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!