Saturday, 30 April 2011

Puzzled Pancakes

What puzzles you in life?

Recently many things in my life have puzzled me. 
Puzzling... euhm what? Ok being puzzled or something is puzzling, means that something is confusing, it doesn't add up, you can't see the whole picture and are therefore not sure of what you have in front of you. Capiche?

Well I thought of it, and basically everything in life can be one big puzzle! Let me elaborate:

Life: from the minute you are born until the day you die (ah one certainty that is NOT puzzling) you have to take one step at a time to make your life complete. Each step is a puzzle piece that is supposed to fit somewhere in the puzzle that will create your life. Sometimes I come across pieces - or steps - which are, in my eyes at that time, simply unplacable! I think to myself 'where the hell does this piece fit and what's the point of it fitting???' What I tend to do with the unlucky puzzle pieces is to put them aside for later. Yep, I'm an ostrick cos I stick my head into the sand! Ciao! Once the head comes popping out luring to see if the coast is clear of course I am bound to find that piece again. Solution to that problem: I start cooking to work through the process of putting the piece somewhere in my life: in the upper right corner seems to be a good spot.... Because in the end, every step and every puzzle piece makes your life yours and is needed to be complete.

Love: Now this is a complicated puzzle because I think men work with round puzzle pieces and women with squared ones or vice versa. How can that ever fit?????????? Hence the invention of the actual puzzle piece that you have in mind when talking of puzzles ...
So I guess to make this puzzle work, and get to a complete and beautiful puzzle, the trick is to communicate and always ask whatever makes you puzzled!
But other than that you need to have pieces that fit into each other. So the question is: does love work when the pieces are rather the same or do opposites work better together? Do accomplished puzzles even exist?

The solution to being puzzled = cooking... even though cooking is also one big puzzle at least it's not made out of carton puzzle pieces but out of ingredients; beautiful diverse raw materials that when put together it turns out a gorgeous and usually well-turned-out puzzle! It's up to you how to make your puzzle according to how you feel that day. And that is the absolute joy of cooking: you can make your own puzzle and actually see the result in a matter of minutes or sometimes hours... and be proud of yourself!

Happy Puzzling!

Protein Pancakes
These puzzling thoughts all came up to me while devouring a pair of proteined pancakes! If you're training, wanting to loose some weight (summer is around the corner you know!) or simply want to eat healthy, but still want some pancakes for breakfast, these babies are the answer to your prayer.
I got them over at The Novice Chef...

Ingredients: 4 pancakes

  • 250 gr egg whites
  • 150 gr oats
  • 250 gr cottage cheese
  • 20 gr brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
How to make it:
Mix all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Heat up a medium sized skillet with a teaspoon of sunflower oil. Add a big spoon of mixture and spread.
Bake until little bubbles come up - then you turn the pancake delicately.
Cook well for 4-5 minutes.
Keep the baked pancakes hot in a slightly heated oven.

Outcome: serve with fresh fruit, yoghurt, peanut butter, maple syrup, jam... whatever piece of puzzle works for you to make this puzzle perfect!

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Asian Cravings: Silky Soya Marinated Salmon

What do you do, to make, a what usually is a normal day, into a special one?

My way of making my day special is by cooking something extraordinary. Something that I don't cook every week, and/ or something that takes just that little extra effort that will make my dinner special. After a cooking session like that, my normal day doesn't seem so normal anymore. If on top of that, I manage to share that delicious recipe in the company of someone special and a nice glass of wine my day can't be ruined - yes even though there's not much left anyways! :)

Last week I made Chef Cathinka's and mine famous Panang Curry with some green peppers and paksoi, that resulted in some paksoi leftovers. So thinking of paksoi, and thai food, it made me crave for more.... I came up with Soya Marinated Salmon with some stirfried veggies!

Ingredients: serves 2

  • 2 salmon steaks of circa 150 gr each
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 15gr fresh ginger grated
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 10 ml sesame oil (or almond oil)
  • 50 ml soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1 small paksoi chopped
How to make it:
Heat the oven at 170 degrees Celcius.
Prepare the marinade by mixing the garlic, ginger, lemonjuice, sesame oil and soya sauce. Add the salmon and set for 30 - 40 minutes.
After having marinated the salmon, take it out and remove most of the garlic and ginger - not all because you want to maintain their flavours.
Heat a skillet (or even better is to use a wok) and fry the salmon for a minute on both sides - just to make the outside golden brown and crispy. Then you put the salmon in an ovenproof dish and put it in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes.
Sieve the sauce so that you get rid of the pieces of garlic and ginger - and catch the soya liquid in a little pan. Reduce the soya sauce by heating it up and add the butter once it has been reduced. Stir until you get a silky thick soya sauce and turn off the heat.
While the sauce is reducing - you start by stir-frying the vegetables in the same skillet you used to fry the salmon so that the flavours mix. Stir-fry them on a high temperature for 5 minutes keeping them crisp and fresh. 
Once it's all done, take out the salmon and place it on a plate together with the vegetables and pour over the silky soya sauce. Don't add any salt because it's really not needed!

Outcome: Putting humbleness aside here... it rocked my day :)
You can add some brown or white rice to make it man-proof (they do need their carbs!)

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Monday, 25 April 2011

Cook to impress: Artichokes Souffle'

Easter is almost done... thank god! Too bad the holidays are over but at least it means all comes back to normal and that the city will be full of people again. What was I thinking to spend easter alone?! Ugh... definitely writing a reminder note in my agenda for next year. Thanks to technology I wasn't all alone, as I joined - in a computer shape - my family's easter dinner. And they actually made the traditional Asparagus, Eggs & Salmon dinner I posted the other day.

After several days of eating in big groups you are most likely to have leftovers... I see you nodding! I am also guessing that these leftovers are probably eggs, artichokes, milk, butter... and chocolate! So here I am giving you a recipe that can use up your leftovers. Who would have thought you can also impress big time with leftovers?? Well I certainly didn't, but this one proofs you can: Artichoke Souffle.

Souffles are known to be difficult recipes to make - hence the impressing part. But actually, Chef Stefano taught me that it's not that hard. The real trick is in using the right cups and the duration and heat of the oven. And the crucial secret is to NEVER EVER OPEN UP the oven while the souffle is in there. NEVER!!!!
Here is his recipe...

Ingredients: for 6 servings

  • 8 artichokes
  • 50gr white flour
  • 50gr butter
  • 300 cl milk - half fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • grated Pecorino cheese
  • grated moss walnut
  • grated breadcrumbs
How to make it:
Heat up the oven up to 175 degrees Celcius.
Clean the artichokes according to Stefano's tips posted earlier this month.
Cook the artichoke hearts in a big pan of water for about 40 minutes.
While the artichokes are cooking, melt the butter in a medium sized pan, add the sieved flour and stir for 3 minutes. Slowly add the cold milk and cook for another 3 minutes while continuing to stir. Add salt, pepper and the moss walnut to taste. Cool down the mixture - which is actually a Besciamella sauce!
Separate the eggwhites from the egg yolks. Whip up the egg whites into a firm foam. 
First you add the egg yolks to the besciamella sauce, and then you stir in the egg white foam.
Around this time, the artichokes should be more or less done. If they are, take them out of the water and squash them with a fork or chop them up using a kitchen aid. Make sure they don't get to squashy because you want to maintain the bite of the artichoke.  Add the artichokes to the besciamella mixture.
Now you are ready to prepare your souffle cups (one portion cups are best to use - comparable to muffin cups): butter them on the inside and add some grated breadcrumbs in order to prevent sticking. Pour in the mixture for 2/3 of the cup - as they will rise a lot, so you don't want them to be filled up too much.
Cook the one portion souffles for 40 minutes on 175 degrees. If you are using a bigger cup than add cooking time - circa 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size.
When it's done, take it out of the oven and take the souffle out of the cup by turning them upside down on a plate. Turn them again so that the golden brown top is heading up.
Serve the souffle with a fondue of pecorino (heating up milk and pecorino cheese into a creamy mixture) or a sheep's cheese that has been slightly warmed up.

Outcome: WOW! You will be serving a starter that will blow away your guest's minds! Do you have a good recipe that always impresses you guests? Please share!

Artichoke Souffle
Con Piacere
Chef Stefano

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Fusion: Easter continues with Blueberry Lambchops

Chef Stefano is probably down south in his beloved Lecce cooking for his parents and sister...
And there might be a good chance he is making this recipe that he taught me a while back, and it is divine!!! Again fruit in a main dish is not something that everyone likes, but this one is surprisingly good. The taste of the meat comes out really well with the blueberry....

Ingredients: serves 4

  • 8 Lamb Chops
  • 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • small glass of white wine
  • 250 gr Blueberries
  • a glass of Sweet liquor or Brandy
  • 1 tablespoon Thyme
How to make it:
Clean the garlic by squashing it with a knife and peeling off the skin. Heat up the oil in a skillet and add the garlic until it starts to smell all nice and garlicky! 
Add the white wine to make it slightly more liquid.
Take out the lamb chops when they are halfway done.
Add to the same skillet the blueberries and cook them while squashing them slightly with a fork and add the liquor. Let the alcohol evaporate.
Finish the lamb chops in the oven in order for them to remain crispy on the outside and soft and pink on the inside.
Serve with the blueberry sauce.

Outcome: A surprising version of the classic easter dish. You can serve them with oven baked rosemary potatoes.

Blueberry Lamb Chops
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Easter Everyone: Classic Buttery Asparagus, Eggs & Salmon

Happy Easter to all of you!
It's friday which means it's almost weekend, thank god! And it's a long weekend... one that we haven't had in a while now. So while everyone is going home to their families and is gaining at least a couple of kilo's worth of chocolate, eggs and lamb, I will be home alone! :( Eh, that's the downside of living abroad I guess. But it's fine, my weekend will be full of cooking, running, watching movies and some dancing! Doesn't sound all too bad to me.

Do you already know what to make this weekend? If not, let me help you with that by giving the easiest recipe ever. What is more easterly than asparagus?? Ok lamb and artichokes... but you will have to wait another day for those recipes. Last night I had an easter dinner with my dear roommate Chiara and we had the traditional (in my family it's considered traditional anyways) green asparagus, eggs, salmon and a butter vinaigrette; it turned out simple & super tasteful.

Ingredients: serving 2

  • 400 gr green asparagus
  • 200 gr smoked salmon
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 gr butter
  • chive
How to make it:
Get two pans with water boiling. One should be really tall in order that the asparagus fit in, and the other one is for the eggs so a smaller one is fine. Once the water gets boiling, add the asparagus and eggs to cook.
Asparagus take circa 10 minutes.
Eggs to your choice:
- soft = 5-6 minutes
- medium = 7-9 minutes
- hard = 9-10 minutes
While they are cooking, melt the butter in a little pan and add the chive once it's all liquid.
Now all your ingredients are ready to place them on a plate. Drizzle the butter sauce over the eggs and asparagus and you're done.


Easter Dinner: Asparagus, Eggs & Salmon

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Thursday, 21 April 2011

How to clean Artichokes

It's easter time... which means: asperges, salmon, lamb, strawberries and artichokes! All of them will be on the blog sooner or later this week...

Who else has major problems cleaning artichokes like me? I think I have thrown away a dozen in forms of pasta and risotto just because I hadn't managed to clean them well.... And really, the tough leaves of the artichokes are NOT good!
But as you know, I do not give up easily so I called in some 'professional' help! So I called Chef Stefano who taught me some tricks and tips on how to clean artichokes

How to clean artichokes:

1. Cut of the top of the artichoke
2. Tear off all the hard and green leaves - you will have to tear off many many leaves!
3. Tear off the leaves until you reach the soft and white leaves.
4. Using a sharp little knife, cut off the stem in an oblique way
5. Your artichoke is ready for use...

If you have time, let the artichokes soak in lemon water (water with a couple of lemon slices in it) for 30 minutes. This will soften the artichoke heart even more.

You can do many nice things with artichokes....
  • risotto
  • pasta
  • souffle
  • quiche
  • broiled with herbs and lemon
  • steamed with lemon vinaigrette 
  • stuffed porkribs 
  • salads
  • and many more...
Stay tuned for 'How to's'...
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

All Purpose Strawberry 'Jam'

I had waaaay too many strawberries in my fridge and my sole little belly couldn't handle devouring all of them by itself. So I had to find a solution in order not to throw them away.
I decided to make a strawberry compote or rather a coulis of them.... and it turned out suuuper good. It's more a kind of jam than a compote and is spreadable on bread, or as a sweetener in your yoghurt and I have another little surprise for you in store for what to do with it...

  • 1kg strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
How to make it:
Blend all the strawberries.
Cook the strawberries with the lemon juice in a pan over a slow fire. It needs at least 30-45 mins. Make sure it gets all thick and gewy!

Voila you're done... put it in the fridge over night and it will get even gewier.

So goooood!!!!

Peanutbutter & Homemade Strawberry Jam Cracker!

Keep tuned for part 2....

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Spezzatino Allo Yoghurt

Back to normal life... means back to cooking! Even though the sun is still out and my inner dutchie wants to enjoy every ray of sun out there, my brain tells me to stay home at least one night a week in order to get some zzz and cooking done. Afterall, this cookingclub must exist for a reason and should not be seasonal...

So in order to keep everyone happy (my brain and my conscience.. and Katia) I invited her to come over and enjoy a home cooked meal at my place.
Decided to make a new Italian recipe, not very summery but not too heavy either: spezzatino allo yoghurt. It was good!


  • 300 gr of Bocconcini di Vitello (veal meat cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • flour
  • one shallot chopped
  • 100 gr of carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of herbs provencale (basel, thyme, rosemary)
  • 125 gr yoghurt (full or low fat)
  • tad of milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
How to make it:
Cut the veal in medium sized cubes, salt and pepper them and then cover them with some flour.
Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the veal and fry until golden brown.
Add the onion and carrots to the meat. Toss for a couple of minutes until the carrots get softer.
Add some salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
In the mean time mix the yoghurt, milk and flour to a creamy mixture and add it to the meat and carrots.
Heat and stir until the sauce becomes creamy. 
The whole takes 10-15 minutes!
If you want to have it with rice: start boiling the water at the start and add the rice when you add the carrots to the meat. That way it's all done at the same time.

Outcome: in combination with some rice you have a perfect weekday meal. Nothing extraordinary but still better than a take-out! you could also make this with beef or chicken.... up to you!

Spezzatino allo Yoghurt
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Absent Note: Graduating!

Dear all,

I have not been very good this week, posting new recipes, but I have a massive good reason for that! I have been busy working my bottoms off during the Salone del Mobile, which is a huge interior design fair in Milan that goes on in the whole city. And then because at night I have been enjoying it; parties, design, meeting new fun people, eating out, drinking wine in the sun....Life could be tougher!

I won't be posting anything new this weekend either because.... I AM GRADUATING!!!

Yes, after having handed in my thesis a year ago, I am officially getting to throw my little hat in the air. So excited for that as I haven't done it before. European Schools and European Studies bachelors don't tend to do the whole hat thing. Good thing the European School of Economics does... - gosh I did study a lot of European shizzle reading back :)

Anyway I am super excited because I will graduate in Florence at the Palazzo Vecchio with my dear wifey Katia, in the presence of my lovely parents. Of course I will report back to you all, with many many many many good typical fiorentina goodness.

Chef Steph

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

What Type of Wine Are You??

The following information is not a secret at all: AI LAIK MY WINE!!!!
Whether it comes with some food or just simply on it's own, wine is the perfect ending to a perfect day, or to a shitty day for that matter. It gives me the kind of satisfaction and relief that a good session of yoga or pilates can give you. No I am not an alcoholic - cos I still do the yoga and pilates once in a while as a change to the wine - but I am just one of those foodies that loves wine too!
Not healthy? Eh... in moderation everything is healthy.
Good Old Falanghina!
So while having my perfect glass of wine - a good old Falanghina - on a rooftop somewhere in Milan, chillaxing it big time with my dear friend Katia, the conversation came up on whether wine and personality are combined or not. It is commonly known that the ladies out there prefer white for instance; they prefer Rieslings, or Muhler Turgau's that are light and fruity. Men on the other hand tend to prefer bold red wines like the Cabernet Sauvignon.
After that conversation, while checking out Pamela's blog 'My Man's Belly' I came across this funny test where you can actually find out what type of wine you are according to who you are! Talking about coincidence!!!

What is Your “Wine Personality”?

Are you…
  • Sweet? – Riesling
  • Energetic? – Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sporty? – Pinot Grigio
  • Sunny and Mellow? – Chardonnay
  • A person of high standards? – Pinot Noir
  • Earthy? – Merlot
  • Adventurous? – Cabernet
Mirassou® Winery unscientific “wine personality” quiz is even more fun: Answer these questions to determine what your “wine personality” is, so you can choose the perfect wine for you and your guests!
1. Are you a real sweetheart or big softy?
2. Do you prefer sweet tastes over salty ones?
3. Do you run circles around your friends because you’re so energetic?
4. Are you constantly “on the go”?
5. Do you spend most of your free time on the golf course?
6. Do you tend to participate in sports rather than watching as a by-stander?
7. Is your disposition a happy one?
8. Do you “go with the flow”? Have you been described by some as being flexible or “mellow”?
9. Are you a perfectionist, never letting go of a project until it’s completely perfect?
10. Are you a “Type A” with extremely high standards for yourself and others?
11. Are you a nature buff, one who’d rather be out hiking or fishing or out enjoying the natural world?
12. Are you concerned for the environment?
13. Are you a powerhouse in the workplace who is ready to meet any challenge and sometimes referred to as “adventurous”?
14. Do you like to take risks, preferring to try things outside your comfort zone?
If you answered yes to questions 1 or 2, you are a Riesling If you answered yes to questions 3 or 4, you are a Sauvignon Blanc If you answered yes to questions 5 or 6, you are a Pinot Grigio If you answered yes to questions 7 or 8, you are a Chardonnay If you answered yes to questions 9 or 10, you are a Pinot Noir If you answered yes to questions 11 or 12, you are a Merlot If you answered yes to questions 13 or 14, you are a Cabernet.
If you answered yes to multiple questions, you like a wide range of varietals!
Outcome: Guess what I was??? Yep.... From Pinot Grigio to Cabernet! Told you I was a wine lover! :) What wine type are you?? Any special wine you would like to share with us that is generally unknown but too good to be unnoticed?? 

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Cook to Impress: 'Perfect First Date Dish' Sea Burger alla Stefano

Chef Stefano is my fellow cook and friend in Milan. He is the one I call whenever I (think) have made something awesome because he gets the actual awesomeness of standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine, music and letting go of your creativity through cooking.
Besides getting the awesomeness, he is also a very good cook! One day he will open his own restaurant, you wait and see. So you can understand I could not let him get away with not sharing his recipes with this lovely little community. His first recipe is a perfect first date recipe ladies... your man to be will be thrilled with the idea of having a burger and you are thrilled because the burger won't end up on your hips. WIN WIN situation!

Ps: Chef Stefano gets the colour grey for his recipes! So whenever you want one of his recipes just check the colour of the 'ingredients', 'how to make it' and 'outcome' and you will see in a blink that it's his.

Ingredients: for one burger

  • salmon or grouper filet of 200/250 gr
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • 5/6 anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon chopped up chive
  • cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
How to make it:
Clean the fish: take off the skin, the spines and the greasy parts. 
Once the fish is clean, chop the fish up in tiny pieces, to which you add the freshly chopped chive. From this mixture you make the burgers.
Heat up the oil in a pan and fry the anchovies. Add the burger and fry it for 3 to 4 minutes.
In the meantime you cut up the cherry tomatoes in halves and make a little salad seasoning them with some olive oil, salt and pepper. You can add some basel if you wish.

Outcome: A beautiful impressing plate that will steal hearts! Note: important to have the tomatoes with the burgers as the acid of the tomatoes accompanies and compensates the taste of the grease of the fish really well. 

Sea Burger

Con Piacere
Chef Stefano

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Little Saturday Sunshine = Goat's Cheese & Avocado Sandwich + Pear/Strawberry Smoothie

The sun is out, 30 degrees celcius and it's a NON weekday!
Waking up by yourself instead of the dreadful alarm clock, and having ZERO plans sometimes is what a girl needs. After a morning of market, groceries, several specialty stores my belly was hungry for some fuel. One look at my balcony, fridge and drawer (where bikini is was stowed away) and I knew my mission.

Goat's cheese and avocado sandwich and a homemade pear/strawberry smoothie... a towel, bikini and an easy read magazine... music on and voila - my day was made!


  • two slices of dark brown bread - or any kind you like really
  • one small tomato sliced
  • 1/4 avocado sliced
  • goat's cheese - or any kind of cheese that is currently in your fridge
  • one pear
  • three strawberries
  • glass of milk
  • a couple of ice cubes
How to make it:
Staple cheese, avocado and tomato on a sandwich and voila! I wanted to grill it, but without an actual panini grill that is hard to do!
Blend fruit and milk with the icecubes... and voila!

Outcome: Summer Heaven in 5 minutes!

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Friday, 8 April 2011

For you: Chicken Parmigiana

No time nor power for actual words. Sometimes you just want to cook to get things of your mind.
What do you cook to forget?
Made this recipe with you in mind....

Ingredients: for two servings

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 plum tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • concentrated tomato puree
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh basel
  • 1 mozzarella
  • 2 large tablespoons of parmigiano
How to make it:
Heat oven at 170°C.
Slice the eggplant in 1cm slices, salt them and let them 'tear' for a couple of minutes (how appropriate).
While they are tearing, prepare your tomato sauce by frying up the shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped and peeled tomatoes and let simmer until they get soft. Add the concentrated tomato puree, salt, pepper and basel to taste. If needed add a splash of water to make it more liquid - this depends on the tomatoes you are using. - I'd also suggest to add some tabasco or chili flakes to give it some umpf!
In the meantime wash and dry the eggplant.
Bake the chicken in one heated tablespoon of olive oil. When it's done, place the chicken in an oven tray.
After the chicken, use the same pan to fry the eggplant with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once these are done, place them on top of the chicken. Sprinkle some salt over the chicken and eggplant.
At this point you put the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant.
To finish off in style, place the mozzarella (shredded in pieces) on top, and sprinkle the parmigiano on the whole thing.
Place 10-15 minutes in the oven until the cheese get golden brown.

Outcome: you would have liked it!

Chicken Parmigiana
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Quick Refreshing Side Dish

I'm feeling hot hot hot....
Summer is on the way, and besides stowing away my thick winter coats and woollen sweaters and taking out the summery flower dresses, I am also slowly exchanging my winter diet for a more appropriate and light summery diet, rich with vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs containing heaps of colour and flavour.
Nothing to do about it: summer is the best!

Yesterday I was looking for a side dish to accompany my Fennel&Pea Quiche,  and came up with this minty tomato chickpea dish made of ingredients that were all at hand.


  • one can of chickpeas
  • 4 firm and juicy tomatoes cut up in chunks
  • a handful of chopped mint
  • splash of lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil Extra Vergine
How to make it:
Easy: mix all the ingredients in a bowl and you're done!

It was a surprising mix of flavours - mint is a perfect substitution for basel once in a while.
It goes well with grilled meats - seen the season I'd suggest a nice lambfilet, or even a chickenleg- but fish works as well. You can literally go into any direction with this side dish; add some mozzarella or feta cheese with a slice of fresh bread for a complete and nutritious lunch or dinner.

Minty Tomato Chickpea Side Dish
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Just an Ordinary Tuesday Lunch: Broccoli Pesto Orecchiette

I have lunch at the office with the 'in the office luncher crew'! Yes we consider ourselves a crew against those who eat out. And basically we vow that we always eat better, nicer and waaaaay cheaper than the rest of our colleagues.... maybe we should make tshirts to represent ourselves!

Anyways as 'brava ragazza' (= good girl) living and adapting herself in Italy, it means adopting Italian cuisine and eating habits too. Not to unpleasant to do, but quite hard to accomplish as Italian food may seem easy, it actually is quite hard to make because they have like a million gazzillion rules and idiotic guidelines. Pasta and meat together on one plate is for example a BIG FAT NO NO!!!! :(
Pasta and vegetables are a good and allowed combo, so here we go....


  • 250 gr Orecchiette 
  • 200 gr Broccoli
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pinenuts
  • 4 tablespoons Pecorino Cheese grated
How to make it:
Cook the broccoli.
Bring a pan of water with a fist of salt to a boil.
To make the pesto: put broccoli, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, pinenuts, pecorino cheese in a blender and BLEND until smooth. Taste and add whatever ingredient you feel is missing.
Cook the pasta according the package. Drain.
Mix with pesto.
Sprinkle some fresh Pecorino over you dish and voila: real southern Italian Orecchiette.
Broccoli Pesto Orecchiette
Outcome: My eating-out lunching colleagues were jealous! 
What do you like to have for lunch???
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Monday, 4 April 2011

Fruity Monday: Strawberry Goat's Cheese Salad

Seeing the beautiful weather down here - sunny and 25 degrees C - my appetite has been on a very low simmer, strangely enough. This could also be because I had the Peanut Butter Banana Brownie for breakfast and a turkey 'scallopina' (which is special Italian way of preparing chicken, veal or turkey promise to post a nice recipe soon!) that filled me up big time...
Anyways, because of the lacking of my hunger, I seriously stood for 15 minutes in my supermarket thinking of what to cook and eat, going over all the blogs and recipes I have read in the past few weeks, in my head. I was feeling like having something fresh, healthy yet easy and exciting to post on here.
Then I thought of Jessica's Warm Strawberry Orzo Salad... But remembered I still had a few things in my fridge and cupboard such as aragula, peeled orzo and sunflower seeds and decided to make my version of the Strawberry Orzo salad. You gotta like fruit in your dinner, but trust me when I say that the flavours in this salad will make you want more... much more!!

Ingredients - two servings

  • 6 fresh Strawberries cut in little cubes
  • 2 handfuls of Aragula
  • 3 tablespoons of Sunflower Seeds (or pinenutseeds)
  • 50 gr of Goats cheese crumbles
  • 100 gr peeled Orzo (barley)
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Glaze
  • pinch of Salt
  • 0.5 lemon juice
How to make it:
Bring a big pan of water with a fist of salt to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for circa 30 minutes. The orzo is ready when it is soft yet still with a firm bite to it - but this depends on your taste.
In the meanwhile roast the sunflower seeds in another pan without oil. Keep an eye on them because they are ready in a couple of minutes and burn easily.
Toss the seeds, strawberries, aragula, goats cheese, olive oil, balsamic glaze, salt and lemon juice in a salad bowl. 
Once the orzo is ready, rinse and add it immediately to the other ingredients in the salad bowl. The warm orzo will 'melt' the aragula and cheese making the salad really moist.

Strawberry Goats Cheese Salad
Outcome: Hmmm... it was.... setting my humbleness aside here... simply... AMAZING!!!!!!! 
Do you like recipes with fruit in it - suggestions? And have any light summery suggestions for an upcoming undecisive supermarket visit?

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Friday, 1 April 2011

Yummy Marinated Shrimp and Avocado Salad

One of my favorite dinners is salad. It is not only healthy and quick to make but there are a million different variations. This one is with marinate shrimp, avocado and mache lettuce (the type that looks like a little bunch of leaves pulled from the ground.

  • Salad of your choice (here; Mache)
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • Shrimps
  • Marinad (see below)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (I found that it is worth paying a little extra to get a really good one. The taste becomes much more sweet and round)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How to make it:
I started with frozen, uncooked shrimps (if they are already cooked they do not take in as much flavor from the marinade); I unfroze them (if you have little time rinse them with luke-warm water for a minute) and cut the backs. Then I mixed the marinade (see ingredients below) and mixed it with the shrimps;
- Sweet & sour chili sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Fish sauce
- Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
- Soy sauce
- Fresh Chili

If you have it at home you can also add finely chopped garlic and ginger. This marinate is also delicious with chicken (the longer you let it marinade the better the taste). 

I let the shrimps stay in the marinade for about an hour, and right before mixing the salad I lightly fried them on high temperature. Be carful not to overcook the shrimps as they will become dried and chewy. Cut the avocado and tomatoes into pieces, and in a bowl mix all the ingredients together. This will be your end result :)


Bon Appetit!
Chef Cathinka