Bucatini con strisce di carne

A little Italian inspired dish that proved quite a success! I used an artesanal Italian pasta called “bucatini con archetto” – a little bit like spaghetti but thicker. Just wonderful.

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For two servings
1- Cook the bucatini as indicated in the package (about 250 gr. or a little more than 100 gr. per serving).
2- Meanwhile, place 200 gr. of high quality sirloin cut in strips on a plate and sprinkle with salt and freshly crushed pepper.
3- In a bowl, place a few cherry tomatoes cut in half with some crushed garlic, salt and olive oil.
4- Once the pasta is done and draining, place the beef strips on a pan with a drop of olive oil. Keep the flame on high and sauté the strips. It should take less than 10 minutes.

To serve: Place the bucatini on a deep plate, place some strips, the tomatoes, some arugula leaves, shavings of Parmigiano and finish with a few drops of Balsamic vinegar and freshly crushed pepper.

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Fresh tuna with mango and avocado

A really nice way to prepare fresh Tuna and I love the colour combination. Make sure all the ingredients are fresh.

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1- Sprinkling the fresh tuna filet with black pepper and let it stand for about 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
2- For the topping, mix in a bowl: mango (I like to use the non fibrous kind), cucumber, avocado, red onions (sliced), grated fresh ginger root, fresh mint (and/or cilantro), lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well and set aside.
3- In a pan, place a little bit of olive oil and cook the tuna turning it over just once. I like to take it out of the pan mid-way and cut it in slices than return the slices to the pan. Make sure the inside remains almost raw so that the fish stays juicy and tender.

To serve: simply top the fish with the mango and avocado mix and place a little more on the side. I served it with plain Jasmine rice. Enjoy! 

Potatoes Persian style with prunes and dried apricots

Oh this is delicious! And the aroma while it cooks is simply divine! And frankly, it changes from the usual potatoes in the oven. You can make it as a side dish or as a main one, serving it with yoghurt and cucumber.

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For 500 gr of baby potatoes
1- Wash the potatoes. Place them in a large pan in cold water and cook until you can insert a fork into them.
2- In an oven dish, place one teaspoon of coriander seeds, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoon of coarsely grounded black pepper, half a stick of cinnamon and some salt. Add a tablespoon of Saffron liquid, two tablespoons of olive oil and two chopped garlic cloves. Mix it all well.
3- Once the potatoes are done, let them cool down. Then cut them in four pieces (half then half) and place them in the oven pan. Mix it all until all the pieces of potatoes are covered with the spice mixture.
4- Add dried apricots and prunes cut in pieces. The quantity is really up to you! Mix well again to make sure the potatoes and the dried fruits are well coated with the spice mixture.
5- Place in a 200º c oven for 20 minutes covered.
6- Serve topped with fresh mint.

Enjoy! I like it as a main meal with a side of yoghurt with cucumber and mint

Ground beef Persian style with potatoes and raisins

This is a delicious dish filled with flavours and textures. The raisins and the use of Adviyeh spices give a wonderful sweet and tangy feel, balanced by the small potatoes. It is also easy to make.

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For 500 gr of ground beef
1- Boil 500 gr of small potatoes. Just wash, leave the skin on and place them in cold water then on the stove. Cook until a fork can penetrate them.
2- In the meantime in a large pan, place some olive oil, four garlic cloves smashed, a bit of fresh ginger root also smashed and three teaspoons of the Persian spice mix Adviyeh. Mix well.
3- Once the garlic and the spices start giving out their aroma, add about four tomatoes cut roughly and mix again. Then add the ground beef, a generous handful of raisins and a bunch of fresh cilantro chopped.
4- Mix and cover. Let it cook on low fire for about 20 minutes. Mix from time to time.
5- When the potatoes are ready, let them cool a little. Then cut them in four parts (half then half) and mix with the ground beef.
6- Let it cook another 10 minutes or so covered.

Serve with a side of plain yoghurt and a fresh salad such as cucumber with tomatoes, or tomatoes with fresh mint

Pasta Bolognese with lots of carrots

This was just perfect on an especially cold January day. I added a whole bunch of carrots, giving it a wonderful sweet taste.

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For 500 gr of high quality lean ground beef.
1- Place some olive oil in a large pot and add four garlic cloves crushed and one small red onion chopped.
2- When the onion pieces start to wilt and the garlic gives its aroma, add three carrots chopped in cubes, one kilo of tomatoes cut in large pieces, one generous tablespoon of brown sugar, three sprigs of rosemary (I cut them from a plant at home) and some crushed pepper. Do not add salt or the Bolognese will turn very liquid once you add the meat. Mix well.
3- Add the ground beef and mix again. Cook for about 25 minutes on low fire mixing from time to time. I like to keep it covered than uncover it for the last 10 minutes or so. That way it acquires just the right consistency.

Serve with pasta (here Fettucine all’uovo) and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano or as I did today Romano. I like to add hot chili peppers on my plate, such as chile chipotle.

Tunisian inspired soup with pasta and chickpeas

This is just the perfect hearty soup for a cold January night.

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For four servings (generous of course!)
1- In a deep pan, fry half a red onion cut in small cubes in a some olive oil.
2- When the onions get to be translucent, add a little bit of fresh ginger root cut in small pieces along with the pulp of three tomatoes (grate them and discard the skin), a teaspoon of black pepper grinded, one and half teaspoon of cumin, a third of a stick of cinnamon, one tablespoon of Saffron liquid, some salt and a handful of cilantro chopped.
3- Mix well and once it starts to boil add enough water (or vegetable broth) to accommodate the pasta.
4- When that mixture is boiling, add 250 gr (half a box) of pasta. I used Farfalle, and any short pasta should do. Return to a boil and let the pasta cook at ease. If you need to add water, do so.
5- Once the pasta is cooked, take out the cinnamon piece and discard it. Add 200 gr (about a cup) of cooked chickpeas along with the juice of one lime. Let it boil for about five minutes.

Serve very warm. I added some Chile Chipotle on my serving and it was delicious!

Ground beef with tomatoes Persian style

This is a wonderful dish generally prepared with ground lamb. The flavours are very subtle.

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For 500 gr of lean ground beef:
1- In a deep pan with a few drops of olive oil, cook half a red onion cut in small pieces. When they start getting translucent, add three cloves of garlic sliced, a little bit of fresh ginger root sliced, half a tablespoon of brown sugar, and two teaspoons of the Persian spice mix Advyeh. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.
2- Add four tomatoes cut in cubes and mix. Then add the ground beef and a handful of fresh cilantro chopped. Mix well. Add one tablespoon of Saffron liquid and mix again.
3- Cover and let it cook for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serve it with white rice and some green vegetables or yoghurt with cucumber. I served it with white Basmati rice cooked with raisins, and a topping of avocado. 

Tagliatelle bicolore con pomodori e pancetta

A colourful pasta with the nice added flavour of Pancetta.

Pancetta is an Italian type of bacon with black pepper. I could not find it here in San Miguel so I used organic bacon, which proved to be as delicious.

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For two servings of Tagliatelle
1- Cook the Pancetta (or bacon) in a heavy pan until nice and crispy.
2- Take away the strips and leave any piece that may be just fat. Add four tomatoes cut in cubes and a teaspoon of black pepper crushed. Let it cook stirring from time to time.
3- Make sure you remove the excess fat on the fried strips of pancetta with a paper towel. Cut them in small pieces. Set aside.
4- Cook the pasta.
5- In a bowl, mix freshly grated Parmigiano with dried herbs of choice. I used oregano and mint. Set aside.

To serve: Mix the pasta with the tomato sauce and serve in a deep plate. Add some of the Pancetta on top and some Parmigiano mix around it.

Salmon Palestinian style

A lovely fish recipe inspired by a Palestinian recipe from this marvellous book “The Palestinian Table” a gift I received for Christmas. There are no salmon in the Mediterranean and the recipe is usually made with white fish, but I found it worked perfectly with fresh salmon. I served it with plain pasta (farfalle) and a side of sliced avocado. You can also serve it with white rice and a salad of choice.

For two filets of fresh salmon:
1- In a baking dish place the dry spices: one teaspoon each of black paper crushed, cumin and cilantro seeds crushed; the seeds of seven cardamon pods and half a stick of cinnamon.

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2- Add some fresh ginger root crushed and garlic.
3- Add two tomatoes cut in cubes and one lime sliced with each slice cut in half. Remember to take away the seeds.
4- Add just a bit of olive oil and mix.

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5- Place the salmon filets in the dish and cover with the mixture.
6- Cover with aluminium foil (make a few holes to allow the steam to escape) and bake gently for 15 to 20 minutes in a 200º c. oven.

Enjoy!

Pâté de foie gras et confiture de figues

Happy New Year!

Pâté de foie gras is a typical French treat often served to celebrate the New Year. Personally, I actually like it any time of the year. The best way to prepare is simply to place it on toast and add something sweet on the side. It helps attenuate its strong taste.

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You can place anything sweet like a chutney, preserves. jam or something simple like dates or raisin. Here, I served it on toasted baguette slices with fig jam on the side (recipe here). And avocado salad completed it.