29 September, 2009

Mango Millet Breakfast



When I was a kid we were always living in apartments. There wasn't much space for pets. The only pet allowed was birds. And we always had one. If one escaped through an forgotten open cage door and an open window, there would be another one soon after. I loved my birds and even took them with me when I moved out to study at university. Main part of a my bird's diet was millet. At that time, I never thought of these grains as something edible for the human species.

Now here we are 10-15 years later and millet is the main part of my current favorite breakfast. I've had it for several days in a row and do not get tired of it. It seems to become yet another of my much-loved warm breakfasts, with varying grains, fruit, nuts and this time even vegetables.
I introduced millet to our family diet a while ago, mostly in savory dinner dishes. It's got a lovely texture when cooked and it is quite neutral in taste. Therefore it can be used for sweet and savory dishes. Nutritionwise, millet is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and B vitamins. The perfect whole grain to start the day with, very filling and accompanied by raw fruit and vegetables.
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MANGO MILLET BREAKFAST

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup millet
1 cup coconut milk or soy milk
1 medium sized carrot, finely grated
1/2 mango, finely diced
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
2 tablespoons toasted nuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cranberries (or raisins)

Serves 2
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Combine millet and milk in a pot and bring to boil. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat until all liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the coconut, mango and carrots. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with nuts and cranberries. Serve immediately.
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27 September, 2009

Breakfast Oatmeal Bars

These oatmeal bars are literally a freshly made breakfast oatmeal bowl to go. Perfect for those who are in a hurry in the morning and don't have time to cook or even sit down for breakfast. The ingredients are exactly the same: rolled oats, milk, nuts and dried fruit.
You can add whatever nuts or dried fruit you like. Peanuts, walnuts or pecans do it the same way as pistachios or almonds. Same applies to the dried fruit: you can probably throw in just anything and as much as you want according to your tastes. I tried a mixture of apricots, dates, raisins and prunes or you can just add one sort like raisins or cranberries or dried mango. Coconut also works well in it. Try it yourself, you can't really go wrong with this recipe. Either way, it will always be absolutely delicious.
I love the fact that it needs so little ingredients: no flour, no baking powder or any of the other usual suspects when baking. And, most importantly: no added sugar. Only natural ingredients. What else does one want or need? This is the perfect cookie for breakfast or as a snack.
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BREAKFAST OATMEAL BARS


1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts)
3/4 cup dried fruit (e.g. dates, apricots, raisins, prunes, cranberries)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Yields 16
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Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Line 25x25cm baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Let the mixture soak for 10 minutes. Then pour into prepared dish and press down evenly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cut into squares while still hot. Let cool completely before storing in airtight container. 
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26 September, 2009

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Chilli Anchovy Sauce


My local supermarket has got a little bookshop right behind their checkouts. The other day I was paging through some random cookbook and saw this recipe of spaghetti with cauliflower and chilli: a combination that I would never think of. It got me curious and I researched a little on the Internet. Apparently, it is an Italian comfort food, an extension of the spaghetti aglio et olio by adding the cauliflower. I extended it a little more, as I found the mix of of the mild and sweetish cauliflower and the hot chilli a little unsatisfying. The added salty anchovies and the pine seeds definitely contribute to make it a round thing in terms of harmonised tastiness.
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SPAGHETTI WITH CAULIFLOWER CHILLI ANCHOVY SAUCE


250g wholewheat spaghetti
1 head cauliflower, about 2 cups florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 fresh red hot chillies (deseeded and chopped), or 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
5 anchovy fillets (cut into small pieces)
1 handful of toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Serves 3
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Cook spaghetti according to instructions. When ready, drain, and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes, until they become fragrant.
In the meantime, cut cauliflower into florets and steam until tender but not mushy. In a large saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high and add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is lightly golden. Add the chilli and cauliflower to pan. Break the cauliflower into small pieces with the back of a spoon, while stirring to coat with the garlic and olive oil. Add the anchovies and toasted pinenutsstir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the spaghetti to the cauliflower and remove the pan from the heat. Mix thoroughly to incorporate. If the sauce seems dry add a tablespoon of the cooking liquid at a time till desired moistness is achieved.
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22 September, 2009

Vegetable Biryani


As long as I lived in Germany I never really got to appreciate Indian food. The Indian restaurants that I had been to always had this cheap, dusty, Made-To-Suit-Europeans charme. Only here in Dubai (where more than half of the population is Indian) I tasted real Indian food and loved it ever since.
When I go to the supermarkets, my (German) eyes still fall out when I go past the shelves with the spices. Most of the stuff I had never seen in my life before. The packets are so big that I always wondered what it is being used for in such amounts, e.g. 250g of ground coriander or cumin or half a kilo of cardamom. I almost bow before these spices. Because I wish nothing more than being able to use them.
Anyway, the other day I got all the required spices and I dared to make Biryani!!!!! The smell in the house alone was already worth my Indian cooking experiment. In fact, the Biryani turned out really well. There seems to be hundreds ways of preparing the rice and the gravy. This one seemed pretty easy and straightforward. That's why I want to share it with you.
It's a good dish to prepare in advance. In fact, I prepared rice and vegetables in the morning and layered them into the baking dish which I then kept in the fridge until dinner time and put it straight into the oven.
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VEGETABLE BIRYANI


Rice:
1 cup wholegrain Basmati rice
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
2 pinch saffron
2 tablespoons milk

Vegetables & Gravy
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 medium chopped tomatoes
3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fine shredded ginger
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup cubed paneer
2 cups sliced cauliflower
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoon cashew nuts broken into pieces
1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
2 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

Garnish
2 tablespoons whole garam masala
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
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Vegetables And Gravy
In a bowl add yogurt, ginger, green chili, salt, turmeric, chili powder - mix it well. Add all the vegetables (cauliflower, beans, bell pepper, carrots) the paneer and cashew nuts to the yoghurt. Mix it well then let it marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
Blend raw tomatoes to make a puree.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if seed cracks right away oil is ready. Add cumin seeds. After the cumin seeds crack, add the tomato puree, and cook on medium-high heat. Cook until tomato mixture starts leaving oil and reduces to about half the volume.
Add the marinated vegetables to tomato puree. Let it cook covered for 10 to 12 minutes on medium heat until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Stir the vegetables in between so they cook evenly.

Rice
Wash rice gently changing water several times until the water appears clear. For fluffier rice, the rice should be soaked for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking. Drain the rice and put it into the saucepan. Add water, oil, and salt, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until the rice is tender and the water has evaporated. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. For a few minutes soak saffron in warm milk then gently fold the milk into the cooked rice.

Prepare The Biryani
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put half of the cooked vegetables into a baking dish 9″ x 9″ (20x20cm). Spread half of the cooked rice over vegetables. Over the rice, sprinkle mint and 1 tablespoon garam masala. Pour the remaining vegetables evenly over the rice. Spread remaining rice evenly over vegetables and garnish with whole garam masala. Next sprinkle sliced almonds evenly over the rice, and then spread melted butter over the entire dish. Cover the pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
Serve with Mint Raita (plain yogurt mixed with salt, black pepper, and dry mint).
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21 September, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast

 

I am currently exploring Quinoa  in my cuisine.
Quinoa is a grain-like crop that originates from South America. In recent times it has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), and is a good source of vitamins and minerals - iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium, amino acids, and fiber. Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and it is mild with a slightly nutty flavor.
I love its versatility as it can be used in sweet and fruity breakfasts, savory main dishes and fresh salads.
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APPLE CINNAMON QUINOA BREAKFAST

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water

1 apple thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 handful dried cranberries
1/2 handful pecan nuts (or walnuts), slightly toasted
2-3 teaspoons yogurt or cream

1-2 teaspoons agave syrup or honey (optional)

Serves 1-2
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Rinse the quinoa. Bring quinoa and water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Add the apples, raisins and cinnamon. Simmer until the water has absorbed.
While quinoa is cooking, toast the nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes over medium heat.
Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle cranberries and nuts over the quinoa. Serve warm with dollops of yogurt or cream and sweeten with honey/agave syrup if desired.
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20 September, 2009

Aniseed Sesame Cookies

Beside cooking and photographing (in fact, these are two of my newer hobbies) I like running. I started off with just short distances up to 5km, just jogging for myself. Soon I participated in 10k runs. By now I have done a couple of half marathons.
Anyway, now I have this idea in my head of running my first full marathon. I am fancying the Paris Marathon in April 2010. I think Paris is just good enough to run my debut marathon in, and the event is quite big (with a limit of 40.000 runners or so). I hope that the masses will pull me through. So far, my longest ever run distance was something around 25km. I am already checking marathon training plans and marathon nutrition tips. Wherever I come across the word marathon, I'll check if I can't find some secret that will help me prepare for the big event.
On 101 cookbooks, a food blog that I love and visit very regularly, I found these cookies that were called Marathon Cookies.
The ingredients of the cookies were awkward at first sight: white beans (!!!!!), aniseed, sesame. Yet, it  made me curious and within a few days I had baked them at home and got approval from my husband for them. Fact is, you do not taste the beans at all, but you have all the goodness of them in the cookie.
I don't really want to call them marathon cookies since there is no relation between my marathon  plans and the cookies (yet). I also didn't want to mention the beans in the headline: not so sure if people would be attracted by White Bean Cookies. I chose to name them after the flavor ingredients: aniseed and sesame.
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ANISEED SESAME COOKIES 
(Adapted from 101 cookbooks)

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or whole grain spelt flour)
1 tablespoon aniseed, crushed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 can white beans (or chick peas) rinsed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Yields 15-18
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Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pulse the oats in a food processor until they have the texture of flour. In a mixing bowl mix the oats with the flour, aniseed, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and salt.
Pulse the beans/chickpeas, olive oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract in the food processor to a smooth and creamy paste.
Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Stir the dates into the batter.
Place the sesames seeds in a bowl or a deep plate. Make each cookie out of a golf ball size amount of dough. Roll each scoop of dough into a ball then coat it with sesame seeds.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put the sesame coated balls on the sheet, flattening each ball a little (so it gets the shape of an ice-hockey puck). Leave some space between the cookies on the baking sheet. They spread a little while baking.
Put the sheet in the upper third of the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the sesame seeds around the bottom start to get golden.

Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking 
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18 September, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast

 
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APPLE CINNAMON QUINOA BREAKFAST
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 apple thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 handful dried cranberries
1 handful pecan nuts (or walnuts), slightly toasted
2-3 teaspoons yoghurt or cream
1-2 teaspoons agave syrup or honey
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Rinse the quinoa. Bring quinoa and water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Reduce heat and gentley simmer for 5 minutes. Add the apples, raisins and cinnamon. Simmer until the water has absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, toast the nuts in adry pan for a few minutes.
Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle cranberries and nuts over the quinoa. Serve with dollops of yoghurt or cream and sweeten with honey/agave syrup if desired.
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17 September, 2009

Blueberry Cheesecake Pots


We have never been really big with making desserts, my husband and I realized a few months ago when thinking of the menu, as we had invited people over for some big lunch or dinner. Not, that we don't like eating them. Or sweet stuff in general. If you'd see our chocolate drawer, you'd know.
As we do not have dinner guests very often, my "problem" with desserts is that it's often too much for just two people. Just think of all the big cakes. I don't like cooking when no-one eats it. When we have guests, we also tend to go overboard with the starters and the main course, so people are already  stuffed and do not want a dessert anymore.
Anyway, I tried a few desserts recipes in the last few weeks. The blueberry cheesecake pots has become one of my favorites overnight, as they are easily portioned and require very little preparation time and cooking. The blueberries can easily be exchanged with other berries or a berry mixture.
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BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE POTS

200g blueberries
4 tablespoons agave syrup, divided by two
6 wholegrain digestive biscuits (blended to fine crumbles in a food processor)
25g butter, melted
250g cream cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Serves 4.
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Cook the blueberries with the 2 tablespoons of agave syrup for a few minutes in a pan. Let cool.
Mix the melted butter into the biscuit crumbs and press into 4 glasses or pots.
Combine cream cheese with2 tablespoons of agave syrup and lemon juice. Make alternative layers of the cream cheese mixture and the blueberries.

NOTE: I personally think that this dessert is best when it's served ice cold. Keep the cooked blueberries and the cream cheese mixture in the fridge for ar least 20 minutes. Prepare the layers only just before serving, as they tend to mix if you leave them standing for too long.
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16 September, 2009

Barley Salad with Chicken and Green Beans

I love exploring the versatility of grains. This recipe was originally with Farro, some grain that I haven't seen in Dubai. Instead, I decided to use naked barley.
I find barley a very mild grain. My son used to love it as his baby cereal when he was about one year old. The combination with green beans and corn also stems from the original recipe and works really well. I added some roasted chicken, which makes the feta cheese optional. Or the other way around: ignore the chicken and sprinkle feta cheese on top.
What really makes this salad a sensation, is the mustard dressing that goes particularly well with the chicken. It's light, it's colorful, it's absolutely delicious. In fact, I had this salad for 3 or 4 days in a row for either lunch or dinner because I couldn't get enough of my new salad discovery.
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BARLEY SALAD WITH CHICKEN AND GREEN BEANS

1 cup of naked barley
250g green beans
250g oven-roasted chicken breast
3 spring onions
200g corn kernels
crumbled goats or feta cheese (optional)


MUSTARD DRESSING
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of marjoram
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot minced
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Cook barley in boiling salted water until just tender, about 75-90 minutes or until chewy. Drain and let cool. 
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dried herbs. Place on a tray and grill in the oven at full heat until golden brown, then turn and grill the other side, about 8 minutes each side. Let the chicken cool, then cut into 1-2cm cubes. 
Steam green beans  and corn or cook in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. If cooked in water, drain.  
Mix barley, chicken, green beans and corn in large bowl; then add green onions.

For the dressing: 
Combine the oil, marjoram, and salt in small bowl. Whisk in vinegar, shallot, and mustard. Pour over salad in bowl; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Sprinkle with goats cheese or regular feta cheese before serving.

Makes 2-4 portions. 
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15 September, 2009

Hummus

Hummus is a very popular Arabian dip. It's being used as an appetizer and dipped with pitta bread or raw vegetables. It can also be used as a healthy spread for wraps and sandwiches.

In my ambitious attempt to make everything as healthy as possible, I tried to make the hummus with dried chickpeas instead of canned ones: Soaked them overnight, cooked them, etc. But the hummus didn't turn out so well. For some reason, the canned chick peas are much softer and thus much easier to mash. The hummus becomes much smoother. 
You can play around with the amounts of each ingredients according to your taste: more of the Tahini will give it a heavier texture and taste. I normally don't add much olive oil. And I never put more than one garlic clove in since raw garlic tends to repeat on me for quite some time after the meal.
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HUMMUS


1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), including the water
2 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (or less or more according to you taste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
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Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with a few sprinkles of paprika powder and flat parsley leaves. Keeps well in airtight container in the fridge for a few days.


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14 September, 2009

Baked Oatmeal with Banana and Cranberries

I like warm breakfasts. I think I mentioned that before. On the other hand, I don't like to stand in the kitchen for an extended time, first thing in the morning. That's why I like this baked oatmeal recipe so much. It's really quick to be prepared. And then, while I  have my 2-3 cups of morning tea and coffee sitting on the sofa, my breakfast can bake peacefully and all alone in the oven, and just needs to be taken out after 25-30 minutes, ready to be eaten. Lovely!
Another good thing is that it can be varied according to taste. I haven't explored many possibilities. But I like the cranberries in it. I can imagine it with shredded coconut too, or cinnamon. Or raisins and nuts. Probably all the stuff that you normally like in your oatmeal.

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BAKED OATMEAL WITH BANANA AND CRANBERRIES

1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk
1 banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons of cranberries

Serves 2
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Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Cut banana into half. Mash one half and mix with milk and vanilla and half the cranberries. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into buttered baking dish. Cut other half of banana into slices and put the on top. Sprinkle remaining cranberries over the dish. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.



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13 September, 2009

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

I have been living in the Middle East for more than 5 years. There are many local dishes and salads that are absolutely wonderful.  Many of them I haven't tried at home. However, the regional dips Baba Ganoush (eggplant dip) and Hummus (chick pea dip) are easy to make and absolutely delicious as a starter with raw vegetables (like mangetouts, cucumbers, celery, or carrots) or breads (I like to dip anything from local pitta bread over  rustic baguettes to my home-baked wholegrain bread).
They are also particularly good as a spread on wraps. And this is where we had the Baba Ganoush tonight for dinner: on a wrap with wok-fried vegetables and some spicy grilled chicken slices.
 The eggplant itself is not high in any vitamins or minerals. However, it is very filling while having few calories and containing virtually no fat. Bon appetit!!!

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BABA GANOUSH 
1 large eggplant (about 400g)
1 large clove garlic,
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini ((sesame paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peeper
2 tablespoons minced parsley

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Pierce eggplant in several places with a fork and put on a grill pan.  Grill in the oven and turn frequently, as close to the heat as possible for about 15 minutes or until skin is charred.
When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant and halve lenghwise. Discard as many seeds as possbile.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste. Serve in a bowl garnished with parsley leaves.
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12 September, 2009

Frosted Carrot Cake

This carrot cake is adapted from my carrot muffins recipe. It needed a little adjustment on the olive oil and sweetening side. I exchanged the frosting with an all-natural cream cheese and agave syrup version. So here we go: a super-moist, natural and absolutely delicious carrot cake, definitely suitable for and liked by children. Even my 18-month-old daughter who isn't big on any solid foods (neither sweet nor savory, no healthy and not even unhealthy stuff), had a couple of bites the other day. I take that as a big compliment!!!
 

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FROSTED CARROT CAKE

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


1 egg
1/3 cup maple syrup   or honey
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds


Frosting 
100g cream cheese
3 tablespoons agave syrup (or to taste)



Yields 1 loaf
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Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Line medium loaf pan with parchment paper.


Combine flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.


Combine all wet ingredients: beat the egg lightly, stir in oil and syrup, vanilla  and yogurt. Grate the carrots and add the seeds. These can be replaced or complemented by any sort of nuts (walnuts will always be good here). Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold them gently. Don't overmix. 


Bake for about 45 minutes. 

Let the cake cool down completely. For the frosting, mix the agave syrup into the cream cheese and put on top of the cold cake with a spatula.
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11 September, 2009

Spaghetti with Chili, Bacon and Rocket Salad


I love pasta in the evening. Especially because cooking the pasta normally takes longer than preparing the sauce. It's always a quick and therefore easy meal.
This recipe is based on the classic spaghetti aglio e olio recipe, extended by bacon, fresh red chilis, capers and some raw green leaves. The capers and the green leaves give it an extra note and crunch. For a vegetarian version: The recipe definitely works without the bacon too.

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SPAGHETTI WITH CHILI, BACON AND ROCKET SALAD

300g whole wheat spaghetti

50ml olive oil
4 small hot chilis (deseeded and cut into small pieces)
3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
150g bacon (OPTIONAL)
30g capers (3 tablespoons)
75g arugula (rocket) leaves (or baby spinach leaves)

Crumbled Feta Cheese 

Serves 2-3
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Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water, according to instructions.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and chilis and saute for about 1-2 minutes over medium to low heat. Keep an eye on the garlic as it burns very quickly. If you want a non-vegetarian meal, add the cut up bacon at this stage and fry it for 4-5 minutes. Then add the capers and keep them in the pan for another 2-3 minute.

If you  are using baby spinach leaves, cut them into strips. If you use arugula, wash it. The leaves can be used as wholes in the dish.

Drain the spaghetti when it's al dente. Pour the chili and olive oil sauce over the drained pasta and mix well. Stir in the the arugula/baby spinach leaves. Serve immediately and sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top.
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08 September, 2009

Squid and Shrimp Stir Fry


I love stir fries as they can be varied according to what the fridge provides for  a nice meal. The only musts in my stir fries are freshly grated ginger and chili. With regards to the vegetables, I always try and get it as colorful as possible with some greens (broccoli or mangetouts or green beans), some orange (carrots or small pumpkin slices), some red (bell pepper and chilli) or yellow (corn or yellow bell pepper) and them mushrooms, bean sprouts, onions, etc.
If there is no seafood available, you can as well use small strips of chicken or other meats. Or keep it vegetarian and add some nuts (peanuts or cashews are very good in there).
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SQUID AND SHRIMP STIR FRY

250g soba noodles or wholewheat noodles
250g squid rings
200g small shrimps
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 bell pepper
1 carrot
1 cup of broccoli florets
1 cup of bean sprouts
1 piece (thumb size) ginger, grated
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chili, deseeded
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

Serves 2-3
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Get a pot of salted water boiling for the noodles and cook them according to the instructions.

While the water gets boiling, cut up the vegetables into small strips (especially the harder ones like carrots). Deseed the chilli and cut into small pieces. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan.  Add garlic, ginger and chili to the wok and saute for a minute or so. Next add the squid and stir for another few couple of minutes. Now add the vegetables: carrots first as they need a little longer to cook. Then broccoli and peppers. Now put the shrimps in and at last stir in the bean sprouts and cook for another minute. All vegetables should be still be crunchy to bite. At last, add the soy sauce. Stir again to get the soy sauce spread evenly.

Serve immediately on top of the cooked noodles.
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07 September, 2009

Gazpacho (Cold Vegetable Soup)

 
Living in Dubai means we have summer a little longer than the average folks around the world. From May until October it is so hot, that during the day it is basically impossible to be outdoors for longer than a few minutes. High humidity does the rest. 
Lots of light and cooling meals are required at this time. Gazpacho fulfills all needs at this weather: light and vegetarian, spicy and cool. Easy to prepare, and even keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. In fact it gets better by the day.
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GAZPACHO


6 fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 cucumbers (divided), chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small zucchinis, chopped
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 red hot chilli, deseeded, chopped
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or pinch of dry)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
tomato juice (optional)

Serves 4
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Combine all ingredients (except tomato juice and 2 cucumbers) and blend in a food blender until smooth. Use the additional tomato juice to thin the soup to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste. Keep in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Better the next day.
Just before serving, finely chop 2 cucumbers. Sprinkle them over the soup.
 
Serve with croutons or fresh baguette bread.
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06 September, 2009

Walnut Fig Biscottis


This is one of my first biscotti recipes from about a year ago, with my favorite ingredients nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I made these again the other day and realized that these little cookies fit perfectly into the festive season. All these dried fruit and nuts and seeds and a heavenly spice mix will make you want to eat more than just one. I took this as an occasion to rewrite the post and the recipe and take new pictures.
And now the real good news: they are healthy, as they are  made with whole wheat flour and olive oil and only a little unrefined sugar added. They smell heavenly, they taste delicious. I wish you all a great festive season!!! And what's better to tuck in than a box with healthy cookies? Enjoy!
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WALNUT FIG BISCOTTI

(Print Recipe)

1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup dried figs, quartered (or 1/2 cup figs, and 1/2 cup sultanas)
1/2 cup toasted mixed seeds

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 tablespoons dark brown or palm sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil

Yields 18-20
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Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.

Spread the walnuts in a pan and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool, then chop roughly. Place the dried figs in a food processor and process until they are finely chopped.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, orange zest and spices.
Combine the flour with nuts and figs. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and olive oil. Add the flour-nut-fig mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined. Form a flat long loaf out of the dough. The dough should be nice and compact, even at the top, with no air bubbles hiding in there. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the loaf tests done. Remove loaf from the oven.

Preheat the oven up to 220C/400F.

Using a thin serrated knife (or the thinnest, sharpest knife you have), slice the loaf into 1cm/1/2inch thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes or until the bottoms are golden and toasty. Pull them out of the oven. Turn them over and bake for another 4-5 minutes or until nice and crisp.

Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep for about 2 weeks.
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04 September, 2009

Wrappers Delight

I think I had my first wrap at the age of 25, in New York, at Taco Bell. I loved it!!! All those Burritos and Fajitas.... I could have stuffed myself with these wraps at any time of the day.

Now here is my quick lunch wrap recipe. Mine are different from those fast food NY wraps because they are not mayonnaise-laden. Instead the filling is spiced up with chick pea based hummus spread, plain yogurt for some freshness and feta cheese.
At this time of the year, we almost always have a box of oven-roasted vegetables in the fridge. If you don't, no worries: here is another vegetarian filling for the wrap. Either way, these wraps are just perfect for a quick lunch.

 

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WRAPPERS DELIGHT

4 whole wheat flour wraps
8 tablespoons of hummus (alternatively: try cooked red lentils blended with a little butter and turmeric)
8 tablespoons of yogurt

Filling
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste

OR
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
5 cups packed fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 2-3
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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion and carrots in 2 Tbsp olive oil with a generous pinch of salt stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Turn up heat to high and add mushrooms. Cook until all the vegetables are nicely brown about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers with a pinch of salt on med-high heat, stirring occasionally until nicely browned. Add spinach after the peppers and cook stirring until wilted. If all the spinach does not fit at once, add it in portions. As one portion wilts add the next portion until all the spinach is in the skillet. 
Sprinkle feta over veggies (don't stir). Cover the skillet and cook until feta is mostly melted, about 3 minutes.
While the spinach is cooking, fold the wraps in half, wrap them in foil, and put in the oven for 5-7 minutes to warm up. Alternatively, heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds. If you use ready-made oven roasted vegetables, heat them up in the microwave for about 1 minute.
Lay the wraps out on the clean surface. Spread 2 Tbsp of hummus on each wrap. Spread 2 Tbsp of yoghurt on each wrap over hummus. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Divide the veggies equally among the wraps placing them on the part of wrap closest to you. Help yourself with a spoon to keep the veggies contained and fold the wrap away from you. Fold in the sides, and finish rolling the wrap away from you. Wrap a piece of foil around each veggie wrap, leaving one end exposed, so that only 3/4 of the veggie wrap is covered in foil. Put in the oven to warm up for 5 minutes (since wraps cool during the assembly process, they need this time to rewarm). 
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03 September, 2009

Lemon-Iced Carrot Muffins

No-one in our family is very talkative at breakfast time. On a weekday that is. It suits me perfectly as the breakfast cakes and muffins that I bake the night before for my sweet-tooth husband are at stake. If husband mumbles a "Those ones are really nice!" before 7am in the morning, then they are.
So it happened with these carrot muffins. An old recipe from my own blog that I reviewed and tried to improve a little.
No sugar is needed as these muffins are sweetened with dried dates. I used olive instead of vegetable oil. And I added flax meal for further nutritional value, that would in return justify a little indulgent lemon icing drizzle. Bon appetit!
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LEMON-ICED CARROT MUFFINS 

(Print Recipe)

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup yogurt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup carrots, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Frosting
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup icing sugar

Yields 6
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Preheat the oven to 175C/375F. Grease or line muffin tins.
In a bowl, sift together flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Whisk in olive oil and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine yogurt and chopped dates. Combine with egg mixture.

Mix dry and wet ingredients until just combined fold in grated carrots and seeds. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick come out clean. Let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Frosting
Mix icing sugar and lemon juice together until it becomes a creamy paste. Drizzle over the cooled muffins. Let the frosting become solid before serving.
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