Easily satisfied – Artichoke and spinach grilled cheese sandwich

Artichoke and spinach grilled cheese sandwich

Lately I’ve been sick every other week. I’m used to having a rough winter when it comes to the flu, but this year I started in October! And I’m sick of being sick. But you know what else gets old after your third round of stay in bed the whole weekend? Chicken soup. In spite of all its glorious, warming, nutritious, homey goodness, you can actually find yourself not wanting to see another bowl of the stuff for quite a while. But that doesn’t mean you’re over comfort food. Oh no. That only means that it’s time to up the comfort food. So as soon as I felt strong enough this weekend to get my butt out of the house I went grocery shopping (because that’s what normal people do, trust me) and I ran into some delicious artichoke hearts. All ready and cut up and tasty. Screaming “please turn me into grilled cheese! please!”. And because artichoke heart screams are really hard to ignore, that’s exactly what I did. And because the spinach, jocoque (labneh), olive oil and garlic powder in my house were surely going to protest, I bought a big loaf of garlic bread to put them all together over butter and grill.
Talk about comfort food! Interested? Read more for the recipe. Continue reading

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Très Français – French green bean salad with Boursin cheese

greenbeansalad0

I know that I shouldn’t even dare show my face around here after having disappeared for so long… almost two months! But since my holidays post-christmas have been so utterly quiet I finally have the time to be back in the kitchen, cooking, taking pictures and posting. So to ease back into the petitedecadence-ing, I’ll start with a very simple recipe….but an incredibly delicious one! It’s also very french, since its main ingredient are french beans… also known as haricots vertes. (Actually, I have no idea why french beans are called so, I’ll have to look that up.) But I also used garlic and herbs (the classic) boursin. If you don’t know boursin cheese, or don’t have it available around you, you could use any other kind of gournay cheese, or you can make something similar right at home by simply adding finely minced garlic and a variety of fresh herbs to your favorite cream cheese, or even better, homemade cream cheese.
This salad is seriously easy to make and will go well with pretty much anything, from fish to meat to a main dish all by itself, if you’re feeling like a light meal. Serve it with a couple warm slices of rustic bread and a dry white wine, and you’ve got yourself a delicious entrée.
Read more for the recipe. Continue reading

Fancy schmancy – Grilled manchego and snow pea sandwich

GRilled manchego and snow pea sandwich

There really isn’t much I can say to sell you on this recipe…it contains the words grilled and cheese in the title, so I don’t really need to make an effort, do I? Everyone knows that those two words are heaven in a sandwich, guaranteed. Even if it’s just two slices of buttery grilled bread with gooey cheese in between and nothing more. But I took it upon myself to make a melt-in-your-mouth grilled cheese using wheat thins. (Not the crackers, the flat bread) I know, wheat thins don’t even count as bread, at least not in my book. But they make excellent shells for grilled cheese, because they’re so thin they become crispy and deliciously buttery. And if you pair them with semi cured Manchego de oveja*, snow peas and wilted arugula with a generous dab of dijon mustard….well…need I say more? I know, imported spanish cured cheese seems a bit fancy for wheat thins…but it’s seriously an amazing combo! Or maybe it was the peas. Or the arugula. Or the butter. Or the fact that I served them with sweet corn cobs grilled in parsley butter. Take my word for it, whatever it was, you’ll want to try one! Read more for the recipe.

*For those who don’t have it around, Manchego de oveja is a DO spanish cheese made from the milk of sheep originally from the La Mancha region, hence the name manchego. It varies in hardness according to the time it’s been cured. You can read more about it right here.

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Shameless pleasures – Baked eggs w/ creamy goat cheese sauce

Baked eggs with creamy goat cheese sauce

Some things are just shameless pleasures. Not guilty, just shameless. Think of buying overly expensive shoes that you’ll use only three times a year (I never do that. I swear.) or watching three movies on the same sunday. Or having a scone….and then having another one. It’s that tiny instant in your head of ohwellwhocares that lets you do this kind of thing and precisely that little voice in my head which yesterday said “It’s ok, you’ve had breakfast, but that was way back at 7 am, and look at the terrace now, it’s so sunny and summer-y, wouldn’t you like to brunch out there? Of course you would….now go do it” And I of course, being extremely obedient, did. It’s not like I ate a whole dish of baked eggs at 11:30 in the morning on my own right? Oh. Wait. It totally is. Butwhocares. This dish is so delicious I’d gladly do the same every other day of the week. Besides, baked eggs are something I always forget, and I shouldn’t because they’re so easy and good and healthy (that’s of course when you don’t bathe them in cream) and easy to mix and match with whatever ingredients you have in the fridge…. Anyway, here is my shamelessly delicious recipe, with loads of cream, cheese, tomato and basil. Read more to find it.

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Breaking rules again? – Homemade cheese

Homemade cheese to spread

Anyone who knows me more than a little knows that I have a curious love hate relationship with rules. Let me get into this a bit more: I love rules, as long as they don’t apply to me. I know, it’s a brazen, shameless philosophy, but I can’t really help it. What would our world be like without the proper guidelines for doing things in life? Chaotic at best. And I do love things that work  smoothly and correctly, especially when it comes to my surroundings. But just don’t ask me to be part of those guidelines, because I will probably go crazy (er?) or run away. I don’t know why, but I just feel rebellious when someone says “That’s the way everyone does it. That’s why yo should also do it that way.” Not that I have something against systems or structures. I’d just rather appreciate them from the sidelines. I guess it’s just one of those things that make us who we are, because they suit us and keep us comfortable. And indeed I was comfortable making this cheese, because I didn’t adhere to any recipes (even though it’s my first time) and instead figured I’d go with whatever sounded best in my mind. The result was a beyond delicious, creamy spreadable fluffy goodness which can be whipped up in two hours and keeps for about a week in your fridge (not that it will last that long before you eat it). And, it breaks all the rules, which is my favorite part. For the first time making cheese, it’s easy and inviting to try more challenging recipes, even if that means I’ll have to do it the pre-established way. (Because I don’t think I can make up rennet…) But imagine the possibilities once you find that cheese is so easy to make! And this home recipe is open to all kinds of herbs and additions, such as garlic or chives. No rules, no fuss. Recipe after the jump.

Hang the cheese to drain whey Continue reading

Love in a bowl – Serrano Parmesano Risotto

Serrano - Parmesano Risotto with avocado

Remember that time when you ate risotto for lunch and dinner and next day lunch? No? You’ve never done such a piggy-like thing before? Hmm. Weird. Maybe that’s because you haven’t made risotto with a nice and old, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, jamon serrano, tons of butter, and avocado. This kind is the second best risotto I’ve ever tried (it was here), the first one being a Black risotto with calamari, which you can enjoy right here in Mexico City, but which I’m not adventurous enough to try and make myself yet. (How do you go about using squid ink? Where do you even buy it?) For this recipe though, I did feel bold enough to try it with a recipe I made up myself, using good ingredients as the secret for good results. I chose jamon serrano, which one could say is the spanish version of prosciutto, but which tastes quite different. And then I did something (if you’re squeamish/vegan/a health nut , I would suggest you stop reading) quite naughty; I toasted the rice in those white slices of fat. I know. I’m terrible. But you can really justify it to other people once you present them with a hot bowl and a spoon. They won’t be complaining once they the get tiny bits of golden, delicious, cheese covered goodness. Read more for the recipe!

Grated parmesan cheese Continue reading

Cry your eyes out – French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup
Yesterday I came home and popped into my laptop Rossini’s Barbieri di Seviglia (I know, I’m getting stranger by the day) and then set on to search for a classic french onion soup, which I did not have to do for long since Smitten Kitchen, as usual, had the answer for me quite soon. So I grabbed 4 big, shiny, smooth onions and set them on the chopping board. I grabbed the knife, I sliced once, I sliced twice. And then I stopped. What on earth was I thinking???? I’d completely forgotten that onions, or any of their cousins (red onions, shallots, garlic, spring onions, chives, you name it!) will have me in tears within seconds. And I’m not talking about watery eyes or a runaway tear. I’m talking grab-the-tissues-now stuff. I don’t know why so much, but it’s always been that way. I’ve tried super ultra sharp knives. I’ve tried cold onions straight from the fridge. There’s nothing that can help it. In fact, I remembered as I held the onion with great hatred in my hand and cried in between bouts of Figaro Figaro Figaro coming from my computer, when I worked in cooking school and I had to prepare for recipes which included onions, I would always trade with the other assistants for anything else. I’d much prefer to remove the scales from your smelly fish! So why would I subject myself willingly to all that slicing of the stinky critter?? The reason, of course, is that there is nothing quite like french onion soup. Even if I had to eat it with puffy eyes and a red nose. Deb uses Julia Child’s recipe, which she kindly provides with friendly measures. The only thing I changed was the bread, which I changed for American pumpernickel since I didn’t have any other, but it was actually an incredibly good twist. The caraway seeds such a pleasant surprise in the hot, caramelized goodness of the onions.

onions, butter, wine

Slicing onions

Cokking onions

Caramelised onions

Recipe here: French Onion Soup at Smitten Kitchen