Sunday, 11 August 2013

Mi Cocina Es Tuya (my Kitchen is your Kitchen)

We are moving house and we are now looking for a new place to start again..
And we actually found the loveliest area called Crystal Palace Triangle.
It's 15 minutes from where I live now in Clapham but it looks like a cute village in the countryside and there's a wonderful sense of community. 
People smile a lot here, actually TALK TO EACH OTHER and are very helpful should you need anything.
One of the best things though is the fact that you won't find many big chains shops here, there's a big Sainsburys and that's pretty much it.
All the shops, delis, bars and restaurants are indipendent, quirky and orginal.
Cafe Latino is one of them.  
A little Venezuelan Cafe I fell in love with yesterday at lunchtime. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
As we were walking past, I read the sign saying "Mi Cocina es Tuya" which, as you already learnt from the title of this post, means My kitchen is Your Kitchen. 
That's how I feel when I have guests over, they need to feel at home in my kitchen.
It needs to be a warm, comforting place filled with friends, food and laughter.
And this tiny gem of a Cafe reflects all that. 
3 tables for four and two tables for two people. Good things come in small packages right?
Colourful, decorated with Venezuelan Flags and pictures of this beautiful country..Latin music to lift your spirits and incredible home cooked food.
Your hosts, Alexis and Mary will take really good care of you.
Alexis offered us a taste of their fresh smoothies when we popped in for information before lunch and as I'm Italian and genetically prone to talking a lot, we started chatting about his Cafe, his origins and much more.
Meeting someone with such positive energy and happy to chat made me feel right at home.

I had never tried Venezuelan food before and my oh my was it delicious!
I tried my first AREPA, a gluten free hot bread that is made with maize and that is served with various fillings, you can choose from shredded beef, chicken and more..
I had it instead of rice in my Pabellon de Carne, a platter filled with an incredibly flavourful shredded beef, black beans and fried plantains.

My drink of choice: a refreshing Guava Smoothie.

Patch chose Asado Criollo 2. A Venezuelan Roast Beef served with chips (he wasn't sure he'd like plaintains but I made him taste mine and he soon discovered that he did!)and salad.

Both meals were absolutely incredible and if we hadn't been so full we would have also ordered their Churros with Chocolate. That's ok though, I'm moving here, plenty of time to come back especially when the weather gets cold and dip those little doughy fried strips in a mug of hot chocolate and bring the biggest smile to my face!

Oh, did I mention this wonderful Cafe is totally affordable too? Not bad ah?

Here's their menu should you want to take a look...
They also offer vegetarian and gluten free options.

I'm always a little proud when I discover a tiny hidden treasure not enough people (me included) knew about and thanks to this Blog I get the chance to let you all know that if you find yourself in Crystal Palace, you should definitely head to Cafe Latino and enjoy some Venezuelan vibe and mouthwatering home cooked food.x

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Round Courgettes

Every Sunday morning I head to the Brixton Farmers Market to do my weekly grocery shopping.
I love it there, I can always talk to the farmers and be sure my veggies won't be covered in nasty pesticides.
Last week I found some beautiful round courgettes which I had never tried so I was seriously excited and got the three prettiest ones!
I also bought some lovely cherry tomatoes and an aubergine and here's what I did when I went in my kitchen...x

3 Medium/Large Round Courgettes (I had 2 Green and  a gorgeous Yellow one)
1 Pack Cherry Tomatoes cut in half or quarters
1 Small aubergine chopped in small cubes
2 Garlic Cloves chopped teeny tiny
Feta Cheese to crumble on top
Dried Mediterranean herbs
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1/2 Cup Quinoa
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to season

Preheat the oven at 180 C, gas mark 4, 375 F.

Wash your courgettes then pat them dry.
Cut the top off but don't throw it away! It's going to become their little hat :)
Scoop out the inside of the courgettes, chop it and keep in in a bowl to the side.
Drizzle the inside and outside part of these little veggie bowls and season with salt and pepper before placing them in the oven with their tops on for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, rinse your quinoa and pop it in boiling water (remember to put some coarse salt in it) for 10 minutes.
As the quinoa cooks you can  grab a pan,  drizzle with extravirgin olive oil and add garlic, tomatoes, aubergines and the inside of the courgettes. Cook on low/medium heat for 15 minutes stirring every now and then, should it become too dry while cooking just add a little water.
When the quinoa is ready, drain it and leave it to cool.
By this point your kitchen should already be smelling heavenly and your pan should be filled with soft delicious veggie mix. Add the quinoa and walnuts to it, mix it up for a minute and take off the heat.

When the 30 minutes have passed take your courgettes out of the oven and move them face down on a plate layered with some kitchen towels to absorb the extra water that will have collected inside them.
Time to stuff them!!!!
It's all about layers baby. First some crumbled feta on the bottom, then some quinoa filling, then more feta and filling again and top up with a little more feta on top.
Place under the grill for about 5 minutes (or just till your feta goes a little golden), then take these beauties out and add their little hats before serving.

Cute and delicious, hope you'll love them as much I did.x