Thursday, October 02, 2008

Yummy creative endeavors (recipes)

As I was recently saying to someone, if I'm creative I'm happy. Or at least I'm not in the doldrums. However, my creative juices can be directed towards different endeavors and it seems I am a serial monogamist. At the moment it's cooking. Yeah, cooking.

I understand many people, especially those who have to do it everyday, a couple of times a day, find it a chore and nothing like a creative outlet, but trust me it can be. And it makes it better for everyone, the cooker, the cleaner and the eater(s). And, seriously, there are plenty of things you don't need loads of time to prepare either. Plus, it's another way of sharing love with those you cook for - including yourself!

Here's a selection of my latest favorites.

Waldorf salad variation
Especially loved by those who have a slightly sweet tooth. (original recipe and my version, I'll let you figure it out)

  • 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely sliced (unfortunately didn't have any)
  • 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced green organic grapes, whole (or raisins)
  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise natural yogurt to taste
  • 3 cups of lettuce didn't have any so used endives instead
  • fresh lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix the veggies, fruit and walnuts in a bowl. Separately mix yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Combine the two and sprinkle with some walnuts.

Oven-roasted ratatouille

I got this recipe from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini

I took this picture just as I was about to place the ratatouille in the oven so as you can see the veggies are still raw, but it gives you an idea of the end result.

I have reproduced Clotilde's recipe below for convenience.

* 2 onions
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1 aubergine
* 1 zucchini
* 2 green peppers (surely, if you have red or yellow it's ok)
* 8 small tomatoes (I use the tastier olive shaped ones)
* 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
* 3 sprigs fresh thyme
* olive oil
* salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Peel and slice the onion and garlic. Rinse and slice the veggies. Rinse the herbs. Combine everything in an oven-proof dish. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Cover your dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. By now, the veggies should be cooked but not colored, and there should still be cooking juices at the bottom of the dish.

Remove the foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the cooking juices have evaporated and the veggies look well roasted.

Remove the herbs and serve now, or later, or keep some for tomorrow's brunch.


Sunday brunch or oeufs cocotte

The key thing here is the oeufs cocotte. Scrumptious.
You'll need:
-a little ramequin per person,
-a larger relatively shallow oven dish,
-fresh eggs
-some sort of soft white cheese or crème fraîche, (or double cream)
-whatever veggies* you have in your fridge and an oven.

It's an easy and quick dish and very versatile so you can add practically anything to it. Plus it's yummy and filling.

I had some organic ham, some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms so that's what I used. However, you can use tuna, peppers, artichokes, onions, gouda, boursault, zucchini or whatever else you have left in your fridge.

1. Turn on your oven to 220°
2. Boil some water in the kettle
3. Place a sheet of newspaper or kitchen paper on the bottom of your shallow oven dish. This will avoid the water boiling over once in the oven
4. Pour the boiled water ("bain-marie" style) into your large and relatively shallow oven dish half way up on to the kitchen paper. This will help the eggs cook.
5. Grease your ramequin and put some crème fraîche, Chavroux, Boursault or whatever white cheese you are using at the bottom of your ramequin
6. Place diced veggies* and other ingredients (tuna or strips of ham etc.) on top
7. Break your egg (I actually use two per person because my ramequins are rather large and we have an appetite) over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper
8. Place the ramequin in the water in the large and shallow oven dish and place in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes depending on how runny you like your eggs.
9. Once done, you may wish to sprinkle paprika, parmesan or herbs (chives are yummy) depending on what else you've used, on the top.
10. Serve with other brunch favorites (cheeses, hams, etc.) or left-overs and bread or toast.

N.B. you can of course combine steps 2, 3, and 4: just place warm water in the oven dish (don't forget the piece of kitchen paper at the bottom of the dish first) and let it come to the boil in the oven. Then place the ramequins in the dish.

* Veggies: if you are using veggies that need pre-cooking, just sautee them in a little oil in your frying pan before hand (not the case of tomatoes for example)

Favorite combinations are: cheese and ham; spinach and ham; tomato and bacon (in this case place the egg at the bottom and bacon on top); salmon and cream cheese with chives . The combinations are truly endless.

Well, that's all for today, but I'll keep you posted soon with recently discovered soup recipes (excellent for Emma's dinner!) and my feta and tomato quiche.

Bon appétit!

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