Thursday, 27 December 2012

All Good Things Come to an End ...

I guess it's over! All good things come to an end. That is at least what I heard. I'm not sure right now whether to tell it, but ... I might not even have heard it, but ... well ... you know ... again ... there is this song of that ... eh ... person and ... at least she sang it. There was also something about dogs barking at the new moon, but I didn't get that quite well. Maybe I'm not the smartest kind of person. 
Anyhow, the year 2012 is drawing to it's end. Was it a good one? That depends on any persons self. You ought to know it for yourself. With 2012 being over, this will pose a few challenges ... hm ... the first few days or even weeks of the year I have to focus on writing 2013 instead of 2012. Then it will be winter still as well and the coldest months might still be ahead.
Well, then, let's say it as it is: All good things come to an end. This will be the last you are hearing from me ...
However, before that is going to happen, have a brief look at the (somehow) most viewed posts of my blog in 2012:

On rank number 5 we find TMC - Tipsy Mint Cookies. Those greenish shimmering cookies had a really short life. They definitely have come to their end as well.

Next on number 4 is Rocket, Ricotta and Chocolate ... Triple Feature Random Recipe. In fact it was more then just a recipe. As the title suggest it were three. That was really a dangerous time for a lot of chocolate was involved here. On the positive side - if you want to call it that way - there was at least also some salad involved.

We are coming to number 3. Challenge warm up à la française ... escalope de porc aux champignons brought us to some French cooking. Even with seeing that now, I get hungry again, which in fact I shouldn't, because I just had something to eat. Well, it looked slightly similar.

We are heading for number 2 with some Leftover Risotto. That was relly a good way to use some leftover risotto, although you could as well use plain rice. I wrote about this at a very nice time of the year, in May. Thinking about that, I long for warmer weather.

Finally we come to number 1 and our all time favourite: Pass me that chorizo ... eh ... we are having a chorizo stew. Somehow it must have been someone else's favourite as well. Chorizo works!

As I said: All good things come to an end and so does our top 5 for the year 2012. Talking about that, which one was your favourite post for 2012 on my blog? Just let me know!
Now, this was the last you heard from me ... for the year 2012. 
See you next year then ...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Ravinder, Jamie and trying a few recipes

In the last few days I have been thinking again ... yes ... for a change. Since I have a few cookbooks it wouldn't be bad to try some recipes again. So I had a look through some books and made a list of what to try. Then I went shopping and after not getting everything on that list, cancelled a few projects again.
Anyway, there still remained something on the list. Let us start with Ravinder Bhogal and her book Cook in Boots. Actually, Ravinder Bhogal is the only person I have a cookbook from, which I met already. That was this year in London, when she was doing 9 course meals at a restaurant in Aldgate.
The first dish I selected from the book was pork roast with grenadine glazing.

I just had to get some pork and the remaining ingredients were already on stock. I took the grenadine from the bar and the rest was mainly spices and things.
On the side I wanted to have some potatoes and fry them, but they ended up being mashed. To have some vegetables I tossed in some carrots with the roast into the oven.
Overall I liked it very much. It was sweet and spicy for some chilli and garlic was included as well.
There was another recipe from Cook in Boots on my list, but before I tell you about this, let us move over to Jamie Oliver.
I selected something very simple from the book Cook with Jamie: chicken breast wrapped in bacon with leeks.

It goes all in one dish, is for one person and really not complicated. Well, on the picture it looks like there was a lot leeks, but it was alright. It all could have been a bit more spicy, but you don't have to use chilli on everything, although you can. After all it's good to get in some other flavours as well.
Now back to Cook in Boots. On the program now: Cappelini with garlic, chilli, lemon and olive oil. That again sounds like quite some flavour.

It doesn't look very spectacular. That's because I didn't bring out the chillies and apart from that there is no much colour in it due to it's simplicity. The whole things doesn't even take ten minutes to prepare. Of course, a little bit depends on your speed in chopping the garlic and the chilli and grating the lemon zest and the cheese, but the parmesan is just for serving. The boiling of the pasta itself takes just three minutes.
I can say, that pasta dish tasted very lovely. Since I refused to just cook the pasta for one person and didn't have anyone for dinner, there were bound to be some leftovers. No worries!
Inspired by a recipe from Jamie's Italy I went for fries pasta at another day. You just need the leftover capellini (you could use spaghetti for that as well) and added some chopped cherry tomatoes, a bit of bacon, chopped parsley, an egg, some extra salt and pepper just to make sure and then you go and fry it in a pan.

That was very lovely as well. I should go through the books again and make a new list ... but I guess I should rather go for some Caribbean dishes, since we still have our Bloggers Around The World going on this month with some Caribbean inspired dishes. Are you in for it this month?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A day without chocolate is a lost day! Therefore: Chewy Marshmallow Chocolate Cookies

Well, well, well, well, well, what shall I say? Hopefully more then just 'well, well, well'!
Hm, maybe get it over with? I don't know. I suppose nothing much would be gained with the year being over already. In fact every day is worth to be turned into a good and enjoyable one. There is the saying: "A day without chocolate is a lost day!"
No? There is no such saying? Well, let's have one then and prepare some chocolate cookies ...

Well (to bring it up again), we are using some marshmallows and a few other things as well, namely ...

100 g butter
100 g sugar
1 tbs peanut butter
A splash of rum (if you like to)
200 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
80 g chocolate
150 g mini marshmallows
80 ml cream

Thanks to Karen, if I may say so, I have now a new way of preparing dough for baking. In fact, now there is one more use for my 'beloved' pan. As far as I am concerned, manufacturers are having a crisis, because I'm not buying, since I have a universal pan I nearly do everything with and no it's chewy marshmallow chocolate cookies.
Therefore I started by melting the butter in the pan. As soon as that has happened I turned off the heat and took the pan from the heat.
Next I put in the sugar, the peanut butter and the splash of rum and starting mixing those things through.
After that the flour and the baking powder followed to be incorporated.
In the next step the chocolate, the marshmallows and the cream were added to get a luvly cookie dough.
Said and done, it's time to place bits of the dough on baking sheets and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C.
Reserve a bit of time for cooling after baking and then ... 

... well, well, well, have a bit of chocolate by eating those chewy marshmallow chocolate cookies.
If that won't do it, have a look at the December Improv Challenge

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Simple Ricotta and Ham Puff Pastry Swirls

Who wouldn't like to have a quick and simple snack available for visitors!? Maybe those that never get any visitors ...
Since it is so convenient I very often have ready puff pastry available at home. I never tried to make it by myself before, but maybe this would be something for the to do list. Then again it might be a bit at the bottom end of the top 100.
Anyway, now we want to do a quick and simple snack with that conveniently ready puff pastry and a few other things ...

275 g puff pastry (depends on the size they sell it)
250 g ricotta
100 g ham, cut into small pieces
25 g chopped dried tomatoes (optional)
A hand full of chopped basil
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients apart from the puff pastry, of course, together in a bowl (or if you have any other ideas on how to do it, just go ahead). After all we want to keep it simple.
Then roll out your puff pastry and spread over it the ham and ricotta mix. Then roll it together so you are having a nice ... eh ... roll ...

While you could put this already in the oven, I decided to cut them at this point. I said we are having ricotta and ham puff pastry swirls. Cutting about 2-3 cm swirls will be fine.

At this point they go to the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes.

Now you can go ahead and serve them. For what occasion would you use those simple ricotta and ham puff pastry swirls?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bloggers Around the World: Spain Round-Up and ...

Did I already mention that the month is nearly half-way through again?! Well, the year isn't fairing any better. It is in it's last days! The last few days we had our food journey towards Spain with Bloggers Around the World.

I can't tell you what everyone did, but let me at least tell you about those that took part.
There was the lovely Lauren from Around the World in Eighty bakes. That already sounds like a lot of fun anyway and absolutely totally fits with my theme around here.
Anyway, Lauren was doing some experimenting in the kitchen ....


Lauren was doing some Spanish Plovorón. To find out how things turned out, well, you know what you have to do ... If that isn't sweet, I don't know!

We like to remain sweet. Sometimes I use to say I am already sweet myself, but ...

Let's go on. You already know, what I did for Bloggers Around the World, but nevertheless I tell you again ... that is remind you.

As was to be expected, something sweet again: Torta de Almendras.
What else was there? I don't know. I can't tell you. For sure there are a lot more lovely things to eat in Spain, but maybe in a different season ...

As we leave Spain behind us, we like to head over to our next stop. Whatever means of travel you like, we either have to use a plane or a ship, for we want to go across the ocean. As we are already in Spain, let's go back to the 15th century and set sails to the west for In... Stop! That's what they thought back then in the 15th century, but these days we know better.

Our next stop will be: The Caribbean!!!

Now that isn't any specific country. Therefore you have a broader variety of options. You could take us to Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the Florida Keys and so on ...
You don't have to prepare any 15th century dishes, but of course you can, if you have any nice recipes from that age.
Another option could be ... hm ... The Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe you have a pirate decorated cake or something like that.
This month you also wouldn't go wrong with rum.
Whatever you do ... just use your imagination and I am sure you will come up with something nice.

Before we depart, though, a few reminders (rules):

1. Leave a comment with a link to your post here in this very post.

2. Link to my blog and this challenge in your post.

3. Use the "Bloggers Around the World" badge (the one you find at the beginning and end of this post).

4. You can use a new or an old post, but it has to be adjusted accordingly (you know, all the linking).

5. Have fun and enjoy it!

If you aren't having fun, I'm sorry, I can't help you with that (maybe if you ask kindly). However, it would be of great advantage for your health, if you are happy and smile! 
The round-up of this leg of our trip you can find here next year at January 13th.
The Maya calendar might end before that, but mine doesn't ...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Musings of Lord Feta ... Quick Bread'n'Tomato'n'Feta-Bake

Usually I do write down things here that come to my mind. So I want to do today ...
... well ...
... anything?
... hm?
.... there ought to be something!
..... not just dots!
oh ...
... really?
... you see sometimes things are quite tough.
... but wait! I'm getting a signal ... finally!
By now we have enough dots to fill a normal blog post. Anyway, I never claimed to be normal. I didn't claim the title 'Captain Fitness', either ... at least not in the beginning. In fact I embraced it for a while.
Then there was the title 'Lord Excel' bestowed upon me at my place of work. I rather not embrace that one. But it seems to help the others to give all the extremely thinking and developing kind of work to me.
Here then come a title I would really like to embrace - totally from the heart - 'Lord Feta'. You can check my blog as to the usage of feta or even other cheese and you may find out that it plays a prominent role around here.
So once more we grab some of it and go for it ...

Let's say make it quick and painful ... eh ... painless.
You know the important questions to ask? Who? When? What? How? Why?
Today, we are trying to get answers.

Who is going to do it?
So, if you like this recipe, I hope YOU are going to try it.

When are you going to do it?
Basically it would be YOU to answer, but let's agree on: whenever you feel like to doing it.

What do we need?
A few slices of white bread cut into kind of cubes
As many tomatoes as you would like to go with it: 200 g maybe, cut into pieces
2 to whatever you feel you need amount of cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
I would say, at least 200 g of feta cheese, cut into cubes
A small bunch of parsley, chopped
Pepper at own will
Olive oil

How do we go about?
Since everything is cut already into small or not so small pieces, because you faithfully stuck to the list of ingredients, we can right away put the bread into an oven-proof dish. I decided to use the one I got from the point farthest to the west of Cornwall.
Then arrange the tomatoes pieces somehow between the bread. Add the chopped garlic and onion and ... why not the parsley as well.
Don't forget to also put the feta in. Then everything might look like this.

Oh, that looks fresh. Maybe we don't bother with the rest and eat it as it is. Or ... we add a splash of olive oil.

Hm, fine! Then we just do as I originally planned to and put it into the oven for 30-40 minutes at 180°C and let heat do it's work.
When it comes out of the oven you can - that is if you want to - sprinkle some more olive oil over it and then eat it right away without burning your mouth.

Why am I so crazy?
That now is the final question remaining. 'Why?' is a very important question. So many things happen to us in life and we ask 'Why?' Often we get no answer, at least no satisfying one. Maybe we need to dig deeper, to exert ourselves to get the answer. What about asking the right people?
Whatsoever: smiling or laughing is a lot better then crying all the time! Don't you agree?
Some things can not be changed, so why bother ... (some more dots to finish things ...)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Revenge of the Food Blogger - Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate ... #%$?&

Some food bloggers really have the guts to write about lovely, gorgeous, amazing, delicious, mouthwatering, craving-producing food and then you don't have the chance to taste from it. How is that?
Really! How do you feel about this? I'm not longer going to bear this. I have a plan ... REVENGE!!!
For example, just yesterday, I read a post about brownies. Even without linking, the person responsible, would notice right away.
Once more there is no chance to taste those well described brownies. Now, the only thing left to do is ... go and make my own. How hard can it be, if you are a brownie expert ... not!?

I go for it anyway. Where would my revenge be otherwise.
But how do we go about? A list of ingredients would be helpful ...

150 g butter
200 g chocolate (100 g dark and 100 g daim chocolate)
100 g caramel
50 g cocoa powder
100 150 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
200 g sugar
4 eggs
2 1 tsp sea salt

The way of the revenge:
As you see from the list, there have been some adjustments. I came up with those afterwards. So I went with the original figures.
Melt the butter and chocolate together with the caramel in a bowl above boiling water.
While this is happening, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a different bowl, add the sugar and the sea salt and mix well.
Again separately whisk together the four eggs.
Once the butter and chocolate have melted take them away from the heat and add the eggs. Then add the chocolate-butter-caramel-egg mixture to the flour-baking powder-cocoa powder- sea salt mixture and combine thoroughly.
Said and done! Transfer the darkish brown gooey substance to an appropriate tin lined with baking paper. That's were I lacked sensitivity. I chose the wrong one ... too small.
Anyway, bake it at 180°C for 30 minutes. That should be enough. Not as in my case, I thought afterwards ... 'well, they could go for another 10 minutes'.
Afterwards allow sufficient time for the brownies to cool down and set and if that is not going to help, put them in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Mine were quite gooey, partly also to the fact of the wrong container for baking in the oven. Apart from that, they were a bit salty as well. So I would advice to use less. Not that I would say, they taste horrible. They still taste good. I can manage with the gooeyness as well.

Maybe they don't work too much as brownies themselves, but they still go as a quite good pudding.
But maybe you want to do things a bit different.
Back to the REVENGE then. What kind of revenge was this? Was the revenge to create something that isn't tasty or isn't looking gorgeous or mouthwatering?
Well, honestly? Forget about this whole revenge thing. I was just kidding. After all sometimes I do just the same thing as I mentioned in the outset, or at least I try. Thank you again, Choclette, for 'letting' me have a try at baking those 'brownies'.
The simple fact is, that so many food bloggers are doing such a great job, whetting our appetite so we are going to try new things, giving us inspiration and ... doing many many more good things. Just go ahead and keep doing this.
I could go on now and mention quite a few bloggers that have just done that, but I already have. So simply have a look at the blogroll, although I don't claim that list to be 99,99% complete.
Whatsoever, what food bloggers inspire you to try things in the kitchen?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Going Greek? What about some delicious Moussaka

καλημέρα! How is your Greek? Mine is no better then everyone else's. For sure you can be sure (sure?) that everyone speaks a bit of Greek, since you find it everywhere. Just one example, or maybe two. The expression 'philosophy' comes from Greek words meaning 'the love of knowledge' (or similar). You remember Socrates? He said: "I know that I know nothing!" I'm still wondering, though, how he could new that. 
Anyway, wrong subject. Then there are terms like 'democracy', 'biology' and most probably we could go on and on and on and on ... but we don't want to.
At least I can eat Greek food and that is what matter now. So why not have some then?!
I can offer you some moussaka kind of dish today. 

What follows now, is moussaka the way that came to  my nind, when I was longing for some food using aubergines.

Olive oil
400 g minced meat (beef/pork)
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 medium sized aubergines, in slices
400 g plum tomatoes or tinned tomatoes 
200 ml water
200 g Kritharaki (Greek rice noodles)
150 g yogurt
1 egg
250 g feta cheese
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Let's say, we begin by slightly frying the onions in the olive oil. How about that?
We go on by adding the meat and, well, eh, yes, give it the appropriate colour, as you may have guessed already.
Then we add the tinned tomatoes with some extra water, let things boil and then simmer for a while, as we finely season it with salt and pepper. Plan about 30 minutes for the simmering.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, the egg, the feta cheese and the finely chopped garlic. Season with salt and pepper as well. 
Have your oven-proof dish ready and grease it with a little bit of olive oil and then put in one layer of aubergine slices. On top of this simply bour your Kritharaki.

Then follows a tomato meat layer. In fact, just put on all of it. Go for another aubergine layer and then finish it off with the yogurt-cheese mix.

Have it in the pre-heated oven at 200°C for 45 minutes.
Then plate it up and ... enjoy this moussaka kind of dish ... Καλή όρεξη!

However, before I leave, I like to link things up a bit.
Since I found those Kritharakin in my pantry, this goes to the December Pantry Party at The Law Student's Cookbook

Then I like to link this Moussaka up for Javelin Warrior's Made With Love Monday ... although it is Wednesday.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pass me that chorizo ... eh ... we are having a chorizo stew

As far as I see things, I am going to need a lot of comfort in the coming weeks, but never mind I'm going to manage it ... somehow!
No, I don't want to start this kind of talk again.
A few weeks ago I read a lovely recipe on How to be a Gourmand from Jacqueline. It was a recipe for a Chorizo, Tomato and Chilli Bean Stew. Well, I thought, by myself, that is a very lovely recipe I should give a try ... and I forgot about it.
Anyway, as I have the custom to buy chorizo when I see it - that is, if I don't have any at home - I happen to have chorizo at home, most of the time.
Naturally then, as the days became colder, I came up with preparing a chorizo stew, not having any recipe ready as I went.

Well, if you read a lot, you can get a lot of ideas and inspiration. What are your favourite sources of inspiration? Don't be shy! Let me know.
But first of all pass me that chorizo ... eh ... we are having a chorizo stew ...

A good splash of olive oil
300 g chorizo, sliced
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 cl sherry
400 g tinned tomatoes
2-3 fresh red chillies, finely chopped (who cares about the seeds ...)
400 g potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
A bunch of flat-leaved parsley
Salt and pepper

All the chopping is done and hopefully you haven't hurt yourself. Fine!
Then we can go ahead.
Heat up the olive oil in an appropriately sized pan and then add the slices of the chorizo. Let it go for a while until the chorizo pieces get a bit of colour.
Toss in the onions and the garlic and let them give your kitchen a nice touch of garlic in the air. Get the sherry ready. Reserve some for drinking later, but add 3 cl of the sherry to the stew and let a bit of it cook away.
After that it's time to pour in the tomatoes and if you like a bit more liquid comfort to soak up with bread, add some extra water.
While we are at it, we throw in the potatoes and the chillies as well ... don't be shy.
Bring it to the boil, cover it with a lid, reduce the heat and let it cook for 30 minutes.
As time goes by, remove the lid, chop the stalks of the parsley and put it in the stew and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
Serve it with parsley on top together with a nice bread to tuck into the comforting stew.
Dig in!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Torta de Almendras for #BloggersAroundTheWorld

"Better days are coming for you ..." Those are the words coming from the speakers of my stereo right this moment where I start writing this together. I hope so!
On the other hand ... ('... four fingers and a thumb' - a friend used to say) ... if I would trust the weather forecast, all this needs to remain a dream for the distant future ...
Well, I don't even need a weather forecast to tell me things, I can already gather it from the calender that winter is just around the corner. It's just a matter of time before it happens ... (don't even like to think about it) ...
I already asked my doctor to prescribe me some sun, but it was to no avail, although I guess it would be cheaper than the other things he is prescribing me. Well, you can't argue with an expert ...
As to the sun for a few days now it's just elusive, but hope isn't ready to die yet. The same holds true for me, but I shall rather say that the situation isn't that bad altogether (... but enough already).

It's time to connect to our subject: Spain ... I would connect that directly with sun. Again memories come up of a distant warmth, memories of Barcelona, memories of Mallorca.
At least there is still the licor de almendra in the bar. We can work with that.
A word for caution though: alcohol is no solution, but then again, no alcohol isn't either.
Do not be worried, though, we are just using it for our Torta de Almendras - almond tart.
It seems to be very popular in Andalusia ... at least that is what my Spanish cook book Spanish Cooking from Cornelia Rosales de Molino claims.
I adapted the recipe a bit ... hm ... maybe a bit more and that not only to accomodate my licor de almendra.

Here we go ... If we cannot have the sun, we at least are having some pieces of Torta de Almendras ...

For the short crust pastry:
200 g flour
60 g sugar
100 g butter
1 egg
1 tbs milk
Pinch of salt
Few splashes of lemon juice

For the almond filling:
150 g ground almonds (if you ground your almonds yourself, you might get an even better aroma)
4 eggs
60 g sugar
4 tbs licor de almendra (or similar)
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt

Some sliced almonds for topping

What shall I say? Oh, yes, of course, how to prepare the cake.
We start with the short crust pastry by carefully kneading together all it's ingredients. Yes, that's all that is to it. Shape the ready dough to a ball and (don't play ball with it) place it into the fridge for about half an hour.
I went to the dentist during that time period, which sadly took me longer then that just mentioned half hour.
On with the almond filling. No, you don't get that one at a dentist! I didn't get any other filling either. Nevertheless, a visit to the dentist is in the lower section of my top 1000000.
Almond filling! Back on track!
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Then cream the egg yolks with the sugar and add the ground almonds and the licor afterwards. Don't forget the lemon zest.
We give our attention to the egg whites now. Add a pinch of salt. Now it's time to get them stiff. Either, you let out all you aggressions and beat them that way with a hand whisk or ... you use an electrical one and safe your energy.
As I didn't make it to my exercise at the gym this week (naughty boy) I had to go for the manual method ... oh, that feels so good. Really? Whatever!
Carefully (again) fold in the beaten egg whites into the almond mix.
Heat up your oven to 220°C. 
Then roll out your dough to fit it to an approximately 26 cm round cake tin. Don't forget to remove the dough from the fridge first for doing that.
Once the dough is in the tin, which you hopefully greased and papered before, make sure the dough goes a bit upwards towards the borders of the tin. Then pour over the almond mix, toss over some extra sliced almonds and then transfer your tin to the oven for 30 minutes.
Keep an eye on the cake after about half the time. If it gets too dark, it might not help to turn on the light ... Obviously I was referring to the cake. You can protect it with a piece of aluminium foil over it.
After the cake is finished at least leave it some time to cool before you go for it.
The sun might not be conjured up by this, but ... it is at least something.
Anyway, this month it's time for Bloggers Around the World with Spanish recipes or at least Spanish inspired ones.

Maybe a few more recipes will help. Just feel free to join. You are very welcome!
Well, I better have some cake then: Torta de Almendras, to be specific.
The chorizo has to wait until dinner.
Hmmm, maybe because I'm such a winter wimp I should consider changing location ...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ga xao dau phong - Stir-fried Chicken & Peanuts

In my last post I wrote you about a cheesecake with lemongrass and carrots and ginger and things. I have to tell you something ...
... I ate it all up and I enjoyed it. Might need to think about some exercise, though. I guess taking the rubbish outside will not suffice.
However, that was not my original intention. No, I'm not talking about taking out the rubbish, nor was I talking about eating the cake. Whatsoever, you can't know what's on my mind unless I tell you clearly. I on the other hand can't tell you clearly, if I didn't arrange things clearly in my mind.
Ahhhh, forget about the last few sentences. I try again!
Originally I bought ginger and lemongrass for some Asian cooking. I go myself a Vietnamese cookbook called Vietnamese Bible by Jacki Passmore. I thought I could try a few recipes. So when I was out shopping I brought home some lemongrass and ginger ... that might come in handy ... or not ... or whatever.
Here is what I tried from the book.

That's called 'Ga xao dau phong' or in English 'Stir-fried Chicken & Peanuts'.
I have a lovely rice cooker at home. So I don't have to worry so much about the rice. Just wash and rinse it and then put it on cooking. When it's finished, it switches automatically to 'keeping warm'.
The rest you could just call fresh fast food. Apart from cutting the chicken breast into pieces and the spring onions into rings, the rest goes faster then you could warm up an instant meal in the microwave.
Once your pan or wok is heated up to high heat, you add some peanut oil and then stir-fry your pieces of chicken for four minutes. Then you add some fish sauce, the spring onions, some roasted peanuts and a few red chillies (which you have cut in rings as well ... sorry, I forgot to mention). Maybe some salt and pepper and ...

... eat! Right, you could of course add also some fresh coriander leaves, which I obviously did, although it was not mentioned in the original recipe.
On top of it, if you make more rice, you still have some left to experiment a bit ... I did some sushi rolls afterwards to get the opportunity to let some wasabi climb up my nose. That is very ... nice.
I only remember still when I tried wasabi the first time. "You have to use a fair good portion on your Sushi!" ... I'm glad I survived. Since then I use it only in moderation. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake

I was thinking ... yes, for a change ... and it came to my mind ... right, I haven't lost it completely ... that there was this lovely blog hop I used to join in once in a while. It is called The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, in short SABH.
The SABH is presented by Delicieux, The Hungry Australian, Dining With a Stud, The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader, and 84th & 3rd. I had a look and ... the theme for this month is cake and three veg.
Here I am now, somehow I have to bake a cake with veg in it. The only things that come to my mind are carrots and beetroot in a cake ... that is, a sweet cake. If you have a look at the other blogs later (as would be recommended) you see how inventive others have been.
After some research through various books and taken the ingredients I have at home I came to this: Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake.

Well, lemongrass is used as a herb in the Asian cuisine and you for sure wouldn't call it a veg. What about the veg then? I used carrots. In fact you could call this cake also: Lemongrass-Lime-Ginger-Carrot-Chocolate-Cheesecake.
However, that would not sound as intriguing as the name I came up with friends from the net. I try this cake exclusively for this Blog Hop. I have no experiences with it, as I never did it before. We will see, how things end up. So, let's do Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake. 
Ready, set, bake ...

Ingredients, here they come:
Cake base:
300 g flour
14 g baking powder
Pinch of salt 
1 tbs cocoa powder
50 g brown sugar
100 g of carrots
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
150 g yogurt
2 tbs of vegetable oil
2 eggs or 4 egg whites

Cheese topping:
400 g cream cheese
100 g sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs milk
1 stalk of lemongrass
Zest of one lime

Chocolate topping:
100 g 25 g of chocolate (I thought I needed more, but I didn't)

How the experimenting went:
First of all we like to concentrate on the cake dough.
I mixed all dry ingredients together in one bowl, that is sifted the flour with the baking powder in, added the brown sugar and cocoa powder, and, not to forget, the pinch of salt.
Then I concentrated on the other ingredients with a different bowl. I put in the yogurt and the oil. Time for grating ...
The carrots and the ginger were grated to the yogurt. The oil and the eggs (or egg whites) joined. A little bit of mixing was due then.
It's time for the contents of both bowls to join forces together. Therefore I added the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and ... of course ... mixed everything together into a brown and sticky dough.
Already before all that, I had a spring tin form greased. This was ready now to receive the dough ... sometimes, though, I wish afterwards I had used baking paper, but ... I didn't.
With a rubber spatula I tried to level things out and once that was accomplished more or less, the cake went to the oven for 10 minutes at 200°C.

That 10 minutes is exactly the time I wanted to use to prepare the cheese topping.
No need to panic! Really?
We just have to mix all the ingredients for the cheese topping together. Well, not exactly. The lemongrass needs chopping up, as fine as possible. Of course, I didn't forget to grate in the zest of the lime.
10 minutes over. I made it!

I removed the cake from the oven and turned up the heat to 225°C.
Now the cheese topping goes onto the cake ... on top. Oh, oh, it seems quite liquidish. Will it set properly? No worries, we will see.
Back goes the cake into the oven for 15 minutes. Then the heat is reduced to 125°C and the cake stays in the oven for another 30 minutes.

After that the cake needs cooling down and somehow we have to figure out to remove it from the tin without destroying it again ... hard job.
Anyway, I couldn't even wait properly for the cake to cool down. It was getting late. I wanted to eat the cake at a proper cake time ... what nonsense am I talking ... cake time could be anytime.
Whatsoever, I grated some chocolate over the cake. Somehow it melted partways, but i wasn't bothered. After all I had to take some pictures and have cake.

What would you say? Will such a cake taste nice, delicious, wonderful, or whatever good?
It did! You will not be disappointed.
Although now, it was the first time I tried this cake, I can only say, it's worth a try ...

 Now back to the SABH ...

SABH November - Cake & three Veg

I hope you enjoyed the Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake!
For sure you will enjoy the other entries ...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Secrets of a French Baker and Random Recipe

Can you keep a secret? I can and that's why I'm not telling it to you. Therefore this very secret has to remain as it is ... hidden in some dark corners of the mind. Well, I don't know whether it is that dark back there.
After that being said and done ... done? We haven't done a thing!
Anyway, we can go into business now. Not that kind of business. Let's talk Random Recipes. Here a brief preview before we go into details ...

This month it was Dom's idea from Belleau Kitchen to connect the random recipe to the participants individual birthdays.
As in the case with Dom I was born on the 24th. The month has to remain a secret (again).
That fact would lead in my case to the book Confessions of a French Baker by Peter Mayle and Gerard Auzet.
I already did quite a deal from this book. Originally I planned to try every single recipe from it and post about it. Somehow, I didn't continue at one point.
However, time to open the book at a random page.
No, I think it's not right, if you have a bookmark in it. The book would open automatically at this page. Therefore I have to use the randomizer again for that.
So, try again!
No, I did that one already. Another go is necessary.
Had that one as well. But I know there are still some recipes in that book, which I didn't try.
The randomizer has to roll again and ... 
... and ...
... and ...
.... and what?
Oh, something I didn't try so far, although the methods of preparation are quite similar.
Here we go for it then: Onion-White-Wine-Bread.
We need about 450 g of different flours, half strong wheat flour and the other one spelt. Of course we need onions.
They are first browned in butter and then deglazed with the white wine ... set to the side.
Now we are ready for the 'lovely' part. Sifting the flour into a bowl ... pinch of salt ... dried yeast over it. Have some nice clean hands ready. Pour in a mixture of fat from the pan (without the onions), white wine and water (altogether 300 ml).
It's time to use those nice clean hands and knead everything to a lump of dough, which might well look like this ...

... rest for 10 minutes to get ready for the real action. In fact, it is just the dough that needs the rest, hopefully not the baker, or otherwise he won't make it till the end.
We have to activate the gluten in the dough now. That means some vigorous kneading for about 20 minutes. If that isn't exercise again. 
Somehow I so often end up with those kneading jobs for random recipes ...
After we made it through the kneading, we add the previously mentioned onions.

Then we leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes. In connection with yeast I found it always useful to put a damp kitchen cloth over the bowl, where the dough is rising. If need be, now would be good to rest ... but there are always things to do ...
... don't get too lazy. Carefully take the dough from the bowl and make two smaller lumps out of it. Set them on a kitchen cloth covered lightly with flour ...

... and cover with the damp cloth again for 25 minutes.
Once that time has passed again, take those lumps and flatten them. At the same time you get out the gas from the dough. Try to get the dough into a rectangular shape.

Then fold at the long side towards the middle as you hopefully can see in the following picture ...

... and finally you fold the other side towards the middle. With the folding edge facing down place the bread shaped dough back on the floured kitchen towel. Cover it once more.
Leave things for another 45 minutes.
What would you do with 45 minutes?
Having spent the time hopefully in a productive way again it's time to heat up the oven to 230°C. Get your bread onto a baking tray with the folding edge downwards as well.
Brush the bread with water. The water is a vital key to get a nice and crispy crust.

Slash the bread quickly with a knife in a candy kind of shape. Before you put your bread into the oven, spray some water into your oven to get some extra steam for the crust.
Then put your tray into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Let the bread cool down a bit before you devour it. Maybe you have a soup or stew ready for that.
That's it! I hope I didn't reveal any secrets here. Anyway, it has been nice again to have a part in random recipes this month ...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Breaking Kale - Part 3 - Bell Peppers Stuffed with Kale Risotto

'Why does rubbish always have to come in three parts?'
That quote is from a computer game series - long time ago - that brought us the following as well: 'I once owned a dog that was smarter then you.' - 'He must have taught you everything you know.'
No worries, when you never have heard of this. It doesn't matter, has no bearing on the following anyway. I'm not going to teach you how to be quick on the comeback.
Let's rather focus on the 'Part 3' part.
A few days ago I brought you kale with smoked pork sausages. It wasn't all eaten up.
Then I brought you risotto with kale and smoked pork sausages. It wasn't all eaten up either.
Now I bring you ...

... bell peppers stuffed with risotto al kale and smoked pork sausages. Was it all eaten up?
We will see.
Is it a recipe? Well, what do I have to say. It's too simple. You just take some bell peppers and execute them by cutting them in halves and removing all the seeds from the inside.
Now you simply throw in your risotto ... eh ... fill your halves of bell pepper with some of the risotto. If you haven't got leftover kale risotto, obviously you can't do it. He he! 
Of course you could attempt a different version with a different risotto, but that consequently would be ... different.
Nevertheless, as you have arranged the bell peppers with the risotto in an oven-proof dish, place some bacon on top of every bell pepper half.

You might want to pour over some olive oil and then place it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180°C. 
After waiting that much time for your food, you just take it out, place it on a plate, sprinkle some parsley over it and maybe add some more olive oil.
Was it all eaten up?
Yes, it was this time. So we are not going to see THAT kale again and we don't have to think about another recipe and there will not be a part 4, although it was no rubbish.
Oh, I could have cut it into small pieces and have it on puff pastry, but ... that doesn't have to be now.
Maybe we go further with another dish next time and have more then 3 parts. What experiences do you have with leftovers? How far did you get, that is how often did you have to re-arrange the leftovers of the leftover?

Now still something else in connection with the photograph at the outset.

This was the first shot.

Then I added olive oil.

Somehow my camera didn't seem to like that, so I had to set the white balancing to another mode.

Or which of the three pictures looks best according to you?