... following a 16-hour-per-day-biscuit-marathon-weekend and the usual pre-Christmas
21 December 2013
2 December 2013
With the final lot of black beans, found in the
30 November 2013
12 November 2013
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 me the two together are a perfect match.
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 beautifully meaty and 'crunchy' when cooked.
6 November 2013
21 October 2013
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 produce a variety of Trappist Cheeses, one of them the Chimay 'Grand Classique', a fantastic, semi-soft, buttery cheese with a flavour of yeast or bread crust.
I have never been a big fan of beer, but with all the great beers in the world, I' 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 its beautiful dark colour and rose-flowery, spicy, caramel taste is a real treat.
14 October 2013
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 use ready-made tortillas and tinned beans. I did cut one corner by using a 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, also known as Turtle beans, are very popular in Latin American cuisine, but can be found here in health food stores. Or in the
12 October 2013
Homemade pasta. What is it that makes it so unique? Is it because it tastes better? Fresher? 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, which such beautiful consistency, it's almost as if you can never really overcook it. But also there is something so creative and rewarding about it.
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
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
11 June 2013
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.
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
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.
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 that is a little more spicy with added chilies, dill and spring onions but also much thinner and fried on the stove inside a pan and served in wedges; and also to FETA CHEESE AND HERB STRUDELS, small individual crispy Strudels but with feta and herbs rather than spinach.
26 March 2013
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.
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.
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
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 :-) And on top of that, to make my Strudels, I actually use one of her very old tablecloths that we used for our every day dinner table when I was a child - oh the childhood memories... sigh! :-)
28 February 2013
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...
And great as decoration for desserts, see APPLE CRUMBLE WITH A CRISPY FACE LIFT.
25 February 2013
'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
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, chocolatey 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
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.