Jul 31 2019

Middle Eastern Bell Peppers

Kings of the summer, peppers like these are very simple to prepare yet feature a delicious Middle Eastern flavour which will make you dream of pleasantly being away from home.

Serves 4

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 100 gr hazelnuts
  • 50 gr white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar, any kind
  • 1 garlic clove
  • bread crumbs

Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds separately. Let them cool to room temperature, then add the cumin and coriander and reduce to a powder with a food processor. This mix is called Duqqah and it is very common in the Middle East, where they are used to eating it over slices of bread previously dipped in olive oil.

Wash the peppers, eliminate the white part and seeds and quarter them regularly.

In a small food processor, or using a hand blender, emulsify the oil with the vinegar and garlic.

Place the peppers on an oven tray covered with parchment paper, coat with the sauce using a kitchen brush, sprinkle over 3 tbsp of Duqqah (keep the rest in a glass jar up to 1 month) and the same quantity of bread crumbs.

Spray with extra oil.

Bake in the oven, 150° C fan, for around 50 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Season with salt and pepper and serve lukewarm.

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Posted in Sides, International, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
May 7 2019

Cuban Flan

This wondrous recipe is the Cuban version of the universally known European Créme Caramel , which, despite its French name, was born in Spain. The classical recipe is based on just milk, eggs and sugar; the Cubans substituted the fresh milk with powdered and condensed milk, probably easier to find, thus creating a dramatically different texture. Richer and creamier, trust me, it is a dream come true.

Serves 6

  • 1 tin condensed milk (397 gr)
  • 200 gr powdered milk
  • 3 whole free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp natural vanilla powder (or, half a vanilla bean, halved and scraped)
  • 125 ml water
  • 200 caster sugar for the caramel

 

In a small saucepan place the sugar, put  on low heat and let it caramelize: do not stir the sugar until melted and darkened. Coat a 1.2 liter baking tin with the caramel and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the powdered milk with the water and whisk well; add the condensed milk and mix thoroughly  through in order to eliminate any lumps (you can use an immersion blender to reach this goal perfectly), then add the eggs.

Add the vanilla, combine everything together and pour the mixture in the caramelized tin using a sieve to remove any remaining lumps and, especially, any bubbles.

Cover with aluminum foil, put the tin in a baking pan with boiling water and bake bain-marie in the oven, still, at 180°C for 75 minutes. Check the surface: if the flan is set, take it out of the oven, otherwise prolong the baking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the pan, let it cool to room temperature then place in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

To unmold the flan, gently scrape along the edges with a round-bladed knife, then turn upside down on a dish. Serve cold.

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Posted in International, Desserts, Recipes
Oct 22 2018

Spicy Quinoa Tabbouleh with Crunchy Chickpeas

The traditional  tabbouleh, a largely known Arabic recipe, is a sort of salad based on bulgur and parsley, enriched by other vegetables in varying proportions. It originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria and was an essential part of people’s diet in the Middle Ages. In the Libanese version the quantity of parsley is much more than the quantity of bulgur, or the same. In this case I substituted bulgur with quinoa and I did not use the same proportion between quinoa and parsley because I find it a little overwhelming on other more delicate flavours.  The result is an unusual formula which hopefully won’t disappoint you!

Serves 4

  • 150 gr red quinoa, cooked according to the instructions on the box
  • 1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 spooons duqqah (see below)
  • 8 spoons good extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 140 gr pink radish sprouts  (or broccoli or whatever sprouts you can find, except bean sprouts)
  • 20 gr parsley, chopped
  • 10 gr fresh coriander, washed and drained
  • juice of 1 lemon

for the duqqah:

  • 50 gr raw hazelnuts, skin on
  • 25 gr white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder

Separately toast the hazelnuts and sesame, let them cool and then reduce to a powder with a food processor. Incorporate the cumin and coriander, stir well and place in a little jar. .

Sprinkle the chickpeas with the dukkah and add 2 spoons extravirgin olive oil, mix well in order to completely coat the chickpeas, place in a baking tray and bake in the oven, still, at 180°C for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy.

Let the chickpeas cool to room temperature, then in a bowl place the sprouts, parsley, shallots, chickpeas and quinoa. Season with the oil and lemon juice, add salt to taste and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.

 

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Posted in Starters, International, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Mar 28 2018

Burmese king prawns in spiced tomato paste

This flavory and wondrous recipe is of Burmese origins, specifically by William Myatwunna, an excellent chef in Yangon, whom I had the honor of cooking with. My version is just a little lighter in onions, garlic and oil, only to better adapt it to the European taste.

Serves 4

  • 16 king prawns
  • 12 tbsp peanut oil
  • 5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 6 medium onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 thumbs ginger, peeled and pounded
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 medium yellow or green pepper cut into fine rings
  • 4 sprigs of mint leaves
  • 8 tinned tomatoes

Shell the prawns, leave the tail but remove the black spinal vein. Wash under running water and pat dry. Season with half the turmeric, salt, pepper and fish sauce and marinate for 5 minutes.

Blend the tomatoes to a paste and finely cut the peppers into rings. Peel the ginger, garlic and onions and pound (or chop) separately.

Heat the oil in a large pan with the other half of the turmeric powder, add pounded ginger and garlic until fragrant, add the pounded onions and sautée until golden brown.

Now add the red chilli  powder and tomato paste and cook, while stirring continously, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the prawns and a little bit of water and cook for 3 minutes, turning the prawns gently once. Add salt to taste. Remove the prawns from the pan and set aside.

When the oil almost sizzles add the peppers, then transfer all to a dish, garnishing with mint leaves.

Serve with plain boiled green beans or rice.

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Posted in International, Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Feb 6 2018

Ezme Salad

Ezme is a Turkish word which can be translated as “mashed”, so this is a kind of a mashed salad, very delicious and easy to prepare. Serve with a plain pita or whole crackers.

Serves 4

  • 4 tomatos
  • 1 large pepper (red or yellow)
  • 1 bunch of parseley
  • 1 small onion
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 spoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 spoon pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have it, a simple honey can easily work)

 

Dice the vegetables into very small cubes (concassé) and place in a bowl.

In another little bowl prepare the seasoning: emulsify the oil with the molasses and lemon juice, add salt to your taste and season the vegetables. Stir well and serve.

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Posted in Starters, Sides, International, Recipes, Light recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian
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