kkitchenbuddies

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Odd Fruit of the Month

The other day I decided to try a fruit that is native to the eastern part of Spain. The locals call if cactus fruit, though if you google that name then you end up with a different fruit. So after a long online search I still have no idea as to what it is called in English. Luckily though, I took a photo!

As you can see in the picture it is a round orange fruit with a leafy stem on top. You’re supposed to cut it open and scoop out the insides. There were some large smooth seeds on the inside that you kind out just spit out. The texture inside was a kind of liquid but solid goo. I didn’t find it very sweet even though I heard that it normally is very sweet.

Overall verdict: I ate one and wasn’t motivated enough to eat the second one.  But one woman I spoke with (who convinced me to try it) told me that you either love it or hate it.

K

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Spinach Cannelloni with a Rosé Sauce

I made some very successful cannelloni the other night (we were duelling over the leftovers) and have decided to share it all with you.

The instructions to this meal has no quantities included as a) I whipped this up from my imagination using leftovers, b) food items sold in Spain are often sold in packages that are of different sizes then in North America, and c) I was limited by the size and amount of cannelloni pasta I purchased and I think this may be the case with everyone. In case you really need some guidance I put my very rough measurements in italics.

Cannelloni:

  • Cannelloni pasta (1 box of precooked pasta, 12 sheets)
  • Ricotta cheese (1 package)
  • Chopped and cooked Spinach (10-12 pellets of ultra frozen chopped spinach that I then microwaved)
  • Salt (one pinch)
  • Grated cheese of choice

Sauce:

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil (a splash)
  • Cooking cream (1/3 of a small box)
  • Plain tomato sauce (1/3 of a 550g jar)
  • Spices: Oregano, tarragon, rosemary, basil, etc…

Instructions:

Sauce:

  1. Mince the garlic and lightly fry them in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes ensuring that they don’t burn.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and let it cook for a bit
  3. Reduce the heat and stir in the cream until you get a nice rosé
  4. Add spices to taste
  5. Let simmer so that the flavours combine but ensure the stir every once in a while so the sauce doesn’t burn.

Cannelloni:

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions
  2. In a large enough bowl mix ricotta cheese with the spinach
  3. Add a bit of salt to the mixture
  4. When the pasta is ready fill it with the mixture and place the cannelloni along a deep enough baking dish.
  5. Cover the cannelloni with the sauce and bake at around 210°C for around 20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and bake or brown for another 5 minutes.

Extra:

I had some left over mixture and a free space in the baking pan. Therefore before I covered the cannelloni with the sauce I sliced up some pear tomatoes and spread that out over the empty space in the baking pan. Then I covered the tomatoes with the ricotta-spinach mixture and then proceeded to cover it all with the sauce and baked it. I think it added an extra dimension to the dish and was really good.

Enjoy!

K

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Eggplant Dip (and Hummus)

My aunt makes the most amazing eggplant in the world. Unfortunately it is my aunt’s secret recipe therefore I cannot reproduce it here, but I am trying to make my own. After a few attempts I finally made a wonderful dip the other day. I would say that it is similar to  Baba Ghanoush since I kind of made it like I make hummus but since I haven’t really read up on what exactly makes up this wonderful dip I’ll just call my concoction “eggplant dip”.  Or rather: “great eggplant dip that is very good but not as amazing as the eggplant dip that my aunt makes”. This is a variation of an eggplant dip I saw on the Martha Stewart website. Following hers I made an ok dip, but I prefer mine.  As it is suggested on her site, you can also roast the garlic beforehand, though don’t make the same mistake that I made and burn the garlic and decide to put it into the dip.

Also I find that it tastes even better when it has been on the fridge for a while.

You will need:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1-2 clove of peeled garlic
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (and more as needed)
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp of tahini

Instructions:

  1. Roast the whole eggplant in the oven until it has collapsed onto itself. Take care to make sure it has not burned.
  2. When it is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the stem. Place the eggplant innards into the food processor.
  3. Add the salt, oil, tahini and garlic
  4. Blend in the food processor until mixed.
  5. Add the lemon juice and blend until it has fully blended
  6. Taste and add more oil, lemon, salt or garlic until you are happy.
  7. Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

Enjoy!

If you want to make Hummus, just replace the eggplant with cooked chickpeas (either cooked yourself or purchased cooked) and make sure to include some of the chickpea cooking liquid as it will help make the hummus smoother.

K

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The search for the perfect poached egg

One of my favourite meals is Eggs Florentine (a.k.a Spinach Eggs Benedict): Wonderful hollandaise sauce on top of a delicious poached egg with a runny yolk, spinach and cheese, all on top of an English muffin. Yum. Unfortunately here in Spain I came to understand the full meaning of a “continental breakfast”. Basically breakfast here is a cookie or a pastry. Having eggs for breakfast is a (literally) foreign concept. Therefore the concept of brunch is not well understood by the locals and requires an odd sort of explanation on my part “It’s a strong American style breakfast but at lunch time…you know eggs and pancakes…umm that flat thing that you see in tv shows that are stacked up and you pour syrup over it…ok yeah I guess you can say that it’s what you eat when you have a hangover and wake up late and want to eat breakfast…”. So needless to say people do not really go out for brunch and therefore there really aren’t many places to fill my craving for Eggs Benedict. Since I like in a city with a lot of ex-pats I did manage to find 3 places that actually serve brunch, though unfortunately their Eggs Florentine was sad compared to the wonderfulness I get back home.

Therefore I set out on a quest to figure out how to make it at home. I thought that the biggest challenge would be to make the hollandaise sauce. Upon searching I found some classic stove top recipes and even simpler blender recipes (subject of a later post). I mean it’s just eggs and butter blended together, so it should be easy right? Though, before making a batch of the wonderful sauce I had to at least try to make a poached egg as I had never made one before. I tried making one a few years ago without any research and cracked an egg into boiling water. Big mistake. Therefore this time I did some research and found the following basic instructions that look deceptively simple:

What you need:

  • Egg
  • Small pot of water
  • 1-2 tsp of white vinegar
  • Small bowl

Steps:

  1. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer
  2. Add vinegar to the water
  3. Crack the egg into the small bowl
  4. Stir the simmering water so that it creates a kind of whirlpool
  5. Gently drop the egg into the center of the funnel
  6. Once the egg is cooked remove it with a slotted spoon and enjoy!

Sounds simple enough and if you see many videos online it looks simple as well. Upon seeing all that I was very motivated and excited. Finally I would be able to make some wonderful poached eggs and therefore can make my own Eggs Florentine!

Reality:

Attempt # 1: I had no white vinegar so tried to go without it. Fail. I had an egg yolk cooking and strings of whites floating in the water. I had to throw the whole thing out.

Attempt #2: Ok so looks like I needed vinegar as that seems to be the key to ensure the egg forms together. The only thing we had in the house was balsamic vinegar. I saw one recipe mention that you could use it to add an interesting flavour and a nice colour. Yeah, no. Disaster. On the upside the eggs whites did not disperse as much but on the down the red poached eggs had the intense taste of balsamic vinegar.

Attempt #3: Bought white vinegar and this time I actually had something resembling a poached egg. The whites still dispersed through the water and turned it a milky colour which made it hard to figure out if the egg was cooked. Also it seemed to take forever to cook the egg whites which did remain attached to the yolk. I could consider it a mild success as I did eat it but I am still not happy with the results. Too much egg white was lost and the eggs tasted very watery. Also somehow some off the egg whites became burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pot.

I am still determined to make some Eggs Florentine but first I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. I saw a recipe online on how to make a poached egg in the microwave, so hopefully that will turn out better.  Either way I am still working on it and will post some photos once I am satisfied with the results.

If you are a pro let me know if you have any tips!

K

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