Crispy Asparagus & Green Pepper Mint Vinaigrette

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When April approaches, my favourite asparagus slowly makes its way back into season to welcome, Spring. Traditional asparagus hollandaise is always a winning dish, but this time I wanted to crisp them up and add a volume of crunch! After gently rolling in egg wash I gave each asparagus a light roll in bread crumbs, parmesan and herbs de Provence and popped into the oven after a drizzle of olive oil. Fresh out of the oven, I bit into the golden asparagus and immediately fell in love with the rough texture and flavour. The parmesan adds that great saltness and the herbs, all kinds of freshness while the double coating gives maximum texture to ensure that desired crunch.

The crispy asparagus can be eaten just as they are, incorporated into a toast (impress someone for breakfast) or placed on a salad bed with that perfect 7 minute boiled egg. For a touch of acidity, I took advantage of my fresh mint and made a green pepper mint vinaigrette to drizzle on top. This makes an easy and delicious easter friday starter that takes under 30 minutes to create! 

Crispy Asparagus & Mint vinaigrette

Crispy asparagus: 1 bunch asparagus (about 8), 1/2dl flour, 1 egg, 1dl parmesan, 1 dl breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon Provence herbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil
Pre heat oven to 200 celsius degrees.

Chop the woody ends of the asparagus and clean if needed. In a minigrip bag, add the flour , asparagus and shake until they are lightly coated

On a large plate: break the egg. On another plate, add breadcrumbs, cheese and ground herb

Baking tray lined with parchment paper
Dip each asparagus into the egg, then roll gently in the flour mixture. Place onto oven dish and drizzle with olive oil on top. Bake for 12-15 minutes until crispy
Salad bed: Spinach leaves, grated cabbage, leek, 1 egg, chili flakes, white pepper
Finely slice some cabbage and leek and mix together with baby spinach leaves. Boil refrigerated egg for 7 minutes and half.  Sprinkle with chili flakes
Mint Green pepper vinaigrette: 1 teaspoon whole green pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, pinch fo salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 handful mint leaves
In a mortal and pestle, ground pepper and salt. Add finely chopped mint leaves and a bit of olive oil. Ground into a green paste and slowly add the remaining oil and lemon juice

 

Mediterranean Spring Tuna Salad

‘Late lunch with a friend’

Last week my friend and I decided to indulge in a fresh seared tuna salad as a welcome to the beginning of May, a great welcoming to the start of summer. This light Mediterranean lunch that is flavourful and a great dish for many occasions. The creamy beetroot gives the tuna a great companion and the pesto infused yogurt dressing beautifully coats the spinach and green leaves. The key is to use good quality pesto sauce or better yet, make it yourself if you have time! The crunchy rosemary butternut squash adds another element of sweetness while the garlic anchovy zucchini spaghetti gives that off-shore taste creating numerous dimensions to the depth. You can make the beet puree in advance along with roasting the butternut squash so this salad is really easy and tasty. This seared tuna sashimi salad is quite something and we enjoyed it with a friend of mine over a rustic glass of red last weekend!

Salad Ingredients

  • 300g tuna steak
  • assortment of green leaves
  • spinach leaves
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 Parsnip
  • garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, butter, anchovy filet
  • lemon juice
  • butternut squash (rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper)
  • paprika
  • sesame seeds
  • Mint

Beetroot puree

  • 2 large beets
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 sweet potato
  • Butter, Cream, chicken stock, salt, pepper

In a sauce pan, add butter and all the chopped ingredients. Stir gently for some minutes before adding just enough cream so all the vegetable are covered. Add a bit of chicken stock concentration. Place the lid on and lower the heat and let the gently cook until soft. Remove from heat, puree the mixture, add salt and pepper. Reheat before serving.

 

Pesto Yogurt Dressing

  • 100g greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon djion mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon good quality pesto
  • Ground black pepper/pinch of salt

*Mix all the ingredients together

Directions

Begin by roasting the butternut squash: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place the sliced butternut squash into a baking tray that is coated with olive oil, ground black pepper and chopped rosemary. Place into the oven for about 1 1/2 hour until crispy. I left the skin on for a bit of crunch.

zucchini spaghetti & parsnip: With a mandolin, grate the zucchini into spaghetti strings and shave the parsnip into longer pieces. Place into a large bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and grated garlic. Leave to marinate for about 1/2-1 hour. Before serving: cook on a medium hot pan that has a bit of butter and a finely minced anchovy as this really gives flavour to the dish. Season with a pinch of salt, stir the zucchini and parsnips for about 5 minutes so the garlic cooks throughout.

Meanwhile, you can make the beetroot puree and pesto dressing unless you do them well in advance already.

To prepare the tuna steak: Rub a bit of soy sauce on both sides. Cook each side for a few minutes on a hot pan that has butter on it. Sear the sides and make sure the flesh is raw inside.

Ready to plate: Coat the assortment of salad leaves in the pesto yogurt dressing and place on each plate. Add the zucchini, parsnip and roasted butternut squash. Add some tuna slices on top that is coated with some beetroot puree. Grind some fresh pepper and garnish this with finely chopped paprika and sesame seeds. Perhaps drizzle a bit of olive oil, soy sauce and a bit of fresh mint. Finish with a squeeze of some lemon juice.

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Country-style Potato Salmon Salad

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This country-style salad created by my sis in law brings you one step closer to summer with all its delicious ingredients. It is a modern potato salad with scandinavian vibes from the dill and smoked salmon. It is a refreshing change to traditional salads that is full of flavour and has a good balance of acidity from the apples and lemon juice. The kale is gently stirred in butter and garlic that is then tossed with all the other ingredients, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. The potatoes, radish and avocados infuse all the juices making it extra tasty and creamy. It is topped with a boiled egg, some smoked salmon and a dill packed sour cream dijon dressing.

Ingredients

  • Kale (garlic, butter)
  • boiled potatoes
  • avocado
  • smoked salmon
  • radish
  • apple
  • spring onion
  • dill
  • boiled egg
  • Black pepper/pinch of salt/ olive oil

Dressing

Mix together sour cream, original dijon mustard, dill and a bit of lemon juice

Directions

Begin by boiling the potatoes. Meanwhile, add a dollop of butter to a medium heated pan and add in the chopped kale and garlic. Stir gently for about 5 minutes until cooked. Meanwhile into a large bowl, add the chopped avocado, spring onion, radish, apple and potatoes. Mix in the kale, olive oil, black pepper, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir around so everything is coated with the juices and leave to marinate for a while you make the sour cream dressing and boil an egg. Ready to plate: Place the salad on a plate, add some rough sizes of smoked salmon, the halved egg and a drizzle of dressing on top. Add a bit more dill and ground black pepper on top.

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Grilled Asparagus & Tiger Prawn Salad

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As asparagus season has well started, they have become a staple ingredient in my spring kitchen. Today I made Mr. N and I a light lunch that is great in colour and a reminder of summer being close by. Warm salads are healthy and a great way to mix all sorts of flavours together, there are endless options. You can never go wrong with grilled asparagus though that is coated with lovely little beads of quinoa. Meanwhile, the garlic stem broccoli marries well with the spicy tiger prawns, while the tangy blue cheese gives some creamy deliciousness to it all. The crispy beet chips add a degree of crunch and the sweet blueberries give us a taste of sweet summer flavours. The salad is topped with a perfectly cooked egg with a lovely soft yolk that oozes on all the other ingredients. This combination is a lovely social dish to eat amongst friends and perfect for wine lunches!

 

Ingredients

  • Asparagus
  • Stem Broccoli (Butter, Garlic)
  • Quinoa
  • Blueberries
  • Blue Cheese
  • Tiger prawns (Chili flakes, soya sauce, turmeric, garlic)
  • 7 minute boiled egg
  • Salt/Black pepper/ Olive oil
  • Beetroot

Directions

1. Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough white bottoms and discard. (Peel tough skin away with a peeler) Brush a bit of olive oil on asparagus and cook gently on a grill. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile make the beet chips: slice the beetroot into thin slices & pat dry with kitchen paper. Place on baking tray, add salt and cook in the oven ( 160) for about 15-20 minutes until crispy. As easy as that, no oil needed!

2. Rinse the quinoa in hot water. Place to cook in a sauce pan with a bit of water and salt. Let it simmer gently until cooked throughout.

3. In a sauce pan, add butter and finely chopped garlic. Wash the stem broccoli and add to pan. Stir around for under 10 minutes until cooked. Leave al dente to keep some crunch.

4. In a hot pan, cook tiger prawns with garlic, chili flakes, soya sauce and turmeric. Toss around for a couple of minutes.

5. Boil the refrigerated egg to perfection for 7 minutes so that the yolk is soft and the white is firm.

6. Ready to plate: Combine the quinoa, asparagus, broccoli and mix well together. Add the tiger prawns, crumbled blue cheese and blueberries. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, grind some black pepper and slice the egg so the yolk spills over.

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Spring salad with a Mache Mint Pesto

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Pretty little salad…

I thought it was time to make a spring salad filled with lightly sautéed colourful vegetables and toss them around in a home-made pesto sauce. The idea for this dressing came by random, I happened to have a large bush of mint and mache salad leaves left over from the weekend so I decided to build a pesto around them. It ended up being a delicious add-on to the veges, a really unique and refreshing combination. It is the pesto that really makes this dish, the simplicity of it all makes it great! Of course, you can use any seasonal vegetables, but I just love the way the green cauliflower looks, so I feel that is a must. Asparagus season is slowly starting, I feel that would work fabulously in the mix as well. During the summer you could add fresh summer peas, rustic radish or even grilled appricots. This recipe is too easy to make and no fuss needed what so ever. It makes a great light lunch or simple dinner that looks just as pretty as it tastes. You could serve it alongside a grilled whole fish, roasted chicken or a big old steak.

Salad ingredients

  • Green cauliflower
  • grated garlic
  • 1 large shallot
  • Baby carrots
  • candy stripe beetroot
  • thick feta cheese
  • fresh mint leaves
  • ground black pepper
  • grated nutmeg

Mint & Mache Pesto

  • 2 cups mint
  • 2 cups mache salad leaves
  • 1 grated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons thick greek yogurt (or creme fraiche)
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoon pine nuts
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • pinch of salt/ ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Blend together until smoothie and frothy. Add in more yogurt or oil if the consistency is too thick.

Salad Directions

Add a dollop of butter to a medium heated sauce pan. Grate in some garlic and finely chopped shallot. Stir gently for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped green cauliflower and sliced carrots/beets. Add in a pinch of salt, ground black pepper and grated nutmeg. Stir around and cook the vegetables until al dente, so they remain crunchy. Ready to plate: Serve hot with a generous amount of pesto mixed into it. Crumble some feta cheese. Add fresh mint, black pepper and lime juice if needed.

 

Elegant Summer Lunch

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” Is there nothing better than dry champagne & a perfectly cooked tuna steak”

Are you thinking about having friends over for dinner or brunch? or trying to impress your love? This brunch menu is sexy and modern, perfect for the blooming spring time.

With soft jazz playing in the background my friend and I enjoyed this delicious 1st of May brunch. We were drinking dry champagne, I love the feeling as the bubbles hit my lips making me feel festive and alive!  My dear friend was over for brunch, so I intended the food to be fresh, elegant and light. This menu makes a perfect summer dinner party menu leaving your guests impressed! You can whip up this number quite easily and a lot of the preparations can be done in advance leaving a lot of the time to entertain your guests!

Spring Menu

  • Pomegranate green asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
  • Tuna steak with spring vegetables & lime vinaigrette

As my friend pours another glass of moet, I begin preparing the appetizers. To make the asparagus with hollandaise sauce, find the easy and quick recipe from here. I garnished the asparagus with pomegranate seeds & a tiny bit of the juice. The taste is light and citrus while the hollandaise adds a comforting creamy background.

Preparations to be done in advance: Clean the asparagus & wrap nicely in baking pepper. Also remove the seeds from the pomegranate as this is the messy part. Place into a glass, cover it and refrigerate. All in all, this dish takes under 7 minutes to make!

How to make the tuna steak?

Begin by marinating the tuna steak in light soy sauce and Chinese marinade & refrigerate for about 2 hours. Meanwhile pre-boil your new potatoes until they are almost cooked, leave them al dente though as you will fry them later. Remove the tuna from the fridge about half an hour before cooking.

Begin by making the seasonal vegetables. In a hot pan, add a bit of butter and place in sugar peas, chopped garlic and the pre-boiled new potatoes that have been halved. Add in some salt and pepper. Stir gently. Meanwhile, fry the tuna on a hot cast iron pan for about 3 minutes on each side. Make sure the centre is raw as you want to do justice to the glorious fish! Grind fresh black pepper on top and give a good pinch of Maldon salt on both sides. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top & sprinkle some spring onions. Ready to plate. Place the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, add the tuna on top and add some mache leaves with a fresh vinaigrette and grated raw yellow beets.

To make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl squeeze some lime juice. Mix in brown sugar, olive oil and a bit of thick balsamic. Mix it all together and refrigerate before serving.

Preparations to be done in advance: Make the vinaigrette, grate the beets, chop garlic & wash green leaves. The great thing about this menu is that little time goes in the actual cooking process so you can spend time entertaining your guests. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and indulge in the fun of cooking!

 

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