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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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Salmon and Fennel Lasagna

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So life has been keeping me busy! First you are still enjoying a IjustgotbackfromSpainhowgreatwasthat-feeling, then you’re home working full days and really not having the time to write on your food blog. I did cook ofcourse, and there were some highs as well. Top of the list was my Indonesian night, from Rendang to nasi goreng to sajoer beans and sambal eggs. I have never been to Indonesia but I felt it was a pretty good effort. The table looked pretty good too. I remember thinking ‘maybe I should take a photo and put this on my blog’. By then I was already halfway through my plate. And just kept on eating:).

Working every day can be a pretty tiring thing to do as well, so my meals this last few weeks became smarter and I cooked in bigger portions. I have an insanely larger freezer now (I didn’t have one before), so I am making good use of it. I am in love with onepot dishes right now that can be frozen. Perfect!

Easy, fast dinners can still be delicious and a bit culinary as well! I am also thinking of ways to eat more (healthy) fish. And my boyfriend absolutely loves salmon. Now I haven’t cooked a lot of salmon before. This all led me to this lasagna. Funny thing is my boyfriend didn’t even get to eat it! I ended up cooking it for my mum, and the leftovers which went into the freezer I ate myself, hehe.

Because taking your time grocery shopping isn’t always on my favorite to do list I opted for a big shopping spree on Sunday so we’re good to go for the week. That’s why I worked with frozen salmon and frozen spinach. If you do have time to hit the market, go for it! Nothing beats fresh produce.

Ingredients

  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 fresh chilipepper, or some dried chillie flakes
  • Spinach, either fresh or from the freezer.
  • pepper, salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh fennel seeds
  • 1 big glass of vegetable broth/stock
  • Fresh or frozen salmon
  • 1 fennel
  • optional: green lasagna sheets

Instructions:

1. Cut up the celery, carrot and onion. Take the spinach out of the freezer.

2. Heat up some olive oil in a crockpot or pan. Add cellery, carrot and onion. Give it a stir.

IMG_1080 3. Finely dice the chili and add to the pan. You can be as generous as like with the chili. For me, half a chili was just fine.IMG_1083

4. Finely chop the garlic or squeeze it and add to the pan. Keep stirring, we do not want the garlic to burn.

5. Add the spinach. Sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of fennel seeds. If you have a mortar you can roughly grind them before adding them to the pan. This will release more flavour.

6. Pour your broth over the veggies and put a lid on the pan. If I would have had white wine in the house, I would have definitely added a glass of that as well. The extra benefit being that that bottle needed drinking after that.

7. Thinly slice your fennel and cut up your salmon. If the salmon is still a little frozen, that’s ok.

8. Start building your lasagna! Start with a layer of fennel, then some salmon pieces. Pour over some of your veggiemix. Then repeat the layers again. I had some green lasagna sheets left so I used them as well for an extra layer, but those are optional. You can just use the fennel instead of the lasagna sheets.  Now you have your lasagna! You could just pop it in the oven, or sprinkle over some cheese. Or… you can make your own bechamelsauce like I did! This takes a little more effort but is not overly complicated. It is the perfect finish for any lasagna.

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My mum taught me how to make this bechamel, now let me share her instructions with you:

Bechamelsauce

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of flour
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 400 – 500 ml of milk
  • fresh pepper
  • fresh dill (or parsley), chopped
  • grated cheese of your choice.

The most important thing is you use equal amounts of butter and flour and keep stirring continuously. You need a warm pan but not keep it on a low heat. Melt the butter in a small pan, then slowly stir in the flour. The butter must absorb all the flour until you have some sort of paste. Then slowly add the milk. How warmer the milk, the better it will go. It varies how much milk you need, but you need enough to make a sauce from the flour/butter mixture. Keep stirring, keep adding milk, until it has the consistency of a sauce. Stir in pepper and fresh herbs. I used a handful of fresh dill, which suits the salmon well. Then I mixed in some cheese, a small handful. Keep stirring while the cheese melts. The sauce might thicken because you added the cheese. You can always add a little bit more milk.

I don’t know if it sounds challenging, but why not give it a go. I tried it this week with blue cheese. Yes, that’s what I am talking about! Cover your food with a creamy blue cheese sauce, what is not to like?!

Whatever you do, enjoy cooking and eating this lasagna, and If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it!

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Spanish style

So we just got back from Spain. I can’t wait to go back there again. Seriously, I want to live there! If anyone knows of a job opening there… I am game!

I thought I might add a recipe to my blog while we were in Andalucia, but I was really to busy, with, well, enjoying all that Spain has to offer. I am talking food and wine ofcourse, but also sun, loads of sun, nature, history, flamenco music and dance and brushing up on my Spanish and talking to the local people. Upon arriving back home the temperature was a lot less agreeable and it was pouring with rain… I really don’t know whether to post some sort of hearthy stew or other warming dish, or write about sunny Spain and it’super tasty foods and tapas… Well it is going to Spain, what else?!

All the foods we had there… loads of meat, what else. I am talking ham, chorizo and lomo. Delicious pork. Not a lot of chicken and beef to go around, they do love their pork. If the pork here would be as tasty as in Andalucia, I would eat it all the time, now I rarely eat pork. Then there is the manchego cheese, queso fresco, queso de cabra… Then we move to the warm dishes such as fried eggplant – OMG never had eggplant that good. Of course it is fried and covered in syrup, but it is so finger licking good, worth every calorie! I plan to recreate this dish soon! We also have the abundance of homemade croquettas, which I fear will be a bit harder to make, but I will attempt those too! Let’s not forget about the soups: warm garlic soup, cold gazpacho and salmorejo, silky smooth gazpacho made with white bread. Seeing we had days as hot as 30 degrees celcius, that cold soup tasted amazing! I really wanted to make salmarejo today, but it is pouring with rain. No cold soups. What then…. Maybe we will just have it easy tonight and feast on all the delicious things we brought with us: some heartwarming red wine, delicious sausage, cheese. The only think I will make are roasted red peppers, or pimientos in Spainish. This is easy and quick, and a perfect accompaniment for every tapas board. I also love it on a manchego sandwich or on a green salad. With some nice olive oil, sherry vinegar and a good glass of red wine perhaps?

OK I must run to the gym as soon as possible, looking back on our stay it looks like all we did was eat… But we walked a lot to, discovered Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Fronterra, Arcos the la Fronterra, Ronda, Grananada… All beautiful villages, cities and nature. Some of these places I had actually visited before, but I never tire of strolling through Seville, driving around and for miles and miles, just seeing olive trees and cork oaks. Strolling through the Alhambra palace again it took my breath away, just like it did the first time, just like it would do on another visit.

So please, get going. To Spain. Bring me some jamon while you’re at it.

Spanish roasted red peppers 

The red peppers in Spain are enormously huge. I never knew peppers could grow so big, and be so sweet as well! They are just perfect, but I think our own red peppers will do nicely too.

Ingredients:

– 2 large red peppers

– salt, pepper

– good quality olive oil

– vinegar of your choice

Heat your oven to about 250 degrees Celcius, or as hot as it can get. Put your peppers on a tray and into the oven. You don’t have to do anything with them, just turn them every five minutes. Check after 20 minutes if they are blackened en the skin is starting to come of. If so, take them out. I have noticed that in some ovens this will go a bit faster or slower, maybe also depending on the peppers. Give it more time if needed, do not worry if it blackens. There are other ways to roast peppers, but I prefer this one, just too simple!

Leave them to cool slightly so that you can touch them, then start pulling of the skin. This should be fairly easy. If the skin does not come off, they need more time in the oven. When you remove the skin, you automatically remove the black bits. Remove the seeds as well.

Cut up the peppers in long small strips. Put them in a bowl and grind over fresh salt and pepper. Use a good drizzle of olive oil and vingear. I like mine quite sour because of the sweetness allready in the peppers, but add vinegar and oil to your own flavor. Also, there will be juice coming from the peppers. No need to throw this away, just mix it in.

There you have it allready, something typically Spanish, but also something fast, delicious and not super unhealthy ;-). Disfruta! (Enjoy:-)!)

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Chilli con Quinoa

Time for some hearthy food! Chilli time! We have been trying to have some veggie and fish days as well, and not just eat meat everyday. I don’t think we succeed every single week, but I do try. That’s why I opted for a veggie chilli this week. Goes perfect with the Paraguayan cornbread from my last post!

Quinoa is all the rage I know, and quite healthy too. But you can definitely substitute it with amaranth or bulgur or something like that. Quinoa is a great superfood, but we noticed first hand what the downside is of us now liking quinoa so much: the locals don’t get to eat it anymore! For hundreds of years quinoa been a staple in their diets. I am talking about people from Peru and Bolivia mostly. They make bread, soups and even apple juice with quinoa. Delicious, super healthy and part of their tradition, diet, culture and lifestyle. Now it’s much more profitable to just sell quinoa for about ten times as much too us foreigners then to eat it themselves. And there is only so much quinoa to go around (because it can’t simply grow everywhere) meaning that we basicly eat their quinoa. When we were over there it felt kind of wrong. On the other hand they do really need the extra money that quinoa brings to their country… so what to do here? I really don’t know. We eat quinoa from time to time,not a lot, but I don’t ban it from my kitchen either.

The choice is up to you! I don’t think it’s a bad idea to realize from time to time where your food actually comes from. Is it local, is it seasonal? I have mixed emotions about quinoa, so for the rest of my dish I used local, seasonal veggies from the market here. I also made this dish once with amaranth wich turned out just great as well. Amaranth cooks faster then quinoa, and it’s also a plant from South and Central America.

Time for the musing to stop, let’s start cooking!

Ingredients (servers about 4)

  •  350 grams of cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli or jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, or the equivalent in fresh, chopped tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 100 ml of water
  • 200 grams of corn
  • 200 grams of beans
  • 400 grams of seasonal veggies (carrots, cilantro, leeks, celery, bell pepper… whatever there is and whatever you feel like!)
  • seasoning:
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • salt, pepper
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp cilantro or coriander
    • 1 tsp of paprika powder
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
    • good splash of worchester sauce
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • juice of one lemon (or lime)

 

Cook the quinoa as instructed. Start chopping your veggies of choice. Drain the quinoa once cooked and set aside. Once you have chopped everything up we start on the chilli.

Put a pan on the stove and heat some oil. Add the onion, when the onion starts browning add in the garlic and finely chopped chilli or jalapeno. I always remove the seeds from my chilli, otherwise it is too hot for me. Feel free to add them with the seeds – all at your own risk! Give it a stir and mix in the other veggies.

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When everything has browned slightly, stir in the tomato paste. Then we add the water and diced tomatoes. Time to add all of your seasoning as well. As always, free feel to adjust it to your personal preferences and tastes. Make sure all the veggies are covered with the sauce, add the lid, and let it simmer for about ten minutes.

After ten minutes, stir and taste. How is the flavour? Are your veggies cooked? If necessary add more herbs, stir and cover again to let it simmer some more. Repeat this process. Are you happy with the flavours? Then we are almost there! Add the cooked quinoa and let it the quinoa heat up in the sauce. It will absorb some of the chilli flavours, lovely!

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Taste one more time. Happy? Let’s eat! Serve with some cornbread and a fresh salad, for example. If you have any leftovers, save them for tomorrow or freeze in a container for an evening you  need a quick, healthy meal. Just a few minutes and the microwave and there you go!

 

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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.