Green and Brown

The bread I eat has always been contested by most of the people around me. I am not a fan of white bread, not the traditional nor the modern made one. But I do like bread. Whole cereal bread that is, like rye bread. I love that. And you never know, it might actually be healthy.

The bread in Scotland is… a bad modern interpretation of the concept of bread. A few factories around the UK have to feed the whole population so no wonder the bread is not let to rise properly as there is no time for quality nowadays. It is quantity that brings money to producers and, the worst part is that it is quantity that consumers want.

These being said, I prefer German rye bread, the dense moist bread or rye crisp bread. And one of my  favourite books is The Catcher in the Rye. :)

Today’s post brings you one of the best lunches I had this week. We had mushrooms in the fridge, and cheddar and brocolli. Keep on reading to see how I used these ingredients.

Broccoli with Romaine Lettuce and Mushrooms with Cheddar on Rye Bread

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce, a head
  • 1 whole broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt&pepper

Method:

Put the kettle on to boil some water for the broccoli. While the water is boiling, take the brocolli and cut it/break it into smaller florets, rinse it and place it in a saucepan. Pour the boiled water over the broccoli and place it over medium heat for 5 minutes. When it is done just drain it well.

To make the dressing for the salad, just take the bowl in which you want to serve the salad. Add the mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well.

Wash the romaine lettuce and cut it or break the leaves into bite-size pieces. Place the leaves into the bowl, add the broccoli and mix until all the greens are covered with the dressing.

Mushrooms & Cheddar on Rye Bread (or any bread YOU like)

Ingredients:

  • 300g mushrooms
  • medium or mature cheddar, as much as you want
  • juice from the other half of the lemon
  • salt&pepper
  • oregano&basil
  • olive oil
  • rye bread, a few slices

Method:

Preheat a wok pan. Meanwhile wash the mushrooms, and cut them into cubes. Add a bit of olive oil to the wok and add the mushrooms immediately. Add the salt and pepper to taste and let them cook for approx. 10 minutes. When the mushrooms are done add the lemon juice, oregano and basil and mix well.

Toast the rye bread, if you want it to be crispier and place it on a plate. Add mushrooms to cover the bread and then sprinke with cheddar pieces.

It is done. As easy as this.

Serve these sandwiches with the broccoli salad.

Bon appetit!

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Don Caesar Salad

Now that the warm weather is here it is time for some more salads to make us feel and look lively.

This is a lighter take on the Caesar salad. And I dedicate it to the DONs in St Andrews. There are not many but they all make me smile and I thank them for being the great people that they are. If you have no idea what I am talking about do not worry. Just enjoy the salad!

This all being said let’s get moving to the recipe!

DON Caesar Salad (serves 4 DONs)

Ingredients:

For the salad dressing:

  • Parmesan- just a bit- finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustrad
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 chopped anchovy fillets
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

For the salad

  • Ciabatta bread
  • 540 g chicken breasts or fillets
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt& pepper

Method:

You should start by making the croutons. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the ciabatta into slices, place the slices on the tray and sprinkle with olive oil, oregano and pepper.  Place it in the oven until it is crispy, like bruschettas, about 20 min.

Place a wok on medium heat. Cut the chicken into cubes. Add a bit of olive oil in the wok, just before you add the chicken cubes. Sprinke with salt.

The most important part of any salad is the dressing. This is what makes the difference. So take the bowl in which you are going to make the salad. Place all the ingredients for the dressing into the bowl and mix until you obtain a homogenous paste.

I think it is tastier and more fun if you break the salad leaves by hand instead of cutting them. Just tear the leaves into bite size pieces and place them in the bowl with the dressing. Mix well until the leaves are covered up in the dressing.

Next add the chicken and mix. The croutons have to be added just before serving so that they stay crispy. Just take the ciabatta slices and break them by hand to give the salad a rustic aspect.

Bon appetit!

Some kids hate Spinach

We all know the famous cartoons Popeye the Sailor Man and that they were invented so kids would want to eat the glorious spinach and get stronger. After all, Spinach is a Superfood.

Later on in life we learn that spinach is soo good for us: packed with nutrients, low in calories, green and available readily washed in bags. Although I do reccommend that you buy fresh spinach from the market as an alternative to the packed one. But this may be do-able in Romania, in the UK things are different. Check out some population health statistics.

Anyway, my grandma used to cook the hell out of spinach. I am sure no nutrients were left but it was good. She would boil it and chop it up and then add it in a pot with a bit of flour for thickness, milk for smoothness and garlic because it goes well with spinach. It was good though.

Then I grew up and listened to Jamie Oliver (yes, I have to mention his name in every post) saying that if cooked spinach looses its precious vitamins. Since then this is how I eat spinach:

It may not look good to you (I’m used to it), but it is good for you. You don’t have to eat it like this anyway: this mixture can be mixed with hoummous and served on oatcackes, you can mix it with ricotta as a filling for canelloni or vegetarian lasagna or whatever crosses your mind.

So, Ingredients:

Spinach, obviously. As much as you want

Garlic

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Lemon

Method:

Wash the spinach, place it in a colander, in the sink and pour boiling water over it. If the spinach is a bit tougher you may want to place it in a metal/glass/wooden/ceramic (NOT PLASTIC) bowl and soak it in boiling water. Once it is softer, drain it really well and place it in a food processor. (If you do not have a food processor you can use a knife and chop the spinach until it becomes a like paste.)

Add salt, pepper, oilve oil and lemon to taste and blend again. Transfer into a bowl and it is ready. You can mix it with yoghurt for a creamier composition.

Usually at home, I get a different texture than the one I get here because spinach in the Old Country is better then the one in Scotland. hihihi

All that salad

Recently I started re-eating salads. Mhhh what a lovely experience it has proven to be. I just wish I could have a farmer’s market closer, like I have at home. But no worries Tesco will always be here (I hate Tesco). And soon so will Sainsbury’s. But the truth is Aldi has a great range of SCOTTISH& BRITISH fruit and vegetables. Yep! you did not see this comming did you?!

Aldi’s British Cox’s apples are sooo delicious and sweet and perfect, while Tesco has a great range of overseas apples that break your teeth and pockets if you are really keen on eating fruits daily.

Scotland has proven a very good home for cauliflower and broccoli so I have been eating a lot of these lately…from soup to salad. Stay tuned to get inspired on how to use broccoli and cauliflower.

Romaine Lettuce has proven to be so tasty so I bought two packs and experimented.

Recipes:

Jamie Oliver, and any food lover would agree that the key to a good salad is the dressing. So what I did to enchance and enrich the flavours of my daily salads was to dress the romaine lettuce leafs with houmous (homemade recipe here), vinegar and pepper. If you are a fan of spices you can add dried basil, oregano, thyme, coriander etc.

After this step I just went with what I had in the fridge…good stuff of course.

Chicken Salad

As you may notice the ingredients added to the dressed lettuce are:

Cherry Tomatoes and Chicken.

How I cooked the chicken: I had chicken fillets, cut them in slimmer pieces, mixed them with a sauce made of passata, olive oil, pepper and dried basil, small oven safe dish and put them in the preheated oven for approx. 20 min. It’s as simple as that.

Raw Cauliflower and Carrot Batons Salad

The added ingredients to the dressed lettuce are:

Carrot batons (cut by hand, not bought)

green olives

cherry tomatoes

Raw Cauliflower may sound weird to many of you, but it is sooo good with houmous. And it is crunchy. The secret is to cut it into small bouquets. ya?

To add taste you can use some of the brine from the olives.

The Pink Salad

The addes ingredients to the dressed lettuce are:

Cooked beetroot

raw cauliflower

olives

cooked salmon

To cook the salmon, in any shape you may have bought it, the easiset thing is to cook it in the oven with some spices, for 10 min. When it is done do not forget to squeeze lots of lemon juice over it. You know what to do with the rest of the ingredients!

I hope that you will enjoy these salad ideas and experiment yourself new salads! It is easy to eat healthy, as long as you don not think too hard about what exactly is in the chicken, how was the salmon cut, how much nitrogen was used to grow the carrots or if the salad was washed with water and chloride.

However, this is not the case with most Scottish& British vegetables or meats. So I have been told. Therefore do try these recipes!

What to do when Tesco runs out of Houmous

If you live in St Andrews and you like houmous/hummus (that gorgeous chickpea paste), it may have happened to you more than once to be left without this student staple food. It is not an uncommon phenomenon for Tesco to run out of houmous. If you are really lucky, you may still be able to find canned chickpeas. If you are not that lucky well…come again another day or adventure yourself all the way to Aldi or Morrisons.

Or, there is one more option but it may be too much for your time and patience: a pack of dried chickpeas. You can leave these to soak in water over night and then boil them for 2 hours.

This is what to do in case you are lucky enough to get your posh hands on a can of chickpeas:

Homemade Houmous

(recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver and a few years experience in eating houmous)

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas/cooked chickpeas

juice of 1 lemon

1 full teaspoon tahini (sesame) paste (try Holland&Barret or to support the local shops try the Health Foods Store)

pinch of salt & peppa’

(The above mentioned ingredients are essential to make a real hoummous)

(The below mentioned ingredients are optional and you can try this version or experiment with the spices and things you like)

1 garlic clove, skinned

1 teaspoon olive oil

pinch of cumin

pinch of coriander

dried basil

paprika powder

Method:

If you are the happy owner of a blender/food processor then toss the drained chickpeas with some water (not too much) in the blender and blend until somooth. You can mash the chickpeas by hand. However I noticed that this is harder to do with Tesco chickpeas, as they are slightly harder. But maybe they will change the recipe :)

Now add the lemon juice and tahini paste and what you chose from the optional ingredients. Although I highly recommend that you add a teaspoon of olive oil no matter what…it makes the houmous much smoother.

I like to decorate the top with stripes of dried basil and paprika powder. 

Also feel free to try adding some cooked spinach, yoghurt, red chilli or whatever you think would be appropriate. Please send me any suggestions that you may have.

Enjoy!