October 18, 2011

Linguine with Pears & Sage

If you're new to my blog, this is my only condition - of course I have no way of checking - but if you do try out one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. Let it circulate.

Tonight's recipe was suggested by a friend. Actually she suggested Raviolis with pears, which I had never tried before. So that got me curious, and I searched around and came up with my own version. I say my own version because I have no time to make raviolis, so I settled for linguine instead. Linguine is spaghetti like but flat. If you don't have linguine use Tagliatelle.

You might say - what ? pasta with pears ? don't judge before you try it out. It is one of the most succulent combinations I have had in my life. Besides it's the pears season, so why not get a little imaginative ?! And it is so EASY to prepare.

For two you will need :

- 250 grams of linguine pasta

- 2 preferably hard pears

- about 4 branches of FRESH Sage. leaves only.

- half a cup of fresh cream (I use half cream because otherwise it would get a little too heavy with all the cheese)

- a tablespoon of olive oil (the traditional recipe suggests butter -again that would make it way too heavy and you don't want clogged arteries)

- about half a cup of Gorgonzola cheese ( I found a ready mix of Gorgonzola and Mascarpone which was delicious - so if you can find that mix opt for that one otherwise stick with Gorgonzola alone)

- about half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

- a small handful of Walnuts

- pepper and salt to taste (remember the cheese is already salty so you may want to take it easy with the salt)


- peel pears and cut them in vertical slices, and then again in two - like small thick sticks. (this is not a lesson in geometry so don't fret OK ?)

- in a large deep non stick pan, put the olive oil and the slices of pears, until the pears are GOLDEN.

- once done, remove pears and keep aside

- in that same pan, add sage leaves (if they are large - cut in two) and cook them for one minute.

- add cream, pieces of Gorgonzola plus Parmesan cheese and let it cook/simmer for another 5 to 7 mn or so, on a gentle fire, you don't want that to boil. Keep stirring gently until the cheese melts into the cream.

- now put your pears with its juice (if any) into that lovely creamy sauce and let it cook for one more minute.

TIP: Check amount of sauce, you can always add more cream and cheese if you feel it will not be enough to cover your whole pasta

Meanwhile - Pasta preparation.

- place linguine in boiling water with salt and a drop of olive oil, until cooked.
- drain them
- add them to your sage and pear sauce
- throw in your hand crushed walnuts
- mix well so that all the pasta is covered with the sauce. Covered in sauce NOT drowning in sauce
- leave to simmer for a couple of minutes.

Serve hot and decorate with a sage leaf and a couple of walnuts - and pray for me because you will LOVE it!

And here's a little Italian music to accompany you.

October 1, 2011

White Beans Stew with Vermicelli Rice.

As usual, you need the conditions here - if you try one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry persons. Let the Goodness circulate !

Tonight's recipe is very easy to prepare. White Beans Stew or "Fasulia Bayda bil lahmeh" in Arabic - roughly the equivalent of a chili con carne or your regular baked beans except it has meat and does not have this sweet tinge to it. Some people use pieces of lamb or beef when preparing the bean stew, I use neither. I opt for lean minced beef as it is much faster to cook and I find it tastier.

Traditionally one uses dried white beans as opposed to canned. If you do opt for that, you need to soak them overnight and boil them till tender. I chose canned - again because it's faster.

So for two people you will need the following :

- 250 grms of lean minced beef (you can always buy your regular mince but I like lean)
- about 500 grms = 2 medium tins of canned white beans (NOT in any sauce)
- 6/7 stalks of fresh coriander/cilantro or parsley - minced
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced.
- 1 large ripe tomato cut in small pieces
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 flat tbs of tomato paste (see below for color check)
- about 1 to 1 1/2 standard cup (not mug) of boiled water
- and the following spices for the Keema i.e for the minced meat preparation:
* 1/4 tsp mixed spices (allspice)
* 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
* a dash of sweet paprika
* a dash of Curcuma/ Turmeric
* pepper and salt (if you're using beef cube stock it's probably salty already)

the secret of this bean stew is in the Keema - ie the minced meat mix.

- heat the oil and fry your garlic and onion until tender brown
- add your minced meat (I wash mine and leave it to drain)
- add all the spices above
- leave to cook well until the meat is brownish. This is important otherwise minced meat tastes like gum and is chewy. You need to cook it well first before adding the rest.
- once the meat is cooked, add the pieces of fresh tomato + cilantro or parsley
- leave it to simmer for a about 5 mn on a medium heat
- rinse your canned beans in cold water, drain well and add to the keema mix it and leave for a few more minutes
- finally dilute tomato paste and beef stock in boiling water, pour over the beans and meat, mix well and let it boil once, covered and let it cook gently over a low fire until all the flavors are absorbed. Should not take more than 7 to 10 mn.
- make sure the stew is not too liquid nor too thick. And its color should be a healthy red, not burgundy (too much tomato paste) and not orange (too little tomato paste)

If you're a vegetarian - skip the meat part, add the beans then the spices and substitute beef stock with vegetable stock

This cooks fairly fast so you need to have your vermicelli rice "riz bil sha'riya" ready.

Vermicelli rice preparation :

- 1 1/2 cup of Basmati rice, thoroughly washed in cold water
- one big handful of vermicelli pasta
- approx one tbs of cooking oil
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Heat the oil well and put the vermicelli until they are golden brown. Be careful because vermicellis burn quickly.
add your drained rice and salt
mix well
add the boiling water.

Let it boil once only and leave to simmer covered on a VERY LOW fire until all liquid is absorbed.

Serve with the hot beans stew.

Bon appétit or Sahtein in Arabic.