Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's all about the carrot soup

I think I am nearly done with my thesis...I have to read it again to make sure, and then print it and hand it in tomorrow - and then I am really done. Can't wait for the moment when that that stack of papers, with a thud, lands on the bottom of my professor's post box at university. It will be a burden of my chest and a load of my back! But I'm not there yet, congratulate me tomorrow! I plan to cook something festive then, to celebrate with my friends that we have made it.
But for now a very simple recipe for a simple, but beautiful soup. Carrot and parsley are friends, that you can taste. Some orange and a hint of onion enhance the flavours of carrot and round it off. This soup is very pure and fresh. No coriander or cumin, which I also love, because those strong flavours take over. In this soup the star is the carrot and it shines in all its glory!

It's all about the carrot soup (serves 4)

sunflower oil or butter
1 large onion, diced
800 g carrots, sliced
1 L water
2 cubes of vegetable bouillon
150 ml orange juice
a few handfuls of flat leaf parsley, chopped
crème fraiche or sour cream

* fry the onion in some oil or butter for 1 minute and add the sliced carrots. continue to cook for 1 minute
* add 1 L of water and 2 bouillon cubes and bring to the boil
* boil for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender and you can easily pierce them with a fork
* take the pan of the heat and use a hand mixer (NL:staafmixer) to puree the mixture into a smooth soup
* stir in 150 ml of orange juice and bring back to the heat for a few minutes, so the flavours can blend together
* serve with a lot of fresh parsley and a good dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rhubarb tart

To be honest with you: I never really had any rhubarb in my life up until now. I think I would remember - it has such a distinct flavour.
When I saw the first rhubarb coming into the supermarkets here a little while ago, I started thinking and reading - how to make a nice pie with that interesting ingredient. In the end I came up with this, and I think it's just really good. I love rhubarb! The tartness of the rhubarb contrasts the sweetness of the sugar, combined with a crispy pastry and served with cream...yummy. This is a beautiful dessert that is not too heavy or sweet.

Rhubarb tart (serves 8)

300 g puff pastry (NL: bladerdeeg, S: smördeg)
500 g rhubarb (around 6 stalks)
100 g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon potato flour
some flour for rolling
1 egg yolk
to serve: 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche and 1 teaspoon of sugar per person

* put the oven at 200 C
* defrost the puff pastry. You can use a little more or less, depending on the size of the puff pastry sheets, it doesn't really matter that much
* wash the rhubarb and cut the stalks in 2-3 cm pieces
* put these in a pan with 100 g sugar and 1 tablespoon water and let this cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every now and then
* take the pan of the heat and stir in a tablespoon of potato flour
* place the sheets of puff pastry on top of each other and sprinkle your work surface with some flour
* roll your pastry, with a rolling pin, to a disc with 20-25 cm in diameter
* line a wire rack with baking paper and place the pastry on it
* take a sharp knife and cut a circle, around 2 cm from the edge. Make sure not the cut to deep, just make an incision.
* whisk the egg yolk lightly with a fork and use this to brush area outside the circle - make sure not to put any egg yolk inside the incision
* take a fork and pierce the area inside the circle. Just make rows of little fork holes, with around 1 cm in between
* at this stage you can put the pastry in the fridge for half an hour to get a more crispy base, but you can skip this step if you want (I did and it still tasted great)
* put the rhubarb mixture in the area inside the circle, spreading it out until 1/2 cm before the incision circle, so it really doesn't get inside the incision.
* put the tart in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown
* take it out of the oven and let it cool down before cutting
* serve with lightly sweetened creme fraiche (stir 1 teaspoon of sugar into 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche per person), or with some whipped cream and maybe some vanilla ice cream, or some warm custard..mmm. I think I am going to take another slice now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raspberry and banana muffins

Writing the introduction and conclusion to your thesis seems to be the easy part, but it's not! I've been staring at the screen for a few hours now, until I decided to just forget about it and bake some muffins instead. I kind of hoped they would give me some inspiration, but here I am again, in front of the screen, staring at the same letters and words. Oh, well. At least they tasted really good!

Raspberry and banana muffins (makes 6)

80 g butter
2 eggs
100 g sugar + 1 teaspoon
100 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 handfuls of muesli
1 ripe banana, squashed with a fork
6 muffin cases
12-18 raspberries (NL: frambozen) frozen or fresh

* preheat the oven to 200 C
* melt the butter in the microwave on the lowest heat
* whisk the 2 eggs with 100 g sugar until fluffy and white
* add the 100 g flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 handfuls of muesli and the squashed banana and stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients
* leave some lumps: it's good for the muffins, and don't stir too long either
* place your muffin cases in a muffin pan (if you have one) and fill the muffin cases half way up using a spoon
* put 2 or 3 raspberries on each muffin and sprinkle a little sugar on top
* place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown

I used extra large muffin cases, and made enough filling to spoon them half full. Use medium sized cases, or make 4 muffins instead if you want the muffins to pop a little over the edge. Never fill the cases more than 3/4 though, as the muffins will rise in the oven.

By the way, I think these muffins are great to take on a picknick or to the beach as a little snack!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ćevapčići - bbq skewers

This weekend I tasted summer. The weather was great and we had our first barbecue of the year. M. had invited his fellow graduates to celebrate. In Sweden it is custom with barbecues that every one brings their own food and you share a little. The host provides the basics, such as a salad, some bread and maybe some sauces.
Since I had to work on the day of the barbecue I couldn't make and prepare as much as I wanted, but I made a few things anyway. The evening before I prepared some ćevapčići. When I came home on the day of the barbecue H. proposed to help me and together we prepared a huge salad, roast potatoes (recipe on my blog here) and tsatsiki, while talking about all kinds of things. It's such a nice thing to cook together! She brought some fantastic cookies by the way, for which she promised me the recipe. I'll make them and post about them later!

Ćevapčići (makes around 10 skewers)

sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Vegeta or salt
500 g minced lamb
500 g minced beef
1 egg white
1 tablespoon paprika (NL: paprikapoeder)

* heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Vegeta or salt
* fry on medium low heat for 5 minutes, until the onion and garlic are soft and getting some colour (adjust the heat so they don't get brown)
* put the egg white in a large bowl and whisk it a little with a fork
* add the minced lamb and beef, the paprika and the onion and garlic mixture
* mix all this together with your hand (I always use one hand to do this, so the other hand can hold the bowl and stays clean for sudden phone calls or a sudden itch)
* slightly wet a tray or plate (I needed two plates), as this prevents the meat from sticking
* for the same reason prepare a small bowl of water to dip your hands in before rolling each little roll
* make rolls of around 2 cm thick and 5 cm long and put them on your prepared tray or plate (yes, now you need two hands, so let that phone ring and ignore those itches)
* cover with plastic foil and place in the fridge for an hour, or overnight, so they don't fall apart
* soak wooden barbecue pens in water for at least 30 minutes, so they don't burn
* make kebabs by sticking the 4 rolls onto a stick, not through the length, but through the sides of the rolls (see picture)
* roast on the barbecue until they are done, 5-10 minutes (they should not be red or pink in the middle)

I really liked these and so did everyone else (or so they said) - I can really recommend them!

Prijatno (eat well)!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Omelet with mushrooms and cheese

This omelet is really easy to make and done in less than five minutes. And it tastes great!

A tip to make a good omelet, that I have gotten from my 'aunt-in-law', is to melt a little butter and mix this with the eggs before frying. Another one is to make sure some air gets under the eggs when they are in the pan: lift the eggs up carefully with a spatula and let the runny part off the eggs get under the part that has already began to form an omelet. Here's my recipe:

Omelet with mushrooms and cheese (serves 1)

2 eggs
1 tablespoon of water or milk
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
5-6 mushrooms, in slices
handful of grated cheese
3-4 sprigs of chives (NL: bieslook), finely chopped or cut with scissors

* mix the eggs in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt
* melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a small frying pan
* stir the melted butter into the egg mixture
* melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the frying pan and fry the mushrooms on medium high heat
* when they have become brown and soft you can add the egg mixture
* leave the heat on medium high
* use a spatula to carefully lift up the sides of the omelet, so the runny part of the eggs can get under the thickened part
* when most of the omelet has formed, but there is some moist left on the top, sprinkle the cheese on and fold the omelet
* fry for another 30-60 seconds and slide the omelet onto a plate
* sprinkle some fresh chives over the top

This omelet is great for lunch. But with some salad and bread it makes a nice and quick evening meal as well!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Asian style vegetables with noodles or rice

Last weekend I made, with the help and assistance of some friends, a delicious risotto with green asparagus, mint and lemon. With all the wine we were drinking during the cooking, I completely forgot to take a picture. So, I will have to make the risotto again (which I totally don't mind, it was that good) and post the recipe wíth pictures some other time. The recipe was Jamie Oliver's, so if you want to make it before I post it, check his website!

The days have gone by and finally I am posting a new recipe. This is because I only have one week left before I have to hand in the first draft of my thesis...Aaargh! Luckily the stress, as it usually does, has a positive effect on my creativity, so the writing goes quite well, thank you.

Today I will tell you about a delicious Asian dish. It's little bit sweet and smooth, and very tasty. I wonder how my Chinese friends would like it. Maybe they say it's not Asian at all!
The ingredient list seems quite long, but once you have the stuff for the sauce at home, you can cook a million things with it (or just make this recipe over and over again). I have made a suggestion for which vegetables to use, but you can of course vary as much as you like. You can also add some fried tofu or egg to add some protein.

Asian style vegetables with noodles or rice (serves 4)

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
60 ml Japanese soy sauce
80 ml sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons cornflour (NL: maizena)
125 ml water
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon of ketjap manis (sweet Indonesian sauce)

1 medium broccoli, cut in small florets
2 handfuls of snap peas (NL: peultjes) or sugar snaps
1 red bell pepper (NL: paprika), in cubes or slices
150 gr cremini mushrooms (NL: kastanje champignons), sliced
1/4 savoy cabbage, shredded

plus: noodles or rice

* blanch the broccoli and snap peas for 2 minutes in boiling water and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process
* make the sauce by putting the sesame oil and sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok
* fry the onion and garlic until they are soft, but not brown
* add soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, cornflour, water, ginger and ketjap manis and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken
* add paprika, mushrooms and cabbage, cover the pan and simmer for around 3-5 minutes until they are cooked but still crunchy
* add broccoli and snap peas and warm through
* serve with noodles or rice

* don't throw away the stalk of the broccoli - peel it and cut into thin slices. Use with the rest of the broccoli.
* you can keep ginger in the freezer and grate what you need straight into the pan. You can do the same with chili peppers by the way!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grilled vegetable salad

Here is a nice and light lunch for you for the weekend. It's easy and very quick to make, and so very tasty. I bought quite a lot of manchego cheese in Spain. It's a delicious sheep cheese, with a lot of flavour. For this salad you could really use any kind of flavourful cheese. Pecorino would be delicious, but otherwise Parmesan in flakes. You can vary the vegetables as well; try portobello mushrooms or aubergine.

Grilled vegetable salad (serves 2)

1 courgette
1 red bell pepper (NL: paprika)
1 large onion, red or yellow
some salad leaves, eg. rucola, baby spinach
good extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar (around 2-3 tablespoons per portion)
flakes of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
manchego, or other strong cheese

* heat a grilling pan, so it's nice and hot. in the meantime:
* cut the courgette in half and then in 5 mm thin slices (along the length)
* cut the paprika in 1 cm strips
* cut the onion in quarters and cut these in half again, so you have 8 parts
* brush the vegetables with enough oil, so they are all coated with a thin layer (you can also do this with your fingers)
* place veggies into the hot pan and keep turning them over
* lower the heat a little bit, so they won't burn
* place the salad leaves on a plate, sprinkle with a little bit of oil and arrange the vegetables on top
* drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper
* put some flakes of cheese on top
* and have a nice glass of cold white wine with it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mexican tortilla envelopes with salsa

Andalusia was, in one word, amazing. No, I need more words. It was amazing, beautiful, fantastic. Warm, colorful and festive. The food was so good, and so were the wines. The best of all was the company: my mother and sister. We made long walks amongst black pigs and thousands of wild flowers; climbed the steps of ancient castles; stared at thousands of women in traditional flamenco dresses at the Sevilla fiesta and finally got a bit burned in our bikini's on the beach.

We ate tapas almost every day. A lot of meat and fish, so I thought to make something vegetarian tonight. Not with a Spanish, but with a Mexican twist.

Mexican tortilla envelopes (serves 4)

sunflower oil
1 onion, cut in thin slices
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chili pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped (or keep the seeds if you like it more spicy)
1 red bell pepper (NL:paprika), chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 400 g can kidney beans
1 340 g can corn (NL: mais)
handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
8 tortilla's, the smaller ones, around 20-22 cm in diameter
100 g grated cheese, eg. Gouda or Cheddar
a little bit of oil for greasing

* fry the onion, garlic and chili pepper in a large frying pan or wok on a low heat until soft
* add the red bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon oregano and fry for two minutes
* rinse the kidney beans in a colander (NL: vergiet) and drain the corn
* add the beans and corn to the pan and fry for a few minutes more
* preheat the oven to 200 C
* take the pan off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes
* stir in the chopped coriander, tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt
* line a baking tray with baking paper and grease with a little bit of oil
* place the tortilla's on your work surface and put a few spoons of the mixture in the middle of each of them
* sprinkle a handful of cheese on top
* fold the tortilla's by folding in the sides, then fold in the bottom. take the tortilla in your hand, tuck the mixture down with your fingers, fold in the top and place seam down on the baking tray. be careful not the brake the tortilla's.
* brush the envelopes with some oil
* place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are a bit brown around the edges
* serve as they are, or with salsa, sour cream or guacamole

(makes one bowl)

2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 handful of coriander, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 or 2 teaspoons of tabasco to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled between your fingers
sea salt
black pepper

* stir all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning (NL: zout/peper) to taste
* serve with Mexican dishes like tortillas and burritos, or with grilled meat

Tip: the seeds and inner membrane (NL: zaadlijst) are the hottest part of the chili pepper. To de-seed a chili pepper, cut off the top part and roll the pepper between your fingers until the seeds come loose. Tap the pepper with the opening down on your work surface until all the seeds come out. This way you don't touch the seeds. Still; wash your hands afterwards and try not to touch your eyes or other sensitive areas - it can really burn!