Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella! I made a paella with squid ink, squids and shrimps. I found the recipe in the amazing cookbook "A platter of Figs" from David Tanis. It doesn't look very tempting but it is delicious and the smell coming out of your oven just before it is done will make your mouth water!
3 tbsp of olive oil
500 gr shrimp in a shell
1 large onion, chopped
500 gr cleaned squid, bodies cut into thin rings, tentacles chopped
a pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
125 ml tomato puree
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbsp of squid ink
720 gr of arborio rice
1500 ml of octopus broth or light chicken stock
• Preheat the oven to 180°C.
• Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or another big pan. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, cook for about 1-2 min until the shrimps turn pink. Remove the shrimps and set aside.
• Add the onion to the pan and cook for about 5 min. Add the squid, season with salt and pepper, cook for about 2 min. Add the saffron, cayenne, tomato, garlic, squid ink and the rice. Stir well to coat the rice. Add a large pinch of salt and the broth. Let the broth come to a full simmer. Let it simmer for about 5 min.
• Arrange the shrimp on top and put the pan in the oven. Bake uncovered for 20 min. Remove and cover the pan with a clean dish towel. Let the paella rest for about 10 min. It tastes better just slightly warm.
Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes! I chose to make a Chicken with Cornmeal-Herb-Crust and Summer Salad.
For the crispy chicken
2 chicken breasts
200 ml buttermilk
2 tbsp olive oil
60 gr cornmeal
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp chopped thyme
3 tbsp grated parmesan
1 garlic clove, crushed
For the salad
3 carrots, peeled
3 tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 handful of radishes
1 cucumber, sliced
1-2 spring onions, cut in thin slices
For the vinaigrette
3 tbsp of olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 crushed garlic clove, salt, pepper
• Put the chicken breasts in a freezing bag, add the buttermilk and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C.
• In a soup plate combine the cornmeal, the lemon zest, the thyme, the parmesan and the garlic. Season to taste. Take the chicken breasts out of the marinade and coat them with the cornmeal mixture. They should be well covered. Cover a plate with some baking paper, place the coated chicken breasts on the baking paper. Drip the olive oil on the chicken breasts and grill them in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
• Mix all the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Put the salad leaves, the radishes, the carrots, the tomatoes, the cucumber and the spring onion in a salad bowl. Dress the salad and serve it with the crispy and tender chicken.
When I go to a restaurant I always ponder for hours over the menu, trying to make my mind up. On our honeymoon we went to Rome and once we ate in a perfect restaurant, the food was great but most of all the waiter only asked us one question: red or white wine? Then the dishes just kept on coming, heaven! Speaking of Italy, I was trying to decide which antipasti to make and finally I had an Eureka Moment: Why choose? I will just make a salad of grilled vegetables, rocket, prosciutto, parmesan, basil and pine nuts. Well, if you ask me this salad is like an anthem of Bella Italia!
For the salad
150 gr rocket
2 eggplants, cut in thin slices
2 zucchini, cut in thin slices
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
60 gr pine nuts
6 slices of prosciutto
a handful of parmesan shards
6 tbsp of olive oil
For the vinaigrette
6 tbsp of olive oil
3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
• Preheat the oven to 200°C.
• Roast the peppers in the oven for 30 miuntes. After 15 minutes turn them over once.
• Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil, then fry them in a pan. Repeat the process with the zucchini slices.
• Take a look at the peppers, if the skin is a little bit black and blistered it is perfect. Turn the oven off but leave the peppers inside for another 10 minutes.
• Peel the peppers. Discard the skin and the seeds.
• Roast the pine nuts in a pan without any grease. Don't leave the pan out of your sight, pine nuts turn black very quickly.
• In a salad bowl mix the grilled eggplant and zucchini slices, the rocket, the pepper filets, the prosciutto and the basil. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette. Scatter the parmesan shards and the pine nuts over the salad and enjoy!
June was cold and rainy and I begged for summer, so now that I am sweating because of a heat wave, I cannot really complain. You can imagine how difficult that is. So I decided to make the best of it and to put my ice cream machine that was starting to collect some dust to good use and I made some pineapple rosemary sorbet.
Now I know it does sound strange at the beginning but it is a recipe from Kate Zuckerman and when it comes to any dessert I trust her blind. So I followed her instructions and was rewarded with a refreshing and sweet pineapple sorbet with a subtle undertone of rosemary. After looking suspicious my guests asked for more.
1 kilo of fresh pineapple, peeled, cut in half and then in slices
2 small stalks of fresh rosemary
220 gr sugar
330 ml water
juice of 1 lime
• Put the water, the sugar and the pineapple slices in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and remove from the heat. The rosemary needs to be submerged in the liquid, cover the pan and set aside for 10 minutes.
• Remove and discard the rosemary. Puree half of the pineapple with some cooking syrup in a blender to a puree on the highest speed for 2 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining pineapple and cooking syrup.
• Pass the pureed pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pushing the fruit puree through the strainer with the back of a spoon. Discard the pulp. Add the lime juice to the pineapple puree, cover it and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
• Churn the sorbet in an icecream machine. Transfer to the freezer for 4 hours.
• Take the sorbet out of the freezer 5 minutes before serving so that it has a good scoopable consistency.
Summer Time is Salad Time! And this Italian salad with zucchini, carrots and lots of fresh basil is one of my favourites. Because of its ingredients I call it Zucaba Salad, if you come from Great Britain feel free to change the name to Coucaba. Whatever you call it, it is delicious and goes with everything. For other salad ideas check out the Lets make Salads Event.
2-3 zucchini, cut in slices
4 carrots, peeled and cut in slices
1/2 bunch of basil, cut in strips
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of olive oil
• Cook the carrot slices in boiling salt water or steam them until al dente, it takes more or less five minutes. Drain them. Repeat the process with the zucchini slices but be careful they are al dente after just a couple of minutes.
• In a salad bowl mix the still warm carrots and zucchini with the olive oil, the lemon juice and the basil. Season to taste.
Whenever I travelled abroad I ended up buying some local specialty only to discover that at home the great espresso doesn't taste as good as in Rome. But to every rule there is thank God an exception. Last summer I spend with my husband a week in the Valley du Lot in France. It is famous for its red wine but also for its saffron. The guy who sold saffron at a market convinced us of the quality of its product by offering us some home made and really delicious saffron biscuits, so I bought two jars.
When I use some of this saffron I am always indulging in a bit of holiday nostalgia. This time I made risotto milanese but I added yellow tomatoes and some king prawns.
350 gr arborio risotto rice
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 glass of white wine
4-6 yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed
800 ml chicken stock
2 pinches of saffron threads
8 king prawns
a few yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 generous handful grated parmesan
3 tbsp olive oil
• Pour chicken broth and 500 ml tomato puree in a small saucepan. Heat it and add the saffron, keep it warm.
• In a casserole heat 2 tbsp olive oil, add the onion and the garlic and cook at medium heat for 2 min. Stir in the rice to coat with the oil. Add the white wine and cook until slightly evaporated.
• Stir in a couple ladlefuls of the warm tomato broth, stir regularly to prevent from sticking. Once the liquid is nearly completely absorbed, add again a few ladlefuls of the warm tomato broth. You want the risotto to be tender and creamy, it will take 15-20 minutes and normally you will use all of the tomato broth.
• When the risotto is nearly done, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and grill the king prawns at high heat, 2-3 minutes on each side. Season to taste.
• Stir the parmesan into the risotto. Season to taste. Put the risotto on the plates, arrange the king prawns and the cherry tomatoes on top of it, add some parmesan shavings and some fresh pepper.
This Green Couscous Salad keeps its promises, you get different shades of green and as a bonus different textures, soft broad beans, crunchy green beans and bursting capers. Every bite is a surprise. I got the idea from the New-Zealand Cook Annabel Langbein.
The Green Couscous Salad makes friends easily, you can serve it with lamb chops, grilled beef, fish, shrimps... or just eat it on its own.
2-4 lamb chops
1 handful of rocket
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch of mint, chopped
150 gr broad beans
150 gr green beans
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
• Snap off the ends of the green beans and blanch them in boiling salt water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Blanch the broad beans in boiling salt water 1-2 minutes. Drain them.
• Put the couscous in a bowl, then pour over just enough boiling water to cover it. Set aside for 3 minutes to allow the couscous to soak up the water. Season to taste.
• To make the vinaigrette, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper.
• Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. On high heat grill the lamb chops 2 minutes on each side. Season to taste.
• In a bowl combine the couscous, the broad beans, the green beans, the capers, the herbs, the rocket and the vinaigrette. Serve with the lamb chops.
Our July 2012 Daring Cooks’ host was Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.
I like this technique a lot but sometimes while being very healthy papillotes can turn out to be a little bit on the bland side. So I tried to come up with a recipe that is rocking with flavours. Well, the combination of chorizo and saffron is taste-bud-blowing and takes the chicken, the potatoes and the zucchini to the next level.
2 chicken filets
6 thin slices of chorizo
2 pinches of saffron
1-2 potatoes, cut in thin slices
1 zucchini, chut in thin slices
1-2 spring onion, cut in thin slices
4 tablespoons of white wine
2 teaspoons of olive oil
• Preheat the oven to 200°C.
• Put the saffron threads in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water.
• On a large piece of parchment paper arrange the zucchini and the potato slices in two lines, always alternating (see photo). Scatter over them the spring onion. Season to taste.
• Make an incision in your chicken filet in order to create a kind of pocket. Put the chorizo slices in the pocket. Season to taste.
• Lay the chicken filet on the potato-zucchini-lines. Drizzle the white wine, the olive oil and the saffron in his marinating liquid over it.
• Close the papillote and bake it in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
• Serve it with some fresh baguette to dip the sauce.
My relationship with pasta salad had a rough start. The first time a pasta salad crossed my path was at a student party, the pasta was way beyond all-dente and drenched in store bought mayonnaise, the few defrosted peas that were added to this mix couldn't save it. Well, I drank a lot of beer that night.
For a long time I didn't want to have anything to do with pasta salads but then I met Jamie Oliver, or rather his so called "Best Pasta Salad". What can I say it was love at first sight and I have never looked back! I changed the recipe a little but come on we all do it even with THE ONE.
300 gr small pasta
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500 gr cherry tomatoes, diced
1 handful of black olives, pitted
1/2 bunch fresh chives, chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 of a cucumber, diced
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
• In a large pan bring salted water to boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain and run under cold water.
• Put the tomatoes, the cucumber, the garlic and the herbs in a bowl. Add the cooled pasta, the olive oil and the vinegar. Season to taste.
• Jamie Oliver uses a little bit more olive oil and vinegar and boils the garlic with the pasta.
You can travel by taking an air plane, a bus, your car, the train... or by opening Madhur Jaffreys cookbook "Curry, Curry, Curry". She has compiled more than 200 curry recipes from all around the world. This time I decided to go to Thailand to try out the Thai Pork Satay. It was absolutely delicious, even though I had to do it without coriander root as I couldn' t find any. It makes a good starter or a meal if you serve it with some rice on the side. But I have to warn you the peanut dip is addictive.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons coconut milk
(8 fresh coriander roots, chopped)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of white pepper
450 pork filet, cut in strips
50 gr of shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika powder
1 tablespoon peanut oil
175 ml coconut milk
4 tablespoon of roasted peanuts, chopped
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
To finish: 250 ml coconut milk, 2 teaspoons of curry powder and a pinch of salt
• Prepare the marinade: Mix in a blender the soy sauce, the coconut milk, the coriander roots and the garlic. Add the sugar, the curry powder and the white pepper. Combine well, add the pork filet and let it marinate, covered, in the fridge 2-24 hours.
• Prepare the dip: Mix the shallot and the garlic with 2 tablespoons of water in order to obtain a paste. Put it in a small bowl, add the cumin, the coriander powder, the cayenne pepper and the paprika. Heat the oil in a pan, add the spice mixture and let it brown 3-4 minutes while stirring. Add the coconut milk, the peanuts, the sugar and the salt. Stir the sauce 3-5 minutes until it thickens a little bit.
• Combine in a bowl the coconut milk, the curry powder and the salt.
• Dip the pork strips into the coconut milk/curry mixture before putting them on a skewer and grilling them in a hot pan or on a grill. Serve with the dip.