Ficelle with Brie, Figs and blackberries

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This is more an idea than an actual recipe but it is great when you don´t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It is perfect for a picnic or to serve at a dinner party. This is one of those things that I could eat at any time of the day. If you have never had ficelle before, it’s type of French bread. It is smaller than a baguette. If you can’t find it, just use one baguette instead.

Ingredients:

2 ficelles, sliced in half lengthwise (Similar to baguette, but smaller)

200gr of brie, sliced into pieces

4 figs, thinly sliced

1 cup of blackberries

¼ cup of pomegranate seeds

150grs of arugula

2 tablespoons of olive oil

About 3 tablespoons of balsamic reduction

Salt

 

If you have never made balsamic reduction, is it very easy to make. Get a small bottle of balsamic vinegar (about 250ml). Since you are going to reduce it, just get the cheap kind. Pour the balsamic in a saucepan over medium heat and let it reduce to about 1/3 of the original volume. Then pour it in a glass container and allow it to cool down. As it cools down, it will harden a bit. This is something I always have in the house since I love drizzling it over salads.

Mix the arugula with a pinch of salt and the olive oil. Spread it over the sliced ficelles. Top with the figs, blackberries, brie and pomegranate seeds. Finally drizzle some of the balsamic reduction and enjoy!

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Celeriac, Beet & Potato Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

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Today I felt like having a salad for dinner. I made this one with thinly sliced beets which I just pan-roasted, roasted baby potatoes, celeriac ribbons and arugula. A semi-warm salad perfect for the beginning of spring since it is still quite cold here.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

5 small beets (I used 3 yellow, 1 candy cane and 1 purple)

500grs of baby potatoes, washed and sliced in half

1/2 celeriac

100grs of arugula

Olive oil

Salt

For the horseradish vinaigrette:

1/3 of a cup of olive oil

1/3 of a cup of apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of horseradish

1 teaspoon of mustard

Salt

Pepper

 

To make the vinaigrette, just place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid, cover it and then shake it to emulsify it.

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the baby potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook while tossing from time to time until the potatoes are golden outside and fully cooked on the inside. The time will depend on the size of the potatoes. Set them aside.

Peel the beets and using a mandoline, finely slice them. Set them aside. I kept and cooked the different color of beets separate so that the purple beets wouldn’t stain the others but you don’t have to.

Add about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan where you cooked the potatoes, add the yellow beets and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes until they cooked but still have a crunch. If you sliced them paper thin they will take less time. Add some salt.

Do the same for the candy cane beet and for the purple beet. Set them aside

Once the beets are cooked, start prepping the celeriac. You only need half of it, the other half you can reserve for another recipe. Peel it and slice it into about 1 cm pieces. Then using a potato peeler just shave it to create ribbons.

Place the celeriac ribbons, potatoes, beets and arugula in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve among 3 plates and eat straight away.

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Celeriac, Pea & Arugula Soup with Sumac Roasted Chickpeas

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I made this soup about a month ago and now I’m craving it again. The temperature has gone down quite a lot in the past few days. It feels as if we jumped straight into winter. Brrr! So comfort food season has officially started and a creamy soup hits the spot. This is a very healthy soup. The celeriac provides enough creaminess without having to add any cream. I love the lemony roasted chickpeas and I like the texture of the feta as it kinda melts in the hot soup.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the Chickpeas:

100gr of canned chickpeas

1 tablespoon of sumac

Pinch of lemon salt

Pepper

Drizzle of olive oil

For the soup:

1 large white onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 celeriac, peeled and chopped

1 ½ litters of stock (vegetable or chicken)

1 cup of frozen peas

A handful of arugula

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Extras:

100gr of feta, crumbled

Cayenne

 

Mix the chickpeas with the sumac, lemon salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl. Spread the chickpeas in an oven dish lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20 minutes at 180C/350F.

Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and let them cook for 4 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for an extra minute. Add the chopped celeriac and stock. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the 20 minutes are up, add the frozen peas. Let them sit for a minute in the soup. Turn off the heat, add the arugula and blend it until smooth. I used an immersion blender.

Pass the soup through a sieve and pour it back into the saucepan. Let it reduce over medium heat for 10 minutes. It will thicken nicely.

Taste for salt, keep in mind that the feta will give some saltiness. Divide the soup into two bowls. Top them with the crumbled feta, roasted chickpeas and a sprinkle of cayenne. Enjoy!

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Gnudi with Arugula Greek Yogurt Pesto

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A few weeks ago I was zapping through the TV and stopped at a Jamie Oliver’s show.  He had just begun to do a gnudi recipe. I remembered trying a different kind of gnudi a long time ago at a restaurant and since I remembered liking it, I thought I would give it a try.

Only after it went on commercial and came back did I realize that it was from his Comfort Food book.  The same book that was laying around in my living room. So far I had only browsed through it very quickly and was meaning to get back to it at some point. I guess I just needed some TV persuasion!

I slightly adapted the gnudi recipe because the ricotta mixture was too moist to roll into a ball, so I added some flour which made it a lot easier. I also added more parmesan and lemon pepper. I decided to serve it with an arugula Greek yogurt pesto instead of the sage butter from the book.

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Keep in mind that the gnudi has to be made the night before. It is rolled in semolina and needs to sit overnight in the fridge uncovered. The semolina will suck out the moisture from the ricotta and create a nice layer all around the gnudi.  It is really not much work, it took me 5 minutes to make the gnudi the night before and then the next day you just cook them in boiling water for 3 minutes.  So don’t be discouraged because it needs to be made in advance.

This recipe makes about 20 gnudi, enough for 3 servings.

Ingredients:

For the Gnudi:

500gr Ricotta

120gr Grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper (optional)

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons of All-purpose flour

Semolina for rolling (about 300gr)

For the Arugula Greek Yogurt Pesto:

125gr Arugula

75gr Pine nuts, toasted

50gr Grated Parmesan

250gr Greek Yogurt

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

 

For the gnudi, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (excluding the semolina).

Place some of the semolina in a large plate. Sprinkle some of the semolina on a tray as well.

Grab about 1 ½ tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. Then roll it into the plate with the semolina. Once it is completely coated in the semolina, place the gnudi in the prepared tray. Repeat for all of the ricotta mixture.  Once all the gnudi are done, sprinkle more of the semolina on top and put the tray in the fridge. Leave it overnight uncovered.

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When you are ready to cook the gnudi, first make the pesto. Just place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

To cook the gnudi, bring a large pot with water and salt to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook the gnudi in batches for 3 minutes at a time.  It is important to do it in batches because they are very delicate and can break. Once the 3 minutes are up, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Warm up the pesto in a pan. Then pour the pesto into the serving plates, place the gnudi on top and sprinkle some extra parmesan.

Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Roasted Buckwheat

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It seems that winter is finally catching up. It has been quite a soft winter so far. But with the temperatures starting to drop this weekend and maybe snow on the way, a nice warm soup was in order. I roasted the butternut squash, garlic and onions in the oven to bring out their sweetness. For the toppings, I roasted some buckwheat with maple syrup and cayenne pepper (I find it quite an addictive snack). I also made some bacon crumbs. And for some peppery taste, I added some micro arugula that I grow myself in my teeny tiny little greenhouse.

Ingredients:

For the Soup:

1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced

6 pearl onions or 1 big onion, leave the skin on

3 garlic cloves, with the skin on

Splash of olive oil

1 ½ liter of vegetable or chicken stock

100ml of cream

Salt to taste

For the maple roasted buckwheat:

6 tablespoons of buckwheat

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon of olive oil

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of salt

For the bacon crumbs:

12 bacon strips

Topping:

Micro arugula

 

Line an oven tray with aluminum foil; place the peeled and sliced butternut squash and unpeeled onions on the tray.  Cover one head of garlic in aluminum foil with a bit of olive oil inside and place it on the tray  (I roasted the whole head of garlic and only used 3 cloves for the soup, the rest you can use for another dish). Splash a bit of olive oil over the vegetables and roast at 180C/350F for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Mix the buckwheat, maple syrup, olive oil, cayenne and salt in a small bowl.

Line an oven tray with parchment paper and place the buckwheat in a single layer. Roast for about 10 minutes, check that it doesn’t burn.  Then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the bacon crumbs, just cook the bacon until crispy.  Allow to cool down and then put it in the food processor and pulse until you get crumbs.  Set aside.

Going back to the soup, peel the onions and 4 cloves of garlic. Place them on a pot and add the butternut squash. Add the stock and blend until it is creamy.  Warm up the soup over medium heat and then add the cream and salt to taste.

Serve warm and top it with the roasted buckwheat, bacon crumbs and micro arugula.