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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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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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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…

 

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.

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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!