Monday, 20 January 2014

Tuna Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I need rehab...from Costco! I'm there practically every other day. I can't help myself. I don't even know if I'm saving money. Probably not but I know I'll never run out of toilet paper...and tuna steaks! Hence this recipe. It's adapted from a recipe of Jamie Oliver's that I came across awhile ago. The only thing I would do different with this recipe is maybe soak the breadcrumbs in milk to give them a little moisture. I served these with steamed broccoli but of course they would be really good with any pasta.

Tomato Sauce

olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small red chili or chili flakes
crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

For tomato sauce, saute onion, garlic and chili's in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Tuna Meatballs

15oz fresh tuna steaks
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
handful parsley, chopped

In the meantime, make the tuna meatballs. Chop tuna steaks into half inch cubes. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and let the mixture sit for half an hour. Form into 2 inch balls. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs. This might have to be done in batches because you don't want to crowd the pan.  Place the tuna meatballs in the tomato sauce, simmer for 10 minutes and serve.

m xo

Friday, 17 January 2014

My new mug with Fresh Cranberry, Lemon, Lime Scones

I came home from work the other day and my husband had a surprise for me! Who doesn't like surprises?! 
He got me a coffee mug with MY cucinamarisa logo on it. He is so adorable! He has been so supportive and patient with my new blogging adventure. Example: I'll serve the dish that I'm about to blog and the poor man is just about to dig in and I'll yell "STOP!". I forgot to photograph the recipe. Hahaha! I would find this very difficult  without his encouragement.
And then of course there are all the computer challenges. He's teaching me as I go along and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. It's given me another creative outlet although I still have a lot to learn.
  I really wanted to show off my new mug with you guys but I couldn't just take a picture of it sitting all by itself. How boring would that be? So I decided to bake these scones.
 I had seen this particular recipe on the blog Joy The Baker and I liked it because A: it was easy and B: I had a huge bag of fresh cranberries that I bought at Costco. Also, they are not too sweet. Perfect with a cup of tea. 

Fresh Cranberry, Lemon, Lime Biscuits

3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg,  lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk  (I used almond milk)
1 cup fresh cranberries
zest of a lemon  (I also used the zest of a lime)

milk to brush the tops of scones before baking
sugar to sprinkle on before baking

Preheat oven 400F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until it looks like little peas. I use my hands for this but you have to be quick because the butter has to stay cold. Thats what makes them flaky. Lightly beat the egg and milk and add to flour mixture until combined. Fold in zest and cranberries.
Turn out on floured board, pat it together and roll with a rolling pin to 1 inch thickness. Cut out  2 inch rounds. I used a glass for this. Place on baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Serve warm. Yummy.

m xo

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Chickpea Bread with Fennel, Cabbage, Celery Salad

If you have never tried chickpea bread before, you must try it. I feel in love with this street food when we went to Florence a few years ago. It's not your typical bread as it has no leavening agent. It's gluten-free, protein and fiber filled AND so easy to make. When it comes out of the oven it should be crispy on the outside. Tonight we had it with a salad but I also like to serve it with aperitifs alongside some chunks of parmesan cheese drizzled with honey. 
I didn't give you quantities for the salad. That all depends on you. Whatever you like. Or don't like. 
 I'm not a huge fan of raw onions or raw garlic for that matter, so that's why I like to soak the onion slices in water for about 15 minutes. I find it mellows it out a bit. 

Chickpea Bread

1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a bowl whisk together chickpea flour, salt and water. Add olive oil and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Coat a 10 inch pan or cast iron skillet with olive oil and pour in batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

In the meantime, make the salad.


Chinese napa cabbage. shredded
Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Celery, thinly sliced
Parsley, leaves picked off the stems
Grapes, halved
Slivered almonds, toasted
Shallot, thinly sliced, soaked in cold water
Shaved parmesan cheese


1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients for the salad and drizzle on the dressing. Top with shaved parmesan cheese.

m xo

Monday, 13 January 2014

Devils on Horseback

I always have Medjool dates on my kitchen counter. Here's why. I have a sweet tooth, especially after dinner. I figure I will eat the dates instead of a cookie or candy. Right? Umm, no. My intentions are good but that doesn't happen all the time (ok, most the time). So last night I decided to make Devils on Horseback with my dates. I love these little appetizers because they are sweet and salty, my favorite combination. I'm sure you've seen this recipe everywhere. It's all over Pinterest. I made them once before without the cheese, just dates wrapped in bacon. I found them a little too sweet. This time I added parmesan cheese and almonds. They were de-lish!

Devils on Horseback

Medjool dates, pitted
Parmesan cheese, pieces
Almonds, sliced
Bacon, cut lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400F.
Place a little piece of cheese and a couple slices of almonds in the centre of each date. Carefully wrap each one with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until crispy. Carefully remove toothpicks and serve.

Now I have to replace the dates that I used for these so that I have something sweet to eat after dinner. ;-)
m xo

Friday, 10 January 2014

Braised Eggs with Chicken, Tahini and Sumac

The Jerusalem cookbook is one of many that I own by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Isreali, Italian, London based chef. I LOVE all his recipes that I have tried so far. Not only are they delicious, but crowd pleasing too. This recipe in particular seems complicated but I assure you it is not. Once you have all the ingredients in front of you, it comes together pretty quickly.
The original recipe is made with ground lamb but neither I or my husband like lamb so I subbed ground chicken. Next time I would use dark meat only or ground beef, as it was a little dry, but still great tasting!! I also didn't have preserved lemons so I used lemon zest.
Warning, this dish is spicy because of the harissa paste but the yogurt sauce really cools it down. If you don't like heat, either cut down on the paste or omit it.

Braised Eggs with Chicken, Tahini and Sumac
( adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
12 oz ground chicken
2 teaspoons sumac
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup toasted, unsalted pistachios, crushed
7 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 large eggs
salt & pepper

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

Saute onion and garlic in a little olive until soft and golden. Turn up heat and add the ground chicken until browned. Add sumac, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and add nuts, harissa, and lemon zest.
In the meantime, char the tomatoes either in a hot pan or under the broiler. Set aside.
Mix the ingredients for yogurt sauce with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Reheat meat and add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Make 4 small wells in the mix and break an egg in each well. Cover and cook the eggs over low heat for 3 minutes. Place the tomatoes on top and cover again for 5 minutes or until the whites are cooked.
Remove from heat and dot with yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro.

m xo

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Clementine Cake

Let me start by saying, baking is not my favorite thing to do. I'm not an exact measurer when I cook and I hate the fact that it's REALLY important when you bake. Trust me, I've tried to just throw ingredients in without measuring, hoping to get great results. Doesn't work. But I do like forgiving recipes like this one from Nigella Lawson. Few ingredients. One bowl. I tweaked the recipe a little by adding cardamom, cutting down the sugar and adding a pinch of salt. If you like citrus, this is the cake for you! And it's better the next day. It's almost like it was drenched in syrup. The only thing to remember is to cook your clementines ahead of time. 

Clementine Cake 
(adapted from How To Eat by Nigella Lawson)

4-5 clementines, 375g total weight
6 large eggs
200g sugar
250g ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

Place clementines in a pot, cover with water and cook for 2 hours. Drain and cool. Cut in half and remove any seeds.

Preheat oven 375°F. Place clementines in a food processor and pulse. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse again. Pour in a greased, round springform pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let it completely cool before removing from pan.

PS   Let me tell you how forgiving this cake really is. 
After I put the pan in the oven and starting to clean up the kitchen, I noticed there were 6 eggs sitting on the counter. 
Uh oh! I FORGOT to put the eggs in!  Hahaha! So I took the cake out of the oven, put the batter back in the processor, let it cool a bit, added the eggs, pulsed, poured back in pan and back in the oven it went. How did the cake turn out you ask? Fabulous! No one knew a thing. You can tell from the photos for yourself. 

m xo

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


I came home from work last night and really didn't feel like cooking anything so I decided to make guacamole because I had some really nice, ripe avocados sitting on my counter. 

This isn't a recipe per se. I just wanted to share it with you. 


2-3 ripe but firm avocados
1 small red onion, chopped
handful cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in a bowl and mix. I like pretty chunky so I don't mash it too much but you can mash it to the consistency you prefer. Serve with tortillas chips.

m xo

Monday, 6 January 2014

Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Sambuca

Of course like many people, I gained a couple pounds this holiday season so I'm trying to reign it in the next few weeks so it doesn't get out of control. And I'm always looking for recipes that don't sacrifice flavour.

This is a lovely recipe!  Roasted chicken with caramelized fennel and a hint of anise.  It originally called for Arak, a Middle Eastern anise flavoured spirit but I didn't have any so I subbed Sambuca. I marinated my chicken overnight but I'm sure it would be just as good if you are pressed for time. Next time though, I would add a couple more bulbs of fennel because we couldn't get enough of it. My husband and I were fighting over it!

Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Sambuca
(adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

6 1/2 tablespoons Sambuca
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
2 1/2-3 lbs chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces
4 clementines, unpeeled and sliced
1 tablespoons thyme
2 1/2teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
Salt and pepper
Parsley, chopped

Put the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.Whisk.
Add the fennel wedges, chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme and fennel seeds. Coat the chicken well and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°F.
Transfer chicken and marinade to a roasting pan in a single layer with fennel and clementines at the bottom with skin side up. Roast for 35-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

m xo

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Vitamin C with your salad?

I thought I'd share this salad with you because if you are anything like me, you over indulged this past holiday season and CRAVE fresh salads. My riff on it this time was to use Chinese napa cabbage instead of romaine to keep it interesting and delicious. And of course oranges because I could always use the extra vitamin C this time of year. I also used Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, but you can easily substitute white balsamic vinegar and the juice of half an orange. 

Orange, Chinese Napa Cabbage, Fennel Salad

Chinese napa cabbage, shredded
Fennel, thinly sliced
Orange, peeled & sliced
Handful pomegranate seeds


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons of orange muscat champagne vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix ingredients of dressing, pour over salad and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

m xo

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

When life gives you panettone.....

I love the month of December for so many reasons... The first snow fall. Twinkling white lights. Latkes with applesauce and sour cream. And PANETTONE. It has to be one of my favorite things. It's a rich brioche-like bread with dried fruit. Nothing like a slice with a cup of coffee or tea as an afternoon pick me up. By January though, I usually have a couple in my pantry that I need to serve so I decided to make bread pudding with it to bring to our nieces brunch. I used the traditional panettone with dried fruit but you can easily use Pandoro and add the fruit.

Panettone Bread Pudding

1 panettone

7 large eggs

3 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

Zest of an orange

1 teaspoon cinnamon 
Pinch of salt

Cube the panettone and place in a lightly buttered casserole dish. Mix the rest of the ingredients for the custard and pour over the panettone. Push the cubes lightly down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. 


m xo