Taking a Break

Hello Everyone.

I just got back from a nice 2 week holiday to England.  Prior to that I had a week or two of busy interviews, and now I am starting a new teaching job that I need to concentrate on for a while.  Once I get into the swing of things, blogging will return to normal!

Cucumber with Olivada and Goat Cheese

We are in the midst of a cucumber surplus.

Cucumber with Olivada and Goat Cheese
Serves 5 as an Appetizer

2 Cucumbers
1/2 Cup Olives, chopped (Pimento Stuffed works fine)
1/2 Cup Capers
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Goat Cheese
3 tbsp chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 Small clove of Garlic
Olive oil

Thinly slice cucumbers, arrange on a plate with each slice overlapping the other.  Roughly chop the olives and capers.  The latter is a pain in the a, but its okay if some are left whole.  Finely chop the parsley and mix in with the capers and olives.  Mince the garlic and then using the side of a knife, make it into pasta and mix in with the balsamic, salt and pepper.  Drizzle in olive oil until the mixture isn’t dry.  Sprinkle some goat cheese over the cucs,  add the olivada, and then some more goat cheese.

Fried Egg over Truffled Kale and Chickpea Puree

We’ve got lots and lots of kale and Swiss Chard in the garden that needs eating up before it flowers.  For a quick dinner side, we had it over a bean puree with feta cheese.  There was bean puree leftover the next day, so I had it with some sauteed kale drizzled with a bit of truffle oil, and a fried egg for lunch.  The bean puree came from What’s for Dinner Ron Sarni?, one of my best friend’s dad’s blog who makes all kinds of super Italian foods.

Fried Egg over Truffled Kale and Chickpea Puree
Serves 1

4 Large Kale Leaves
1 Egg
1 tbsp Truffle Oil
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Chickpea Puree

For the Puree (4 Servings):
24 Ounces Chickpeas
1 Cup Veggie Stock
1 Clove of Garlic
Fresh Thyme

Cook the (drained) chickpeas with minced garlic and veggie stock.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 10 minutes, add the fresh thyme and puree.

Saute kale with olive oil until wilted.  Remove from heat and stir in the truffle oil, season to taste.  Fry an egg.   Arrange the kale over the puree and top with the egg.

Monster Zucchini= Chilled Zucchini Soup

This beast came out of my dad’s veggie garden, I added my Chef Knife to the photograph for scale.

Chilled Zucchini and Basil Soup with Paprika Toasts
Serves 5

1 Monster Zucchini
2 Cloves Garlic
1 medium-large White Onion
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Veggie Broth
Cooking Sherry or White Wine
2 Bay leaves
20 large Basil Leaves
1 Lemon
Red Chili Flakes
Bunch of Fresh Thyme
1/2 Day old Baguette
Olive Oil
Smoked Paprika

Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and cube the zucchini.  Heat some olive oil in a large pot and add the onions, cook until soft.  Add in the garlic and bay leaf and cook a minute or two.  Add the zucchini and sherry or white wine and cook until tender, stirring every now and then, use a lid to hasten up the cooking.  Add water, broth, lemon and thyme, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove lid, add shredded basil, red chilli flakes, and lemon zest, season to taste.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Chill in the fridge until cold, or eat hot (it’s good either way).

Slice the baguette into 1 cm thick slices. Brush each with olive oil and rub smoked paprika, salt and pepper into each toast.  Bake in oven until golden about 5 minutes at 400. Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon juice, arrange in soup.

Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet and Spicy Zucchini and Gingered Mushrooms

Fresh Spring Rolls are so unbelievably easy to make, and versatile too.  Ever since seeing this post on Two Peas and Their Pod, I have wanted to give it a go.

Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet and Spicy Zucchini and Gingered Mushrooms
Makes 6 Spring Rolls

6 Rice Paper Sheets (H-Mart)
1 small Zucchini
8-10 Mushroms
2 cloves of Garlic
2 tsp Fresh Ginger, grated
Olive Oil
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Sriracha
Red Chili Pepper Flakes
Fresh Basil- about 10 leaves

1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
3 tbsp Sesame Oil
2 tbsp Ginger, grated
1 clove of Garlic minced
1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
2 tsp Sriracha

Slice the mushrooms up thinly and julienne the zucchini.  In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil and add 1 clove of minced garlic, the ginger, and the mushrooms.  Cook until mushrooms are done.

Heat more olive oil in the pan if necessary and add the julienned zuchinni. Cook about 5-10 minutes over medium until the zucchini is soft, and stir in sriarcha, honey, 1 clove of minced garlic, and some red chili flakes. Cook another minute or two and remove from heat.

Fill a bowl with warm water and working with one rice sheet at a time, dip in the warm water for a couple seconds.  Remove and drip off excess water, then lie flat on the surface and arrange mushrooms, zucchini, and fresh basil on the sheet.  Wrap up like you would a burrito and repeat with another rice sheet.

To make the sauce, mix it all up and add whatever is missing.

Fried Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Feta, Hen of the Woods, and Fresh Basil

I loooooooooove Zucchini Flowers.  Maybe it’s because they only come out once a year, making them even more special, or maybe because I love the crisp delicate texture they offer.

Fried Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Feta, Hen of the Woods, and Fresh Basil
Makes 8 Zucchini Flowers

8 Zucchini Flowers
1 clove Garlic
1/4 Cup Feta Cheese
1/4 Cup Hen of the Woods, or whatever mushrooms you want to use
Butter for frying mushrooms
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp Fresh Basil
Red Chili Pepper Flakes
2 tbsp Veggie Oil
Parmesan Reggiano
Salt and Pepper

1 Cup Seltzer Water
2/3 Cup Flour

Mix the seltzer water and flour together and set aside.  Remove the stems from the zucchini flowers, carefully peel open the flower and remove the pistils or stamen or whatever the correct biological term is, just take out the inside bits!  Wash the flowers and allow to dry on some kitchen towel.

Mix the feta, minced garlic, greek yogurt, chopped up basil, lemon, red chili pepper flakes, some grated parmesan, and salt and pepper up together.  Fry the mushrooms in some butter until liquid released.  Once cooked, chop up the mushrooms and add to the feta mixture.

Stuff the zucchini flowers with the mixture, about a spoonful for flower.  Twist the petals to keep the mixture in.  Heat up the oil and once hot, fry each flower on both sides until golden.  Eat straight away.

Pea Soup!!!

Ever since the Rescuers Down Under, which I watched repeatedly from the age of 8 onwards, I have been enthralled with the idea of pea soup.  All they needed was one pea, and lots of little contraptions for their little mouse restaurant on top of a chandelier in a fancy restaurant.

Mi padre has been very busy in the garden, growing all kinds of veg- arugula, zucchinis, peas, chilis, tomatoes, eggplant, swiss chard, onion, kale, etc.  This week we had peas coming out of our ears, and while shelling peas is a tedious task, its alright if you’ve got a mum to work on the task at hand with you. Don’t throw the pea shells out, use them to make some good pea stock.

The best way to use up peas is pea soup!!! Stick a soft boiled egg on it for good measure.

Fresh Pea Soup with fingerling Potatoes, Basil and Mint
Serves 4

Peas! Lots and lots of Peas. I think I had about 4 cups worth of shelled Peas
Fresh Basil
Fresh Mint
4 Eggs
2 Cups Veggie Broth
2 Shallots
Olive Oil
3 Cups of Potatoes, chopped up into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 White Onion- skinned
1/2 Cup White Wine
Red Chili Flakes
Optional: Parmesan Reggiano

Shell the peas.  In a very large pot, throw in the (washed) pea shells, some basil leaves and stalks,  some mint leaves and stalks, and 1/2 an onion in with a litre of water, bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about an hour. Once reduced, strain and add in some veggie broth and white wine.

In another large pot, add some olive oil and saute the chopped up shallots. Add in the potatoes and cook a minute before combining with the pea stock. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes before adding in the peas. Once cooked about 5 mins, add the lemon juice, some more fresh basil, more fresh mint, red chili flakes, and season well with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and blend in a food processor or using an immersion blender. The soup should seem quite creamy because of the potatoes. At this point, add some more pepper and lemon if it tastes to sweet, or some salt if necessary. Add in the parmesan reggiano if you want some. Soft boil the eggs and peel off the shell, arrange on top.

Black Radish Chips with Greek Yogurt and Hen of the Woods

It’s too hot to blog. Hen of the Woods is a mushroom I got from H-Mart.  H-Mart is incredible. Black radish is a big radish with black skin that is spicier than your run of the mill red radish. It also came from H-Mart. Roasting black radishes makes them less overwhelming.

Black Radish Chips with Greek Yogurt and Hen of the Woods
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer

1 Black Radish
2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
2-3 Chives
4 ounces Hen of the Woods
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Thinly slice the radish into rounds.  I really need to invest in a mandolin. But anyway, once sliced rub the radish rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven about 20 minutes at 400, or until crisp and golden.  The edges will turn up so they are almost like little tostilla cups- you know, those tortilla chips that you dip in salsa.

Slice up the hen of the woods, and saute in melted butter over medium high.  After a couple of minutes, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Once cooked, remove from heat and top the black radish with mushrooms.  Sprinkle the plate with flecks of Greek Yogurt and chopped up chives.

Pizza Cookie

No explanation necessary.

Grilled Pizza

It was close to 100 degrees the other day.  Heating up the kitchen with a 400 degree oven is the last thing we wanted to do,so firing up the barbie is the way to go.  Grilling pizza dough is quick and gives it a crispy charred flavor that is as close as you’re going to get to a pizza oven.

Grilled Pizza with Mushrooms, Red Onion, Sun-dried tomato, Arugula and Baba Ghanoush
Serves 4

Pizza Dough
Bunch of Arugula
Sun dried tomatoes
1 Small Red Onion
8-10 Crimini Mushrooms
2 Cloves of Garlic
Olive oil
1/4 Cup Baba Ghanoush (see David Lebowitz’s recipe here)

Make the baba ghanoush.  Slice up mushrooms and red onions, cook the onions until soft and the mushrooms until liquids released.  Chop up sun dried tomatoes and add them in with the mushrooms and onions.  Roll out the dough and brush with olive oil.  Throw on the grill for a couple minutes until one side is browned, remove, and brush the other side with olive oil and sprinkle  minced garlic over top.  Season well and add with some dried herbs- oregano and basil work nicely.  Throw on the mushrooms, onions, and sun dried tomato, and top with torn up mozzarella cheese.  Stick on the grill for another couple of minutes, close the grill lid so the cheese melts but keep an eye on it to prevent burning.

Once cooked, remove from grill and top with arugula and baba ghanoush.