USING WHITE WINE VINEGAR

Over the weekend i broke a record of sorts,i bought a  bottle of wine vinegar and 30 minutes later it was gone,lying broken on the kitchen floor.

Less than 24 hours late i was back at the store for a new one…*sigh*

The agony of having to fork out more money for another bottle was painfully sweet because wine vinegar is one of those pantry items that can last and last and is especially  handy when you want to kick your dishes up a notch.

You must be asking what use you can get out of wine vinegar.

Some basics first,white wine vinegar is as a result of the process of white  wine fermentation ,wine vinegar has a milder flavor than regular vinegar or cider vinegar.

Use wine vinegar in your salad dressings,for thinning mayonnaise r salad cream in place of fresh lemon juice.

It is also  great when added to marinades to white meat .

Store it like you would store olive oil,in a cool,dark place,its flavors develop over time like wine….

White wine vinegar..
White wine vinegar..

VEGETABLE SAUCE PASTA DISH

Do you know what goes really well with spaghetti especially if you are not a meat lover like i am…

It is cumber,carrots,red onions and lots of tomatoes.

My son loves this dish so much he almost always scraps his plate clean.

And it is a very very cheap dish too,no exotic ingredients in this dish.

Orange,green,red and pasta!!!
Orange,green,red and pasta!!!

Ingredients

1 medium sized red onion,chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped finely/minced

1 medium sized zucchini sliced

2 carrots grated/chopped

2 tomatoes

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil/vegetable oil for frying

 200 grammes of spaghetti

Method

1.Boil a medium sized saucepan half filled with water,then add a tablespoon of salt once its starts boiling.Don’t worry you will not taste the salt.

2.Boil till al dente about 6-7 minutes.

3.Drain the pasta but retain a cup or so of the pasta water,you will add it later to the vegetables.

4.In the same saucepan add some olive oil.vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and sauté till tender,.

5.Add the minced garlic,sauté for 0 seconds,then add your tomatoes,carrots fry for a minute or so till softened then add your tomato paste and salt and stir.

6.Add the cucumber slices and cover for a minute to let the steam tenderize them.

7..After a minute add a few tablespoons of the pasta water,enough to cover base of sauce pan,let simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce then add your drained paster and stir then cover for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

Add a splash of olive oil and toss then serve.

Bouon  appetito!

HOME MADE SALAD DRESSINGS

Being the food purist that  I  am I  have been reading on different cuisines for some time now and the two that fascinate me the most are the Italian and the French.

A lot of the time neither of the two can agree who influenced who and they both claim superiority in terms of palates.I am just glad they are there and offer us interesting perspectives on how perception and preparation  of food has evolved over the centuries.

If you walk down any supermarket aisle especially the section that stocks food condiments you will find all sorts of salad dressing labelled French,Italian or Greek yet interestingly in the countries these salads claim to have originated from the inhabitants would not know what you are talking about.

You will never find a bottled version of Italian dressing in any home in these boot shaped country.

They use good ol olive oil,lemon or some sort of wine vinegar,balsamic vinegar being very expensive is reserved for really special occasions or dishes that nothing else will do.

It is very easy to make salad dressing from home and you can use practically anything which you might already have like oil,lemon juice and with the addition of some black pepper you have a killer dressing that goes down well with most salads.

Sometimes you can have yoghurt as a base too  but that’s a recipe for another day.

Home made salad dressings are not only great for your pocket but healthier for you too.Just check the label on the back of any bottle of dressing in your fridge and you will be shocked at the number of ingredients,some whose names you can’t pronounce are in a single bottle.

Here is a simple recipe that goes with most vegetables even pasta salads favourites being  tomatoes,broccoli,baby spinach,carrot.

It is a simple Vinaigrette that would be suitable for a salad of 2 people.

Extra virgin olive oil would be great but any  other  oil like corn oil,sunflower oil would do.

Olive oil

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice/white vinegar

dash of black pepper

Method

1.Mix all the ingredients in bowl  with a fork till thoroughly mixed.

2.Set aside for 30 minutes for flavours to meld then pour over your salad and toss.

ITALIAN COOKING MADE EASY

Olive oil,fresh herbs and ingredients,pasta,garlic,tomatoes.

Those are the things that come to mind when i think of Italian cooking.

But there is more to this style of cooking than its famous ingredients and flavours.

Mealtimes are family time for most Italians.

Families get together to enjoy their meals and if you listen to most Italians they talk of recipes that have been handed over generation after generation.

It is easy to create your own Italian pantry,a stock up of things that are unique to Italian kitchens and use them to add an international flavour to your meals.

Here is a list from Tuscan Recipes.

And here is a simple tomato pasta sauce to start you off.

Ingredients

3 cloves minced garlic

2 medium-sized tomatoes finely chopped

1 can whole tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons olive oil

Method

1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat,add the olive oil and the minced garlic and stir till garlic turns soft and slightly brown.

2.Add the fresh tomatoes and 2 pinches salt and black pepper and stir then leave to cook till softened.

3.Add the tomato paste,stir it for 30 seconds and dried oregano then add the canned tomatoes,plus the liquid used to can them  and stir.

Use the back of a wooden spoon or fork  to crush the tomatoes and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes till sauce thickens.

4.Serve with your favourite pasta.

PASTA SALAD

The first time i made pasta salad was when a couple of  girl friends came to my house about 5 years ago.I was a bit apprehensive about it but let us just say it was the first thing that they cleared.

It was simple maccaroni,blanched french beans,fresh carrots and a bottle of a thousand island dressing.Awesome!

Now the key to a great pasta salad is fresh ingredients,balancing tastes and lots of color and crunch to it.

Here is one I have modified that can start you off,it serves 8.

Ingredients

 

1 packet macaroni pasta/penne

1 cup carrots grated carrots

1 cup blanched french beans/broccoli

1  medium-sized white onion

Parsley(dhania)for garnishing

 

1.Boil pasta in lots of salted water for the required time and drain

2.Get a salad dish(wooden are best)rub a sliced clove of fresh garlic all over the bottom of the bowl.

3.Pour your preferred dressing on the bottom of the bowl.

4.Add  the cooled pasta,broccoli/french beans,carrots onion and cover with cling film, refrigerate.

5.15 minutes to serving time,mix up all the ingredients and garnish with chopped parsley.

NB:For some extra nuttiness,sprinkle some toasted nuts over the top and you have a dish your guests will be raving about for a long time to come.

TASTY AVOCADO CROSTINI

It is amazing what bread avocado,lime juice and tomatoes can do!

Here are some tasty crostini you just have to try out.

I used ordinary sliced bread for this

Ingredients

1 avocado,pitted and diced

8 slices of bread

3-4 sun-dried tomatoes,chopped

Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

black pepper

 

Avocado crostini from the discovery channel.

Preparation

1.Cut the ends of the bread and slice into equal halves.

2.Brush with some olive oil or butter and pop in a preheated oven at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10-15 minute s till they turn crisp and slightly brown

3,Meanwhile in a small bowl,add the diced avocado

4.Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice 

.5.Add  chopped sun-dried tomatoes and  dash of black pepper to taste.

6.Get the bread from the oven nd once cooled,scoop about a table spoon of the avocado-tomato paste and serve on the crostini.

7.Garnish with some chopped parley.