Category Archives: Appetizers

Pesto Rosso

When a friend told me this week he had eaten something “pre -prepared” he looked at me with scared eyes.
“Yes, so?” I answered and he looked even a little bit more afraid. “But you love to cook and you do it so well. You must be anti pre-prepared stuff?”
I almost rolled on the floor while holding my laugh. Anti pre-prepared? Hallo, who do you think I am? God? Yes, I love to spend my time in supermarkets looking for good quality food. I get happy from using fresh product and yes I love to cook. But that doesn’t mean that I never use something out of a package or carton! I work full time, I have a husband who gets home pretty late and works weekends. I don’t have a housekeeper or a person who does my ironing. So sometimes it has to quick and easy for me.
To test my theory that I am not anti pre-prepared I examined my pantry and my fridge. With the following results:
– Gazpacho from Alvalle. There is nothing, but absolutely nothing that can beat this gazpacho. Even my Spanish friend buys it, cause she cant make it better herself. Over the years I have tried to make fresh or taste other brands, but nothing beats Alvalle!
– Mix for falafel
– Mix for couscous
– A jar of marinated zucchini
– Pastasauce from Bertolli
– A lasagne

Just to say I am not anti pre-prepared.
This week in the supermarket I even places a jar of red pesto in my bags. I had been planning some dishes with red pesto and ready made pesto is quick and easy. Waiting at the counter I studied the ingredients and noticed chiliflakes and cashews. I don’t know about you but I don’t think those two represent the authentic Italian taste I was looking for. So I left the line, place the jar back in his rack and started searching for fresh ingredients for red pesto. And to be quiet honest.. the fresh pesto only took 5 minutes to prepare….

INGREDIENTS

200 grams of half dried tomatoes on olive oil (dredged from the olive oil)
15 grams of fresh basil
2 gloves of marinated garlic (If you cant find these, just use regular garlic)
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
40 grams of pine nuts
75 grams of grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons of olive oil

Add the sundried tomatoes, the basil, the garlic, the vinegar, the pine nuts and the cheese together in a bowl. Mix with your standing mixer until you get a smooth paste.
After the mixing spoon in the olive oil so it gets creamy.

Pesto can be kept in the fridge for a month. Just make sure that there is always a tiny bit of olive oil on top of it. This seals it from the air and protects it from any germs.

Advertisements

Easy Peasy Diner: appetizers

When my family in law comes to diner I kind of get the creeps. Cooking for friends or my family is rarely a problem. But from the moment husbands family steps into the picture I completely freak out. I am sure there are wonderful theories about this phenomena… no doubt about that. But for me it just plain horrible. The husband tries his best to calm me down a bit, but rarely succeeds.
Now it was even worse because they were coming on Ostara and I had to make sure that “my holiday” was not rubbed into their faces. I am not quit sure my family in law even knows I am pagan… And I was certainly not planning to tell them straight away.
So I tried to use some subtle decoration that did not scream “I am a wiccan!” I got the most amazing tulips, grass green candles and pretty ribbons who made sure that our living room was transformed into a spring Walhalla. No altar this time around for me, but I was satisfied non the less.
I decided to keep the menu simple. I did not feel like spending hours in the kitchen like I normally do. No I wanted simple, but tasty food that could be prepared in advance and that just needed a final touch right before serving.
I build my menu around the Ostara theme by using lots of young vegetables, eggs, cheese and I used the colours green and yellow a lot.
It turned out to be great. My family in law was very enthusiastic about my menu. The best compliment was when my mother in law asked me for some recipes.

INGREDIENTS PEA CAPPUCINO WITH PINK PEPPERCORNS

500 grams of peas (I used frozen peas)
1 small potato
325 ml chicken stock
85 ml cream
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
pepper and salt

INGREDIENTS CAULIFLOWER PANNA COTTA WITH GREEN PESTO

½ cauliflower
½ litre cream
2 gelatine leaves
nutmeg
pepper and salt
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
30 grams of basil
2 gloves of garlic
30 grams of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of olive oil

INGREDIENTS SHRIMPMOUSSE
200 grams of gray shrimps
300 grams whipped cream
fresh dill
paprika powder
pepper and salt

PEA CAPPUCINO WITH PINK PEPPERCORNS

Peal the potato and dice him into small cubes.
Bring the potato to the boil in the chicken stock. When the potato is boiling add the peas and let this simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Now poor the peas, potato and stock into the blender and blend this together into a pea mash.
Season the mash with pepper and salt.
In the mean time whip the cream and season it with a little bit of salt.
Now add ¾ of the cream to the pea mash and season according to taste.
Poor the pea mousse into glasses and place them for about 2 hours into the fridge.
Just before serving you poor the rest of the cream on top of the mousse and you decorate with the pink peppercorns.

CAULIFLOWER PANNA COTTA WITH GREEN PESTO

Wash the cauliflower and cut it into really small pieces. This is very important, cause you need to cook the cauliflower really fast. Because of the cream we ‘ll be using you cant have it cook for hours.
Now cook the cauliflower in a mixture of the cream, a little bit of water, some pepper and salt. The cauliflower should almost fall apart into the cream.
In the meantime soak the gelatine in some cold water.
Make the green pesto in your blender. Green pesto is one of the easiest things to make. You just add all the ingredients together in the blender and you mix it into a lovely green pasta. According to taste you can add some extra oil, pepper, salt or basil even.
When the cauliflower is done you mix it together with the cream using your hand mixer. Season it with pepper, salt and some nutmeg. Now add the soaked gelatine leaves and stir well.
Now add a tablespoon of pesto to a glass and poor over some of the cauliflower panna cotta. Pop this in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.

SHRIMP MOUSSE

Shrimp mousse is one of the easiest things to make as an appetiser. The taste is really luscious and soft and you can make it in less then two minutes!
Just mix the shrimps into a paste with your blender. Then mix the whipped cream with the shrimps using a wooden spoon. Season this mixture with pepper, salt, dill and paprika powder.
Poor the mousse into the glasses and pop it into the fridge for about 2 hours.
Just before serving you add a little bit of paprika powder on top of the mousse.

Appetizers: 4 amuses gueule

And then as the last part of my new years eve trilogy I am going to share with you my amuse gueule.
I know it’s a little funny to end with aperitif. But lets just say its because I love to have a good cocktail or a nice glass of wine with some amazing amuses gueules. I would rather skip dessert, then not to have an aperitif!
The most amazing part about these amuse gueule is the fact that they are just little meals, where you as a chef can place your whole heart and soul in. And above all… its mini. And everything that is mini I adore!

For my New Years eve feast I prepared the following quartet:

Black pudding with apple sauce
Steak tartare
Salmon mousse with marinated cucumber
Smoked duck with mango chutney

I served it with a mojito royal, which I decorated with a little bit of green sugar. It look so amazing for something so simple. Just mix in a little bit of food colouring into some granulated sugar and dip in your glass.

INGREDIENTS BLACK PUDDING WITH APPLE SAUCE

1 black pudding
250 grams soft sour apples
25 grams granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick

INGREDIENTS STEAK TARTARE

200 grams of minced beef meat
½ teaspoon Worchester sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon ketchup
a few drops of Tabasco
1 egg

pickled onions
pickled gherkins
capers
pepper and salt

INGREDIENTS SALMON MOUSSE WITH MARINATED CUCUMBER

3 slices of smoked salmon
1/3 cucumber
½ finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon of mascarpone
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of xeres vinegar
a few pieces of dill
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Tabasco

INGREDIENTS SMOKED DUCK WITH MANGO CHUTNEY

100 grams of smoked duck breast
3 large mango’s
1 lime
25 gram of grated ginger
½ red hot chilli pepper
1 dl vinegar
125 grams sugar
1 teaspoon of Szechuan pepper
Salt

BLACK PUDDING WITH APPLE SAUCE

This dish is so easy to make and takes almost no time to prepare.
When you make the apple sauce in advance of the party, you just have to back the black pudding and assemble the dish.
Peel the apples and cut them into 8 equal large pieces.
Put the apples in a cooking pot and add a little bit of water and the cinnamon stick.
Now put this on a low fire and let it come to the boil gently. Stir regularly in the apple sauce. When the apples start to fall apart, you can add the sugar and stir it in.

Just before serving you bake small round pieces of the black pudding en you place them on top of the apple sauce.

STEAK TARTARE

Steak tartare is a dish made of finely chopped or minced raw beef meat. Steak tartare is a very popular dish in Belgium, but also in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Poland and Slovakia. It may not be know very well in other countries, although steak à la Americain maybe rings a bell?
Anyway my husband and father are huge fans of steak tartare, so they demand this as an amuse gueule.

Steak tartare is at its best when you use real steaks and chop the meat fine by hand. But because of the very small portions I needed I used grounded beef from the butcher.
Just mix the grounded beef with pepper, salt, mustard, Worchester sauce, ketchup and Tabasco. Combine this into a meaty paste. (Not sure what I should call this?)
Then add the egg, finely chopped pickled onions, gherkins and capers and mix well again.
Steak tartare is at his best (and at his safest, remember you are working with raw meat!) when you make it à la minute.

Tip: When you want to serve this as a large portion you can serve the egg yolk in the egg shell on top of the meat. You don’t mix in the onions, gherkins or capers, but you serve them separately so your guest can take them to your liking.

SALMON MOUSSE WITH MARINATED CUCUMBER

Peel the cucumber and slice it into small cubes. Now add the finely chopped red onion and the cucumber together and mix this with a few drops of olive oil, the vinegar and a few drops Tabasco. Let the cucumber marinated for about two hours in the fridge.
Mix the slices smoked salmon with the mascarpone and the heavy cream into a mousse. Season this with a little bit cayenne pepper.

Now assemble the dish in small glasses. Start with a bottom of cucumber, add the mousse and dress with some dill.

SMOKED DUCK WITH MANGO CHUTNEY

This little dish will ask some preparation in advance but don’t let that scare you. In return you get a wonderful mango chutney they stores in a for a couple of months and is divine with Indian curries and rice!

Peal 2 mangos and slice the meat into small cubes. Chop the lime (with peal and pits) fine and try to catch as much of the juice as possible.
Now take a little pan with a thick bottom and add the mango cubes, the chopped lime, the ginger, the finely chopped pepper, the vinegar, the sugar, pepper and salt to it. Place this on medium heat and let it boil for about 30 minutes. Stir it regulary.
After 30 minutes remove the pan from the fire and let the mixture cool/
When you put the chutney into jam jars, you can keep the chutney for months!

Now peel the third mango and slice the meat into thin pieces.
Now assemble the dish by place a piece of duck on your spoon, then a piece of mango, another piece of duck and another piece of mango. Top it of with a spoon of mango chutney.

Daring Cooks January: Mezze

I was so excited when I saw the challenge that Michelle from Veggie Num Nums had for us this month.
Mezze is so great we eat it very regulary here at home. Michelle only wanted us to make fresh pitabread and hummus.
So that left me with a lot of oppertunities to go wild on other dishes to serve on my mezze-party!
I made it a greek mezze with some arab influences and I must say my guests where thrilled with the results.
They ate their tummys full and there was not one little piece left!

THE DELICIOUS HOME MADE PITABROADS

HUMMUS
MOROCCON STYLE CARROTSALAT
TARAMA
TAHINA
TYROKAFTERI
TZATZIKI


FRIED SQUIT

KEFTEDES

TOMATO FRITTERS

ARAB STYLE SHRIMPS

TIROPITAKIA

GREEK STYLE RIBS

KADAIFI
BAKLAVA
M’HANCHA

In this post I will only share the recipes we were obliged to make for the foodblog event itself.
In the upcoming weeks I will share all the other recipe too of course. (But if I did that right now it would be such a monster post 🙂 )

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE PITA BREAD
12 grams of dry yeast
591 grams of lukewarm water
596 grams of all purpose flour
An extra 200 grams of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Take a large bowl and poor in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water en stir till the yeast is completly dissolved. Now stir in approximatly 300 grams of flour. Stir this mixure well (Michelle told us to stir it a 100 times during 1 minute.) I was a wee bit lazy and let my kitchenrobot do all the work! Its important that you stir the dough in the same direction all the time, this to activate the gluten.
Now put the dough aside for about 10 minutes (but you can let it rest for up to two hours!)

Now sprinkle the salt over the dough and stir in the olive oil. Mix well (again I used my kitchenrobot.) Now it is time to add the rest of the flour. Do this slowly will stiring, so the dough gets the change to take it all in and become a sticky dough. The amount of flour mentioned in the recipe did not do the trick for me, I needed a lot more flour. Thats why I mentioned the extra flour in the ingredients section. It may very well be that you dont need the extra flour or you could just like me need a lot more. A lot has to do with the kind of flour you use. Put the dough on a lightly flour surface and knead it for about 8 to 10 minutes. When you see that your dough is quit runny and not at all a sticky dough, add flour and keep adding till you get that smood and elastic dough we are looking for!
Now clean out your large bowl and grease it in with a little bit of olive oil. Put your dough in the bowl and let it rise for about 1,5 hours in a dry and warm place.

Now preheat the oven on 230 degrees and putt some baking foil on an oven tray.
Gently punch down the dough (that looks like an exploted balloon) and place it on a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough in half and place the rest of the dough back in the bowl, while we are gonna make pitabreads from the first half!
Divide the piece of dough in 8 pieces and role them out till they are very very thin!  Place the rolled out pita breads on the baking tray ( I did it 3 at a time, but it depends on how large your oven is!) and place them for about 2 to 3 minutes in the oven.
Now watch… cause it is quit amazing to see the pita breads puff up till they look like little bread balloons.

If you like you can season the next batch of pita breads what makes them taste even more delicious! I flavored mine with a little Zathar and some fennel seeds. Delicious!
If you bake the pita breads at diner you can wrap them in a towel to keep them warm till all the breads are baked. Or you can do as I did and bake them in the morning and put them in the toaster a few minutes before serving!

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE HUMMUS:
300 grams of chickpeas ( I used tinned chickpeas, because I am a little bit lazy and because I always have them in the cupboard.)
the juice of 2 lemons
3 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
a little pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of tahini

I drained the chickpeas the night before. To make a good Hummus you need to be sure that all of the liquids are reduced to a absolute minimum. You want to get a creamy hummus that melts in your mouth.
Now puree the drained beans and the garlic in a foodprocessor or use a puree masher.  I added some extra olive oil to get a creamy mixture. (Don’t add to much, you dont want it to go all fat and sticky!)
Now add the tahini to the mixer and stire well.
I added half a tablespoon of harissa to get a little heat in the hummus. But he is very tasty just the way it is or if you like you can add other flavours to it like smoked paprika or some dried fennel seeds. Anything you like will do just fine!

The recipe for the pita bread is based on a recipe from Flatbreads and flavors by Jeffrey Alford.
The recipe for the hummus is based on a recipe from The new book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.