1.29.2012

A simple salad


If you’ve been to my blog before you are familiar with my celebrations of simplicity. Simple, fresh ingredients are usually all you need to make things taste delicious and look beautiful.
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One of the simplest dishes that I make often are salads – all kinds, whether they consist of many ingredients or just two, have roasted vegetables or fresh and crunchy ones. I love my salads.
This particular salad features pan-fried mushrooms as its star; mushrooms seared in a hot pan and then tossed in a vinaigrette of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary, and plenty of pepper. Other tasty additions include colourful cherry and grape tomatoes, cos and radicchio leaves, and cucumber slices. Just a few simple things can make the best dinner ever – try it out!

1.17.2012

Scintillating squash


Summertime calls for many things – icy cold treats, fresh fruit for breakfast, cold mint tea…all things fresh and light.  There is, however, one food very wintry in nature that I cannot resist even in summer: squash.
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It may be a hearty root vegetable but there is no denying its bright, golden-orange hue belongs in my notes for summer …

This vegetarian pasta has everything you’re looking for – fresh, delicious but also healthy and filling (but I promise you can still go swimming afterwards!). A little bit like a pasta primavera – a springtime vegetable medley – this pasta has it all. I sautéed  onion, celery, carrots, garlic and butternut squash – added plenty of white wine, fresh parsley and bay leaves. I finished it off with a hint of mace, lots of freshly cracked pepper and a touch of light cream. A perfect summer treat.

summer squash pasta

serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced finely
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3/4 kg butternut squash (any pumpkin is fine), peeled and cut into sizeable pieces
1 1/2 cups white wine (I used pinot grigio because I was drinking it!)
1 cup peas
1/4 cup light cream
pinch of mace (use nutmeg if you don’t have mace)
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
bunch of fresh parsley
500g wholemeal pasta 

Place a large pot on medium heat – wait a few minutes then when hot add oil, onion, bay, celery, garlic and carrot – sweat for 5 minutes. Add the squash and cook, stirring every minute or so for about 10 minutes – add white wine to deglaze the pot. Cook another 5 minutes or until squash is tender. At this point, place water in a large pot to boil for pasta. Salt the water, add pasta and cook until al dente (about 11-12 minutes for wholemeal pasta). To finish the sauce, add peas and cook 2 minutes, then add cream, mace, salt and pepper to taste. Finish the sauce with fresh parsley and dried chili if desired. I also added cheese – because I simply love it! Enjoy.

1.07.2012

Party-time


Happy New Year folks! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and that much fun was had while copious amounts of food and wine were consumed – this is how I like to celebrate! Speaking of celebrations, December was a month of fun at my house. It’s the month of my birthday and my wedding anniversary – and those great gift-giving days of Christmas fun – so many reasons to eat, drink and be merry.

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For my birthday I made a few tried and tested party foods. Dips are never a miss at parties – finger foods are not only easy to make but serve a great purpose; you can hold your drink in one hand and eat with the other, all the while making conversation – this is efficiency people :). For this special night I made a simple 4 ingredient hummus dip and a charred eggplant dip (somewhat like a baba ganoush).

For the end of the night nothing works better than the famous ‘trashy truffle’. This particular dessert, inspired by a Paula Dean recipe for cookie dough truffles, was aptly named by my sister. I tweaked the recipe a little and came up with sweet little pieces of chocolately drizzled trashy joy, with a slight biscuity crunch. Yum, I love parties.



Recipes
4 ingredient hummus
400g chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp tahini paste
juice from 1 small lemon
extra-virgin olive oil 2-3 tbsp (plus more for finishing)

Place chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice in food processor and blend. While blending drizzle in olive oil until mixture resembles smooth, creamy paste. If too thick, add a little water to thin out. Season with sea salt and give a final mix. Place into bowl and finish with a little more olive oil and a touch salt.

charred eggplant dip
1 large eggplant
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup greek/full fat yoghurt
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil, to finish

First char the eggplant on the bbq (as I have done) or grill. Let cool and remove most of the blackened bits (keeping a little is fine and imparts a smoky flavour). Next, chop up the softened eggplant (it falls apart easily), mix in onions, add salt and fold through the yoghurt (here I didn't over-mix as I like the look and taste of uneven layers of yoghurt and eggplant). Finish with fresh pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

trashy truffles
(slightly adapted from Paula Deen)
makes about 5 dozen truffles
1/2 cup organic butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups organic plain flour
1 can condensed milk
1/2 cup finely chopped biscuits (I used something like a graham cracker but use anything you fancy)
150g milk chocolate, melted

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour and add condensed milk. Mix in biscuit crumbs and shape dough into 1 inch balls (dip fingers in flour to make it easier to roll). Place on waxed/baking paper and chill in fridge for an hour.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler on low-heat. Take out tray of truffles and drizzle with melted chocolate – I dipped some whole in the chocolate and kept some simply drizzled – it’s up to you!