19 October 2015

SWISS CHARD CAKE - AUTUMN ON A PLATE

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Since a couple of weeks I have an irresistible urge to wrap things in green leaves. It all started with a bunch of Swiss chard. Admiring the beautiful colourful pink, yellow and orange stalks, veins and contrasting dark leaves, I thought that there had to be a better way to do them justice than to just wilt them down in the pan.

SWISS CHARD CAKE

Then I remembered the Chou Farçi photo I had seen on Mimi Thorisson's blog Manger, and there was my answer (and the beginning of my leaf-wrapping addiction): Cake! Everyone loves cake! Turns out even a green one. I wasn't quite sure if this would work with chard, so googled it and found an interesting Lebanese Chard cake, stuffed with rice and spices. In the end, my recipe is a combination of my mum's 'Kohlrouladen' (cabbage rolls), one of my child-hood favourites, stuffed with rice and meat, Mimi's Chou Farçi, and the Lebanese Swiss chard cake, and we just love it! Swiss chard has a rather strong perfume and flavour and, due to it's oxalic acid content, is a little sharp-tasting, and so maybe not everyone's favourite. But in combination with the spicy meat and rice filling a dream. 

12 September 2015

AUSTRIAN MOHNGUGELHUPF (POPPY SEED BUNDT CAKE)

AUSTRIAN MOHNGUGELHUPF (POPPY SEED BUNDT CAKE)

For me 'Gugelhupf' is so typically Austrian that I just got home-sick typing the word. Especially 'Mohngugelhupf'. But I guess there is good reason for that: imagine travelling to Austria to visit your sister, also known as 'The Queen of Cakes and Puddings' (and Sweet Dumplings; and Textile! but that's another story...). The house already full with family, you stay in a nearby Bed&Breakfast. To send you on your way, she hands you a rather large bag(?). In the room said bag reveals: an espresso maker, coffee, sugar, cups and saucers, spoons, dessert plates, napkins - and: the most exquisite of all Mini-Mohngugelhupfs - with doily and all! "For early breakfast", she had said, "before coming over". Yes, that's my sister... :-)

AUSTRIAN MOHNGUGELHUPF (POPPY SEED BUNDT CAKE)

What a treat! So now imagine daily balcony cake and coffee breakfast with warm summer sunshine, framed by a chain of mountains... Are you following me?

AUSTRIAN MOHNGUGELHUPF (POPPY SEED BUNDT CAKE)

28 August 2015

MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

2015 turned out to be one of the craziest of years yet, with literally no time for cooking, picture taking, let alone blogging. Nevertheless, I want to capture our favourite recipes of this summer. Having started the year with a weekend in Barcelona - and it's usually this first trip that sets the food mood for our remaining kitchen year, what better way to celebrate the last hot summer days than with a Spanish Paella. There seems to be no one authentic paella recipe, as paella either depends on the region in Spain that it comes from, such as the Valencian Paella, the mother of paellas, made with chicken, pork, rabbit and even snails, or simply on the ingredients used, i.e. sea food, or meat-only paella, with or without beans and various vegetables.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

This recipe is for mixed paella, in Spanish: 'Paella Mixta', and I like to make it this way, as I like the combination of chicken, chorizo and prawns. The recipe I follow is pretty old and well tested, if not so say fool-proof - well it's from Delia Smith, so what do you expect - easy, fast, tastes pretty authentic, and, best of all, is so fresh and works every time. I discovered it many years ago in one of her cook books, and in fact I like it so much that I never even considered trying another or changing it. Having said that, the Valencian

8 March 2015

CELERIAC POTATO PUREE

CELERIAC POTATO PUREE

Fluffy clouds of rich and creamy goodness: celeriac potato purée. Since making this for the first time last year as a side for venison, it's become my favourite puréeContrary to potato purée, that is more neutral in flavour and relies on the dish or sauce it is served with, the combination of celeriac with potatoes is so much more flavoursome, thereby complementing a dish, rather than relying on it. The celeriac root adds a bright, nutty, slightly sweet flavour, with a delicate celeriac note. Even with plenty of cream and butter, the purée still tastes fresh and light. Like any purée, it goes well with meat dishes, braised or other, but especially with game, such as venison. Although not very pretty in appearance with its knobbly rooty looks, once cut, the celeriac root reveals a soft, tender white flesh with a distinct but subtle taste. But it's not just tasty, it's also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and has plenty of vitamins and minerals, which makes it a great winter vegetable. In case you cannot find a small root, buy a larger one, clean it, cut it into cubes and freeze for later - I promise you will want to make it soon again. The

6 February 2015

CRANBERRY GALETTE WITH PECAN NUTS

CRANBERRY GALETTE

Vibrantly-coloured, tart and tangy-sweet cranberries, mixed with chunky toasted nuts, tightly hugged by flaky, crisp, buttery, light, sugar-studded pastry. Meet my latest vice: Cranberry Galette. A big fan of these easy, no effort free-form galettes, this one's my new winter favourite. It's the contrast of flavours and textures, all in one incredibly effortless, fast and simple cake. Best enjoyed warm, a few minutes out of the oven, or room temperature. Accompanied by a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream - I personally need nothing on the side with this one... I know it's not exactly cranberry season, but as long as I can find them in the shops, I just can't let go, and after all, somebody has to sacrifice themselves to use them up! :-) I found this recipe on Joy of Baking, but only follow it for the Cranberry Filling. The pastry recipe is the one I use for STONE-FRUIT GALETTE, based on a recipe of Alice Waters.

30 January 2015

SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

For a very short time in January and February it is possible to find Seville Oranges on the markets - well, at least in England. Here in Brussels the famous bitter-sweet oranges are a little more tricky to get hold of. So, following several imports from England over the years - thank you Helen... and especially for my gorgeous birthday-preserving pan :-) - I finally managed to find them at RobNot sure why that thought had never crossed my mind before - I guess I just love our trips to England :-) But it's true, at Rob's - although not the usual shop to buy our groceries, I admit we do go there sometimes for a special treat in the weekend - and we have managed to find the most unusual ingredients there. Actually, come to think of it, it's rather far from us, so with it's exceptional food variety and worth that special journey, does that make it a 3-star grocery store in Michelin terms?


SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

Anyway, trip to UK or trip to Rob, both are not just fun but well worth it, as the rather bitter-sweet, sour Seville oranges add a unique and distinct flavour to the Marmalade that cannot be achieved with ordinary Oranges. Deliciously tangy and fruity, with a subtle bitterness, studded with pieces of orange peel. On warm buttered toast, a fresh croissant... with a steaming hot cappuccino, espresso or tea on the side - breakfast heaven. Or a spoonful straight from the jar, at any time of day. Yum! But watch out, once home-made, there is no way back.

5 January 2015

PERFECT BROWNIES...?

PERFECT BROWNIES

For me perfect Brownies have to be chocolatey but not too sweet. Moist but not gooey.  Melting but with a little chew. Rich in flavour and texture, but at the same time soft and light. Topped with a thin crispy layer of dough and studded with tasty slightly crunchy walnuts - YUM! A Brownie has to always leave you craving for three one more.

PERFECT BROWNIES

The first Brownies I've ever had were exactly like that. Needless to say, I was hooked. You know when you connect with a flavour - I call it the 'Nutella Syndrom'. There is only one Nutella: Perfection in a jar! And you know when you taste it. And no other chocolate spread can be nuts enough to even think to come close. But how do you know? How do you remember? What glorious section in your brain is dedicated to recall something you tasted? Even after years? And what stubborn section tells you to not let go? To never settle for less?