Bocconcini, Tomato and Basil Salad – Insalata Caprese Recipe

bocconcini-and-tomato.jpgBeing half Italian it’s obvious that I would have a love of Italian food. When I was a kid my mother would make a variety of Italian foods but because she also spent a good portion of her life after the war living in England we also had just as many English style meals like my favorite, Roast Lamb and Yorkshire Pudding.

One of her specialties was gnocchi which she would make from scratch on the kitchen table. My job was to run each little dumpling across a fork to make the ridges. This was always our favorite meal as kids although because it was made from scratch she didn’t make it that often. I guess it made it more appealing to us because of that.

Our diet was made even more varied by the fact that my father was Croatian and although I can’t remember eating too many Croatian meals, I do remember eating a variety of German cuisine since he spent some time in Germany and loved German food.

So what all this means is that I love European cuisine – give me some salami, a piece of cheese and a nice piece of Italian bread and I am happy.

Which brings me to tonights dinner. Every now and then we won’t cook a meal but instead we will just load the table up with a variety of foods to make up what you might call an antipasto but instead of having it before the meal, we have it as the meal.

Tonights meal included pate, Italian crusty bread, pickled onions, Gruyere cheese, brie, blue cheese (or stinky cheese as we call it), Danish salami and stuffed olives.

We also made up a plate of Insalata Caprese which is basically an Italian salad made up of tomatoes, basil and bocconcini.

This is such an easy salad to make and is fresh and tasty. You can make it in one of two ways – mixed in a bowl or arranged on a platter. As you can see from the photo we didn’t go to any trouble making it look pretty. If I had known before hand that I was going to put it on the blog I would have done a better job but if you had guests over you would be better arranging it in a circular pattern with alternating overlapping tomato and bocconcini.

Insalata Caprese

3 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 pound bocconcini ,sliced
bunch basil, chopped roughly
sea salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Arrange the tomatoes in a circular pattern on a plate alternating with the slices of bocconcini. Sprinkle the basil, salt and pepper over the top. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top. Serve.

Chicken and Corn Crepes Recipe

chicken-and-corn-crepes.jpgTonight the cook in the house made Chicken and Corn Crepes. I have to say that this was well worth making. The mix of corn, chicken and white sauce in a soft fluffy crepe was just delicious.

This recipe came from The Good Taste Collection and is one of the simplest recipes in the book. Preparation time is around 5-10 minutes and cooking time is about 10 minutes.

What makes it so easy is that you don’t actually have to prepare the crepes. You can buy them frozen which is what we did. But by all means, if you feel the need to make your own crepes then go right ahead.

This is one very easy and very tasty recipe.

corn-mix.jpg  chicken-pieces1.jpg 

Chicken and Corn Crepes
(Serves 4)

20g butter
2tbs plain flour
1 1/3 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to season
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
420g can corn kernels, drained
2tbs chopped chives
8 frozen crepes

1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat until foaming.
2. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute or until the mixture bubbles.
3. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly until combined.
4. Stir for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and comes to the boil.
5. Simmer for 1 minute.
6. Stir in the cheddar and season with salt and pepper.
7. Add the chicken, corn and chives and stir. Remove from heat but keep warm.
8. Warm the crepes in microwave or as per packet directions.
9. Divide the chicken mixture amongst the crepes and roll up.

Homemade GingerBread Latte Recipe

hot-ginger-latte3.jpgAs promised in an earlier post, I am going to spend a little time over the next couple of weeks catching up on some recipes that I have downloaded from cooking blogs on the net.

I tried the first recipe on my list last night and because it was so nice I had it again tonight. This one was for Homemade Gingerbread Latte which came from the Baking Bites blog.

As you can see from the photo, my presentation skills aren’t that impressive. Just compare my photo with the one on Baking Bites and you will see what I mean. No matter though as it tasted delicious.

Although it was by no means difficult to make it was a little fiddly mostly because I only had whole cloves which I had to grind before using. Plus you have to heat milk, boil water, and whip cream in addition to getting all the spices together and mixing with the coffee and molasses. Still it was definitely worth the effort and something that I will be making again.

It tasted a bit like a Chai Latte and I love Chai Lattes!

What is a Bundt Cake?

nordicware-sunflower-bundt-pan-cakeFor the uninitiated the Bunt cake is a dessert cake that is cooked in a Bundt pan. which is essentially a round aluminum cake pan with a hole in the centre.

The founder of Nordic Ware, H David Dalquist created the design in 1950, based on the pans that were used to make the Austrian and German bundkuchen (also known as kugelhopf or gugelhupf). He simply added a t to the word bund and this is now the registered trademark.

The European pans were made of heavy cast iron so Dalquist modified the design in aluminum which is much easier to work with and he introduced folds in the outer edge.

The design wasn’t readily adopted by the American public until a baking contest in 1966 where the nordicware-sunflower-bundt-panBundt cake took out second prize. This win raised the profile of the Bundt pan and they went on to become the most sought after baking pan in the US resulting in more than 50 million Bundt pans being sold since it was introduced.

Such is the popularity of the Bundt cake today that there is even a “National Bundt” day on November 15. This years winner was Anne Kornow from Dexter, Michigan with her ‘Mint Mountains’ dessert.

View this recipe and the recipes for the other top 10 finalists in the National Bundt Day competition.

Chicken and Seafood Paella Recipe

paella2.jpgJust recently we received a non-stick saute pan from the Calphalon cookware company to review. The review will be up on the site within the next few days but in the meantime we have been using this pan to see how it well it performs. (You can see  a little of the pan in the pic to the right.)

The review can now be viewed here.

Tonight the cook in the house made up a batch of paella and it worked perfectly in the new pan. As the pan is a massive 5qt it easily holds enough to serve 6. The cook was very impressed.

As the official taste tester in the house, this recipe was a winner for me. The flavors were wonderful with the mix of shrimp, chorizos (which I love) and chicken.

This one is definitely worth the effort.

Chicken and Seafood Paella
(serves 6)

Ingredients

2 Tbs olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks
2 chorizo sausage, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
425g tinned tomatoes, drained
1 large red pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground paprika
2 cups uncooked rice
2 1/2 cups water
juice of one lemon
pinch saffron threads (soak in 4floz water)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
6oz large peeled shrimp/prawns
chopped parsley

Method:

1. Heat oil in a deep pan.
2. Add the chicken and fry until brown. Remove from heat. (Keep warm)
3. Add chorizos to pan and fry until golden. Remove from heat. (Keep warm)
4. Add onion and garlic to pan and fry until soft.
5. Add tomatoes, pepper, salt and paprika to pan and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add rice to the pan and fry for 3 minutes, stirring occasionaly.
7. Add the water, lemon juice and saffron mixture and bring to boil.
8. Reduce the heat and stir in the peas.
9. Add the chicken and chorizo to the pan and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked.
10. Add the shrimp and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
11. Serve topped with parsley.

Verdict from the diners – exceptionally tasty and a recipe well worth adding to the repertoire.