risotto

All posts tagged risotto

The Great Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Published November 23, 2014 by The Feminist

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Usually, I’m not a very jealous person. Jealousy, in my humble opinion, is simply time wasted. Time that you could have spent actually doing sh**, instead of being envious of other people doing sh**. Jealousy brings out the worst in people and that is why I always try to live a jealousy-free life.

There is only one moment every single year that I am truly jealous. And that is when all you Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. To me, a girl who has been living in Belgium her entire life – a country where there is no such thing as Thanksgiving, boohoo! – Thanksgiving seems to be the most decadent of holidays with an (over)abundance of food, family and friendship.

It seems wonderful.

It seems brilliant.

And most of all, it seems like a whole lot of food.

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So yes, I am genuinely jealous.

However, instead of letting myself be consumed with jealousy, I decided to tackle the green-eyed monster and turn a negative emotion into a positive one. I decided to get busy and started cooking myself. My very own vegetarian Thanksgiving!

I know that it must be hard to be a vegetarian on Thanksgiving. Especially if you are the only vegetarian in your family and everyone else is digging into a turkey the size of a Kim Kardashian butt.

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But if you are a little bit creative, you can enjoy a marvelously decadent, vegetarian Thanksgiving  as well. Forget the turkey. Forget the gravy. The following recipes are heartwarming in their own right.

Ps: If you are one of those vegetarian Americans (or American vegetarians), and just had a Thanksgiving with a family who weren’t exactly animal-friendly: take pen and paper and write down the following recipes. Next year’s Thanksgiving will be one big, delicious vegetarian bash, I promise!

Brussels Sprouts Risotto with Stilton and Pecan nuts

What could possibly be more comforting than a risotto? A risotto with fragrant roasted Brussels Sprouts and pungent stilton cheese of course!

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Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, one minced and the other one just bashed
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 lemon
  • 300gr risotto rice
  • 500gr Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 200ml white wine (the good stuff)
  • Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 250gr stilton cheese
  • 2 handfuls of pecan nuts

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a knob of butter in a pan and add the Brussels sprouts and the bashed clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper and some nutmeg. Let them fry for a couple of minutes, until they have a nice colour. Remove from the heat and put the Brussels sprouts in an oven-proof dish together with a couple of strips of the lemon rind. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The Brussels Sprouts should be al dente: tender enough to be enjoyable to eat, but not too mushy.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and minced garlic and let it sauté for a couple of minutes. Stir in the rice and let it fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat.
  3. Pour in the wine and let the rice absorb all the moisture. Stir in the thyme. Now spoon in the vegetable stock, one ladleful at a time, until the rice is tender.
  4. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and stir those lovely roasted gems into the risotto together with the cream cheese.
  5. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the risotto onto your plate and scatter some pecans and crumble stilton cheese on top.

Spiced Sweet Potato Mash with Peanut Butter and Ginger and Chili Sautéed Kale

An exotic twist on sweet potato mash. The zingy flavours of ginger and chili kale marry beautifully with the warmth of all the spices in the sweet popato mash. Add to that some good oll’ peanut butter and you just know that this dish will be an instant family favourite.

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Ingredients:

For the sweet potato mash (serves 1):

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1tbsp honey

For the sautéed kale (serves 1):

  • 2-3 large kale leaves, sliced into thin strips
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 large chili pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp terriyake sauce

Method:

  1. Boil the sweet potato in some salted water until tender. Drain and mash together with the peanut butter, spices and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember: it should be a rather sweet and spiced mash, but if it tastes like a dessert, you’ve been a bit too generous 😉 It’s all about a balance of flavours. That is why the combination with the peanut butter works so damn well.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan. Add the kale, ginger, garlic and chili. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the kale on a medium heat for about 15 minutes –don’t forget to stir, otherwise it will burn – until your kale is tender.
  3. Stir in the terriyake sauce.
  4. Serve the sweet potato mash with the fragrant kale.

Spiced Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Maple syrup and Pecan Brussels Sprouts … and some Feta Cheese

You can’t have a Thanksgiving party without serving at least one pumpkin dish. This lentil and pumpkin stew is spicy and sweet at the same time and works brilliantly with the Brussels sprouts. Even if you are not really a Brussels sprouts fan, you have got to try this recipe. The sprouts were fried with some fragrant pink peppercorns and are coated in a lick of maple syrup. The pecans add extra crunch and all these ingredients together make one explosive Brussels sprouts dish. The stew and the sprouts were finished with a crumbling of feta cheese. This tangy and salty kick lifts this already incredible dish to unseen culinary heights.

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Ingredients (serves 1):

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • ½ tbsp. maple syrup
  • ½ tsp pink peppercorns
  • Handful of pecan nuts, chopped

For the lentil and butternut stew:

  • Handful of lentils
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 200gr butternut, cut into large chunks
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Vegetable stock

To finish:

  • Feta cheese

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small pan, add the shallot, lentils, chili and cinnamon. Stir and cover with vegetable stock. Let it simmer for 10 minutes before adding the butternut chunks.
  2. Add some more stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the butternut and the lentils are tender. Add vegetable stock once and a while to make sure your lovely stew doesn’t burn. The end result should be “oozy” not “runny”.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a tbsp. of oil in a frying pan. Add the Brussels Sprouts and the pink peppercorns. Season with salt. Let it fry until golden brown. Turn down the heat and let it fry on a low heat until the sprouts are al dente. Stir in the pecan nuts and maple syrup and stir.
  4. Serve the stew with the Brussels Sprouts and scatter some feta cheese over the top.

Fusion Fever: Coconut and Lime Risotto with Peach and Pepper Salsa and Tandoori Prawns

Published June 23, 2014 by The Feminist

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There are days when I know exactly what I want to eat. Pizza. Tagine. Noodles.

I have cheese days. Chocolate days. Add-chili-to-everything days.

But sometimes my cravings aren’t so specific. The only thing I then know for sure is that I am hungry (very very hungry!) and want something comforting (very very comforting!). Now, when I am craving something comforting, I always choose either something Italian (risotto is on top of my list) or something Indian with lots of spice and coconut.

Yesterday, however, I simply could not choose. Italian or Indian? Indian or Italian? It was literally driving me mad.

So in a total act of desperation, I decided to do both. Mix Italian with Indian. I probably pissed off both the Italians and Indians by doing so, but at least it filled my stomach. Although “filling my stomach” does not exactly do this dish justice, because this insanely yummy dish was a lot more than filling; it was an entirely new, hallucinatory delicious experience! The coconut milk in the risotto made the rice extra smooth and creamy and the combination with the lime lifted the Italian classic to a very delicious Indian level. Furthermore, the creaminess of the risotto was in perfect harmony with the sweet-spicy-zingy salsa with peach and peppers and sits happily married with the ultra-spicy tandoori prawns.

This is fusion food at its best! So who cares if it pisses off the whole Indian and Italian population, when something is this sensational I don’t really mind stepping onto a few food-patriotic toes 😉

Ingredients:

For the risotto:

  • 320gr Arborio rice
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • ½ tbsp. nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Fresh basil (you could use Thai basil, but since we’re doing Italian and Indian together, you can use the Italian as well!)
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced

For the salsa:

  • 2 long, sweet peppers, finely diced
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 peaches, finely diced
  • 1 granny smith apple, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh Thai basil
  • Juice of 1 lime

For the prawns

  • 30 prawns, peeled and cleaned
  • Tandoori powder

Method:

  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the shallot with the nigella seeds and chili flakes for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and fry until the grains become slightly translucent. Add 200 ml of coconut milk and let it simmer until absorbed. Now add the stock, one ladleful at a time until al dente. Now stir in the remaining coconut milk to make sure the risotto is oozing creaminess. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce and scatter some basil and spring onions over the top.
  • Meanwhile, make the salsa by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and seasoning with lime, salt and pepper. Voila!
  • Completely dust the prawns in tandoori powder and skewer them onto large sticks. Now you have a couple of options. Fry them in a large pan, barbeque them or –like I did- put them under a hot griddle for a couple of minutes.
  • Dig in!

Perfect Primavera: Spring In My Step, Spring In My Risotto

Published March 28, 2014 by The Feminist

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By golly, don’t you just love it when the sun shines? I mean, what’s not to love? Those sunbeams shining through branches of trees and the first spring warmth in beautiful harmony with a refreshing breeze…

Sigh. The sunny start of spring is making me very optimistic! I almost feel the urge to touch the flowers, dance in the grass and sing with the birds! (If only I could do that without people looking at me as if I were completely bonkers.)

However, to spare you all some traumatized ears, I won’t be bursting into song. Instead, I will cook something delicious; something reminiscent of this beautiful sunny day.  Sounds good, huh? 😉

This risotto primavera is what spring is all about: fresh, tasty and vibrant. It’s a classic combination of green asparagus and peas, a flavour combination that always sweeps me of my feet in all its simplicity and freshness. The creamy and unctuous texture of the rice balances so well with these tender yet crunchy veg and the basil highlights the green colour palette oh so beautifully. It’s almost like a Van Gogh painting, ready to be eaten…

Risotto with Green Asparagus, Leek, peas and Basil

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 250gr Arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • Vegetable stock
  • 9 large green asparagus
  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 200gr frozen peas
  • 100gr parmesan cheese
  • Lots of fresh basil

Method:

  1. Clean the green asparagus and steam them until just al dente. Cut them into approx. 2cm chunks. Set aside.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic and onion until soft. Add the rice and let it fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Pour in the white wine and let it simmer until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid.
  4. Stir in the leeks and add a ladleful of stock. Stir frequently until the stock is fully absorbed. Continue this process, adding the stock one ladleful at a time.
  5. Once your risotto rice is almost tender, stir in the frozen peas and the al dente asparagus and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with pepper and parmesan cheese and finally stir in lots of fresh basil.

 

The Farewell Meal: Saying Goodbye To Meat With a Roman Veal Stew & Risotto A La Milanese

Published February 28, 2014 by The Feminist

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You all know by now that I prefer to stick to a vegetarian way of living. Not just for my own health, but for the health of our planet as well. However, it is not always that easy to adopt a 100% meat-free diet when everyone around me seems to be having an inexplicable love affair with all things animal. My brother loves his steak, my dad adores his honey glazed ribs and my mom devours everything that sounds even remotely Italian (From prosciutto di Parma to  Mortadella di Bologna).

Which leads me to the following confession: I still eat meat sometimes. (Feel free to drop your jaw or gasp for air) Once every ten days I am seduced by the heavenly sent of Ossobuco or lamb Jalfrezi and succumb to family pressure to cook one of my world famous succulent stews.

This Roman veal stew was one of those moments. The tender meat was soft and juicy and the sauce elevated the stew to unseen levels of spice perfection. Add to that a creamy risotto with saffron and dots of pretty courgette and you have a meal you will never forget.

A true farewell meal.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. I’m saying goodbye.

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No, not to you. Don’t panic.

I’m saying goodbye to meat. Finally.

And I am not the only one, because in just a couple of days me and thousands of other fellow Belgians will try to make our country more vegetarian friendly by reducing our meat-consumption. This event is called “Dagen Zonder Vlees”, which means “Days Without Meat”. I’m sure the title is pretty self-explanatory?

Anyway, since I’m planning on dropping meat altogether, I thought it would be somewhat symbolic to end my days of eating meat with a yummy and super delicious meat dish. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe, but who the hell cares.

Roman veal stew with Risotto a la Milanese

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the stew:

  • 800gr veal, cut into chunks
  • Juice of an orange
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Heaped tbsp. flour
  • 1 can/ 400gr tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey

For the risotto:

  • 300gr Arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp saffron powder or saffron threads
  • 1 courgette, finely chopped
  • Glass of Marsala
  • Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. For the stew: heat a knob of butter in a large pot and fry the veal chunks until they have a nice brown colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. In that same pan, fry the onion, garlic, carrots and pepper for a couple of minutes and add the meat back to the pan. Add the flour to the pot and stir until everything is nicely coated with a thin layer of flour. Fry for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the orange juice, balsamic vinegar and add the tinned tomatoes. Once you’ve emptied the can of tomatoes, use it as a measuring cup for vegetable stock. Add just enough vegetable stock so that the meat is just covered with liquid. Add the spices, herbs and honey and let it simmer for 1-2 hours on a low heat.
  4. For the risotto: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Stir in the rice and fry for a further couple of minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat half a litre of vegetable stock with the saffron.
  6. Add a glass of Marsala to the rice and stir until the wine has evaporated. Stir in the finely chopped courgette and season with salt and pepper. Now add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until each addition is almost completely absorbed. Once all the stock has been added, the rice should be tender and creamy.
  7. Finally stir in some grated parmesan to taste.

Keep on Stirrin’: The Best Risotto in the World

Published November 20, 2013 by The Feminist

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This is a very bold statement, I know. But sometimes you just have to stop being modest and tell the truth for a change. Have I tasted all the possible risottos in the world? No. (Although it would be pretty awesome if I had.) Have I read about all the other risotto options in an abundance of cookbooks? I haven’t. (Frankly, I don’t have the time, being an industrious American Studies student and all that. My professor would get a heart attack if he knew I had more knowledge about the history of risotto than about –say- Woodrow Wilson’s presidency.)

So how do I know this mackerel, shrimp and saffron risotto is the best?
To tell you the truth, there are plenty of other delicious risottos that deserve the title as well. Think about a wild mushroom risotto with gorgonzola cheese and roasted pear (yum!) or a pumpkin risotto with sage butter and roasted pine nuts. (yum yum!)However, when I was standing in my kitchen the other day, there was only one ingredient that would be able to satisfy my cravings. Mackerel.

Do I hear you frowning, dear reader? No worries, I completely understand your reluctance to see the brilliance of this fish. Honestly.

Taking into account that big frown on your forehead, let me just say this: mackerel is the most wonderful fish on the planet. It’s full of vitamins, full of good oils and so delectably juicy and scrummy it will make your mouth water just from looking at it.

So on that rainy and cold evening I decided that mackerel was the only way to go. Add to that the soothing and comforting texture of the risotto and the aromatic warmth of saffron and there is no further denying it. Shout it from the roof tops, dear readers.

THIS IS THE BEST RISOTTO.

Anyway, on to something completely different. (and less fishy) The best thing about cooking a risotto is the stirring. I’m aware that in the midst of a foodie battle- to stir or not to stir?- this might be a rather controversial thing to say. To all those who firmly believe risotto shouldn’t be frequently stirred: by all means, go ahead. After all, who am I to change your stirring aversion?

On the other hand, if you’re one of those people, you’re really missing out on all the fun. The rhythmic stirring, watching how those separate kernels of rice start to form a creamy union of splendidness, sipping from a glass of white wine, swaying around in your kitchen with JT’s angelic voice in the background…

Stirring risotto is simply the most joyous, relaxing and ultimately comforting time consuming act there is.

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Mackerel, shrimp and saffron risotto

Ingredients(serves 4):
• 300gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 round green courgette, finely chopped
• 1 round yellow courgette, finely chopped
• 1 orange pepper, finely chopped
• 4 mackerel fillets
• 20 shrimps
• ½ tsp saffron powder
• ½ tsp paprika
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 glass of white wine (drink the remaining wine while stirring)
• Vegetable stock
• Fresh mint
• Juice of a lemon

Method:
1. Heat the stock together with the saffron. In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil add the onions, courgette and pepper, and fry for 5 minutes without colouring. Keep Stirrin’. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice, paprika and smoked paprika and turn up the heat.
2. The rice will now begin to lightly fry. Keep stirrin’. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the white wine. Keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. (Meanwhile, practice your dance moves by mimicking the movement of your wooden spoon with your hips. )
3. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Keep stirrin’. Continue adding ladlefuls of stock, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Keep stirrin’. Think of it as giving the rice a well-deserved massage. This will take around 15 minutes.
4. In a separate pan, fry the mackerel fillets skin side down so the skin gets really crispy. Sprinkle on plenty of paprika. Remove from the pan and fry the shrimps in the same pan. Add same extra paprika and chili pepper.
5. Stir the cooked shrimps through the risotto. Take the skins of the mackerel fillets. Flake the fillets into the risotto and cut the skins into thin fish crisps. Stir through the risotto. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Finally, sprinkle on plenty of fresh mint and some lemon juice.

Italy: where Love means Food and Food means love

Published July 27, 2013 by The Feminist

This is probably the holiday recap you had all been waiting for: a bite by bite exploration of Italian cuisine.

Needless to say that it’s impossible not to mention food when discussing a trip to Italy. Italy is food. Italians talk about food as if they were talking about their lovers and all Italians cook with their hearts. Italian food is like a love affair: intense, pure and incredibly satisfying and exciting.

The most remarkable thing about Italian food is its simplicity. Less is more. With often less than 4 ingredients, they were able to put a plate in front of me that just blew me away. Pure and honest flavours.
Simple but never ever ever under-seasoned. And that, is the trickiest balance to get right.

So are you ready to see the evidence of my foodie Italian adventure?
Here we go!

1) Let’s start with the antipasti:

Aubergine millefeuille: so simple and yet so delicious!

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Wonderful carpaccio di Pesce Spada with fennel and almonds ( of which I –boohoo– forgot to take a picture)

Just to give you an idea of what it looked like:

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(just imagine the thin slices of fennel and almond flakes on top 😉 )

Amazing Vitello Tonnato: the best vitello Tonnato I have ever eaten in my entire life, I swear! (again, no pic, I was often just too mesmerized by the food that I couldn’t be bothered to so much as think about taking a picture)

2) The primi piatti:

The most delicious black tagliatelle with sea food: H-E-A-V-E-N!

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Bigoli pasta with… donkey sauce! Yes, sit in awe and be amazed!

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Raddicchio and taleggio risotto: the best risotto ever! (and woops, no picture)

But it looked a bit like this:

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Parsley risotto with shrimps: this sure packed a punch!

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Intense fresh egg pasta with hard goats’ cheese and pepper: sounds very basic but it just blew me away! (which, I guess, is the reason why I forgot to take a picture)

Potato gnocchi with celery and mushrooms: mmm, I love gnocchi!

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Vegetarian cannelloni stuffed with Mediterranean vegetables and a regional type of Hüttenkäse

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3) The secondi piatti:

Grilled pesce spada à la Siciliana: soooo good!

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Seppia gratinato (cuttlefish) stuffed with shrimp and tomatoes: the cuttlefish was cooked to perfection!

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Monkfish cooked al cartoccio with clams, mussels, vegetables and pesto: divine!

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Grilled vegetable tart with mozzarella: pure and delicious!

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Tagliata di manzo with rocket, parmigiano and balsamic syrup: a classic!

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4) Lots and lots of dessert: as always!

As you could read (and see) in my previous posts, I ate quite a lot of gelato, and why wouldn’t I? It’s just sooo good.

So beside that cone with a scoop of flora and cioccolate fondante, I devoured a cone with Malaga ice cream and biscotti ice cream: probably the best flavours on the planet!

I also had a rather gigantic Amaretto ice- cream bowl: chocolate, coffee and hazelnut ice cream drenched in plenty of Amaretto and topped with amaretti biscuits and whipped cream. Oh boy!

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In an attempt to eat more healthy: a giant bowl of frozen yoghurt with caramelized nuts and honey. I know, not really authentic Italian but oh so good!

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Apart from the gelato, I absolutely adore the Italian pasticceria as well!
A plate full of biscotti, which you were supposed to dunk in sweet dessert wine! Oh my God!!

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Moorish nutty caramel cake with coconut ice cream and sour cherries: seriously one of the best puds I have ever eaten! (And I’ve eaten quite a lot in my lifetime!)

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Südtirol has a lot of Austrian influences, especially in its cuisine, which is a lovely melting pot of Mediterranean Italy and Alpine Austria. And I simply couldn’t resist all those traditional Austrian Torten und Kuchen: I ate the most wonderful Topfenstrudle (it was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture) and ate the world famous Sachertorte not once, but twice.

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The list above is, of course, not a complete list of all the lovely and delicious things I ate during my stay in Italy but it would have been simply too much for you to handle! 😉

But before I go, I would like to give you a sneak peak of an Italian dish I cooked myself while I was over there:

Antipasti with a large variety of cured meats, and a salad of scamorza cheese (smoked mozzarella), sweet and juicy nectarine, basil and freshly ground pepper.

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Followed by grilled vegetables and spicy gnocchi with dried chillies, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and monte vecchio cheese.

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Yum!

So who’s hungry now? 😉

He who eats alone chokes alone. Or how there’s always enough food in my house

Published June 13, 2013 by The Feminist

“Are you cooking for an entire army?” , “Are there some distant family members visiting I don’t know about?” ,or my ultimate favourite “Gosh, your imaginary friends have quite the appetite!”. Yes, every time I cook for my family at home, which is for 4 people most of the time, I’ll always end up cooking way too much food! Better too much than too little, that’s what my mother always says. And it seems her tendency to cook gigantic portions has infected me as well. Which often leads to oh so incredibly funny remarks from my brother and father (do note the hint of sarcasm there). I know that they just like pulling my leg and that the “imaginary friends” retort is just to provoke a sarcastic response, but I can’t help but feel guilty every time I see all those leftovers lying around in the fridge. They’re staring at me. Like all those hungry little African kids with bloated tummies you see on the news. Millions of people are starving and here I am, overindulging my family with food.

I’m trying to do something about my food-portion-miscalculation, however. For the first time I managed to cook two meals in a row that didn’t result in an over-stuffed fridge! Well,how about that?! 😉

I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from food-portion-miscalculation. (At least I hope I’m not.) So if you have the same condition, take it from me: if I can get over it, so can you!

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Middle-Eastern trout with maftoul

This recipe is truly one you will cook again and again and again! The fragrant rub makes the trout incredibly tasty and moist and I just love the oversized Palestinian couscous!

Ingredients (serves 4)

• 4 trouts, scaled, gutted, cleaned
• 1 green courgette
• 1 yellow courgette
• 4 spring onions
• Fresh coriander, chopped
• 250gr maftoul
• 375 ml vegetable stock
For the rub:
• 1 red pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ tbsp harissa
• 15gr confied lemon peel
• Coriander stalks
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients for the rub together in a blender until you get a thick paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Chop the courgette into 0.5 cm sliced and grill them for one minute on each side.
3. Score the skin of the fish several times. Stuff courgette slices in the body cavity of each trout. (Use the remaining courgette slices for the couscous later) Spread the sweet and spicy rub over the top of each trout and in the body cavity.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
5. For the maftoul, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the couscous and lightly toast them for a couple of minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
6. Chop the remaining courgette slices in fine chunks and add them to the maftoul. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and ground cumin.
7. Finely chop the fresh coriander and spring onion and stir them through the maftoul.
8. Get ready to dig in!

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Risotto Quattro Tomato with pesto and goats’ cheese stuffed chicken

Not one, not two, not three but FOUR types of tomatoes went into this risotto! Needless to say it was an absolute flavour bomb. The stuffed chicken breasts are so easy to make and the goats’ cheese mixture guarantees you won’t end up with dry bits of chicken but with a flavoursome and moist piece of heaven! This will definitely become a family’s favourite!

Ingredients(serves 4)

For the chicken
• 4 skinned chicken breast
• 25gr fresh goat’s cheese
• 25gr home-made pesto
• 5 sundried tomatoes( in oil ), finely chopped
• Zest of half a lemon
For the risotto
• 300gr risotto rice
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• 200gr cherry tomatoes
• 5 yellow vine tomatoes, quartered
• 10 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 50gr parmesan cheese
• Dried oregano
• Pinch of chili powder
• Small glass of semi-dry Madeira wine
• Vegetable stock

Method:
1. Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision down one side of each chicken breast to form a pocket in each
2. In a bowl, mix together the goats’ cheese, pesto, chopped sundried tomatoes and lemon zest then stuff the chicken breasts with this mixture. Skewer the chicken with toothpicks so the filling doesn’t seep out.
3. Fry the chicken breasts in a large frying pan for 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken breasts to a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put all the different types of tomatoes in an oven-proof dish (except the canned tomatoes) and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Sprinkle a generous amount of olive oil over the top and put in the oven together with the chicken. Once your chicken is cooked, the tomatoes will be ready as well.
5. For the risotto, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic and onion for a couple of minutes. Add the risotto rice and fry for a further 30 seconds.
6. Add the Madeira and cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced to almost nothing.
7. Add the canned tomatoes and chilli powder.
8. Add the warm vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition to allow the liquid to be completely absorbed, until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
9. Stir in the parmesan cheese and add the roasted tomatoes from the oven.
10. Buon appetito!