Sunday, January 13, 2013

Excited anticipation or stuffed onions as dinner

During one of the last days of my Christmas holidays in Madrid I went to a gorgeous library which is specialized in books about fotography, graphic design, art... but they also have selected works from other fields and this is where this book fell into my clutches:

Admittedly, I never heard about Yotam Ottolenghi before but I instantly liked  his book. The recipes seemed to be different, great variety and sorted according to vegetable groups, lovely graphic design, and mix of the mayor influences from the Mediterranean.

That day I didn't buy the book, fearing it would add too much weight to my luggage so I ordered it the same night from an online book store. Not even a week back home, the delivery came and I decided to go for the dish which caught my attention at first:

Stuffed onions.

On the picture they were laying, nicely stuffed + browned, and ready to eat.

Well, bought all ingredients and set to work. Then I realized: I never asked myself how to obtain single onion layers. In a whole. 3-4 from one onion. And I can tell you, that was a very complicated process - but let's start with the ingredients (according to Yotam Ottolenghi, El gourmet vegetariano, 2012 RBA Libros S.A.):

-for 4 persons

butter to butter the casserole

500ml vegetable consommé
350ml white wine
4 big onions
3 small tomatos
120g breadcrumbs
90g crumbled feta
80g chopped parsely
3EL olive oil, + some more to refine once the onions will be served
2 garlic cloves
3 spring onions cut into julienne (small stripes)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°. Take an ovenproof dish and butter it.

2. Pour the consommé and the white wine into a medium sized pot and bring it to the boil. In the meantime cut off 5mm of the superior and inferior part of the onions. Cut them once at the center to peel of the brown skin. [Up to this point, more than easy]. Little by little, extract the onion heart (keep them to give them another use) and conserve 2 or 3 layers. [This is where my fight started: how to get out the heart? I tried with pushing, and if I was lucky I could see a tiny bump at the other end. It worked a bit better with the help of a spoon, and I managed to squeeze of the inner part. The next 2-3 layers were scraped out. For the trickiest part I carefully separated the layers with the back of the spoon and twirstend and turned them until there was a way to get them out of the outer layer. That took my quite a while. Yotam, if you should ever come across this blog, please reveal your secret. How to do this with less effort? Any other hints from you readers are of course also welcome ;). My conclusion: might work better with less solid (young?) onions.].

Cook the layers in the boiling consommé (not all of them at one time) for 3-4minutes until they are soft. [Needless to say that I had to cut off the cooker, otherwise the consommé would have boiled silently away :o)] Drain well and let them cool down. Keep the consommé.

3. To prepare the filling, shred the tomatos with a cheese grater (the skin will remain, throw away). Put the shred tomato into a big bowl and add the breadcrumbs, the crumbled feta, the parsley, olive oil, the garlic, the spring onions, salt and some black pepper.

4. Fill the onions abundantly with the filling. Put together the ends of each onion [as you can see on my foto that was impossible in my case. At the end it wasn't a problem at all. Together with the butter and the cosommé, the onions did not stick to the dish at all] and place them with this end down in the buttered dish. Pour some 75mls of the consommé to cover the ground of the dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the onions are soft and have browned a bit and the filling is cooked. You may add some more consommé, when the onions get try during baking.
Sprinkle with some olive oil and serve immediately.
Aren't they looking good? :) And yes, with their juicy-yummie filling, the breadcrumbs and as so often the parsely as highlight for rounding it off they were worth the effort.

I served them with lamb's lettuce and some fresh white bread - delicious.

Enjoy the rest of the sunday and be careful with easy looking onion recipes ;)


Monday, January 7, 2013

Lentejas - o te las comes o las dejas

Yes, there might be more glamorous food in the world like lentils - but I like them :) Additionally, this is a very simple and tasty receipe coming from Castile and Leon (Spain) where they eat a lot of pulses.

In Spanish, this dish is called "lentejas a la hortelana", meaning garden style lentils referring to the carrots, paprika, potato and leek which are common in this area.

What gives the finishing touch is "pimentón", ground dried paprika. Mine is from Andalucia, but maybe even more famous for it's pimentón production in an area of Extremadura, called "pimentón de la Vera". I bought there some "agridulce" (bittersweet) pimentón, which I didn't use for this receipe, I like the sweet one better in here.


All the ingredients you'll need for this perfect winter dish you have already seen, here they come as a list:

200gr lentils
2 carrots
1 potato
1 leek
0,5 green paprika

1 bay leave
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of pimentón dulce

Olive Oil

  1. Clean the vegetables and cut them into cubes. Fill them together with the lentils, clove of garlic, bay leave and a teaspoon of pimentón dulce into a cooking pot.
  2. Add water until all vegetables are well covered. Add a splash of olive oil and some salt.
  3. Put the lid on the pot and bring the vegetables to boil.
  4. After they have boiled for some minutes, turn down the heat and simmer them for round about 30minutes (try the lentils to see if they are done) 

Well, here's the result - and a confession: when I tried to take a picture of the lentils, I noticed, my camera had run out of battery. I choose to follow the headline of this post, meaning "either you eat them or you don't".

How about you - do you like lentils?

Have a good night,


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hello world and how I tried my new "Epicurean"

Hello world,

How exciting to start a new year with a new project: Welcome to "the vodka smash kitchen"! During this Christmas holidays I spend some time surfing and came across amazing food blogs and I thought, well, why not give it a try?

So here we go and the first post -surprisingly- is not about food, but about a simple appliance, a new cutting board (one of the Christmas gifts, of course).

It seems I have to change them every few month because the become ugly, have deep cuts, the wooden ones bend (does that happen to you too or is it just me?). So I decided to put the cutting board onto my wishlist and found a one called Epicurean underneath the tree.

Back home I worked up all my courage, took it to the kitchen, put out the bread and the knife and when seeing the nasty blade, well... I cut it on a plate instead - and the cutting board remained immaculate

And this eventhough it came with helpful instruction (written by the seller himself), explaining how to "renew" the cutting board once the signs of use become visible.

Luckily, I overcame the fraidy-cat-symptom the same night and cut celery root, potatos and savoy cabbage on it. And yes, I was rewarded: easy and smooth movements with the blade, and no resistance from the board. Cleaning was easy too and until now it almosts seems unused.

Not a big profit the dish itself (potato-celery root purée with savoy cabbage in a horsereddish-cream sauce): both, celery and savoy cabbage flavorless and no way how to enhance this (any tips, maybe? ;)). Next (successfull) dish can be found here. Promise!

Apart from that: I am happy with my present (thanks Mom! ;)).

Enough for today & time to close my frist blog entry. I think I like this a lot :)

Have a good day!

If you're curious to see whatelse they do, here is the link to the manufacturer: Epicurean