July 27, 2011

When a Hamburger is not a Hamburger

As usual -if you're new please read my ---> welcome note first.

I think I've mentioned it on many occasions, I like it simple and easy. I have no time for too complicated, elaborate cooking, specially these days as am busy as hell.
But I like style, flavors, aromas and scents and will never settle for a bland meal. I hate blandness both in cooking and in life.
So I try to make the most original out of the ordinary. That's my philosophy in life.

You're hungry, you have no time to cook, you have unexpected visitors, whatever it is...hamburgers are fine. Not your regular hamburgers in a bun though. Oh no, this is different.
If you are so inclined to make them yourselves, by all means do so, I don't have the time, personally.

So am going to give a simple recipe, a 3 course if you can call that.

For 2 you will need :

* 2 - 4 (depends on how big of a eater you are) big size lean meat pure beef hamburgers frozen or fresh up to you, I prefer fresh.
* 1/2 to 1 flat tbsp of cooking oil I use sunflower
* 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of hamburger spices - I found the mix in a supermarket (mix is black pepper, ginger, cardamon , cinnamon, all spices, coriander)
* 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
* salt to taste.
* a dash of Maggi liquid condiment

Mix all the above well and marinate your (thawed if frozen) burgers.

Meanwhile preparation for salad : You figure out how much you need to make for 2.

- iceberg lettuce chopped
- shredded carrots
- tomatoes
- cucumber
- fresh parsley leaves
- shredded cooked beetroot if available
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- walnuts

Salad sauce is made of

- olive oil
- salt
- pepper
- apple vinegar
- ground cumin

Now for the side dish to accompany your extraordinary burgers

SPINACH - another underrated vegetable.

I use frozen, no cream, no spices. Just plain spinach.

* For 2 you will need around 400 grms of frozen spinach.
* 1 medium size onion finely chopped
* 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
* 1 tbs of OLIVE OIL
* 1/4 tsp of mixed dried herbs - like Herbes de Provence
* salt and pepper to taste.

Gently fry onion in olive oil until tender, add your frozen spinach and let it thaw on a gentle fire, add nutmeg, dried herbs and leave it to cook, not more than 5 to 7 mn.

Grill your hamburgers, make sure to heat your frying pan well before.

Serve hamburgers with side salad and the hot spinach, TIP: sprinkle spinach with grated Parmigiano cheese .

I use these ready made sauces that go very well with the hamburgers, apart from Dijon Mustard, I also use Smoky BBQ sauce and a spicy Abricot sauce. Of course you can choose whatever ready made sauce you fancy.

Bon appétit.

July 25, 2011

Sauteed Courgettes

You know what to do first - right ? read welcome note. Thanks.

Summer is the courgette season, I believe you also call them zucchinis, even though zucchinis are a little smaller in size.

I don't know why, but I have a feeling the courgette is a very misunderstood vegetable. We shall remedy that now. So today's simple recipe, is a lovely side dish that goes very well with any grilled meat or fish.

For 2 you need about 3 medium size courgettes
2 large gloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon of OLIVE oil
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 to 6 branches of Cilantro aka Fresh coriander
salt and pepper.

Preparation :

-wash courgettes (obviously)
- Peel like a Zebra. OK that means you don't peel it completely. I don't know how you say that in English, but imagine a Zebra.
-slice vertically then divide into two or three parts.
-crush garlic and use cilantro leaves only.
-in a deep medium size frying pan, put olive oil, garlic and cilantro and fry a little. By the way olive oil should never be heated alone.
-add your courgettes slices, nutmeg, salt and pepper
-leave it to cook on medium fire until tender.

Et voilà. Bon appétit

July 21, 2011

Shells in a Pot.

They look like Sea Shells and come in two sizes, small and big - They are called Conchiglie and Conchiglioni i.e Jumbo Shells. And now that Ramadan is approaching and I am hoping you feed as many people as you can, I shall give you a simple, simple, recipe using Pasta Shells, the smaller ones. But first you will read my welcome note.

This what the pasta shells look like

In Iraq, we call them "kathee mathee". Don't ask me why, I don't know. But the way we cook them for convenience sake is very much like a Turkish dish made of stuffed meat raviolis with yogurt. So basically this is the easy quick version of it.

For 2-3 persons you will need the following :

- 250 grams of minced beef (I use lean)
- about 250 grams of pasta shells
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- about 1.1/2 tsp of mixed spices
- salt and pepper to your liking
- 1 flat teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 cube of beef stock (optional)
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- 1 tbs of vegetable oil
- 2 small cans of yogurt
- 1 large clove of garlic.

Preparation :

finely chop onions and stir fry until brownish in vegetable oil, add your minced meat, and spices plus cinnamon plus a dash of salt and pepper, until the mix is well cooked.

Meanwhile in a saucepan

- fill saucepan with boiling water, add olive oil, and beef stock (optional) and your pasta shells until cooked to your liking. Strain.

- mix pasta shells with cooked minced beef, add a little of the pasta water to it so it will not dry and leave for a few minutes on a low fire.

- crush garlic in yogurt, mix well, add salt if necessary.

Serve hot with garlic/yogurt mix on side, latter will be used like a sauce on top of the pasta shells.

Bon Appétit.

July 18, 2011

Biryani Rice with Marinated Chicken.

Gosh, have not updated this blog in ages. To make up for this long absence, am about to give you a whole menu - Biryani Rice, Marinated Chicken and a surprise easy to prepare dessert.

But before doing so, you are to read my Welcome Note if you are new to my blog. Am afraid you have no choice here. You MUST read it first.

When Cooking, I like things simple, easy, quick, tasty and original.

You will probably find many Biryani and marinated chicken recipes. This one is mine.

For the Chicken - you may also use Turkey. For expediency I use filet of either. 4 medium sizes pieces for two is ample.

- marinate the chicken or turkey filet for a minimum of 1 hour (longer is preferable)in following mix :

* 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt
* a pinch of sweet paprika
* a pinch of curcuma
* a pinch of pepper
* 1 clove of crushed garlic
* teaspoon of olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger (you can also use ginger powder if you're too lazy)
* salt to taste
* a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp of honey (optional)

Mix the whole thing well, and keep refrigerated.

Now for the rice

Biryani for 2.

- 1 cup Basmati rice or long grain (paraboiled is FORBIDDEN)
- 2 eggs - Hard boiled
- 1 medium size potato
- 1 medium size carrot
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 cube chicken stock (since am serving with marinated chicken)
- 2 tsp Biryani spices (can be found in any Indian/Pakistani shop)
- 4 whole cardamons
- a pinch of curcuma
- a pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of rosewater (optional but preferable)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil - I use sunflower

Wash rice thoroughly and leave to soak in cold water
finely chop onion
peel potato and cut in small cubes
peel carrot and cut in small cubes
rinse frozen peas and leave on side

In a largish pot (rice needs to BREATHE), heat cooking oil, and fry onions until tender, add carrots first, and stir fry a little more, then add potatoes. Medium fire, add pinch of cinnamon and curcuma, fry a little more, then add 1/2 cup of BOILING WATER plus bay leaves and your chicken stock cube.

Leave it to HALF COOK, then add your frozen peas (you can always add a little more water if needed) plus 2 teaspoons of Biryani spices, let it cook just a FEW minutes, you want the vegetables to be impregnated with the spices, add another 1/2 cup of BOILING WATER then add strained rice. Let it boil ONCE and then turn on a LOW heat,until all the water is absorbed and rice cooked (not mushy). If you are to add water, always make sure it is BOILING WATER. Once the rice is cooked, put your hard boiled eggs in the Biryani mix and sprinkle the rosewater on top and turn heat off - just leave it there for a few minutes so the eggs can take in the spices as well.

Meanwhile, while your rice is cooking, you have preheated your oven - just lay your chicken or turkey filet with that lovely aromatic sauce in a non stick tray, cover with aluminium foil and let it cook, once cooked you can uncover and let the filet take a golden hue. Thin pieces of filet usually needs no more than 7 mn max in oven.

To serve : You can either serve the filet next to the Biryani rice or place it on top.
Of course, you can always have the filet by itself and the Biryani rice by itself. It's up to your fancy.

I like to serve it with a side bowl of yogurt with dried mint.

As for the dessert - very refreshing after all those lovely spices.

for 2 :

- 2 medium size mangoes, peeled and cut in cubes
- about 10 fresh mint leaves
- a squeeze of LIME juice

Place mango cubes in bowl, add mint, add lime juice - keep refrigerated.

Serve either by itself or with a scoop of Lime sorbet.

Bon Appétit