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Octopus with Pasta in the Pot

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Generic

A Greek lenten classic – guaranteed to keep your body going whatever you have to do. Octopus with Pasta in the Pot is going to take some time to cook – approx. 2 hours – but its level of difficulty is minimal: sautee, simmer, stir, do something else while food is cooking. (That difficult. 🙂 ) Enjoy!

Serves: 4 -6
Cooking time: approx. 120 min
You will need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 0.75 – 1 kg (approx. 2lbs) octopus
  • 500g (approx. 1 Lb) pasta, preferably Ditalli, Tubetti or whatever macaroni-like short and hollow pasta you can find.
  • 500g (1 Lb) diced tomatoes. Fresh or canned from a brand you trust.
  • 1 cup (glass) of olive oil.
  • 1/2 cup of white wine or a 1/4 cup vinegar. (Do prefer grape vinegar if that’s an option.)
  • 2-3 diced onions.
  • 3-4 diced garlic cloves.
  • 4 cups of hot water.
  • Salt & pepper.

Istructions

  1. Wash the octopus and cut it in small pieces.
  2. Dice the onions, the garlic and the tomatoes.
  3. Pour the olive oil in a pot, place the pot on the stove and turn on the fire to mid-high.
  4. Wait for a few minutes until the oil is hot and then add in the onions.
  5. Sautee the onions until translucent and add the garlic.
  6. Give it a stir or two and add the octopus.
  7. Sautee the mixture for about 5 minutes.
  8. Lower the fire to medium-low.
  9. Add the wine or vinegar.
  10. Give it a stir, wait for a beat or two, then add 1 glass of hot water.
  11. Add pepper to taste.
  12. Cover the pot.
  13. Let it simmer for about 90 minutes or until the octopus is tender. Give it a stir from time to time just to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  14. Ninety minutes later: add 3 glasses of hot water.
  15. Add salt to taste.
  16. Add the pasta – Ditalli, Tubetti or similar – to the pot.
  17. Raise the fire to mid-high.
  18. It will take 15-20 min before the pasta is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. So, at this stage stir very often because the pasta can and will stick to the bottom of the pot as it absorbs the liquid.
  19. Turn off the fire, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes and you’re ready to serve.

Notes on Pasta with Octopus in the Pot

  • If you see that the liquid is absorbed but the pasta is not yet cooked, add 1/2 glass of hot water or so and keep stirring. It will get there.
  • It tastes really good the next day (or the day after…. :))
  • If your palate is used to spices, you can freely add chili flakes, cayen pepper, Gochugaru (Korean spice) etc. It will definitely not harm the recipe.
  • If you’re going for spice, do prefer to add the spice while the octopus is simmering: you need the spice to infuse the liquid and the liquid to infuse the pasta.
  • Enjoy!

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Goat in Fruit Juice in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

This one is very interesting. You marinate the goat meat in lemon and orange juice for 12hrs in the fridge. Then you cook it in the oven for approx. 60 minutes. It contains alcohol.

Serves 6
Cooking time: about 60 min
You need: a bowl and an oven pan
Notes: it requires marinading

Ingredients

  • 1+1/2 Kg (3 Lbs) goat meat cut in portions.
  • 1+1/2 glass (cup) lemon juice
  • 1+1/2 glass (cup) orange juice
  • 1/2 glass (cup) brandy wine or 1/4 glass (cup) red vinegar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 150g olive oil
  • 2-3 Tsp oregano
  • 1 glass (cup) of hot water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the meat into portions.
  2. Salt and pepper it.
  3. Put it in a pyrex bowl.
  4. Add to it the lemon juice, the orange juice, the brandy, the oregano and the garlic.
  5. Cover the bowl in leave it in the fridge for 12hrs.
  6. Then, empty the contents of the bowl into an oven pan.
  7. Add the olive oil and the hot water in the pan.
  8. Cook in medium oven (about 180C/350F) for about 60 min.
  9. Depending on your oven, if you see that the liquid evaporates too fast then add some hot water in the pan so that there’s always gravy.

Suggested side dishes

Pasta

  • 500gr of flat, square pasta. (See Notes, below.)
  • 200g grated of hard cheese for the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta in a separate pot and drizzle it with the cheese.

Boiled and Broiled Potatoes

  • Click here for the recipe.

Notes on Goat in Fruit Juice in the Oven

  • Goat meat is very lean and also sinewy (because it’s very lean). The purpose of marinading it for 12hrs in acid (i.e.brandy, lemon and orange juice) is to break down the fiber before you put it in the oven.
  • Preparing deep frozen goat meat (if that’s the case) has a few tricks. Click here for more.
  • You could potentially substitute brandy wine with red vinegar. If that’s the case then all you need is not more than a 1/4 of glass (cup) vinegar. If that’s your choice then bear in mind that vinegar is corrosive; it will stain the metal and it will leach the plastic. Do prefer a glass or pyrex bowl instead.
  • Regarding the appropriate kind of pasta for this recipe: the Greeks use a kind of pasta called CHYLOPITTES. It usually comes in square form and it contains eggs and milk. The closest Italian equivalent is QUADRATTI or QUADRETTINI and they contain neither eggs, nor milk. You could also use Orzo – there’s no hard rule.

Lamb with Pasta in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

A simple, hearty, traditional (insanely) delicious recipe from Crete, Greece requiring no particular preparation and… very little cooking skills. Of course you can tweak the recipe with more/other spices, but if you’re cooking this recipe for the first time try to keep it simple.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 120 min

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 + 1/2 Kg (2 – 3 Lbs) of lamb. The cut should be a leg with bone.
  • 1 pack of pasta. You can use fettuccine, orzo, maccheroni, caciarecce or any kind of pasta you have in the pantry.
  • 4 fresh tomatoes.
  • 4 – 5 onions.
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 glasses (cups) of hot water.
  • Oregano, salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start the oven at 200C / 390F. While the oven is heating up:
  2. Wash the meat.
  3. Wash the tomatoes.
  4. Clean the garlic cloves. Do NOT dice.
  5. Cut the onions lengthwise, into ribbons. Do NOT dice.
  6. With a knife, make some incisions to the meat near the bone.
  7. Insert the garlic cloves in the slots.
  8. In a little bowl mix salt, pepper and oregano – to your taste. (You don’t need a lot of salt, because lamb is salty by nature.)
  9. Sprinkle the mix all around the meat.
  10. Take a pan. Then:
  11. Put the meat in the middle
  12. Arrange the onions around it.
  13. Add the pasta on top of the onion.
  14. Put the tomatoes in, two on one side of the meat, and two on the other side. (If the pan is round, arrange the tomatoes like a cross.)
  15. Pour two cups of hot water in the pan.
  16. Put the pan in the oven.
  17. Wait for about 90 to 120 minutes – depending on the amount of meat you used: the more the meat, the more the cooking time.
  18. The food is ready when the meat is cooked and the water has evaporated leaving only “juice” behind.

Notes on Lamb with Pasta in the Oven

On the cooking method
The way this recipe works has to do with “balance”: you need enough water to cook the meat and the pasta in the same time.

Now, if – for a number of reasons – the water:

  • is evaporating too fast, then you can add some hot water in the pan.
  • is not evaporating fast enough, then you can increase the cooking temperature.

Spices
You can try coriander, cardamom, or even chili flakes – and combinations thereof.

A Tip regarding how to treat deep frozen meat: here

Pissaladière – French Savoury Tart

Cuisine: French
Region: Provence, Côt D’ Azur

The Pissaladière is a savoury tart made with onions, olives, grated cheese and anchovy fillets. (It looks like… pizza, but French style.)

Serves 6-8
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a tart baking pan and a frying pan

Ingredients

  • 250g (8 oz) shortcrust pastry (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp olve oil
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 12 black olives
  • 60g anchovy fillets
  • 125g (4 oz) grated cheese (Cheddar or Gruyere)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 210C / 420F.
  2. Prepare the shortcrust pastry
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
  4. Roll out the pastry and arrange it on a @30cm / 12in shallow tart baking pan.
  5. Add the sauted onions and spread them around the pan.
  6. Place the olives and the anchovies on top of the onions.
  7. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, evenly.
  8. Bake for @20 min, until the pastry is cooked and the tart looks golden.

Notes on the Pissaladière – French Savoury Tart

  • Serve hot.
  • Shortcrust recipe, here.

Shortcrust Pastry

Cuisine: French
Region: Common

Shortcrust pastry for the Pissaladière or anything else, really.

Makes @ 250g / 8 oz
Preparation time: 10 – 15 min
You need: a baking roller and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ( or glasses) of flower
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • @ 180g cold butter
  • A little cold milk

Instructions

  1. Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Crumble the butter between the tips of your fingers, so that the butter is broken in small crumbs.
  3. Add the milk.
  4. Blend quickly with your hand, turning the dough into a mass.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball. It should be pliable but neither sticky nor damp.
  6. Place the dough onto a pastry board (or any surface you’re using as a pastry board.Our mothers use… the kitchen table 🙂
  7. Knead it gently, to make sure that all the ingredients are mixed well.
  8. Turn it again into a ball, sprinkle some flour on it and wrap it in parchment, or any grease-proof paper.
  9. Put it in the fridge for just a little while – you want it chilled, not cold.
  10. Then, with your baking roller, roll it out to the shape you want.

Notes on Shortcrust Pastry

  • Even you make mistakes, you’ll still end up with a shortcrust, so, no worries. 🙂

Rice with Green Lentils, Raisins and Dates – Persian Style – Adas Polo

Adas Polo or Adas Polow

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian
Region: Common

The Adas Polo is another Persian classic recipe that seldom needs further introduction. The ingredients are available all year long. There are many, many variations of this recipe; some recipes, like this one, are meatless, some use lamb, others use beef, some employ a different mix of spices – the variations are… endless.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 35 min
You need: a skillet, a colander, a rice-cooker and a pot
Notes: It requires soaking for 2 hrs prior to cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1⁄2 cups lentils, soaked
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 1/2Tsp turmeric
  • 1/4Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4Tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2Tsp saffron, dissolved in 2 Tbsp of water – use a pestle and mortar to crush the saffron before you dissolve it in the water.
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted. If available do prefer Ghee.
  • Optional: 1 potato, sliced into thin rounds

Instructions

Phase 1

  1. Wash the rice and soak it for 2 hours (see here)
  2. Wash the lentils very well, leave them to soak for 2 hours and drain them.
  3. Wash the raisins and pat-dry them on a kitchen paper.
  4. Take a large saucepan, add salt, water and the lentils.
  5. Bring it to a boil then reduce the fire to low and simmer the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender.
  6. Take a colander, drain the water from the lentils and set them aside.

Phase 2

  1. In a skillet, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are golden.
  2. Add the raisins, the dates and the spices – except for the saffron.
  3. Mix well and set aside.

Phase 3

  1. Cook the rice. Most of us use rice-cookers, so…
  2. Add the rice in the rice cooker with how ever much water it requires. (Usually 2 measures of water for one measure of rice. Brown rice needs more water.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. After it’s done, transfer the rice to a large bowl.

Phase 4

  1. Take a pot.
  2. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add a layer of potato slices.
  4. On top of the potatoes add a layer of rice.
  5. On top of the rice add a layer of the lentil-raisin-date mix.
  6. Keep on going; the top layer should be rice.
  7. Cover the pot and cook on medium fire for 10 minutes or so.
  8. Drizzle the melted butter and the saffron-water over the rice.
  9. Cover the top of the pot with a towel to prevent steam from escaping, and put a lid on top of the towel.
  10. Cook on low fire for about 30 minutes.
  11. At the end of the process the potatoes on the bottom are going to be crispy and the rice will be steamed and infused with the aromas of your spices.
  12. Ready to serve.

Notes Rice with Green Lentils, Raisins and Dates Persian Style – Adas Polo

  • Phases 1, 2 and 3 can be done simultaneously: put the lentils to simmer, put the rice to cook and saute the onions and the rest while the rest is cooking.
  • In Phase 4 it is common practice to arrange the layers like a pyramid, so that the steam comes out of the sides.
  • The crispy bottom is called Tahdig or Tadig and is much prized in Iran.
  • Using a potato is optional – but it does make for a very nice crisp. 🙂

Fresh Herb Kuku – Persian Rice Recipe

Kuku Sabzi

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian
Region: Common

In Iran, this is an essential dish for the New Year’s feast. For the rest of us it’s a fantastic, fresh, and nutritious recipe. It has various preparation stages but don’t let that intimidate you from enjoying a truthfully fragrant dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 6
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: mixing bowls, a skillet, an oven sheet pan and parchment paper

Ingredients

Caramelizing onions

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium, yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped

Garnish

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup (50 g) dried barberries, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 Tsp grape molasses* or sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water

Batter

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp advieh (Persian spice mix. See Notes.)
  • 1+1/2 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) finely chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) finely chopped spring onions (white and green parts)
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp dried fenugreek

Other

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking the kuku

Instructions

Caramelize the onions

  1. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions for 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  2. Remove the onions and allow to cool.

Make the garnish

  1. In the same skillet, place the oil, barberries, grape molasses, and the water, and stir-fry for 4 minutes over medium heat (taking care as barberries burn easily).
  2. Transfer the barberries to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F.
  4. Line a quarter-sized (9+1/2 x 13 in or 24 x 33 cm) rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Make the batter

  1. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder, advieh, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
  3. Beat lightly with a fork.
  4. Add the garlic, lettuce, herbs, walnuts, flour, and caramelized onions, and fold in gently using a spatula. Do not over-mix.

Cook the Kuku

  1. Brush the lined sheet pan with 4 Tbsp oil.
  2. Pour in the batter, and gently shake the pan to even out the batter.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  5. Garnish with the caramelized barberries.
  6. Cut the kuku into pieces in any way you like. (Squares works best.)

Notes on Fresh Herb Kuku – Persian Rice Recipe

  • You can substitute barberries with cranberries.
  • Advieh is a Persian spice mix. You can buy it ready-made from a specialty store or make your own. Here’s how.
  • Serve hot, or at room temperature, with lavash bread and Yogurt and Persian Shallot Dip (mast-o musir, page 49). Nush-e joon!

Turkish Cheesecake – Künefe

Künefe or Kanafeh

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Common

Künefe or Kanafeh is the Middle Eastern version of Cheesecake. Unlike the Western iterations of the concept Künefe does not contain cream as a cooking ingredient. There are many ways to make Künefe. Some call for a frying pan or skillet; others use the oven; most of them use sugar; others use honey; some suggest to serve Künefe with Kaymak (buffalo milk cream); others don’t care about cream – and so on, and so forth. Our Turkish Cheesecake recipe is made in the oven and uses honey syrup instead of sugar syrup.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You need: a small oven pan, a large bowl, a small saucepan and a small pot.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 250g (9 oz) kadayif or kataifi (angel hair) pastry.
  • 250g (9 oz) fresh mozzarella* cheese, shredded to pieces. See Notes.
  • 125g (4+1/2 oz) clarified butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm.

For the Syrup

  • Scant 3/4 cup honey.
  • 1/2 cup minus 2.5 Tbsp of lukewarm water.
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda.
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  • 3-5 drops of rose water (optional).
  • 1/8 Tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

For Serving

  • A handful of ground green pistachios, about 1/4 cup (or less, or more – it’s up to you).

Instructions

First, Make the Syrup

  1. Put the honey and the lukewarm water in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir until honey has dissolved.
  3. Turn on the fire to low-medium heat.
  4. Place the saucepan over the fire.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring it.
  6. Add the baking soda; wait for a few beats and then add the lemon juice; wait for another few beats and add the rose water and/or nutmeg if you’re using them.
  7. Continue to simmer and stir in low-medium fire for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Set it aside to cool off.

Then, Make the Künefe Cheesecake

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Turn on the oven (to preheat) at 190C/374F.
  3. Take a medium oven pan and butter its bottom. Don’t overdo it. Put it aside.
  4. Take a large bowl.
  5. Untangle the kadayif (angel hair) pastry.
  6. Take a pair of scissors and cut the kadayif (angel hair) pastry into short, 1 to 2 cm or 1/2 to 3/4 inch, lengths into the bowl.
  7. Mix the lukewarm melted butter into the shredded kadayif pastry. Work the butter through the pastry evenly.
  8. Separate the now shredded and buttered kadayif pastry into two equal portions.
  9. Spread the first portion of the kadayif pastry over the bottom of your buttered oven pan.
  10. Cover the pastry with the the cheese.
  11. On top of the cheese layer spread the second half of the kadayif pastry.
  12. Put the pan in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes or more, or less, depending on your oven.
  13. You need the kadayif pastry to turn adequately golden or golden-brown so, do check progress, without leaving the oven door open for long: you don’t want to lose much heat.

Combine

  1. Turn off the oven.
  2. Take the golden or golden-brown pan of Künefe out of the oven and onto the stove.
  3. Pour the room-temperature honey syrup over the Künefe. Pour it evenly.
  4. Cut the Künefe into wedges or squares.

Serve

  1. Sprinkle the ground green pistachios on top of the Künefe.
  2. Serve hot. (Not piping hot… just hot.)

Notes on Turkish Cheesecake – Künefe

  • Kadayif pastry is also known as Angel Hair pastry or Kataifi pastry. You can find it in Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern grocery shops.
  • Regarding the type of cheese… hmm. In Turkey they use Kashar (the Greeks call it Kaseri). Alternatives to Kashar or Kaseri: the Bulgarian Kashkaval, Italian Mozzarella (although it’s a bit bland), Mascarpone or even Pecorino Romano. The latter is saltier, so, go for it only you’re into more “salt & sweet” flavours than the rest of us.
  • For the differences between Honey and Sugar, click here.

Abzhorka – Sirloin Beef and Potato Salad

Abzhorka

Cuisine: Russian
Region: Common

Abzhorka is a classic, traditional Russian dish that can be a starter, a side dish, a salad or a main course. (Fun, eh? 🙂 )

Serves 4
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: two pots and two bowls

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) sirloin beef
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in rings
  • 3 pickles, cut into strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • @350ml (12 oz) mayonnaise (recipe here)
  • 2 Tbsp cider or wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, or 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Put the carrots in a pot.
  2. Cover them with water.
  3. Bring to a boil in medium fire. Let them simmer until they are tender.
  4. Drain them and cut them in rounds.
  5. Put the sirloin in a another pot.
  6. Add water (so that the beef doesn’t get stuck on the bottom of the pot) and salt to your taste.
  7. Boil over medium fire, until the meat is tender.
  8. Drain the meat and cut it into thin strips.
  9. In a bowl, mix the carrots, the sirloin beef, the onions and the pickles. (You may want to slice the pickles into thin stripes. Up to you.)
  10. In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the vinegar, the olive oil or butter, salt, pepper and the 2 Tbsp of water. Stir well.
  11. Combine the contents of the two bowls – and the food is ready.

Notes on Abzhorka – Sirloin Beef and Potato Salad

  • Decide whether you will keep the sirloin broth to use it for something else or discard it altogether.
  • If you’re using butter instead of olive oil be sure to melt it first.
  • Feel free to use any kind of pickle you wish.
  • Abzhorka can be a starter, a side dish, a salad or a main dish. There’s no rule. 🙂
  • Recipe for home made mayonnaise, here.

Busiate Pasta with Sicilian Pesto

Busiate con pesto Siciliano

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Sicily / Trapani

Busiate or Busiati is a spiral shaped pasta. Check the reference here. If you can’t find Busiate then you can either make them yourself (yes, it is possible, check the Notes below) or use whatever type of long and twisty pasta you can find.

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: a food processor, a mixing bowl and a pot.

Ingredients

For the Pesto

  • 2 cups (glasses) cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves – packed
  • 1/2 cup (50 g, or 1.7 oz) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for serving
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp golden raisins
  • 1/4 Tsp chile flakes
  • 3 anchovies, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 peperoncino, seeded, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Make the Pesto

  1. Put the tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  2. Pour into a sieve to drain the excess juices.
  3. Return the tomatoes to the processor and add the almonds, basil, Parmesan, oil, capers, raisins, chile flakes, anchovies, garlic, and peperoncini,
  4. Process until finely ground.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Put it in the fridge until you need it. (Don’t put it in the fridge if you’re going to use it 10 min later.)

Make the Pasta

  1. Put it in a large pot, and boil it to al-dente (according to instructions)
  2. Drain the cooking water but keep 1/4 cup.

Combine

  1. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl along with the pesto.
  2. Toss them to combine.
  3. Add a couple of Tbsp of cooking water, if needed, to even out the pesto sauce.
  4. Transfer to a large serving platter, or plates, and serve with more Parmesan.

Notes on Busiate Pasta with Sicilian Pesto

  • Try to buy real Parmesan, and grate it at home. It does make a difference.
  • How to make Busiate pasta: here.
  • Some versions of Busiate pasta contain eggs.

Chicken Tagine

Cuisine: Moroccan
Region: Common

This traditional Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe is simply mouthwatering. Let’s get to work, shall we?

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 55 to 65 min
You need: a heavy skillet or tagine and a mixing bowl
Notes: requires marinading for 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Tsp saffron threads, pulverized
  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger
  • 1+1/2 Tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 – 14 pieces of chicken (thighs with bone and skin are best)
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick
  • 12 – 14 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 12 – 14 cracked green olives, pitted and halved
  • 3 – 4 small preserved lemons (sold in specialty food shops). Or just lemons. (Make sure they are not waxed.)
  • 1+1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp honey (stirred in the chicken stock)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. Mix garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, turmeric and 1/2 Tsp salt together.
  2. Add pepper to taste.
  3. Rub the chicken with the mixture, cover, then refrigerate and marinate for 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Heat the oil in heavy skillet.
  5. Add the chicken, and brown on all sides.
  6. Remove the chicken to a platter.
  7. Add onions to the skillet, and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  8. While waiting, quarter the lemons, remove the pulp and cut the lemon skin in strips.
  9. Is you’re using a tagine, transfer the onions to it. If not, leave the onions in the skillet.
  10. Put the chicken on the onions.
  11. Add the cinnamon stick.
  12. Scatter the olives and lemon slices over the chicken.
  13. Mix the honey and the lemon juice into the chicken stock.
  14. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  15. Cover the tagine or skillet.
  16. Place over low heat, and cook about 40- 50 minutes, until chicken is done.
  17. Scatter the parsley on top, and serve.

Notes on the Chicken Tagine

  • This recipe does depend on the chicken stock you’ll use. If that’s helpful, you will find a recipe for (European style) chicken broth, here.

Creamed Hungarian Caraway Soup

Krémes Köménymagos Leves

Cuisine: Hungarian

A Hungarian caraway soup with a twist: adding cream makes it a classic winter soup. This is not a “fire and forget” kind of thing – it does require some stirring.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: 20-30 min
You need: a skillet, and perhaps a sieve

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/3 coup flour
  • 1+1/2 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1+1/2 Tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground pepper
  • 3/4 Tsp paprika
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Put the butter int the skillet and melt it over low heat.
  2. Add the flour, the caraway seeds, the salt and the ground pepper.
  3. Heat until the mixture bubbles and is lightly browned, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the paprika.
  6. Then, gradually, add the water, stirring constantly.
  7. Return the skillet to the fire and bring rapidly to a boil, stirring constantly.
  8. Cover and simmer for 15 min.
  9. Meanwhile prepare and set aside the Croutons
  10. Remove the soup from the fire.
  11. Slightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl.
  12. In the same bowl, add 3 Tbsp of hot soup and stir vigorously.
  13. Immediately blend the egg yolk mixture into the hot soup in the skillet .
  14. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for @2-3 min.
  15. Remove the skillet from the fire.
  16. At this stage the “gourmet” thing to do is to discard the caraway seeds by pouring the soup through a sieve. Your choice, really. 🙂
  17. Just before serving, add the heavy cream.

Notes on the Hungarian Creamed Caraway Soup

  • Do not overcook or allow the soup to boil.

Croutons – Hungarian Style

Kenyér kockák

Cuisine: Hungarian

Hungarian style Croutons are a side dish for the Hungarian Caraway Soup and the Creamed Hungarian Caraway Soup. However, crouton is crouton, no? Feel free to use it as you see fit.

Yields: 1+1/4 cup
Cooking time: 5 min
You need: a (heavy) skillet

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Tbsp of butter
  • 2-3 slices of bread
  • Salt or pepper, if you wish.

Instructions

  1. Put the butter in the skillet and melt it over low heat.
  2. Cut the bread into square pieces.
  3. Put the bread into the skillet and stir until all sides are coated and browned.

Notes on Croutons – Hungarian Style

Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup

Cuisine: French
Region: the Central Plateau and Languadoc

The Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup is as tasty and hearty as it sounds, really. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 20-30 min
You need: a skillet or heavy saucepan

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 to 2 Kg of sardines
  • 4 medium onions, diced
  • 500g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 sliver of an orange rind
  • 1 generous sprig of thyme or a Tsp of dry thyme
  • 2 fennel stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch of safron
  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) potatoes, cut in cubes
  • finely chopped parsley
  • garlic croutons
  • salt and fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Clean and scale the sardines.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan make a bed of onions, tomatoes, garlic, orange rind and all the herbs – except for parsley.
  3. Season well with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Add the potatoes on top of the mixture.
  5. Cover the mixture with water – and be generous with it. (But don’t overdo it.)
  6. Bring to a boil and cook briskly for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the sardines and continue boiling for a further 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
  8. Drain the stock into a soup bowl and transfer the potatoes and the sardines to a dish.
  9. Serve the liquid and the remaining vegetables as a soup, accompanied with garlic croutons (see Notes, below).
  10. Following that, serve the sardines and potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Notes on the Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup

Moroccan Potatoes with Fennel and Celery

Batata Bil Bisbas

Cuisine: Moroccan / Morocco
Region: Common

This recipe for Morrocan for Potatoes with Fennel and Celery can be a starter, or a salad, or a main meal. There’s no rule. Enjoy! 🙂

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 30 min
You need: a saucepan

Ingredients

  • 1/3 of a glass (cup) olive oil
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut in pieces of about 2.5cm (1 inch)
  • 2 fennel bulbs, quartered and then halved (=each quarter cut in half)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 sprigs mint, chopped coarsely
  • 4 sprigs basil, chopped coarsely
  • juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Take a saucepan and pour in half of the olive oil.
  2. Add the potatoes.
  3. Add the celery and fennel on top of the potatoes.
  4. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
  5. Add enough water to barely cover the (green) vegetables.
  6. Bring it to a boil
  7. Simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
  8. Fifteen minutes later: add the mint and the basil.
  9. Stir and cook without the lid to reduce the liquid for approx. 10 minutes.
  10. Take the saucepan off the fire, let it sit for a moment and drizzle in the lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil.

Notes on Moroccan Potatoes with Fennel and Celery

  • Potatoes can be peeled or with their skin on. If the latter just make sure you wash them very, very well.
  • Can be served hot, warm or cold – your choice.

How to Cut and Core Fennel Bulbs

  • We have a video for you, here.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Common

Hot or cold, the Turkish Red Lentil Soup is a good one. It is nutritious too. Using vegetable broth/stock turns the recipe to vegetarian and vegan. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 2–25 min
You need: a pot, maybe a handheld blender

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about 200 ml) of red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 7 cups of broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp of cayenne pepper or 1 Tsp of red pepper
  • 1 Tsp of salt
  • Chopped mint for serving
  • A few drops of lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the ingredients in a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil then lower the fire and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove the pot from the fire and blend the soup with a utensil or a handheld blender until it is creamy but not completely pureed.
  4. Serve with a garnish of mint.
  5. Add a few drops of lemon juice for taste.

Notes on Turkish Red Lentil Soup

  • To make your own vegetable stock, click here.
  • To make your own chicken broth, click here.

myfoodistry - why dieting doesn't usually work

Why dieting doesn’t usually work: Sandra Aamodt

TED Talks

In the US, 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they’re 10 years old. In this honest, raw talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn’t work, but is likely to do more harm than good. She suggests ideas for how to live a less diet-obsessed life, intuitively.

Tahini Sauce – Tarator

Tarator

Cuisine: Lebanese

Tahini Sauce or Tarator is a creamy sauce used with fish, or as a salad dressing, or as a roasted vegetables dressing.

Yield: 250ml
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a bowl

Ingredients

  • 100g tahini
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • approx. 100ml cold water

Instructions

  1. Add the lemon juice into the tahini and combine both with a spoon (or a fork) until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
  2. Add the garlic.
  3. Add the salt.
  4. Start adding cold water, little at a time and keep stirring. Before you add more water make sure that the mixture has no lumps.
  5. Keep adding and mixing water until the sauce is creamy, without lumps.

Notes on Tahini Sauce – Tarator

  • Goes well with roasted vegetables. Can be used as a salad dressing or a dip, too.
  • Regarding the health benefits of tahini, click here.

Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

Slow Cooking Supreme, this one. Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil takes very little time to prepare and a long time to make but the result… is mouthwatering. We picked this recipe when, at some point in life, we were roaming the mountains of Crete/Greece. A shepherd offered us this dish as lunch. Forgetting it proved impossible.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 3 – 4 hrs
You will need: a stock pot

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 kg (2 – 4 Lbs) of goat meat. Do prefer a leg and do ask the clerk to cut it up in cubes or chunks of at least 7 cm x 7 cm (@3 Inch x 3 inch).
  • hot water (see below)
  • 2-4 cups of very good quality olive oil (see below)
  • 3-4 pinches of good quality oregano
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Salt the meat (don’t overdo it).
  2. Put the meat in a tall and narrow stock pot.
  3. Add enough water to cover the meat and then add the same amount of water you just used, on top of it.
  4. Bring it to a boil, then lower the fire to medium-high.
  5. After a few minutes, you will see a layer of foam forming on top of the water. Skim that off, and keep skimming until there’s little foam left. This part of the operation should be over within @ 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. Lower the fire to medium low.
  7. Add pepper.
  8. Add some salt – again: don’t overdo it: one or two pinches are enough.
  9. Add 3-4 pinches of dry oregano.
  10. Add the olive oil. The olive oil will sit on top of the water (olive oil and water don’t mix) and it’s thickness (on top of the water) should roughly be 2.5cm / 1 inch. The amount of olive oil you’ll need depends on the kind of pot you’re using: if it’s tall and narrow, then 2 – 3 cups should be enough. If the pot has a broad rim… you’ll need more olive oil. (Which is a waste, really).
  11. Let it cook for as long as it takes for the water to evaporate. For 2 kg / 4 lbs you’re looking at @4 hours of simmering.
  12. The food is ready when the meat is tender and… cooked.

Notes on Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

  • Water to Olive Oil Ratio. Depending on the water-to-olive oil ratios you used it can be that the food is ready when the water has evaporated completely and only oil is left in the pot; OR when there’s still broth under the oil. Going one way or the other is a matter of preference: some people like their gravy oily and thick, others prefer it to be lighter and watery. It’s a matter of preference, really.
  • Do NOT cover the pot. You already have a “lid” on, and that “lid” is the layer of olive oil sitting on top of the water: it lets the hot air bubbles out and, under it, the meat is boiling and roasting in the same time. (Strange but…true.)
  • Oil of Oregano will not do it for you. It has to be very good quality, dry oregano.
  • Goat meat is “sinewy” by nature. (It is also very lean.) It HAS to be cooked in low fire, for hours – and there’s no shortcut to this.
  • Spices. This recipe doesn’t call for any other spices, really. But you can certainly try combinations of coriander, cardamom or whatever else suits your palate.
  • Sides. Boiled and broiled potatoes, or rice would do nicely. Should you need to balance the olive oil’s sweetness you could also steam or boil some greens like Swiss Chard or Kale or Spinach or something bitter like that.
  • A tip regarding how to prepare deep frozen meat: here

Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

The Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup is one of many Korean classic, traditional chicken recipes. Enjoy!

Serves 4
Cooking time: @ 30 min
You need: a skillet and a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 glass (cup) of shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, diced
  • 8 glasses (cups) of chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tsp red chili pepper paste
  • 1 Tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions (scallions) chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Put the sesame seeds in a skillet and stir fry for 1 minute. You know the’re ready when they turn golden brown. Turn off the fire and move the skillet aside.
  2. Take a large pot.
  3. Add the garlic, the chicken broth and the ginger, turn on the fire and heat until it boils.
  4. Blend in the chili paste, the soy and the sesame oil.
  5. Then, drop in the chicken and keep on cooking until the chicken meat warms up. (How much it warms up, is up to you.)
  6. Ready to serve. Scoop the soup from the pot and into the serving bowls.
  7. Drizzle each bowl with the green onions (scallions) and sesame seeds.

Notes on Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup

  • Serve with rice.
  • Recipe for Asian style chicken broth, here

Indian Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce

Imlee Lobhia

Cuisine: Indian
Region: Common

Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce is dairy-less, meatless, satisfying and comforting one-pot recipe from India. Enjoy!

Yields approx. 9 cups or 2 Liters
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a heavy bottomed stock pot with a lid, a food blender/processor, a bowl, a strainer and a frying pan
Notes: requires soaking overnight

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (glasses, about 500g or about 1 Lb) dried black-eyed peas, picked over, washed, soaked overnight, and drained.
  • 1 Tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 cups (glasses, about 2 Liters) boiling water, divided
  • 1 dried tamarind pulp cube, about 5 cm / 2 inch
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 piece of ginger about 3 cm or 1 Inch, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 to 3 fresh Thai or cayenne chillies, stems removed and finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 Tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup (glass) of regular or light coconut milk

Garnish

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

In the beginning

  1. Take a heavy bottomed stock pot.
  2. Add to it the lobhia, the turmeric and 7 cups (approx. 1.7 Liters) of water.
  3. Turn the fire on to medium high and bring to a boil. It may take some time.
  4. After coming to a boil, reduce the fire to medium low.
  5. Partially cover the pot with the lid and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lobhia is soft.
  6. Turn off the fire, cover the pot and set it aside to cool off. Do NOT drain the water.

Tamarind pulp

  1. While the stock pot is cooking…
  2. Soak the tamarind pulp in the remaining 1 cup / 240 mL of water (preferably warm) for 10 to 20 or even 30 minutes – depending on the quality of the pulp and the temperature of the water.
  3. Then, with your clean and washed hands, break down the pulp and squeeze the liquid out. The point here is to turn water into tamarind juice.
  4. Strain the juice with a fine strainer.
  5. Discard the pulp, seeds, and fiber.
  6. With a blender or a food processor combine the tamarind juice with the tomato and blend to a watery paste. Set aside.

Continuing

  1. Take a frying pan, add the coconut oil.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium high.
  3. Wait a for a few beats and then add the onion.
  4. Cook it for 6 to 7 minutes, until brown. Caramelized is OK, too.
  5. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Slowly and tenderly add to the pan the tamarind/tomato paste, the fresh chillies and the brown sugar.
  7. Stir the mixture well and cook for another 4 minutes.
  8. Turn off the fire and transfer the mixture to the stock pot containing the lobhia.

Back to the stock pot

  1. Turn the fire on to medium–high and add the coriander, the red chilli powder, and salt.
  2. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and cook for 1 minute, until warmed through.
  4. Turn off the fire.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro and it’s done.

Sides

  • Serve with brown or white Basmati rice or Naan bread. See notes.

Notes on Indian Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce

  • Alternative to the stock pot: a Dutch Oven.
  • If you want to make your own Naan bread, here’s a recipe/video.

Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin

Dijaj Bialhayl – دجاج بالهيل

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

The Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin is similar to an Arabic dish called Kebsah but with a lot of twists. This recipe tastes better the next day, so, feel free to cook it in advance, store it and serve in the following day or two with a different side dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 40 to 60 min
You need: a pot, a bowl and a container

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 2.5 Kg or 4.5 Lb, cut into 10 pieces with the skin on
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1+1⁄2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1⁄2 cup peeled and shredded carrot
  • 2+3⁄4 Tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄4 Tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 Tsp ground allspice
  • 1⁄2 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 Tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 Tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 cups (glasses, about 1 Liter) boiling water
  • 1/3 cup (glass) tomato paste
  • 3⁄4 cup peeled and diced tomato

Instructions

Rinse the chicken

  1. Take a pot, put the chicken in, and add 6 cups of cold water and the vinegar to refresh the flavour of the chicken.
  2. Drain the water, transfer the chicken to a bowl and set it aside.

Then

  1. Add olive oil in the pot.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium high.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, salt, and spices, and sauté for 2 minutes or so.
  4. Add the pieces of chicken, and cook until the meat turns white – you don’t want to see pink colour in the meat.
  5. Add the 5 cups of boiling water, the tomato paste and the tomatoes.
  6. Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste in the water.
  7. Increase the fire to high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, uncovered.
  8. Reduce the fire to medium and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes.
  9. Turn off the fire.
  10. Transfer the pieces of chicken to a flat tray and set aside to cool, uncovered for about 15 minutes.
  11. DO NOT discard the broth.
  12. After 15 minutes remove and discard the skin of the chicken. You may want to discard some chicken bones too – that’s your choice. Just don’t discard the centre bone from the thighs or drumsticks.
  13. Put the pieces of chicken in a container just large enough to hold them and cover with some of the reserved broth.
  14. If you don’t serve it right away keep in the fridge for the following day. It does taste better-next-day, this one.
  15. It can be served at room temperature (if you live in the Middle East) or warm or hotter – depending on your taste.

Sides

  • Pita Crisps with Sumak is a good one. For the recipe click here.
  • Rice with Raisins and Almonds is another good one. Click here.

Notes on the Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin

  • Keep the broth for something else. E.g. you could make some really good rice with it. 🙂

Rice with Raisins and Almonds – Lebanese Style

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

It does take a few extra things to do other than simply boiling rice, but, well, the result is… impressive. Rice with Raisins and Almonds can be had as a main dish, or as a side dish – your choice. Enjoy!

Serves: 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish
Cooking time: 20 to 30 min
You need: a pot, a baking sheet, a platter

Ingredients

  • 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (glass) rice
  • 2+1⁄2 cups of hot chicken broth
  • 1⁄2 cup (glass) toasted slivered almonds
  • 1⁄2 cup (glass) toasted golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions

For the rice

  1. Put the olive oil in a medium pot.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium, put the pot on it and preheat the olive oil.
  3. Add the rice and stir so that olive oil coats the grains.
  4. Add 2+1⁄2 cups hot chicken broth.
  5. Increase the fire to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Then reduce the fire to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed by the rice.
  7. Turn of the fire, remove from pot and and set it aside, covered, to cool off – about 20 minutes.
  8. Before serving, fluff the rice: separate the grains with the tines of a fork.

For the almonds and the raisins

  1. While the rice is cooking, turn on the oven to 180C/350F to preheat it.
  2. Take a baking sheet pan and spread an aluminum foil on it.
  3. Spread the almonds and raisins, arranging so that they keep separate.
  4. Put the baking sheet pan in the oven, preferably in the centre, and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking occasionally. You want the almonds to turn golden and the raisins to be puffy.
  5. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, empty the contents to a bowl and drizzle in the melted butter, mixing well. See notes.
  6. Set it aside to cool off.

For serving

  1. Take a platter, empty the rice on it and garnish the top with the almond and raisin mix.

Notes

  • Regarding raisins and almonds: between step #4 and step #5 instead of using a mixing bowl you can drizzle and mix the butter directly on the raisins and almonds on the baking sheet.
  • You may want to transfer the buttered raisins and almonds to a dish lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the excess butter – it’s up to you.
  • Unsalted butter works best.
  • This recipe can be used as a side dish to the Lebanese Style Cardamom Chicken, or can be had a main dish.

Traditional Turkish Baklava Recipe with Honey Syrup

Baklava

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Near East, Middle East, North Africa.

Baklava is Turkish Cuisine’s most emblematic and widely known dessert. Other nations in the area make it too, with certain twists. E.g. the Greeks prefer less spice in their Baklava, the Lebanese tend to want their Baklava drier (with less syrup) and cut in mouthfuls, etc.

Traditionally, classic Baklava consists of a layer of walnuts sandwiched between two batches of filo pastry sheets, generously drenched in syrup. As you can freely imagine there are many variations to the concept: some prefer to make baklava with forty (40) layers of less-than-paper-thin filo sheets (yes, it’s possible, even handmade); others use a lesser number of thicker yufka filo sheets; some make it with a hazel-nut filling; others use no nuts at all, opting for fillings made of orange pulp or dates. In this (most traditional) Baklava recipe we use pistachio nuts, walnuts and honey syrup instead of sugar syrup.

Makes: 60 mouthful size pieces
Cooking time: approx. 35 min
You need: a large oven pan, a large bowl, a saucepan and a small pot.

Ingredients

For the Baklava

  • 500g (1 Lb 2 oz) yufka pastry sheets or filo pastry sheets
  • 250g (9 oz) butter, melted
  • 250g (9 oz) unsalted pistachio nut kernels or walnuts, crushed or ground
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the Syrup

  • 1+ 1/4 cups honeyr
  • 1+1/4 cups (minus 5 Tbsp) of lukewarm water.
  • 1 Tsp baking soda.
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  • 3-5 drops of rose water or orange blossom water (optional).

For Serving

  • A handful of ground green pistachios, about 1/4 cup (or less, or more – it’s up to you).

Instructions

First, Make the Syrup

  1. Put the honey and the lukewarm water in a saucepan.
  2. Stir until honey has dissolved.
  3. Turn on the fire to low-medium heat.
  4. Place the saucepan over the fire.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring it.
  6. Add the baking soda; wait for a few beats and then add the lemon juice; wait for another few beats and add the rose water or orange blossom water – if you’re using them.
  7. Continue to simmer and stir in low-medium fire for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off the fire.
  9. Set it aside to cool off.

Then, Make the Baklava

  1. Place the oven rack either below the middle of the oven or at the middle. (Lower in the oven makes the Baklava base crispier.)
  2. Turn on the oven (to preheat) at 190C/374F.
  3. Take a large bowl.
  4. Mix the nuts with the cinnamon in the bowl. Put it aside.
  5. Take a large baking pan (large enough to take the filo sheet in) and butter its bottom. You don’t need to overdo it, but you don’t have to be stingy about it either.
  6. Divide the filo sheets into two equal stacks.
  7. With a brush, butter the top side of a filo sheet.
  8. Set the filo sheet on the pan. DO NOT press it down.
  9. Butter the top side of another filo sheet and set it on top of the previous one.
  10. Repeat the exercise until you finish the first stack.
  11. Then, layer the nuts, evenly.
  12. After that, butter another filo sheet and set it on top of the nuts.
  13. Repeat the exercise until there’s no filo sheet left.
  14. Take a sharp knife and half-cut the Baklava into squares. (Half-cut means cutting the Baklava deep enough, but not all the way to the bottom.) Ideally you want your Baklava squares to be about 3×5 cm or 1+1/4 x 2 inches.
  15. Put the pan in the oven and let it bake for approx. 30 min or until golden to golden-brown.

Combine

  1. Turn off the oven.
  2. Take the golden or golden-brown pan of Baklava out of the oven and put it onto the stove.
  3. Pour the room temperature honey syrup over the Baklava. Pour it evenly.
  4. With a sharp knife, finish cutting the Baklava into squares.
  5. Sprinkle the ground green pistachios on top of the Baklava.

Serve

  1. Serve hot (not piping hot… just hot) or at room temperature.

Notes on Classic Turkish Baklava Recipe

  • Be careful with the walnuts; they main contain shards of walnut shells so… do pay attention and pick them carefully.
  • You could add some nutmeg in the “nuts and cinnamon” mix, if you wish. If you do, don’t overdo it: you want nutmeg to complement and enhance cinnamon, not take over.
  • If your filo sheets are bigger than your pan, no worries; use a sharp knife to cut off the edges before you set the next filo sheet in.
  • If your local store doesn’t carry filo or yufka pastry you can find it in Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern grocery shops and bakeries.
  • Cooking time is approximate. There are many types of ovens out there – some work with gas, some are electric, some are convection ovens, etc. Check the Baklava after 25 minutes and decide if it needs more baking.
  • If you have to open the oven door, just remember to do so very quickly because losing a lot of heat stops the baking process – and you don’t want this.
  • For the differences between Honey and Sugar, click here.

Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar

Lahma Bi Khal

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

Cooking Lahma Bi Khal, this Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar recipe may indeed reveal that “looks” don’t always pair with “taste”. Enjoy!

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: approx. 120 min
You need: a pot, a colander, a large skillet, a sheet pan or grill pan and about 3 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) shallots or baby onions
  • 1 Kg (2 Lb) shoulder of lamb – boned
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves – uncut
  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 3 medium-sized eggplants
  • 4 Tbsp vinegar – red or white
  • 1 Tbsp dried mint, crushed
  • Hot water
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Peel the onions or shallots

  1. Add water in a pot, bring it to a boil and drop the onions or shallots in the boiling water.
  2. Poach for 5 minutes.
  3. The skins are now loose.
  4. Drain the onions or shallots in a colander.
  5. Peel the onions or shallots while they are still warm.

Then

  1. Cut the meat into 8 large pieces and trim off some of the fat, but not all of it.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.
  3. Add the meat in the skillet, and saute the meat on all sides.
  4. Take the meat out of the skillet. The skillet now has a lot of fat in it.
  5. Add the baby onions or shallots and the whole cloves of garlic to the fat and saute until they are golden.
  6. Lift them out and set them on the side. Separate the garlic from the onions/shallots
  7. Pour the fat off the skillet, and return the meat to the skillet.
  8. Cover the meat with hot water, increase the fire and bring it to a boil.
  9. Remove the froth / scum.
  10. Time for the spices: add the garlic, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. (Leave salt for the end – see Notes.)
  11. Turn the fire down to low.
  12. Put the lid on the skillet and simmer, covered, for about 90 minutes, until the meat is very tender.
  13. It’d difficult for water to evaporate with the lid on and on a low fire but if it does add some hot water as necessary, to keep the meat covered while it’s simmering.

In the meanwhile…

  1. Cut the eggplants into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) rounds.
  2. Sprinkle them with salt, and leave them on the side for about 30 minutes to bleed. Pat them with a paper towel when they’re ready.
  3. Brush the eggplant rounds with olive oil and place them on an oiled sheet pan. Alternatively you can use a grill pan.
  4. Put the sheet pan under the preheated broiler or put the eggplants in a grill pan. Turn them once until they are brown but not cooked through. (They will cook through in the skillet, during the next stage.)

Finally…

  1. Add the onions to the meat.
  2. Add the vinegar and mint.
  3. Keep simmering, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the eggplants and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  5. About 10 minutes before the end taste the sauce and add salt to taste.

Notes on Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar

  • You can serve it plain, or with vermicelli pasta, orzo, rice. etc. (Please avoid serving potatoes as a side dish to this recipe – trust us on this.)
  • If you serve it plain, a bit of bread to soak up the juices would also be nice, no? 🙂
  • If you have one big eggplant instead of three medium ones, cut the eggplant rounds in half.
  • Lamb meat is saltier than beef, so, adding salt to taste towards the end makes some sense. (But you can do whatever you like, of course. 🙂
  • You can omit the sugar, if you like; or you can substitute it with a teaspoon of honey. (If you opt for honey, squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on it will help.)
  • For the difference between sugar and honey, click here.

How to Convert Sugar to Honey

This is honey-to-sugar conversion table that might come in handy when making desserts. Curiously enough although honey is sweeter than sugar it also has lower glycemic index than sugar; not to mention that honey contains other nice things in it, whereas sugar is… sugar. Check the Notes at the end of this post. Here we go.

Cups

  • 1/4 Cup Sugar -> 3 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar -> 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar -> 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar -> 1/2 Cup Honey + 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tsp
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar -> 2/3 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tbsp
  • 1 Cup Sugar -> 3/4 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2.5 Tbsp
  • 2 Cups Sugar -> 1 +1/4 Cup of Honey + 1 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 5 Tbsp

Grams / Ounces

  • 050g (1.76 oz) Sugar -> 3 Tbsp Honey
  • 067g (2.36 oz) Sugar -> 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Sugar -> 67 grams or 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 133g (4.7 oz) Sugar -> 1/2 Cup Honey + 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tsp
  • 150g (5.3 oz) Sugar -> 2/3 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tbsp
  • 200g (7 oz) Sugar -> 3/4 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2.5 Tbsp
  • 400g (14.1 oz) Sugar -> 1 +1/4 Cup of Honey + 1 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 5 Tbsp

Notes on How To Convert Sugar to Honey

  • Honey is denser than sugar, so, it can easily lump and make your baking dense, too. This is why you use Baking Soda.
  • Honey is 20% water. So, to offset this, you need to reduce the other liquids you’re using. This is why we mention these reductions here.
  • Honey has a higher sugar content than sugar (yup!), so, it cooks faster and burns easier than sugar. To offset that you need to lower the oven temperature by 25C / 77F.
  • When making honey-syrup DO NOT boil the mixture in high fire. Rather simmer the mixture in low to medium fire.
  • More information regarding Honey Vs Sugar, here.

Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

Tahini halva With Lemon Juice and Cinnamon is one of the simplest and most delicious vegetarian or vegan desserts one can ever have any day (and probably anytime). Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 3 min
You need: a plate

Ingredients

  • 1 slice of tahini halva;
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon,
  • 1 pinch of cinammon,

Instructions

  1. Cut a 1.5cm (1/2 inch) slice of tahini halva.
  2. Put it on a plate.
  3. Coat it with the lemon juice.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top of it.

Notes on Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon

  • Choosing tahini halva: vanilla flavour works well; no flavour (if you can find it) is even better.
  • Some brands use a lot of sweeteners in their halva. If you have the option, ask the clerk for a taste before you buy.
  • You can find tahini halva in any Greek or Middle Eastern shop.
  • For the health benefits of tahini, click here.

Lamb Roast with Potatoes, Lemon Juice and Oregano in the Oven

Arnaki psito ston fourno

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Epirus

A friend asked for this (all time oven classic) Greek recipe for a lamb roast in the oven, so, without further ado… voila! (And a heartfelt thanks! to Libby who passed on the recipe. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: +75 min
You need: an oven pan

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb, approx. 1 + 1/2 to 2 Kg (about 3 to 4 Lbs),
  • approx. 2.5 to 3 Kg (about 5 to 6 Lbs) of potatoes,
  • 1/2 cup (glass) of extra virgin olive oil + a little more oil to coat the meat ( See Instructions),
  • 1 + 1/4 cups (glasses) of hot water,
  • 1 + 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard,
  • 3/4 cup (glass) hot water (for the yellow mustard),
  • 2-3 pinches of dry oregano,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed but not cut,
  • Juice of 2 lemons ,
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. Turn on the oven to 200C (392F) and let it preheat while you prepare.
  2. Wash the oven pan you’re going to use.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges. (See Notes).
  4. Squeeze the lemons, keep the juice and discard the pulp.
  5. Wash the meat in cold water and pat-dry it with a paper towel.
  6. Put the meat on the cutting board.
  7. Use a sharp knife to make 4 incisions all around the meat, close to the bone.
  8. Insert the garlic cloves into the incisions.
  9. Smear the bottom of the pan with a little bit of olive oil – not more than 2 Tbsp.
  10. Put the meat in the centre of the pan.
  11. Rub some olive oil in your hands, and coat the meat with the oil on all sides. (Do not overdo it. You need the meat glistening, but not drenched in oil.)
  12. Time for the seasoning: sprinkle the dry oregano on the meat and then salt and pepper it to taste.
  13. Add the potatoes in the pan and arrange them around the meat.
  14. Empty your 1/2 cup (glass) of extra virgin olive oil into the pan (but not on the meat).
  15. Empty your 1 + 1/4 cup (glass) of hot water into the pan.
  16. Pour the lemon juice on the meat and the potatoes alike.
  17. Fill 3/4 of a glass with hot water, dilute the yellow mustard in it and then empty it on the potatoes, only.
  18. Put the pan in the oven, on the lowest rack.
  19. The food will be ready when the water has evaporated and there’s only olive oil gravy left in the pan.

Salad and Dessert

You might want to consider a green and light salad with this recipe, like spinach, fresh/green onion, arugula, dill, parsley, etc. A bit of oil and vinegar as dressing should be enough.

This dish is rich and hearty, so, when it comes to dessert, the suggestion is to go simple. E.g. a bit of Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon will not only cleanse your palate but may also help with digestion.

Notes on Lamb Roast with Potatoes, Lemon Juice and Oregano in the Oven

  • Check progress from time to time. Sometimes the meat cooks faster than the potatoes so, turn the meat over to cook on the other side too, if that’s what’s needed.
  • The suggested cooking time is indicative and it largely depends on your oven: some ovens use convection, some not; some ovens retain the heat differently than other; etc..
  • It generally takes around 60 min of cooking/roasting time per 1 Kg (2 Lbs) of meat, so, for 2 Kgs (4 Lbs) of meat you’re generally going to need approx. 120 min.
  • Therefore, you might want to adjust the size of your potato wedges to the amount of meat you’re cooking: if you have 2Kgs (4 Lbs) of meat then you might want your potato wedges to be bigger than smaller, so that the potatoes don’t cook earlier than the meat and vice-versa. If you see that the meat is cooking faster than the potatoes you can always cover the meat with an aluminum sheet, or remove from the pan it when you think it’s done.
  • You can scale the recipe down at will – it will still be delicious. 🙂

Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg & Lemon Sauce

Arni me Anitho kai Avgolemono

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

This is an easy recipe for a Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg and Lemon Sauce. Who said “easy” can’t be “delicious”? Here’s the living proof of it. 🙂

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a bowl and a casserole or skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lb) lamb, cut in portions
  • 1 bunch of dill, diced
  • 4-5 fresh/green onions
  • 1/2 glass (cup) of olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 glass (cup) of hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash the meat in cold water.
  2. Salt it.
  3. Take a casserole, pour in the olive oil, the green onions and the meat.
  4. Saute all of the above for a few minutes.
  5. Lower the fire to minimum.
  6. Add the water.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Put the lid on.
  9. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Time depends on the quality of the meat.
  10. Add the dill and stir.
  11. Simmer for another 15 minutes. At this stage you prepare the egg and lemon sauce. See below.
  12. About 15 minutes after you stir in the dill, and after you made the egg and lemon sauce, you turn off the fire.
  13. Slowly add the egg and lemon sauce in the casserole.
  14. Give it a stir or two and let it rest.

For the Egg and Lemon Sauce

  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice, a little water and a little of the lamb broth cooking in the casserole. (That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg and Lemon Sauce

  • As a side dish you could consider boiled and broiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice or orzo pasta. (Or anything you like, really. 🙂
  • Regarding the meat’s cut, lamb shoulder or shanks work well with this stews. Ask the clerk to chop it up to (more-or-less) portions. (You need the bones broken so that the gravy is good.)
  • Preparing deep frozen lamb or goat meat has a few tricks. Click here for more.

Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

Simple and extremely delicious, this Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice recipe leads to a yet another one-pot, minimum-cooking-skill Sunday lunch stew or weekday special. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 to 6
Cooking time: approx. 90minutes
You need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.2 Kg (2-2.5 Lbs) veal for stew.
  • 2 onions, diced.
  • 2 to 4 cloves of garlic, diced.
  • Juice of 2 to 4 lemons.
  • 2 Tsp dry oregano.
  • 2 Tbsp dry thyme.
  • 1/3 cup (glass) extra virgin olive oil.
  • Enough hot water to cover the meat in the pot.
  • Optional: 1/2 cup (glass) dry white wine.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. Take a pot, put it on the stove, turn the fire on to high, and pour the olive oil into the pot.
  2. Add the meat into the pot and saute it. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to saute it in batches.
  3. When the meat is almost sauteed, add the onion and the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
  4. Optional: add the wine and wait for it to evaporate.
  5. Add the lemon juice, the oregano, the thyme, the pepper and enough hot water to just cover the meat.
  6. Lower to fire to medium (or medium-low, even), put the lid on, and simmer for at least 60 to 90 minutes. Check progress from time to time.
  7. Ass the salt sometime (e.g. 15 to 20 minutes) before the end.
  8. Turn off the fire and let the stew set for a while.
  9. (That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice

  • In terms of which cut of meat works well with a stew: chuck, bottom sirloin flap or a fatty brisket cut will do. Ask the clerk to cut the meat in portion sizes (but NOT bite-size). Include the bone, if possible.
  • In terms of side dishes, may we suggest rice (Basmati works well) or some form of potato, e.g. potato puree, French fries or boiled and broiled potatoes.
  • In terms of salad, something green will do, like spinach, arugola, etc.

Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Cuisine: Thai

A classic dish and recipe from Thailand, Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish containing no less than 14 ingredients.

As a main dish with rice : Serves 2
As part of a multi-course meal: Serves 4
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You will need: a wok or skillet
Notes: contains sugar

Ingredients

  • 10 oz (330 g) medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1⁄2 Tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 Tsp all-purpose corn starch (preferably organic)
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp high-heat cooking oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai (deseeded if you prefer less heat), finely sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 Tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 + 1⁄2 Tsp sugar
  • 1 cup (20 g) fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Toss the shrimp with the sesame oil, all-purpose corn starch, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1⁄2 of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  5. Wash and thoroughly dry the wok or skillet.
  6. Heat the remaining oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and chillies, stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the reserved shrimp, kaffir lime leaves (if using), soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar; stir-fry for 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
  9. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until basil is wilted.
  10. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Notes on Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)

  • Thai kitchen is incomplete without a bottle of fish sauce, and that goes for every kitchen throughout Southeast Asia. Fish sauces range from mild to strong and smoky to pungent; the best ones ones are clear and light in color. Fish sauce is made from layering anchovies and salt in a sealed container for about six months, until siphoning off the fermented liquid. the sauce’s fishy aroma dissipates when cooked and emboldens and brings together the other flavors in any dish. Fish sauce doesn’t need refrigeration and it will keep indefinitely in the cupboard.
  • As a general rule, 1 Tbsp of fish oil equals to 1 Tsp of salt. A good substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

Shrimps with Lemongrass, and Basil: Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus of Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Summary

Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish, but the dish alone is not nutritious enough, lacking carbohydrates and containing little fat – that’s why it is accompanied by rice; bread lovers may prefer to substitute rice with bread. 

A. Shrimps

Shrimps contain a lot of water when raw (65%); their main ingredient is protein of good quality. Carbohydrates are non-existent and fat is minimal, but rich in omega-3 acids. Paradoxically, despite low fat, cholesterol is present in large quantities. On the good side, shrimps are rich in several micronutrients, especially trace elements such as selenium (ranks very high), copper, cobalt (in vitamin B12) and zinc. The red coloration of cooked shrimps is due to a valuable chemical, astaxanthin, which is present in small varying quantities, depending on the diet of shrimps. Astaxanthin is one of the best antioxidants belonging to the family of carotenoids.

B. Basil

Basil is used here in rather large quantities for a herb. Its main characteristic, apart from fibre and small amounts of protein and carbohydrates, is its essential oil, rich in several aromatic compounds. Due to their volatility, these compounds evaporate readily, that’s why basil leaves are added late in cooking. Several studies on the essential oil or individual compounds of basil have demonstrated antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-plate aggregating activity, among various other health beneficial properties.

Tip. Basil may be kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for several weeks. Dried leaves are completely free of volatiles but they have a slight aroma reminding hay.

C. Lemongrass

Like basil, lemongrass is used here in relatively large amounts, but it is not important nutritionally. Its pleasant aroma is due mainly to two terpenic alcohols which are used as insect repellents.

D. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

The Nam Pla sauce is a fermentation product of raw anchovies or other small fish layered in salt. The liquid obtained after storage for several months contains protein (up to 10%), iron, iodine, vitamins (among others also B12) and a lot of salt. As a general rule, 1 tablespoon of fish oil equals 1 teaspoon of salt. A substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

E. Soy sauce

Soy Sauce comes in innumerable variations and is made from mixtures of boiled soybeans and wheat, after fermentation. It contains mainly protein (10%), carbohydrates (5%) and salt (14-18%). It does not contain isoflavones, in contrast to other soy products as Tofu.

References

More information about individual ingredients can also be found at:

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry
Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry | myfoodistry

Cuisine: IndianRegion: North

Cuisine: Indian
Region: North

This is a classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry recipe that is very popular in the North of India. The recipe is also healthy and nutritious to boot. (Scroll down for the analysis.)

Serves 6
Cooking time: 40 – 60 min
You will need: a skillet
Notes: requires marinating

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 lbs) x boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-in (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 inch (2.5-cm) cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 4 fresh green chili peppers, without seeds, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped

Yogurt Curry Marinade

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Asian chili powder or ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1⁄2 cup (@250g) plain yogurt
  • 2 Tsp garam masala spice
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a blender or a food processor, blend together the Curry Yogurt Marinade ingredients until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the marinade and lamb, making sure the pieces are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. They should sizzle in the oil.
  5. Quickly add the ground coriander.
  6. Mix in the lamb with the marinade and sauté over high heat, stirring for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the juices are mostly dry, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Add the green chili peppers, tomato, water, and 1 cup of yogurt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lamb is tender and sauce is thick.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with the fresh coriander.

Notes

  • A Tip regarding how to treat deep frozen meat: here

Classic Marinated Lamb Curry : Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus, Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Summary

The Classic Marinated Indian Lamb Curry is both nutritious and healthy, containing no less than 11 herbs and a total of 18 ingredients.

A. Lamb

Lamb is the kind of meat with many friends but also with some enemies, because of its flavor. This “drawback” is cured by introducing all these delightful flavours of spice and herbs. As it happens with all kinds of meat, lamb is a good source of high quality protein containing all essential amino acids. Its high fat content means also elevated cholesterol; however, the presence of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in sheep/lamb meat offsets this drawback. Concerning vitamins, there are many, especially B6 and B12, whereas there also iron, copper, zinc and selenium.

B. Onions

Onions rank nutritionally among top vegetables, although their content in protein and fat is very low. Carbohydrates are their main ingredient (15%), with considerable quantities of edible fibre. The high value of onions is due to their polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Polyphenols are of several types, including anthocyanins, flavonoids and tannins; most of them have been studied in depth concerning health effects and they are most beneficial. Sulphur compounds are present in lesser quantities and they are not so well studied but they surely add to the overall good picture.

Tip. Peel onions as little as possible because the greater quantities of polyphenols are found in the external layers. When previously chilled, onions are peeled emitting less lachrymatory essential oil.

C. Yogurt

Yogurt contains varying amounts of fat, up to 10%. Whole milk yogurt may be replaced by a light variety which usually is available from cow’s milk (grass-fed cows produce better milk). However, yogurt from sheep’s milk is preferable from a nutritional point of view because of its high content of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is most beneficial to health; on the bad side, this type of yogourt is high in cholesterol (there is no “light” version in the market). Yogurt is rich in high quality protein, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins (B6 and B12). It has also nutritional benefits beyond those of milk due to its probiotics. Lactose-intolerant individuals may tolerate yogurt because of the conversion of lactose to glucose and galactose, and the partial fermentation of lactose to lactic acid carried out by the bacteria present in the yogurt.

D. Spices

Garam masala is the least known among spices of this recipe, no doubt because it is a mixture of several spices (usually 7, some of which are added separately). Curry is also a mixture of varying ingredients. All spices contain volatile essential oils which are mixtures of several compounds; their use is obviously for their flavors, but most of them are of antimicrobial character. In addition, there are some non-volatile constituents with considerable health benefits. It would be tedious to describe health benefits of all these spices, especially since their quantities, and accordingly their bioactive constituents, are fairly low. However, it is useful to mention epigrammatically some of them:

  • Turmeric contains curcumin, with anticancer properties.
  • Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which prevents clumping of blood platelets.
  • Chili peppers contain capsaicin, an irritant, but also with cardiovascular benefits.
  • Coriander contains dodecenal, a strong antibiotic.
References

More information about individual ingredients can be found also at :

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry
Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry | myfoodistry

Cuisine: IndianRegion: North

Merchants of Doubt | myfoodistry

Merchants of Doubt

Merchant of Doubt is a Sony Classics documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver- tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.

Official Website, here.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi | myfoodistry

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a quiet yet enthralling documentary that chronicles the life of Jiro Ono, the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo. For most of his 85 years, Jiro has been perfecting the art of making sushi. He works from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation.

Although his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro only seats ten diners, it is a phenomenon in Tokyo that has won the prestigious 3-Star Michelin review, making him the oldest Michelin chef alive. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI chronicles Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and as a loving yet complicated father of two.

Food Matters | myfoodistry

Food Matters

“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.”

— Hippocrates

That’s the message from the founding father of modern medicine echoed in the controversial new documentary film ‘Food Matters’ from first- time Producer-Directors James Colqhuoun and Laurentine ten Bosch. “With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and ourtendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker.

‘Food Matters’ sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide “Sickness Industry” and giving people some scientifically verifiable solutions for curing disease naturally.” – James And in what promises to be the most contentious idea put forward, the filmmakers have interviewed several world leaders in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. ‘Food Matters’ is to be launched globally via the internet using full screen video technology.

The film’s official website can be found at http://www.foodmatters.tv

In Search of Balance | myfoodistry

In Search of Balance

IN SEARCH OF BALANCE is a documentary about how we can use Earth to bring life to the planet. We’re getting closer and closer to the brink. But thanks to the efforts of those who refuse to succumb to the disease of profits over health, a new revolution is making its way across the globe—a revolution to reconnect us to the very thing that gives us life: each other.

It won the “Best Documentary” award at the Sonoma International Film Festival. This inspiring film follows renowned physician, Dr. Daphne Miller, as she seeks answers on how we’ve gone so far off track and how we can climb back to healthy living. The Earth is a complex web of organisms, all connected and able to support each branch of the tree of life, and humans are all part of that web.

The War on Wheat - The Fifth Estate | myfoodistry

The War on Wheat – The Fifth Estate

It’s a multi-billion dollar battle for your belly. Millions of people are joining the anti-wheat revolution. Kellogg’s, the world’s largest cereal maker, has seen its biggest drop in sales since the 1970s.

Food companies are selling off their struggling bread divisions. It’s all because best-selling health evangelists say that wheat is causing everything from fat bellies to schizophrenia. But do they have science on their side? Mark Kelley takes a hard look at what’s driving a movement that is dramatically changing the way we eat.

The War on Wheat - The Fifth Estate | myfoodistry
The Search for General Tso | myfoodistry

The Search for General Tso

This mouthwateringly entertaining film travels the globe to unravel a captivating culinary mystery. General Tso’s chicken is a staple of Chinese-American cooking, and a ubiquitous presence on restaurant menus across the country. But just who was General Tso? And how did his chicken become emblematic of an entire national cuisine?

Director Ian Cheney (King Corn) journeys from Shanghai to New York to the American Midwest and beyond to uncover the origins of this iconic dish, turning up surprising revelations and a host of humorous characters along the way. Told with the verve of a good detective story,The Search for General Tso is as much about food as it is a tale of the American immigrant experience.

PLANEAT - The Movie | myfoodistry

PLANEAT – The Movie

A group of leading international scientists, doctors and professors have spent their lives trying to find out what is the best way to eat. A pattern has begun to emerge in their research, which shows that our animal-based diets are the cause of our most challenging health and environmental problems.

Having to battle against their own beliefs, and those of the institutions they worked for, they have come up with a solution that will change peoples lives forever. They share their ideas on how we can not only prevent prevalent diseases like cancer and heart disease but also cure them. And also how applying the same principles can dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time as providing more food for the planet. In accordance with this scientific evidence, pioneering farmers and chefs around the world are discovering new ways to produce and prepare the food we should be eating.

Sign up to watch the film at www.planeat.co.uk

The Magic Pill | myfoodistry

The Magic Pill

What if most of our modern diseases are really just symptoms of the same problem?

The Magic Pill follows doctors, patients, scientists, chefs, farmers and journalists from around the globe who are combating illness through a paradigm shift in eating. And this simple change – embracing fat as our main fuel – is showing profound promise in improving the health of people, animals and the planet.

Vitamania - The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins | myfoodistry

Vitamania – The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins

Almost one billion of us take a regular dietary supplement, mainly vitamin tablets. Vitamins are enthusiastically endorsed by celebrities, and vitamin-fortified foods line our supermarket shelves. But how safe are these products? Is it true that vitamins are “natural” and therefore can’t do you any harm? How are they regulated, and how can parents make the right choices for their children’s health.

These surprisingly urgent questions are investigated by scientist Dr Derek Muller in Vitamania, the latest documentary made by Emmy Award-winning Australian filmmakers, Genepool Productions.

Filmmaker’s website: https://www.vitamaniathemovie.com

Vitamania Bonus Scene – How To Make A Synthetic Vitamin

GMO OMG | myfoodistry

GMO OMG

Filmmaker and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and how they affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice.

His journey takes him to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and even agri-giant Monsanto as he poses perhaps the ultimate question about what we eat: is it still possible to reject our current food system, or have we already lost something we can’t get back?

Official website: http://gmofilm.com

Seeds of Death: Unveiling The Lies of GMO's - Full Movie | myfoodistry

Seeds of Death: Unveiling The Lies of GMO’s – Full Movie

The world’s leading Scientists, Physicians, Attorneys, Politicians and Environmental Activists expose the corruption and dangers surrounding the widespread use of Genetically Modified Organisms in the new feature length documentary, “Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs”.

Senior Executive Producer / Writer / Director: Gary Null PhD
Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Director: Richard Polonetsky
Producers: Paola Bossola, Richard Gale, James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Valerie Van Cleve Editors: James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Richie Williamson, Nick Palm
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Armando Guarnera
Graphics: Jay Graygor

NOTES: we always encourage viewers to do their own research.

Eating Animals | myfoodistry

Eating Animals

How much do you know about the food that’s on your plate?

Based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Safran Foer and narrated by co-producer Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is an urgent, eye-opening look at the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of factory farming.

Tracing the history of food production in the United States, the film charts how farming has gone from local and sustainable to a corporate Frankenstein monster that offers cheap eggs, meat, and dairy at a steep cost: the exploitation of animals; the risky use of antibiotics and hormones; and the pollution of our air, soil, and water. Spotlighting farmers who have pushed backed against industrial agriculture with more humane practices, Eating Animals offers attainable, commonsense solutions to a growing crisis while making the case that ethical farming is not only an animal rights issue but one that affects every aspect of our lives.

Directed by: Christopher Dillon Quinn
Starring: Natalie Portman

Official site: http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/eating-animals

Fed Up | myfoodistry

Fed Up

This is the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see. FED UP blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history.

From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

For more information: http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home

Foods That Cure Disease | myfoodistry

Foods That Cure Disease

Diagnosed with high cholesterol, Craig McMahon endeavors to take control of his health and beat his imminently threatening genetic fate by consuming a whole plant-based diet inspired by Doctors T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Michael Greger and McDougall.

Craig asks the experts hard science questions and creates delicious healthy meals in his kitchen based from years of education. An inspiring and in-depth approach to achieving a disease-free lifestyle. Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stoke can be prevented and reversed simply by eating the right foods. Craig also became certified by Cornell university in plant nutrition. With over 4 hours of educational science, cooking, diet and hands on instruction, you are taken through the transition to a whole plant-based life.

P.S. Do NOT attempt anything on your self based on the information contained in this film before you consult a medical doctor or physician you trust.

Ramen Heads | myfoodistry

Ramen Heads

Legendary Chef and, “Ramen King” Osamu Tomita opens his kitchen along with five other prestige ramen shops to share recipes and trade secrets. The directorial debut of Koki Shigeno, RAMEN HEADS is a beautiful, simple and stylized homage to none other than noodle and broth… or all the philosophy and flavour that comes along with the soupy calling. 

Official website: http://ramenheads.com

myfoodistry - the cholesterol question

The Cholesterol Question

myfoodistry - the cholesterol question

How much do we really know about cholesterol? Have all our attempts to lock up this culprit accused of ruining our health really made us healthier? And what cutting-edge clues are scientists now following to help keep heart attacks at bay?

If high cholesterol equals heart attacks, why do half of the victims have “normal” levels? Here are the answers to The Cholesterol Question.

Go to https://curiositystream.com for more.

AeroPress Movie | myfoodistry

AeroPress Movie

AeroPress Movie is a 45-minutes documentary revealing the story of AeroPress – from its inventor’s workshop in California to the stages of the AeroPress Championships around the world. It explores what makes people so excited about this odd-looking yet iconic coffee maker.

“The AeroPress Movie is a beautifully and intelligently made film about a simple brewer that has become one of the most beloved coffee-making tools on the planet.”

Sarah Allen, Barista Magazine.

Starring: Alan Adler, Tim Wendelboe, Tim Varney, Tim Williams, James Hoffmann, Kyra Kennedy, Alex Tennant, Paulina Miczka, Anders Valde, Lisa Ligon.

Watch the film online: http://aeropressmovie.com

The Biggest Little Farm | myfoodistry

The Biggest Little Farm

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.

Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.

Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.

A film by John Chester. Starring John & Molly Chester.

Official website: http://entractfilms.com/en/films/the-biggest-little-farm

Deli Man | myfoodistry

Deli Man

Jewish culture reflects the heart of a vital ethnic history. As that culture continues to shift and adapt alongside mainstream America, delicatessen food—as its name suggests—remains a beloved communal delicacy. In Houston, Texas, third-generation deli man Ziggy Gruber has built arguably the finest delicatessen restaurant in the U.S. His story—augmented by the stories of iconic delis such as Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, Nate ‘n Al, Carnegie, and the Stage—embodies a tradition indelibly linked to its savory, nostalgic foods.

Official site: http://www.delimanmovie.com/

Potato Salad with Olive Oil, Capers, Parsley and Pickles (among other things)

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

Another hearty and healthy classic potato salad recipe from the European South. Omitting wine makes it Halal and also Lenten. Can be had as a main dish, or as a side dish – your choice. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: 45 min
You need: a pot, two bowls and a strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) potatoes.
  • 2 onions, cut in rounds.
  • 2 green onions, diced.
  • 20 black olives.
  • 1/2 cup dill pickles, diced.
  • 2 Tbsp capers.
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced.
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.
  • 1 Tsp mustard.
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, diced.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of white wine.

Instructions

  1. Peel and wash the potatoes and then cut them to cubes.
  2. Take a pot and add water and salt.
  3. Add the potatoes in the pot, put the pot on the stove, put the lid on the pot, and turn on the fire to high.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the fire to medium, until they are soft. It generally takes about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are boiling, it’s time to make the dressing.

  1. Take a bowl and add the onions, the garlic and the parsley. Mix them well.
  2. Take another little bowl and add the olive oil, the apple cider vinegar and the mustard. Mix them well.
  3. Combine the two bowls.

Finally…

  1. When the potatoes are done, empty the (potato) pot in a strainer.
  2. Empty the strainer in a bowl.
  3. While the potatoes are still warm add the dressing (and the wine, if you’re using any) to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Add salt and pepper and let the mixture sit for a few minutes, to absorb the fragrances.
  5. Garnish with the olives, the dill pickles and the capers.

Notes on Potato Salad with Olive Oil, Capers, Parsley and Pickles

  • This potato salad can served hot, warm or in room temperature.
  • You could choose to serve on a bed of spinach or arugula. (More greens are better of one’s digestive system than less greens, no? 🙂
  • Enjoy!

Cuttlefish Casserole

Soupies Giouvetsi

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Monastic Community of Mount Athos.

The Cuttlefish Casserole is a Greek Orthodox Lent classic: easy to make, a tasty, hearty, one-pot recipe full of good things for one’s own health. Enjoy!

Serves: 6
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: two pots and an oven pan or dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) cuttlefish.
  • 500g (1 Lbs) orzo.
  • 3 onions, diced.
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil.
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste, diluted in a little water.
  • Red pepper.
  • Black pepper.
  • Salt.

Instructions

  1. Turn on the oven to preheat at 200C or 390F.
  2. Pour approx. 1 Lt of water in a pot, put it on the stove, turn the fire on to high and bring it to a boil.
  3. Put the cuttlefish in a strainer or colander, immerse it in the hot water and blanch the cuttlefish in the hot water.
  4. Take the cuttlefish out of the water but do not discard the water. Keep it for later.
  5. Pour the olive oil into the other pot, turn on the fire to medium and add the onions.
  6. Saute the onions until they are golden.
  7. Add the diluted tomato paste, the spices and a little salt.
  8. Taste and add the 1 Lt of cuttlefish-water you did not discard earlier.
  9. Let the mixture come to a simmer.
  10. Move the contents of the pot to an oven pan or a dutch oven.
  11. Add the orzo and the cuttlefish and stir well.
  12. Put the pan or dutch oven on a lower rack, in the oven.
  13. Cook for approx. 40 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the orzo has absorbed all the liquid.

Notes on Cuttlefish Casserole

  • Enjoy!

A few words about Mount Athos

Mount Athos, also known as the Holy Mountain, is the epicentre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism and home to 20 monasteries with a strong monastic community since the 12th Century A.D.

The monks of Mount Athos do observe their fasts and lents for about, or more than, 200 days per year. As you may well discover, “fast”, “lent” and “monasticism” are not necessarily synonyms to tasteless, unimaginative or sloppy food. 🙂

Vegetable Stew with Potatoes, Eggplants, Zucchini and Peppers

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

A clean, nice vegetarian and vegan recipe for a Summer vegetable stew. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 45 min
You need: a pot, a few bowls for the ingredients and perhaps a measuring jug

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes, about 300g or a bit more than 1 Lb.
  • 1 eggplant, about 300g or a bit more than 1 Lb.
  • 3 peppers, about 300g or a bit more than 1 Lb.
  • 2 zucchinis, about 200g or bit under 1 Lb.
  • 2 medium onions, about 200g or bit under 1 Lb.
  • 200g or 1 cup of crushed or diced tomatoes.
  • 2 Tsp of tomato paste.
  • 1 Tsp of sugar (optional).
  • 1 garlic clove.
  • 5 Tbsp or 50ml of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 30g, or about 1/3 bunch of fresh parsley.
  • 250ml or a scant cup of warm water.
  • 1 Tsp dry oregano.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

Prepare

  1. Wash the eggplant, the peppers, the parsley and the zucchini.
  2. Cut the ends of each eggplant and then cut them in cubes.
  3. Arrange the eggplants on a platter, sprinkle them with salt and leave them to “bleed” while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Cut the ends of the peppers and then cut them in cubes.
  5. Cut the ends of the zucchini and then cut them in cubes.
  6. Chop the parsley.
  7. Peel and cut the onions in cubes.
  8. Peel the potatoes, wash them and then cut them in cubes.
  9. Peel and crush the garlic with the flat side of a knife.
  10. Pat-dry the eggplants with a paper towel. Now they are ready to use.

Then…

  1. Take a pot, put it on the stove and turn the fire on, high.
  2. Pour the olive oil in the pot.
  3. Add the onion.
  4. Add the garlic.
  5. Saute them for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the potatoes.
  7. Add the peppers.
  8. Add the zucchini.
  9. Add the eggplants.
  10. Stir the pot and add the tomato paste.
  11. Stir the pot again, and add the diced/crushed tomatoes.
  12. Add the sugar (optional).
  13. Add the water.
  14. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  15. Lower the fire to medium.
  16. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  17. Then, add the oregano, stir, and add the parsley.
  18. Mix well and turn off the fire.
  19. Leave it for a bit to settle and serve.

Notes on Vegetable Stew with Potatoes, Eggplants, Zucchini and Peppers

  • If you are not vegan, a side of feta cheese or any cheese similar to that is highly recommended.
  • This stew can be served hot, warm or at room temperature – depending on how hot the day is, no?
  • Some people like to add extra olive oil and lemon juice in their servings; your choice.
  • Enjoy!

Cottage Pie – or Shepherd’s Pie

Cuisine: British
Region: Common

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional British classic dish warming hearts and bellies. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 90 min
You need: a measuring jug, a potato masher, a big bowl, an oven pan, two pots and a strainer

Ingredients

  • 500g (2 Lbs) lean minced beef.
  • 1 beef stock cube.
  • 500ml warm water (to dilute the beef stock).
  • 2 carrots.
  • 1 big onion.
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste.
  • 6 potatoes (about 1Kg or 2 Lbs)
  • 2 Tsp corn flour.
  • 5 Tbsp milk.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare

  1. Wash and peel the carrots, then cut them in rounds.
  2. Peel the onion and cut it in cubes.
  3. Add 500ml of warm water in a measuring jug and dilute the beef stock cube in it.
  4. Peel the potatoes, wash them very well and cut them in 4 equal parts.

Then….

  1. Take a pot, put it on the stove and turn the fire on, high.
  2. Put the minced beef in the pot and saute, stirring well, for about 10 minutes or until it turns brown.
  3. Add the onion.
  4. Add the carrots.
  5. Add the tomato paste.
  6. Add the diluted beef stock.
  7. Stir well, reduce the temperature to medium, put the lid on half open and let it simmer for 30 minutes. When done, turn the fire off.
  8. Turn the oven on to 200C (390F) to preheat.
  9. Fill another pot with water, put it on the stove and turn the fire on to high.
  10. Add the potatoes to the pot, close the lid and boil for about 20 minutes or until they are soft.
  11. Turn the fire off, and empty the potatoes into the strainer.
  12. Dissolve the corn flour in about 10ml of warm water.
  13. Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them, while slowly pouring in the milk.
  14. Add the corn flour to the milk and potato mix.
  15. Keep mashing until it turns to a smooth puree. It shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.
  16. Time for the oven pan. (Make sure it’s clean, eh?)
  17. Lay the minced meat evenly on the bottom of the oven pan.
  18. Lay the potato puree on top of the minced meat, spreading it evenly with a fork.
  19. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  20. (Don’t forget to turn the oven off, when it’s done.)

Notes Cottage Pie – or Shepherd’s Pie

  • Regarding the type of milk: low fat, full fat, cow, sheep or goat milk… the choice is yours.
  • Enjoy!

Green Cheese Pie without Filo

Prasini Tyropita Choris Fylo

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

This is a good one: instead of using the flour to make filo sheets … you mix it in with the rest of your ingredients and stick the pan in the oven. (How difficult can that be? 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves: approx. 10 portions
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You need: a grater, a whisker, an oven pan, a large bowl and several smaller bowls

Ingredients

  • 1+1/2 cups or 250g (1/2 Lb) wheat flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1+1/2 cups or 250ml milk
  • 35g fresh dill, or 70g dry dill
  • 5 green onions, about 80g
  • 2 Tsp or 10g baking powder
  • 3 zucchinis, about 300g
  • 500g feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup or 100ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare

  1. Turn the oven on to 200C (390F).
  2. Cut the ends of the green onions and wash them.
  3. Wash the dill.
  4. Wash the zucchinis.
  5. Chop the dill and put it in a bowl.
  6. Chop the onions in rings and put them in a bowl.
  7. Chop off the ends of the zucchinis and shred them into thin ribbons with the help of a grater. Put the shredded zucchinis in a bowl.
  8. Crumble the feta cheese with your fingers and put it in a bowl.
  9. Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk them.
  10. Lay a baking sheet on the bottom of your oven pan.

Then….

Take a large bowl and:

  1. Pour in the eggs.
  2. Pour in the milk.
  3. Pour in the olive oil.
  4. Add the flour.
  5. Add the baking powder.
  6. Add the feta cheese.
  7. Add the onions.
  8. Add the zucchinis and the dill.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Mix the ingredients well.
  11. Carefully empty the large bowl into your oven pan, spreading the mixture evenly.
  12. Put the pan on a lower rack of your oven (close to the bottom) and bake for about 30 minutes.
  13. When ready, turn off the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

Notes on Green Cheese Pie without Filo

  • You can serve it hot or at room temperature, as a main dish, a snack, a starter or a side.
  • If you don’t have a baking sheet to cover the bottom of your pan… it’s not the end of the world: smear the pan with some olive oil pour the mixture directly into your pan. The bottom of the mixture should cook to a crust, much like a pizza does.
  • Regarding milk and feta cheese: low fat, full fat, cow, sheep or goat milk… the choice is yours.
  • Zucchinis are watery, so, before you add them into your mixture make sure you drain the water from the zucchini-bowl.
  • Enjoy!

Honey Versus Sugar

There are many, many differences between honey and sugar.

For example, while sugar is composed of fructose and glucose in equal measure, honey is composed +20 different types of sugars, trace elements, some vitamins and small amounts of minerals.

Then, while sugar is fast absorbed by the body (storing undigested calories for later use), honey’s digestion rate is much slower, therefore burning calories during digestion instead of storing them.

And, although honey is sweeter than sugar… it actual has a lower glycemic index. (This is NOT an excuse to overdo it, eh?)

Here are a few links to help your Honey Versus Sugar research.

Lebanese Crispy Pita Bread with Sumak

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

Resembling the Italian Pizza Contadina (the farmer’s pizza) the Lebanese Crispy Pita Bread with Sumak is a delicious side dish to scoop up juice or dips with; or even a snack for “that” time of day. It is easy to make and easier to savour. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: approx. 20min
You need: a baking sheet, a brush and a platter.

Ingredients

  • 1 large pita bread about 25cm 10in diameter or 2 medium pita breads about 15cm or 6in diameter
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sumak

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 180C / 350F and let it preheat.
  2. Take a baking sheet and line it up with aluminum foil.
  3. Take a knife and carve the pitas into squares. Make sure you don’t cut the pita all the way through; just carve lines on the pita without separating halves.
  4. Place the pitas on the foiled baking sheet and put it in the oven – preferably in the centre.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Shake the sheet periodically. They have to crisp all the way through.
  7. Once crisp, turn off the oven, take the baking sheet out and transfer to a platter. If the squares haven’t already separated use a knife to cut them.
  8. Brush the squares with the olive oil and drizzle with the sumak.
  9. (That’s all.)

Notes on the Lebanese Crispy Pita Bread with Sumak

  • The thickness of pita breads varies from brand to brand. Consequently, some pita breads may take longer or shorter time to bake.
  • Regarding storage: if you’re storing them for later use, let them cool off completely before you pack them up. Store them covered at room temperature. If, a day later, your pita squares seem stale, that means they did not toast long enough in the oven.
  • The Greeks toast pita bread in the same way, only they use oregano, salt and pepper instead of sumak.
  • The Italians use oregano too, but they have also turned the whole concept to… a pizza. They call it Pizza Contadina – the Farmer’s Pizza.

Korean Garlic Chive Salad

Buchuoi Muchim

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

This Korean Garlic Chive Salad can be savoured as a salad or a side dish, preferably with grilled beef, dumpling soups or Bibimbap (mixed rice) during the summer. It tastes of garlic and onion and it is served at room temperature. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a salad
Cooking time: less than 5 min
You need: a mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Korean garlic chives – cut into 5cm/2inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tsp Gochugaru spice
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Optional: 1 Tsp toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Take a medium mixing bowl and mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Toss well to combine.
  3. Serve at room temperature.
  4. (That’s all.)

Notes on Korean Garlic Chive Salad

  • The taste is strong, so, be careful with that.
  • Korean Garlic Chives, Buchu, differ from Western chives and taste like a combination of garlic and chives. If Korean garlic chives are unavailable in your area you could use a combination of thinly sliced scallions, onions, and chives.

Shakshuka – Israeli Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Shakshuka

Cuisine: Israeli
Region: Common

In Israel “Shakshuka” tends to mean “breakfast” but it can be had as a quick lunch too. Delicious, nutritious and fast to make Shakshuka is very much appreciated there, and elsewhere. Enjoy!

Serves: 3
Cooking time: approx. 20 min
You need: a skillet or frying pan

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (glass) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 Tsp paprika or 1 pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tsp mint, finely shopped

Instructions

  1. Take a frying pan add the extra virgin olive oil in a pan.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium.
  3. Wait a few beats, and add in the finely chopped garlic.
  4. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the onion and the green bell pepper.
  6. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  7. Add the juiced tomatoes.
  8. Add the ground cumin powder, paprika or chilli flakes and salt.
  9. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  10. When thicker, make a small dent in the sauce – a slot for each egg.
  11. Crack the eggs into the tomato-slots.
  12. Cover the pan and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. For runny eggs, cook a little less.
  13. Turn off the fire, garnish with parsley and mint and serve with bread, toasted or otherwise.

Notes Shakshuka – Israeli Eggs in Tomato Sauce

  • This is the type of thing where you can experiment with spices and herbs.
  • You can scale the recipe up – no problem with that.
  • If you’re using canned tomatoes please make sure that the only preservative is ascorbic acid.
  • Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Artichokes, Lemon and Capers

Spaghetti con Carciofi, Limone e Capperi

Cuisine: Italian
Region: South

Artichokes are abundant and much revered in Italy, and elsewhere. This is a classic, mouthwatering spaghetti with artichokes dish from Southern Italy. Enjoy!

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: approx. 15 to 20 min
You need: a pot, a saucepan and a platter.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 can, about 340g or 12 oz, of quartered artichokes, drained
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, and a bit more to garnish
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 500g, or 1 Lb. spaghetti (or other pasta that you may have)
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and a bit more to garnish
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

For the sauce

  1. Take a large saucepan, add the oil and turn the fire on to medium high.
  2. Add the garlic, the onion and the chilli flakes.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 min – until golden brown.
  4. Add the wine and the artichokes.
  5. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the wine is reduced to half.
  6. Stir in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Set it aside and cover it to keep it warm.

For the pasta

  1. Take a large pot, fill it up with 4 to 6 Liters or Quarts of water and salt it generously.
  2. Turn the fire on to high and bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the pasta and stir from time to time.
  4. Cook until al dente – according to the instructions on the pasta box.
  5. When done, drain the water but reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Combine

  1. Add the pasta and the 1/4 cup pasta water to the saucepan with the reserved sauce.
  2. Turn on the fire to medium high and cook about for 5 minutes more.
  3. With the fire still on, add the capers, the parsley, the lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper.
  4. Toss to combine.
  5. Turn off the fire, transfer to a platter and garnish with more cheese and parsley.

Notes on Spaghetti with Artichokes, Lemon and Capers

  • Try to buy real Parmesan cheese, and grate it at home. It does make a difference.

Pasta alla Carbonara (the real one)

Pasta alla Carbonara

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Central

“Alla Carbonara” means “the coal worker’s style”. No one knows how this recipe got its name – some maintain that charcoal workers in the Italian mountains cooked spaghetti this way, others that the very generous dash of black pepper makes the dish look like charcoal. Whatever the case, this is a very classic Italian dish, presented here in its original form, with eggs instead of cream. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: a pot, a skillet, a whisk and a mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced.
  • 300 g (about 10 oz.) pancetta, cut into thin strips, crosswise.
  • 1/3 cup (glass) of white wine.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  • 500 g or 1 Lb of spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle or penne.
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley – flat leaf is best.
  • 2 eggs.

Instructions

For the pasta

  1. Take a large pot, fill it up with 4 to 6 Liters or Quarts of water and salt it generously.
  2. Turn the fire on to high and bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the pasta and stir from time to time.
  4. Cook until al dente – there are instructions on the pasta box.
  5. When done, drain the water but reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  6. While the pasta is cooking…

For the Carbonara sauce

  1. Take a skillet, add the oil and turn on the fire to medium high.
  2. Wait for a few beats and add the garlic.
  3. Cook the garlic until it’s golden – about 1 minute.
  4. Add the pancetta and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the edges are crisp.
  5. Add the wine, reduce the fire to medium-low and cook for about about 3-4 minutes more.

Combine

  1. Take a large bowl and add the grated cheese, the parsley and the eggs and whisk them well.
  2. While whisking, slowly pour in the reserved pasta water until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the pasta to the bowl along with reserved pancetta mixture.
  4. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper.
  5. Toss it all together and serve immediately.

Notes on Pasta alla Carbonara

  • Try to buy real Parmesan, and grate it at home. It does make a difference.
  • You could use guanciale instead of pancetta.

Armenian Lule Kebab

Cuisine: Armenian
Region: Common

“Lule” means “sausage shape” in Armenian. (In the Near and Middle East they like their Kebabs (burgers, really) to look like sausages: long and skinny.) This Armenian Lule Kebab recipe is a good one: fragrant, complex and completely satisfying. The non-Kosher among us can accompany Lule with mint-flavoured yogurt.

Yield: about 12 kebabs
Preparation time: approx. 20 min
You need: a food processor and a mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size onion, cut into quarters
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Kg / 2 Lb of lean ground beef. Ask the clerk to run it through the machine only once.
  • 1 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 5 Tbsp of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 Tsp of Cumin
  • 1 Tsp of Paprika
  • 1 Tsp of red Aleppo pepper. If you can’t find it, see Notes.
  • 1+1/2 Tsp of sea salt
  • 1 Tsp of black pepper
  • 1+1/2 Tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 bunch of finely chopped parsley
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1 raw egg

Instructions

  1. Put the cut onion and the 2 cloves of garlic in a food processor.
  2. Process until onion and garlic are very finely chopped.
  3. DO NOT discard the juice.
  4. Put the meat in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the processed onion and garlic – along with their juice – to the meat.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the meat, mixing well by hand.
  7. Using a 1/2 cup measure, make 12 balls.
  8. Roll the balls into sausage shape (called Lule in Armenian).
  9. Grill or broil the kebabs. You could use a cast iron grill pan, too.
  10. If you’re grilling or broiling you may want to skewer the kebabs. (Makes it easier to flip sides.)

Notes on the Armenian Lule Kebab

The recipe actually revolves around the complexities of the Aleppo pepper but, alas, it is difficult to find. Alternatives:

  • Combine 4 parts of sweet paprika and 1 part of cayenne pepper. A part can be a Tbsp or a Tsp – depending on the quantity you need.
  • Korean Gochugaru pepper. Similar taste and complexity.

How to Make Vegetable Stock

Cuisine: European / Generic

A true and tried generic recipe and instructions on How to Make Vegetable Stock for European cuisines. A vegetable stock is nothing more than vegetables simmered in a very low fire for some time, so that the veggies release all their essence and flavours in the liquid. It can be made as complicated as one can make it – there’s no rule here. We present a basic vegetable stock recipe that – we believe – will serve you well.

Yields: approx. 2 liters (quarts)
Cooking time: approx. 100 min
You need: a stockpot, a sieve and a large bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 3-4 shallots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 handful of mushrooms (if you have any)
  • 2-3 leek greens (if you have any)
  • 1/4 Tsp (or less) of sea salt
  • 4-6 peppercorns
  • 1-2 sprigs of thyme (or a pinch of dry thyme)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (for browning)
  • About 4 liters (quarts) of cold water

Instructions

  1. Rinse the vegetables well, (particularly the leeks) and cut them to 2.5cm / 1 inch pieces.
  2. Put the oil in a large stockpot and light the fire to medium.
  3. Pour in the vegetables and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until they soften up. Don’t fully cook them – just brown them lightly.
  4. Add the cold water. It should be enough to cover the veggies, plus a bit more.
  5. Raise the fire and bring it to a boil.
  6. Reduce the fire to low and simmer, semi-covered with the lid, until the liquid is reduced by half. It should take about 90 minutes or so.
  7. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  8. Discard the vegetables. (They are cooked-out anyway.)

Notes on How to Make Vegetable Stock

  • Avoid starchy, bitter or strong vegetables (like cabbage). You want the broth to be delicious but also with a “round” taste, lending to the taste of other dishes. (That’s the point, really.)
  • Feel free to adjust the seasoning as you see fit but DO NOT add more salt: you will use this stock in future dishes and added salt may and can get in the way of your future creations.

Tomato Egg Drop Soup with Ginger

Cuisine: Chinese
Region: Common

Soup or starter, hot or cold, the Chinese Tomato Egg Drop Soup with Ginger recipe is certainly fresh. 🙂

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: a soup pot, a fork and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (see note)
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 packed cups fresh baby spinach
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat a small soup pot over high fire for about 10 seconds.
  2. Add the oil and heat it until it starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the tomatoes, onions, soy sauce, and ginger.
  4. Stir for about 30 seconds to soften the tomatoes.
  5. Add the water and bring the soup to a slow boil, then reduce the fire to medium low.
  6. Add the spinach and stir.
  7. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  8. Put a whisk or a fork in the egg mixture.
  9. Lift it up over the soup pot, and slowly pour the eggs through the fork tines (or whisk tines) as you move it in a circular motion around the pot. This creates “stripes” of egg that will float on the surface. Stir to break it up a bit, if you wish.
  10. Drizzle the soup with the sesame oil, garnish with the cilantro, and serve immediately as a starter.

Notes on the Tomato Egg Drop Soup with Ginger

  • There is no need to seed or peel the tomatoes.
  • Tomatoes must be juicy, so, best to use fresh tomatoes when they’re in season, otherwise use tin tomatoes from a brand you trust. (The only preservative listed on the can should be ascorbic acid.)
  • The traditional Asian cooking oils are: dark sesame oil, peanut oil and grapeseed oil.

Gnocchi with Cream and Red Wine Sauce

Gnocchi con salsa di panna e vino rosso

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Umbria
Serves: 6-8

A yet another classic Italian recipe, this time from the region of Umbria, Gnocchi with Cream and Red Wine Sauce is something that’s worth cooking. Enjoy!

Cooking time: approx. 40 – 45 min
You need: a skillet, a pot, a blender and a slotted spoon

Ingredients

for the Gnocchi

  • If you want to make your own Gnocchi please click here.

for the sauce

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup or 2 oz of guanciale or pancetta, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1+1/2 cups robust red wine
  • 1+1/4 cups heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Instructions

Make the sauce

  1. Take a skillet, add the oil and the butter and heat over medium fire.
  2. Simmer the guanciale or pancetta for 4-6 minutes, or until the fat renders (melts).
  3. Add the onion. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  4. Add the wine. Simmer for 20-22 minutes, until it evaporates.
  5. Add the cream, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then remove the skillet from the fire.
  7. Let the sauce cool slightly, then transfer to a blender and purée until it’s smooth.
  8. Return the sauce to the skillet and keep it warm on very, very low fire.

Cook the gnocchi

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and, working in batches, cook the gnocchi for 4-5 minuses or until they are tender.

Combine

  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi into the skillet with the sauce.
  2. Stir in 1/3 cup of Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
  3. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and serve.

Notes on Gnocchi with Cream and Red Wine Sauce

  • If you can, buy real Parmesan cheese and grate it at home. It does make a difference.
  • Guanciale is cured pork cheek. You can also use pancetta.
  • In terms of red wine, and given that the recipe comes from Umbria, Italy, the suggestion is to use red Sagrantino wine. Past that, any dry, full bodied red wine will do

How to make Gnocchi

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Common

We are all “conditioned” to an understanding that Gnocchi – and other pasta – is something that you buy in a box from a store. Well…actually, one can make Gnocchi – and other pasta – at home. Here’s a recipe on How to make Gnocchi.

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 45 to 60 min
You need: a saucepan, a bowl, a baking sheet, parchment paper and a potato ricer

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) potatoes
  • 2 Tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 + 1/4 cups of flour, plus more for tossing
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Take a big enough saucepan, add water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the potatoes into the saucepan.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 25 to 30 min until potatoes are tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes.
  5. When the potatoes are cool enough, peel and grate them into a bowl. You might want to use a potato ricer.
  6. Stir in 2 Tsp of salt, flour, and eggs until you form a dough.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until they are smooth.
  8. Divide the dough into 6 balls.
  9. Taking 1 ball at a time, roll the dough into a 50 cm/20 inch rope about 2 cm or 3/4 inc thick.
  10. Cut crosswise into 2.5 cm or 1 inch pieces and transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
  11. Toss with some flour to prevent sticking.
  12. Chill until ready to use.

Notes on How to make Gnocchi

  • None, really. Enjoy! 🙂

How To Make Advieh Spice – Persian Spice Mix

Advieh

“Advieh” means spice in Persian / Iranian language. It is a spice mixture used in Iranian / Persian cuisine.

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian
Region: Common

Yield: >1/2 cup (30 g)
Preparation time: <10 min
You need: a mixing bowl and spice grinder or mortar and pestle

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp dried rose petals
  • 2 x 3-inch cinnamon sticks, crushed (it will help with the grinding)
  • 2 Tbsp cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ground golpar (Persian hogweed; whole seeds are hard to find)

Instructions

  1. Put all the spices together in a bowl and mix them lightly.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  3. Grind to powder.
  4. Empty the powder to an airtight glass container and keep it in a cool place.

Notes on How To Make Advieh Spice – Persian Spice Mix

  • Enjoy!

How to Desalt Olives

Well, believe it or not, olives are NOT meant to be eaten straight out of the brine (as many of us do). The way to desalt them is rather simple:

  1. drain the brine,
  2. put the olives in a bowl,
  3. add water in it,
  4. change the water every 1 hour…

…. until the salt level drops down to something you can handle.

Storage
Put the olives in a jar (or jars) and add olive oil to the brim. The olive oil you’ll use for storage does not have to be first quality extra virgin olive oil. Regular olive oil will do.

Olive Tapenade – Spread

Cuisine: Generic
Region: Generic

A classic olive spread or tapenade for dipping and nibbling. Can’t go wrong with this one. 🙂

Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a food processor, a mixing bowl and jars for storage

Ingredients

  • 1+1/2 cups pitted, brine-cured olives (could be 1 c Black and ½ green)
  • 3-4 anchovy filets, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons capers rinsed
  • 1+1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley or cilantro
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic roasted if desired
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Chop the olives in a food processor until coarse.
  2. Chop the parsley and add to the processor bowl.
  3. Finely chop the anchovy filets and add to the processor bowl.
  4. Crush garlic and add to the processor bowl.
  5. Blend with olive oil until mixed.
  6. Remove the mixture from the food processor and put in a bowl.
  7. Add lemon juice to the mixture, stirring until mixed.
  8. Store in jar(s)

Notes on Olive Tapenade – Spread

  • Olives are NOT meant to be eaten straight out of the brine. Always take the salt out before you use them. The way to do this is rather simple: drain the brine, put them in a bowl, add water in it and change the water every 1 hour until the salt level drops down to something you can handle.
  • Then, you store the olives in jars of olive oil. The olive oil you’ll use for storage does not have to be first quality extra virgin olive oil.

How to Make Busiate Pasta

Cuisine: Italian

The cook here uses only water and flour. (That makes it vegan.) You can also use 3 eggs and 3 Tbsp of olive oil for every 3 cups of flour.

If you are using eggs, and if you won’t consume the pasta you just made all in the same day, it would make sense to keep your pasta refrigerated, or even in the deep-freeze if you’re planning for longer term storage.

Cod with Vegetables and Garlic

Cabillaud et légumes à l’aïoli

Cuisine: French
Region: Provence

Cod and Vegetables with Garlic – a typical Provençal dish. Let’s do the deed without further ado, shall we? 🙂

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 45 min
You need: a bowl and a baking pan

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 lbs) of cod
  • 6 potatoes, sliced
  • 1 cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • A handful of green beans, trimmed
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise

For the aioli:

  • 4–6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pepper and salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cup (glass) olive oil

Instructions

  1. Poach the cod for 45 minutes. OR, wrap it tightly in a foil and cook it in the oven (say 180C/350F).
  2. While the fish is cooking:
  3. Boil the potatoes.
  4. Steam or boil the cauliflower, the carrots and the beans just until al dente.
  5. On a serving platter, present the fish surrounded by the hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, and vegetables.
  6. Present the aioli in a separate bowl.

For the aioli:

  1. In a bowl, mash garlic with the egg yolk, pepper, and salt.
  2. Drizzle the oil in slowly, beating steadily, until the mixture thickens. (You can use a blender too).
  3. Keep it in the fridge until serving.

Notes on Cod with Vegetables and Garlic

  • It can be served as soon as it is cooked, but serving it cold is equally delicious.
  • You can add different vegetables according to your taste. There’s no hard rule here.

Baked Eggs with Morels (mushrooms)

Oeufs cocotte aux morilles

Cuisine: French
Region: Ardeche

No need for formal introductions for this one.
Let’s cook, shall we? 🙂

Serves: 6
Cooking time: 20 min.
You need: an oven baking dish and 6 ramequins
Option: requires 2hrs of soaking if the mushrooms are dry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of morels or other mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 cup (glass) heavy cream, preferably crème fraiche
  • 1/2 cup (glass) grated Gruyère
  • 1/2 cup (glass) diced ham
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 slices white or whole wheat bread

Instructions

Preparation

  1. If you’re using dry morels, put them in water for 2hrs to reconstitute. Then squeeze them dry and chop.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.

Cooking

  1. Take a bowl,
  2. Mix the cream, ham, and morels.
  3. Divide the mixture among the ramequins.
  4. In each remaquin make a hole in the centre of the mixture.
  5. Break an egg into each hole.
  6. Top with freshly ground pepper.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the white of the egg is set, while the yolk remains soft.
  8. Toast the bread and cut it into fingers.
  9. Serve the bread with the baked eggs.

Notes on Baked Eggs with Morels

  • Enjoy!

Turkish Lamb Stew over Eggplant Puree (Hünkar Beğendi)

Hünkar Beğendi

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Common

This is an ultra-classic, traditional Turkish recipe whose name translates to “Sultan’s Delight”. As we can reasonably imagine there are many, many variations of Hünkar Beğendi: some recipes call for cheese and milk, others for milk and flour. Some call for lamb, others of beef. Some call for butter, others for olive oil and some “Westernized” versions even call for … vegetable oil and margarine (hello?).

We chose a version that (we believe) is most representative of Turkey and its people.

Most people in Turkey would choose to cook the stew in the previous day, leaving only the eggplant puree for the day of the meal. One reason is that a day-old stew is incredibly tasty; another reason is that it splits cooking time over two days. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 90 min
You need: a skillet or pot for the lamb stew, a baking tray, a saucepan and a wooden spoon for the eggplant puree.

Ingredients

For the lamb stew (Hünkar)

  • 1/2 Kg lamb, leg or shoulder cut, cubed
  • 3 medium-large tomatoes, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tsp thyme and oregano (mixed)
  • 1+1/2 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 glass (cup) hot water
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

For the eggplant puree (Beğendi)

  • 3 medium sized flask eggplants
  • 4-5 Tbsp grated cheese *
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 litre warm milk
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

For the lamb stew

  1. Take a pot, put the butter in it, turn on the fire to medium heat.
  2. When the butter melts, add the lamb and saute lightly.
  3. Add the onion and the garlic.
  4. Saute the mixture for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is golden and the meat brown.
  5. Add the minced tomatoes, the tomato paste and a glass (cup) of hot water.
  6. Stir the pot well.
  7. Add the thyme and oregano mix, salt and pepper.
  8. Give it a stir and it let it simmer.
  9. Once the stew is simmering, cover the pot with the lid and turn the heat to low.
  10. Let is cook for one hour, until the lamb is soft and the sauce has thickened.
  11. Turn of the fire and let the stew rest.

For the eggplant puree

While the stew is cooking…

  1. Preheat the oven to 240C/460F.
  2. Prick the eggplants with a sharp knife and put them on a baking tray. *
  3. Put the baking tray in the oven.
  4. Bake the eggplants for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft.
  5. Turn off the oven, take the baking tray out, and put the eggplants on the side to cool off.
  6. Then, take a knife and slit the eggplant lengthwise.
  7. Take a spoon, scrape off the eggplant pulp, mince it and put it on the side. Discard the eggplant skin and the seeds.
  8. Take a saucepan, add the butter in and melt it over medium fire.
  9. Add the flour little by little while stirring continuously with the wooden spoon.
  10. The mixture is now solid. Start adding the milk a little at a time, stirring continuously to keep the mixture smooth.
  11. After the milk has all gone in, the mixture will start to thicken.
  12. Now is the time to add the eggplant.
  13. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth.
  14. Finally add the grated cheese and (you guessed it) keep stirring so that the puree is smooth and thick enough to provide a nest for the lamb stew.

Serving

  1. Make a puree nest on each plate and empty a scoop of lamb stew in it.
  2. Sprinkle it with parsley and serve.

Notes on the Turkish Lamb Stew over Eggplant Puree (Hünkar Beğendi)

  • Hünkar Beğendi will taste good, maybe better, the next day too.
  • For the lamb stew: you could substitute the thyme & oregano mix with a pinch of cumin. It could take some more ground pepper, too.
  • For the eggplant puree: you could add a pinch of nutmeg if you so like BUT, if you do that pay attention to the taste of the cheese you’re using. In Turkey they use “Tulum” which is sharp and salty so, a pinch of nutmeg here may do very nicely but it may not work with well e.g. Asiago cheese. So, when/if you feel like experimenting with spices we would encourage you to start building the spices from the cheese up.
  • Potential cheeses for the eggplant puree: Tulum (of course), Parmesan (subtle and sweet), Pecorino Romano (sharp and potent), Asiago (nutty and creamy), aged Cheddar, etc.

Lentils with Rice and Caramelized Onions – Mujadara

Mujadara (in Arabic) or Fakoryzo (in Greek)

Cuisine: Greek, Lebanese, Egyptian
Region: Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East.

Lentils with Rice and Caramelized Onions, going by the name of Mujadara in the Middle East and Egypt and Fakoryzo in Greece, is a popular, humble and nutritious staple “recipe of the poor”.

In our modern days science confirms that the combination of rice and lentils can substitute the effect of meat for a long period of time. (Scroll down to Notes.) How people came to the same conclusion without any scientific means and long before science could attest to that fact… remains a mystery enshrined in people’s traditional cuisines.

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: a small pot and a saucepan
Notes: requires soaking

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf

For the rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2+1/2 cups of hot water
  • Salt and pepper

For the caramelized onions

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion cut in slices
  • 1/4 Tsp cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp allspice
  • 1/2 Tsp brown sugar

For the garnish

  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley or fresh coriander finely chopped.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Wash the lentils and put them in a bowl to soak for at least 30 min.
  2. Wash the rice and let it soak for at least 60 minutes, preferably 2hrs. For more information about washing and preparing rice for cooking please click here.

Cooking

  1. Take a small pot, put the lentils in and add cold water – twice the amount of water it takes to cover the lentils.
  2. Bring them to a boil and let them simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Lower the fire and add the diced onion and the bay leaf.
  4. Let it simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still holding.
  5. Take the pot off the fire, strain the lentils with a colander and put them on the side.
  6. Take a small saucepan and add a bit of olive oil and the sliced onion.
  7. Saute the onion until translucent and add the cumin, the allspice and the sugar.
  8. Stir frequently in very low fire for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions release all their caramels and turn golden dark.
  9. Remove the onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and put them on the side.
  10. In the same saucepan, pour 1/3 cup of olive oil and add the rice.
  11. Saute the rice until it glistens.
  12. Add 2 +1/2 cups of hot water and let the rice simmer in very low fire until it is soft – that will take around 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Do not stir the rice while it’s cooking.
  14. When you see the rice making holes on the top, add the lentils and stir.
  15. Let it simmer for another 1-2 minutes and then turn off the fire.
  16. The meal is ready.
  17. At this point you’ll have to decide whether to stir in the caramelized onions or to reserve them for garnish.

Serving

  • Garnish each plate with fresh parsley or coriander and/or the caramelized onions (if that’s what decided earlier).

Notes on Lentils with Rice and Caramelized Onions – Mujadara

  • Rice does contain protein but this protein does not contain all of the aminoacids, mostly lysine, the human body needs to function well. Lentils (and all pulses) on the other hand contain the lysine that rice doesn’t have. In turn, rice is rich in methionine, another type of aminoacid that lentils do not have. The combination of the two increases the protein value of the meal.
  • It is a favourite dish in the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox world during the periods of Lent (when consumption of meat and dairy is forbidden).

Frikkadels – South African Braised Meat Balls

Frikkadels or Frikkadelle

Cuisine: South African
Region: Common

Frikkadels was very popular in Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries. (Yes, the idea for this recipe is… that old.) No wonder it followed the Dutch settlers all the way to South Africa.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: @30 min
You need: a mixing bowl and frying pan or a skillet

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp of butter or 1/3 of a cup of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 750g (1+1/2 Lbs) lean minced beef
  • 1 slice of thick crustless white bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp ground allspice

Instructions

  1. Put the frying pan or skillet on the stove. Turn on the fire to medium high.
  2. Add 1/3 of the butter or oil in the pan or skillet and then add the onion.
  3. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Turn off the fire.
  5. In the mixing bowl combine the minced beef, bread, eggs, salt, pepper, allspice and the onions you just sauted.
  6. Shape the mixture into balls.
  7. Add the remaining butter or oil in the skillet.
  8. Turn the fire on to medium high.
  9. Add to the pan a few Frikkadels at a time and brown them for about 5 minutes on one each side.
  10. Turn the fire down to medium (or lower) and keep cooking the Frikkadels for another 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
  11. Serve hot.

Sides

  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Diced onion in a tomato sauce.

Notes on Frikkadels – South African Braised Meat Balls

  • Enjoy!

Ground Lamb or Beef with Onions and Tahini Sauce in the Oven

Siniyeh

Cuisine: Israeli / Jewish
Region: Yemen

Simple, fast and delicious, Siniyeh, namely Ground Lamb or Beef with Onions and Tahini Sauce in the Oven, is a Jewish recipe from Yemen that is been cooked in Israel today. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6
Cooking time: 45 min
You need: a bowl, a skillet and a small baking pan (see notes)

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) ground lamb or beef. (Go for lamb!)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley (fresh)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 cup (@270g) of tahini

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Wash your hands very, very well.
  3. Take a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the pine nuts and the tahini.
  4. Use your hands to knead the mixture to a paste.
  5. Brush the baking pan with olive oil. It shouldn’t take more 1 Tbsp of oil.
  6. Spread the meat mixture in the pan, evenly.
  7. On the stove top, turn the fire on to medium high.
  8. Take the skillet, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add the pine nuts and saute for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. When the pine nuts turn to light brown remove the skillet from the fire.
  9. Empty evenly the contents of the skillet, pine nuts and oil, on top of the meat mixture. o
  10. Put the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top turns to brown.
  11. Take the pan out of the oven and pour the tahini over the mixture, evenly.
  12. Bake for another 15 minutes, until the top looks nicely browned.

Notes on Ground Lamb or Beef with Onions and Tahini Sauce in the Oven

  • Regarding tahini: depending on the brand and/or for how long jar has been sitting on the shelf some tahinis are thick like paste, others liquid like milk and others in various other forms of thickness. You can dilute tahini by putting it in a bowl and slowly adding water while you stir with a fork. You want tahini to be even and creamy, without lumps.
  • Regarding the dimensions of the baking pan: a round one @25 cm / 10 inch in diameter or a rectangular one @23×23 cm or 9×9 inch should do.
  • You can of course play with your own spices when/if you have an idea as to how to combine them with the body of the recipe.
  • You can pair this recipe with rice and/or a green salad.
  • A few words about the health benefits of sesame, here.

Pasta with Butter and Cheese

Pasta al Burro e Formaggio

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Common

Italian, hearty, classic and so simple a pasta recipe it’s almost… unbearable. Enjoy!

Serves 4
Cooking time: 10-15 min
You need: a pot and big bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Spaghetti or Macaroni (@500g or @2 Lbs)
  • 200g (less than 1 Lb) of grated cheese (@50g or less than 2oz per person)
  • 4 Tbsp of butter (1 Tbsp per person)
  • +2 Lt of water

Instructions

For the Spaghetti

  1. Add at least 2 Lt of water in a pot.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Turn on the fire and bring it to a boil.
  4. Add the spaghetti in the pot and stir from time to time.
  5. The spaghetti is to be al dente, cooked but not loose. Check the instructions on the pack for the exact cooking time.

For the Macaroni

  1. As above, put the macaroni into salted boiling water, and boil twelve to fifteen minutes, or until the macaroni is perfectly soft (meaning: the opposite of al dente. Check the instructions on the pack for the exact cooking time.)
  2. Stir frequently to prevent the macaroni from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Turn the macaroni into a colander to drain.

For the butter and cheese

  1. While the spaghetti or macaroni is cooking, grate the cheese. You can start with 50g per person and then put some more in a small bowl so that guests can help themselves if they want more.
  2. Take 1 Tbsp of butter per person, turn the fire on to medium-low and heat the butter up.
  3. Turn the butter in a big bowl and mix the cheese with the butter.

Mixing it up

  1. Turn the Spaghetti or Macaroni into the bowl and mix well.
  2. You are now ready to serve.

Notes on Pasta with Butter and Cheese

  • You can use Parmesan cheese (for a sweeter taste) or Pecorino cheese (for a saltier and sharper taste) or… any cheese you like, really.
  • Regarding Spaghetti, avoid the thin varieties. (You need enough surface on the spaghetti so that the butter and cheese can stick to it.)
  • Regarding Macaroni, go for Mezzani or Zitti (or any short Macaroni with a tube you have in the pantry, really.)

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

Cuisine: Moroccan / Morocco
Region: Common

The Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios is a classic Moroccan Tagine recipe that’s usually made for weddings and family gatherings. It will take some time to cook but… as with almost all traditional recipes everywhere in the World there’s no shortcut: it. must. cook. slowly.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 120 min
You need: a heavy based casserole with a lid and small frying pan

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (+ 2 Lbs) of lamb, preferably leg, but shoulder or neck will do too. Ask the clerk to cube it to bite-size pieces.
  • 2–3 Tbsp of ghee or 1/4 cup of olive oil. (See Notes)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1–2 Tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 Tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • Warm water
  • 1/4 Kg (approx. 8 oz) pitted dates (full and moist is better than squished and dry)
  • 1 Tbsp honey; the darker the honey, the better.
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 Tsp of butter
  • 2–3 Tbsp blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp shelled pistachios
  • 1 bunch of parsley, diced

Instructions

  1. Put the tagine or casserole or dutch oven on a medium fire and add the ghee.
  2. Heat the ghe (it won’t take long) and add the onions.
  3. Saute the onions until they turn golden / brown.
  4. Add the turmeric, the ginger and the cinnamon. Give it a good stir.
  5. Wait for a beat or two and add the meat.
  6. Stir the meat in the spices, making sure that the meat is coated on all sides.
  7. Add enough warm water to almost cover the meat.
  8. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low or low. (Low is best).
  9. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for approx. 90 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
  10. Ninety minutes later: add the dates into the mix, and after that stir in the honey.
  11. Cover with a lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  12. When it’s done, turn off the fire, season with salt and black pepper and let it rest.

While the meat is resting…

  1. Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan.
  2. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown.

Then…

  1. Scatter the nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the parsley.
  2. It’s ready.

Sides and Salads

  • Rice or couscous will do for a side dish.
  • When it comes to salad, anything “green” with a lot of lemon juice will do. (You need the lemon juice to cut through the sweetness of the recipe.)

Notes on the Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

  • Substituting ghee with olive oil will makes the recipe Kosher.
Tajine
Clay Tajine

The Tagine is a kind of clay cook-ware with a heavy conical lid.

Since it is most likely difficult to find a proper North African Tajine pot where we live, we can safely substitute it with either a heavy bottomed casserole with a lid, or a dutch oven.

It will probably not taste the same, given that the heating and heat retention properties of clay are quite different than those of metal cook-ware but… well.

Egyptian Fava Bean Stew – Fuul

Fuul, or Ful, or Ful Medames, or Ful Medammes, or Fuul, or Ful Mudammas

Cuisine: Egyptian
Region: Common

The Egyptian Fava Bean Stew or Fuul as a staple food is probably as old as Egypt. There are many variations (of course). We present an ultra-classic Fuul recipe as a basis – and then you’re free to change the flavour and/or add the topings of your choice.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: +60 min
You need: a pot or saucepan or skillet and a mixing bowl
Notes: requires soaking overnight

Ingredients

Basis

  • 2 cups small dried fava beans
  • 2 Tsp baking soda (for dried beans only)
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp ground coriander
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Choice of Toppings

  1. Chopped tomatoes, a generous dash of olive oil and chopped parsley on top.
  2. Extra lemon wedges, chopped onion, sliced cucumber, chopped green pepper, fresh mint and/or one hard-boiled egg per person.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Take a pot, put the dry fava beans in it, add 6 cups of water and 2 Tsp of baking soda and let them soak for anywhere between 12hrs and 24hrs. (The more you soak them, the better.)
  2. Feel free to change the water when/if you remember doing it. Changing the water helps in getting rid of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients more effectively.
  3. When soaked enough, empty the water and rinse them with cold water.

Cooking

  1. Take a pot or a saucepan and empty the fava beans in it.
  2. Cover with fresh water.
  3. Turn the fire on, bring to a boil, and then lower the fire to minimum.
  4. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are soft enough to mash.
  5. Give it a stir from time to time and add more (hot) water if necessary.
  6. occasionally and add more water if necessary.
  7. While the fava beans are simmering, take a bowl and mix in the pressed garlic, the cumin, the lemon juice, and about 2/3 of a Tsp of salt.
  8. When the fava beans are ready remove them from the pot or saucepan and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Do not discard the water, you might need it a bit later.
  9. Mash some of the the beans with a fork or pestle. You want some of them mashed and some of them in tact.
  10. Add the lemon juice mixture into the mixing bowl and stir, gently.
  11. Add more fava bean water if necessary. You want the beans wet but not soupy.
  12. Time for adjustments: taste the mixture and add more lemon juice or salt if think it needs it.
  13. The Fuul is now ready. Transfer it to a serving dish and add the toppings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations

Once you have the basis of the Fuul ready you can turn that basis to a new dish or side.

Here’s how:

  • Add the desired amount of Fuul in a saucepan.
  • Add 2-3 Tbsp of water.
  • Mix in the ingredients of your chosen variation.
  • Heat the mixture through over low fire.

Note: the measurements below are per cup of Fuul.

Spicy Tomato Fuul

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tsp. harissa paste OR 1/2 Tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Tahini Fuul

  • 1 Tbsp tahini paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • Chopped parsley

Curry Fuul

  • 1 +1/2 Tsp. curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic, mince
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped

Butter Fuul

  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • Important note: Egyptians traditionally use a local butter called ‘zebda baladi’ . (See Notes, below.) A good substitute to that is butter made from sheep/goat milk.

Sides

  • Sweet tea
  • Arabic bread or Pitta bread with an extra drizzle of olive oil on top . If you’re making Butter Fuul use an extra pat of butter instead of olive oil.

Notes on the Egyptian Fava Bean Stew – Fuul

  • Zebda Baladi is a special kind of butter they make in Egypt and it is distinctly different from the butter we know in other places in the world. More information on Zebda Baladi, here.
  • Fuul can be a main dish, or a side dish to something else. If you intend to cook Fuul as a side dish feel free to scale the recipe down.
  • Canned fava beans do not need soaking and take something like… 10 minutes to cook. The downside is their generally bland taste, so, you may need to exercise your seasoning skills when/if you cook with canned fava beans.

Japanese Okra and Bonito Salad

Aemono

Cuisine: Japanese
Region: Common

A simple, fast and tasty Japanese salad with Okra and Bonito fish Curiously, okra is not very popular in North America but it is preferred and cooked voraciously in other parts of the World. Japan is one of them.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 40 Okras
  • 50g (or more, there’s no rule) dry bonito shavings or flakes
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Cut the top off the okras
  2. Take a pot, put them in, and boil them in salted water for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Take the pot of the fire, drain the okras in a colander or sieve.
  4. Put the sieve under cold running water.
  5. Drain the water, put them on a cutting board and chop them to pieces – as wide or thin as you like.
  6. Put them in a bowl, add the soy sauce and drizzle with the bonito shavings.

Notes on the Japanese Okra and Bonito Salad

  • Enjoy!

Anglo – Indian Lamb Mulligatawny Stew or Soup

Cuisine: Anglo – Indian

The Anglo-Indian Mulligatawny stew is where West meets East, and vice versa. According to Wikipedia, “Mulligatawny is related to the soup rasam. Due to its popularity in England during British India, it was one of the few items of Indian cuisine that found common mention in the literature of the period. Early references to it in English go back to year 1784.” There are many variations of this recipe – some use ghee, others oil, some use lentils, other use lamb or beef, others are vegetarian. This one calls for lamb and lentils.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: a casserole or pot and saucepan or skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (@2Lbs) of lamb or mutton – preferably with bones, shoulder or breast cut.
  • 1 handful of masoor dal (red gram dal)
  • 2 glasses (cups) of coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 Tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 Tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 Tsp cumin powder
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, diced and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, diced and mashed
  • +2 glasses (cups) of hot water
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 2 onions, medium sized, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp mint, diced, for the garnish.

Instructions

The lamb

  1. Take a casserole.
  2. Put in the meat and the dal.
  3. Cover with water.
  4. Cook the meat in medium-low fire until it’s tender.
  5. Stir the mixture until the dal is smooth.

The spices

  1. Take a saucepan and add the oil or ghee.
  2. Heat it up, and saute the curry leaves, the green chillies and the onions until they change colour to brown.
  3. Add the ginger and the garlic and saute for a few minutes.
  4. Now it’s time time for the rest: add the chilli powder, the cumin powder, the coriander powder and the turmeric powder and saute for a few minutes until the oil separates from the mixture.

The combination

  1. Empty the saucepan into the casserole (into the meat and dal, that is). Mix well.
  2. Add the coconut oil, gently, stirring well.
  3. Salt to taste.
  4. Add 2 more glasses (cups) of water.
  5. Simmer in medium-low fire with the lid on for about 15 to 20 minutes.

The garnish

  1. Remove the casserole from the heat.
  2. Add the lime juice.
  3. Garnish with the mint leaves.

Notes on the Anglo – Indian Lamb Mulligatawny Stew or Soup

  • Can be served with bread or rice.
  • Olive oil is very recent to India. For a more “authentic” flavour you could substitute the 2 Tbsp of olive oil with 1 Tbsp of ghee (clarified) butter.
  • Needless to mention that ghee makes the recipe non-kosher.

Sauted Eggplant with Capsicum and Yogurt – Turkish style

Köpoğlu

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Istanbul

This is a classic family/home cooking recipe from Istanbul. A bit spicy for Western palates, but well, it’s very much worth it.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a saucepan and a bowl
Notes: requires soaking the eggplants for 30 min

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 glass (cup) olive oil
  • 1 red capsicum (red spicy pepper), seeded and cut into squares
  • 1 green capsicum (green spice pepper), seeded and cut into squares
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 125g (4+1/2 oz) thick yogurt (Turkish or Greek-style or Labneh)

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Peel and dice the eggplants, and put in a large bowl.
  2. Cover with salted water, and leave to soak for 30 minutes; squeeze the pieces out well and pat dry with paper towel.

Cooking

  1. Peel and dice the eggplants, and put in a large bowl.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium-high.
  3. Add the olive oil in a large saucepan and put the saucepan on the fire.
  4. Wait for a beat or two and add the eggplants to the saucepan.
  5. Saute the eggplants for 8–10 minutes – until the eggplants are soft and start to brown.
  6. Using a slotted spoon (or even a fork, if you wish) move the eggplants to a plate. Don’t drain the olive oil, you’ll need it for the next rounds.
  7. Return the saucepan to the fire.
  8. Add the capsicums. They saute a lot faster than the eggplants.
  9. When ready, remove the capsicums from the saucepan. Put them on a paper towel to drain off the oil.
  10. In the same saucepan saute the garlic for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes.
  11. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and start to breakdown.
  12. Arrange the eggplant and capsicum in a dish, then top with the tomatoes.
  13. In a small bowl, whisk the yoghurt with a little salt.
  14. Once the vegetables have cooled, top with the yoghurt and serve.

Notes on the Sauted Eggplant with Capsicum and Yogurt – Turkish style

  • This dish is to be savoured warm, not hot.
  • Remember: the point here is to merely saute the vegetables, not fry them.
  • Runny yogurt will not work very well with this recipe.
  • Speaking of yogurt, try to find sheep or goat yogurt, if available.

Dutch Green Split Pea Soup

Erwtensoep

Cuisine: Dutch / Holland / Netherlands
Region: Common

Erwtensoep is a Dutch winter classic and traditional recipe that offers enough strength to keep us going.

Serves 4
Cooking time: 50 min
You need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (@1 Lb) green split peas
  • 1 Lt (34 fl oz) water
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 small potato, peeled
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small smoked ham hock, or ham bone or sausage
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse and wash the split peas, and add them with the water to a pot.
  2. Chop the vegetables and add them to the water.
  3. Add the bay leaf.
  4. Add the smoked meat.
  5. Add salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer in low fire for about 40 minutes.
  7. When the peas are soft, remove the bay leaf and stir the soup several times. You want the peas to dissolve and made creamy.
  8. Now, take the meat out of the soup.
  9. Cut the meat off the bone and stir it back in the soup. If you’re using sausage, now it’s the time to add it to the mix.
  10. Taste for salt and pepper and adust accordingly.
  11. Done.

Notes on the Dutch Green Split Pea Soup

  • Traditionally it is served with a slice of dark rye bread.
  • Using a beef sausage makes the recipe Halal or Kosher.
  • This is a better-next-day recipe – as with all stews, really. When reheating, remember that the soup is thick and it might scorch in the pan. Add a bit of water if that’s the case.

Dutch Endive Stew with Mashed Potatoes

Andijviestamppot

Cuisine: Dutch / Holland / The Netherlands
Region: Overijssel

A Dutch winter classic. Do note that there’s no need for dairy with Dutch potatoes because they are creamy by nature. The idea here is that the vegetables release enough juices to make the potatoes moist enough.

Serves 2
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a pot, a skillet and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 600 gram (1.3 lb) potatoes
  • 400 gram(14 oz) escarole endive
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 bacon strips
  • Optional: a pinch of nutmeg and/or pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into regular sized chunks.
  2. Put them in a pot.
  3. Add enough water to barely cover the potatoes.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  7. Time for the skillet now to fry the bacon. It can cook on its own fat, or you might want to help it a little with a bit if water.
  8. When the bacon is done, cut into small strips or chunks.
  9. Try the potatoes with a fork. If they are easily pierced or fall off the fork it means that the potatoes are ready.
  10. Keep a glass (cup) of the the potato-water and discard the rest.
  11. Mash the potatoes in a bowl. Add some potato-water if the mashed potatoes seem dry.
  12. Wash the escarole endive, rinse and cut into 2cm (about 1 inch) strips.
  13. Mix the escarole endive in with the mashed potatoes and then add the bacon.
  14. Taste for salt and adjust is necessary.
  15. Optional: add a pinch of pepper or nutmeg if that suits your taste.

Notes on the Dutch Endive Stew with Mashed Potatoes

  • If escarole endive is unavailable you could use mustard greens, fresh spinach or arugula – they all work well.  
  • Given that it’s difficult to find creamy Dutch potatoes in other places around the world, you may consider using dairy if the result is not creamy enough for your taste. Fresh cream would do the trick, but not too much; all you need is to make the potatoes a bit creamy, after all.

Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Mushrooms – Italian Style

Fagioli al Forno con i Funghi

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Tuscany

These Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Mushrooms is another hearty, wholesome recipe from Italy’s Tuscany. It actually tastes better the next day.

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: an oven proof casserole or dutch oven and a pan
Notes: requires soaking overnight

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) dried small white beans
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, white parts only, cut into thin slices; or 1 large onion, cut into very thin slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 Kg (1/2 Lb) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp of butter

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Put the beans in a bowl, add enough water to cover them by at least 5 cm or 2 inches (or more, you can’t go wrong here) and soak them for anywhere between 12hrs and 24hrs. (The more you soak them, the better.)
  2. Feel free to change the water when you remember doing it. Changing the water helps in getting rid of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients more effectively.

Cooking

  1. Next day: drain the beans and transfer them to a big enough, ovenproof casserole.
  2. Turn on the oven to 160C / 325F so that it starts preheating.
  3. Add the tomatoes, the leek or onion, the garlic and the olive oil to the beans.
  4. Add your salt and pepper and stir.
  5. Put the casserole on the stove.
  6. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 fingers / 1 inch.
  7. Bring it to boil.
  8. Cover the casserole with the lid and transfer it to the preheated oven (160C / 325°F).
  9. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the beans.
  10. Close to serving time put the butter in a pan, melt it in medium fire and saute the mushrooms in the butter.
  11. Then, when the beans are ready, stir the sauted mushrooms into the beans and serve.

Notes on Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Mushrooms – Italian Style

  • Check the beans for moisture from time to time. If the beans look too dry then add a little hot water, 1/4 glass (cup) at a time. If they look like soup then uncover the casserole to help the liquid evaporate.
  • You can use a dutch oven instead of a casserole.

Italian Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Ham or Bacon

Fagioli al Forno

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Tuscany

This is a hearty, winter day’s Italian recipe for beans and meat. It actually tastes better the next day.

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: an oven proof casserole or dutch oven
Notes: requires soaking overnight

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) dried small white beans
  • 1 large smoked ham hock, or @100g (1⁄4 Lb) bacon
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, white parts only, cut into thin slices; or 1 large onion, cut into very thin slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preparation
  1. Put the beans in a bowl, add enough water to cover them by at least 5 cm or 2 inches (or more, you can’t go wrong here) and soak them for anywhere between 12hrs and 24hrs. (The more you soak them, the better.)
  2. Feel free to change the water when you remember doing it. Changing the water helps in getting rid of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients more effectively.
Cooking
  1. Next day: drain the beans and transfer them to a big enough, ovenproof casserole.
  2. Turn on the oven to 160C / 325F so that it starts preheating.
  3. If you are using a ham hock: scrape it if necessary and scald it with boiling water.
  4. If you are using bacon: tie the slices together with a string. (You’ll remove the string later.)
  5. Add the ham hock or bacon, the tomatoes, the leek or onion, the garlic and the olive oil to the beans.
  6. Add your salt and pepper and stir.
  7. Put the casserole on the stove.
  8. Add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 fingers / 1 inch.
  9. Bring it to boil.
  10. Cover the casserole with the lid and transfer it to the preheated oven (160C / 325°F).
  11. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the beans.
  12. At serving time remove the ham hock or bacon and cut it. You can then use it either as a side dish or mix it in with the beans – your choice.

Notes on Italian Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Ham or Bacon

  • Check for moisture from time to time. If the beans look too dry then add a little hot water, 1/4 glass (cup) at a time. If they look like soup then uncover the casserole to help the liquid evaporate.
  • You can use a dutch oven instead of a casserole.

Korean Spicy Cold Noodles with Egg and Cucumber

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

One of many Asian recipes for spicy noodles – this one is from Korea. Perfect for a summer lunch, one would think. 🙂

Serves 4
Cooking time: 5 min
You need: a bowl and a pot

Ingredients

  • 100g (0.25 Lb) Korean noodles – any kind you like
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, cut in halves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, cut in thin strips
  • 1 + 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Korean chili powder
  • 1 + 1/2 cups brown rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chili paste
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Take a bowl and mix together the chili paste, soy sauce, kimchi, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili powder and sugar. Put the bowl aside.
  2. Take a pot, add water, add the noodles and boil for 3-4 minutes, or as long as the noodles take to become tender.
  3. Turn off the fire.
  4. Strain the noodles. Next,
  5. Put the strainer under running cold water so that the noodles cool off. At this point you’re deciding whether the noodles are going to be cold, or simply cool.
  6. Drain again.
  7. Add the cold or cool noodles into the bowl containing the spicy mixture and mix together.
  8. Scoop the new mixture into serving bowls.
  9. Top each serving bowl with sliced cucumber, the cabbage or lettuce and a half of an egg.

Notes on the Korean Spicy Cold Noodles with Egg and Cucumber

  • If the recipe is somewhat too spicy to non-Koreans, one can always cut down on spice to one’s taste.
  • If you feel that 100g of noodles is too little a quantity for 4 people feel free to increase the quantity – no problem there.

How to Prepare Rice for Cooking – Persian Style

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian

There are many ways to cook rice – as you can imagine. This is the way they prepare rice for cooking in Iran (Persia).

Quantity: @ 200g per person
You need: a bowl

Instructions

  1. Take a bowl and put the rice in it.
  2. Add enough cold water to cover it by about 2 fingers (2.5 cm or 1 inch).
  3. Move the grains around the bowl.
  4. Drain the water and repeat the exercise for at least three times or until the water comes more-or-less clear.
  5. Drain for the last time and add cold water to cover the rice by about 2 fingers.
  6. Add a pinch or two of salt per serving.
  7. Leave it to soak for at least two (2) hours before cooking.
  8. Some of us prefer to leave it soaking overnight, they way we do with pulses (lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.)

Notes on How to Prepare Rice for Cooking – Persian Style

  • In the Old World it is common, traditional practice to soak grains before cooking them. In modern times we discovered that soaking grains allows dormant enzymes and so on to wake up, making for a more nutritious meal. On the other hand, soaking grain may help remove dangerous chemicals used in modern agriculture.

Chicken Broth – Asian Style

Cuisine: Far East
Region: Common

There are many, many recipes for Asian style chicken broth. This is a generic recipe that works well with the cuisines of the Far East.

Yield: +6 cups (depends on your pot, really)
Cooking time: 3 hrs
You need: a stock pot

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 Chinese scallion chopped in 3-4 pieces, or 4-5 green onions chopped in half
  • 1 piece of ginger, thumb size, chopped in 3-4 pieces
  • 1 piece ginseng (dry)
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash the chicken, thoroughly.
  2. Take a pot and put the chicken in.
  3. Fill with water up to 3/4 or 4/5 of the pot (depending how much broth you want out of it; see below).
  4. Add the scallion or green onion, the ginger and the ginseng.
  5. Add salt, if you wish.
  6. Cover the pot with a lid, pump up the fire and bring it to a boil.
  7. Take the lid off; skim the impurities and foam from the surface (if any).
  8. Put the lid back on, reduce the fire to low and let it simmer for about 3hrs.
  9. The water level will go down and feel free to add 1 to 2 glasses (cups) of water while the broth is simmering but DO NOT add water during the last 60 minutes.
  10. At the end of the process the broth with have a layer of fat on top. That’s normal.
  11. Take the chicken out of the pot and put it on a platter to cool down.
  12. Scoop the spices out and discarded them.
  13. The broth is ready.

Notes on Chicken Broth – Asian Style

  • Enjoy!

Chicken Stew with Green Peppers in the Pot

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Epirus

Chicken Stew with Green Peppers in the Pot is a chicken stew recipe from Greece’s mountainous Northwest. (Yes, Greece has mountains too.) Unlike other Greek recipes this one includes spices. This is a complete meal – there’s little need for sides, other than a slice of bread and perhaps some feta cheese (if you’re not kosher.) Enjoy!

Serves 6
Cooking time: approx. 75 min
You need: a pot and a frying pan

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) chicken (approx.)
  • 4 green peppers, cut width-wise (like disks, not like strips)
  • 4 onions, coarsely cut
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely cut
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, diced (You can use dry basil if fresh is not available)
  • 180g (almost 1/2 a glass or cup) olive oil
  • 1 hot pepper
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of clove spice
  • 1 pinch of allspice
  • 1 glass (cup) of hot water
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken in portions, wash it thoroughly and drain it.
  2. Pour the olive oil in a frying pan.
  3. Lightly saute the chicken in the pan .
  4. Add the tomatoes, the peppers and the onions in the pan and saute them too, together with the chicken.
  5. When all of the above is sauted, take the pan off the fire.
  6. Empty the contents of the pan into the pot.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Namely: basil, garlic, cinnamon, clove spice, allspice, hot pepper, salt, black pepper and the water.
  8. Let it simmer on low fire for about 60 min.
  9. That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Chicken Stew with Green Peppers in the Pot

  • Add some hot water in the pot when/if you think it needs it.
  • Serve hot.
  • It will taste better the next day.
  • This is a complete meal, really. There’s little need for sides, other than a slice of bread and perhaps some feta cheese (not kosher, we know).

Vegetables, Mussels, Potatoes and Rice Casserole (Casserole Barese)

Casserole Barese

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Puglia (South)

The Casserole Barese is an interesting casserole recipe from Puglia, Italy. It could well be a distant cousin to the Spanish Paella. “Barese” means “from Bari”.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 70-80 min
You need: an oven casserole pan and a skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (@2 Lbs) (or more) of fresh mussels
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2/3 of a cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 glass (cup) of extra virgin olive oil
  • approx. 1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (like 0.5 cm or 1/8 inch)
  • 1 + 1/2 cup rice, washed
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

  1. Put the mussels in a skillet and cover them with 1/4 cold water.
  2. Put the lid on, then bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes.
  3. Turn off the fire and remove the skillet from the burner. Remove the lid and let the mussels cool off.
  4. When cool enough, remove one shell from each mussel (the one that doesn’t contain the flesh). Keep the mussel juice, you’re going to need it later.
  5. Start preheating the oven at 190C/375F.
  6. Now, the casserole pan: arrange a layer composed of 1/3 of the tomatoes, celery, parsley and garlic.
  7. Drizzle 1/3 of the olive oil on the layer.
  8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese.
  9. On top of the cheese, layer 1/3 of the potatoes.
  10. On top of the potatoes layer 1/3 of the mussels, face up.
  11. On top of the mussels layer all of the rice.
  12. Time for layer #2: arrange a layer composed of 1/3 of the tomatoes, celery, parsley and garlic.
  13. Add salt and pepper.
  14. Drizzle 1/3 of the olive oil on the 2nd layer.
  15. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese.
  16. Layer the remaining potatoes.
  17. Layer the remaining vegetables.
  18. Drizzle the remaining olive oil.
  19. Now, pour evenly in the water and the mussel juice (remember that? in the skillet?).
  20. Sprinkle the bread crumbs.
  21. Add salt and pepper
  22. Add the remaining cheese.
  23. Add the water.
  24. Cook in 190C/375F for approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Notes on Vegetables, Mussels, Potatoes and Rice Casserole (Casserole Barese)

  • Rice has to be somewhat plump. Parboiled rice is NOT ideal.
  • Make sure the mussels don’t have sand in them. You may want to wash them first and/or use a cheesecloth to sieve the mussel juice before you pour it in the casserole.
  • You can salt and pepper any layer you want, as you see fit.
  • The texture of the final result should be neither watery, nor dry.
  • If you need to add water during cooking, use only HOT water.

Potato Salad with Pickles, Eggs and Mustard

Cuisine: Jewish, Israeli

Simple, fast, hearty and healthy – this potato salad twist can and possibly be a household staple.

Serves 6
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a pot and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) potatoes
  • 1 large onion or a bunch of green onions, diced
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cider or wine vinegar
  • 1 Tsp dry mustard
  • 2 or 3 chopped pickled cucumbers
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes in cubes.
  2. Add water in a pot, add salt in the water.
  3. Put the potatoes in the pot and bring it to boil.
  4. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Mix in the rest of the ingredients leaving the parsley for last (to garnish).
  6. Add mixture to the potato bowl.
  7. Garnish with parsley.

Notes on Potato Salad with Pickles, Eggs and Mustard

  • That’s all. 🙂

Potato Salad

Cuisine: Jewish, Israeli, Greek

Common in Israel, Greece and their respective diaspora this is simple, fast, hearty and healthy recipe served either as salad or a side dish. Enjoy!

Serves 6
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a pot and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) potatoes
  • 1 large onion or a bunch of green onions, diced
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cider or wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes in cubes.
  2. Add water in a pot, add salt in the water.
  3. Put the potatoes in the pot and bring it to boil.
  4. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. While warm, mix in the rest of the ingredients leaving the parsley for last (to garnish)

Notes on the Classic Potato Salad

  • That’s all. 🙂

Chopped Eggs with Onion

Cuisine: Jewish, Israeli

A simple, hearty and uncomplicated side dish, or starter. Nothing fancy but very healthy. 🙂

Serves 6
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a bowl

Ingredients

  • 6 boiled eggs
  • 1 mild onion, or a bunch of green onion
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3-4 Tbsp of olive oil, or 2 Tbsp of melted butter, or 2 Tbsp of chicken fat

Instructions

  1. Coarsely cut the eggs.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Mix them well.
  4. That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Chopped Eggs with Onion

  • Serve with bread.

Burgers with Eggs and Lemon in the Pot

Kapamás

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Thessaly

This is a unique one: minced meat is turned to burgers and then there’s sauteeing, simmering, eggs, lemon, flour – the works!

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 50 min
You need: a pot, a frying pan or skillet and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 500g minced meat (beef). Ask the clerk to mince the beef once, not twice.
  • 1 medium size onion, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1-2 pinches of oregano
  • 1 slice of bread, wet (with water)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 glass (cup) olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • some olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1 Lt hot water

Instructions

  1. Knead the minced beef with the wet bread, 1 egg, the onion, the parsley, the oregano and salt and pepper.
  2. Turn it small burgers.
  3. Sautee the burgers in olive oil, in medium to low fire. You don’t want them fried, you want them browned (so that they don’t disintegrate later).
  4. Add less than 1/2 glass of olive oil in the pot.
  5. Turn the fire on to medium.
  6. Wait until the oil burns a little, then add the flour.
  7. Add to the pot 1/2 Lt hot water. It will sizzle. Don’t panic.
  8. Add the burgers in the pot, lower the fire to a simmering heat and let the burgers simmer for approx. 45 min.
  9. After that, add the leftover olive oil in the skillet, bring it to hot and add pepper.
  10. Pour the peppered oil on the burgers, in the pot.
  11. While the pot is doing what it has to do, always in low fire, beat the remaning 2 eggs in a bowl and add the lemon juice.
  12. Turn the fire off, wait a beat or two and cover the burgers with the egg and lemon mixture.

Notes on Burgers with Eggs and Lemon in the Pot

  • Serve hot.

Garlic Croutons

Cuisine: generic European

Yield: your choice
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a skillet or a frying pan

Ingredients

  • Bread, cut in squares or cubes
  • Either 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil, OR 2-3 Tbsp of butter
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour the oil or butter in a skillet or frying pan.
  2. Let it heat up in medium fire.
  3. Add the seasoning (salt, pepper, whatever else).
  4. Sautee the garlic, until it becomes transparent.
  5. Add the bread cubes and stir them around so that they get covered with liquid on all sides.
  6. Stir and cook until they are crispy and brown.

Notes on Garlic Croutons

  • That’s all. 🙂

Potato Hot Pot

Trouffade

Cuisine: French
Region: the Central Plateau and Languedoc

There are many variations of this French Potato Hot Pot recipe. (After all it’s just another way to cook potatoes, no? 🙂 )

Serves 6
Cooking time: 25 min
You need: a skillet or frying pan

Ingredients

  • 125g (4oz) streaky bacon or speck
  • 500g (1 Lb) potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 250g Cheddar cheese (or equivalent) coarsely grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the bacon or speck in a heavy skillet or frying pan over moderate fire, until the fat rans out.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning constantly, browning them on all sides.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Leave the mixture of gentle fire for about 15 minutes, until the base is crisp and brown, but don’t let it catch.
  5. Invert onto a warmed plate and serve.

Notes on the Potato Hot Pot

  • Originally, this recipe suggest Tomme cheese, which is particular to the French Alps and Switzerland. The Italians make a similar cheese and they call it Toma.
  • In absence of Tomme or Toma, Cheddar or Cheddar-like cheeses will do nicely.

How To Make Fish Stock

Foumet

Cuisine: French

French cooking uses stocks as a base for soups and sauces. This is a generic fish stock (fumet) recipe used in French cooking.

Yield: 1 + 3/4 cups
Cooking time: 30min
You need: a large sauce pan and a sieve

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) fish trimmings (fish heads, bones, or (fresh or cooked) shellfish leftovers
  • 1 onion, diced or thinly sliced
  • 6-8 parsley stems (not the leaves)
  • 1 Tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 glass (cup) dry white wine
  • Cold water to cover

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and skim.
  3. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the stock through a fine sieve.
  5. Correct the seasoning.

Notes on How To Make Fish Stock

  • Fish stock can be refrigerated or put in the deep-freeze.


How to Make Brown Meat Stock

Cuisine: French

French cooking uses stocks as a base for soups and sauces. This is a generic brown meat stock recipe used in French cooking.

Yield: 8 cups
Cooking time: 6-8 hrs
You need: a large sauce pan, a stock pot and a sieve or cheesecloth

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) shin beef on the bone
  • 1 Kg veal knuckle cut into 5cm / 1 inch pieces
  • 2 pig feet
  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) veal and beef bones
  • 60g (2 oz) dripping (fat)
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 + 1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 12 cups of warm water

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, place all ingredients except for the bouquet garni, the peppercorns and the water.
  2. Cook gently, stirring occasionally until the meat, the bones and the vegetables become slightly brown.
  3. Move the contents into a stock pot.
  4. Add some water, bring it to a boil, then immediately lower the fire to simmer.
  5. Add the peppercorns and the bouquet garni.
  6. Wait a little.
  7. Slowly add the rest of the water, stirring constantly.
  8. When this is done, let it simmer for 6 to 8 hrs. (Yes, hours.)
  9. Six to eight hours later: turn the fire off, and let it cool.
  10. Strain through the sieve or through muslin.
  11. Refrigerate the liquid.
  12. Next day, skim off the congealed fat.

Notes on How to Make Brown Meat Stock

  • Some recipes use sieves. Other recipes prefer to strain through muslin cloth or cheese cloth. The contention among cooks is about the clarity of the liquid. Some prefer it as clear as possible (hence the muslin or cheese cloth), others don’t mind “impurities” in their liquid.
  • The alternative to those 60g of fat would the equivalent amount of butter.

Vegan Eggplant and Tahini Dip – Baba Ghanouj

Cuisine: Lebanese

This is the vegan / lenten version of Lebanese style Baba Ghanouj.

Yield: 250ml
Cooking time: @60min
You need: a gas flame, a colander and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants (around 650g or +1 Lbs)
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 bitter orange
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp flat parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. First, we have to char (burn) the eggplants.
  2. Prick the eggplants with a fork or a knife to prevent them from…. blowing up.
  3. Turn them over the gas stove flame until they are charred all over. (*)
  4. Wait for them to cool off.
  5. Then peel them and put them in a colander.
  6. Push hard to strain them from their juice.
  7. While in the colander, cut the eggplant flesh with a sharp knife and then mash it with a fork or a wooden spoon. You will probably see more juice coming out of them.
  8. Squeeze a bit of lemon all over the pulp (so that it maintains its colour, among other things).
  9. Take a bowl, beat the tahini with the lemon juice. The mixture will stiffen at first but it will soften up in the process.
  10. Blend in the mashed eggplants, the garlic, the salt and the bitter orange juice.
  11. Beat vigorously and taste: if the mixture needs adjustments, this is the time to do it.
  12. Serve with a garnish of parsley and olive oil.

Notes on Vegan Eggplant and Tahini Dip – Baba Ghanouj

  • (*) The alternative to step #3 is to pre-heat the oven to 240C/475F, put the eggplants on a sheet pan or oven tray and roast them for 45 to 60min, until the skins become very soft and wrinkled.

Eggplant and Tahini Dip – Baba Ghanouj

Cuisine: Lebanese

A Lebanese recipe for Baba Ghanouj. (Trust them, they know what they’re doing. 🙂 )

Yield: 250ml
Cooking time: @60min
You need: a gas flame and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants (around 650g or +1 Lbs)
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 125 to 200g of Greek style (strained) yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp flat parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. First, we have to char (burn) the eggplants.
  2. Prick the eggplants with a fork or a knife to prevent them from…. blowing up.
  3. Turn them over the gas stove flame until they are charred all over. (*)
  4. Wait for them to cool off.
  5. Then peel them and put them in a colander.
  6. Push hard to strain them from their juice.
  7. While in the colander, cut the eggplant flesh with a sharp knife and then mash it with a fork or a wooden spoon. You will probably see more juice coming out of them.
  8. Squeeze a bit of lemon all over the pulp (so that it maintains its colour, among other things).
  9. Take a bowl, beat the tahini with the lemon juice. The mixture will stiffen at first but it will soften up in the process.
  10. Blend the yogurt in.
  11. Blend in the mashed eggplants, the garlic and salt.
  12. Beat vigorously and taste: if the mixture needs adjustments, this is the time to do it.
  13. Serve with a garnish of parsley and olive oil.

Notes on Eggplant and Tahini Dip – Baba Ghanouj

  • (*) The alternative to step #3 is to pre-heat the oven to 240C/475F, put the eggplants on a sheet pan or oven tray and roast them for 45 to 60min, until the skins become very soft and wrinkled.

Chicken Broth – European Style

Cuisine: generic European

One of many ways to make European style chicken broth.

Yield: @6 cups
Cooking time: +2 hrs
You need: a pot, or a stock pot (which is a tall and narrow pot)

Ingredients

  • approx. 1 + 1/2 Kg (+2 Lbs) pieces of chicken (legs, wings, necks, etc.)
  • 2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut into pieces
  • 2 onions, halved of quartered
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp dried thyme
  • 8 to 10 whole peppercorns
  • about 8 cups of cold water

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in the stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the fire until the liquid is simmering.
  4. Simmer, without the lid on, for 3-4 hours.
  5. Skim the foam from time to time.
  6. Take the chicken out of the pot.
  7. Strain the broth, discarding vegetables and seasonings.
  8. Put it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
  9. You may want to skim fat from surface.

Notes on Chicken Broth – European Style

  • Regarding the chicken: remove the meat from the bones and save it for something else.

Spicy Mango Sauce

Cuisine: Indian

Sauce for a meal or a party dip, this is tasty and healthy too! Enjoy!

Serves 4
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a bowl.
(Yes, it’s that complicated)

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small firm mango, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced, with no seeds
  • 4 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 – 1 red chilli pepper, diced, with no seeds
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Season to taste
  3. (That’s all.)

Notes on the Spicy Mango Sauce

  • In terms of spice, this recipe is (supposed to be) medium hot. Now, “medium hot Indian” may be “very hot” for a European, so… hmmm.
  • If you like the recipe’s concept but you’re puzzling over the intensity of the spice you may use chilli flakes, or Cayen pepper to your taste, or use less chilli pepper, etc. You know what to do. 🙂

Lentil Stew with Swiss Chard and Lemon

Aadass bi Hammod

Cuisine: Lebanese

Aadass bi Hammod – a well known traditional Winter lentil stew (or thick soup) from Lebanon.

Serves 4
Cooking time: @50 min
You need: a skillet

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (@1 Lbs) Swiss Chard
  • 2 yellow onions – medium size would be good.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 potato
  • 1 bunch of green coriander
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1⁄2 cup lentils
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Hot water

Instructions

  1. Separate the thick white stalks from the leaves of the Swiss chard. Dice the stalks and coarsely chop the leaves.
  2. Dice the onions.
  3. Dice the garlic.
  4. Peel the potato and dice it into cubes
  5. Chop the coriander stalks
  6. Chop the coriander leaves.
  7. Add the olive oil in a large skillet and heat it over medium fire.
  8. Sauté the onions until they change color (maybe 10 minutes).
  9. Add the garlic and white chard stalks.
  10. Add the potato.
  11. Add the coriander stalks.
  12. Add the ground coriander.
  13. Give the mixture stir and add the lentils.
  14. Stir and cook until all the mixture dries a bit.
  15. At this point, add enough hot water to cover the mixture by 2 fingers or 1 inch.
  16. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cook for @40min or until the lentils and potato are cooked.
  17. Then, add the chopped Swiss Chard leaves.
  18. Add salt.
  19. Add the coriander leaves and wait a little (not much).
  20. Turn off the fire and finish with the lemon juice.

Notes on the Lentil Stew with Swiss Chard and Lemon

  • Better to serve hot.
  • The consistency of the food must be neither watery, nor thick.

Mayonnaise Sauce

Cuisine: French

What we mostly know as “Mayonnaise” is that… gooey cream that comes out of a plastic bottle (or… bucket) sold at supermarkets. Well, it’s time to think again. Here’s a recipe for the real deal.

Cooking time: @10min
You need: a bowl and a whisk

Ingredients

  • 2-3 yolks of raw eggs
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Tsp English mustard
  • less than 1/2 glass (cup) of olive oil
  • Drops of Lemon juice
  • Drop of vinegar

Instructions

  1. Put the yolks in a bowl and beat them with a whisk until they become very frothy
  2. Add a pinch of salt,
  3. add the English mustard
  4. Mix together with a fork, always turning in the same direction.
  5. While you do this add the olive oil in, slowly and by small degrees.
  6. Occasionally drip 2-3 drops of lemon juice.
  7. When the sauce is smooth and firm (=when the olive oil is absorbed) add a small drop of vinegar.

Notes on Mayonnaise Sauce

  • What to do with the egg whites? You may want to turn them to an omelette. Beat them in a bowl, add some diced onion, possibly a little garlic, salt, pepper and whatever else and then… cook it in a little butter or olive oil on a low fire. (That’s all.)

Boiled and Broiled Potatoes

One of many potato recipes, Boiled and Broiled Potatoes go very well with stews.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a pot, a colander and a roasting pan

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 + 1/2 Kg (2 – 3 Lbs) of potatoes
  • 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: oregano, marjoram and/or whatever spice or condiment suits your palate.

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes in cubes.
  2. Add water in a pot, add salt in the water.
  3. Put the potatoes in the pot and bring it to boil.
  4. Turn on the oven to 180C/350F.
  5. Approx. 10-12 min later, when the potatoes are half-cooked (=not really slipping off the fork) turn off the fire and strain them in a colander.
  6. Smear a roasting pan with the olive oil.
  7. Arrange the potatoes in the pan.
  8. Add salt, pepper and/or your spices.
  9. Roast them in 180C/350F for about 10 min or so.

Notes on Boiled and Broiled Potatoes

  • You could choose to broil the potatoes instead of roasting them. If that’s the case, remember to turn them over otherwise only one side will be cooked.

How to prepare deep frozen Lamb and Goat

In North America and other places in the World people identify “lamb” and “goat” with deep frozen (mainly) Southern Hemisphere fare commonly found in super markets.

This kind of lamb or goat is usually sold in vacuum packs – and the packs contain blood. As a result, if cooked straight from the pack the meat tastes “gamey”, “chewy”, “smelly” and so on.

When one has no other option than to use this kind of meat it would be prudent NOT TO cook it straight from the pack.

For best results, first put the meat in a pot full of cold water. Add a pinch or two of salt and wait for sometime so that blood comes off. Then rinse it, drain it and dry it with a paper towel.

Apropos, you may want to consider kosher or halal lamb or goat meat, given that these traditions make a very strong point of not leaving a trace of blood in the meat.

Beef with Eggplants in the Pot

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

A classic, simple, traditional, wholehearted, insanely delicious stew, Beef with Eggplants in the Pot needs no particular introduction. You can cook this recipe “as is” or you can use it as a base for your own tailor-made adjustments.

Serves 4
Cooking time: 90-120 minutes
You will need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) of beef (cut for stew)
  • 1 Kg eggplants
  • 2 big onions, diced
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3-4 tomatoes (approx. 500 g / 17 oz) or the equivalent net weight of canned tomatoes from a brand you trust.
  • 1 glass (cup) of olive oil
  • 2 glasses (cups) of hot water
  • 2 generous pinches of oregano
  • Salt & pepper
  • A bit of parsley, if you have some in the fridge.

Instructions

  1. Wash and cut the meat in cubes, approx. 1 inch / 2.5 cm wide.
  2. Cut the eggplants: either lengthwise (half across the middle and then half from top to bottom) or in discs, approx. 1 inch / 2.5 wide.
  3. Put the eggplants in salted water and let them stay there for approx. 30min (or for as long as the rest of the preparation lasts. We do this in order to reduce the eggplant’s natural bitterness.)
  4. Dice the onion, the garlic and the tomatoes (if fresh).
  5. Pour 1/2 a cup of olive oil in a pot. Bring it to heat.
  6. Add the diced onions and garlic in the pot and saute for a few minutes until they turn golden brown.
  7. Add the meat in the mixture and saute for a few minutes.
  8. Take the eggplants out of the water, (use a colander). Add the eggplants in the pot and stir 2-3 times.
  9. Add the tomatoes, the rest of the olive oil and the 2 cups of water.
  10. Add salt, pepper and the oregano.
  11. Reduce the fire to medium and simmer without a lid for 90-120 minutes.
  12. Give it a stir from time to time (… mainly for the joy of … doing it.:)
  13. The whole goal and idea is that the liquids reduce to a thick sauce. (This is why you don’t want a lid on the pot.)
  14. When ready, let it sit for 5-10 minutes before you serve.
  15. When serving, a bit of parsley on the top is always nice.

Sides

Boiled & Broiled potatoes is a very good side to this dish. However, maybe all you really need is a green salad and some bread to scoop the juice. 🙂

Notes on Beef with Eggplants in the Pot

  • If you’re going for spicy, you could add a dash of chili flakes half-way through cooking.
  • There are two kinds of eggplants: one that is long and thin, another that is round and big. Go for the long and thin ones.
  • If you can only find the other kind of eggplants then, again, cut them in 1 inch / 2.5 cm slices and then again in half. The problem with the big, round eggplants though is that there isn’t enough skin to hold the flesh of the eggplant together while simmering in the pot. So, you may want to either saute in olive oil before you add them in the pot, or gracefully resign and see what happens. (It’s just a matter of looks because the taste of the stew is going to be delicious, anyway. 🙂
  • In choosing a brand of canned tomatoes check to see if the only preservative mentioned on the can is ascorbic/citric acid (that is: Vitamin C).

Pasta Bolognese – Variation in S Major :)

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Bologna

There are many variations of this predominantly red meat sauce Italian recipe. Some variations are complicated, some are simple; some are fast and others slow. We chose a simple, slow cooking variation (the “S” in “S Major”) that’s simply… memorable.

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 60 minutes
You will need: a skillet and a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) of minced beef
  • 1 – 2 medium sized onions
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 to 1/2 glass (cup) of olive oil (depends on how much fat is in the beef)
  • 1/2 cup of red wine or 1/4 cup of red vinegar
  • 3 – 4 medium sized tomatoes or 500g (approx. 17 oz) of canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp of lemon zest
  • Several cups of hot water
  • A pinch of dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Approx. 200g of grated, hard cheese.
  • A pack of pasta. Spaghetti, macaroni or linguine work best.

Instructions

  1. Dice the onions and the garlic, put them in the skillet.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of hot water.
  3. Simmer in medium fire until the liquid is not “watery” (=water is absorbed).
  4. Add the olive oil.
  5. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil; add the minced meet.
  6. Stir and wait until the meat changes colour. (At this stage the meat produces liquid, so, wait until the liquid is gone and the meat starts sizzling in the oil, again.)
  7. Add the wine or vinegar.
  8. Wait for a beat or two.
  9. Lower the fire and let it simmer for 30 minutes. You may want to keep adding water when/if required because you want the meat to be simmering, not frying.
  10. After 30 minutes of simmering, add the diced tomatoes, the lemon zest, the oregano and salt & pepper.
  11. Keep simmering the sauce for another 30 minutes; giving it a stir from time to time.
  12. Approx. 20 minutes before the (anticipated) end, start cooking the pasta.

Serving

Make a layer of meat sauce at the bottom of each serving plate. Add a layer of pasta on top of it and then a second layer of meat sauce on top of the pasta. Cheese, if any, goes in last and at the very top.

Notes on Pasta Bolognese – Variation in S Major 🙂

  • Regarding hard cheese: in general, people use whatever hard cheese is produced locally. E.g. the Italians use Parmesan (sweet), Pecorino (salty), etc. The Greeks use a dry, salty, hard white cheese called Myzithra. And so on and so forth. So, there’s no “right kind of hard cheese for the dish”, really. Do experiment a little, and choose your own combinations. (And please don’t forget to post your experiments here, eh? 🙂
  • If you feel like throwing a carrot into the mixture… go ahead! (We did!) 🙂
  • As you may freely imagine… there’s no “side dish” here – other than a salad of your choice. We would go for something “green” – given that there’s already a lot of tomato in the dish.
  • When purchasing minced beef, ask the clerk to grind the meat once, not twice.
Le Dinner de Cons (1998) | myfoodistry

Le Dinner de Cons (1998)

For Pierre Brochant and his friends, Wednesday is “Idiots’ Day”. The idea is simple: each person has to bring along an idiot. The one who brings the most spectacular idiot wins the prize. Tonight, Brochant is ecstatic. He has found a gem. The ultimate idiot. “A world champion idiot!” Meet François Pignon, a lowly accountant at the Finance Ministry, a man devoted to his constructions made of match sticks… What Brochant doesn’t know is that Pignon is a real jinx, a past master in the art of bringing on catastrophes…

Directed by : Francis Veber
Produced by : Gaumont
Genre: Fiction – Runtime: 1 h 22 min
French release: 15/04/1998
Production year: 1998

Rabbit with Nutmeg and Almonds in Red Cider Vinegar or Red Sweet Wine

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Peloponnesus

A Greek traditional cuisine classic, cooked in a pot, skillet or casserole. Substituting red wine with red cider vinegar makes it Halal.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes
You will need: a skillet
Requires marinating
Contains nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 +1/2 Kg (@3 Lbs) of rabbit
  • 3/4 glass (cup) olive oil
  • 1 cup red cider vinegar (red apple cider or red wine vinegar) or 1 glass (cup) sweet red wine
  • 2 Tbsp crushed almonds
  • 2 laurel (bay) leaves
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/2 glasses (cups) of hot water
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the meat in portions, put it in a container, add the vinegar and let it marinate for 12 hrs in the fridge.
  2. Crush the almonds with a pestle (don’t turn them to powder – this won’t help).
  3. After that, strain the vinegar, add the olive in a skillet, pot or casserole and saute the meat until its brown.
  4. Put it out with the sweet red wine.
  5. Add the cinnamon, the laurels, the nutmeg the almonds, salt and pepper.
  6. Add the hot water.
  7. Simmer in medium fire until the gravy has no water in it. (It should take approx. 30-40 minutes.)

Sides

French fries or boiled & broiled potatoes. (We prefer boiled & broiled potatoes. 🙂

Notes on Rabbit with Nutmeg and Almonds in Red Cider Vinegar or Red Sweet Wine

  • The recipe can be safely scaled by 50%.
  • The key ingredients in this recipe are the almonds, the nutmeg and the cinnamon.
  • Use a glass bowl for marinating because vinegar’s acidic properties may blotch metal or plastic bowls.

Warning

The recipe contains almonds, so, please don’t try this if you or somebody else around you are allergic to nuts.

Beef Shank with Red Wine in the Pot

Cuisine: Italian

Cooked in a pot, casserole or an iron dutch oven – a quick & easy variation on Osso Buco (which is an Italian traditional classic dish).

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 60 minutes
You will need: a pot, or a casserole or an iron dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 3 slices of beef shank, including the marrow bone
  • 1 dry onion, medium size, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, large, diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, diced
  • 1 generous pinch of dry marjoram
  • 1 mandarin orange
  • 1/3 to 1/2 bottle of red wine
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil in the pot.
  2. Dice the onion, garlic, parsley – add them in the pot.
  3. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper and marjoram.(We will call this mixture “the spices” from now on.)
  4. Saute the onion, garlic and parsley for a few minutes.
  5. Take half of the sauteed mixture out of the pot, put it in a bowl.
  6. Arrange the rest of the mixture in a layer, at the bottom of the pot.
  7. Place the two beef shanks on top of the mixture.
  8. Add “the spices” to taste.
  9. With the rest of the sauteed mixture, form a layer on top of the beef shanks.
  10. Place the third beef shank on top of the layer.
  11. Add the red wine in the pot. It should not cover the beef.
  12. Add the diced mandarin orange.
  13. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the fire to medium and simmer for about 60 minutes.
  14. Turn off the fire, let it sit in the pot for some time (or hours, if you like)
  15. Simmer again, in low fire, for 30 minutes before you serve.

Sides

Some bread to soak up the juice would be… very nice. 🙂

Other than that, rice (preferably brown), potatoes or pasta (Casarecce, Orzo or Papardelle would go very nicely with it).

Notes on the Beef Shank with Red Wine in the Pot

  • Half way through cooking, you might want to shift the top beef shank to the bottom of the pot.
  • The recipe can be safely scaled by 50%.
  • DO NOT USE WATER as a cooking liquid.
  • The key ingredient in this recipe is the dry marjoram.

A bit of Science

Marjoram is of the oregano family. According to this source it contains:

  • Vitamin A: 6% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  • Calcium: 8% RDA
  • Vitamin C: 3.5% RDA
  • Iron: 18% RDA

Spinach with Rice and Lemon

Spanakoryzo

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

This is a Greek traditional classic dish everyone cooks at home, often, (No, you will not find at a Greek restaurant anywhere in North America unless it’s a simple Cookery that actually knows what it’s doing. 🙂 )

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 30 min
You will need: a skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) x spinach, coarsely cut
  • 1 dry onion, diced
  • 1 bunch green onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1/2 bunch dill
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 – 2 glasses (cups) of hot water (depends on the variety of the rice).
  • Juice of one big lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour half of the olive oil in a pot or skillet.
  2. Add the dry onion, the green onion and the leek: saute for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach: saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and stir well, so that the rice becomes oily.
  5. Add the hot water.
  6. Lower the fire.
  7. Add the rest of the olive oil. Stir.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Give it a stir once in a while.
  10. A little before it’s done, add the dill.
  11. After it’s done, cover the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (so that the rice absorbs the liquid).
  12. Add lemon juice to taste, individually in every serving plate.

Sides

Blends very, very well with feta cheese and white wine. Maybe also some bread to soak up the juice, if any.

Notes on Spinach with Rice and Lemon

  • The recipe can be safely scaled by 50%.
  • Vitamin C (of the lemon juice) disintegrates with heat. This is why you add the lemon juice by serving plate, after the food has cooled off a bit.
  • White, sticky or par-boiled rice may not result to what one would expect. This recipe works well with non par-boiled brown rice or Basmati rice or any rice that’s similar to these.

Lamb with Fennel in the Pot

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

A simple yet delicious Greek classic, traditional recipe cooked in a skillet or pot. This one avoids using carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, etc.) and uses fennel, instead. Enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 60 min
You will need: a pot or skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 Lbs) of lamb cut in portions. Lamb leg is better than shoulder or other parts.
  • 1/2 kg (1 Lbs) fresh fennel root. (Usually one piece of fennel root is approx. 1/2 kg or 1 Lbs.)
  • 4 fresh (green) onions. (When out of season, you can substitute with 3-4 small dry onions.)
  • 3/4 to 1 glass (cup) of olive oil.
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste.
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the meat into portions.
  2. Cut the fennel lengthwise in largish slices. (If the slices are very thin then the fennel will probably dissolve in the pot while cooking.)
  3. Pour the olive oil in a big pot and warm it up in medium-low fire.
  4. Put meat and onions in the oil and brown the meat on all sides. (The idea here is to partly infuse the meat with the onions’ aromas.)
  5. Add salt and pepper to your liking. (I use a token amount of salt because lamb is salty by nature).
  6. Add the fennel in the pot.
  7. Dilute the tomato paste in 2 glasses of warm (not scorching hot) water. Add the mixture in the pot.
  8. Let it simmer in high fire for 3′ -5′.
  9. Lower the fire to medium or medium-low and let it simmer for 45′ – 60′ or until the water evaporates and the sauce thickens.

Notes on Lamb with Fennel in the Pot

  • Tomato paste: doubly concentrated is good; but check the ingredients to check if the only preservative mentioned on the can is citric or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C, that is).
  • A Tip regarding how to treat deep frozen meat: here

How to cut and core fennel

Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Dip

Cuisine: Greek, Italian

Serves: 4 – 6
Cooking time: 45 min
You will need: a skillet or sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a wine glass (1/4 of a cup) olive oil
  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) x ripe tomatoes diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 Tsp dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Dice the tomatoes.
  • Heat the olive oil in a flat pan and add the tomatoes, a little salt, pepper, oregano and the garlic.
  • Let it simmer in low fire for approx. 45 minutes or until the liquid is gone and the puree is thick.
  • Stir, once in a while.
  • Remove from heat, put into a serving dish, make a little dent in the middle of the dish and pour a little more of the olive oil in the dent (don’t mix it in!).

Notes on Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Dip

  • Stored in a jar, it will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
  • You can freely use it as a tomato sauce on pasta.

Fresh Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing for Salads

Cuisine: Generic South European, North African, Middle Eastern

As you might already know, olive oil and lemon are often combined together either as salad dressing or as cooking ingredients. This recipe is about a salad dressing.

Cooking time: < 5 min

Ingredients

  • 1 portion olive oil to ½ portion of lemon juice.  
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.

Optional / Variations

  • Dash of dried cumin, or ground dried coriander seeds.
  • Crushed and chopped fresh basil or fresh mint. (Use about the same portion as the olive oil).

Instructions

  • Squeeze fresh lemons to extract their juice. We enjoy some of the pulp in the dressing, as it is a fresh surprise in occasional mouthfuls.  You can strain the juice to remove pulp if you wish.
  • Mix olive oil and lemon juice until combined.
  • Add spices and the herb of choice (use only one herb to maximize character of the dressing, mix into dressing or generously sprinkle over the plate before the dressing).
  • Mix again. Adjust to taste.
  • Let stand until ready to drizzle over the salad or pour generously over the vegetables.

Notes on Fresh Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing for Salads

  • When mixed with lemon, true olive oil does not separate – it stays like a cloudy mixture. If, after a while, your olive oil & lemon mix separate into two distinctive layers… we have bad news for you: the olive oil you used… is a mixture of olive oil and something else. 🙁

Sardines in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Islands

Sardines are generally shunned as a food choice in this “age of plenty”. However, they offer the healthiest of fats, Omega-3s, and Vitamins D, A and B12. Do some research, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Serves 6
Cooking time: 30 min
You will need: an oven pan

Ingredients ​​

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) fresh sardines  
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) ripe tomatoes, diced (fresh when in season, or canned from a brand you trust)
  • 1 bunch of parsley 
  • 6 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 glass (cup) olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions

  1. ​​Clean the fish from heads and innards, wash thoroughly and salt it. 
  2. Fire up the oven at 250C/480F.
  3. Dice the garlic cloves.
  4. Smear the pan with a little olive oil and arrange the fish in lines. 
  5. Spread the garlic cloves on top of the fish.
  6. Spread the tomatoes on top of the fish.
  7. Finally, gently pour the olive oil on top.
  8. Shake the pan so that the olive oil doesn’t pool in one spot.  
  9. Cook in a hot oven (@250C/480F) for 10 minutes and then reduce to 150C (300F) for another 30 minutes. 
  10. Serve with chopped parsley.   

Notes on Sardines in the Oven

  • Enjoy! 🙂

Lima Beans with Spinach in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Epirus

This is a traditional recipe from Greece’s North West, a region called Epirus. It is highly nutritional, very healthy and a complete meal on its own. Omitting feta cheese turns it to vegan.

Serves 8
Cooking time: 60 – 80 min
You will need: an oven pan and a pot

Ingredients​

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) of spinach
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) Lima beans
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) of feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 medium or small leek
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • 3-4 branches of green onion (or however many the bunch has)
  • 1 kg (2 Lbs) of diced tomatoes (fresh when in season, or canned from a brand you trust).
  • 1 + 1/2 glasses (cups) of olive oil
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the Lima beans in cold water for at least 12 hrs (overnight) or more.
  2. Then, discard the water the beans were soaking in, add fresh cold water in a pot, add the beans and cook them in salted water for about 90 min. Strain them when done.
  3. Preheat the oven at 200C / 400F so that it’s hot when the pan is going to go in.
  4. While the beans are cooking and the oven is heating, wash the spinach, strain it and chop it thin.
  5. Do the same with the green onions, the leak, the dill and the tomatoes. 
  6. Optional: take half of the feta cheese (250gr, 1/2 Lb), crumble it with your hands and mix the cheese and all the greens (not the tomatoes) in a bowl. Mix them well.
  7. Select an appropriate pan, smear its bottom with olive oil.
  8. Put in the pan half of the “greens” mixture. This is the bottom “greens” layer.
  9. Arrange the cooked Lima beans in a layer, on top of the bottom “greens” layer.
  10. On top of the beans add the rest of the greens – this is the top layer.
  11. On top of that, add the diced tomatoes, the rest of the feta cheese as a sparse layer, the olive oil and, last, the bread crumbs (in that order). 
  12. Put the pan in the oven and do something else for the next 60 to 80 min (or more, or less, depending on your oven – electric, gas, convection, etc.) 
  13. You know it’s done when the majority of the watery liquid is reduced.

Notes on Lima Beans with Spinach in the Oven

  • For bread crumbs: toast some old bread in the toaster and then just… smash it to pieces. (It works! 🙂
  • If you use canned tomatoes, the ingredients listed on the side of the can should contain nothing more than tomatoes/tomato juice and/or citric or ascorbic acid.
  • You can scale this recipe by half or more.
  • Omitting feta cheese turns the dish to Vegan and Lenten
  • This is a “better the next day” dish. 🙂

Nutritional and Chemical Analysis: Lima Beans with Spinach in the Oven

by Anastasios Varvoglis, Professor Emeritus, Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Notes on the Recipe

For best results try using big king size beans, such as large white runner beans. However, lima and other beans are also suitable.

Soaking overnight in cold water is necessary for all dishes with pulse because water activates dormant enzymes which soften the bean. In this way cooking time is significantly shortened saving energy and potential destruction of some heat-sensitive components.

Soaking removes also an unwanted sugar, raffinose, which causes digestive problems in some people. Therefore it is necessary to discard soaking water and boil in fresh water which should be drained thoroughly.

Nutritive value of the five main ingredients

Beans, feta cheese and olive oil give protein, carbohydrates and fat, all of very good quality. Spinach and tomatoes contain many micronutrients and contribute significantly to a healthy diet as well as to the overall flavor, along with onions, dill and leak.

A. Cooked beans

Macronutrients: good quality protein (rich in essential amino acids); good quality carbohydrates, i.e. of low glycemic index (mainly starch and fibers); fiber, soluble and non-soluble.

Micronutrients: phytosterols, flavonoids, lecithine, vitamins (thiamine, folic acid), trace elements (copper, magnesium, iron). It is useful to know that, despite the high iron content, the element is hardly absorbed by our body when is present in pulses and vegetables in general.

B. Cooked spinach

Spinach is of course the wonder-vegetable with very high quantities of many valuable micronutrients. Among them are: lipoic acid, lutein, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, lecithin (or its equivalent choline), and several vitamins (especially folic acid) and metals.

Tip. Boil spinach in plenty of water to remove unwanted oxalic acid. Baby spinach is preferable than ordinary.

C. Cooked tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in micronutrients, especially lycopene and flavonoids. Lycopene is the red pigment with antioxidant character, although alone (as dietary supplement) is not beneficial. Flavonoids are also antioxidants and thought to work more efficiently. A recent research revealed that nitrates which are abundant (also in spinach) and were thought to be unhealthy, are actually beneficial to health.

Tip. Tomato flavor is richer when tomatoes are in season. When out of season, try to use a trusted brand of canned tomatoes.

D. Cooked olive oil

Olive oil is probably the best vegetable oil concerning both health and taste profile. Its value is centred in the quality of unsaturated acids and the variety of phenolic compounds.

Tip. Extra virgin olive oil should be the first choice. Taste and flavor of olive oil vary greatly depending on several factors. Do not use olive oil for deep frying.

E. Feta cheese

Feta or feta style cheese is the only ingredient of animal origin, high in good quality protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins (especially B12). A special feature of sheep cheeses in general is their enhanced content in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is most beneficial to health. On the bad side, feta cheese is high in cholesterol and salt. In Greece you can find this cheese in two variations: low salt and low fat “white cheese” which otherwise is feta, i.e. made from sheep milk.

Changes in the oven

Generally, an oven temperature of 180C/350F is high enough to bring about partial destruction of some vitamins, especially thiamine, folic acid and vitamin C.

Summary

This dish is both nutritious and healthy, with delicious taste; it ranks high in an all-vegetarian or vegan diet (when feta cheese is omitted).

More information about individual ingredients can be found in:

● Beans at http://beaninstitute.com/nutritional-value-of-dry-beans/
● Spinach at http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43
● Olive oil at http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits
● Tomatoes at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/1/1.full
● Feta cheese at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/18/2 and at http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=121