Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil

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This salad is a perfect dish to whip up right now as farmers markets and grocery stores alike are overflowing with tomatoes. It shows off the tomatoes fresh taste with the tried and true compliments of mozzarella and basil. Combined with the chewy farro this is a healthy dish fit for any lunch + dinner + or picnic table! Serve on top of salad, or with grilled chicken. I ended up doubling the amount of basil, olives, and tomatoes shown below, I would definitely recommend doing so as well.

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil ~ from Extra Virgin

1 pound farro

10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered

large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 (5-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks

2 ounces pitted kalamata olives

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook farro according to package directions, you want your farro to be cooked but still have a nice chew (usually just under 20 minutes). Drain and rinse the farro in cold water. In a large bowl mix the farro with the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or keep in the fridge.

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Chachouka

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Chachouka ~ adapted from River Cottage Veg

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 large onion, thinly sliced in strips

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp paprika (hot smoked if you have it on hand)

a pinch of saffron strands

1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and onion and saute for a for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden in color. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on low heat for around 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add in the paprika, a little salt and pepper, crumble in the saffron with your fingers, and add the tomatoes with any liquid from cutting. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Taste the pepper mixture and adjust seasonings if needed then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish. Make two hollows in the pepper mixture and add an egg to each. sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for around 12 minutes depending on how you like your eggs cooked. If you like your eggs runny (the way this dish is meant to be served) then stop at around the 12 minute mark. Any longer and your eggs will be more set.

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I am trying to be present here more. I think it would be good for my well being to cook more and thus post more. Let’s see how this plan goes.

According to River Cottage Veg this is a lovely dish to make on a long rainy afternoon when you don’t have much to do. It is the first recipe in the book, perfect to start my new cooking-more adventure with. So after work on a Thursday at 7:30 pm I embarked on the eggplant parmigiana journey. It would be no problem I thought, You just layer everything and cook! Not realizing that the sliced eggplant should sit for an hour and the sauce needs to be prepped then cook for an hour and once assembled the dish itself needs to bake for an hour. Determined to see it through I didn’t take as much time as needed to let the sauce thicken and the eggplant drain but I did eat around 11 pm that night and it was worth it. Next time, though, I’m saving this for a lazy weekend day… This cooking new things after work will be learning process. 😉

Eggplant Parmigiana ~ Adapted from River Cottage Veg

4 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)

4-5 tbsp of olive oil

2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (about 4 oz each)

finely grated parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese

For the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 (14 oz cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (any stems and skin removed)

1 bay leaf

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

a pinch of sugar

*I ended up only using 2 (12 oz) cans of already chopped tomatoes. Maybe the ratio to the whole ones is different. Either way it isn’t a bad thing to end up with to much home-made sauce.

Trim the eggplants and slice lengthwise (thinly). Layer the slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave to drain for an hour or so. (I skipped this step but I think it is a useful one if you have the time).

Make the sauce: Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute   for about 10 minutes, stirring on and off, until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then simmer briskly stirring often for around 30-45 minutes. The end result should be a nice thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Rinse off the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot fry a batch of eggplant slices for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and tender. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices adding a little more oil before each batch.

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. In an oven proof dish (8 by 10 inches) layer a third of the eggplant slices. Cover with sauce (make sure to remove the bay leaf first). Then top with teared pieces of the mozzarella and sprinkles of the grated parmesan. Repeat this layering process until the dish is full, about 3 layers of each.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Great on its own but also perfect with a large salad to make a meal.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon + Olive Oil

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It is fifty degrees here in New York City, and I thought this lovely temperature deserved some celebration! Plenty of winter still awaits, but for the moment, lets bring in the sunshine with these tasty treats! Great for a hearty breakfast on the go or with a mug of hot tea, the lemon gives off a nice little zest and there are so many blueberries in each and every bite you can’t help but smile. 🙂

~ Recipe below ~

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Blueberry Muffins with Lemon + Olive Oil ~ adapted from cannellevanille

1 cup oat flour*

3/4 cup millet flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour*

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon zest (I made them heaping teaspoons)

1/2 cup natural cane sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen here)

*The original recipe calls for 1 cup brown rice flour and 1/2 cup almond flour. I used what I had on hand and thought they still came out very tasty but I would recommend trying these as well)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl combine the lemon zest and sugars and rub them together with your hands to release the oils, it smells wonderful! Add the 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the pure vanilla extract, olive oil and coconut milk and mix until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined as well, lastly mix in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into your paper lined tin. I like to fold my parchment paper into cups, though you have to hold the paper in place until you fill it with the batter. Sprinkle a little bit of natural can sugar on top.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may have to bake the muffins for longer depending on the size of your muffin molds.

Let them cool before eating and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. They taste great the next morning after being warmed up for 20 seconds in the microwave.

~ Enjoy ~

Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

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Macaroni & cheese is one of my all-time favs when it comes to comfort food. Is there anything better on a bad day then a nice big bowl of macaroni and cheese? When food supplies are low I tend to whip this up quite frequently as an easy weeknight dinner. Mixing in different spices and vegetables every time to keep it fun! Here The classic dish gets dressed up with spicy green curry paste, fresh lemon and parmesan cheese.

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Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

1 3/4 cup dried pasta

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

olive oil

3 medium carrots, sliced

about a tbsp of soft cheese, I used a laughing cow wedge

1 tsp green curry paste

1-2 tbsp plain yogurt or milk

frozen spinach + corn

grated parmesan cheese

squeeze of lemon

sriracha

salt

Boil pasta according to box directions, I used quinoa shell pasta. drain pasta and set aside. Add minced garlic and about a tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. cook for one minute then add the spinach, corn and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are warm. Then add pasta back to pot with the yogurt or milk, green curry paste and soft cheese. I used laughing cow, you can use any type of cheese you like. Stir till combined and add more yogurt/milk if necessary to get the right consistency. If you want your macaroni to have a little more zing then go ahead and throw in a bit more green curry paste! Once everything is well combined and hot season to taste with salt, fresh lemon juice, and sriracha (if you like it a bit spicy). Serve with a lemon wedge and grated parmesan cheese on top.

Creamy Eggs + Leeks with Baby Hasselback Potatoes

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This yummy breakfast was made on a whim and serves one. For when you just need some solo-brunch time.

Feel free to make as much as you like, however! I didn’t use exact measurements and ended up throwing a bunch of things together as I went along. The plump sweet white corn combined with soft cheese, eggs, basil, and sautéed leeks is one hell of a tasty combination. All topped off with the slight saltiness of kalamata olives.

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Creamy Eggs + Leeks with Baby Hasselback Potatoes

5-10 small potatoes (I used a combination of red, yellow and purple)

Olive oil

Sea salt

Basil, dried or fresh

Coconut oil

1 colve of garlic, minced

1 leek, chopped

milk

2 eggs

basil, dried or fresh (I used dried)

chopped kalamata olives

Spinach + white corn (fresh or frozen, I used frozen)

freshly grated parmesan cheese

soft cheese (cream cheese, goat, I used laughing cow garlic and herb)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Scrub your potatoes, then slice thinly with a sharp knife just until you reach the bottom (so that all the slices are still connected). Place in a glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and basil. Toss lightly to coat and place in the oven while you prepare your eggs. Cook until potatoes are cooked through and the edges begin to brown.

In a small saute pan heat a small spoonful of coconut oil and add the minced garlic. Cook for a minute until brown and fragrant then add the chopped leek. Saute until leek pieces are soft and tender. In a small bowl whisk eggs with the chopped kalamata olives, basil, a pinch of sea salt, a large tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, and a few generous splashes of milk. Add egg mixture to the pan with the garlic and leeks, heat on med-low. Add spinach, white corn, and soft cheese to the pan and slowly scramble until eggs are cooked. Top with extra parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm with potatoes, preferably with a large glass of orange juice and enjoy the spring sunshine.

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Apple Yogurt Upside-Down Cake

A Morning Worthy of Cake. Apple Cake.

apple_cake_1I am back! Shall I do a little dance? I think YES. It has been a busy busy past couple of months, the highlight being a romp through the Scottish highlands and Dublin in December. But it is a new year and I can’t wait to start putting more time in here.

This tasty treat is meant for fall, when the leaves are just starting to turn and the first cool breezes make themselves known…but when you have all the ingredients on hand and the exact number of crisp pink lady apples staring at you from the side of the counter…I say go for it. This is the coldest week I’ve experienced yet in New York (I actually NEED one of those face-sweaters..) and this cake is as delicious in the middle of Winter as it is in Fall. Full of warmth and comfort it is meant to be eaten at any time of day, while sitting on the couch, with thirty quilts, a thick pair of woolen socks and a cup of hot tea.

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Apple Yogurt Upside-Down Cake ~ adapted from Small Plates & Sweet Treats

3 pink lady apple

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp + more honey

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour + 1 tbsp

1/3 cup almond flour

1/4 cup millet flour + 1 tbsp

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 heaping tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

3 eggs

1/2 cup packed dark muscovado sugar

1/2 cup whole-milk plain yogurt

1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8 by 8-inch square cake pan (or an 8 by 3-inch round cake pan) and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Core the apples, quarter them, then cut each piece in half once more. Heat the coconut oil, 2 tbsp of honey and vanilla extract in a large saute pan (any soup or sauce pot will work, you may just need to cook the apples for a bit longer) over medium heat. Add the sliced apples and cook for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft but not mushy. Let cool for a few minutes before handling. Arrange the apples on the bottom of the cake pan as tightly as possible and pour any remaining liquid in the pot over the apples.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a separate smaller bowl mix the eggs, dark muscovado sugar, honey (I did about 2 tbsp add more for a sweeter cake), olive oil, and yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan making sure that it is evenly distributed over the apples. Bake for about 50min-1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes before carefully flipping. Allow to cool before serving. Keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days or freeze.

Serve warm by itself or with a speckled vanilla bean ice cream.

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~ Stay Warm! ~

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Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil

Is there a better name for a vegetable? For me, no. For others, probably. But when I saw fairy tale eggplant for the first time last weekend at the farmers market I immediately felt enchantment in the air. I waited for a moment to see if a unicorn would poke its head around the corner of the tent…..just a moment… Apart from their adorable miniature size fairy tale eggplant do not differ too much from your average eggplant. Wanting a refreshing summer dish, I found pasta the best way to go. Sautéing the eggplants with garlic and lots of spring onions. A touch of lemon zest over thin pasta noodles with lots of fresh arugula and basil and finished with a drizzle of cool olive oil.

Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil:
10-15 fairy tale eggplant
2-4 servings of pasta (I used pasta made with corn flour, any variety will work)
coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
chopped spring (green) onion, enough to equal 2 large handfuls
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of chili flakes
fresh arugula
fresh basil
1 large tomato
olive oil
salt and pepper
 
Coat a medium-large skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and chopped fairy tale eggplant and cook until the eggplants are soft and tender. Roughly 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally, they will loose their bright purple color. Stir in the lemon zest and pinch of chili flakes while the eggplants are cooking. While this is going on cook your pasta. When both are done turn off the heat. Toss the arugula in with the eggplant for a minute until wilted, add the pasta and toss everything together lightly. Transfer to a large bowl. Top with lots of fresh basil, chopped tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice to taste. Serve with a light salad and a lemon wedge. 

A Lemon Chutney with Red Radish

Lemons have been my latest obsession. lemonslemonslemons. I LOVE LEMONS. They are amazing in savory to sweet food, a little sprinkle of zest or squeeze of fresh juice and your dish is transformed from average to extraordinary.

With this chutney you can throw a dollop on top of rice, or vegetables, BUT it is best over some goat cheese on toast.

Lemon Chutney with Red Radishadapted from 101 cookbooks

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion (or shallot)

3 small lemons, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil + more for brushing

1 tbsp honey (to taste)

1/4 cup finely chopped radishes

sea salt and black pepper to taste

fresh herbs – I used sage, but basil and/or mint would be great if you have

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice 2 of the lemons about half an inch thick, remove seeds with the tip of a knife. Discard the thick white parts at either end of the lemons. Brush both sides with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning every ten minutes or so until they get tender. You don’t want them to begin to brown. Set these aside to cool. If you want less of an oniony taste you can soak the onion or shallot in a bowl of cool water for a few minutes. Add the cooked lemons to the bowl of a food processor with the onions (drained if in water), and honey. Pulse till coarsely chopped and then add half of the juice from the remaining lemon. Continue pulsing until you have your desired chutney consistency. Season with salt and pepper and add more honey or lemon juice to taste as needed. At the end you can pulse in the radish, I didn’t blend these in too thoroughly to add a bit of a crunch. Let sit or refrigerate for a couple hours. Add some herbs right before serving.

Carob Chip Cookies with Poppy Seeds & Pink Sea Salt

A little bite of heaven….

On a whim these cookies came into existence last week. Light and airy they were exactly what I was hoping for. Due to my lack of baking sheets these were made in a muffin tin…If you dolloped them onto cookie sheet however they would stay soft in the center ~

Carob Chip Cookies with Poppy Seeds & Pink Sea Salt

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup millet flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup + 4 tsp almond meal

1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp  tsp sea salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup olive oil

1 egg

2 tbsp dark muscavado sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp apple sauce

1 tbsp poppy seeds

3/4 cup unsweetened carob chips

Pink sea salt for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the wet and dry separately, then stir both together. Once you have a smooth batter fold in the poppy seeds and carob chips. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown, top with a sprinkle of pink sea salt after removing from the oven to cool. Cooking times will vary.