May 31, 2012
my lovely, lovely readers... i'm sorry for the slow-down on updates. there are so many exciting things in my life at the moment, that i find it hard to sleep and not stay awake marveling at everything. this might sound alarming or über-nervous... it's not (alarming). it's just... i love my job (you know, the paid one, not the actual passionate-blogger-cooking-all-night-but-not-earning-a-dime kind of pastime-slash-job...)! and there are some major, big exciting projects going on. actually, quite sad that i can't share them with you here (right now) - but i might at some stage. so, work is pretty good. and else, i'm just overwhelmed by so many things. by summer (which means i have to be outside all the time, my kitchen is grumpy...), by my dreams and plans and things in my head. it's all too much. i'll stop brabbling. it's one brabbly mess today. like i don't know my punctuation, tutting. blame excitement, happiness, freedom - and a spoonful of gittery nerves and stressed out sighs, too, haha. ugh! so, just a recipe. darling little cakes. almondy-marzipaney mini bundt cakes. eep!
rhubarb marzipan tea cakes
80 g organic butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
1 vanilla bean, extracted
2 tsp. almond flavor
2 organic free-range eggs
90 g flour
30 ml cream
80 g confectioner's sugar
5 g sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
80 g rhubarb, cut into mini cubes
40 g marzipan, cut into mini cubes
start by preheating the oven to 180 degrees celsius. grease and flour the mini bundt cake pan(s). make sure all the ingredients are really at room temperature (the cakes will thank you).
mix the butter, confectioner's sugar, almond flavor and vanilla together until creamy white. add one egg after another. then the cream and the sugar. continue to mix the batter. after a while, sift in the flour and baking powder mixture, and add a pinch of salt. carefully fold in the tiny rhubarb and marzipan cubes, and divide the batter into the moulds. bake the mini bundt tea cakes for about 15-16 minutes (depending on size). let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
May 28, 2012
last week offered another occasion for cooking a lavish dinner - and naturally, i grabbed it. we had a long, four days off (the agency was officially closed throughout). so i planned my dinner for friends meticulously, and enjoyed every second of it.
i actually planned to sleep in every day and then start the cooking - but i was so giddy with excitement and the prospect of making my own pasta for the first time, that i almost couldn't sleep anymore. so i got up on thursday morning at seven, to start the day with making amaretti morbidi. they were supposed to be part of my guest favors. and though i didn't really underestimate the challenge - something went completely wrong with them... they turned out 'nulla' (as in: flat and melted). well, seems my (youtube & google & blog) recipe research wasn't that profound, after all. i successfully baked cantucci once, but even so, my respect for amaretti is now officially huge. will i try again? i'm not sure. at the moment i think i might just buy them, and that's that. mental note: amaretti on the next nirvana cooking level - just not yet.
oh but i'm sorry, you probably wanted to know how dinner turned out, and, to begin with, what was on the menu! eeep! okay, here goes...
italian menu for friends
prosecco con salvia e limone (with sage and lime)
insalata di carciofi crudi (raw artichoke salad)
carpaccio di finocchio con menta (fennel salad with mint)
deconstructed labneh with pistacchio black olives pesto
roasted radicchio with honey and peperoncino
ravioli al tartufo - fatti a mano
scaloppine al limone con piselli (veal cutlest with lemon and peas)
selection of italian cheeses with confit di pere al tartufo
profiterole alla vaniglia
chocolate mocha coconut cake
after dinner drinks
hendricks gin & tonic
i hope you like it? it was quite a lot of work - but also so much fun to make. for now, i'll just archive the recipe for confit di pere al tartufo (that turned out to be my guest gift, since the amaretti... well... coughing).
confit di pere al tartufo (pear confit with truffle)
the perfect companion for dessert cheese
6 medium pears, cubed
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple juice
1 vanille bean, extracted
5 black pepper corns, freshly crushed
5 dried chili flakes
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. truffle oil
start by washing and cleaning three to four small canning jars in hot water. melt the sugar in a saucepan, until brown and caramelized (do not stir in the process). add the pear cubes and the apple juice. add the spices: vanilla seeds, black pepper, chili flakes and the lemon juice. cook to reduce until the caramel sauce is slightly thick again and the pear cubes are cooked through. then, add the truffle oil for fragrance. pour the still hot liquid in the canning jars and close the lids. turn the jars upside down for half an hour, then let cool entirely. serve a spoonful with cheeses or to a roast slice of chicken or as a spice in a cheese sandwich.
note on storage: since this confit doesn't contain the same amount of sugar as a conventional jam, my guess is it can't be kept forever (like with a jam). i'd recommend to store the jars in the fridge for up to two weeks.
May 27, 2012
fresh goat cheese is something i find it hard to say no to... smeared on some baguette or ficelle, i find it fragrant but still refreshing and summery. labneh (an arab version of strained goat's yogurt, turned into some kind of fresh cheese) has always been a staple in my mom's kitchen. she mostly turned them into balls and stored them in air-tight canning glasses, soaked in olive oil with fresh herbs and garlic. i've tried the labneh balls several times myself, and it's alwas fulfilling - though so simple. but also a bit time-consuming to make. when i discovered this deconstructed version from ottolenghi, i was thrilled! and the idea of adding a fragrant summery pesto on top (made of pistacchios, black olives and lemon zest) is the ultimate labneh experience. this, my friend, is a must try.
deconstructed labneh with pistacchio olive pesto
adapted from yotam ottolenghi
500 g goat's yogurt
500 g natural greek yogurt
2 tsp. fleur de sel
for the pesto:
20 black olives, pitted
40 g pistacchios, toasted
1 lemon, zest
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
pinch chili flakes
1 tsp. acacia honey
5 black pepper corns
1 tsp. fleur de sel
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp. fresh thyme (i used lemon-thyme), minced
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, needles minced
1 tbsp. fresh mint, minced
1 tbsp. black cumin seeds
1 cup olive oil
you will first have to strain the yogurt, in order to turn it into fresh cheese consistency. 24 hours are okay, better are 36, and i went with 48 hours this time as a i really like the cheese dry and creamy.
line a fine meshed sieve with a thin muslin cloth. combine the yogurts in it, add one teaspoon of salt, and wrap it up tight. squeeze a little, so that the first liquid runs out of the yogurt through the mesh of the muslin. put the muslin-yogurt ball with the sieve in a bowl (holds the liquid), put something heavy on the yogurt-mix (to foster extra dehydration with the pressure) and put in the fridge.
after 48 hours, take the yogurt ball (now dry and creamy) out of the muslin. throw away the strained water. taste the labneh and season according to your liking. take a spatula and smear the labneh in a shallow bowl (i like the pointy tops that give it an artisanal and home-made look).
(note on labneh spicing: most labneh recipes pass on extra spices for the yogurt. i, however, sometimes add a pinch of extra fleur de sel, some lemon juice and zest, a drop of harissa for spice and a minced garlic clove. feel free to play around, the options are limitless. but i'd still recommend to not overdo it with the spices, as the idea is to have the olive oil mix transfer the spices and fragrance to the labneh, and let the labneh itself rather untouched and natural.)
now prepare the spices pesto for the labneh itself and for the pesto that comes on top. pit the olives and mince, then put in a bowl. toast the pistacchios and roughly ground in a mortar, together with the black pepper. grate the zest of one lemon, mince the garlic. add everything to the olives: pistacchios, pepper, lemon zest, garlic, chili flakes, honey and herbs. combine well, then add the olive oil. season with some more fleur de sel, to taste. pour the pesto mix over the labneh from centre to border, leaving out some of the border, so that the labneh still peaks out. pour some more olive oil over it all if you think it's not enough (the labneh should be mostly covered so that the air won't get to it. like that, it can be stored up to a few days).
(note on pesto: i passed on the tomatoes... i just felt this added too much juice, and i didn't want to 'stain' my labneh / oil too much... but i might try it with tomatoes the next time, and i think i'll use tomatillos (green tiny ones) for their green color and zingy fragrance).
serve the deconstructed labneh with fresh flatbread, foccaccia, baguette, ficelle or, actually, any other good bread (i believe a sourdough would be a nice contrast, too, maybe), as a starter or apéro. people will love you.
May 23, 2012
bread in every version has been labeled 'evil' in so many diets... i think it's a crime. bread, if enjoyed in decent amounts, is the most satisfying food there is. i dream of bread in every imaginable shape. though i (honestly) particularly like the ones that are soft and chewy, best (i know... i'm such a child).
that's why i wanted to make my own soft pretzels, because, for starts, they're soft (surprise!). and in addition i could make them even softer (by not baking them as long etc.). they turned out to be a big success. sure, some of the pretzels turned out looking rather... not pretzel-like at all. more like snails. or ugly piles of dough (not naming the exact connotation you might have had with them...). but: don't be deceived! this is fun to make, easy (apart from the shaping, it requires patience) and oh my, so good. eat them fresh out of the oven, with some good butter smeared on top. and maybe a potatoe salad, because that's how the bavarians would enjoy it. or an obatzda cheese mix. or simply a salted radi. preferrably in a dirndl. but okay, i agree that that's a whole other story...
recipe for: brezn (soft pretzels) found here on smittenkitchen.
makes about 12 mini ones
this is is for today. i can't muster the energy to write more. i hope you like the pictures though. i almost leaning into my screen and taking a bite, i'd so love that brezn right now... (not sulking at all).
May 22, 2012
sometimes, a girl just craves pink... especially to cheer herself up. currently, i'm doing bikram yoga (i mean, if summer isn't here then at least sweat a little at 40 degrees celsius while stretching, bending and strengthening your muscles... because the next bikini session is going to come, dead or alive...). and, though i can't tell you why... it's a fact that the torture is insanely so but immensely more motivating to bear in pink yoga gear.
i'm speaking from head to toe pink, here: pink sports top (more of a tiny bra triangle-thingy, if you ask me. doesn't really deserve the predicate 'top', in my opinion), pink shorts, pink mat, pink towel. girly, i know. also: completely a clichée. but it helps! pink is my inner driving force. pink kicks me in the (not-so-tiny) butt when i want to give up and run off. it says 'you don't need to drink water right now because you're totally cool like that', when the (slightly bossy) instructor is yelling at me (annoyingly cheerfully, but also it counts as a threat) to not drink before and after the camel (or the zebra? i don't remember...) pose since it apparently isn't doing you any good (as if i could honestly ever feel the difference, i'm so exhausted anyway...). so i'm not questioning the water-drinking rules, no i don't. i just continue to bend and stretch, and try not to turn purple... in other words: pink gets me going.
and also, i've been tempted to try pink radishes - in a roasted version - forever. okay well it might not be the best of things i've ever eaten... but it's grilled, it's salty, it's surprising and a nice snack - and hey, it's pink! so what's not to like, really.
2 bunches of radishes, washed and cleaned, but not trimmed
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. maldon sea salt (or any other flakey sea salt)
handful fresh thyme + a few whole sprigs
preheat the oven, with the grill-function turned on. wash and clean the radishes, leaving the green leaves on. place a parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the radishes evenly on it. sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and thyme. roast for about 35 minutes, or until the roots appear slightly shrunk and got a wrinkly skin. taste, and season if necessary, with more salt, or some freshly ground black pepper. serve as a starter or as a side vegetable dish to meat (lamb, i figure, would be nice). i like them plain, as a snack. the next time i'd do them with some extra feta cubes on the side, some pita bread and olives.
May 21, 2012
a friend and i made this cake for a mutual friend's house warming brunch. they're living in the prettiest home you can imagine! styled in taste - from the entry to the kitchen. i especially loved their warm, soft green accents and a jewel green signature lounge chair. and of course, this occasion asked for a neatly dressed up cake in pink! it was such an inspiring visit... i have a feeling all guests went home with a feeling of 'ooh, i gotta take more care of my home immediately'.
vanilla orange blossom bundt cake with strawberry glaze
2 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 cups organic butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 bourbon vanilla bean, split and extracted
4 organic eggs
2 tbsp. orange blossom water
1 cup cream
2 cups confectioner's sugar
preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. frease a bundt pan. sift the flour into a bowl, and combine with baking powder and salt. mix together the butter with sugar, until whiteish and creamy. add the vanilla bean and orange blossom water. add the eggs, one by one. now carefully add the flour mixture and the cream to the egg-mix.
pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a stick comes out clean. let cool for 30 minutes and then release from the form. for the glaze, puree the strawberries and strain through a fine sieve and combine their juice with the confectioner's sugar. add more sugar or a sprinkle of lemon juice until desired thickness is achieved. stir until the glaze is shiny. opur over the bundt cake and let dry for at least one hour.
May 20, 2012
ever since i came across matzo meal on other blogs (it's not very common around here), i've been determined to hunt one down and make matzo ball soup. matzo meal is a food product with the consistency of corny flour, that is made of ground matzo bread. it is often used in traditional jewish cuisine. all this made it sound interesting enough to play the main role in a dish. and the soup didn't disappoint. though simple to make, it tastes like home, like family, like nights lost in conversation on a big table with a big crowd, and like hope is around the corner, somewhere.
matzo ball soup
2 cups matzo meal
3 eggs, beaten with a fork
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. semolina (optional, i like it for firmness and holding together)
1 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. vegetable stock or water
for the soup:
vegetable stock or broth
2 carrots, sliced thinly
drizzle of olive oil
flat parsley, if desired
put the matzo meal in a bowl and one by one add and combine the other ingredients. add the stock or water at the end, in order to be able to adjust the humidity of the matzo mixture. it has to become a bit firm and sticky, but not too firm. if necessary, add a few tablespoons more water. put the mixture in the fridge for half and hour to one hour, to let it sit and drench.
in the meantime, heat a large saucepan with salted water. wetten your palms with cold water and shape balls from the mixture, about 3-4 centimeters of diameter (i like mine pretty big). place them in the simmering (not boiling) water and cook for 45 minutes, or until balls are soft to the core.
also, prepare the broth in a large saucepan. this goes without saying: a soup is always better with home-made stock. so if you want to give it a go, i've posted the recipe before here. nevertheless, i do sometimes use a packaged broth. i highly recommend to use a good one, though, preferably one with no nasties inside. i always use telofix. when finished, slice the carrots and heat them up for 5 minutes. place the matzo balls in a soup plate, and ladle the broth and carrots over them. drizzle a few drops of olive oil over each serving, and sprinkle with some flat parsley, if desired. serve hot.
May 16, 2012
through the years, i got to read so many blogs, and often wonder who's really behind the glamorous, perfectly styled pictures and cheerful posts. you know, nobody looks like we look on a blog. and certainly, nobody always feels like we pretend to be on a blog.
i, myself, decided some time ago that my blog should be a positive space. one for enjoyment and fun, carefree and positive. but i wouldn't want to create a vision of me being all perfect, with never so much as a hint of sorrow. my life is affected by many ups and downs. and sometimes i feel it's just one big battle we're fighting on this earth... to know those ups and downs of other people... it's what makes us incredibly relateable. we're humane, after all, not a living version of vogue or any other glossy magazine.
alas, i want to tell you some things about myself. i actually got inspired to do this by clémence, and many other fellow bloggers, that have contributed to what seems to be another wave of 'things i'm afraid to tell you' posts (others here and here). i decided to follow suit and share a few things about me, that i normally probably wouldn't be sharing (especially not in this concentration). if you actually get through to the end of the post and still like me - well, i guess i'm glad.
things i'm afraid to tell you
1. i don't like to call people.
like, i don't like to be on the phone, to most people. it's not that i don't like people, in general. or that i don't like to be in touch with them. on the contrary! i write mails, chat on skype and send some 600 or so messages a month to share what's going on in my life. not exactly something to be proud of, i know... but it's just always been like that: that i get nervous when a call is inevitable. some years back, i really had to kick myself in the butt, take a deep breath and make that call. when i was a kid, i would ask my parents to do a certain call for me (of course they'd refuse, mostly, otherwise it wouldn't have been a half-decent education...). and though it got a lot better (like, i can totally make calls for my job all day long, if i absolutely have to - though i admit i'll probably try and find some way around it...), it's still not really 'normal'...
2. i am not really good with money.
i think life is for living and enjoying, for making other people happy, and for sharing. often enough i feel i just want to enjoy the moment, and not worry about spending too much money on a splurge, like maccarons from laduré or a bunch of flowers... i especially like to buy presents and tiny things for people i love. but, with money so loose in my pockets, in the end it turns out to be rather stressful, since, you know, you might want to have a few reserves for worse days. but, honestly, i see it a teeny tiny bit like the precious carrie bradshaw: "i like my money right where i can see it... hanging in my closet."
3. i don't use an electric tooth brush.
electric tooth brushes... oh, i don't just dislike them. i actually hate them. they're hard and terribly loud, and you can't do anything else with them in your mouth because it just won't stop brushing and will spatter everything with tooth paste... plus, i think they're ugly. i know a bathroom is just a bathroom... but can't we please all make a tiny effort to make them a pretty space, after all? in my opinion that includes either hiding those hideous things away - or not have one, at all. and just to state the obvious: i do love my normal, plastic, colorful (according to mood) tooth brush. currently, i have a jelly white one. honestly a pretty tool, that old-school thing.
4. i'm afraid of losing my best friend - my mom.
now, i don't want to start crying... but this is the thought that disturbs me the most in life: my mom dying. she's my best friend and the person i always turn to first, whatever happens. i can't fathom how hard it must be for people to lose their mom. i believe you never get old enough for it to be 'okay'. i would miss her every day. there is still so much i want to learn from her and share with her.
5. i used to believe in god, but now i'm not so sure anymore...
as a kid, i got to enjoy an upbringing with christian values. god was a source of happiness and joy, and always a solid foundation in my life. especially in bad times (though there never have been that many). but now, i'm just not so sure about 'it' anymore... i would love to still have a strong faith, to believe without a doubt, like a child. but as i grew up, some things got harder. life got in the way. and now i just don't know why, if there is a god, i'm still alone. because my biggest wish is to be with someone, forever. and i'm still, time after time, alone. i don't understand. and it makes it hard for me to believe in the power of love, and god.
6. i don't read the newspaper. do headlines count?
not never. but not on a regular basis, either. well, actually, i mostly read the headlines, if anything... it's not that i don't care what's going on in the world. sometimes the news just make me terribly sad. i start to lose all hope in mankind. i do read a few gossip sites though. and i couldn't live without blogs and books in general, and trashy chicklits, of course. (uhm, note to self: i'm not sure this makes it any better for me... okay, stop right there, scarlett).
7. i dream of being a host (in one way or another).
i know my time of choosing a profession is porbably over (for now)... and, if i had to have a corporate job, then being a strategic planner at such a creative and inspiring agency as Y&R is definitely the one thing i like best. but... cooking, and hosting dinners, and serving people. it's something that's in my head, all the time. i plan a dinner for friends ahead - for days. literally. often, i can't sleep at night because i want to google 'how to perfectly chop raw artichokes for insalata di carciofi crudi' (i found that particular video on youtube, in the end, it soothed me just fine...). it's where my heart is. i'll probably never have the guts to do anything in this field. but i dream of being a host, of having my own B&B, or of serving people with all kinds of home-made, rustic market stuff in a hut in the mountains. where people would specifically come to - for the good food and a nice chat. i'd hum while preparing the soups, tarts and salads, all day.
8. i plan a new potential & hypothetical wedding party every other day.
okay, this much is clear from my last point: i'm a dreamer. and i obviously like pretty things. and some beautiful things are always going on inside my head (note to self: remember to make this the intro for blog). like, i'm planning parties and events and festivities - that will probably never take place. or, at least, not in the near or foreseeable future. i've been doing that for over ten years. in my mind, there's a constant hubbubb of party planning and to do lists, mood boards, color schemes, favor ideas, signature drinks and recipes, venues and DIY decor from pompoms to flower arrangements and tassel garlands. i dream up parties not necessarily for myself (though i admit a few have evolved around my own - potential and very hypothetical - wedding...). if i could monetize the many wedding party concepts i have already filed and stored in my head, say, with 1 dollar per idea - i'd be a very well-off girl...
so these are just some of the things that i'm afraid to tell you. the list goes on and on. but a few of the most embarrassing ones have already been spilled. oooph, that wasn't that hard! and i feel... hmm, pretty good, i'd say, smile. so, wishing you a fantastic long weekend (if you are lucky like me) and hope you will continue to like me, just a bit, in the future, now that you know my multiple secret and very, very dark sides... for that: thank you and love, as always.
May 15, 2012
this picture makes me happy, in so many ways. it's a glimpse into aerin lauder's glamorous manhattan loft (read more here). i would love to live in this picture. can't really decide why, but it may be due to the jewel green settee, combined with the doubled up sitting area in the back. and of course the overall french chic. uhm, what's not to like, really.
also, this is to announce that a few changes have been going on in my life... for starts, as i announced some time back, i think it's crucial for me to learn to be good to myself. not the kind of things where ice cream over-indulgence is the main part of the plan (or at least, not only). but simply doing some things that you haven't done before - because (insert random, vague, insurmountable reason here)...
now, i've got a dose of fresh energy. i feel like i can breathe again. it's probably not the bikram yoga (since i mostly stayed on the mat thinking how awfully hot it is, panting heavily...). although that, fairly speaking, did made me feel so much better yesterday. but also, i think it might be the high hope that life has something in store for me - if only i grab it! is it... hope, maybe? i think it's called hope.
so, for starts, this morning, early, before work, in a very spontaneous act, i went plant shopping with my mom for my mini garden on the balcony (three pots don't exactly make a garden, uhum....). it was something i wanted to do forever. my fig tree didn't make it through this harsh winter (side note: poor little fig tree, i loved you for the past ten years, you were a very fine chum! so, thank you). and my box trees have seen better times. one is of a particularly tired and sad looking yellow color... let's just say the looks of it didn't really cheer me.
we got a few different plants and i've probably mixed up half of their names already... i'll make sure to take pictures of the results later and show you asap. just for the record: the collection entails a nice, round privet tree with a long stem, a cute laurel tree (pasta sugo olé!), a few herbs to adorn them, a new (giant) box tree and some colorful sempervivum (in coral and a bright lilac).
learning number one: happiness can be potted, and, if well cherished (and probably fertilized too, uhum) it will grow, even. or so i'd like to think.
action number two: i ordered a couch. just, you know, during lunch break today. just because i can (well, not really, but i will make it possible, somehow). truth is i've been beating around the bush with that decision for.ever. i've been driving myself crazy, really. well, i just did it today; i ordered a couch! a classy, elegant, creme beige one. and it took mere five minutes! no more.
so my learning number two: a little apartment therapy goes a long, long way... and it's so much better than retail therapy, don't you think? (although, i wouldn't exactly push that miu miu ballerinas off the shoe rack, either, if i they had to be mine... cough). tbc, lovelies! xo
May 13, 2012
it's not really summer yet - though i already managed to wear a dress with bare legs, once (which means i had to use quite a lot of self tanning lotion before that... white legs, eeep!). still, i'm dreaming of picknicks by the lake, a bike tour through the small alleys and narrow lanes of the city (that normally remain undiscovered), grilling on my balcony (i have to finally dare to buy a grill on my own) and of course make popsicles and hang out in the sun. you can't believe how much i crave a summer holiday that includes all of the below things...
- find vintage popsicle molds and try every imaginable combination of fruit, yogurt and syrups
- go for a swim in the lake (nothing special there, but how about naked and in the dark?)
- spend a whole night with someone, mute, just gazing at the stars
- host a picnic party for friends in a park
- make a bike tour around the zurich lake (with my crappy pink bike... it's faster to push it...)
- wear tiny shorts when the heat is high
- buy a really lush swimsuit
- learn something new, like how to mix the perfect margarita or swim the crawl
- collect sea shells by the shore, pockets full
- spend as many dinners outside as possible, drinking cold beers from the bottle
Labels: list of things
May 9, 2012
doesn't this look quite pretty? well. i certainly think it does. the green color is stunning, and pops even more next to the clashing, deep red of the radish. the arugula certainly results in a nice green colored pesto - but otherwise... well, let's just say arugula is not meant to be a pesto. whatsoever. and the handful of green peas didn't help much. it was a very bitter experience (literally). not much taste, other than the very strong bitterness. this recipe clearly didn't pass my BIMH taste buds' check.
so, i won't write down the recipe (don't be afraid) - but add this post to my category 'pretty disasters', instead. which is so far proudly represented by this recipe here. and in the future, i'll just stick to basil pesto i guess. viva italia!
May 8, 2012
simple things, like a potato salad, never fail to amaze me. this one is a potato salad with a twist, though. i ate it just like that, with nothing else (just a tiny bit of popcorn ice cream for dessert, uhu, that's right). but it sure would be the real deal combined with a grilled fish, or a caramelized chicken breast. maybe one day, when i'm not as lazy as on that particular night...
lemony roasted potato salad
500 g baby potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lemon, juice & zests
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. black cumin
2 tbsp. chives or wild garlic greens, chopped
fleur de sel
preheat the oven to 220 degrees. place a parchment paper on the baking sheet, and spread the potatoes on it evenly. pour the olive oil over them, add the garlic, a generous pinch of salt and the cumin seeds. toss everything. roast in the oven for about 30 minutes (you might have to stir a few times). arrange the potatoes on a plate. chop the chives or wild garlic greens, peel the orange zests and squeeze the lemon. add everything on top of the potatoes. enjoy immediately.
May 7, 2012
one thing that has to belong to any mezze dinner is an eggplants dish. something like a baba ganoush. but not everything needs to be in a puree version - and eggplants are definitely best when roasted. nothing brings out their flavor just like it. so, this salad takes less than half an hour to whip up, it's something i created as i went. it's good, try it!
simple roasted eggplants salad
3 large eggplants
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. mild curry
1/2 lime, juice
1 piece peperoncino, minced
fleur de sel
1 cup pomegranate seeds, deseeded
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped
preheat the oven (with the grill function on) to 220 degrees. line a baking sheet with parchment paper. wash the eggplants and slice into equally sized cubes. spread on the baking sheet, and drizzle with some olive oil. add the garlic, 2 generous pinches of fleur de sel, cumin and curry and toss. roast for 20 minutes or until the cubes are slightly dry looking and golden brown. take out and put aside to cool. in the meantime, combine the lemon juice, peperoncino and a bit more oil. place the eggplants in a bowl and pour the dressing over. add the herbs and pomegranate seeds and combine. season with some more fleur de sel and another sprinkle of olive oil, if needed. serve tepid.
May 5, 2012
a few weeks back, my team from work came over for dinner. i wanted to spoil and treat them to something a bit outside of the common 'pasta e vino'. since i love the process of hosting dinners at my house - from the planning to the grocery shopping to the actual cooking - i usually tend to overdo it just a tiny bit... like: what started with the idea of a few arab inspired dishes ended with a lavish variety of about 10 to 12 different mezze.
now arab is certainly not the type of kitchen that's super quick to whip up. but cooking gives me back so much. it's relaxation, leaving the hassle of the day behind. when nothing else goes right, i cook. it gives me hope. and if people get to enjoy the output and love what they are being served - well even better. cooking can actually be so rewarding.
now filo cigarettes. i love recipes that involve a little... let's say: sleight of hand. filo (or phyllo, or fillo) dough isn't really easy to work with. like strudel dough, it dries up really quickly and it breaks easily. but once you messed up the first batch, the next round is pretty easy, i promise (laugh). and it can actually be quite meditative, you'll find.
so here's how those meditative filo dough cigarettes are done. you could also fill them with fresh herbs, or with some minced lamb, or couscous. the options are limitless. but i find the most aromatic and interesting version includes a bit of feta.
filo cigarettes with feta and mint
1 pack filo dough (or strudel dough)
1 cup feta cheese or goat cheese
2 tbsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. medium hot paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1 drop harissa
fleur de sel (if needed)
50 g butter, for brushing
preheat the oven to 220 degrees. combine the cheese, eggs, spices, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. salt if necessary (the feta cheese is usually pretty salty already). melt the butter in a small saucepan. so much for the prepping.
now, spread the filo dough leaves out on a work surface. cut all the leaves in equal sized rectangles (about 10cm width and 15cm long). cover the dough you don't use right now with a damp tea towel.
now for the rolling: it's basically the same process as with spring rolls, except much simpler (because you don't need the folding in on either side). but one step after another... start by taking one dough rectangle (i only take 1 leaf, but you can double it if you prefer a thicker dough wrap). place one spoonful of the cheese mix in the middle of the bottom of the rectangle (long side up). then spread the mix evenly in a thin line, leaving out 1cm on each side (so the mix won't peter out at the sides). now brush a bit of melted butter on to the three other sides of the rectangle (the butter acts as a 'glue'). start rolling the cigarette from the bottom (where the mix is spread) upwards. when rolled up completely, make sure everything sticks together. place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. proceed, until all of the cheese mix is used up.
now brush every finished cigarette with liquid butter (be generous, the cigarettes dry out very quickly in the oven). place in the oven, and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. serve immediately (thought they're also quite good when cold).
storage or making ahead: if you don't want to serve them immediately or would like to make the cigarettes ahead, you can simply put them in the freezer, rolled up and unbaked. just don't brush with butter yet. when needed, take out of the freezer, brush with melted butter, and bake immediately. just make sure you bake them long enough so the cigarettes aren't still frozen inside.
more mezze dishes to go with the filo cigarettes are to come. as always, thank you for reading and lots of love.
May 3, 2012
do you remember those years (back in the eighties) when we used to braid - and wear - colorful friendship bracelets? and swap them with friends? that was so much fun! and back then, we were so quick at making them!
when i took it back up last week, the braiding wasn't as easy and didn't go as quickly as i remembered... in fact, i had to watch no less than three different youtube tutorials to finally get the hang of the 'forward' and the 'backward knot'. sighs, us grown-ups. we're just waisted on this world...
my first trial bracelet isn't exactly what i'd like to show off (so, i'm not, just yet). but hey, skill comes with practice (as a grown-up). so (apart from cleaning and decluttering and cooking) i proudly announce that you'll herewith see me braiding bracelets - and until then you'll just get a picture of my new crafts bracelet box. two thumbs up for friendship bracelets! gee, i'm such an eighties child.
May 2, 2012
happy may (i'm sorry, i totally forgot that yesterday...)! i promised you a piece of news - and here it is now.
well, dear readers, i couldn't be happier than to announce that my dear friend, the fabulous leti - whose blog becoming lola i've been admiring forever - offered me to be her guest blogger! eeep! her introductory post and also her (new) 'about us' section are beyond sweet and so very flattering (and only slightly exaggerated, laugh).
when she asked me what i considered to be the essence of my cooking philosophy, i didn't have to reflect for long: it's definitely vegetables and seasonal produce that inspire me. so, from now on, every monday, i will be contributing to the column 'meatless monday' (seriously, brilliant that girl, huh?).
i am so honored, excited and thankful for this amazing opportunity. it encourages me not only to keep going, but to give my best. after all, i wouldn't wanna disappoint lola's petted readers (laugh). it will be so much fun to be part of this. and, i'll admit, also a little unsettling. so would you, pretty please, give us your backing? one la ola wave for lola, please! coughing. and also: thank you.
May 1, 2012
last weekend (it actually took until today, 'thanks' to the holiday) was really, truly and honestly one of the worst i can remember (no offense to my dear friends who took me out for dinner on saturday night - that was really the best part...). and whenever i'm bored, or simply in a bad state, or grumpy... well, i start to declutter. it's like auto pilot. or probably my default system that comes into action when something is wrong, or something like that. before i knew it, i would have got the grubby trackpants on, hair piled on top of the head with a pink elastic scrunchie (always in style, me...), two bin bags in hand and start to throw things in them, madly (and with quite a bit of energy, let me tell you). i can let go very easily, of, uhm, things. yep, i think decluttering is cathartic*, to clear out, to let go.
now, before i am coming up with a rather big and nice piece of news (so exciting, honestly, i will share it with you tomorrow) i wanted to re-post this picture from an old post. the headline basically says it all: some moments are clearly flower-moments. i'm still a firm believer of that. and i actually still quite like that post - though it's basically 'vintage' now (laugh). yes, i can still relate to it. if you have a minute, read it! it's good.
this made me think that maybe i should take up my gentlemen's guide series, again, and this time make a proper sequel out of it? would you like that? hmm, i'll put some thought into that... meanwhile: please stay tuned for the good news (we sure as hell need some of that around here...).
happy remaining week!
* uh, yes, my new favorite word! you realised? cathartic. cathartic. cathartic... it's a good word. a bit yogi shanti shanti like, you mean? yup, my kinda world. i'm all into down-dogs and up-dogs and stuff. peace! oooohm! namaste.
Labels: thought of the day