roasted pepper dip

We are at an important junction in our life… we have decided to leave the busy city in favor of a peaceful island. While the pros and cons are a matter of huge discussions, I can tell you some things that are true no matter which way you look at them.

The direct connection with nature is the most calming and fulfilling aspect of island life and really balances your mind. For example rain is no longer viewed as something that will create traffic, ruin your designer shoes or make life on your scooter hell, but rather a godsend gift that will water the plants and vegetables you are growing, soften the soil and fill the water tank. Not to mention the amazing smell that fills the air after a storm. Another aspect is that you are a part of your food’s long jurney way before it gets to the shop. The hard work it takes to grow vegetables without any chemicals or machines. Makes you think what do they really put into the ones they sell so cheap…….?

Our neighbour grows a lot of produce and the other day he brought us a basket filled with the most cute and colorful bell peppers… normal, natural sized, not the melon sized things they try to pass for peppers at some shops. I wanted to use all of the basket before they went bad but there is a limit to how many peppers you can eat raw in a salad, so I made this dip and I guarantee you can eat it all easily and wonder how a kilo of peppers went into you so effortlessly.

– mel

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lentil soup & roasted chestnuts

Every job no matter how exciting, has a dull repetitive aspect that can be unavoidable. Some stack dominoes for months on end in order to experience less than a minute of amazingness. Others lay a thousand bricks before they see a building come to life.

We (the recipients) are all very grateful they went through the motions when we see the end result and we thank them.

In cooking, it’s the hours of prep, and the most fundamental is chopping. It’s cool to wield a super sharp blade for a short while & pretend you’re a ninja, but after onion number 53 has been peeled & diced, your mind has switched off and your hands move on auto-pilot. This is where accidents happen & fingertips go missing….

Other tedious activities include peeling cherry tomatoes and  gutting slimy calamari.

Personally, I love chopping carrots really finely because they have that clean crisp cut that you can work with a lot of speed. Keep me away from the garlic cloves however.

Today’s task is cleaning those stubborn chestnuts, and in particular, peeling off the fuzzy second layer that is not pleasant to eat. I haven’t got a good tip to give you here other than a lot of patience goes a long way. It seems that there are some varieties out there where that fuzz just peels right off but, I can’t recognise them easily. Apart from that we have a straightforward lentil soup that will keep you warm,  full and healthy during cold winter days.

– mel

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grilled cauliflower & aubergine salad

I don’t travel abroad very often, (especially if it involves a plane,) since my beloved country has wonderful beaches, beautiful mountains, breathtaking islands all within a 4 hour driving range. That is why now that we (Greece) have put ourselves in a bad position, the “developed” northern part of Europe is moving in for the kill…. Noone, no matter how wealthy, wants to spend all their lives in a dull, cloudy environment, and so our nice beaches & failing economy make for the ideal target. OMG, I am becoming like my granfather, rambling off-topic, talking politics in a food blog… let’s get back to cooking & its relevance to me recent travels. Every time I do end up venturing outside of Greece, I am reminded that the true value of the experience is meeting new people, experiencing different ways of life, & seeing diverse cultures. Food is always a big part of any culture, & my recent trip to the Middle east was filled with new flavors & experiences. I loved the spicy teas they treated us to everywhere we went, and the amazing dates that were abundantly present. I had cheese & chocolate made from camel milk and the best lamb I have ever tasted, always accompanied by a fragrant rice side-dish every time I ordered it. One of the dishes that impressed me the most, was this fragrant starter that seemed so representative of the local ingredients and cooking style. This dish however stuck with me and I share with you my attempt to recreate it. Enjoy.

– mel

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almond hummus & pita chips

Finally. Snack FOOD!

I told you I had a craving for pita chips. These things are so deliciously crunchy & perfect for vegging out, watching a little stand up comedy.

Paired with almond & roasted red pepper hummus…. well it’s just divine.

Yea, Mel & I had a little veg. A well deserved putting-up of our exhausted feet. Moving is hard work (especially when one of you is a hoarder, not naming names).

I honestly think I deserve a medal for pulling this off. Trying to cook in our kitchen whilst it looks like an obstacle corse was interesting to say the least. I can’t wait to restore order to it. Looking at all my dishes strewn across the counters is unnerving.

Still, I promised I would do something really good with those gluten-free pita breads we made, & I’m pretty darn good at keeping my promises. Especially when they coincide with my cravings.

Right, back to packing… see you all on the other side of the move! xxx

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for the garlic lovers

All I have to say is… Mel was not best pleased with me this morning.

I’m not sure which upset him more, that I was using noisy kitchen gadgets, or that the whole house smelt like garlic. Most likely both.

Now that I think about it, Mel doesn’t like a lot of garlic even on the best of days. I can clearly recall occasions where he’s come into our bedroom at night & been completely distressed by the fact that my garlic breath had taken over the whole room. I know this because he was upset enough to wake me up over it.

Me on the other hand, I never understood what the big deal was with garlic breath. On other people it doesn’t bother me at all. On me, I couldn’t care less. There are so many worse smells out there to complain about. Coffee breath for one. The fear of having coffee breath means I will never let my pockets run dry of gum. If I think I’ve been overcome by it, I will keep a fair distance from the person I’m talking to & just try to keep my responses to the bare minimum, single syllables if I can get away with it. Cigarette breath is another one. I can’t stand that smell, and you can forget about kissing altogether. Blech.

The moral of the story is, carry gum. Or breath mints. Just because your breath doesn’t bother you, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t offended. I may think my garlic breath is nothing to fuss over, but Mel disagrees each & every time.

Didn’t stop me getting on a garlic kick this morning though. I went a little garlic crazy to tell you the truth!

First on my garlic list was a traditional Lebanese garlic sauce. It’s this smooth, creamy, rich sauce that is usually served with meats & it is just to die for. When made properly, it almost has the consistency of mayo except it’s a little lighter. I usually go overboard with it when I’m in a restaurant & just slather it on to each & every bite of my grilled chicken.

The second on the list today is a roasted garlic paste. This one I like to keep in the fridge because it makes my life a little easier. I can throw a teaspoon of it into a salad dressing, or put a little in my sauces whilst cooking. It goes great with a little lemon & chili over grilled broccoli. Or even spread on toast with a little avocado. It’s all the fun of garlic, but in a much more mellow form.

And lastly, well, there’s garlic olive oil. For when you just want a hint of it drizzled over your rice, bread, veggies, or anything else you might drizzle oil over.

Yea, I wasn’t lying when I said I went overboard with the garlic……

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