Berenjenas Fritas – Spanish Fried Eggplant

Hi guys!

It’s raining buckets outside, you really do not want to go grocery shopping right now, but you want to eat something GOOD. If you have even half a leftover eggplant you can relax! No cycling in the rain for you. (Yes us Dutch, we cycle everywhere, all true) Within minutes you can whip up this Spanish tapas-style dish.

This is actually my mum’s favorite Spanish dish and I tried making it before. That did not work out so well. Amongst other things we tried a beer batter for the eggplant. But you actually do not need to go through all this trouble.

We were once standing or hanging on a Grenada counter in a small bar. We ordered a plate of these berenjenas fritas and we saw a women walking around with an eggplant in her hand, talking to the bartender, meanwhile working the eggplant. Minutes later we had an enormous pile of fried eggplant in front of us. How did she do it this fast and so delicious? My boyfriend and I recently tested this simple version and we thought it came closest.

Time to get started:

  • 1 eggplant
  • flour
  • water
  • sunflower oil
  • salt, pepper
  • syrup or ‘stroop’ as we call it. (In Spanish: ‘miel’, a sort of honey).

IMG_1004Cut up the eggplant in the shape of fries. Whip up some batter with water and flower. I did not measure this but it needs to be the consistency of pancakes. A bit runny, not too thick. I mixed in some fresh pepper. I took one piece of aubergine to test this batter. Take out a small, high saucepan and put it on the stove. Fill it about halfway with sunflower oil and heat it. Once you thing it is hot enough you can trow in a tiny piece of eggplant and see if it sizzles. Another way is to add a tiny tiny drop of water which needs to create sizzle as well.

Once the oil was hot I added my test piece. It took longer then I thought, but maybe I was just anxious for the outcome. Once the eggplant had browned properly we took it out and… loved it :-)!

This was just too good to be true, the best recipe turned out to be the most basic one, with a batter of water and flour.IMG_1005

For the next batch I just poured a little batter of the eggplantpieces, covering it slightly. Do not simply pour over all the batter you have made, see the photo below. I believe coating is the right word here. I cooked the eggplant in batches and we just devoured every single one.

In Spain they pour over a sweet syrup, called ‘miel’. The literal translation of miel is actually honey, but what they pour over the berenjenas fritas is more of a syrup. Maybe you’ll think it strange but the sweetness just adds another layer of delicious flavour.

I’dd say go for it!

 

 

 

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Maroccan Lamb Tajine

We bought a beautiful Tajine! And it such good quality, and it was so cheap. Yeah thriftstore! I don’t think anybody ever used it. I guess they former owner did not get as excited as we did after scoring this Tajine. I sat straight to work. Must eat Lamb!

I am sure there are many options but my mind went straight to Lamb. I got some lambshoulder with bone, the butcher recommended that very strongly. He actually spend about ten minutes explaining what to do for my Tajine dish, not leaving out a single detail. After going on and on he almost shamefully admitted that he liked to cook. We noticed ;-). We did exactly what the nice men told us to do, alright, there were some adjustments,  and now I share this recipe with you!

Again it’s a wonderful dish to make: Tasty, healthy, not too complicated, fresh, international, exciting, colourful… I could go on…

This is also for you sis! Enjoy your new tajine as well :-).
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Here we go:

  • Lambshanks about 1 kilo
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground peper, salt
  • about a third of a small pumpkin, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  •  1 chili, seeds removed, very finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes / half a can of tomatoes, diced
  • handful of apricots, roughly chopped
  • teaspoon of kurkuma
  • teaspoon of cumin
  • teaspoon of dried coriander
  • half a teaspoon of ginger
  • teaspoon of ras el hanout
  • teaspoon of curry powder
  • fresh coriander for garnishIMG_0876
  • juice of 1 lemon, optional.

Allright! Make sure you have all your vegies prepared. This stew is perfect to use leftover veggies, such as paprika, eggplant or potatoes as well. Put the tajine on the stove, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and brown of the meat.Remove meat from the tajine once browned and add the onions. Give it a stir and add the garlic and chili. You can use more or less then one chili, depending on your preference or tolerance for spicyness. Stir in the pumpkin and sweet potato. Once caramelized a little, add all the spices.

IMG_0800How does your kitchen smell now? Good I hope! Add the tomatoes and abricots. Do not forget to season with salt and pepper. Then you add the lamb again, make sure it is covered by the sauce. Put on the lid and let it simmer for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

The best way to check if it’s done is just to have a feel and taste. The meat should be soft and tender and also taste soft. I once left this stew for 2 hours and the meat just became softer!

We ate it with a simple couscous salad and some bread. Sprinkle over the fresh coriander. You can also sprinkle over some lemon juice for some freshness.

 

>> You can make this in a normal pot as well

>> This dish is perfect for freezing!

>> There are several health claims saying kurkuma can be beneficial when suffering from Parkinsons disease or Alzheimers

>> You can use the ras el hanout to spice your couscous as well. Just mix the couscous with a large tablespoon before you pore over the boiling water.
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Chicken Pies with Mango Chutney

Let me start this post with wishing you all a very happy, healthy and tasty 2015! Hopefully you all had a great New Year’s Eve.

We ended 2014 surrounded by most of our friends. Everybody chipped in bringing a bottle of wine, some beers and a homemade dish. This varied from courgette soup to Spanish tomato bread (delicious Martijn!) and a very interesting concoction made of pancakes, grated cheese and hotdogs. Wait, there was sweet chili sauce involved there too…. right.   There was a lot more good food but the focus (for me at least) shifted pretty quickly to the delicious wines that were on hand… And a champagne or cava toast at midnight! We went out to watch some amazing fireworks that went on for about 30 minutes. I loved the oooohs and aaahhs coming from the crowd while everybody sipped their bubbles from plastic champagne glasses. From there on it was dancing, and more dancing!

For us here it is really a tradition, gathering with some good food and drinks, then going out for fireworks, no matter the weather, toasting with champagne, cava or prosecco and then on to the dancefloor! Do you all pop the champagne cork at midnight? What is your favourite New Year’s Eve?

When we came back to live on the second of January we were actually quite productive. For one thing, we finally hung up a large painting that was gifted to my boyfriend a while back. It is an Indonesian market on Bali and I catch myself staring at now that it’s up. Their lanky bodies and their productiveness fascinetes me. I had to include a photo to share this image:

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Anyway, I know nothing of art, and a little of food, so here we go to the recipe. It is a finger licking mango chutney served with chicken pies.
The recipe for the chutney is for three small jarrs, or two larger ones. The chutney also goes really well with rice dishes, naanbread or just to spicen up a simple cheese sandwich.

Mango Chutney: 

  • 3 ripe mango’s, cut in pieces
  • 100 ml of vinegar
  • 100 grams of sugar
  •  8 large dates, pitted and chopped
  • 5 dried apricots, chopped
  • handful of white raisins
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 red chili peper, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely diced
  •  salt and pepper

Gather all your ingredients as described in the ingredients list. When you have prepared everything, it’s pretty straightforward from here.

Pour the vinegar and sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a bowl, lower the heat, then stir in the mango. Give it a few minutes.

If you want a softer tasting chutney you can use half the amount of ginger and just half a chili pepper. If you want a real kicker leave in the seeds of the chili…IMG_1201

Now stir in the dates, apricots, raisins, ginger, chili pepper, garlic, cinnamon and some freshly ground salt and pepper. Turn up the heat a little, make sure it comes to the boil, stir, then cover with the lid and put it on a low heat.

This needs at least 30 minutes, but if you can give it hour that’s great and the flavors will intensify. After an hour my mango pieces will still quite solid so I used an old fashioned puree smasher and the mango pieces disintegrated a bit, absorbing all the flavours and giving the chutney the desired structure. You want it a little runny with chunks in it, a bit like a compote.

If you want to preserve your chutney in jars you need clean jars. I always cook some old jam or bean jars (and their lids) on the stove in some boiling water for several minutes, and then fill them up immediatly when the chutney is still piping hot. Twist on the lid immediately and turn the jars upside down. The jars will now seal themselves on their own, and the chutney will keep for ages. You can check if the lids have popped in again, like they would be when you would buy a jam in the supermarket. Label it and put it away. Also makes for an original gift!

Or, just put it in a bowl, make these chicken pasties, and finish it all!

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Indian spiced Chicken Pies

For the filling:

  • two pieces of chicken thigh, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • handfull of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • two tablespoons ketjap
  • 1 tablespoons of sambal
  • 2 tablesppons of Tandoori spice mix (an Indian spice mix)
  • 2 tablespoons of thick yoghurt (Greek or Turkish)

This is easy. Chop up the ingredients and mix it all together in a bowl. The yoghurt and Indian spice mix is something my sisters tipped me about. They have an Indian deli close to home who sell amazing spice mixes. This is the one she gave me:

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Usually I am skeptical of premixed packages but this is just too damn tasty!

 

It contains the following spices:

coriander, cumin, cinnamon, chili, black pepper, fenugreek, salt, mustard seeds, bay leaves, nutmeg, onion powder and garlic.

Of course you can mix it yourself based on the ingredientlist, but I am not sure which quantities to use of all the spices.

 

You can use story bought pasty if you are in a hurry, but this pastry did not take that much time at all! You can use the flour of your choice (I mixed wholemeal with white bread flour) and if you ask me, working with dough is just too much fun ;-).

For the pastry:

  • 320 grams of flour
  • 60 grams of butter, cubed
  • 60 ml of oil
  • 135 ml of boiled water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Sift the flour in a bowl. Mix in the cubed butter with your hands. Heat the oil in the microwave. Dissolve the salt in the hot water. Mix the oil and water and pour it through the flour. Mix it all together with your hands and once it starts to form a dough tip it out on you workbench and knead if for a minute or two into a beautiful soft ball.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Butter your tins. Start rolling out your dough and covering the tins with it. Make sure you cut out enough lids to go on top. Make a hole in the lids so the air can escape. If you line the tins with dough, make sure you leave about half a centimeter extra on top. After you have filled the pie with a spoonful of chicken, you cover it with the lid and fold over this extra dough to close the pie. It took me some practice before I got the hang of it, but I managed, so I am sure you will too!

Do not overwork this though, for it will become tough and less easy to work with. Just roll it out in one go, line the tin and move on to the next.

Depending on the size, they need about 45 minutes in the oven. The chicken will have long cooked by then but you need the pastry golden brown and crispy. If the dough is still soft or gooey somewhere it needs more time in the oven. Nothing worse then raw dough.

Well, I guess that’s it! Looks like a long recipe now, but trust me, you can whip this up in no time!

 

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