Recipe — Sumac Avocado Toast and Mediterranean Style Toast Prosciutto

Recipe — Sumac Avocado Toast and Mediterranean Style Toast Prosciutto

Hi to All and hope you’re enjoying Summer!

Today I’m sharing two new combinations of toast that I just created. Recently I discovered a new fragrant spice called Sumac, a reddish-purple powder that is used in Middle Eastern Cuisine. Since then I’ve been experimenting with other dishes such as sprinkling sumac over salads and sandwiches. It generally tastes good in hot or cold meals. The flavor of sumac is incredible, so I decide to be more creative with this spice mixing it in with avocado and pouring it on top of toasted bread. The warmth of a soft boiled egg enhanced with sumac, deliciously melts in my mouth.

Sumac Avocado Toast with Soft Boiled Eggs

Ingredients: Serves 3

  • 2 organic fresh ripe avocados peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp of sumac [About Sumac]
  • 3 soft organic boiled eggs peeled
  • 3 slices sourdoughs toasted bread
  • Salt flakes to taste

How to Prepare the First Sumac Avocado Toast

  1. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds, gently with a sharp knife make cuts in the avocado fresh in a cross-hatch pattern, careful not to break through the avocado peel. Then use a spoon to easily scoop out the avocado pieces.
  2. In a glass bowl mix gently with small spoon the avocado pieces with sumac, and add salt flakes according to taste. Set a side and covered with plastic food wrap.
  3. Pre-heated oven: 360°F.
  4. Toast the bread slices on a baking sheet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Don’t forget to flip to brown both sides.
  5. Place the 3 eggs in a small saucepan. Cover them with 1 inch of cool water by. Bring water to a boil over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from burner. (Since I don’t know the size of your sauce pan and hence the amount of water used, you’ll need to make the necessary adjustments.)
  6. Peeled the eggs gently set a side in small plate.
  7. Generously spread the sumac avocado mixture with a spatula on your toasted bread. Then top it off with a soft boiled egg and gently cut the egg in half with a very sharp knife. Once the yolk runs, sprinkle it with a bit freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately with your favorite drink.

This is how the combination of the diced avocados and sumac should be mixed.

 

Mediterranean Style Toast with Prosciutto, Boiled Mini Mushrooms and Feta Cheese

Here’s another great tasting toast that is worth trying out, especially if you like Prosciutto. It’s perfect for those days when you feel like eating something simple. Thanks to the Mediterranean influence of the herbed feta cheese and the cuteness of the mini broiled mushrooms (Kinoko Sansai Serhri) that I found at the local Japanese market, you now have more options for your toast. The mushrooms are very well packaged in a thicker plastic bag, and well sealed, as they come from Japan. You’ll easily identify them in the cold section of a well-rounded supermarket.

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 4 tbsp Basil Pesto Black Olive & Feta [I used Elki]
  • 6 organic baby spinach
  • 2 slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 6 mini boiled mushrooms for toppings
  • handful crumbled feta cheese with Mediterranean herbs [I used the Trader Joe’s]
  • 2 sourdoughs slices toasted bread

How to Prepare the Second  Mediterranean Toast

  1. Pre-heated oven: 360°F.
  2. Toast the bread slices on a baking sheet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Don’t forget to flip to brown both sides.
  3. Generously spread the 2 tbsp of the Basil Pesto Black Olive & Feta with spoon on a toasted bread. Add top with 1 slice of Prosciutto de Parma, then 3 baby spinach, and 3 boiled small mushrooms sprinkled with Mediterranean feta cheese according to taste.
  4. Repeat step 3 on the second toast. Serve immediately with your favorite drink.

 

Super Smoothie with Strawberries Bananas Oats and Nuts

Super Smoothie with Strawberries Bananas Oats and Nuts

I’m excited to share this super smoothie with you, packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a refreshing, energizing and satisfying drink for any day or time, especially when you are a little hungry but don’t feel like eating a heavy meal, or if you’re too busy running errands and have little time, this is the perfect smoothie for you! So if you’re one of those people who jets out the door without breakfast in the morning … need I say more?

.. enjoy every sip, tasting the nutty flavor and tender crunch of the cashews, macadamias and hemp seeds. It’s healthy, delicious and rejuvenating.

Hope you enjoy this drink as much as I did. 😋💚

 

Super Smoothie with Strawberries Bananas Oats and Nuts

Ingredients: Makes 2 tall glasses

  • 3 organic bananas fresh and peeled
  • 4 organic strawberries fresh rinsed without stem
  • 2 tbsp organic raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp organic raw macadamias
  • 1 tbsp oats
  • ½ tsp honey (optional depending how sweet your bananas and strawberries are)
  • 3 handfuls ice cubes
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened almond milk

Toppings

Sprinkle with raw shelled hemp seeds, approximating 1/8 tsp, divided between both glasses.

How to Make:

  1. Add all the smoothie ingredients in a blender and press crush first and then blender on high until smooth.
  2. Pour smoothie into tall glasses.
  3. Top each glass with raw shelled hemp seeds and serve immediately with a straw.

Recipe — Colorful Vegetables Spiced Soup and Herbed Bread

Recipe — Colorful Vegetables Spiced Soup and Herbed Bread

Bonjour!

Hope everyone had a sweet Valentine’s Day.

Below is a lively colorful orange soup with distinctive taste and rich texture. It’s as beautiful in the bowl as it is delicious. It’s so nice to discover new ways to prepare healthy dishes using simple ingredients such as vegetables, herbs and a little kosher meat, and transform these into an aromatic meal.

The combination of a variety of spices like cumin, cayenne pepper, and dried oregano turned out to be the key for great aroma and taste in this soup, blended all together bringing out intense flavor. Take your time and enjoy …

Happy Saturday and wishing you a relaxing and peaceful, long Weekend!

Colorful Vegetables Spiced Soup and Herbed Bread

Ingredients: Serves 4 – 6

Time: (for the soup) 2hrs between preparation and cooking

  • 15.05 oz organic sweet potato, skin less and chopped
  • 1 lb. organic carrots, peeled and chopped [approx. 4 large carrots]
  • ¾ cup organic celery, washed and chopped [approx. 2 stalks]
  • 1 cup organic red bell pepper, rinsed, seedless and chopped [approx. 1 large red bell pepper]
  • 1 cup organic white onions, peeled and diced [approx. 1 large onion]
  • 4 organic garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  •  1 lb. natural Angus prime beef chuck for stew cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 cup organic fire roasted tomatoes [I used these tomatoes]
  • 32 FL.oz. organic vegetable broth – low sodium or homemade
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  •  2 large bay leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • Kosher salt for taste, [for beef and whole soup]

How to Prepare:

  1. Generously salt the beef chunks and set a side.
  2. In a dutch oven, heat a large heavy soup pot on medium high heat until hot.
  3. Add olive oil followed by the beef in a single layer and sear meat until brown on both sides.
  4. Transfer the beef to a large glass bowl and turn down the heat to medium low.
  5. Add the onions and then garlic to the pot. Sauté until tender and turn translucent NOT brown, simmer and gently stir with heat resistant rubber spoon.
  6. Add the carrots and sweet potatos and continue sautéing until started to brown. Then continue adding celery, fire roasted tomatoes, red bell peppers, vegetable broth, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and salt and return the beef to the pot as well. Cook for about 1 hour on low simmer, cover the pot and leave a crack for steam to escape. The meat and vegetables should fall apart when prodded with a fork.
  7. Check periodically to see that all the liquid hasn’t evaporated and add a little water if necessary.
  8. After completely cooked, take off the heat, remove the bay leaves and transfer the vegetable soup mixture into a regular blender or use an immersion blender. Then purée until very smooth. [You may also wait until the soup has cooled esp. if your blender is not heat resistant.]
  9. In another large heavy soup pot, on medium-low heat, pour in the vegetable puree, simmer gently and stir with heat-resistant rubber spoon until it is lightly thickened for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish with a parsley leaf, and serve it hot.

 

Here is a delicious Herbed Garlic Bread recipe to serve with this soup:

Active Time: 10 min. Total Time 25 min. Serves 4

This garlic bread gets its vibrant green color from butter mixed with chopped parsley. The spread is also great on steamed vegetables.

  • ¾ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 loaf Ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Finely chop parsley and garlic in a food processor. Add butter, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and purée until smooth.
  2. Spread herbed butter on cut sides of bread, then place cut sides back together. Wrap in foil. Bake until bread is warm and butter melts, about 15 minutes. Cut into wedges.

* Notes: 

  • The Herbed Garlic Bread recipe is from Martha Stewart Living Magazine dated March 2011. It was my first time making this bread and I enjoyed so much eating it with this soup that I decided to include it here.
  • The best part of this recipe is that if you don’t have time to cook, you just place the excess soup in Tupperware and refrigerate it for other meals.
  • The napkins featured in this recipe are from my new Bella Bohemian Good Living collection found on https://bellabohemian.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe — Carrots Stew with Angus Prime Beef

Recipe — Carrots Stew with Angus Prime Beef

Greetings!

Happy Saturday to all — hope you had a fabulous week! Mine was super cool and filled with new adventures and excitements. I’ve been working on new projects and now putting the finishing touches on a new collection on our website under the title Bella Bohemian Good Living, which will be launching soon. In the photos below is a sneak peek of what’s coming in our new line of lavender linen napkins. Of course I will post a detailed description of what I’ve been creating recently.

Below is a great and delicious recipe with ingredients that I love to cook with! It’s a slow cooker stew with carrots and Angus beef. The best part of this recipe is that if you don’t have time to cook, you just place the excess of the stew in Tupperware and refrigerate it for other meals.

You’re going to say Oh MY GOD  it’s an hour of preparation and cooking, but you won’t notice time passing. At the end it’s worth it and remember you can freeze the rest.

Have an amazing and relaxing weekend!  (◡‿◡) ♥♥ ✿¸.◦*´`✿✿¸¸.

 

Carrots Stew with Angus Prime Beef

Ingredients: Serves 4 – 8

Time (for the stew) : 1hr between preparation and cooking

  • 2 lbs 1.2 oz natural Angus prime beef chuck for stew cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1lbs 14.3 oz organic carrots [approx. 12 medium carrots]
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp organic garlic, peeled and minced [approx. 3 cloves]
  • 2 tbsp organic yellow onions [approx. 1 medium onion] peeled and thinly chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups organic fire roasted tomatoes [I used these tomatoes]
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup organic green bell pepper rinsed, seedless and diced [approx. half large pepper]
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic fresh parsley rinsed and chopped [to add after finishing cooking the stew]
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorn [for beef and whole stew]

How to Prepare the Stew:

  1. Peel the carrots using a peeler, then puree a quarter of the carrots in a food processor or regular blender with 1/2 cup water if necessary. Slice the rest of the carrots into 1/2 – inch think chunks.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the beef chunks and then dust with the flour.
  3. In a dutch oven, heat a large heavy soup pot over high heat until hot.
  4. Add olive oil followed by the beef in a single layer. Brown on one side until a peek underneath reveals a dark brown crust.
  5. Flip the beef and brown the other side.
  6. Transfer the beef to a large glass bowl and turn down the heat to medium low.
  7. Add the garlic and onions to the pot. Sauté until tender and starting to brown, simmer and gently stir with a heat resistant rubber spoon.
  8. Add the carrots puree and continue sautéing until the carrots puree has started to brown.
  9. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  10. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper and return the beef to the pot. Cook for about 45 minutes in low simmer, covered the pot and leave a crack for the steam to escape. The meat should fall apart when prodded with a fork.
  11. Check periodically to see that all the the liquid hasn’t evaporated and add a little water if the pot looks dry.
  12.  When the time is up, add the carrots and 3/4 cup more water and let cook for 25 – 30 minutes.
  13. If it’s still not as tender as you’d like, simmer uncovered until it reaches your desired level of tenderness.
  14. Add the green bell pepper, taste the stew and add salt as needed, and then at last add the chopped parsley.
  15. Meanwhile pour the stew onto plates and top off with white rice, garnish with your favorite greens for freshness, and serve it hot.

Carrots Stew with Angus Prime Beef - 2016 photo 2 by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

*Notes:

  • The preparation seems long for a stew, that’s because I don’t have a pressure cooker, but if you have one, it should take only around 35 minutes. Usually a pressure cooker is always faster to cook than pots.
  • And I didn’t mind spending time around the kitchen because to me it’s always a pleasure to cook. I really enjoy taking the time in washing, chopping and preparing all the ingredients and playing with the spices. Also measure the ingredients in the scale, cleaning, setting the table, preparing drinks, you don’t notice the time, just when you start to smell the delicious aroma of your creation.
  • I used great beef chucks for this recipe, without antibiotics, hormones — in other words, cows which were fed 100% vegetarian diet. If you are going to eat meat, its quality is very important. Therefore read the labels before buying any kind of meat, or purchase organic, grass-fed from your local butcher or market.
  • This recipe has been made before with less meat and carrots: 1 lb 5.4 oz beef chucks and 1  lb 10.2 oz carrots. This time I doubled the ingredients of the stew and placed the excess in Tupperware and refrigerated for other meals. It’s an easy alternative for cold days and when you don’t have time to cook.
  • By the way it’s up to you to add any spices that you like, garnish or eat with any combination you feel is good for you. I particularly like to add more green bell peppers at the end without letting them cook too long. I think cilantro goes well with this stew.
  • In my opinion the Muir Glen organic fire roasted tomatoes are the best for any recipe.

Carrots Stew with Prime Angus Beef - 2016 photo 3 by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

Recipe – Black Lentils with White Fish & Shiitake dried Mushrooms

Recipe – Black Lentils with White Fish & Shiitake dried Mushrooms

Greetings!

Making this dish was an absolute joy. The balance is just perfect. I cooked the lentils with fresh jalapeño peppers instead of using the usual freshly ground black peppers or other routine seasonings. For this recipe, the jalapeño added a delightful taste to this dish. I prepared a large pot of lentils yesterday, enough for both lunch and dinner. Also this was my first time using the shiitake mushrooms which added another unique flavor. Accompanied by soft fish fillets, the meal was surprisingly good.

With the tight schedule and all of the things to do, I’m always looking for alternatives for a healthy recipe full of flavor that is satisfying and easy to prepare. You can eat the lentils with sweet potato as well, transforming this recipe into a vegetarian meal.

Now go and delight your family and your guests with this healthy dish.

If you have questions or comments, drop me line.

Black Lentils with White Fish & Shiitake dried Mushrooms

Ingredients: Serves 4 to 8

Time (for the lentils): 25 – 35 minutes

  • 1 cup organic black lentils [I used Whole Foods 365 organic black lentils]
  • 4 tbsp organic white onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil [I used Olio Basso]
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms [approx. 16 large dried mushrooms]
  • 4 tbsp fresh jalapeño peppers rinsed, seedless, deveined and diced [approx. 2 jalapeños mild-range]
  • 2 Atlantic Spanish mackerel fresh fillets [approx. 0.38 lb. each always choose fish, that is from sustainable sources.]
  • 2 Black cod fresh fillets [approx. 0.39 lb. each]
  • 4 bacon strips uncured [I used uncured center cut, smoke bacon reduced sodium, from – Whole Foods
  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorn, [for the fish fillets]
  • Garnish with your favorite greens

How to Prepare the Lentils:

1. Before cooking the lentils always examine, sort and rinse well, lentils do note require soaking. Combine 1 cup lentils with 4 – 6 cups hot water. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached, about 25 – 35 minutes or until tender for main dishes.

2. Soak shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 20 – 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap to stop heat escaping.

Meanwhile: Rinse the fish fillets in cold water, while scraping off any scales and pulling out the bones (if any ) one with a tweezer. Then pat and dry with paper tower.

Season the fish fillets on both sides with salt and fresh ground black pepper, (depending on your preferences, you can add other herbs as well). Coat with extra-virgin olive oil and leave aside for couple of minutes.

3. Remove and squeeze excess water out of the shiitake mushrooms, then cut into 1/2 inch strips and set aside. Now chop the jalapeño peppers and white onions and set these aside as well in separe small bowls.

4. Preheat oven to 400°F.

a) Line the baking sheet with foil and place fish fillets on it. Cook for about 9 to 15 minutes relative to the thickness of the fish. In other words, bake until the fish is golden and crisp.

b) On another baking sheet with foil, place the 4 strips of bacon and cook until crisp for about 10 minutes at the same time as you are cooking the fish fillets, just put on a different shelf in the oven. It’s easier this way because you need to change the sides, of the fish fillets so you do the same with bacon strips.

5. By this time the lentils are already cooked. Heat the olive oil with medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot and add white onions and sautéed until golden, then add shiitake mushrooms, stirring the firsts ingredients, then add the lentils, continue cooking on low heat, partially covered for about 15 minutes, taste and adjust salt, then add the jalapeños, cooking for  5 – 10 more minutes. Once done, remove from heat.

6. First pour lentils on individual plates, then carefully top with the fish fillets, using a wide spatula to ensure that the fish does not fall apart when removing them from the baking sheet, then drizzle with chopped bacon. Garnish each plate with your favorite greens for freshness.

Notes: 

  • Preparation time was around 25 – 35 minutes for me. That is, preparing the lentils to cook first, then soaking the mushrooms, in between cleaning and seasoning the fish fillets. After that, cutting the white onions and jalapeños, also laying the strips of bacon on the baking sheet. As said before, it’s difficult for me to accurately estimate cooking times as each individual is different. If you follow this sequence and are organized, you have plenty of time to be ready without having to rush anything. Always when preparing this dish, remember to occasionally stir the lentils.
  • You can buy shiitake mushrooms in any Asian market or Chinese herbal shop. Select whole mushrooms not pre-sliced ones because it’s hard to gauge how much of the pre-sliced dried mushrooms are needed to equal a full cap. Most recipes call for a full-cap count of shiitake mushroom, not weight.
  • The mushrooms double in sizes after been soaked in hot water. Drain, strain the liquid and use in stocks, soups, stews, sauces, pâtés and gratins. Many recipes call for hot or warm water but it isn’t always necessary to use hot water. Room temperature water will also soften the mushrooms and many people believe it extracts less of the flavor and nutrients from the mushrooms, leaving more flavor for you to enjoy.
  • If you buy the package of mushrooms with stems, discard them, because they are too tough to eat. I bought mine without the stems and just used warm water to soak them like the instructions on the package.

 

The Grit

One of the big challenges with dried mushrooms is grit. Dried mushrooms are notoriously gritty and it only takes the tiniest amount of it to ruin a whole dish. Some people have even given up on dried mushrooms due to the fact that they can’t seem to get the grit out. Soaking as we explain here will remove the majority of it, and rinsing, too, will often take care of the rest.

Cheap and low-grade mushrooms tend to have more grit, and the amount of grit can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, depending on how they handle the mushrooms. Ask around, find a brand you like.

Notes continued:

  • Once an exotic, somewhat obscure item, dried mushrooms are easily available in many grocery stores these days. They fall roughly into two categories: Asian mushrooms like shiitake, wood ear, cloud ear, and matsutake, and European/American mushrooms like porcini, morel, trumpet, and chanterelle. Their quality, flavor, and amount of grit can vary considerably. Price is often a good guide as the pricier versions tend to be of higher quality and lower grit. Purchase your mushrooms from a reliable source or find a brand that you can rely on for quality. They will last a very long time — a year, if not more — if kept in a well-sealed container.
  • This recipe had been made using shallots instead of white onions. Both are delicious. If cooking with shallots, just double the table spoons (amount) and sautée over medium-low heat until they begin to soften and turn translucent not browned after about 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Drizzling with bacon is optional. In my opinion it gives added flavor to the dish as well as crunchiness in every spoonful. The bacon where baked is best drained of grease in a paper towel, chopped then mixed with sea salt.
  • Remember that the lentils will thicken as they sit. Leftovers should be placed in a Tupperware (or similar) container and refrigerated. Additional stock or water may be added to adjust the consistency of the lentils before reheating.
  • This recipe calls for a pepper to be seeded. This just means that you have to remove the seeds and veins. While it is actually the seeds and the veins that cause all the heat, the oils in the peppers can irritate your skin. Some people (including me!) always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers.

Recipe — Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad

Recipe — Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!

Today I’m sharing a very delicious and simple meal for this long weekend! It’s a great way to celebrate your Valentine in style without following too many steps when preparing a meal.

The basics I’m sure you already have in your kitchen. Just follow these instructions and you’ll serve a tasty, light and flavorful dinner and get bonus points for impressing your sweet heart with your cooking skills.

While it’s very simple, you can prepare a day ahead of time. Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing with glass of wine, waiting until your lovely bell rings.

Hope you enjoy every spoonful!

 ~~♥♡

Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1.56 lb Australian or New Zealand Lamb Rack, Frenched [approx. 8 chops]
  • 2 bunches medium leeks, trimmed of their roots, well washed, white and light green parts only and cut into rounds. [approx. 4 cups]
  • 4 tbsp organic shallots, peeled and finely chopped [approx. 1 large shallot]
  • 3½ tbsp water
  • 4-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2½ tbsp organic fresh lemon juice [approx. 1lemon]
  • Smoked Sea Salt [I used this Smoked Sea Salt]
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to Prepare the Lamb:

  1. Season the rack on both sides with smoked sea salt, fresh black pepper and lemon juiced. Set a side. Allow to sit in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours before cooking.
  2. Heat a large pan with a lid and add olive oil, shallots, and leeks. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring often with a heat resistant rubber spoon then add water. Stir well to coat with oily water, and season a little according to preference. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until leeks are very tender. Continuing stirring occasionally to make sure they aren’t sticking, adding more water if necessary to stop the pan from going dry before the leeks soften.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a sauté pan over high heat and add a little oil. Sear lamb rack then place into the preheated oven. Cook lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F [approx. 16-20 minutes for medium]. Remove rack, cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Once the leeks are cooked, slice the lamb into individual chops, then pour the sautéed leeks on top of the lamb, then drizzle with toasted almonds onto the serving plate.

2016 - Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad photo 2 by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

Quinoa with Kiwi, Feta, Arugula and Mint Salad

Ingredients: Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic kiwi, peeled and chopped [approx. 3 kiwi fruits]
  • ¾ cup creamy feta cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup organic red bell pepper, washed, seedless and diced [approx. half large pepper]
  • 2½ tbsp organic fresh lemon juice [approx. 1 lemon]
  • 1 cup organic baby arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 15 organic large fresh mint leaves, rinsed and snipped
  • 2-3 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil [I used Olio Basso]

How to Cook Quinoa:

  1. First rinse the Quinoa, then place 1 cup of Quinoa in a large fine-meshed strainer, rubbing the seeds with your fingers under running cold water for at least two minutes. If you don’t rinse the Quinoa well it will end up tasting bitter. Allow to drain and dry for 20 minutes. This process prevents mushy grains.
  2. After the grains are completely dry, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a covered sauce pan. Reduce heat, add the quinoa and simmer for about 15 minutes (still covered), or until the Quinoa has absorbed all the water. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork.
  3. Keep covered and let stand until cooled.
  4. In a large glass bowl toss the Quinoa together with Kiwi, feta cheese, bell pepper, arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and mint. Lightly mix the ingredients with a rubber spoon. Taste, add salt, preferably Kosher, and white fine ground pepper if desired.
  5. Cover and chill for 1 hour or more to allow flavors to blend.

2016 - Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad photo 3 by RHônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

*Notes:

  • Cooking with leeks is healthy and the sweet delicate flavor combines well with the shallots, giving the lamb chops an incredible taste. It’s so worth all the preparation when cooking with leeks. Usually after the leeks are clean, towel-dry, cut the way you like it, then let sit for 5 minutes or more before cooking, to preserve their healthy qualities.
  • If you so desire, grill or BBQ the lamb rack 4 inches from moderately hot heat source, rib bones down. Grill for approximately 8-12 minutes per side. Wrap the rib bones in foil to prevent them from burning.
  • Pan fry: cut the rack into chops by slicing down between the ribs. Place chops into a preheated skillet. Cook over moderate heat for approximately 4 minutes per side.
  • The smoked sea salt creates a perfectly unique and unusual flavor in one’s mouth, especially when combined with the lemon juice mentioned.
  • The lamb was prepared first Frenched and then sat in the refrigerator for 2 hours. That gave me enough time to prepare the rest of the meal.
  • Remember it’s important to choose the right pan to properly sear meats, poultry and fish. A stainless steel or cast iron skillet are the best for cooking at high temperature, esp. when caramelizing.
  • I know there are so many ways to prepare Quinoa: I thought this salad turned out so delicious, fresh and light.
  • You can certainly add more toppings to the Quinoa, like green onions, or parsley, it just depends on what you like and how adventurous you are. To me the salad was already great. The baby arugula added a hint of pepper and the kiwi was just a magical match.
  • Here is a link to buy a pre-washed organic Quinoa for those people who don’t have much time or patience to wash Quinoa: Pre-washed organic Quinoa

 

2016 - Rack of Lamb with Leeks and Quinoa Salad photo by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

Recipe — Rainbow Carrot Fish Soup with Spinach

Recipe — Rainbow Carrot Fish Soup with Spinach

Greetings!

It’s been five months since my last post here. I hope that you are all well … Also wishing you a HAPPY 2016!

Past months have been incredible with lots of exciting and new things going on. Traveling was definitely on my calendar, tasting new food, meeting cool people and listening to their stories. Part of these new adventures and discoveries I’ll share with you here soon, once I’ve organized my photos.

If you are seeking warmth and comfort in these cold winter days, I have the perfect soup to share with you today. Nothing too fancy, just some aromatic and nutritional homey bowls of soup that will make you feel revived after a long tiring day. It will keep the house warm and filled with wonderful blissful scents in the air. Below is my basic recipe for these chilly days.

Hope you enjoy every spoonful! 

Rainbow Carrot Fish Soup with Spinach

Ingredients: Serves 4 to 6

Time (for the soup): 45 to 50 minutes

  • 6 – 8 cups homemade fish stock
  • 2 cups organic Rainbow carrots washed, peeled and chopped [approx. 7 – 10 medium carrots]
  • 4 cups organic large spinach bunch, washed and chopped
  • 3 tbsp organic celery, washed and chopped [approx. 1 stick]
  • 2 tbsp organic shallots, peeled and finely chopped [approx. 1 large shallot]
  • 10 tbsp organic potato, peeled and chopped [approx. 2 medium potatoes]
  • 7 tbsp organic firm plum tomato, washed, seedless, skinless and diced [approx. 2 large tomatoes]
  • 5 tbsp organic sweet petite pepper, washed, seedless and chopped [any color approx. 6 pepper]
  • 1/2 tsp organic garlic, peeled and minced [approx. 3 large cloves]
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to sauté the fish and shrimp
  • Salt to taste, preferably Kosher
  • Freshly ground black peppercorns, to taste
  • 2tbsp organic fresh cilantro, finely chopped including stems [to add after finishing sauté the shrimp]
  • 1or 2 organic lemons, plus extra slices to garnish the top soup
  • 1 1/2 cup peeled, deveined, cooked medium shrimp and tail on [approx. 25 shrimp]
  • 2 cups Alaskan True Cod Fillet, firm and skinless , rinsed in cold water, pat and dry with paper towel than cubed (or choose other white fish, that is from sustainable sources. [approx. 0.85 lb or more if you like extra fish]

How to Prepare the Soup:

  1. Heat the olive oil with medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot and add shallots, garlic, and sautéd celery, than add potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook, stirring until the firsts ingredients are tender, for about five minutes. Add carrots, tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Cook, stirring, until the mixing is very fragrant for about five more minutes then add the homemade fish stock. Cook stirring often until the ingredients have cooked down a bit and the soup starts to smell aromatic. After 25 minutes add spinach and sweet pepper. Continue cooking on very low heat for about 15 minutes, partially covered, taste and adjust salt and add black peppercorns as desired. Once done, remove from the heat. Also remove the 2 bay leaves.
  2. In two separate bowls season the white cubed fish and shrimp with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon lime juice toss and let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. In a hot, dry and wide non-stick frying pan add 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, over-medium high heat, add the fish, sauté for 3 minutes until it’s lightly brown, stirring often with a heat resistant rubber spoon. Squeeze more lemon juice if necessary for flavor, remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile pour in serving bowls topped with fish and in the same non-stick frying pan add 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and sauté the cooked shrimp for 2 minutes until is lightly brown, after that’s done, remove from heat and toss in 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro.
    Continue  scooping up the shrimp with a rubber spoon, finishing to top off all the soup bowls.
  5. Garnishing each bowl with slices of lemon and a spinach leaf, served hot. You can eat this soup with crackers, bread, biscuits or other side dish.

Rainbow Carrot Fish Soup with Spinach - 2016 photo 2 x1200 by Rhonya Holman

*Notes: 

  • Remember that the soup will thicken as it sits. Leftovers should be placed in a Tupperware (or similar) container and refrigerated. Additional fish stock or water may be added to adjust the consistency of the soup when reheating. This is a very tasty and nutritional soup which is also easy to make. Based on personal preference, if you would like the soup to have more flavor, you can add more chopped shallots, garlic and celery or some more fresh herbs and dried spices. Also you can choose any combinations of types of fish you like. This soup have been made before and this time taste better. I squeeze extra lemon juice when sauté the seafood. The soup had an interesting lemon flavor between spoonfuls.  Homemade fish stock is best; usually my chicken, vegetables, beef, shrimp or fish stock are homemade. It’s kept labeled in my freezer so it’s defrosted over night in the kitchen sink.
  • The colors of the soup are natural without any artificial colors because this dish was cooked with four different types of sweet carrots and well combined with other organic vegetables. I found these ingredients at my local Whole Foods market, but can also be found at any local Farmers Market as well. The fish is also from Whole Foods and says certified by: Marine Stewardship Council and shrimp are wild.
  • The soup serves 6 medium size bowls as pictured or can possibly serve 4 large bowls for fewer, more hungry guests/persons.
  • Preparation time was around 15-20 minutes for me, between washing and chopping the ingredients. It’s always faster if you work with a properly sharpened knife. It’s difficult for me to accurately estimate cooking times as each individual is different.

Rainbow Carrot Fish Soup with Spinach - 2016 photo 1 by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

 

Recipe — Fusilli Pasta Salad

Recipe — Fusilli Pasta Salad

Here is another minimalist meal using some ingredients you have lying around in your kitchen. This past weekend I roasted a whole chicken and had quite a bit of chicken left over. So I made this tasty, good looking, unexpectedly easy salad.

This salad is perfect for Summer and thankfully quick and easy to make, especially in this busy world we live in. You can make this for friends, take it to work or impress your friends at a party or maybe a new date.

In any case, it’s a piece of culinary art that’s delicious and very likely as nutritious as it is beautiful when served on individual plates, accompanied with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Eat, enjoy and let me know how it tastes!

Fusilli Pasta Salad - 2015 photo by Rhônya Holman for bella.bluelf.me

Fusilli Pasta Salad

Ingredients: Serves 2
Time (for the salad): 25 minutes or less

  • 1 cup shredder roasted chicken, boneless, skinless, free range preferably, room temperature
  • 1 cup organic fusilli (or pasta of choice) I used bionaturae fusilli
  • 2 tbsp organic sweet mini peppers, washed, seedless and diced
  • 3 tbsp red firm vine organic tomato, washed, seedless and diced
  • 2 tbsp red organic onions diced
  • 3 tbsp Italian pitted green seedless sliced olives ( I used Mezzetta Italian olives)
  • 2 tbsp fresh organic cilantro, rinsed and  finely chopped including stems
  • 3 tbsp fresh organic basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry chopped
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise ( I used  Hain Safflower Mayonnaise)
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

How to Prepare:

  1. Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package, until tender. Meanwhile start to cut all the ingredients listed above.
  2. Drain and rinse the fusilli pasta, under cold running water and set aside to drain.
  3. In a large glass bowl, add the shredder roasted chicken first, then the cooked pasta, diced sweet mini peppers, diced tomato, diced red onions, sliced green olives, finely chopped cilantro, finely chopped basil, and mayonnaise, and finally some seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper for taste. All ingredients should be well but gently mixed with a large spoon. Serve immediately or cover the salad bowl with plastic food wrap and refrigerate until later.

Notes:

  • I haven’t used any salt in this recipe, because the chicken was already cooked and seasoned with salt, black pepper and lemon juice.
  • Also I had cooked the pasta in salted water, so it’s up to you to add anything else.
  • Always makes sure when preparing food that vegetables, fruit and herbs are washed/rinsed before cooking especially when eating raw.