Monthly Archives: May 2011

soups – intense tomato soup with pesto, french onion soup & and girolle mushroom soup

Intense tomato soup ingredients: serves 4
1)      1 jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil
2)      1 can of chopped tomatoes
3)      4 tsp of tomato purée
4)      1 tsp of dried basil, 1 tsp of dried oregano, ½ tsp of thyme (optional)
5)      2 cloves of garlic
6)      2 shallots
7)      fresh basil- 1,5 bunch (save a few leafs for decoration)
8)      about 100 ml of good quality oil
9)      1 cup of grated parmezan cheese
10)   100 g of pine nuts
11)   salt and pepper for seasoning
12)   1 slice of smoked salmon per person
13)   about 1,2 l of vegetable (or chicken if you wish) stock
14)  ½ tsp of dried chili
15)   1-2 tsp of sugar ( add if needed for balance- tomatoes can be quite acidic)
1)      chop the shallots and garlic and sauté them delicately in a soup pan. (use a tbsp or two of oil so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.) season the onions and garlic to taste.
2)      Drain the sun dried tomatoes and chop them finely. Throw them into the pot with onions and stir for 2-3 min.
3)      Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puré. Stir well.
4)      Add the herbs- dried basil, oregano, thyme, chili. Let them do their magic.
5)      Add the stock and stir well, so the tomato purée can disolve.
6)      Bring the soup to the boil and simmer for about 15 min on a rather high heat.
7)      Start with the pesto: into a mixer/blender add basil,parmezan & pine nuts. Start blending, and gradually add the oil. – pesto is ready.
8)      After the soup has boiled for 15 min and reduced a little bit, it’s ready to blend. Blend it until smooth. Season to taste well with salt, pepper and sugar!!
9)      Slice the salmon flaps into smaller chunks. Put them on the bottom of the plate.
10)  Poor hot soup on top of it, decorate with pesto and few fresh basil leafs. You can also stir some cream through it just for the wow effect  done!

Now for the french onion soup:
Ingredients: serves 4-5
1)      8-9 large white onions – sliced in half moons
2)      50 ml of dry sherry
3)      1,5 tsp of dried thyme
4)      2 cloves of garlic – pressed
5)      2 tbsp of butter
6)      1,5 l of chicken stock.
7)      Salt and pepper to taste.
Let’s start! Preparation:
1)      melt the butter in a deep soup pan. Add the onions chopped in half moons and fry them off well, until they turn brownish and carmelize well ( this stage is crucial as the colour of the onions will add the colour to the whole soup, you need to carmelize them well, but not burn them on the edges!)
2)      add thyme, salt and pepper. Add the sherry. Let it evaporate.
3)      Add the stock, let it come to the boil and simmer for 20 min. remove any impurities from the top.
4)      By the end, season to taste with salt and pepper.
5)       This soup should be served In a deep pot-bowl with a garlic-cheese crouton on top. With all of the cheese melted on it ( preferably gruyere cheese) but it’s only optional. If you’re watching your callories- have it without the crouton. It’ll still be delicious!

Our last recipe of the day is Girole mushroom soup.
Ingredients: serves 4
250 g of girolle mushrooms- cleaned
handful of fresh parsley
1 clove of garlic
salt, pepper
1,2 l chicken stock
150 mls of semi-dry white wine
1 cup ( about 120 mls) of cream
1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of flour
2 shallots- chopped
1 piece of baguette per person- smeared with garlic and some butter-toasted.
Handful of grated gruyere cheese
1)      melt the butter in a deep pan, add shallots and garlic. Fry them off gently. When they’re soft, add the mushrooms. Sauté them off for 2-3 min. add the wine and wait till it evaporates-season with salt and a lot of black pepper. remove them from the pan, put them aside.
2)      Melt some more butter in the same pan, add the flour and make a roux ( butter- flour mix to thicken our soup). When the flour and butter is combined- start adding the stock. Stir in constantly, whisking so there are no lumps. The stock will become a bit milky from the flour, that’s when you throw the mushrooms back in. and wait till the mushrooms infuse the stock.
3)      Cook for about 5-7 min on a medium heat
4)      Finish off with cream. Stir it through
5)      Serve with green parsley – absolutley delicious!!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s recipes. There’s more to come tomorrow!- party snacks, sauces and interesting twists on classics, comming soon! stay tuned 🙂 
disclaimer- I am not the author or owner of any pictures added in this blog.

day one! rustic cooking, penne carbonara, bouillabaisse and saffron mayo.

Today’s recipes are going to be italian,&french as they’re very close to my heart. Rustic,comforting,home-made pastas,bakes,soups and sauces – you really can’t go wrong with that. It’s a little bit fatty and yes it will probably make your toosh and thighs bigger, but really, who cares? To me life is about good food and enjoying it! So, ladies, gentleman- today’s recipes : classic and timeless pasta carbonara,  french fish stew-Bouillabaisse and one of my favourite additions to this lovely soup-french saffron mayonaisse

Pasta Carbonara(penne) portion for 3 people.
500g of pasta of your choice-I’m using penne, but that’s only because I am always messy with my pasta,so I go for the shorter kinds, like fussili,farfalle, but you can chose any type you like.
3 eggs-whisked roughly with a fork.
1 cup of heavy cream- yes,yes it’s full of callories, I know. But it’s also luciously delicious!
1,5 cup of grated cheese- now, you can chose parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano, it’s all up to you- you can also you a mixture of both.
About 250 grams of pancetta (italian bacon) it can be easily replaced with normal,smoked bacon.
Black pepper- to taste.
A bit of olive oil- about 2 tbsp.(I use garlic scented oil)
And my twist – a tbsp of parsley per person.( optional ).
Notice- we don’t use salt, that’s because pancetta or bacon are pretty salty, also the cheese we use is salty as well. We don’t want to overseason the pasta, or it’ll be inedible. We will however season the pasta water.
Here we go, let’s get cookin’.
1)      boil water for pasta, ratio- 1l per 100g. season the water after it’s started to boil, salty water has a higher boiling point, and we don’t want to wait that long 😉 – mix the cream,cheese and eggs in a bowl now. Season to taste with pepper- you’ll be able to just use it when you need it asap.
2)      when the water boils, throw the pasta in, and stir gently. Let it come to boil again.
3)      While the pasta is cooking ( I usually take a minute off the time printed on the package, we want our pasta al dente) we can start preparing are sauce. Heat up the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil, and throw in the diced bacon. Fry off till golden brown and it releases some lovely bacony juices.
4)      By the time the bacon has browned nicely, pasta should be ready. Drain it and throw it into the pan with bacon- now we need to work quickly, toss the pasta to coat it with bacony juices and oil.
5)      Turn off the heat under the pan, poor in the egg-cheese-cream mixture. And toss. Don’t worry, the heat in the base of the pan and in the pasta itself, will cook the mixture.
6)      Finish off with parsley and some extra cheese on top if you wish. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper for the visual effect. Serve immediately.

Now, onto our next dish- the french fish soup- Bouillabaisse. Don’t let the name scare you. It’s easy to make, it’s delicious and healthy. A perfect soup for a summer’s eve. Reminds me of vacation, sea and lovely warm south of France every single time.
So let’s get crackin’.
                   3 red mullets, descaled
·                                 450g/1lb of monkfish fillet
·                                 1 x 900g/2lb sea bass descaled
·                                 12 raw large tiger prawns
·                                 5 tbsp olive oil
·                                 2 onions finely chopped
·                                 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
·                                 2 leeks finely chopped
·                                 1 bulb fennel, finely chopped (reserve the tops)
·                                 675g/1½lb tomatoes, chopped
·                                 1 tsp of fennel seeds
·                                 1 tsp tomato paste
·                                 1 small bunch freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
·                                 3 sprigs fresh thyme
·                                 2 bay leaves
·                                 2 strips orange peel
·                                 500ml/1pt fish stock
·                                 2L/3½pt bottle mineral water
·                                 1 tsp saffron stamens
·                                 5-10g/1-2tsp salt
·                                 2 tbsp pernod, or similar
·                                 36 mussels
bare in mind- this serves at least 6-7 people, so the amounts are big! It’s still worth it, even though it might seem like a huge amount of work. Now, preparation method.. here it goes: 


1.                               Remove the heads from the prawns, cut along the length of their backs with a sharp knife and remove the intestinal tract. Set aside. Cut the monkfish into 4cm/1½in chunks. Fillet the sea bass and red mullet, reserving the head and bones.Cut each fillet of sea bass into three pieces.
2.                               Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic, leek, and fennel. Cook gently for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, but not coloured.
3.                               Stir in the tomatoes, fennel seeds, tomato purée, all the prawn shells and fish trimmings, the chopped parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Add the orange zest, fish stock and mineral water and finally the saffron. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes skimming the surface occasionally to remove any When the fish broth has reduced to about 1.7L/3½pt, remove from the heat and strain into a clean pan. Add the pernod, taste and season accordingly. Return to a simmer and add the monkfish, mussels, sea bass and red mullet. Bring back up to a simmer and add the prawns. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until the mussels have opened and the prawns have turned pink.
4.                               Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fish to a warm serving plate and pour the soup into a tureen. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately

Now- according to me a real bouillabaisse needs a rustic garlic toast and french saffron mayo. – it’s optional, you do not have to make it – it’s only a fancy addition ( it’s delicious though! )
serve a spoon-full on top of the bouillabaisse.
here’s how to make it : dip a pinch of saffron in warm water. (about 3-4 tbsp.) let it ooze colour and flavour to the water. whisk it into the may0- you can buy a good quality french mayo or make it yourself. (cool the mixture in the fridge for about 20 min before serving).

disclaimer- I am not the author or owner of any pictures added in this blog.

mushroom risotto, chicken&spinach lasagne, frangelico tiramisu!

Mushroom risotto ingredients: serves 4
1) 300g carnerolli rice( it’s a type of risotto rice, you can always use a different type, that’s destined for risotto. Rice for risotto is rice.. please don’t use the cheap quick-cooking types,nor basmati or any other curry-destined rices. It has to be good quality, otherwise it’ll taste bad. As simple as that.
2) 1,2 l of stock- I use mushroom stock of my own making. You don’t have to. You can use vegetable stock. I wouldn’t use chicken or beef-cause of their over-powering flavour.and besides, if it’s a meaty stock,vegetarians can’t eat the risotto. So vegetable or mushroom stock. Don’t be afraid to use concentrated stock. There’s nothing wrong with it!!
3) half a cube (about 150 g of cold unsalted butter.
4) mushrooms of your choice- I use a selection of dried(they add lovely dark,rich colour.)and fresh mushrooms. Such as girole mushrooms, simple champignons or chestnut mushrooms.(sometimes I add king bolete as well- dried ones)- w/e you add you will need quite a lot of mushrooms- 150 g of giroles, 2 handfuls of dried boletes, and about 150 g of chestnut mushrooms-fresh.
5) 2 cups of shredded parmezan cheese. – use good quality cheese, if you use those pre-grated pseudo-parmezans.. the risotto will come out awful.
6) 1 tea spoon of fresh thyme(do not use lemon thyme! It’ll ruin the dish and make it taste of lemon air-freshnerJ) 1 tea spoon of rosemary
7) 2 shallots- finely chopped
8) 2 cloves of garlic
9) glass of dry white wine of your choice.
10) pepper to taste.
11) generous handful of flat leaf parsley
Does it sound complicated? it’s really not! let’s start.
1 ) fry off the shallots and garlic, add the herbs and season to taste.
2) add the mushrooms, fry off for 2-3 min, add the wine and simmer until it evaporates.
3) add the rice, and coat it by stiring. 
4) start adding the stock, gradually, let the rice absorb the liquid and add next portion of liquid.
5) when your the rice absorbs all the liquid, add cold butter, stir it in. it’ll make the risotto runnier and creamier.
6) add the cheese, stir it in. season to taste if needed.
7) serve in a deep plate, eat with a spoon 🙂


Chicken & spinach lasagne ingredients: serves 4

1)      1 box of lasagne pasta leafs –verdi or natural , whatever you preffer.
2)      4 chicken fillets- diced
3)      1 can of chopped tomatoes
4)      2 cloves of garlic-chopped
5)      1 onion-diced
6)      1 tsp of thyme, 1 tsp of rosemary, 1 tsp of basil, 1 tsp of oregano
7)      ½ tsp of chili
8)      1 bag of spinach- fresh
9)      ½ l of milk
10)   4 tbsp of plain white flour
11)   50 g of butter
12)   salt & pepper to taste
13)   grated cheese – about 150 g

let’s start!

1)      fry off the chicken just so the edges sear and colour a little, with 1 onion,garlic,chili, and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Poor the chopped tomatoes over the chicken and simmer 2-3 min until it reduces a little.
2)      Sauté the spinach in a frying pan with some salt and pepper until it just whilts.
3)      Prepare the bechamel sauce : melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and stir it in, gradually add the milk whisking the mixture- so the flours spreads evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t cook it, just heat it, until the mixture turns thick.
4)      Butter an oven dish, make the first layer of chicken, then spinach, lasagne pasta and bechamel,then cheese. Repeat it until you fill the dish or run out of ingredients. Final layer has to be bechamel-cheese though!
5)      Bake for about 35-40 minutes in a pre-heated oven, 180C.
6)      Serve hot! 
Frangelico tiramisu ingredients: serves 4 ( I use a form of 25x25cm)

1) 1 cup of good espresso- about 200 ml
2) 100 ml frangelico (+ extra 60 ml for the cheese-filling)
3) 150-200 g of very fine sugar (if you like it less sweet- add less)
4) about 40 savoiardi cookies (traditional italian biscits used for tiramisu (that’s how many I need for my form. You may need a little bit more or less- depending on how big your form is)
5) 2 tbsp of good quality cocoa powder
6) 500g of mascarpone cream cheese
7) 2 eggs- separated yolks, whisked whites(to a fluffy foam).
8) 150 g of hazelnuts.

Let’s start!- make sure how many cookies you’re going to need for one layer of tiramisu.I need about 15-17, and you need two layers. So about 30 -34 in total for me.

1)      cool off your espresso, mix it with a cup of frangelico.
2)      Dip your savoiardi cookies in the mixture-( they have to be really wet, but can’t be falling to pieces) lay the first layer in your deep-dish.
3)      Whisk egg yolks with sugar, add 60 ml of frangelico, and mix it with mascarpone until smooth.
4)      Pour half of the mascarpone mixture onto the bottom layer of coffee dipped savoiardi, smoothen it out.
5)      It’s time to dip half of the cookies in coffee mixture again. Dip, lay on top of the cheese mixture. If you have any of the coffee mixture left- you can drizzle it over the top layer of cookies.
6)      Cool the tiramisu for minimum 6 hours. Better if it’s over night. Before serving, top tiramisu with an even layer of hazelnuts and dust over with cocoa. Delicious!

disclaimer- I am not the author or owner of any pictures added in this blog.