at the table

Recipes, that's it.

rice salad with ginger lime dressing — 09/05/2017

rice salad with ginger lime dressing

Whenever I make this salad, I get asked for the recipe so here it is. It’s easy, healthy, delicious and a great way of using up leftovers and then throwing in whatever else you have in the fridge. I try to mix up the colours and textures of the ingredients and then top it with something crunchy like fried shallots or toasted almonds. You can serve it as a main meal if there’s enough stuff in it.  It is important to add the dressing while the rice still warm and serve the salad at room temperature. If you put it in the fridge first, the rice will become dry and the dressing will lose much of its flavour. You should also know that the measurements here are approximate because I never measure anything for this salad, I simply check it towards the end and adjust if necessary. It is important however, that you add a lot of fresh ginger and lime juice (lemon juice is okay but it’s not as good) and then top the whole thing with loads of fresh coriander leaves.

DRESSING

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • salt and pepper

SALAD

  • 1 cup white or brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup of any combination of various ingredients such as: any beans; any grilled and/or raw vegetable; corn; green onion; smoked salmon; tuna; shredded chicken; cooked egg; nuts; etc.

Boil or steam the rice and then place in a large salad bowl when done. Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Prepare the salad ingredients and add to the rice. Add dressing and gently mix to combine. Top with fried shallots and fresh coriander.

serves 2 – 4

 

 

 

 

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potato gnocchi — 27/03/2017

potato gnocchi

My mother used to make the best gnocchi. Yes, I’m biased but what I loved about her gnocchi, is that she would make them a little firmer than usual by adding a little more flour. Her advice was to use older potatoes because they are not as watery as the newer ones. You want to avoid water when making gnocchi. In fact, some cooks suggest baking the potatoes instead of boiling, but I prefer to follow my mother’s tradition.

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  • 2¼ pounds Yukon gold potatoes (or other ‘floury’ type potato)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt
  • choice of sauce, to serve (simple tomato sauce works well, or butter and parmesan)

Boil or steam the potatoes in their skins until tender, about 25 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and peel, preferably while still hot if you can handle it. Then mash with a potato ricer into a large bowl.

Stir in the flour, egg and a pinch of salt and knead only until it comes together. Place the dough onto a floured work surface and continue to knead until the mixture forms a smooth, firm dough. Do not overwork the dough. Also, you may need to add more flour as you knead but be careful because if there is too much flour, the gnocchi will be too hard.

Break off a chunk of dough and use the palm of your hands to roll it into a long sausage shape. Cut the roll into roughly 1 inch cylinders, separating them. With two fingers, roll each cylinder gently towards you on the board until they curl into a shell-like shape. You don’t have to do this, you could just boil them in their cylinder shape but they catch more sauce when they’re curled. Continue rolling, cutting and shaping until you have used up all the dough. You will need to keep sprinkling flour at regular intervals.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, in small batches, and remove with a slotted spoon when they rise to the surface. Put on a warm serving dish, spoon the sauce over the gnocchi and sprinkle some Parmesan. Serve at once.

Serves 4

Persian-style bean, herb and noodle soup — 19/03/2017

Persian-style bean, herb and noodle soup

Feel free to substitute the beans used here for other kinds such as, navy beans, or fava beans. This soup gets better with time, so I recommend making it several hours or even a day ahead.

  • 3 yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans (one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups frozen lima beans
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (or more to taste)
  • 12 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • sea salt
  • 6 ounces linguine noodles, broken into smaller pieces
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped kale or spinach (stems discarded)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups thick Greek-style yoghurt, for garnish

Dice 1 of the onions. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils, garlic, turmeric, dill and mint. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 1 hour to blend the flavours.

Slice the remaining 2 onions into thin half-moons. Heat a medium skillet over high heat and add the remaining 5 tablespoons oil. Add the onions and panfry stirring, frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden.

In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the noodles and leafy greens to the soup and stir well to prevent noodles from sticking together. Stir in 2 teaspoons sea salt. When the noodles are done, add the lemon juice and season to taste. Serve garnished with a large dollop of yoghurt and a spoonful of fried onions.

serves 6 – 8

fish fillets with beans and tomatoes — 18/03/2017

fish fillets with beans and tomatoes

A delicious light and simple Italian recipe. With all the juices, it ends up being more of a stew so you’re going to need a spoon as well as a fork.

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  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini or pinto beans
  • good handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 white fish fillets, about 6 ounces each (such as cod or snapper) cut into 2-inch pieces or left whole
  • salt
  • lemon wedges and grilled bread to serve

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the garlic, chili flakes, and tomato paste. Just as the smell of garlic hits you, add the tomatoes and wine and simmer until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the pan, together with the parsley, and cook another 5 minutes. Check seasoning.

Lay the fish on top and season with salt. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat until the fish is just cooked through, about another 10 – 15 minutes, depending on thickness. Serve in deep, heated plates with lemon wedges and grilled bread.

Serves 4

Adapted from Loukie Werle, Italian Country Cooking

eggplant parmigiana — 22/02/2017

eggplant parmigiana

For a healthier version of this recipe, instead of frying the eggplant, brush the slices with oil and then grill them in a panini press or bake them in a 450°F oven for about 15 minutes.

  • 4 – 5 eggplants, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups basic tomato sauce
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 2 eggs, light beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs

Place eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let drain for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the eggplant slices, in batches if necessary, and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Spoon a little of the tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish and arrange a layer of slightly overlapping eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with a little of the Parmesan, cover a few slices of mozzarella and sprinkle a few basil leaves and 3 – 4 tablespoons of the beaten egg on top. Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, dot with butter and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. This dish is also good served cold with crusty bread.

serves 6

beet salad with feta & toasted walnuts — 21/02/2017

beet salad with feta & toasted walnuts

  • 3 or 4 beets
  • handful of spinach leaves
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons clear honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g Feta, crumbled into big chunks
  • 50g chopped, toasted walnuts
  • drizzle of reduced or syrupy balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Clean beets and boil for 25 – 35 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Peel off skin and cut beets into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry spinach and place in large bowl with the green onion.  Whisk together honey, lemon juice, salt and oil.

Toss the beetroot in half the vinaigrette. Then add beets to lettuce and top with toasted walnuts and feta. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette (and balsamic syrup if you have some) over salad and toss. Sprinkle a little black pepper. Serve warm or cold.

serves 4

Italian hot chocolate —

Italian hot chocolate

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No, it’s not espresso coffee, it’s chocolate.

Italians normally serve this at the post-funeral reception to help comfort mourners. This recipe is my mother’s who would make it so rich (as in, chocolatey, not sugary) you would only have a small amount, like an espresso shot. I have not added the quantities of the ingredients because it totally depends on the quantity you need and how rich or sweet you want to make it. Plus, my mother never measured anything but I know she would add A LOT of cocoa and not too much sugar and she always threw in some kind of liquor such as Kahlua or Tia Maria.

  • good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder (and/or grated dark chocolate)
  • sugar
  • full cream milk
  • a dash of espresso coffee and/or coffee liquor

Mix cocoa and sugar in a saucepan with a little milk or water, enough to form a smooth paste. Stir in rest of the milk and place on low heat, stirring continuously for about 3 to 5 minutes. It’s ready when you begin to see pale, foam-like swirls on top. Mix in a little coffee or liquor or both!

Keeps in fridge for about a week.