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Roasted summer vegetables

Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.

Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.

It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.

Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • a bunch asparagus
  • one tsp. olive oil

Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto

Ingredients
  • one cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
Method
  • Blend basil with olive oil.
  • Add salt, combine.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
  • Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pesto.

Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4-6 baby artichokes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • one tsp lemon zest

Recipe: Sizzling feta dip

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Method
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
  • Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
  • Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
  • Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
  • Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
  • Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 round courgettes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • tsp olive oil

Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
  • Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool down and blend.
  • Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.
  • Roast at 200C for about 35 minut.
  • Serve with tomato sauce.

Rhubarb pastries

They are incredibly quick to make (especially when you use ready-made puff pastry), they are delicious and, most importantly, they are beautifully pink.

Recipe: Rhubarb pastries

8 pastries
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (300 g), brought to room temperature
  • 3-4 rhubarb stalks
  • łyżka brown sugar
  • 2 łyżki lemon juice

Recipe: Rhubarb sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup homemade rhubarb syrup (recipe)
Method
  • Unroll the pastry sheets and lay one on a lined baking sheet
  • Cut 8 rectangles (10 x 5 cm).
  • Cut rhubarb stalks into roughly even lengths - about 8 cm. Place in a pot, top with boiling water, cover and set aside for 4 minutes. Drain.
  • Place two rhubarb strips on each piece of the pastry. Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with lemon juice.
  • Bake at 220C for about 20 minutes, until the pastries are golden and crisp.
  • To make the sauce, reduce the syrop over low heat for about 10 minutes, until it thickens.
  • Top pastries with sauce, serve with whipped cream.

Broad beans and asparagus salad

This asparagus and broad beans salad is extremely easy, takes very little time to prepare, but still is a truly satisfying Spring meal. It’s green, crispy and delicious. Makes a great quick lunch or a perfect addition to your picnic basket.

Recipe: Asparagus and broad beans salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a bunch green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup broad beans, shelled and cooked, skins removed

Recipe: Lemon dressing with chili flakes

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
Method
  • Cut off the asparagus tips, cook them in boiling water with one tbsp of sugar for 3 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, hinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips. Cook them for 30 seconds.
  • Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together.
  • Combine broad beans and asparagus with the dressing.

Pho soup

Delicious, aromatic and wonderfully warming, Vietnamese pho soup is a perfect remedy for a spring cold and a bad mood. As you can probably imagine, there are numerous variations and regional modifications of the recipe. The one I propose is my way of quickly making a satisfying bowl of soup.

I’ve made mine with shrimp, but you could use thin slices of beef instead. If you want your version to be vegan, go for cubed tofu. You can substitute mint and cilantro with your favourite fresh herbs and spice things up with Sriracha sauce.

It is consumed at any time of day in the North of Vietnam, whereas Southern Vietnamese usually serve it in the morning. It might seem weird to have a bowl of soup for breakfast, but trust me - it really is the best way to start your day. Especially on Mondays.

Recipe: Pho soup

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • one piece (ok. 5 cm) ginger
  • one green chili
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise stars
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • To serve: rice noodles, raw shrimp, green chili, lime, fresh mint and cilantro
Method
  • Char the onion and ginger over an open flame.
  • In a large pot, dry-roast cloves, cinnamon, anise, coriander and cardamom.
  • Add onion, ginger, chili and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for about an hour.
  • Season with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
  • In each bowl, place some noodles, shrimp, sliced green chillies, lime wedges, fresh mint and cilantro.
  • Top with hot broth.

Duck and waffle

Hot, cripsy waffles, duck leg marinated in maple syrup and fried egg with a perfectly runny yolk - can you imagine a better way to celebrate the upcoming weekend? Being a fanatic lover of all things brunch, I acknowledge many dishes that combine breakfast and lunch, but this particular one is by far my favourite.

The combination of sweet waffles and meat comes with, as you can easily guess, a "made in the USA" label. Chicken and waffles have been paired up by American diners for a while now. I mean American "while", which is closer to 100 and not 1000 years ago. Sadly, the exact origins of this delicious dish remain unknown. It could have been created anytime between the end of the 18th century, when Thomas Jefferson purchased the first waffle iron from France and the 1930s, when chicken and waffles became available in several places around New York's Harlem. There are two traditional versions of the dish - one with fried chicken, served with butter and syrop, the other one with stewed pulled chicken topped with gravy.

My recipe wasn't inspired by the heritage of the Founding Fathers, but by London's Duck and Waffle, with a finger-licking menu by Daniel Doherty. The flagship dish, duck and waffle, is not even the only reason to visit this place. The restaurant is situated on 40th floor, which reportedly guarantees unforgettable views of the London skyline. Reportedly, because upon my visit, all there was to see was a really thick fog. But fog doesn't really matter when you can sample spicy ox cheek doughnuts and crispy duck leg confit with perfectly fried duck egg and a comforting waffle. The place is open 24/7, so next time you have the midnigh munchies, you don't have to rely on what the nearest gas station has to offer.

If London is not on your way at the moment, make this deliciousess at home. There's no better way to start the weekend.

Recipe: Duck and Waffle

Serves: 2

Recipe: Duck legs

Ingredients
  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. coarse mustard
  • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • a pinch of coarse salt
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the marinade.
  • Carefully coat duck legs with marinade and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours (preferably even 24 hours, so if you have more time, let them marinate longer).
  • Remove the meat from the fridge at least half an hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 170C. Place duck legs in an ovenproof dish and top with remaining marinade.
  • Roast for 2-2,5 hours, until the meat falls from the bone.

Recipe: WAFFLES

Ingredients
  • one cup flour
  • one tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs (yolks and whites separate)
  • 85 ml vegetable oil
  • 225 ml milk
Method
  • Sieve flour into a bowl, add baking powder, sugar and salt. Combine.
  • Add whisked yolks, oil and milk. Combine until smooth using a mixer or a whisker.
  • Beat the egg whites and delicately combine with the batter.
  • Preheat a waffle maker and cook each waffle for 3-4 minutes (or accordingly to the waffle maker manual).
  • Serve waffles with duck legs, fried egg and some maple syrup mixed with coarse mustard.
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