Tag Archives: tomato

Cannelloni with ricotta and minced meat

The husband and I are huge fans of Italian food, So I am always happy to try out something new and exciting. Normally I use a very basic cannelloni recipe à la bolognaise. It’s a wonderful recipe and I just know I ll keep using it till I am old an grey. But sometimes I want to try new recipes and new flavours. I found the base for this recipe while looking for some stock cubes on a website. The website suggested to use the cubes in a Ricotta cannelloni and I was won over. The idea of a ricotta cannelloni without spinach sounded like something different. So I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that and I ended up with those lovely creamy cannelloni.

 INGREDIENTS
8 tubes of cannelloni
½ red onions finely chopped
125 grams ricotta cheese
1 jar of tomato sauce (I used home made sauce about 250 ml)
50 grams of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
½ red pepper chopped in small cubes
½ green pepper chopped in small cubes
200 grams minced meat
30 grams of pine nuts
2 teaspoons of Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the minced meat and crumble it with a fork while it turns lightly brown and is cooked through. Now add the onion and the peppers and stir fry this for a about 10 minutes.
Now add the ricotta to the pan and mix it all together.
Season with a little bit of salt, pepper and the Italian herb mix.

Now add 25 grams of parmigiano reggiano cheese and the pine nuts to the mixture.
I had to pre-boil the cannelloni before using. Be sure to check the instructions on your package before using.
 Now fill the tubes with the meat-ricotta mixture. I did this using a small wooden spoon. Look out that the tubes don’t tear up completely.

 Place the filled tubes in a oven dish and poor over the tomato sauce. Make sure that the cannelloni is covered completely with sauce; else it will go hard an dry while baking in the oven. Now sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano reggiano cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes in an oven of 200 degrees. Uncover and bake further until the cannelloni is golden brown an bubbling, this takes approx. another 15 minutes.

Sundried tomatoes chicken with twice baked feta potato

I love sundried tomatoes. Not the all dried out version. No I have a thing for the half dried tomatoes who bath in oil. I know it probably is not healthy. Its not good for your figure… but it is delicious as hell. So for once I just don’t care. Normally I serve these tomatoes with a little aperitif, but to make it all a little healthier I made them into a lovely marinade.

These lovely marinated chicken breast are very quick to make and taste very Mediterranean.

I served them with twice baked potatoes and some feta. I just love feta and I love potatoes, so why not combine them into this lovely dish!

 INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHICKEN BREASTS

2 chicken breasts
12 half sundried tomatoes
6 leaves of basil
½ onion
1 clove of garlic
350 grams of tomato coulisse
250 mls of olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR THE TWICE BAKED POTATOES

6 medium potatoes
Olive oil
200 grams of crumbled feta cheese and an extra 50 grams
2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons of finely chopped thyme
2 teaspoons of finely chopped sage
Salt and pepper

 

For the chicken breasts

Lets start of with the lovely chicken breasts. This is a really fast and easy marinate that you can use for any kind of meat. I just love it with chicken. The tenderness of the chicken goes wonderful with the sweetness of the tomatoes. But enough chit chat start chopping those sundried tomatoes and the basil leaves in rough pieces. When your done, do the some to the onion and the garlic.

Now take a large, deep plate or a large bowl and combine the chopped ingredients. Now add the tomato coulisse and the olive oil. Whisk it all together till everything is nicely combined.

Now take your chicken breasts and here comes the nice part…. Bash them with something heavy till they are nicely thin. Think about your bad day at work, about your husband loosing his socks for the seventh time this week, about your kids who never clean up their toys, about the dog who jumped on your pretty white dress with his dirty pawls. Anyone let the anger flow and just bash those chicken breast!

When the chicken breasts are nice and thin, you just toss them into the marinate, cover it up and place it for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

 Now heat a pan (even more lovely is a grill or a grill pan!) without adding any more oil or butter. Now take the chicken breast out of the marinate and fry them for about 2,5 minutes at each side.

FOR THE TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Now scrub the potatoes and poke some holes in them with a fork. Isn’t this a lovely aggressive diner?

Now place the potatoes hole side up on a baking sheet and drizzle them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and some sea salt. Now bake them for about 50 minutes in the oven. The potatoes are ready when you can insert a fork easily into the crispy skin of the potato.

Now remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Slice the potatoes in halve in length and scoop out that lovely, fluffy flesh into a bowl. Keep the skins on the side.

Now add 200 grams of crumbled feta cheese, the finely chopped herbs and some salt and pepper to the potato flesh. Mix this together into a creamy mixture and fill the potato skins with it. Top this of with the remaining feta cheese, some salt and pepper and return this to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Pesto Rosso

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….

INGREDIENTS

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.

Italian snitzel with creamy sauce

The sun keeps shining so I keep cooking Mediterranean style! I just cant help myself, when the sun shines I get in vacation mode. Even when I have to get up at 6 in the morning to go to my office, I still have the ‘whoot vacation” feeling in me. After 8 hours of hard work I search refugee in my garden, where I am surrounded by olive trees, lavender and delicious smelling herbs. Instant happiness! And yes, at night I try to keep the feeling. When I cant go to the Mediterranean, the Mediterranean has to come to me!
Yesterday the Mediterranean came to me disguised as a kip snitzel with creamy sauce and fresh basil pasta! A nice glass of fruity white wine and we felt on vacation in one instant!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE KIP SNITZEL

1 chicken filet
200 grams flour
2 eggs
300 grams of bread crumbs
150 grams of parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 can of peeled tomato cubes
1 tablespoon of rose wine (or any other wine you find in your kitchen and you feel like drinking!)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
fresh chopped basil according to taste
fresh chopped oregano according to taste
1 tablespoon of mascarpone
1,5 teaspoon pesto rosso (Recipe will follow later)
salt and pepper

FOR THE CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions and the garlic. Let them simmer till the caramelize a little bit.
Now add the tomato cubes, the balsamic vinegar, the wine and the sugar and let this simmer for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes add the freshly chopped herbs and season with pepper and salt. Now let it again simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take the sauce of the heat and stir in the mascarpone and the pesto rosso.

FOR THE CHICKEN SNITZEL

Place 3 bowls in one line next to each other. In the first bowl you place the flour. In the second bowl you place the eggs, loosely whisked. And in the last bowl you mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and the dried herbs.

Now take the chicken filet and slice it into thin slices. I used a filet knife for this. Out of one filet I got 6 snitzels. Place the slices under some foil and bang them with a meat hammer. (If you, like me, don’t own a meat hammer you can just bash it with a bottle of wine!)
Heat some olive oil in a pan and let it warm trough. Now dredge the chicken in the flour. Make sure the chicken is totally covered in flour. Shake of any excess flour. Then dip the chicken in the beaten eggs before covering the slices with the breading.
Place the snitzels in the searing hot oil and bake them until golden and crisp. This should not take long, since the chicken is very thin. Mine only took 2 minutes to cook.

Serve this with your favourite pasta. I choose to use basil pasta, which has a lovely taste!

Single girl pasta

Once a month my husband needs to go to a congres or a training in some far corner of Belgium. Sometimes I let myself be tempted by junk food. I heat up a lasagne or I pop some chinese into the microwave, but most of the time it is my only chance to eat pasta.
The husband dislikes pasta and whines for hours when I dare to put it on the table. So in my lonely moment I tried myself to a plate of hot steaming pasta. Most of the time I make this meals from what I can scatter together in my cupboars. Like yesterday I found 6 scampi in my freezer. A splash of cream that was left from a previous diner and another can of delicious italian cherry tomatoes.
boil up some pasta and dinner is ready. It might not be very healthy and certenly not good for your weight. It is not culinary either and it will not be your most impressive cooking, but it is delicious, comforting food that you eat on the sofa wearing pyamas and watching a real girlmovie.

INGREDIENTS1 clove of garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
6 scampi
1 spring onion
1 can of cherry tomatoes
200 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of cayennepepper
boiled pasta
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan en simmer the onion and the garlic in it for a couple of minutes.
Poor in the can of cherry tomaties and add the scampis. (It is not neceserry to bake them first. They will heat up in the sauce without turning into chewing gum.)
Let this bake for a couple of minutes. You want all the sauce of the tomatoes to evaporate so that you are left with only those wonderful, glooming red little tomatos.
Now add the cream, the sambal, the ketchup, the basil and the cayenne pepper. Stir this together and let it simmer for just a couple of minutes.

Now taste. Do you want it sweeter? Add some ketchup. Do you want it a little more spicy? Knock yourself out with the sambal! Just dont forget to finish it of with salt and pepper.

Now poor in your steaming pasta and diner is done!
A small amount of parmasan cheese on top of it makes this pasta for one ready to eat! So where is that chickflik?

Minestrone

Ah Italy, my heart still makes a little jump when I think about the time I spend in the kitchen of my Italian mama.
About 3 weeks ago I told a good friend about my exchange program that made me live in the wonderful town of Padua for a while. I told him all about the relaxed atmosphere that was so normal there. We only had to attend school for 3 hours a day. So the rest of my days I spend with my best friend in museums, in parks, eating to much kinderchocolat, tasting all the different flavours of ice cream at the parlours and testing every cafe in town for the best cappuccino. The nights I spend with my Italian mama in the kitchen learning all about the multiple uses of fennel. When I close my eyes I can still taste the wonderful sandwiches she made me with tuna, mozzarella and fennel. By nine o’clock my Italian dad would bring out his Harley and drive me once again to the ice-cream parlour where we indulged ourselves in Ferrero rocher Ice cream.
Is it the sun? Or the lovely warmth of the first spring days on my arms? Or just the fact I talked about it with a friend? But my heart aces for those wonderful days of my youth. I might not have realised how wonderful it was at the time. Carefree… our biggest worry was getting the name of that beautiful butcher boy that sold wonderful spicy sausages in the marketplace. I remember us visiting Verona and the balcony of Juliet. It is said that when you hold her breast and you make a wish it definitely will come true. It did for me. I wished that my husband would finally notice that I excised and ask me out. As you all know he did. 🙂 But I also remember me surrounded by my wonderful group of friends having pasta and wine on a little terrace in the sun. To calm my acing hart down I made this wonderful Minestrone soup. A little bit of Italy right at home!

INGREDIENTS:1 red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 piece of ginger, diced
2 stacks of celery, diced
3 carrots, sliced in rounds
100 grams peas
2 potatoes, diced
1 can of canolli beans, drained and washed
1 can of cherry tomatoes (If you cant find these wonderful canned tomatoes, you can use regular tomatoes)
1 litre of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
200 ml red wine
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of Italian herb mix
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 stack of rosemary
1 stack of thyme
2 fresh bay leaves (If you don’t have them in your garden like me, the dried version will do.)
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
30 grams of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup of pasta
olive oil
pepper and salt
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onion, celery, ginger and garlic. Let it simmer until the onion becomes slightly translucent.
Now add the carrots and the potatoes and simmer these for a while.
Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, the Italian herb mix, the dried basil, the cumin powder, the rosemary, the thyme, the bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Poor over the red wine and bring this to the boil.
When the wine has evaporated a bit add the can of cherry tomatoes, the stock and the parmesan cheese.
Stir it all in and bring it back to the boil on a high heat.
Now add the beans, the peas and the tomato puree and let it all simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes you add the pasta and you let it boil for another 10 minutes.

I served the fragrant and delicious soup with a simple slice of ciabatta with some fresh garlic butter.