Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A new take on cucumber salad

Spicy tasty and so easy to make!

4 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 tsp grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
2 tsp  olive oil
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbs pepitas, toasted and chopped coarse (if you cant find pepitas use browned pine nuts)

1. Evenly spread cucumber slices onto paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate while preparing dressing.

2. Bring vinegar to simmer in 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat; cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Whisk in lime zest, lime juice, oil, jalapeno, sugar, and salt.

3. When ready to serve, add cucumbers and cilantro to dressing and toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkle with pepitas and serve. Eat within the hour

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What the world eats for Breakfast

Saveur is such a great site - so much info there! I thought I'd share this snippet of information with you..
What the world eats for breakfast!

SPAIN Breakfast in Spain is mostly a coffee-and-bread affair, but the country lays claim to one decadent morning option: churros and chocolate. Ridged ,curved batons of deep-fried, sugardusted cruller dough, churros—whose invention has been attributed, variously, to Moors, Sephardic Jews, and hepherds in the Spanish highlands—are dunked in cups of dark, thick hot chocolate.

USA Nearly 40 percent of Americans have consumed cold, leftover pizza for breakfast, according to a 2005 poll conducted by ABC News. America's fixation on quick-prep (and no-prep) breakfast foods—exemplified by such pantry standbys as Bisquick, Jiffy Pancake Mix, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and Quaker Instant Oatmeal—may have reached its apotheosis in 2000 with General Mills's Cereal and Milk Bars, morning repast for those who don't even have time to pour themselves a bowl.
JAPAN It wouldn't be breakfast in Japan without natto, the pungent bean condiment that's often served with rice and grated daikon or chopped scallion, raw quail eggs, and hot mustard or soy sauce, among other foods. Natto is traditionally made by storing soybeans in straw bags; the beans ferment and develop a sticky coating with an intense flavor.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC The cornerstone of Dominican breakfasts is mangu, a creamy mash of boiled plantains, milk, and butter, usually served with eggs and sausage.
AUSTRALIA Weet-Bix may look like health food, but Australian children still hanker for these flaky whole wheat biscuits, which are softened in milk and eaten as breakfast cereal. A legacy of the same Seventh-day Adventist health food movement that produced many of America's best-known cereals, Weet-Bix are also popular in New Zealand and South Africa. The English version is called Weetabix.
NORWAY Smørbrød are small open-face sandwiches composed of various ingredients and usually eaten for lunch. For breakfast, Norwegians eat a simplified smørbrød, often topped with nothing more than a piece of herring.
JAMAICA Ackee and saltfish, Jamaica's favorite breakfast and its national dish, is a meal of contrasts: salty, chewy rehydrated salt cod is sautéed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and ackee, a bright yellow fruit from a West African evergreen tree whose sweet flesh looks and tastes remarkably like scrambled eggs.
ENGLAND Great Britain's beloved Marmite—a sticky dark brown yeast extract with a meaty taste that people either love or hate—was a natural by-product of the beer brewing process before it formally became a breakfast condiment, in 1902. Like its Australian cousin Vegemite, it is often spread over toast, slathered on cheese biscuits, or served with eggs.
VENEZUELA The small, round cornmeal pancakes called arepas are so popular that many Venezuelan kitchens have an appliance that exists solely for cooking them; called an arepera, it's a distant relative of the waffle iron, with circular molds that turn out perfectly shaped discs. In their traditional breakfast incarnation, the cakes are often stuffed with cream cheese or butter and honey.
ITALY Gianduja, a paste-like confection of chocolate and hazelnuts native to Italy's Piedmont region, was the inspiration for the breakfast spread Nutella, which was introduced to the world in the 1940s by the Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero. Loved by children (and quite a few grown-ups) as a topping for toast, Nutella is now sold in more than 75 countries and is more popular than peanut butter.
VIETNAM A steaming bowl of the aromatic noodle soup known as pho starts the day for much of Vietnam; indeed, it could be called the country's national dish. Even so, pho's origins are international: the noodles are courtesy of the Chinese, and the rich beef stock is French influenced.
SOMALIA A Somali breakfast wouldn't be complete without laxoox, a sourdough flatbread, similar to Ethiopian injera, that's traditionally eaten with honey, butter, or beans.
EGYPT Ful medames, the breakfast specialty consisting of fava beans simmered with garlic, is Egypt's national dish. Many claim that it's as old as the pyramids, based on the evidence of favas found in pharaonic-era tombs.
UGANDA This is the only country in the world where cash-strapped students queue up to buy rolexes: not the wristwatches but the breakfast specialty that happens to bear the same name. A rolex (the word is derived from the phrase rolled eggs) is an omelette loaded with tomatoes, cabbage, beans, and onions rolled up in a fresh chapatti, a tortilla-like flatbread.
USA The flaky Southern-style quick breads known as biscuits serve as a conduit for regional flavors. In Appalachia, sweet and heady sorghum syrup is ladled over hot biscuits. In the deep South, flour-thickened white sausage gravy is the favored accompaniment. In the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, there's even chocolate gravy for pouring over biscuits. And almost anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line, fruit preserves are a biscuit's best friend.
RUSSIA Kasha, a porridge made from grains such as buckwheat, oats, and wheat, is a key player in the traditional Russian breakfast. Mothers often start their babies on jarred kasha—flavored with sweet ingredients like apples, apricots, pumpkin, and prunes—ensuring lifelong loyalty.
GHANA The chile sauce known as shitto distinguishes breakfast in this West African country; it's usually served with local specialties like kenkey, a fermented corn mash, and fried fish. There are two versions of shitto, equally popular at morning meals: one is made with fresh chiles, tomatoes, and onions; the other is a more robust variety, also known as black pepper sauce, which is made with preserved fish.
IRAQ Bread is king at Iraqi breakfasts, where one finds gaymar wa dibis, a dish of fresh cheese and date syrup on khubz, a round flatbread that's baked on the inner wall of a traditional tannour oven. Khubz, like the crusty baguette look-alike known as sammoun, is also eaten with fried or hardboiled eggs.
WORLDWIDE Just as a French rooster sounds unlike an American one, the onomatopoeic Rice Krispies mascots Snap! Crackle! Pop! have different names in other countries. In Sweden, they're Piff! Paff! Puff!; in Finland, Poks! Riks! Raks!; in Germany, Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!; and in South Africa, Knap! Knaetter! Knak!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Artichoke and Mushroom Soufflé

This is another great recipe I got from Saveur.
Artichokes are a favourite of mine and this souffle is amazing!

6 artichokes, trimmed (read here how to prepare and trim artichokes)
5 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 white mushrooms
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. heavy cream
6 eggs, separated
Grated nutmeg
1. Cook artichokes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, remove leaves, scrape off meat with a spoon, and reserve. Remove and discard choke from heart, then trim heart so it sits flat.
2. Put each trimmed heart into a buttered individual soufflé dish. Use 2 tbsp. of the butter to grease six strips of parchment paper or foil, 12" × 4". Wrap and tie buttered parchment collars around soufflé dishes. Keep in place with kitchen string. Put dishes on a baking sheet.
3. Heat oil in a sauté pan, add mushrooms and reserved artichoke meat. Sauté until mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide mushrooms among artichoke hearts.
4. Preheat oven to 425°. Melt remaining 3 tbsp. butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, and stir in flour. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then slowly whisk in milk and cream. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of nutmeg. Continue cooking until thickened.
5. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they stand stiffly in peaks. Carefully fold egg whites into thickened milk mixture. Divide "soufflé" mixture among the soufflés. Place in oven for 15 minutes then lower heat to 375°, continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
6. The soufflés should be served as soon as they are out of the oven.
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #1

Friday, December 17, 2010

Timpana for Christmas!

Timpana is the ultimate pasta pie. Macaroni is cooked separately (to under al dente stage) and added to a rich bolognaise style sauce, often with chicken livers. With the addition of eggs, the mixture is cooked in a pastry case in either a deep dish or baking tray until its golden brown. This recipe uses bought puff pastry but I usually like to make it myself - its what we called a rough puff pastry, not as flaky but made with lots of butter!
This recipe can easily feed an army of people and it tastes just as good as leftovers the day after (if there is any left!)

500g puff pastry (frozen sheets)
500g  macaroni or penne
300g minced beef
300g minced pork
300g chicken livers, diced
300g bacon, finely diced
500g onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
150g parmesan cheese, grated
150g  cheese, grated (any other type)
7 eggs, beaten
200g tomato paste
200g tomato purée
500ml chicken or beef stock
150g butter
Salt and pepper

For glaze
100ml milk
1 egg, extra

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Sauté the onions and garlic in butter for 5 minutes.
Add bacon and pork mince, stirring well to separate.
Add beef mince and continue stirring, cooking for 10 minutes.
Add chicken livers  and cook for 5 minutes.
Add stock, mix well and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add tomato paste and tomato purée.

While the sauce is cooking, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just undercooked.
Drain and mix with sauce, adding parmesan and tasty cheese.
Stir in beaten eggs.
Line a greased baking dish with the pastry, extending it up the sides.
Spoon in sauce and cover the top with another layer of pastry which has been pricked all over with a knife to let steam escape.
Beat together glaze ingredients and paint top of timpana all over.
Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Recipe adapted from one I found on an Australian site - There are more Maltese in Australia than there are in Malta!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Bragioli are often called beef olives although no olives are used! The 'olive' refers to the way the beef is wrapped round the stuffing but sometimes people use it as a name for the whole dish
A traditional Maltese beef dish, Bragioli takes some time to cook but preparation is simple.
This dish probably originated from the Sicilian 'Bragiol" which was one big rolled beef olive

4 Thin slices of beef topside (aprox. 1lb /500 grams )
2 Diced onions
2 Diced carrots
100 gms peas (frozen will do)
3 slices stale white breadcrumbs
2 Hard boiled eggs -chopped
6 Slices of Bacon
1 bunch parsley
2 Garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 glass Red wine

Set oven to 180C / 350F so it will heat up.
Beat each slice of meat flat with a kitchen mallet(or anything that will do!) until as thin as possible.
Chop the bacon, garlic and parsley.
Grind the bread to crumbs, then prepare the stuffing by mixing the crumbs with the chopped bacon, garlic, parsley and seasoning, but not the bay leaves. Add the chopped hard boiled egg.
Some recipes call for the egg to quartered and put on the stuffing and not mixed into it but i prefer this way.
Put a heaped tablespoon or two of the stuffing onto a slice of meat.
Roll up the meat slices lengthwise over the stuffing, and fasten together with wooden toothpicks.(traditionally, thread was used to tie up the bragioli and when removed after cooking they actually keep their shape really well. I tried using ordinary sewing thread and it worked!)
Pour some oil in a large pan, and brown the beef olives all over in this, together with the bay leaves.
Put the browned bragioli and bay leaves into a casserole dish.
Fry the sliced onion and carrot in the same oil.
Pour the wine over the frying vegetables.Let the sauce reach a slow boil and then pour this over the bragioli in the casserole dish.
Add the peas.
Simmer very gently for 1½ hours. You probably will have to add a little more wine to top up the braising liquid, but don't add too much, otherwise the bragioli will not cook correctly.
Remove the bay leaf and serve with your favourite vegetables or even a large portion of chips and salad. I prefer mashed, boiled or roasted potatoes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grilled Pork Fillet

..or tenderloin! I still think of it as pork fillet.
This is a yummy recipe that has a tasty stuffing and can be served with another vegetable or salad.
The rolled pork looks great when sliced.

Grilled Pork Fillet with Pepper Stuffing
Serves 4 to 6

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into ½-inch pieces
2 peppers peppers, (grilled and cooled)
2 ounces Pecorino cheese, shredded (½ cup)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach
2 (1 ¼ to 1 ½ pound) pork fillets, silver skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Pulse bread, peppers, pecorino, pine nuts, garlic, thyme, and paprika in 
food processor until coarsely chopped, 5 to 10 pulses; season with salt and 
pepper to taste. Combine sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in 

2. Cut each tenderloin in half horizontally, stopping ½-inch away from edge so 
halves remain attached. Open up tenderloins, cover with plastic wrap and 
pound to ¼-inch thickness. Trim any ragged edges to create rough rectangle 
about 10 inches by 6 inches. 

3. With long side of pork facing you, lay ½ cup spinach over bottom half of 
pork followed by half of pepper mixture, leaving 1/2-inch border around 
edges. Roll away from you into tight cylinder, taking care not to squeeze 
stuffing out ends. Position tenderloin seam-side down. Evenly space 5 pieces 
twine underneath and tie. Repeat with remaining tenderloin, spinach, and 

4a. For Charcoal Grill: Light large chimney starter filled with 
charcoal (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour in 
even layer over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and heat grill 
until hot, about 5 minutes.

4b. For Gas Grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill 
until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other 

5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Coat pork with oil, then rub entire surface with 
brown sugar mixture. Place pork on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until 
center of stuffing registers 140 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pork once 
halfway through cooking. 

6. Transfer pork to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and rest 20 minutes. 
Remove twine, slice pork into ½-inch-thick slices, and serve

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Blogger - 5 must have cook books of 2010

Five Must-Have Cookbooks of 2010

Gerald Arnolds is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your online nursing degree  for the Guide to Health Education.

Though cookbooks come and go, there are always at least a couple of standouts being published every year. Here are a handful of essential kitchen additions (all published in 2010), along with my two cents on what sets these apart from all the rest. With Christmas looming, consider sharing the gift of good food.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine : This year, René Redzepi's Noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark, was called the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine, ending ElBulli's reign on top of that list. Noma is the end-all, be-all of locavorism; Redzepi doesn't use any ingredients he cannot acquire within a certain distance of the restaurant, meaning that cooking wine goes out the door in favor of beer, musk ox replaces other animals in the handful of meat dishes present, and typical staples such as foie gras and olive oil aren't to be found.
The book includes several gorgeous maps explaining where his ingredients come from and the recipes—while on the higher end of the culinary spectrum—are beautifully photographed. "The Snowman from Jukkasjärvi" and "Blueberries in their Natural Environment," among others, are unforgettable.

Now Eat This!: 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Calories : Rocco DiSpirito's goal in Now Eat This! is to explain where the calories come from in traditional comfort food dishes; Think penne alla vodka, onion rings, and seared tuna, and cut them down while adding nutrients where there once weren't any. For example, in the penne alla vodka recipe, DiSpirito replaces heavy cream with Greek yogurt, which retains the same essential thickness without compromising the flavor.

The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century : This cookbook is a classic compilation of the Times' recipes from 1850 onward. Amanda Hesser (the editor) contributes notes and commentary throughout the book, documenting her experiences culling through a century and a half's worth of archived recipes. The book is very much a tour of American culinary history; you get recipes such as Dwight Eisenhower's steak, early sour cream coffee cakes, and many others.

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes : Harold McGee's newest book is aimed less at the food professional than the inexperienced amateur, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is a companion guide to be used alongside other cookbooks to help aspiring chefs discover basic tips and techniques in the kitchen, the rules of food handling, and guides to certain kinds of food, which he did so well in On Food and Cooking. Seasoned chefs have expressed disappointment with this text but do contend that a novice cooks will be overjoyed with the detailed explanations.

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours : The featured recipe from this cookbook is called "Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good." How can someone turn down something stuffed with everything good? This cookbook is a personal reflection of Greenspan's cuisine more than it is a summary of French cuisine, emphasizing braises, stews, roasted meats, tagines, tarts, and quiches, among other things. This isn't crazy-sophisticated food, and it doesn't try to be, but it is modern Parisian cooking and it's surprisingly accessible.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


This is a really good recipe that I got from Real Simple

Happy Hanukkah!


  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 2 lbs peeled potatoes
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup  flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  eggs, beaten
  • applesauce and sour cream, for serving


  1. Heat oven to 450° F. Brush 2 baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of the oil and set aside.
  2. Using a box grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding blade, coarsely grate the potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in a large bowl with the onion, flour, salt, pepper, eggs, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Toss to mix well.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and press lightly to make patties. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the latkes with a metal spatula and rotate the baking sheets. Bake another 5 minutes or until golden.
  4. Transfer to a platter and serve with the applesauce and sour cream.
     This recipe makes 2 dozen latkes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chocolate truffles

This is a really easy recipe that was given to me by a colleague at work. The success of these truffles depends solely on the ingredients used.
First decide on the type of chocolate - milk or dark? sweet, semi sweet or white. Whatever your preference try and get the best quality possible.
Next is your choice of the alcohol you will be using. If you want a coffee flavour, tia Maria or Kahlua mixed with some strong coffee powder should do the trick. Grand Marnier and some orange zest should make great orange flavoured truffles....and so on....use your imagination!

A quick note, you don't have to use alcohol - you can also use jam or fruit puree instead.
The truffles will then be rolled in powdered chocolate/cocoa powder - again, choose a good quality chocolate.You can also re roll in chocolate sprinkles.

The ingredients are just a few:
8 ounces (227 grams) chocolate, cut into small pieces. My preference is for semi-sweet
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons alcohol (or jam)
Orange zest, coffee or whatever you have decided to use.
Powdered chocolate/chocolate sprinkles
Way to go
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. You could also sue a food processor but don't grind too finely.
Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Stir with a whisk until smooth.
If desired, add the alcohol or flavoring

Cover and place in the fridge until the truffle mixture is firm .This can take a couple of hours so I find its sometimes better to leave overnight and continue the next day.
Shape the Truffles.
Decide on your coating - chocolate powder, can also just be icing sugar, again, imagination comes in handy! Put the coating in a large flat plate.
Remove the truffle mixture from the fridge
Here is the fun part... form the chocolate into round bite-sized balls, using your fingers - the faster and less contact with warm hands the better!
Roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray.
Cover and place in the fridge until firm.
Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months.
Bring to room temperature before serving.
You can also place them in letter paper cups for presentation. They look so professional and are so yummy that they also make a great gift.
here in Arizona i can only do that in winter - its way too hot!!!
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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.