Baked Vegetable Medley-Ratatouille style:

baked-vegetable-medley-ratatouille-style-close-up-2
Baked Vegetable Medley-Ratatouille Style-close up

Looking through my pictures & recipes (in the hope of getting semi organised with my long neglected blog!!), I found a few that are totally ready but hadn’t been posted yet! So, apologies if you get an avalanche of recipes all of a sudden. I promise I’ll try to do no more than two postings a day until I catch up with myself.

This dish is an absolute winner! It is healthy, it is easy, it is quick, and it is a life saver in large gatherings. Any vegetable you can think of qualifies, the rule is: if you fancy it, then it definitely goes.

Have fun with it and experiment, you can not go wrong believe me!

Below is the variety I used, it changes often depending on what’s available in the market, and to some degree also on what’s available in my fridge & freezer at the time.

Ingredients:

300 grs frozen flat green beans

300 grs frozen peas

2 small red peppers halved then quartered then sliced about ½ cm thick (if you want you can use 1 red and 1 yellow, it adds to the colour)

2 medium onions halved then quartered then sliced medium thin

2 aubergines halved then quartered then sliced about ¾ cm thick

4 medium-large zucchinis halved then sliced ½ cm thick at an angle

1 extra large tomato halved and sliced (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)

1 large tbsp tomato paste

2 soup cubes

2 cups hot water

Method:

place all vegetables in a large oven tray and mix roughly with your hands

add some olive oil

combine the soup cubes, the hot water and the tomato paste

add to the liquid some olive oil

pour on the vegetables

mix well

place in pre-heated 200 centigrade oven on 3rd shelf from the bottom until golden brown and cooked to your liking

P.S. after 20mns get the tray out and mix the vegetables carefully to make sure that all the vegetables get their fair exposure to the heat. If you don’t, the top layer will “bake” nicely and the bottom one will be “steamed”.

Repeat again after 20 more mns

Overall timing in the oven should be around 1 hour in total. If

you like your vegetables on the crispy side, you may have to

reduce the cooking time. Just taste as you go along.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nana’s Cream of tomatoe soup:

nanas-cream-of-tomato-soup-finished-product
Nana’s Cream of tomato soup-finished product

Today’s post is for my sister-in-law Jiji, who graciously traveled thousands of miles this past summer in order to help heal my broken bones (and my broken spirit!). Thanks “Sis”, you were here when you were most needed; we could not have managed without you!

Jiji asked me for this recipe a few days back, so here it is my dear, your mom’s Cream of Tomato Soup….

This delicious creamy soup is a favourite of my husband’s as well. One of their mom’s many specialties, and a regular must on her table in the cold winter months during their growing up years. It has of course become a regular must on our table as well, and an all-time favourite of Maggie & Mona. A gentle warm reminder of their loving Nana.

Ingredients:

8 medium size tomatoes

1 onion

2 carrots

2 small potatoes

2 cups milk

cream to dribble on top before serving

Method:

place the tomatoes in a pan

boil some water in a kettle

pour over the tomatoes to cover

let stand one minute then core the tomatoes and remove their skin

chop them roughly & set aside

chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes and place in a pan

add a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and sautee for a minute or two

add the tomatoes to the same pan, salt, cover and simmer

do not add any liquid at this point, the tomatoes will bring their own liquid

simmer for about an hour or until the potatoes and carrots are soft when tested

blend with a hand held mixer, the mixture will have a thick-ish puree consistency

add the 2 cups of milk and return to the stove on medium heat

adjust salt if needed

simmer for a couple of minutes

if it is too thick, you may need to add a bit of water, it all depends on how juicy the tomatoes were. I added about a ½ cup of water to mine, just use your own judgement

dribble a bit of cream in each dish before serving

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Sol’s Jumbo Shrimps in Cognac & Cream sauce:

Sol's jumbo Shrimps w:Cognac & Cream-finished product
Sol’s Jumbo Shrimps w/Cognac & Cream-finished product

WOW, its been an eternity it seems! I knew that I haven’t been posting for quite a while, but I never realised just how long that “while” was. My last post dates from the 14th of May!!!

Its not that we’ve been food-less since, its more like its been an unusually tough few months. What a year 2016 turned out to be: a bad fall, broken bones, surgery, and a long, very long, recovery….. And today? thankfully the last of it. The 31st of December, and not a moment too soon!

I am thankful, and grateful, for the lessons that this year has brought, but happy and relieved to say goodbye all the same. Thanks but no thanks, it is quite enough! I welcome 2017 with arms wide open and look forward to cheer and joy, to friends and fun, laughter, drinks of course, and tons of good food.

Today, to celebrate, I decided to make Sol’s shrimps.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve made this dish, so it may not turn out “exact”, but its the right day for it. Having Sol in the kitchen with me today is just what I need, and OMG this dish smacks of my big brother so much, that every time I make it, I could swear that he is right here with me, sipping at his scotch and watching me with an amused look on his face!

Sol was 8 years my senior and has been a loving constant in my life ever since I can remember! up until he decided to up and go that is, coming up to nearly six years now.

Sol was my protector, my mentor, my friend, and my biggest fan club. We have always been close, and have managed to remain in close contact throughout the many countries that we each lived in. Never the same one, except for our growing up years!

Our favourite place to hang-out was often in the kitchen, with a drink, concocting a dish of some kind, and always thinking up ways to improve on its prior version.

I miss him terribly… I suspect that I always will…

Sol’s big passion was seafood of any kind! Fish, shell fish, cooked, or raw… anything from the sea had a special place in his heart.

This prawn recipe was one of his favourites…

Cleaning the shrimps:

Frozen shrimps are fine since they’re always readily available, but I will have to ask that you get shrimps with their heads on! A lot of the flavour is in the head, and even if you end up not eating it, it definitely imparts extra flavour to the sauce. It also helps preserve the shrimps in a fairly decent shape, by preventing them from shrinking too much.

Ingredients:

8 jumbo shrimps

a 2cms piece of fresh ginger

1 garlic

1tsp paprika

a knob of butter

a bit of olive oil

cognac (?? I just do it by eye!)

1/3 cup light cream

Method:

You can not prepare this dish ahead of time, it has to be a last minute affair. It is super quick so never really a problem. The only time consuming part is cleaning the shrimps. Sol was the one to teach me how to clean them with scissors. It is quick and easy, just follow the pictures. You can do the cleaning ahead of time, and store the shrimps in the fridge ready to use. No more than a few hours ahead of time.

So, lets start …

grate the ginger and the garlic

melt the butter

mix ginger, garlic, and paprika in it

use half the butter mixture and cook shrimps on medium high heat

turn them over and add the other half of the butter mixture

keep cooking on medium high heat while making sure to shake the pan to cook evenly

add enough cognac to deglaze the pan and get all the nice bits

keep shaking the pan

you may need to add some more cognac if you think the shrimps need a bit more cooking (just use your own judgement!)

add the cream and adjust salt to taste

that’s it, remove from heat!

arrange the shrimps in your serving dish, pour the sauce around, cut some nice fresh crisp bread for moping up the sauce, and place around the dish

Enjoy!!!!

P.S. You can also serve this as a main dish if you wish. It goes beautifully with Basmati rice to soak up the sauce, and sauteed spinach on the side. Personally I tend to lean towards the appetizer form of whatever can be turned into appetizers! I just love the one central dish, many forks, many friends, and many drinks!

Sayaddeya rice w/shrimps

Sayaddeya rice w:shrimps-finished product
Sayaddeya rice w/shrimps-finished product

 

Sayaddeyya” is Arabic for fishermen, so … Fishermen’s rice. Traditionally served with guess what? fish ofcourse.

Until today, that’s what fishermen prepare on their boat, to eat alongside their catch of fish while they’re out at sea.

It got fancy over the years, and now you can add all sorts of spices to the dish, even pine nuts if you wish. But at its very base its mainly 2 major ingredients: lots of onions and cumin.

You can have it plain, or have bits and pieces of “fishy” stuff added to it while cooking.

For this recipe I used shrimps.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups rice (rinsed well)

500 grs frozen shrimps (ofcourse you can use fresh, but the weight here refers to the frozen weight. So probably around 400 grs after defrosting)

2 large onions grated (in the picture you see 3, since they were small-ish)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp curry powder

2 tsps cumin powder

water as per cooking instructions of your rice + 1 extra cup to allow for the cooking of the shrimps

1 soup cube

Method:

Place a little olive oil in the pot, add the grated onions, and fry while stirring frequently, until the onion is very dark, looking as if almost burned. (Don’t put your attention elsewhere while this is happening, you need to stay on top of it and keep stirring, or else the onion will burn and acquire a bitter taste.)

add the spices

add the tomato paste

add the water

add the soup cube

add the rice

cover and simmer until you can still see “some” water

add the shrimps

mix well

cover again and keep simmering until the rice is done.

Enjoy!

Stir Fried Fish Kababs

Stir fried fish kababs-close up
Stir fried fish kababs

I love this recipe! It is delicious, easy, and quick. The only trouble is that you can not do the stir frying until you’re ready to eat, i.e. its got to be done while your guests are already there!

It doesn’t present a problem for me, as I have an open kitchen, and I can work while still chatting with my guests. Asking for the occasional help from your guests won’t hurt either, just keep the wine flowing and the conversation going, and you’ll be done before you know it!

I usually serve this dish with Sayaddeya Rice w/shrimps. You will find the recipe in the Rice section.

Ingredients:

1 kg fish fillet (I find Perch fillets readily available in the frozen section of our supermatket, and I like the fact that Perch doesn’t smell very “fishy”. But you can use any of your favourite kinds as long as its meaty, firm, and doesn’t tend to fall apart easily).

a small piece of ginger grated

grated rind from 1 lemon

pepper flakes (I didn’t measure, I just sprinkled! Same for the paprika and the salt.)

sweet Paprika

salt

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsps fish sauce

1 medium onion cut in wedges

1 red pepper cut in medium size pieces

Method:

Cut the fish in fairly decent size cubes

sprinkle all the spices including the lemon juice & the fish sauce

add some olive oil

mix well with your hands and everything is nicely combined

add the cut onions & peppers

mix, cover, and place in the refrigerator

(You can do all this ahead of time, as the fish tastes better when its been left to marinate for a few hours. You will need to get it out of the fridge about an hour or so before you anticipate using it).

when ready, heat your frying pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil, and place the fish kebabs & vegetables in smallish batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Shake to stir as its cooking, try not to use the spatula too much so as not to brake the fish

when you’re satisfied with the colour, add a tiny bit of white wine in the corner of the pan (not directly on the fish), and “shake” the pan to de-glaze and coat the fish

remove to your serving dish, and continue with your batches until all the fish is done

tare some parsley pieces on top and serve.

Enjoy!

Rice w/vermicelli & pine nuts

Rice w:vermicelli & pine nuts-close up
Rice w/vermicelli & pine nuts:

For all the rice dishes in this category I will use Basmati rice. If you can get your hands on Egyptian rice, then by all means do, you will absolutely love the difference! Unfortunately I can not find it where I live, so I use my next favourite which is Basmati.

I also always rinse my rice well before using, it helps get rid of some of the starch.

Ingredients:

2 cups rice (rinsed)

2 vermicelli balls (crushed, as in picture)

¼ cup pine nuts

3 small grains mastic (it adds a lovely aroma)

water as per cooking instructions of your rice

1 soup cube

Method:

Brown the pine nuts in a tiny bit of olive oil, keep your eye on it as it tends to burn very fast.

Place on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil and set aside, you won’t need it until the very end

put the crushed vermicelli in a frying pan, add some olive oil, and toast till dark golden. Make sure you keep stirring to colour evenly

in the pot where you’re going to cook the rice, add a bit of olive oil, add the 3 grains of mastike, and heat till you see the mastike melting

add the water, the soup cube

add the rice

add the vermicelli

some crushed pepper corn

adjust salt if needed

cover & simmer till cooked

transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

Enjoy!

Dada’s Zucchini w/chickpeas in tomato sauce

Dada's Zucchini w:chickpeas in tomatoe sauce-close up
Dada’s Zucchini w/chickpeas in tomato sauce

Best Served with rice.

Actually rice is pretty much a given on a daily basis, for the majority -if not all- Egyptian families. The Egyptian rice is highly aromatic and has got a distinctive flavour not to be found in any other rice of any kind. As an Egyptian, very much “into” the foods & aromas of my childhood, I can assure you that I know my rice.

Unfortunately I can not get a hold of Egyptian rice where we live, so I use Basmati instead, and prepare it the Egyptian way.

Because of it being a daily staple, rice dishes present themselves in a variety of ways in the Egyptian cuisine. All depending of course on the dish that it is showing up to compliment.

For Dada’s Zucchini, I will use the rice w/vermicelli & pine nuts. No other reason than “just because” that’s how she served it!

You will find the recipe for the rice listed under what else?! “rice” of course. Anticipating that I shall be posting a variety of rice dishes as we proceed, I decided to give it a category of its own!

Now lets get on with Dada’s Zucchini dish.

A favourite way of cooking vegetables in Egypt is in tomato sauce. Sometimes meat is added in it to give extra flavour, but often without.

Ingredients:

4 large zucchinis (or 6 medium ones) sliced. If too big, cut zucchini in half then slice.

1 onion chopped

1 garlic chopped

140 grs tomato paste (or 4 large tbsps)

2 cups cooked chick peas

2 cups water

1 soup cube

Method:

saute onions in a bit of olive oil

add garlic

add tomato paste

add chick peas

add water

add soup cube

bring to a boil

adjust salt if needed

add sliced zucchini

simmer on medium heat until zucchini is done to your liking.

(you may need to add more water as its cooking, to ensure there is enough sauce in the end.)

Serve in a separate bowl, alongside the vermicelli rice.

Enjoy!

Oriental chicken cubes on Basmati

Oriental Chicken cubes on Basmati-close up
Oriental Chicken Cubes on Basmati

Absolutely delicious, great for parties, and extremely easy. You can even cook the chicken the night before to save on time. Cover it really well to keep it moist, refrigerate, and just reheat when you’re ready.

Because of the super yummy sauce this rich marinade creates, I like to serve this chicken over rice. I often add a cup of frozen green peas to the rice before cooking it, the bit of green adds a nice colour to the dish. Just make sure you add an extra ½ cup liquid to the rice’s cooking water or broth to account for the peas.

Ingredients:

500grs chicken breasts fillets

marinade:

2 tbsps oil

2 tbsps honey

3 tbsps soya sauce

3 tbsps vinegar

2 tbsps grated ginger

2 tbsps chopped parsley

1 garlic minced

Method:

cut chicken in small-ish cubes

mix all in ingredients of the marinade and pour over chicken

mix really well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight

when ready, pour the entire mixture including the marinade in a baking tray large enough that the chicken cubes sit in it in one layer

bake on 4th shelf from bottom in a 200centigrade preheated oven for 30-40mns or until nicely coloured. Make sure you take the tray out two or three times and give it a couple of stirs so that the chicken cooks well on all sides

when you’re ready to serve, put the rice first in the serving dish, spoon your chicken on to cover the surface, then pour your sauce over that.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Eggplant rolls stuffed w/feta

There are certain vegetables that are always available in the market regardless of the time of year. They somehow manage to always look their best; bright, fresh, and inviting.

Good old dependable Eggplant is one of those.

Almost all cultures have numerous dishes centered around eggplant, and Greece is ofcourse no exception. This versatile vegetable shows up in dips, in appetizers, in main dishes, as well as in many new creative combinations that are popping up to surprise us all the time.

This delicious appetizer is fairly easy to prepare, providing you oven-grill instead of frying, and combined with a few black olives and some crisp fresh village bread, it is an ideal companion to a few glasses of ouzo and a nice conversation with friends.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants

olive oil to brush

sea salt

sauce:

2 green onions

2 tbsp tomato paste

Filling:

1 green onion chopped

1/3 cup chopped parsley

a large slice of feta

Method:

slice the eggplant into 3/4cm thick slices lengthwise

brush with olive oil

sprinkle with sea salt

place on oven tray lined with parchment paper & grill in a preheated oven till golden

turn the slices over and repeat (oil/salt/grill)

make sure you don’t grill more than 5mns per side, depending on your oven maybe even less, as it may surprise you & burn really fast!

while the eggplant is grilling, prepare your sauce:

slice green onions and saute in a bit of olive oil

add the tomatoes paste, some water, salt, and simmer to make a light tomato sauce

set aside to cool

mix your ingredients for the filling

lay the cooled eggplant slices on a flat surface, place some of the filling (as in picture), roll up, and arrange in a baking dish

spoon some sauce over each and bake in a preheated 200centigarde oven for 20mns

Personally I prefer it as an appetizer as mentioned above, but you can also serve it as a starter if you wish.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken liver, rice, & corn salad

Chicken liver rice & corn salad
Chicken liver, rice, & corn salad

This has been one of my staple, fall-back-on dishes, to cook for parties, whether at our home or to take along to one, for many many years now!     It absolutely never fails, it is delicious, and besides being easy to prepare, it is also different, and miles more impressive then the traditional party-salads that we are all used to seeing on a buffet!

Ingredients:

500 grs chicken livers

1 onion grated

1 large clove garlic chopped

1 ½ cups basmati

1 can corn drained (reserve liquid for rice)

1 soup cube

chopped parsley

vinaigrette:

2 tbsp wine vinegar

6 tbsp olive oil

1tsp Dijon mustard

salt & pepper

Method:

clean chicken livers & cut into small pieces

add salt & pepper

saute in olive oil in large enough pan (make sure to not over crowd)

remove & set aside

in the same pan, saute onion

half way through add the garlic

add rice, stir

add the reserved corn liquid + enough water to cook the rice

add soup cube

add drained corn

when rice water starts to boil add the chicken liver

cover & simmer until cooked

remove from heat!

while still hot add vinaigrette

move to the serving salad bowl

when cool, sprinkle chopped parsley on top

serve room temperature

Enjoy!