May 28, 2008


I was looking through Serious Eats the other day reading an amusing article entitled “Top 10 ingredients I will never have in my kitchen” where various readers had posted their own lists of items related to the subject. It was funny to see that quite a few had coriander (cilantro) amongst their top 10. I was just wondering how can someone NOT like coriander??? I love that stuff! And I used it recently in a dish I prepared coupling it up with veal (tis the good season for veal on this side of the world) and asparagus (good season for asparagus too!). While I was eating I thought to myself again, how can someone not like coriander?! Is it a cultural thing? I mean, we use it quite a lot in our Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine and I would had never thought of, for instance, not using coriander for a lamb marinade, in meatballs or with fish.
Anyway, taking into account the anti-coriander movement, I am warning you from now: the recipe I’m posting today does contain coriander! Now for you coriander lovers out there, let me tell you that it went marvellously well with the veal, and overlapped nicely with the asparagus too. Because I’m a carbohydrate lover (carbs are not evil!) I also wanted to include some rice in this dish which I cooked following a method my mother has been using for years. It’s based on first frying angel hair until it turns golden before adding in the rice. I’ve always loved the colour fried angel hair can add to plain white rice- makes it look less boring I guess! Going a bit off-topic: in regards to the photos, unfortunately I am still struggling with lighting issues, and I wasn’t very lucky at the moment I was photographing this dish… nonetheless the most important is TASTE because as much as we eat with the eyes, our tastebuds deserve a treat too!
Above: frying the angel hair. Below: adding the rice and frying some more

Recipe for Veal with Coriander & Garlic, Angel Hair & Rice, Asparagus

Veal (scallops)
Fresh coriander, chopped
Garlic, crushed
Green asparagus
Angel Hair
White rice (preferably basmati)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

How to make it:
Chop off the hard bits of the asparagus (the root-y bit). Optionally, you can cut off the triangular shaped leaflets too (keeping only the clustered ones at the top though- this is just for aesthetic purposes). Lay the asparagus in a pan, add hot water and let boil for about 6 minutes. In the meantime, drizzle and heat some olive oil in a pot. Then add some angel hair, let it become of a golden colour. Keep a close eye as angel hair can burn quite fast! Once it becomes golden, add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes (basically you are frying angel hair and rice). Follow with water, cover pot, reduce heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes. With 5 minutes left to go for the rice, you can start with the veal. Drizzle and heat some olive oil in a pan, add the veal scallops on high heat first then reduce to lower heat for about 5 minutes (depends on how you like your veal). At the very end- and only at the very end- add the chopped coriander, crushed garlic, salt & pepper on high heat for about 1-2 minutes. You can also optionally add some cream too if you wish. Serve the veal with the angel hair & rice and asparagus- all at the right temperature.
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May 26, 2008


Here I am again with one of my Middle Eastern ingredients – knafeh. Knafeh is a wonderful ingredient: thin supple white threads that transform into a precious golden crunch in the oven and is one of the main components in various Arabic dessert recipes, along with rose water, pistachios & company.
One of my sweet-tooth favourites that I’ve been loving for years is “knafeh bil jibne” which means something like “cheese knafeh” (jibne = cheese). It is a wonderful scrumptious sinful dessert made of cheese (one with a very mild taste like mozzarella or ricotta for instance) stuffed in between a bottom and upper layer of knafeh generously rolled in melted butter and then finished with a blessing of syrup- the infamous syrup that so many Middle Eastern sweets swim in.

Generally knafeh bil jibne is prepared in gigantic round pans (as in photos above, which are some old photos from a previous trip to Syria), and if you walk past a Middle Eastern pastry shop it would be exhibited behind vitrines alongside mountains of other sweets- thereby making it literally impossible to just walk past without stepping in first, making a purchase and leaving maybe with a regret for your waistline but cleverly coming up with millions of good excuses that it was worth it, that it was too hard to resist, that you’ll start your diet tomorrow, and that it’s the last time. But the truth is that it’s never the last time because no one can say no to the devil dressed in knafeh. And so this weekend I succumbed and wanted to make them in something other then a huge round pan. I kept all the key ingredients but just played around with the look to create knafeh bil jibnes that are not only delicious, but hopefully also pretty to look at.

Above: what knafeh looks like raw. Below: knafeh bil jibne before going into the oven

Below: knafeh bil jibne just out of the oven

Below: photo taken on the side just to show what the inside looks like

I’m also submitting this recipe to Food Blogga’s Beautiful Bones event as there’s calcium coming from the cheese in this dessert. I wanted to submit a recipe for this event because I felt Susan's initiative to increase awareness of Osteoporosis was a fantastic idea. My only concern was not missing the deadline (as usually I only have time to cook & photograph on weekends!) but I made it! In regards to knafeh bil jibne, I guess the calcium % beats a brownie or a sorbet for instance… Actually, just for an FYI: 100gr of mozzarella contains 505mg mg of calcium. 100gr of milk contains 120mg of calcium. Not bad eh!

Recipe for knafeh bil jibné:

Knafeh (you can find this in Middle Eastern food shops)
Mozzarella (small individual round balls)
Butter, melted
Rose water
Pistachios, crushed (optional)
Candied fruit, diced (optional)

How to make it:
Preheat oven to 180C. In a deep pan, place the knafeh that you will be using and cover it with melted butter. Make sure all the knafeh is well rolled into the butter- you almost need to massage it with the butter. Then, bring your mozzarella balls and roll strands of knafeh around it until it turns out looking like a ball of knitting yarn. Place the knafeh balls in a buttered pan and bake in oven for about 15mins. I’d strongly recommend that as of 10mins, check your oven as knafeh can sometimes be unpredictable and burn quite fast! You’ll know it’s ready when it becomes of a beautiful luminous golden colour. While it’s in the oven, prepare the syrup: place equal amounts of sugar and water and boil for a good 10 mins (until it’s texture is rather thick). At the end, add some rose water to the syrup. When the knafeh bil jibne is out of the oven, immediately pour syrup (be very generous here, it needs a lot of syrup) on each ball. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and decorate with a piece of candied fruit (optional).
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May 22, 2008


In my last post I used hazelnuts in a pasta and spinach dish. Well after having made that, I had plenty of hazelnuts leftover and was dying to make some use of them. When I opened the fridge I saw we had one lonely egg, probably crying out my name, and without thinking twice I cracked that egg and decided to go ahead and make a small portion of financiers. Financiers are delicious pastries traditionally made from almonds, eggwhites and other good stuff. I have always loved almond based sweets- just to state a few: amaretti, nougats, marzipan, amygdalota (please see Peter’s great post on this one) but I realized that hazelnuts may turn out as delicious.

If the name “financiers” contains the word “finance” in them, then it may be for a reason. Legend says that financiers were created by a patissier called “Lasne”. He wanted to come up with a delicacy for finance men that would not leave a mess behind or leave their hands all greasy and covered with crumbs. Today, you can find financiers alongside madeleines, brioches, croissants etc in almost any boulangerie and patisserie in France. They are wonderful plain or with fruits, chocolates and other sweet ingredients. Previously I have also substituted almonds with pistachios and what is great about financiers is that with a base recipe you can play around almost infinitely with the flavours and choice of nuts. I do need to admit though, that the hazelnut variation turned out to taste amazingly good, and for the sweet tooths out there do indulge and enjoy them with a bit of Nutella for a total hazelnut experience!

Recipe for hazelnut financiers:

2 egg whites
60 g fine sugar
10 g flour
10 g fecule
50 g ground powdered hazelnuts
25 g butter

Making it:
Preheat oven to 180C. In a bowl whisk the egg whites and gradually add the sugar (as if you were making a meringue). Then add the flour, fecule, and powdered hazelnuts. Mix well. Follow with the melted butter and mix. Fill in your moulds with the batter and bake for 15 mins.

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May 19, 2008


In continuation with my Italian-cooking mood lately, I also did a main course including pasta- of course- spinach (it’s spinach season!) and parmesan. There was also some prosciutto di Parma involved, rolled around grissini sticks. When I was pulling out the ingredients, I even realized that I could make an edible Italian flag triptych!

However the base of my dish may seem unrelated but in reality is completely related and highly recommended- the base was hazelnuts. The story behind this is that I love how nutty flavours compliment spinach’s earthy flavours. I’ve always enjoyed a salad composed of raw spinach leaves and walnuts for instance. So from hazelnuts came the idea of throwing in some spinach, and then some pasta, and then one of my favourite home made sauces made from cream and parmesan (so easy to make, but it can send you off to paradise!) … and then finally to use all the colours of the Italian flag I included some Parma ham on the side. This is an easy dish to make- but I’d classify it as one of those simple dishes with an edge.

Before I post the recipe I’d like to thank Peter (who is currently creating a storm with his “Breads of the World” series! :-) ) from Souvlaki for the Soul for the Arte y Pico award. So with no further ado, here are the five blogs I’m passing this award to for their creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogger community. I really don’t like having to chose just 5 blogs, but I guess I can’t defy the rules… Those who receive the award should pass it on to another 5 blogs and include a link to the Arte y Pico site.

> Sugarhead : Quite honestly, I only discovered this blog recently and the first thought that came to my mind was “why on earth have I not found this jewel before?!?!” I don’t know all that much about the author behind the blog, but he seems to be a chef and currently in Dubai but what I know for sure is that he deserves blog awards that go beyond Arte y Pico, but in the meantime this is the best I can do to express my admiration for the most interesting posts and photos!

> Tamarind & Thyme for introducing a blog that is built on the idea of “cooking and eating well in London without going broke”. I love reading Su-Lin’s stories, they are always down-to-earth and so real, and when she is travelling I love to find out about her culinary discoveries!

> Boots in the Oven I have been a long-time reader of “Mr & Mrs. Pants” (or alternatively “Husbear & Girlie”) and the entertaining writing about food and all their worldwide travelling. One day they’ll be in country A and the other in country B, but regardless of that, their blog remains a constant pleasure to read!

> Technicolor Kitchen for Patricia’s unequalled optimism and positive energy (it just oozes out of her blog) and for reading from someone blogging all the way in sunny Brazil! She literally always posts about recipes that are delicious- always!

> The Sugar Bar for Kid Diva’s curiosity and because it is a really nice thing to know that enjoying the virtues of cooking can start at a really young age (Kid Diva started blogging at age 17). When I was 17 I did not know many people who were into food like me!

Recipe for Hazelnut & Spinach Pasta:


  • Pasta, whatever shape you like
  • Spinach leaves, raw & clean
  • Liquid cream
  • Parmesan
  • Hazelnuts- powder/ground
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Prosciutto di Parma
  • Grissini sticks
  • Salt & Pepper

Making it:
First off start by cooking the pasta. Cook it 1 minute less then indicated. In the meantime, in a small pot heat some liquid cream and add some parmesan on top and salt & pepper. The parmesan needs to melt and the sauce should not be “chunky” so place it in a mixer if necessary. In the meantime as well, place some clean spinach leaves in a bowl and drizzle with hazelnut oil, ground hazelnuts and some salt. When your pasta is ready, remove from boiling water, rinse with water and then place again in a deep pan with the parmesan cream for 1 minute (this explains why you cook the pasta 1 minute less initially). Remove from heat, and then throw in the spinach mix and swirl gently and very very briefly. Place on serving dish (must be eaten warm not cold!!!) and serve with prosciutto di Parma rolled around grissini sticks (do these at the last minute or else the grissini sticks become soggy).

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May 18, 2008


For as long as I can remember, I have always been in love with Italy. Before I even visited the country, I knew I would love it (which I did!). I love the language, the people, the culture, lifestyle, fashion and design, and of course the food-and the latter I love it moltissimo. Contrary to French cuisine, Italians have the genius of using simple ingredients - no need for foie gras and champagne- to create one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. It is a generous and down-to-earth cuisine in my opinion. It feeds your stomach but also your soul. Now if we start talking about desserts, one of the first specialities that will come to my mind is tiramisu. This weekend I felt like tiramisu, but betrayed the classic recipe and went with something very refreshing and lemon-y, and used some of the Limoncello we had at home. I love classics, but I also like classics with a twist- and this is what my limoncello tiramisu turned out to be, with many thoughts of Italy in my mind.

Boudoirs/Savoiardi & Limoncello

I crushed dragées (white & golden, below) to use for decorating the tiramisu. Dragées can make a great visual effect on desserts, I've used them before also on ice cream too. The idea is originally inspired by famous French patissier Christophe Michalak's macarons.

While I made my tiramisu, many thoughts of Italy ran through my mind.

Well enough daydreaming now, let's get back to the Limoncello tiramisu and the recipe. Just a little note- my recipe is eggless (I have an issue with eggs used in a certain manner, long story!). So if you want to keep eggs, then just include the zabaglione extra step.

Also, this will be my first time participating in a food blog-hosted event. I will be submitting this recipe to the Citrus themed Sugar High Friday- an event created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and for this time hosted by Tartelette :-)

Recipe for Limoncello Tiramisu:

You'll need:

  • 250gr mascarpone
  • 15cl liquid cream
  • About 20 Boudoirs / Savoiardi biscuits
  • 3 lemons (juice of)
  • 200ml water
  • 60ml Limoncello
  • 50-100gr sugar (sweeten according to your personal taste)
  • Dragées / Jordan almonds - crushed (this is optional)

Making it:

First off, heat the lemon juice, water and sugar in a small pan. Let boil 2-3 times, and then remove from heat and let cool. In a bowl, whip the liquid cream and then add 20ml of Limoncello. It is best to use a cold bowl and cream (you can place the bowl in the fridge or freezer beforehand). In another bowl, soften the mascarpone. Then gently mix the whipped cream and mascarpone together. Place this mixture in the fridge. Now bring the lemon syrup you have prepared and add 40ml of Limoncello in it. Bring out a deep pan and start soaking the boudoirs/savoiardi in the syrup and place on bottom of pan until a first row is complete. Then bring out the cream-mascarpone mixture from the fridge and spread a layer on top of the biscuits. Repeat with another layer of boudoirs/savoiardi and cream. Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and place in fridge for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with crushed Jordan almonds.

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May 15, 2008


I think if you were to take a good look at how I spend my money, you’d notice that a good amount goes straight into magazines. At the beginning of each month I look through the press and after ten minutes my hands are loaded with plenty of glossy covers filled with pages I anxiously look forward to flip through. I mainly end up with the big two Fs: Fashion and Food, in French and International. The funny thing with the food magazines however is that I’m not really sure why I buy them as I never try out any of the published recipes. I just enjoy looking at the photos and reading the special culinary reports.

Anyway so the other day as I was organizing my food magazines, I was re-looking through one of my Saveurs editions which included a special feature on avocados. One of the recipes captured my attention- Doce de Abacate. The ingredients could be counted on one hand, it was nothing fussy or complicated, but it really intrigued me as it presented an original way to enjoy the sweeter sides of avocado. After having made it and after my first taste, I realized that my curiosity was well worth it. I tried it on it’s own and then with coconut cookies (as suggested by Saveurs) and only good adjectives came to my mind: delightful, delicious and refreshing! It was so worth it, and I recommend any curious cats out there to try it out as well!

A sweet creamy twirl composed mainly of avocado & limes

Recipe for Doce de Abacate

2 avocados
6 limes (juice of)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cassonade (brown sugar)

Peel the avocados and place in a mixer with the lime juice and sugar until texture becomes creamy. Once that’s done, place in fridge for 2 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with the cassonade.

*Unfortunately there was no description as to what country doce de abacate originates from, and even on Google there was really very little information to be found, but I am guessing this must be something along the lines of Latin America…so I would be very grateful if anyone could fill me in on this!
UPDATE: Thanks to Merav and Patricia I have now learned that Doce de Abacate is from Brazil! Obrigado!
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May 13, 2008


Really easy to make and great for sunny days

If you are on Flickr and one of my contacts, then you might have guessed that I am truly addicted and terribly in-love with cannoli! I really think it’s something about the ricotta and the candied fruits together devoured in a crunchy shell. Ever since I ate my very first cannoli I have been hooked on the heavenly creaminess of ricotta, which explains why I’ve started using it in many of my desserts. So until the day I visit Sicily -where I will very certainly live off cannoli (and gelato)- I’ll continue using ricotta to satisfy my sweet tooth in simple or sophisticated ways. Here I’ve come up with a super easy to make dessert (I’m blaming my recent cooking-laziness syndrome on the sunny weather!) full of candied oranges, almonds, orange syrup (with notes of orange blossom water) and of course, the royal ricotta!

Creamy heavenly ricotta with candied oranges and almonds

Adding orange blossom water to this recipe will make a difference- trust me!

Recipe for my Ricotta Leaning Tower of Pisa

(was the first name that came to my mind, it’s a bit silly I know! :-) )


  • Candied oranges (diced)
  • Almonds (chopped)
  • Ricotta
  • Oranges (juice of freshly squeezed)
  • Sugar
  • Orange blossom water (not mandatory, but would be a real plus!)
  • Toast

Making it:
In a small pot, heat the orange juice & sugar until boil. Lower heat, and then increase heat again for a second boil. Remove from heat, let cool and at the very end only, add the orange blossom water. In a large and deep dish, soak your toasts in the orange syrup for a good 5 mins. In the meantime, in a bowl smoothen the ricotta and add the diced candied oranges and chopped almonds. Mix well and set aside in the fridge. Slice some peaches and caramelize them in a pan with the orange syrup (you can also add some extra sugar here if you want to thicken the syrup and make it more sticky). On your serving plate, place one orange syrup soaked toast, then a layer of the ricotta mix, continue like this until you have 3 layers of toast and 3 of ricotta. Top off with warm peaches and drizzle with the remaining syrup in the pan. Enjoy!

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May 11, 2008


I love eggplants- I love their taste, colour and how they always taste good whether you grill, steam, pan sear or fry them. Plus, they go well with chicken, fish, cheese…with almost everything! What more can you ask for? Here I am presenting a very colourful and healthy eggplant salad with meatballs and potato wedges. Sounds so basic eh? Well with the sunshine we’ve been lucky to have lately, I’ve been wanting to cook simple dishes that will make people want to get together around a table, share and really enjoy the food. Simple does not necessarily have to mean “boring”. The eggplant salad bursts with freshness and goes so well with the tender meatballs that are also delightful with a yoghurt sauce. I really enjoyed making this, and if you like cooking with a lot of herbs (and garlic) then you’ll probably enjoy cooking this too.

So with no further ado, here is what could turn out to be a great meal to enjoy outside under the sun…

  • For the eggplant salad:
    Yellow pepper
    Cherry tomatoes
    Olive oil
    Lemon (juice)
    Salt & Pepper

    Preheat oven to 200C. Bake the eggplant in the oven for a good 30 minutes, remove peel and dice. Place in a bowl. Roast the yellow pepper, dice, and add to diced eggplant. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, add to the bowl. Chop mint and crush garlic and throw that those in as well. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon, olive oil, salt & pepper.

  • For the meatballs:
    Onions (chopped)
    Coriander (chopped)
    Salt & Pepper
    Olive oil

    In a bowl, mix the beef, chopped onions & coriander, and salt & pepper. Form meatballs which will then be lightly rolled in flour. When all the meatballs are ready, place in fridge for about 30 minutes (so you can do this at the very beginning before anything else). When you’re ready to cook, heat some olive oil in a large pan and cook the meatballs on high heat first then on lower heat.

    For the yoghurt sauce:
    Yoghurt (if you can use Greek-type yoghurt that would be better)
    Mint (fresh, chopped or dried)
    Salt & Pepper

    Just mix all the ingredients together and serve on the side or drizzled on top of the meatballs or even the potato wedges. Adjust the quantity of garlic according to personal taste.

  • For the potato wedges:
    Olive oil
    Salt & Pepper

    Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut washed potatoes into large wedges (keep the peel on the potatoes though) into a bowl. Add the olive oil, paprika and S&P and mix well. Transfer to a baking tray and bake until golden-brown (approx 30 mins). Serve hot!

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