The Tales of the Lockdown – The Kitchen Corner
As already mentioned in the first part of the blog, I’ve been cooking a lot during the corona lockdown. This gave me the opportunity to try out different cuisine styles and dig down into some awesome flavors. I’d like to share some of the recipes for your next party with friends after and during the corona crisis! Beware it will get messy! xD
The Greek Party
This is the heaven for every meat lover! This reminded me of the time on the Creta and Mikonos island. I love the simplicity of the Greek cuisine and the flavours are just amazing. Perfect for a BBQ or just indoors!
A Greek platter cannot miss this goodness! Prepare tzatziki hours prior the party to realise those flavours!
Grate 1-2 fresh cucumbers, salt them, wait 10 mins, drain the excess juice. Season with pressed 1-2 garlic gloves, salt and pepper, splash of the lemon juice and olive oil. Before adding the greek yogurt (200 – 300ml), mix thoroughly, add yogurt and mix again. Wait at least 30 mins, taste the goodness, and season more if needed – done!
Normally, you would have pork or lamb for the skewers – I used chicken thighs and did Cretan kebab. For chicken souvlaki – marinate beforehand with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice and garlic. For the Cretan kebab, I have used 75% minced beef and 25% minced pork, the same seasoning like the chicken. Additionally, add cumin, chopped onion, old soaked bread and egg (not necessary). Set aside for at least 1 hour. Put the chicken and oval formed kebabs onto soaked wooden skewers. Grill/pan fry or pop in in the oven – done!
Actually, you can use any kind of meat! I used beef and pork steaks. There was no magic with the beef steaks – just salt and pepper! If you want more flavor, pop butter in the pan, add thyme, marjoram, rosemary (branches) and a glove of garlic. Baste the beef in this aromatic mixture! For the pork – either marinate it like the chicken, but with the addition of thyme and cumin, or depending on the cut – you could also baste the pork. I have marinated the steaks – they turned out to be juicy and delicious!
OK, the thing is – normally, you would get served pita bread, fries, rice and a small mixed salad with red onions, occasionally with feta cheese – all at once *hahaha* I went pretty easy on the sides, basmati butter rice with some lemon juice, salt and pepper – lemon to garnish. I like steamed mixed veggies, but you can roast them as well or just do a mixed salat – all is fine. I am not a fan of raw onions but be creative!
The Spanish / Mexican fiesta
As with the Greek platter, Spanish and Mexican cuisine is full of flavours, fun to make and will be a high roller for your guests! Either for a movie evening or just for a chilled round – fits for every occasion! Enjoy!
GUACAMOLE & SALSA
There is actually “no headache” about these two delicious dips. Start with salsa – chop onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and chilis. Use sugar, salt and lemon juice for seasoning. I just put all the ingredients in a food processor – works also fine! Cook briefly (just until it gets this typical salsa texture) and let it sit for at least 30 mins. For the guacamole chop the avocados until creamy with avocado bits, add some salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and garlic powder. – This is not a traditional recipe but give it a try! Optionally, add chopped onions into the guacamole or add some tomatoes as a garnish.
ALBONDIGAS IN TOMATO SAUCE
One of my favorite tapas dishes, simple to make and you can play with the seasoning! Start with seasoning the minced 1:1 beef and pork mix. Add salt, pepper, garlic paste, parsley, chopped onion (alternatively onion powder) and a splash of olive oil. Mix thoroughly and let sit for 15-30 mins. In the meantime, take old bread and soak it in milk. If the bread is nice and soggy, press the excess milk out and put in into the meat mix. Add an egg and more parsley or seasoning if needed. Mix the whole mixture. Form into small meatballs, medium heat olive oil in a pan. Coat the meatballs with plain flour and toss it into the pan. Don’t overcook the meatballs – they should get a nice brown color. Take the meatballs out, in the same pan (pour more olive oil if necessary) put chopped onion, fry until glazed, add chopped tomatoes (some salt and pepper). When the tomatoes start losing their juices, throw in some chopped chilis, tomato and garlic paste. Fry for another 30 seconds, add vegetable stock as well as thyme and bay leaves. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, add the meatballs and let it simmer for another 3-7 minutes – again not overcooking the meatballs! When ready, serve on a plate and garnish with some fresh parsley and optionally with pine nuts.
TORTILLA DE PATATA
The very traditional Spanish dish. I recommend doing it a day before consumption. Take 3-4 medium-sized potatoes, peel, cut it in half and into approx. 1 cm wide potato chips. Medium heat extra virgin olive oil, put the potatoes into the pan with some firmly chopped onions (the oil should cover the potatoes). Cook it slowly until golden brown. Take out the potatoes and rinse out the excess oil. In a bowl – toss in the potatoes, add 3 – 5 eggs and add some salt. Take 1-2 tablespoons of the used oil into the pan and pour in the mixture. With a spatula shape the edges of the omelet towards the middle, in order to get this nice tortilla form. When ready cover the pan with a plate, flip the tortilla and put back into the pan – if not a nice golden-brown color, repeat this process. When ready put on a plate and let it cool down overnight. Enjoy cold or warm served!
Besides those delicious dishes, I’ve made some nachos and dates in bacon. This was a very nice tapa I’ve tried in Mallorca and although mine got burned, I’ve enjoyed the nachos with salsa and guacamole as well as the tortilla with the spicy albondigas!
The French Supreme
If you are in for some sophisticated, classical dishes – try out the French cuisine. There is a good reason to call this a “MasterChef” cuisine. You will definitely surprise your family or your guests!
I feel in love with quiche when I was visiting Nice. Of course, the one and only classical quiche is the Quiche Lorraine, but I took a vegetarian approach to this. What you want to do is to start with the tart bottom – since I’m not a great baker I bought finished quiche dough (I also tried the shortcrust, works fine). If you want to make it from scratch, here is the recipe for the Quiche Lorraine. If you have your crust (depends on store-bought or fresh), put it into a tart form and refrigerate for 15 mins. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C, cook 300-400g spinach. Make sure the spinach is fully rinsed out of the excess water, season with garlic and salt. Take the dough out of the fridge, on baking paper – put some weights into the form and bake for 10 mins. In a mixing bowl, put in 4 eggs, 250ml heavy cream or a 3:1 cream and milk mixture. Take out the dough, remove the weights, spread the spinach on the dough, sprinkle with gruyére cheese (I used Brie and it was fantastic) and pour the cream mixture into the form. Put into the oven for at least 30-35 min. When finished, set aside, and let the quiche cool down. You can eat it cold or warm. Enjoy!
So, I’ve already tried once to do a potato gratin – but well, it sucked! xD So, I’ve decided to search in the World Wide Web for the most classical French gratin I could find. This side dish is very exquisite and fits for many dishes. I found this recipe, worked through it and the result was amazing! Basically, you take 3-5 potatoes, peel them, cut in thin slices, and set aside (in water). Baste the pan with garlic and then with butter. Mix the milk with the heavy cream. Pour a light layer of the cream on the pan, then a layer of potatoes, season with pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Cover with the cream mixture – Repeat this process until there’s nothing left, or the pan is full. In a preheated oven (160°C) bake for about 2 hours. Take it out and let it cool down – so it gets firm. Enjoy!
This is, and I swear, one of the most sophisticated and flavorful dishes I’ve ever made. This is also one of the French classics, which I found on the internet. There are lots of different recipes and different styles of cooking, but I’ve used the video below as a Guideline. The only differences I’ve made – the wine, red pearl onions instead of pearl and regular onion, and the meat I’ve used was a topside cap (normally you would use it for roulades). I don’t want to praise too much – just watch the video and try it out – its 100% worth it if you like sauces and beef! Enjoy!
I hope, I have made you hungry and you can give a try for some of those recipes – you will amaze your friends and family. Cook together and don’t be shy with the flavors and try different cuisine styles! Enjoy and stay safe!