Salad Frenzy

I have been on kind of a salad frenzy lately. I still love baking bread but lunch equals salad right now. And there are so many salads to be had! It’s not just some lettuce, tomato and cucumber but couscous, bulgur, quinoa, coleslaw, carrot, mexican, veggies, tunasalad … well all sorts of variations are possible. And a lot of the times my salad is just a ‘whatever I have left in my fridge’-salad. Waste nothing! Seriously, don’t throw away any leftovers from last nights dinner. Even if it ‘just’ half a tomato and a spoonful of couscous. All you do the next day is chopp op some dates, roast some nuts, add some fresh herbs, top with olive oil and you are golden.

Here follows a recipe for a salad or side dish I recently created for some friends. It has sweetness but some light spicyness as well. Feel free to experimate with all the elements and flavours!

Ingredients (serves about 2)

  • 300 grams of Bulgur. (I bought a coarse, wholegrain bulgur)
  • 1 sjalot, finely diced
  • small handfull of dried dates, nice, big juicy dates, roughly chopped
  • handfull of fresh coriander
  • small handfull of your favourite nuts (mine is a mix of pistachios, pinenuts and almonds)
  • two heaped teaspoons Za’tar seasoning
  • one teaspoon of curry powder and/or curcuma
  • 250 grams of pumpkin, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic

First you bake the pumpkin in the oven. Chop it up in cubes, add one crushed clove of garlic and cover with some pepper, salt, olive oil and za’tar seasoning. za’tar is a new herb mix I came across at my local middle eastern deli. Mildly spicy and aromatic, it generally contains herbs such as oregano, thyme, coriander and sumac.

Put the oven on a 180 degrees Celcius and in goes the tray with pumpkin cubes. Now onto the bulgur. Are you all familiar with bulgur? Bulgur is again a Middle Eastern ingredient, maybe a bit similar to couscous, only a bit bigger. Both couscous and bulgur are wheat. Couscous will be done quite fast. This bigger bulgur needs a few minutes more.

Put the bulgur in a pan, add the dates and sjalot and give it a stir. No oil needed. Add boiling water, make sure you completely cover the bulgur. Now stir in the curry powder and/or kurkuma. This is not just for flavouring but for some yellow colouring as well, which I personally love. Add some za’tar to this mixture as well. I use it both for the pumpkin and the bulgur to bring the flavours together. Stir again, cover with a lid. Let it simmer for about five minutes.

Toast your nuts in a dry pan. No need to add any oil or butter! Put them aside.

Check on your bulgur. This means taste! If it is still too hard, it needs more time. I like it ‘al dente’, with a little bite to it. It is not as soft as couscous, so don’t expect that soft texture when you taste it. Drain it once cooked.

Check on your pumpkin. Remove from the oven once done. Take out the garlic clove

Time to serve. Bring out a nice bowl or serving dish, pour over the bulgur. Top with the pumpkin pieces, nuts and then the fresh coriander. Sprinkle over some good quality olive oil for some moisture

This would make a great combo with the lamb koftas I posted last month. Instead of bread serve the koftas over the bulgur and accompany it with some green leaves for some fresh crunch.

And I stress again, do not throw away any leftover bulgur. I had it the day after chopped with some fresh veggies, olives and some lovely fetacheese.

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Leftover Bulgur from yesterday creates a whole new salad for today!

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Colourful Caprese Salad

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Couscous, kale, pinenuts and yellow and red tomatoes. Topped with my fav harissa-yoghurtdip.

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Radishes – so healthy!

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Couscous and kale again! Little bit of a photography experiment going on here.

 

Sopa de Paraguay

I am reminiscing about our South American travels. What a wonderful trip we made this year! Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay…

So we went into this café, advertising Sopa de Paraguay and other local dishes outside. I could eat some soup! I tried ordering this Parguayan soup, but they didn’t have any soup, the owner of the café exclaimed! What is this soup I keep reading and hearing about, I exclaimed in return. He showed us this dish is nothing like a soup, more like a cornbread. Allright, now we got it! Turned out that the soup that wasn’t a soup tasted darn delicious and we ended up eating it numerous times, for lunch, as a snack or as a side dish during a real South-American parilla, aka enormous BBQ time!

They make all kinds of varieties, I think they just sneek in some leftover meat from last night’s parilla, or some fresh veggies they have lying around. It’s all good! They really do have wonderfull produce over there. And so much corn, it’s unbelievable. The basic version of sopa contains …. cheese! Perfect combo no?! You can eat it warm but it’s delicious as well the next day with some butter on it. (What is not delicious with butter I think….)

The recipe is for a medium tray. Sopa de Paraguay is something best shared with friends while grilling enormous amounts of meat, the Paraguayans feel.  This recipe is for a slighty more managable amount. I did stick to the most basic version: The cheesy kind.

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 4 eggs – seperated
  • 200 grams of fresh corn kernels (otherwise from a tin)
  • 200 grams of fine polenta or cornmeal
  • 150 ml of milk
  • 150 grams cheese of your choice, grated. (Cheddar, Feta, Dutch Farmer’s Cheese, Swiss cheese… )
  • A pinch of salt, pepper and cayennepepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 75 grams of soft butter

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Finely chop the onion and bake in a tablespoon of butter until soft. Add a small pinch of salt, pepper and cayennepepper.

Mix the remaining butter with the onion and cheese in a bowl. For the cheese I used about 50 grams of crumbled feta and 100 grams of grated Dutch farmers Cheese. Other cheese will work nicely too. I don’t really know what kind of cheese they use exactly in Paraguay, but I am quite sure we don’t get Paraguayan cheese here.

Add the polenta or cornmeal and cornkernels and stir it all together. You can season with a little more pepper and salt. It’s time for the milk to go in there as well.

Seperate the eggs. Add the yolks to the cheese mixture. In a clean bowl whip up the eggwhites until stiff. So now you have got the cheesemixture and your eggwhites. Get a spatula and carefully fold those two together. The sopa we had over there always was quite light, despite the cheese or other fillings. I think the whipped up eggwhites ensure a little lightness in the mixture.

Grease an ovendish with some butter, sprinkle in some polenta or cornflour instead of breadcrumbs. In goes the mixture. Add some extra cheese on top. At least that’s what I always do when cooking with cheese – more, more, more!

A sopa this size will need at least 30 minutes in the oven on a 175 degrees Celcius. After 30 minutes check if it’s done with a wooden skewer: if it comes out clean, it’s done!


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Some impressions from our trip:

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South American Parilla

 

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Dinnertime @ La Granja

 

Celeriac Fritters with harissa-yoghurt dip

Hi all!

How are you? The weather here is great, so I haven’t been spending that much time in the kitchen here! Sitting in my living room, I am bathing in the sun right now, thinking up a new recipe for this week.

I wasn’t really inspired so for my grocery shopping I cycled down to a local market, right in the city, quite close to our home. Walking in the sun you hardly realize its autumn already, but the produce helped reminding me. Pumpkin, celeriac, potatoes, all sorts of produce for an autumn or winter dish, although I didn’t really feel like making some sort of mash already, way too early! I did buy the celeriac however and ended up making celeriac cakes! Something light and it made me think of summer – perfect picnic food no?

If autumn does set in all of a sudden you can have them with a nice piece of fish or meat but I just had them for lunch with a green salad and some harissa-yoghurt sauce.

Here it goes:

 

For the celeriac cakes:

Half a celeriac, peeled and grated

Half a sjalot, very finely diced.

Fresh (or otherwise dried) thyme

Peper and salt

2 tablespoons of flour (any type will do)

1 tablespoon of spicy mustard

½ teaspoon of Cajun herbs

1 free-range egg.

Olive oil (coconut oil or sunflower oil work well too)

 

For the harissa sauce:

3 tablespoons Thick yoghurt, such as Greek or Turkish yoghurt

1 teaspoon of harissa

 

Mix the grated celeriac with all the ingredients. Fresh thyme works really well with celeriac, it is just a really good flavor combination I think. If you do not have Cajun spice, perhaps you have some cayenne pepper or paprika powder to add to the mixture.  I like my mustard a bit spicy, but ofcourse, if you have a milder mustard it will definitely work as well. Give the mixture a good stir to make sure all is properly mixed.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Start scooping in the celeriac mixture with a spoon and press several heaps of mixture into the pan. You can shape them a little, until you have your desired shape and size.

They need at least 5 minutes on both sides, until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them, they may need a minute less or more.

When golden brown status has been achieved, put them on some paper kitchen towels while you whip up the sauce. When I say this sauce is easy I really mean it! It’s just some yoghurt and harissa. Harissa is a red pepper paste, while reading the ingredientslist I see that harissa is from Tunesia, did not know that! It’s mainly peppers, with some garlic, salt and coriander.  It’s perfect for spicing up soups or tomato sauces. And also for tasty dips!

Mix the yoghurt with the harissa. You can adjust to your own flavor, depending how much spicy you like it.

Serve them warm and crispy. Good work well as an evening meal with some fresh green salad and a piece of salmon from the oven, I am guessing. Or as a picnic snack, the sun is still shining here!

 

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yeah well I am no fan of these photo’s either… but this is how they turned out! Besides that they looked way better and tastier in real life!

Note to self: Practice your foodfotography…

 

Apple and Raisin ‘Kruidkoek’

How about something sweet, no?

This is a variation on a classic Dutch ‘kruidkoek’. Remarkable thing is that it doesn’t need any eggs. Commonly you will find it with raisins. I sneaked in some fresh fruit as well – apples!

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, washed and sliced
  • 100 grams of soft butter
  • 90 grams of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 100 grams of raisins (can also be mixed with dried cranberries or diced dried apricots)
  • 100 grams of plain flour
  • 75 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 100 ml of milk

1. Slice the apples and with the tiniest amount water, cook them until tender. Then remove from the heat.

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl, until properly blended.

3. Add the bicarbonate soda to the apples. It is going to sizzle! This is supposed to happen.

4. sift in the flour with the butter mixture. Add the spices as well. Give it a stir, then add the apples and raisins and stir again. Make sure the mixture is properly mixed and all the spices, apples and raisins are divided. You can save some apple parts to put on top of the cake once you have poured it in the tin.

Almost forget, milk! We need to mix in some liquids. I used about a 100 ml of milk, but I must admit I forget to measure it out exactly… Use your judgement! The mixture should be wet, it is not a dough you are making but a cake.

5. Prepare a cake tin by buttering it and lining it with baking parchment. The tin should be an 18 cm tin. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.
You can also use two smaller tins. I prefer to make two smaller cakes instead of making one big one. It takes less time in the oven and then I can freeze one of the cakes, safe it for later, give it away or something like that.

6. Scoop the mixture into the tin with a spatula. divide it evenly. Decorate with the remaining apple parts. Pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes. The smaller cakes will need 25 minutes max. Check your cake well beforehand, it may need some minutes less (or more) in the oven. If the cakes browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.

7. Once you take out the cake, remove it from the tin and cool on a rack. I like to eat mine still warm with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt. Ice cream works too ;-).

 

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Slice up the apples

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Cook them with a little water until tender

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Mix the cooked apples with baking soda – make them sizzle!

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Measure out the spices

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Start mixing together the ingredients

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Don’t forget the raisins

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And done!

Honey Caramalized Figs

Hi guys!

Here I got a quick dessert for you! Or breakfast, or lunch … It’s warm figs with delicious Turkish Yoghurt. I had no idea that fresh figs were in season, but my local Turkish grocery had a whole load of them on sale, so of course I couldn’t resist. I wanted to do something quick and warm, so I ended up coating them with honey and baking them for a few minutes in butter. We had it for brunch the other day, but I think it will work great as a dessert as well.

This is just a short an simple recipe for several reasons: I wanted to let the fresh figs shine, and that works best in a simple dish. I am also crazy busy painting my new house and packing up my stuff so I am very attracted to fast, simple ánd delicous things right now! (even more then normal ;-)).

Here follows the recipe:

Fresh Figs Caramelized in Honey

serves 4

  • 4 fresh figs
  • Butter
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Greek or Turkish Yogurt
  • Mint leafs
  • Optional: red wine, blue or manchego cheese, fresh bread

 

Slice the figs in half and dip them in honey. Heat a tablespoon of butter in the pan. When the butter has melted bake the figs for about three minutes on one side, then turn around and bake for a minute or so more. I sprinkled over some cinnamon.

Prepare your plates with yogurt, some more cinnamon and you can garnish with some fresh mint leafs. Top with warm figs and you are done!

I tried this recipe with brown sugar as well, but me and my boyfriend found that too sweet (and he has quite the sweet tooth!) so we went with honey for an awesome, balanced flavor.

I am thinking the figs will go great with a cheese board as well. I would swap the mint maybe for some fresh thyme or basil, what do you think? Buy some manchego or gorgonzola or other favorite cheese and slice some sourdough bread to go with that. And definitely do not forget to pour yourself a glass of red wine to go with that ;-)!

 

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