Tag Archives: rosemary

FFTG: Fresh From The Garden

Scene 1
Aunt closes the big oven door. In a few moments, her airy kitchen is filled with warm, aromatics of the casserole bubbling in there.
“You know, I love such one pot meals,” said I. “Make them regularly at home. I just throw in some thinly sliced zucchini.”
“Oh, you like zucchini?” she said.
And then, I saw a quick blur, as aunt whizzed past me, into her gorgeous home garden in a picturesque village in Nottingham, UK and came back with a long, emerald zucchini. In seconds, it was sliced and popped into the casserole in the oven.
My expression was ‘what just happened’!

Superwoman Sunanda
Superwoman Sunanda

Meet Superwoman Sunanda Chatterjee. My wife’s aunt. I have happily adopted her as my aunt. Nicknamed Bumble Bee, she is always buzzing around to make sure everyone is well fed and happy. She’s quite the thing – a qualified doctor by day, consummate home maker and a cook par excellence. Am trying to bully her to write her cook book.

One of the first things I noticed is her well stocked kitchen. There isn’t anything that you cannot find in there. Rosemary powder? Check. German shortbread? Check. Strong roasted coffee? Check. Teas from gardens of the world? Check. Peri Peri sauce? Check. I should have looked harder for a chef’s hat – would have found that too!

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The sun-kissed garden. Notice the tubes in the basket in the foreground
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Ain’t they pretty like a fairy tale!

The other thing I noticed is her beautiful garden where she grows her English roses, honeysuckles and a bunch of other beautiful flowers whose names escape me. She scaped the garden herself and tends to it regularly. To the left is a fish pond. And farther left, is where she grows her veggies. That ripe zucchini, the one that was bubbling in the oven, came from there. She grows squash, brinjals, tomatoes, pumpkin, potatoes and maize. I am a huge fan of the style and rustic elegance (did I just coin that phrase) of Jamie Oliver. His series on cooking all across Britain using what he could get his hands on, is inspiring, mildly put. This felt just like his show. There are ways to grow a few veggies and making one’s own dry spice mix by sun-drying herbs. My mother used to grow tomatoes, Thai chillies, cucumber. We never had a garden but mum used to grow them in small pots.  As a child, I used to be filled with amazement seeing vegetables grow at home. It added perspective as opposed to picking up what you want and when you want from the market. And now, I was in Superwoman’s vegetable garden, reliving my childhood amazement!

Berries
Berry and cherry: FFTG

A day earlier, she went to another part of her garden and came back with a small basket of hand-picked cherries, raspberries and blueberries! I have never had such raspberries, considering that raspberries and I cannot get along in temperament. In fact, I polished it all off.

I realised exactly what ‘fresh from the garden’ really meant. It doesn’t get fresher than this. The soil and water plays an important role in how your veggies taste. For those that are inspired to start a home garden, here is a quick link, how to: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/ten-steps-to-beginning-a-garden/. I do peg home gardens as the next level of ‘foodie’ aspiration – to grow your own vegetables, even if they are just chillies. There is a little more fun than picking up a bunch from a plant than from a supermarket.

Grilled Chicken with Rosemary and Zaatar

Dinner under 15 minutes
Dinner under 15 minutes

Quick and easy dinner that got ready under 15 minutes and impressed the better half on V-Day eve too!

For you to score under 15 minutes or exact, get the marination ready. For 2 chicken breasts, you will need:

  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of Lebanese zaa’tar
  • 1 shot of orange juice (add this discreetly, as if it were a secret ingredient that others aren’t supposed to know)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Cut the breasts in half; so you will have 4 pieces in total. Coat the chicken pieces  with the dry rub. Place them in a container. Add the shot of orange juice and let it soak in for 4 hours.

For the salad, take fresh greens and tear them up roughly by hand. Add a small part of chopped walnuts. For the dressing, use balsamic with olive oil. Pour the dressing and toss the salad well. IMG-20150214-WA003

Heat your griddle pan, throw in a couple of glugs of olive oil and grill in your marinated chicken pieces. Once done, let them rest for a couple of minutes.

Plate in the greens, slide up the chicken pieces beside them.

Bon apetit!

It’s The SAUCE That Matters

Be it a story or food – it is the sauce that matters!

And finally, I found the courage and confidence to make mushroom pasta. I haven’t the courage to make pasta from dough-scratch but the sauce, I got! And the brilliant thing is that one needs just 4 ingredients to have this creamy, shining and delicious sauce.

So, here we go:

Button / white mushrooms        300 grams (usually boxed in supermarkets – can also use other varieties)

Onions (red)                             2 medium-sized

Rosemary                                   2 sprigs

Garlic                                            2 cloves

Cooking Cream                      150 ml

Salt and Pepper                      as you like ’em!

Prepping up for Mushroom Sauce!
Prepping up for Mushroom Sauce!

Sharpen up your knife and chop those red onions up finely. In case you are likely to cry a bucket, burn a candle before you start chopping. You will see the magic when you realise you are not welling up.

Slice up the mushrooms. Keep aside. For the rosemary, hold ’em from the top and pull down the leaves with your thumb and fore-finger like a smooth swipe. You get only the leaves. Chuck the stem. Finely chop them up.

Now, get your saucepan (the keyword is SAUCE) nice and hot with a drizzle of olive oil. Add in the onions and cook them till they are soft and pink. Add in the garlic then. This way, the garlic will not burn and the onions will not be undercooked.

When you see them sweating it out in the sauce pan, add in the rosemary, give it a good stir and stop a while to enjoy the aroma! Once you are suitably intoxicated, slide in the chopped mushrooms. Cook them through. The mushrooms will half-out in the heat and by then you would have coated them well. Time for the seasoning. That done, dunk in your cooking cream and mix well. In case you notice that the concoction is too thick, use some cooking stock or simply use the pasta-boiling-water to loosen it a bit.

It is now time for the pasta to take a dive into the delicious sauce. Drain them and put them straight in with the sauce. Mix well and ladle them on pasta plates. Top off with parmesan shavings!

Enjoy! And remember – the magic is in the sauce!

On my #Burp&Belch meter, I give it a shameless 5 burps (out of 5)! Modesty clearly doesn’t mix well with a good sauce!

Grilled Chicken w Greens Cherry Tomatoes & Haloumi

Grilled Chicken on Greens, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes and Grilled Haloumi
Grilled Chicken on Greens, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes and Grilled Haloumi

This started out as an ambitious plan to rustle up dinner like I see Jamie Oliver do. Inspiration aside, it was the trepidation to get it absolutely right that got me completely involved in this dish that I (unimaginatively) call Grilled Chicken on a bed of Greens, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes with Grilled Haloumi. I am sure the name would run off the page if featured on a menu. This is how it all went.

 

For the grilled chicken:

    • 1 chicken breast, halved
    • Rosemary and Thyme for the rub
    • Salt and Pepper for seasoning

 

For the Greens

    • 1 box of greens (or choose rocket leaves, lettuce of different hues)
    • 1 box or 250 grams of cherry tomatoes (quarter them up)
    • 200 grams of mushrooms (I used the ordinary white button mushrooms)
    • 2 pods of garlic, chopped
    • 4 slices of fresh Haloumi Cheese (grilled)
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and pepper for seasoning

 

In a large salad bowl, flip over the box of greens and roughly tear the leaves up a bit. Throw in the quartered cherry tomatoes. Lightly saute the finely sliced mushrooms in butter and garlic. Cool them a bit before tossing them in the bowl. Squeeze a juice of a lemon all over. Add in some extra virgin olive oil. Throw in a dash of salt and pepper to season. Use your hands to mix it all up and keep ready.

Heat a skillet nice and hot. Drizzle in a spot of olive oil. Add in the chicken. While the chicken gets grilled, put the slice of haloumi cheese. While the criss-cross mark of the grill looks pleasing on the haloumi skin, keep in mind that over cooking or heating the cheese will make it rubbery and chewy. Flip them over. Check on the chicken too. That was just to show how good a multi-tasking cook I can be. The chicken will take about 6-7 minutes to get done. Take them off the heat and rest them for a few minutes. Meanwhile, start the plating.

Make a generous bed of greens. Make sure that you can see the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms; adds to the treat visually. Place a slice of grilled chicken on top. Add in a couple of slices of the grilled haloumi. Et violà!

Bon appétit! 

Wifey rating: 5 burps!