Fried bread

IMG_1122

When I was a child I often went to the seaside with my grandma. Every morning she would wake up and go to the bakery to get some fresh bread. Breakfast was a ritual: bread, butter and grandma’s jams… And since there was plenty of bread left every day, in the evening we would make fried bread and tomato salad. It was a real treat, crispy and surprisingly light. It was a dish that I’ve been always associating to summer.

Summer hasn’t officially started yet, but it’s somehow here. I visited my parents this weekend and when I saw their garden, I knew right away that the season has started. There was abundance of everything… salads, fresh herbs, radish, kohlrabi, kale, and so many things yet to come… This hot and sunny day made me think of  the seaside and when I saw some leftover baguettes from yesterday’s picnic I knew straight away what I’ll be cooking for lunch.

This is a recipe I’ve picked up from my grandma. Her fried bread was something special: moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. The trick is to soak it well in the milk. This will also prevent it from getting to fat while frying. And the other thing: despite the well known french pain perdu, which I have always eaten as a sweet treat, fried bread should be slightly salty.

IMG_1107

IMG_1120

Ingredients:

  • at least a day old bread
  • milk of your choice
  • eggs
  • salt
  • oil for frying/coconut oil
  • radish
  • spring onion
  • basil

Preparation:

  1. Cut thick slices (aprox. 2 cm) of bread of any kind. Soak them well (especially crust) in milk.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk eggs with salt.
  3. When the oil* is heated enough, transfer one by one the soaked slices of bread in an egg batter and from there directly to frying pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown.
  4. Garnish with fine slices of radish, spring onions and basil leaves topped with some high quality olive oil.
  5. Eat while still hot.

*You don’t have to deep fry them. Just put enough oil to cover the  whole pan.

Zucchini pizzeta in a hurry

IMG_1047

I must admit that I cheat from time to time… I buy puff pastry. At least it’s low fat (15%). I once tried to make it on my own. Started a day before, got up at 5 am to make fresh croissants and was a complete disaster in the end. I guess this plan will have to wait for a while.

Meanwhile… This might not be the healthiest thing, but it’s good, easy to prepare and a perfect thing to serve with a glass of wine when unattended guests come by.

There are two important rules to consider :

  1. Pre-bake your pastry!
  2. Don’t put too much and too many things on it!

Pre-baking puff pastry is very important to get the crunchy bottom side. If you won’t do it, the inside will stay raw and the bottom won’t get baked properly. If baking on a plain surface like here (and not in a pie dish), take the pastry out when the top starts baking – it will change color, but won’t get brown. The other common mistake when people make pizza or pizza style snacks is that they put too many things on. Be minimalistic with the choice and quantity of ingredients! Less is better than too much.

IMG_1045

IMG_1046

Ingredients:

  • puff pastry
  • zucchini
  • mozzarella
  • salted pistachios
  • lemon thyme
  • smoked salmon (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Pre-bake puff pastry at 170°c as indicated above.
  2. Cut zucchini in fine slices – try using potato peeler!
  3. Crush pistachios.
  4. Garnish puff pastry with slices of zucchini, fine slices of mozzarella, sprinkle with crushed pistachios and thyme.
  5. Bake at 180°c until golden brown. Savory smell from the oven is usually a good indicator that it’s done.
  6. Put small pieces of smoked salmon on top while still hot.

Tahini mint roasted fish

IMG_0897

This must be one of the easiest fish dishes ever. Mix, pour over and roast. That’s it. And it’s basically done by itself.

Fish will cook under the sauce and will be tender and delicious. The best is to serve it with white basmati rice that will allow all the flavors from the sauce to come out.

IMG_2051

Ingredients:

  • 400g white fish
  • 110g onion
  • 80g tahini
  • 80 ml water
  • lemon peel of 1 lemon
  • lemon juice from 1 1/2 lemon
  • 20g mint
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil for cooking

Instructions:

  1. Finely chop onion. Heat oil and add onion. Stir for aprox 15 min at medium temperature, until softened and slightly caramelized. It should not be burned, so add more oil if needed.
  2. In a blender mix at high speed tahini, water, lemon peel and juice, salt and pepper and  sautéed onion.
  3. Put the fish in profound baking dish. If the fish is thick, make couple of diagonal cuts so that it cooks more evenly.
  4. Pour the mix over fish and roast for 10 – 15 mins at 230ºc or until lightly brown.
  5. Serve with basmati rice.

Easy green

I would say that Slovenians, we’re a salad nation. It sounds funny, but if there’s no salad in your meal, your meal just doesn’t feel complete. And for me a good salad is often enough to make a perfect meal.

When making salads, I follow couple of simple rules: it has to be colorful, needs to have different textures and flavors and has to be a play between sweet and sour.

The main rule for composing big salads is: crunchy base vegetable + one or two colorful accessories + some crunchy details or/and cheese.

As far as dressing is concerned, it should always taste more slaty and sour. That’s how it will be perfect on your salad. And my basic rule is: never put white dressing on cheese.

Simple.

IMG_0916

Colorful accessories.

I love putting fruits in salads. They add wonderful color and flavor. Oranges are superb in green salads. Just don’t forget to take off all that white skin.

Avocado is actually a fruit, not a vegetable. It is a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and vitamins B. It has high level of fat, but it’s good vegetable unsaturated fat. There’s about 15 g of fat in 100 g of avocado. You can easily use it as butter replacement in your other recipes.

Avocados are picked hard and green and will ripen properly at room temperature in one to two weeks. If you buy them hard and don’t want to eat them straightaway, keep them in fridge. If you want them to get ripe more quickly, put them next to bananas. And yes, you should always have them on stock!

 

Crunchy stuff: nuts and seeds

Black cumin seeds always remind me of my trip to Egypt where we had wonderful bread with black cumin seeds in the morning. It was years ago and at that time I had no idea what it was. I’ve just remembered the taste. Since I’ve rediscovered it, it’s my favorite thing on oranges and goat cheese.

Couple of crushed nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, roasted or not, will give your salad a full rounded body. Salted roasted whole almonds add crunchy and a bit rustic flavor.

IMG_0906

Soft goat cheese

IMG_0905IMG_0918

 

 

Ingredients

  • salad greens
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 orange
  • handful roasted almonds (in shells)
  • goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • lemon thyme (optional)
  • black cumin seed to sprinkle
  • salt, pepper

Directions

  1. Cut avocado chunks. Peel and cut oranges. Remove white skins.
  2. Roughly crush almonds.
  3. Make dressing. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Assemble green salad, avocado chunks and oranges, rough pieces of cheese. Sprinkle with almonds, cumin seeds. Top with  dressing.

Risotto primavera

IMG_0890

Finally! Spring is here! … and with it all the green goodness that comes along. Plants in my garden are going crazy. It’s a damn good beginning of the season! So far, I have wonderful aromatic herbs: thyme, mint, parsley, chives, basil… All I have to do is go out on my balcony and I have a handful of freshness for my dishes.

IMG_0872
IMG_0875

One of the first veggies in spring are asparagus. At the market you will usually find them white or green, the difference being only in the way they are grown. Apparently the most recent thing is violet asparagus, but nothing can beat the wild ones. They have a distinct taste, but are hard to find if you don’t have a clue what to look for in the woods (like me…).
The lower ends should be removed since they are hard to eat and have much fibre. Also, white asparagus should be peeled, but I use the same technique on the green ones and eat the lower ends.

IMG_1693

In my opinion asparagus goes best with eggs and in a classical italian risotto, but since my garden is full of fresh herbs it is just screaming to make a light and fresh herbed asparagus rice with some nice greenish pistachios.

IMG_0883

IMG_0888

Herbed asparagus rice

serves one as main or two as side

  • 80g integral (brown) rice
  • Tbsp olive oil for cooking
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 small bouquet of asparagus
  • a handful of salted pistachios
  • mint, parsley, thyme and lemon thyme, chives
  • 1 Tbsp greek yoghurt
  • salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Precook rice.
  2. Remove the ends of asparagus and peel if necessary. Cut in small pieces and set the tops aside.
  3. Finely chop shallot. Stir it on 1 Tbsp of oil for about 2 min. Add asparagus, except the tops and cook for additional 4 mis.
  4. Add the tops, sauté for about a minute, than add rice. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in pistachios and chopped herbs.
  6. Set aside and mix in 1 big Tbsp of greek yoghurt.