Pork belly baby!

A good diet is a varied diet. There are so many things you can eat as long is you don’t eat some of it too regularly and not too much of some of it. With pork I am always doubting how it fit’s into a healthy diet. Yes, there is lean pork, but I tend to go for the bacon-variety of pork. As does the next dish. This recipe I have for you most definitely does not fall into the lean pork category… But I’ve only made it once, and that was during the holidays. So we indulged ourselves and I have hardly eaten any fatty pork since. Starting to think of it, it’s about high time to get me some…

So I have been wanting to post this recipe since Christmas, no kidding! I just didn’t get around to it. Prepare for this showstopper: Oven roasted pork belly. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. We had never made anything like this before so we took kind of a risk, my mother and I did, picking this for our Christmas dinner. After seeing it being cooked on Australian Masterchef several times I just had to try this myself. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. We bought a kilo of pork and it took us 2 to 2,5 hours to prepare. There is not much cooking involved, just some preparation and then lot’s of oven time.

Let’s cut to the chase: It worked out fabulously! Of course, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have posted it on this blog… Or at least would not have featured it like this. We were happy, family was happy, and we were all extremely stuffed ;-). And no pork belly leftovers. I am thinking I am not waiting for Christmas 2015 to try this again. Remember a healthy diet is a varied diet no…

The ingredients are straightforward:

  • Nice piece of pork belly from you local butcher
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • A few sprigs of fresh thymeIMG_1259
  • A couple of bay leaves
  • Some cloves of garlic

Put on a kettle and bring some water to the boil. Put your pork belly on a rack over the sink. Once the water boils, pour it over the pork. Why yo ask ? By scalding the pork skin, you’ll help the skin crisp up into crunchy crackling.

Then start working on cutting the fatty top. I made a simple pattern as you can see. My mum actually ran upstairs for a sharp stanley knife because our kitchen knife could hardly cut through the fat. So get out your sharpest knife and carefully cut incisions on the top. Only cut the fat, that is the white part, do not cut into the rest of the pork.

Now we give it a good rub with a mixture of freshly ground salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I used rosemary and thyme straight from the garden. Remove the herbs from their stalks, chop these up roughly,  and use your hands to rub the mixture onto the pork.

Place the pork on a roasting tray and into an oven of 150 degrees Celsius. Underneath the pork place an oventray filled with water, bay leaves and the garlic gloves. No need to peel or cut the cloves.

There is really nothing to do here now but to open that bottle of wine and start on your pre-dinner cheese platter or something of the sort. We had it in the oven for two hours (1 kilo of pork) so if your piece isIMG_1294 slightly bigger or smaller it probably needs a bit longer or shorter! We checked if it was nicely done, then gave it another 15 to 20 minutes under the grill, to create a nice crust.

Do not leave it under the grill too , as things burn too easily under the grill and that would be such a shame!

Take it out, have a taste to check if it’s soft, tender and tasty and, then, well, it’s done!

IMG_1295Serve with side dishes of your choice. We went for an Italian dinner, so my mum had made fresh gnochi, and my additions were panzanella (an Italian bread salad), Caprese salad (Mozzarella cheese baby!) and a fresh orange and fennel salad. And that was our Christmas main meal for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1262

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Yes there’s a CD in the first photo, that’s what my mother used to cut the gnochi!

 

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 :-).
IMG_0802

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.
IMG_0806

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:

IMG_1212

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!

IMG_1227

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:

IMG_1214

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!

 

IMG_1229 IMG_1230 IMG_1232

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…

IMG_0300

 

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.

 

IMG_0546

 

IMG_0544

 

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 …

 

 

IMG_0361      

 

 

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.

IMG_0378

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.

IMG_0377

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.

IMG_0438

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

IMG_0382

IMG_0383

IMG_0384

 

IMG_0440

 

  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.

 

IMG_0562   IMG_0444

 

Chicken saté

Just finished a meal with my boyfriend and two of his friends, who are slaving away working on a film script (they are filmmakers, so completely logical) that has to be finished next week. I decided to cook them something nice, and they decided to have a five minute break to devour it all.

So I needed something appealing for the guys, but I wanted to sneak in some veggies too, ofcourse. I settled on chicken saté, paired with a couscous salad and saffron infused cauliflower. Why I settled on cauliflower you say? My boyfriend pointed at it in Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’. I love it when he does that, he has to like it, sort of, because he picked it. Saves me brainstorming time as well.

Here is the saté recipe, easy, fast and as we speak my boyfriend is sneaking into the kitchen to snack on these last two skewers.

kipsaté 16-8-2014

 

Saté recipe

Serves 4

  • 500 grams chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons of ketjap manis
  • 1,5 to 2 tablespoons of sambal oelek (Depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or anis seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard or 1 teaspoon of  mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • mortar
  • wooden skewers, soaked in water

 

  1. Cut up the chicken thighs in even strips and put them in a bowl.
  2. Start on your marinade. Combine all the seeds in a mortar and grind. Mix it wit the sambal, ketjap, mustard (if you haven’t added mustard seeds alreay) and oregano.
  3. Combine your chicken with the marinade and leave it in the fridge, preferable for a few hours. If the marinade is too thick, dilute it with one or two tablespoons of water.
  4. Skewer the chicken on the wooden skewers. I always soak these in water to make sure they don’t catch fire when grilling them.
  5. Grill away! On a bbq, in the oven or on the stove. It all gets the job done.
  6. Enjoy!

 

By the way, food photography is way harder then the actual cooking itself! I made a foto of the couscoussalad and cauliflower as well, but I really couldn’t post them. The food looked like it had been standing on the counter for three days. No strike that, three weeks. I am looking forward to experimenting with my photography as well and see if I can start bringing you more appetizing photo’s in the future!