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Russian Salad

For many years, Russian salad has been a mystery for me. In Italy we don’t consume it much, apart from the odd buffet-style dinner party so I never had too much curiosity about making it at home. In London, between my good Russian friend and my Spanish other half, I discovered the many faces of this salad. A favourite tapa in Spain, where they call it Ensaladilla: you will find it in all the menus around the land. A winter favourite in RussiaI got to learn, and taste, that they have meat versions and  fish versions. Continue reading “Russian Salad”

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Babaganush – a Simple Dip

Following the Levantine/Middle Eastern thread, we are back with another aubergine recipe. This time, we are using our beloved vegetables for a famous dip recipe, Babaganush. While there can be variants, the classic recipe is very simple. This is the ideal dip to serve as a starter with crudities, a few toasted slices of your favourite sourdough, or pitta bread, or even some crunchy crispbreads.

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Persian Flatbreads

One of the best memories I have of my travels around Iran is buying bread in the morning, which was our breakfast meal with some fresh cheese and dates. We would get each ingredient from different vendors in the market and eat in one of the amazing squares. In each city we found different styles of bread, but it’s usually flat and cooked in a tandoor oven. Of course, reproducing a tandoor oven at home is not really possible, so the best way you can cook this flatbread is on a hot non-stick frying pan. This simple recipe, taken from the stunning book Saffron Tales, is not only an exotic exploration from the usual ways of making bread, but also a great solution for those midweek evenings when you don’t really have the time to go through the whole bread making process. Makes 16 flat breads, which must be consumed on the spot, so reduce your ingredients if you need less.

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Homemade Fries with Egg on Top

Very few meals are as simple as fried eggs. Anyone can make them in a matter of minutes, perfect for those midweek express meals. Sure as eggs, you would probably have a few ingredients at home to make your meal more special: potatoes, for example. Forget those frozen fries you find at the supermarket, I’m talking about those potatoes you forgot in the cupboard for a week already. We are going to turn those into homemade fries. Continue reading “Homemade Fries with Egg on Top”

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Steamed Tofu, Minced Pork and Mushrooms

Here comes another steamed recipe for this week – tofu with minced pork and mushrooms this time. This one can be served hot or cold, so is good for spring and summer. In a similar way to the aubergine and mushroom recipes from the previous weeks, the basis of the recipe is to steam the main ingredient for 10-15 minutes and then to pour the sauce on top.

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Peperonata, More Than a Side Dish

I love this dish because it requires few ingredients and provides a lot of flavour. It is a great side dish to present at a dinner party – but I love it solo or with a naughty slice of cheese on top – just like how I’m making it today, with my favourite smoked provola sarda (which I’ve imported from home). I often use bell peppers for this, mixing all colours in, but this time I’m making it using these long red and green peppers, very sweet flavoured and comforting to the palate. This recipe makes enough for two.

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Fish al Cartoccio

Chinese New Year is approaching and you can definitely feel a seafood fever in the air when you go to the local wet markets in Singapore. Far from boasting any authority on the matter – I’ll leave this to the Chinese household of Blender&Basil – I’ll limit myself to show you how I cook fish, which is a rather common method used in Italy. The method is called al cartoccio, and it consists of cooking a whole fish (a sea bass, a sea bream, or like in this case, a mackerel) with its own steam inside a parcel made of aluminium foil. Continue reading “Fish al Cartoccio”

Aubergine/Eggplant and Beans Stir-Fry (Qiezi Doujiao)

We’re starting January with a simple Chinese veggie recipe, as we’re probably all nursing some headaches and watching the scale. Aubergine and spice also makes a very warming combination, so it’s good for the winter months! The recipe does require oyster sauce, but if you can making a vegetarian version then you can get vegetarian oyster sauce made from mushrooms instead. Continue reading “Aubergine/Eggplant and Beans Stir-Fry (Qiezi Doujiao)”

Polenta Chips Recipe

For the busy time of the year when you will be hosting drinks and dinner parties before everyone leaves for the Christmas holidays, polenta chips is an easy recipe to enjoy with simple dips and other finger foods. Make a pesto dip, a baba ganoush, a veggie mayonnaise, or serve them sprinkled with rosemary and grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, like we did. Polenta is essentially a very nutritious corn flour, so you can rest assured that no one will be left hungry. We baked them in the oven, but for a golden finish fry them in sunflower oil and you’ll have a great result as well. Continue reading “Polenta Chips Recipe”

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Five Minutes Chocolate Cake

Back in Italy, the best colazione (breakfast food) to have at home would be a homemade cake shared with the family. True to my origins, I often crave something sweet for breakfast and I get itchy for the next baking mission. This time, I quickly put together some very basic ingredients I had at home and the perfect homemade cake came out with only 5 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes in the oven. This simple chocolate cake will stay perfectly fluffy and spongy for a few days (even if you store it in the fridge). Savour it for breakfast with a cappuccino or with a glass of milk as a snack. Or bring it to that last minute dinner invite! Continue reading “Five Minutes Chocolate Cake”