Tag Archives: Tomato

In a thyme tuna pickle

26 Oct

As almost every other day, when I left the house in the (pitch black) dark this morning, I forgot to take out some meat from the freezer. Yet again, this home is plagued by the flu… As I was sitting at work, very much looking like I swallowed 2 golfballs, I realised that the kitchen is “meatless”.

Heavily doped by boredom, I allowed my thoughts to move to our fridge and cupboard… tada!! No surprises there, tuna, bacon, garden tomatoes and capers. Capers are little buggers that go surprisingly well with quite a number of dishes. Particularly tuna and salmon.

I’ve never really known what plant capers come from or how they actually end up in the little jar that I buy them in.. so I went to investigate, after all, I am soooo very busy at work. Logically its like a type of pod from a plant and not too pleasant to eat as is.

Very much like olives. Put some love in it, give it some time and its tasty and very happy!! Pickled… .. ironic as I was not in the best of moods and I might well have been compared to a caper that has been lying in vinegar.. with very sour look on my face…. but when you combine it with its favourite friends, you wont get better!! So enough of all the blah blah blah… lets get cooking!

Tuna & Caper Spaghetti

2 teaspoons of garlic

1/4 cup of dry white wine

juice of 1/2 lemon

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon of capers / 3 teaspoons if the spoon doesn’t fit through the jar

1/2 pack of bacon, cut into medium bitesized slices with scissors

2 tins of chunky tuna with water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan

Bunch of fresh thyme

Spaghetti ( your choice of serving, follow instructions on packet)

Heat a pan with olive oil. Toss in your bacon and cook for about 7 minutes. Add the tuna. Toss in the pan to allow it to be coated with the bacon juices. Add the tomatoes and garlic and toss about. Now add your white wine and lemon juice. Add parmesan cheese and mix through.

Add your thyme and cover with lid and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Lastly, add your capers and toss about. Reserve some of the pasta water, literally 2 tablespoons.

Add your tuna ingredients all to your pasta saucepan ( with the pasta in) and toss lightly. Cover with the lid and allow to stand for about 5 – 7 minutes. Dish up and grate over some freshly grated parmesan…. subtle flavours, but one of my favourites… njum!!!!!!

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Anger… with a chance of meatballs …

5 Oct

Almost like the movie, but in this case, I wish I could throw some people in the face with unlimited meatballs covered in tomato sauce! However, it would be a totalwaste, especially if you take into account how tasty they are!

After a very frustrating day, I started feeling sorry for myself because I have been eating salads and soups, excercising like a maniac and dealing with total, egotistical morons at work.

Usually, I would treat myself to a very tasty warm meal, especially since our London sun has done a disappearing act on us again. Emotional eating much?! I have a countdown for my visit to SA at the end of the year, but now it seems I have a countdown on the scale as well. Pity the weight doesn’t go as fast as the days ;-p  So, after much contemplation, I decided that since we currently have our freezer  overflowing with mince, I have to make meatballs. Not just any meatballs, I have to think of a new recipe. They are from lean protein after all, so how can I go wrong .

However; I want a creamy tomato sauce with it, not the strong, acidic sauce. I have the normal soya cream that I always use, and hey, soya is extra protein is it not?
You know, as long as your mind thinks one thing, your stomach and body will the think the same ;-p Well, that is what I keep telling myself! So I will create a
lovely little meatball surprise for me and the hubby tonight 🙂

Creamy, dreamy meatballs

1 pack of 250g extra lean beef mince

1 egg, beaten

1 handful of breadcrumbs,/ cream cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

1 tin of tomato puree

250ml of cream/ soya cream

4 cups of baby spinach

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Flavour your mince with salt and pepper. Now, sprinkle in your sesame seeds and cumin. Mix it through.

Add your egg and mix well. Now add your breadcrumbs, mix well
and start rolling some meatballs, about the size of a golf ball, or actually whatever size you like! 🙂

Add your olive oil to a hot pan. Start cooking your meatballs. As they are halfway, add your garlic and your tomato puree and shake your meatballs about in the pan
so that it can roll around in the puree. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add your spinach and cover the lid for 5 minutes. Now, add your cream and allow to simmer until cooked, which should be another 10 minutes.

I plan on serving this with a quinoa and barley type of rice mixture. Very healthy. Probably tastes like nothing, but hey, with a lovely, creamy tomato sauce like the one with the meatballs, you won’t even notice. So to everyone that felt like throwing hot meatballs at someone today, while you are enjoying your dinner, just imagine throwing them with it, and your food will be even yummier!

Riche de poulet provençal

1 Sep

As you might have guessed, I feel like FRENCH. Yes, country, butter, butter, butter and butter! Only joking, I only used a little butter. However, in the words of Julia Child, everything is beautiful with butter, and french!

So I felt like a lady in lavender today, mostly because for once, the sun was shining! Not much, but hey, we cant ask for much when living in the UK. As I had a off day, I woke up, got dressed and went in search of viola’s, basically small pansies. I have discovered they are the only flowers that I like that can survive the vicious, cold winter here.Finally, I found some, came back and pulled out all the weeds and dead flowers in my garden. In went my violas. When I finished, I remembered that it was the time of year to trim back my lavender.

Lavender is something that reminds me so much of my mother…. can you hear it…. heartache, homesick!!! One picture is always stuck in my mind, one day, cant remember when, while I was still living at home, my mother was in her lavender and white rose garden, picking lavender. It was a hot day and she was wearing a white skirt, with a white blouse, and lavender coloured wide brimmed purple hat, with her skirt swaying in the breeze. I think that was the most beautiful picture in my mind I got from my mother, because that is basically her habitat, besides the kitchen of course. She LOVES lavender! The colours, the smell, their hardiness, they can survive anything, just like my mother.

So today, while I was trimming back my lavender, I obviously put them in a vase, and this inspired me to create a country style french meal. Which in fact, is usually quite a simple meal with very delicate and subtle flavours. Naturally, I had a few tomatoes from my own garden that turned blood red, so I had to use them too! I felt like a french lady with my own chateau in provence! So why not use provencial herbs? This is a classic mixture of herbs that the french use in their dishes, and there is a reason for it, it makes anything delicious! Add butter with that, and hey, you can’t go wrong!

Riche de poulet provencal

5 chicken thighs, skin on

2 teaspoons crushed garlic

3 teaspoons provencal herbs

8 tablespoons of butter

handful of halved tomatoes

1 onion, roughly chopped

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

1/2 cup of dry white wine

juice of 2 lemons

2 teaspoons of olive oil

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter with your garlic in a frying pan.Add one teaspoon of olive oil ( this prevents the butter from burning) Place your chicken in the pan, skin side down. The chicken will now fry to make the skin crispy.

While this is cooking, boil some water, put some salt in it and boil your potatoes for about 10 minutes. When your chicken skin is brown and slightly crispy, transfer to a baking tray. Now add your onion to the pan.

Fry until slightly brown. While they are in the pan, drain your potatoes. Add them to the onions in the pan. Toss about. Basically what you want to do is get the potatoes coated in the juices, with the onion. As soon as you think they are coated with the juices, transfer them to the baking tray as well. Now, add the remaining butter to the pan and the remaining teaspoon of olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celcius. Back to your frying pan,  when the butter has melted, add your tomatoes, and toss about. Flavour with salt. Sprinkle your herbs over the tomatoes. Toss them about, try not to mix it with a spatula, but just toss it in the pan. Now add your white wine. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes and now add your lemon juice. Simmer for another 2 minutes. Take the pan, and concentrate the juices over the chicken pieces. After all the juices have been poured over the chicken, arrange the tomatoes around the chicken. Now place your tray in the oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Now if you’re anything like my big lion in the house, you will either want vegetables or salad. I only made a salad, but if you’d like you can make some frech beans with butter with that 🙂 Also, normal people will enjoy the potatoes with the chicken, however, the lion king wanted rice. So there you go, whatever you fancy, enjoy with veg/salad and rice.

Pantry pasta & kitchen madness

28 Aug

It really, truly is when I am in the kitchen. I might love cooking, but it’s as if there is a 3 year old child in the kitchen and it is even worse when baking. After my little knife in the arm incident, with my friend the dishwasher, the hubby behaves like a prowling, protective lion – he is too scared to leave me alone. Now, if he hears something falling, it takes him 2 seconds and he is in the kitchen! As I was baking yesterday to fill up my cookie jars, he must have been tired, as I kept on dropping tins and wooden spoons and basically everything a 3 year old drops, breaks and destroys when in a kitchen. So you can imagine how many times he ran up and down! What can I say, I am a VERY clumsy lady!

Also, a trait that I got from my mother, I have a distinct way of moving my nose around and up and down at “shop bought” cookies. Of course, my mother always made them herself as it was also too expensive to buy them in the shop, so naturally I would be a “cookie snob” 🙂 I completely went off the rail yesterday! I baked finely chopped, dark chocolate oat cookies and biscotti. The biscotti recipe is my mother’s, so I knew it would be perfect.  My neighbour also enters my post today. She is italian. Many times we talk over the fence and share tips about growing vegetables and flowers.

Come to think of it, while I was outside, waiting for the biscotti to finish baking, she handed me a handful of cherry tomatoes, obviously grown by her. This is what brings me to “pantry pasta”. We also went out last night, so I had to cook something that I had available, while still covered in flour all over!  Having a handful of fresh and sweet cherry tomatoes gave me the idea of plain, natural flavours.

Back to the biscotti,  the following compliment, I give credit to my mother – My neighbour Ave, told me this morning, that they call it “cantucci” and it is her husband’s favourite. She said it was absolutely delicious and her being Italian can’t find fault with it, and will have to ask me for MY recipe! Proud daughter with a very big smile!:-) So there you go mum, you know you are the perfect woman 🙂 So let’s start with the pasta, then we’ll move onto the biscotti and I think I will leave the dark chocolate oat cookies for another day 🙂 Don’t worry, I WILL add it 🙂

Pantry Pasta

Linguine pasta

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 pack of bacon, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan

50ml of dry white wine

6-7 slices of jalapeno, pips removed and finely sliced

2 handfuls of slices mushrooms

Put some water on to boil for your pasta. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the olive oil, garlic and jalapeños. Mix through. Add the mushrooms. Allow them to brown. Add your pasta to the boiling, salted water and cook till al dente. Now add the bacon and the tomatoes. Toss lightly while the bacon is cooking.

When the bacon is done, add the lemon juice and white wine. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Flavour with salt and pepper. Add half of your parmesan to the mixture and toss. Now, drain your pasta, allow at least 1 tablespoon of pasta water left in the pan with the pasta. Spoon the pasta in the pan with the bacon & mushroom mixture. Toss lightly.

Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 – 10 minutes. The pasta will absorb the flavours and the juices. When done, dish up and sprinkle each bowl of pasta with the remaining parmesan, plain, simple and lovely!

Mom’s biscotti or Biscotti Della Nocciola

500ml plain flour

250ml caster sugar

100g roasted hazelnuts

5ml vanilla essence

pinch of salt

5ml baking powder

2 eggs

zest of two lemons, finely grated

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sieve your flour,sugar,baking powder & salt in together in a large mixing bowl and put aside.

Beat your eggs, zest & vanilla essence together in a separate bowl.  Add this to your flour mixture, along with the nuts and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft,but  manageable dough.  Divide the dough in two. Roll in cylinder forms. Place fairly far apart on a butter greased baking tray as they rise a fair amount. Sprinkle with flour and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool slightly. Now, cut in thin to medium slices. Place them back on the baking tray and allow to “dry” on a cooling rack in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for 3o minutes. Take out of the oven and enjoy  🙂

Pièce de résistance … Home Grown Tomato tart

25 Aug

We should actually have a whole chapter on tomatoes, as my crop just keeps on giving and giving.. in the most famous and often used words of themost critical and only food taster in this house “The gift that keeps on giving”! However, there is something about tomatoes – the possibilities with these bright and beautiful red fruits are just endless! I read somewhere ( don’t ask me where, my memory is getting rusty)  something that actually just made my day – “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”. Don’t you just love that, I feel like I am living on my own farm already!!

After talking about this tomato tart for quite a few weeks, I decided to actually just go for it!! After all, there will always be more tomatoes, and since we haven’t had tart within a week, I suppose, why not? I think it turned out so well, I heard new “hmmmmmm” noises from my hungry tiger that I haven’t heard before, and as always, the very famous ” beauuuuuuutiful”! I don’t actually know in what type of category it will fall in, because it has egg and cream, but just a touch, and it has 2 different cheeses. Maybe we should just call it “my french tart” since, it is after all, the Pièce de résistance!! It’s a real beauty, and why not, it is even my favourite colour!! There is always something exciting and daring about red! ;-p

Home Grown Tomato Tart

14 medium tomatoes, finely sliced / 10 large tomatoes

Olive oil for drizzling

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 cup of feta cheese

2 red onions, sliced in rounds

25g of butter and extra for greasing

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

2 twigs of thyme

1 pack of short crust pastry

Flour for dusting

1 fluted tart tin

45ml cream/soya cream

1 egg

Spread your tomatoes out in a tray. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for about 15- 20 minutes. While this is roasting, melt your butter in a pan, add the garlic and slowly fry your onions on a low heat.

You just want them to slowly and slightly carmelize and turn soft, juicy and sweet. When your tomatoes are ready, your onions will be ready 🙂 Dust your surface with flour and roll out your pastry. Grease your tart tin. Place your pastry in the tin and prick with a fork. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Take half of your parmesan cheese and sprinkle on the pastry. Now, layer it with your onions. Sprinkle half of your feta cheese over the onions. Now place your tomatoes over the feta and layer them properly. Crumble the remaining feta over the tomatoes.

Layer the remaining tomatoes over the feta. Sprinkle with the thyme. Beat your egg and cream together. Pour it over the filling. Now sprinkle over the rest of your parmesan and place in the oven for 15- 20 minutes or until golden brown. What a lovely little surprise!! Enjoy with a crisp and fresh green salad 🙂 Just a thought…. my camera’s battery died, so these are dirty, disgusting blackberry photos, apologies, I know, it will NEVER happen again!! 😉

Cottage pie… you’ve got to give it a try

13 Aug

I promise! It’s got a little twist ;-p When I was a little girl, I never liked cottage pie. I liked mashed potato and I liked mince, but not together. There was something about it that I felt was bland and boring and a “quick fix” when you really didn’t have much time to make supper. Not that it is, this was just how I perceived it and naturally, having a mother that is a brilliant cook, I pulled my nose at it!

I am now here to tell you that I have recovered. Hi, my name is Nadia and I have a new cottage pie recipe…. all together now…. “Hi New Cottage Pie!!!! “ This is what I like to call “Italian Cottage Pie”.  I think it has a certain  “je ne sais quoi” to it.  Cottage pie, with a bit more zing and loaded with  love!! And anti-oxidants!

I made this a few weeks ago, thinking my hubby will pull the same face I used to pull when I heard “cottage pie”. However, he actually polished my little red pie dish! I think it is because it has the crunch factor, the zingy flavour and the fluffy potato, topped with the ever so lovely and popular parmesan. Who can live without parmesan!!!!! I’m sure it sounds bad, calling it my Italian cottage pie, but basically, the base of the sauce is Italian, parmesan is Italian, and well, why not. This is not the quickest dish, but it is well worth it 🙂 If you don’t try it, you’ll never know!

Italian Cottage Pie

 

250 g mince

5 tablespoons of tomato puree

Dolmio tomato sauce ( Yes I had to, there was one bottle left in the fridge) / 1 tin of tinned tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoon of mixed herbs

1 large onion, roughly chopped / 2 medium onions

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

4 potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 chilli finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan

1/2 cup of cream/ soya cream

Get some water boiling and add your potatoes. Flavour the water with salt. Heat a frying pan and add your olive oil, chilli and onion.

Fry the onion for about 8 minutes and add your tomato puree. Mix and fry for another 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Now add your mince and break it up with a wooden spoon. When it has slightly browned, add your Dolmio sauce/ tinnes tomatoes. Mix through.

Now add your mixed herbs. Mix through and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. It sounds long, but it really allows the meat to absorb the flavours in the sauce.

While this is simmering, check on your potatoes. When the potatoes are soft, drain them. Put them back in the saucepan and start mashing!!

When it is beautifully fluffy, add your cream and mix through thoroughly. Taste and season with salt if needed. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Grease a pie dish or any dish of your choice. When your mince is ready, spoon it into the pie dish. Take your mash and spread it over your the mince. Make sure it covers all the mince. Now pour over your egg. Sprinkle with parmesan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

When you remove it, the egg and parmesan will have formed a lovely crust with a golden colour. Enjoy with a side salad or veggies 🙂

 

Insalata caprese –and become the bee’s knees!

9 Aug

Today, I see myself as the bee’s knees ;-p Freshly cooked dinner every night, working woman, wife extraordinaire… you bet ya! The reason for the self praise?? It’s women’s day in SA, and I might not be in South Africa, but I am still a South African! So happy Women’s day to me! :-p Come to think of it, from the riots that have been going on over here, if almost feels just like home! Ahhhh, nothing like violence, rage and angry, bored, uneducated people breaking everything down to give you a nice, warm and cuddly feeling inside!

Moving on…. this wont really be a caprese salad as such, but more like a bit of inspiration. I will be making a caprese style, baked wrap. The whole pastry thing won’t work as after last night, the man overindulged in his Monday pig out pie and feels he is up to something lighter today. So I will be using wholegrain wraps as a base for a style of a healthy pizza. I promise you, this will be a quick one and you will be enjoying a lovely meal in no time 🙂

After having little tomato trees with bunches and bunches of tomatoes on them, staying green, I thought this will be the last time that I grow tomatoes in England. However, I think they heard me, because all of a sudden they decided to pull on the red jackets! Now, I have so many tomatoes, I don’t know what to do! Originally, I wanted to make a lovely caramelized tomato, onion and feta tart. The beauty of the French…. well, back to earth – the hubby won’t enjoy that.

He’s had enough of pies….. and tarts for that matter, I mean they’re all over London – especially on the northern line ;-p So there goes my little brain spark for today… moving on. I will be using ALL my tomatoes, some leftover bacon in the fridge, fresh basil from my garden, some lovely and plump olives and of course, mozzarella. All of this will result in almost NO washing up, lots of vitamin C from the tomatoes, fluffy white clouds of mozzarella and rich indulgence of the bacon.. .. naturally, all of these lovely little friends = Pure and utter happiness!!  So by now, I am hungry and I really want to tuck in, so here we go with the recipe.

About 6-8 tomatoes, finely sliced in their little round form

250g of mozzarella

2 handfuls of fresh basil

2 handfuls olives black olives

Half a pack of bacon, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 large or medium wraps

1 Teaspoon of sunflower oil

Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat $your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Drizzle your oil in a heated frying pan. Start frying your bacon until done. Now, take your wrap and place one layer of
sliced tomatoes all over. Season with some salt and pepper.

Now add the rest of your ingredients.

Top off with some black pepper and place in the oven for about 15 – 20
minutes or until the wrap is nice, golden and crispy.

In the name of “Money Supermarket” – Simples!  Enjoy!