Linguine alla creama di zucchine

Italian pasta is a regular weekend lunch favourite at my house. It’s easy and quick to cook and for me, is simply good food for the soul. However, despite my love for cooking, I don’t like spending too much time in the kitchen at lunch time. So I always choose to prepare a meal that is light, healthy and tasty but doesn’t take me more than 15 minutes. Today I prepared linguine alla creama di zucchine (linguine with courgette cream) and I thought I’d share the recipe.

    
Ingredients

  • 250gr linguine
  • 2 small courgettes 
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper 

Method

Thinly slice the red onion and courgettes. In a non stick pan, soften the onion with one tbsp of olive oil. 

In the meantime, start boiling the water with rock salt for the pasta. 

When the onions become translucent, add the courgettes, salt, pepper and an extra tbsp of olive oil. Cook on medium heat and add one tbsp of the hot water from the pasta. Stir often and cook for 6-7 minutes until the courgettes soften.

When the water is boiling, put in your pasta and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Cooking times will be indicated in the packaging, depending on the brand. After 7 minutes, you can start tasting the pasta to ensure that is not overcooking. Italians like the pasta al dente, which means that it is just cooked through, without softening too much. 

The courgettes will be ready half way through cooking the pasta. Once they are softened use a food blender to cream them. Season to taste and add some boiling water from the pasta to reach a more liquid consistency. If you like your cream to be richer, you can add single cream instead. 

When the pasta is ready, put it in the pan you cooked the courgettes and add the courgette cream on top. Mix it well on a high fire for 2 minutes. Serve it in a pasta bowl with some fresh black pepper and parmiggiano reggiano. You could also add some crispy pancetta on top, if you would like a richer pasta.

Et voilá… a 15 minute recipe for a healthy Italian Saturday lunch.

Mediterranean flavours in my kitchen

Roasted stuffed peppers and tomatoesA little bit of sun and a little bit of rain… a typical English autumn Sunday. These are the best days to spend in the house listening to some good music and cooking the afternoon away. Today I prepared these lovely mignon peppers I found at the local market, with a minced beef stuffing. A recipe we love cooking while in Italy. It’s easy to make and very affordable

  • 500gr small red peppers
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 150gr minced beef
  • 5 slices of wholegrain multi‐seed bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbs milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil

To prep the peppers, cut the tops and remove all the seeds. For the tomatoes, cut the tops and then use a small spoon to carve the flesh out. In a bowl, mix the minced beef, bread (broken into small pieces), eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Then, using your hands, stuff the peppers and the tomatoes. Stand them in a dish, put the tops back on so that the stuffing doesn’t dry, and drizzle with olive oil. Cook in the over at 190C for 45 min. Serve warm with a glass of red wine. Enjoy!

After a long year on the road around Asia and Euro-hopping to chatch up with family and friends I am now back in England with George. We have spent our Sunday in the same old manner as when we were students. I baked a cake, he bought a bottle of red wine. Time passes by but nothing really changes. 

Here is the recipe for a one bowl ‘fingerlickin good’ chocolate cake:

  • 1 free range egg
  • 1 cup of fairtrade demerara sugar
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  •  3 tbs of organic cocoa 
  • 4 tbs of jam (your preference, I used homemade strawberry jam)
  • 2 cups of flour 
  • 1 cup of milk 
  • 1/2 cups of organic rapeseed oil

Mix all the ingredients in one bowl. Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 20cm cake tin. Put in the oven at 160C fan/180C gas. Bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven or the cake will sink. After 30 minutes you can put a skewer in the sponge and if it comes out dry the cake is ready, otherwise bake for further 5-10 minutes. Leave to cool for 20 minutes then dust with ground Demerara sugar. Enjoy your Sunday evening!

 

Throwback Thursday 

 Throwback to that marvellous time of my life when I had no concerns whatsoever. For two months, while George and I were in Thailand, a typical day consisted of: waking up in a small bungalow on a remote island, having breakfast, usually with tropical fruit and fresh coconut water, spend the morning trekking or snorkelling, have lunch at a small street stall then head to the beach for the rest of the day. Usually we would read a book, go swimming and spend a couple of hours taking photos of the stunning scenery. Around 7pm we would have a drink on the beach while watching the sunset then head back to the bungalow for a fresh shower. Dinner would usually consist in Thai noodles or fresh seafood followed by a drink at a beach bar listening to some live music. Day after day we would trek, snorkel, relax, read…good life. I miss those times.

  

  

Last week I posted a picture from the stunning Laoliang Island in Thailand, where George and I celebrated Christmas. A lot of you wrote and asked where the picture was taken and wanted further details about the heaven like destination. So here is the story of our adventurous Christmas.

Forget the malls with hundreds of people shopping for Christmas presents, the endless queues and the Christmas craziness all together. Last year was different! We celebrated Christmas on a remote island in one of Thailand’s most pristine national parks, on a white sandy beach, surrounded by crystal clear blue water, corals with stunning colourful tropical fish and thousand years old karsts. Imagine an almost deserted island with no more than 50 people and no other sounds other than the waves breaking on the corals and the birds flying above you.

The island is situated 20km offshore, in the Koh Petra National Park, in Trang province, Thailand. Laoliang is a place of unspoilt beauty with a 500m long beach to chill and tan, and plenty of trees and hammocks where you can shelter from the sun, read a good book and enjoy the silence. If you are an active person that seeks adventure, there are plenty of activities to do on the island: you can snorkel, kayak or climb on high quality limestone routes.

Meals were served three times a day, buffet style, featuring western style breakfasts and Thai lunches and dinners with daily fished seafood. There is also a small bar on the beach where you can spend your evenings, drinking Chang Beer and Thai rum while enjoying the sound of nature and the beautiful sky.

Accomodation is basic: single and double tends are available. They are spacious and come with materasses, lights and plenty of space for your belongings. We found it very comfortable, but remember, it’s camping! Also, please keep in mind that it is a remote island in a protected national park so please take away any waste when you leave the island. You will see plenty of wildelife: monitor lizards, tropical fish, lots of hermit crabs and a variety of birds. Please respect the beautiful creatures that inhabit the island and its sorrounding waters as that is their home, not only a short term holiday destination.

Throwback Thursday

This is a cold and snowy Thursday for me in the Romanian mountains. While drinking a cup of hot tea I found myself missing the times George and I were travelling in Asia. Those soft sandy beaches, crystal clear water and relaxing sunny days in Thailand were unforgettable. Please summer, hurry up! 



Bangkok

Bangkok. The city of lights, chaos and illegality. Every transgression is welcomed to this city: alcohol by the bucket, drugs and most of all, prostitution.

Bangkok is a very large city but with 8.5 million people living in it, it feels highly overcrowded. Really, it is not a real estate heaven. It is much more developed then it’s neighbouring countries but with four lane roads in the city centre its royal charm is long gone. There is the stunning royal palace to be visited but among hundreds of Chinese tourists, just a few young people can be spotted in its surrounding gardens. The main attraction, where the cool people, backpackers and 40 something year olds in search for their younger self spend their time is Khao San Road: the street where music never stops and alcohol is served 24h. When you wake up and people from your guesthouse are having breakfast with a bottle of Chang (the local Thai beer), than you know that you are either in ‘THE right place’ or ‘you better get out of there’.

While walking around Khao San area you will encounter street vendors offering a wide variety of things: local coconut ice cream (that is actually plain cream ice cream served in a coconut nut), fried insects that are sold for 1$ a piece instead of 1$ a bag and Bangkok’s finest ping pong shows. If extreme alcohol abuse and ladies’ company is not of your interest, you will be disappointed by this city.

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Street food in Cambodia

Street food in Cambodia is mind blowing. You cannot leave the country without enjoying the fresh fruit, the tasty curries and the most unusual fried insects.

The base for most delicacies is rice, which is widely cultivated in Cambodia and is present on every Khmer table on a daily basis. Rise is usually steamed and served as a base for the meal. There is s wide variety of sauce: chicken with lemongrass, pork with garlic and black pepper, shrimps with chilli, beef in fish sauce, squid with fresh green pepper and many more. Also to not forget the famous stir fried rice usually mixed with egg, vegetables and tofu. A must try is the fried rice with pineapple and shrimps, delicious!

Markets and food stalls offer a wide variety fresh fruit: coconut, pinnaple, jackfruit, pomelo, bananas, watermelons and all mixed imaginable fruit shakes. The Mekong fish is omnipresent throughout the country and is usually grilled in tin foil or banana leafs and served with chilli or black pepper sauce. In the south there is an abundance of seafood as: shrimp, squid, clams and even crabs.

Alike Thailand, Cambodia offers some exquisite curries but much milder. The coconut cream curry with chicken, sweet potatoes and carrots is delicious.

Khmers adore the most usual foods: fried crickets and tarantulas, snakes, crocodile meat, ostrich and the very unusual duck embryo. All these different and strange foods create the rich Khmer culinary culture and you cannot leave Cambodia without experiencing it.

The water festival

As part of our travels around South East Asia, we have spent one month in Cambodia. During our time in Siem Riep there was the Water Festival (Bon Om Tuk). The event traditionally celebrates the epic victory of the devaraja (God king) Jayavarman VII over the chams (the ancestors of Vietnamese people). It also marks the extraordinary natural phenomenon of the reverse of the current of Tonlé Sap River.

It’s one of the most loved festival by the locals and great celebrations are organised in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep. Colourful boats race on the river each of them holding 40 rowers. The end of the race is celebrated with traditional Khmer music and fireworks. The streets along the river are lined with street sellers and food stalls, and is here that the real fun of the locals begins. Ranging from fried crickets, fried tarantulas and snakes, frog legs and duck embryos, everything is available at an incredibly low price. Fresh coconuts and beer are the most popular drinks.

At the end of the night, colourful cardboard boats decorated with fresh flowers and incense are released on the river by the locals, symbolising the prayer for a new season, rich in health and harvest.

Wellness Wednesday

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