It’s always nice when spring comes and you can find more and more varieties of vegetables that don’t come from another continent where they have probably travelled for weeks. It’s asparagus season and I can’t find any reason not to enjoy it. I love the classic combination of asparagus and egg, but it’s always nice to taste and try out other combinations too. This week decided I’d have my asparagus with a tangy vinaigrette and a little cheese to make it richer.
The ancient Greeks and Romans already used the technique of mixing vinegar and oil to dress vegetables. The term ‘vinaigrette’ came much later. In the English language, it was in 1699 that John Evelin is thought to be the first to write about the cold sauce in his book Acetaria (source: http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/SaladDressing/Vinaigrette-History.htm ).
Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut and Rosemary Dressing
Recipe for 2 people:
Prep.Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 5 min
3tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1tsp rosemary leaves
1 ½ tbsp hazelnut oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp gruyere flakes
1 ½ tbsp dry roasted hazelnuts
Heat a griddle pan or if you don’t have one use a normal non stick pan.
Pour 2 tsp of olive oil on the asparagus and make sure they are evenly coated. Add salt and pepper.
Place the asparagus in the heated pan and let them colour for 3-6 min (this will depend on the size of the asparagus). Turn the asparagus on the other side and brown for another 3-6 min.
In a blender put the peeled garlic clove with the rosemary and mix. Place the blended ingredients in a bowl and add the hazelnut oil, the tsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and the salt and pepper. Mix.
Roughly chop the hazelnuts.
Plate the asparagus and while it is still warm pour the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle over the cheese flakes and the chopped hazelnuts. Serve with some fresh bread.
Incredibly this week it felt like summer; after so many days of rain we finally had sun and the thermometer showed more than 25 °C. Everyone I met was in a good mood. And what screams summer more than fresh green zucchini? This is one of my favourite veggies and you can just do so much with them. This week I wanted to make something which is somewhere comfortable but light and breaded zucchini was something that felt right.
Breading food is such an old recipe that the first recipes found where the technique of breading was used dates back to the roman times, about 1 century BC. This first recipe of pounded meat cooked with breading is said to be influenced by Apicus: the gourmet of roman times. The recipe spread through Europe and stale bread would take a tasty role in the kitchen (source: www.kitchenproject.com/history/Schnitzel/ ).
Light Breaded Zucchini Recipe
Recipe for 4 people as a side dish.
Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 12min
2 medium sized zucchini
7 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp thinly chopped dry roasted pine nuts
3 good tbsp grated hard goat cheese
2 tbsp Thyme leaves
small ½ tsp garlic powder
4-6 tbsp yogurt
Cut the zucchini to an angle and into slices of about 1 cm thick.
In a bowl mix the bread crumbs, the chopped pine nuts, the thyme,cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix and rub the ingredients together to blend the flavours.
In another bowl put some yogurt; coat a zucchini slice on both sides and shake off the excess (you can also do it with a brush if you want). Then, take the slice and coat it with the breadcrumb mixture on both sides. Make sure the breading covers well the whole surface of the zucchini. Repeat with each slice.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and brown the zucchini slices on both sides; about 4 minutes per side. Make sure the slices are well separated, in case there is not enough space, cook in more batches. Serve
While I was doing my groceries I passed in front of the discounted Easter chocolate bunnies and I felt an urge for chocolate. Normally I try to avoid looking at those guilty pleasures but once in a while I allow myself. I ended up getting a couple of dark chocolate bars to make some cookies. The biscuit and/or cookie is actually a very old recipe which was invented for practical purposes: such food could be carried around and could be easily stored. Because of its practicality, the recipe was very popular among sailors, even back during the Egyptian and Roman times.
Chocolate Almond and Orange Cookies
Makes about 14 cookies
Prep time: 10-15 min
Cooking time: 8 min
200g dark chocolate
¼ tsp bicarbonate
Pinch of salt
80g soft butter
Zest of a small orange
Heat oven at 180°C.
Melt half of the chocolate in a bain-marie and roughly chop the rest of the chocolate into chocolate chip size.
Mix the flour, the bicarbonate and the pinch of salt.
Mix the soft butter and the sugar, add the eggs and the melted chocolate.
Add the flour, bicarbonate and salt to the rest. Do not stop mixing.
Add the ground almonds, the chopped chocolate and the orange zest. Mix with a spoon.
Take tbsp sizes and put them on a couple baking trays covered with baking paper. Put some distance between portions, the cookies widen quite a bit. Cover them with more baking paper and flatten them (either with another baking tray or by hand).
Place in the oven for about 8 min. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them harden for a couple of minutes.
This week I was diving into the fridge to see what I could cook and my eyes fell on some beetroots; it was some time I had not used beetroots: that would be my inspiration for the day. The first time I made this recipe it was for a dinner party and that was my first course; this time instead, I chose to make it as a light and coloured lunch dish. After all the Easter chocolate bunnies and cakes and little treats I need a little lightness. Continue reading
Earthy and with such a wonderful colour, the beetroot is a beauty of a veg. I was looking up some information about beetroot and I found a very interesting site about the beetroot and its history. There are a lot of other historical references so if anyone wants to check it out go to: http://www.lovebeetroot.co.uk/history/
Have a nice weekend.
Roasted beetroot with goat cheese and horseradish cream
Recipe for 2
Time: 15 min
500g cooked beetroots cut into chunks
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
80g fresh goat cheese
1 ½ tbsp jarred grated horseradish
1½ tbsp fresh thyme
8-10 toasted walnut kernels
Heat oil in a pan and add the beetroots. Add salt and pepper and let them quickly roast over a medium high heat for 4-5 min. Remove from heat.
In a bowl soften the goat cheese crushing it with a fork. Add the horseradish, the thyme, the ½ tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper.
Roughly chop the walnut kernels.
On each plate spoon the goat cheese mix then add the beetroots and finally sprinkle over the walnuts and serve with fresh brown bread.