Monday, January 24, 2011

I recently moved to a new neighbourhood and already I have discovered two small shops where I plan to go every Saturday from now on.
One shop is a bakery. I saw a small crowd inside, which made me curious. It smelled lovely in there and it was very warm from the ovens burning. On the counter there were different cakes and breads, it was difficult to choose. Best of all: the ingredients are all ecological.
And the other day I was pleasantly surprised to find a Moroccan supermarket, with all types of vegetables including rare ones, like Jerusalem artichokes (NL: aardperen). It also had a butcher's counter, where I bought some lamb. And I made this:

Middle Eastern lamb stew
(serves 4)

1 kg lamb (lamb shoulder, or leg of lamb without the bone), cut in large chunks
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons ras-el-hanout (Moroccan spice mix)

* put the lamb meat in a bowl and add oil and spices
* stir so all the meat is covered, and place in the fridge overnight

next day:
equipment: a casserole (NL: stoofpan) with a lid

* preheat the oven to 150 C
* heat some olive oil in the pan, and fry the meat. it's very important to only fry a few chunks (depending on your size of pan, around 6-8 chunks) at a time so they get nice and brown
* put the chunks you have fried in a bowl, and continue to fry all chunks of meat

olive oil
2 large white onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves (NL: laurierblaadjes)

* put the onion in the pan you used to fry the meat. fry on a low heat for 5 minutes
* add garlic and continue to fry for 1 minute, then add the meat. cover with water and put in 2 bay leaves.
* bring to a boil and place in the oven and leave it there for 2 hours

100 g dried plums, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons of honey

* place the pan on the stove again, and stir in the plums and honey
* continue to cook for half an hour, without the lid
* serve with for example couscous and grilled vegetables

This stew was really even better than I expected, and I would really recommend it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Apple and almond cake

That was a while ago! I'll just pick up where I left off, get straight to it. Because it's not as though I haven't been cooking, au contraire. This morning I even went a bit overboard: two cakes and a Middle Eastern lamb stew.
I'll share with you first the sweet. This cake is a bit juicy, it has apples in it, and nuts. Lovely combinations. The top caramelizes a bit, creating a nice crunch.

Apple and almond cake

125 g butter from the fridge
150 g selfraising flour
150 g caster sugar (NL: fijne kristal suiker)
40 g almonds with the skin on, chopped
40 g almond flakes
2 small apples, core removed, unpeeled and cut in cubes
1 large egg, whisked separately

* preheat the oven to 180 C
* place the butter and flour in a kitchen machine and mix until it looks like crumbs
* transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sugar, nuts and apple
* stir the egg into the mixture
* make sure you only stir enough to mix all the ingredients: don't stir too much
* place the mixture in a cake tin
* bake for around one hour
* let it cool in the tin

The recipe was inspired by Liz Franklin's Bread and Cake. She used pecan nuts instead of almonds, which sounds just as delicious. I think you can use any nuts you have at hand.

Serve the cake as dessert or with a cup of coffee.