Topless Burgers

Topless Burgers

Time: 45 mins
Effort: Easy

1 lb ground lean beef, veal and pork
Freshly ground pepper, salt to taste
1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
1 goat cheese log (large enough to make 4 thick slices)
1/2 cup Ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
4 large portobello mushrooms, washed, stems removed
1 tsp olive oil
2 large hamburger buns or kaiser rolls sliced into two, so you'll have 4 pieces.
Lettuce for garnish

Make 4 even patties from the ground meats, season with salt & pepper. Put aside. Mix ketchup, worcestershire sauce, tabasco and dijon. Put aside for later. Slice goat cheese into 4 equal rounds, place on a plate at room temperature. In a large skillet, add olive oil and onions, gently saute until they are evenly browned - approx. 10 minutes. Heat BBQ to high, grill burgers to desired doness. Meanwhile grill mushrooms on both sides. When meat is done, place a round of goat cheese on each one, close BBQ cover and grill until cheese is slightly melted. 

Place the rolls on a plate or serving platter. (You'll have two bottoms and two tops each acting as a bottom). Spread a little of the sauce, then add a hamburger patty with the cheese, add a bit of the onions, top with a portobello mushroom and a bit more sauce. 

Baked New Potatoes with Peppers and Cream

Time: 40 minutes
Effort: 1/easy

4-6 medium new potatoes, peeled & cut lengthwise into wedges
2 tbsp butter
salt to taste
1 large red pepper, cut into large pieces
1 cup 15% cooking cream

Turn oven on to 375o. In a baking dish, lay potatoes & peppers evenly. Sprinkle salt to taste, pour cream all over evenly then add small pieces of butter over the top. Bake until potatoes are cooked and slightly browned.

Bon Appetit !

Crispy Roast Chicken Thighs with Rosemary

Time: Approx. 45 mins
Effort: 1/Easy

6 chicken thighs, skin on
2 tbsp olive oil
Fresh ground sea salt, pepper to taste
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary
1 large red and/or yellow pepper cut into thick strips

Heat oven to 400o. Lay chicken thighs in a baking dish, topped with peppers. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Dribble olive oil all over and bake until golden brown and crispy. Approx. 45 minutes.

Watercress & Walnut Salad

Time: 10 mins
Effort: 1/easy

Serves 4

1 medium sized bunch fresh watercress, washed & drained, stems cut off
8 whole walnuts, toasted
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper

Place watercress in a pretty serving bowl, or individual bowls. Put walnuts on an oven proof baking tray lined with parchment paper and toast in oven on "broil" until browned on both sides, approx. 1 minute each side. Remove from oven and sprinkle with brown sugar. In a small bowl or cup add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk until blended. Drizzle over watercress and top with walnuts & remaining brown sugar.

Bon Appetit !

Seafood Bow Tie Pasta in Rose Sauce

Serves 4

Time: Approx. 35 - 45 mins
Effort: 1/Easy

2 cups medium sized bow tie pasta
4 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
16 medium to large sea scallops, patted dry
16 medium shrimp, or 8 large - raw, peeled
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 large fresh tomato, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
1 cup 15% cooking cream
Salt, coarsely ground pepper
12 asparagus spears, lightly steamed for garnish (optional)
Sliced black olives for garnish (optional)

Put 4 cups water in a large pot, sprinkle 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. While water is heating up, in a medium pot add garlic, shallots, olive oil, tomato and sun dried tomatoes. Simmer on medium to low heat until the fresh tomato is well cooked - approx. 10 minutes. Add cream, salt & pepper and simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. 
By now your water should be boiling, add 2 cups pasta and let boil for 10-12 minutes (10 minutes for "al dente" and 12 minutes for soft) while you prepare your seafood. In a medium sized skillet melt butter on high heat, add seafood and saute so that all sides of the scallops and shrimp are slightly browned. Add salt & pepper to taste..Approx. 5 minutes. Do not overcook as the scallops will become rubbery !
Drain pasta well and serve in equal portions on 4 plates. Spoon sauce generously over the pasta and top each one with equal portions of scallops and shrimp. Garnish with asparagus and black olives. 
Note: Any seafood works well with this recipe, even fish. Or, omit them all together and make it a vegetarian meal! You may also add 1/4 cup dry wine to the sauce for a bit more punch !

Bon Appetit !

Sauteed Red Peppers

Time: 20 mins
Effort: 1/ Easy

2 large red peppers sliced lengthwise into thick strips
1 large onion sliced on the diagonal
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet add olive oil, onions and peppers. Sautee on medium heat until they are all nicely browned. Add balsamic vinegar and stir until most of it has evaporated (a few minutes), add salt & pepper to taste. Delicious hot or cold !

Bon Appetit !

Peanut Dipping Sauce

Note: This recipe is obviously made with peanuts, so if you are allergic it's not for you!

Time: 5 mins
Effort: 1/Easy

3 heaping tbsp peanut butter (sweetened or not, smooth or crunchy)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sesame oil
Water as needed
Sesame seeds for garnish
In a small bowl mix all ingredients except water and sesame seeds. While blending, gradually add water so that it forms a thick paste. Serve garnished with sesame seeds. This sauce is great hot or cold !

Bon Appetit !

Pork Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Important Note: This recipe is laden with peanuts ! Not  meant for those who are allergic !!!

Time: Approx. 1 hr
Effort: 3/Medium only because there's a few things to prepare

Serves 3-4 persons
6 boneless pork loin chops, cut lengthwise into 3/4" strips (you can also use chicken, beef or lamb)
4 long bamboo skewers soaked in water
1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup toasted ground peanuts
2 tbsp black & white toasted sesame seeds

Soak bamboo skewers in water while you cut the loin into strips. Take about 3 strips and zigzag each one onto a single skewer, repeating the same with the next skewers. Place on an oven proof platter. In a bowl mix the rest of the ingredients except the peanuts and pour over the skewers to evenly coat them. Sprinkle peanuts on top. Set aside and prepare the Peanut Sauce. Once peanut sauce is done, BBQ the skewers on medium/high heat, turning frequently to desired doneness. (See BBQ chart). Remove from skewers and serve with Peanut sauce accompanied by sauteed peppers or a nice stir-fry.

Bon Appetit !

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Time: 20 mins
Effort: 1/Easy

1/2 English seedless cucumber, diced (save a few slices for garnish)
1 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup milk
1 -1/2 cups cold water
3-4 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Salt, freshly ground pepper
Put cucumber and avocado in food processor and puree until smooth and lump free. Add yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice and blend well. Whilst blending on medium speed, slowly pour in milk and water - this soup should be thick and not too watery so watch how much you put. Add salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve garnished with a slice of lemon, cucumber, cilantro and ground pepper.

Fluffy Mango Mousse

Time: 15 mins
Effort: Super easy

1 large very ripe mango, peeled & cut into chunks
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp very fine sugar (optional)
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves

In a food processor place mango chunks and blend on high speed, stopping occasionally to scrape sides. Continue blending until it is smooth and light in color, while blending slowing drip in whipping cream, lemon juice and sugar. Continue blending on high until it is whipped and very pale. Pour equal servings into little bowls or glasses & decorate with fresh mint leaves. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yummy !!

Bon Appetit !

Baked Broccoli with Arugula

Time: 25 mins
Effort: 1/ Easy

1 large bunch of broccoli, stems cut off and broken into large pieces, steamed until crisp
1 head of baby red arugula
1 cup toasted plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tsp softened butter
4 baby bib-lettuce leaves
4 slices of ripe tomato

Ring Mold
Heat oven to 375o. Lightly butter 4 stainless steel ring molds (4"x 1.75"), put aside. Arrange steamed broccoli and uncooked arugula evenly in an oven baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper then evenly sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Remove from oven. Place each ring mold on a separate plate and insert 1 lettuce leaf pressing firmly to the side of the ring. Divide baked broccoli into 4 equal portions and scoop into each ring mold. Using the same spoon you scooped with, mush broccoli firmly into the ring mold smoothing over the top. When ready to serve, gently remove ring mold by pulling it up. Garnish with a tomato slice et voila !

Bon Appetit !

Bavette de Boeuf with Red Wine Sauce

Time: Prep & Cooking = Min. 1hr 15mins, Max. 8 hrs
Effort: Easy

700 grams Bavette de Beouf (flank steak), whole or divided into equal pieces for grilling
2 cups red wine (I use Portuguese wines from the Douro region as they have a nice full body)
1-2 tsp freshly coarsley ground pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp fine sea salt
Ground coriander seeds, mustard seeds & fennel
1/4 cup heavy cooking cream
2-3 tbsp instant lump-free flour or Knorr Veloutine
3-4 slices French bread or a Portuguese bun
1-2 tsp soft butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Mix ingredients in a large glass bowl then add meat and ensure all pieces are evenly coated. Let marinate for at least 1 hour. The longer it marinates the better the flavor - so, if you like you can marinate it the night before and leave it in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

Drain marinade into a medium sized pot, simmer gently until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and add cream & flour. Return to heat, sitrring constantly on low to desired consistency - not too thick ! Taste & add more seasoning if desired. Remove from heat. Light BBQ and grill meat on high, with cover open to desired doneness...I like mine blue ! (See grilling chart opposite). Grill or toast bread & butter lightly. Cut thin slices of the meat and lay several pieces on each bread. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Cauliflower Goulash

Effort: 1 / Easy
Time: Approx 20 mins

1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into flowerettes
1 small onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, diced
1 medium sized tomato, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
salt & pepper
Sour cream or yogurt (optional)
1/2 Hungarian dry sausage (Kolbasz), sliced (optional)
Fresh parsley for garnish

In a heavy saucepan add oil, onion & peppers and saute until onions are transparent. Add cauliflower, stir, cover and simmer until they start to get tender. Add diced tomato, paprika, sausage (optional) and 1/4 cup water plus seasoning. Mix so that the paprika is well blended. Cover and simmer over medium/low heat until cauliflower is well cooked. Stir occasionally, add more water if needed - however it should not be too soupy! Serve hot or cold & garnish with a dolob of sour cream or plain yogurt and some parsley.
Note: This is a great dish as accompaniment or by itself and you can use almost any vegetable to make this delicious "stew". I served it last night with simple barbecued pork chops.

Bon Appetit !

Quinoa Pilaff

Time: Approx. 35 minutes
Effort: 1 / Easy

1 cup organic quinoa (found at most health food stores & now in some grocery stores)
2 cups water or light chicken stock
1/2 green, red or yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
a handfull of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Take a medium sized pot, add water/stock, peppers, onion and bring to a boil. Then add the quinoa and cook over low to medium heat with cover on though slightly open, mixing occasionally until all the water has been incorporated. Approx. 20 minutes - quinoa will appear transparent and fluffy. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, salt & pepper & parsley mixing gently with a fork. This recipe can be eaten hot or cold and can be used instead of rice (much more nutritious!) or couscous !

Bon Appetit !

Marintated Chicken (2) with baby Oyster Mushrooms

Difficulty Rating: 1 / Easy
Effort: 1 1/2 hours
Baby Oyster Mushrooms

6 - 8 boneless chicken pieces (breast, legs, thigh etc.)
1/2 fresh ginger root finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup coriander finely chopped
1 box of baby oyster mushrooms, split (as in photo)
1 tbsp canola oil
Arrange chicken in a deep dish or platter, placing mushrooms delicately on top. Mix all ingredients except mushrooms and canola oil in a bowl and pour over chicken to ensure evenly coated on all sides. Let marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Heat BBQ until very hot, then reduce heat to medium. Take a BBQ platter (usually coated steel for grilling small objects) and place on the grill. Close cover to allow the platter to get hot. Brush lightly with cooking oil such as Canola. Place chicken pieces and mushrooms on platter & grill with cover closed for several minutes on each side. Baste them with your marinade each time you turn them - test for rediness: Chicken should be firm to the touch & mushrooms should be crispy. 
Bon Appetit !

Mixed Grill with Baked Spinach & Asparagus

Last night's menu was a mixed grill that consisted of Rumanian "Mititei" ( ), pork loin "Hands" and baked spinach.  ! There are many versions of this delicious Rumanian "sausage" - here is mine! Delicious & nutritious
Mixed Grill
1/4 lb each ground pork, lamb & beef
1 whole egg
salt, ground pepper
1 tsp each Thyme (cimbru), ground cumin & oregano
1/4 c. chopped garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
6 boneless pork loin chops
Olive oil
In a medium size bowl add: Pork, lamb & beef, egg, thyme, cumin, oregano and chopped garlic. Combing ingredients with your hands (so much fun!) until the egg is well incorporated and meats well blended, then season with salt & pepper. Still using your hands, take small handfulls of the mixture and form them into oval balls (or sausages) about 3" long by 1 1/2" wide and place them on a large platter leaving enough space on the platter to add the pork chops (see below).

Place each pork chop on a cutting board and on one horizontal side slice "fingers" into them. Season each one generously with salt, ground pepper & garlic powder. Place them alongside the mititei on the platter. Drizzle the whole platter generously with olive oil and set aside while you prepare the spinach....

Baked Spinach & Asparagus
1 bunch fresh green asparagus, steamed until tender but still crisp
1 bag fresh spinach, blanched
1 c. 35% cooking cream
1c. plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup butter, softened
salt & pepper

Turn oven to 385o. In a medium sized pot with steamer, steam asparagus until tender but crisp. Remove and set aside keeping the water in the pot. Add spinach to the remaining hot water just to soften their leaves, drain well. Take a medium baking dish and place asparagus neatly on the bottom then top the whole thing with spinach. Drizzle with cream then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Place pinches of the softened butter all over the top. Bake in oven until the cream is bubbly and the top slightly browned (approx. 30 mins).

While the spinach and asparagus are baking, turn BBQ on high, when ready grill meats turning every couple of minutes until done. (Note: you probably will want to put the Mititei on the grill first as they take longer to cook. Readiness test: they should be firm to the touch). Be careful because the oil will make your BBQ flame so it's best to keep the lid open and watch closely !

Bon Appetit !


Since I did not cook last night (bad girl !!), here's a fantastic, refreshing & super easy Gazpacho recipe !


In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of each of the following:

Chopped celery, green & red peppers, cucumber, spring onions and fresh cilantro.
Add 2 tbsp each olive oil & balsamic vinegar. 
1 tsp celery seeds
Salt & pepper to taste, mix and let sit while you prepare the next steps.

In a food processor puree 1 large can of Italian tomatoes (the best are San Marzano, if you can find them) including its juice. Do not use the pre-pureed types nor tomato paste !
Pour over vegetable mixture, stir and add either cold water or tomato juice to bring to the consistency that you desire. It should not be too watery. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. I always put quite alot of fresh ground pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Serve topped with home made croutons or homemade parmesan toasts. 

Alternatives &/or add-ons: 
Add a dolob of sour cream or plain yogurt
Chopped zucchini
Canned chick peas (drained)
Sliced black olives
Chopped Prosciutto
Sliced chorizo

Serving ideas:
In a large glass bowl
In individual glasses: Any kind - be creative !
Carve out a pumpkin and add soup
Carve out a large round loaf of bread

BBQ Chicken Strips, Asparagus & Green Beans in a warm vinaigrette with Jerusalem Artichoke Spears.

Ingredients & Method:

3 whole skinless chicken breasts cut lengthwise into 1 1/2" strips
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
salt & ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup cold water

In a medium deep dish, mix all ingredients until blended & smooth, add chicken and let marinade. (This can be made the night before or just minutes before grilling).

1 bunch of fresh green asparagus (about 10 spears), ends cut off
1 bunch of fresh green beans (about 20-30) tips & ends cut off
3 large Jerusalem artichokes, peeled & cut lengthwise into spears

Rinse asparagus and green beans well and steam together with artichokes until tender but not mushy..They should be slightly crisp. Drain, place in cold water to chill then drain again and gently squeeze out excess water. Place in a nice serving bowl. Place artichokes alongside.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Mayonnaise
3-4 rashers of pre-cooked bacon, chopped
Salt & pepper if desired
1-2 sprigs of parsley or cilantro

Blend in a small bowl until smooth and drizzle over asparagus and beans. Garnish with bacon and parsley or cilantro. Set aside to marinate while grilling chicken.

Note: This dish may be warmed up (though don't make it piping hot!)

Turn BBQ on.... 
When really hot, add marinated chicken strips grilling about 2-3 minutes per side, then repeat - turn strips and baste with marinade, about 3 times each.

Remove chicken and place on a nice serving platter & garnish with parsley if you wish. Serve with the Asparagus, Beans & Artichoke recipe or anything else !

Bon Appetit !