When a friend told me this week he had eaten something “pre -prepared” he looked at me with scared eyes.
“Yes, so?” I answered and he looked even a little bit more afraid. “But you love to cook and you do it so well. You must be anti pre-prepared stuff?”
I almost rolled on the floor while holding my laugh. Anti pre-prepared? Hallo, who do you think I am? God? Yes, I love to spend my time in supermarkets looking for good quality food. I get happy from using fresh product and yes I love to cook. But that doesn’t mean that I never use something out of a package or carton! I work full time, I have a husband who gets home pretty late and works weekends. I don’t have a housekeeper or a person who does my ironing. So sometimes it has to quick and easy for me.
To test my theory that I am not anti pre-prepared I examined my pantry and my fridge. With the following results:
– Gazpacho from Alvalle. There is nothing, but absolutely nothing that can beat this gazpacho. Even my Spanish friend buys it, cause she cant make it better herself. Over the years I have tried to make fresh or taste other brands, but nothing beats Alvalle!
– Mix for falafel
– Mix for couscous
– A jar of marinated zucchini
– Pastasauce from Bertolli
– A lasagne
Just to say I am not anti pre-prepared.
This week in the supermarket I even places a jar of red pesto in my bags. I had been planning some dishes with red pesto and ready made pesto is quick and easy. Waiting at the counter I studied the ingredients and noticed chiliflakes and cashews. I don’t know about you but I don’t think those two represent the authentic Italian taste I was looking for. So I left the line, place the jar back in his rack and started searching for fresh ingredients for red pesto. And to be quiet honest.. the fresh pesto only took 5 minutes to prepare….
200 grams of half dried tomatoes on olive oil (dredged from the olive oil)
15 grams of fresh basil
2 gloves of marinated garlic (If you cant find these, just use regular garlic)
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
40 grams of pine nuts
75 grams of grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons of olive oil
Add the sundried tomatoes, the basil, the garlic, the vinegar, the pine nuts and the cheese together in a bowl. Mix with your standing mixer until you get a smooth paste.
After the mixing spoon in the olive oil so it gets creamy.
Pesto can be kept in the fridge for a month. Just make sure that there is always a tiny bit of olive oil on top of it. This seals it from the air and protects it from any germs.
When my family in law comes to diner I kind of get the creeps. Cooking for friends or my family is rarely a problem. But from the moment husbands family steps into the picture I completely freak out. I am sure there are wonderful theories about this phenomena… no doubt about that. But for me it just plain horrible. The husband tries his best to calm me down a bit, but rarely succeeds.
Now it was even worse because they were coming on Ostara and I had to make sure that “my holiday” was not rubbed into their faces. I am not quit sure my family in law even knows I am pagan… And I was certainly not planning to tell them straight away.
So I tried to use some subtle decoration that did not scream “I am a wiccan!” I got the most amazing tulips, grass green candles and pretty ribbons who made sure that our living room was transformed into a spring Walhalla. No altar this time around for me, but I was satisfied non the less.
I decided to keep the menu simple. I did not feel like spending hours in the kitchen like I normally do. No I wanted simple, but tasty food that could be prepared in advance and that just needed a final touch right before serving.
I build my menu around the Ostara theme by using lots of young vegetables, eggs, cheese and I used the colours green and yellow a lot.
It turned out to be great. My family in law was very enthusiastic about my menu. The best compliment was when my mother in law asked me for some recipes.
INGREDIENTS PEA CAPPUCINO WITH PINK PEPPERCORNS
500 grams of peas (I used frozen peas)
1 small potato
325 ml chicken stock
85 ml cream
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
pepper and salt
INGREDIENTS CAULIFLOWER PANNA COTTA WITH GREEN PESTO
½ litre cream
2 gelatine leaves
pepper and salt
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
30 grams of basil
2 gloves of garlic
30 grams of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
200 grams of gray shrimps
300 grams whipped cream
pepper and salt
PEA CAPPUCINO WITH PINK PEPPERCORNS
Peal the potato and dice him into small cubes.
Bring the potato to the boil in the chicken stock. When the potato is boiling add the peas and let this simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Now poor the peas, potato and stock into the blender and blend this together into a pea mash.
Season the mash with pepper and salt.
In the mean time whip the cream and season it with a little bit of salt.
Now add ¾ of the cream to the pea mash and season according to taste.
Poor the pea mousse into glasses and place them for about 2 hours into the fridge.
Just before serving you poor the rest of the cream on top of the mousse and you decorate with the pink peppercorns.
CAULIFLOWER PANNA COTTA WITH GREEN PESTO
Wash the cauliflower and cut it into really small pieces. This is very important, cause you need to cook the cauliflower really fast. Because of the cream we ‘ll be using you cant have it cook for hours.
Now cook the cauliflower in a mixture of the cream, a little bit of water, some pepper and salt. The cauliflower should almost fall apart into the cream.
In the meantime soak the gelatine in some cold water.
Make the green pesto in your blender. Green pesto is one of the easiest things to make. You just add all the ingredients together in the blender and you mix it into a lovely green pasta. According to taste you can add some extra oil, pepper, salt or basil even.
When the cauliflower is done you mix it together with the cream using your hand mixer. Season it with pepper, salt and some nutmeg. Now add the soaked gelatine leaves and stir well.
Now add a tablespoon of pesto to a glass and poor over some of the cauliflower panna cotta. Pop this in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.
Shrimp mousse is one of the easiest things to make as an appetiser. The taste is really luscious and soft and you can make it in less then two minutes!
Just mix the shrimps into a paste with your blender. Then mix the whipped cream with the shrimps using a wooden spoon. Season this mixture with pepper, salt, dill and paprika powder.
Poor the mousse into the glasses and pop it into the fridge for about 2 hours.
Just before serving you add a little bit of paprika powder on top of the mousse.