Monday, April 30, 2012

Naan Bread Made Easy

I confess I discovered Naan Bread only a few years ago, when I moved to Ireland. I had never seen Naan before. The thing is, I like it!
So, Saturday I decided to "bake" some at home. Naan does not require an oven, so it is really a great option for anyone wanting to taste some fresh bread without the hassle of actually baking.


400 Grams of Greek Yogurt
5 Cups of Flour
1 sachet of Yeast
1/2 Cup of Water
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon of Coriander (powder)
Salt to taste

I boiled the water and placed it in a cup, on top of the coriander powder and set it aside.
I placed the yogurt in a large bowl with the yeast and the water and coriander mixture.
I added 1 and 1/2 cup of flou to the bowl and let it settle, covered, for 30 minutes.
Afterwards, I added the salt, the olive oil and the rest of the flour, kneaded everything to make sure the dough is uniform and let it rest for over an hour.

In the end, the dough raised, I made 8 flat breads and, using a culinary brush, coated them on one side with some olive oil and placed them in the non stick pan on medium heat.

And this is the result in the end:
On the Naans, I put some cherry tomatoes, some mozzarella and fresh basil. Yum!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Plumber Soup

I'm calling this the Plumber's Soup because last night, before starting dinner, I had to contact 4 plumbers... We noticed a small leak coming from the upstairs bathroom two days ago, and last night, while my husband looked for the leak, I called a few numbers to see if anybody could come and help us. In the end, we will not need any "professional help", we are well able to fix the small broken thing: money saving :)

Anyhow, the Soup was soooo good, I think I'll make it again soon. So light, so fulfilling, so easy to make...


3 spoons of Olive Oil
1/4 of a white Onion, sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Sausage, cut in small cubes
1/2 litre of Tomato Sauce
3 cups of Water
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste

Small Pasta to add at the end

Heat the oil in a pot and fry the sausage cubes for a few minutes, then add the onion and let it get soft. Once the onion is properly cooked, add the garlic. Let the garlic season the oil but don't let it go brown. Add the passata, the salt and the water and just let it cook on medium heat for 15 or 20 minutes.
Once the soup is ready, throw in the pasta you need and let it cook until ready. Before serving, put the basil leaves in the pot. Do not cook the basil, when cooked, it releases some toxins and nobody wants that. Serve and enjoy. Wonderful!!!

To make it Vegan, just leave out the sausage and substitute it with peas.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The New Word

It's been a few days since I've posted on the blog. Well, in my defense I can say it's been a busy weekend and it was a busy week at work.

I love this space, because it's mine and mine alone.
As every mother knows, we are always sharing ourselves with our husbands and children. Whenever Mamma says: "I'll just put my feet up for two minutes", maybe while the sauce is already on the stove and you don't need to be watching it anymore, here comes the little one: "Mammy will you help me color Scooby Doo?".
The husband is nowhere to be found, or busy with his own things, so the feet-up-plan goes out the window, and you have to search for the Scooby Doo page first, which is somewhere in the pile of coloring pages printed at school and brought home (on purpose, to fulfill the moments when you wanna just put your feet up for a few minutes), and then get the pencils and then help with the coloring :) 
It doesn't matter, I am really glad to do whatever it takes to make my son happy, even if it means no time for myself anywhere in sight for the next 10 years.
I like being busy, I like working in the home, I like setting an example for my son; nothing falls from the sky, but everything comes from your hard working hands. This is what I was shown as a child and this is what I want to show my son.

Well, to come back to this post's title... I have today, learned a new word! And I love it!!! After living in an English-speaking Country for six years, I did not expect this to strike me the way it did. 
The word is Resilience. I love it! It signifies being able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

We live difficult times, and I believe more difficulties are just around the corner. For all of us, regular working class people. There is a financial crisis that has spread everywhere, our wages do not depend anymore on our abilities but instead depend on a system many of us do not understand. So many persons lost their jobs in the last 4 years(23 million people in Europe are unemployed at present), and things do not seem to be getting any better. At least, the economy is not recovering. 
I believe we have finite resources on the Planet, and this means the economy cannot grow forever. Here is why the word Resilience struck me this morning: we should create, at least in our homes, which is the only space we can control ourselves, a Resilient System. Or at least, as resilient as possible.
This is what our garden looks like at the moment. This is another step I am taking towards resilience. The first step was the stockpile, which is relatively easy. This is a step forward.
Next week we will get a new polytunnel, the one we had "abandoned us" on the 4th of April, torn by a very strong wind. Now we know better, and will install the new tunnel in a different way.

The wooden boxes in the picture contain the vegetables that will not suffer any damage in the event of a frost. Far right are the carrots, then there are oilseed rapes at the back and mixed salad leaves on the front. Next to them, in the back, 4 strawberries plants and on the front, the spinach. On the left, under the plastic box, more salad leaves, parsley and, invisible in the back, 2 artichoke plants. They are my favorites. I can never find artichokes here in Ireland, I'll be soooo happy when I can just eat my own :)

The polytunnel is necessary for beans, pepper and aubergine plants. They are delicate plants and must be in a protected space. And our sitting room does look a bit like a garden centre at the moment, so the tunnel is definitely needed.

In another corner of the garden I have peas plants, those would resist anything! On Sunday I also planted 3 raspberry bushes. Well, they are more raspberries sticks at the moment, but I trust them to become bushes soon.

Saturday was my gardening day, my son was very happy to help me build the wooden boxes and then plant the seeds. He checks every morning on the germination of the seeds we have inside and reminds me to water them. He's a great little boy.

Well, all of this to say that if the worse should happen, and both of us lose our job and we only had the unemployment payments to live on, we would still make it and not go hungry for a long time. We would still be able to pay the mortgage and eat proper food for a long time. Resilience is truly a great word, and it is something that helps me feel safer. There are so many things I cannot control, so many fundamental things, like the stability of our jobs. So what I can control I want to control.

In the meantime, I cook from scratch every single day, I avoid bringing in the house processed foods and things with just too many ingredients on the label to be even considered food. I know is comfortable to shop and I do so with pleasure, but I'm always careful what's inside the nice package.

I think we need to prepare for rainy days all the time. We need to learn from our parents' and grandparents', who fed entire families with very little and just worked very hard all their lives.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Enchiladas for Dinner

I must confess, I didn't know what Enchiladas were exactly. Before yesterday. Yes, it sounded South American, yes it sounded spicy, but I had no idea of their form and taste :)

I found a nice recipe yesterday and modified it a bit to make sure there was no artificial flavors in our dinner and no spicy stuff, my son is still too young to appreciate spicy food. 
If you don't have this issue, add to the Salsa a good bit of Chili Flakes. They surely would make a huge difference.

So I started the Salsa while my husband went out to get the chicken and the tortillas.


3/4 litre of tomato sauce (passata)
2 tablespoons of Plain Flour
3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin powder
Salt to taste

7 Tortillas
4 Chicken breasts
100 Grams of Cheddar cheese

Now, the salsa is super easy, I don't know why people would buy it ready made.

In a non stick pot, I placed the oil over medium heat and added the flour, while my son was stirring to make sure no lumps were forming in the mixture.

When it started to become a bit darker, I added the tomato sauce, the minced garlic, the cumin and the salt.

As soon as the salsa started to ticken, always on medium heat, my husband arrived with the chicken and the tortillas.

I cut the chicken in regular cubes and added them to the Salsa. I  turned the oven on at this point, to 220 degrees Celsius.

I let this cook for 15 minutes over the usual medium heat, but I have placed part of the lid on the pot, because boiling tomato sauce can be a huge mess-generator in the kitchen, and a danger for the children around. Especially if the above mentioned child loves to play with the dog on the floor between my feet -_- 
While I'm cooking!

When this was ready, using a small ladle, I set aside the majority of the sauce and filled the tortillas with the chicken, adding some grated cheddar in each tortilla. I placed the rolls in an oven dish. I covered the tortillas with the sauce I had set aside and grated some cheddar on the top. I placed everything in the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes.

This is what the Enchiladas looked like when removed from the oven:

We all loved them; today our lunch boxes are Mexican style and I must say, I can't wait for my lunch break ;)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hummus and Co.

My mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis last week, so I spent a lot of time lately researching on the internet the best foods that could help her, along with the medication she will need to start taking soon.

I found a lot of useful information and passed them on to her, and she appreciated it very much. Living away means every single event in my parents' life makes me worry tenfold, and I don't like to worry. So I thought the best thing I could do to help from here, was to gather information and then try to scare my mother enough to make her think about what she eats and drinks on a daily basis.

The mission was successful, I must say. And in fact yesterday when she came on the phone she already had at hand a notebook and a pen to take notes ;)

I gave her a recipe for hummus. It is a perfect combination for her condition, in fact both sesame seeds and chickpeas contain a lot of calcium. Plus, the raw olive oil is just as good as it can be for your body, and the lemon juice adds that bit of vitamin C to lift everyone's mood.

I have to say, when I found the recipe, it called for tahini. I didn't know what tahini was. So I searched more and found how to make that too.

Ingredients for Tahini:

2 cups of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of olive oil

I toasted the sesame seeds in a pan, stirring them occasionally and keeping the heat quite low, so I wouldn't burn anything.
Once the seeds were toasted, I placed them in the blender's jug and added the olive oil. I blended all together and place all of it in a glass jar and in the fridge. It will keep I suppose for quite a while, the olive oil will preserve it well.

Ingredients for Hummus:

2 cups of chickpeas, cooked in salt and garlic
3 teaspoons of Tahini
3 teaspoons of Lemon Juice
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Salt to taste

All the ingredients are processed in the blender. Easy peasy, or, better, easy Chickpeasy :)

Reserve some of the chickpeas cooking water in case you need to thin the hummus, and enjoy!

The Crazy Cook !

It was the Easter weekend, and I went mental in the kitchen. I loved every single moment of it! Especially the one when my son, seated at the table, will say :"I like it! Mamma will you make it again?"

That is the best compliment I can receive. It makes my heart melt into butter :)

Many of the plans we had for the long weekend went out the window, as usual, and again, the good thing was being together and having fun.

During the weekend I cooked quite a lot, I really enjoyed the noises in the house, the guests coming and going, the dog waiting by the kitchen press for something to fall off my hands...

I had found during the past week, a recipe for roasted chickpeas. I really like chickpeas, they taste like childhood and they never fail to fill you up!
The recipe called for a Moroccan Spice mix, which I did not have at hand and had no intention to look for in the shops. So I just used what I had:


2 cups of cooked Chickpeas (boiled with some salt and garlic)
Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon of Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Ginger Powder
Salt to taste

I cooked the chickpeas, after soaking them overnight, with just a bit of salt and a clove of garlic. Then I drained them and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. I placed them in a roasting dish and heated the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.

Over the chickpeas I poured a bit of olive oil to make them sticky, I sprinkled all the spices and the the salt and mixed them well, to make sure all the chickpeas were coated.

I threw the dish in the oven and let them roast for about 30 minutes, always checking they were not getting too hard.

Here are the chickpeas once out of the oven:

They were very nice, a different snack for our Easter table. Highly recommended as they keep for a few days and are so good eaten cold :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lemony Risotto

Yesterday my husband had an upset stomach. The poor thing!
He ate too much on Tuesday night; we were at a friend's house for an improvised dinner.
Anyway, yesterday morning he asked for risotto to heal his sick belly, and by accident, just surfing the internet, I came across a recipe for Lemon Risotto.
Now, I must say, the recipe was quite complicated, it called for eggs, butter, thyme and other things I did not have ready at home. So I modified it "on the go" while cooking it last night.
I wanted to keep it simple, extremely simple. To heal my sweetheart :)


2 Lemons, their grated skin and their juice
1 Cup of Rice for each of us
Olive Oil
1 Small Onion
1.5 litre of vegetable stock

I have no pictures for this recipe, as it went so fast on the hob and on the table, I did not take any pictures.

So, first thing first: softening the onion, finely chopped, in the olive oil, in a large frying pan. I put it on extremely low heat, so I had time to prepare the other ingredients.
I boiled 1.5 litres of water and poured it in a bowl where I had "pulverized" a vegetable stock cube.
I grated the lemons' skins and set aside. I juiced the lemons and set aside.

As soon as the onion is soft, but still white in color, I threw in some rock salt, half of the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice.

At this point, I put in the rice, and let it toast for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously to make sure all the grains would have a chance to come in close contact with the other ingredients.

With a ladle, I added the vegetable stock bit by bit, stirring and making sure the rice was never dry.

When the rice was almost ready, I poured in the rest of the lemon juice and lemon zest.

I let it stay on the hob for another couple of minutes and served.

My son was very impressed, my husband was very impressed. I impressed myself too! Really easy, really inexpensive and really healthy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Easy Oven Baked Pasta

Saturday was a very good day. I have to say, I was busy in the garden all day, disassembling wooden pallets and reassembling them into vegetable raised beds. The result is that I planted, with the help of my son, a lot of different things, including potatoes, parsley, strawberries, peppers, spinach, aubergines...

It was a lot of fun to be outside despite the Irish clouds who never leave us alone! It was about 11.30 am when I started thinking that lunchtime was coming and I had two starving men to feed. So then, the new idea: Oven Baked Pasta and Potatoes. It sounds strange, I know, to mix those two basic starches and eat them together, but I think it is very nutritious and so, so tasty!


4 small Potatoes, peeled
300 grams of Pasta (I had a few packets open, with very little left in them and they had about the same cooking time, so I could recover those!!!)
Ham or Pancetta chunks
Fresh Cream
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Peel the potatoes and cut them in pieces that are not too small. Place them in plenty of water in a fairly large pot and bring them to boil with a bit of salt. Start heating the oven at about 150 degrees Celsius.

Next, slice up your choice of ham or pancetta, or leave it out and instead use peas or mushrooms. In a frying pan, place the olive oil and the ham and let them cook for a few minutes.

In the other pot, once the water is boiling, add your pasta to the potatoes and cook until edible but not soft, drain all together and then throw potatoes and pasta in the frying pan.

Mix everything up a bit adding the fresh cream and then empty in the baking dish. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top of it and just stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While the pasta was in the oven, I returned to the garden work. At 12.30 we were seated at the table and eating!

As I said above, to make this a vegetarian dish, substitute the ham with peas or mushrooms. Or both. The result is guaranteed!