Polenta Cakes Topped w/Avocado, Poached Egg & Sautéed Tomatoes

Its Monday!

And I am so happy to be back with you guys! Last week I found myself a bit under the weather. Well more than a bit. Following doctors orders, I had to rest up. Still not 100% but couldn’t stay away another day. The weather is still kind of ugly, so why not make something pretty.

I was feeling a bit like polenta today.  Maybe because I was thinking of my childhood and how much I missed having grits and eggs with a side of avocado in the mornings.  Grits is a popular breakfast dish in the southern parts of America.  For those not familiar with it, its made from corn and is grounded into a coarse meal.  Seeing that it is not so popular here in Europe, I decided to use the next closest thing I could find; Polenta.  Polenta is also made from corn. It has a finer texture but does the job just the same.

In the mix, I have avocados. Avocado is a good compliment to any breakfast dish. The contrasting the flavors of mild fruit with the savory sautéed tomatoes and onions are superb. Atop a butter herb poached egg is a brilliant finish to a satisfying meal. Lets not forget that it is a good source of vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats we need.

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Ingredients

Polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups instant polenta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

Topping

  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Half lemon
  • Poached or Fried egg

Directions

  1. Grease lightly a glass rectangle pan with olive oil or butter and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce to medium heat.  Slowly pour the instant polenta into the water while stirring until it thickens which takes about 1 to 2 minutes (follow directions on package).
  3. Pour polenta into greased pan and spread out to evenly. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl place half avocado, cilantro and a splash of lemon. Place to the side.
  5. In a sauce pan coat with oil and over medium high heat, sauté tomatoes, onions and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes. Just until tender. Set aside

Assemble

  1. Using a cookie cutter, cut the polenta into about 6 to 8 circles (you can use any shape you’d like. Let your creative juices flow).
  2. Assemble by placing the polenta circles on a serving dish, top each with a dab of avocado, then set the egg directly on the green goodness, and finish off with the sautéed tomato mix. I alternated with and without an egg for my picky eater. But you can dress these little beauties however you would like.

This dish can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or during brunch. The choice is yours. These will sure bring happiness to any table.

Enjoy!

 

Disney Inspired Ratatouille!!!

Happy Tuesday!

How often can you say a Disney movie inspired you to cook up something that is not only eye catching, but tasty too.  Better yet, a movie where a rat was dying to become a great French chef.  I must confess, I’ve seen this movie more than 10 times both with and without the intended viewers around. Although comical, the message behind the movie was clear, nothing should stand in the way of your greatness!

In 2007, Pixar released the movie Ratatouille. It was a story of an unlikely pair; a rat named Remy and a kitchen help Linguini that hilariously teamed up to prepare some of famed chef Auguste Gusteau greatest dishes. One notably, was Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew made up primarily of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini with a few other ingredient.

In the movie, Ratatouille is prepared in a slightly different way from the traditional using the same ingredients. It involves cutting and baking thinly slice zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and yellow squash, over a tomato and bell pepper sauce. The layers of brightly colored vegetables just jumped out at me. There was no reason to search for a recipe. After all, it was all visibly on the big screen.

I figured we could do with a meatless meal this week. Though I am not quite sure everyone would be in agreement. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with a healthy serving of vegetables every now and then. Did I mention that this is a perfect dish for vegetarians? Well it is! No Meat! No Dairy! My non-eating meat friends will love this dish. To make it a more hearty meal, you can add sliced potatoes, sweet or regular. Your choice.

One suggestion I have is to use a veggie slicer if you have one. I did all the work by hand. Its therapy for me. But for a quicker and more uniformed slices, a slicer would do wonders.

” I cant help myself, I like good food okay.” ~ Remy

I decided to use my go to tomato sauce adding in marjoram which was recommended by my favorite vendor at the fresh market in city. He knows his stuff. I thought that oregano would have given the sauce that additional pop on its own but marjoram took the depth to another level. 20170422_163229

Some people prepare with an additional layer of béchamel sauce, but for the purpose of this recipe, I stayed close to my inspiration. Depending on how big your pan is, you may want to add more or less vegetables.

Here we go:-

Ingredients

For the Ratatouille

  • 1 orange, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced in halves
  • 2 or 3 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 eggplant sliced
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 yellow squash sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to brush vegetables
  • 3 sprigs thyme finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 ½ can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 fresh sprigs thyme chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Wash and slice vegetable. Set aside
  3. In a sauce pan heat oil on medium high heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to sweat on medium heat for 3 minutes then add vinegar. After 1 minute pour in tomatoes.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then add basil, thyme salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook additional 5 minutes then pour into baking dish and spread evenly on the bottom. (if you are also using béchamel sauce, you would add it atop of the tomato sauce.
  6. Begin to assemble layers by alternating vegetables and over laying then in which ever design you desire.
  7. In a small bowl, add oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush top of vegetable.
  8. Bake on middle rack for 1 ½ hour until vegetables are tender covered. Remove cover, drop temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minute or until a little color appears (optional)

Bon Appitite!

Avocado Aioli

I have never been much of an Aioli fan to be honest. My first encounter was a few years ago at a party we attended in a city car garage surrounded by a rowdy crowd watching the Eroupa Manschaft (German for championship) and of course cheering on our German National team. Maybe this setting wasn’t the best for trying new dishes. After all, we were in a working car garage. But what could it hurt right?

StomachXAcheWell lets just say, I paid for it severely later that night and the day after that. My husband really likes the stuff and begged me to give it another chance. But this time with my own making.

To me, aioli seems to be so much like mayonnaise of which I barely touch. Its not my favorite condiment. But sometimes you have to take one for the team.

So I did some research and found that Aioli in its purist form does not use egg or yokes. The name itself means garlic and oil which in France and Spain is used to make this condiment. Sounded great to me. So I decided I wanted to go this route and create a recipe that we both can enjoy without me having any regrets. I am so glad I did!

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I settled on an Avocado Aioli because, why not? Avocado is quite popular in my house. Plus it has natural oils which allows for less to no oil in this recipe and will give us the creamy consistency I am looking for. And you already know how I love coconut milk. It just adds that depth I like.

 

What you need :-

  • 1 ripe, fresh avocado
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • ½ of lemon lime
  • 1½ teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tsp of fresh diced garlic
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (more or less depending on your preferred consistency.)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • salt and pepper to taste.

What to do :-

  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender and at medium speed, mix until desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days (but it tastes best when used immediately).
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Delish

 

I enjoy this creamy goodness with my Zesty Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. Oven Roasted of course!

 

Crunchy Jalapeno Poppers

I was feeling a bit bored. So I looked in the pantry to see what I can whip up real quick. Came across these Jalapeno Peppers and figured why not make some Poppers.

This recipe is pretty basic and will satisfy the craving for something crunchy. There was no need for a special trip to the grocery store. I just used what I had. But feel free to substitute using your favorite items.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg whole jalapeno peppers
  • 5 oz. Goat cheese*
  • Bacon bites
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • Basil finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cornflakes
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups  buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

Mix Goat cheese, basil, bacon and bell pepper until smooth. In a separate bowl, blend dry coating ingredients and set aside. In another bowl pour buttermilk.

Wash and dry Jalapeno peppers. Cut each peppers open, and remove seeds. Open as wide as you can and spoon cheese filling into the peppers. Carefully roll in dry coating mixture, dip in buttermilk, and roll in the dry coating again. In a large sauce pan, heat enough cooking oil and cook until golden brown.  Garnish with parsley and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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*  Typically I would have used cream cheese and white cheddar. But the goat cheese was surprising good in this dish also.

Tenderloin w/Celery Puree Crust

 

I’ve found that the most juicy tender cuts of meat are the boneless ones. In my house there is no bias. But for this recipe, having a boneless cut not only helps the meat to cook evenly, but also gives a perfect succulent finish. Delicious steaks can be cooked perfect even on a stovetop.

With a few perfectly placed ingredients, you can create a delicious, mouth watering meal in under 45 minutes. Grilled seasoned veggies kick up the health value of this already scrumptious dish. Potatoes also complement well if prepared the correct way as not to over power the meat.

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I had a craving for Brussel Sprouts. So I sautéed up a few to enjoy with this unbelievably taste tenderloin.

Serving 4 Portions /Preheat Oven 400°F

Ingredients

Celery Puree

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ Celery Root (peel and diced)*
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg

Tenderloin

  • 4 Portions Tenderloin Steaks (5 oz each)
  • Salt
  • crack pepper
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter

Preparation

  1. For the Celery Puree – Brown the butter in a pan, then set aside. In another sauce pan, heat heavy cream on medium high, then add celery. Cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in butter a bit at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until creamy but not too soft. If needed, at a bit more cream.
  2. For the Tenderloin – Preheat a heavy skillet, cast iron pan or stove top grill. Season steak with salt and pepper. Add melted butter to skillet. As the butter begins to brown and smoke, place in steaks, 2 at a time and fry for 2 minutes each side. Please note, skillet and stovetops vary in heat, you may need to fry less or more depending on your preference of doneness. When done, place on a baking tray.
  3. Stack celery puree about 1cm to 2cm high on the prepared steak. Place tray on the middle rack in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. For a more crusted effect, mix some bread crumbs, parmesan and butter together and sprinkle on the top of the puree before baking.
  4. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest before cutting into it. Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

* In some areas it is difficult to find celery root. However, a puree can be made from Cauliflower or Turnip following the same process.

What good is a fine piece of meat without delicate red wine. I always peer tenderloin with a soft Cabernet Sauvignon that is much milder than the regular bold flavors we are used to. But if you are looking for the perfect match, try a Pinot Noir.

Guten Appetit!

Easy Thai Curry Soup

I’m a creature of habit. At least when it comes to foods I love. Twice a month we would order Asian take-out. Without fail, I order the same Thai Curry Soup every time. I once made the mistake of saying to the hubby, I want to try something else. And that something else he brought home, lets just say it won’t make a second cut.

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I decided to test my skills in the Asian arena. Ordering in can become costly, so this homemade coconut curry soup was just what I needed. The infusion of curry spices and coconut milk adds so much depth and flavor to this soup. What I like most is that it is simple to make. I used ingredients I already had on hand and it came out perfect. In this particular recipe I use shrimp. However you can opted for whatever protein you choose; pork, chicken or tofu. Whatever your indulgence, this cost friendly version is worth it. Recipe yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • ½ pound jumbo shrimp, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 small carrots (optional)
  • 6 small mushrooms halved (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 can bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 2 lemongrass sticks ( can substitute w/lime juice)
  • 3 tablespoons curry paste or powder
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 2 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • cilantro/basil for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil, add rice and continue to boiling for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat until ready to serve. if you are unsure how to gage, prepare according to package instructions.
  2. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add shrimp, salt and red chili flakes. Stir occasionally and cook until shrimps are pink about 3 minutes; remove from pot and set aside.
  3. In the prepared stockpot add onion, minced garlic, bell peppers, carrots and ginger. Cook until tender about 4-5 minutes.  Add curry powder/paste to pot and stir together with vegetables until well combined.
  4. Gradually add the coconut milk and stock, stirring constantly until completely incorporated about 3 to 4 minutes. Add fish sauce, bamboo shoots and lemongrass, stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until thicken about 10 minutes. Allow the lemongrass to infuse its flavor.
  6. Remove lemongrass shoots, stir in shrimp and rice (we prefer rice on the side in the event all is not consumed) If using lime juice in the absence of lemongrass, add here.
  7. Garnish with cilantro or basil
  8. Serve!
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Taste like more!!!!

The lemongrass is what gives it that subtle citrus flavor that takes it over the top.

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear how your soup came out.

Smooches!

Yummy Creamy Butternut Soup!

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There is nothing I love more than a hot bowl of soup on an drabby day here in Germany. And seeing that we are pretty much still feeling the winter affects, what better than to sooth and warm the tummy than with a creamy bowl of Butternut Squash soup.

To be honest, I’m not much of a recipe follower. Really! I just throw things together that I like and hope for the best. Most times, it works, other times it needs a bit of tweaking here and there. Not with this soup! I think I hit the nail on the head the first time and have been using it ever since (with variations depending on my crowd). Its been a starter at our dinner parties, and just a hearty mean dish on a rainy day for the fam. I’ve tried a few other recipes of this soup, some were good but none satisfies my desire than to just taste the delightful flavor of the butternut squash.

This recipe is pretty simple: all fresh produce, very little sodium, keeping the soup as natual as can be.

Ingredients

  • 2 large pitted butternut squash (skinned and cubed)
  • 2 peeled carrots (chopped)
  • ½ sweet potato (skinned and cubed)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Broth (or low sodium store bought)

  • ½ mayan onion roughly cut (these are mild in taste, mostly found in winter/fall) but you can also use 4 pearl onions.
  • half garlic clove
  • 1 stick celery chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ roman tomato
  • pinch salt
  • 3 cups water

Here we go:

In a sauce pan, sauté onions, garlic, celery and tomato, with a teaspoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes. This process releases the natural flavors of the vegatables. Add in the pinch of salt and bay leaf to pan. Let simmer for 1 minute then add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil for about 6-8 minutes covered (covering helps to retain the water. We don’t want more than a half cup to evaporate). Strain the broth.

At this point you are half done!

In another pot, add the chopped butternut, carrots and sweet potato. To this, pour in the broth. Boil until veggies are tender. DO NOT discard the remaining broth. Using an Immersion hand blender, begin to puree the vegetables until smooth. Add in the heavy cream and nutmeg and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

WALA! You have a heavenly, thick, creamy butternut squash soup. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more water or cream/milk and season to taste. Top it off with whip cream/cream fresh, sunflower seeds and a dash of pumpkin oil.

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