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Tag: pink peppercorns

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Whenever I buy a new appliance for my kitchen, a bigger wardrobe for our bedroom, or a more powerful driller for the tool box, I always ask myself how I managed before the new purchase entered our home. I’m totally fine with having to deal with limited space or less satisfying equipment in the house, but give me the comfort of improvement and I’m hooked for life.

This is exactly how I felt when I got my new fridge last December. It’s only the third fridge I have ever owned and although I can’t really complain about its predecessor – it did a decent job for more than 15 years – it drove me crazy at times. Mainly because the space it offered and the food I tried to put inside it did not match at all. I love fresh food, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables every week at the farmers’ market, and all kinds of cheese, olives, capers, prosciutto … and wine of course. There are only two people to feed but our food needs space. Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed to store all the greens in my old fridge while I was working on my book a year ago, I have no idea. It worked, but now it’s different, now I actually enjoy my fridge. A few days ago I came into my kitchen with lots of bags and baskets full of rhubarb, berries, asparagus and other spring produce and everything fit. I looked at this silver beauty and couldn’t help but say “I love my fridge!”. When Samsung offered me their Chef Collection for my kitchen, I was over the moon and I still feel the same. When you love food and cooking you truly appreciate having the right equipment.

So when I took a look at all the vibrant colours in my fridge, I came up with a salad that looks and tastes as bright and fresh as this season. I cut raw green asparagus very thinly and mixed it with a handful of arugula and canned chickpeas. A few fresh strawberries on top and a light vinaigrette made with orange juice drizzled all over and it was almost done: Some pink peppercorns added subtle spice and their distinct aroma. It was a very satisfying spring creation.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

young green asparagus, trimmed, 4 stalks
arugula leaves, 1 large handful
drained canned chickpeas, 2 handfuls
fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, 6
a few fresh basil leaves
a few pink peppercorns

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the heads of the asparagus and cut them in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, a cheese slicer, or a sharp knife, cut the asparagus stalks into long, very thin slices.

In a large bowl, arrange the arugula, asparagus, chickpeas, and strawberries in layers and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and basil and serve immediately.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

strawberrychickpeasalad9

 

strawberrychickpeasalad12

 

strawberrychickpeasalad7

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

A lusciously filled sandwich will always excite me. It only needs the right combination of flavours and textures to lift this comfort treat to new heights. Playing with contrast is a good way to start: soft and crunchy, fresh and creamy, sweet and salty – there are endless possibilities to create a little firework between two slices of bread.

If you follow the seasons, you can find inspiration in the pantry during the colder months of the year or while strolling through the farmers’s market to see what nature offers as soon as it gets warmer. And that’s what I did. Although I can find zucchini all year round, it’s only at the peak of spring that squash is finally packed with sweetness again. Mine comes straight from the fields in Italy and it has all the qualities it needs to become golden fried fritters. Mix in some cheese and lemon balm and you have a fragrant little snack on your plate. My cheese of choice is Leerdammer, which worked so wonderfully well in my Grilled Persimmon, Ham, and Cheese Sandwich. It’s not too overpowering next to the zucchini yet adds its particular subtle sweetness. Bringing in lemon balm makes it fresh and citrusy. And don’t be distracted by the strawberries graciously arranged on top, it may seem a bit brave but their sweet-sour fruitiness makes the composition complete.

This sandwich is just right for a decadent breakfast, a springy lunch, or a cozy dinner enjoyed on the sofa. And it works just as well without the bread: arrange the warm zucchini cheese fritters on plates along with fresh strawberries, sprinkle with lemon balm, and scatter some grated cheese and pink peppercorns all over this colourful feast.

This post is sponsored by Leerdammer.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Makes 3 sandwiches

For the zucchini cheese fritters

zucchini, grated, 450g / 1 pound
fine sea salt
spring onions, the green only, thinly sliced, 2 (about 2 tablespoons)
mild hard cheese, freshly grated, 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg, lightly beaten, 1
fresh lemon balm, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
a generous amount of ground pepper
plain flour 40g / 1/3 cup
olive oil, to cook the fritters

fresh ciabatta, about 6 slices
rucola 1 handful
Leerdammer cheese, thinly sliced, about 6 slices
ripe strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise, 6
pink peppercorns
fresh lemon balm, about 9 leaves

For the zucchini cheese fritters, in a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub the salt into the squash and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the zucchini and squeeze it in your hands. Spread the zucchini on a kitchen towel, cover with a second towel, and squeeze out any remaining liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, spring onion, grated cheese, egg, chopped lemon balm, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour in batches and mix with your hands or a large spoon until well combined.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture for each fritter to the pan; give the fritter a round shape and flatten it lightly. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, flip the fritters over, and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the fritters to paper towels and cover with a lid while cooking the remaining fritters, add more oil if necessary. This makes about 6-7 zucchini fritters.

For the sandwiches, spread a little rucola on 3 slices of bread. Cover each slice with 2 slices of cheese and 2 warm fritters and finish it off with 4 strawberry halves. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and a few lemon balm leaves and close with a slice of bread. Squeeze the sandwich – gently – and enjoy.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

zucchinicheesefritterstrawberrysandwich6

 

zucchinicheesefritterstrawberrysandwich7

Roast Garlic and Pink Peppercorn Tartine

Roast Garlic and Pink Peppercorn Tartine

This is one of the quickest and most addictive lunch snacks you can imagine – and it’s healthy! With just one bite I had 3 cloves of roasted garlic in my mouth, enjoying its smooth texture and aromatic taste refined with pretty pink peppercorns and my flaky sea salt from Gozo. I roasted lots of fleshy cloves from a young garlic bulb in the oven, you’ll need about 15  for 2 small tartines. They cooked in their skin for about 15 minutes before I mashed them with a fork onto the bread, smooth, slightly sweet and concentrated in flavour. I shared a similar sandwich with you, exactly a year ago, the same procedure but with grilled Gruyère cheese on top. It was good too, a bit more hearty and rich.

I could really eat garlic by the bulb (roasted, not raw!). I love its sweet spiciness, its bold taste. You could also purée the grilled and peeled cloves with a little salt and use it as a thin spread on bread. It’s so good for our bodies, known to be one of the oldest traditional remedies in the European and Asian culture. No additional medicine, you just have to eat well to feel good!

Roast Garlic and Pink Peppercorn Tartine

Roast Garlic and Pink Peppercorn Tartine

For 2 small tartines you need

rustic dark bread 2 small slices
large cloves of garlic, in their skin, about 14
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, for the topping
flaky sea salt, to taste

Set the oven to 210°C / 410°F (fan-assisted oven).

Roast the garlic in their skin on a tray in the oven for about 15-18 minutes, or until you can mash the cloves with a fork. Mind that they don’t get dark and hard! Peel and mash them with a fork on the bread, sprinkle with a little sea salt and pink peppercorns. Enjoy warm!

Roast Garlic and Pink Peppercorn Tartine

Mâche Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

Field Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

One of my all time favourite salads is mâche salad with beetroot and walnuts. The small green leaves are also known as field or corn salad and lamb’s lettuce. My dressing is simple and whisked together in just a few seconds. All I need is olive oil and thick Balsamico vinegar and I’m happy. This wintery salad visits our table at least once a week!

I never really plan my salads, most of the time they are spontaneous compositions depending on my mood. I just throw together whatever I find in the fridge or on my kitchen tops. Fruits, vegetables, nuts or preserves, I use what sparks my senses. It can start with a visual idea or a vision of flavours combined on a plate. Today’s salad started with a pear, I looked at it and decided to caramelize it in sugary buttery. There was another pretty one next to it but it was quite crisp and still a bit hard. I grated a small piece and mixed it into the vinaigrette to give it a fruity touch. A bag of pink peppercorns seemed as fitting as a box of crunchy mâche salad which was left in the fridge. I also wanted to add some walnuts as you can see in the photos but when I tried it I thought it would be too much so I left them out. Maybe you feel different about it, just give them a try!

Field Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

Mâche  Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

For 4 people you need

mâche salad, rinsed and dried, a big handful
pears, rinsed, cored and quartered, 1
butter 1 tablespoon
sugar 1 tablespoon
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1-2 tablespoons
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

optionally
walnuts for the topping

Grate about 1/8 of the pear and whisk with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the remaining pear into thin wedges.

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan. Caramelize the pear wedges in the hot brown butter for about 1 minute on each side.

Divide the mâche salad between the plates and arrange the caramelized pear on top. Sprinkle with the dressing and the pink peppercorns and serve immediately.

Field Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

 

Field Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

 

Field Salad with Caramelized Pear and Pink Peppercorns

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle and a trip to the countryside

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

A few days ago I mentioned our little adventure in the countryside while we visited my mother and a kitchen project which involved the whole family!

My mother found out about a little farm in her area just recently. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by green hills and dense forest. They raise and sell geese, turkey and deer, wild and farmed, and the lady who owns the farm offered one to my Mama. Ours was wild and we had to skin and dress it, something that none of us had ever done before. Luckily, my mother remembered that my cousin Thomas who is an excellent chef, is also experienced in butchering so he joined in to help us. We drove to the farm to pick up the game and I was quite excited but also a little nervous. When you see an animal that has been shot for your consumption you feel lots of respect. Buying our food from the supermarket takes this important experience away from us, but this is what happens when we buy meat, every day, all over the world, an animal is killed but we don’t see the steps in between. It’s cut up and wrapped in plastic and we pay for that but I believe that it’s important to build up this connection again, to the animals and where they come from. This is the natural cycle of our food and not the industrial. I joined my cousin while he prepared the deer and I learnt a lot from him. These days in my mother’s kitchen in the countryside were a great experience, when, as a family, we cooked for two days to use what was given to us. We made venison carpaccio, stew, paté and broth and my mother put the remaining parts, like the fillets and the back in the freezer. We used all of it and enjoyed every single meal!

My mother is the absolute queen when it comes to stew, hers are simply best! She knows how to combine the right spices and herbs, how to cook the meat so that it becomes tender and succulent. Whenever she makes a ragout it’s simply perfect! We also made Spaetzle as nothing beats these little homemade Swabian noodles to soak up an aromatic sauce. Our side dish was sweet and fruity, an apple gratin topped with crème fraîche. My mother found the inspiration for this recipe from one of her favourite food journalists, she just added lemon zest and pink peppercorns on top. It was wonderful, like the whole trip!

I didn’t want to share all these venison recipes with you at once, so I’ll write about my cousin’s delicious paté and his amazing carpaccio with a herb, spice and parmesan crust next week.

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle

You can cook the stew in the oven or on the cooker as we did.

For 6 people you need

For the venison stew

venison leg or shoulder, boned and cut into chunks, 1.2kg / 2.5 pounds
leek, the white and light green parts, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
carrots, finely chopped into small cubes, 2
celery sticks, finely chopped into small cubes, 1 1/2
medium sized onion, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
garlic, cut in half, 2 big cloves
bacon, a small piece, around 60g / 2 ounces
red wine 1 bottle
broth about 1l / 2 pints (to cover the meat)
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
olive oil

bouquet garni (bound with a string):
small sage sprigs 2
small rosemary sprigs 2
small thyme sprigs 2
bay leaf 1

spices (wrapped in a spice bag if you prefer)
black peppercorns 10
juniper berries 6
allspice 6
cloves 3
cinnamon stick 1
ginger, chopped, a 2cm / 1″ piece

optionally
dried porcini 3

lingonberry jam to serve with the stew

In a large heavy casserole or pot, heat a splash of olive oil and brown the meat in batches, season with salt and pepper once it’s done. Set the meat aside and add a little more olive oil to the casserole, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes on medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat and add the tomato paste, stir and deglaze with a little red wine, repeating this about 5-6 times. Add the meat, the bacon, the remaining wine and the broth to the casserole until it’s all covered in liquid. Put the bouquet garni and the spice bag into the liquid. Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil.

Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low heat (simmering) for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with Spaetzle (you can find the recipe here, just leave out the cheese and onions), apple gratin and lingonberry jam.

 

For the apple gratin

firm and sour apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thinly, 3
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
sugar 2 teaspoons
crème fraîche or sour cream 300g / 10.5 ounces
heavy cream about 100 ml / 3.5 ounces
zest of 1/2 lemon
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1-2 tablespoons
butter for the baking dish

Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Whip the crème fraîche with the heavy cream, add enough cream until the texture is light and creamy.

Butter 1 large baking dish or gratin form (or 4-6 small ones). Arrange the apples in circles in the form and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar. Spread the cream on top and sprinkle with the lemon zest and pink peppercorns. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top.

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Last weekend we spent a few days in the countryside, we felt like long walks in the forest and good hearty food prepared by my mother. Sometimes I need a break from the city buzz and the village where my mother lives is the perfect place to rest and feast!

A couple days before we left the city she called me to tell me that she spotted a beautiful farm in the area to buy her wood for the fire place. It’s a fairy tail like place surrounded by hills and forest where they also have geese, turkey and fallow deer. My mother got quite excited when the woman who owns the farm offered her a deer that her husband had just shot a few days before. It was wild from the forest which the couple takes care of and not from the farm. In the next few days, I will write more about our kitchen adventure that followed and having to skin and dress the game, but for now I’ll share an easier recipe with you that my mother made for us on the night we arrived.

We reached the hill where my mother lives in the early evening, the perfect time to arrive at her house! That’s the time of the day when we all meet in her kitchen to enjoy a glass of champagne while we’re busy cooking, nibbling and chatting. She had some oxtail leftovers, a recipe I’ll definitely make again in the near future as the meat was fantastic, with an amazingly aromatic sauce. We made some Swabian Spaetzle to soak up all the thick juices and crunchy ginger lemon cauliflower on the side. I’ve already mentioned that this isn’t my favourite of all cabbages but combined with the two spices, it showed its delicate side. I used the same combination of lemon and ginger for a velvety, fresh soup half a year ago and that’s the best way to enjoy this vegetable in my opinion. My mother sprinkled some crushed pink peppercorns on top (her culinary obsession at the moment as you’ll see in the following days) and it was great. That’s exactly what this white cabbage needs, a strong spice attack!

gingerlemoncauliflower3.2

 Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

For 4 people you need

medium sized cauliflower, broken into florets, 1
ginger, thinly sliced, 7 slices
zest of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
white wine
salt
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 tablespoon plus more to taste

Put the cauliflower, ginger and lemon zest in a large pan. Season with salt, cover the bottom with white wine (1/2cm / 1/4″) and close with a lid. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is al dente. Season with salt and lemon zest to taste and sprinkle with the pink peppercorns.

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

 

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

 

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Gorgonzola, Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn Sandwich

Strawberry Gorgonzola Sandwich

My first strawberries this year find their place on a sandwich together with the creamiest blue cheese of all, Gorgonzola! This cheese gets its name from its place of origin, the commune of Gorgonzola in the province of Milan. It’s not as sharp and spicy as Roquefort or Stilton, it’s more on the mild side, perfect for when I feel like a soft cheese aroma. That’s what my strawberries needed, especially because their season has just begun here and they haven’t reached their full spectrum of flavours yet. To bring some spice into this combination I added a few pink peppercorns, also gentle enough for the red fruits.

This sandwich is so sweet and creamy that a fluffy ciabatta bread felt like the right choice. I spread Gorgonzola (about 100g / 3.5 ounces for 2 people) in thick lumps on a few slices of the fresh loaf, I didn’t want to spare on the milky creaminess before I covered the sandwiches with a couple slices of strawberries. Sprinkled with the pink peppercorns which are best when softly pressed before they join the red fruits, I felt a bit hesitant to take the first bite, this week’s sandwich really is beautiful!

Strawberry Gorgonzola Sandwich

 

Strawberry Gorgonzola Sandwich

 

Strawberry Gorgonzola Sandwich

Rucola Salad with Goat Cheese, Honey Dressing and Pink Peppercorns

Rucola Goat Cheese Salad

Here’s the salad which accompanied yesterday’s salmon with spice crust, rucola with goat cream cheese, crushed pink  peppercorns and a sweet honey Balsamico vinegar dressing! I wanted to use both the pink and the green peppercorns which I had just bought at the market, not in the same dish but in the same meal. The spiciness of the green pepper fit perfectly with the crust I chose for the fish but my salad, sweet and milky, needed a mild and less spicy aroma, pink peppercorns. The berries matched the sourness of the creamy cheese very well which was so young that there was only a hint of goat milk. I could have used mozzarella instead but I wanted  this special, slightly sharp aroma which balanced out the sweetness of my vinaigrette on the other side.

Usually, I make a quick dressing for my salads, 3 tablespoons of olive and 2 tablespoons of Balsamico vinegar plus salt and pepper, but this salad asked for more. I kept the ratio of vinegar and oil but I mixed my dark Balsamico with the white one and added 1 small teaspoon of honey (depending on the sweetness you want to achieve you might need more or less honey). It turned out thick, sticky and syrupy, exactly what I wanted! For 2 I spread 2 handfuls of rucola leaves on plates and sprinkled 125g / 4.5 ounces of fresh goat cream cheese in big lumps on top. I drizzled the dressing over the  leaves and garnished my salad with 1 tablespoon of crushed pink peppercorns. It would have made us just as happy as a light and easy lunch on its own. I have to remember that, it will be perfect on a hot summer evening!

Rucola Goat Cheese Salad

 

Rucola Goat Cheese Salad

 

Rucola Goat Cheese Salad

 

Rucola Goat Cheese Salad

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