Although it`s raining outside and you still need gloves in the morning, the summer has entered our kitchen and dining room. This is the time for local asparagus, rhubarb, and green leaves, including spinach. I find fresh spinach rather blunt, and when overcooked, it does not look very appealing either. For me, the right way is just blanching it, like in this hearty yet fresh tasting soup.
Allow several hours to prepare it unless you have the stock ready. 30-minute rule does not apply until June, since I`m at home with a baby and have the time for cooking.
1. Beef stock. Cover the beef with cold water. Bring to boiling, then discard the water. Cover the beef with fresh water and bring to boiling again. While it simmers, prepare aroma herbs and vegetables in a gauze wrap, adding some black pepper corns. Put the wrap in the simmering water, add sea salt. Continue simmering at least an hour, preferably more. In the end, discard the aroma wrap and lift out the beef.
2. Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes. Add to the stock. Chop the cooked beef, add to the pot as well. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the spinach (discard the hard stalks). When carrots and potatoes are soft, add spinach and take the pot off the stove. The soup is ready; serve with boiled eggs.
Hardly a few days since the last post, and already another one…
Another curry with coconut milk
If you like nutty curries as much as I do, you have to try this one: peanut butter AND coconut milk. To round it up with more nuts, choose plain yoghurt with maple syrup, cinnamon and walnuts for the dessert.
For the curry (about 6 servings), you`ll need:
pork, chopped bite-size, 500 g
red curry paste, 3 spoons
peanut butter, 2 spoons
brown sugar, 1 spoon
vegetable stock, 1 cup
low-fat coconut milk, 1 can of 400 g
deep-frozen cauliflower florets, a package of 250 g
palm hearts, a can of 400 g
juice of half-lemon
Fry the pork for 5 minutes to seal the juices. Add chopped spring onions and fry another minute. Add curry paste and peanut butter, then the sugar. Cover with stock and coconut oil, add the cauliflower, bring to boiling and simmer for some 10 minutes. Cut palm hearts, add to the sauce and heat through. Stir in lemon juice and serve with rice.
For one of the next posts, I`ll try out David Lebovitz recipes from his “Sweet Life in Paris”. A brilliant book, recommended by my sister who`s much more into desserts than me. Even if you choose to skip the dessert recipes, the book charms with its witty and accurate description of the Parisian lifestyle and some appealing ideas for non-sweet dishes. Breastfeeding a baby means a lot of time for reading:)
Two weeks off, a festive season with guests and the last month of pregnancy: a valid excuse to indulge. I even baked a honey cake.
Tonight: a pork tenderloin in puff pastry and winter veggie curry with lentils, served with lettuce.
For the pork, you`ll need a piece of tenderloin, an onion, a package of puff pastry dough (not a healthy option, just for the occasion), salt, pepper, sugar, and thyme. Chop an onion and fry in some oil with sugar, salt, pepper and thyme. Spread over the dough. Fry the pork from all sides to seal the juices and wrap in the dough. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until cooked through.
Winter veggie and lentil curry: will work with any vegetables you have. I used carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes and celery root. Cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces. Chop an onion and a couple of garlic gloves. Fry each veggie (except potatoes) in a teaspoon of butter, then put in a pot and cover with stock. When boiling, add a couple of spoons of curry paste. Since I had red lentils that only need 10 minutes of cooking, I added them shortly before the vegetables became soft.
Fry the meat until just tender. Set aside. Fry the carrots. Add the orange juice and all the spices to the carrots in the pan or pot, add the fried meat and let simmer for some minutes. Serve with rice.
The original idea of the blog was to promote fast and healthy dinner ideas. However, I`ve been quite a lot at home lately which eliminates the need for “fast”, and pregnant, which has modified the concept of “healthy”. One of Christmas time specials in the local grocery stores is the duck. Although the kids were not too enthousiastic (one thought it looked like a frog, and the other suddenly decided that eating animals and birds is immoral), me and Sandis enjoyed the roast. 3 hours before dinner, prepare the duck. Peel and quarter 3 apples, slice half an orange. Mix with salt, cinnamon, and cardamon, and stuff the duck. For the glazing, mix mustard with honey and rub into the skin. Cover with foil, and the duck can go into the oven. After 2 hours (depending of the size of the duck), peel potatoes and turnips, cut into large chunks or slices. Mix some olive oil with salt and rosemary to coat the vegetables. Place in the oven, in one layer. Serve with fresh black radish.
This year, we have been enjoying the Halloween period with all sorts of Kürbis dishes. The hard-flesh Hokkaido pumpkins, the mild butternut squash, the melon-like spaghetti squash - whatever is offered in the grocery store and farmers` stands. The simplest way to enjoy cucurbita is roasting in the oven as a side-dish. Slice the pumpkin or squash. Crush a clove of garlic and/or rosemary and/or thyme and pepper, dilute with some oil. Cover the vegetable slices in the oil marinade and roast in the oven until soft. Serve with the main dish as side vegetables. Experiment with the spices, oils and cucurbita varieties.
The vegetable of October is pumpkin. Tonight: in both stew and the sauce. We had a Sunday roast with a vegetable stew and a pumpkin/mango/chili sauce. For the stew, you don`t really need a recipe. Take the vegetable roots you have and stew in the spices you like. It just cannot go wrong. I used a slice of a pumpkin, some savoy cabbage leftovers, carrots and potatoes. Fry a chopped onion, chili, cumin and mustard seeds. Add bite-size carrots and pumpkins, fry for some more minutes. Pour over water to cover, let simmer. In 5-10 minutes, add potatoes and savoy cabbage. Salt and cook until soft. Sauce: cut a slice of pumpkin into bite-size piecies. Roast in the oven until slightly brown. Place in a pot together with 1 mango, chopped, and a chopped fresh chili. Pour some water, add tumeric, and cook until soft. Blend.
Last night, we had a long late dinner with friends. “Late” means the kids were already in their beds:) 1. Savory muffins. In one bowl, mix 1 cup of wholegrain flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, and baking powder. Mix in grated carrots, feta, and chopped sundried tomatoes (or whatever you have in the fridge:)). In another boil, whisk 2 eggs with a tablespoon of brown sugar and a pinch of salt, add a cup of yogurt and some tablespoons of sunflower oil. Combine the bowls and bake muffins until cooked through. 2. Salad with poached eggs. It was the first time I tried to make poached eggs. The recipe says: carefully slide the egg into boiling water with some salt, vinegar and a laurel leave. “Carefully” did not help, the egg dissolved forming long white spaghetti in the water. Kevin (The Guest:))) had this great idea that we should wrap a raw egg in a clingfilm bag. And it worked! 3. Pork roast. Roast: marinate pork overnight in pineapple juice, soya sauce, minced garlic, thym, and maple syrup. I think I should have made a sauce out of the marinade, but I wasn`t sure how to do it properly. Sauce: simmer a handful of cranberries, a couple of tablespoons of honey, grated ginger, and a cup of red wine for about 30 mins until thick enough. Served with potatoes and parsnips, sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper, mixed with chopped wild garlic leaves and baked in the oven, covered. We also had fresh grated carrots dressed with pistachio oil and boiled grated beets dressed with balsamico and mustard. 4. Tiramisu. Made by Kevin. It was so good that I had to postpone my prepare-for-bikini-season diet for a week. Which is the Easter weekend at my mom`s. No, most probably until the week after:)
Kids` party was just a pretext for having a nice long weekend dinner with their parents. We had: 1. A lentil soup. After my previous post of the carrot soup, one of the readers suggested adding lentils. It works, I love the consistency and fullness they add. In the pot, fry a chopped onion and a few chopped garlic cloves with turmeric, cumin, and ginger. Add sliced carrots. Cover with stock and let simmer for about 5 mins, then add a can of tomatoes and red lentils. When lentils are soft, blend the soup. The result is tender and sweet. Most kids liked it. 2. Quinoa salad. A cucumber, belle pepper, avocado, mozarella, mango, and cooked quinoa, dressed with a mixture of lime juice and walnut oil. Avocado has to be ripe and soft, otherwise you`ll spoil the salad. 3. Pork. Mix roughly sliced carrots (again a carrot dish. I know it`s not good manners to base two dishes on the same ingredient, but I really had to get rid of the carrot stocks in my fridge), a chopped aubergine (kept in salt for a while to take away the bitterness) and a can of chickpeas with some olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Spread in a shallow oven dish. Top with slices of pork, season again. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the pork is cooked through. Serve with rice. For the dessert, we had a cheesecake from the local bakery. For some years, I tried to avoid pork, as all the nutritionists (and cardiologists) were warning against the high fat content. Well, animal fat has been rehabilitated in the meantime. I wonder which food is next to be proclaimed evil (or magic and curing from all diseases, like omega3 today or margarine several decades ago:)). My guess is canola oil or fruit. Currently, the root of all evil is transfats. And that goes well with my understanding of good food.