Simple summer salad

IMG_2028This salad brings back a lot of memories as my mum made it when my aunts would come over for a chat during the week. Usually she made this in the summer months when it was hot outside but to be honest it is good anytime of the year. My mum and aunts were very close and would get together a couple of times a week over lunch and coffee. They would rotate homes and would spend many an afternoon talking (gossiping), eating and enjoying the day. Sometimes they would go shopping or maybe even go to a local coffee shop for a few hours. However most often than not sitting around the kitchen table was their preferred choice.

This salad was made most of the time as it was easy but substantial as well. Very simple and no real recipe but something I like to make every once in a while along with a cup of Greek coffee to bring back good times and wonderful memories.

2-3 roasted beets or pickled from a jar.

New potatoes, about  3-4

Handful of lettuce, any will do.

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1-2 roughly cut tomatoes

Half a cut cucumber

2-3 spring onions chopped

Small handful feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper.

If using fresh beets scrub and cut into smallish pieces. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes or until soft throughout.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes until just soft. Chop the vegetables and in a bowl add them along with the potatoes which have been halved along with the the beetroot. A good sprinkle of the fets cheese.

Make a vinaigrette with the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss thoughout the salad and season.

Tip: Add the vinaigrette while the potatoes and beets are still warm so they absorb all of the lovely dressing

CHOCOLATE COFFEE CAKE WITH ORANGE AND SEASALT

This is a luscious deep cake with wonderful rich flavours that emphasize the chocolate and take it to another level. Coffee and rummy marmalade jam are added to the batter. The finished cake is coated with a blanket of melted 90% chocolate and then topped with candied orange slices that have been  dipped in the melted chocolate. Sprinkled with good sea salt is the finishing touch! Even though I call this a cake it really has more of a brownie consistency in that it is dense and moist in the middle.

CANDIED ORANGE SLICES
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
In a pan add equal amounts of sugar and water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the orange slices and on a low heat simmer for approx. one hour.

CAKE
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup espresso
3 large eggs
3/4 cup melted butter

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and the cocoa.To this add one egg and whisk on a low-speed. This is followed by the baking powder,salt and the rest of the eggs, coffee and rum marmalade.Whisk until you have lovely light batter. Transfer to a prepared loaf pan or a 9×13 tin.
Put into a preheated oven set at 375F. Bake for 45-50 minutes until cooked through.

MELTED 90% CHOCOLATE
SEA SALT

Drain the orange slices and dip into melted chocolate.Put aside to cool.
With the rest of the melted chocolate drizzle over the cooled cake. Lay the orange slices onto the cake and sprinkle with the sea salt.

BREAD TOPPERS

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Easy bread toppers! I have included just two ideas here but of course the possibles are endless!


CAREMILIZED ONIONS AND ROASTED EGGPLANT

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Start with caramelizing your onions. Slice them finely and add to a pan with a little olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and let simmer until the onion soften. Finish off with a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar and mix to combine.IMG_0329IMG_0306.Cut the eggplant and place onto baking sheet. Add sea salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss altogether. Roast in a preheated oven at 375 F until browned and soft. Place the onions onto the bread. Add the roasted eggplant onto the onions and if you like drizzle with a little more balsamic vinager.

SOFT CHEESE WITH PEAR, WALNUTS AND HONEY

Spread a really good soft cheese of your liking onto the bread. Finely slice the pear and add to the cheese. Top with a few walnuts and drizzle with honey.

Enjoy!

Make sure to check out our video on this as well!

BEETROOT SALAD BOWL

Salads can be wonderful or they can be blah. However this is far from blah. Just by the visual you know it has to be good for you. The varied flavours along with the great textures makes this a sure winner!672_1479107431_n (1)
Roasting the beetroot brings out their lovely sweetness. I wrap them in tin foil and drizzle a little olive oil over them along with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Crush some garlic (leave the skin on). The finishing touch is a sprinkle of fresh thyme with salt and pepper. Cover and put into the oven at 375F until they are soft.
Cut into bite size pieces and put into a bowl. Crumble some really good feta cheese on top. The saltiness of the feta marries really well with the sweetness of the beetroot. For added colour and sweetness toss in a few cherry tomatoes and top with a handful of sprouts .As for the garlic, squeeze out the soft flesh and scatter it through. Drizzle with a little olive oil and add a pinch of good sea salt. Enjoy!

MEATBALLS WITH PASTA

One of my favourite meals of all time has to be meatballs with pasta. Now I know that meatballs should really be served with a lovely pure tomato sauce only, and I would have it that way as well but there is something about the meatballs being nestled in a bowl of pasta that makes me very happy. Folding the sauce through and adding lashings of the best parmigiano that you can get makes for a wonderful homey meal for you and yours.

There are three components to this recipe so here goes!

MEATBALLS
8oz soft breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 pound minced beef
1/2 pound minced pork
Handful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 eggs lightly beaten
6oz grated parmesan cheese. (please use the real thing as the stuff that comes in those plastic bottles is terrible!)
1 clove of finely chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for frying

First things first. In a large bowl soften the breadcrumbs by adding the milk.
Add the next 7 ingredients and with your hand knead together until everything is thoroughly combined. Pinch off each piece the size of a golf ball and shape into a round.

Have a large platter ready with the flour spread on it and lightly dust the meatballs with it. Heat the oil in a large pan until quite hot. Add the meatballs, do not overcrowd as this will bring the temperature down and you will get a soggy meatball. Make sure they are browned all over and gently place into the tomato sauce. On a low heat let the meatballs simmer away until they are cooked through.

TOMATO SAUCE
4-5 tbsp olive oil
2 cans of puréed tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper

Into a saucepan pour the oil. While oil is still cool add the minced garlic along with the tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes or until reduced to a thicker consistency. Season.

Once the meatballs are cooked through put a large pot of water on high heat to boil. Remember to add salt to the water. When you have a rolling boil add the pasta of your choice and cook until al dente.
Assemble the pasta with a ladle of the meatballs and sauce into bowl and grate in as little or as much cheese as you like. Enjoy!