Make the ordinary extraordinary
The other day I came home from my grocery shopping trip with some lovely cheeses and sausage only to discover that I had forgotten the crackers. Then it suddenly hit me: throwing together a batch of crackers actually takes less time (and effort) than going back out to the supermarket.
As with all pure and simple foods the key is to use good ingredients. So do not skimp on the quality of your flour or oil. Then the humble cracker, that usually is only there to carry something delicious to your mouth, suddenly becomes a treat in itself.
Cracking good: easy, tasty and without all those funky preservatives the standard store-bought kind has.
(found on the blog ‘Choosy Beggars‘)
125g (1cup) all purpose flour
125g (1 cup) whole wheat flour
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp fine salt
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
120ml (1/2 cup) warm water
Coarse salt for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 190C 375F.
- Combine both types of flour, rosemary and salt in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center and add oil and water.
- Working from the center combine the dough. It will seem sticky at first, but should turn into a supple dough. Knead for 3 min.
- Allow to rest 5 min.
- Cut out two sheets of parchment the size of your baking trays.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them out on the two sheets of paper. (A few drops of water under the paper will help it stick to the counter.) Roll the dough out as thin as you can.
- Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into little squares (about 4×4 cm).
- Slide the paper onto two separate baking sheets.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake 12-14 min until they are a rich golden.
Enjoy gravlax with ease
Why are we so ready to believe that great results require great effort?
We live in a culture that tells us that to achieve anything worthwhile, we have to work hard, to struggle and to fight. But I am beginning to feel that quite the opposite is true. There is no proof that struggle leads us to success. Actually the focus on battling through life seems to undermine any goals of peace and happiness.
The key seems to be to look at life through different eyes; to let go of fear and strife, and to replace them with effortless and creative living.
So with this in mind, this post is not just a recipe for wonderfully tasty cured salmon, but my proof that effortless living is the secret to joy 🙂
For this dish you need to do nothing more than wrap some fish in salt, sugar and dill. Let some days pass (they will do that all on their own) and then enjoy the experience of a beautifully, clean tasting, tender piece of cured salmon.
(And just to prove that ease and adventure go together hand in hand, see “tips and variations” below for a truly wild way of making gravlax.)
400g fresh salmon skin on
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
a large bunch of dill
- Rinse the salmon and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- Place a double layer of cling film on your counter top. Place half the dill on the cling film.
- Combine salt and sugar. And rub all over the fish.
- Place fish on cling film and dill. Top with remaining dill.
- Wrap fish tightly in cling film and place into a (zip lock) bag.
- Put the parcel in a Tupperware container or oven dish.
- Place a plate or chopping board on the fish and weigh it down with heavy objects. (Or completely forget about this step as I sometimes seem to do.)
- Keep the salmon in the fridge for 3-5 days. It is best to turn the fish once a day to ensure even curing.
- Unwrap the fish and discard the dill.
- Rinse, pat dry and remove the skin.
- Cutting against the grain, serve in thin slices.
- The cured fish keeps for at least one week in the refrigerator.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following
- add a little crushed black pepper to the salt and sugar
- drizzle the fish with a tablespoon of vodka or aquavit
- Add lemon zest
Adventurous Gravad Lax
A friend of mine shared his way of making Gravlax with me. It is so much more exciting & wild than my “domesticated” recipe. Unfortunately it is a true winter recipe that requires frost. So although winter is hardly gone I am already looking forward to its return to try this myself.
- Rub the salmon generously with Cognac (he uses Osborne)
- Wrap the fish in aluminum foil and then in cling film.
- Bury the fish in the garden about 40cm deep (this is where the name originates from: gravad lax.)
- Dig up three weeks later and enjoy.
Thank you GdB for this amazing recipe!
This tuna olive tapenade is full of powerful flavours that pack a punch
You know you are a lucky person when you can look up from your plate and see a table surrounded with the smiling faces of friends. The air is full with the sound of buzzing conversation, bubbling laughter and clinking forks. The table is full of tasty bites and scrumptious nibbles. Life is good!
This tapenade is a great little make-ahead dish for a fuss free dinner party. It tastes salty, rich and earthy. Originally tapenade is made with just olives and capers. This version includes tuna. Quite moreish!
Thanks againTC and VV for giving me….and my tapenade… a place at your table.
(from ‘Aller Lekkerste Zomer’)
150g good quality pitted black olives
3 anchovies filets
1 can of good quality tuna in olive oil (about 200g)
a pinch of dried thyme
1/2 tsp lemon juice
about 2 tbsp olive oil
- Rinse the capers. Add to a food processor together with all the ingredients except the olive oil.
- Blend until the dip has reached the desired consistency. Add extra olive oil if necessary. ( I like my tapenade rather smooth.)
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour or preferably over-night. Can be stored in the fridge for about four days.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following
- leave out the tuna and anchovies for a more traditional tapenade
- replace anchovies with anchovy paste
- add a clove of garlic
- add lemon zest
- replace thyme with oregano
- add chopped parsley
- raw vegetables as a dip
- cream cheese or rye bread
- crostini and baked ricotta
Imagine having these on your table within 5 minutes of pulling them out of the freezer
Cook once and eat twice – or in this case three or four times. I love foods that you can make in bulk and then just keep in the freezer.
These prawn dumplings are one of my favourite freezer dishes. They are very easy to make and once you have the hang of folding the dumplings, they do not take that much time to put together. The dumplings freeze beautifully and only take about four minutes to cook from frozen.
Make a large batch and keep them in the freezer for about 3 – 6 months. Then next time you feel like having a lazy evening, just pop the dumplings in a steam basket, defrost some edamame beans and relax. These dumplings make a lovely starter or great little dish for a dim sum style meal. Or serve with stir fried vegetables and rice or vermicelli for a light and effortless dinner.
The flavour of these dumplings is very light and delicate. The crunch of the prawn contrasts wonderfully with the soft wonton skin.
12-04-14: I put fudginggoods comment into practice and added lime zest and a little chili – fabulous! It adds just a touch of zing!
(from the blog ‘Rasa Malaysia‘)
About 20 dumplings
340g fresh, peeled and deveined shrimps (medium to large)
zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 red chili
1 teaspoon egg white
1/2 teaspoon tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oil
about 20 wonton skin
Make the filling.
- Rinse the prawns. Pat dry with paper towel. Cut each shrimp into small pieces.
- Chop chives.
- Zest lime, and chop chilli finely.
- Combine prawns, chives, zest chili and remaining marinade ingredients. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Make the wontons:
- Lay wonton skin on a flat and dry surface.
- Dab your index finger in a small dish with water. Trace around the skin.
- Add some filling to the center.
- Make three folds one side of the sheet.
- Now fold double into a half-moon shape.
- Press the two halves together.
Cook the dumplings:
- Either steam: Bring some water to the boil with a steamer basket. Steam the dumplings for about 3 minutes (or 4 if frozen).
- Or fry: Heat some oil in a pan. Fry the dumplings 2 minutes until golden. Add about 100ml water and immediately cover with a lid. Steam for about 3 minutes (or 4 if frozen).
- To freeze the dumplings, place them on a chopping board. Do not let them touch. Place in the freezer until frozen and then transfer to a freezer bag.
- soy sauce for dipping
- edamame (I buy mine frozen at the Asian supermarket)
- for a full meal serve with stir-fried vegetables and (fried) rice or vermicelli.
Tips & Variations
- the marinade can be replaced by a 1 1/2 soy sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar and some (white) pepper
- with any leftover wonton skins you can make wonton cups to serve an appetizer salad or with filled yoghurt and fruits as desert
Quiche with Onion and Bacon in a Crust with Rye, Seeds and Quinoa
Quiche is so incredibly good….I hardly ever make it – I would just gobble the whole thing down in one go. But a brunch party, picnic or pot-luck dinner is the perfect excuse for baking a quiche and having a few slices. A big thank you to TC and VV for inviting me and giving me a wonderful pretext for making this quiche 🙂
Over the years I’ve tried many different quiche recipes and the variations are endless. This recipe combines the two things that I believe to make a truly beautiful quiche: First a rustic crust with some character to it, then a creamy, slightly salty filling that is pure decadence.
Eat the quiche at room temperature. And although leftovers taste good the next day, the quiche is at its best the day it is baked.
Besides tasting great, this healthy rye crust also incredibly convenient: the crust can be baked a day in advance. On the day itself you only need to add the filling and shove it in the oven for an hour.
If you are really pressed for time, you could replace the crust with ready-made puff pasty. Its a quick fix that tastes good.(This is how I used to make this quiche before discovering this fabulous rye crust.) But I am quite sure if you try this healthy rye crust just once you will be sold on it like I was.
Another time saver is to replace the onions and bacon with cooked ham cut into cubes. A lovely and more gentle tasting alternative.
(crust from the blog ‘Appetite for Life‘)
one quiche about 24cm
110g all-purpose flour
55g rye flour
handful of quinoa
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
cold water to combine pastry
100g bacon rashers / slices
200g gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Line the base of a round cake tin and grease the sides.
- In a bowl combine flours, quinoa, seeds, salt.
- Add oil. Knead by hand slowly adding water until a ball forms that is not sticky.
- Set aside a small amount of dough to mend any wholes that might appear during pre-baking.
- Dust working surface with flour. Roll out the and transfer to the tin. (Should the pastry tear whilst you transfer it you can simply mend it in the tin.)
- Prick the base a few times with a fork.
- Pre-bake (empty) for 15 minutes until golden brown.
- When you remove the pastry from the oven check for wholes and mend them with the left-over fresh pasty.
- The crust can be prepared up until this point. Allow the oven to cool down and keep the crust in the oven over night, covered with a tea towel.
- Slice the onion into rings. Gently cook the rings until soft and sweet (about 10 min). They should not brown too much.
- Fry the bacon slices until brown (about 5 min) and drain on kitchen paper.
- Grate the cheese.
- This could also be prepared the day before.
- Pre-heat oven to 200C.
- Place onion into the crust. Rip the bacon into large chunks and crumble on top.
- In a bowl briefly stir eggs.
- Add cream, cheese, salt and pepper.
- Pour the egg mixture into the casing.
- Bake the quiche for 45 – 75 min. After 30-45 min start checking the quiche; if it is browning too fast cover it with aluminum foil.
- Allow the quiche to cool down to room temperature before serving.
Tips & Variations
- Crust: use ready-made puff-pastry for a quick fix
- Filling: replace onion and bacon with cooked ham in cubes. These can be stirred straight into the egg mixture