Posts tagged ‘starter’

October 2, 2011

Recipe: Gorgonzola, fig and peach bites

Well let me start with, this is not much of a recipe, but more like an idea. In a previous post I mentioned, I’ve been asked to cater a gin tasting night, so I need to come up with some bites, for about 50 people. My hands are a bit tied, as at the bar, I have minimum cooking facilities (pretty much only a chopping board and a knife) so the food needs to be cold, transportable, and if possible still created at the spot.

Also, what does one cook for a gin tasting? – I asked myself again, and the first hour I got nothing. I looked at my old recipes, and I came to the conclusion I prefer wine, and cook with or to wine. So that didn`t help much. I didn`t have any gin at home…also disadvantage. So gin..dry? Right? Right! So either something preferably very salty or something semi- sweet. So I ended up with 4 different bites 2 salty and 2 semi sweet ones. Which the first one I`m sharing with you now. Couple of weeks ago I posted a very similar recipe.. Gorgonzola toasts with poached figs , well yes I still have a fixation for figs, especially fresh one, and lucky me there are sort of in season now. I say “sort of” as they are indeed still in season, still impossible to find some. I wanted to use this recipe somehow, but I dont have any toast-privileges at the bar. So I thought a simple cracker will do the work. Also plain Gorgonzola is nice, but here I needed something which is not so rich in taste and a bit creamy. I ended up mixing the cheese with some spread. Why spread and no butter? Well butter turns bit hard when cold, even if its mixed with something else making it a bit difficult to work with, so spread does the work perfectly.

You need pretty much no time making these, so in case you planning a cocktail party, this recipe is highly recommended:) 

Ingredients

crackers

Gorgonzola cheese

plain unsalted spread, or even Philadelphia creme cheese is nice

figs

dried apricots.

Mix the cheese with the spread, slice  dried apricot in half. lay it down on the cracker with the sticky side down. Add a small spoon of cheese spread on top, and finish it with a thin slice of fig!

Enjoy!

 

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August 24, 2011

Recipe: Selection of easy-tasty and colorful dips!

 

If there`s one thing to know about The Wonderingchef..so moi, is that I like dipping! Ok so now its out there let me tell you why… cos it`s fun! I mean who doesn’t like to dip fresh bread or nachos into tasty and cool dips? Its perfect for movie night, bbq night, wine tasting night, party night, or just nights… Also never over think it, if you got a blender at home, and a few cans of stuff hidden in your kitchen there’s so many things a creative mind can do.

I took the photos a couple of months ago, as I’m working on a project only a few friends know of. I been saving the recipes and pictures, but to be honest with you, they are just too good to stay on a disk, and not be shared. So here they are hope you will enjoy them! The whole 3 dips and 1 salad should take not much more then an hour. If you only pick one, there’s one which literally takes 5 minutes to create!

Note: If you use yogurt, wherever in the world you are, there`s going to be plenty to chose from, however, I really advise you to buy good quality, THICK Greek or Turkish yogurt! Otherwise the dips will end up runny, and that’s not nice. In case there’s no available thick yogurt, press it trough a fine sieve, so it will get rid of excess water!

Be creative with the spices! Don`t have ginger? use coconut milk! Don`t have chili? Use pepper! and so on and on and on…you dip will be tasty anyway:) 

1st zucchini and yogurt salad, with lemon grass (serves 4)

2-3 small zucchinis, or  2 big ones, or 1 very big one

200ml of thick yogurt

handfull of lemon grass..shiffanade

3 cloves of garlic

salt, white pepper

1 onion finely chopped

3 spoons of olive oil.

Slice the zucchini into small-medium cubes, so they will stay chunky after frying. Heat a frying pan, add olive oil, onion and crushed garlic. Add zucchini and fry/brown all sides, until cooked in the middle.season.  Set aside to cool. When cold, mix it with yogurt, and lemon grass! (With mint, or Thai basil, or with some extra chili is fantastic!)

Instant beetroot dip

Here you can use fresh or canned beetroots as well. It doesn`t make any difference. Only the fresh beets you need to cook and peel of course. If you use canned beetroot, get rid of the brine..you don’t need that!

1 medium can of beetroot. or 2-3 fresh ones

3- 4 cloves of garlic

3 spoons of olive oil

handful of fresh thyme leafs

Blend all ingredients together! WOA…I told you it`s instant! (add a bit of honey, and rosemary for an extra twist!)

3: 5 minute mint-chili and yogurt dip!

200 ml of yogurt

handful of fresh mint

2 cloves of garlic

a bit of olive oil

chilies– depending how much you like them, or how strong are the ones you have. Here i really cant tell. I used one, of course i didnt use the seeds, and it was till nice and spicy!

bit of salt.

Blend mint, garlic, salt, and chili together. Most likely you will need to use some olive oil to help your blender. Don`t leave any chunks it should look like a pesto.

Mix with yogurt! (got some nice middle eastern spices at home? use them!)

4:  Roasted Carrot dip with honey, ginger, and corriander

3-4 carrots, thinly sliced

1 onion finely chopped

2 spoons of olive oil

1 spoon of honey

1 spoon of shredded fresh ginger

couple of fresh coriander leafs

Roast carrot on a frying pan, with olive oil, honey and onion. Make sure they are soft!

Blend all ingredients together while still warm!

So now! Dip the bread and enjoy!

August 23, 2011

Recipe: Halloumi cheese and pesto bites

 

 

I finally managed to find some decent halloumi cheese in the supermarket. Let me tell you, I love them! Its a great substitute for a vegetarian BBQ, which meat lovers will like as well. These cheese is traditionally Cyprian, and very popular in The Middle East and Greece. Usually made by sheep’s or goats milk, sometimes there are cows milk based available too.

The best thing about it: It goes ell with almost anything, with chili or sweeter sauces, vegetables, grills, prosciutto, salads..you name it. Spices as well can be used while grilling, I would recommend sumac and some cured lemon.

I had to try out some bread recipes today, and ended up, with a nice thin sourdough, which is perfect toasted with some olive oil. I thought it ill go well with the halloumi, just wanted to make it a  bit colorful As I said it goes well with almost anything, I thought I add some grilled tomatoes, and since I had a pesto open just spread it on the toast. The result was yummy! The combination of the flavors was just amazing, and nothing beats fresh home-made bread! Its perfect as a welcome snack or to a wine tasting or to pretty much any food-loving occasion!

Note: If its your first time grilling halloumi, there’s a few things you should know. Fry it in a non-stick frying pan. Make sure the pan is burning hot…and I mean literally burning hot! Use only a drop of olive oil, not much more! Don`t overcrowd, so try and fry maybe 3-4 at once, or else the temperature will drop and your cheese is going to melt instead if grilling. Just brown each side and your cheese is ready!

Heat a frying pan, add a couple of spoons of olive oil, toast the bread slices at both sides

Spread some pesto over the toasts, while they are still warm so it melts a bit.

heat the same frying pan, until burning hot

add halloumi cheese and fast fry on both sides

when finished with cheese add tomato halves, and grill

season with a bit of sumac and white pepper only if you like

be careful with salt, as the cheese itself is very salty!

Enjoy!!

August 17, 2011

Recipe: Gorgonzola toasts with poached figs

 

 

How about a little snack? Dinner party, wine tasting, bbq, birthday party..these little toasts will serve you well. Easy and will be ready in no-time. Especially now, when figs are in season, you can easily replace the poached figs to some fresh ones with balsamic glaze. For this one I used ciabata bread, but any thick crust dough will be nice, especially french baguettes!

To prepare the poached figs will take some time, depending of course how many you are making, to me 40 pieces were 20 minutes, it also cools fast, and in case you wont be using all, it can be stored up until a month in the fridge!

Ingredients for 10 toasts

10 slices of ciabata bread, or any other bread

50 g of Gorgonzola cheese

20 figs, dried..or fresh ones, which don`t need to be poached

100ml of red wine

100ml of water

2 spoons of sugar

1 spoon of white wine vinegar

little bit of salt

Combine the water, wine, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan, add figs, and bring it to boil. Cook until liquid is reduced, and you end up with a thick caramelized. Put it aside to cool.

Spread the gorgonzola on the bread slices, add as thick as you like, depending how much you like the taste of the cheese. Some prefer a bit less, some a bit more. Put it in the oven to 180C for a couple of minutes, until golden brown.

When toasts are ready, add 2-3 figs each, spread some of the caramelized wine jam, on the serving plate!

Enjoy!

April 12, 2011

Recipe: Ramson and shallot yoghurt dip, with Asparagus.

The days are getting longer, the sun is shining, and we know summer is approaching. Warm is coming, BBQ season is coming, fresh vegetables will blow our mind at markets, and now it`s time for some refreshing easy to digest foods.  Soon we can choose from plenty of beautiful green or white asparagus, in some countries and regions ramson is blooming, and people go crazy for it. If you don`t know ramson(or bear onion) is a herb most likely to b found growing in the wild, usually on woods. In Eastern-Europe it`s very common, also in some places in North-America. To be honest, for a decent price it can be found all over the world, I saw them at markets and delis in Australia, Singapore and England as well.  Ramson tastes a bit like leek, but much better, it`s something that must be tried out, not just for the taste, but it`s very healthy as well. Also, can be used in so many ways, you can easily slice it in your sandwich or salad, or make soup, or even bread with.


When summer comes I always think about yoghurt. It`s easy, and sour, and cold, which is the most refreshing dip or side for a nice BBQ. My all time favourites are tzatziki and labna cheese balls. But nowadays I like to experiment. One thing is sure, onions go well with yoghurt. I just love the nice crunchy chopped fresh shallots, and red onions in the creamy white dip. Other thing I love is dipping, garlic breads and fresh vegetables, me is crazy for that stuff 🙂 So eventually when I spotted the beautiful green bunch of fresh asparagus at the market today, I know I found my perfect companion for my dip.


 

Again, the recipe is easy. Cos I like sharing easy things 🙂 But yes, it shouldnt take you more than 10 minutes making it! So Enjoy!

Ingredients.

(for 3-4 people, as a starter or snack)

200g greek or turkish thick yoghurt.

1 bunch of fresh green Asparagus. About half a kg., mine was 700g. Washed, the bottom cut off.

2 spoons of white wine vinegar

8 big leafs of ramson, rolled up, shiffanade.

2 big shallots, brunoise

salt

white pepper


Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add some salt. Out in Asparagus and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Make sure you don`t overcook. We are trying to keep a nice green colour here, if you cook it for long asparagus will turn grey..not pretty!

immediately put in cold water, or ice. Will keep the colour, and the veg will be nice and crunchy.

Mix the yoghurt with brunoise shallots, shiffanade ramson, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Serve with asparagus!

 

Enjoy!

April 4, 2011

Recipe: Chili lime and prawn Risotto recipe.

Risotto. Why? Because it`s so much fun:) Endless possibilities in one simple meal, ready in no time, and everybody loves it. Even if they say no, they secretly like `em:)

Also chili and lime together is delicious, not to mention if you hide s bit of seafood, in it, you end up with one unique gourmet dinner. Trust me, you can only get compliments for this one. The recipe is simple and fast, and the result is culinary heaven 🙂


So long story short… here is the recipe:

Basic Risotto recipe

150g Arborio rise

50g butter

100ml rose or white wine

2 shallots

3 cloves of garlic

1liter of veg stock approx.

And the delicious extras:

zest and juice of 1 lime

100ml sweet chili sauce

100g of cocktail prawns, of a couple of fresh scampi

1 fresh green shallot thinly sliced.

bit of fresh coriander and some green pepper.


Cook a basic risotto base. Melting the butter, adding the thinly sliced onions, garlic, arborio rise, and wine. Constantly adding a bit of stock, reducing the liquid, adding more stock, untill rise is ready. The outside in nice and soft, and a bit, BUT ONLY A BIT! crunchy in the inside.

Meanwhile melt some butter over a frying pan. Needs to but hot hot hot! Add your prawns or scampi. Fry both sides, add the sweet chilli sauce, stir.

Add zest and juice to risotto. Mix with prawns. Wait a bit stirring, untill flavours combine. Season with salt, coriander and green pepper.

Serve with green shallots and sweet chili on top!

You see? i told you it`s easy:)

Enjoy!

 

April 3, 2011

Recipe: Mini Tomato foccacia bites

Well, I never kept my foccacia obsession a secret, and I guess soon i will need to seek therapy, because I`m just hooked on the amazing tomato bread. The whole thing is just brilliant. It`s cheap, it`s easy, it`s fast, and just soooo yummy!  And not to forget FUN! Soon it`s BBQ season, also perfect timing for parties, and picnic, outdoor fun, and having friends and family over. And good hosts give good food:) Smart good hosts try not to make this not too difficult for themselves:) So foccacia is highly recommended. Especially these little bites.


To be honest there’s absolutely no difference between these and a normal oven foccacia. They just have a fun shape, and easy access at a party. If you wan`t to make them even more fun, you add different colourful toppings, like red bell peppers or zucchini, or just simple herbs, maybe even pesto?

The basic dough is easy peasy. And 1 kg of flour makes plenty. And I mean plenty!  Also don`t forget, they disapear kinda fast. My motto is you can never have enough foccacia:)


Ingredients

1kg of flour

2 spoons of dry yeast

4 spoons of sugar

4 spoons of salt

600ml of luke warm water.

Tomato slices, olive oil, salt, white pepper, crushed garlic, mixed together in a bowl.

In a medium big bowl, sift in flour. Make a hole n the middle, add yeast, sugar and salt. Mix well together

Add water, only a little at the time, and mix with wooden spoon. When flour takes up enough water, transfer on a clean table, and start kneading. Add more flour or water if needed. The dough needs to be medium hard, a bit elastic, easy to knead.

Oil up  medium bowl, put in dough mix, cover and let ir rise at a warm place. It usually needs an hour. Really depending on the quality of the ingredients. Sometimes it triples it`s size within an hour, sometimes it needs more time and patience.

Preheat your oven to 220C.

Roll the dough out, to about 2 cm thickness. With a small glass, or pastry cut, make small rounds. Put them on an oiled baking tray. (Foccacia loves oil, so depending on your taste you can use plenty of olive oil if you like). Make sue you don`t put the rounds too close to each other. place a slice of tomato on top of each, push them into the dough a little bit, so they stay.

Put them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or untill golden brown. leave on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy the tasty tomato bread goodness!

September 8, 2010

Recipe- Mushroom and Pesto puffs

pesto -mushroom puff

pesto-mushroom in puff pastry

Who doesn’t like fresh pastry in the morning? nowadays we are spoiled with varieties of pies and deliciously filled puff pastries in the mornings on the street or at train stations or at our local deli shop. Also we don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen rolling our own puff pastry even if it’s a very rewarding excercise, and can just easily grab a ready rolled one in the supermarket. We can take it home and fill it with anything we got or desire.

I used to make these ones to my ex-boyfriend, he loved them..i had to keep baking and baking and once I stopped and we broke up. Hahah ok I’m only joking but he and our guest just loved them. I also havent made these for a while, the apartment I was renting for a while in Birmingham wasn`t really chef-friendly meaning it was impossible to cook in it! I moved home and I realised im missing something, yes the MUSHROOM PUFFS!!! It is a  crowd pleaser, also they are easy to make.  They are a bit tricky cos, you can easily finish a whole tray while just having a chat with someone.

Ingredients (12-15 pcs)

frozen or fresh sheets of puff pastry from supermarket (or your own rolled one)

2 handful of mushrooms-sliced (if you mix mushrooms it’s even better for a nicer look and taste)

1 egg

half of an onion-diced

3 spoons of basil pesto

a bit of parmesan cheese

  • Over medium heat cook the onions for 2 minutes, add the mushroom, cook until ready.
  • Mix the mushrooms with the pesto
  • roll out the puff pastry, slice about  5-6 cm squares, place a small spoon of mushroom mix in the middle
  • brush with egg mix
  • put it in 190C pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes, or untill golden brown.
  • When ready, sprinkle the top with fresh parmesan.
  • Enjoy!

Tips: Always put baking paper under the pastry. Leave space between the squares as they going to double their size while baking!