Monthly Archives: April 2010

Meringue pie with blueberries

I adore meringue and I adore blueberries. Combine the two and you get a match made in heaven.
There is not a lot I can tell you about this pie. Blueberries are certainly not in season at the moment, but I had a craving for them and they were not at all expensive.
I enjoyed them first just on their own and later decided to just them in this wonderful pie.
Meringue pie is traditionally made with lemon flavor, but I cant be bothered with that. Sure its nice on a hot summers day, but for now I just stick to my berries.

INGREDIENTS

140 grams flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
60 grams of butter (room temperature)
100 grams of granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
80 ml milk
250 grams blueberries
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
100 grams of granulated sugar
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Start with beating the butter light and fluffy. To do this right it is so important to let de butter come to room temperature.
Then add the sugar and beat this till you get a nice sugary butter batter.
Now poor in the vanilla and the egg and combine this into one sticky dough.
The time to poor in the flour and the milk has arrived, but be careful, you should add a little bit of flour and a little bit of milk, mix it well and then repeat. Don’t go pouring it all in at once!
Now take a big pie dish (best a shell dish) and place some baking foil on the bottom, the side you grease with some butter of vegetable oil.
Add the blueberries to the cake batter and spoon them in carefully. Don’t break them.
Poor the batter into the dish and place it in a preheated oven on 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime we’ll start making the meringue.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together. When you start to get soft peaks, drizzle in the sugar while constantly beating. It is very important that you keep beating so that your eggs become very stiff. At the last moment poor in the vanilla extract.

After 30 minutes the pie is ready to come out of the oven. Let the it cool for a couple of minutes before applying the meringue on top of the pie.
Place the pie back into the oven for another 15 minutes (or until the meringue becomes golden brown). Don’t forget to turn the heat down to 150 degrees.
Let the pie cool down to room temperature and pop it into the fridge for another 2 hours.

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Daring baker: malaga pudding

I cheated on this daring baker challenge. The reasons for my behaviour?
After stalking 7 butchers in the surrounding area of my home none of them could deliver me any suet. (I used suet before, but the butcher I bought it at is renovating his shop and closed down for 3 months.)
After that I wanted to order some vegetable suet from my british online shop but noticed that the delivery date was set 3 weeks from now. So thank but no thanks.
Surfing the internet looking for a solution for this problem I stumbled upon some wonderful pudding recipes that did not call for any suet but just used plain butter.
Then the next problem arrived.. I did not have the time this month to wait 5 hours for something to steam, boil or cook.
All excuses I know… I am not bringing any honour to my title of daring baker.
Was I just going to give up? Was I gonna throw the towel into the ring?  I can tell you I most definitely was… But then I found this wonderful recipe for rum & raisin pudding on BBC Good Food and I knew that was the pudding I was going to make. Not exactly what Esther challenged us with, but at least I was trying to honour her pudding thoughts.
In stead of rum however I used Malaga dulce. It’s a very sweet fortified wine with almost 600 milligrams of sugar per litre of wine. I love it as a digestive and this time it was a perfect replacement of the rum!

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PUDDING

100 grams of dates
112 ml hot milk
100 grams raisins
50 ml Malaga dulce wine
75 ml sunflower oil
2 small eggs, beaten with a fork
1 teaspoon baking soda
125 grams self raising flour
89 grams soft light muscovado sugar

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE

70 grams salted butter
70 grams of light muscovado sugar
150 ml double cream
25 ml Malaga dulce wine
25 grams raisins

 Preheat the oven to 180°C before starting to actually make the pudding. I know it is tempting to dive in and whisk up that lovely batter. But just take a second and first heat up the oven.
Is the oven on? Wonderful lets go and make that pudding then!
Mix the chopped dates with the hot milk and set aside for 20 minutes. Now mix the raisins with the Malaga dulce and set aside for 20 minutes also. (A little tip heat the Malaga wine for a few minutes. It does not need to boil or anything but the hot liquid will make the raisins tender and they ll soak up all that lovely wine!)  I know it seems a long wait and you thought you were ready to start. While waiting you can just as well grease the small pudding moulds (I used a muffin tin) and sit them in a deep roasting tin. You can even put your kettle on, so you ll have warm water ready.

After 20 minutes you are really ready to actually start assembling the pudding. So here we go!!
Whizz the dates and the milk together in a food processor until you have a smooth puree. Scrape the puree into a large bowl and mix with the oil and eggs. Now stir in the baking soda, the flour and the sugar. You see it actually starts to look like a thick fragrant batter! Lovely isn’t it?

Now take the Malaga dulce soaked (and now slightly drunk) raisins and fold them into the batter together with any wine that is left in the bowl.

Now divide the batter into the moulds and then carefully poor your boiling water into the tin so it comes halfway up to the sides of the moulds.
Now pop this in your oven for about 20 to 25 minutes on a low shelf in the oven.

After 20 minutes check the puddings with a skewer. If the skewer comes out neat and clean the pudding is ready. If not… give it another 5 minutes.
When they are done you can lift them out of their hot tub and give them some cool down time on a rack.

In the meanwhile its time to make the sauce that goes with this pudding from heaven. Take a saucepan and melt the butter, the sugar and the cream together.
Whisk it a few times and turn up the heat! The sauce needs to start bubbling and come together into a smooth, shiny sauce. Now stir in the wine and the raisins and let the sauce cool.

When the pudding moulds or cold enough to handle it is time for la moment supreme. Getting the puddings out of their form!
Scraping around the sides of each little mould is a wonderful idea. Then toss them over on a baking dish and cover them with cling film.
When you pop this into the fridge you can keep the sauce and the puddings for up to 24 hours.

But if you are anything like me, they won’t survive 24 hours. You will plunge in right after diner and maybe with some luck leave one or two for the following day.
Just spoon over a little sauce over de puddings and poor the rest of the sauce around it. Cover the whole dish with a new piece of foil and pop this into a preheated oven of 120 degrees for about 30 minutes.
You ‘ll know when they are ready anyway… cause your mouth will start to water from that wonderful sweet smell that fills your kitchen. Top it of with a good spoon of whipped cream and enjoy its total divineness.

Cajun Style Scampi

The Dutch foodblog event of this month centred around the topic “cooking from scratch”. Essentially the challenge was to cook with stuff we had in our fridge, pantry or freezer. Because we only go to the supermarket once a week I tried to come up with some other “rules” I had to obey, cause else it would be a little to simple.
So I made myself cook a meal out of ingredients I always have.
Scampi is one of the things I always have in my freezer I adore scampi and they are so easy to cook and match with almost any dish.
Bell pepper and tomatoes is another thing I just have to have in my fridge, cause else I will go crazy. And not to forget the bag of frozen peas on the second shelf in my freezer. I don’t particularly like a pea all by itself, but it is a really grateful ingredient to use in any kind of dish and in plenty of sauces.
The rest of the dish I builded up with bits and pieces that I found in my kitchen. A little bit of cream that was going to expire, some sour cream I used the day before. Cooking from scratch is the ideal way to get rid of all those leftovers.
In the back of my herb cupboard I found an unopened jar of Cajun spices. I think I bought it some time ago when I saw a fabulous recipe for a Cajun wok on TV. It was about time I gave these spices a try.
I served the Cajun scampi with potatoes skins and a lovely sour cream dip sauce.

INGREDIENTS SCAMPI

12 scampi
3 teaspoons of Cajun spice mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil (I used olive oil infused with hot peppers, for that extra bit of flavour.)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
½ red onion
2 cloves of garlic
cherry tomatoes
300 ml of vegetable stock
200 ml of heavy cream
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
salt

INGREDIENTS SOUR CREAM DIP SAUCE

200 ml sour cream
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
Chopped cilantro according to taste
Chopped parsley according to taste
the juice of half a lime
½ finely chopped Spanish pepper
pepper and salt

 

Clean the scampi.
Season the scampi with one tablespoon of Cajun spice mix and mix it all together, so the flavours get a chance to combine.
In te meantime, heat the olive oil and the butter in a large pan or wok.
Bake the scampi on high heat and as soon as they are done remove the from the pan.
If needed you can add some extra olive oil to the pan, but I think in most cases it wont be necessary.
Now add the cubes of bell pepper together with the chopped onion and the garlic.
Let this simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped cherry tomatoes.
Again let this simmer for a while, so the bell pepper has the time to soften up a little bit.
Now remove all the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.
Poor in the stock and stir it well. It is very important that all the goodness that sticks to the bottom of the pan combines with to stock to get a flavourful sauce.
Now let the stock boil until you are left with 1/3 the of the original amount of stock.
Add the cream and bring back to the boil, so the sauce can further thicken.
Season with the left over Cajun spice mix, the cayenne pepper, the black pepper and the salt. Taste it and add some more spices if you like.
Now add the scampi and the vegetables to the sauce and bring it one more time to the boil.

For the dip:

Mix the sour cream with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Add the finely chopped Spanish pepper, the cilantro, the parsley and the lime juice.
Mix it well so all the flavours combine, taste and finish it off with some fresh grounded pepper and salt.

Daring cook: Brunswick stew

Another month, another daring cook challenge. This months challenge brought to us by wolf and it freaked me out a little bit. I was already on spring modus in my kitchen. The refrigerator was already stuffed with nice southern flavours like mozzarella, olives, salads and wonderful strawberries.
And then I read “stew”…..In my head it went “No not stew! Stew is for cold and dark months! Not for nice spring months.” On the other hand we are a stew household. The hubby and I just love stew and like I said in winter months we have it once or twice a week. I think it’s a perfect satisfying dish… sitting on the stove for hours, making my whole house smell delicious and at night a plate of hot, damping fragrant stew.
So of course I was going to give this American Brunswick stew a chance; What a daring cook would I be if I skipped this? But I was gonna pimp the stew a little bit into spring modus.
I was happy to see the dish called for rabbit. Rabbit is pretty easy to get over here in Belgium and it’s a very low on calorie meat that is still full of flavour. I make it very often cause its pretty cheap meat and used in our local Belgium Dish “rabbit in dark beer sauce”.
I used the long recipe that was given but added some spring veggies to the dish.
The result was very tasty although I was a bit disappointed. Every step of the preparing process I tasted a little and I was entranced by the flavours. I even yelled at the hubby a couple of times to come and taste. But then I added the tomatoes and the wonderful taste disappeared. So next time when I make this dish, I wont add any tomatoes anymore. But don’t doubt it for a second… this stew will be placed on my table once more!

INGREDIËNTS (serves 4)50 grams of bacon roughly diced
1 dried red hot chilli pepper
300 grams of rabbit
500 grams of chicken, quartered, skinned and the fat removed
sea salt
pepper
550 ml chicken broth
1 bay leave
1 large celery stalk
2 potatoes peeled and roughly diced
2 carrots peeled and roughly diced
2 medium onions peeled and chopped
150 grams of corn kernels
200 grams of field beans (Not sure this is the right translation in dutch its called tuinboon)

150 grams green peas
1 green bell pepper diced
2 turnips peeled and diced
1 zucchini diced

250 grams whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
Tabasco sauce to taste

Take the largest stockpot you have and fry the bacon in it over medium-high heat until it starts to crisp; Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan (I added a little bit of garlic oil extra) and now add the red hot chilli pepper to the pan. Toast the chilli until you smell their hot and spicy fragrance in your kitchen. Now remove the chilli to the bowl with bacon.

Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and the chicken pieces with sea salt an black pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides. The meat needs the brown a little bit, not cook thoroughly so remove the rabbit when it has a brown crust around it to the bowl with the bacon.
Add a little bit more garlic oil and place the chicken pieces in the pot. Also browning them at all sides. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon.

Now add 200 ml of chicken broth to the pan and deglaze is. Use a spoon to get all that goodness cooked onto the bottom of the pan loose. It is here that all the flavour is found!
Now bring it up to the boil and let the liquid reduce by half! Now add another 150 ml of stock, the bay leaves, the celery, the potatoes, the chicken, the rabbit, the bacon and the chilli. Poor in any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl. (Tasty remember!) Bring the pot back up to a low boil / high simmer. When it starts to boil reduce the heat a little bit and let it simmer for about 1,5 hours. Stir the stew every 15 minutes so all the flavours can blend in together.
The recipe mentions that the stock after 1,5 hours should taste like the best chicken soup ever and I must admit it is very good. A little hot from the chilli, salty from the bacon and light meaty. My conclusion absolutely jummy!

Now remove the chicken and the rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be very careful cause the meat will be tender and might start to fall apart. Also remove the bay leaf, the celery and the chilli. You can discard these cause you wont be needing them anymore.

When the meat is cool enough to handle it is time to remove all the meat from the bone. Then return the meat to the pot and add the carrots and parsnips. Stir it gently allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Let this simmer without a lit on for at least 25 minutes.

Now add the onions, the field beans, the corn, the bell pepper, the green peas, the zucchini and the tomatoes (I wont be adding the tomatoes the next time I make it though). Let this simmer again for 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly and everything is nice and tender.
Remove the stew from the heat and add in the vinegar, the lemon juice and blend it in very well. Taste and season with some extra sea salt, black pepper or some hot Tabasco sauce.

I let it rest in de fridge for a night and planned to serve it with some homemade cornbread. But I did not count on the fact that no local supermarket would provide me with cornflower… So no cornbread for us. So I turned it into a kind of cottage pie.
Just before putting it in the oven I added a teaspoon of Smoked BBQ sauce and topped it of with mashed potatoes and grated cheese. 20 minutes in the oven and the wonderful boiling stew was ready to serve!

classic goat cheese salad

On my dutch blog I posted this wonderful recipe for Italian style goat cheese salad. I already mentioned there that the hubby and I simply adore goat cheese. For this diner with the In laws I decided to go the classic tour with goat cheese and serve it up with some wonderful raspberry dressing.
My husband had been warnings me that he never had goat cheese while he lived at home and that his parents would be very surprised to find this on their plates. I could only hope it would be pleasantly surprised. It felt like a giant leap into the dark. Because goat cheese is something you have to like. It’s not a somewhere in the middle product. Or you love its delicate robust flavour or you detest it.
Apparently my in laws thought they were missing out on a big treat for all those years, because the goat cheese was a big hit! They were very enthusiastic about it and there plates were sparkling clean when I put them in the dishwasher. My mother in law phoned me a couple days later to ask where she could by goat cheese.

INGREDIENTS

Mixture of lettuce (I used lollo bionda, red oat leave lettuce and lamb’s lettuce)
1 pink lady apple
200 grams of salted bacon cubes
2 goat cheeses
roasted pumpkinseeds

2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of raspberry vinegar
red fruits to decorate the salad with. (On the picture you don’t see any fruits because my hubby was still assembling the plates!)

Place the goat cheeses in an oven (you can use your grill to if you like) for about 10 minutes on 170°.
In the meantime dice the apple and bake the bacon until crispy.
Now mix the honey with the raspberry vinegar and whisk till you get a runny, thick dressing.
Now assemble the plates, a little bit of lettuce, some apple cubes, some bacon, the cheese, sprinkle the pumpkinseeds and the red fruits. Drizzle with the dressing and serve it!

Easy Peazy Diner: Dessert

Choosing a dessert was very easy this time around. My father in law bought me a crème brulee burner last year in Spain. After years of trying to get a nice result using the grill of our oven, I could finally serve the perfect crème brulee. On our last visit the casa in-laws they told us they were tired of hearing how wonderful the burner and the crème was and wanted to taste for themselves. So crème brulee it was!
Not a problem for me cause I just love crème brulee. It really is one of my favorit dessert. Maybe the only dessert I will finish completely. I just love to indulge myself with that dark brown caramel layer which you have to crack before getting to the smooth, creamy thickness of that yellow cream.
And its even a lot of fun to make. Not much work to be done to be quiet honest, although I admit it needs quit some time in the oven. But don’t be put off by that. A home made crème brulee is so divine you wont believe you have never tried it before!

INGREDIENTS6 egg yolks
75 grams caster sugar
½ liter full fat milk
½ liter cream
1 vanilla pod
cane sugar
Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until the egg turns with and you have swirl of egg hanging from your mixer. (In Flemish we call this beating it ruban.)
Now mix the cream and milk together and bring them to the boil together with the vanilla pad.
When the cream/milk mixture boils pour this over the beaten eggs with constantly beating this. (Don’t to this the other way around cause your crème will not thicken!)
Now poor the crème into low fire resistant cups. (Its very important that you use low cubs. The heat needs to be spread evenly. When you use large cups the top will be burned, while the middle will still be runny.)
Place these cups into a oven tray and fill it up with boiling water. (Be careful not to spill any water in your custard!)
Bake this for about 45 minutes in an oven at 140 degrees Celsius.
Let the crème cool before burning it.

Now dust the crème brulee with the cane sugar and burn it with the burner till you have a nice golden brown caramel crust. (For people who don’t have a burner, you can use the grill of your oven. Its not quiet the same, but it will do.)