Squeeze the day with these recipes!
By Natasha Sethi
“My culinary journey began long before I could even reach the stove. Being attached to my nanny day and night, helping her cook everything from scratch, was something I loved doing. Following this ardour, I decided to pursue the culinary arts as a career. Armed with hands-on knowledge, optimism, and fiery passion, I boarded a plane to the UAE in my early twenties to begin my professional culinary journey, where I spent five years training.
Mediterranean cuisine, my personal favourite to cook, is one of the most wholesome cuisines out there. My passion lies in exploring new ways to use ingredients rather than repeating dishes, so I’m constantly developing new recipes. I love using citrus, as I tend to incorporate bright and fresh flavours to add a little sunshine to my food.
To date, I still believe that the joy derived from people loving your creation is the biggest gratification for a chef. This is my biggest inspiration when it comes to cooking. My advice to aspiring chefs would be to respect your ingredients, find a way to create while also being sustainable, and most importantly, enjoy the ride!”
MEDITERRANEAN BARLEY PILAF
PREP TIME: 30 MINS
COOKING TIME: 20 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 50 MINS
SERVING SIZE: 2-3 PORTIONS
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cups of cooked pearl barley
• 3 cloves minced garlic
• 3 tbsp chopped shallots
• 1/2 cup of sliced champignon mushrooms • 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
• 1/4 cup of vegetable stock
• 1/2 tsp cumin powder
• 1/2 tsp dried thyme
• 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
• Salt to taste
• 2 tsp lemon zest & 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp orange zest & 3 tbsp orange juice
• 1 tbsp tomato paste
• 6-8 blanched baby carrots
• 1/4 cup of chopped Italian flatleaf parsley • 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
- Soak the pearl barley in room temperature water for at least an hour beforehand, then drain and boil it in slightly salted water for 30 minutes.
- Blanch the baby carrots by cleaning the skin, then cook them in slightly salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes depending on their size. Keep the carrots fresh and crisp by immediately putting them in iced water after blanching.
- Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pan and sauté the shallots for 1 minute, or until they become translucent.
- Add the sliced champignon mushrooms together with the minced garlic and a pinch, and cook until the water from the mushrooms has evaporated and the mushrooms have slightly browned.
- Add tomato paste, sauté for a few minutes, then season with salt, white pepper powder, cumin powder, dried thyme, and 2 tbsp of orange juice.
- Add the cooked pearl barley along with a splash of vegetable stock, just enough to deglaze the pan
- Give the pilaf a few minutes before turning the heat off, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and orange zest.
- Sauté the blanched carrots in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp of orange juice right before turning off the heat.
- Garnish the dish with baby carrots, chopped parsley, and pomegranate seeds, and serve it warm.
PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIES
PREP TIME: 15 MINS AND 5 HOURS RESTING TIME
COOKING TIME: 10 MINS
SERVING SIZE: 15 COOKIES
- 100g unsalted butter or vegan butter
- 90g demerara sugar
- 50g soft brown sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 125g smooth, natural, unsweetened peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 100g rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Leave the butter at room temperature until it softens.
- Mix the butter with both kinds of sugar (demerara and brown), vanilla essence, and a pinch of salt.
- Once the butter and sugar mixture is creamed together, add the peanut butter and mix well.
- Add the flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Mix the dough until fully combined, and transfer into a container with a tight lid or a Ziploc bag for storing in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours. This ensures the cookie dough is fully hydrated and gives the best texture as a result.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 180°C and cover the baking tray with parchment paper.
- Roll out the cookie dough into 15 balls, and flatten them slightly using your hands.
- Place the flattened cookies a couple of inches apart on the baking tray.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes.
- Once done baking, let the cookies cool for at least 10 minutes.