Thursday, 28 June 2012

Pad Tua Ngorg - Fried Bean Sprouts


Somehow I am in a bad mood today!
At times things can really make you freak out. Don’t know!?!
What now? Slamming doors? Breaking plates and glasses? Kicking at things? Knocking the head against the wall again and again? Or worse … ?

NO! I don’t think so! It’s not worth it and for sure I would be going to regret it (replacing all the broken things and not even thinking about the headache from meeting the wall …)!

Let’s rather go to the kitchen and cook something nice!

Already before (that is before the bad mood hit me) I had decided to go for Thai food (I still had some leftover bean sprouts). That’s why I’m having Pad Tua Ngorg today.
What you don’t understand? OK, fine: fried bean sprouts (you could have guessed that as well).

“When you eat bamboo shoots, think of the man, who planted them.” This is what a Chinese proverb says. Oh, well, Chinese? We are going to cook Thai. Anyway, bamboo shoots aren’t featured here either.
Fine! Something else: “It is against God’s will to eat a delicious meal quickly.” That’s what Chang Ch’ao said. Hm, sorry, he is, eh, was Chinese also! However, that would at least be fitting.
Wait, wait, one more! “Never eat yellow snow!” Sorry again! That’s what an Innuit mother would say to her children.

Never mind! Forget all the things I mentioned so far!

Rather we are going to steam some rice, 250 g to be exactly. First wash it and then bring it with 600 ml of water to boil. Only make sure the pot is large enough … which I didn’t do (adding only sligthly to the irritation …). I try to behave – no worries! Boil it for three minutes, turn down the heat to lowest possible, cover, leave for 20 minutes, remove from heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes – voilà!
By the way, steamed rice you would call Kaau Sue.

Here now the details for the fried bean sprouts (OK, I didn’t have that many bean sprouts available).

300 g bean sprouts (which I obviously didn’t use – no worries)
100 g lean pork
100 g peeled prawns
Oil for frying
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Half a teaspoon (no, don’t break the spoon – forget it) of sugar

Wash your bean sprouts (no matter how many you are using). Did I mention, they are high in protein as well. Just a side sort – don’t get distracted.
Cut your (lean) pork into stripes. If you like, you can make an effort to cut it really thin.
Heat up the oil and fry the garlic a while – that is until golden (or so). Add the pork – all the time stirring (I like stirring things up sometimes! :-) Oh, was that a smile? I guess mood is already improving! Good!). When the meat is cooked through, add the prawns – stirring – a few seconds – stirring – season with sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and pepper, pepper, pepper, pepper … OK, enough! Throw in some chillies cut in rings, if you like.
Now the main characters (if you have enough) come: the bean sprouts. Keep stirring for another 3 minutes.
Should it be the case that you see any chance of doing something in between before the rice is finished, you can whip up a Yam Tdääng Gwaa (cucumber salad) – only if you see a chance, of course.

Plate it all up!

Or some more?

Or with some soy sauce?

Did you like it? Anyone for seconds? Yep, I go for it!
That’s it. There is still some rice left. I’m nice (contrary to how it may have appeared at the outset) and share a bit of it with Lucy, who takes it happily.
Still there is rice left!
Here comes an attempt to build a rice tower …

… sadly it didn’t last long enough to be captured on photo.

Nevertheless, the mood has improved greatly! Just to make sure that things are fine, I add some chocolate …

Monday, 25 June 2012

Random Recipe: Grilled Mackerel with Pomelo Salad

Do you like fish? What about Grilled Mackerel with Pomelo Salad? Now it happens to be that mackarel is extremely high in vitamin B12 and omega-3 (the good fatty thing – remember?). So this good be, well, extremely healthy for you, and for me of course (oh, why is it then that I eat so little fish?).

The main reason, though, for having fish today is the BelleauKitchen’s bloggers challenge: ‘random recipes’. Well, the deadline is coming closer, and … I had some time to do shopping today.

How do we end up with fish then for today … exactly.
The first step was to randomly select a cookbook from my collection (no cheating). To verify (sort of) that I didn’t cheat, here is my special randomiser.

As you see here, the rolled number is 46. Now it happens to be, I have a list of all my cookbooks (you can even check it here).

This is the one: Supper with Rosie. It’s quite new in my collection. I only got it last month and you can have a guess where I got it, when you look at this old blog post. So far I have only tried to of the recipes and was satisfied. But then I didn’t choose these recipes randomly.
This month the theme of the challenge is “the middle”. Going to the middle of Supper with Rosie we get: Grilled Mackerel with Pomelo Salad (you have guessed this already – oh wait – no guessing necessary – I told you already). Well, it would have taken QUITE A WHILE before I would have chosen that recipe on purpose. I don’t work (eh … cook) so often with fish (but really should do more).
Let’s get to business then!

Oh no! Just a minor interruption – the neighbour’s dog is invading! Can happen sometimes …

… everything under control again!

This recipe involves some pomelo (obviously), beansprouts, limes, peanuts, spring onions, chilli (oh, great!!!), a few other things and … who would have guessed … of course, those ones here …

First the salad. Peeling the pomelo, and doing it right, is not the kind of business I would appreciate on a regular basis.
Before I forget, I had to do tiny little changes to the recipe, because I didn’t want to travel all over the place to get all the different ingredients (one shop has to be enough for today), but I promise, you won’t even notice, even if you check the recipe for yourself.
Fine, I mention a thing, I didn’t bother buying (although recommended by Rosie): fired shallots. I simply thought, I might fry them myself. What do I know, whether this tastes the same or similar. It was fine for me. By the way, they were for finishing up the salad as was some mint, which I grabbed from the garden.
All in all the recipe combines some light and fresh flavours with the heat of chilli all in an Asian kind of way (oh, fish sauce and soy sauce take part). Concerning the chilli, Rosie says: “This is brilliantly HOT.” However, if you exchange the red bird’s eye chillies with a slightly less hot version, you could make it.
The mackerels are brushed with the soy sauce and go under the grill. There is this function of my oven, but I guess, I haven’t made use of it, if I remember right. Therefore I wasn’t quite sure whether the fish would turn out right (after all I’m no fish expert either). BUT, no worries!

Everything worked out well! I devoured the dish with gusto. Well, I ate it in a civilized kind of way still. And … what shall I tell you … I might try it again. This was a good one.
You see! Sometimes you need a little extra help to do something good for you.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Life without Cheese

Can you imagine that? A life without cheese.
Actor Kirk Douglas once said: “I could never live without dogs.” Or even better what the German actor Heinz Rühmann had to say: “Of course you could live without a dog, but it’s not worth it.” It went somehow like that (of course only in German). Well, that is a good one (I like dogs, too). I would apply it to cheese as well. 
A life without cheese would be like Pride and Prejudice without Mr Darcy. 

Right, there is the case of lactose intolerance, which limits the subject of cheese, but still there are lactose free cheeses.
Now, let things work a bit in your mind …

… did you let the thoughts flow properly on that subject?

So, just to start it off with an easy one. What would a pizza be without cheese?

OK, I have a good friend, he doesn’t like cheese. He does without, but for me it doesn’t make sense.
Of course, I love cheese!
Going on! Having a nice dish of pasta, what do you do to top it up before eating: grate some Parmesan cheese over it.

You can forget about cheese cakes, if you don’t have cheese.
How often do you find Cheddar or Stilton in Cornish Pasty? I love it.
What about Roquefort cheese in a salad?
Can you do tzatziki without any kind of cheese? I couldn’t manage.
Being in France and having no cheese – that would be ridiculous. A cheese course is absolutely necessary. I personally appreciate also an evening with a bottle of red wine, nice cheese and a baguette – lovely.
You for sure would be able to add many more dishes to the list, where you wouldn’t want to go without cheese.
Something “Say cheese” is used by photographers who want their subject to smile – you see, cheese makes you smile.
Would Wallace and Gromit work without cheese?
If there was no cheese, something would be missing also from the French movie Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis – Maroilles seems to be a nice cheese.
Back to food and the preparation of it. Just the other day I made cheese and fennel muffins with Jarlsberg cheese. 

The recipe I got from the book Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking … Scandilicious from Signe Johansen (maybe I will write a bit more about it at another time).
They were so delicious and … obviously wouldn’t work without cheese either … Fennel and Something Muffins (hm, whatever that something would be).
Indeed, it would be a very grim outlook, not to have cheese.
Cheddar, Wensleydale, Red Leicester, Gouda, Edam, Leerdam, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Havarti, Greyezer, Scamorza, Haloumi, Fourme d’Ambert, St. Nectaire, Manchego, Roquefort, Parmesan, St. Aigur, Feta, Mozzarella, sheep cheese, goat cheese, curd cheese, cream cheese, Jarlsberg, Brunost, camembert, Brie, Emmenthal, Comte, Ricotta, Cantal, Allgäuer, Bergkäse … and we could go on and on and on (there could be around 5000 different cheeses – for sure I can’t list them all here).

Somewhere around in that city (Paris, if you don’t notice from the picture), there is a shop that sells 300 different kinds of cheese.
When I was visiting Cheddar with some friends, we had the chance to go for some cheese testing. Oh … that was great … if you have the chance, don’t miss that opportunity.

It happens to be the case, that I still have some sheep cheese left in the fridge …
Already a few days ago I used some of it to stuff some red peppers, which I roasted in a griddle pan.

But here now comes the deal:

Pastry bags with sheep cheese filling or as you may say in Turkey: Peynirli Börek

For the filling:
250 g sheep cheese
1 egg
Chopped parsley
Some chopped chili (if you like – I added it just for safety reason)

For the dough (yes, you’re right I’m a person, who likes recipes with dough):
500 g flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 egg
200 ml milk with a splash of lemon
200 g butter
100 ml lukewarm water

Mix the ingredients for the filling and put to the side.
Let’s do the dough!
Sift the flour together with the baking powder to a bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and add the egg, milk, butter, and water. Give it a pinch of salt and then … go for it! Yes, don’t be shy (only make sure you have some extra flour ready in case it gets too sticky). Work the ingredients until you get a homogeneous (simply wanted to use the word – you could say “doughy” as well) dough.
Now you can start pre-heating your oven to … let’s say 170°C (of course you have cleaned your hands for this) and have a floured baking tray ready.
Separate the dough into egg size pieces (have an extra egg ready for reference). I ended up with about, no, exactly 16.
Flatten these egg sized pieces (No, I didn’t say you should form them, so that they look like eggs, did I.). Have a tablespoon of the cheese filling in the middle of each and fold them together and seal them tightly. If you have any leftover filling or dough, you did something wrong (or your spoon had the wrong size – be ready to blame someone else, but not me).
Once ready, having placed all “böreks” on the baking tray, you could brush them with egg wash (using the reference egg) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I didn’t bother with the egg wash, though, this time, but it should give a nice colour to it (brown in this case, although you might use white eggs).
Have them in your oven for 30 minutes or until they look right (that is before they smell wrong).
If you have done everything right, you can enjoy them afterwards with a nice salad (that is where I went wrong – I didn’t have a salad – forgot it).

That’s it then (Did you check the picture, whether I really had 16?) ! I don’t want a life without cheese.
What about you? What is your favourite cheese? Let us know!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lavender and Honey Pancakes

Around this time it should be the season for the lavender to turn Provence purple. So far I didn't have the chance to witness it myself. I was around at the wrong time of the year. Nevertheless it's very pretty around Provence. Mainly we did hiking and exploring villages and ruins.

Nature is always working at winning territory back. Somewhere around the neighbourhood here I saw even a house with a car next to it, where plants started to crawl up on the car (obviously not used recently).
However before looking around at the above shown ruin, there was a warning sign: "Dangereux ..." something. Rocks could fall on your head and snakes could bite you. None of these happened, though. Luckily! Although, my friend, I sometimes call him "Nougat" (you might know him already from one of my older posts: Chocolate Marzipan Cake), somehow attracts danger and things happen to him. But not this time.

I also very much like those villages resting gently at the slopes of the hill. Whatsoever, I have no photo with lavender for you - at least not from France.
The one in my garden, doesn't look to good either.

The lavender of the neighbours looks much much better at the moment. However, I am glad that it survived winter (-15°C), although it didn't look like that. I would never dare to give up on my plants. It's over when it's over!
Back to lavender! To a large extent, lavender in Provence is used to make perfume and soap. Apart from that, lavender is also part of the well known herbs of the Provence, together with hyssop, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, fennel, thyme, and savory. There are many more ways to use lavender. According to my herbs encyclopaedia, it can calm you down or help against cramps when you use it in your bath. Furthermore it helps against nervousness, stomach problems, sleeping problems, headache, stress symptoms, moths (doesn't quite fit at this point, but ... whatever), and when you have problems concentrating.
For that (concentrating) briefly cook one tablespoon of lavender buds with half a litre wine and let cool down. Have a small glass of it before and after your meal. I said a small one. It's medicine, not for getting you drunk.
Well, then, you can use lavender buds also directly for cooking. That is what I wanted to do today for breakfast. The Internet planted the idea in my brain some days ago. So when I fell out of bed this morning, my first thought was: LAVENDER!
Let's do some Lavender and Honey Pancakes.

I don't want to give you a list of ingredients, but we do it again as we go, because it is quite simple.
Have a small bowl ready (this will do for 1-2 persons). Crack one egg to it and add a pinch of salt. Fill a mug (or large cup) with flour and try to remember how much you took after you added it to your bowl.
Use the same cup and fill it to the same level with milk. Give the milk a splash of lemon juice (a good thing to do when you have no buttermilk in the house).
Add a half to a whole teaspoon of dried lavender buds (depending on taste) to your bowl, but beware, the taste can get quite strong. So if you are not sure, take less. You can add more later or next time.
After you had the milk working a bit, pour it into the bowl (including those bits that started to form). Now to complete the batter use 2-4 teaspoons of runny honey. Whisk things through well.
Then you can bake your pancakes with a drop of oil at high heat in your pan. When things dry nearly completely up at the top, you can turn your pancake. For the other side you have to guess when it's ready, but it will not be too long.

Serve it with some yogurt and extra honey and lavender buds. If you are greedy, you will eat them all alone. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least this is what some say.
However, that would be a different subject.
Enjoy your Lavender and Honey pancakes and maybe one day you will have the chance to see the lavender flowering in Provence.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Pizza and DVD

The sun is shining ... probably somewhere else!
Although it is quite early in the morning, the sun shouldn't have any problems with shining here as well. After all it's supposed to be summer. No worries!
Whatsoever, this should not deter me from doing ... things!
Well, sometimes I have a craving for pizza. Some have it even for breakfast. It's possible. But I wouldn't think about it in the moment. I have no pizza ready and doing from scratch would involve some time - time I don't have in the morning. I need my breakfast, when I get up.
I just like to tell you a bit about pizza. I have made pizza before, but when I got hold of Jamie Oliver's book The naked Chef, things changed completely in that department. From that on I really love making pizza at home and completely reject to buy frozen pizza.
Some things, that helped to improve:
1. the usage of strong baking flour together with semolina for the dough
2. a damp cloth over the dough for rising
3. have patience for the rising - over an hour
4. don't have to much as a topping on your pizza 
5. using mozzarella cheese on pizza
6. bake the pizza at full vac at  the bottom position in your oven
Just a few thoughts in that regard.
A simple pizza after baking topped with some Parma ham, speck, or something that way and with rocket leaves. Finished with a drizzle of lemon and some olive oil.

Cut to pieces ...

If you like, or have too much dough, easily you can turn things into something else, like focaccia.

So far concerning pizza. What about the DVD in the blog title? It just sprang to my mind.
DVD is the abbreviation for Digital Versatile Disc. I had to do with those lately a lot at work and most probably will have today as well.
However, it has little to do with what else I like to write about, apart from the word "Versatile". I have been nominated for "The Versatile Blogger" award by Ashlee from ABpetite. What shall I say? Did I just blush? Oh, anyway. A big thank you goes to Ashlee and of course to all those who spare some time to stop by and have a read of those things that stream from my mind and out of my kitchen.

Here are the rules of this award:  
1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.  
2. Include a link to their site.  
3. Include the award image to your post.  
4. Include the award image on your blog.  
5. Give 7 random facts about yourself.  
6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
7. When nominating other bloggers, include links to their sites.  
8. Let those bloggers know they have been nominated.

Well, I guess then, it's time to tell you some random facts about me.
1. I like to get up early in the morning.
2. If it would be possible, I would move to a different place every three years.
3. I'm not living by the sea, although I would love to.
4. I have to force myself every week to the gym (any suggestions for more fun exercise?)
5. Yes, the dog is allowed to sleep in the bed.
6. I would rather work instead of using the car, but walking 40 km to work every day would be too much.
7. A day without cooking is somehow hard.

I tell you, this post is going to be the "list"-post, for now comes the list of the 15 bloggers I nominate. The order is completely random and is no ranking. I just nominate them as they come to my mind.

Here we go:

I have enjoyed reading from those blogs. There are so many many many, yes, many good and cool blogs out there. You are all doing a good job, a very good one. So have a look!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu

What is this now? Tiramisu again? Hm … yes, why not!
The Scottish Whisky Cake went down well. I guess I had too much whisky then, or not enough? Whatsoever, one leads to another. All this and fantasising together with some workmates (who enjoyed most of the cake) about what else to do with whisky, the Irish coffee tiramisu came up.

Good then I had all the desired ingredients at home! How about the name?
I was limping between Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu and Killarney Irish Coffee Tiramisu. Apart from Dublin, lush green fields and hills and sheep, these are the places come to my mind when thinking about Ireland. Although staying only brief, these towns stayed in my mind. By the way, there is a nice hotel across the road near Muckross House.
Is maith liom Gaillihm. Galway, the largest city on the west coast of Ireland, is a lovely place. Sometimes it is called the gateway to the rough west of Ireland. From here it’s not far to the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara is also around. 

It's not too far to the Burren national park either. What about a Burren decoration for the tiramisu ... a rough one? Na, I don't know.

You like castles or other ruins? Dunguaire Castle.

Or just cruising along the coast ...

... whatever ...

... time would be missing, if I would start to bubble over with explanations and memories from Ireland. There is some good music coming from Ireland, too, though.
Anyway, we are going to have some Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu, and you are not going to regret it. I didn’t! After all we are not doing a Guinness Tiramisu (imagine that – or better not).
Let’s leave those old ruins alone and let the sheep graze alone on their meadows …

Tar isteach! Suigh sios!

200 g shortbread fingers (no worries, if you feel it’s rather Scottish)
250 g mascarpone (which would be rather Italian)
150 g double cream
100 ml sweetened hot coffee (maybe two teaspoons of sugar)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 more teaspoons of sugar
4 cl of Irish whisky (here we go)
Cocoa powder or grated chocolate (enough – ha ha ha)

Method (more or less):
Good! I hope, I didn’t forget to mention anything. Ah, you won’t notice anyway, if I add it afterwards (it’s not really live blogging now).
Have a medium sized bowl ready (about 20 x 20 cm or a bit smaller). Ha, when a square bowl would be better, I’m using a round one, and the other way around. What’s wrong with me?
Let’s go on! Line the base of your bowl with the shortbread. If your bowl is too small, you have to start a second layer or simply it up the leftover shortbread fingers.
Mix half of the whisky into your coffee and pour it  over the fingers (not yours, but the shortbread ones) get soaked. In the first go, I used the double amount of coffee. This didn’t look right.
Leave the shortbread fingers enough time to drink up as much of the coffee as possible. Use that time to whisk together the mascarpone, double cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and the remaining whisky. Should it still be too thick, I fear, you have to use a bit more whisky.
Said and done! Now you have to spoon this cream over the soaked shortbread fingers. However, if you like some extra chocolate kick (why shouldn't you?), you can grate some chocolate over here before you add the cream. I hope for you, it works well. I managed somehow, more or less – still suffering from too much coffee in the bowl.
Then you can ice the tiramisu with enough cocoa powder. According to your mood you can try to have it decorated with putting “things” on the tiramisu before icing. I tried it.
Place the finished (or nearly finished) tiramisu to your fridge and let it cool down a bit. Afterwards, a lot of self-discipline, was needed not to finish the whole bowl all by myself. The buttery taste of the shortbread … yum … the push of the coffee … yum … and the fragrant hint of the whisky … delish! Well, you have to taste it yourself – again – to get a full picture of the taste.
But beware, as you may know that mascarpone is high in fat, as is double cream. No worries!

You may see a bodhrán in the background of the picture, however, this doesn't mean I know how to play it well. Then there might be something else, you recognize on here (no, I don't mean the clover-like decoration on the tiramisu). 
On the bohrán you can spot a Claddagh symbol. The significance of this you can find out for yourself. Somehow, I placed it in the picture in a way, showing, that I very much like this tiramisu. Moreover, this Claddagh symbol has a romantic background, but what do I know about these things!


Now I like to submit this post also to We should Cocoa, which is hosted this month by Lucy of The KitchenMaid.

Slán agat!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Fiery Veggie Lasagna

The sun, I for sure saw it for a change, it came out! What a day! This really makes a difference and enhances the mood for sure, I would say. Good for me!
I was in the mood for cooking some old things new, well, for experimenting, or recreating things in the kitchen. The following recipe I tried already ages ago. At this point I decided to bring it back to my mind and adjust it a bit (you won’t notice anyway).

Now, it doesn’t happen to be the case, that I am vegetarian, but I don’t have a problem cooking without meat. Hm, anyway, I can remember the times when meat was just something for Sundays. Something like that would have saved a lot of lives …
Where were we? Good, cooking!

Anyway, here goes, as far as I am concerned a quite good vegetable dish:

Ingredients (2-4 persons):
For the stewed vegetables:
One onion
One large carrot
2 small red peppers
2 small green peppers
400 ml of tinned tomatoes
100 ml of chili sauce
One small courgette
One spring onion
Three stalks of thyme
One stalk of oregano
Olive oil
Salt, pepper

For the spelt pancakes:
One mug of spelt flour
One mug of milk (same mug as before)
One egg
Pinch of salt

For the cheese sauce:
50 g feta cheese
100 g double cream or crème fraîche
50 g grated Gouda (or whatever cheese you prefer or have – Cheddar would be cool)

100 g extra grated Gouda

To start the whole thing we are doing something, that, if you were Italian, would call soffrito. This is the base. Heat up some olive oil at low heat and add the chopped onion and carrot. Let it cook for a while to soften them up. Ten minutes should do.
Whilst that happens you can already prepare the batter for the pancakes, by mixing all the mentioned ingredients together thoroughly.
Then we are ready to add the cut peppers (cut them in small bite size pieces you want them). Cook it together for another five minutes before you add the tinned tomatoes and the chili sauce. Fill the tin of the tomatoes halfway with water and add as well. In case you are not adding the chili sauce (then you have to take away the fiery part from the name of the dish), because, maybe, someone you have for the meal doesn’t like it or can’t stand it, well, in that case you add more water accordingly.
Bring the whole mixture to the boil. Then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about ten minutes.
Since you have your pancake batter ready, you can start doing the pancakes. Use only a little oil when you bake them in golden brown in a pan. If you have a square pan, great, if not, no worries. I have none (apart from my griddle pan, which obviously won’t work here anyway).
But don’t forget your veggies. Add the cube sized pieces of courgette after the above mentioned ten minutes. Haul in the rings from the spring onion and the chopped herbs as well. Season with salt and pepper. Check, if you have sufficient heat. If not … do something!!!
Finish your pancakes. It seems they look prettier the less oil you have in the pan. However, that is of no significance to this dish, nor has it any future relevance (of course only, if you are going to make pancakes on their own).

After a further ten minutes or so (I don’t want to be picky) everything should be ready.
No – not really, you should think about mixing all the ingredients together for the cheese sauce – oh, oh, nearly forgot it. Did you think about it! No worries! Here we have it.
It’s time to assemble the whole thing …
Cover the base of your casserole dish with pancake pieces. As you don’t have a pan that matches exactly the shape of your dish, you have to cut things in places (well, you may have, but I don’t).

Put a layer of vegetables on it.

 Then goes the cheese sauce.

Followed by another layer of pancakes. All should be gone after that. If not something went wrong. I had no trouble. Lucy was watching and kind of begging for some pieces. Somehow, she wasn’t tired anymore – strange.
OK, put more veggies on. If you manage all, fine, if not you can think of another dish to do with the leftovers (maybe some kind of bread – veg soup – don’t know).
Finish it of with the extra grated cheese. As I am a cheese lover (my dog Lucy as well) I could use even more than the mentioned 100 g. It would be great if you can’t see the vegetables anymore.

Then transfer the casserole dish to the oven at 180°C for 35 minutes or until the cheese gets all bubbly and … you know what I mean. No need to get exited.
After that it is up to you to enjoy it.

Conclusion: First, there might be the chance, this is a healthy dish. Second, we don't need meat all the time. And third, I don't know!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Scottish Whisky Cake for Best of British

Fàilte! Ciamar a tha sibh?
That’s Scottish Gaelic and means: Welcome! How are you?
Well, I really, from the heart, hope you are doing well!!!

Some ten years ago, let’s say, 15 years ago, or wait, I can’t get it correct right this minute. So, somewhere in between that time, a good friend of mine got married (I don’t need to remember his wedding date. He does and he gets in trouble if he doesn’t.).
As it comes at the wedding reception, as his friend, I had to do something to entertain the masses, OK, the bride, the groom, and the guests. Somehow I had or found or whatever this sketch, this comedy thingy. Did I tell this story before? Can’t remember either! Right, but it fits NOW!
Good! This sketch was about this man demonstrating how to bake a Scottish whisky cake, of course involving a lot of whisky. I think a whole bottle was necessary.
It goes like:
First of all check the quality of the whisky [drinking a glass of whisky]. Cream the sugar together with the butter. Check again, whether the whisky is still good [drinking a glass of whisky]. We-ell, add the eeeeeeggs [slurring the words already]. … OK, you have about a feel on how it went until the whole bottle of whisky is gone.
The only thing you need to remember now is: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!
Just follow the instructions below for preparing this cake.
I enter this post to the Best of British Challenge for July, which is themed Scotland's food. More info you find as well with Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen and at The Face of New World Appliances and at London Unattached from Fiona.

Scottish Whisky Cake

For the cake batter:
250 g of butter (Gaelic: im) at room temperature
250 g of sugar (Gaelic: siùcar)
4 eggs (Gaelic: ugh)
500 g spelt flour (or 200 g + 300 g wheat flour)
15 g of baking powder
15 g vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
2 cl Sottish whisky
200 ml milk (Gaelic: bainne)
60 g white chocolate
60 g dark chocolate

For the icing:
160 g icing sugar
60 g butter at room temperature
2 tsps of honey
Juice of one lemon
2 cl Scottish whisky
Some roasted and shredded hazelnuts for decoration

Here we go. As I said you can of course skip all the whisky tasting part!
Have a round, let’s say 25 cm (±5 cm tolerance) baking tin form, prepared with butter for non stick ready to go and heat the oven up to 175°C.
Cream the sugar together with the butter. Add the four eggs (we don’t bother today with all these separating and whisking egg white and so forth). Simply whisk it together.
Sieve in the flour with the baking powder.
Before I go on talking to much, add the vanilla extract or sugar (whichever you are using), the whisky, and the milk. Well, mix well! Break the chocolate in pieces of the desired size. I like them rather more chunky. So that’s what I did then. Fold the pieces in.
Get the cake batter to the baking tin form and chuck, oops, put it gently in the middle of the oven and bake for one hour.
In between, do whatever you like. Whatever you can do with one hour. There are a lot of things, of course depending on what you like. You could use the time to clean up the mess you created by now. You could have a meal (even including preparation – depending on what you do of course). Whatever! It’s up to you and I’m not going to tell you what I did.
Once the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and let cool down for a while.
It’s time to think about the icing. Beat it all together. Give your best and make sure you don’t have any chunks of icing sugar sticking together (I forgot to think about it, no worries, though).

Let the icing flow over the cake, let the forces of nature have it’s work complete. If you feel like it, you can spread over the pieces of hazelnuts.

Even my dog, Lucy, had her part as she dressed up in her little Scottish dress for this challenge. Well, OK, right, was dressed up!

While talking about fitting music (see comments below) ... here a nice little addition I found on YouTube:


Saturday, 16 June 2012

A table full of tapas

Care for a snack? Why not! Muy bien! Tapas son muy populares en España. Pero ... not everyone can be there or has a tapas bar nearby.
Anyway, as is the case with most things, you can manage at home. That is of course only, if you are willing to try. I was today! Nothing better to do. However, eating is a good reason to be active cooking and preparing food in the kitchen.

Now it happens to be that I have this cookbook about tapas from Parragon Books Ltd. Somehow I was in the mood today for some extensive testing. There are quite some tasty tapas recipes in this book to satisfy your desire for these little Spanish snacks.
So I flipped through the book, pondering on what to try today - of course limited to the resources available to me at home.
Starting with the cheating way, I opened a glass of olives stuffed with garlic. That would do for starters.

Of course, this has little to do with cooking. Well, then let's try something else, like roasted peppers with honey and almonds.

Put some red peppers in the oven and roast them until they blacken. Put them in a bowl and cover with cling film for several minutes so that you can remove the skin. Cut it into bit size pieces and put them in a bowl. 
In a pan heat up some olive oil and put in some slice garlic at low heat for 5 minutes. Then had some sliced almonds, honey, and sherry vinegar. Heat up and then put to the peppers and mix well.
Or what about some salted paprika almonds.

When thinking of Spain, what else comes to your mind? Jamon Serrano might be something foodwise. Have it with some dressed (orange, olive oil, salt, pepper) rocket leaves.

Something I enjoyed very much, apart from the just mentioned Jamon Serrano with rocket, is fried dates filled with chorizo and wrapped in bacon.


OK, they don't look all that impressive, but they taste sweet and delicious and ... you want more. It was only for safety reasons that I made just for.
So, get some dates. Put a bit of chorizo where the stone of the date used to be, wrap a piece of bacon around it. Have some flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs ready to coat the dates. Fry them with sufficient oil for about four minutes and enjoy them ... delish ... hot!
Good! The night isn't over yet. 

You can and should make use of chorizo also in other ways - fried with fresh herbs. The recipe didn't state, though what herbs. I used what I had: chives, oregano, thyme, and mint. Somehow in nearly all of the recipes olive oil and garlic was involved. There was still a recipe for having the chorizo with red wine. The downside was, leaving it 8 hours to work, obviously no time for that - have to postpone it to some other day in the future.

As stated in the tapas book, tomato bread is one of the favourites in Spain, especially in the Barcelona region (which is very nice actually as I experienced it myself). It reminds me a bit of the Italian bruschetta and somehow is prepared in a similar way. You can toast the bread and rub it with garlic, splash olive oil on it and then rub it with a tomato half. If you like you can put some Jamon Serrano and capers on it.

One of my favourites are also garlic prawns. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add some chopped garlic and one or two dried chillies. Then there come the prawns. Hopefully they are dry, so that you can fry them and you don't end up cooking them.
In the end I had about ten different tapas. You can enjoy a lot of different things without getting to much stuffed. There are still more delicious recipe to discover, when it comes to tapas.
They are also very good when you are together with a group at a table as you can go along and nibble here and there once in a while without having the "pressure" of finishing a whole big meal. It's to encourage conversation.
In some countries they have a lot of clever ideas on enjoying food. Spain is always a pleasant stop in that regard. If you like you can enjoy some wine or sherry along it.
What is your favourite tapa?
Muchas gracias por tu visita! Hasta la proxima vez!