Asparagus soup

Don’t you just love it when asparagus starts coming to season? Something I always make during that period is asparagus soup. You only need a few ingredients, and it’s pretty quick to make (unless you want to make your own chicken stock for it).

serves 2-3
500g asparagus
2 shallots
600 ml chicken stock
25g butter
olive oil, for drizzling over the portions

1. Trim the asparagus stalks, by peeling the lower half of them. Otherwise you’ll end up with woody strings in your soup, that are edible, but somewhat uncomfortable in the mouth. Rinse, and cut the tips off. Set the tips aside for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks and the shallots.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, and soften the shallots and asparagus, frying for 5 minutes at medium to high temperature. Reduce to low to medium temperature, and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Cool the mixture, then liquidise the soup until smooth. Place back in the pan, heat and season to taste.

4. Boil the asparagus tips separately for 2 minutes, and drain. Mix into the soup, saving a few to be put on top.

5. Drizzle with little olive oil.

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Aromatic rice with tandoori lamb steaks

When my husband and I met, I was going through a cooking phase of making a lot of Indian curries from scratch. I still cook these, of course, however not as often as I used to back then. This particular rice is one of my favourites, and it comes with an amusing story. We were attending a friend’s BBQ party, and I brought all the ingredients for the rice with me, as well as marinated lamb cutlets, to finish the cooking at my friend’s house. The rice and the lamb were a huge hit,  and the rice became the most talked about topic of the whole party. One person, who was a vegetarian, said she was going to try it, and I mentioned to her that unfortunately it does contain chicken stock. She said she was still going to try it regardless, because everyone at the party was raving about the rice so much. She ended up asking me for the recipe.

Tandoori lamb
250ml natural yoghurt
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about a thumb size piece)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
lamb

1. Mix all prepared ingredients together with the yoghurt. If you want the marinade mixture to be smooth, you can blend it in a food processor. This would normally be enough for at least four portions of meat.

2. Add the meat to the mixture, and make sure the meat is fully coated. Cover, and marinade in the fridge overnight, or as long as you can: you could prepare this in the morning, to cook later in the day.

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3. Fry the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side in a griddle pan with some oil, or on a grill (as I only used two steaks, I had a lot of leftover marinade. I poured it on a pan, and cooked it, to use as sauce).

Aromatic rice
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, bruised
2 bay leaves
2 dl shelled pistachio nuts
3 dl uncooked basmati rice
5 1/2 dl chicken stock
1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

1. Wash the rice thoroughly, until the water doesn’t isn’t cloudy anymore (this gets rid of the excess starch). Drain well.

2. Prepare the stock. You want this to be warm when you use it.

3. Prepare / measure other ingredients. I usually tend to measure all dry spices that get used at same stage, in one cup. Best way to bruise the cardamoms is to place the flat surface of a wide knife on top of the pod, and bash it with a fist.

4. Heat the ghee / oil in a pan. Cook the onions, garlic, spices and nuts, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are browned slightly and the mixture is fragrant.

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5. Stir in the rice and stock, and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer 15 minutes, covered. Once cooked, mix with a fork and stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

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Cauliflower and pomegranate ‘couscous’ with octopus

This light cold salad was a completely experimental creation of mine. I’ve been wanting to do something resembling couscous, but neither myself nor my husband are friends of the wheat couscous. I think cauliflower is a great, healthier replacement of it, as well as the texture of the cauliflower working very well. I’ve also recently been wanting to utilise pomegranates in cooking, and thought these two ingredients were going to be the ones I was going to build the rest of the dish around of. The pomegranate and the grapes bring sweetness, and to balance this I added lime juice and capers, and it worked really well. The end result is a delightful couscous salad that is fresh, sweet, sharp, salty and earthy all at the same time. You can serve the octopus warm or cold, I served it cold.

1 cauliflower
2 pomegranates
20 red grapes
1 lime – juice
3 tbsp capers
1 dl pine nut kernels
2 spring onions
handful of pea shoots
225g cooked octopus

1. Place all the cauliflower florets in a blender, and process to a grainy texture.

2. Cut the pomegranates in half. I find the easiest way to pick the seeds out without breaking the juicy outer coating, is to break the fruit by had piece by piece, and remove the seeds by hand. Half the grapes lengthwise.

3. Add  the lime juice, capers, finely chopped spring onions and coarsely chopped pea shoots. Cut the octopus to pieces of your liking. I cut the thicker ends of the tentacles to about 5-10mm thick pieces, and the thinner ends longer.

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Chicken Kiev meatballs

These chicken meatballs are a hybrid between Chicken Kiev and Chicken nuggets. They are in fact perfect served with BBQ sauce (click here for my homemade recipe). The garlic and parsley butter inside keeps it tasty and moist too.

650g chicken breasts
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
~~~~~
Garlic and parsley butter
100g butter
2 garlic cloves, squeezed
handful of parsley, finely chopped
~~~~~
Coating for the meatballs
1 dl plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 eggs
4 dl breadcrumbs

1. Prepare the butter first. It might be a good idea to prepare it in advance, because first you’ll need it to get soft, and once you’ve mixed all the ingredients together you’ll need to leave it in the fridge to get hard again. Once you’ve mixed all ingredients together, roll in in a log inside cling film, and put in the fridge to harden. Once hardened, cut into discs, and quarter the discs.

2. Place all the chicken meatball ingredients in a food processor, and blend to a fairly smooth mixture. Take a handful, press a whole in the middle, and place a piece of the butter in the middle. Bring back to a ball, covering the butter all around.

3. Prepare the coating ingredients. On one plate / bowl, place plain flour with the spices and mix. On another the egg and on one more the breadcrumbs. With the breadcrumbs, first place about half the amount on the plate / bowl, and add more as needed. First, place each meatball in the flour mix, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

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4. Once the balls are ready, heat some vegetable oil in a pan. Fry for about 15-20 minutes in medium-high heat, turning around, until golden brown all around.

Salmon en papillote

En papillote cooking is an easy, mess-free and quick way of cooking food. You basically place all the ingredients per portion inside one parcel, which each diner will then have.

serves 2
2
salmon fillets (about 125g each)
6 tbsp frozen
peas (3 tbsp on each portion)
1/2
leek, sliced (split in two parcels)
4 tbsp
crème fraiche (2 tbsp per parcel)
2 tbsp tarragon or parsley, finely chopped (1 on each parcel)
dash of
black pepper
dash of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F. Remove peas from the freezer. The fish will cook quickly, so it might be better if the peas have defrosted a little bit.

2. Take 2 large non-stick baking parchment sheets. Place the salmon pieces on the sheets, at around 1/3 from front, leaving 2/3 at the back, so that you will be able to fold it on top. Season with salt and pepper. Add the leeks, peas, crème fraiche and herb.

3. Bring over the baking paper, to cover the fish. The front edges should be together. Roll until it reaches the fish. Then roll the ends. The parcels are now sealed, which means the fish will cook in it’s own  juices / steam.

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4. Cook in the preheated oven for 7 minutes.

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BBQ beef ribs

My recipe is for oven baked ribs, however if you want to grill yours on a barbeque you can still follow the marinating and BBQ sauce steps. This recipe will give you tasty, as well as nicely tender meat, which comes off the bone easily.

serves 2

Marinade
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, squeezed
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp oregano
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp onion powder
~~~~~
~600g beef ribs
BBQ sauce (click here for homemade BBQ sauce recipe)

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Pour the mixture over the ribs, and rub onto the meat, so that all of the ribs are coated. Let marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

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2. Heat oven to 120°C / 250°F. Place the ribs in an ovenproof dish, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 3.5 hours.

3. Check the meat, and if it’s tender, switch the oven to a grill setting, medium to high temperature. Pour away the liquid (mixture of fat and cooking juices). Completely remove the foil that was covering the meat, and brush the ribs with the barbeque sauce. Place under the grill for 5 minutes, until the sauce gets sticky.

 

BBQ sauce

I don’t use BBQ sauce very much because I don’t really like the ones you can buy. So when I do  need it, I make my own, and it’s so much better than the shop bought ones! All you need to do is put all the ingredients together, simmer it for an hour whilst stirring occasionally, and voila! My recipe is with a little bit of heat to it. It doesn’t give you a huge amount, so you might want to double or triple the amounts (this amount is perfect for cooking beef short ribs for two).

120ml tomato ketchup
200ml water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp dark brown muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil. Immediately reduce to simmer, and keep simmering uncovered for an hour. Stir occasionally.

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