Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crostini, tartines, pinchos!

These are white bean and arugula crostini, a recipe from Jill Dupleix's cookbook Very Simple Food. They're made with brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, which give them a delicious smoky sweetness.

The Italians have their bruschetta and crostini, the French have tartines and the Spanish their pinchos and montaditos. They're all essentially the same thing: mini open-faced sandwiches made with what you have around, such as cheese, cured meats, mushrooms, etc.

Here are some nice flavour combinations that I've found in cookbooks and during travels online:
  • white bean and grilled eggplant
  • peas, garlic and parmesan
  • pear, prosciutto and radish
  • artichoke and cannellini bean
  • goat's cheese and roasted red pepper
  • tomato, basil and bocconcini 
  • smoked trout and cucumber
  • fava beans with mint and goat's cheese
  • smoked ham and coleslaw
  • black olive tapenade with tomato and basil
  • grilled eggplant and parmesan 
  • apple, caramelized onions and thyme
  • sauteed mushrooms with garlic and parsley
For further reading:'s page on montaditos tapas

Laura Calder's tartine recipes on

Giada de Laurentiis' 17 crostini recipes on

Jill Dupleix's website

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Portuguese fish stew

I'm working on a recipe for Mediterranean seafood risotto and I'm in the stage where I'm trying out similar recipes from all my cookbooks and seeing how they turn out. This is Portuguese fish stew from one of my favourites cookbooks — Jill Dupleix's Good Cooking. It tasted really nice. Next, I'm going to try a recipe that uses white wine and peas. I'll post my own take on this dish as soon as I've customized it to my tastes. In the meantime, I just wanted to share the photo!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Flatbread pizza with caramelized onions, sausage and pine nuts

We had some friends for lunch and I made two pizzas - a traditional all-dressed and special one with caramelized onions, sausage and pine nuts.

Flatbread pizza with caramelized onions, sausage and pine nuts

1 flatbread, frozen
6 onions, sliced
2 sausages, casings removed
1/4 cup pine nuts, toastedsliced mozzarella cheese, enough to cover your flatbread
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a saucepan, make the caramelized onions and set aside. Let them cool before spreading them on the flatbread.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a different saucepan and add the sausage meat, breaking it up with a spoon. Stir and saute for seven minutes or until cooked. Set aside.

Take the flatbread out of the freezer and baste both sides with olive oil. Top with the mozzarella slices first, then caramelized onions, then sausage meat and finally toasted pine nuts.

Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top golden brown.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Minestrone soup - second take

Still working on the perfect minestrone! I like this version better than my first attempt. It has some nice fresh vegetables such as zucchini and green beans and isn't as thick. I ate this with some little parmesan croutes for dipping.

Minestrone soup

2 onions, finely diced
2 celery stalks, large dice
2 carrots, large dice
2-3 strips of bacon, sliced into paperclip-sized strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
one can of white kidney beans
1 zucchini, large dice
2 handfuls of green beans, chopped into one-inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
half a cup of shell pasta
olive oil for frying
parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish

Fry the bacon in the bottom of a stock pot on medium heat. Drain off and discard all but one tablespoon of the fat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry seven to 10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the celery and carrots, stirring for a couple of minutes.

Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, water, bay leaves and herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the white kidney beans, green beans and zucchini. Simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes. Add the pasta during the last eight to 10 minutes of cooking.

Take out the bay leaves and discard. Ladle into bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mâche salad with chicken, egg and tomatoes

I made this for lunch using leftover meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. I just added a hard-boiled egg, some tomato, an interesting lettuce leaf called mâche, and tossed it in a simple red wine vinaigrette, the same one I used for salade niçoise.

Mâche salad with chicken, egg and tomatoes

serves one

a handful of mâche leaves
one hard-boiled egg, quartered
one tomato, sliced into eighths
one chicken breast, sliced

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
a pinch of Dijon mustard
one clove garlic, minced
a shake of cracked black pepper
100 ml olive oil 

Mix the vinaigrette and set aside. Wash and dry the mâche leaves and place in the salad bowl. Add the tomato and chicken to the salad bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss the salad. Plate a single serving and top with the hard boiled egg slices. Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

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