Minced Chicken and Rice Kebabs

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Easy and healthy … a complete dish on a stick, especially with the addition of carrots, parmesan cheese and herbs, which make them more appetising!  Serve them with any veggies or salad of your own choice.  The quantity of the ingredients used can be adjusted accordingly … I usually prepare enough mixture to have that extra amount left, which I could then use to prepare patties for lunch!

Makes about 14 generous kebabs in all (or as many kebabs as you might need plus extra patties!)

Needed

Enough bamboo skewers, which should be soaked in water for around 1 hour before using.

Ingredients

600g minced chicken

250g long-grain rice

1 medium onion

60g fresh breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 to 3 cloves garlic

approximately 2 tablespoonfuls chopped parsley

2 level teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 carrot, peeled

salt and pepper

sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method

Cook rice until tender, draining any excess water.

Process all the remaining ingredients together until you end up with a homogeneous mixture.  Transfer mixture into a large bowl and, using your hands, mix in the cooked rice.

Shape the mixture around the bamboo skewers.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and cook the kebabs slowly, turning frequently until browned all over and cooked through.

Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Enjoy!

Surprise Pork Triangle Patties

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Easy and fun to make and eat!  Pork mince, bacon, oats and seasoning enclosing a processed cream cheese triangle, which oozes out when the patty is cut into once cooked.  Not on the low side of fat but, everything permitting, eating naughty won’t hurt every now and then!

Makes 8 triangle patties

Ingredients

500g pork mince

100g bacon, very finely chopped or processed

approximately 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped (I generally use flat parsley)

1 egg

4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and finely chopped

1 level teaspoon dried sage

A handful of oatmeal, enough to help bind the mixture

Freshly ground black pepper

8 cream cheese triangles (opting for the lighter version might make the slightest of difference in the fat intake 😉 )

Method

Mix all the prepared ingredients well in a large bowl until all of them cling well together to form a paste.  Using your hands to mix is quiet a must!

Divide the mixture into 16 equal portions.

Preferably using wet hands to handle the mixture without sticking, shape a portion of the meat mixture into a triangle, a bit bigger than the triangular processed cheese, as shown in the picture.  Also as illustrated, put the cheese on top of the meat triangle and enclose with another meat triangle by putting it on top of the cheese.  Make sure to press well and neaten the edges so as the pocket won’t open itself whilst cooking, therefore avoiding the flowing out of the cheese.

Do the same with all the remaining meat portions and cheese triangles.

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and fry on both sides, taking care not to burn them but ending up with a dark golden and crispy crust.  If you notice that the central part would be still a bit pink and undercooked when the crust would be already at the desired stage, put the patties in the oven at approximately 180°C (350°F) for a few minutes until cooked through.

Serve and enjoy!

Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola Dolce and Walnuts

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Another easy and quick pasta dish full of flavour.  A must have for cheese lovers!  Use the sweet version of Gorgonzola cheese (Gorgonzola Dolce) for the best result.  Any type of pasta can be used but I find that egg tagliatelle pasta (obviously the packaged type for an easier and a less time consuming approach 🙂 ) works even better.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 good glug of dry white wine

225g Gorgonzola Dolce

100ml light fresh cream

Freshly ground black pepper

100g shelled walnuts, finely chopped

500g egg tagliatelle pasta, cooked according to package instructions

Method

Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and cook the onion slowly until slightly browned, soft and translucent.

Add a good glug of wine, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to arrive at the onions’ level, and cook over high heat until almost all the wine is evaporated but not all, hence keeping a watch over it.  Lower the heat immediately and add the Gorgonzola Dolce.

Stir until the cheese is melted, still keeping the heat low, and add the cream and the freshly ground black pepper.  Increase heat, bring to a boil and remove from the heat immediately.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Mix the sauce into the cooked egg tagliatelle and serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Broad Bean with Bead-like Pasta Soup (Kusksu)

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A hearty yet simple soup, exploiting broad beans when they’re in their season or even frozen ones.  The name “Kusksu” sometimes gets people confusing it with couscous.  Maybe, it’s because the type of pasta used in this soup is shaped liked small beads (as shown in the picture), resembling bigger particles of couscous … maybe not … but this is how I like to prepare this traditional soup of ours!

In my soup I only like to add eggs at the end but the more traditional recipes also allow the addition of soft cheeselets or chunks of ricotta.  Also, I totally find that this soup is best made an hour or two in advance, if possible, for a denser end result.  Moreover, this standing period would also allow all the flavours to better combine and the bead-like pasta, which tends to remain a bit hard, to get the chance to soften and plump itself up.  All that would be needed is to reheat it a bit before serving, stirring gently in order not to break the eggs.

Serves 4 abundantly

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

150g broad beans, already peeled from both shells

150g frozen peas

2 large onions, sliced thinly

2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

150g pasta beads

4 eggs, or according to the number of persons to serve (1 egg per person)

Water

Method

Heat the oil and fry the onions gently on low heat until softened.  Add the tomato paste and stir whilst still cooking for around 1 minute.

Chuck the broad beans and the peas in the pan, over the onions, and pour enough water to cover them.  Bring the water to the boil and continue cooking the vegetables for approximately 15 minutes, taking care that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate completely.

Add more water (approximately 1-1.5 litres, according to how much dense you’d wish the soup to be, or how much you’d like to stretch the recipe for more servings), the sugar and the salt and pepper and bring to the boil again.

Add the pasta in and continue boiling for another 15 minutes, stirring every now and then so as the pasta won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Carefully crack the eggs into the soup close to the surface, taking care not to break or overlap them. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes without stirring.

Turn off the heat and leave to stand covered for that hour or so.

Reheat if needed and serve, putting an egg on the top of the soup in each plate.

Enjoy!

Salmon Head and Tail Soup

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Light and healthy, packed with Omega-3 and not discarding anything from such a magnificent fish!  Also so easy and quick to do with no extra oil or frying involved except from the natural oil of the same salmon.

This recipe is derived from our traditional fish soup, which I tweaked up, as usual!

Serves 4 abundantly

Ingredients

1 salmon head and tail

1 large onion, sliced

About 2 tablespoonfuls chopped, fresh mint

1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes

1 fish stock cube

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

water

150g white, long grain rice

lemon wedges, for squeezing and decorating

Method

In a large pot put the sliced onion and the chopped mint and pour enough water to just cover them.  Bring to the boil and cook until the onions are almost soft and the liquid evaporated, adding more water as needed if things dry up before.

Add around 1-1.5 litres of water (depending on how dense you’d wish the soup to be), the chopped tomatoes, the fish cube, the sugar and the salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil again and carefully dip in the salmon head and tail.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully scoop the fish out and leave it to cool for a little while until good enough to handle.  Add the rice to the pot whilst the liquid is still boiling, lower the heat and simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes until the rice is completely cooked.

In the meantime pull any meat away from the carcasses and flake, taking care not to leave in any bones.

When the rice is cooked, take the pot off the heat and add the flaked salmon.  Stir and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Squeeze some lemon juice into each soup plate and pour the soup in to serve.  I don’t mind leaving the squeezed lemon wedge in the soup to give it even more flavour!  Decorate with another lemon wedge if you wish.

Enjoy!

Dorado (Dolphin-fish, Lampuki, Mahi-mahi) cooked in Wine

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Simple, quick and healthy.  No frying, baking or preparing sauces … just toss everything in a saucepan and let the fish cook for just a few minutes, just in time to absorb some wine and seasoning.  Ideal for those busy days or when you lack energy!  Obviously, the best thing is to have the fish already cleaned and filleted for you by the fishmonger!

Normally, and in earlier days, fresh rosemary sprigs and peppercorns were tied into a muslin bag.  This can surely be done just the same but, if you don’t mind some rosemary bits and peppercorns remaining attached to the fish and falling into your plate like me, take this lazy approach of mine! 🙂

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium Dorado fish (Lampuki), cleaned and filleted and cut into pieces, the size of your liking

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

300ml red wine

150ml water

salt

Method

Put the fish pieces in a large pan and add all the other ingredients.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the fish is cooked, making sure that you don’t overcook it.

Remove the fish from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve immediately with a fresh salad, discarding everything else.  A good dollop of tartar sauce won’t harm!

As easy as that!

Enjoy!

Meaty Pasta Pie

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Fancy some comfort food on a cold, wintry day!?  This recipe is a hybrid between our country’s traditional pasta bake and pasta pie (“timpana” as we call it), as I use the kind of sauce taken from one recipe and the idea of enclosing the pasta in pastry taken from the other.  Only that I like to skimp a bit on the amount of pastry used, as I don’t totally enclose the filling, with a layer of pastry underneath and another one over the top, but I only cover the top.  I also tend to sometimes tweak the sauce according to what could please me or what I’d have available on the day and, frankly, measurements can be varied too, as long as the combining ingredients would be enough to hold things together!  So, feel free to experiment!

In this recipe I used a ready rolled round puff pastry sheet, so I had to use a round baking tin measuring 26cm in diameter.  If you’d have a rectangular pastry sheet, feel free to use a rectangular dish according to the size.  The following amounts are the ones I used to end up with the result in the picture.

Serves 6-8 persons

Ingredients

500g pasta (I used ridged penne in this recipe but ridged macaroni are ideal too)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 slices of back bacon, cut into small pieces

3 cloves peeled and crushed garlic

400g minced beef

1 beef stock cube

1 Italian stock cube or the equivalent of Italian seasoning

2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste

Worcestershire sauce

1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes

half a glass of water

Salt and pepper

4 eggs, lightly beaten

50g grated Parmesan cheese

1 ready rolled puff pastry sheet

Beaten egg for brushing

Method

Grease the baking tin or dish that you would be using with a little bit of butter.

Heat some vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and bacon gently in it until the onions start to become translucent.  Add the minced beef and garlic, stir, and cook until the meat is browned.  Liberally add dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the tomato paste and the stock cubes/seasoning and stir for a minute or so whilst still cooking.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the water and season with salt and pepper.  Stir and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente and drain.  Mix the sauce into the pasta and let the mixture cool again.

Add the beaten eggs and the cheese to the pasta mixture and mix well.  Transfer and press contents into the prepared baking tin and level the top.  Cover with the pastry sheet and seal against the edges of the tin, decorating the top with any pastry trimmings.

Prick the pastry and brush with the beaten egg.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C (375°F) for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Let stand for a few minutes, cut and serve!

Enjoy!

 

Wholemeal, Lemony Spaghetti with Surimi and Vegetables

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A fresh, colourful and easy recipe that’s meat-free but substantially satisfying just the same!

Influenced by various recipes I came across, this is what I’ve come up with to meet our personal taste-buds!  The only thing that one might take into consideration is to try and take some time to slice the vegetables thinly and lengthwise to camouflage themselves with the spaghetti shape, both for aesthetical and kid-friendly reasons!

Serves 4-6 persons

Ingredients

500g wholemeal spaghetti

1 large onion, diced

¼ cup (I use a 250ml cup) chopped, fresh basil

1 large courgette (cut into julienne or the nearest to resemble thin strips, as shown in the picture!)

1 jarred sweet, red pepper cut into long, thin strips (in this recipe I used some of the contents of a jar of sweet, red peppers in vinegar, as this was what I had at hand and it worked really well too!)

250g surimi (artificial crab sticks), also cut into thin strips

1 cup dry, white wine

2 cups water

1 chicken stock cube

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornflour

2 tablespoons light butter

4 drops Tabasco

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method

Combine wine, water, chicken cube, chopped onions and basil into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and leave uncovered until reduced by half.

Strain the liquid concoction and return to the same saucepan, discarding the onion and the basil.  Drop in the two tablespoons of butter and stir to melt whilst bringing to the boil again.  Mix the cornflour with the lemon juice and add to the liquid mixture just as it boils.  Simmer for about two minutes, stirring continuously until it thickens slightly.  Add some freshly ground black pepper and the Tabasco and remove from the heat.  Cover the pan.

Cook the wholemeal pasta as per package instructions, only keeping the time well to be able to throw in the julienne of courgette two minutes before the complete cooking time, so as it could be blanched in the same water the pasta would be cooking in for those last couple of minutes.  In the meantime, stir gently to incorporate the courgette strips into the spaghetti.

Drain the spaghetti well, along with the courgette, and return to the pasta pot.  Add the sliced, sweet red pepper, the surimi, the sauce and the fresh parsley.  Stir gently and well not worrying about the sauce being too runny, as this could be spooned over the pasta when plated to add to the freshness.

Serve immediately, even though it’s also good when eaten cold, with some more freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

 

Marbled Hard-boiled Eggs

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Colourful, marbled hard-boiled eggs that can also be stuffed with your favourite stuffing.  Ideal to entertain kids and also as a pretty appetizer on Easter Day or on any other occasion!

I know that there are many versions of these found on the web but it’s been a while since I wished to try this experiment and give it a go!  I love everything that’s stained glass or marble so maybe that’s why these are so appealing to my eyes, apart from my arty side!  So here goes!

For this experiment I only used 4 eggs but any amount can be used according to how many you’d wish to have.

The trickiest part for me was peeling the eggs, as they were freshly bought, hence making it more difficult to remove the shell pieces, which tend to remain stuck without making an indentation when trying to remove them!  The green one at the top right of my picture is a perfect example of a stubborn egg!  This notwithstanding, I was very pleased with my first attempt! 🙂

Items needed:

Eggs

Food colouring (I used the paste version in this one)

Containers to dye the eggs in

Water

Method:

Put the eggs in a pan large enough to hold them all and to cover them completely with cold water.  Bring to a rolling boil whilst leaving the pan uncovered, cover the pan and turn off the heat.  Leave in the covered pan for around 17 minutes and not less.  Rinse immediately under cold water until good to handle.

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Tap the eggs gently on your work surface to form cracks all around, paying a bit of attention not to have any shell pieces fall off as much as possible.  Don’t worry if there’d be some tiny bits (as shown in the picture below) … they’d add to the feature … but it’s better to avoid big, empty spots, which would then result in large blobs of colour after tinting.

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Fill a number of containers, according to how many colours you would like to have, with water, enough to cover the eggs completely.  Drop small amounts of food colouring until your desired colour tone is reached … the darkest the better but then not that dark that it resembles black!

For mine I used a dark tone of green and red and two large, glass jars.  But bowls, or any other suitable container whatsoever, could be used.

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Immerse the eggs gently in the containers (using a tablespoon to slide them in would be of much help) and leave to soak in the colour for 30 minutes.  Rinse the eggs well under running water.

Carefully, remove the shell, hopefully not having those kind of eggs at hand that would give you a hard time like the ones I had, and voilà!

Now, you can either leave them whole or cut in half, scoop the yolks and fill them with your favourite stuffing!

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Enjoy the fun!

Spinach and Feta Plait

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A scone-like plait ideal to serve as a side plate with a bowl of vegetable soup or even on its own.  It’s definitely easier to make than it seems … no yeast … no proofing … but it’s better made close to serving, though!

For me, this particular season, almost marking the end of winter with spring just around the corner, simply calls for this kind of recipe!  It’s been a while since I’ve made one … maybe that’s why the slip of paper, on which this recipe was written down, just popped up in front of my eyes, making itself more evident than the others!

The recipe yields approximately 10 slices

Ingredients

500g spinach (always to make things easy I use 500g of frozen spinach, let it thaw and squeeze the excess moisture from it)

a knob of butter (the lighter version is always better)

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

300g self-raising flour

80g grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup (I use a 250ml cup) chopped fresh basil

150g crumbled feta cheese

250ml skimmed milk

Method

Grease an oven tray with a little butter.

Heat the knob of butter in a pan and add the finely chopped onion and the oregano.  When they start sizzling, lower the heat and cook gently until the onion is soft.  Add the prepared spinach, increase the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly, until all the liquid evaporates.  Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese, the basil, the ground black pepper, the cold spinach mixture and three-quarters of the crumbled feta cheese.  Pour enough milk in, little by little, mixing until all the ingredients are just incorporated and ending up with a sticky dough.

Cover your work surface well with flour and turn the dough onto it.  Knead well until smooth, always adding flour to the surface, as much as needed, and coating your hands with the same flour during the process to avoid the dough sticking to your fingers, rubbing them clean every now and then.

Cut the dough into three pieces and roll into sausages (approximately 35cm in length).

Place the three sausages of dough onto the greased oven tray next to each other and gently plait together, neatening the ends as required.

Sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese and bake into the preheated oven for about 40 minutes.

Cut and serve whilst still warm … it should have a crust underneath and at the top and be moist in the inside.

Enjoy!