Posts tagged ‘Herbs’

June 21, 2012

The smell of curry leaves

Stir -fried Chettinad Chicken

It’s been utterly quiet around here lately.  At some point, I just stopped thinking about food all the time. My mind was somewhere else.

Five – no wait! six? –  years ago I made a career choice. I moved away from what I wanted to do when I was a child, because it was not quite how I thought it was going to be, and I could not cope with the differences. Besides, pursuing that career would mean no decent job for a few years at least. I took up another job, a job that was any job but that, because I didn’t want to have to deal with it ever again. It felt too painful.

October 11, 2011

Tagliatelle al basilico

Tagliatelle al basilico

Sunday evening. We’ve been packing all weekend, and then fixing the last few things in the house: filling holes in the wall with plaster and painting them (my plastering skills are something I am so proud of, one of the few things for which I am apparently a natural). Then a tour of the apartment, to double check what is left for packing.  I went through the kitchen cupboard and realized I had not packed my pasta machine yet.

Of course there is a box where it could sit. It should.

Well. I’ve always wanted to try a twist on pasta, and there is some basil sitting on the fridge so.. . so here I am making home-made pasta in the middle of a removal. And you know what? I totally recommend it.

May 13, 2011

Smoky, fresh, sour, nutty: a lentil salad

Lentil aubergine salad

This salad looks a bit demure. It can be given a makeover with a nice presentation, on special occasions, but some people will keep thinking it is just another boring vegan blob. As if someone had invited also the ugly sister to a dinner party just to please the beautiful one.

It does not smell particularly strong – maybe a whiff of sour and mint if you go really close, but when it is at room temperature, it does not really hit.

And then you taste it, and it explodes. It smacks you in the face with smokiness, then unfolds its complexity as you chew through it. Fresh and sour notes come in, then meatiness and a hint of sweetness as you tackle the lentils, while the slightly bitter, crunchy, nutty walnuts predominate as you chew them last.

The heart of this salad is smoked aubergine, the one used for baba ghanoush dip.  I had never smoked an aubergine before starting to learn about Middle East food. I always thought the natural destiny for an aubergine, the right, glorious end  for its charming black beauty,  is to be deep-fried in olive oil. More often than not I ended up playing it down, pan roasting it in cubes with just a bit of oil, roasting it in the oven, cut into wedges, or even grilling it, sliced. A defeat for taste.

April 4, 2011

Instant summer fix: roasted tomatoes, rucola, aubergine

Roasted aubergine and tomato salad

Ok, ok, I know, officially spring is coming. I know that soon I will have too much asparagus to cook with and zillions of the best strawberries ever. But in Germany spring does arrive late. Oh so late. Yesterday an English friend of mine was telling us how he’s so fed up with the trees for not displaying any #@&%$? leaves, yet. The weather did turn milder, but the fields are still bare.

So for the moment I’m relying on the usual leeks, potatoes, cabbage, plus more or less tasty imports. I live with a serial tomato eater. When we came back here after being in Calabria for a month, we went to shop for food. While I was all in all quite happy with the selection of products, he bursted out: “Where are the vegetables I can actually  eat?”. He loves Brussel sprouts, potatoes and leeks, but when you grow up with tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, you miss them bitterly. Now and again I buy them because food nostalgia is too strong.

February 24, 2011

Tonno di coniglio

Rabbit 'tonno'

This recipe is likely to push some of you out of their comfort zone. The meat I am presenting you today is rabbit, and you are welcome to go elsewhere if this disturbs you in any way. If it doesn’t, I hope you are inclined to consider this recipe. It is a quintessentially Italian recipe, not because it is very common,  nor because the method is widespread, but because of its combination of simplicity, style and intense flavours: a combination at the heart of what makes Italian cooking stand out from the crowd.

February 20, 2011

How to make carrots interesting

Spicy carrot salat

There is always some vegetable that even the most hard-core vegetable lover dislikes. I count myself as a hard-core vegetable lover: I can rant for hours about the secret pleasures of artichokes or the juicy consistency of asparagus. I eat vegetables because they are good-for-you, sure, but mainly I eat them because I want to eat them. I want to cook with them. Whenever I go to the market, I have to stop myself from buying too much. I am a compulsive vegetable shopper, I admit it, and nothing excites me more than a good-looking (and better tasting!) fruit and veggies stall. My vegetable love has always been one of the distinctive tract of my personality: my sister is the one who eats only meat, I am the one who eats only vegs. We are a team, when it comes to eating.

July 11, 2010

Cooking with hot weather

The ingredients for pesto

The locals are complaining as if Germany were becoming the  Sahara. For an Italian, it is not that bad. At night you can sleep even with your clothes on. This is not hot, guys. Spend a couple of nights in Milan now – you can’t sleep, you can’t eat.  I kind of missed a proper summer feeling when I lived in Wales, when they start to talk about ‘coping with the heat wave’ when the temperature reaches 24 degrees.  It is still actually quite warm though, and since my kitchen is exposed to the sun especially at evening, I don’t feel like spending a lot of time there. So dinner is mainly salads, hummus, cold dishes, like the big Italian summer classics: prosciutto e melone, pomodoro e mozzarella. Nicer since here I can find proper Italian ingredients.

April 11, 2010

Springtime

Pasta with wild garlic and vegetablesAt this time of the year, if you happen to be in Wales, you can walk in the woods near the Ocean without smelling the sea at all. Coastline in Wales is stunning. I had no idea before going there. It has not much to envy to the beautiful Irish coastline, but is much less known outside the UK. I used to live at the doorstep of an assortment of cliffs, sand beaches, pebbles beaches, peninsulas, tidal caves. From home in half an hour I could choose between five or six different beaches, all facing different directions so I was guaranteed to always get a lot of wind (I never managed to actually avoid it :) ). I was spoilt by the choice of  walks, some in the open, others in the woods. The woods are particularly luscious and magnificent: the mild climate allows for an almost tropical quality of nature, always green, with many imported species who have successfully adapted, including little bamboo bushes. The open parts on the other hand are wild moors covered by heather and thorny bushes, where lazy sheep graze the grass and the wind always blows.

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