Friday, 28 April 2017

Spinach and Feta Tart

I am really feeling great. Life is beautiful, and so is my lovely wife. Surely I am feeling wonderful and in part it is also because I stick to the three pillars of healthy living: regular exercise, health diet and sufficient sleep.
Sometimes we tend not to belief in simple advice, but … usually there is only one way to find out: try it!
Accordingly, in order to find out, whether you like my dish for today, you simply have to try it: Spinach and Feta Tart. 

Well, there was some kind of pondering going on in my head, whether I should call it Spinach and Feta Tart or Feta and Spinach Tart. Looking at the ingredients, there would have been other options, too, like Spinach, Feta and Pine-nut Tart. Continuing from that one, yet more options would have been possible: Feta, Spinach and Pine-nut Tart or Pine-nut, Spinach and Feta Tart or Pine-nut, Feta and Spinach Tart. Then there is the option of abbreviating things: SF-Tart, FS-Tart, FSP-Tart, PSF-Tart, PFS-Tart, SFP-Tart or SPF-Tart … and we haven’t even mentioned there is garlic involved as well, nor is there any hint towards the kind of pastry used.
Nothing of that doesn’t really matter, so we stick with Spinach and Feta Tart. After all those are the main heroes. Here we go with the recipe …
400 g puff pastry
Knob of butter
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
500 g spinach
1 tsp. nutmeg
200 ml cream
200 g feta
80 g pine-nuts
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Method:Lightly oil your tart tin. I just rub it all over with butter, fine only the inside of course. Then line it with the puff pastry. It could look somewhat like this …

In a large pan, melt the knob of butter and then add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Fry them until translucent. Get your fresh spinach ready and wilt it down in the pan, even bit by bit when your pan can’t hold it at the same time. Season with nutmeg.
Get yourself a large bowl and mix the crumbled feta, cream, pine-nuts and the two eggs. Once the spinach is ready, incorporate the contents of the pan in the bowl as well. Season with salt and pepper.
All that goes now onto the puff pastry and then into the pre-heated oven at 180 °C for about 30 minutes. Honestly, I always try every dishes at 180 °C for 30 minutes. That’s my favourite baking temperature and time. In between I check, though, if it’s necessary to reduce or extend the time. Once the Spinach and Feta Tart got some nice colour to it, I reckon, we are ready to remove it from the oven.

It already has been a while since I did it and I nearly lost the recipe since I forgot to take notes, but since I have been rejuvenated recently, it worked well with my brain.
At this point, you just need to slice up the tart, serve it and enjoy it.

That should be possible. I don’t know what you think, but the combination of spinach and feta somehow sounds Greek to me. Just a feeling. If you like to give it a more Greek touch, you should use a few sheets of filo pastry instead of just normal puff pastry. Optionally you could also drink an Ouzo or two while preparing it. It’s entirely up to you, though.
Anyway, dig in …

See you another time then. I only need to watch now, how this rejuvenation thing is working out, how far it will take me back and, whether, it will result even in doing some stupid things …

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Bacon and Asparagus Carbonara

Yes, it’s really happening again. I go through the shop and see vegetables and fruits and other ingredients and I get already ideas what to do with them. Wonderful!
However, when you go after every idea you end up in buying more than you can manage to eat in a reasonable amount or amount of time.
Anyway, this time it was asparagus and mushrooms. As for the mushrooms they still have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe, they go for the breakfast, for even as I am writing now another idea comes up for the other half of the asparagus.

Therefore we are having bacon and asparagus carbonara, for we all know that asparagus and bacon go well together. Yes, originally I wanted to have asparagus wrapped in bacon, but … hey … why not try something different.
As bacon, cream, egg and cheese make a good carbonara, why not toss everything together and go for it.
Here we go …
A bit of olive oil
200 g green asparagus
100 g stripes of streaky bacon
A few leaves of sage
Salt and pepper
200 g crème fraîche
2 eggs
Hand full of grated Parmesan
Cut the asparagus into smaller, bit sized pieces and the bacon into smaller stripes.
Heat up a pan with a bit of olive oil and throw in the asparagus and bacon. Let it all get some colour. Later you can add the finely chopped sage and a bit of pepper.

Meanwhile you cook your pasta according to the instructions on the package or … as you have done your own fresh pasta … as long as they need.
Still meanwhile you get yourself a bowl to mix in the crème fraîche, the eggs, the Parmesan and some salt and pepper.
Pasta ready? Get a bit of cooking water into the pan and rinse away the remaining cooking water. Toss the pasta with the asparagus and bacon and take the pan from the heat.
Mix the egg mixture with the pasta and serve your meal …

Grate over some extra Parmesan and maybe sprinkle a bit of olive oil over it.
It was very delicious. I was pleased with the end result and for sure will have some more of it.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Panko Fried Brie with Lavender Mushrooms

While the weather is not as it’s best these days, we already had some quite pleasant days.
It’s best not to expect perfection all the time, because you are only going to be disappointed. For sure, you don’t want that. Rather concentrate on the small things of beauty always around you, appreciate that.

Then you can find enjoyment more often …
… like in a quick and simple meal with not much fuss about it. Among the simple things I enjoy is cheese. I wouldn’t want to imagine a life without cheese. If I would have to choose between cheese and meat – which one to go without, I would select the meat to go without rather than the cheese.
But, I don’t have to choose. However, for the following meal I have chosen to go without meat and with cheese … with Brie to be more precise. So we are having Panko Fried Brie with Lavender Mushrooms …

Somehow I like lavender, so I try to look for new ways to carefully introduce it into cooking. See, whether it works today.
Olive oil
200 g mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
Salt, chilli
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. lavender buds
Knob of butter
1 Brie (200 g)
1 egg
Panko (or other breadcrumbs)
Use two pans to get both elements ready at the same time. I used a griddle pan for the Brie.
Well then, how do we go about?
Heat up some olive oil for the mushrooms.
Prepare the brie by tossing it around in the whisked up egg. Next you have the panko ready together with some salt and finely chopped rosemary. Try as best as you can to coat the Brie with it.
The mushrooms start rolling in the pan. Season them with salt and a bit of chilli if you like.
The Brie is in the other pan. You turn it, when you think the time is right after a few minutes. If it starts oozing away in your pan, you’ve lost and evidently waited too long.
Add the lemon juice and the lavender to the mushrooms and let them continue in the heat. Finish it off with a knob of butter.
When you have done everything right, both the Brie and the mushrooms are finished at about the same time. So, serve it up …

Have some bread on the side and … whatever makes you happy. Fine, here we have another use of lavender in cooking. As I felt, the taste was good and I enjoyed it.
Do you enjoy going for a walk. I hope to walk … eh … well, a lot this year. 
Anyway, have a lovely day! Keep smiling!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Lunch with Bills

Now, it is time again to go on with some more food from Bills Sydney Food by Bill Granger with you. You might remember my post Breakfast with bills. After having had breakfast, it’s the only natural step to have lunch.
What do we have on offer today?

Ricotta and Tomato tart. Delicious! Since I like ricotta anyway, that’s a good one for me. The recipe had all the guidelines you needed to make your own puff pastry … I used a package from the shop anyway. Maybe next time! :-)
Have a look again …

Apart from the ricotta, the tomatoes and the puff pastry there is also some rocket involved. I never would want to argue with that. Another thing, to me it seems Bill used some more tomatoes on his tart. At least that’s how it looks like in his book. I am pleased anyway.
Let’s go with another one …
Maybe I should have known from the start, it wouldn’t work out properly. The recipe I tried was Coconut and Passionfruit slice. It was just because passionfruit was on offer in the supermarket. Sadly the girl at the check-out couldn’t recognise passionfruit and made me pay for figs (obviously she doesn’t know that one either). Or was the problem on my side.
Anyway, the recipe didn’t work 100 % with those ‘figs’ … eh … right, it was passionfruit. I reckon, though, the oven was the problem and the whole thing could have used a bit more time in it. While the taste was fine, there was no way in getting a half-delicious photo of it.
No worries! We don’t want to dwell to long on failure or negative things, but rather go on with something else … good the butcher knew about steak … Fine Steak Sandwich with Garlic Crème …

Obviously you need some kind of bread … ciabatta in this case, but the main heroes are the steak and the garlic crème.
The butcher did a good job and preparing the steak correctly in the pan was no big deal either. The real work here is the garlic crème. I didn’t take the same approach as with the puff pastry from the Ricotta and Tomato Tart.
I really went for it and had some food exercise again with all that whisking of the egg yolks and oil. As I’m not a sissy, I didn’t use a food processor for it either.
It was all worth it!

For sure you would find other fine uses for that crème! Well, we had already something in mind for it. I don’t want to say too much about it, though. Just watch …

Do I have to mention it was very delicious? You might have reckoned that already by yourself.
I hoped you enjoyed your lunch with bills and of course me. Yes, I know, you would enjoy it even more, if it was for real, but … hey … who am I? I can’t be everywhere and do everything and make everyone happy (it’s a great relief to recognise that and stop trying).
Oh, that brings me back to the pickle I’ve got. I can’t go everywhere. So, if you have any ideas (because you know something) feel free to give any suggestions for travelling Australia.
Now …
Keep smiling … 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Chicken Macaroni Cheese Apokalypse

Yes, you also know it doesn’t look that good, is not too healthy, will have too much calories and … but you want it, because it brings you comfort and tastes yummy.
We all know such dishes.
Today – using some leftovers from the indecent looking chicken (sorry, if there were any disturbing or offensive images in my last post) – I’ll bring you my Chicken Macaroni Cheese Apocalypse …

So, what do you associate with ‘Apocalypse’? Death and destruction?
If you know your Greek, you’d say ‘revelation’, for that is what the Greek work apocalypses means. So … the question now is, will this Chicken Macaroni Cheese be a revelation?
Let us see! For sure it will be very different from what you had before. Hm … yes … eh … well, different.
You know, you want it!
Come and get it!
200 g cooked chicken meat, shredded (yes, I used it from the beer butt thingy)
200 ml cream (I would have used double had I any)
200 g grated cheese (sadly I just had 100 g)
100 g bacon (cubes, stripes, whatever you fancy … it’s your life)
50 ml chilli sauce (anyone you like)
50 ml tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Some basil leaves, torn
Salt and pepper (because we want it)
250 g macaroni
Go, get your macaroni boiling. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C.
Grab yourself a proper ovenproof dish (20 x 20 cm did for me) and go for it. Now that will all sound a bit simple from here on … because it is: Throw the ingredients into your ovenproof dish!
While the macaroni might not be ready yet, your dish might look like this …

With all that bringing your water for the macaroni to oil, even though using a kettle to help you, up to here things are fast and you really have to wait for the macaroni.
No worries, though, once the water is ready, the macaroni will be in under 10 minutes. Rinse and add …

That looks like, it could go to the oven and so it does …
By that time I already knew, I didn’t have a sufficient amount of cheese in it. Another remedy would have been to add a ball of mozzarella, but … I didn’t. Just saying!
Oh, yes, 20 minutes in the oven had to do for me, but I reckon 30 minutes will also do no harm.
At this point, things will look like this …

Yes, I know, it doesn’t look spectacular and it’s not much worse adding this picture at all. Hey, you know what? I do it anyway, because I’m the boss here. No I don’t have any issues in connection with being or not being the boss. I have other issues, but I try to suppress them for as log as possible, at least until I am finished here. You really don’t want to read any about it.
You know, you want something else. So let’s get on with it. What about putting on a bit of garnish?

That should do. I asked an expert about it, although she didn’t knew, what I would be using it for. A little bit of basil can go a long way. In our case it goes here …

Well, fine, you can also place it on the individual serving as I did in the opening. If you can’t resist, you can also drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil over it. Just saying! It’s your life!
Now, is that a revelation or just death and destruction?
Think about it! Answer correctly, if you want to live! It’s your life!
Scared? Sorry, I just have to work on making proper threats, but you know that I know how to find you … ah, just kidding, I wouldn’t really tell or show what I am capable of.
Fine, that’s enough. I better get out of here before things get out of hand. See ya!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

F-Game Toad in a Hole

Lately, around here I am not giving my a-game. I’m not sure, what it would be like, though. No worries!
Anyway, life is like this: sometimes you loose and sometimes the others win. Nah, it's not that bad. Sometimes you simply have other things to do.
Therefore we go right away into food, for at least here we know, that it will go to a meal. Leftovers! There were those pork sausages in my fridge, those tiny ones. Here they are called Nürnberger. I used some of them for my English breakfast some time ago, but what to do with the rest of them.
Now I know, why I put all those knowledge into my head. At some point a bell will ring and I know what to do. So, toad in the hole. I never had. Therefore I never made it before. I now, it involves sausages and … something else.
Now I give you my F-game Toad in the Hole …

 Well, the F-game in this recipe doesn’t refer to it being rubbish. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even think about putting it up here.
No! It’s time for Lord Feta to strike back …
2 eggs
1 tsp mustard powder
120 g flour
100 ml milk
Some parsley, finely chopped
Some sage, finely chopped
Salt, pepper
100 g bacon, preferably 10 slices
10 small pork sausages
200g feta
Method:Heat up your oven to 180 °C.
Get yourself an ovenproof dish, 20 x 20 cm will do for this amount of ingredients. Put it aside.
Now get a bowl and mix in it the eggs, mustard powder, flour, milk, parsley and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Pour that mixture into the ovenproof dish.
What a coincidence, the amount of bacon was just enough for the number of sausages I had left. Go for it and wrap one slice of bacon around one little sausages and arrange in the batter in the ovenproof dish.
All done? Proceed with the feta. You can either crumble it into the ovenproof dish or cut it into cubes and scatter them over the sausages in the dish.

Anyhow, put into the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, you have sufficient time to whip up your onion gravy and get whatever vegetables you want to put on the side ready.
For sure, you have a good recipe for onion gravy and know quite perfectly well how to do it. No?
I took a pan and melted some butter at low heat, tossed in the onion rings of a large onion and let things go until the toad in the hole is almost finish.
To complete the sauce, season with salt and pepper, add a tablespoon of flour and a generous splash of sherry. Briefly cook so the sauce thickens.

The finished dish from the oven could look somewhat like that or when you have a closer look, it will look a bit like this …

Ah, that wasn’t really that much closer. Anyway, plate up. With the right amount of vegetables you could even manage to satisfy four people with that, but than you can’t be as generous with the onion gravy as I have …

However, that was only, because I wanted to have fresh gravy for the leftovers another day and maybe enhance the gravy with some mushrooms then.
If, though, you don’t have four people for tea and decide to have a second go, you can have less or no gravy at all …

You could always have some more peas, though.
Whatsoever, I enjoyed it very much. If you want to have a more traditional version of toad in the hole, I guess, you just have to omit the feta.
In case you want to have a vegetarian version, you could omit the bacon and use veggie sausages or use something completely different, but then again, you might get a totally different dish here. So, why then, not cook something completely different.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Game Over?! Beer Butt Chicken with Cheese and Onion Bread

Do you like to play? I don’t mind a good game of … different things. I even used to like computer games a lot. I also used to have a dart board in my flat … I had to paste over a lot of holes in the wall. However, I still appreciate a game of darts once in a while. I’m not so good at it, but why not relax a bit and have some fun. The fun stops when you are playing a game of elimination and you have reached far some points and could even go as far as winning and then … someone scores your number and you go back to zero, nada, zip. 
There is simply no fun in starting at the bottom again.
Still, there is food, there is comforting food. Fine, a bit of chocolate once in a while isn’t bad, however, there is no way you get it away from your hips again at some point.
So, talk other food …

A lovely homemade pizza always works for me. For sure it also will settle on the hips, but at least you got something for it.
This time, I made double the amount of dough, though. Not to have more pizza, but to make some bread as well.
I just made my normal pizza dough with 1000 g of flour – a mixture of normal wheat flour, strong baking flour and semolina flour – 600 ml of water, a splash of olive oil, 14 g of dried yeast, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Well … eh … mix the yeast, olive oil, water and sugar together. Leave it for some minutes and then pour it into the bowl with the flour and salt and make your dough.

Now, all this pizza and bread making business takes a while with all that rising proving and baking and everything. Luckily I could enjoy the pizza right away after baking and while the bread went into the oven.
Well, in between I prepared some kind of dessert, which, though, could not be eaten right after the pizza. At least I can say, I poached my first pear …

Anyway, this post is not about poaching pears or pizza. It’s rather about a chicken that is going to be baked in a special … eh … way.
Still, before we go to this, some more details regarding the cheese and onion bread. Remember, I already showed you the pre-baked loaf. The dough had to make it’s way from pizza dough to cheese and onion bread dough. Therefore I fried some onions with a bit of garlic (no, now it’s not cheese and onion and garlic bread, although … technically) and added them along with some 100 g of grated cheese to the dough, kneading all the ingredients in.

Here is the finished bread. It had to wait for it’s turn a while, because part of it was going to be consumed with a Beer Butt Chicken.
So, here goes my meal planning … off to the shop, because there are some essential parts missing for next weeks breakfasts …
Here comes the meat area … “Oh they have some decent chickens on offer. I could take one home and stick a beer can up its -censored- … eh … well, I could do a Beer Butt Chicken.”
I know I have a recipe for it somewhere. It must be in one of Jamie’s book. So I leafed through all possible books and couldn’t find anything. Ask the Internet!
Oh, there we go with the recipe: It’s in Jamie’s America. Fine, could have taken that one from the shelf as well and have a look.
We’ll do that then!
As a bonus you are to drink have the beer before you start cooking. Well, you could set half a glass of beer aside for later consumption, but … what’s the point in that.
Important things done: beer can is ready.
Now we need a spice rub for the chicken. Basically it’s quite simple: Heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds and level teaspoon of cumin seeds bashed up in a mortar. Then add a level teaspoon of smoked paprika, chilli powder and a heaped teaspoon of brown sugar. Salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil to bring it all together.

Just before we go to the part were beer and butt meet, we gentle rub the chicken with the spice rub. The oven is heated to 200 °C.

Now the chicken is ready to go to the oven for 70 to 90 minutes on the lowest possible rack.
Sometimes, that is if you can and if you want to, it’s good to plan ahead. When you start with all this at the time you normally would be ready to eat, all this doesn’t sound like such a brillant idea.
I never said I was a smart one!
What to do in this 90 minutes, while you are in fact hungry? Good question, next one, please!
I had some grapes and got the idea for a quick dessert for later on. Additionally I prepared a tomato salad as some kind of alibi for my meal.
Still, so much time left!
In fact, quite often there is a lot of time left, but … I feel like I rather want to do nothing, just sitting there with some music blasting from the speakers. Today I feel a bit brave and have a surprise mix from all my music.
So it goes like quiet music maybe classic or a tune from a movie. Bam! A smashing hit with some music that wants you to dance. Blob! A tune that rather wants you to cry. Bam! Get up, some feel good music (didn’t know I would react to some songs like that). Blob! Oh that one makes you think about … eh … something. Speaking of thinking, today I saw a girl that reminded me of someone that I used to know … some 20 years ago. I was shocked at first sight, don’t know why, though. Bam! I should remove the chicken from the oven …

… get some smoke from the oven into the entire flat. I might consider opening a window or two.
Here we are with the chicken. Now remove the beer can. My first thought was to grab the can with my bare hand and pull off the chicken with the other … I told you … smart – not!
A more sensitive approach finally brought the chicken from can to plate. Finally, ready for eating. We just manage to avert starvation.

You see my alibi on the top edge and the cheese and onion bread at the bottom. Now I was willing to make use of my hands and dig into that chicken …
Already at the slightest touch the meat comes off the bones. It’s so tender and juicy and … ouch … yes, still hot.
Either I must have slept away most of my brain in the past few weeks or I have an increased willingness to take unnecessary risks or I was simply too hungry to be careful.
Anyway, these days I have to make the most of bright moments. Then I especially enjoy to drive my car like a racing car in day to day driving and … I enjoy some good food. I reckon, I succeeded this weekend. Already the pizza yesterday was a killer one (oh, I like the sound of it) and now the chicken: relish. Have a closer look again.

If you think I ate that chicken alone, then … you are … eh … forget about it.
I’d rather go to the fridge and grab my previously prepared creme chantilly with grapes …

And this is all for today … eh … Game Over!!!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

#Foodfitness with Beef and Cheese Empanadillas

It is about time I start putting up some more food here on our blog. It has been quite a while of inactivity, which doesn't mean I haven't been active. In fact I have been very active and I have been doing quite some exercise, enjoying it together with my beautiful wife. Life is really good!
Now, though, it is time again for some other kind of exercise again ... food fitness.
Let's have some Spanish food today, which you could also use for a picnic, if the weather so permits.

450 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. butter
1 egg
1 tsp. honey
pinch of salt
lukewarm water
1 onion (finely chopped)
some chillies (to your liking, finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
500 g minced beef
smoked paprika
salt, pepper
2 tbsp. tomato puree
basil, rosemary, mint
3 spring onions (chopped in rings)
150 g grated cheese (whatever kind you fancy)
30 g sultanas
oil for frying

First of all we go for the dough, setting the tone for the whole thing, putting some energy in the preparation, for there will be much energy in the consumption as well, although I am not quite sure whether you want to hear it.
Put the flour with the baking powder in a bowl, rub in the butter. Then add the salt, honey and egg. Knead the dough in a fitness-like fashion adding as much of lukewarm water as it needs to bring the whole dough together.
Then let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. In case you also need that rest, I guess you have to give it some more time. Otherwise you can you the time wisely to already prepare the filling.
You start off with the onions in a large pan, let the chillies and the garlic join. After the onions are translucent you can put in the meat and season it with salt, pepper and the smoked paprika. Once the meat has gained sufficient colour you can add the tomato puree and go on frying as long until it is all relatively dry. We don't want the filling too wet to cause any problems.
Just when it is all ready that far, turn off the heat and add the basil, rosemary, mint, spring onions, cheese and sultanas. It might look a little bit like this ...

You have some time for it to cool off a bit. That will be the time to prepare the individual empanadillas and have some extra exercise. If you still feel you need more exercise, do some push-ups, squats or crunches later on, but here we go with good old food fitness ...

Try to make it thin. This way you will enjoy the filling much later when all is finished. Give it your all. You want to feel those muscles in yours so you can actually say you have done some real exercise. Get some round shapes out of the dough for the final empanadillas. We got a special tool for it here so it will work out perfectly with the shape and sticking in the filling.
Give every circle of dough, we had 15 in the end, a teaspoon of filling or a little bit more, as your conscience permits and as you will be able to seal them properly afterwards. We don't want any filling to exit while frying. We only want to let the filling exit in your mouth while eating.

If it looks like this you might be doing it right. To ensure they are securely shut, you can use a fork to seal them well.
Then enjoy the time for frying the empanadillas in sufficient oil and hopefully they are securely shut. I didn't do it so well, when I tried it the other week, but this batch went perfectly well without incidents ... for my wife was helping to make it happen just fine.

Now the only thing that remains is enjoy your empanadillas with some salad and a beer ... any kind of beer. It doesn't need to be Spanish, although I wouldn't mind a bottle of Estrella de Galicia.
We hope you had enough exercise preparing the empanadillas. As for my part I feel like I still have to do some more exercise. These days I am kind of crazy about doing some exercise. That's not bad, after all the body feels a lot better when it is filled with muscles and not with ... anyway, I don't want to suggest anything here, but just that I am always going to enjoy some good food exercise, when it also leads to some tasty results. It would really make me feel bad, if I would put in all the effort in preparing  and eating if it wouldn't be worth it. 
In this very case here of the empanadillas we can assure you that it was absolutely worth it and we are going to enjoy it any time.
We hope you are having a good time and are keeping healthy!