• French fries… slow food

    Oh yes these are slow food indeed. At least 40 minutes to bake and nowhere near the common chip when it comes to fat content & you get to choose the quality of the fat you use.

    my french fries

    The secret lies in cutting the fries the same size. I do use a little machine designed for the purpose but you can just as well do it by hand. Soak the fries in cold water to get rid of some of the starch, since & dry. Coat them in a good quality oil that can be heated (no extra virgin olive oil) so they are just covered, no extra oil needed. I added some thyme and lemon zest to give them a little kick. (Isabella’s in NY is my source of inspiration there). Bake them on a tray at 200°C for 20 minutes on each side. Yes, that means turning them one by one 😉 Make sure they do not touch each other which ensures that they get crispy.

    Eat well

  • this & that / waffles &…

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    Let me apolagize for being so absent from gigi’s spcae these days! You know the excuse that is to fallow, too much to do, not enough time or time  used unwisely which I am most certainly guilty off. In addition to all of that stuff that I will not bore you with (I might do later though;)) I have not really been creative in the kitchen. When there is little time it tends to be a plate of this and that, always with a thought for health and clever combinations but never an actual foto & post worthy plate.

    The one thing I have been making & combining quiet a bit is waffles. Even with little time & lots of positive stress the therapeutic effect of baking always works for me.

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    For the dough (makes about 6 waffles)…whisk together:

    150g crème fraiche

    50g coconut sugar

    a pinch of salt

    2 free range eggs

    125g whole grain spelt flour

    1 tsp baking powder

    & sometimes a handful of spelt oats to give these waffles a more wholesome texture.

    I pour 1,5 tbsp of dough per waffle into the waffle maker.

    Here are a couple of examples of this & that dishes that I had lately…this reminds me of a restaurant in Paris where you can have soufflé as a starter, main an dessert. That’s not what I did with the waffles although I happily could:) Waffles were made and frozen, popped into the toaster to defreeze & reheat on different days!

    waffle & avocado with salmon

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    waffle & poached egg

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    On poaching eggs, it is so simple and still people ahhh and ohhh when you serve one…Bring the water to a boil then REMOVE FROM THE HEAT, crack the egg and bring it as close as possible to the water before you let the content drop in, not too slowly. Reduce to medium heat and but the water & egg back on. No bubbly water…a nice and even poached free range egg.

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    waffle & coffee;)

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    Eat well

  • Tortano…filled bread or rolled Pizza?

    Back from an inspiring weekend with the girls in Paris.

    No baking & learning this time, but enjoying the company, the city &… lots of nice food.

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    One of the places I always wanted to go to and somehow never managed to, is Rose Bakery and it was all I hoped for;) I’m in love with that place and as I observed the (totally international) staff, cooking, baking and just generally working their b… off I was imagining what it would be like to work there & live in a small cozy flat nearby…I guess it would be a wonderfully stressful experience;)

    I admire everybody’s welcoming manner considering how packed the place was and how crazy our style of having brunch. Showing up at different times, wanting to share a table, not fitting on one though and ordering our way chaotically up and down that menu! In the unlikely case that you (Rose Bakery elves)  will read this, you made my day;)

    So it has to be a recipe today that is fit for brunch.

    The inspiration comes from Leila Lindholm’s book that I own in dutch since, holding the copy in my hands in a shop in Brussels, I convinced myself that I am perfectly able to read enough dutch to comprehend a recipe…I recently bought a second copy in a language I actually do understand perfectly well;)

    Ingredients:

    15g baker’s yeast

    300 ml warm water (not hot, that would kill the yeast)

    3 tbsp olive oil

    1 tbsp honey

    1 & 1/2 tbsp salt

    170g durum wheat flour (also used in making pasta)

    250g whole grain spelt flour

    Put all the ingredients into a bowl and make sure the salt and yeast do not touch until you actually mix everything together. Salt kills yeast!

    Cover the dough and set it side to rise for about half an hour.

    Then work the dough and roll it out into a long shape that you can fill with the vegetables, cheese …of your choice. I went for courgette, dried & fresh tomatoes and some mozzarella. 

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    Roll the dough with the filling inside and close by using some water like glue on the edges and form into a circle.

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    Let this rise again for half an hour while preheating th oven at 250°C.

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    Just before putting the tortano into the oven reduce the heat to 200°C and bake for 35 minutes (more or less).

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    The perfect side for a wintery soup or a salad!

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    Eat well

  • kick the sugar craving with beetroot & sweet potato

    …from impression you get expression and I’m in desperate need for new impressions. I order books by the dozen, amazing food writers & I fell in love with Stephen Fry, his work and words that is. I am ready to hibernate with all that delicious reading material and since I have lost my voice, it is what I do, lying on the couch with an oven baked apple.

    I graduated as a health coach this week…I learned a LOT and feel like I don’t know what to do with all that information;) My solution for now…writing a recipe!

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    There is a natural remedy against sugar cravings. Once you’re off sugar the cravings are history too which, believe me, boosts your life quality in a way you couldn’t imagine. Having energy a whole day without wanting to take a nap & being free of brain fog are worth the try. Refined sugar makes you sad…they don’t call it sugar blues for nothing. Getting rid of it is the hardest part but there are foods & dishes that positively help you with that. Sneaking sweet vegetables like beetroot and sweet potato into your diet is extremely efficient in satisfying the urge for sweet food without any of the downsides of refined sugar consumption.

    & look at them…they are pretty;)

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    I roasted a tray of yummy sweet veggies, let it cool off and kept it in the fridge for the week ahead to add here and there to my meals.

    Roasted at 200°C until I could poke a knife through, onions, sweet potato, beetroot & lemon.

    DSC_0287The first use of these has been a goat cheese, beetroot & rucola salad. For the dressing I used the juice of 2 of the lemon pieces. The lemons have developed a sweetness in the oven and only a little of the sourness is left.

    I  squeezed 2 onions out of there burned skin. These just turn amazingly sweet in the oven and I am debating roasting a whole tray just to use them whenever, since the raw version doesn’t come close. I used the third one in a risotto the other day. You can do this with garlic too, but since I openly hate that healthy little bulb…

    Add olive oil, pepper & salt to the lemon juice and onion mash and there you are ready to dress this sugar craving kicking salad.

    DSC_0298The sweet potato hasn’t found it’s dish yet…the week is not over!

    Eat well

  • Fish dish with tomato sauce & stealing recipes

    I said more fish & here it is!

    An easy oven dish with tomatoes stolen from my mother’s kitchen today. She has been rewriting her recipes for as long as I can remember. The task is never really completed but the really old recipe notebooks are gone, which is a pity. They had traces of food on every page from being used so many times, not the least by me as a kid.

    You need to have the key, the understanding of the logic used to categorise to find what you are looking for.

    The recipe for “Fuesend” (traditional fried dough knots) starting with an F can be found under W like “Wiener Krapfen”.

    The language situation in Luxemburg doesn’t help:)

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    This feeds 3 to 4 people:

    codfish (swordfish works fine too, that’s what the recipe says;))

    1 shallot

    1 tin of small tomatoes

    white wine or Noilly Prat

    tomato paste

    1/2 handful olives

    1/2 hand full parsley

    a few coriander seeds

    salt & pepper

    olive oil

    canned tomatoes, olives, noilly prat

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    Preheat the oven at 200°C.

    Place the fish in a ovenproof dish and season with salt & pepper. Put aside.

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    Start by peeling & dicing the shallot and heating (sweating not browning) it in a splash of olive oil.

    Wash & cut the parsley, pit and dice the olives. In a little bowl mix a tablespoon of tomato paste with a splash of Noilly Prat.

    Add this and all the other ingredients to the shallot and let it simmer for five minutes on medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

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    Add some crushed coriander seeds if you like.

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    Pour the tomato mixture on the fish and put it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

    Serve with whole grain rice, salads or pasta.

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    & an after lunch jumping competition with a clear winner;)

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    Eat well

  • travel bug & rillettes de cabillaud

    I am getting ready for my last trip for this summer, NY, Montreal & Quebec. Not complaining 😉 but I could go on like this forever.

    When I travel I read about…tavelling. Places to go to next;) Right now I have my eye on the french island “Ile de Ré”.

    & I spend the last couple of days on a northern sea side, eating local fresh sea food!

    So inspired the recipe today is “rillettes de cabillaud”. This might be the first non-vegetarian dish I post. I don’t prepare fish at home very often…something to work on.

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    I eat fish mostly when I’m invited or in restaurants. One of my friends is a professional chef. Knowing of my mainly vegetarian diet, he always spoils me with a tasty fish dish. Years ago, when we were neighbours, he wanted to surprise me by guessing my favorite food. So he prepared oysters (not raw but baked in the oven). He watched my face as I was politely trying to get them down and removed the plate immediately. So much for guessing someone’s favorite food! Mine is strawberries! He invited me to dinner and strawberry picking in the garden recently…coincidence?

    Back to the fish. I believe that my food should provide all the nutrients that I need and I am not an advocate for supplements since they are not a whole food which again might create imbalance.

    I do take omega 3 though since my fish intake is limited. This fatty acid is extremely important for the brain and in big parts responsible for our mood & well-being. Chocolate is not the only food that makes you happy;)

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    70g fresh goat cheese (or any other fresh/soft cheese)

    1 diced tomato

    1 chopped spring onion

    1 tsp grated ginger

    1/2 tsp of lemon zest

    1/2 a hand full of chopped cilantro (can be replaced with another herb of your choice)

    150g codfish (or any other fish of your choice)

    a splash of olive oil

    salt & pepper to taste

    Cook the codfish in the oven t 160°C for about 15 min. Make sure it’s done and leave it to cool off. Mush it with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

    And that’s it for this extremely easy fish dish. The tricky part in preparing fish is the cooking time & making it look nice on the plate. It should separate nicely but not fall apart. For rillettes, looks don’t matter!

    I did serve this with carrot sticks. The fat in this dish helps the vitamines from the carrot to be absorbed. Rillettes is generally served with some toast.

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    Eat well

  • Poor man’s dinner & a challenge

    DSC_0466I arrived well on the island of Crete and at my friend Maria’s beautiful home!
    Dinner at her house, on the wild south side of the island, is what she calles a poor man’s dinner since it represents the diet of the village people.

    Lovely plant-based meal, I say!

    Horta (local greens served cooked with olive oil & lemon), broad beans in tomato sauce, boiled potatoes, zucchini, goat cheese & a shot of the honey raki that Stelios, the loveliest taxi driver ever, has given me on the way here;).

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    Most of the produce were delivered by a neighbor (the honeylady) who is in her 70ies and apparently fitter then I am. Healthy food? Living a tough life in a rough environment? All preserving raki? What is her secret? Ikaria, another greek island is a blue zone, one of the places in the world recognized for the longevity of the inhabitants.

    That same neighbor provided kilos and kilos of green beans.

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    My challenge for the week is to come up with recipes to use them other than “Bounenschlupp”(luxemburgish traditional bean soup). My friend is greek married to a ‘burger’ and having none of that!
    I choose a classical bean salad & find inspiration in the Jamie Oliver magazine, I bought in the airport on my way here. His recipe slightly modified & added to Maria’s Tsatsiki and Pita bread….a winning combination.
    After that we agree on no more beans for the week;)

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    For the bean salad

    On one bean stalk you have older and younger beans. The older ones have a string running along the side that’s tough to eat and to digest. You can easily pull it off while cutting off the ends.

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    Wash and cook for a short while in salted water. I like them to be crunchy and only cook them for a few minutes.

    Crunchy or soft…is totally up to you! After cooking, rinse them in icy water to make sure they keep the vibrant green colour.

    Cut the beans in smaller pieces and prepare the dressing. I used 2/3 olive oil, 1/3 lemon juice, pepper, salt, 1 tablespoon of mustard and a chopped onion.

    Pour the lemon juice over the onion to make the taste a little milder then mix with the other ingredients. Pour dressing over the beans, there is the first part of my challenge completed.

    For the beans on bread

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    This time the beans are not cooked in water but in a frying pan with fresh onions and nuts. Start with the onion, add the beans and finally the roasted nuts. Again it depends on your preference for crunchy or soft beans how long you will leave them in the pan at medium to high teat.

    Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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    In the original recipe this was served with crumbs of goat cheese on top. Since we have the Tsatsiki I won’t add any cheese.

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    Eat well

  • waffle hearts…

    …make these your mid-week treat!

    Baking, a little indulgence and healthy food DO go together perfectly. Passing on the tradition of baking is important to me but I have to “improve” the recipes to actually feel good about passing them on, hopefully creating new healthy traditions.

    Making “hearts” has always been popular around here, although the ancient (ugly orange) and so efficient waffle maker died after I tried to clean it thoroughly. To much water for the old machine and the new one doesn’t live up to it really…but it makes the sound of a chirping bird when the waffle is supposedly ready, which it’s not and it has to stay in a little longer which delays the production of the next waffle but gives you the next chirping much earlier as needed. It’s all very confusing;) I hope you have a better one if you plan to attack this simple but wholesome recipe.

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    Despite my convictions, I did agree on dusting the little waffle hearts with sugar. Exceptions are healthy in their own right if only for our minds;)

    For the dough:

    250g whole grain spelt flour

    250g crème fraîche

    100g coconut sugar

    3 free range eggs

    1 tsp. baking powder

    pinch of salt

    Mix all the ingredients together leaving the eggs for last adding them one at a time.

    Heat your waffle maker and lightly grease (I used a little coconut oil) both sides of it & get started.

    I just love how this fills your entire home with the smell of fresh-baked goods…& the sound of birds.

    If like me the sweet version doesn’t tick the box, try some smoked salmon with your waffle hearts!

    Eat well

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  • Lentil breadspread

    I tried a lot of blended foods. Making my own nut butter,  bean butter and so forth. I killed a couple of food processor and never really liked the outcome. Honestly it’s too much fuss for me and often there is a good quality product I can buy, like for nut butter that is finally not more expensive than my homemade version (not counting the dead processor;)). I like my recipes healthy, easy & not overly time-consuming. As a vegetarian I do need to keep an eye on my protein intake. This makes pulses really important especially in combination with a whole grain food where they really become a great source for protein. So this lentil breadspread is one of the very few blended recipes I kept from all my previous experiments.

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    1 cup of yellow lentils

    olive oil or coconut oil

    1 teaspoon of turmeric

    1 red onion

    1 teaspoon agave syrup

    pepper & salt

    1/2 handful of raisins

    spices of your choice (chilli, rosemary…all optional)

    Start with washing the yellow or red lentils. They cook extremely fast, which ticks one of my boxes. 

    Cut the onion and heat it with a little olive oil or neutral coconut oil. Add the agave syrup and slightly caramelize the onions. Add the lentils, 2 cups of water, turmeric (anti-inflamatory), salt & pepper and spices of your choice. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat for five minutes cover with a lid and turn the heat off. 10 minutes later your lentils are done. You should not have a lot of excess water in them since you want to turn this into a spread.

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    Use a blender or a food processor to mix. Season to taste. Since the onions are caramelized & there will be raisins, I like to make it a little spicy to go with the light sweetness. Serve with really nice homemade whole grain bread or as a dip.

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    Eat well

  • Perrine’s kitchens & not unlike couscous

    I love cooking at a friend’s house when I travel. Shopping for the ingredients is a little adventure in itself and you never quiet get everything that you want. Imposed improvisation brings out a new dish, sometimes ok, sometimes really nice. I obviously hope for nice since I am cooking for a dear friend who welcomed me into their home & kitchen.

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    I am just back from London, a city that positively kicks my creativity and seems to absorb all my energy at the same time. It’s a weird mix 😉 That might be a good thing. I admire all those that manage to find balance between being stuck in traffic, confined in public transport, facing a demanding job and/or family life and possibly trying to make healthy life choices. I come home content that I live in the country, 20 minutes away from town (Luxemburg town would feel like the countryside to a Londoner), in a non-hectic environment until I start finding it so boring again that I will complain to anybody who is willing to listen & have to get away for a while. It’s a kind of balance that seems to work fine for me;)

    At Perrine’s place (she shot the pictures of me in her kitchen) I cooked a couscous with quinoa & veggies. I made up the recipe as I went along and the outcome was tasty. Recipe for 2.

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    2 cups of quinoa (rinsed)

    1/2 a handful of raisins

    1l vegetable broth

    1 tablespoon of tomato past

    1/2 teaspoon cumin (seeds or grounded)

    1/2 teaspoon coriander (grounded)

    pepper & salt

    olive oil

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    2 carrots

    1 fennel

    1 courgette

    1 potato

    1/2 brocoli

    4 small onions

    1 piece of ginger that you cook with the broth & take out before you serve

    I used the vegetables that were available to me, feel free to go for anything you like. Wash and cut the veggies, chuncky peaces are best here. The only trick is to add them to the boiling broth in the right order. Those that need the longest cooking time first (carrots, potatoes act…) continuing with those that need less time to cook, like fennel. I added the onions very early since I want them to get sweet and totally loose the strong onion taste. Trust your feeling;)

    Heat the broth with the tomato past, coriander and cumin. Add your vegetables as described above and season to taste.

    Simultaneously cook the quinoa with the raisins (if you don’t like these you obviously don’t use them. I like to satisfy as many qualities of taste in one dish. Salty, sweet, bitter, sour. That way I feel balanced and free of cravings. I don’t include Umami since I have little to no experience with it.)

    Try if your vegetables are done by sticking a knife through them. In this dish I  like them quiet cooked but again it’s up to you if you want them more crunchy.

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    Serve the quinoa with veggies on top and some broth. I also added a little olive oil, to give the fat soluble vitamins a chance to be absorbed. You can add  Harissa (Tunisian hot chill sauce) which really completes the dish, parsley, fresh mint…

    Eat well