Noodle Salad

Back in the days when Jerry was only a little chick, I was busy reading all sorts of expert advice on parrot nutrition. This is quite a tricky issue, because what your parrot eats is as important as the way he goes about obtaining his food. As parrots are very intelligent and social creatures, it turns out that activities such as looking for food, foraging, sharing with other members of the flock and having to shred, chew or tear through leaves, pods, husks, etc in order to get to the yummiest bits are crucial to their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Some avian experts even go as far as advising that we should always do our best to offer our parrots an environment closely modeled on their natural habitat. Now, while I wholeheartedly agreed with that principle, I experienced somewhat of a mental block when trying to come up with suitable ways of making a 70 m2 inner-city apartment more… Argentinian forest-like. A local Yellow Pages search for the services of a certified “parrot-friendly interior designer” returned no results.

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Breakfast Bruschetta with Mango and Raspberries

Happy New Year! We haven’t got any great pearls of wisdom to share with you in our first post for the year but, wherever you are and no matter how grand or sensible your resolutions, we wish you a happy and smooth journey through 2012. And Jerry’s special wish for all of you is that your year is filled with lots of yummy treats, tonnes of fun in the kitchen and plenty of good times sharing the above with other wonderful like-minded people (and birdies).

It was hard to come up with a proper name for our first breakfast treat this year – and having stayed up late the night before certainly didn’t boost Mummy’s semantic creativity,    but we eventually settled on bruschetta. There is only a very loose association between our fruity version and the original antipasto piece, justified in my mind, at least, by the inclusion of lightly grilled/toasted bread topped with diced fresh produce.

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Lemon Tart

Well, hello again! And to those of you have have kept visiting and reading our blog, thank you so much. We have missed you lots, and are very happy to be back here 🙂

To tell you the truth, I have also missed my Mummy’s cakes over the past few months. You see, when Mummy said she was going to do some studying this year, I suspected that this might somehow interfere with my play and cooking time. Little did I know, however, that this would mean months on end when Mummy would spend lots of time with her nose stuck in books or the computer screen… And while the Bistro kitchen still managed to maintain a pretty healthy cooking regime,  with lots of fresh goodies for me to sample on a daily basis, I must admit that the fun times in our kitchen have been drastically reduced over the past few months. Indeed, dear reader, I have been a very deprived baby birdie, with little opportunity to exercise my passion for trying out new recipes and playing with all sorts of yummy ingredients.

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Peach Cherry and Blackberry Clafoutis

Baked desserts are a weekend treat in our household. The usual weeknight dessert/after dinner snack at Bistro Gerard consists of a bowl of fresh fruit. This serves a dual nutritional and entertainment purpose, as it’s prepared quite early in the evening and available for Chef Gerald to play with during those terrible moments when Mummy and Daddy choose to do really boring things such as watching TV, reading a book or the newspaper, or using the computer. Indeed, munching his way through each individual seed in a kiwifruit or strawberry seems to be a very rewarding activity for our little chef and one that certainly ranks a lot higher on the “good birdie” scale than chewing his way through a book, the IPad cover or Mummy’s ear…

This dessert, however, is easy enough to put together even on a busy weeknight, and a wonderful showcase for the beautiful stone fruit in season at the moment. According to that trusted fountain of knowledge called Wikipedia, clafoutis originated in the Limousin region of France, where it is traditionally made with black cherries. Other summer fruits such as apples, plums or berries can also be used, although in this case the more accurate name for this dessert is “flaugnarde”… This placed Mummy and Chef Gerald in an interesting linguistic pickle when we tried to find a name for our dish, before we finally chose to stick to the more familiar term.

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Green Bean and Zucchini Slice

A few years ago, roughly about the same time when I became an avid cookbook and cooking magazine reader, I wouldn’t even contemplate going grocery shopping without a carefully planned menu for the week ahead and a detailed shopping list. The problem I would often encounter back then was that the occasional key ingredient missing from the supermarket shelves would make me either try to guess a reasonable substitute, or come home and find a replacement recipe.

Much has changed since, starting with the fact that most of the Bistro shopping is now done at the (farmers’) markets. I rarely have a set menu plan for the whole week ahead anymore, though I always have a vast collection of bookmarked recipes that I want to try in the near future. This leaves me free to include in my shopping basket whatever looks most attractive and freshest. I have often been known to bring home some strange-looking thing that none of us had ever seen before, confident that my burgeoning cookbook shelf or the world wide web will contain sufficient information to help me turn it into a delicious meal. And, so far at least, this random strategy has worked quite well.

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Broad Bean and Pea Soup

Can you believe that Christmas has been and gone? Already? We hope that yours was wonderful and that you are still enjoying the festive season. Ours was a mix of quiet and busy times, hectic last minute baking, sunshine and storms, and lots of yummy summer fruits and vegetables – some of our favourite produce is in season right now: cherries! Blueberries! Figs! Mangoes! We haven’t quite come up with a recipe that incorporates them all yet, but we’re working on it 🙂

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Zucchini Bread

This recipe was created during one of Mummy’s fridge and pantry clean out sessions. Chef Gerald never likes the sight of a half-empty fridge, but he has come to accept the fact that we have to make room for fresh groceries on a weekly basis.

The ingredient list here is rather long, however the cake is very easy to put together and doesn’t require much preparation beyond measuring some ingredients, roughly chopping the nuts and grating the zucchini. Feel free to leave out anything you don’t have on hand, as this is the kind of loaf that should be fun to experiment with in terms of different textures and flavours. There is only a little bit of sugar in our recipe, as we are not too fond of terribly sweet things and there is sufficient flavour here from the spices, dried fruit and the natural sweetness of the zucchini. This is a lovely moist bread with lots of texture that can be enjoyed on its own, although you could also serve it very lightly toasted and spread with butter or cream cheese for an extra decadent treat.

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