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Archive for the ‘mediteranean’ Category

Risotto with peas, marrows and sundried tomato

I always thought of risotto as a fussy, difficult to make dish. It was Jamie Oliver, eventually, who persuaded me to give it a go, thanks to the effortless way he makes everything seem so do-able. And he was right. The only real skill you need for risotto is patience. It’s going to take a half an hour of your time while you sit over the pan stirring, and everything else will be fine. Don’t think you can quickly do this or that while it cooks. Now I love making risotto. It’s a dish that can be both fresh and comforting. For this one I used the ingredients I’d bought earlier that day at the Organic Farmers Market at the park: peas still in the pod and two plump, shiny marrows, one yellow, one green and a very fragrant bunch of sage.

The other things I picked up were a fresh tomato, which tasted nothing like any watery, tasteless tomato I’ve ever bought here in Canada. This one was so enticingly fragrant, so delicately flavoured and sweet, that putting a slice in your mouth made you close your eyes and savour every little morsel. Then I found a quart of wild blueberries, which again are nothing like their mass grown, store bought counterparts. Like fat and pimply troll next to a delicate, pretty elf. I’ve made a blueberry pie for the weekend in the country!

Pea and Marrow Risotto with Sundried Tomatopeas-in-pod-single.jpg

1 – 2 marrows cut into thin strips
1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
Handful fresh sage, chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar in ± 80 ml of water

4 cups fresh chicken stock, warmed
about 1 cup fresh peas
180 – 125ml grated Parmegiano cheese
S + P

– heat oil and butter in a large, heavy based pan. Sauté marrows with sage until tender. Remove from pan and keep warm.

– sauté onion, shallot and garlic until translucent. Add more olive oil if needed but don’t let the garlic brown (it turns bitter)

– add rice and tomato to pan and cook, stirring continuously until rice begins to turn translucent at the edges.

– add vinegar water and stir until it’s all been absored.

– add ½ cup warm stock and stir until absorbed. Keep adding stock in quantities of about 1 cup, stirring, and only adding more once the previous has been absorbed. About half an hour. Add peas with last bit of liquid.
– when all liquid has been absorbed stir in cheese, leaving some for a garnish.

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Eggplant with Sicilian Salsa

I never new much about eggplants growing up. The reason, I found out when my parents visited us here in Toronto a while ago and I was doing all the cooking, is that my Dad abhors this beautiful, delicately flavoured fruit and so we never had it in the house. Oh, the disappointment of not being able to make my Iranian Eggplant and lentil stew, flavoured with pomegranate and fresh mint for them during their time here.

It was the colour of the skin which first attracted me to the eggplant a few years ago.  That rich, almost black shade of purple, so mysterious and reminiscent of stories of Arabian Nights and Vincent’s Starry Sky. I  tried a bunch of things with the Aubergine, fumbling around for a while not knowing what to do with it.  Do you eat it raw?  Do you put it in a stir fry?  Until I got to know it a bit better, did a bit of reading and discovered a few ways of turning it’s slightly rubbery, raw flesh into the creamy, flavoursome meal it can be.  I still hold hope that one day, perhaps, I’ll be able to twist me ol’ Dad’s arm and make him change his mind about this yummy food.

Eggplant with Sicilian Salsa Sicilian salsa

1 large, firm eggplant, sliced into 1cm slices
Salt
Olive oil for frying

⅓ cup black nicoise, pitted
1½ Tbsp small capers
3 anchovy fillets
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1½ cups bottles tomato pasta sauce, heated

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

goats cheese

Polenta – made as per packet instructions and kept warm

– place slices of eggplant on paper towel and salt. Leave for half an hour to sweat. Dry with paper towel.

– place olives, capers, anchovy, shallot, garlic and thyme in a processor and blitz until finely chopped but not paste. Or chop all ingredients finely by hand and mix. Refrigerate for half and hour to allow flavour to develop.

– fry eggplant in olive oil in batches until lightly browned and tender. Add more oil as needed and drain on paper towel.

– place a serving of polenta on plate. Add a slice of eggplant, top with tomato sauce and repeatto use 3 or 4 slices of eggplant.

– top with about 1½ Tbsp goats cheese. Grill for 6 or 7 minutes under a hot grill, until cheese starts to bubble slightly.

– remove from oven and garnish well with salsa and pinenuts

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