Saturday, August 16, 2014

Baked eggs on top of roasted cherry tomatoes + Yummy Supper cookbook giveaway

For as long as I can remember, I disliked eggs, but then something inexplicable happened and my taste changed. I found myself craving eggs, enjoying their flavor and the infinite combinations with other ingredients that can yield delicious dishes. I’d finally discovered their versatility.

For the past couple of years, I have become an egg enthusiast and S, an eternal egg fiend, is finally getting his fill of fried, poached and soft-boiled eggs.

I hadn’t ventured the world of baked eggs though. Not until Erin Scott introduced me to her recipe of baked eggs with cherry tomatoes found in her amazing upcoming book “Yummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious & Honest Recipes from a {Gluten-Free} Omnivore”. Was I in for a treat!

Erin is an American from Berkeley in California and she’s one of the food bloggers I admire the most. Her beautiful recipes, her keen eye for food styling and her incredible ability to take the most amazing photographs of her dishes is enviable. She is honest and straightforward in her cooking and writing and her book reflects just that. Elegant dishes prepared in an unfussy manner; inviting recipes meant to be cooked in a relaxed way and shared with family and friends; food that is impressive and luscious yet not intimidating for the home cook. Her recipes are also gluten-free, but you will not find in the book any weird ingredients that are hard to source. Congratulations, dear Erin. Your book is awesome!

Eggs and tomatoes is a marriage made in heaven, especially during tomato season when they are sweeter and juicier than ever. Here, first the cherry tomatoes are roasted briefly in the oven until they start releasing their sweet juices and then they get a good sprinkling of grated parmesan, pepper and parsley. The eggs are cracked carefully on top and then in the oven they go for a few minutes until they set. A final sprinkling of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil and they are served, preferably with some good crusty bread to dunk into the glorious juices, or as Erin suggests, with some big buttery croutons or polenta fries (both recipes found in her book).

I served this for brunch but it would also make a lovely, light supper, or if you are a big breakfast person (sadly I’m not), it would be a delicious way to start your day.

Giveaway: I was honored to receive a copy of Erin’s book and I am happy to give away a copy for one of you!
What you need to do to enter, is leave a comment on this post, telling me what type of recipes you would like to see featured more on my blog. Would you like to see for example more Greek recipes? More desserts? How about meat-based or vegetarian recipes? Easy or more intricate recipes? Feel free to share.

The giveaway ends on August 26th, 11:59 pm CET (Central European Time). I will select a winner at random and will announce the name on this post the next day (August 27th).
One comment per person on either of my blogs (English or Greek), no anonymous comments please, and do write your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.
Also, the giveaway is open to Europe and US residents only.

Good luck!!

Baked eggs on top of roasted cherry tomatoes
Slightly adapted from Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious & Honest Recipes from a {Gluten-Free} Omnivore

I normally would cook the eggs runny but my guests preferred them on the hard side. Cook them to your liking but runny are best.

Erin uses basil instead of parsley but you should know my feelings towards basil by now; it's my least favorite herb. Also, I added more cherry tomatoes (Erin adds 3 cups), and more olive oil (Erin adds 2 Tbsp) because I’m Greek and I need to add more olive oil.

Yield: 2-4 servings

4 full cups (about 650 g) fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼-½ cup grated parmesan
Fleur de Sel (or other flaky sea salt)
Freshly ground white pepper
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
3-4 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Special equipment: rasp grater, small baking dish (mine was about 25x20 cm)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the baking dish and place on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the tomatoes start releasing their juices and have wrinkled. Take the baking dish out of the oven. (At this point, Erin suggests pouring out some of the excess tomato juices if you wish but I didn’t and it was a good thing as we were left with lots of sweet juices to dunk our bread in).

Sprinkle the tomatoes with the grated parmesan, a couple pinches of Fleur de Sel, some ground white pepper and ¾ of the parsley leaves. Drizzle with the olive oil and crack the eggs carefully on top, spacing them apart. If you are unsure of your egg-cracking skills and worried that you might break them, crack them open first into a ramekin and then carefully slide them on top of the tomatoes.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on how you like to eat your eggs.

Take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle with some salt, pepper and the rest of the parsley, drizzle with a dash of olive oil, just enough to make the eggs glisten, and serve immediately with lots of good bread.


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Thai turmeric roasted chicken with lime-flavored Jasmine rice

Being with people you love, people you don’t get to see often because you live in different countries, having them live with you for a while, go on holidays together, enjoy them to the fullest, sharing food with them, food you have cooked for them, food they crave, seeing their faces light up with pleasure from what they are savoring, is a blessing.

They have brought with them from Greece ingredients and foods we have missed immensely, like pastourma, soutzouki, green olives, loukanika, cheese and tarama. I have been happily cooking in my hot little expat kitchen for all of us, making the best out of the ingredients, feeding our hungry bellies.

We had a small break from Greek food, however, to savor a differently spiced chicken dish. A Thai chicken dish flavored with turmeric that has become one of my favorites ever since I discovered it a little while ago.

Even though Thai cuisine is very complex, this dish is quite simple with unique and beautiful flavors. With heat coming from the white pepper and spiciness from the coriander seeds, sweetness from the palm sugar and saltiness from the nam pla (Thai fish sauce), freshness from the floral and aromatic coriander, with the crispy skin and the juicy flesh of the marinated and roasted chicken accompanied by a fresh, sticky, lime-flavored jasmine rice. The turmeric, apart from rendering a wonderful golden-yellow hue to the chicken, also adds a warm, zesty and earthy flavor that balances the sweet notes of the dish.

It’s effortless to make and utterly delicious, firing up your taste buds with every bite; ideal summer cooking.

Thai turmeric-marinated roasted chicken drumsticks
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen

You can use this marinade to flavor any other chicken piece. I have used it for breasts (skin on) and whole legs. I wouldn’t suggest you use it with skinless chicken as the flavor that will permeate its flesh will be too intense.

Yield: 4 servings


for the marinade
1½ tsp whole white peppercorns (or ground white pepper)
1½ tsp whole coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ heaped Tbsp palm sugar (or soft dark brown sugar)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Tbsp fresh coriander stalks (or parsley stalks if you dislike fresh coriander), roughly chopped
2 Tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1½ Tbsp oyster sauce

8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (about 1 kg in total)

2 limes, for serving

Special equipment: mortar and pestle or spice grinder, small food processor, plastic wrap, large roasting tray, pastry brush


for the marinade
If you’re using whole white pepper and/or coriander seeds, grind them using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Add ground white pepper, ground coriander, turmeric, palm sugar, garlic, fresh coriander stalks, fish sauce and oyster sauce in the food processor and process until you have a somewhat smooth mixture.

In a large bowl, add the chicken drumsticks and pour the marinade over them. Mix well using your hands, taking care to rub it on and under the skin well.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or, alternatively, place the chicken pieces with the marinade in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours. If you choose to marinate the chicken for more than 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius.
Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer and pour the marinade on top.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, until it takes on a golden brown color and the skin becomes crispy and caramelized. Also, if you insert a knife or skewer on the thickest part of the chicken pieces, the juices should run clear and not be reddish in color. Don't cook for longer because the chicken will dry out and become tough.

Take it out of the oven and using a pastry brush, take the juices from the pan and glaze the drumsticks with it. Make sure to stir the juices before glazing in order to mix all the caramelized bits with the more liquid sauce.

Serve with lime, squeezing it on top of each drumstick, and with some fresh coriander leaves. Pair with lime-flavored Jasmine rice (recipe below).

Lime-flavored Jasmine rice

It’s sticky and moist, intensely aromatic and nutty. In a nutshell, the best rice for the above Thai chicken.
I always make this rice following the 1:1¼ method of measuring. Which means that for every 1 cup of rice, I add 1¼ cup water. It works perfectly each time for me.

Yield: 4 servings

1 cup Jasmine rice
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1¼ cup boiling water
½ tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime, grated

Special equipment: sieve, rasp grater

Add the rice to a sieve and place it under cool running water. Rinse the rice until the water runs clean. Leave to dry for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, add the sunflower oil and heat over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the rice and toast, stirring constantly with a spoon or spatula for 1 minute. Add the boiling water, salt and ¾ of the lime zest and stir well. Bring to the boil and turn heat down to low. Put on the lid and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for a further 8 minutes. At this point, the rice should be cooked, tender and sticky. Using a fork, fluff up the rice, put the lid on and leave it to stand for 5-7 minutes, as it will continue to steam.

Serve immediately, sprinkling on top the rest of the lime zest, along with the Thai chicken.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rigatoni with white wine-braised artichokes and peas

Last Tuesday was my name day and we had way too many watermelon and cantaloupe daiquiris, splurged on good sushi and ate one of the best chocolate ice creams I’ve ever had as well as some chocolate ganache tartlets for good measure.

The rest of the week was a bit of a blur. I cleaned the house top to bottom in the middle of yet another mini heatwave (don’t you hate cleaning in the summer?), because we have house guests coming in a few days and they are not used to our mess. Yes, we are messy. I so admire and envy those tidy people who keep their house instagram-ready at all times.

I went shopping, stocking up on things for our guests, for the house, pour moi, and I slept like a log. This heat is making me feel tired all the time and I want to go to sleep from the moment I wake up.

I cooked, just barely, and only because S started complaining about all the raw salads and sandwiches we’ve been having lately. Well, can’t blame him, but you know, in the daily match of heat versus kitchen, heat wins. Truth be told, I was craving something more substantial too, and I also missed sitting down to a proper dinner.

I found some good artichokes at the market and the idea of this pasta dish was born. It was a little summer miracle, even though I had a bit of a hard time with the fresh artichokes that took twenty minutes to clean, but they were so beautiful I couldn’t resist them.

I had capers from Santorini in my fridge, peas in my freezer, a packet of rigatoni in my cupboard and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The dish was absolutely delicious, fresh, and light, with sweet flavor from the peas, meaty, slightly bitter taste from the artichokes, with saltiness from the plump capers and vibrancy from the wine. Overall, a harmonious, lovely, summery pasta dish.

Rigatoni with white wine-braised artichokes and peas, with capers and lemon

Naturally, fresh peas will be even better than frozen as they’ll be sweeter.
If you’d rather not spend your time peeling and cleaning fresh artichokes, use frozen artichoke hearts bearing in mind that they will need more cooking. However, fresh artichokes have a superior flavor. Just sayin’.

Yield: 4 servings

4 fresh globe artichokes, about 300 g each
1 lemon (to use for cleaning the artichoke)

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
120 g frozen peas
Grated zest of 1 lemon
250 ml dry white wine (I used Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc)
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Freshly ground black pepper

A handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Parmesan, grated
Olive oil, for finishing
Juice of ½ lemon

400 g rigatoni pasta

Special equipment: grater, colander


Peel and clean the artichokes
Fill a large bowl with water halfway and add the juice of 1 lemon. Keep the lemon cups.
Take each artichoke and peel off the leaves, starting from the bottom. Remove all the leaves, including the soft purple ones in the middle. Then remove the hairy choke scooping it out with a spoon. Using a lemon cup, rub well the artichoke center. This will protect it and it will not turn black. With a knife, cut around the artichoke heart in order to remove the hard base if each leaf you have removed and cut off the stem. Rub the artichoke again all around with the lemon cup and place it in the bowl of water and lemon juice.
Continue cleaning the rest in the same way.

In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat and add the shallots. Sauté, stirring often until they begin to color, then add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
Take each cleaned artichoke, cut it into strips (4-5 strips each) and add it to the pan along with the frozen peas, a little salt and pepper, and the lemon zest and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine, allow it to come to the boil so the alcohol evaporates and turn heat down to low. Put on the lid and simmer, stirring every so often, until the artichokes have softened bur remain al dente. You don’t want them to become mushy. They’ll take about 25 minutes. Five minutes before the artichokes are done, add the capers and stir well.

In the meantime, while the artichokes and peas are cooking, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat and add the rigatoni. Cook until al dente (firm but not very hard) or cook to your liking. Reserve about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the pasta water and drain the rigatoni in a colander (but don't shake the pasta), discarding the rest of the water.

When the artichokes are ready, add the drained rigatoni to the pan. Add the lemon juice, half of the parsley, a little pepper and a good grating of parmesan and toss well to mix. If it’s dry, add some of the pasta water to the pan and toss again.

Serve immediately in individual plates. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and grate parmesan on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil to finish (and a little extra lemon juice if you wish).

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cooking in a heat wave i.e. staying sane in the kitchen

These past few days, I feel like I’m melting from the heat. It’s 37°C in The Hague! This is the Netherlands, temperatures like these aren’t suppose to happen here. I can’t believe it, and frankly I can barely stand it.

If you too are battling some type of heat wave where you are, and can’t possibly be in the kitchen for more than half an hour or so, let me remind you, or introduce you if you're new here to some of the easiest summer recipes I’ve posted over the past four and a half years on this little blog of mine that are delicious, foolproof and sometimes overlooked in favor of the shiny new ones I post each week.

Fish, meat, pasta, vegetables, salads, lunch, dinner, dessert, refreshing drinks, for you, for your friends, for your family. If you’re looking for quick, easy and delicious summer cooking inspiration, here it is:

I’ll be back soon, well, as soon as this heat permits, with a new recipe. Till then, stay cool!

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