Not the greatest of things to make and then announce it to the universe (via social media) but that child-like joy of getting something right the first time, with an itsy-bitsy twist to it; then it would be a shame to curb the surging heart. This is to the handsome bruschetta!
Picked up a good quality French baguette (with this, Italian purists would want to puree me) and cut those into roundels. Gave all those a good glug of good quality olive oil, a good lick of garlic and grilled them off lightly, to just heighten the crunch of the crusty bread.
Meanwhile, chopped some fine tomatoes. The trick is to get slightly thick tomatoes, maybe 2 notches lower than the ‘beef’ variety. I usually pick up tomatoes judging them on their suppleness and skin. Add a dash of cracked pepper and a light dust of oregano. I skipped the salt. Just wanted to focus on the mild flavours. Spooned the tomatoes over the bread and added finely chopped dil over them. I decided to forgo basil and use dil instead and it worked just fine for me.
With a perfect bruschetta, you realise that there is nothing that a good tomato cannot do!
So, before I forget the password to my food blog, I decide to post the last 2 memorable meals that I rustled up. This one is “Zaatar Grilled Chicken on a bed of Sweet Potato Mash”.
Ever since I have started grilling, I realise that the meats remain the constant. The variable (read accompaniments) need to be varied timely to keep any recipe alive. This is just my rusted a-mathematical brain trying to postulate a theorem. If you want to skip this bit (and not know me) then scroll down to the recipe directly.
For the grilled chicken:
1 breast of chicken
2 teaspoons of za’atar
Salt to taste
Pepper to your liking
Olive oil to cover both sides of the chicken
For the mashed potatoes:
2 medium-sized sweet potato
1 small regular potato
100 ml of single cream
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and set them to boil. I usually cut them up into quarters to ensure even and quicker cooking. While the spuds are bubbling away, prepare the chicken.
Beat it lightly with a mallet to get it to even thickness. Then apply salt and pepper to both sides. Then add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh za’atar to one side. Add a small drizzle of olive oil and let the chicken rest.
Check on the potatoes. They should almost be done. Run a knife to see if they are softening up. Once they do, drain the water, transfer the spuds to a bowl and start mashing them up. Throw in a knob of butter and a hint of oregano. Mash them further. Use all the force you think you have when you watch The Dark Knight wrestling Bane. Add in the cream and mix it all together. Add salt and pepper. And now for the dreaded part of checking on your cooking prowess – taste a bit of the mash. Good? Great! Leave it for the time being.
Get your skillet out and have it nice and hot and carefully place in your chicken. Grill both sides. You’d notice that the za’atar side darkens up. Do not fume. It is only crusting up and becoming more flavourful.
Once done, rest the chicken. Slice them up and serve on a generous bed of creamy mashed sweet spuds.
What I loved most is how the za’atar revealed all its flavours while on the grill. You will love the prominent sesame crunch to the grilled chicken.
On my #Burp&Belch meter, I’d give it 3 and 1/2 burps (out of 5)!
This recipe was the result of what I could rustle up for wife and I without having to order anything from the local grocery. Here’s how it goes:
1 chicken breast: marinate with salt and pepper and oregano flakes on one side
2 table-spoon olive oil for grilling
400 grams of veggies (anything you want to eat with your meat). I chose peas, carrots and broccoli.
4 table spoons of pesto. I chose classic basil pesto. Cannot think beyond that, honestly.
Heat the skillet / griddle pan on high flame. Add olive oil and let it smoke. Meanwhile, lightly beat the chicken breast to a consistent thickness. With the griddle all ready, add in the chicken breast. Prepare to go high on the decibel as the pan screams and smokes out.
Bring water to a boil and blanch the vegetables. Add some salt. Carrots take more time. Peas don’t. Broccoli needs some careful handling to keep the colour in tact. Once blanched, put them in cold water, specially the broccoli to stop the cooking and keep up colour.
Check on the chicken. Grill each side for about 5-6 minutes. Watching food as it cooks is a very satisfying activity. Once the chicken is done, take it off the pan and let it rest for about 5 – 7 minutes.
Lightly saute the vegetables in olive oil (with a small smatter of butter). Season it. Keep aside.
Now for the plating. Bed up the plate with the sautéed vegetables. Place the grilled chicken on top. Spoon some pesto sauce on the chicken. You may want to dust some parmesan cheese on top. Add a grilled lemon by the side. Tuck in! And don’t forget to squeeze that lemon – you will not believe how wonderful the juice will taste with the veggies!
I admit that I was very nervous as I promised my wife that I will cook fish. This was the first time I was attempting to be friends with fish. The last statement might come as a surprise to many who are acquainted with me and my vernacular belonging. I was ready with everything, including a new griddle that I bought. And so, with all the courage and confidence I could amass and special blessing from Jamie Oliver, I set off to cook salmon steaks. I was super-delighted with the results. A good dinner and happy wife are strong signs of posting the recipe on my blog.
I started with 2 fresh salmon steaks. I had the skin on. Was not too sure if I should cook with skin, so decided to knife it off. The steak might have some bones. Use your knife to find it and pluck them out. Salt both sides and rub in some olive oil. Let it rest.
For the salsa, I used 2 medium-sized cucumbers and cut them into small pieces after peeling off the skin. Continued the same with a big tomato. Threw in 3-4 young leeks. Open up an avocado and scoop out the flesh. Roughly chop it up and put some lemon juice over it to stop discolouration. Throw them all together in a bowl, add red chilli flakes, pinch of salt and lots of lemon juice. A quick swig of olive oil and some chopped mint on top. You could add in a couple of spoons of orange or pineapple juice. Mix them all well and keep aside.
Meanwhile, put the griddle on the stove till it is as hot as Ramsey’s temper. Put in the salmon steaks and hear them scream on the griddle. Keep them on for 7-8 minutes on the side and then turn them over. It will look nice and well done. A little extra grilling will keep the steak crunchy on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Repeat the same for the other side. I was experimenting on getting the criss-cross griddle marks correct. Will perfect them the next time. Take them off heat and allow them to rest a while. You may notice the juices in the griddle pan; pour them back on the steaks.
Now plate them. Steak first and spoon generous amounts of the salsa on top. Take a picture. Sit down and eat well. And do not look at the kitchen sink. That is for another time.