31 May 2010
I was inspired by the recipes on the Greek cooking blogs I shared earlier and decided to try one of the recipes for peas in a mint cream sauce over pasta from the Kali Orexi blog. It was wonderful- filling but light to the taste with a refreshing mint flavour, satisfying all of my spring food desires.
Mint, like cinnamon, is a spice I do not automaically associate with savoury cooking. Mint is a taste that I know from peppermint ice cream and candy canes, peppermint tea and lots of variations in gum. Maybe Southern Living magazine would once in a while have a recipe for a cool strawberry and mint dessert in the summer months. I think we did not even have a lot of mint on hand growing up that I remember. I am sure my mom did have mint as we had a magnificent herb and spice collection, though I cannot recall ever using it.
Although mint and cinnamon are not sweet per se, because I have this association with those flavours in sweet dishes, I always find it surprising when my fiance enjoys mint and cinnamon with dinner. Somehow, I expect him to not enjoy it because he does not like sweet and savoury tastes together, though he does not have the same associations with these flavours as I do. I can see it already and it will probably increase over time that we influence each other's tastes more and more so that one day I might think a dish is missing mint and he might want syrup with his bacon. I'll let you know when that day comes.
Back to the mint cream sauce. This was a simple recipe to make although I could not find fresh mint in a pinch so I used a large amount of dried mint. The fresh mint would definitely be better, but dried mint still imparted a refreshing flavour. I wasn't sure if this would go, but I decided to cook a bit of pancetta to sprinkle on top of the pasta. The pancetta was sometimes overpowering, but a little sprinkle on top was just enough to add some saltiness and crunch, which was great with the freshness of the mint.
For full instructions and beautiful pictures, check out the Kali Orexi blog.
Pasta with Peas in a Mint Cream Sauce from Kali Orexi
1 packet pasta
lots of peas (about 1 pound)
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup double (heavy) cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
5 leaves chopped fresh mint or 4 Tablespoons dried mint
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta and peas, drain most of the liquid, drizzle with olive oil and set aside. Heat cream until almost simmering and add lemon zest, mint and 2 tablespoons olive oil. I kept heating the mixture so the flavors would combine, stirring constantly. Add the pasta and peas back into the pot and coat with the cream sauce, thickening it as you go for a few more minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of cooked pancetta and mint if desired.
21 May 2010
Perhaps not in the same sense as I meant, but as the UK is experiencing its first weekend of spring/summer-like temperatures, I am in no mood for Greek food, unless it is a Greek salad. In lieu of my own cooking, I finally had a look around for other Greek food blogs. There is so much inspiration in these I think they may prod me back into the kitchen to try some of these recipes. Searching for blogs has also prodded me to keep up with my Greek language learning so I can read all the blogs out there in Greek for lots more good recipes!
For some other Greek food inspiration, try these:
Souvlaki for the Soul
Elly says Opa!
16 May 2010
Last summer, I went to Cyprus with my fiance and his family during the height of the heat- late July/early August. We visited some family, saw the sights and of course went to the beach. But the heat just about killed me. When I am hot, I do not like to eat much of anything and even then only cool, refreshing meals that will be light to the taste and to my stomach. Many of the meals in Cyprus had elements of this- salad, cucumbers- but not a lot. We had souvla (roasted meat on the grill), hot cooked beans and even soup (this was specially made for my fiance to be fair). All of these had beautifully fresh and tasty vegetabls and were very good, though I was surprised not to find a slightly different diet to the Greek food I have encountered in London. I suppose I expected more cold dishes, more fish, more dishes with lighter flavors to combat the oppressive heat. Then again, I seemed to be the only one having any trouble with the heat, so maybe my views are merely a consequence of my northern-latitude-bred blood. From what I know of Greek dishes and what I have tried, I have not found anything that will satisfy my springtime light and refreshing cravings.
In the meantime, until my regular tastebuds make an appearance, I made crab cakes with roasted potatoes and green beans. Ok, that doesn't sound too light, cool or refreshing, but it was! The crab cakes were flavorful and filling without being too heavy and delightfully spring-y with a squeeze of lemon. The potatoes gave the meal a bit of filing, but not too much, and the green beans added a springtime touch of vegetables.
I have never made crab cakes before, but I found a fantastic recipe and gave it a go.
A tasty spring meal!
11 May 2010
Mix together 3 cups of various ingredients, whatever you like in your granola bars. I had almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins, cranberries and dried apples, but you could easily throw in some chocolate chips or other fruits and seeds.
The recipe I found has butter and sweetened condensed milk as binding agents. Maybe not the healthiest, but on average per bar it's not so bad. There are good things in them too, so that counts ... right?
Mix it all together and press the mix into a flat pan. I lined mine with parchment paper so clean up is easier. :)
Then bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
You have to let them cool before cutting or it's like cutting into oatmeal!
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons melted butter
3-3.5 cups nuts, seeds, berries
Mix all ingredients together and press into a greased or lined flat pan. Bake in a 350 F/175C degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting. Enjoy!