Friday, May 5, 2017

Gnocchi with Shiitake Mushrooms, Asparagus & Gorgonzola Recipe

If at first you don´t succeed, try again. Being my own self critic, I gave this delight a couple of tries before nailing it.  The first time I wasn't able to find a market that sold field mushrooms so I used baby mushrooms instead and to be honest, the result was quite bland.

The gentleman who runs the bar/restaurant up the road here has worked in the restaurant trade for many a long year. When I drop by for my morning barraquito we always somehow end up swapping recipe ideas, telling stories about cooking and dining experiences and the like.

He suggested that I should try shiitake mushrooms as an alternative to the field mushroom type.  I had gone through a phase of Asian cooking some time back and had the joy of trying these before.  Shiitake mushrooms are sold fresh which are quite crunchy in texture, or dried which have a concentrated flavor and can be quite firm.

Dried shiitake mushrooms need to be rehydrated by soaking them in hot water before for 15-20 minutes. The longer one soaks the mushrooms however, the more flavorsome they become. So for the best results, soak them overnight.  If you´re tight for time or just can´t be too fussed then a short soak will do the trick.

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min

500 g ready made gnocchi
300 g asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
300 g shiitake mushrooms 
1 small shallot, finely chopped 
200 g frozen peas, thawed
salt and ground black pepper
100g gorgonzola cheese
fresh chives
finely grated lemon zest 

1. Cover the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes.  The mushrooms should almost double in size.  Squeeze out the excess liquid and discard the stems.  Slice the mushrooms and place to one side.

2. Now the asparagus: snap off the hard ends. Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Cool in a bowl of iced water. Chop into small bite size pieces keeping the heads intact.

3. Meanwhile cook the gnocchi in rapidly boiling salted water, You will know the gnocchi is ready when it floats to the top.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sauté the shallot until soft.

5. Add the shiitake mushroomsasparagus, peassalt and pepper. Add the gorgonzola and stir gently until melted through.

6. Sprinkle with with chopped chives and grated lemon zest.

Serves: 4 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Quinoa with Beetroot, Avocado & Chorizo Recipe

I have cooked many risotto recipes in my time but when asked if I'd ever tried this I went as red as a beetroot.  I was embarrased because I'd not even considered using such a sweet vegetable in a risotto before; smoothies, soups, salads, even cakes, yes, but never had I even thought of a beetroot risotto.

Quinoa was used here instead of risotto rice. It is quite similar to risotto rice in texture and the avocado adds even further to the softness. I wanted to make use of the remaining avocado from the few I had bought for an avocado and lime cheesecake, and it worked here like a treat.

This recipe has so many delightful elements - the soft quinoa, the sweet beetroot, the spiciness of the cumin and of course, the rich texture of that delightful avocado. It is served at room temperature, or even as a cold salad but the outcome is very, very pleasing.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins

160 g uncooked quinoa
250 ml tomato juice
250 ml water
250 g pre-cooked chorizo, diced
2 pre-cooked baby beetroots, diced
1 smal onion
avocado, diced

For the Dressing:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste

1. Rinse your uncooked quinoa, then place with the tomato juice and water in a small saucepan, bring to the simmer. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat, stir every now and then to fluff quinoa until the liquids have been fully absorbed.

2. Add the pre-cooked diced chorizo and stir in to the cooked quinoa.

3. Slice the onion and cook with a teaspoon of oil until softened.  

4. Combine the quinoa and chorizo with the now cooked onion and baby beetroot. Add the diced avocado and drizzle the dressing on top. Stir to combine and serve with diced feta cheese.

Serves: 4

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Avocado & Lime Cheesecake Recipe

I don't want to sound cheesy but this recipe is a piece of cake. Really. It can be prepared within half an hour but then there is of course the patience needed, while it sets in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.

Avocados are always in season with this warm climate here where I live but it is only recently that I have started to appreciate just how adaptable this fruit really is.

Avocados give both velvety surface and rich flavor to whatever they're added to, for example, your quinoa salad recipe. In any case, did you realize that they can likewise add the same attractive qualities to sweet pastries, for example, this delightful no-bake cheesecake?

The avocado is velvety and suits the texture of this cheesecake perfectly.  The taste of the avocado in this creamy delight is floating in the background of this lovely treat but it is in fact the lime that is the star of the show.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook TimeNone

200 g digestive biscuits
80 g unsalted butter
150 ml whipping cream
1 sachet gelatin powder
300g cream cheese
200 ml whipping cream to mix with the avocado
1 medium avocado
Zest of 2 fresh limes
Juice of 2 fresh limes
220 g white sugar
1 lime for garnishing

1. Break the digestives into blender, add the butter and blitz.

2. Empty the mixture into a 9 inch round spring-form and press into the base back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.

3. Combine 150 ml of whipping cream and gelatin powder in a saucepan and stir until the gelatine garnules have dissolved. Bring to the boil over medium heat, continually stirring until the gelatin has melted completely. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl.

4. In a food processor, combine avocado, cream cheese, sugar, the 200 ml of whipping cream, lime juice and lime zest until smooth and well combined. Add the the gelatin/cream mixture and continue mixing until everything is well combined and smooth.

5. Pour the avocado lime cheesecake mix onto the prepared biscuit base and smooth the top.

6. Place in the fridge for at least four hours. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

7. Grate zest from lime to garnish.

Serves: 8

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chocolate Muffins

Seriously, these are fantastic! I challenge you to try them and see for yourself. Store them in the freezer, and then warm in the microwave. They’re scrumptious when heated, but if you’re on the run, they’re also great at room temperature.

Prep time: 
125 g
 self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder
25 g cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract
75 g caster sugar
1 large egg
100 ml milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

150 g chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 200 C and fill a 12 muffin tray with paper cases.

2. Sieve the flourbaking powder and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Mix the vanilla extract, egg, milk and oil in a small bowl.

3. Add the liquid mix to the sieved ingredients and mix together.  Pour the egg mixture into the bowl of sieved ingredients and mix until combined, but still lumpy.

4. Spoon into the muffin cases and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top and cook for 20 mins or until risen and springy.

5. Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Serves: 12

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Honey Mustard Chicken with Pine Nuts & Goat Cheese Recipe

Stocking up on the bare basics is a must if you love to cook a lot. Dried pasta, rice, tinned plum tomatoes, vegetable/chicken/fish stock, anchovies, oil. nuts and dried herbs to name a few examples are essentials that every kitchen should have.

It´s only the middle of the week and already down to basic ingredients in the fridge.  So keeping it simple and based on the fact that I had chicken breast, rocket leaves and goat´s cheese, I was glad I came across this recipe.  It asked for the above three ingredients along with a few of the kitchen pantry essentials. This really makes a great light supper with a short ingredients list, short preparation and short cook time.

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min

chicken breast. skinned and sliced into strips
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp grain mustard
140g goats' cheese
110g toasted pine nuts
bunch of rocket leaves
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and ground black pepper

1. In a bowl, mix the honey and grain mustard and add the chicken strips. Stir the chicken strips to coat them with the honey mix.

2. Place the chicken strips in a frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side

3. With a ratio of oil to vinegar, 3:1 and some salt and pepper, dress the rocket leaves with the dressing.

4, Place the rocket leaves on the centre of each plate and then stack the chicken strips on top. Crumble the goats' cheese over the top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

5.Lightly drizzle some extra honey around the outside of the salad and serve.

Serves: 2