I was sitting on my balcony, chilling, looking at my vegetables and thinking what to prepare for lunch. That gorgeous green mint caught my eye and made me think of something… It’s been almost 10 years now, since I visited France for the first time. It must have been then that I’ve fallen in love with it… Anyway, I was staying with a family in Antibes, in the south. Tabbouleh was le plat de resistance. Every day. Every lunch. It was more or less a cous-cous salad with some tomatoes, raisins and mint. To be honest, I was not a big fan. It was something I’ve never had in my life before. But, years pass by and you get wiser… and you travel (now a visit to a local Lebanese is practically a must on all my trips), returning at home, hoping that one day you’ll be able to sit down in an restaurant ordering some hummus, falafels and tabouleh in your home town. And one day when you return, your wish comes true. Mezze.
Tabbouleh comes from Middle Eastern cuisine and is usually served as mezze. It’s fresh, healthy and really easy to make in the summer. The real thing is actually lots of mint and parsley, tomatoes, some onions, sprinkeled with lemon and some bulgur. Yes, sprinkeled with bulgur.
My recipe is a mix of everything. Cranberries and pistachios came across when I was staying in Canada. And bulgur is so much healthier than cous-cous. It’s not that common to use it at our place, but you should definitely be using it more. Bulgur is cracked durum wheat and is considered wholegrain, so rich in fibre and has approx. 10% of protein. It is made by cooking the wheat, drying it, partially removing bran and craking it. This actually means that there is no need to cook it. You can just soak it and drain when soften.
So, serve it with one of these beauties plus some grilled vegetables. And you’ve got yourself a real feast!
- 250 g bulgur
- 350 g cherry tomatoes
- 2 big handfuls cranberries (or raisins)
- 150 g salted pistachios in shell
- 20 g mint leaves or more
- 15 g parsley
- 1 small spring onion
- juice of 1,5 lemon
- 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar.
- olive oil. lots of it.
- Cook bulgur according to instructions. Do not overcook. Let cool completely.
- Chop mint leaves, parsley and spring onions. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Remove pistachios from the shelves and chop roughly.
- Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and lots of olive oil to cooled bulgur. Mix in pistachios, cranberries, chopped herbs and spring onions. Salt according to taste and mix. At the end mix in cherry tomatoes and serve.
These days we had our first snow this winter. If the Christmas wasn’t white, at least New Year will be. It will be cold they say. It doesn’t really matter. I managed -40ºc in Montreal last year. I fear nothing!
And this will be the first New Year after four years I’ve been spending it away from home. I am really happy and excited about it!
It’s funny how I never had the idea of organizing a good dinner before going to France couple of years ago. I like the idea of organizing a New Year’s dinner at home before going out. But the last thing I want is to spend my evening in the kitchen cooking, preparing plates and serving. So, do it yourself/themselves convivial dishes are a must.
Baked soft french cheese such as Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers, Pont l’Evêque, Neufchâtel served with some good french bread (aka sourdough) is simple and cheap solution that needs only a trick or two to turn it into a most luxurious dish. And it will keep you away from kitchen, being able to hang out with your friends while spreading the soft cheese over your slice of bread, splashing it down with some good red, being in the middle of the action.
It’s a recipe you can use in every season. Put on some mild olive oil and rosemary in the summer. Top it with figs and honey. Stick in couple of garlic cloves and thyme in the autumn. Or do as I did, being inspired by my travels to Canada: cranberries, pecans and maple syrup.
- whole soft french cheese like Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers, Pont l’Evêque, Neufchâtel…
- handful of dried cranberries + water to cover them
- 3 Tbsp roughly chopped pecans (you can also replace them with walnuts)
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or use agave syrup instead)
- Roughly chop cranberries, cover them with water and cook over a medium fire to get a jam consistency.
- Unwrap cheese, put it on a sheet of baking paper. Top with cranberries, chopped pecans and drizzle with maple syrup.
- Bake in preheated oven at 180ºc for 8 – 10 mins.
- Serve with some good grilled bread and a glass of red wine.
Cranberries and pistachios. Red and green. Christmas par excellence.
- 150 g rolled oats
- 50 g butter or coconut oil
- 1,5 tsp baking powder
- 70 – 100 g water
- 30 g peeled salted pistachios
- 50 g dried cranberries
- chocolate to garnish
- Roughly chop cranberries and pistachios.
- Finely grind rolled oats into a flour consistency.
- Mix oats and baking powder. Add butter (or coconut oil fi using) and evenly mix with hands. Add nuts and cranberries.
- Add water, mix and let sit. Oats will soak up. It it gets too dry, add a bit more water.
- Make small balls and form a thin cookie. Bake at 180º for 20-30 mins depending on thickness. Let cool and garnish with melted chocolate.
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