Tag: salad

Pasta al Pomodoro

Yesterday I talked with a friend who is back in the stifling summer heat of Milan for a wedding. I was taken back to my time living there and how the two of us realised we were living just down the road from each other, friends from school who had fallen out of touch. I could see her as clearly as if it was yesterday, in gumboots on the side of Viale Gran Sasso in the slushy grey snow as she waited for me. We were getting our first of many espresso together in the city we Kiwis were choosing to call home. Sometimes it seemed like we were the only sane ones in the whole city, other times it seemed like we were the ones creating all the drama. I was taken back to the friendships and the adventures, the flavours and fragrance of an Italian kitchen. The bag of tomatoes in my fridge were calling to me and I knew what I had to do with them.

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Last Night’s Pasta al Pomodoro

A generous glug of olive oil
1 big garlic clove
2 anchovy fillets
A sprinkling of chilli flakes
1/2 red onion
6 big fresh tomatoes (I had a few yellow cherry tomatoes I threw in too for good measure)
A peeling of lemon skin very finely chopped
6 green olives
1 Tbsp capers
Salt

Cover the bottom of a thick bottomed pan with olive oil and then add your whole garlic clove. When you can start to smell the garlic, add the chilli flakes and anchovy fillets and slowly slowly fry these until they dissolve into the oil making a delicious salty, spicy and garlicky oil (I have been known to finish here and coat the pasta with the oil for dinner. If I learnt one thing from Italy it is that simplicity is always best). Next, finely dice the red onion and add this with the lemon zest to slowly soften in the oil. Fill a bowl with boiling water and drop your tomatoes in. Leave for 30 seconds and then pull out and peel the skin off. Chop the tomatoes up and add these to the onion. There will be a lot of liquid from the tomatoes at this stage, so you want to leave them to simmer and thicken until you are left with a deep red sauce. Add the capers and stoned and cut up olives and you have yourself a sauce. Cook your pasta – I think something long and skinny is best for a sauce like this – and combine them. You don’t want your pasta to be swimming in the sauce, but nicely shiny from it. Top with grated parmesan to really make your meal amazing.

The beauty of pasta al pomodoro is that there is no one way to do it. I am sure there are many nonne out there who are shaking their heads at this recipe, but there seem to be hundreds of variations on eating tomatoes and pasta together. It can be as simple as oil, garlic and a tin of tomatoes. Either way, you know it is going to taste gooooood. It is my go to food, my comfort food and my favourite dinner in the world. Plus, I can put away serious amounts. Very happily.

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While the pasta cooked, we had a little marinated zucchini salad which was a lovely combination of fresh crunch, zingy vinegar and soft mozzarella. 

Marinated Zucchini Salad

Half a green zucchini
Half a yellow zucchini
1/2 clove of fresh garlic minced
Olive oil
The juice of a lemon
Salt
A splash of white wine vinegar
Handful of fresh basil, torn
A few balls of fresh mozzarella
Handful of baby spinnach
A few pieces of prosciutto torn into smaller pieces

Finely slice the zucchini and put in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, basil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Leave these for a couple of hours to marinate. Just before you serve, add the baby spinach, prosciutto and mozzarella. Easy as that.

Buon appetito a tutti. And Livs, I wish I was there with you x

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Passing Time

I am sitting at the table by the window, nail polish drying on my finger nails, cup of tea close by as I try to distract myself from my impending job interview. One o’clock must be one of the worst times to have one. I feel like I can’t really do anything this morning, because what if I am late? I am very good at being late. But it is also a long time to sit around drinking tea and wondering what questions they might ask, what questions I should ask them…

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So instead, I will tell you what we had for dinner last night.

Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos

For the chicken

2 chicken thighs
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp spicy paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of brown sugar
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Enough water to cover the bottom of your dish

For the slaw

1/3 small red cabbage
1/3 small green cabbage
1 big handful of baby spinach leaves
1 handful of fresh coriander
3 radishes
2 spring onions
1 small tin of pineapple
Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil
Salt

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Place your chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, in a dish with a lid. Combine the ingredients and pour on top of the chicken -they want to be snuggled in there quite tightly so they don’t lose all the delicious flavours.  Add some water to the bottom of the dish – this stops it from drying out- and put in the oven at 150 degrees celsius/300 fahrenheit for about two hours or until the chicken falls easily off the bone with just a fork. Take the skin off, pull apart and then pour all the delicious juices over the top.

While the chook is cooking, finely slice all the ingredients for the slaw, combine in a bowl with the lime juice, olive oil and a splash of the juice from the can of pineapple for the dressing. You can use whatever you want for the slaw, you just want to make sure you have a combination of flavours so there is earthy, spicy, tart and sweet crunching in your mouth.

Serve on either corn or flour mini soft tortillas and top with hot sauce should you wish. We have this amazing stuff that is made by firefighters in Palo Alto- sounds too good to be true huh?

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Normally by the time we have finished dinner the wind is blowing and the mist is swirling, but last night the evening was surprisingly balmy, so we climbed up to top of Buena Vista Park and looked out over the lights of the new city we call home.

A weekend of finding free things!

This week things have started to fall into place. I have managed to get myself a subbing job in a bookstore, met up with some old friends, made some new friends and found some awesome free things in our area. Friday night was an album release party at The Mill with a band playing, free Josey Baker breads, 4505 nachos plus BYO beers- it felt like a really fun house party in a cool space. Saturday was more free drinks, live music and food at the Public Bikes opening in Hayes Valley. So after that and an afternoon of eating ice cream in the sun, we wandered up the hill for a dinner at home. Herb crusted roast chicken with yummy summer salads.

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Herb Crusted Roast Chicken

1 onion quartered
1 lemon quartered
A big handful of fresh herbs – I used parsley, mint and basil as that is what I had, but wintry sage, rosemary and thyme would also be a good combo
Small handful of capers
3 cloves of garlic
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
BIG glug of olive oil
Sea salt

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First of all, stuff the cavity of the chicken with the onion and lemon. Next, finely chop the herbs, garlic and capers and mix them with everything else. Slather all over the chicken and pop her in the oven for about an hour. While she cooks, pull the tray out of the oven and scoop up the liquid from the chicken and pour it back over so the chicken doesn’t dry out.

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I served the chicken with an insalata caprese – three types of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and plenty of good olive oil and sea salt – and a zucchini and quinoa salad – three types of zucchini, loads of fresh herbs, slowly cooked onion, quinoa and a smokey dressing. It was lovely, the company was great and we found that the wine from Bi-rite is very good.

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On Sunday we went down to Civic Center to watch the final of the world cup and it was awesome! Heaps of people, flags, food trucks and cheering. It seems to me that there is plenty to do in this city without having to pay. Here’s to a week to follow up a good weekend.

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Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

This is the kind of salad you eat and feel like you are doing good things to your body. It is fresh, tasty and packed full of flavour. We had it for dinner by itself – there was enough to take leftovers for lunch today, but you could have it with some nice meat for a more substantial dinner.

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Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

1 small green cauliflower head
1 small white cauliflower head
Half a red onion
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water (for cooking the quinoa)
Handful of baby spinach
Half a raw green zucchini, finely sliced
Half a yellow zucchini, finely sliced
Handful of fresh mint and parsley
Feta
Zest and juice of a lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Sprinkling of pumpkin seeds
Sprinkling of chilli flakes

Break your cauliflower into florets and pop in a 180 degree oven with the sliced red onion, a dash of olive oil and cumin. While the cauliflower and the quinoa  is cooking, finely slice the zucchini and put in a big bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice. This marinates it nicely before you simply add everything else, sprinkling the seeds, zest of the lemon and chilli flakes to finish. Happy Wednesday x

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Picnic Potato Salad

Yesterday was the ultimate lazy summer Sunday. We ate delicious toast with rhubarb jam in bed, read books and then wandered down the road to discover the Divisadero Organic Farmer’s Market which is on every Sunday morning. There were piles and punnets of any berry you could imagine, leafy greens, sweet stone fruit, pastries and bread and fresh cut flowers. There were hippies, hipsters, dogs, babies and yoga mat carrying young professionals. We picked up all sorts of fruit and vegetables from which I quickly made a few salads before meeting friends in the park for some sunshine, food and beer. It was perfect. And now my legs are a bit like a pasta pomodoro– all you can see is red, even though you know it is white underneath…

But anyway, here’s the recipe for the potato salad we enjoyed in the sunshine.

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Picnic Potato Salad

About 12 new season potatoes
2 spring onions
2 stalks of celery
1 handful of capers
1 heaped Tbsp whole grain mustard
A few big glugs of olive oil
Juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper
1 big handful of fresh mint
Big bunch of rocket

Half your potatoes and put them on to boil. While they are doing their thing, finely chop the spring onions and celery and add to the capers, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. When the potatoes are cooked, run under cold water to stop the cooking and cool them down a bit, and then add them to the bowl with the dressing. When they have cooled down completely, add the roughly chopped mint and rocket and combine. The result is a fresh tasting summer salad, perfect for a picnic. This would also be a great addition to a BBQ for next time you offer to bring something.

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When an orange and a chicken become friends

I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. I know people love it and get all in touch with their inner voice, get all stretchy and flexy and then love drinking coconut water afterwards – I get that. I just get a bit bored. Where’s the competition? Where’s the running around and shouting? I often feel like I spend enough time in my head as it is without being forced in there for 90 minutes straight. But I have signed up to a yoga studio just round the corner from our apartment to keep me busy and hopefully meet a few people. I am giving it another go, and yes I do feel better afterwards. Plus, an added bonus is that I have been thinking about some great food to make for dinner while I spend all that time in my head. This one came to me last night and I popped into the Bi-Rite on the way home to pick up some chicken, asparagus and an orange.

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ORANGE CHICKEN SALAD

Serves 2
2 big chicken thighs- skin on
A bundle of asparagus
1 avocado
Rocket
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp marjoram
Zest of one orange
Salt
Olive oil
Juice of half a big juicy Californian orange/ juice of a whole normal one

Peel the skin back from the chicken thighs and rub them with the orange zest, cumin, salt, olive oil and margoram then tuck the skin back in. Just like making a bed. Pop them into the oven at 180 degrees celsiusand while they are getting started, snap the woody bits off the asparagus and cut into thirds. After about ten minutes, add the asparagus to the roasting dish. You can now decide how fatty you want to be- either take the skin off the chicken or leave it on. Up to you. By the time the chicken is ready, the asparagus will be too. Add it to a bowl with the sliced avocado and rocket and dress it with the orange juice, olive oil and salt.

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This salad is just sooooo tasty. The orange flavour goes so well with the asparagus and chicken. I imagine it would be even better with duck if your budget stretches that far, but we were pretty happy with this for a Thursday evening in.

Fresh Produce Delights

I am so excited to have a whole foods market and multiple little fresh produce shops just around the corner from our airbnb apartment. Here’s hoping our permanent home has so many delicious food shopping choices close by because fresh berries are in season! Breakfast is instantly so much better with them. Speaking of breakfast, two of my amazing friends, Lucy and Jono are launching The Muesli Hub, a made to order muesli company. They have asked me to make up a San Fran mix, so watch this space.

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Last night we resisted the pull of 100 different restaurants we want to try. After unsuccessfully looking at four different apartments- one too small, one too dark, one too mouldy, one too like a dungeon with fleas- we came home and enjoyed a cold beer and our first cooked dinner in our (kind of) San Francisco home.

I made a lentil salad with grilled asparagus, poached eggs and a loaf of sourdough bread. It took a second to whip together and tasted good!

Lentils and green things

1 cup of lentils

1 lemon

Big bunch of basil

2 cloves of garlic

tsp mustard

Big bunch of asparagus

2 eggs

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Cook the lentils until the are firm, not schmushy. Dress these up with 2 garlic cloves cooked whole in a lot of olive oil until softened and then break them up with a fork into the oil. Add the mustard and juice of a lemon. Stir through the lentils with the roughly chopped basil leaves. Top this with the asparagus and then the poached eggs. I like to fry the asparagus on a griddle pan so they have those awesome charred marks. And if you don’t like eggs (like me) substitute some cheese in there instead. I used mozzarella, but haloumi or even slithers of parmesan would work just as well.

We ate this with delicious sourdough bread, whipped butter and cold beers by the open bay windows.

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