Showing posts from March, 2020

Champiñones al Ajillo (Garlic Mushrooms)

I was feeling rather lazy today, so instead of a real meal I decided to make myself a tapas-style dinner. This Spanish recipe for 'champignoñes al ajillo', put up at a girlfriend’s request, came from Linda's Top Tour of Spain website a million years ago. And having spent a year there myself, I feel pretty comfortable vouching for the result.

Ingredients (serves 2-4):
400gr mushrooms, quartered if large, halved if small
4 cloves garlic
1 red chili pepper (if you prefer them extra spicy, use 2)
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Finely chop two of the garlic cloves and the red pepper. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and when hot, add the chopped garlic and pepper. Sauté for a minute, then add the mushrooms. Sauté for two more minutes.

2. During this space of two minutes, take the remaining two cloves of garlic and press through a garlic press. Add a little bit of salt, the chopped parsley, and enough olive oi…

Penne with Rocket Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes

Recently, I shared a rocket pesto recipe with you. Here’s an example of what you can do with it. :)

Ingredients (serves 2):
120g penne
1 small red onion, finely chopped
300g cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls arugula (rocket lettuce)
15g shaved parmesan
6-8 tbsp rocket walnut pesto

1. Prepare the pasta according to instructions.

2. Place onion in a large skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the penne and the pesto and mix over low heat for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat.

4. Toss in some fresh arugula, divide over two plates and serve topped with parmesan shavings.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

When I first discovered Reese’s Pieces, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Indulgence led to cravings led to the desire to be able to make my own: my motto about cooking has always been that if it seems halfway doable, I should at least try to recreate the things I love to eat. It was out of that thought that this experiment was born. My first idea was to aim for peanut butter cups of my own. Then, I started going through my pantry - and a better idea was born...

Ingredients: 200g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks 100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks 100g smooth peanut butter 100g walnuts, halved  Sheet of baking paper
Instructions: 1. Melt the dark chocolate au bain marie. To do that, bring some water to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a bowl that is big enough to be bigger than the circumference of the pan (so it can sit snugly on top it. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the top of the water - the bowl will be heated by steam. Keep the pan on very low heat,…

Cream of Garbanzo Soup

When I lived in Bilbao I used to eat at Citronella, my favourite brunch restaurant at the time, at least once a week. They served these amazing 4-course brunches, and one of the dishes they served with some regularity was a delicious garbanzo soup. Unfortunately the restaurant didn’t make it through the last economic crisis. That’s a while ago - we’re talking 2008 - but I’ve been nostalgic ever since.

So I set about learning to make it at home. It took me some time to get the recipe right, but this one works. The photo may leave you in some doubt, and the paté is invisible at the bottom of the bowl so you’ll just have to trust that it’s there, but I promise you - it’s goooood.

Ingredients (serves 2):
400g can of garbanzo beans (240g drained)** (garbanzo beans = chick peas!)
1 medium-size onion, chopped
400 ml beef stock
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1.5 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon olive oil, plus a dash for the onion.
sprinkling of cumin
2 large tablespoons Gr…

Whole-wheat Spaghetti with Spinach and Parma Ham

It’s not for nothing that an entire page on this blog is dedicated to risotto & pasta. Let there be no doubt: if there’s a team pasta, I’m on it. I like the versatility, and being able to throw in whatever inspires me. I like how little time it takes. I like that I can go for whole-wheat, and feel like I’m being somewhat healthy despite the carbs. I like carbs.

Ingredients (serves 2):
120g whole-wheat spaghetti
300g spinach
100g Parma ham (or another cured ham), shredded into smaller pieces.
100g sun dried tomatoes, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
100mL cream
20g parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.

2. In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large pan. When boiling, add the spinach and stir for 30 seconds or so, until the spinach is all wilted.

3. Drain, and cool the spinach in icy cold water to bring the boiling process to a stop and bring ou…

Honeydew Melon Soup with Cured Ham

In the heat of a crazy 42° Celsius summer day when I was living in Bilbao a decade back, I was browsing some Spanish cooking blogs and found an irresistible recipe by Ana from melon soup. It’s served chilled, and sounded refreshing.

It tastes much like the classic Italian melon and ham, but then in liquid form. Perfect for summers - or for bright sunny days like today (she writes as the sunshine pours in through freshly washed windows).

Ingredients (serves 2):
400 honeydew melon
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 strips Parma or Serrano ham, or 2 rashers bacon

1. Cut the peel off the lemon and slice into chunks. Throw into a blender and purée until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, then place in the fridge until chilled.

2. Fry the cured ham or bacon until the strips are crunchy. Put aside on kitchen paper to get rid of the excess grease and let cool.

3. Pour the melon 'soup' into the glasses. Slice the strips of P…

Baked Eggs with Leek and Spinach

When I was younger I didn’t appreciate it much, but spinach has become one of my favourite veggies. It’s packed with vitamins - K, A, C, B2, contains magnesium and iron - in short, a pretty good way to get a lot of the things your body needs. And there’s so many yummy ways to use it - in green smoothies, as soup, creamed, in pasta or risotto dishes... the list goes on. Or like this, as a base for your eggs, like I did this morning. Enjoy :)

150g spinach
1/2 leek, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs
2 tbsp cream
1 tbsp butter
olive oil
pinch of salt
thyme, lemon zest and chili flakes to taste
Sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese

Instructions (serves 1):
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Pour the olive oil and butter in a medium sized skillet, and add the leek and shallot. Fruit for about 5-6 minutes over low heat, until the leek is softened but not browned.

3. Add the garlic and spinach and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, until the spinac…

Mexican Beef Tacos with Cheese and Salsa Roja

I spent four years living in Mexico, and tacos de bistec con queso were one of my ultimate feel-good foods. There are a lot of great Mexican recipes, but this is one of my favourites: it’s super easy and one of the few things that I still make on a very regular basis.

So yesterday, when my boiler quit on me and I was left without heating or hot water and full of fear of the possibility of an impending lock-down & the implication that this meant I might be left in the cold for the length of quarantine, this was naturally what I turned to. And it worked to reassure me for a while - the familiarity was comforting and the spiciness warmed up my insides.

Ingredients (makes 4):

Salsa Roja
3 medium sized plum tomatoes
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic
2 red chili peppers, deseeded (or more, if you prefer it extra-spicy)
few decent dashes olive oil
pinch of salt

200g beef steak
1 medium-small yellow onion, chopped.
Few good handfuls grated cheese
1 lime, cut in wedges
4 small flo…

Rocket Walnut Pesto

I used to make home made pesto all the time - the kind we all know so well, with pine nuts and basil. But sometimes it’s nice to try something different. Substitute rocket lettuce (arugula) for the basil, for instance. Or substitute walnuts for pine nuts. Or do both, and then you get this recipe - inspired by (and an almost exact copy of) Gavin’s recipe at AnotherFoodBlogger.

75g rocket lettuce (arugula)
30g walnuts
30g grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
100mL olive oil

1. Lightly toast the walnuts in a skillet. Watch out that they don’t burn - it always tends to happen right at that moment when you stop watching the pan, and then fast. So keep an eye on the pan.

2. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend, until you get the consistency you like. (In theory you could add salt and black pepper, but it doesn’t really need it.)

Cherry Tomato Risotto with Mozzarella and Bratwurst

I LOVE LOVE LOVE risotto. And I love it creamy, so creamy that it feels like it melts in my mouth -  with lots of veggies, with meat, with fish; you can go practically every which way.

I was planning to make a simple cherry tomato and mozzarella risotto but then I saw the bratwurst in my fridge and thought why not, so I tossed it in. And you know what? It works. But it works fine without it too, so if you’re vegetarian skip the bratwurst, replace the chicken stock with veggie stock, and you’re good to go.

250g cherry tomatoes or small Roma tomatoes, halved
1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bratwurst (optional), chopped in small squares
125g mozzarella, chopped
100g arborio rice
10 basil leaves
1L chicken bouillon
15g gratedparmesan cheese
15g butter
Olive oil

1. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and add the onion. Fruit for a few minutes until slightly glazed.

2. Add the bratwurst and sauté for a few more minutes, unt…

Zucchini Gratin

It’s Saturday morning and day 6 of working from home is officially behind me. Izzy and I have survived week 1. Life is weird, and getting weirder, and as a counter to all the free-floating anxiety out there, corona humor is circulating full gear. Laughter’s still the best remedy.

Now there’s research out there that found that eating lots of vegetables (and fruit) makes us happier. Studies have shown that the more vegetables people ate, the happier they felt - and also that these happiness benefits increased far more quickly than the health benefits. I’m sure there’s a limit to all of this, but if you keep it within the bounds of reason then maybe, just maybe, veggies are second best.

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 zucchini
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp milk
Salt and pepper to taste
100g parmesan
Handful of grated regular cheese (I used old Gouda)
Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Slice the zucchini and place in an oven dish for 10 minutes, to drain…

Holy Meatballs! (in Paprika Tomato Sauce)

Ahhh, the joys of meatballs in tomato sauce. They serve them in just about a dozen different countries - as albondigas in Spain, polpetta al sugo in Italy, or just good old meatballs for the native English speakers out there. And yes, the meatball is a common phenomenon here in the Netherlands too. My grandma’s generation served them the size of a small fist (gehaktballen) with potatoes and gravy, or smaller (gehaktballetjes) in vegetable soups. And yet, they never really had me convinced. I wasn't a meatball kinda gal. Meatballs, to me, seemed boring.

Until one day, when a friend came over and made some meatballs with a packet of minced meat and a handfull of leftovers from the fridge and the pantry. The sauce was amazing. So were the balls - succulent, aromatic, mmmm. I became an instant convert.

Of course, I had to try a repeat. With the pantry fully stocked with nuts for the breakfast bars I made earlier, I decided go a little nuts myself and toss some in.

It goes without sayi…

Salmon in Bell Pepper Sauce

I’m usually pretty bad at estimating how much food I need. With 5 different supermarkets within a couple of hundred metres from here, I can always head out and pick something up if I get it wrong - so the best bet is to err on the lower end. But then there’s these strange times - when a trip to the supermarket means exposing myself to masses of people hamstering away. So as usual I’m still getting it wrong, but this time I’m erring on the upper side of the guesstimate.

Not good - because if I don’t pay attention that means food waste - and we all know how bad that is for the planet. Today I spotted a couple of bell peppers in the fridge that were nearing the end of their lifespan, which gave me good reason to look for a bell pepper recipe I hadn’t tried before. This is what I came across.

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 salmon filets
4 pointed sweet red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp parmesan
200mL cream
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt & freshly ground p…

Cheesy Leek Quiche

As the world around me is locking down, I’m looking for ways to stay sane. There’s the books I haven’t read, and the movies I haven’t seen. And then there’s food, and this blog. A little for you and a bit for myself, I’ll be doing my best to provide you all with some comfort food in the weeks to come. Like this quiche.

Recipe (serves 2):
225g puff pastry (I used a 275g pack of Backini fresh puff pastry) 2 cocottes, mini quiche tins, or mini pie pans (mine were about 12 cm in diameter) 3 medium-size potatoes 1/2 leek 1 large shallot 2 large eggs 60ml cream
gouda cheese, grated (I used about 20g but seriously, you don't need measurements for this. Just do it to taste)
parmesan, grated (enough to cover the top of both cocottes) fresh oregano 15g bacon (Serrano ham is nice too) salt pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into slices about 3mm thick.

3. Bring a big pot of hot salted water to the boil. When boiling fully, add the p…

Spinach Soup with Salmon

Eat healthy and you’ve got a better chance of staying healthy - and that’s especially important now that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and on corona-lockdown. So I got down and dirty with a big bag of spinach and made some spinach salmon soup.

Ingredients (serves 4):
3 tbsp butter
1 medium-size onion
2 shallots
3 cloves garlic
300g fresh, washed spinach
200mL cream
1L vegetable bouillon
4 salmon steaks (mine had the skin on one side)

1. Chop the onions and shallots and glaze in butter. Sauté for 4-5 minutes.

2. Finely chop the garlic and add to the onions/shallots. Sauté for another minute or 2, then add the spinach and stir until it reduces in size.

3. Add the vegetable bouillon and boil for 15 minutes.

4. Finely mix with a hand blender or blender.

5. Add the cream and stir through. Reheat the soup but do not boil

6. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and carefully place the salmon steaks in the pan, skin side down. Sauté for 5 or so minutes, until the sk…

Rhubarb Yoghurt Fool

Rhubarb - so pretty in the crate, but what do you do with it? Lots, it turns out - rhubarb pie, for one, or rhubarb jam, or... rhubarb yoghurt, to switch up your breakfasts a little :).

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 sticks rhubarb
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
500mL farmers' yoghurt (any other creamy, unsweetened yoghurt will also do)

1. Cut the ends off the rhubarb and chop the stem into 1cm long pieces. Place in a small saucepan and add a layer of water until the rhubarb is just covered. Add the sugar and boil for about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb has come fully apart.

2. Add the vanilla sugar and cinnamon and let the mixture cool down. If you move it from the saucepan to a different contained, it'll cool faster - I only waited for another fifteen minutes or so.

3. Layer it into a glass with the yoghurt, and voilà: a healthy breakfast, or easy weekday desert.