Nov 30, 2009


Right- so as my post title clearly indicates, today I feel like sharing visual snippets of randomness that has been happening in my kitchen lately.

One involves an appetizer-ish idea that I actually came up with while driving back home (for some reason, I always get all my ideas while driving or sleeping, hmm...) and the other is an absolutely fantastic mushroom Gordon Ramsay sauce- absolutely DIVINE.

Do you happen to have some olives, cheese (feta ideally) and a roll of puff pastry (yes, I admit- puff pastry is one of the few things I don't make from scratch!) at your disposal? Make some tall chunky crunchy appetizer sticks to nibble on with a good glass of wine.
They don't have to look perfect- that's the whole point of making these at home rather then giving into industrial ready-made puff pastry sticks!
Admire the layers of crunch! mmm

And now moving onto something totally different: the magical Mushroom, sherry & grain sauce concocted by the very talented (and furiously hot blooded chef!) Gordon Ramsay.

Definately not the most photogenic sauce... but it was absolutely delicious!

I served it with beef filet, but I cleaned the leftovers away with bread! Definately a versatile sauce that would go just as well with beef, chicken, or pasta.

Have a great start of the week everyone!

Oct 28, 2009


I'm sure all you foodies out there know what that irresistible feeling for late late night baking is all about, right? Especially when you know that after a long day at work there is nothing better then what the relaxing effect of mixing up some sugar, flour, eggs and butter can bring.

Well that was what my late night was all about yesterday, and I was in the mood for muffins.Since there are so many muffin recipes out there in the food blogosphere, this will just have to be the gazillionth addition to it all I guess.

But, I must say, these muffins are extra-delicious and fit perfectly in this autumn season when all you want to do is cocoon under a tree, branching out with beautiful red & yellow leaves, with a cup of tea in one hand and a muffin in the other.

So whenever you find yourself under an autumn tree, please bring along with you one of these speculoos-apple muffins. A simple moment of pure bliss.

Just throw (almost) everything in:
(and no- that's not peanut butter, it's pate de speculoos. A totally addictive scrummy yummy spread that tastes of fabulous speculoos)

Sprinkle over some caramelized chopped hazelnuts if you wish, and it's ready to go in the oven!

25 minutes later, this is what you get, mmmmm:

Inside, the diced apples make such a perfect match with the speculoos flavour:

Go ahead, take one & indulge!

Recipe for Apple-Speculoos muffins (makes 8):

2 eggs
90gr sugar
90gr butter, softened
70gr pate à speculoos
30ml liquid cream
110gr flour
Baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large apple, diced
Chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 160C. In a bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, pate a speculoos and liquid cream. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Finally throw in the diced apple and stir batter gently. Fill muffin moulds with the batter, sprinkle with some chopped nuts (plain or caramelized) and bake for 25 minutes.

Oct 23, 2009



I am so happy to be sharing this recipe with you. It has been years that I've wanted to write a post on this scrumptious Armenian dish known as "eetch". How was it that I became familiar with eetch? Well we don't have anyone of Armenian origin in our family, and I've personally never been to Armenia before- the reality is that it all comes down to my childhood memories- and even my mother's childhood memories! So you can imagine how much "history" this dish has for me, and how each bite is rich with emotion.

The reality is that eetch was introduced to us through my grandmother's (maternal side) neighbours. Two lovely sisters, Vergeen & Alice, who have been my grandma's neighbours since...forever! These ladies were always over at my grandma's place and my grandma was always over at theirs. They would sip over coffee and spill neighbourhood gossip, but most of all, they would share recipes and kitchen secrets. And so I guess many many years ago before I was born -and probably before my mom was even born- eetch was introduced to my grandmother and ever since it has become a family favourite.


We now make it regularly at home, enjoying it on it's own or as a side dish (fab with grilled meats or fish), and eaten hot or cold. I feel lucky to have personally known Vergeen & Alice, because it means a whole lot more knowing the people who introduce you to a dish that has become a true classic in our family. Each bite brings back a flood of memories and whenever we enjoy some eetch, it is just inevitable, the two lovely Armenian sisters become a part of our table conversations.
I hope you try making this at home and enjoy it's magical taste.

Recipe for Eetch (makes about 4 servings)

One big onion, chopped
100ml olive oil
200ml tomato sauce
1 tbsp pomegrenate molasses (optional, but if you have some definately use it!)
1 lemon, juice of
200gr boulgour
Fresh mint and parsley, chopped (it works with only parsley too)

In a deep pot, fry the chopped onion with the olive oil until golden. Add the tomato sauce, and once it boils, turn off heat and remove pot from heat. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the parsley and mint), stir, cover pot and leave to rest for one hour (away from heat!). After one hour, knead as you would with bread dough for 3-5 minutes (don't worry, at this point the eetch is not hot anymore so your hands wont get burnt!). Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle over with chopped mint and parsley.

Oct 18, 2009


Right- so we all know that tomatoes and mozzarella make a great match, but during my recent trip to Cagliari I became convinced that zucchini and mozzarella are an even greater match! They are just such a perfect edible duet that I promised myself when I go back home I am going to have to match them and eat them up together!

So this late morning was the perfect occasion. Why? Well we had lots of mozzarella in the fridge and zucchini left overs from the day before. And there you go, it was crystal clear- I definately knew what I'll be cooking today! I just wanted to add one extra ingredient to make it more personal: nigella seeds, because I always have a jar of nigella seeds in the kitchen and because sprinkling them over white cheeses makes wonders.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Nigella seeds!


and after (next time I'm being more generous with the zucchini though) :

But you need to be seeing this close-up...

Recipe for fake zucchini & mozzarella focaccia with nigella seeds:

325gr flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
225ml warm water
Zucchini, thinly sliced
Nigella seeds (optional)
& Olive oil for brushing over dough

Mix flour, olive oil, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and knead for 10 minutes. Leave dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Remove dough, knead, roll out to approximately 2cm thickness and transfer to baking tray lined with parchment paper and brushed with olive oil. Poke dough with a fork, and brush dough surface with olive oil. Generously add the mozzarella and zucchini and sprinkle over some nigella seeds(sesame seeds are good too) and some salt. Bake at 180C for 50mins.

Oct 12, 2009


I am definately not a breakfast person, and I rarely cook breakfast items. Except on certain occasions like when my brother is over for instance, and then I love getting into weekend breakfast kitchen action mode, which happened to be the case yesterday.

Along with a table spread of scrambled eggs (with parsley, feta and olives- my fave accessory ingredients to scrambled eggs), cheeses, breads, and fruit juices, there definately had to be a sweet item too. Of course, when one is living in France, it is so easy to just pass by a boulangerie and pick up some delightful croissants or pains au chocolat, but as you foodies can understand, nothing compares to homemade.

Homemade it was, and so my efforts went into sweet brioche swirls. This is the only name I can come up with because it is somewhat of a crossover between a cinnamon roll (for the swirl and cinnamon of course) and a brioche (for the texture and dough recipe). And for variety's sake, I also made some dulce de leche swirls which, let me tell you, turned out to be amazing. I mean, seriously, how can anything with dulce de leche not be amazing?!

Above: with cinnamon, below: with dulce de leche.



I think it was clear, the dulce de leche swirls were by far a favourite. Whatever the filling was though, the fluffy brioche texture was a pure delight and a lighter (yet satisfying) way to start off the day.

Recipe for Sweet Brioche Swirls (requires dough to rest overnight):

350gr flour
75gr sugar
125gr softened butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoons yeast diluted in warm water (or follow instructions on packaging)
Pinch of salt
Filling: cinnamon/sugar/butter combinations, dulce de leche... the choices are endless.

Place the flour in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together and transfer to bowl containing the flour. Add the butter, salt and yeast and mix all ingredients well for 5 minutes (manually or in a mixer) until dough is smooth. Cover and leave dough overnight. The next day, on a floured board, roll out dough to 1cm thickness and spread with desired filling, leaving 1cm empty on borders. Roll dough upwards starting with the side closest to you. Cut into individual pieces, place on cooking tray and leave to rest for 1 hour. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes.

Oct 7, 2009


So we are definately entering autumn, my skirts, sleeveless tops and sandals will hibernate until next year as I (sadly mayb) embrace my coats, tights, and knits to keep me warm.
Fortunately, I can always make it feel like summer in my 20 minutes tops! Basil, tomatoes, chicken delected in a creamy goodness...mmm

Summer-in-winter chicken recipe (via BBCGoodFood)

1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
200g pack cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp pesto
3 tbsp crème fraîche (half fat is fine)
fresh basil , if you have it

Heat the oil in a frying pan, preferably non-stick. Add the chicken and fry without moving it until it takes on a bit of colour. Turn the chicken and cook on the other side. Continue cooking for 12-15 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Season all over with a little salt and pepper.
Halve the tomatoes and throw them into the pan, stirring them around for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Reduce the heat and stir in the pesto and crème fraîche until it makes a sauce. Scatter with a few basil leaves if you have them, then serve with rice and salad or mash and broccoli.

Oct 1, 2009


I am posting here on my blog just minutes after these "fatayers" (Arabic for any dough-based pie-pizza-ish speciality) came out of the oven. If only you could smell how wonderful it is over here, and if only I could virtually send you a piece just so that you could try a bite of this Syrian speciality called "fatayer mouhamara".
It is delicious. Double delicious. Triple delicious ... and I'm not exaggerating!
But it definately needs some explanation.
1. The dough. Pretty straightforward.
2. But then comes this stuff- and this is where we need some details. Thus- the photo below.
So, ever tried anything like this before? The combination of ingredients is divine.
A bit of dough massaging.... and in the oven it goes!

Recipe for Fatayer Mouhamara (makes approx 4 to5 10cm diameter round pies)
For the topping:
4 onions, chopped
4 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt to season
Mixture of pepper, cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg
Hot pepper (optional, but recommended!)
For the bread dough:
250gr flour + Yeast + 150ml warm water
The day before, combine all bread ingredients, knead well and leave dough overnight. Knead once again the next day, split into 4-5 balls. Preheat oven to 230C. In a bowl, mix all the topping ingredients. Mix well. Flatten dough balls to 1/2cm thickness and spread a generous layer of the topping. Place fatayers on tray lined with parchment paper and sprinkled lightly with some flour. Bake for 10-15 minutes, remove and relish!
P.S: Tony over at Olive Juice has another great fatayer recipe- spinach fatayer mmmm

Sep 30, 2009


For those of you who don't know, one of my dreams is to visit Italy from north to south, and early September I was south on the island of Sardegna, more precisely Cagliari. Before landing, I was aware of Sardegna's "jet-set" VIP reputation, and I was told Cagliari wasn't really a part of that- fortunately- as the last thing I wanted was to see rich millionaires on their yachts and people flashing bills everywhere.
One thing I was certain to expect however was beautiful emerald crystal clear water lining sandy white beaches. The rest? I really had no clue. When I travelled to Napoli, Rome or Palermo for instance I more or less had an idea of what to expect because those cities have such a strong identity in popular culture maybe, but Cagliari was just a big wave of turquoise water for me.
Indeed it was that but so much more too. The beaches were great, but so were the cute streets and the vintage Fiat's that drove through them, the food, the gelato, the people...but most of all what struck me was the lifestyle. I loved noticing how starting from 5PM the city would slowly get busy again perfectly timed with the shops openings and the people leaving the beaches to enjoy their ice-cream break which was usually timed between 6-7PM as they strolled up through the shopping streets and then sat down for a drink on Via Roma (which has the most lovely retro feel to it) at one of the many cafés watching people walk by perfectly demonstrating the infamous passeggiata and only very late is dinner served- good luck trying to find an open restaurant before 8PM!
Cagliari was not a city, but a lifestyle that I embraced wholeheartedly- I don't think I have ever unwinded and felt so relaxed as I was in Cagliari.
Laundry, Vespas, old Fiats, cute alleyways...what is there not to love?

What is a city without it's charming people and their charming habits?
Just one of the beautiful beaches in Cagliari (above: Poetto beach)

Bria is a tiny tiny place off Via Roma (one of the most central streets)- but the focaccias are out of this world!! The best (and messiest) I have had in my ENTIRE LIFE!
For typical Sardegnan cuisine, please stop by SaDomu Sarda. Authentic tasty genuine cuisine. Definately worth a visit.
The thin crispy bread above is typical Sardegnan- "pane Carasau", lots of it everywhere.

We thought maybe we should try some roasted donkey...but finally we didn't!
Simple antipasti- chickpeas, tomatoes, rucola, eggplants & saffron
Sardegnan pasta called "Pasta Fragola" (above)- here served with sundried tomatoes and ultrathin shreds of zucchini. It was delicious.
Above: inside a well-known fish restaurant along Poetto beach called "La Marinella". The interiour is filled with framed soccer jerseys signed by the players- who I assume have all eaten at the restaurant before.
We had lobster, pasta with tiny tiny shreds of salmon and the most finger-lickingly good mussels ever! Oh man, those mussels... amazing!
And of course, wherever you are in Italy, it is of utmost importance to have an ice-cream break...everyday!
P.S: I didn't manage to take pictures of flamingos, but I did see some though!