Indian evening

 

Yesterday evening I’ve decided to try my abilities with my personal version of a traditional vegetarian dish from the Indian cuisine. I also made the naan bread and the rice. Here you can find the recipes to replicate them at home and enjoy a dinner full of Indian flavour that is good for everyone…not only the vegetarians!

 

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Naan bread

Ingredients for 2

  • 180 gr of white flour
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 garlic clove mashed
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 66 ml lukewarm water
  • 3 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (you can use the dried leaves but in this case the quantity will be 1 tsp)

Method

Put the flour, salt and ground coriander in a bowl then add the garlic mashed with the opposite tool and the yeast. Mix together. Make a hole in the centre and pour in the honey, water, yogurt and oil. Stir well everything until it starts to leave the sided of the bowl. Move the dough on a lightly floured surface and work it for 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Brush the bowl with some oil and put the dough in it covering everything with a damp tea towel. Leave it to rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours (I usually put it inside the microwave without turning it on).

After 2 hours pre-heat the oven at 220ºC and cover the 2 baking trays with baking paper. Take the dough from the microwave and work it for 5 minutes on a wooden floured surface. Divide it in 2 balls and start to roll the first in a teardrop shape, don’t worry if it isn’t perfect the taste will not change. Move the bread on one of the trays and do the same with the second ball. Remember to make them 8mm thick otherwise it will fall into crumbles when you eat it. Brush both the bread with some vegetable oil, sprinkle the onion seeds and the coriander taking care to press them well in the bread with your fingertips. Bake them in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until puffed up. Serve warm with the curry.

 

I use this recipe for my naan bread no matter which curry I’m cooking because it is quite basic and the flavours are good with everything. I’m encouraging you to prove doing it at home, first of all it is cheaper than a take-away and secondly the pride of presenting food cooked by you is something that no take-away in the world will ever give you.

 

 Aloo Saag Gosht

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Ingredients for the curry paste

  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of asafetida
  • 1 tsp of dessiccated coconut (if you are able to find it fresh it would be much better but the dessiccated does the job equally well)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 red dry chilli
  • 1 thumb size fresh ginger
  • 3 spring onions
  • water if necessary
  • a pinch of salt

Ingredients for the curry

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • a bunch of curry leaves
  • a bunch of kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tsp of caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 2 potatoes cut into chunks
  • ¼ of a bag of frozen spinach
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • lukewarm water
  • chopped coriander

Ingredients for the rice

  • ½ cup of basmati rice
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cardamom seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of saffron vegetable broth

Method for the paste

Mix everything together in a blender or mixer adding some water if necessary until it becomes the consistency of a paste.

∗ you decide how spicy you’d like it to be adding more chilly. This recipe is for a mild one.

Method for the curry

In a small pan roast the 3 seeds (caraway, mustard and coriander) until they start to pop up then move them in a mortar and pestle them until they resemble a powder. In the meantime heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and when it is very hot throw in the potatoes. Cook them until they are brown on almost all the sides then remove them and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in the wok, put the curry leaves and the kaffir lime leaves followed by the seeds powder, let them cook for 2 minutes and add the paste. Stir well and add some water if necessary. After 5 minutes add the red onion, mix well and put the frozen spinach (if you have time you can use the fresh spinach. Personally I think that the frozen are perfectly good and easier to use). Keep adding the water if you think that it is too dry. After the spinach are defrosted add the coconut milk, stir well, and finally the potatoes again. Turn down the heat and let it cook for at least 30-45 minutes. When it is ready serve with the naan bread and the rice. Before take it on the table, sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves on top.

Method for the rice

Put the rice in a small pan with the spices and the broth.Remember to open the cardamom seeds and put in the rice only the little black seeds that are inside. If the broth is a leftover and it is cold just add a little bit of hot water and cook until the rice is al dente and has absorbed all the broth. Remove from the hob, take away the spices apart from the cardamom seeds and serve it warm. You will notice that the smell and the taste are so delicious and different from the rice that is in the supermarket…I’m sure you will find yourself wondering why you didn’t cook it at home before?!

 

Notes

You can make more of the paste just doubling the ingredients, when it’s ready put it in an airtight container or a jar in the fridge ready for the next time! Just think how lucky you will be…coming home from work and having a nice portion of curry paste in the fridge for you and your loved ones. You will be able to cook something delicious without any fuss, in a short time and it will taste delicious!!!

If there is some leftover re-heat it the day after with some chickpeas and cauliflower rice. It will still be delicious, maybe better than the original because the flavours had enough time to mix together

Japanese satisfaction

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Hello everyone, I’m here today with something different from the usual Italian recipes but, at the same time, it is as popular as a Bolognese sauce or a pasta dish. I always loved Asian food and when I’ve found the Sushi kit in my usual supermarket I could not resist and try it. Luckily with the help of my local Chinese supermarket and the local fishmonger it has been easy to find all the necessary ingredients. It is very simple if you’ve got a lot of patience and time, just put yourself in it and the final result will be so satisfying that you won’t believe your eyes

 

Homemade Sushi

Ingredients

  • 2,5 hg rice for sushi
  • rice vinegar
  • salt
  • 4 nori sheets
  • wasabi paste
  • cucumber
  • courgettes
  • surimi
  • smoked salmon
  • pickled ginger
  • tinned tuna

Sushi dip: fresh ginger and light soy sauce

 

Method

Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Put the rice in it and cook for 15 minutes.While the rice is cooking cut all your veggies and fishes in thinly slices. When the rice is cooked drain it well and mix it with the rice vinegar being careful not to overpowering the taste of the rice. Taste and season if requested. Set everything aside to cool.

When the rice is cold place 1 nori sheet on the bamboo mat , shiny side down. Spread part of the rice in a thin layer on the nori sheet, leaving approximately 2 cm free from the edges. Make a little groove in the rice and add some wasabi paste and the pickled ginger. Put your veggies or fishes inside and carefully, evenly, start to roll up the nori sheet  with the help of the bamboo mat.Sprinkle the open end of the nori sheet with a few drops of water, then place the other end on top and close the roll tightly. Cut the sushi roll evenly into 6-8 pieces.

Keep making the sushi rolls until you finish all the fillings and if you have got some rice left you can make some small “sausages” and cover them with slices of smoked salmon. Decor them with some small nori sheet ribbons.

Sushi dip: finely chop the ginger until it becomes a paste and mix it together with the soy sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figs, goat’s cheese and pomegranate salad

Passion at every mouthful

Another recipe for all of you that likes to express their feelings through the food, this salad will put you and your loved one in a very lovely mood. Figs are considered aphrodisiacs and if you want to seduce someone this recipe is the perfect way to do it….believe me, I talk by personal experience!!

Ingredients

  • fresh purple/black figs
  • goat’s cheese sliced
  • pomegranate seeds
  • 1 bag of mixed salad
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon juice
  • honey

 

Method

Start by washing the figs without breaking them. Put the figs aside and slice the goat’s cheese, the slice must be as thin as you can without destroy the entire cheese.

Carefully wash the salad and display it on a nice and big wooden board. Cut each fig in half and, then, half again. Put the fig slices on the salad and add the cheese. Sprinkle everything with the pomegranate seeds. Try to make it look nice and attractive for the eyes but also for your stomach!!

For the vinaigrette: in a small jar mix together 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper, 1 tablespoon of honey and the juice from half lemon. Close the jar and shake it until all the ingredients are well mixed. Pour it over the salad and serve with some plain cous-cous.

 

Ricotta gnocchi

Fast, different and very satisfying

Today I would like to talk with you about a recipe that I tried when I really didn’t know what to cook and my fridge was almost empty. My partner was coming home from work and I wanted to give him something new and good at the same time….what could I do with only some ricotta and Parmesan?! I always heard of gnocchi made with ricotta and so I tried them and the final result was so good that I’ve decided to share the recipe with all of you, hoping to help you in your desperate cooking moment.

Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 500 gr ricotta
  • 100 gr grated Parmesan
  • 200 gr flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt

Method

Put the ricotta in a bowl and start working it with a fork, add the Parmesan and the flour. Mix with the fork and add a pinch of salt and some grated nutmeg ( powder is also good). Start to put the mix together working with your hands and then transfer the dough on a wooden surface where you keep kneading it for other 10 minutes. After that make the gnocchi in the same way you would do the potato gnocchi (you can find the recipe under “cooking skills” section).

Cook the ricotta gnocchi in a big pan full of boiled and salted water, when they come to the surface they are ready. You can finish the plate with a nice tomato and basil sauce or a good homemade pesto.

making gnocchi

Potato gnocchi

To make the potato gnocchi I always use the proportion one each: 100 gr potatoes and 100 gr flour and the dosage changes based on how many people you’re cooking for. Cook the potatoes in a pan with some water, the Desiree version is the best for this recipe, and when they are tender drain. Let them cool and mash on a wooden surface, add the flour and some salt. Work everything together  and add more flour if required.

After the dough is ready, divide it in parts and start rolling each with your hands until you have a long, thick ribbon. Cut it in pieces and using your thumb rolling each gnocchi  on a floured fork. This will give to your gnocchi that nice shape useful to retain the sauce.

Keep working in the same way until all the dough is done and don’t forget to sprinkle your gnocchi with some flour at the end.

 

If you want to dare with something different you can add colour to your gnocchi using spinach, butternut squash, tomato paste, saffron or beetroot.The secret is to add the vegetable or the spice in the dough at the very beginning of the kneading process. If you decide to use spinach or butternut squash, always remember to cook them and to let them cool until they are cold before adding to the dough. In the spinach case you have to be sure that all the water has been drained away, otherwise your gnocchi will be a complete disaster. I remember my granny using nettles in the place of the spinach and the colour was so green and bright, if you want to do the same ALWAYS remember to wear gloves every time you handle the nettles or, at least, until they are cooked.

Brussels sprouts and bacon soup

A very good way for your veggies leftover

Hello everybody, here I am with a different version of the Christmas classic trimmings, Brussels sprouts and bacon. It is a warm dish that can go very well during the long cold winter days. I know that they are typical for Christmas with a luxurious roasted turkey but, hey, who said that you can’t enjoyed them in a different time and in a different way?!

 

Ingredients for 2 people

  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 250 gr Brussels sprouts
  • 1 slice diced bacon
  • vegetable oil, salt and pepper
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • créme fraîche
  • grated Parmesan

 

Method

In a deep pan heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and add the chopped onion. Let it cook until it is transparent but not burnt then add the Brussels sprouts chopped and the diced potatoes. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes stirring continuosly. Add some boiled water (from the kettle would be prfect), enough to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook it until the veggies are tender.

Blend everything with an hand-held blender and let it reduces on a medium heat. In the meantime fry the bacon in a small pan.

Pour the soup in the bowls and garnish them with a spoon of créme fraîche, a little olive oil, the grated Parmesan , some freshly ground pepper. Place the bacon right in the middle, serve with a warm baguette and some butter.

Aubergine heart raviolis

A romantic dish for your Valentine day

This is a recipe that I cooked some time ago for my partner. He was coming home for lunch after the work and I wanted to make him feel loved and cared. It can be an ideal recipe for S. Valentine, a small effort and you will gift your loved one with food straight from the heart….

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Ingredients for 2 people

1 aubergine
125 gr ricotta
grated Parmesan
2 eggs
200 gr flour
salt, black pepper grounded at the moment
tomato sauce
basil leaves
1 shallots
sunflower oil

Method

First of all make the filling by dicing the aubergine and pan-frying it until it is tender. Move it to a bowl and mash it with the ricotta and the Parmesan, taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Put the filling aside and start with the dough. On a wooden surface or in a bowl mix together the flour, the eggs and a pinch of salt. If you are using a bowl I strongly suggest to transfer the mix to a wooden surface to start knead it with your hands. Work with the dough until it is completely assembled and stretching. Many chefs would wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for, at least, half an hour, but I follow my mummy method and I start to roll it immediately.

When your dough is ready, divide it in small pieces and roll them with a pasta machine starting from the thicker gauge and little by little move to the thinner. Continue in this way until the sheet is nice and thin. Divide the filling in small little balls and cover with another thin pasta sheet. Press well with your finger around every small aubergine and ricotta ball to allow the air to exit. When you are sure that everything is alright you can start cutting the ravioli with an heart-shaped cutter. Put the raviolis aside and keep doing the same until all the pasta dough is finished. Don’t worry about the piece of pasta left from the cutting, you can knead them again in the dough.

Once all your raviolis are done start with the sauce. Thinly slice the shallot and cook it in a pan with some sunflower oil, after 5 minutes you can add the tomato sauce and the basil leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes. Cook the raviolis in a big pan with boiled, salted water and as soon as they come to the surface, they are ready. Add the raviolis to the tomato sauce pan and mix them carefully….you don’t want to break them!!

Serve the raviolis in a nice warm plate, finish with some raw basil leaves and grated Parmesan and enjoy them with your loved one and a nice glass of rosé wine.