21 December 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS...

AUSTRIAN CHRISTMAS BISCUITS
... following a 16-hour-per-day-biscuit-marathon-weekend and the usual pre-Christmas madness preparations; and absolutely no time to post recipes, so at least a couple of photos...

2 December 2013

MEXICAN BAKED EGGS WITH BLACK BEANS, TOMATOES, CHILLI AND CORIANDER

MEXICAN BAKED EGGS WITH BLACK BEANS, TOMATOES, CHILLI AND CORIANDER
With the final lot of black beans, found in the black hole back of my kitchen cupboard  a couple of weeks ago, in dire need to be used up, we made some more BLACK BEANS for BLACK BEAN BURRITOS, but were left with a bowl of cooked BLACK BEANS in the endA Google search on beans and other ingredients already at home returned this lovely recipe from Kaylin's Kitchen. Like a Mexican cousin of the Italian 'Uova in Purgatorio' (Eggs in Purgatory) and the Israeli Shakshuka, we liked the look of it. I followed the instructions of the original recipe, but used up some ingredients I already had at home, replacing the small onion with 3 spring onions, the green chillis from a jar with a large fresh red chilli, and freshly cooked BLACK BEANS instead of tinned. 

30 November 2013

AUTUMN


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 
   ― Albert Camus



12 November 2013

HOME-MADE TAGLIATELLE WITH CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS

HOME-MADE TAGLIATELLE WITH CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS
When I go to the effort of making HOME-MADE PASTA, I always make a special sauce to really cherish it. The same applies to Chanterelle Mushrooms: these gorgeous yellow trumpets deserve to be celebrated, so for us the two together are a perfect match. 
HOME-MADE TAGLIATELLE WITH CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS
The beautiful wild Chanterelles, in Austria known as 'Eierschwammerl' (= egg mushrooms), are quite tasty in their own right. That very taste is  difficult to explain, but they can be fruity or woody, and are a little peppery. I guess for this reason in Germany they are called 'Pfifferlinge', with 'Pfiffer' coming from 'Pfeffer' = pepper. But not only are they tasty, they are also so pretty with their yellow-orange hats; and their consistency is a lot more meaty and 'crunchy' when cooked. 

6 November 2013

EGGS BAKED IN HASH BROWN WITH CANDIED BACON

EGGS BAKED IN HASH BROWN WITH CANDIED BACON
'Look me that!' ;-) November already!? So, time for Bonfire night: friends of Ye Old UK Times gathering around the bonfire (the old deck this year then?); fireworks accompanied by a keen crowd's AAAAAHHHHHHHs and OOOOOHHHHHs; sparklers painting circles into the darkness; chicken-sweetcorn soup, beef curry, hot dogs; Speckled Hen, wines of all sorts and countries; sweets, chocolates, grilled marshmallows; and most important of all: the familiar chatter, fun and laughter of old friends; music and singing (and more laughter) as the night goes on; and a couple of hang-overs for the next day... would you like a drizzle of rain with that? :-) 

21 October 2013

OF CARBONNADE FLAMANDE AND OTHER BELGIAN DELIGHTS

CARBONNADE FLAMANDE
Carbonnade Flamande is a classic Belgian casserole, traditionally made with beef, onions and herbs, stewed in Trappist beer. Trappist beer is brewed by Trappist Monks (an order of the Roman-Catholic Cistercian Order). According to one of their rules 'ora et labora' ('pray and work') that states that Trappist Monks have to spend a good part of their day doing manual labour to provide for their own living, as well as to help others, the beer has to be brewed, or brewing has to be supervised, by the Trappist Monks themselves within their Trappist Monasteries, or in breweries in close vicinity to the Monasteries. Amongst several other goods, they also produce a variety of Trappist Cheeses, one of them being  Chimay 'Grand Classique', a fantastic, semi-soft, buttery cheese with a flavour of yeast or bread crust.
CARBONNADE FLAMANDE
I have never been a big fan of beer, but with all the great beers in the world, I am sure this is due to my ignorance (and maybe my fear of a beer-belly... but seriously, have you ever heard of a wine-belly? Or a Champagne-belly?) But I do very much like Trappist beers. The famous Belgian Chimay 'Capsule Bleu' (= Blue Chimay with the blue bottle cap) for example, used in this recipe, with it's beautiful dark colour and rose-flowery, spicy, caramel taste is a real treat. 

14 October 2013

BEEF AND BLACK BEAN BURRITOS

BEEF AND BLACK BEAN BURRITOS
These burritos rendered me speechless... and that is not easy or often achieved ;-) We have a lot of black beans at home that need using up so I googled a couple of recipes, this being one of them. It is a little elaborate and time-consuming, especially if you make your own tortillas and cook your own beans, as these will need soaking over night. I like to make things from scratch and learn about the flavours and techniques that go into a dish, but you could cut corners and get ready-made tortillas and a tin of beans. I did cut one corner by using jar of bought salsa that we had as a pre-taste for the weekend with Tortilla chips. I soaked the BLACK BEANS Thursday night and cooked them Friday night, so we had them ready to use over the weekend. 

BLACK BEANS - AND A SURPRISE 'MEXICAN' WEEKEND

BLACK BEANS
Black beans, also known as Turtle beans, are very popular in Latin American cuisine, but  can be found here in health food stores. Or in the 'black hole' back of my kitchen cupboard, amongst other interesting, exotic things, waiting to be remembered ;-) With only a little shelf-life left, so having to eat them sooner rather than later, but being complete black-bean novices, we managed to find some fabulous recipes on the Web and ended up with the most surprising, delicious and mouth- eye-opening 'Mexican weekend'. 

12 October 2013

HOMEMADE EGG PASTA

HOMEMADE EGG PASTA
Homemade pasta. What is it that makes it so unique? Is it because it tastes better? Fresher? More al dente? Or is it simply the fun of making and eating your own? For me it's both. I love the taste and texture - it seems a lot more eggy, elastic and al dente, it's almost as if you can never really overcook it. But also there is something so creative and rewarding about it. 
HOMEMADE EGG PASTA
Freshly filled hand-made ravioli... lasagna with homemade sheets of pasta... just try it once and you will be hooked, I promise. Well so was I, at least initially... When I first started making pasta, I would stand at my kitchen counter for hours and hours putting so much time and  effort, love and affection into that dough: I was kneading it, and rolling it, and cutting it, and holding it (mostly to show it off) and all by hand... and all with so much looove... Then I got one of those hand crank pasta makers and hooray, all became so much faster and even more fun. Although with that, being an Octopus would have helped tremendously. How are you supposed to turn that handle with one hand, feed the dough through with your other and at the same time pull away the flattened pasta with your third? Who has a third? Luckily there were always those keen helpers gathering around the machine with their additional hands, and you could even have a nice chat with them.

13 September 2013

GRIDDLED CHICORY SALAD WITH FETA CHEESE

GRIDDLED CHICORY SALAD WITH FETA CHEESE
I cannot believe it's been 3 months since I posted the last recipe. Not that I stopped thinking about food, or eating it - I doubt that either of the aforementioned are even possible... Nöi, nöi, nöi, apart from summer being super-busy, as summer always is, with job, vacation, the usual birthday weekends away, family visits, and enjoying many lovely and lazy hot summer evenings in Brussels, we spent the last few months experimenting with pizza dough - but more of that to come later! I am trying to catch up with photos and notes I took during these months and never got round to finishing or posting, but as the weather is changing into its end of summer Brussels-Grey, with the evenings chilly, and the sun-chairs on the terrace more and more wet and uninviting, hopefully there will be plenty of time to catch up. 
GRIDDLED CHICORY SALAD WITH FETA CHEESE

11 June 2013

AUSTRIAN 'APFELSCHLANGEL' (APPLE 'SNAKE CAKE'?)

AUSTRIAN APFELSCHLANGEL (APPLE PIE)
Apfelschlangel... a buttery, soft and crumbly layer of short-crust pastry wrapped around tangy sweet cinnamon-spiced apples. A childhood favourite of mine and another recipe from home. Unlike its very famous and well-known cousin, the APFELSTRUDEL, the 'Apfelschlangel' is mostly known by us Austrians, and our German neighbours, I guess. The word 'Schlangel', also known as 'Schlangl' or 'Schlangerl' comes either from the word 'Schlange' = snake or queue,  or 'schlängeln' = the wriggling, coiling movement of a snake or river, but both describing the long-stretched shape of the pie. 
AUSTRIAN APFELSCHLANGEL (APPLE PIE)
I think it looks so pretty (and Austrian) and seems quite elaborate, but is actually relatively quick to make. It is delicious served warm out of the oven, warmed in the microwave for a few seconds, but also at room temperature. Like with all things apple cake, it goes well with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side, but we like it just on its own, sprinkled with a little icing sugar. It is so full of flavour and texture, cinnamon-sweet, tangy and fresh, it really needs nothing on the side. 

27 April 2013

SPINACH AND FETA FILO PIE

SPINACH AND FETA FILO PIE
I clearly have a soft spot for all things spinach or herb with feta, encased in crispy flaky filo pastry, with this dish making no exception. 
SPINACH AND FETA FILO PIE
I found this recipe years ago on the Web, and it has become one of our favourite spring and summer dishes. It is similar to TURKISH BOREK which is a little more spicy with added chilies, dill and spring onions but that is much thinner and fried on the stove inside a pan and served in wedgesand also to FETA CHEESE AND HERB STRUDELS, small individual crispy Strudels but with feta and herbs rather than spinach. 

26 March 2013

VIGNAROLA ROMANA - ROMAN SPRING VEGETABLE STEW

VIGNAROLA ROMANA  - ROMAN  SPRING VEGETABLE STEW
Vignarola Romana, a Roman spring vegetable dish. Spring... the moment it was officially announced it immediately snowed 15 cm here in Brussels. Nevertheless, we keep finding the most beautiful artichokes, both baby artichokes and recently even Roman artichokes in the shops and markets. 
VIGNAROLA ROMANA  - ROMAN  SPRING VEGETABLE STEW
I was never an artichoke-kind-of-girl, did not know how to cook them or what to make of them, until I met 'My Roman' and his family who effortlessly converted me to them and even taught me how to cook them properly. And just to remember those suitcases full of Roman artichokes (= carciofi, pronounced 'carjoffee') they would bring when visiting us in Brussels... see pictures of the 'real things'... they were so beautiful that I used them as flower-decoration on the table while we were having the others for dinner. 
VIGNAROLA ROMANA  - ROMAN  SPRING VEGETABLE STEW
At this point we are artichoke-crazy. We have them almost every week, stuffed with mint and garlic (= 'Carciofi alla Romana') - just the thought of the perfume of these three ingredients makes me want more - artichoke frittata, and of course, Vignarola Romana. Chatelaine market has a pasta stand with fantastic artichoke ravioli. What I haven't tried yet is artichoke lasagna, and my own home-made artichoke ravioli... but now I know the art of undressing and de-choking them nothing can stop me  :-)

15 March 2013

AUSTRIAN 'APFELSTRUDEL' (APPLE STRUDEL)

AUSTRIAN APFELSTRUDEL - APPLE STRUDEL
Layers of crispy thin pastry wrapped around soft and tangy-sweet cinnamon-scented apple slices... Apfelstrudel, another traditional Austrian dish with, according to Wikipedia, its oldest known recipe, hand-written and dating back to 1696, housed at the 'Wiener Stadtbibliothek', the Vienna City Library. Due to its popularity and the centuries it has been around there are many versions of it worldwide, but this recipe is my favourite.  It's the one from home, like my mum makes it, so no surprises there I guess  :-)  I actually still have one her very old tablecloths that we used for our every day dinner table when I was a child. 

28 February 2013

OVEN-BAKED APPLE CHIPS

OVEN-BAKED APPLE CHIPS
Sweet, crispy and so beautiful thanks to their natural apple shape and flowery detail. 
OVEN-BAKED APPLE CHIPS
And what a tease... they literally melt in your mouth into nothingness, leaving you to crave for 1 more... or 5... or 10...  ;-)  until they are finally all gone... 
OVEN-BAKED APPLE CHIPS
Great as decoration for desserts, see our APPLE CRUMBLE WITH A CRISPY FACE LIFT

25 February 2013

APPLE CRUMBLE WITH A CRISPY FACE LIFT

APPLE CRUMBLE WITH A CRISPY FACE LIFT
'Necessity is the mother of invention'... According to Wikipedia the crumble was invented in England during World War II, when food was rationed, and so the English people, in replacement of pies, created a mix of flour, butter or margarine, and sugar and used this to top sweet fruit - a most wonderful alternative that has not lost it's popularity to this day. I guess not just owing to it's beautiful textures and taste: tangy-sweet cinnamon-flavoured apples, baked with a sweet and crunchy and crumbly topping, but also due to its simplicity: this version requires literally minutes of preparation. 

14 February 2013

ST. VALENTINE'S CAKE POPS HEARTS

ST. VALENTINE'S CAKE POPS HEARTS
Cake pops - never made them, never tasted them, so didn't really know what to expect. But Valentine's day presented a perfect opportunity to have a go. We now know why they are so popular, they are really soooo nice, not just to look at, but also a scrumptious sweet treat. The crumbled cake, mixed and compressed with the frosting results in a concentrated, chocolaty pralinee-like sweet with a rich and moist texture, all held together by a layer of chocolate, and  decorated with sparkly sweet and crunchy sugar sprinkles  :-)

14 January 2013

TURKISH BOREK

TURKISH BOREK
Filo, feta, and spinach, a perfect threesome... until you have tried Allegra McEvedy's Anglo-Turkish BOREK (aka böreği, börek, burek) with additional chilies and dill, drizzled with lemon juice, and yogurt on the side. With this wealth of flavour it worked itself immediately to the top of our favourites list. It is delicious, spicy, fast, and most of all leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. In her program Allegra  shows the original dough = Yufka, used in Turkey for this recipe. I have not managed to find it yet so used the suggested Filo alternative instead. A little sceptic how this would work, especially as the pastry sheets I had were from frozen (of course thoroughly defrosted), I used a small pan and half the ingredients, which turned out well in the end as the Borek was smaller and therefore much easier to handle, and I could reverse it by simply using a dinner plate.