Category Archives: Daring Cook

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!

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Daring cooks: risotto

I can hardly believe it is my third daring cook challenge that I finished and every time our wonderful hosts were able to choose an absolutely delicious dish.
They even made me travel the world and this time our travels brought me to Italy. Where Eleanor from melbournefoodgeek and Jess from Jessthebaker dared us into making our own stock and risotto.
Risotto… you might not believe it, but the first time I actually ate risotto was in that same restaurant I was talking about in my daring baker post!
At home we don’t eat it very regularly, but when we do, I make the traditional risotto with just some delicious parmesan cheese, some dry white wine and some creamy melted butter. Traditional, but sometimes that’s the best way to have it!
I never made my how stock and to be quit honest I don’t think I ll do it again. Not only did it went a little wrong and I ended up with the most flavourless stock ever. (I blame the chicken I used for that!), but I also don’t have the time to cook for 3 hours and end up with just some stock. Of course I am one of the lucky once that can buy fresh stock or broth add the butcher shop and the taste of that is exquisite! But it was fun to make it myself for once and that’s what daring cooks is all about. Trying new things, introducing new recipes and deciding what to keep for the future. I am not keeping the stock, but I am definitely keeping the risotto recipe!
I pushed my boundaries and left the classic risotto for what it was and went for a zucchini risotto. I served it with some chicken I marinated with some lavender infused oil and stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. I reduced some dark, sweet balsamic vinegar and used it to decorated the plates. But as it turned out, my guests loved this sour sweet touch to the creaminess of the risotto. Mission accomplished once again!

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE STOCK

1 chicken (appr. 1 kilo)cut into pieces
2 medium onions roughly diced
1 leek (only the white part) roughly diced
2 stalks of celery roughly diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of white peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
½ the peel of a lemon
¼ teaspoon all spice
I added some store-bought stock to get the flavour up.

INGREDIËNTS FOR THE RISOTTO

60 ml of olive oil
1 small onion finally chopped
400 grams of Risotto Rice
60 ml white wine
1 litre of chicken stock
1 zucchini
1 tablespoon of lavender infused white balsamic vinegar
some dried oregano
some dried thyme
50 grams unsalted butter
60 grams parmesan

Making the stock

Wash the chicken and bones and place them in a soup casserole, cover them completely with water and bring this to the boil.
Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.
When it boils you add the vegetables and you let it come to the boil once more.
Then add the rest of the ingredients ( cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon peel and all spice) and let it cook, uncovered for 1,5 hours.
Carefully lift out the chicken and set it aside. (I used the boiled chicken in a vol au vent, but you can use it in a chicken soup, a noodle dish or an omelette for example!)
Now let the stock simmer gently for another whole hour.
Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less little bones and vegetables that are disturbed in the process the clearer your stock will be.
Now the stock is ready for use, if it is a little much you can always freeze it till later.

Making the risotto

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Fry it for a couple of minutes until it starts to discard his flavours. (You can throw away the onion, but I love onions so I used it in my risotto!)
Now add the risotto rice and stir so that each grain gets a coat of oil. Let it toast for a couple of minutes.

In the meanwhile I want to point out how important the use of good risotto rice is. When I made risotto for the first time at home I used Bosto Mediteranneo rice. The package said especially for risotto and paella. Well the package lied! This time I used Arborio rice from the Italian brand Ezzaluna. Wonderful rice and guess what: cheaper then that horrible stuff of Bosto! No wait… let the pictures speak for itself:

Anyway, you let the rice cook for a bake for a couple of minutes before you add the wine. Let it bubble away until the wine is evaporated!
Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width and turn the heat to medium. Stire now and then with a wooden spoon, until the stock is almost totally absorbed.
Now do this again, but make sure you leave aside about 100 ml of stock.

In the meanwhile dice the zucchini into small cubes and heat in a little pan some olive oil.
Add the zucchini and flavour it with some coarse sea salt, some thyme and oregano.

Let it bake for a while and then add the balsamic vinegar.

I love balsamic vinegar to be honest but this one is quiet something in my eyes.
It’s a white balsamic vinegar from Modena and its infused with lavender, which gives it a very interesting flavour. You have the complex sweetness and sharpness of the vinegar and then comes the bittersweetness of the lavender.

Now back to the risotto! Add the zuchinni to the rice and stir trough. Then add the last 100 ml of stock and about 50 grams of butter to the rice and stir until both are completely absorbed.
Stir trough the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minute.
The risotto should look smooth, creamy and oozy buy now and is ready to serve!

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.