Italian Sausage Lasagna

italiansausagelasagna01

Ingredients:

Generous glugs of olive oil
3 garlic cloves
4 Italian sausages cut and rolled into small balls
1 large can of diced tomatoes (or two regular ones)
1 tsp sugar
Salt, pepper, dried basil and oregano
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
300 g ricotta cheese
1 egg
Lasagna sheets to make two layers (I used the express ones)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the garlic cloves. Remove them. Fry the sausage balls. When golden, add the diced tomatoes, the Tbsp of tomato sauce, the sugar, salt, pepper, dried herbs. Bring to boil, cook on medium heat  until the tomato sauce reaches a consistency that is not too runny yet not too dry.

2. In a bowl, whisk the egg, add the ricotta and Parmesan cheese and mix well.

3. To layer your lasagna dish, start with a scant layer of the sauce (try to take out the sausage balls), then lay lasagna sheets to cover the bottom. Then spread a layer of the sauce (half of it) and the ricotta cheese mix on top. Top that with a layer of lasagna sheet, a layer of sauce (the other half), and cover everything with the grated mozzarella.

4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and broil it until the cheese is golden.

Yum, yum, yum!

Mixed Vegetable and Veal Tagine

mixedtagine00

 

I wanted to cook with vegetables yet not my mom’s vegetable stew. I wanted something witih spices, a lot of flavor, and broth. I remembered my friend’s different tagines that she makes, so I put together this recipe from whatever my sensory memory recollected of previous flavors.

I used two handfuls of all the vegetables mentioned, roughly chopped too. Here’s the recipe:

This will serve 4 people.

- 350 g of meat cubes (I used veal)
- Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot you’re using
- 1 medium onion cut into long strips
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 500 ml beef stock
- 1 heaped tsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried coriander
- 1/2 tsp 7 spices (or allspice)
- Salt

- Two handfuls of potatoes, zucchini, and carrots (all cut into big chunks)

- 1 preserved lemon cut into thin strips

- 1 cup of kalamata olives

Method:

- Heat the oil in a deep pan or slow cooker. Cook the meat cubes until golden. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, and spices. Cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and dissolved tomato paste, bring to boil. Let it boil slowly for ten minutes.

- In the meantime, chop your vegetables into big chunks. Add them to your pot along with the olives and preserved lemon. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. The vegetables should be well cooked after 30 minutes.

I prepared couscous to eat with it. I thought couscous would taste the best with this mix of spices.

There you go! Easy, great-tasting, and done in an hour!

 

Rice With Merguez And Rosemary

 

Do you have a rice cooker? I have recently invested in one and I do not regret it one bit. I was always hesitant to buy one thinking that it pretty much does what a regular pot does. Well, it does, only that you don’t have to keep an eye on it, and that could be a very critical detail when you’re preparing several dishes at the same time.

I use my rice cooker not just to cook white rice, but also to make any mixed rice recipe like this one. I served this rice with a green salad on the side. The ingredients below will yield 3 generous servings.
rice-merguez-rosemary00Ingredients:

- 1.5 cups short grain rice (I used Italian rice), washed
- 1.5 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Merguez sausages
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- A sprig of rosemary, the little leaves taken apart from the stem
- 2 Tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. Cut the Merguez sausages into small discs. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the Merguez on medium heat. When the sausages are cooked on the outside, add the chopped onion and cook everything until the onion turns translucent and the sausages are further cooked.

2. Add the washed rice, salt and rosemary and give everything a good stir.

3. Pour what you have in the pan into your rice cooker. Add the water. Turn on your cooker and let the rice slowly cook.

If you’re not using a rice cooker, add the water into the pan (you might need more water), lower heat, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed all the water and is well cooked.

It is a really easy and aromatic recipe. With a side salad, it makes a great dinner on a working day.

 

 

Peruvian Tallarines Verdes with Steak

This is a famous Peruvian recipe that was on my list of Peruvian dishes to make. The sauce for the fettucine is a revisited Italian pesto recipe. The steak that goes on top is marinated with cumin, mustard, and some wine vinegar. It was a truly fulfilling lunch with very evident flavors: the basil and the marinated meat.

tallarinasverdes

This recipe will serve two.

For the pesto sauce:

- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup fresh cheese
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 2 bunches of fresh basil
- 2 handfuls of spinach leaves
- Salt, pepper

Blend everything is a blender. Add cold water if you need to thin it out.

For the steak marinade:

- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- Salt, pepper

I marinated the meat for 30 minutes before grilling them in a hot skillet.

To prepare the fettucine, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain when it’s cooked and mix it the pesto sauce.

To serve, placed the grilled steak on top of the pasta (just like in the photo) and you’ll have yourself a delicious nutritious meal.

 

 

Linguine alla Bolognese

allabolognese

Spaghetti, linguine, penne… it really doesn’t matter as long as you got the sauce right. I used linguine because for some reason I prefer how it wraps around the sauce,  but feel free to use spaghtetti.

Linguine alla bolognese (for 4)

- 1 packet of linguine pasta, cooked in salted water according to instructions
- 300 g minced beef
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt, pepper
- 650 ml tomato sauce in a bottle (passata di pomodoro)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 Tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese

Method

1. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a deep sauce pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until they are soft. Add the minced beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook until well done.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Bring to boil. Lower heat to medium/low and let it cook until the sauce reaches the consistency you want: neither too thick nor too watery. Just before turning off the heat, add the cheese and give it a good stir.
3. Pour the sauce into the pot of the cooked drained pasta, give everything a good mix, make sure the sauce envelopes everything, and serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.

Melanzane Parmigiana With Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Mozzarella Cheese

We usually look forward to the weekend so we can do the hobbies we enjoy or the activities that we we hadn’t had time for during the week. For me, the weekend in the winter could include a trip to a new cafe, a homemade meal (preferably something in the oven), and an hour on the couch reading my novel.

This weekend’s oven baked dish is the classical Melanzane Parmigiana, with a twist. It is a no-fuss recipe that requires no pre-cooking of the tomato sauce. In addition to the grilled eggplants, I roasted half a red bell pepper and finished with a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Follow the recipe step by step and you’ll end up with a finger-licking Melanzane Parmigiana!

melanzane02

 

Ingredients (for 2):

- 1 medium sized eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch circles
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters
- Olive oil
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- A handful of coarsely chopped basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella and cheddar

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

1. On a baking sheet, brush the eggplant slices and the red pepper with olive oil on both sides and broil until brown. I peeled the red pepper after they grilled because I really dislike the skin when it comes off the pepper.
2. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except the two kinds of cheese. Mix well with a spoon.
3. In the baking dish, place the grilled eggplants at the bottom, spread the tomato sauce mix on top of them, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over that, place the grilled red pepper, and finish with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomato sauce is boiling and the cheese has melted.

Sunshine Omelet

It isn’t quite shiny this omelet, but it is colorful and inviting, isn’t it?

vegetable omelet

When your handsome is away and when it isn’t yet time to go out to browse the bookstores and settle in a cafe, what do you do?

Cook up brunch!

Today’s brunch is this wonderfully colorful omelet that brings sunshine to your kitchen even when it is -20 outside and snow is blowing in all directions.

omelet-spring

Red Pepper, Zucchini, Onion, and Mushroom Omelet (For 2)

Ingredients:

- 1/4 of a red pepper
- 1 small zucchini
- 1/2 an onion
- a handful of sliced fresh white mushrooms
- Salt

- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 eggs

- Cheese, I used Grana Padano, but feta would be perfect for this recipe too
- Herbs, I used fresh thyme, but some basil or parsley would also be good

vegies-omelet

Method:

1. Slice the onion and red pepper into thin strips (see photo), cut up the zucchini into capital Ds (see photo), and chop the mushrooms (see photo).
2. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add vegetables and fry until tender and aromatic.  Add some salt (1/4 of a tsp).
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs together. Add the cooked vegetables to the bowl, add the fresh thyme (or whatever herb you’re using) and give everything a quick stir.
4. Pour this mixture back into the hot pan. Lower heat and cover.
5. When the lower side of the omelet is golden and the upper side is dry but not fully cooked, flip the omelet. Use a spatula, or simply flip the omelet onto the lid of the pan and then slide it back into the pan with the golden cooked side up. Turn off the heat.
6. Slide the omelet onto your plate and grate some Padano cheese on it, or crumble some feta.

Rice With Shrimp, Red Pepper and Sweet Peas

How I miss rice! I have no dietary restrictions and I can eat rice every day if I want to, but for some reason, I forget about the little guy and always go for pasta. Bad bad bad! Here’s a rich and colorful rice dish to celebrate my reunion with Arborio rice specifically.

ricewithshrimp

Now the photo isn’t very appetizing (we were very hungry, I didn’t have time to take out my equipment), but take my word when I say it’s a delicious and easy rice dish to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 4)

- 1.5 cups of Arborio rice
- A bag of frozen shrimp
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1.5 cups of sweet peas (I used frozen)
- 1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- A generous pinch of saffron (soak in a few Tbsp of warm water until you need to add them in the recipe)
- 1/2 tsp of cumin
- 1/2 tsp of paprika
- Salt

Method:

1. Heat some olive oil in a pot and stir fry the shrimp for ten minutes. Add the water needed for 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (check the packet for instructions) and bring it to boil, cover, simmer for 10 minutes.

2. In another  larger pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil to fry the onions and garlic. After 5 minutes, add the chopped red bell pepper and the sweet peas. Stir and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the rice and give everything a good  mix together. Add the spices and salt.

4. Add the shrimps and the liquid that they were boiling in. We sort of have shrimp broth now. Bring everything to boil. Cover, simmer, and leave it to slowly cook for a a good half hour. Don’t turn off the heat until you make sure that the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.

5. When it’s ready, give it a good mix and ENJOY! Delizioso!

 

Pasta with Chicken, Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese

This recipe has a long name but it is a quick fix one. You can play around with the proportion of chicken to pasta; if you feel like a chicken dish, then throw in just a little bit of pasta, and vice versa. Today I wanted more protein than carbs so you’ll see that I used a full chicken breast (320g) for just one cup of cooked pasta (200g) and a lot of mushrooms!

chicken-mushroom-pasta00

Ingredients (serves 2):

- 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of grape seed oil
- 1 full chicken breast (320g) cut into cubes
- 1 cup of cooked pasta, I used farfalle, penne should be good too
- Two generous handfuls of chopped fresh mushrooms
- A handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Garlic powder, salt, dried herbs (anything you can get your hands on)
- 1/4 cup of white wine

Method:

Heat the oils in a skillet. Fry the chicken until white.
Add the mushrooms and cover. Stir every now and then until chicken is cooked and mushrooms are a little soft.
Add the cooked pasta and give everything a good stir.
Add the garlic powder, salt and herbs. Mix well.
Add the white wine and on high heat let it evaporate, it will only take a minute or so.
Add the generous amount of grated cheese. Mix well.

Et voila! A quick fix pasta dish that is nutritious and rich in flavors.

Farfalle With Tuna, Mushrooms and Thyme

farfalle-mushroom-tuna-thyme

To get straight down to business, this is what you need in order to make two fulfilling plates of this recipe:

- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 can of tuna
- 1 cup of sliced white mushrooms
- 1/2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup of white wine
- 1/2 cup of cooking cream
- 2 Tbsp of tomato sauce
- 200 g of farfalle pasta, cooked according to packet instructions

 

1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a wide pan. Fry the onions until translucent, then add the tuna and mushrooms and fry well.

2. Add the thyme, salt and chili flakes. Give everything a good stir.

3. Turn up the heat to the max and add the white wine and let it evaporate (30 seconds). Then, add the cream and stir well. Lower the heat. Add the tomato sauce. Stir again and turn off the heat when everything is consistent  but not too dry.

4. Add the cooked pasta and mix well.

And enjoy!

 

Veal With Ginger, Garlic, and Shiitake Mushrooms

As you have noticed from my recipes or the recipes that I choose to make, I rarely cook or eat red meat. In general I prefer vegetables, chicken, and fish to red meat, but Japanese-inspired recipes like this one call for lean red meat.

Tonight my appetite was asking for a Japanese-style dish with noodles, so I got some really lean veal meat and I put together this recipe. The shiitake mushrooms are optional  but since I had them in my cupboard, I used them.

veal-ginger-garlic-shiitake

Ingredients (for 2):

- 300 g lean veal cut into strips
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/8 cup of rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp of brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)

Method:

- Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water. Set aside.

- Marinade the meat with all the ingredients for 15 minutes.

- Heat a pan and then cook the meat with the marinade. When the meat is almost done, add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid marinade is almost gone.

- Serve over noodles or with white rice on the side.

Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives

My dear friend Ferdy recently gave me a jar of preserved lemons and of course, being the food enthusiast that I am, I rushed to Renaud Bray to find me a Moroccan cookbook. Instead, I found an amazing magazine: Les 60 meilleurs du monde…point final.! And from this amazing magazine, I made this excellent recipe (with a few differences), probably the best chicken recipe that could ever exist!

chicken in dutch oven

chickenwithpreservedlemonandolives02

For best results, use a dutch oven. The dutch oven will render the chicken very tender and the sauce as thick as you’d like it to be. I served this with white rice on the side simply because all the flavor is in the chicken and you don’t want to ruin it by introducing another flavor.

Ingredients (serves 2):

- 2 full chicken breasts, thinly sliced into flat fillets
- 3 Tbsp oil (I used a mix of canola and grape seed oil)

- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 onion, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger

- 1/2 cup of green unpitted olives
- 1/2 a preserved lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Tbsp harissa sauce
- 1 tsp ras el-hanout spices
- 500 ml chicken broth

Method:

1. Heat the oil in your dutch oven. Fry the chicken until lightly golden.

2. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Fry for 3 minutes.

3. Add everything else, cover the dutch oven and cook in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour.

Et voila!

Eggs on a Bed of Tomato Sauce with Zucchini, Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese

I promised myself one last post before the end of January. I have been over my head with life’s ups and downs, but here I am fulfilling my promise.

This recipe makes a great brunch or even dinner. The sauce comes out really thick and tangy and the eggs just go perfectly well with the rest of flavors. I used a cast iron skillet and frankly I could sense the difference in the way everything heated up together and stayed warm.

Eggs-tomato-sauce00

Ingredients (serves one):

- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, whole
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced
- 4 large white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/4 tsp of sugar
- A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. I used a cast iron skillet. Add the garlic cloves, zucchini and mushrooms. Fry until soft. Discard the garlic cloves.

2. Add the tomato sauce and thyme and bring to boil. Add the sugar and salt. Let the sauce thicken.

3. When the sauce thickens and is ready, add the cheese and give it a good mix.

4. Crack the eggs on top and cover. When the eggs harden and are cooked, uncover and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Tarragon Chicken in White Wine and Cream Sauce

This time of the year is all about food, and I love it!

We were invited to our friends’ house for a potluck lunch and I wanted to make something with white wine, so I dug through Nigella Lawson’s cookbook and I found this awesome recipe. I modified the recipe a little bit, I sort of just worked with what I had, but it turned out great.

The photo might not be the most appetizing, but that was the best I could do while rushing out the door!

Image

TARRAGON CHICKEN in WHITE WINE AND CREAM SAUCE (serves 4)

- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (replace with marjoram if tarragon isn’t available)
- 2 full chicken breasts sliced into thin fillets
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup cooking cream (15%)
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (or marjoram, if using that)

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the tarragon and onions. Fry for a few minutes, just until soft.

2. Add the chicken and cook until golden.

3. Add the white wine and salt. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for at 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Add the cream, white pepper and fresh tarragon. Bring to boil. Let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thicken. Check for salt.

5. Serve hot with white rice or plain boiled pasta.

I really love this recipe. It has a deep rich flavor, and although might seem heavy, it isn’t.

Bon appetit!
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My Mother’s Coq au Vin

My mother isn’t a huge fan of the kitchen (I take after my father), but whatever she cooked (and she cooked everything) she cooked very well. She makes the best Niçoise salad, the best pasta in the oven, and absolutely the best coq au vin! This is her recipe as told to me over the phone.

COQ AU VIN (serves 4)

- 1 kg chicken (I used a chicken thigh, one chicken leg and two drumsticks)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Flour with salt and pepper to coat the chicken with
- 1 cup pearl onions (baby onions) peeled
- 250 g whole mushrooms, the fresh white kind
- 2 carrots cut into thick circles
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1.5 cups chicken broth (I use Campbell’s No Salt Added)
- 1 bottle of red wine
- Salt, black pepper and bay leaves
- 1 tsp mixed dried Italian herbs
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch

coqauvin02

coq au vin

coqauvin04

METHOD

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a big deep pot. Coat the chicken in the flour Brown the chicken on both sides. (10 to 15 minutes)
2. Add the carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic to the pot. Cover it and let everything saute for a few minutes. Grab the pot by both hands and shake it it every now and then.
3. Add the chicken broth and wine. Add the bay leaves and the dried herbs. Adjust the salt and pepper. Bring to boil then simmer for minimum 45 minutes. 4. After 30 minutes of simmering, dissolve the 1 Tbsp of cornstarch in a 1/4 cup of the hot liquid from the pot. Once totally dissolved, pour that into the pot. Let everything continue simmering for 15 minutes.
5. After 45 minutes of simmering, uncover the pot and raise the heat to medium, this way some of the liquid will evaporate.

That was easy, no?! And I guarantee you, so damn good!

I served it with white rice, but you can also have it with a side of Oven-Roasted Baby Potatoes with Rosemary and Olive oil.