go on in his brain and slowly his lips formed into a smile and then a "ummmm! Tastes great, mama!"
Tom also mentioned that the house smelled delicious!? When I served the gratin he could not believe simple looking dish could be the cause of such heavenly aroma. But he had to confirm that a few simple ingredients can make up some of the most desirable tastes.
I found it absolutely delectable. From the first bite, my mission became to make sure I manage to save a small piece for lunch the next day. It was a difficult battle but I came out the winner. ;-)
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Cloud 9

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I feel like I am on cloud nine at the moment. There are so many reasons I say this.

I guess I should say I kinda enjoy the little things in life. See, I look at life like a huge painting. Each corner, color, section represents a different attribute that fills your life. Be it the kids, job, hobby, money, health, partnership .... whatever is important for you are the colors you use to paint the picture. So, while you might not be satisfied with one part of your picture, if you stand back and take a look at the entire masterpiece you will see there are aspects or parts of this picture where you can truly be happy with.

Read the rest of my rantings here
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Lamb's Lettuce Salad with Green Asparagus

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Well I hope you all had a great long bank holiday weekend (those who did have one!) It was eventful and still relaxing for us. We were over at Tom's parent's place who live in a quaint little town, about an hour and half from here. Tom was there since Wednesday as he wanted to help his dad build a few pergolas in their huge garden. Soeren and I decided to follow on Saturday with the train. I was not too keen on driving with my car and Soeren has been bugging us that he wants to go on the train, as he has never been on one. Rather funny, as he's been on a plane several times but never on a train. What can I say? So, we decided to do the route by train. It was very comfortable. No hassles with traffic and I am not sure if you are familiar with trains in Europe, but they are so clean and comfortable that one really feels at home.

We had packed a few snacks, including the Raspberry Kisses and drinks and the 2 hour journey zoomed past with a jiffy!

You can fill yourself on the rest of the weekend ranting on The Family Buzz a little later today.

I made this lovely salad last week together with those Power Potato Cakes but somehow never got around to posting it. It is a great and refreshing salad full of vitality.

The asparagus is known to be a healthy little fellow. A good source of Protein, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium. It combines well with the rest of the ingredients and a great snack for warm summer days.

Also perfect for Cate's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.



Ingredients:

Large helping of lamb's lettuce - cleaned and washed in cold water
Green asparagus - cut and steamed. Steam for 3-4 minutes adding the tips just 2 minutes before the time is up.
cherry tomatoes - cut in halves
handful of pine nuts - roasted in a pan with no oil
50g parmesan cheese - grated or just pieces broken off

Honey Mustard Dressing
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
juice of 1 lime
mixed herbs - finely chopped
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil




Method:

In a mixing bowl whisk the mustard, honey, lime juice, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. If it is too thick add a little bit of water. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl mix all the other ingredients together. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Place a helping on a plate and pour a little bit of the dressing over this.

I prefer adding the dressing individually as the lamb's lettuce tends to "sulk" very quickly when soaked in liquid.

Verdict:
As Soeren tries to avoid anything leafy as much as he possibly can he only got a few tomatoes, asparagus and some pint nuts which he enjoyed.
Tom loved the salad as it complimented the Power Potato Cakes and Salmon very well.
I love this salad with the tangy and sweet honey mustard dressing. I also know I am doing something good for my family and myself with this healthy meal.

Hope you all enjoy it too.

Oh yes ... I do know that the picture of the salad is not clear. I was experimenting with different things and found this one to be a little artistic. Don't you think?

Monthly Mingle Update: I have started to get the first dishes to this months event. It's looking good but the table is still fairly empty so hope you will join in.
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