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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Art

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“At the market,” part of the Nubian series by Tahia Halim (Egypt,1919-2003)
Via hwamsh.net.

Tahia Halim is one of my favourite modern expressionist painter. She was a pioneer in her mode of expression, and her work can be admired in many modern art museums and galleries around the world.

Art

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“Women Preparing Food” – Tomb of Djari (Thebes, al Assif), Egypt, dating from the Reign of Montuhotep II (Middle Kingdom Dynasty), ca. 2060–2010 B.C.
Via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Art

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Glass garland bowl from the Early Imperial Augustan Period, late First century BC – Roman Empire. (18.1 cm in diameter)
Via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Topkapi Imperial Kitchens

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Amazing kitchens of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. They have just been renovated and now the displays are really well done. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. Here is the link for a description of the project and more photos: TEGET.

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!

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!

Chicken in the oven with prunes, apples and lime

To be totally honest, I have rarely tasted such a delicious and buttery like chicken. The recipe is easy, trust me, it just takes a little bit of patience and it is all worth it.

This recipe is actually a little invention of mine inspired by an old French recipe for a traditional “Pintade de Noël” cooked in cider. I find that adding the lime was a perfect fit, and I avoided the cider completely. I also replaced the onions with garlic, and the thyme with rosemary since I have some growing at home.

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For one two-kg farm raised chicken:
1- Place the chicken in a baking dish and make a few openings with the point of a knife. Make them deep but not wide.
2- Sprinkle with olive oil, some butter, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Then work the chicken with that mix. Do not forget the inside.
3- Peel and slice four garlic cloves. Place the pieces in the openings you have made in the chicken and some inside of it.
4- Place in a oven cold, then light the oven at 220º c. Leave the chicken uncovered. Let it cook for 30 minutes.

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5- In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix six small organic apples peeled and cut in chunks, twelve prunes without the pit and cut roughly, one lime sliced (take out the seeds), one generous tablespoon of organic honey, and about 150 ml of water. Mix.

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6- Take the chicken out of the oven after 30 minutes and poor the apple mix on top. Cover with aluminium foil. Make sure to make a few holes in the foil so that the steam is let out while the chicken cooks.
7- Place back in the oven and cook for another hour and 15 minutes or so. (Should you be using a bigger chicken just calculate about 20 minutes per half a kilogram.)
8- After 30 minutes, take out the chicken and poor some water while basking the chicken with the apple mixture.
9- What I like to do, and that is optional, is after one hour cut the chicken in pieces (legs, wings, breasts) and return the chicken for another 15 minutes covered with the foil.
10- If you want to leave the chicken whole, just let it cook.

Serve immediately. I simply served it with white Basmati rice. Enjoy!