Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Broccoli and Cheese Muffins #MuffinMonday

Cheesy muffins with broccoli make the perfect addition to a brunch menu.  They are equally welcome alongside a bowl of soup for a light lunch or dinner. 

Happy Sunday!  Your eyes are not deceiving you and don't bother to check your calendar thinking you have missed a day.  It is indeed a muffin recipe a day early.  Because this is a special week here at Food Lust People Love.  IT'S CHRISTMAS WEEK!  Which means that I have joined with a group of like-minded bloggers to bring you prizes to win from our generous sponsors and loads of great Christmasy recipes.  We'll have sweet and we'll have savory but we'll all have delicious!  It starts tomorrow so come on back and I hope to see you munching one of these wonderful cheesy broccoli muffins as you sign up for the giveaways!

3 1/2 oz or 100g fresh broccoli florets
Drizzle olive oil
2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Few good grinds of fresh black pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon)
8 1/2 oz or 240g extra sharp cheddar
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60ml sunflower or canola oil
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (We prefer Lea & Perrins.)

Cut your broccoli florets into tiny florets and chop the stem bits into small pieces.   Pan-fry them in a non-stick pan with a drizzle of olive oil for a just a few minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your 12-cup muffin pan liberally with canola, butter or non-stick spray.  I don’t recommend using muffin liners when baking with cheese because the muffins are hard to remove from the paper.

Grate your cheese.  Put aside a large handful of about one ounce or 25g for topping the muffins.  When the broccoli is cool enough to handle, count out 12 small florets for decorating the muffin tops and set aside with the handful of cheese.

Put your flour, baking powder, pepper and salt in a large bowl.  Add in the grated cheese and stir.

Now add the bulk of the cooled broccoli and stir to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the oil, milk and eggs and Worcestershire sauce.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.  This is a really stiff batter, almost a dough.  But trust.  When the muffins bake, all that cheese is going to melt and you will end up with lovely tender muffins.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Top each with some reserved cheese and a tiny floret of broccoli.

Bake in your preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

All done!

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins from the pan to cool completely.  If, despite liberal greasing, your muffins still stick to the pan, just run a knife around the outside of each muffin and they should pop free.

Enjoy!   See you back here tomorrow for the start of Christmas Week!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Cauliflower gives this soup body, the leeks and bacon give it flavor.  A serving of this, topped with some freshly grated Parmesan, is a bowl of warm comfort on a cold night.  It’s the perfect quick meal after days of excess. 

When I joined Facebook back in 2009, one of the first things I did was start a group for me and my friends to share our recipes.  We were going along great until Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, decided to change the format and the recipes were no longer categorized under Discussions and became jumbled in several long threads.  With all the complications, we stopped using the group.  But not before my dear friend, Jayne, had shared the tidbit that the leftover rind off a wedge of Parmesan makes a lovely addition to soup as it simmers.  (I think she was making potato and leek.)  I kicked myself at the time because I had JUST thrown one away.  But I held on to that nugget of flavorful information and have used it ever since.

You can have this delicious soup on the table in less than 30 minutes so it’s the perfect weeknight meal.  Pop some of your own homemade biscuits in the oven at the same time, and you will be dancing in the kitchen.  (Put on some music too.  Come on, live a little!)

Ingredients to serve two very generously and four you have bread or biscuits to go with.
1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 lb or 500g)
4-5 small leeks or 2-3 large ones (about 1 lb or 500g)
2-3 slices smoked bacon
Olive oil
1 stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
1 rind Parmesan cheese (optional but recommended)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup or 80ml cold milk
1 heaped tablespoon cornstarch or cornflour
Sea salt, to taste at the end

To serve: Freshly grated Parmesan for each bowl (optional but highly recommended)

Cut the large stem off the cauliflower and then cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.

Cut the root ends and the hard green bits off the leeks and discard.  (Or save in scrap and peel bag in freezer for making homemade stock later.)

Now split the leeks in half lengthwise.

Run them under cold water, separating the layers to clean all the dirt off from inside.  This is very important because even one little piece of grit you leave behind will mess up the whole pot.

Chop the leeks into small pieces and set aside.  Slice the bacon into little pieces as well.  Fry the bacon with a drizzle of olive oil, in a pot large enough for all of your eventual soup.

When the bacon is crispy, add in the leeks and give the whole thing a stir and cook for a few minutes or until the leeks have softened.

Now add in the cauliflower florets and stir again.

Add water enough to cover the vegetables, add your stock cube and bring the pot to a boil.

If you are fortunate to have a Parmesan rind, peel off any plastic and pop it in the pot when the stock cube goes in.  Turn it down to simmer and put on a lid partially covering the pot.

Make sure to take the wax or plastic off of your Parmesan rind. 

The soup is almost done when the cauliflower is soft enough for your liking.   Add the cornstarch to your cold milk and stir until the cornstarch has completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into your pot, stirring constantly.  Bring the soup back to the boil and let it thicken a little.   Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  (If you aren’t adding grated Parmesan to each bowl, check the taste and add salt to your taste.  Otherwise, remember that Parmesan is pretty salty and be conservative with the salt.)

Serve with extra grated Parmesan for each bowl.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beef Steak Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Topside steaks, grilled medium rare and sliced thinly, add delicious color and protein to a green dinner salad dressed with orange vinaigrette. Oranges add a fresh touch to any vinaigrette. They go especially well with thinly sliced purple onions to dress your favorite salad greens.

A couple of months back I received an email from a company in Australia that exports organic beef to Dubai. The nice woman on the other end expressed the hope that I would like their beef and tell my readers about it. Now, I have to say, organic isn’t that crucial to me, but after further research, I discovered that OBE Organic Australia’s beef is also grassfed and free range.

I mean genuinely free range with more than a square kilometer a head. And that is something I could support.

I was delighted to read that it is sold not at some specialty store but in one of my favorite places to shop, the hypermarket Carrefour. After further correspondence, I was offered a Carrefour gift card to make the purchase. Well, that was a kind offer but if I am going to give you, my readers, my honest impression of the beef, I decided that I needed to buy it myself. After all, we’ve got to eat dinner too, right? When I declined the gift card personally, I asked if I could have it to give away to my Dubai readers and my request was granted. So off I went to buy some beef!

The Carrefour nearest my house (Mirdiff City Centre) had a small selection. Just some topside steak and a few ribeyes, both quite thinly cut. I spoke to the butcher who was very helpful and he pulled a whole enormous piece of meat out of the refrigerator in the back and accommodatingly cut me two thicker steaks of the topside. Together the steaks weighed about 500g or a little over one pound in weight and cost Dhs. 36 or about US$10. That’s five dollars a steak.  For those of you not in Dubai, that’s extremely reasonable for here, especially for organic free-range beef. So the price was good, but would it be tasty?

Now, almost any meat is good in a stew where you can cook it until it’s tender. For me the best test is to season it lightly and grill it, either over some hot coals or on a cast iron grill pan. So I sprinkled the steaks with a little white vinegar, which is my way with beef, and some sea salt flakes and black pepper. And I cooked them till medium rare and sliced them thinly. The verdict: Tasty and tender.

I now have in my hot little hands a Carrefour gift card worth Dhs. 100 that I would like to share with my Dubai readers, courtesy of OBE Organic Australia.   Please leave me a comment on this post saying what area of Dubai you live in and what you would make with OBE beef if you won the gift card, and I will use a randomizer to choose a winner two weeks from now on Thursday, 17 October.  Be sure to sign in using a valid email (will not be published) so I can contact you when you win.

If you’d like to go give us both a Like on Facebook, it would be much appreciated.  Click on these links.

                  OBE Organic Australia                   Food Lust People Love  

To learn more about OBE Organic Australia, head on over to their website.

Just FYI, there is a bigger selection of OBE beef at the Carrefour at Mall of the Emirates and perhaps I just caught Mirdiff on an off day.  But if you don’t see what you want, be sure to ask the helpful butchers. All of their beef is also halal.

For the rest of you worldwide, my apologies about the gift card but I do have a simple but delicious recipe to share and I hope you will forgive me.

Beef Steak Salad with Orange Vinaigrette - Click here to print

Ingredients to serve two
2 topside steaks – approximately 500g or 17 oz
2 Mandarin oranges
1/2 small purple onion
1/8 cup or 30ml red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup or 30ml olive oil
4 oz or 100g packet arugula or rocket  (This doesn’t sound like much by weight but it’s a good size package of leaves!)

Season your meat by sprinkling it lightly with white vinegar, sea salt flakes and black pepper.

(I have a specific vinegar bottle for these occasions, with a couple of slits poked in the plastic lid.
The lid with holes
Use a knife or ice pick to make a sprinkler of yours, but do be careful.)  Cover with cling film and set aside for at least half an hour.  This allows the meat to lose the worse of the chill, if not to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile slice your onion very thinly.  Peel the oranges and cut the hard center off of each peg.  Remove the seeds.  Cut the orange pegs into two pieces.

Pile the onions and cut oranges into a small bowl and add about a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt flakes and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.  Add the vinegar and olive oil.  Mix and set aside.  The juice of the oranges will make this into a beautifully fresh dressing.

Rinse your greens thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner.  If you don’t own a salad spinner, put them in a clean dish towel and pull all the ends together.  Go outside and swing your arm around and around until the water stops flying out.  Sure, the neighbors might look at you funny, but you are going to have steak for dinner. Forget them!

When you are about ready to eat, turn on your vent hood extraction fan, because cooking the steak can get smoky.   Heat your griddle pan till very hot and cook the steaks on high for about three minutes and then turn them over.

Cook for another three minutes then turn them back to the first side for another minute, but change the angle to create the grid pattern.

Now turn them again for the last minute.  If you are keeping track, this adds up to about four minutes a side and is going to give you medium rare to rare steak.  Add a minute or two to each side total for medium. You really don’t want to cook this any more than that or it will probably get tough. Nothing to do with the OBE beef but everything to do with topside. This is not the most tender cut but that’s why I chose it. More valid test!

Remove from the heat and allow to rest for about five minutes.

To serve, slice the beef very thinly and pile on top of your salad greens.  Or arrange them very nicely.  Your choice.  Drizzle your vinaigrette all around on the greens and then add the oranges and onions.  Put salt and pepper on the table in case anyone wants to add just a little more.

Top photo is more casual and this one is arranged fancy.  Either one is delicious! 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pan-fried Chicken with Bacon and Asparagus

A great, quick one-pan meal: pan-fried chicken with bacon, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, black olives and basil. Deliciousness on your plate in under 20 minutes! When you pan-fry chicken with bacon, the resulting salty stickiness creates its own delectable sauce, especially when you add a little butter and white wine at the end.

Back in 2002, I met a new love. He was witty and adorable in a crooked-tooth sort of way with a cocky grin and an easy manner that drew me in. We met almost daily, me with pen and paper in hand, ready to take down the words of deliciousness and technique that tumbled from his rosy lips as easily as his broad sunshiny smile.

It was the start of a beautiful relationship that added joy and laughter and good food to my life that has continued to this day. And he is not just a pretty face that could cook! Oh, no! He is also a philanthropist, educating young, at-risk men and women so they can earn their way and learn to be part of a team, bringing misfits into the fold of the tight culinary world.

He also aspires to get the world cooking healthy meals for their families and to bringing real food into the lunchrooms of schools, to better nourish and educate our growing children.

So I guess you all know I am talking about Jamie Oliver, right? Anybody else in love with him too?

Our Sunday Supper theme this week is one-pot meals and two of my favorites come from a single episode of Jamie’s show Oliver Twist, which first aired in 2003. Unfortunately the original has been taken off the internet. I make today’s dish almost exactly as written, only increasing amounts depending how many are coming for dinner.

Substitutions and variations
I’ve also been know to substitute fine green beans for the asparagus when they are out of season or hard to come by. The ingredient amounts are flexible, depending on your appetite so, by all means, if your pan is big enough, add more tomatoes or asparagus (or green beans) if you are extra hungry. I also use my huge non-stick pan to make this for four or six, doubling or tripling the amounts you see here.

Pan-fried Chicken with Bacon and Asparagus

Ingredients to serve two
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 slices smoked bacon, preferably thick cut
2 good handfuls asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed off (or substitute green beans)
16 cherry tomatoes
10 Kalamata olives, stones left in
Handful basil leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup or 60ml dry white wine

Cut the thick end of the chicken breast into three relatively even pieces. I loved this trick when I first saw it and use it in other recipes now. It helps the breast cook faster and more evenly since the thick part is cooked when the thin part is. Season the breasts on both sides with a generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a large (at least 12in or 30cm wide) non-stick frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil. Put the chicken breasts in, round side down and pan-fry for two to three minutes or until the breasts are a lovely golden brown.

Turn the breasts over and lay one folded bacon strip on top of each. Add the asparagus, tomatoes and olives into the pan.

When the other side of the chicken is golden, which takes just a couple of minutes, carefully flip the chicken breast back to the other side, along with the bacon. You want the bacon to crisp up. It took mine only four minutes, so keep an eye on it. Your heat should still be up high so that the asparagus and tomatoes get a little charred on the bottom. Toss them around gently with tongs.

Turn the chicken back over so the bacon is on top again and add your basil and the butter. Add in the white wine and remove from the heat.

Give the whole pan a gentle shake so the wine and melted butter mix and the basil wilts. Jamie suggests smashing a few tomatoes to make a sauce, but I find that the sauce is lovely just as is from the butter and white wine and the sticky bits from the pan-frying bacon and chicken.


This is not only a great one-pot meal, but it lives up to the name of Jamie’s episode title, which was Flash in the Pan. I timed this and from the moment I cut the first chicken breast until the photo when I am dripping on the sauce on the plate, was 18 minutes!

If you’d love to see all the other great one-pot wonders the Sunday Supper group have for you this week, join me and our host, the talented Amy Kim from kimchi MOM,  and click on the links below.
Take the chill off” Chilis, Soups, and Starters
“Put meat on your bones” Stews
“Make room for seconds” Main Dishes
“Can’t say no” Desserts

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fresh Artichokes with Shrimp Stuffing

I was just Skype type-chatting with my sweet husband, who is in Houston.  I said, “Where are you sleeping?” because he is there on business and, even in Houston, that usually means some hotel or another because of meetings first thing in the morning at said hotel.  His response, “I slept in our bed last night,” made tears jump into my eyes.  He was in our home in Houston.  And suddenly I was more homesick than I can express.  And then he told me he spent two hours last night visiting with my mother and he’ll spend tonight with his mom.   Oh, man.

Do you ever have moments like that?  Where you just WANT TO GO HOME?  You know, it doesn’t matter that where I live IS home and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but sometimes it just comes over me that I want to go home, home. 

 The most vivid memory of when this happened to me was when I was pregnant with younger daughter.  We had a beautiful house just outside of Paris and Spring was springing (She was due in July.) and all should have been well with my world.  But all I could think about was going home.  With a capital H.  I wanted my mother and my sisters and family and Houston.  At that point, we didn’t have a house in Houston to call our own.  It was definitely the people.  I think it still is.

I tried to express my feelings back then, and choked up.  Tears welled in my eyes.  I figured it was hormones but there was no denying the desire for my mom and Houston.  My dear husband, bless him, said, “Go.”  I booked the tickets for me and elder daughter, then two years old, faster than you can blink.  I don’t even remember how long we stayed, 1 week, 10 days, two weeks?  But it was enough.  I returned to Paris, sated.  Ready for the rest of my pregnancy and delightedly waiting for our new little one.  I also rested comfortably in the knowledge that my mother was coming out to visit two weeks after the baby was expected.  An impending visit always helps.

Meanwhile, I have been cooking up a storm in preparation for my trip to visit our daughters during their university spring break.  I can’t leave dear husband without meals!  So far, I have in the freezer: 

Tomato borlotti beans with smoked pork chop/rice – 2
Linguine with Bolognaise Sauce– 2
Salmon with spicy couscous – 3
Spicy Thai Pork Meatballs with egg noodles – 2
 Penne with shrimp and blue cheese - 3
Eggplant Parmigiana – 2
Greens and Pea Manicotti – 2
Lasagna – 3
Shrimp curry with rice - 3
Artichokes with shrimp stuffing – 3 (not a full dinner each since they are small but tasty)

I have had so many things on the stove or the cutting board at once that I didn’t even attempt to record the process, except for the last item.  Artichokes are in season here and I cannot resist.  We are talking LE1.25 the last time I was in Carrefour which is about 20 US cents per artichoke!  They are practically paying me to take them home, people!  

So, shrimp stuffed artichokes.  Hold on to your butter dish!  These are tasty!

4 fresh artichokes
2 3/4 oz or 80g butter
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
16 large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
5 slices of sandwich bread
3 1/2 oz or 100g feta cheese
Small handful flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cayenne (optional)
1 egg

Cut the stem and the top couple of inches off of the artichoke.  Rub the cut ends with half of the lemon to keep them from turning brown.

Trim the pointy ends of the lower leaves with a pair of scissors and rub with the lemon.

Steam the artichokes, stem end up for about 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, chop your onion and garlic and then sauté them in half the butter with a generous drizzle of olive oil to keep the butter from burning.

When the artichokes are done, remove them the heat and leave them to cool slightly.  When they have cooled enough to handle, gently separate the leaves and use a small spoon to scoop out the fuzzy, inedible choke.  

Chop your shrimp into small pieces.   Salt and pepper liberally.  Add some cayenne if you like things spicy. 

As your onions and garlic get soft, slice your bread into small cubes.  Add in the other half of the butter to the pan.

Chop your parsley, separating the stems from the leaves.   Add the chopped stems to the onions and garlic.  Give the pan a quick stir and then tip in the chopped shrimp.

Cook for just four to five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the cubed bread and use two wooden spoons to gently toss the bread in the olive oil, garlic and butter.

Put the mixture into a mixing bowl so it can cool slightly and preheat your oven to 350F° or 180°C.

Meanwhile, use a fork to crumble your feta. (This feta came from my new Bible study friend, Natalia’s husband’s company.  They make all kinds of wonderful cheeses including Brie, Camembert and a lovely goat cheese, all of which we love.  If you live nearby and want to order, check out their website  It’s a family run business owned by lovely people who make great cheese.)  

Add the feta into the mixing bowl.  Add in the egg and cayenne, if using.

Juice your remaining lemon half and add about half of the juice to the stuffing.  Add in the chopped parsley leaves and give the whole thing a good stir.

Using a spoon, fill the artichokes.   Put them into a baking pan and liberally drizzle all the artichokes with olive oil.  Make sure to get some in the outer leaves as well as over the stuffing.

Bake for 30 minutes or until lovely and golden.  Drizzle the remaining lemon juice into the outer leaves. 

This is delicious AND fun to eat.