Summer Barbecue Food

Come summer I start rooting for barbecue. We both love any kind of barbecued food from delicious meat in Sarajevo to wild-caught fish in Istria  where we have our summer retreat.

We’re not known to be early birds so we might come to fishmongers’ too late to be offered a vast selection of daily catch. When there’s no fish (or squid or prawns or scampi) to choose from we turn to butchers’ instead. Continue reading “Summer Barbecue Food”

Citrus and Booze Slush

Homemade frozen delight for adults only

How come I never heard about it before? Slush, as bizarre as a food name can be, is my summer favourite if I ever had one. Made of freshly squeezed citrus juice, a little bit of sugar and some liquor, it has summer written all over it.

Pink grapefruit slush in a glass - a perfect summer refreshment
Nothing beats a glass of frozen delight a.k.a. citrus slush on a hot summer’s day (or night)

This slush is made of very staple ingredients so with a little luck you’re all set to give it a go. As a matter of fact, recently, with a leftover ½ litre of pink grapefruit juice in my fridge, I sat down in front of my computer to check David Lebovitz’s site for a recipe how to use it up, and guess what? Continue reading “Citrus and Booze Slush”

Just Another Autumn

Autumn may righteously be the season of harvest and filling up the granaries. It may be a synonym for plenty but just as much it is foreplay to an unfruitfulness of winter. Besides, it’s an overture to the bleak season of cold and also, more and more, a playground on which the Mad Men are planting the seedlings of spending, climaxing in the actual end-of-the-year festive craze. Practically, if you pay attention to detail, the so-called Christmas season starts in September (the glossies start their jewellery editorials back then and home&garden sections of supermarkets start to display rather casually the first shiny decorations for sale). Do you comply?

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I don’t. I prefer to stick to the bright colours reminiscent of summer albeit in autumn the sun doesn’t shine often enough and when it does it’s regretfully for a couple of hours only. So, when it does come out you better grab the opportunity and plan something nice outdoors. A simple walk does the trick. It lifts up the spirits like a charm.

Reinventing summer colours when knee-deep in autumn can be easy even if you don’t feel like going out and just want to stay at home (like one of my dearest friends who can’t have enough of staying at home with the crazy work schedule of hers) and watch the sunset from the cosiness of your residence. It’s absolutely fine. Tune in!

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First, you can start with a glass of something cold and sparkling.

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Start cooking! The peppers are still on offer at the farmers’ market (however, less and less, it’s getting too cold for them at our latitude) and they’re the ultimate summer vegetable (or is it fruit?). Their opulent shades of orange and red are invigorating.

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What you see in the photo above is a bed of peppers (when exactly did the word bed get to be involved in food vocabulary?) that was in the next step topped with a few cuts of chicken and roasted in the oven. It’s based on Thomasina Miers’ lovely last summer’s recipe for Marseille-style roast chicken. What made me save that recipe were the peppers because I usually roast my chicken with lemon halves and potatoes but every household needs a diversion now and then from one fail-safe dish to another. I did add the lemon halves to this one too.

Do not let the title of this post mislead you. Actually, I don’t mind autumn at all. Not at all, when it’s this gorgeous.

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It Rains Cats and Dogs

Woohoo, Ice Saints, you brought it on all right! It’s been raining for the past few days like crazy. In this part of the world, the 11th, 12th and 13th of May are presided over by the three saints, St. Boniface, St. Pancras and St. Servatius that bring us what are most-likely the last cold days of the season (typically, bad weather and cold are the norm of these days). For tomorrow a significant drop in temperature is forecast, so, folks, St. Sophia might be kept busy as well. After that, it’s all roses, right?

Apropos the rain, here’s a funny thing I noticed in Gioia magazine:

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I checked the web and I can report that, yes, a Raindrop Cake is a real thing. It seems it’s turning into something quite popular. I find it rather strange though. But who am I to judge? Let people eat whatever they want, I’ll have a slice of my rhubarb pie as soon as it cools down a bit. Wanna see?

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This is a great dessert! The ingredients are a no-nonsense and what people usually stock at home. Thus, it’s doable even on the rainiest of days when the last thing you’d want is a run to the store. It’s basically down to butter, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder and lemon zest plus topping. I use a recipe from this entry by The Wednesday Chef with some tweaks. That recipe never really worked for me as a crostata because for some reason the dough doesn’t get firm enough but I tweak it into a pie that is just marvellous. My version of that recipe would read like this (I hope The Wednesday Chef doesn’t mind):

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Mix together 150 grams of sugar with 150 grams of softened butter. To this add 2 eggs, the grated peel of a lemon, 200 grams of flour (depending, you might need up to 50 grams more) and half a packet of baking powder. Pat the dough out in a buttered spring-form pan and cover the dough with jam of your choice (we sometimes thin the jam with a glug of brandy over low heat before spreading it on the dough). Bake until golden-brown and the jam is bubbling, 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before eating.

Sometimes, like today, I use fresh fruit instead of jam. Although I was planning to use up the bergamot jam (yes, I’m still in the citrus compulsive-obsessive period) I decided to employ the pretty rhubarb stalks before they withered.

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I usually poach the fruit quickly before arranging it on the dough. I tried it several times with either apples, peaches or quinces to a great avail. There’s lots of room for playing with the fruit if you’re willing: you can add vanilla, rose water or spice it up with brandy or cointreau while poaching it). But using jam is plainly and straightforwardly rewarding too.

I couldn’t care less if it rained for another whole day. With a slice of this pie on my plate (and a number of them to follow) I’m on the safe side.

The Spring Delights

It’s odd how we all wait rather impatiently for springtime year in, year out although, when it finally arrives, it’s not as pleasant a time as it seems when we’re knee deep in bleakness and greyness and darkness of autumn and winter that seem to last forever.

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First, you’re hit by summer time. Over night, you’re left bereft of one whole hour of sleep.

Then, there’s the spring fever that translates into unexpected loss of energy. Everything around you bursts to life again, revived and all, whereas you couldn’t feel more oxymoronic about it.

And, if you’re lucky, there’s more: a seasonal allergy. (I refuse to refer to it as hay fever: it’s months to the stage of hay.) It’s been a real pain in the arse – for the lack of a more illustrative word, and it’s been my first one, too, so I can’t really imagine how other people cope with it for a lifetime. There’s no other way, I know, but to endure.

In spite of all that, I force myself to go running. Thankfully, I’m grown up enough to appreciate the fact that once I’m out there it’s all good, it’s just the initial push that makes it so hard.

I drag my legs behind me as if they were made of stone. I’m as slow as a snail but I do carry on with it. Kilometre after kilometre. As much as I’m looking forward to finish it off, truth be told, it’s not only torturous. I tend to look out for nice things along the way too. I’m in utter awe, for example, at Mrs Nature’s and her daughter Miss Flora’s capabilities to provide wonders day by day.

I stop to smell this beauty. Pure essence of spring. Makes me feel a tad bit more energetic.

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When I return home I make myself a nice nourishing bowl of yoghurt to replenish. It is not only good for me, my body, it’s a delight for the eye as well.

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This little meal is all I need after a run and it’s easy to prepare. Basically, I add a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt to a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta and top it up with a spoonful of homemade preserved cranberries. I always have a jar of preserved wild cranberries at hand. I simply love them. I guess it’s a combination of sweet and sour and a hint of tart that makes the preserve special. Apart from the fact that I make it myself. I buy them fresh in late summer when they’re available at our local market. Some are cooked to a preserve immediately, some are frozen and used up throughout the winter and spring when needed.

Depending on the mood (and the amount of hunger) I might add some rolled oats and/or linseed. Since I’m crazy about lemons right now  I add a couple of strings of lemon zest. More colour and more aroma. Yum.

After this I just might feel more in favour of spring.