Healthy and easy – comfort food at its best
Summer time and blogging just do not seem to go together. I hardly seem to be home at the moment and when I do cook for myself, I just throw together something super quick. But then last week I really needed one evening just vegging out on my couch with a movie. And what goes better with lounging around for an evening than pizza?!
But as I spent most my other nights that week at restaurants or dinner parties I really wanted to eat something healthy. A regular pizza can hardly be called a healthy. This pizza, on the other hand, is fabulously healthy: think bowl of quinoa with some veg and an (optional) sprinkle of cheese. I have experimented with quite a few different bases, and this one is among my favourites.
And if this has not convinced you: this pizza is easier to get right and comes together much quicker than a regular pizza dough. Basically you whiz some pre-soaked quinoa in a food processor voila your super-healthy pizza base is ready to be baked. Within no time you can sit on the couch, put your feet up and enjoy the comfort of a guilt-free pizza.
(Found on the blog ‘Deliciously Ella‘)
2/3 cup of quinoa (soaked for at least 8 hours)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dried herbs (for example rosemary, basil, oregano)
optional: chili flakes
- Soak the quinoa in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or over night.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (390F).
- Drain the quinoa.
- Place quinoa into the food processor adding the vinegar, herbs, chili (if using) and salt and pepper.
- Whiz the quinoa, scraping down the sides a few time until the mixture is smooth.
- Wipe a pizza dish with a little oil (do not skip this step).
- Pour the mix in the pizza dish and spread out evenly.
- Bake about 10 minutes.
- Add toppings of your choice and bake for about 10 minutes until hot.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following toppings
- Tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, onion rings, tuna, (light) mozzarella cheese and a hanful of rocket once the pizza is cooked.
- Tomato sauce cherry tomatoes, artisjoke, olives and a hanful of rocket once the pizza is cooked.
Rich flavours and deeply satisfying
What a crazy week! You know the type:
starts with a small operation and then ends with a 12 hour work day. And then ( ’cause you have made it through all that) you kind of go out for dinner and cocktails… a few times
….but then Sunday morning arrives, all quiet and calm….
That is when you realize you are in need of pancakes; warm, fragrant, comforting pancakes ….piled up high!
So I went straight for my newest favourite. These pancakes are not the white, fluffy, unsubstantial sort. Instead they have density, flavour and body. Rye- and buckwheat flour for depth and pear for sweetness.
The trick is to not fry them too fast; allow them the time to cook through. This is a little harder than with you regular whit- flour pancakes so my tip would be to add frozen blueberries for your first batches until you get the hang of it.
A plus: you can make the batter a day ahead – just make a double, add baking-powder and blueberries the next day and cook up a second lot.
(a variation on the recipe found on the blog post from ‘Alena Kogotkova‘)
100g rye flour
1 tbsp stevia (or sugar)
5g baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200 – 270ml almond milk (or regular milk)
3-4 pears, ripe but firm
a few tbsp of frozen blueberries (optional)
- Combine the dry ingredients: the rye- and buckwheat flour, stevia, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl lightly whisk the egg and add milk. (Start with only some of the milk. How much you need will depend on how juicy you pears are).
- Grate the pears (you can leave the skin on). Make sure you catch all the juices.
- Mix the grated pear into the egg mixture and then stir into the dry ingredients. You are looking for a relatively thick batter that will hold its shape when you make small pancakes; add milk if necessary.
- Fold in the frozen blueberries.
- Heat frying pan and fry small pancakes. Do not turn the heat to high; these will cook through slower than pancakes made of white flour.
Tips & Variations
- the original recipe adds 1.5 tbsp melted butter to the batter
- You can replace either flour with whole wheat flour, but then my suggestion would be to add theblueberries as the pancakes turn out denser
- if you halve the recipe, still use one egg, just reduce amount of milk
- Maple syrup
- Some heated (frozen) blueberries
“Eat me” and travel straight to France
There are two things I enjoy almost as much as being on holiday: the anticipation before the trip and the afterglow when you get back. One of my favourite ways to continue the adventure back at home, is to bring foodie souvenirs and to cook typical local dishes.
And at the moment my mind is still in France: the fabulous winding roads and the beautiful villages of the Loire valley…the rilletes, pâtés, baguettes, croissants and glasses of Saumure-Champigny wine ….I could go on and on (although I don’t think I will try pig’s ear again….)
So this weekend I decided to bring a little of the Loire region into my kitchen by baking a Tarte Tatin; the well known upside-down apple cake from the Orleans region that achieved fame through the ladies Tatin.
There are many different variations for making Tarte Tatin. Some cooks just throw some caramel sauce and apples together, cover all with pastry and shove it in the oven. But I find that this just does not deliver those soft rich caramel flavoured apples that make for a spectacular Tart Tatin. So I take that little bit of extra time and cook the apples in the caramel sauce first. The secret is to keep spooning some sauce over the apples and to shuffle them around a little in the pan to ensure even cooking.
If you are in a rush you could save some time by using store-bought puff pasty. I do however prefer the crumble of a quick home-made short crust; especially when you are planning to eat the tart at room temperature.
I should warn you though: it really is very hard to resist the scent wafting out of your oven and allow the tart the time it needs to bake all the way through.
Amboise, a Loire town that makes your mouth water
One 25cm tart
6 apples (use a firm, fresh-tasting apple like Jonagold, Cox)
90g butter (room temperature)
Optional: 1 vanilla pod
150g all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
- Use a mixer to beat together the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the egg and combine until pale.
- Quickly add the flour, salt and vanilla (if using).
- Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
- Melt butter in a round 25cm oven-proof pan.
- Add sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has turned a light caramel colour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Peel and core the apples. Cut them in half length-ways.
- Place the apples in the pan, cut side up. Cook the apples on a medium-low heat for about 25 min or until the apples have softened and the sauce has browned a little. Spoon some caramel over the apples about every 5 minutes. If the outside apples are cooking slower than those at the center carefully shuffle them around.
- When the apples are cooked arrange them in neat circles. Turn of the heat.
- On a floured surface quickly roll the pastry into a disk that is a little larger than your pan. Fold the pastry over your rolling-pin and transfer to the pan.
- Use the blunt end of a knife handle to tuck the dough around the apples. Do not tuck the edges of the pastry in though, but allow them to curl up against the sides of the pan.
- Bake the tart 25-30 min or until the crust is golden.
- Allow the tart to cool at least 10 min before covering the pan with a plate and turning it out.
Tips & Variations
- Ready-made puff pastry can be used instead of the home-made crust
- the apples can be replaced by pears
A dollop of ice cream, crème fraîche or vanilla yoghurt
Pure and simple
One day a year the Netherlands turn into an Orange on steroids, we call it Queensday. That is until today we called it that: this will be the last Queensday for at least a few decades with a new king taking the throne.
Queensday is not so much a celebration of the queen as an excuse for a great party: when I was a kid it was all about selling old junk on your doorstep. Then it became about joining the thousands of people on the streets of Amsterdam drinking way too many luke warm cans of beer. Nowadays the perfect Queensday is sitting at a friend’s window looking out on the mayhem, enjoying a lovely glass of wine.
The food that I associate with Queensday has also changed over the years: First I remember eating half of the cake I was trying to sell by slice. Then there were years of greasy shawarmas, French fries and burgers. And now I am nibbling on a few delicacies that have nothing more in common with Queensday than that they are ….orange.
These salmon bites take no effort to put together and make a great appetizer for any celebration.
Small tip: as only part of the salmon filet is thick enough to cut it into beautiful even cubes, have another recipe handy for the remaining salmon. Have some Salmon Burgers for lunch, for example.
a piece of thick sashimi quality salmon
Fish roe ( I used orange for the occasion, but black roe gives a very sticking effect as well)
- Cut the salmon into even cubes.
- Place salmon onto serving dishes.
- Top each piece with a dollop of roe.
- Cut the green parts of the spring onion into oval slices.
- Top each cube with a few onion slices.
Tips & Variations
You could prepare the fish in a soy sauce marinade for an Asian twist
Exploring the world one bite at a time
Whenever I head to my favourite local Chinese supermarket, I feel a little as Winnie the Pooh must have done when he shouted:
“We’re going on an Expedition, all of us, with things to eat. To discover something.”
My expedition begins hunting through the supermarket isles, searching for ingredients I have never even heard of. (What are Bean Curd Sheets?)
At home the journey continues as I work with ingredients I have never even seen before. (Why does soaking make these dried mushrooms look like massive algae?)
The exitement rises as I check the seasoning (Uhm, is this flavour what they call umami?)
The most thrilling bit is when my guest join in the discovery. (What is THAT???)
A successful expedition ends for me much the same way as it did for Pooh as he
“went back to his own house, and feeling very proud of what he had done, had a little something to revive himself.” (like some left-over Bean Curd Rolls).
(found on the blog ‘Use Real Butter‘)
5-10g (1/2 oz) dried Chinese black or shitake mushrooms
5-10g (1/2 oz ) dried Chinese tree ears mushrooms
115g 4 oz pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine
1 tsp cornstarch
60g (1/2 cup) bamboo shoots
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 pkt (225g / 8 oz) bean curd sheets (tofu skins)
3 tbsps vegetable oil
2 tbsps soy sauce
pinch of sugar
- Bring some water to the boil. Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for about 20 min.
- Cur the pork into julienne strips.
- Combine the soy sauce, Shaoxing, cornstarch and add the cut pork.
- Cut the bamboo into julienne strips.
- Drain the mushrooms. Remove any hard stems. Cut the remainder into julienne strips.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot add the pork and fry until just cooked.
- Add the bamboo and mushrooms and cook for another minute.
- In a small bowl mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with a little water into a paste.
- Unfold the bean curd sheets. If the edges are not regular cut them into shape with a pair of scissors. (To get uniform sized rolls, I cut the sheets the same size as my chopping board.)
- Briefly hold the sheets under running water. Wipe off excess water with a kitchen towel.
- Lay the sheet on your chopping board with one of the narrow ends towards you.
- Place some of the meat filling on the bean curd sheet. Fold in the long sides and then roll the narrow end away from you. Do not roll too tight.
- Dip your finger in the bowl with water and then the cornstarch. Run your finger along the open edge of the roll and fold close. Lay on a plate seam side down. Continue making the remainder of the rolls.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Place the rolls in the pan seam side down. Fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan. You can prepare the rolls ahead until this step.
- Place a shallow bowl of a sheet of parchment paper into a steamer. Layer the rolls inside.
- Sprinkle rolls with 1 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.
- Cover and steam for about 5-10 minutes or longer if you prefer the sheets softer.
- Pour the sauce that has collected over the rolls and serve hot.
Serve as part of a dim sum style dinner with:
Avocado for dessert? Yes, please!
Don’t give me that look!
Believe me: you can turn avocado into a fabulously decadent desert!
But I’ll forgive your doubt, I was skeptical as well when I first discovered this recipe. But I knew I had to try it – immediately! Some recipes are on my to-do list for years before I test them. This one made me so curious I had to try it instantly.
I was amazed by the result: super rich, creamy, thick, chocolaty. And it is incredibly quick to make….and healthy…. What more can you ask for!
Try it and be wowed!
(Found on the blog ‘Simply Dish’)
2 servings (or 1 very generous serving)
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe mango
2 tbsp dark chocolate powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
a few drops vanilla essence
a small pinch of salt
- Peel the avocado and mango and cube.
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until very very smooth.
- Preferably chill for a few hours in the fridge. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes. (Or skip this step and dive straight in there.)
Tips & Variations
- Replace the mango with a ripe banana
- Omit the mango and only use avocado
Mild and gentle Gomen (kale) to balance out the zing of the Beg Wot (Lamb Stew)
As a last post in my series of Ethiopian dishes I am sharing a simple recipe for a humble side of kale.
Although the Injera sets the stage for almost every Ethiopian meal and the meat stews are the stars, an Ethiopian feast is not complete without the supporting rolls of the many pulse and vegetable dishes. This mild kale dish contrasts beautifully with those spicy meat stews.
It might seem a bit odd that I am using kale from a glass jar – I have tried fresh and even frozen kale, but it simply does not taste like the Gomen I grew up with….so now I just continue our family tradition and pop open a jar.
3 tbsp oil
1 large jar of kale (720g) (NL: boerenkool, DE: Gruenkohl)
2 cm piece ginger
green jalapeno pepper (large chili pepper)
- Chop the onion very fine (in a food processor).
- Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a medium size pot. Gently fry the onions until they are translucent. Should they start sticking and burning add a little hot water.
- Squeeze in ginger in through a garlic press.
- Drain the kale and squeeze it dry.
- Add to the onion and cook whilst stirring until quite dry.
- Cover with a lid.
- Cook about 20 min, stirring once in a while to prevent it from burning.
- Season with salt.
- Remove seeds from the jalapeno and cut it into thin slices or strips. Stir most of the jalapeno into the stew and decorate it with the remainder.
Tips & Variations
- Make a triple amount of the onions sauce. Use one third for the kale, a third for yellow split peas and a third lentils.