Melanzane alla Parmigiana (light)

Eggplant, tomato, basil and cheese; what could possible go wrong! This recipe is a little bit of Jamie Oliver, a little bit of me and a whole lot of yumminess!
It’s hearty, full of flavour & it could even be healthy, if you can overlook a little cheese & a generous amount of olive oil:)

I tend not to use a lot of parmesan in this dish. Or to be really honest with you, most of the time I don’t use Parmesan at all. Instead, I often chose an old, Dutch cheese, such as Gouda. More than anything, I feel this lovely Italian Eggplant dish shouldn’t be smothered in cheese to begin with. I’ve had Melanzane alla Parmigiana a number of times in Italian restaurants; it was always nice, rich & flavoursome. But it was also always quite salty & heavy, because of the massive amounts of cheese that covered the eggplants. And even though I’m definitely a cheese lover, I do feel it’s a pity if the salty taste of cheese predominates the whole dish.

Autumn is here & even though this dish, with its basil and tomatoes, has a feeling of summer about it, I find it is still perfect for these colder & shortening days. It fills the house with delicious smells & it warms heart and mind each and every time.

Have fun making this lovely Melanzane alla Jamie alla Naomi alla Italy and I’ll see you again soon.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

  • Servings: 2 to 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
– 2 large eggplants, sliced in 1 cm thick slices.
– Good quality olive oil.
– Salt & pepper, to taste.
– 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped.
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely grated.
– 3 teaspoons dried oregano.
– 1 tin plum tomatoes (400 g).
– 1 cup Passata di Pomodoro (thick tomato sauce).
– ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar.
– 1 teaspoon brown sugar.
– ± 4 large hands of fresh basil.
– ± 1 ½ full cup of breadcrumbs.
– 2 large hands of freshly grated parmesan*.

Instructions:
– Place the sliced eggplants on a large cutting board. Using a silicon brush, brush the eggplants with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
– Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F) and heat multi grill/ griddle pan. Make sure the grill is really hot, before you start grilling.
– Start grilling the eggplants and put them aside when done.
– In the meantime, heat a large pan on medium heat and add about 2 tbsp. of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add your onions and fry them for about 10 mins, until they are soft and lightly browned.
– Now add the garlic and 2 tsp. of dried oregano. Fry the mixture for about 2 minutes, while stirring well.
– Now add the plum tomatoes, the Passata de Pomodoro, the white wine vinegar and the brown sugar. When using whole plum tomatoes, use your spatula to break the plum tomatoes into chunky bits. To make life easier, you could also choose to use cubed tomatoes.
– Stir everything well, place the lid on the pan and let the sauce simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
– While your sauce is simmering, prepare the basil by putting the basil leafs into a food processer with a bit of olive oil and blitz the basil to a coarse pulp. Don’t blitz the basil too fine, this way the basil will lose much of its flavour. Put the pulp aside.
– For the breadcrumbs; place the crumbs in a bowl, add about a tbsp. of olive oil, a tsp. of dried oregano and a large hand of parmesan. Using a fork, mix the oil, oregano and parmesan through the breadcrumbs, until the crumbs start sticking together.
– When the sauce has thickened and reduced, season the sauce with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
– Take a large oven dish (± 25 x 15 cm). Spread a small amount of tomato sauce over the bottom, followed by a hand full of breadcrumbs. Now place a layer of grilled eggplants on top of this and spread the blitzed basil on top of the eggplants. Repeat this process until everything is finished. Try to end with tomato sauce and sprinkle the top of the dish with the remaining breadcrumbs and another hand full of parmesan cheese.
– Bake the dish in the middle of the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, until its golden brown and bubbling at the sides. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
– Enjoy!

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Tarte Flambée (with roasted vegetables)


Yesterday I realized it’s the half of August and, besides from an unexpected post last week, it’s been awfully quiet on this blog of mine. Summer has made its appearance at last, half this town has gone on a holiday & these sunny days seem to cause an unintended hiatus on this page. But I suppose that’s alright; it’s not like many of you are at home anyway to miss my updates;)

Having said that, the month would feel incomplete without a monthly recipe to share with you. And what a lovely recipe it is. I’m sure some of you are familiar with Tarte Flambée (otherwise known as Flammkuchen) & there is a variety of similar recipes to be found on the internet. What makes this particular recipe special though, is the superb easy, tasty dough I use as a base for the tarte. Ever since learning about this curd*-based dough, I’ve been using it over & over for pies, quiches & pizzas. As some of you might know, making dough can be tricky; I recall many occasions when my short crust stuck to everything, my homemade pie fell apart or my quiche ended up having holes all over the base. And even though I am not one to get easily frustrated, the perfectionist in me can’t cope very well with broken or crumbling pies/quiches. So, this curd-based dough has been a true blessing for me & I hope it will be for you too. I know it hasn’t failed me so far. It is soft, tasty and ,above all, very easy to work with. It hardly ever sticks, it hardly ever tears & it always tastes yummy.

As for the Tarte Flambée; what can I say? It has a crispy base, it has a creamy layer & it has a delicious, sweet onion topping. It isn’t hard to make & it won’t take forever to prepare. And as for most homemade foods, it just tastes that much better than the store bought version.
The original recipe that I once used just had the onions on top, but since I’m a firm believer in eating enough vegetables each & every day, I decided to use some extra veggies as a topping. I love to add things like grilled fennel, carrots or eggplant. But you can really use any vegetable you like. The tarte is delicious without any of these extra greens, but will taste even better with them.

Well, I will leave you all to it. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Have yourself a lovely day, enjoy the rest of your summer & till next time….

Tarte Flambée (with roasted vegetables)

  • Servings: 2 to 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Dough:
(enough for one large or two medium sized tarte flambées)
– 100 g self-rising flour
– 75 g (low fat) curd*
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– A pinch of salt

In a bowl, combine flour, curd, olive oil and salt, until it forms a firm dough and stops sticking to the side of the bowl. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the fridge to rest for about 30 min or until you’re ready to roll it.

Topping
– ± 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 600 g onions, thinly sliced into rings/half-rings
– 125 g crème Fraiche
– 125 g (low fat) curd*
– 2 garlic cloves, grated
– ± 100 g strong cheese (gruyere, parmesan or old Gouda cheese)
– 2 tablespoons dried thyme.

Optional:
– 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced and roasted
– ± 8 thin carrots, sliced in two and roasted
– Any other roasted vegetables you like

Instructions:
-Preheat the oven to 200° C.
-Heat the olive oil, add the onion rings, 1 tablespoon thyme and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat and cook the onions until they are softened and start to brown. Stir every so often to prevent the onions from browning too quickly. When the onions are soft, remove them from the heat and set aside.
-In the meantime, combine crème Fraiche, curd, garlic and 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir well.
-Take out your dough and dust your kitchen surface with some flour. Line a baking tray with baking paper or dust with oil and flour. Roll out the dough as thin as possible, the base of the tarte is supposed to be thin and crusty. Carefully, transport the dough to your baking tray.
-Spread the crème Fraiche/curd mixture over the dough. Make sure to leave a small open space around the edge, this will allow the crust to get nice and crispy.
-Spread the onion mixture over the top. If you decide to use some other roasted vegetables on your Flambée, you should add them now.
-Sprinkle the cheese and place the tarte in the oven.
-Bake for about 20 minutes or until the base is golden brown.
-Allow the tarte Flambée to cool slightly before slicing.
Enjoy!

* Curd is otherwise known as quark or kwark and it commonly used in the many European kitchens. If you can’t find any curd where you live, you can try to use greek yohurt or cottage cheese instead. You might have to experiment a bit with the quantities though:)

Roasted potato & vegetable salad


At last, as promised, the Roasted Potato salad recipe.
As some of you might remember, I was planning to post this recipe last month, but I never quite got to it. Maybe I was too busy or maybe I got carried away when I thought I could easily post two recipes a month. Or maybe I simply forgot about this delicious salad, because I tend to associate the rich, creamy, yet healthy flavours with summer. And somehow summer hasn’t really started here. It rains, rains & rains again. Rivers & houses flood, grasslands turn to ponds & all my favourite warm-weather recipes wither away on the shelf in my kitchen. They’re waiting for sunny days; days warm & long enough to have dinner in the forest, watching the sun set after a dusty, hot day. They are waiting for picnics in the park, for long hikes & lazy evenings at home. But since these kind of days seem far from here & keeping this recipe from you seems a selfish thing to do, I decided to hurry up already & share it all the same.

This salad, which consists of beautifully roasted baby-potatoes, yummy carrots, runny eggs & creamy avocado dressing, is a real delight. I created it by accident one day, when throwing together all leftover vegetables we had in the house. I personally love roasted, crushed potatoes & in combination with some of my other favourite ingredients (like avocado, capers & celery) they simply taste divine. You will have to take my word for it, because if there is anything wrong with this recipe, it is the fact that it doesn’t photograph well. But it taste all the better, I promise you that:)
In the recipe below, it says that the recipe serves 2 to 4 people. This depends whether you decide to eat the salad as a main or as a side dish. It makes a healthy full meal for 2, but will also perfectly fit as side dish at a barbecue for 4 or more.

Well, I hope you enjoy this delicious salad as much as I do. Feel free to leave any questions or advice in the comments below. I’m curious to know what you think…..

Roasted potato & vegetable salad

  • Servings: 2 to 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
– 1 pound baby (red) potatoes, washed and halved
– 4 or 5 carrots, washed and cut into chunks
– ± 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 2 free range eggs, medium boiled, cut into eight.
– 1 ½ ripe avocados, cut into small cubes
– ± 1 cup small tomatoes, cut into half
– 4 celery stalks, cut into small chunks
– 1 red/yellow bell pepper, cleaned and cut into chunks
– ± ½ cup fresh or canned sweet corn
– 1 tablespoon capers
– Salt & pepper to taste

Dressing ingredients:
– ½ ripe avocado
– 1 tablespoon mayonnaise/sour cream
– Lemon juice, to taste
– Pepper & salt, to taste

Instructions:
– Preheat the oven to 220°C (±430 F)
– Place potato and carrot pieces onto a baking tray. Cover with olive oil, lemon juice and salt, to taste. Place in the oven and roast for about 30/40 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are golden brown and tender.
– In the meantime, boil the eggs and prep the remaining vegetables. Now place all the vegetables, the pieces of egg and capers in a large serving bowl.
– Take the potatoes and carrots from the oven. Take the carrots from between the potatoes and add them to the other vegetables.
– Now place a large plate or clean cutting board on the roasted potatoes, put pressure on plate/cutting board and crush the potatoes. Don’t hesitate to crush them well, they should be about to fall apart when you’re done. Then carefully transfer the potatoes to the serving bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
– To prepare the dressing, simply combine all the ingredients in small bowl and mix well. If you want a really smooth dressing, place the ingredients in a food processor and let it blitz until you have the desired consistency.
– Pour the dressing over the ingredients in the serving bowl and mix well, until everything is coated with dressing.
– Season with salt and pepper & you’re all done. Enjoy!

Classic Walnut Coffee Cake

To make up for the fact that it’s been so quiet on my blog the last few weeks, I have decided to make it up to you & post two food blogposts this month. And to really show you how sorry I am, I will start off with the recipe of, what I consider to be, the best Walnut coffee cake in the world. I know making coffee cake is not very hip & there must be a zillion coffee cake recipes out there. But I don’t care. First of all I have never considered myself very hip either, that’s probably why this cake & I are made for one another. And secondly, I simply love love love this particular version & would love to share it with you. Who knows, you might fall in love with it too.

Do you have a birthday coming up? Is there a special someone you would love to surprise with a tasty after-dinner treat? Or do you just feel like making a delicious cake & eating it yourself?
The great things about this delightful classic walnut coffee cake is that you don’t really need an excuse to make it. It is just really yummy & I personally think, that’s reason enough:)

This recipe is for one cake & one portion of icing. However, making a doubled layered cake could look extra fancy & I would recommending this when making the cake for parties or birthdays. Simply double all the ingredients, make two cakes instead of one & you should be fine. I find that half the amount of icing is usually enough, even for two cakes. Having said that, please don’t omit the icing altogether. It really finishes the whole thing off. The cake is nice without the icing, but it becomes instantly delicious with the icing on it. And if you’re eating cake anyway, you might as well do it right:)
I added the chocolate drops on top for decoration, but you can easily omit them.

Alright, here’s the recipe. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Have fun with it & enjoy!

Classic Walnut Coffee Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Walnut coffee Cake

Ingredients:
– 1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
– 1 tablespoon boiling hot water
– 112 g (unsalted ) soft butter
– 112 g caster sugar
– 2 eggs
– 112 g self-rising flour
– ½ tablespoon baking powder
– 50 g walnuts, blitzed into fine powder
– 20 cm (approx. 8 inch) baking tin
– Handful of halve walnuts, for decoration

Preparing the cake:
– Preheat the oven to 180°c. Grease and line the baking tin.
– Dissolve the instant espresso powder in the warm water and let cool for a bit.
– Mix the sugar and butter until the mixture has a creamy consistency.
– Add the eggs, one by one.
– Add the cooled coffee to the mixture and mix well.
– Mix the baking powder through the flour. Now carefully fold the flour through the mixture.
– Add the walnuts to the mix and give it one last, gently stir.
– Pour the mixture into the baking tin and try to even the top a little bit.
– Place the baking tin in the middle of the oven. Bake for approx. 25 to 30 minutes or until a (cake) skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Let the cake cool down in the tin for about 10 minutes before removing the tin and the baking paper. Gently place the cake on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

While the cake is baking, you can get started on the icing.

Ingredients icing & chocolate drops:
– 75 g soft (unsalted) butter
– 100 g powder sugar
– 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
– ½ tablespoon boiling hot water.
– 25 g pure chocolate
– 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Preparing the icing & assembling the cake.
– Carefully mix the butter, powder sugar and coffee, until the icing has a smooth, spreadable consistency.
– Melt the chocolate, together with the instant espresso powder, au-bain Marie on the stove. The chocolate sauce should not be too thick, you have to be able to drop it on the cake. If the chocolate remain a little thick, add a little bit of butter to make it smoother.
– When the cake is completely cooled down, spread the desired amount of icing on top of the cake. Using a hot knife, try to even it as best as possible.
– Now, carefully, make some chocolate drops on the icing. Run a skewer through the drops, creating a ‘heart shapes’ as you go. As I said before, you can omit the chocolate, since it mostly serves as extra decoration.
– Place the walnut halves on the cake and enjoy!

P.S: Don’t forget to check back for this month’s second recipe: a tasty, colourful potato & avocado salad. See you soon!

Super easy & super yummy Bean Dish

With my sister being a nurse & working irregular shifts in the hospital, it’s sometimes challenging to make sure we still eat enough vegetables on daily basis & don’t end up eating too much bread-based meals. I think, especially when working irregular shifts, it is super important to ensure a balanced, complete diet for yourself. Therefore, I love to discover or create recipes, which are healthy & easy to cook, so that I can make sure my sister & I eat well, whatever the schedule may look like. The recipe below ticks most of those boxes. And so, we find ourselves turning to it time and again.

This recipe is & has been a favourite in this house for years now. I made it for the first time a couple of summers ago & have made it a zillion times since. It is full of vegetables & flavour. And because it is so easy to make, it is a perfect go-to-meal during busy weekdays. You won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to produce this delicious, flavour- packed bean dish.

For the healthiest version of this dish, you can chose to leave the Doritos & cheese off. This is what I do when my sister takes the beans to work. When we’re eating it at home, though, we do prefer to top the dish with some natural Doritos & little bit of cheese. I wouldn’t recommend omitting the crème fraiche, because it adds a lovely creamy & rounded flavour to the whole dish. If you want, you could try to find a light version, though.

I hope you will love this recipe as much as I do. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me in the comments below:)

Super easy & super yummy Bean Dish

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon (sunflower) oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • Chili powder, to taste.
  • 1 small can (70g) concentrated tomato paste
  • 1/8 litre (about 125 ml) vegetable stock˟
  • 1 can of corn (300g), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans (400g), drained and rinsed
  • Pepper and salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon crème Fraiche/ sour cream.
  • Optional: handful of natural Doritos
  • Optional: ¼ cup grated cheese

˟I use a quarter cube to make the stock.

Preparation:

  • Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about two
    minutes. Then add the celery, bell peppers, salt, pepper and some chili powder. I tend not to add too much salt, because the concentrated tomato paste and the stock will add quite a bit of salt to the dish at a later stage. I also go easy on the chili powder, but if you like your bean dishes spicy, feel free to add as much as you want.
  • Fry the vegetables on medium heat until they start to soften, but still have a bite to them.
  • Now add the tomato paste and the stock to the vegetables. Stir well.
  • Add the beans and the corn. Stir well and allow the beans and corn to heat through. Leave to simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off and add the crème Fraîche. Give everything a good stir.
  • Technically, your bean dish is done & ready to serve. But for a little less healthy, yet super yummy version of this dish, you can transfer the beans to a baking dish, cover it with a handful of Doritos and top it all off with some grated cheese. Place it in a preheated oven on 180°C for about 3 minutes. Keep a sharp eye on your dish, because the Doritos brown very quickly.
  • Enjoy!

For more yummy recipes on this blog, have a look at my Delicious Documents in the category sidebar

Israeli couscous with coriander paste & roasted vegetables

I can’t wait to share this month food blogpost with you, for it’s a pretty special one. Not only is it one my very favourite dishes to eat at the moment, it is also a recipe I kind of came up with myself. I’ll be careful saying this, though, because I’m pretty sure there must be a zillion recipes out there quite similar to this one. I can’t imagine no one before me came up with this tasty combination of yummy ingredients. But this particular version came to existence in my little kitchen, without the tempting influence of Pinterest or any of the incredible food blogs out there to guide me along. I simply thought to combine all my favourite ingredients & see what would happen. So, there is eggplant, there are lemons, there is olive oil, garlic, coriander and….. fennel. Goodness me, do I love fennel these days! I think it’s fair to say I’m suffering from a severe fennel-crush at the moment. And then to think that I, until a few months ago, never used to eat fennel. I don’t know what I did eat, I don’t know what I was thinking and how I managed to get through so much of life, without this amazing, lovely & incredible vegetable as a regular on my shopping list. But it has become quite clear now why I at times used to feel so miserable in the past 😉

Anyway, let’s move on to the recipe. I must admit, it has been quite a challenge to write it down, so I hope it has turned out the way it is supposed to. I usually just wing it in the kitchen, especially when I am making things up. And any original recipes I start off with, transforms slightly as time goes by. A teaspoon might become a tablespoon and a dash of salt can be anything between a little or a little more. So you might have to be bear with me on this one. And please, just add a little more of this or that if you feel it needs it.
I have tried to keep the recipe short, but because it involves three separates elements, I did have to break it down into quite a few steps. But none of it is complicated, none of it takes a long time and more importantly, it will all be so worth it in the end. And most of the things can be done simultaneously. Feel free to leave any of your questions in the comments below and I will see whether I know the answer:)

Well, I really hope you like this delicious Israeli couscous, the tasty coriander paste & the delightful vegetables. And of course, I’m curious how it turned out:)
Have fun cooking & I’ll get back to you soon!

Couscous recipe

Israeli couscous with coriander paste & roasted vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy/moderate
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Ingredients for the roasted vegetables
• 2 fennel bulbs, cut into wedges of approx 1 cm thick
• 1 small lemon, cut into thin slices
• 1 large eggplant, cut into cubes
• 1 green bell pepper, cleaned and cut into pieces
• ± 4 tablespoons of good olive oil
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• Salt, to taste

Preparation:
• Preheat the oven to 220°C
• Place the fennel wedges in a bowl and add the lemon slices, the coriander seeds, the fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt.
• Make sure to mix all the ingredients well, then spread out on a baking tray and place in the oven to bake for approximately 20 minutes. The fennel is done when it starts to soften and brown.
• While the fennel is roasting, place the eggplant cubes and bell pepper pieces in a bowl.
• Add the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with salt and mix well
• Place the vegetables on a baking tray and place in the oven with the fennel. Or wait until the fennel is done, before roasting the rest of the vegetables.

Note: I have a very small oven and have to wait for the fennel to be ready, before I can start to roast the rest of the vegetables. If you, however, have a large oven, feel free to roast all the vegetables at once. Just make sure that the fennel wedges are spread out flat on the baking tray, this will allow them to roast much better.

Ingredients for the coriander paste
• Large bunch of fresh coriander
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
• Lemon zest of half a lemon
• ± 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
• ± 3 tablespoons of good olive oil
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, pan roasted & crushed, using mortar and pestle
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, pan roasted & crushed, mortar and pestle
• ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Preparation:
• while the vegetables are roasting, cut up the fresh coriander and place it in a food processer
• Add all the other ingredients & process it until everything is finely chopped.
• Using a spoon, push the paste down a couple of times, to allow the ingredients to process as finely as possible. The paste is done, when it is smooth & quite moist. If the paste seems a bit dry, you may add some extra oil or lemon juice.
• When tasting the paste on its own, it could taste a little sharp or salty. But this will be balanced out when you add the paste to the couscous and vegetables at a later stage.

Ingredients for the Israeli couscous
• 2 cups of Israeli couscous (Pearl couscous)
• 3 ½ cups of boiling water

Preparing the couscous & finishing your dish:
• With your paste done, it is time to move onto your couscous. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the Israeli couscous. Stirring frequently, allow the couscous brown slightly.
• As soon as the couscous has slightly changed colour, add the boiling water. Be careful not to burn yourself, a lot a steam will rise from your pan at this stage.
• Cover the pan with a lit, turn the heat down and leave the couscous to steam for about ten minutes.
• For the first ten minutes, you can leave the couscous to steam. After those 10 minutes, check and stir your couscous on a regular basis, because it might start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Check and stir the couscous for about 5 to 10 minutes longer. The couscous is ready when the couscous is al dente (mostly tender,but with a slight firmness when you bite into it)
• It is time to add the coriander paste and vegetables to the couscous. First add half of the coriander paste to the couscous. Now stir in the roasted vegetables and add the remaining paste. Make sure you mix the coriander, couscous and vegetables well, everything should be covered with coriander paste.
• Top with fresh coriander and finish of with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve hot.


Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Rice

Just the other day, I came to the concerning conclusion that I didn’t post anything on my blog this month yet. How that happened, I don’t know. Maybe time just goes a little faster every year & it becomes harder to keep up. Or I just get a little slower as time goes by;) Maybe I got distracted by life’s little things or it was life itself, who got preoccupied by all the greater things.
All I really know, is that it is high time I’d share this month’s food blogpost with you. And what a recipe it is, one of my personal favourites; it’s easy, it’s versatile & most importantly, it’s super tasty….. It’s Indian spiced rice!

The taste & smell of this rice takes me right back to my sunny childhood, when we would eat tasty curries & perfectly seasoned pilaf to accompany them. Sometimes, I will go as far as preparing this rice for the mere smell of it, for it fills the house with an unmistakable fragrance of memories. My parent’s pilaf once made me fall in love with good food & this recipe made me fall in love with cooking itself. I make it often & always eat too much of it:)

I found a similar Indian spiced rice recipe on the internet years ago, altered it along the way & ended up with this wonderful & easy way to prepare rice. I always used to boil rice in quite a bit of water & add flavours later. But ever since I first tried this absorption method, I’ve continued to prepare any rice I need in a similar manner. The recipe below is for spiced rice, but you can easy prepare white rice the same way. Just omit the spices & replace the stock with plain water. You might want to add some salt to the rice at the end. I usually use basmati rice, but I’ve prepared the recipe using Jasmine rice as well & it worked perfectly. Just make sure to use a long grain rice, to avoid your rice becoming too sticky.
It’s always a good idea to prepare this rice dish (and any other rice) a couple of hours or even a day in advance, so that the rice get the chance to dry out little. And, as an added bonus, it makes the rice even more flavoursome!
The initial idea was to post this recipe together with my favourite Egg-curry recipe. But since I couldn’t wait to tuck into that curry last time I made it & forgot to take pictures, that recipe will have to wait. Maybe later this month…..but,first, have fun with this delicious recipe! I’m curious to hear how it worked out…

Indian spiced rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
• 2 cups (basmati) rice
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 4 tablespoons gheeˣ/liquid butter
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 6 cloves
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom ˣˣ
• Salt to taste

ˣ Ghee is a type of clarified butter, which is commonly used in the Asian Cuisine. However, I usually use common liquid butter.

ˣˣ I use dried cardamom pods, which I panfry, peel and grind. Depending on the size of the pods, it should take you about half a tablespoon of cardamom pods to get ¼ ground cardamom. But using store-bought ground cardamom saves you time and will taste practically the same.

Utensils
• Large non-stick pan
• Cutting board
• Sharp knife
• Silicone spatula
• Mortar and pestle (optional)
• Serving dish

Preparation
• Heat the ghee/butter on medium heat. Add the cinnamon sticks and the cloves.
• Fry the spices until they become fragrant, then add the onion and the rice.
• Fry the onion and rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t allow the onion and rice to brown.
• In the meantime, boil water for the stock and make the stock. When using ready-made stock, make sure the stock is boiling hot when you add it to the rice.
• Add the stock and the ground cardamom to the rice and stir well.
• Now quickly place the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to the minimum.
• Cook the rice for about 25 minutes. Don’t remove the lid while the rice is cooking.
• When the rice is cooked, transfer rice to a serving dish and gently fluff the rice with a fork.
Add salt, to taste. Note: The rice is probably quite salty from the stock already, so be careful when using any additional salt
• Don’t forget to remove the cinnamon sticks and the cloves before serving the rice.

Enjoy!

Lemonicious Lemon Dessert

Lemonicious Lemon Dessert

This month’s recipe post had to be something sweet; it’s February, a.k.a. the month of love, after all. Chocolate being the number one romantic treat, a whole range of chocolate desserts came to mind when I started thinking about this month food blog post. Wouldn’t it be great to treat your lover, your best friend and/or yourself to the best chocolate dessert ever heard of? It would be such a fantastic way to show how much you love him or her or yourself:)
But then I thought about the whole thing a little longer & had to admit that I might not have found that one special chocolate recipe. At least, not yet. And, thinking even longer, I figured there might actually be people out there who don’t like chocolate all that much. I know, I know, highly unlikely, but it happens. Or what if your loved one, or you, do like chocolate, but just prefer other sweets & desserts. What if you’re both lemon-lovers, like I am?

This is for those people. The brave few, who dare to move away from the obvious & who go out of their way to make this delicious, soft & unforgettable lemon pudding cake. It’s sweet, it’s both pudding & cake in one. It’s delightful & it’s easy to make. It will blow your lover’s/friend’s mind & if he/she doesn’t like it, you can always decide to eat the cakes/puddings all by yourself. They are simply that delicious:)

Lemonicious Lemon Pudding Cakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
– 30 grams butter + some for greasing
– 100 grams sugar
– 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
– Juice of 1 fresh lemon (about 1/4 cup)
– 2 small eggs, separated
– 30 grams all-purpose flour + some for dusting
– 150 ml milk
– Icing sugar

Utensils:
– 4 small ramekins
– Mixer
– 2 mixing bowls
– Grater
– Juicer
– Silicon spatula or spoon
– Baking pan

Preparing the Lemon Pudding Cakes:
– Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
– Grease ramekins with butter & dust with flour. Place in baking tray & set aside.
– Mix butter, sugar & zest together is a large bowl.
– One by one, mix in lemon juice, flour, milk & egg yolks. Make sure to mix well before adding the next ingredient.
– In a separate & grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until they thicken & form peaks.
To test whether you whipped the egg whites long enough, lift up your mixer. When firm peaks appear, your whites are ready.
– Now, carefully, fold the egg whites through the lemon mixture. Make sure not to stir too fast & too long, the mixture should remain quite fluffy.
– Pour the mixture into the dusted ramekins. Now, gently, pour cold water into the baking tray, until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
– Carefully, place the baking tray in the middle of the oven & bake about 40 minutes or until the puddings/cakes are golden on top, but still soft at the bottom.
– When done, take the tray out of the oven, remove the ramekins from the water & let them cool down before serving them.
– Dust the top of the puddings/cakes with some icing sugar, right before serving them
– This dessert can be eaten either lukewarm or cold, which makes it ideal to make in advance & eat later!

Enjoy!

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Easy & Tasty Lentil Soup Recipe

Easy & Tasty Lentil soup

Easy & Tasty Lentil soup

Finally, a new food-blog. For some reason it always takes me ages to upload recipe blogs. And that while I’m in the kitchen all the time & I absolutely love cooking fresh, healthy meals every day.
For me, cooking a balanced & delicious meal every day of the week, is as vitally important as getting enough exercise, brushing my teeth & being an overall decent kind of human. Every time when I’m in the kitchen, I want to put both thought & love into the food I make. Because preparing dinner for those I love is my way of saying I care; I care a lot. And ‘selfishly’, cooking is my personal unwind-time in which I sing along with all my favourite songs & think about little else than taste & lyrics.

This year I would like to try & post recipes on a more regular basis. I was thinking one recipe a month, but I guess I’ll just take it as it comes & see where it goes. The recipes I’m planning to post are not all mine. I find my recipes in books & online or I get inspired by programs such as ‘MasterChef Australia’. As time goes by, I often adapt these recipes to personal taste or I come up with seasonal variations to a certain recipe. This way I create a ‘new’ version of an existing idea. And it’s these adapted versions which I would love to share with you right here.

I thought I’d start off these food blogs with a recipe that really suits the winter weather outside. I don’t know about you, but where I am it is pretty cold & frosty at the moment. So, perfect time for a hearty & healthy lentil soup.  This soup isn’t hard to make & will take about an hour to cook. My sister once gave this recipe to me & I’ve made the soup many times since. I have added potato & green bell pepper to the original recipe, simply because I love those vegetables in any lentil soup. Unfortunately, this soup, like most lentil soups, doesn’t photograph well, but I assure you, it taste so much better than it looks:)

Have fun with it & if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll try to answer any questions as quickly as possible.

Easy & Tasty Lentil soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Easy & Tasty Lentil soup
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon peanut oil or sunflower oil
– 1 onion, peeled & cut into small pieces
– 3 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
– 1 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
– 2 or 3 medium sized potatoes, cut into small cubes
– 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & grated
– ± 3 cm fresh ginger, peeled & grated
– 2 tablespoons Garam Masala powder
– 200 grams (or 1 cup) red lentils
– 500 ml (light) coconut milk
– 1 litre vegetable stock
– 1 or 2 limes
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– A small bunch of fresh coriander
– Crème Fraiche (optional)

Utensils:
– Chopping board
– Sharp knife
– Grater
– Can opener
– Silicon Spatula or spoon
– Large (non-stick) pan

Preparing the soup:
– Put your (non- stick) pan on high heat and add the oil.
– When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, bell pepper and potato. Fry for about 5 minutes.
– Reduce the heat to medium and add the grated garlic and ginger. Fry for about a minute.
Keep stirring to keep the ginger and garlic from burning.
– Stir in the Garam masala. Fry for about a minute or until you can clearly smell the Garam masala.
– Turn up the heat and add the lentils, the coconut milk and the vegetable stock. Bring everything to the boil.
– Turn the heat down, place a lid on the pan and let the soup simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and fall apart. Frequently stir the soup. If you like your soup a little thicker, remember to take the lid off towards the end of the cooking time.
– When the lentils are cooked through and the soup is done, add the juice of 1 or 2 limes.
– Add salt and pepper, to taste.
– Serve the soup with a handful of fresh coriander on top and maybe a small scoop of crème Fraiche.

If you liked this post, you might like to check out my previous food blogs too:
Eggplant Salad & Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

About city trips, hidden gems & eggplant salad….

Eggplant Salad Recipe

 

Last spring my sister & I decided to take a city trip to Budapest. It was our first city trip ever & we weren’t at all sure whether we would actually like an urban-gateway. We usually put on our hiking boots & pass our free time hiking from one place to the next, careful to stay clear of the bustle of a big city or popular tourist attractions. But we wanted to try something else for a change & I can safely say the gamble paid off. For it turned out to be a lovely trip, during which we discovered the beautiful capital of Hungary at our own pace, marvelling at its grand historic buildings & its small hidden gems. And since Budapest turned out to be the perfect city to explore on foot, our hiking boots still got all the exercise they needed.

There was one thing, though, which turned out to be quite challenging about being a tourist in Budapest; which was getting by as a vegetarian:). As it seemed, Hungarian cuisine is hugely based on meat, mixing different types of meat in one dish or using a nice, large amount of lard in any given meal. Of course I don’t want criticize anyone’s kitchen, but unfortunately most dishes we tried were just not for us.
So, we ended up wandered the beautiful streets of Budapest looking for a place with some tasty & reasonably healthy vegetarian meals on the menu. Until we stumbled upon a small lunchroom called Hummus Bar & we searched no more. It was love at first sight & more importantly, love at first bite. Between its warm, earth coloured walls we were treated to platters full of delicious hummus, falafel, couscous, cold & warm salads, tall glasses of mint tea & chargrilled pitas. Our delighted minds got transported from Hungarian streets to a faraway Middle East marketplace in no time at all, while we marvelled about the flavours, the colours & the atmosphere. And when the bill arrived & it turned out that our fantastic lunch experience came at a very affordable price, we knew exactly where we would have dinner that same night.

But hey, I’m getting carried away. Obviously the point of this story and this blogpost isn’t to advertise for that lovely, faraway lunchroom in Budapest (although I can’t help but urge you to give it a try whenever you find yourself in the neighbourhood:). No, my real point is an Eggplant dish I had at the Hummus Bar last year. It honestly blew me away & as soon as I got home I started searching the internet for a good recipe to replicate this most amazing dish. The soft pieces of eggplant, the thick & rich tomato sauce holding them together, that subtle hint of cumin shining through…
I never really tried a lot of Middle Eastern dishes yet, besides from the occasional Vegetable couscous or homemade falafel. But I knew I had to eat this particular eggplant dish again. As it turned out, it wasn’t all that easy to find a satisfying recipe. In most recipes the eggplant would be deep-fried, while I was looking for a healthier, pan fried version. Eventually I found a couple of different recipes, which I combined until it became the recipe below. Depending on how you feel about olive oil, I would say it is a pretty healthy dish & it is most definitely packed with flavour.
It might still be different from the one I had in Budapest, but I’ll probably never know. All I know is that this particular dish manages to takes me back to those beautiful days last spring; the grand streets, the tangible history & that delightful, hidden gem, called Hummus Bar.


Eggplant 'Salad'

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Eggplant ‘Salad’

Serves 2 to 4
Note: when you eat this as a main meal, with just a small serving of couscous, I would say it makes a good meal for 2 persons. But if you plan to use it as a side dish, it’s plenty for 4 people

Ingredients
• 5 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 large eggplants, peeled (optional) & cut into pieces
• 1 red bell pepper, cleaned & cut into pieces
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & grated
• 1 ½ tsp cumin
• 1 tsp(brown) sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ chilli powder
• 1 can (400 g) tomato pieces
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• Juice of half a lemon

Utensils
• Large non-stick pan
• Cutting board
• Sharp knife
• Large bowl
• Fine grater
• Silicone spatula

Note for preparation:
• You can chose to peel the eggplants completely, but you can also peel them in stripes, leaving strips of skin which will run down the eggplant vertically. Peeling the eggplants like this will help to keep the pieces of eggplant together & will also add extra flavour to your dish.

Preparation

• Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, on medium heat. Add half of the eggplant pieces & fry them for approximately 10 minutes, allowing the pieces to brown. Stir occasionally & add some olive oil if necessary. Add a little bit of salt towards the end, this will help the eggplant become a little softer.
• When the eggplant pieces are soft & golden brown, tip them into a large bowl
• Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in the frying pan & repeat the process described above
• When your eggplant is brown again, tip them in the bowl together with the first badge of eggplant pieces
• Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in the frying pan & add bell pepper. Fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat
• Reduce the heat & add grated garlic. Fry for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
• Now add cumin powder, sugar, salt & chili powder. Fry for another 2 minutes, until the cumin becomes fragrant & sugar starts to melt.
• Add a can of tomato pieces & bring to the boil
• Allow to simmer on medium heat, for about 8 /10 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
• Add the eggplant pieces, the lemon juice & the black pepper. Let the sauce simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
• Remove sauce from heat & allow to cool

This delicious dish can be eaten cold (as a salad), at room temperature or warm (as a sauce). It is, however, best not to eat the salad/sauce too hot. I personally think the flavours come out best when the dish is made a little in advance & when eaten at room temperature.
It combines beautifully with flavoured couscous, falafel and yoghurt sauce.

If you have any questions, comments or tips about this recipe or this blogpost, feel free to leave a message below. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible:) And if you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my previous food blogpost, where I made a  lovely Vegetarian Thai Curry. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this food blog & most importantly, I hope you will truly enjoy this tasty Eggplant dish!

‘Till next time…..