Only Amazing Recipes

Amazing gluten-free, low GI, completely guilt-free and simply delicious and healthy food!

BUZHENINA

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Today is the 7th day I am overdue. Meaning my baby is one week behind the (doctor’s) schedule. My maternity leave started 2 weeks before the due date and I was rushing around to get everything ready for the new arrival. A couple of days before the due date I started waiting. I was waiting every minute day and night, listening to my body and waiting for “something” to start happening.

Now, 7 days after the due date I am obviously still waiting but got on with my life: visiting beauty salons, meeting friends, trying new recipes etc.

So, while Alexander is taking his time, I would like to share a wonderful recipe I tried some time ago.  This sort of dishes in Russian is called “Buzhenina”. I was trying to find an English equivalent but all of them seem not quite right to me, for example: “Cold boiled pork” (Gosh, who on Earth would want to eat this?!), “Baked fresh ham” (yes, it is a ham and it is baked but why do we add “fresh” here? Can be “not fresh”? What did they want to say?), “Pork roast” (mmm may be…but “a roast” is usually served hot and this dish – cold.)

I decided to keep the original (Russian) name, mouthwatering for everyone who has ever tried …

BUZHENINA

buzhenina

Ingredients: 

  • Pork neck (without bones) – 1.5 kg
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – 100 g
  • Garlic – 3-4 cloves.
  • Dijon mustard – 1 tsp
  • Olive oil – 5 tbsp
  • Oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the over to 180 degrees.

To soften the meat, put your rectangular piece of pork in the plastic bag and beat with the meat tenderising kitchen hammer from both sides. Then rub in the spices herbs, salt and pepper.

The filling: 

In the blender blend sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil (you can use the sun dried tomatoes oil) and mustard. Finely chop the garlic and add to the mix.

Spread the mix over the pork. Roll up pork. Tie with cooking string to secure. Rub skin with oil and sea salt. Place pork into the baking sleeve and put in a preheated oven. Bake for 1.5 hours (per 1 kg of weight = at least 1 hour baking). Then cut the sleeve and pour the meat juices over the roll, increase the temperature to 200 gr. and bake another 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

You can serve it hot (as a main course) but traditionally it is eaten cold as an appetiser!

Priyatnogo appetita! 🙂

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Simples placeres


When I was about to write this post, it took me a while to decide in which category I should put it: “Wine”? “Mains”? “Dessert”? or..may be “Breakfast”?? Perfect for any!!

Here we are talking about the best combination on this planet: jamon + Manchego cheese + red wine = simples! Or simples placeres (/simples platheres/ – as the Spainsh say). If you are depressed, frustrated, pissed off, tired or upset, this will make you appreciate life again within minutes! If you are happy and satisfied, a bite of manchego and jamon, followed by a sip of a wonderful spanish wine will put a smile on your face and will be a confirmation that it was STILL a good thing to be born on This planet!

That night I felt like I needed some love.

I stopped at a cosy little wine&cheese shop and, to my pleasant surprise, found an exceptional selection of wine there! A few days before my best friend Ana Fernandez Marin brought me some jamon from Spain. The

thought of that made my mouth water. I automatically moved to the shelf labelled SPAIN. I like Spanish wine (Tempranillo and Garnacha are the most popular types you will find in the shops). However, sometimes the taste of these wines is too strong for me (too much tannin!). A new label caught my eye – PACHECO, 2009, 14% alcohol (dangerous;-),  produced in Murcia – exactly where Ana is from! And, most important, interesting grapes combination: Shiraz and  Monastrell…I am curious now! Price: £8.99. I grabbed it without hesitation (lets see!).

To make a cheese choice when Manchego is on the menu is a piece of cake. In the basket. Called Alberto and asked to take jamon out of the fridge (you have to keep it in a warm place for some 15 minutes before eating. When warm, the cheese releases all the aromas and  tastes better than just out of the fridge).

Without further ado, my dear ladies and gentlemen, that  was THE feast! The wine turned out to be absolutely fabulous! It was a perfect match to manchego and jamon, very easy to drink (despite 14% alco), smooth… we were totally in 7th heaven!!!

You can buy PACHECO 2009 online here. Check Borough market for manchego and jamon and… enjoy the true and simple pleasures! 😉

To find out about the wine sold in the UK click here.

If you want to start learning more about wine,  find some tips here.

I will repeat once again: Life is too short to drink bad wine! Puurrr 🙂


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Gratin d’aubergines


 

Gratin d’aubergines…sounds posh, doesn’t it? (why everything in French sounds posh and in Russian “rude”?! It is not fair!)

I am a cheese&aubergines freak. It is official. So what?

When I saw this Gratin d’aubergines recipe I first thought: “Oh, thats like parmigiana!” Almost. So I was curious to make it and compare with Parmgiana (evil plan hehe).

I know at least 2 people who will definitely want to try it ;-), so here is a step by step instruction:

Ingredients for 4 portions:

  • 2-3 large aubergines
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 big tomatoes or 600 gr of cherry tomatoes (I was cheeky and used a 700 gr. chopped tomatoes)
  • 50-80 gr. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tb. spoon of tomato concentrate
  • 1/2 tb sp of sugar (I use fruit sugar)
  • salt, black pepper, olive oil
  • a few basil leaves
  • a bit of milk
  • a medium size baking tray (approx 25 cm) If you have only a big tray you have to use more ingredients – accordingly.

Preparation: 

Sauce

1. Crush the garlic with the knife

2. Without taking the skin off, fry the garlic in olive oil. Add finely sliced onion (it must be sliced really “finely” because we expect it to dissolve in the tomato sause while cooking) and cook for 5-7 min.

3. Add tomatoes. Put the fire down and let the sauce simmer. The sauce must be “juicy” and rich at the same time.

4. Take the aubergines’ skin off. Slice them crosswise in 5-7 mm slices. Make a “net” with the knife on each slice,  sprinkle with salt.

5. Cover the aubergines slices with a paper tissue and sprinkle with the a bit of milk. I know it sounds weird. But it will help to get rid of bitterness. Put them aside for 20 min till they start “weeping”.

6. Heat the pan with a bit of olive oil. Wipe the slices, sprinkle with some black pepper. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and aubergines to the hot pan.

7. Fry all of them adding more oil if necessary. This part is finished.

8. In a meantime your tomato sauce is almost ready. Just add 1 tb spoon of tomato concentrate, half tea spoon of sugar (to get rid of acidity) and cook for another 5 or more min on a very low heat. The liquid will evaporate and the sauce will be very rich, aromatic and full of flavours. The onion will almost dissolve, however I recommend to take the garlic cloves out as they are too big to dissolve.

9. Sprinkle the baking tray with olive oil. cover the bottom of the tray wih tomato sauce. Put 1 layer of aubergines on top. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Put a few basil leaves. (I used a  fresh chopped basil with olive oil I always keep in the fridge) 
10. Another layer of aubergines. Sprinkle with pamesan cheese again. Cover with tomato sauce. To do that you can use a separator:

Or if you are brave use the sauce as it is, with the onion and garlic which have already dissolved in your slowly cooked sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Now! Put the dish in the 220 degrees oven for 10-15 until it gets this sexy look:

Mmmmmm 😉

Ready to serve – as a side dish, starter or a main course!

 

So, what about the result of my experiment? Here you go!

1. Much lighter than Parmigiana. This is because in Parmigiana we deep fry the aubergines and in this gratin we just fry them in a moderate amount of olive oil. Also because we use less cheese.

2.  This gratin is much easier and quicker to make (again because we skip the deep fry phase).

3.  The taste is stronger thanks to Parmesan cheese, olion and garlic.

Absolutely
De-li-cious!

Watch HOW TO:

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Grilled Courgettes or Zucchine alla Griglia


Here you go! Another very tasty and easy-peasy to make starter!

As many Italian traditional starters it involves:

  • simple vegetables – courgettes in this case. The number is up to you. I usually make quite a lot (3-4 large courgettes and then keep them in a plastic container in the the fridge)
  • a good cast iron ribbed grill pan (see the cooking tips section)
  • salt
  • dry oregano
  • balsamic vinegar
  • and…loads of olive oil!

Preheat your grill pan. It must be very hot.

As the courgettes are usually quite long, cut them crosswise in half first. Then slice them longwise into thin slices (approx. 5 mm).

Put the slices on the red-hot grill pan and dont touch for 2-3 min, (if you start moving them too early, they will stick to the pan).

Attention: no olive oil is involved at this stage!

After 3-4 min, flip the slices over. They will be “stripy”. Let them get their stripes on another side.

After they are ready, remove the courgettes from the pan, leave them to cool down. Put the next courgettes crew in the pan.

Carry on until your courgettes are finished.

After the slices cool down, put them in a deep container.

Add a generous amount of olive oil, good amount of salt, sprinkle with dried oregano and balsamic vinegar.

Eat in a salad, in a sandwich, just like they are…

Buon appetito!!!


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Grilled Peppers or Peperoni alla Griglia


You will need:
  • Peppers (yellow, red)
  • Salt
  • Fresh parsley chopped
  • Olive oil

Please see the HOW TO pictures at the bottom of the recipe. 

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Wash the peppers and put them (as they are! no cleaning!) in the oven.

3. Take them out only when they look very sad, wet (the water comes out) and the skin is black.

4. We need to take the skin off the peppers. To make it easier I usually put them in a plastic bag for a while & then clean.

5. Slice the peppers. Or better tear them with your hands in stripes.

6. Put them in a deep container and add salt, parsley  and a generous amount of olive oil. I usually cover them “with the head” 🙂

 

Serve in a deep small plate.

They are amazing! Buon Appetito!!

P.S. I know Italians wouldnt like that (it is against the law to play with the food in Italy) but instead of parsley you can add dry oregano!! I love it!! 

Please check out your HOW TO here 

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Amazing Caponata


If you haven’t been on heaven for a while – make a Caponata and you’ll go straigh there (guaranteed).

Here is the CAPONATA recipe I use:

  • 2 large aubergines cut into large chunks (if small – will absorb the oil too fast)
  • dried origano
  • one red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • a bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 spoons of salted capers
  • a handful of green olives (stones removed)
  • 5 large tomatoes roughly chopped
  • tomato concentrate (3-4 table spoons)
  • herb vinegar

Preheat a large pan with some olive oil. Add aubergines and oregano, salt and toss around (the aubergines have to be covered with the oil). Cook on a hight heat for 5 min. When the aubergines are golden, add the onion, garlic and parsley.

Cook for another 2 min. Fell free to add more oil if you see it is necessary. add the capers (rinse them before – they can be too salty!), add the olives and (!) herb vinegar! I didnt have it so I used a white wine vinegar – still came out great!

In a couple of minutes add the tomatoes, tomato concentrate and simmer for about 15 min till tender and all the tastes blended together.

Taste and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar. sprinkle with olive oil and a some chopped fresh parsley.


Eat warm, cold, on a bruschetta…BUON APPETITO!! 🙂


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Amazing Melanzane alla Griglia (Grilled aubergines)


Total cook time: 30 – 60 min (depending on a quantity of aubergines and the quality of a grill pan you use:)

Before you start make sure you have:

  • 2 Aubergines
  • Salt
  • 1 small otr1 1/2 big clove of garlic (finely chopped). (Don’t put too much garlic unless you want to become a “garlic dragon” hehe)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • a few mint leaves

Please find the HOW TO picture slide show at the end of this recipe. 

Slice aubergines. The slices have to be approx. 5 mm. wide.

Sprinkle them with salt and leave for 30-60 min to release the water.

I usually put them in a “standing” position:)  using a tall sauce pan. You can also use a chopping board, just make sure one side in higher than the other and the water can flow down.

Put your good proper heavy grill pan on fire. To make this aubergines the way they should be, you have to use a cast iron grill pan. Check the cooking tips section.  The pan must be very hot!

Wipe the aubergines with the kitchen towel properly.

Put on a hot grill and leave for a minute before you start checking if the are getting ready by lifting them and looking at the downside:). ATTENTION. No oil is used at this stage! But the secret is: nothing gets stuck to the pan if it is really hot and you dont start disturbing whatever you grill straight away.

When you see the slices become stripy as the marines t-shirt – its time to flip them over.

Once the aubergines are done from both sides you take them out and let cool down while grilling the rest.

Now take a deep container (I use a simple plastic container)  and put a layer of aubergines on the bottom. Cover with olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar. Add some mint. Another layer – olive oil, garlic and balsamic, mint. And so on.

Attention! This is exactly the case when LESS is MORE! Be careful with garlic, balsamic and especially mint – put literally “some”, a little and later add if you think it is not enough. The only ingredient which cannot be “too much” in this dish is Olive Oil! Yes you can cover the aubergines “with the head” 🙂

Keep in the container, serve on a plate. Or on a piece of grilled bread – it will become a bruschetta!

Enjoy!


* After you’ve made it a few times and know the taste quite well, try a bit different recipe:
from the above list minus (-) garlic and plus (+)  finely grated zest and juice of one lemon and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. 
Let me know what you prefer!! 

Your HOW TO is here

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