30 October 2013

Food We Love Box - October 2013 - Nadia loves couscous

I just caught up with posting about last month's box, and already the new October box was eagerly waiting to be reviewed. Most of the items from this month have already been put to good use and hopefully I'll manage to talk about that recipe before the November box gets delivered. But I won't keep you waiting, prepare to feast your eyes after the jump.

29 October 2013

Food We Love - September 2013 - Enjoy Delicious Food

With my holidays and subsequent jetlag, posting about the September Food We Love box was put on the backburner but now that the new box has already arrived, it is high time for me to let you catch a glimpse at this already one month old box. 

25 August 2013

Food We Love - August 2013 - Homemade Food

August is drawing to a close and as the end of the month is nearing, I know I'll be in for a treat.  It's around this time that my monthly boxes are finding their way to my doorstep and after the fabulous box I received last month, I was especially eager to discover my new Food We Love and its theme.

14 August 2013

Daring Cooks - Biryani

Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

My usual tasting panel isn't fond of all things related to Indian cuisine. Coriander, cumin, chile, cardemom, ... all the flavours that are essential and characteristic to Southeast Asian cooking are frowned upon at the dining room table.  So whatever I cooked up for this challenge would be eaten by me alone and although many of the proposed recipes on the challenge sheet sounded appealing, in the end I chose to make the one which seemed the easiest to make : Fish Biryani.

31 July 2013

Tortas de Aceite

For years now, I had been buying the tortas de aceite from Ines Rosales at the supermarket, but I think they must have discontinued their commercial relationship with them, because I haven't been able to find them recently :o(

So when I started craving them last week, I decided to make them myself.  I'm not a novice in the kitchen so it should be a piece of cake, right?

30 July 2013

Lula com coco - Coconut Squid

Do you remember when I talked about Julie Schwob's "Breakfast du Monde" book yesterday?  What I failed to mention then, was that she also published another book which found its way into my library : "Apéros du Monde" (Aperitifs of the World), a collection of drinks and tapas/appetizers from every continent.

I already made several recipes from this book but never took the time to take a picture, let alone write a post about it.  Because these coconut squid slices were such a hit last time I made them, I gave them another try this weekend and it confirmed what I already knew : I love those Brasilian lula com coco.

29 July 2013

Pan Chicharron

During my last trip to the book store, I couldn't resist entering the cookbook aisle.  Venturing into that corner of the store is usually a bad idea for me, or rather my wallet, because I always end up going home with more books than I intially meant to buy.

This trip was no exception to the rule. When I saw Julie Schwob's book "Breakfast du Monde" (Breakfasts of the world) and started leafing through it, I knew I had to take this one home with me. So many interesting ideas and recipes in there, that I couldn't wait to try out. 

First try-out : the Peruvian Pan Chicharron.

28 July 2013

Food We Love - July 2013

Through an advert in one of my favourite food magazines (Delicious), I discovered the website of Food We Love and their concept of monthly (themed) food discovery boxes.

I was a bit bummed at first, as it is a Dutch website and I figured they wouldn't be mailing their boxes outside of the Netherlands.  Nevertheless, I decided to drop them a line on their Facebook Page and look and behold ... they do deliver to Belgium, even if their website didn't mention it explicitly :o)

Needless to say, I seized the opportunity without hesitation.

27 July 2013

Creamy crab dip

The first time I wandered into the delicious world of Tide and Thyme, I was following the scent of beer candied bacon. Yes, I know, the things one finds on Pinterest, right? There, I discovered that this candied bacon could be incorporated into a chocolate cake with stout and this recipe has been on my to do list ever since.  I have nearly all the ingredients in the house, I just have to summon up the energy to actually try it. One of these days for sure ...

But that isn't the theme of the day which is ... Crab, and another of one the fabulous recipes featured on Tide an Thyme, the most delicious creamy crab dip you will ever sink your teeth into. Fingerlickingly good doesn't even come close to describing it.  Did that pique your curiosity? Have a look after the jump.

27 June 2013

French Fruit Tartlets

Because I felt that the blog was growing a bit quiet this month, I decided to hop in at The Food Blog Diary to see if they had any fun challenges I could join this month. And they did !

Among the monthly challenges, I came across the French Baking challenge hosted by Blue Kitchen Bakes.  She set a summery theme this month, inviting us to try our hand at the sweet deliciousness of a classic French fruit tart.  This sounded right up my alley so I went straight to my cookbook shelf.

14 June 2013

Daring Cooks - The Meatball World Tour

The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

This theme was welcomed with open arms over here by my willing test subjects.  Meatballs, and minced meat in general, are always very much appreciated at our dinner table even though I often tend to privilege other cuts.  Needless to say that when I revealed the new theme for this month's DC Challenge, my usual eaters were already champing at the bit. :o)

Let me take you on a trip across the world, at the discovery of one type of preparation that you can find in almost any cuisine : meatballs. This way, please.

7 June 2013

Scaloppina Milanese

This seems like such a simple dish that it hardly warrants a recipe post, but at the same time its simplicity doesn't take anything away from its deliciousness, so there you go.

If you want to know how to make a tasty breaded veal cutlet in Italian style, check out the recipe for Scallopina Milanese after the jump.

5 June 2013

Pecan Brownie Cheesecake

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will undoubtedly have noticed that I have quite a sweet tooth. 

I never really figured out if I love baking because I enjoy tasting the finished product or if it is the other way around. Whatever the reason, it should come as no surprise that I like to spend part of my spare time perusing the gigantic cooking library that is the world wide web. 

It is during one of those surfing sessions that I came across this dessert, combining two well known and much loved sweet treats : a Brownie Cheesecake.

4 June 2013

Caiprinha Cheesecake

With the temperatures being well below par this last month, I am craving not only warmth and sunshine but also some sunny, summery food on my plate.

Like most people, Google is my friend when it comes to finding delicious stuff and as usual, it didn't let me down, as I stumbled upon this ridiculously easy, oh so tasty Caipirinha Cheesecake.

Let's all board the foodie plane, destination Brazil for a fresh dessert in Samba style.

30 May 2013

Daring Bakers - Karl-Gustav cake, a Prinsesstårta variation

I am a bit late with the post of this month's challenge, but as the saying goes ... better late than never, right? :o)

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

I never heard of Prinsesstårta before this challenge, even though we spent a whole week in Stockholm last year.  I feel like I missed out on a great foodie experience, because this cake is truly delicious.  Another reason to go back to the lovely Swedish capital?

14 May 2013

Daring Cooks - Beef Wellington

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

This challenge was the boost I needed to try out a dish I had heard and read about but never tried myself :  Beef Wellington.  I made this dish for my parents on Mother's Day and it met with success at the dining table. So I think it is not the last time, this piece of beef will be prepared in my kitchen :o)

12 May 2013

Ile flottante aka Floating Island

A dessert post for a change and a classic amongst my childhood favourites : île flottante or floating island, which is the literal translation and according to wiki also the correct English name.

9 April 2013


This weekend I made, what is considered a classic dish around these parts of the world i.e. vol-au-vent. Although technically, vol-au-vent is the name of the little puff pastry that accompanies the stuffing, it has given its name to the whole dish. 

7 April 2013

Daring Bakers - White chocolate and parsnip cake

At the third attempt, my white chocolate and parsnip cake has finally left the oven in an edible version. Yes ! I think it might need a bit more tweaking as it still came out slightly too moist, but after my many failed vegetable cakes, you won't hear me complaining (too much).

27 March 2013

Daring Bakers - Avocado & Granny Smith Soufflé

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

19 March 2013

Ajo Blanco

Although I am not a vegetarian and definitely no vegan, I am mindful of what I eat and like to bring variety in my diet and sometimes this expresses itself in the form of a meatless dish.  So when I came across this monthly vegetarian challenge, I bookmarked it for later use.

I didn't plan on participating in the No Croutons Required March Challenge, hosted by Lisa's Kichen as the theme for this month was "Raw".  I immediately associate raw with sashimi, but this being a vegetarian challenge, any fish was obviously out of the question.

14 March 2013

Daring Cooks - Let's get cheesy

Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!

When I first read about the challenge, I felt a mix of different emotions : enthusiasm about my very first official challenge, but also fear of failure, as cheese making seemed to be such daunting enterprise. And my major question was : where do I start?  I didn't have a cheesecloth, or a mold. Let alone this exotic sounding rennet.

13 March 2013

Homemade hazelnut chocolate spread (Nutella)

Like most kids from industrialised counties, I grew up with Nutella.  Countless times when my mother wasn't watching, I would dig in the familiar jar and walk away with a spoonful/s (read tablespoonful/s) of the chocolate goodness.  And to this day, although I have tried different brands and types of chocolate spread, I keep coming back to the well-known Italian brand.  Because whoever has tasted Nutella will tell you, it really is taste-wise the best around.

10 March 2013

Japanese Cooking 101 : Miso & Clear Soup

As I announced in my post on Feb. 22, Maki from JustHungry started an online Japanese cooking course (Japanese Cooking 101), initiating us into the wonderful world of Washuko cuisine. The first lesson was all about making dashi and then using that dashi for cooking miso and clear soup.

Personally, I have never been a huge miso soup fan.  Don't get me wrong, I do like the occasional bowl, but I just can't become lyrical about it. And even a homemade version hasn't turned it into a favourite, although I have to admit that I prefer the homemade version to the ones I have taste until now.

6 March 2013

Surf & Turf Pasta with Pistachio Pesto

Since joining Daring Bakers and Cooks last month, I started to look all over the internet for more of these food blog related challenges. Because nothing gets me going better than a challenge to live up to.  These challenges however have proved to be rather elusive, or maybe it's just me using the wrong search words with google. Who knows. 

Either way, I hadn't seen many interesting ones until I stumbled upon the Pasta Please challenge; initiated by Tinned Tomatoes.  Now, pasta is always a welcome dish at our house : it's quick, easy, liked by almost anyone (quite handy when you have unexpected eaters) and yet very versatile.  So, any challenge involving pasta means that I am game :o)

4 March 2013

Daring Cooks - Paella

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

When you have real Spaniards around, it takes some guts to make a Spanish dish like paella, because you expose yourself to being compared to the real thing, la paella casera, and most of the time, you don't come out a winner of this battle.

3 March 2013

Daring Bakers - Raincoast Crisps, the DIY version

Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

Because I am only a official Daring Bakers member from March onwards, I found out about this challenge on the reveal date i.e. last Wednesday. Nevertheless, the different pictures that appeared on the Daring Kitchen website were so tantalising, that I couldn't resist giving these crackers a try. 

28 February 2013

Triple Choc Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of the easiest sweets around : very few ingredients and no effort preparation for a very sweet and traditional dessert.  I wanted to jazz up my usual recipe by adding chocolate to it and although I am still slightly startled when I look at the finished result (because my rice pudding have always been whitish up to now), it has defininetely a great taste.

27 February 2013

Chicken Shawarma

If you are running out of time to prepare dinner, the easy option which comes to mind is to grab some take away. After all who doesn't like some fastfood like kebab, pitta, shawarma or however you want to call it.

Preparing shawarma however is so easy, that it would be a waste of money to buy it ready made.  The additional advantage of home made food is moreover that you know at least what you put into it.  In these times where it appears that horsemeat has been passing for beef in numerous industrially prepared dishes, it takes an ever bigger importance.

Making this dish is so easy that you can hardly call it a recipe, but here you go.  I have had and used it for quite some time and I think it came originally from a Weight Watchers website, so to top all the other advantages, it is also a skinny dish :o)

Ingredients for 2 servings :

* 1 box of mushrooms
* 1 red bell pepper
* shredded iceberg lettuce (I also added some raw white cabbage)
* 2 onions
* 260g chicken fillet
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1 Tbs of shawarma spices
* 2 pitta breads
* aioli

Preparation :

Slice the chicken fillets into strips, and dice the mushrooms, bell pepper and onions. Put everything but the bell pepper in a bowl and mix with the shawarma spices.

Fry meat and veggies in a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the bell pepper a bit later on, so that it keeps a bit of crunch (and isn't all mushy).

Heat up the pita breads in a toaster.  If you like to eat it as a sandwich, fill the warm bread with lettuce and the shawarma and serve with some aioli. Otherwise you can serve all the ingredients separetely on a plate.  The aioli can be homemade, but we always have a storebought jar in the fridge, so that's what I used.

That's all there is to it, quick simple and very tasty.

26 February 2013

Potato Pancakes (Raggmunk)

As promised in yesterday's Béarnaise Sauce post, I still had to post the recipe to the potato pancakes that accompanied the steak I made.  Considering the horrible lighting of my picture on the bottom of that post, I will not repost it.  [On a side note : I will be ordering my Lowel Ego lights by the end of March and hopefully then I will no longer have to deal with nasty glares, faded colours and the like.  Maybe, just maybe, my food pictures taken at night will start to look appetizing again.]

Anyway, these potato pancakes are present in a lot of cuisines around the world, but the inspiration for these ones comes from Sweden, where "Raggmunk" is a very popular potato preparation.

Ingredients for 4 servings :

* 800 g floury potatoes (°)
* 90 g all purpose flour
* 1 egg
* 300 ml milk
* a knob of butter
* salt
* pepper

(°) Because it is the starch contained in the potatoes which keeps the pancakes together, it is preferable to use older potatoes, as their starch levels are higher. Personally I opted for Bintjes potatoes, as they are grown locally.


Put the flour in a bowl, add the milk and egg and whisk it all into a the smooth batter.

Peel the poratoes and grate them.  Add the grated potatoes to the batter, season and mix it carefully together using a fork   

Melt a knob of butter in a large skillet on medium fire.

Put a good forkfull of potato batter in the pan, press it slighly in order to achieve a patty.  As these pancake are rather small, you can bake several of them simultaneously.

Using a small spatula, turn the pancake after 1 to 2 minutes and keep them on low heat until the inside is also done.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

25 February 2013

Béarnaise Sauce

I don't know for other parts of the world, but in Belgium the quintessential sauce to accompany steak is béarnaise sauce.  The sauce can be found ready made in the supermarket and some brands are really good, but nothing can beat a homemade béarnaise.

Making béarnaise is not that complicated really, but it requires a bit of preparation ahead of time, if you don't have ready-made gastrique at hand. Gastrique, a vinegar reduction, is the basis of this egg and tarragon sauce.  You can make it in a larger quantity as it keeps in the fridge for a long time.  I prepared it yesterday, knowing that I would be making this sauce tonight

So let's take a look at the key for any succesful béarnaise, the gastrique.

Gastrique - Ingredients.

* 1⁄2 L tarragon vinegar
* 1⁄2 L water
* 1⁄2 L white wine
* 3 small shallots
* 3 garlic cloves
* 10 peppercorns
* a few sprigs of thyme
* a few leaves of laurel
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon

Gastrique - Preparation :

Pour the water, wine and vinegar in a pan and put the resulting liquid on medium heat.

Bruise the garlic cloves and add them to the pot. Peel and dice the shallots and add them with the bruised peppercorns and the herbs (thume, laurel, tarragon) to the gastrique.

Let it reduce to approximately 1/3 of the original quantity.

Pour the liquid through a colander and reserve it.

Ingredients for the béarnaise :

* 150 g butter
* 3 egg yolks
* 3 egg cups of gastrique (made beforehand)
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon
* a few sprigs of chervil (to tate)
* salt
* pepper
* 1⁄2  lemon (or a dash of gastrique)
Preparation of the béarnaise (yields 4 servings) :

Clarify the butter by melting it on a low fire and removing the protein residues floating to the surface.

Break the eggs and keep the yolks in a bowl.  Whisk them lightly.

Add the required amount of gastrique and whisk both ingredients to a foamy liquid.

Pour everything in a high pot and keep whisking, while heating it up on a low fire.  Keep whisking until you end up with a foamy mousseline.

Pour the clarified butter bit by bit, while whisking continously.

Season with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice (or gastrique).

Shred the fresh tarragon leaves and the chervil and add the shredded herbs to the sauce.

Serve hot.

Tonight, I substitued the regular jacket potatoes I make with steak for some potato pancakes.  I will post the recipe for them later this week.

24 February 2013

Chicken Pizzaiola

Another simple dish that was featured on the TV show Dagelijkse Kost (Everyday meals), on the Flemish channel Eén. (for more info on this show see my previous post) and which met a frank success at our house tonight.

Pizzaiola is a classic tomato sauce, which can be used in numerous dishes. For this particular dish, it accompanies chicken fillets filled with creamy pesto and ricotta.

Ingredients for 4 servings :

For the pesto:

* 40 g Parmesan cheese
* 30 g pine nuts
* 30 g basil
* 1⁄2 garlic clove
* 8 cl olive oil
* a dash of lemon juice
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

For the filled chicken fillets :

* 4 chicken breast fillets
* 8 slices of smoked bacon
* 1 large Tbs of pesto (made with the ingredients above)
* 3 Tbs of ricotta
* a dash of olive oil
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

For the pizzaiola sauce :

* 1 large onion (at leat)
* 3 garlic cloves
* 1⁄2 red chili (used my chili flakes mill instead)
* 200 g cherry tomatoes
* 3 dl tomato meat
* 2 Tbs of capers (not used as we don't like them)
* a pinck of dried oregano
* 2 dl water (or stock - I used chicked stock)
* a dash of olive oil
* parsley
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

Preparation :

Pesto :

Put the pine nuts, the parmesan cheese, the peeled garlic and the fresh basil in your blender.  Pour the olive oil in with the other ingredients and blend everything to a smooth pesto.

Add a dash of lemon juice and season to taste with a salt and pepper.

Chicken Fillets :

Start on the chicken fillets, so they have time to set for a while in the fridge.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta and the pesto to a smooth paste.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The remaining pesto can later be used in order preparations)

If your bacon slices have a rind or cartilage, you should remove them.

Clean the chicken fillets, removing the possibly remaining fatty bits or the though film. Slice every filet horizontally in order to have a chicken steak when folded open.

Spread a layer of the ricotta filling on each of the opened chicken breast and close the steaks again.

Wrap two slices of smoked bacon around each chicken breast and fix it with a tooth pick.

Place the chicken on a plate and put it in the fridge to set. Don't forget to rince off your cutting board after have worked with the raw chicken!

Pizzaiola sauce:

Chop the onion.  Heat a dash of olive oil and fry the onion until it becomes translucent.  Feel free to fry them for a few minutes, so they can give the sauce a sweet taste.  Keep an eye on the heat though, so the onions don't colour.

Peal the garlic and dice it before blending it to paste.

If you use a chili, chop it in fine pieces. In the original recipe, he left the seeds in but as I said, I used my chili flake mill.

Add the chili and garlic to the skillet with the onion and stir.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the skillet, with a large pinch of dried oregano.

If you like capers in your sauce, you should add them now to the skillet and let them stew.

Add the tomato meat and the water (or stock).

Stir and let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes on low heat,  The longer it simmers, the beter is becomes.  Season to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta al dente.  In general, a regular portion would be 100g of dry pasta per person, but I only used 170g for two servings and still had a some left over.

Preheat the over to 180°C.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet on medium fire and colour the chicken fillets in a few minutes.  Put the coloured chicken fillets in a oven dish and cook them further in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

22 February 2013

Japanese Cooking 101

Japanese Tower, BrusselsNot a recipe post today, but a little heads up to all of you who are interested in getting to know the Japanese cuisine and how you can make those delicious traditional dishes at home (instead of having to pay a fortune for them at Japanese restaurants).

Maki from Just Hungry is going to host a 5 part course on the Fundamentals of Washoku, the traditional Japanese cuisine, starting this March 4, 2013.

The course will be online, free (!) and no pre-registration is required.  To read all about the upcoming course and in order to find out if this is something you should embark on, check out Maki's announcing post over here.

I am all up and ready.  Although I already had almost all the required ingredients for this course in my pantry, I ordered the few missing items from Japan Center on Wednesday and I just got an e-mail saying that the delivery was scheduled for next Monday. Yay.

Oh, and while I was shopping for sake and miso, I also came across the book Everyday Harumi from Harumi Kurihara, and I couldn't resist adding it to my cart.  So don't be surprised if you see a few Japanese dishes appear on here in the near future :o)

Have a nice weekend !

21 February 2013

Croque Bagnat

This hot sandwich combines the best of two worlds : the mediterranean flavours of the Pan Bagnat and the melted yumminess of the classic Croque Monsieur.

For those of you who would be unfamiliar with these snacks, wiki tells us that Pan Bagnat is a "sandwich [...] composed of pain de campagne, whole wheat bread formed in a circle, although white bread is also sometimes used, around the classic Salade Niçoise, a salad composed mainly of raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs, anchovies and/or tuna, and olive oil (never mayonnaise)."  This sandwich is deeply rooted into the luncheon habits in the region of Nice in Southern France, but it is wide spread all through the Côte d'Azur and beyond.

Still quoting wiki,  "a croque-monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich [which] originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack."  Even in Belgian cafés, you'll have no trouble finding a croque monsieur on the menu as it is a quick, cheap and filling meal, ideal for those who are in a hurry or need something to layer their stomachs before downing more of the other thing Belgium is famous for besides chocolate, that's right, beer :o)

The recipe for this Croq Bagnat came out of the book "Croquez Monsieur!" by Philippe Conticini, which seems to be out of print nowadays (oh and don't even consider buying that book at 211,20 EUR from my link - it was a mere 10 EUR when it was just published!).

So anyway, back to our Croque Bagnat.

In order to make two croques you'll need :

*  4 slices of (wholemeal) pain de mie (pullman loaf)
* 2 Tsp of butter en pommade (butter that has softened to the point that it is spreadable)
* 2 pinches of salt (fleur de sel
* 8 fine slices of parmesan (or if you can't find slices, I have also used 15g of grated parmesan instead)
* 2 slices of mozzarella (about 1cm thickness)
* 1/2 hardcooked egg
* 2 anchovies (optional)

For the tuna mixture :

* 120g canned tuna in brine
* 3 leaves of basil
* 3 Tsp of balsamic vinegar
* 3 Tbsp of olive oil
* 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
* 4 drops of tabasco
* 5 (sliced) black olives
* 1 Tsp chopped garlic
* seasoning (pepper & salt) 

Preparing the tuna :

Mix the tuna, basil, balsacmic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco, olives and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the croques :

Butter each pain de mie slice on one side. Sprinkle it with fleur de sel and turn around.

Put on the bread, 4 fine parmesan slices, 1 big tbsp of the tuna mixture, a slice of egg (± 0.5 cm thick), 1 slice of mozzarella and to finish of, one anchovy.

Cover with another slice of bread, butter side out.


Put the croques in the croque machine for about 3 minutes until they have a nice brown golden colour.

If you don't have a croque machine at hand, I am sure you can prepare them in the oven or on a skillet as well.  The advantage of the croque machine however is that it seals the edges of the bread, leaving all the yumminess trapped inside.

20 February 2013

Three Cheeses Macaroni and Savoy Cabbage

This simple but filling pasta dish was featured at the beginning of February 2013 on the TV Cooking Show Dagelijkse Kost (Everyday meals), on the Flemish channel Eén. This daily show is hosted by Jeroen Meus, the Belgian chef of the restaurant Luzine, who has become increasingly popular since he began hosting this TV show and wrote several cookbooks (4 already, all of which I have on the shelf).  His dishes are not extremely sophisticated as he believes that you can make good food without having to spend fortunes on fancy ingredients.  Hence the name of the programme.

I choose to make this particular dish as I wanted something that I could use in my lunchbox and that wouldn't be too much of a hassle to prepare.  Moreover cabbage being in season right now, it was the ideal moment to give it a try.

Ingredients needed for 4 servings :

* 300g ground meat (beef/pork mix)
* 1⁄2 of a savoy cabbage
* butter
* pinch of dried sage
* pinch of dried rosemary
* pinch of dried oregano
* parsley

for the cheese sauce :

* 30g butter
* 30g all purpose flour
* 500ml milk
* 125g ricotta
* 75 g Comté cheese (the original recipe required mature Gouda)
* 75 g Parmesan cheese
* 1⁄2 lemon
* nutmeg
* pepper
* salt 

Bring a large amount of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile melt a bit of butter in a skillet on medium fire.   
Season the ground meat with a selection of dried herbs (sage, rosemary and oregano) and mix it all together.
Spread the meat over the hot skillet in medium sized lumps, and let it fry untouched for a while.  After a few minutes you can stir it while take care not to crumble it up too much.  As soon as it has reached a nice golden brown crust, set aside .

Remove the outer tough leaves of the savoy cabbage.  Cut the vegtable into quarters and then further into large strips. Rinse the strips of thoroughly making sure to remove any specks of dirt or sand and let it drain.

Boil the cabbage strips for 5 to 6 minutes in the salted water.  remove the cabbage from the pot and bring the water to the boil again in order to cook the macaroni.

In a large pot cooking pot, melt a bit of butter and add flour. Stir until you get a roux.  Let it cook briefly (until it smells like baked cookies).
Add the milk and keep whisking.  Bring the sauce almost to boiling point, until the bechamel has thickened without lumps. Reduce the heat.

Grate the Comté and the parmesan cheese.
Stir the ricotta and the grated cheese into the sauce and keep stirring until they have completely melted.  Season to taste with nutmeg, pepper and salt.  Finish with a dash of lemon juice. 
Keep the sauce hot but avoid burning it.

Cook the pasta al dente.

Stir the meat and the cabbage into the sauce.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce as well.
Mix everything together and season a bit more if necessary.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.

19 February 2013


A dish I make on a regular basis and which is always highly appreciated by those who get to taste it : straight out of the Creole cuisine,  Jambalaya.

Undoubtedly there are as many versions of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana and beyond. But this is the version I usually made, coincidentally also a rather skinny version of the dish.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

* 160g lean breakfast bacon (can be replaced by chicken as well)
* 1 red onion
* 2 garlic cloves
* 250g mushrooms
* 1 sweet ramiro pepper
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 125g brown rice (uncooked)

* 400g sifted tomatoes
* 150ml vegetable stock
* 400g gambas (pre cooked)
* 1 Tbsp parsley
* a pinch of sugar
* to taste : salt, pepper, thyme (and if you like spicy, you can add tabasco sauce as well)

Dice the bacon, the onion, the garlic cloves, the mushrooms and the bell pepper.

Bake the bacon in the teaspoon of olive oil, add the vegetables and stew.

Add the uncooked rice, tomatoes and vegetable stock.  Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar (and tabasco if you want) and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the gambas and heat for an additional 5 minutes, finish with the tablespoon of parsley (and thyme).

18 February 2013

Savoury mini cakes

And my baking spree continues ...

As I am going to pack bentos again this week, I baked a few savoury mini cakes. These are just the right size to pack in a lunchbox or a picknick but you could as well savour them as an appetizer with a drink.

These two recipes come from the book Mini Cakes from Ilona Chovancova.

The first one are Mini Cakes in Breton Gallette style.  The original recipe asked for smoked bacon and gruyère but as I didn't have any, I substituted them with cooked ham and comté cheese.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 cakes :

* 80g buckwheat flour
* 40g all purpose flour
* 2 eggs
* 80g grated comté cheese
* 7cl milk
* 7cl olive oil
* 1/2 sachel of dry yeast
* seasoning (salt, pepper)
* 80g diced cooked ham
* 1/2 leek

Cut the leek in small rings and then in smaller pieces.  In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with the oil and milk. Add the 2 flours, the leek, the diced ham and the cheese.  Season to taste.  Add the yeast.

As soon as the yeast has been integrated into the mixture, pour it into your previously greased cake moulds and put it in the preheated oven at 180C.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Proof the baking by inserting a wooden stick into the cake at the end of the baking. If it comes out clean, the cakes are ready.

The second cakes are Pattypan Parmesan cakes. The original recipe used potimarron, (a type of squash I was unable to find the English name of), but as I had still a pattypan squash laying around since Halloween, I decided to use that one instead.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 cakes :

* 1200g all purpose flour
* 2 eggs
* 70g grated comté cheese (originally gruyère)
* 7cl milk
* 7cl olive oil
* 1/2 sachel of dry yeast
* seasoning (salt, pepper)
* 100g pattypan squash
* 100g grated parmesan
* 3 sage leaves

Grate the flesh of the pattypan squash.  Press it in your hand in order to get rid of the excess liquid. Chop up the sage leaves. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with the oil and milk. Add the flour, the cheese and the sage.  Season to taste.  Add the yeast.

As soon as the yeast has been integrated into the mixture, pour it into your previously greased cake moulds and put it in the preheated oven at 180C.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Proof the baking by inserting a wooden stick into the cake at the end of the baking. If it comes out clean, the cakes are ready.

17 February 2013

Daring Bakers - Dutch Crunch Bread aka Tijgerbrood

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Since the challah baking had me on a roll, I decided to tackle this challenge from the Daring Kitchen as well :o)  Dutch Crunch Bread, known as Tijgerbrood (or Tiger Bread), has been a very popular bread type around here for the past few years. And I have to admit that I always buy this type of bread as I like its crunchy crust and I find it stays fresh longer than the other breads available in the grocery stores.  I thought it was a special type of bread, but thanks to this challenge I discovered that using this topping can make any bread special.

Because the challenge also consisted of making a sandwich, I choose the Soft White Rolls recipe supplied on the Dutch Crunch Challenge Sheet.  Next time I will double the ingredients though, because I was left with too much topping for the amount of dough, this recipe yielded. I am sure than I could have topped a dozen rolls. 

The rolls right out of the oven looked fabulous and I found it hard to resist the urge to sink my teeth into this crunchy goodness.  Nevertheless I waited because I wanted to use these tijgerbroodjes for a tuna burger.

And this was the final result.

The recipe for the tuna burger was taken from Burgers Faits Maison from Sandra Mahut, which I tweaked slightly.

Ingredients (for 2 burgers)

* 1  large can of tuna in brine (net weight 220g)
* 1 garlic clove, diced
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 cm of fresh ginger, chopped 
* 1 Tbsp of chiseled coriander leaves
* 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
* 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients of the list. Form 2 balls and flatten them in not too thick patties. Fry them slowly in a hot skillet with sesame oil. When they are golden brown, sprinkle them with sesame seeds.

Dared to bake Dutch Crunch Bread. Challenge completed !

Daring Bakers - Honey & Chocolate Chip Challah

May 2012’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I never made bread before, except in a breadmaking machine, which doesn't really count towards making your own bread.  But it is something I have been longing to try for a while.  My grandfather used to make his own bread and I remember how as a little girl, he would give me a piece of dough to play with and shape as I wanted.  Then it ended up under the cloth with the two loaves and although I was told not to touch them while they rose, I couldn't help but take a peak every now and then.  Even to this day, I never cease to be amazed by the miracle of rising dough.

For this challah, I opted for one of the recipes mentioned on the Daring Bakers Challenge Sheet, the Honey White Challah taken from Tammy's Recipes.  Because I planned to use it as a breakfast bread, I added half a cup of chocolate chips to her recipe and I also halved all her quantities as we don't eat enough bread around here to make two loaves.

Braiding the bread turned out being trickier than expected. My problem was actually to shape the 6 different strand rather than the braiding itself.  So the braids ended up too short and thick, and as a result the challah looked a bit ... well, let's call it rustic :o)

 Tastewise, it is really taste although, being the sweettooth that I am, I might increase the honey for my next attempt as I would have appreciated the extra sweetness.

Dared to bake Challah. Challenge completed !

16 February 2013

Daring Bakers - Empanada de atun

This past week, I have been nosing around the challenges on The Daring Kitchen and quite a few on there have caught my eye, making my baking fingers itch.

Tonight I decided to try my hand on a Daring Bakers Challenge from September 2012 : the Empanada Gallega.

[Although this is posted way after the closing challenge date, I am still adding the blogchecking lines to this post should someone do a google search on them.]

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

I have made empanadas before (with various stuffings), but up to now I have only used ready made doughs.  To make it more of a challenge, I wanted to make them from scratch this time and I used the recipe for wheat dough from the September 2012 Challenge Page

My personal tuna stuffing is fairly similar to the one suggested by Patri. I only reduced the amount of oil by 1/4 cup and tweaked the ingredients a bit.

For my tuna stuffing I used :

* 1 large red onion, diced
* 2 sweet red ramiro peppers, diced
* 3 garlic cloves
* 2 hard boiled eggs
* 200g of tomato frito
* 1 Tbsp olive slices (leftover from Friday's pizza making)
* seasoning of salt, pepper and nutmeg

I had some issues with overstuffing some of my empanadas (making them burst while baking), but overall they came out rather nice.  If next time I remember to prick the dough, before putting them in the oven, they will even be better :o)

Dared to bake Empanada de atun. Challenge completed !

14 February 2013

Berberechos a la cataplana

[First published on Bento Bliss on January 21, 2012]

During grocery shopping yesterday, I came across a little box of cockles in the seafood aisle and I knew immediately what I would make for starters on Friday night : Berberechos a la cataplana, or Portuguese cockles.  [Although it is originally a Portuguese dish, I gave it a Spanish name as (a) I don't speak Portuguese but do speak the language of Cervantes and (b) I put Spanish chorizo in this dish].

I am sure that there are as many versions of this dish as there are cooks in the world but this is how I made them.

Ingredients (for 2 servings): 

* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 330g fresh cockles (strange quantity but that was the contents of the box)
* 4 shallots
* 4 garlic cloves (you can use less, but we love garlic over here so always use a lot)
* 50g diced chorizo
* 50g smoked ham
* chiseled coriander
* a pinch of chili powder (the original recipe would call for a tsp of piri piri or tabasco)

How-to :

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the diced garlic and shallots, until they are soft but not coloured.

Add the ham and chorizo, season with a bit of chili (or tabasco if you prefer) and cover. Let simmer a bit, shaking up the pan every now and then.

Add the cockles and the coriander, cover and let simmer for an additional 5/6 minutes, shaking up the pan again.  As soon as the cockles have opened up, the dish is ready.

12 February 2013

Peas & Ricotta Moelleux

[First published on Bento Bliss on April 8, 2010]

A moelleux is a cake with a soft core. The most famous example would be a moelleux au chocolat, a chocolate cake with a gooey centre.  This cake is a savoury variation of that concept, although the core is clearly not runny like the chocolate version. The recipe for these cakes can be found below.

These little moelleux can be used as accompaniment to a main dish or can be packed as a savoury treat for a lunchbox or picknick.

Ingredients for 9 moelleux:

* 100g (frozen) peas
* 140g ricotta
* 3 eggs
* 20g grated cheese (gruyère)
* 60g all purpose flour
* 25 cl milk
* 40g demi-sel butter (i.e.lightly salted butter)
* salt & pepper

Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and mash them and mix with the ricotta.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

In a bowl, wisk the eggs as it to make scrambled eggs.  Add progressively the sifted flour, while mixing with a fork.

In a pan heat the milk with the diced butter.  When the butter has melted, pour the warm milk in the bowl with the egg/flour mixture. Mix and add the peas/ricotta mash.  Mix again and season with pepper.

Pour the dough into 9 individual recipients, sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes (according to the size of your molds).

Let them cool slightly before taking them out of the molds.

Baileys Cake

[First published on Bento Bliss on March 29, 2010]

Because no meal is finished without dessert, I made a Baileys & Mascarpone cake.

Baileys & Mascarpone cake

I saw the recipe for this cake on Miriam's blog, The Winter Guest, and as I had leftover mascarpone in the fridge, I decided I'd give it a try. After all, anything sweet AND containing Bailey's can't be anything but delicious.

The mascarpone was storebought but I will be making my own next time, because it seems rather easy to make (have a look at the link Miriam referred to in her post).

Miriam used agave syrup in her recipe but because I never encountered that type of syrup while shopping, I asked her if I could replace it with sugar. She advised me to increase the sugar amount to 200g, as the syrup sweetens more than regular sugar, and add an additional 80g of vegetable oil to the batter to make up for the syrup's liquidy.

The kitchen smelled deliciously of Bailey's (attracting all kind of curious houseguests to the kitchen) and the taste of this cake is simply divine. I think I will leave it in the oven just a bit longer next time (there will be a next time for sure!), because when the wooden testing stick came out clear, I took it out of the oven immediately for fear of the cake becoming too dry and just a bit less moist would have been better. In my rush to get it out, I managed to burn my arm but it's nothing I won't survive. This delicious cake was worth any blister :o)

L'heure de vérité