Category Archives: Nice and easy

The best cheesecake I ever had

I am not sure how to write this blog piece. Cause I think I could spend 24 hours thinking about it and still I would not be able to describe this cheesecake. Does it say enough when I tell you this cheesecake was eaten by the two of us in just one day? Although I bake regularly I mostly share it with friends and relatives, since I am not really a sweet toot myself. But this cheesecake was like kryptonite to me. This cheesecake was also the reason I bought BBC Good Food magazine for the first time ever. It cost me 11 euro’s but the cheesecake makes it the best spend 11 euro ever. Good food serves it with a nice summer berry mix… I don’t. The cake doesn’t need it. It’s a star all by itself. I honestly think it is even better without anything else on top of it! And yes I tried… I munched a part down with some strawberry sauce and I ate part just plain. Plain for the win!

 INGREDIËNTS

200 grams of shortbread cookies
50 grams melted butter
600 grams of soft cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200 grams of crème fraiche
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
175 grams of golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs
 

 Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

The recipe states that you need to tip the shortbread in a food processor. And I agree that it is the easiest way to crumble it down. But it isn’t the funnest way. I tipped my shortbread into a zip lock bag and bashed it down with a bottle. Yes I have a food processor, but bashing with a bottle is a lot more fun!

Add the melted butter and mix well. Then press the mix into the base of the loaf tin.

Beat the cheese, crème fraiche, vanilla and sugar until smooth, then mix in the flour and the eggs until smooth again.  Poor the mix into the tin and smooth the top with a knife. 
Bake the cake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 80 minutes. The cake is done when there is just s light wobble in the centre. Turn of the heat and let de cake cool completely in the oven.
Place it in the refrigerator to firm up.

Recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine August 2010

Cannelloni with ricotta and minced meat

The husband and I are huge fans of Italian food, So I am always happy to try out something new and exciting. Normally I use a very basic cannelloni recipe à la bolognaise. It’s a wonderful recipe and I just know I ll keep using it till I am old an grey. But sometimes I want to try new recipes and new flavours. I found the base for this recipe while looking for some stock cubes on a website. The website suggested to use the cubes in a Ricotta cannelloni and I was won over. The idea of a ricotta cannelloni without spinach sounded like something different. So I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that and I ended up with those lovely creamy cannelloni.

 INGREDIENTS
8 tubes of cannelloni
½ red onions finely chopped
125 grams ricotta cheese
1 jar of tomato sauce (I used home made sauce about 250 ml)
50 grams of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
½ red pepper chopped in small cubes
½ green pepper chopped in small cubes
200 grams minced meat
30 grams of pine nuts
2 teaspoons of Italian herb mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large sauté pan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the minced meat and crumble it with a fork while it turns lightly brown and is cooked through. Now add the onion and the peppers and stir fry this for a about 10 minutes.
Now add the ricotta to the pan and mix it all together.
Season with a little bit of salt, pepper and the Italian herb mix.

Now add 25 grams of parmigiano reggiano cheese and the pine nuts to the mixture.
I had to pre-boil the cannelloni before using. Be sure to check the instructions on your package before using.
 Now fill the tubes with the meat-ricotta mixture. I did this using a small wooden spoon. Look out that the tubes don’t tear up completely.

 Place the filled tubes in a oven dish and poor over the tomato sauce. Make sure that the cannelloni is covered completely with sauce; else it will go hard an dry while baking in the oven. Now sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano reggiano cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes in an oven of 200 degrees. Uncover and bake further until the cannelloni is golden brown an bubbling, this takes approx. another 15 minutes.

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.

Indian style wedges

You must have noticed I like Indian curries. No wait… I love Indian curries. Most of the time I serve it with rice and papadums. But today I was craving potatoes. I am Belgian and Belgians love their potatoes. Did you know that we eat potatoes for diner 96% of the time? Well, I guess the husband and I are not a traditional Belgian family, cause I don’t think we get to that number. I would guess its around 50% with us. But sometimes I indeed crave potatoes. Not the very dull boiled potato like most Belgian people eat them. No I wanted an exciting potato. I was thinking crispiness, a little spicy and a nice warm feeling to the tongue.
So that’s how these Indian wedges came to life. I add a little of this, I squeezed in a little of that and I top it of with a little of everything.

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes (any kind will do, but I prefer a hard boiling potato.)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of chilli powder
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
2 tablespoons of garam masala
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
6 curry leaves
A pinch of sea salt

 Was the potatoes, but don’t peel them. I think potato wedges should have skins. That’s what makes them so lovely and crisp. So no peeling for this dish! Just simply cut the potatoes into wedges form. Then put all the wedges together in a large bowl and pour over the vegetable oil. Start adding the herbs and stir it all together. When you use a bowl with a lit, just put on the lit and give the bowl a good shake. All the wedges should be cover with the spice mixture.
Then lay the wedges out on a baking tray cover with baking paper and place the tray in an oven of 175 degrees for about 25 minutes. Then take out the wedges, turn them around and place them back for 15 to 20 minutes.

When the wedges start to look golden brown, have a taste. They are done when the exterior is crispy and the interior is soft inside.

Good old chilli con carne according to Jamie

There are few things I don’t really like in life. One of them is wasps, another one is dirty underwear and I certainly must not forget beans. I don’t like beans. Don’t get me wrong.. I ll eat them when they are on my plate. And over the years I did eat some delicious beans, but I wont make it for myself if I don’t need to. The problem is that my dearly beloved husband has a thing for beans. One of his favourite dishes is chilli con carne.
I don’t eat chilli con carne. To many beans and to much corn, another thing I am not to found of. Sometimes my mother in law makes some extra portions for her eldest son and we freeze it, so he can have some when I am not around the house. Only problem his, the husband is not really keen on his mothers chilli con carne. So for the love of my husband I crossed my boundaries and I made chilli con carne. Not just any chilli con carne, but “good old chilli con carne” from the ministry of food cookbook from Jamie Oliver. There are few things in life I really like, one of them is Jamie. And so everybody was happy. The hubby loved the chilli and thought it was better then his moms. I got to cook a recipe from Jamie and I saw my husband happy. What else isn’t there to like?

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 red peppers
olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 heaped teaspoon of grounded cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of grounded cinnamon
sea salt and black pepper
400 grams of tinned chickpeas
400 grams of tinned red kidney beans
400 grams of chopped tomatoes
500 grams of minced meat
1 small bunch of fresh coriander
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Start of with peeling and finely chopping the onions, the garlic, the carrots and the celery. Deseed the red peppers and chop them up roughly.
Don’t forget chilli con carne is a rough dish, so no need to be very careful while chopping. Rustic pieces wont ruin the dish, it will just make it more authentic.
Add two tablespoons of olive all to a casserole and put it on a medium high heat.
When the oil is hot add all the chopped vegetables at once.
Now season it with the chilli flakes, the cumin and the cinnamon and end it with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir every 30 seconds for about 7 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened and lightly coloured.
Poor in the drained chickpeas, red kidney beans and the tomatoes. Stir it all together and let it simmer for about a minute.
Then add the minced meat, breaking the larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.
Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and poor this into the pan.
Slice the stalks of the coriander and finely slice them before adding them to the pan.
Now add the balsamic vinegar and a little bit of salt and pepper again.
Bring this all to the boil, when it starts boiling turn down the heat and let it simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring the stew every now and than.
When the hour has almost past, taste and season it a little extra to flavour.

The husband ate the chilli with some tortillas, sour cream and cheddar grated on top of it.

Tortilla al Horno

The day after we returned from vacation my parents in law came for diner. My head was still in the lovely Perigord; so I did not want to spend my whole day in the kitchen. Do you know that lovely rush that follows you a couple of days after you returned home. That feeling of complete inner peace. Its like walking in a cloud of good vibrations and still the holiday feeling. The husband choose to serve them paella. Quick, easy but delicious. I shared the recipe with you before and it always is a big hit when I make it. As a started I made a little buffet of Spanish tapas. Chorizo, gambas a la plancha, calamari, jamon, manchego cheese, some good olives and this tortilla al horno.
I ll just be plain honest with you guys.. I cant make a regular tortilla baked in a pan. It does not work for me. I always end up with scrambled eggs and hard potatoes. Horrible! So I fled from that challenge months ago and I go with this “It just cant go wrong recipe”. Tortilla baked in an oven. I was ashamed to tell anybody, but when I finally told my friend Maria, who happens to be Spanish and lives in Sevilla, she yelled: “What do you mean, you just recently discover that? That how I been doing that for years! And not just me, also my mom and grandma.” And to be honest, when a Spanish grandma does it, it cant be wrong, right?

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large clove of garlic (pureed)
4 spring onions (cut into small rounds)
1 red bell pepper (deseeded and cut into small pieces)
175 grams potatoes partly boiled (they don’t need to be cooked through) sliced
75 grams of hot chorizo (cut into small cubes)
5 large eggs
175 grams of grated manchego cheese
Salt
Pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper

I used my crème brulee forms to bake the tortilla in. But you can do it just aswel in a square baking form. Just cover the backing form with some baking paper and grease it with a little olive oil.
Now add the oil, the mashed garlic, the spring onions and the paprika to a large pan and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. Remove the garlic, onions and paprika from the pan and add the chorizo cubes. Let it bake for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Take a large bowl and add whisk the eggs together with the cheese, the salt, pepper en the cayenne pepper.
Now poor in the garlic, onions, paprika, chorizo and potatoes. Fold it together carefully. Don’t be to enthusiastic, cause you don’t want the potatoes to break into little pieces.

Now poor the egg mixture into your forms and place them in a preheated oven op 190 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the tortilla looks golden brown.
The tortilla is ready when it feels pretty firm, but still a little springy when you push it with your finger.
Let the tortilla cool on a rack before removing it from the spring. The cool down time will allow the tortilla to firm up some more. Then cut the edges with a sharp knife and turn place a serving plate on top of the form. Turn it around and remove the form. Remove the baking paper carefully.

You can serve the tortilla hot or cold.

Mussels with Pastis and tomato cream sauce

I love mussels.. I really do. Once the season is there to eat them I kind of go wild. I make them at home, I eat the in restaurants or I just tag along at my moms table and eat her portion. But to be quite honest… there are only two ways I have ever eaten them. Fried with a golden crispy crust and some lovely tartar sauce and the classic Belgian way to serve them with onion, leeks and carrots accompanied with a little jar of mosselsauce.
While on holiday in France the husband and I tend to eat lunch in local restaurants where there are no tourists and all the townspeople. Its quit an easy thing to do… drive away from the large towns and stop at a cafe/restaurant in some local village. Mostly they have a menu du jour… for about 12 euro you have soup, salad, a main course, dessert and some coffee. For an extra 2 euro you get wine! How lovely is that!
One of those lunches we ended up in a little restaurant with a lovely few on the river and they served mussels marinara.
I got a huge plate of lovely mussels in a divine sauce. I could not resist to dip my bread in it until it has soaked all that lovely goodness.
Back home I tried to look up the recipe for mussels marinara, but I found nothing that looked or resembled the lovely mussels I had in France.
But now that I had seen the other side of mussels I was ready to experiment and this lovely dish is the result of it!

INGREDIËNTEN

3 kg fresh mussels
2 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200 grams of finely sliced carrots and leeks
15 ml op pastis
200 ml cream
mussel herbs (We buy them at our local fish shop.)
150 grams of canned chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons of herbes de
provence

Wash and clean the mussels. (I do it as followed: clean the mussels, wash them, wash them again and wash them a third time! The cold water opens the mussels a bit and the shaking of your hands pours out the sand and weeds in the mussels.

Now take a large casserole (I use one for soup) and fill it with a layer of mussels, a layer of onions, carrots and leeks and a layer of herbs. Then again a layer of mussels, a layer of vegetables and a layer of herbs. Keep repeating this until all the mussels are in the pot.
Now add some water to the pot… its hard to say how much cause I normally do this by heart. But I would say 300 to 400 ml. Put a lit on the top and put it on a medium high fire for about 10 minutes. Shake the casserole a couple of times so that all the flavours can mingle!

Now take a little pan and heat some olive oil in it on another fire. When the oil is hot, add some onions and the garlic. When it turns golden brown add the pastis and the tomatoes. Stir this well before adding the cream and the herbes des provence. Now let this boil until you get a thick and creamy sauce.
When the mussels are done you take about 150 to 200 ml of the cooking juices and you add it to the cream sauce. Bring to the boil again and season with some pepper and salt.
Place the mussels in a large dish and pour over the cream sauce. Drizzle some fresh parsley over it and serve immediately!