Basil pesto

Homemade basil pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
2/3 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and mix in the cheese.
Cook some pasta (reserve some of cooking water before draining) and stir in the pesto. If the mixture is to dry add a splash or two of cooking starchy liquid and mix well.

Homemade basil pesto pasta

Refrigerated, in an airtight container, and with a layer of olive oil on top pesto can last up to one week.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

Aloo gobi, in India that simply means: “potato cauliflower”. You can modify this recipe using sweet potatoes.

2 large potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks)
1 head cauliflower (cut into florets)
2 onion (diced)
1 tbsp. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. homemade curry powder 
1/2 cup water
1 bunch cilantro (chopped )
butter and olive oil

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, adding some oil will prevent butter from overheating. Add the cumin seeds and gently fry them for a minute or two to heat them through (remove staleness and brighten their flavour).

Add the onions and sauté until they soften. Add the cinnamon and curry powder and stir well for another minute or so.

Add the potato and cauliflower and stir well to coat them with the spices.

Season with salt, add a splash or two of water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and lower the heat. Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, another 20 minutes or so.

Just before serving, sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Okra Coo-coo

Okra Coo-coo or Okra cuckoo is traditional Barbados dish usually served with fried fish.
Slimy okra was a bit of a challenge in our kitchen. My husband and I, we both like the taste, but every recipe witch we have tried turn out to be a small disaster. Ok, except frying it in tempura. Until we discovered this dish.
I really do not know is this true – original – traditional recipe and maybe we cook it completely wrong. Who cares anyway?! I’m not from Barbados and I can’t tell the difference.

10 – 15 okras (depending on the size)
1 cup cornmeal (medium to coarse consistencies)
5 cups water
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp. salt or to taste
freshly grated white pepper

Soak the cornmeal in 2 cups of water. Stir it well so that the cornmeal is wet throughout. Set aside. Wash the okra and cut off the tops and point of the bottoms. Slice them crosswise about 1 cm thick. Set aside. In a saucepan heat the butter and gently sauté onion and garlic until soft and nicely smelly. Add okra, salt and remaining water. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes on low heat or until okra is cooked.

Add wet cornmeal. To avoid lumps: pour out half of the okras and the cooking liquid and set aside. Return the pot to a very low heat and pour in the wet cornmeal in a slow steady stream. Stir constantly to break up any lumps. Use wooden spoon. Then add reserved liquid and okras slowly, again stir in constantly. Cook, until cornmeal is cooked. If you are using fine consistency cornmeal few minutes will be enough. I like to use medium or coarse cornmeal and cook it for 10 – 15 more minutes on very low heat, stirring now and then. It will splatter if the heat is too high. Oh, who am I kidding? It will splatter. It always does, keep it partly covered with a lid. If the consistency is to dry and the cornmeal is not cooked yet add some water. When done, taste, season with white pepper and more salt if necessary.  Let it rest for few minutes with a lid on. Spread little amount of olive oil or butter in ramekins and pour in Coo-coo to shape it.

Our favorite way to eat this this is all the way vegetarian. Coo-coo Okra served with Sauté Zucchini.

Berry vinaigrette

1/4 part red wine vinegar
3/4 parts everything else (1/4 olive oil, 1/4 frozen berries and 1/4 maple sirup)

Mix with immerse blender, pour over salad eat with the person you love.

Salad: mixed greens, celery, watercress, basil, coriander, parsley, mint, pomelo, grapes and berry vinaigrette!

Broccoli & blue cheese soup

2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 large potato (cut into chunks)
1 large head of broccoli (chopped into smaller pieces)
4 cups water
100 g blue cheese
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
black pepper
croutons, to garnish

We are using the whole broccoli plant. Peel the outer, tough skin of stalks and also use the leaves. Cut everything into smaller pieces.
Melt the butter into a large pan. Add the onions and potato, cover and cook over low heat for 5 – 7 minutes. Add the broccoli, stir well and cook covered for an additional 5 minutes.
Add water and bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper. Re-cover and simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are tender (15 – 20 minutes).
Remove from the heat, let it cool slightly and blend everything with a hand blender, add nutmeg. Reheat gently until very hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese until melted and thoroughly combined.
Adjust seasoning. Serve with the croutons.

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri is a spicy-vinegar-pesto-like sauce originally from Argentina. It’s used both as a sauce and a marinade for meat or fish. The flavor of Chimichurri sauce is best after a day or two of refrigeration.

a good handful of parsley
a good handful of cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed (or any chill pepper)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients (except olive oil) into food processor and purée until coarsely chopped. While the food processor is running pour in the olive oil. Add salt to taste.
Refrigerate in a tightly cover, sterilized glass jar and use within 7 days.

Tomato-basil-pine nuts pasta

This recipe was pure accident.
We needed tomato ketchup as a supplement for some recipe, and decided to make our own.
The final product was very tasty tomato sauce/ketchup for pasta dishes Italian style.
Also it goes great as a sandwich spread.
Refrigerated, in a glass jar can last up to 10 days.

tomato ketchup base:
2 can peeled tomato
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan. Add garlic and sauté shortly, just to sense the smell of garlic. Add sugar and stir for 30 seconds. Add peeled tomatoes and blend with hand blender until smooth. Return to the heat, add nutmeg, bay leaf, season with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

additional ingredients for super tasty tomato-basil-pine nuts pasta:
1 handful pine nuts (slightly toasted)
1 handful fresh basil (chopped)
freshly grated parmesan cheese
250 g pasta cooked al dente

Combine all ingredients. Garnish with fresh basil.

Mushroom and sun-dried tomato risotto

In my short risotto making history I’m quite successful. And I like very much to brag about it!
It’s not different this time. I’ll say: it’s mouthwatering, delicious and unforgettable. Because it IS!

1 cup arborio rice
3 small red onions (thinly chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup or more sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped)
1l homemade vegetable stock
2 – 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
100 g (2 cup) white jade mushrooms
1 small pack (50 g) enoki mushrooms
some olive oil (to cover the bottom of the saucepan) and 1 tbsp. butter
fresh thyme
salt &pepper
1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Bring vegetable stock to simmer and add shiitake mushrooms. Cook 2-3 minutes. Remove shiitake from the saucepan and cut them finely (get rid of the stems). Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden and caramelized. Add jade mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more – until mushrooms are tender. Add garlic, shiitake, fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper and sauté for few more minutes. Stir in the rice, when the rice changes color from white to translucent (around 2 minutes) add 1 cup of vegetables stock and stir once or twice. There is no need for constant stirring. When almost all the liquid is absorbed repeat the process. Stir now and then – until rice is done (incorporating the broth should take 15 to 20 minutes). At the end, turn off the heat and add enoki mushrooms and parmesan cheese.