Apr 2, 2010

"balkan" pasta puttanesca & signs of spring

we took a superlong, close to 3 hr walk with the dog in the afternoon and managed to do it in sunshine. sun has been melting a lot of the snow, still plenty more to melt, though. this almost over flowing brook near the shack leads to one of the lakes in the area. this brook is normally nothing more than a ditch, now it barely holds the water coming downstreams. we will have to go back to this place next week to see if the bridge, on which i was standing when i took this pic, is still passable, there seemed to be plenty more snow and water upstream

as much as i like the weather getting warmer, i hate the fact that in the spring i always seem to wear too much... it was +7C when we left for the walk but it was certainly a lot warmer in the sun

the daphne mezereum blooms before the leaves come out

after such a long walk we needed something "fortifying"... limoncello with ice

today it took exceptionally long to decide what i'd make with the chicken there was in the fridge, my mind was going blank on me. therefore, i took out my anna olson cookbooks, browsed thru them and decided on anna's chicken puttanesca. naturally, it would have been asking too much if i'd followed the recipe to a tee, had to twist it a bit.

as i had chicken breasts i used them instead of chicken thighs. i had some roasted peppers in the fridge so i added one, and switched the chili flakes for chipotle paste. there was no anchovy paste...

this might look like an ordinary roasted and peeled red pepper from a jar to you, but for us these are balkan peppers. the best i've had, so far, were in vukovar made by my then landlady from her homegrown peppers. i just wish i had paid more attention to what and how much she used to make the brine for her peppers... also, our landlady in pristina made quite nice ones as well. hers were a bit more smoky tasting and i'm sure certain someone still remembers how to peel a roasted pepper... he helped the landlady's son in law to peel bucketfulls of peppers!

you must, by now, know how much i like my microplane grater?

i'm not entirely sure why i bought this coconut oil...could be that the saleslady was good at her job...anyways and eventhough coconut isn't something i would ever use with this type of pasta sauce, i decided to try this oil for browning the chicken

the oil worked great. certain someone tought that there was a hint of coconut taste in the sauce later, but i couldn't taste it. after browning the chicken pieces i took them out and sauteed the onion and garlic...

...before adding 500 gr of crushed tomatoes and the roughly minced peppers, mixed well, put back the chicken pieces and cooked on low for 30 mins with the lid on

5 mins before serving i added the capers and olives and turned the heat off

garnished with fresh basil on whole wheat pasta. gosh, this was good! on hindsight, despite the saltiness of capers and olives, the anchovy paste might have made this even better.

as for vegetarians, i see no reason why this couldn't be made without any meat... i'm thinking cubed eggplant browned in oil would work great with these flavours


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