Monthly Archives: August 2010

Dutch Boterkoek

Have I told you how I love the Netherlands? Well I do. At least once a month we drive up there to enjoy a day full of “gezelligheid”. When other people dream about a life in the hot sun of France, I dream of living in Bergen Op Zoom or Utrecht. I am not sure if there is anything I don’t like about the Netherlands. No wait there is. I don’t like their so called beer that tastes almost like lemonade. But that is kind of it. All the other things I like. Our monthly visit to Holland always ends with a visit to Albert Heijn where I can go wild and end op with a very high bill on groceries. One of the things I always buy is boterkoek.

Boterkoek is unique to the Netherlands. It’s a rich, buttery dense cake which is probably not good for your waist and heart considering the amount of butter that is used in it. But there is nothing like it in the world. Its not cake, its not a cookie, it certainly is not pie.  You should give it a go yourself, its quit an experience.
Like I told you I always buy boterkoek but it is finished fast in our house. So I was on making my own batch of it. From a Dutch friend I got a recipe her mother used to make and she made me promise I would only use really roomboter (creamy butter?) in the recipe. I crossed my heart and started baking! And you should too! Its such an easy recipe and for once we don’t have to think about our diets, right?

 INGREDIENTS
250 grams of all purpose flour
250 grams of roomboter (creamy butter)
250  grams of white castor sugar
8 grams (or one bag of vanilla sugar)
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
some lemon zest
1 beaten egg

Put the flour, the butter, sugar, salt lemon zest and ¾ of the beaten egg into a bowl. Its important that the butter is at room temperature and that you slice it into thin piece. Now mix together using your hands. You hear me! No use of mixers or kitchen robots, just your hands! When the mixture becomes a (I must admit greasy) dough let it rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. In the mean while butter and flour you baking pan.

Now add the dough to the pan. This is a thick dough so you need to push it a little in its form.  Brush the rest of the beaten egg over the dough and decorate using a fork that you push gently into the dough make stripes.  Now bake the boterkoek in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes. The boterkoek should have a golden colour and feel a little soft when you touch it. Let the koek cool down completely before removing it from its form and slicing it into squares.

Advertisements

When you ask people to name some famous British chefs most of them will come up with Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson. Not me though… No I am madly and deeply in love with the cooking of Rick Stein. Rick and I had some great times in front of my TV. I sailed the canal du Midi with him, I ate dumplings with him in Phuket and I followed him around the Mediterranean. And that is still my favorit..his Mediterranean escape. I loved the show with that typical cuisine and the lovely views. I soaked in all his tips and one moment I thought I was going delusional in front of my tv cause I could almost smell the sea! I was overcome with joy when I finnaly got my hands on the Mediterranean escape cookbook. The first recipe I tried from it was this lovely kefta Mkaouara or a spicy egg, meatball and tomato tagine.
But although I love Rick Stein and everything he does I need to tell you how happy I was with the adjustments I made to the recipe. Without the extra spices I used I think the flavour would have been kind of bland. The husband and I agreed that his recipe could never be “spicy” like the title mentioned. I wrote my added spices in the cookbook and I saw the husband smile. All my cookbooks are tweaked with little notes in the sides to make recipes “more us”.

 INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 medium sized eggs
a small handful fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
450 grams minced lamb
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of hot paprika (I used some dried Harissa herbs I bought in Tunesia for this)
2 tablespoons of raz el hanout
1 medium onion, finely chopped
800 grams of canned chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves crushed

 Start with preheating your oven at 200 degrees.

Now for the meatballs put the minced lamb, parsley, 1 teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper into a bowl and mix together well with your hands. When all is mingled together well form the meat into small balls. (Approximately 2,5 cm)

 Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow tagine or a frying pan and brown the meatballs briefly on all sides. You don’t need to cook them through, they just need to get a lovely golden crust.  Remove the balls from the pan and transfer them to a plate.

 Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onion to it. Cook it very gently for about 5 minutes until soft and tender. Now add the canned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of pepper, the garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of raz el hanout to the pan. Let this simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season with some salt to your liking.

Now return the meatballs to the pan and mix them together with the sauce. If you don’t have a tagine now is the time to transfer the mixture into a shallow oven dish. Make 4 slight dips into the mixture en break the eggs into each one. Now place the tagine or the oven dish in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggs or cooked.

Scatter with the chopped coriander and serve with some couscous like we did or some lovely Moroccan bread to dip into the sauce.

Recipe adapted from Rick Steins Med. Escape

Peanut butter square brownies

This weekend I was looking for a package of cinnamon I remember recently buying in my local Moroccan grocery shop. I found it in the back of my cupboard together with a jar of peanut butter that was about to expire in two months. I think I must have bought the jar of peanut butter to make fresh peanut sauce about a year ago and now it was wasting away in a dark corner of my kitchen. The hubby and I don’t like peanut butter on our sandwiches so that was no option. But I felt like brownies and I had a recipe for Nutella marbling lying around in a kitchen drawer. Nutella and peanut butter… sounds a little bit decadent no? Well it was. It was also a very filling brownie, but also very rewarding. There is just something about the salty peanuts together with the creamy chocolate that made my heart beat a little faster.

 INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons of unsalted, softened butter
280 grams of light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
150 grams of peanut butter
2 eggs
100 grams of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
80 grams milk chocolate
80 grams of nutella

 Preheat the oven at 180 degrees and line a brownie baking pan with baking paper.

 Take a large mixing bowl and beat the softened butter with the brown sugar into a creamy paste. Now add the vanilla and the peanut butter and mix until combined. Then add the eggs and beat just until everything is combined. Now fold in the baking powder and the salt, just make sure they are thoroughly  mixed in. Now add the flour and mingled it all very well. Now poor the batter into the brownie pan.

 Melt the chocolate au bain marie. When the chocolate is melted, whisk in the nutella till you get some kind of thick syrup. Now marble the peanut butter mixture with the chocolate syrup. The easiest way to do this is using a fork.

 Now place the brownie mixture into the hot oven and bake it for about 30 minutes.

Let the brownies completely cool down before you cut them into squares.

Sundried tomatoes chicken with twice baked feta potato

I love sundried tomatoes. Not the all dried out version. No I have a thing for the half dried tomatoes who bath in oil. I know it probably is not healthy. Its not good for your figure… but it is delicious as hell. So for once I just don’t care. Normally I serve these tomatoes with a little aperitif, but to make it all a little healthier I made them into a lovely marinade.

These lovely marinated chicken breast are very quick to make and taste very Mediterranean.

I served them with twice baked potatoes and some feta. I just love feta and I love potatoes, so why not combine them into this lovely dish!

 INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHICKEN BREASTS

2 chicken breasts
12 half sundried tomatoes
6 leaves of basil
½ onion
1 clove of garlic
350 grams of tomato coulisse
250 mls of olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR THE TWICE BAKED POTATOES

6 medium potatoes
Olive oil
200 grams of crumbled feta cheese and an extra 50 grams
2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons of finely chopped thyme
2 teaspoons of finely chopped sage
Salt and pepper

 

For the chicken breasts

Lets start of with the lovely chicken breasts. This is a really fast and easy marinate that you can use for any kind of meat. I just love it with chicken. The tenderness of the chicken goes wonderful with the sweetness of the tomatoes. But enough chit chat start chopping those sundried tomatoes and the basil leaves in rough pieces. When your done, do the some to the onion and the garlic.

Now take a large, deep plate or a large bowl and combine the chopped ingredients. Now add the tomato coulisse and the olive oil. Whisk it all together till everything is nicely combined.

Now take your chicken breasts and here comes the nice part…. Bash them with something heavy till they are nicely thin. Think about your bad day at work, about your husband loosing his socks for the seventh time this week, about your kids who never clean up their toys, about the dog who jumped on your pretty white dress with his dirty pawls. Anyone let the anger flow and just bash those chicken breast!

When the chicken breasts are nice and thin, you just toss them into the marinate, cover it up and place it for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

 Now heat a pan (even more lovely is a grill or a grill pan!) without adding any more oil or butter. Now take the chicken breast out of the marinate and fry them for about 2,5 minutes at each side.

FOR THE TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees. Now scrub the potatoes and poke some holes in them with a fork. Isn’t this a lovely aggressive diner?

Now place the potatoes hole side up on a baking sheet and drizzle them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and some sea salt. Now bake them for about 50 minutes in the oven. The potatoes are ready when you can insert a fork easily into the crispy skin of the potato.

Now remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Slice the potatoes in halve in length and scoop out that lovely, fluffy flesh into a bowl. Keep the skins on the side.

Now add 200 grams of crumbled feta cheese, the finely chopped herbs and some salt and pepper to the potato flesh. Mix this together into a creamy mixture and fill the potato skins with it. Top this of with the remaining feta cheese, some salt and pepper and return this to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Festonati with creamy ricotta lemon sauce

Pasta… if there is one thing I love in the world its pasta. I adore a plate of pasta with authentic bolognaise sauce and at night I dream about creamy sauce drizzled with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you ever wake me up for anything at night let it be a plate full of delicious pasta.

Unfortunately my dearly beloved husband is just not that into pasta. He barely eats a full plate of it and he complains when I put it on the table more then twice a month. It’s a problem in our marriage… maybe we need counselling…

On the other hand the pasta-hater himself makes the best tomato sauce ever and he does it with love and devotion and all that for little old me.

Sometimes he even brings home special types of pasta, just to surprise me. For valentine I got little red heart pasta one year, the other year I got pasta that looked like… well the crown jewels of a men. With Christmas he bought me little santa shaped pasta and a couple of weeks ago he brought home a bag of festonati pasta.

This pasta is one of the newer pasta shapes and is similar to penne or rigatoni. I must say I like it better then a regular penne. The shape is quit special, they are pretty big and they hold on to the creamy sauce I plunged them in.

One warning though, the festonati are quit big but don’t be deceived, they are all dente much quicker then regular penne! So don’t overcook them!

INGREDIENTS

300 grams of festonati
30 grams of butter
100 grams of ricotta cheese
50 grams of grated parmesan cheese
Juice of one lemon
The zest of one lemon
20 whole basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta al dente. When you drain the pasta don’t forget to set aside 1 cup of the hot water you boiled the pasta in.

Now melt the butter on medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and whisk it together with the melted butter. Turn down the heat. I know this sounds a little weird, but just believe me it will work! Now add the ricotta cheese and let it slowly melt while whisking in the parmesan cheese, the zest of the lemon and the basil leaves. The heat of your pan will make sure that the cheese melts into a creamy sauce. Using two cheeses might make the sauce a little to thick. So check the consistency and add some of the warm water you kept in a cup.

Now add the drained pasta and mingle it all together. You can top it of with some freshly grated cheese and some extra basil leaves if you like.