Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boureki - Potato and Courgette Lasagna

I've decided to use food to trick my body into thinking that it's summer instead of winter. Today instead of making typical winter foods like soup, stew or just comfort food, I've decided to make a dish that I've only had once before, on the island of Crete, when it was gorgeous, sunny and warm outside. To me this recipe tastes of the sunny days and cool nights of Crete in April. The typical Boureki recipe is made with either filo dough or a pastry crust but I've found that making it this way gives virtually the same taste but is infinitely easier!

Easy Boureki
3 courgettes/zucchini
2 large potatoes peeled
1 leek sliced in 1/4 inch semi circles
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup minced mint
3 tablespoons minced coriander (cilantro)
2 eggs
1 250g container of ricotta
1 200g package feta cheese
3/4 cup olive oil (yes seriously...it's good for you!*)
1/4 cup water

Thinly chop all the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the flour. Using your hand toss everything in the bowl to make sure they are coated with flour. Add the garlic, mint, coriander, eggs, cheeses and olive oil to the bowl and mix with your hands until the eggs and cheese are equally spread throughout the vegetables. Pour mixture into an oiled lasagna dish. Press down on the vegetable mixture with your hands to pack the mixture into the dish. Drizzle the water on the top of the vegetable mixture.

Cook in a 170 degree C (340 F) oven. Do not put in a hotter oven than 180 C or 350F because the olive oil will oxidize and lose it's healthy benefits! Cook for 1.25 -1.5 hours.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
Active time 15-20 minutes
Total time: 1.75-2 hours

*Olive oil has been shown to lower cholesterol, is an anti inflammatory, helps prevent gastric ulcers. Also people who use olive oil in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=132#healthbenefits

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stir Fried Crab with Soba Noodles

I spent most of today studying nutrition; reading about shellfish and essential fatty acids, and ultimately getting hungrier by the moment. I do love fish, but I wasn't brought up in a family that ate fish regularly (or at all for that matter.) Therefore I usually struggle to know exactly how to cook fish properly. Today I was determined that I was going to try something different and make a simple seafood dish. So around noon I headed to the local fishmonger, only to find that it was closed on Sundays. A few more minutes of walking and I found myself at Waitrose. I scoured the fish counter, freezer section and then the canned fish section and brought home 1 can of lump white crab meat and determined that I would find a nutritious recipe that used that 1 can of crab meat and made a full meal.

Stir Fried Crab with Soba Noodles
1 portion of Soba Noodles (they usually come 3 portions to a package)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger
1/2 red pepper roughly chopped
3 salad onions chopped into rounds, keep the green part separate from the whites
80 grams (about 1/2 cup) mange tout (snow peas) chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 can crab white meat drained
Juice from 1/2 an orange
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce (tamari soy sauce has a richer flavor than regular soy sauce so you need less of it)
red pepper flakes to taste

Boil 1 liter of water and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to it. Cook the Soba noodles for 5 -6 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse them in cold water. Keep them in cold water until you are ready to use.

Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and add the garlic and ginger on medium heat. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the mange tout, red peppers and the white parts of the salad onions. Saute for another 2 minutes or until the mange tout are cooked but still crunchy. Stir in the crab meat. Add the soy sauce and orange juice to the pan. Turn the heat down to low. Add the cooked soba noodles and heat until everything is hot.

Sprinkle with the green part of the the salad onions and serve with red pepper flakes.

Serves 2
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Active time: 9 minutes

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Maine Pumpkin Bread

I've been playing with this recipe since October and today I've finally nailed it! I think I've bought every can of pumpkin in Southwest London with my attempts to recreate the divine pumpkin muffins I had in Bar Harbor, Maine, this past September.

This recipe makes a huge loaf and 6 muffins or 3 7x3 loafs. It freezes really well and actually tastes better the day after it's made.

Maine Pumpkin Bread
4 eggs
1/2 cup walnut oil (or vegetable oil)
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 can of mashed pumpkin
1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp groung nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3.5 cups of self rising light brown flour

Heat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and butter the loaf pans.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and oil. Add the sugar pumpkin and molasses to the mixture. (tip: heat the molasses for 20 seconds in the microwave so it is pourable then measure it in the same cup as the oil to reduce sticking) Stir in the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add the flour. The batter will be very thick.

Spoon the batter into the pans and cook for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the bread comes out without any batter stuck to it.

Turkey Jambalaya

2 weekends ago I held my annual British Thanksgiving dinner, with the world's largest turkey as the main course! Every year after everyone has gone home stuffed from the thanksgiving dinner, I get to work cutting up the leftovers and making a meaty turkey stock that I can use with risottos and soups. To be honest after all that is done, I'm usually so sick of turkey that the last thing that I want is something that tastes like turkey leftovers. This year I discovered a new recipe and it is now my favorite way to use the left over turkey stock and turkey meat.

Spicy Turkey Jambalaya
1 1/2 cups of brown rice
3 cups of turkey stock
1/2 cup of cooked turkey
6 creole sausages (if you can't find creole use plain and add 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder 1/8 teaspoon paprika)
1/2 an onion roughly chopped
2 portabello mushrooms roughtly chopped
1/3 cup of frozen sliced peppers (or 1 roughly chopped green pepper)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 courgette roughly chopped

Boil the turkey stock and add the rice and turkey to it. Turn the heat down to low and cook until all the water has evaporated and the rice is soft (about 30 minutes) Remove the sausage meat from the casings and brown it in a large pot. Add the onion, mushrooms and peppers to the sausage meat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and the rice to the large pot. Bring to a low boil. Add the courgette and cook a further 5 minutes.

Serves 4
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Active time: 10 minutes