Baked Leek with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

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Cooked meals

her daily mantra.

Their portraits

sacred icons.

Collected they carry around a memory

of all her faces.

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 Baked Leek with Pomegranate and Hazelnuts

Ingredients for two plates (as a starter or snack):

two leeks, washed and drained
seeds of 1 ripe pomegranate
70 g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 Tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. hazelnut oil
few leaves of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts over the baking trail and put them in the oven for 7 minutes. Use that time to clean leeks and cut the root end of. Rinse the leaks well in cold water, leave them if necessary to soak in cold water so you are sure to get all the sand and soil out of them. With a sharp knife half each leek lengthwise. 
2. Remove hazelnuts from the oven and set aside. Put the leeks on a baking tray with baking paper and drip with olive oil and salt. Bake leeks for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, so they get well burnt and caramelized on the outside and soft and sweet inside. Use this time to chop hazelnuts and clean the pomegranate.
3. Remove the leeks from the oven. Using your hands divide them on the long way (carefully, they are hot!), so that you get strips, almost looking like pasta. Spread the leek-strips over two plates and cover with other ingredients.

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Pickled Onions

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I love onions and I eat them almost every day. This is a very important part of my culinary heritage from Bosnia. People from Balkans generally think that garlic and onion can improve your health. Therefore, these ingredients are not only the foundation of EVERY dish in the countries of Ex-Yugoslavia, but are used as magic ingredients, a prescription signed by nature in the fight against bacterias. People there drink them as tee, grate them into unction and cover with them painful places on the body. Today, while so called alternative medicine is en vogue, that even the performance-artist Queen Marina Abramovic starts celebrating her garlic-ish roots in her newest documentary The Space in Between, the territory of Ex-Yugoslavia could  become a mecca for new age healer and shamans from the Westerns. They would say, life is more “grounded” there: great, nourishing, homemade food (new healers, just like Gods are always hungry!), amazing (only a bit mined) nature, locals are great hosts, full of passion,  life there is cheap, life is beautiful.

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Years ago, for similar healers, we were sick monsters, who can’t deal with their own past and that is why we killed everything and everyone around us, (while they were watching…).  No one gave a fuck about our magical garlics and onions, that were indifferently scrunched with many brand new NATO boots.  (For them) We were and still are regressed, drunk, bearded religious freaks, a place for international-intellectual orgies, an exotic folklore, European darkness (like I read recently)…

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I don’t eat onions to improve my health, but I do think that they are very healthy. Every time I eat them I remember my grandmother, who’s name should have been Cepula (latin for onion) and not Bosiljka (serbo-croatian for basil). Every day she ate her finely minced onions. We always knew when she is around, because her breath would announce her. We made so much fun about her, about her regular meals, breakfast at 9, lunch at 3:30, dinner at 7. Now I know, that this was her only stability in the chaos she lived in. 2 wars and much more IS a big deal.

I eat onions, because I like their taste. It is a taste of my past, I’m currently  more then ever dealing with. It is fresh, but spicy. I makes me cry and I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to give up this taste, although it is very difficult to live with it in a country where Knoblauchfresser (garlic-devourer) is an insult to migrants you hear often on the street. In a city where people are obsessed with clean and pure food that doesn`t leave marks and smells on their body. There are moments, and they are not that rare, when I feel just like already mentioned Marina Abramovic in her performance with an onion from 1996. But sometimes, I make it more delicate. I pickle the onion.

marina

“I am tired from changing planes so often, waiting in the waiting rooms, bus stations,
train stations, airports.
I am tired of waiting for endless passport controls.
Fast shopping in the shopping malls.
I’m tired of more and more career decisions, museum and gallery openings, endless
receptions, standing around with a glass of plain water, pretending that I’m
interested in conversations.
I’m so tired of my migraine attacks, lone
y hotel rooms, dirty bed sheets, room
services, long distance telephone calls, bad TV Movies.
I’m tired of always falling in love with the wrong man; tired of being ashamed of my
nose being too big, of my ass being too large; ashamed about the war in Yugoslavia.
I want to go away, somewhere so far, that I’m unreachable by telephone or fax.
I want to get old, really old, so that nothing matters anymore.
I want to understand and see clearly what is behind all of this.
I want not to want anymore.” (by M.Abramovic)

 Pickled Onions

Ingredients (makes jar, 500 ml):

300 ml distillate white vine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
4 bay leaves
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tsp refined sugar
7 peper corns
3 red onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients except onions and bring to a simmer over low heat. Place onions in a large bowl and carefully pur the brine over the onion. Let cool, the transfer to a clean pint-sized jar; cover and refrigerate (in a sealed jar) for up to 1 month.

 

 

 

 

 

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Zucchinis with vinaigrette of salted blackberries

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In this dish, the vinaigrette of salted blackberries is everything. The vinaigrette is full-bodied and multilayered like a good wine, so every additional ingredient should be subordinated, or should be there to support this specific taste. That is why I’ve chosen slightly fried or, even better, grilled zucchinis as an accompaniment to the vinaigrette. To provide this dish with more energy I used a soaked cous cous, but also because cous cous absorbs well other aromas. And without covering them, it provides the dish with more substance. For more crunchiness I took delicate and roasted pine nuts, macadamia nuts would fit even better. Next time I’ll replace basil and try out fresh thyme leaves.

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If you want to serve this dish only as appetizer, you can completely skip the grains. But if you want to make it a whole meal, I think that quinoa, pearl barley or millet would do the job as well. Anyhow, you should not overeat on this dish. It is more a sophisticated bite, a good excuse for a glass of cold rosé or champaign. Remember, eating well is a skill!

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 Zucchinis with vinaigrette of salted blackberries

Ingredients (serves 2):

Cous Cous

150 g cous cous
2 dl boiled water
pinch of salt

Directions: 

1. Place the grains into a smaller pot and cover with boiled water. Mix well until the water is completely soaked and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.

 Vinaigrette of salted blackberries

100 g fresh blackberries, wash and drain
1 tsp coarse salt
2 shallots, peel and chop finely
1 dl apple vinegar
1 dl good olive oil
1 Tsp honey

Directions:

1. Put blackberries in a saucepan and sprinkle with 1 tsp. coarse salt. Let and the blackberries rest for 1 hour with the salt.

2. Mix shallots with blackberries, put the pot on the stove and heat the blackberries for 6-8 minutes so they drop a bit of juice.

3. Add the apple vinegar, olive oil and honey. Mix well and season with freshly ground pepper, if necessary. Salt but be careful because blackberries er allready quite salty. Set aside and make zucchinis.

Fried zucchinis (grilled would be perfect as well!)

2 medium large zucchinis (or one very large), cut into 2 cm wide sticks (ca. 5-8 cm long)
1 tsp ghee or butter
pinch of salt

Directions:

1. In a frying pan heat the ghee or butter and add zucchinis. Fry until lightly golden. Set aside.

Zucchinis with vinaigrette of salted blackberries

Assemble with cous cous: 

1. Spread the cous cous an the plates and cover with zucchinis.  Put the warm vinaigrette over zucchinis and sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts and basil leaves. Serve as part of a menu or as a separate lunch dish.

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