Seafood Risotto


The inspiration for making this dish (as always) is that we recently visited our favorite fisherman store not far from Jaffa port. They have huge variety of fresh fish and seafood. The mussels were so fresh, that even after spending a couple of days in a refrigerator they were still in a top shape and almost all “opened up” when being cooked.

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It is absolutely crucial to use fresh seafood for this risotto. Don’t even bother trying this with frozen or pre-cooked ones.

Ingredients:

(For 6-7 portions)
A pinch of Saffron “threads”
1.5 liter of fish stock
300 ml. of dry white wine
0.5 kg. shripms
1 kg. mussels
2-3 crabs
6 small calamari
75 gr. butter
1 onion finely chopped
500 gr. of large round risotto rice
Parsley for serving

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Sicilian Caponata


I have tasted my first Caponata in a nice traditional restaurant in Catania (Sicily). The dish was so good, I ended up literally licking the cup that was used to serve it and asking for some more. As for the restaurant, named I Crociferi (the Crusaders), it was something special. Lets set aside the fact that the food was very good, and the selection of fresh fish and sea food was absolutely out of this world (which is pretty normal for Sicily), the place itself was memorable. Imagine being sent back in time for, say, 40 years or so… Large hall (30-40 tables) with tall arches separating it to a number of areas. The tables, made of dark wood, were covered with flawlessly white cloth. A memorable experience…..

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Caponata is a widely prepared salad in Sicily, heavily based on eggplants. We’ve tried many versions of it and all other ingredients could vary (sometimes it would have some local flavors, depending on the are of Sicily you are in). Here’s what I managed to taste in the majority of them: tomatoes (of course), tomato paste, olives (green or black or both), capers, red pepper, chili pepper, vinegar (wine vinegar). Almost in every traditional Sicilian restaurant, you’d get a version of this salad with local bread.

When preparing mine, I was trying to emulate the most memorable one – the one from I Crociferi. It definitely isn’t identical, but quite similar and, regardless to authenticity, very tasty. Every time I am making this dish, I start remembering the vacation and the restaurant, so for me, its always a double pleasure 🙂

Ingredients:

(For half-a-liter of salad)
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium-sized eggplants
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp of small capers (salted)
7-8 green olives
2 tsp. tomato paste
50 ml. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

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Curry and Corn Pancakes


This recipe qualifies as gluten-free, its very easy to make and serve as a perfect snack.

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Ingredients:

For 8 pancakes:
400 grams corn seeds (fresh, defrosted or canned)
3 tbsp. rice flour (can be substituted by a “regular” flour)
1 tbsp. yellow curry paste
1 egg *
1 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Fish Souce (Nam Pla) or Soy Sauce
1/2 glass of finely-chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves
Corn Flour (optional)
Frying oil

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Roast Lamb with Bread Crust and Pesto


I’ve made this dish for the birthday of my elder daughter in March. We’ve hosted the close family (15 people) and my goal was to create a special meat dish. So, my husband was sent to our butcher and was asked to bring home lamb meat.

The recipe was influenced by this idea of Tuscan-style Lamb Bread. The following yields approximately 8 portions…

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Ingredients:

1 read lamb leg, approximately 2.5-3 kilograms of weight

Pesto:
1/2 bunch of parsley
1/3 bunch of cilantro
1/3 bunch of mint
2 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves
3 rosemary sprigs
Salt
Chili (the amount depends on one’s taste)
Juice of 1/3 lemon
1/2 glass olive oil
1/3 glass of pine nuts

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Home Made Cured Meat


I have always been under an impression that making a decent cured meat at home without having underground cellars or owning some kind of special equipment was impossible. Therefore, every time we visit Italy for vacation, we buy some (as much as the air luggage could care) pieces of cured meat and “prolong the taste of the vacation” for a few weeks at home. And then begins the long waiting period – until the next vacation. When I found this idea in a culinary magazine, I simply had to try it to see the results for myself. To make a long story short – the result is amazing. My guests couldn’t believe that this was home-made and not bought at some deli. And the fun part – the toughest thing here is to find enough space in the refrigerator…. So, anybody up for some cured meat? 🙂

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Ingredients:

1 kg meat (*)
40 gr. sea salt
30 gr. sugar
4 gr. ground coffee
10 gr. black pepper, coarsely ground
10 gr. ground juniper berries (**)
5-6 bay leaves

* It is recommended to use a long piece of topside beef

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Mediterranean Cold Eggplant Soup


Spring is coming, gradually bringing warm weather, and this means that its time to update the menu and replace “heavy” winter soups with light and cold summer ones. Here’s one based on eggplants. Making this soup is very quick and if the weather suddenly becomes less warm than anticipated, it can actually be served hot as well.

The tastes combination is classically Mediterranean – eggplants, mint, goat yogurt and chili peppers….

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Ingredients:

(For 6 regular soup-bowls or 16 small servings, like the one illustrated above)

3 large eggplants (or 500 grams of grilled eggplant “flesh”)
500 ml. goat yogurt
500 ml. water
2 garlic cloves
100 gr. goat cheese – similar to non-aged/young Sainte-Maure
1/2 chili pepper
Mint leaves (amount can be varied, roughly take half-a-bunch or mint branches)
Salt, Pepper

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