5+1 Mouthwatering Toast Combinations

Toasts are one of my favourite things to eat. The combinations are endless and can go as far as your imagination does. This is a compilation of 5+1 of my favourite combos, I tried to provide a good mixture of sweet and savoury for it.

For all of you who are flexitarian like myself, or full vegetarian or vegan, I will try to provide as many alternatives to each of the combinations as possible to suit your needs. For the recipes that include cheese, you can check this amazing list with all the vegetarian friendly cheeses or use a vegan one.

1-Orange, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon

For the picture, I used a blood orange, but you can use any type of  orange or clementine, it’s delicious all the same. This toast is vegan, light, and super refreshing.

1487661632857
Such a feel-good flavour!

Mix sugar (I like to use Barbados/Muscovado brown sugar but it’s really up to you) and cinnamon in a little bowl. Sprinkle some of it on the toast, then lay the sliced orange, and add some more of that sweet brown mixture.

This flavour combination works specially well on seeded wholemeal bread.

2-Blue Cheese Salad

I first made this toast when I was going through a blue cheese obsession period and it has now become one of my favourite lunch options.

16864273_1836381796612652_3278137208412546347_n
Beautiful colours, exciting flavours

Cut and chop the veggies or fruits of your liking. I personally love to do it with cucumber, tomato, avocado, and red cabbage but you could also use pear, radish, figs, or celery for example. Lay the salad of your choice on the toast, add crumbled blue cheese on top, and dress with olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon.

If you want to make sure the cheese you are using is vegetarian but have no access to this list or can’t find a specific cheese there, simply check the label (it should say “made with vegetarian rennet” or something similar) when you are at the store.

3-Tomato, Serrano Ham, and Garlic

This is a classic toast where I come from and was one of my favourites growing up.

1487842408705
A Spanish dream!

Cut a garlic clove in half and rub it on the freshly toasted bread. Then add the grated tomato, a hint of salt, and a good quality virgin extra olive oil. Top it off with Serrano ham (or Parma ham if it’s easier for you to find) or leave the ham out for a vegan treat.

This toast works best on a crusty rustic white bread.

4-Ricotta Cheese, Honey, and Black Pepper

Sweet and aromatic, perfect combo for a sneaky snack on a lazy day.

1488101306689.jpg
So simple, so luscious.

Spread the Ricotta cheese (or Cottage cheese) on the toast, add some cracked black pepper and as much honey as you like.

Turn it vegan with any of these amazing alternatives for honey and this great recipe for vegan cottage cheese.

5-Poached egg, Sriracha, and Parmesan

Perfect to start the day full of energy. Sriracha and eggs are such a winning combo!

1488101076822
Look at that silky yolk!

Simply poach an egg and lay it on the top of the toast, sprinkle some grated Parmesan and add as much Sriracha as your palate can tolerate. Grill then for a minute for the cheese to melt.

Substitute the parmesan cheese with any vegetarian hard cheese available if you like.

Bonus Toast: Apfelkraut and Quark

This is a delicious combo that I recently discovered in my last trip to Germany. Rheinisches Apfelkraut is a regional speciality better explained here.

apfelkraut

      It is not easy to find but if you ever come across it, you need to try it!

The flavour is sour and sweet and the texture is a bit like jelly but thicker. Spread it on rye bread and add quark or crème fraîche for a glorious experience.

One Pot Pasta Really Works!

One Pot Pasta has become extremely popular in the last few years and I wanted to see what all the fuzz was about, so I investigated and then tried it out myself.

First of all, I thought it was not going to work properly and it would be too soupy and bland. Also, it occurred to me that this might give a proud Italian a heart attack. “One Pot Pasta”, repeat after me: “One Pot Pasta”. It really doesn’t sound like anything that should exist. However, it exists, and it can actually be quite delicious.

One Pot Pasta is easy to make. It’s not like you can chuck everything in the pot, walk away, and come back after 15 minutes later to a perfectly cooked dish. You need to be there to stir every now and then and keep an eye on the water level but that is all.

The first time I tried, I did it with spaghetti since it seemed to me that it would be the easiest pasta to cook this way. I went for a classic combination of flavours: tomato, red onion, garlic, and parsley.

tmp4cecbb3f-0b36-4b82-bd5c-9c7fceb720c3 (1).png

I didn’t follow any recipe when doing it but it is a pretty straight forward dish that welcomes pretty much any ingredient you would usually use when making pasta sauces or soups. I realised that it could be a simple no fuzz quick dinner or an adventurous and more elaborated dish, almost anything goes.

That’s how, the second time around cooking One Pot Pasta, I went for penne and added new ingredients and textures. And it was a lot more rewarding and fun to cook. So here is my recipe, roughly, as usual.

ONE POT PENNE

img_-939hrr

Ingredients:

  • Penne (or Fusilli, Tortiglioni, Rigatoni, etc)
  • Green Peppers (diced)
  • Red Onion (also diced)
  • Tomatoes (plenty, grate some of them, dice the rest)
  • Fresh Chilli Pepper
  • Parmesan (or Pecorino, or Grana Padano)
  • Salt, Pepper, Oregano, and Basil
  • Olive Oil

You can use different spices and herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, or Paprika.

Method:

  1. Heat the pot with some olive oil in and once is hot, add all the grated tomatoes and half of the diced ones. Fry.
  2. While the tomatoes are frying in the pot, dice all the vegetables.
  3. Once the tomato looks properly fried, turn down the stove to a low heat. Add the vegetables and the pasta.
  4. Cover with water and add the herbs and spices. The water should cover the rest of the ingredients just enough. Remember that is always better to add more water later than to have excess of it.
  5. Turn now the stove into a medium-high heat and stir every couple of minutes and keep an eye on the water level. This will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. When it is almost ready, grate a little or a lot of cheese on top of it, stir until melted and serve.

For a final touch, once you turn off the stove, and with the pasta still in the pot, you can add a little bit of pesto sauce,tomato puree, or more cheese for extra flavour.

imag2701-2

 




Have fun experimenting with different pastas and ingredients and let me know what combination is your favourite. I will keep trying different ones myself. I think next time I will make some Farfalle with Mushroom and Spinach.

I will keep you posted!

ENJOY!!!

5 Steps to Organise a Successful Road Trip Abroad

There are countless sites that will organise a road trip for you but there is nothing more rewarding and fun than doing it on your own.

imag1302

Road trips are wonderful but they can also be disastrous if not planned properly. Of course it’s not about micromanaging every single step of the way, otherwise where are the element of surprise and the rush of adventure? But it’s always good to design the route beforehand and consider the budget, climate, distance between town A and town B, local culture, etc.

It might feel tedious to begin with but once you are caught in the rhythm you will realise that preparing for a road trip can be almost as exciting as the trip itself. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but bare with me, follow the steps, embrace your inner organiser, and enjoy the ride!

1- Pick a Country or Region

First, let’s choose a destination. Are you feeling in the mood for some Italian countryside? Maybe you would like to get to every corner of the Balkan Peninsula? Or explore the most beautiful coastal towns in northern Spain?

If you don’t really have any specific country or region in mind, a quick Google search on things that interest you could be a great inspiration. For example:

  1. Wine regions in Europe
  2. Roman Empire trade routes
  3. Game of Thrones locations

If you are like me, you would always have at least 3 destinations where you feel you HAVE to go next. If that is the case and can’t decide or you just did a quick search like I explained above but are still trying to make up your mind, check these 3 points to make your choice once and for all:

  1. time of the year
  2. length of holidays
  3. rental car/flights prices

Success! You have a country or region, now you can start planning the road trip of your dreams!

2- Legalities, License, and the Boring Bits

idsplease
“Sorry..me…tourist…no speak English?”

Yes, playing the tourist card can sometimes get you out of sticky situations when abroad but you should always do some research on the important and more legal aspects of your trip abroad:

  1. traffic laws
  2. what kind of driver’s license you need
  3. car insurance differences or needs
  4. general procedures and adequate behaviour when police stops you while driving

It might be the least fun part of your road trip planning time but it’s essential to having an easy-going trouble-free journey.

3- Decide on a Road Trip Style

Now, you have a destination AND you know the law but what kind of road trip do you have in mind? Will you drive for long hours every day? Or do you prefer short distances from one place to another? Are you staying overnight in every town? Will you end your trip where you started it?

There are many ways to do it, here are my 3 favourite styles when hitting the road.

The Base Camp:

This one is the perfect compromise between a chilled holiday and a more adventurous one.

the-base-camp
Discovering Wales and bits of England from Cardiff

With The Base Camp you get to drive and discover different parts of a region without having to worry about where to spend each night and without the (sometimes) hassle of packing and moving your belongings around every day. It is ideal for beginner roadtrippers.

It is also usually the cheapest option. By staying at the same accommodation for the whole trip, you can get better prices than if you would book each night in a different location. It is also more budget friendly to fly to and from the same airport and to collect and give a rental car back from the same spot.

The journeys to each destination shouldn’t be longer than 2 or 3 hours since you will need to come back to your starting point every evening. You can combine longer days with shorter ones and spend a couple of days in between in the city you are based on for a relaxed experience.

The Nomad:

This trip is perfect for discovering areas in a more intimate way or explore wider regions.

the-nomad
Iberia’s northern Atlantic Coast

The Nomad is the most flexible road trip option. It opens up a lot of possibilities to explore a region at will. You would start a point A and finish at point B, everything in between depends on how much freedom or comfort you wish for. You could plan every stop and book every accommodation in advance or go with the flow and see where the road takes you.

Since you are not attached to a main base, you can spend the night wherever you feel like you should visit in more depth. It is a more immersive way of travelling that allows you to interact with the locals from different towns more extensively. The journeys from one place to another become also more flexible compared to The Base Camp, allowing you to have long driving days often and cover a bigger scope.

If time is not an issue, it could also allow you to do the opposite and drive only for an hour each day and focus more on outdoors activities, getting to know the locals, or indulging in every town’s special culinary delight.

The Circle:

This one combines the best aspects of The Base Camp and The Nomad.

the-circle
Munich to Munich via The Alps and The Adriatic Sea

As you would do with The Base Camp, you make the starting point also the finishing one. As explained there, is always cheaper to collect and drop the rental car (in case you are renting it) at the same location as well as flying to and from the same airport.

But that doesn’t mean that you need to stay in the same town every night of your journey. The great thing about designing your road trip as The Circle is that you can spend each night in a different location and discover new places in a more immersive level like with The Nomad.

In the example above, from Munich to Munich via The Alps and The Adriatic Sea, you can see how diverse this kind of route can be. Long drives some days, shorter others, covering a big or small area but never loosing focus on where the departure and arrival point is.

4- Research the area

Once you have all the points above covered, it’s time to do some research.

Google Maps will help you with this fun task greatly. Look around the starting point and whether you know anything about the area already or are new to it, pick town names around the map and search them (check pictures, tourist sites, Wikipedia, etc).

imag0321_1

Nowadays, you can find any information you need and more online. However, I always like to buy a guide book from the place I’m visiting. This will not only help you trace the best route and learn about the culture and history but will also become very useful on site. Whether it is because is convenient when there is no Wi-Fi around and you don’t want to use the roaming data, or simply because you rather have a palpable book about the region you are in, a guide book is a must in such a journey.

5- Trace the Route

Now that you know the area, you can easily design the road trip of your dreams.

Depending on the road trip style you have chosen, your needs, and how you prefer to spend your time you can now decide the ideal length of everyday’s ride. Consider your companions (if any) when tracing the route or even do it together, it could be an interesting experience and everyone would feel involved.

It is sometimes very easy to underestimate the impact of having long rides every day, to the point that it can become more of a duty than a fun adventure. So allow yourself some rest and stay in the same place for a couple of nights every now and then and/or plan for a short ride the day after a long one.




If it’s your first time organising your own road trip, don’t panic if something goes wrong. It’s part of the learning process and every disastrous trip will become a fun anecdote in the future.

Don’t forget that the whole point of designing your own road trip is to have fun and learn new things about the places you are going. If you don’t find any joy by doing so, seek a professional travel agent or follow other people’s road trips from blogs, magazines, or somebody you know.

Enjoy the ride!

2012-06-16 15.25.41

I was born on a rainy spring night in south-east Spain. As a child I believed my mother was a witch (one of the good ones) because she knew everything about flowers and plants. She also knew everything about history and loved to take me on her trips to show me the world.

I had an imaginary friend (it didn’t last for very long though), her name was “Flower Pot”. Flower Pot loved to play with Chicken (my cousin’s imaginary friend) and together they had great adventures. I clearly remember the first time I saw a rainbow, once I also saw a bearded tomato, and even the long nose of an evil witch hiding behind a tiny window in a very old house!

I never had a clear objective, I always had a wandering mind. When all my friends at school knew exactly what they wanted to become later in life, I changed my mind every couple of months. I wanted to be a scientist, an actress, an archaeologist, a physiotherapist, an electrician, a journalist, and even a butcher at some point! (Yes, I was a quirky and curious little girl)

Then the years passed, and the time where you have to seriously chose a career path arrived. I was so not ready for it.

I decided to focus my studies on hospitality and culinary arts. Cooking is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have and I extremely enjoy being in the kitchen and create new recipes. Unfortunately, I discovered that becoming a chef was not what I wanted to do in life. So after I finished my studies, I moved on. However, I still wanted to stay in the hospitality business and travel the world and so I did.

After living in different countries and experiencing most of the jobs and positions that you can hold in the hospitality industry I am ready for new challenges.

I am 30 years old, I live in Cardiff, Wales with my boyfriend and our crazy cats Señor Peppernose and Charlotte. I work in a boutique hostel where I get to meet travellers daily. I am fluent in Spanish, French, and English and I am currently learning German and Italian. I am also trying to write a novel and of course, starting up this blog which will be an epic adventure that you will hopefully enjoy with me. So many other plans in mind: moving to Germany next year and finishing a university course on Tourism are my present main goals. This is the wonder of having a nomad and passionate spirit, you never know what comes next, but you are sure you will make the most out of it!

Cooking, drinking, travelling, some DIY, books, writing, art and anything that fascinates me. This is what The Homey Life of a Nomad Mind will be all about. Please, relax, feel at home, and enjoy the ride!

Super Crunchy and Juicy Breaded Chicken

IMAG1496
Crispy and light

My favourite breaded chicken. The crunchiest recipe I have ever tried, the secret is on the seeds. So tasty and simple!

This time around I used chicken breast but it works as well with chicken thighs or other meats like turkey and pork. The best way to accompany them is with a spicy and easy to make sauce to dip the tender pieces in (find a suggestion below).

For the breaded chicken;

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast (cut into chunks)
  • Eggs (the happier the hen, the tastier the eggs!)
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs (shop-bought ones are fine, but homemade are nicer)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Salt, Crushed Pepper, Cayenne Pepper

You can use different spices and herbs, add a bit of lemon zest as well, or swap the sesame seeds for poppy or chia seeds.

Method:

We will need 3 containers.

  • The first one: flour, salt, pepper, a little bit of cayenne pepper
  • The second one: beaten eggs and a pinch of salt
  • The third one: breadcrumbs and sesame seeds

1- Take the chicken pieces and coat first (flour), dip second (eggs), and cover lastly (breadcrumbs). Always the same order, this works for any breaded recipe; flour, eggs, breadcrumbs.

2- In a hot pan add sunflower oil and once is pipping hot, add the coated chicken to the pan. Keep the fire in a medium-high temperature and turn the chicken pieces when needed. Once golden brown, they are ready.

3- Place the chicken chunks into a plate with kitchen paper towels for any excess oil.

And that’s it! Crazy crispy on the outside, super juicy and tender on the inside!

IMAG1498
Sooooo juicy!

For the fast and spicy dip sauce:

Use mayonnaise as the base, add a bit of Sriracha and English Mustard.

Done!

Dip!

Enjoy!

 

 

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes with Strawberry and Basil

IMAG1477

I find this a nice little treat to bring to dinner parties. It’s a classic combination of flavours that will surprise your friends’ palates.

Ingredients (roughly)

  • Cherry Tomatoes (duh!)
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese (or crème fraîche, or sour cream)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Strawberries
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Crushed Pepper
  • Salt
  • A tiny bit of lemon zest and a couple of drops of lemon juice

Method 

  • Cut the top of the cherry tomatoes and scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes with little sharp knife. I really don’t like waste, so I always keep them aside for a future vinaigrette, or sauce. The are delicious spread on toast with some olive oil and salt as well.
  • In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, crème fraîche/sour cream/cottage cheese, some chopped basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice. If you choose cottage cheese, mix it with a hand blender instead of a spoon or fork so it would become smooth and chunk free.
  • Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture. It would be enough with a little teaspoon in each, for some even less than that.
  • Chop a couple of strawberries into little cubes or strings and top every cherry tomato with one.
  • Decorate with basil leaves (the smallest you can find)

Enjoy!

Recipes are hard to follow

 

I love having recipes to take inspiration from but I never measure when I cook and I don’t like following them precisely. Always wanting to change ingredients or amounts, sometimes I end up cooking a completely different thing.
My approach to cooking is freestyle and intuitive. I love improvisation. I am not going to lie, sometimes disaster happens, but most of the times, not toeing the line works great for me.

For this blog, I thought it would be nice to write flavour combinations and recipes ideas in a non-strict way. Only guidelines and suggestions, then, you can adapt and twist as much as you like.

I hope you enjoy getting creative in the kitchen as much as I do with everyday ingredients.

Take ideas and make them your own by altering and personalizing them. I promise you it’s fun!