Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed With Cream Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
  • 20 fresh parsley leaves
  • 20 halves black olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Cut a small lid from the top of each cherry tomato. Scoop the tomatoes carefully. You can use a tea spoon for that.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dill, green onion, salt and pepper. Put the mixture into a decorating bag. If you don’t have a decorating bag, just use any clean plastic bag and cut one of the corners to allow the mixture to come out. Fill the cherry tomatoes one by one. Decorate them with a parsley leaf and with half black olive each. You can use other foods for decorating: red bell pepper, capers, pickled beetroot or even chopped ham or bacon.

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Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Bruschetta is one of the most popular appetizers and one of the easiest to prepare finger foods for parties. The original Italian “bruschetta” meant just toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. The first known use of this word dates back from 1954 (information source: Merriam-Webster). Nowadays, the meaning has been extended to garlic – olive oil toast slices with various toppings such as tomatoes, mozzarella and herbs.

This is my version of bruschetta with tomato and basil which I serve as appetizer at parties. It’s my favorite finger food recipe for summer time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 French baguette, sliced thick
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6-7 basil leaves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, diced
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

In a pot, bring water to a boil. Remove it from heat and add the tomatoes. Wait one minute. Drain the tomatoes, peel them, chop them and remove the seeds and the stem areas. Parboiled tomatoes are very easy to peel.

Mince the basil leaves and two garlic cloves, dice the mozzarella, then mix them with the chopped tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Refrigerate while you prepare the bread.

Cut the French baguette in diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick. Toast the bread slices. Cut one garlic clove and rub the toast with it, then drizzle some olive oil on top. Spoon the tomato – basil mixture on top of each toast slice, on the side that’s been rubbed with garlic and oiled. Serve the bruschetta immediately.

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Tomato Soup Recipe

Tomato soup is considered one of the most popular comfort foods in the US. It can be made from scratch, but it is also available in shops in powder form. Although instant powder soup is very fast to prepare, it may contain food additives and preservatives, which make it not so healthy. Besides, a homemade soup made with fresh, high quality ingredients will always taste much better.

Ingredients for 4-5 servings:

  • 7-8 medium size, ripe, fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium size yellow onion
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth (for a vegetarian version of this tomato soup recipe, use vegetable broth instead)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Peel and slice the onion. Core and chop the tomatoes. Peel and crush the garlic cloves.

In a pot, melt the butter, then add the onion, garlic, Stir, cover and cook over low temperature for about 5 minutes. You don’t want the onions to go brown. After 5 minutes add the garlic, stir, then add the tomatoes. Gradually add the chicken broth and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup using a food processor or a blender. Return the purred soup into the stockpot, add salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and fresh basil and bring it to a boil.  Serve the soup hot. Croutons are a nice addition.

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Vegetable Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 celery root, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper

Directions:
Put the onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, beans and potatoes in a soup pot, half filled with water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, tomatoes, cabbage, corn and bell pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are tender (which is probably 10-15 minutes). Add parsley. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot, with fresh ground black pepper sprinkled on top.

Recipe variant: for more flavor, you can saute the onions in extra virgin olive oil before adding them to the soup.

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Cabbage Soup

Cabbage soup is my favorite whenever I’m a bit under the weather. Even if it doesn’t take away the cold, it makes me feel better. That’s why it’s high on my comfort foods list, especially in winter time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cabbage, cored and chopped (or 1/2 of a big cabbage head, in case you can’t get a small one)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in tomato sauce
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions:
In a big pot, heat the olive oil, then saute the onion and garlic for about 4-5 minutes. Do not let the onion brown, you only want it to become translucent.

Add the chicken stock, celery, carrot, corn, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil.

Add the cabbage and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bring it to a boil, then set the heat to low and simmer the soup for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Vegetarian version: replace the chicken broth with vegetarian soup stock and you’re done.

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Tomato Egg Curry

Ingredients:

  • 3 average size tomatoes, quartered
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 average size onions, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, chopped small
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3-4 green chili peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 curry leaf
  • Salt to taste

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Saute the onions, green onions, curry leaf and green chili peppers for about 4-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, turmeric, mustard seeds and ginger and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add the beaten eggs. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

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Mixed Vegetable Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 2 green chili peppers, chopped small
  • 2 courgettes, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 average size potatoes, chopped
  • 10 button mushrooms
  • 1 average size carrot, sliced
  • salt

Directions:
In a wok, heat the olive oil, then stir fry the garlic for 4-5 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin seeds, green chili peppers and coriander powder and mix well. Add the onion and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. When the onion turns light brown lower the heat and add the rest of the vegetables and some salt. Cook the food for about 15-20 minutes more. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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Lamb Curry Madras

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut in 2 by 2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 dried red chili peppers
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 400 ml coconut milk

Directions:
In a pan, roast the black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cloves, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Let them cool down, then grind them.

Fry the onion in olive oil for about 4-5 minutes. When it gets a bit brown on the edges add the garlic, the ginger and the green chilli peppers. Fry them for one minute, then add the lamb and some salt. Continue cooking until the lamb gets a nice brown color.

Add the ground spices and stir fry for a little bit more. Add the coconut milk and the tomatoes, then simmer for about two hours. The meat should be tender and the sauce thick and sticky. If you want, you can reduce the sauce on high heat in a separate pan. Serve the curry hot with grilled courgettes, rice or any other side dish of your choice.

From: Foolproof Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey.

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Easy Chicken Curry Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 free range chicken
  • 4-5 medium sized onions, peeled
  • 4-5 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ginger stick, peeled
  • 3-4 leaves fresh coriander
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Directions:
Clean the chicken, skin it and cut it into eight pieces on the bone. Grate or finely chop the onions. Grind ginger and garlic to a fine paste. Puree the tomatoes. Thoroughly wash and finely chop the coriander leaves.

Heat ghee in a thick-bottomed frying pan, then add cinnamon, green cardamoms and cloves. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Sauté the onion until it turns golden brown. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Mix everything very well, add pureed tomatoes and stir. Continue cooking.

When oil separates from the masala, add the chicken pieces and salt to taste. Cook on high temperature for about five minutes. Add two cups of water, bring the food to a boil, cover the pan and cook at medium temperature for about 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is fully done. Sprinkle some garam masala powder and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot.

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Kerala Prawn Curry

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds prawns, cleaned
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced julienne style
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green chili peppers, cut in long slices
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp shallot
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 sprig curry leaves

Directions:
For the curry:
In a bowl, mix the prawns with the garlic and the turmeric. Set aside for 30-45 minutes.
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, saute the shallots together with the green chili peppers and the ginger for about 10-15 minutes.

Add the chili powder and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes and half of the coconut milk. Bring the mix to boil, then add the prawns and the rest of the coconut milk. Cook the prawns for about 20-30 minutes, until the prawns turn bright pink.

Set aside, to simmer.

For the seasoning:
In a skillet, separately fry some mustard seeds, add 1 tsp shallot and curry leaves.

Pour the seasoning onto the curry and serve it hot with rice.

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