Posts filed under dinner

Pizza & Profiteroles

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I face-booked a few of my sisters closest friends before arranging a little food get together for my her coming home.  When I say "home" I mean the Paris home, not the London home.  It feels strange calling it that, but it is, a little bit like home now.  I guess. 

(The more great food involved, the homelier a place is. )

I told guests to arrive earlier than she would, to surprise her for when she opened the door.  Just before arriving home, she called me and asked me if I was in.  "Yeah," I said.  "I've prepared a little snack, don't buy anything," I spoke sternly but with no promise in my voice that what the little snack we would have for dinner would be particularly interesting.  "Amazing!" She replied, "because I was going to pick up some Chinese takeaway as I'm starving.."

As she walked in the door, I was innocently rolling pizza dough out.  The door to the living room was closed and guests were sitting inside, with wine and gougeres I'd made for aperitif.

"Sorry, the flat is a little bit of a mess", I lied, as I opened the door to invite her to the living room, her friends at a dinner party.

 How great is the unexpected?

Everyone is always happy for homemade pizza, with extra oregano and olive oil in the dough which makes it so much more flavoursome.  A fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella teared all over, vegetables and chorizo. When the pizza came out, I teared fresh basil leaves on top, some parmesan shavings and cracked black pepper.  Who ever said no to all the pizza toppings?  Not me  (And nobody else either, it seems.)

Here we have a chou mountain with chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.  As a party host, I find that this is the best dessert to make at dinner parties because everyone gets excited about filling their chou with cream and dipping them in caramel and they feel like they've earned their dessert, a little bit.  

The choux pastry I used here was very light.  I know my Italian friend would laugh at me if she heard me saying this (she saw me happily slicing away at the butter) but I used only water in the recipe, rather than half milk, half water.  

I am currently working on noting down all "base" ingredients and methods for basic French patisserie, choux pastry will go in that category so watch this space. 


Posted on December 3, 2014 and filed under dinner, desserts, chocolate, paris, sweet.

Leek & Crushed Chickpea Chowder, Crème Fraiche, Parmesan, Pepper Crostini

Soups are such great dinner options, especially as the evenings get colder and longer.  The temptation to lie in bed with a big bowl of pasta and a hot chocolate is so tempting..

Here is a hearty soup, with chickpeas and parmesan.  It has the perfect combination of everything you would want in a mid-week dinner.   

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Serves 4


Large Nob of Butter

Olive oil

2 Onions

3 Garlic Cloves

3 Large Leeks, roughly chopped

1 Cup Chickpeas soaked overnight OR a can of chickpeas

A Chicken or Vegetable Stock Cube/ or Stock (even better)

100g Grated Parmesan/ Grana Padano 

Wholemeal bread slices

Salt and Whole Pepper


 - Sweat the onions and 2 of the garlic cloves in the butter.  Add the chopped leeks and allow to cook for five minutes.  Add a pint of water and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the leeks are tender.

- Add the stock and use a hand held blender to blend the leeks.  You can also use any other food processor with a blending option.

- In a separate large pan, fry the last garlic clove and the chickpeas.  Using the bottom of a rolling pin or a potato crusher, crush the chickpeas whilst allowing them to cook in the garlic.  Do not crush the chickpeas too much.  

- Add the blended leeks to the crushed chickpeas and add water if it is too thick.  Season well with salt and pepper, remember to taste.

- Generously spray olive oil, salt and pepper on the wholemeal bread and put in the oven to make your crostini.  

-  If not already grated, grate your parmesan or grana padano.  

- Serve the Leek and Chickpea chowder in large bowls and put a tablespoon of Crème Fraiche or Greek Yoghurt/ Fromage Blanc in the middle as well as the grated cheese around.  Crush more black pepper on the crostini and serve immediately.  


Posted on November 12, 2014 and filed under dinner.

Welcome, April.

Today it rained and snowed at the same time.  It rained and then it snowed and then it did both.  

It snained.  

They say spring is on its way. 

There are better things out there.  The sun does still exist.  As does Ryanair.  And British Airways.  They had a sale on actually, British Airways did.  Extra Cheap Business Class Seats.  They did not advertise it exactly as that, but that was the jist.  I bought one.  I needed to see the sky again and see the italian 'moroso [lover]. 

 On the flight I kindly got asked what  I would like to drink.  "Coffee" I replied.  The air hostess was particularly kind to me since I had given up my seat to a gentleman who wanted to be next to his wife (ah, love,) so I got some delicious shortbread biscuits with the coffee.

  I started to look over the clouds.  "Would you like some tea," the air hostess disturbed.  I had just had some coffee but I said ok anyway.  "A drink with that?"  She persisted.  "Erm, yes what do you--" but she rudely interrupted my question with "white wine, champagne?"  Large grin.  

"Could I have some champagne?"  I awkwardly replied, hesitantly, as if she would say "oh no actually you can't, that was a JOKE!"  ...  Champagne with finger sandwiches of egg & cress and smoked salmon & cream cheese. ...... Warmed scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam ...... chocolate tiffin. 

 I ate everything and then the air hostess returned.  "Would you like some tea?"  She asked again. "Yes please" I said, wondering how on earth the word "tea" could have so many endless possibilities.  I got an actual cup of tea this time, to drink after my champagne. Is it just because we're in the air that its ok to have coffee then champagne then tea,  I wondered.  There are no cultural rules to determine the order, I supposed.

Cichetti [bar snacks] by the canal 

On Return to England.

I came back to the snain and I told a fellow student my opinion on British weather: "I think God is just pouring us with all this weather to tell us to get out of this country and go somewhere else.  "Splash," he's saying, "don't you get it?  IT IS NEVER EVER GOING TO GET ANY BETTER AND YOU'RE JUST GOING TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT FOREVER AND EVER AND NEVER TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE APART FROM THE WEATHER SO JUST GET OUT OF HERE.""

 I said that to her. 

 At first she was bewildered by my sudden dramatic outburst of what God is telling us to do.  She did not mind too much since it was a Jew-to-Jew conversation so no religious politics there.  But some historical politics came up instead.  With calmness, she said: "we should just all transfer to the south of Spain where it's nice and warm."

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly on the Plain.

I remembered colonisation.  The British rule of India.  The British in America, in Australia.  Poor Spanish, surely they've got enough on their plate with the economic crisis.  Obviously not.  Some Brits are thinking of colonising Spain now because the snain is getting too unbearable.  

Lets just have some spaghetti and close the blinds.  

Peppery Carbonara time:

2 Hungry People, 3 Normal

250g Spaghetti

5 Rashers of Streaky Bacon

2 Eggs

100 ml Single Cream

1 Garlic Clove, crushed

30g Parmesan or Grana Padano, finely grated

Little Salt and Pep.

Put a large pan of water to boil and put in the spaghetti (according to times indicated on the spaghetti)

Meanwhile, with a splash of olive oil (2 tablespoons) fry the bacon with the crushed garlic clove.

In a bowl, mix the eggs with the cream, nearly all the parmesan and the salt and pepper.  Add the bacon.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain the water then put it back in the pan.

Off the heat, add the cream mixture.

Serve with the rest of the parmesan and a grinding of black pepper.

Posted on April 6, 2013 and filed under dinner, italy, london, venice.

Succulent chicken thighs with lemon, soy and thyme

I hate being alone.  Yet, the very worst thing about being alone is eating alone. The idea of cooking for one brings such sadness to my face that I sit on google and ask him/her a variety of different questions until I make myself a massive hot chocolate and eat a hundred gram chocolate bar to myself.  Today, with no one being home I knew the dreaded moment was to happen when I left the library on a sunday evening to eat alone...

"Wait a second, you bought boneless chicken thighs this morning," my conscious thought reminded me which made my culinary imagination run wild.

I remembered a delicious chicken dish my mum had made last time I was home so I decided to give her a quick ring to see if this could be adapted to chicken thighs.  After the phone call, I found out that it could.  

This is not just an ordinary chicken recipe.  This is the quickest, most succulent, most flavoursome chicken recipe you can make.  That is what M&S would say if he were selling them to you.  

But I'm just going to tell you to make it.  Because it's delicious.  And quick.  And great for one.  But also great for more than one.  If you have friends.  

When you're alone, there could not be anything simpler.  Ok, I will share the secrets of this delicious chicken.  Did I mention it was really flavoursome?  

Make this now.  You will need (for one portion):

one chicken thigh/ breast

olive oil

juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons soy sauce

pepper

(Double/ triple the recipe as you need)

Start by putting some plain flour on a plate:

Toss the chicken thigh (this can also be done with chicken breast) in the flour  

Splash some olive oil a frying pan.

 Once it's hot, place the chicken in the pan and add thyme and some pepper.

Add the lemon juice and the soy sauce and for it to sizzle around the chicken.  Turn the chicken over.

enjoy the sticky and tender deliciousness

Posted on March 4, 2013 and filed under dinner, london.

Carb free?

So the other day, I decided to join fitness first.  My very motivated sister told me that I would get addicted to the gym.  This has not yet happened, especially after the personal trainer told me that exercising too much was not actually a great thing to do, and if you do it too often, you can put weight on!  Imagine exercising so much that you put on weight?  My advice to all of you who are pumping iron every night to go home to your wives and have a big chocolate cake.  That may make you slimmer.  (May make you slimmer, please see small print for details*).  She brainwashed me into eating more healthily, such as less carbs and sugar but more proteins, vegetables and fats.  For this reason I decided to try it out, just as an experiment and just to see how tempting I could make it.

Here we have: Smoked Mackerel with Fried Egg and Rocket Salad, at three different angles:

Tempting?

Tempting??

Tempting???

Tempting.

You've been very good and healthy today you deserve it.

Thassa girl....

Smoked Mackerel, Fried Egg and Rocket Salad:

Buy some smoked mackerel, egg and rocket salad from the supermarket. Wash the salad.  Fry the egg.  Arrange the smoked mackerel neatly on the plate, ditto for the salad.  Chuck the egg to the side.  Using your fork, cut the egg in an artistic way and scoop a bit of mackerel with your fork.  The saltiness of the mackerel and the rocket really compliments the egg and you'll feel better than if you had eaten that egg with toast.

*All information given on this blog is not scientifically researched and may not be used in court against any of the fact-givers.  

Posted on October 23, 2012 and filed under dinner.

Pesto, tomato and fresh ricotta cake

Savoury cakes do sound quite absurd to Brits but I reckon they're the best way to satisfy your baking need and have a delicious lunch.  On this particular day I spent all morning looking at things I wanted to cook and procrastinating over profiteroles and other tempting treats.  The ricotta in the fridge was looking neglected so I decided to whip up my own savoury cake. It took ten minutes of mixing and chopping and half an hour in a 180 C oven and was enjoyed a few times.

                                                * -Vital Ingredients

3 large eggs*

180g Self Raising Flour *

1/3 cup (8 cl) Olive oil*

1/3 cup (8 cl) milk*

Sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

Green olives, roughly chopped

Capers, roughly chopped

handful cherry tomatoes lightly fried with a tablespoon of olive oil & 1 garlic clove

Basil leaves

Pesto

Salt and Pepper

Materials needed:

A loaf tin buttered or lined with greaseproof paper

A large bowl

A frying pan

A whisk

Spoon

An oven

Do not be put off by the amount of ingredients in this cake.  It was particularly successful because of the many contrasting flavours however you can definitely leave out an ingredient or two (but not the vital ones which have a star next to them.)

Start off by chopping your cherry tomatoes in half with a tablespoon of olive oil and a crushed garlic clove.  Put on a low heat while you prepare your cake mixture.

-In a large bowl, lightly hand whisk your eggs with the olive oil.

-Sift the flour into the bowl

- Add the milk

- Besides the pesto, add all the other ingredients.  Make sure the cherry tomatoes are a little soft.

- Mix half the mixture in a buttered or lined loaf tin then spread some pesto.

- Add the rest of the mixture then finish off by dripping some more pesto.

Bake at 180 C for 20-30 minutes depending on how good your oven is.

Posted on April 19, 2012 and filed under italy, dinner.