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Avocado, goat cheese, red quinoa salad

Quinoa –  simply delicious, with a little crunch and nutty flavour, makes a nice change from eating rice and cous cous. Add to that chunks of ripe avocado, pieces of creamy goats cheese, some garlicky pesto + toasted pine nuts, and you have a great salad!

I often find myself stuck for inspiration when it comes to lunch and craving something different, but at the same time not having hours to spend in the kitchen. This recipe checks all the boxes. I even made the quinoa the nightbefore, so it was just a matter of quickly chopping up the avo, toasting the nuts and throwing the salad together.

Thank god my avocado was ripe this time, as I have been on streak of bad luck lately, to the point of having to return two to the grocerystore as they were completely uneatable.  I figure at CHF2.50 an avocado, you should have something good to show for it!

And for those vegetarians out there, quinoa is a great hidden secret, a fab grain-like, pseudo cereal, which are actually edible seeds.  It comes in red or white, and is a great source of protein, while being gluten-free and easy to digest. What more could you ask for!

O-Foods-Contest Also I just received a note from Michelle of Bleeding Espresso Blog who is hosting a great food contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, called O Foods, so take a look HERE!!!

RECIPE

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TOFU & SWISS CHARD Recipe

21 September 2009

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Tofu & swiss chard

TOFU & SWISS CHARD

Who wants to eat tofu ???? I mean soya bean curd in a cube, the meat for the non-meat eaters. Appetising….. well actually yes ,very! I think the carnivores have seriously been missing out here – the herbivores are on to  a great thing, that is both nutritious and delicious.  Once you get over the stereotype of ‘tofu burgers’ and ‘tofu dogs’,  it adds great variety to the weekly menu and goes well with Asian inspired sauces and many vegetables, like Swiss chard.

In case you aren’t familiar with Swiss chard, here is a link and there is a photo with my recipe. I make large quantities of this dish which is a delicious blend of the white, crunchy, slightly sweet part of the Swiss chard, with the slightly more bitter leaves, and herb tofu sautéed with black sesame seeds and garlic!

TOFU SWISS CHARD RECIPE

PUMPKIN SOUP

17 September 2009

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PUMPKIN SOUP

It is pumpkin season again! I hadn’t quite realised to what extent until last weekend when we were driving through the Swiss countryside and came across huge stalls of every size, shape and colour of pumpkin imaginable. The food bells went off in my head and after much shrieking I had Olivier turning the car around to make a pit stop.

Here things work on the honour system – you take a pumpkin and leave money in the penny jar. If you forget, the headless horseman will come after you that night to remind you. Kidding! So we loaded up the boot, settled the account and drove home with 5 extra ‘friends’.  Now it was a question of what to do with them – soup seemed like a good start.

The secret to this recipe is the use of two different types of pumpkins:

  1. The potimarron (aka Hokkaido squash or kuri pumpkin) a small, intense orange pumpkin with dense bright orange flesh and sweet taste with a hint of chestnut (marron = chestnut in French).
  2. The muscade of Provence which is a large pumpkin, orange/grey in colour with lighter orange flesh, contains more water and has a less sweet taste.

The mix of the two makes the perfect soup. This recipe will also come in handy for my brother who recently bought a second-hand bicycle in Rotterdam which came with a hand blender (don’t ask)!

PUMPKIN SOUP

TABOULE / Tabbouleh

7 September 2009

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Taboule (tabbouleh, tabouli ) – is an easy recipe for when you don’t feel like cooking! Or when you don’t have time to cook, or when you have a big group coming over, or if, like my brother, you don’t have an oven! There does not seem to be one single recipe for tabbouleh, but several variations on a theme: Moroccan, Armenian, Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese. The basic dish is a salad of herbs to which you add tomatoes, onions and bulgar wheat (cracked wheat). Traditionally it is eaten as part of a mezze, a selection of small dishes,  using a lettuce leaf.

I prefer this salad when it has a 50:50 balance of herbs (mint /parsley) to bulgar, but what is great is that you can  personalise the dish to your taste. Another reason I was attracted to this salad is that it is budget conscious and in these times that can be nothing but a good thing!

TABOULE

PIZZA & PIZZA DOUGH

31 August 2009

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Courgette pizza

PIZZA : A kitchen garden is a dream I have had for some time, however as we currently live in the city center with only a balcony fit for potted herbs,  I have to live vicariously through Olivier’s mother. Josiane has a wonderful potager in France, where she grows everything from runner beans and beetroot to leeks & lettuce.

However it is the courgettes (zucchinis) that are growing like wild fire, taking up more than their share of the vegetable garden. As the summer months pass and Autumn draws near, Josiane has an increasingly difficult time keeping up with their pace and as a result, come August I am the happy owner of several enormous courgettes.

Now I tell you, grateful as I am, a girl can only do so much with courgettes and after my fifth batch of soup I was getting desperate. The fact that I have been on an Italian theme for the past few post and recently been perfecting my hand at homemade pizza dough, gave me the idea for this recipe!

The mint to be honest was a lucky accident…. I  was preparing the pizza for this post, grabbed the herb jar of dried ‘basel’…. shook it generously over the pizza, only to look down and discover that the label read MINT! Shit I thought… oh well, too late to turn back now, so into the oven it went.

RECIPE

SP-FLAMMEKUECHE

Leek & Bacon Tart

LEEK & BACON TART – FLAMMEKUECHE

When I told Olivier I was gong to post this recipe for leek and bacon tart he said, ‘oh the  Flammekueche‘…. ‘Oh the what ??? ‘ Cheeky man throwing out fancy words. But he did peak my intersest and so off I went to find out more. As it turns out the word Flammekueche roughly translates to ‘baked in the flames’ and is a traditional Alsatian dish, made with a thin pizza like bread, covered with crème fraîche, garnished with small bacon slices(lardons) and onions, then baked in the oven.

I happened to have some leeks, a packet of lardons and some puff pastry on hand, not to mention something of an appetite. Now it is all very well and good  to want to make everything yourself, however when it comes to puff pastry, I fear I fold like a cheap deck of cards for the ready-made, store bought variety. Guilty your honour! Futzing around with dough and layers of butter in this summer heat is not my idea of a good time. However if it is yours, do not let me stop you, in fact I take my hat off to you!

This recipes is meals in minutes and is perfect for those nights when you look in the fridge and think ‘what the heck am I going to cook tonight’. You can also cut it into bite-size pieces and serve them as canapés.

RECIPE

TOMATO SAUCE

25 August 2009

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TOMATO SAUCE

What you didn’t know about true Italian tomato sauce…..

Marisa, the concierge in my office building,  is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Italian cooking.  Born and raised in the small village of Zogno, 4km from San Pellegrino, she grew up with the transitional values of simple & delicious hands on cooking.

At the end of the day when my job is ending and hers is starting, we often spend some time chatting about recipes. She told me that for Italians, the true way of making tomato sauce is with either onions or garlic but never both together. The tomatoes should be very ripe, as that is where the taste comes from and will make or break your sauce.  Removing the skin is also essential, as is a generous quantity of fresh basil and hand chopped garlic.

TOMATO SAUCE

Aubergine-salad

GRILLED AUBERGINE & ROASTED TOMATO SALAD

This summer I went to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. How did I visit them if they were lost you might ask…. well once was lost now is found. The Heligan estate was in the Tremayne family for over 400 years, however in 1914, with the start of WWI the gardens were abandoned and left to disrepair. It was only seventy years late in 1990 that Tim Smith, John Nelson and a growing team of enthusiastic volunteers began restoring the gardens to their original splendor and working order.

They now boast one of the most wonderful vegetable garden with several rare varieties of plants, some of which you can buy from seed. There were also two wheelbarrows with freshly plucked veggies for guest to take home. A plump beetroot and several new potatoes made their way into my suitcase. I can only imagine what customs must have thought when scanning my things!!!

All this walking through gardens inspired me to create a few new recipes, including this salad. Great for hot summer lunches,  using fresh vegetables and easy to make in advance.

SALAD RECIPE