Spoiled as we are, we have a private Italian class twice a week with Giancarla to guide us through the Italian grammar, Italian vocabulary, and culture. We are her ‘bambini’ and often she is also our moral support.
My pick of the day cannot be too extreme, fusion between Italy and the Middle-East. biggest fan of the area, Elodie, is also one of her bambini, and is willing to join us tonight.
- Appetizer 1 : a cold cucumber cappucino
Put 1 whole cucumber, 1 garlic clove, 1 green spicy little pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried mint leaves in the blender. Add some greek yoghurt, or some cream (150 ml). Blend. Add pepper and salt and put in the fridge. Serve in a cup with some sumak, or some fresh herbs (coriander or chives).
- Appetizer 2 : ciabatta with avocado spread and semi-dried tomatoes
Prepare the tomatoes in advance (use your oven during the cheaper hours ;-)). Prepare more than you need and keep the tomatoes for a later occasion. For 4 p, 12 slices of ciabatta and 12 little tomatoes. Half the tomatoes. Put on baking paper with the inside facing up. Add salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, dried thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake in the oven at 120° for 30 mins. Mix 1 big avocado with a bit of lemon juice, 1 chopped garlic, pepper and salt. Put the slices of bread with some olive oil in the oven for 15 mins. It is always better to use older bread!
Spread the avocado mixture on the bread and garnish with the semi-dried tomatoes and some fresh lemon thyme leaves.
- Main course : Durban curry with salmon and chickpea flower bread
Prepare the dough and sauce in advance. For 1 bread mix 125 grams of chickpea flour with 500 ml of water. No clots are allowed, so do it carefully. Add some salt, pepper, rosemarin… Leave the mixture (which remains really fluid) covered for a few hours at room temperature. Heat the oven at 200°. Put the chickpea flour mixture in a low, greased (or covered with baking paper) oven dish. The bread is supposed to have the thickness of a pizza. Bake for 30 mins, until the bread has a golden crust. Spread some fresh rosemarin and some salt flakes on the bread. Serve the bread as side dish or cover like a pizza.
For the Durban curry for 4p order skinless salmon filet, netto weight +/-800 grams.
Fry 1 ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1 ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds in a drizzle of peanut oil. Add 1 chopped onion, 4 chopped garlic cloves, 3 cm of grated ginger, a handful of curry leaves and 2 table spoons of madras curry powder. Stir regularly. Add 1 ½ table spoon of tamarind puree and 2 table spoons of tomato puree. Stir and after 1 min add 1 can of tomato passata and 1 can of cherry tomatoes. Simmer for 10 mins, add some water if necessary. Clean 200 grams of green beans or sugar snaps. Add to the tomato curry sauce. Simmer for 5 more mins until the beans are al dente. Add salt, pepper, and some sugar if you prefer a sweeter taste. Stop here if you prefer to do the sauce in advance. Reheat the sauce. Take a beautiful oiled oven dish. Put the salmon, cut into equal pieces in the dish. Cover with the warm sauce. Leave in a preheated oven for max 10 mins.
Serve the dish with fresh coriander (and/or parsley), some grated coconut and the chickpea bread.
- Something sweet to end a dinner under the star filled sky
Halve 12 apricots. Mix 500 ml of water with 200 grams of sugar (this amount is a bit personal, in the original recipe 500 grams of sugar was used!!). Heat until it starts boiling. Add 200 ml of sweet wine (in Italy vin santo of course, but do not buy an expensive one), 5 crushed cardemom seeds, 1 cinnamon stick, the juice and zeste of 1 lemon and the halved apricots. When the apricots are soft, remove them gently and cool them down. Boil the syrop until reduced to 1/3. If the apricots are still in one piece, you can try to remove the skin. If they are already soft, do not bother, the skin will add some extra color. For the rice pudding mix 500 ml of milk with 45 grams of sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, ½ vanilla stick (halved so that the inner side can mix better), zeste of an untreated orange and some saffron soaked in 1 table spoon of hot water. Heat the milk and add 50 grams of dessert rice when the milk starts boiling. The rice will be ready after +/- 20 mins. Stir now and again. After 20 mins add 100 ml of cream. Put the rice in small cups or glasses, or 1 bigger recipient and cool down in the fridge. Serve the rice with the apricot syrop (also cold or reheated). This is a lovely dessert in the season where apricots are at their best. Imagine the same recipe with fresh raspberries or a coulis of forest fruit!