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!

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Cheesy Onion Bread

I have been wanting to try this for ages! I remember the smell from my childhood when my mother came back from the bakers and we would have warm onion bread for sunday lunch. Wait, I don’t think she got the bread from the bakers but from a Cheese and Dairy truck that drove through our neighbourhoud on the weekend. I remember it being a huge truck you could enter and buy milk, eggs, cheese and this delicious bread. My memory might be mistaken, but not on that bread, which always tasted great!  It’s almost weekend, so good enough of a reason to give this recipe a go! I always try to put some wholemeal flour in my bread, since I think it is healthier and better for you then only eating white bread. Some breads also call for a lot more salt then mine, but since the cheese is already quite salty, I consider 8 grams more then enough. We already eat enough salt as it is!

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 200 grams of plain flour
  • 8 grams of salt
  • 12 grams of dried yeast
  • 300 – 400 ml water
  • a little olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 100 grams of cheese (more or less) I used a matured Dutch famers Cheese. Other hard cheeses will do nicely too. Grated and/or cubed both works.
  • A hand of fresh thyme

 

Start with sifting the flour together. I tried something new and I mixed the dried yeast with some water and let that stand for a few minutes. Then I mixed it in with the flour and added the salt. I just wanted to see if the proving process would turn out differently by solving the yeast in water but I noticed no big diffrence. If you want, you can just add it to the flour and then add the water. Just make you don’t let the dry yeast and salt touch until you add the water.

Do not add all the water at once. If the dough needs more, simply add a little more. The dough should be a little wet, but definitely not sticky or soggy. Start kneading the dough on your workbench. You can lightly oil your bench or sprinkle some flour on it. Work the dough for a minimum of five minutes. The dough should feel soft and be a little shiny and smooth now. Turn it into a ball with your hands and put it into a slightly oiled bowl. You can make a large cut in the dough, which can make it easier to incorporate the onion and cheese at a later stage.  Cover with clingfilm and a clean, dry tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for at least 90 minutes, but two hours is definitely fine as well.

Take this time to thinly slice the onion, grate and cube the cheese, get some fresh thyme from your garden and relax with a cup of tea.

Once the dough has rise to almost twice the original size, take it out and use the cut you made earlier to incorporate the onion, thyme and cheese. Start kneading and incorporating. I actually found this quite hard because onions kept falling out. I just kept going and decided this was as good as it was going to get. Onions falling out would give it a nice, rustic look, or at least I hoped.

Now you can choose to divide the dough in two for the second rising. I found that it rose easier and, more importantly, baked faster and easier in the oven when I put in two small loaves instead of one big one.

Let your dough rise on an oven tray, covered again with some plastic and a tea towel. Turn on your oven to 200 degrees celcius. Once your dough has grown to almost double it’s size again, take off the plastic and tea towel and pop the tray in the oven. You can sprinkle it with a little leftover cheese if you like.

The time needed in the oven depends on the size. A big one will need 35-40 minutes, two smaller ones about 25 minutes. Check your bread on time, it might need a few minutes less (or more). Once you knock on your bread and it sounds hollow, it is done!

Let it cool on a rack or tuck in straight away. Bring out the butter and some more Dutch farmers cheese!

An extra note: If you do net let it cool on a rack, the bottom will get soft. It needs air to keep it’s crust crisp and fresh.

I do hope you will enjoy this bread as much as I did. The next day you can toast it for a minute, and eat it warm again.

 

 

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A kitchen essential

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Absolving the yeast in tepid water

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Mixing in the water, yeast and salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Start Kneading!

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Make a deep cut into the dough. This will help incorporate the onions and cheese in a later stage

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Onion, fresh thyme, finely grated cheese and some cheese cubes for an extra cheesy surprise inside

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See how it grows!

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Use the opening to add the onions and cheese

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Just a little bit more onions and cheese please 🙂

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knead it for a minute to incorporate the ingredients

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More cheese you say?

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My bread exploded a little… But it did not lack in flavor!

Aubergine Dip

So I was making lamb köftas with pita bread and had some chopped up aubergine left over from the day before. What to do to make a baba ghanoush inspired dip? The aubergine was allready chopped up so I couldn’t grill it as a whole anymore. I started experimenting and this is what I came up with. It has a rich smokey flavour not from the grilled aubergine but from adding smoked paprika, a spice typically used in the Spanish kitchen but available in larger supermarkets in other countries as well.

Ingredients for one bowl of dip:

  • 1/2 aubergine, diced
  • small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • freshly ground pepper and salt
  • 1 big tablespoon of greek yoghurt
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1/2 tespoon of normal paprika
  • olive oil

Put on a small but thick pan. Heat up a little olive oil and brown of the onion. Add finely chopped garlic and the diced aubergine. Give it a stir and add about 50 – 75 ml of water. Bring to a boil and stir in the herbs, stir and simmer for a few minutes until the aubergine is soft. It’s allright of some of the water evaporates, but watch out that there is always some water in the pan, you don’t want you mixture to burn.

Transfer the cooked aubergine mixture to a bowl and let it cool.

Once cooled add the greek yoghurt and stir. Transfer into a small blender or take out your immersion blender. Pulse a few times until you have a creamy dip. Taste it and maybe add some more pepper, salt or other spices to your liking.

Delicous with warm pita bread or dip in some slices of cucumber or radishes.

 

Lamb köftas with pita bread

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! Mine was packed with yummie things and culinary experiments. I tried an australian fruit cake, and added way too many nutmeg and cinnamon ánd baking soda… I also made a fruity cake topped with a homemade crunch. The crunch was really the best bit, because the bottom was so soggy…

Anyways, let’s not dwell on that. On to the good stuff! We had a great tapas board with some of my favourite things: strong blue cheese and jamon iberico, cured ham, originally  from Spain. This cured ham just melts in you mouth! It is definitly not the cheapest jamon, but if you have it just once in a while it feels like such a treat. It is smooth, rich, soft, savoury and salty.

This Spanish cured jamon is made from black Iberian pigs who roam the Spanish country side and feed on acorns, grass and herbs. The acorns are important for the flavour of the jamon. The curing process  that follows can take up to 48 weeks which really makes for spectacular flavours. But I didn’t start this post wanting to write about jamon…

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We went out to try a new café, where they served decent wine and a very decent lamb burger. Look at the size of that one! I was barely able to finish it but I hung in there… I love it when pub food is not too complicated yet fingerlicking good. This lamb burger is the perfect example. The meat was so soft and tender.

 

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Lamb! More of that please!

For this recipe I was both inspired by the good quality minced lamb my mother brought me, and dried oregano another friend gave me. This is Greek oregano we are talking about, so sundried over there and brought back here to liven up our Dutch dishes. Wow does that taste different! So much more flavour then dried oregano from the supermarket. So if you or any of your friends is planning to go to Greece, get them to bring you some oregano! And good quality olive oil, some olives …

 

 

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Lamb köftes

4 persons

Ingredients

  • 500 grams minced lamb
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 75 grams crumbled feta cheese
  • pepper, salt
  • 1,5 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1,5 tbsp chopped  fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh or sundried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground paprika
  • pinch of allspice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

> If you do not have fresh herbs, you can use dried herbs.

 

1. Chop up the onion and carrot. Put it in a big bowl and mix with all the herbs, lamb, pepper and salt.

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2. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Feta is a white cheese from Greece, and considered one of the oldest in the world. I like mine as matured and tasty as I can get. I also prefer feta made from sheepsmilk (as opposed to cow or goats milk).

3. I am not using any eggs or breadcrumbs for this recipe, but I found it hardly needed it. Instead of forming a meatball and frying them off in a pan, I squeezed a shape out of the meat with my hands and put them in a lightly oiled oven dish. In a pan the might have fallen apart, but as an ovendish this is not an issue.

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4. Put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until they are sizzling and golden brown.
I served them with a quick greek salad, some homemade pita’s, yoghurt dip and an aubergine dip.

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I will give you the recipe for the pita bread as well!

 

Pita Bread

Ingredients

  • 300 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 200 grams of plain flour
  • 10 grams of dried yeast
  • 10 grams of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of carroway seeds
  • 350 ml tepid water
  • 30 ml olive oil plus some extra

 

 

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  1. Sift the wholemeal and normal flour together.
  2. Add the yeast, salt and olive oil. Put the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt on the other. Don’t let it interact until you start mixing the dough.
  3. Start combining with one hand while you slowly add the water with the oter. You may need more water, just keep adding a little water and keep mixing with your hand.
  4. The dough should be a little sticky, but definitly not too wet. After a minute or so it should stop sticking to your hands.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and rub some olive oil on your kitchen counter. Start kneading the dough for a full five minutes.
  6. When the dough becomes soft, elastic and smooth put it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfoil and a clean tea towel.
  7. It is proving time. Give the dough at least 90 minutes, it should double in size.
  8. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back for a minute and incorporate the cumin and carraway seeds. Divide the doughinto six portions. If you want smaller or bigger pita’s you are ofcourse free to adjust the quantity and size.
  9. Start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. Sprinkle some flour on your workbench. Once you have rolled out the dough into a flat cirkle, leave it to prove for another 30  minutes. I think they should be about half a centimeter thick. I just sprinkled flour over each pita and put them together on a oventray. If you do not sprinkle flour over it, they might stick together.
  10. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry off the pita’s, a few minutes on both sides should do it. The pan should be really hot. I put my oven to a 100 degrees celcius were I kept the pita’s warm until they were all ready.

 

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Greek Salad

Greek Salad. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? I thought so too. But after visiting Greece on holiday I realised it is simple yes, but there are definitly some do’s and don’ts if you want your Greek Salad to taste as authentic as possible. I went to the Island of Crete, changes are ‘authentic’ will taste different on other islands, but I can only offer you what I experienced.

> Buy good quality extra virgin olive oil. That doesn’t necessarily needs to be the most expensive one, it just needs to be a good one. It rarely is one of the cheaper ones though!

> Look for tasty olives. The simple one from a can usually doesn’t hold a lot of flavour, so start looking for ones that do. Most of the time they will still have their pits, and I personally prefer the darker kinds, such as kalamata olives. If you have a deli nearby where you can taste them before you buy, perfect!

> Try to get real Greek feta, not something that says ‘white cheese’ on the package. Also, there is feta-like cheese on the market made from cows milk, and the flavour is just not as good as the goat’s cheese kind, I think.

> See if you can get some proper Greek oregano, or dry your own oregano. The flavour of freshly dried herbs, as opposed to store bought, is very noticable!

> Then buy cucumber and juicy, flavourfull tomatoes.

Start chopping and mixing! On the island of Crete we also had a lovely take on Greek salad with enormous chuncks of avocado and thinly sliced red onion. The village we drove into was surrounded by enormous avocadotrees. We sat down at a tiny cafe and a sweet Greek lady made us one of our favourite salads to this date. She mixed in fresh avocado, red onion and her own olive oil. What a treat!

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Feta cheese
  • Oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper, salt
  • Olive oil extra virgine

Optional:

  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Diced avocado

 

The recipe itself is so simple! Chop it rougly and mix all the ingredients together. Find a nice dish or serving bowl and it’s ready to serve!

I made Greek Salad this weekend to serve it with a lamskofte and pitabread. My next post will be all about lamb!