Quick and easy, fragrant bread
The other week I got a mysterious souvenir gift: a little jar labelled “Charoset”. I had to go by the picture of dates on the front to guess at its content as all the other words on the jar were in Hebrew. This little mystifying jar had travelled half-war round the world. Not only that, it had to travel most of the way all on its own: It started its trip comfortably nestled in the safety of the suitcase my friend CL was carrying on her way back from Israel. At the airport however security was suspicious of this little vessel with its dark content. So this little jar was packed off all on its own for the long trip to Europe. How foreign that little parcel must have looked on the baggage belt amongst all those huge and well travelled suitcases.
This weekend I was holding this little jar in my hands, impatient to discover its content. But after it had travelled all this way I could hardly just dive in with a spoon for an unceremonious quick taster. Bread was needed! But I had none, not even a single slice was to be found in the freezer. And I certainly did not have the patience to bake a loaf. So I pulled out my favourite recipe for super-fast, emergency skillet bread.
This bread comes together in minutes. It takes no more than a quick stir to make the batter and then a few minutes in a skillet on a stove. The combination of buckwheat and quinoa give this skillet bread a strong nutty flavour. It is a great side for a cheese plate but just as nice with a spoon full of jam – or as it turns out, charoset. When I make it to go with something sweet I often throw in a teaspoon of nigella seeds to enhance the fragrant flavour of the bread. But this time I left it plain as I wanted the charoset to take the star role.
But I had no need to worry, the charoset was one powerful combination of flavours: deeply sweet with a hint of earthy spices. The taste made me even more curious to find out what I was eating. A quick search in Wikipedia revealed it to be “a sweet, dark-coloured, paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its colour and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres “clay.”
A big thank you to CL for this lovely gift and amazing discovery that doubled as a good excuse to share my recipe for this humble but ever so versatile and tasty skillet bread.
(found on the blog ‘Natural Noshing’)
40g (1/3 cup) quinoa flour
40g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour
80ml (1/3 cup) water
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened rice milk*
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
optional: nigella seeds (DE: Schwarzkuemmel, NL: zwarte komijn)
- Combine the quinoa and buckwheat flour.
- Make a well in the center. Add in the water, milk, lemon juice and the egg. Use a fork or whisk to beat together the egg and the liquid and then the mix with the flour.
- Allow to stand for 5 min. While you heat a skillet (20 cm / 8 inch) over medium heat.
- Sift the baking powder into the batter.
- Grease the pan with a little oil.
- Pour in all the batter.
- Cook for 6-7 minutes.
- Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Serve warm and cut into wedges.
Tips & Variations
- instead of the rice milk you can of course use regular or other grain based milks
- the original recipe also suggest replacing the milk and lemon juice with yoghurt, but I have not tested this
- besides nigella seeds you can experiment with other spices or fresh herbs
- cheese and fresh grapes
- butter and jam
Eat your veg in a cookie
Merry Christmas!!! Wishing you a lovely time celebrating …and eating!
Christmas would not be complete without the scent of cookies baking. Last year we made Zimtsterne, but this year I thought we would combine the old tradition of baking Christmas cookies with the new one of having a ‘Vegetable of the Week’. As this week’s veg is carrot, we present: Carrot Oat Cookies.
I cannot really say that I made these cookies, as about ten hands – large and small – contributed to creating mixing and rolling these. But the verdict is unanimous: we will not be waiting for Christmas to make these again.
The only change will be making is using less sugar (the original recipe asks for 6 tbs of each of the sugars, 4 should be enough). Also this time round we only had all-purpose flour. Although the cookies tasted fabulous we will use whole-wheat flour next time.
(altered only slightly from the blog ‘Marcus Samuelsson’)
Makes about 20 cookies
90g (3/4 cup) whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp of baking soda)
3/4 tsp coarse salt
113g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 (to 6) tbsp superfine sugar
4 (to 6) tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
90g (1 cup) rolled oats (NL: havermout)*
130g (1 cup) grated carrot, from about 1 large to 4 small carrots
- In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl mix together the butter and sugar using a mixed. Beat on medium-high for a few minutes until the mixture is fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla. Mix together on a low speed until all is well combined.
- Clean and grate the carrot.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter.
- Add carrot and oats. Mix on a low speed to combine.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15-60 min.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (375F).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (Yes, you do need two sheets as the dough spreads during baking.)
- With cold, wet hands roll balls out of a tablespoon of the mixture at a time. Press lightly between your palms to create small disks.
- Bake for 10-12 min until golden.
- Allow to cool on a rack.
Tip & Variations
- If you only have regular oats very briefly whizz them in a food processor or coffee grinder.
- The original recipe adds chocolate chips
For the health benefits of carrots look here.
Over the last few years Halloween has become one of my favourite holidays (to be honest, by now it is only second to Christmas). Halloween was never celebrated in my family, or the places I lived in. Nonetheless, by now it feels like a tradition.
To me a typical halloween is a day spent together with friends and family, old and young being creative and having fun. The party really is all about the preparations: You fold white napkins into ghosts and wrap biscuits in bandagees to make them look like mummies. By the evening the house is filled with spooky decorations and the dinner table is piled high with horrifically delicious food.
These grissi are quick and fun to make; they look great serverd with a blood-red beet soup.
(Of course you can omit the black ink and make regular grissini as well. So much better than the store bought variety.)
(hardly adapted from the blog “delicious days“)
1 heaped tsp dry yeast (or 10g fresh yeast)
250g bread flour (e.g. type 550, NL: Tarwemeel – see tips and variation for additional info)
1 level tsp of fine salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bags of squid ink (4g each)
Optional: nigella seeds, coarse salt, sesame seeds
- Stir the yeast into 125ml lukewarm water.
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
- Add yeast water, ink and oil to the flour.
- Use the kneading hooks of your whisk (or a spoon) to blend all together. After the dough starts to form turn it out onto a clean works surface and knead for about 5 minutes until you have soft dough. (I got not stains from the ink.)
- Lightly oil the bowl. Place dough inside, cover with a towel and allow rising in a warm place for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 200C (390F).
- Cover a baking tray with baking paper.
- Roll out dough to a thin rectangle (about as thick as pasta).
- Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut into thin strips (the tiniest bit wider than tagliatelle).
- Roll each strip into an even shaped rope and place on the baking tray.
- If using spice, brush with water and sprinkle with spice.
- Bake for 10 (-15 minutes). They should turn lightly crispy (and if you do not use ink a touch golden)
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Stored in an airtight container they will stay crisp for a few days.
Tips & Variations
I used half whole wheat spelt flour, half whole wheat bread flour. Unfortunately the latter had large bran pieces in it. I would use this combination of flours again if I was making plain grissini, but for the black sticks a flour without bran will result in a more stunning looking black grissini
Other Halloween ideas
Cheese Biscuits Disguised for Halloween
Black Widow Cocktail
Taking a giant bite out of life with these tiny little pies
Do you have these special dishes that transported you straight back to a certain time and place in your life?
To this day I cannot eat a meat pie without going all sentimental: For me it takes just one mouthful of pie to conjure up Britain and the late nineties. I had just left school, for the first time I was living away from family and friends and in a foreign country. I was experiencing a completely different life, living in this small town in England, working in a family-run deli (that sold the most amazing pies).
So when I was in England a few weeks back and the sun was warm enough for a picnic in the park, I just had to pick up a pie from Marks and Spencers.
Believe me: that pie, the warm sunshine and the good company turned a simple afternoon in a park in Middleborough into a blissful experience! That day, Middleborough had all the charm of Paris to me.
So back home I just had to celebrate those memories by bring that picnic, and some proper pork pies, straight into my living room. I did cheat a little by using sausage meat instead of regular (mince) meat, but I loved the result. These little pies turned out wonderful: buttery, crumbly pastry encasing juicy meat and layers of happy memories.
Sometimes life is just a walk in the park
(pieced together from several different recipes)
12 mini pies
200g all-purpose flour
100g butter (or replace half to all of that with lard)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp white wine (or 1 tbsp apple vinegar and 2 tbsp water)
100g pancetta (or bacon)
1 clove of garlic
A handful of parsely
6 sage leaves (or alternatively some rosemary
450g good quality organic pork sausage meat
- Dice the butter and place into a food processor.
- Add the flour, salt, sugar and pepper. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
- Add the white wine and pulse again.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead briefly until the dough is smooth and elastic. Do not overwork.
- Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, fry the pancetta unti golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and allow to cool on some paper towls.
- Chop the onion and add to the pan. Fry until soft. Add the chopped garlic and fry until golden. Add to a bowl. Crumble in the pancetta.
- Chop sage and add to the onion together with the sausage meat.
- Season with pepper and a little salt.
- Roll out the pastry. Cut out 12 disks to line a mini muffin tin. (Do not worry if the pastry tears, you can patch up any holes with pastry.) Cut out 12 slightly smaller disks as lids.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Lightly oil the muffin tin. Press the larger disks into the tin, fill with meat and then top with the lid. Pinch together the edges to seal the disks together. You can either shape the edges into a wave like patter with your fingers or use a fork to press them together.
- Beat the egg and brush over the pies.
- Place in the oven and cook for about 15-25 min until golden brown. Before removing them from the oven check one of the pies to ensure the bottom is cooked.
- Let the pies cool down for 5 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool down completely.
- Serve room temperature with some (wholegrain) mustard on the side.
- The pies keep in the fridge for several days.
Tips & Variations
- add some finely diced apple to the onion and fry
- add some chopped parsley
- instead of sausage meat you can also use pork meat and increase the seasoning (all spice, nutmeg, mustard powder etc) and herbs
- you could cut some more corners by using ready made pastry, but I have to say that I love the buttery, home-made taste this pastry has
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