• 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

  • preparing for winter…with jam

    I am not chopping wood or knitting jumpers. Just back from London I stick to my promise of making apricot and strawberry jam for my nieces’ and nephew’s pancakes as well as for the yoga retreat that I will be catering for later in summer.

    making jam London Derren Brown

    I am in London quiet often, this time I went to see Derren Brown. If I could just beam me back and forth between Luxemburg an London…the perfect mix of inspiring big city creativity and the comfort of the familiar as well as the serenity of country side living. Derren’s amazingly clever show is of course a secret and I will stick to that promise just as I do to the jam one;) There is not much to say about making jam, so after a short description I will shut up and spam you with a few pictures…

    making jam London Derren Brown

    For 1 kg of washed and pitted fruit you need 1/2 kg sugar (the special jam kind)

    The test to see if it will turn into jam is to pour some on a plate and see if it “gels”, if not keep cooking.

    The glasses should be as clean as possible, I submerged each one in cooking water although the were already dish washer clean.

    Fill to the brim, put the lid on and turn upside down for a couple of minutes.

    making jam London Derren Brown

    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

  • Paris & gluten free bread…

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    I have been to Paris to study gluten-free baking & cooking at my favourite cooking school where I did my pâtisserie training less than 2 years ago.

    When the train entered the gare de l’est the weather was so nice I toyed with the idea of skipping the course and just enjoy Paris…my conscience and passion for all things kitchen luckily won.

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    I loved the atmosphere, the chef was just amazing, as they all seem to be. All the chefs trained at the most famous places and are eager and passionate to transmit their knowledge. The pace of the learning process….gogogogogogo and don’t ever even think about sitting down;) I love it. An entire day feels like 5 minutes.

    Back to the gluten-free with its ingredients, smells, consistencies and taste…obviously it’s different from the “real thing”. It’s so ingenious how the chef used the different flours, rising agents & the gums and starches that keep the creations together. One lemon cake truly blew my mind and taste buds. Watch out, it will certainly show up here soon!

    I reached my personal conclusion that I will cut down on gluten containing foods but enjoy them from time to time instead of totally replacing them.

    If however you are highly intolerant or worse, allergic to gluten the good news is, bread, pâtisserie, pizza, cake…all can be homemade without that little protein that annoys your body so efficiently and I do plan on passing on to you all the recipes I brought from Paris.

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    Before leaving I did make this gluten free bread that ticks all my boxes. It’s not from Paris, it somehow made it’s way from a private kitchen in Danmark to Sarah Britton’s food blog where I discovered it and took ages before giving it a try. It’s utterly satisfying and extremely easy to make.

    One of my issues with the gluten free baking is that the gums used to keep the dough together might cause constipation (sorry that had to me mentioned). This bread does the opposite, it has tons of fibre & you have to chew it and we know that that’s where the process of digestion starts.

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    What goes into this loaf:

    1 cup sunflower seeds

    1/2 cup flax seeds

    1/2 cup hazelnuts or almonds (I used almonds)

    1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used whole grain spelt oats, if you worry about the oats being gluten contaminated buy the kind that is labelled as gluten free)

    2 Tbsp. chia seeds

    4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks

    1 tsp. fine sea salt

    1 Tbsp. maple syrup

    3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil

    1 1/2 cups water

    First mix the dry ingredients well in a silicone baking dish. Then add the liquids and mix thoroughly. Leave the dough to rest for at least 2 hours before baking it in a preheated oven at 175°C.

    For 20 minutes you bake the bread in the silicon dish, then you take it out and bake it upside down for another 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool off & give it a try.

    It’s equally nice toasted.

    Enjoy

  • cookie monsters wholesome delight

    I am not a cookie person…except when I feel that I lose balance & the time to eat well. I guess this should be the other way around & happened over the last couple of weeks.

    I was tempted into buying a pack of cookies with chocolate in the middle, on the go, from the health shop. FROM THE HEALTH SHOP for my conscience since clearly they do contain refined sugar which makes them nothing else but addictive.

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    In an attempt to avoid being fooled again, I created my wholesome version of the evil cookies.  Whole grain flour & coconut sugar lessens the addictive nature of these & makes them a much healthier treat.

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    They are heart-shaped because my cookie cutter collection gave me the choice between a pig, a moon, a witch, a moose…& many others that would reveal difficult to fill with chocolate in a presentable manner.

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    For the dough:

    250 g whole grain spelt flour

    150 g butter

    80 g coconut sugar

    20 g almond powder

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 egg yolk (free range)

    a pinch of salt

    Mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add the butter piece by piece. This will make a crumbly mixture. To that add the egg yolk and knead the dough until it sticks together nicely.

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    Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for one hour. (A step that I often skip;))  A “sablé” dough like this one is easiest rolled out between two sheets of cling film.

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    Use the cookie cutter of your choice and bake these in the oven for 12 minutes at 180°C. Keep an eye on them and if your oven works like mine, you want to turn the tray around halfway through the baking process. Those at the back bake quicker.

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    Let the cookies cool off before you fill & assemble them. If that is where you want to stop, these “sablé” cookie are delicious even without any filling.

    For the filling:

    100 g dark chocolate (I used 75%)

    2 tbsp coconut cream (or regular)

    2 tbsp almond powder

    Slowly melt the chocolate. Take it off the heat before you add the cream and almond powder. I added the cream so the chocolate wouldn’t go solid again after cooling off. They won’t keep for long & have to be kept in the fridge. If you want to keep these for longer you should leave the cream.

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    Set the cookies aside for a couple of hours…

    Enjoy

  • expectations & lentils


    What is it about having expectations that ruins the day?  Apparently great expectations are followed by great disappointments. Contentment might be the result of no expectations and an open mind.

    I agree that contentment doesn’t sound greatly exciting;) but…

    Do you expect much of lentils? No! We grew up with boring lentil soup. As soon as you pep them up a little you will be a star and most certainly exceed expectations!

    & you will feed your family or guests great veggie protein.

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    I was invited for brunch over the weekend with the request to bring a lentil salad with mint. I love requests like this since they give me a direction but leave me free to come up with whatever I want.

    I used the freedom given to me to go through my favorite cookbooks and I ended up with a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. No surprise…but a guarantee for fulfilled expectations! I faithfully stuck to Ottolenghi’s written word, only adding a handful of raisins. They just belong with lentils in my  opinion.

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    For 4 people:

    60g roasted hazelnuts

    200g lentils

    2 bay leaves

    4 thyme springs

    1 small celeriac

    4 tsp olive oil

    3 tsp red wine vinegar

    3 tsp hazelnut oil (I used pumpkin seed oil, which worked nicely too)

    4 tsp chopped fresh mint

    one handful of raisins

    salt & pepper

    Start by roasting the nuts for 15 minutes at 140°C & leave them to cool off.

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    Cover the lentils with plenty of water and cook with the bay leaves & thyme until al dente. (& with the raisins if you choose to add them…;))

    Cut the celeriac into small pieces and cook these in water until tender.

    After draining and removing the bay & thyme, mix the lentils and celeriac together and make sure to add the dressing while the lentils are hot, to allow them to take in the taste of the dressing. If you serve this the next day like me, add the nuts and mint just before serving.

    I  always put the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a glass jar with a lid and shake it until everything is well mixed together. Pepper & salt to taste.

    Eat well, better than you would expect

  • vegetarian stuffed tomatoes…

    I bought a dehydrator. I have to admit that as food crazy as I am, until recently I was suspicious of this machine.

    A few years ago on a yoga retreat I met somebody who worked half-time, so she could dehydrate her food the rest of the time. She generally had a very strict, no-nonsense approach to food and I somehow linked the fact of having a dehydrator to that ultra-strict attitude & since I am attracted to extremes I try to avoid them wisely;)

    I am striving towards a more relaxed dehydrating routine hoping at the same time that it will not be one of those kitchen gadgets that ends up in the cave.

    I told my friend about my newest purchase a couple of days ago. “You tell me this before we are going on a trip (Montreal) together….?!” Clearly the dehydrator possessing crowd doesn’t have the best image;) I chose Montreal mostly for food reasons, so nothing to worry about!

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    Before I start experimenting & dehydrating I am off to the south of France, another heavenly spot for foodies and leave you with Maria’s recipe (yes another Cretan one) for the vegetarian version off stuffed tomatoes or peppers.

    10 tomatoes

    olive or coconut oil

    1 eggplant

    1 courgette

    1 onion

    1/2 teaspoon of sugar (replace with agave syrup)

    1/2 hand full of raising (optional)

    3 large potatoes

    mint

    parsley

    1 packet of rice (if you use whole grain here, cook it half through in advance)

    breadcrumbs & sugar (optional)

    water

    Start by scraping the insides out of the tomatoes, blend it to make a tomato sauce and put it aside. Keep the tops!

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    Grate the eggplant, courgette & onion.

    In a large and deep-frying pan lightly heat a generous splash of olive oil.

    If you are not certain about the temperature for the oil, go with unflavored coconut oil. Oils become toxic if overheated and olive oil has a very low tolerance for heat.

    Add 2/3 of the tomato sauce, eggplant, courgette and onion to the oil. Add the sugar (agave syrup) and let simmer.

    Add the rice, stir and let cook for 10 minutes. Add salt & pepper, parsley & mint to taste. I want raisins in at this point too to give it a more oriental touch.

    & the more qualities of taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) a dish contains, the more satisfying it is. This keeps you from craving the crazy desert after your meal.

    During this time wash & peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks.

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    Fill the tomato shells & put them into an oven proof dish. Stuff the chunks of potatoes between and add the rest of the tomato sauce, some water, so that the tomatoes are sitting not swimming in liquid & finally a good splash of olive oil.

    You can put a breadcrumb and sugar mix on top of the tomatoes to give them a crust, for me they are just fine without.

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    Put in the oven at 200°C for 2 hours.

    This is slow food;)

    It’s nice to prepare in advance for dinner so you have time to check the rice and maybe add 30 minutes to the cooking time. You should also check regularly if the tomatoes are still lightly sitting in water and maybe add some. The stuffed tomatoes are perfect eaten at room temperature, so no need to reheat them…of course you can if you prefer.

    Eat well

  • Wholesome cinnamon-bun-cake

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    A good indication if the food you’re having is actually really nourishing you is that you don’t want to overindulge in it. It gives your body what it needs and you’re sure to have enough surprisingly quickly. It energizes you and doesn’t leave you with a craving…job done move on;) I posted my childhood cinnamon-bun-cake as one of my first posts ever quiet at the beginning of my quest for a truly balanced diet. This one is a wholesome alternative. It is packed with good & healthy ingredients. Not to be confused with low-calorie. This is packed with calories too (I have no clue how many;)) but the GOOD kind. Calorie does NOT equal calorie. It does make a big difference to your body where that lovely little energy pack comes from. In this case white sugar and flour versus dates, applesauce, coconut sugar, whole grain flour and nuts.

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    This recipe was posted a couple of days ago on “my new roots” and I just had to give it a try & share!

    It’s much richer then my cinnamon-bun-cake but considering the ingredients that’s a good thing.

    To my surprise it even ticks my very personal nostalgia box which is the main reason to make cinnamon buns…for me at least.

    So I do allow myself to be a copycat and take Sarah Britton’s recipe here. I altered it very little because I couldn’t get the right kind of nuts. I guess that sticking to the original 100% would make it even better. I also left aside the glazing and the topping. Both I am generally not a fan off, always somehow too much for me, although her healthy options for these too look amazing.

    What totally intrigued me reading her post was the use of apple sauce for texture & sweetening. It works really nicely and the sweetness of the unsweetened applesauce is surprisingly strong. It makes you wonder why they came up with refined sugar in the first place…if nature delivers THIS.

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    Applesauce is “compote de pommes”, I had to google that since I am not a native english speaker ;). I made it myself, out of organic apples, since I like to go the whole way, but I’m sure there are nice unsweetened versions to buy.

    For the apple sauce:

    Wash, skin and dice 4 medium-sized apples. Cook them with 1/4 cup of water on a medium heat until soft. Blend & leave to cool.

    For the filing:

    225 g of chopped dates (the fresher the better)

    175 ml water

    2 tsp. ground cinnamon

    pinch of ground cardamom (I used 2 whole pods that I took out again after the cooking was done)

    1/4 tsp. sea salt

    75 g chopped pecans (I used hazelnut)

    Cook the dates with the water on a medium heat with the spices & salt, stir frequently until they dissolve into a paste. I used a mix of fresher and dryer dates which implied cooking this a little longer and using more water to soften the dryer dates as well. Let this cool off too.

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    For the dough:

    300 g whole spelt flour

    1 tsp. dry active yeast

    2 Tbsp. coconut sugar

    1 tsp. sea salt

    3/4 cup & 1 Tbsp apple unsweetened sauce (I used all I got from 4 medium-sized apples)

    3 Tbsp. softened coconut oil (neutral in taste) or butter

    Mix the dry ingredients first then add the applesauce.

    Roll out the dough on a floured surface and spread with the date paste. Add as many of the nuts as seem right to you and roll the buns.

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    You have so many possibilities here. I put the buns into a cake shape. You could make a flatter version or individual buns,… .

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    Bake for 30 minutes at 190°. This stays much more compact as a traditional yeast pastry,  so don’t be alarmed it you don’t see the dough rising in the oven.

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    I will take some over to the family later today for the ultimate test;)

    Eat well