My Little Chequered Kitchen

Entertaining & Weekend Meal Ideas

Roasted Beetroot, Pear & Goat’s Cheese Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing …

Roasted Beetroot, Pear & Goat's Cheese Salad

I am crazy about warm salads, or any salad in general that has interesting ingredients.  I eat salads most days for lunch.  Our work restaurant makes a different salad every day, often with such delicious ingredients such as duck, lamb, lentils, goat’s cheese, feta, watermelon, or mango.  I love that they are able to constantly invent new and delicious salad combinations and so it’s impossible to get bored eating salad everyday for lunch! 

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This recipe is my salad of the moment.  The roasted beetroot and roasted pears are simply to die for, while the contrast of the crunchy and sweet roasted red onions with the soft and creamy goat’s cheese is exquisite.  And then to top it all off, the amazing aroma and intense flavour from the fresh basil pesto dressing brings it all together into an incredibly delicious salad.  Nothing boring going on here!

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This salad is a good enough meal to serve by itself.  But if I’m serving it for dinner for my hubby, then I like to whip up some of my potato nests to serve next to the salad (recipe coming soon!).  

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Roasted Beetroot, Pear & Goat's Cheese Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing ...
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
for the salad ...
2 large beetroots
2 medium red onions
2 large pears
olive oil
brown sugar
balsamic vinegar
freshly ground salt & pepper
2-3 handfuls of salad leaves
1/2 cup croutons
150g goat's cheese (preferably chevre, but you can also use feta)
1/2 cup walnuts
for the pesto ...
2 cups of basil leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
for the pesto dressing ...
1 tablespoon pesto
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Peel the red onions and pears. Cut into quarters and then half the quarters before placing together into a small bowl.
Peel the beetroots. Cut into quarters and then half the quarters before placing them into a separate small bowl (you want to keep the beetroots separate from the pears and onions, otherwise you'll get the red dye everywhere).
Give both bowls a good slosh of olive oil, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, another tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar, and a generous smattering of freshly ground salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
Line an oven tray with baking paper and pour the beetroots, pears and onions onto the tray including the liquids. Spread out evenly on the tray.
Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the salad by throwing the salad leaves, croutons, and crumbled goat's cheese into a large bowl.
After the beetroots, pears and onions have baked for 15 minutes, pull out the tray and turn each piece over to ensure even browning. Place the tray back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until they have finished roasting and are caramelized and golden.
Meanwhile, you can prepare the pesto by chucking all of the pesto ingredients into a (mini) food processor and blitzing until it forms a paste.
To make the pesto dressing, take 1 tablespoon of the pesto and mix in a small bowl with the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
When the beetroots, pears and onions are ready, pull them out of the oven and let them cool slightly.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the walnuts in a small frying pan (no oil needed).
Combine all salad ingredients into the large bowl, including a good drizzle of the pesto dressing and toss well before serving.
Notes
TIP: The leftover pesto can be stored in the fridge for a day or so or in the freezer if you want to keep it for a longer period.
Adapted from The Best of Annabel Lanbein - Great Food for Busy Lives
Adapted from The Best of Annabel Lanbein - Great Food for Busy Lives
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Gourmet Vegetarian Burgers …

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I am by no means a vegetarian.  In fact, when I was little I used to tell my Mum that when I grew up I would be a meatatarian.  I’m not sure if that’s even a word but it pretty much sums up my passion for meat.  DSC_4705

But as an adult, I’ve come to realize that I am just as crazy about vegetables.  I would struggle to name one that I dislike.  I used to be able to say that I didn’t like fennel, but even that has changed since taking part in a team building event at a cooking school in Amsterdam where we made a fennel risotto that was incredibly delicious. 

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And although I am and always will be a meat advocate, I also think that it’s healthy to cook a vegetarian meal a couple of times per week. I figure that my weekly meat intake is already impressive enough, whereas you can never eat enough vegetables.  

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A couple of good friends of mine have also recently “crossed over to the dark side” (they’ve become vegetarians) and so I’m always on the lookout for great vegetarian meals that I can whip up whenever they come around for dinner.  These vegetarian patties are packed with a power punch of flavour and incredibly moreish.  

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These burgers use English Cheddar cheese, which is available these days at most Dutch supermarkets.  But if you can’t find it, just substitute it with some aged or tasty cheese.    

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Gourmet Vegetarian Burgers ...
Yields 8
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Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-sized onions
125g mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
sea salt
50g Parmesan cheese
50g Cheddar cheese (or other tasty cheese)
150g canned borlotti beans
100g fresh breadcrumbs
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tomatoes
1 red onion
8 hamburger buns
rocket leaves
mayonnaise
sweet thai chilli sauce
Instructions
Finely dice the onions and mushrooms.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
Add the onions, mushrooms, thyme and a sprinkling of sea salt to the pan and fry until softened and golden.
Using the grater disc blade on your food processor, grate the Parmesan and the cheddar cheeses.
Drain the borlotti beans and add them to the cheese in the food processor bowl along with the breadcrumbs, some freshly ground pepper, and finally the cooked onions and mushrooms which by now should have cooled down enough.
Switch to the regular blade and pulse until mixed - but don't overdo this! You don't want a strange looking paste. But you do want everything to combine.
Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the soy sauce, wine, mustard, egg and cornflour. Mix with a spoon until all combined.
Using wet hands, shape the mixture into 8 balls, then flatten into roughly 2cm thick patties.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the patties on the tray. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until firm.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Remove the clingfilm and brush the tops of the patties with a little olive oil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients for your hamburgers by slicing the tomatos and onions.
Once the patties are ready, pull them out of the oven and set aside.
Cut the hamburger buns in half and place them on another oven tray or on the oven shelf and bake for 2 minutes until warm.
Finally, assemble your hamburgers with the patties, tomatoes, onion, mayonnaise and chilli sauce.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Adapted from Cheese - From Fondue to Cheesecake
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Indonesian Braised Pork with Sweet Soy Sauce (Babi Kecap) …

Babi Ketcap Quality I recently bought some Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) from the supermarket, mistakenly thinking it was regular soy sauce.  After a little internet investigation, I learned that Kecap Manis is a soy sauce unique to Indonesia and is made thick, sweet and syrupy by the addition of an almost fudge-like palm sugar.  

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So I was left wondering what I could do with it, until I stumbled upon Kayotic Kitchen’s recipe for Babi Kecap, a classic Indonesian dish which Rick Stein calls a “celebration of Kecap Manis”.  One thing led to another, meaning that I tried it, and Meneer Prins fell in love.  

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Indonesian food plays a significant part in Dutch cuisine due to the fact that Indonesia used to be called the Dutch East Indies, and was therefore a colony of the Dutch empire.  In fact in my experience here in Holland, most Chinese takeaways offer more Indonesian dishes than Chinese.  Since living in the Netherlands, I have learned to love the cuisine but hadn’t yet ventured into actually making an Indonesian dish.  Babi Kecap therefore has the honour of being my first foray into cooking Indonesian food.   

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My recipe for Babi Kecap is an amalgamation of various recipes I’ve since experimented with, including Kay’s delicious recipe in “Kayotic Kitchen” and Rick Stein’s version from his cookbook “Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey”.  If you’ve already made your Asian Chicken Stock (see my recipe here) or if you choose to use regular chicken stock, then my version is very easy and fairly quick to make (less than an hour in total).  

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I love serving Babi Kecap with rice, and garnishing the dish with spring onions and mild chillies.  But the real pièce de résistance are the crispy fried onions which you can either make yourself by simply frying finely chopped shallots or onions in oil, or by buying them pre-made in the supermarket or Asian foodstore.  

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Indonesian Braised Pork with Sweet Soy Sauce (Babi Kecap)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
knob of fresh ginger (roughly 25g)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 kilo of pork meat cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons palm sugar
3 large red chillies
1 red bird's eye chilli
500ml Asian Chicken Stock (or regular chicken stock)
spring onions, mild red chilli, and crispy fried onions to garnish
Instructions
Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat.
Add the pork pieces and gently brown. When ready, remove the pork pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the finely chopped onion to the pot and fry until golden. Add more oil if necessary.
Add the garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, and ground coriander and cook for a further minute while stirring.
Add the kecap manis, soy sauce, tamarind paste, ground pepper, chillies, and stock to the pot and simmer with the lid on and over a low heat for 30 minutes.
Check to make sure the sauce is thickening nicely. If the ratio of sauce to meat looks good, then cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Otherwise, leave the lid off to allow the sauce to reduce for 15 minutes.
Serve with rice and garnish with chopped mild red chillies, spring onion, and crispy fried onions.
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Poached Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Wraps …

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You may have noticed that over the last week I’ve been posting various basic recipe ideas with the promise of bringing them all together in one blog post about my Poached Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Wraps.  So here it is! 

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Of course, if time is of the issue, then you might want to buy your tortillas instead of making them. Otherwise click here for the recipe to make your own fresh flour tortillas.  But like I always say, when you make all of the elements of a dish from scratch and them bring them all together to create a delicious meal like this one, the level of satisfaction you gain is enormous!  

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I recommend that you begin by poaching your chicken before cooking your tortillas (click here for my Herb-infused Poached Chicken recipe).  The Roasted Red Pepper Hummus can be whipped up in a matter of seconds (click here for my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe).   

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If you want to make these wraps as healthy as possible, then use a low-fat creme fraiche and either a low fat grated cheese or omit the cheese completely.   

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And don’t forget to keep the chicken stock once you’ve finished poaching your chicken!  You can freeze it in a large plastic resealable bag if you don’t have a container large enough to put in the freezer.  Otherwise it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

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Poached Chicken & Roasted Red Hummus Wraps
Serves 2
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Ingredients
3 fresh tortillas
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
6 tablespoons roasted red pepper hummus
2-3 herb-infused poached chicken breasts
1 carrot cut into small matchsticks
1 celery stalk cut into small matchsticks
handful of tasty grated cheese
freshly ground salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
Smear the creme fraiche down the centre of the tortillas.
Spoon the roasted red pepper hummus on top of the creme frache.
Shred the herb-infused poached chicken and place on top of the creme fraiche.
Lay the carrot and celery matchsticks lengthwise on top of the chicken.
Sprinkle the grated cheese over the carrots and celery.
Add freshly ground salt & pepper to taste.
Roll the wraps gently and as tightly as possible before cutting in half and serving. If they don't stay together then you can tie them with a piece of string or use a tapas stick or toothpick to hold them together.
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Hawaiian Pizza Bread with Crème Fraîche …

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It’s that time again, the Dutch Foodblog Swap!  And this time I had the honour of choosing a recipe from Sabine Koning’s blog “Oh My Foodness“.  

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Sabine’s blog has so many recipes to choose from, that it was a mission and a half to choose just one! But after spending an afternoon perusing, I stumbled upon her “Snackbrood” (Snackbread or Pizzabread) recipe.  

DSC_4355I’ve been buying a lot of pizza bread lately while out and about running various errands.  The bakery near our house makes a delicious version which is irresistible and I’ve been wanting to copy it for a while now.  But what really intrigued me about Sabine’s recipe was that it used crème fraîche instead of a tomato base.  And I just looooove crème fraîche and had never thought to use it for a base like this.  (NB:  In New Zealand just substitute sour cream for crème fraîche if you can’t find it in the supermarket).

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For the bread base, I recommend that you use a strong white flour or bread flour rather than plain flour as it contains more gluten and  produces a better bread.  I always use strong white flour whenever I’m adding yeast to a recipe.  You can buy bread flours from the supermarket here in Holland but they all seem to contain additives which I prefer to avoid.    

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I usually order Allinson’s Strong Bread Flour which contains no additives, and is available from http://www.amazon.de.  I order in large batches to make the delivery costs a little more economical. But if anyone knows how I can more easily buy it or order Strong Bread Flour (without additives) in the Netherlands then do leave me a comment below and let me know where you source yours from!

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In true food blogger fashion, I couldn’t help putting my own twist on Sabine’s recipe.  When I was chopping up the onion and ham, I couldn’t help but reach for a small tin of pineapple chunks to turn it into a Hawaiian topping.  Delish!

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I also like to add honey to my bread dough in place of sugar – in fact I like to try and use honey instead of sugar whenever possible.  

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Meneer Prins has been rather quiet lately on the food front.  I think he’s probably becoming a little spoiled with the continued variety of food on offer.  But he did rave about this recipe and without any prodding from me (yes you guessed it, after every new recipe I’m always badgering him with his feedback … “and?  and?  Is it a keeper??”).  Looks like I’m going to have to make this one more often. Thanks Sabine!!  

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Hawaiian Pizza Bread with Crème Fraîche
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Ingredients
for the bread dough ...
225ml luke warm water
1 packet of yeast (7g)
1 teaspoon honey
350g strong white bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
for the topping ...
100g crème fraîche
couple of handfuls of grated tasty cheese
1 small onion
5 slices of good quality ham
1 small tin of pineapple pieces
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
dried garlic powder
dried or fresh parsley
Instructions
Add the luke warm water to a large mixing bowl and stir in the honey until dissolved.
Whisk in the yeast until fully incorporated and then leave to stand for 10 minutes or until the yeast is frothy.
In the meantime, chop up your onion and snip the ham slices into pieces.
Add the flour, salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix until well combined.
Knead the dough on a well floured bench or board for roughly 10 minutes, or add it to your stand mixer using the dough hook.
Once kneaded, form the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with cling foil and let the dough rise for an hour.
Once risen, knead the dough for another 5 minutes by hand or in your stand mixer.
In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Roll the dough out onto a floured bench or bowl into a rectangular shape. You can use a rolling pin for this, but I prefer to pummel and stretch it out with my hands. Don't make it too thin otherwise it will be more like a pizza base rather than a bread.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the dough on top.
Smear the crème fraîche all over the dough base, and then sprinkle the onion, ham, and pineapple pieces evenly over the top.
Finally, generously sprinkle the garlic powder and parsley over the top and finish with a good sprinkle of sea salt (the finished pizza bread will be quite bland if you don't add enough salt at this point).
Bake the pizza bread in the oven for 20 minutes and serve warm, although the cold leftovers the next day are also delicious!!!
Adapted from Oh My Foodness "Snackbrood"
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

 

Sweet Lamb Curry …

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I just adore spending a lazy sunday afternoon in the kitchen making a curry.  For me, there is nothing more satisfying than preparing your own colourful and fragrant curry spice mix.  As with cooking anything from scratch, it’s a fantastic magical feeling to see all of the individual weird and wonderful ingredients come together to create a delicious and exotic dish.  If you’ve never made a curry from scratch, then I really encourage you to give it a go!  It’s really not that difficult.  But yes it’s time consuming.  The biggest challenge is sourcing all the ingredients beforehand.  In Holland, every town and city has a number of tiny asian food shops called Tokos.  I adore these quaint little shops, usually run by friendly family members who have at some point emigrated to the Netherlands.  But even the Dutch supermarkets these days stock a wide range of specialty ingredients.  So you have no excuse not to find everything you are looking for.  Next, schedule an afternoon, perhaps a lazy Sunday, to spend in the kitchen and enjoy the process of creating a wholesome curry from scratch.  And once you’ve tried making one, don’t be afraid to start experimenting with the flavour profile and proportions of the spices in the recipe.  You don’t want it quite so hot?  Add less chili.  You want it to taste slightly richer and warmer?  Add a little extra cinnamon or cloves or both.  In the end, you’ll come up with your very own curry recipe that will no doubt become a family hit.

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My love of cooking began as a small girl, while watching my Mum prepare the most tasty meals and the most magical birthday parties with endless amounts of sweet treats.  It was further fuelled by an early appreciation of Mediterranean and especially Italian food.  But my passion really sprang to life after discovering asian foods and although I would be hard-pressed to name just one cuisine that is my favourite, I do get especially excited when cooking asian dishes, originating from wide and varied lands from India to South-east Asia, and everything in between.  My brother-in-law recently returned from a 6 month journey traversing a number of these exotic countries and his stories of the foods he ate made me insanely jealous. I really hope that in the years ahead I will get the opportunity to travel through asia, purely to experience and learn how to cook their various cuisines. 

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As for this particular curry recipe – Adam Roberts, a.k.a “The Amateur Gourmet” calls this the “Best Curry of your Life”.  I’m not sure I could ever label one specific curry ‘the best’, as there are simply too many insanely delicious versions, originating from many different asian countries.  But in saying that, this curry is delicious and truly a joy to make.  It’s a sweet, fruity kind of curry, due to the addition of various fruit juices and citris peels.  You might think that a strange combination to add to a curry, but the sweetness mixed with the warmth of the spices makes it a match made in heaven.  It’s quite unlike any other curry I’ve ever cooked or eaten at the Indian restaurants back home in New Zealand.  And it’s definitely been added to my reportoir of curries to cook on a lasy Sunday afternoon …  

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Sweet Lamb Curry
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Ingredients
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
10 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
3 cardamom pods
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 or 2 whole dried small red chilli
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
8 small shallots
4 garlic cloves
85g of fresh ginger
1 1/2 - 2 kg boneless lamb shoulder
olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups canned peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
8 coriander stems
1 strip orange peel
1 strip lemon peel
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
coriander leaves to garnish
toasted flaked almonds to garnish
Instructions
Prepare the curry mix first by toasting the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds in a wide-bottomed frying pan. Once toasted, pop them into the food processor and process together with the cloves, star anise, cardamom pods, kaffir lime leaves, red chilli, nutmeg, and turmeric until you have a very fine powder.
Next, finely dice the shallots, garlic, and ginger.
Dice the lamb shoulder into roughly 4 cm squares.
Add a slosh of olive oil to your Dutch oven (or cassarole dish) and place over a high heat on the stove.
Meanwhile, season the lamb with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Brown the meat well in the heated Dutch oven in batches (this stops overcrowding and allows the meat to brown properly). Transfer the batches to a separate bowl or plate and put aside.
Turn the heat down slightly and add a generous slosh of olive oil to the Dutch oven.
Once the oil is heated, add the shallots and cook stirring often until they are brown.
Add the garlic and cook while stirring for another minute.
Add the curry spice mix as well as the cinnamon stick and ginger. Cook stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and salt and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks quite dry (takes about 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Take the curry mixture off the heat and stir in the coriander stems, citrus peel, the fruit juices and the lamb.
Put the lid on the Dutch oven and pop it into the oven for 1 1/2 hours, pulling out to stir every now and then.
Reduce the heat to 120 degreed Celsius and cook for another 45 min - to an hour, or until the meat is tender.
Garnish with coriander leaves and toasted flaked almonds.
Serve with rice and naan bread.
Adapted from April Bloomfield's "A Girl & Her Pig"
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

 

 

Boeuf Bourguignon …

Now I’m by no means an expert on French Cooking.  Actually I know very little about it.  If I could speak the darn language it would probably make things a lot easier, but because I can’t even pronounce written French, attempting to cook anything with a fancy pancy French name seems pointless.  I did enroll into French when I started secondary school, but the timetable clashed with my other electives and so I had to forego the privilege of learning what I think is the most beautiful sounding language in the world. 

 

So anyway, about the only French dish that I at least think I know how to cook is Boeuf Bourguignon (which literally translated is Beef Burgundy, burgundy being the region in which the dish was invented and also the red wine that is traditionally used to soak the beef in).  And it’s so delicious, it really makes me want to discover more about French cuisine.  Will add it to my bucket list.

 
 

I could try and impress you by telling you that Boeuf Bourguignon is what the French like to call a ragout, which is a fancy french name for a stew. Truth is I did a little research before writing this post and just found that out myself.  I’ve heard this term brandied about for a while now by various television cooks but I actually never quite clicked on as to what they were referring to.  Now I know.  And so do you.

In a nutshell, Boeuf Bourguignon is a slow cooked stew, whereby the beef is cooked in red wine and stock, with mushrooms and mini onions added nearer the end.  Bacon is also usually included.  

If you want to see a cute and interesting demonstration video on how to make Boeuf Bourguignon that takes you back in time but is surprisingly instructive, then take a look at this Julia Child video on YouTube.  I found it a fascinating watch!  Apparently after this episode viewed in the US in the 1960s, it started a major Boeuf Bourguignon trend, with the dish being extremely popular at dinner parties.  I wouldn’t know.  I’m an 80s child.

 

Ragouts (or stews or casseroles if you prefer) are one of my favourite meals to cook, especially when entertaining. For me, they are usually reserved strictly for the winter.  But there is just something so incredibly satisfying about having your food cooking away, filling the house with incredible aromas while you laze around on the couch on a Sunday afternoon.  And when cooking for others, it means you can get all the prep work completed long before your guests arrive allowing for stress-free entertaining. 

My version is adapted from Annabel Langbein’s recipe in her “The Best of Annabel Langbein:  Great Food for Busy Lives“.  It’s incredibly tasty with rich fullsome flavours.  Annabel cooks hers on the stove, which I did also for years, until I bought a Dutch Oven recently and am now obsessed with cooking everything in the oven.  Annabel adds some orange peel to her recipe which adds a nice fruity touch to complement the already rich fruitiness of the red wine.  This is, however, not authentic. I also like to serve my Boeuf Bourguignon with a rustic loaf of bread.  But you could serve with potatoes instead. 

A final tip – this really does taste better if you make the effort of marinating the beef in the red wine overnight in the fridge.  Much to my exasperation, I almost always forget to do this.  But it’s really worth remembering to do the night before you intend to cook it.  

 

 
Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 6
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Ingredients
1 1/2 kg stewing beef (runderlappen)
500 ml of red wine
1 strip of orange rind
2 bay leaves (laurierbladen)
ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed (knoflook tenen)
knob of butter
1 packet of bacon pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons of flour (tarwebloem)
2 cups of beef stock (runderbouillon)
14 baby onions, boiled for 5 minutes (baby-uitjes)
300 g button mushrooms (champignons)
Instructions
the night before ...
Chop the beef into rough chunks, discarding any of the tough sinewy bits. Pop into a bowl and pour the red wine over. Add the orange rind, bay leaves, garlic and a good couple of twists of ground pepper. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate overnight.
the next day ...
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius (only if you are using the oven method).
Take the beef out of the red wine marinade and dry it off between paper towels. This stops the meat from poaching in the frying pan.
Fry the meat in the butter in a large pot or preferably in a Dutch Oven or Casserole Dish (i.e. a big pot that can also be put in the oven). You want the heat nice and hot so that you brown the meat really well. This step is crucial, as browning the meat adds enormous flavour to the dish. Make sure that you don't "crowd the pan" when frying - if you put too much meat in the pan in one go, then you end up poaching and steaming the beef rather than frying. Depending on the size of your frying pan, this might mean that you have to cook your meat in batches.
Once the beef is browned, transfer to a clean bowl.
Fry the bacon pieces in the same big pot. By now you should have a lot of nice brownings stuck to the bottom of the pot. Yum yum!
Once the bacon is ready, add the tomato paste and flour to make a type of "roux". In other words, just mix and cook for a few minutes while constantly stirring. The mixture will start to bubble and froth.
Add the marinade to the pot and the stock and bring to the boil. Stir well to lift off all the brownings on the bottom of the pot.
Return the beef to the pot and either simmer on the stove for 3 hours (low heat) or chuck in the pre-heated oven for the same amount of time.
Meanwhile, boil the onions for 5 minutes and add both these and the mushrooms to the pot in the last half hour of cooking.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Notes
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per serve: 9
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

French Fruit Toast with Cinnamon Stewed Apples & Whipped Cream …

French toast and me go waaaaayyy back.  One of my earliest memories in the kitchen is me with my father cooking french toast for Sunday brunch.  Normally everyone else were in bed, while we were secretly cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  It’s a funny memory really, because my Mum was the cook in our household, and an exquisite one at that.  It’s thanks to my Mum that I was instilled with my own passion for cooking.  However this is something special that I remember sharing with my father, who sadly passed away a number of years ago.  And so this particular post is dedicated to him.   

 

I’ve long since moved on from the simple french toast that my Dad and I used to make when I was a kid.  I now consider this particular version of French Toast to be one of my signature dishes.  Instead of the usual thin slices of white bread, my ultimate indulgence consists uses thick slices of fruit bread.  The Dutch have a specific bread called a Drentse Bol (pictured above) which is available at the C1000 (a Dutch supermarket) which is absolutely ideal for this.  The bread is silky and soft inside, with a sweet aroma reminiscent of vanilla.  It makes for an ooey gooey slice of french toast once the egg mixture has soaked in.  It also means that you can cut the slices to your desired thickness – and for me, the thicker the better! 

 


I originally got the idea for this recipe from a cafe in Lower Hutt, New Zealand called “The Tiki Lounge”.  It’s been a few years since I last went so I have no idea if it’s still any good, and I see that they’ve since taken it off their brunch menu, but back when I used to go, they made a killer cinnamon and apple french toast, served with whipped cream.  

 

I’m also entering this recipe into the Dutch Food Blogging Event, hosted this month by Gereons Keuken Thuis.   This month’s theme is “Wat deel je aan tafel?” for which I can’t think of a sexy translation for, except to say I believe it’s asking about the experiences involved when sharing a meal with others.  For me, this relates partly to the rare quality time my father and I shared while making french toast all those years ago.

But also, as mentioned earlier in my blog post about corn fritters (click here), us New Zealanders love to go out to cafes during the weekend for brunch – that period somewhere after breakfast but before lunchtime, when the most comforting of foods are served and the atmosphere is casual; lazy even.  It doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer, brunch is the ideal time of day to catch up with friends before heading off to conquer the world for the rest of the day.  It’s a time to discuss the happenings of the week gone by, the juicy pieces of work gossip, or to recover from a hangover from the evening before. It’s completely relaxed and informal, with people often reading the weekend newspaper, children running around, or sleepy couples waking up to a decent meal before lazily moving on to enjoy the rest of their Sunday. 

And although this tradition doesn’t exist in the same way here in Holland, for me it’s still the ultimate time to entertain friends.  On this occasion, we invited two couples who are very close friends of ours to stay with us overnight after spending the Saturday evening in Amsterdam.  The “theme” of our brunch together was reminiscing the events of the night before.  As usual when eating brunch at our place, we were all still in our pyjamas and dressing gowns, no makeup, no pretense at all.  Just a sleepy dreamy brunch on the couch, as we recount the festivities of the night before and compare each others headaches – all while devouring my signature brunch dish – a delicious gooey slice of french toast, served with cinnamon stewed apples and whipped cream. 

 
 
French Fruit Toast with Cinnamon Stewed Apples & Whipped Cream
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Ingredients
Drentse Bol (or any loaf of fruit bread - the thicker the slices the better!)
Couple of nobs of butter
Roughly 1 1/2 eggs per person
Roughly 2 tablespoons of milk per person
Roughly 1 teaspoon of white sugar per person (fijne kristalsuiker)
A good slosh of vanilla essence
1 apple per person, preferably tangy green ones
dried ground cinnamon (gemalen kaneel)
whipped cream to serve
Instructions
To make the stewed apples: Slice up the apples into chunks. The bigger the chunks, the more they will resemble apple pieces once stewed. Apples break down quickly when cooked in a pot, and so if you cut the apple too finely, you will be left with apple compote - which is also nice. It's up to you what you prefer.
Add the pieces of apple to a pot together with a dash of water (just enough to stop the apples from burning on the bottom of the pot) and about a teaspoon of cinnamon. If the apples are very sour, then you may also want to add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Personally I like to keep the apples somewhat tangy to compliment the sweet whipped cream and gooey french toast.
Cook the apples over a low to medium heat until completely softened.
Meanwhile, slice the Drentse Bol or fruit loaf into nice thick slices.
Add a nob of butter to a non-stick frying pan (large enough to hold your bread slices) and place on a medium heat.
Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, and sugar to a shallow dish big enough to hold your biggest slice. Use a fork to whisk the ingredients together until well combined.
Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture until both sides are covered. I prefer to do this quickly, otherwise the bread becomes too soggy with the mixture.
Fry the egg coated bread in the frying pan until golden brown. You will need to play a little with the heat. You don't want it to cook too fast, otherwise the bread will be golden before the soggy inside is cooked.
Serve the french toast with the cinnamon stewed apples and a small pinch bowl of whipped cream on the side (the whipped cream will start to melt the second it touches the warm french toast, so it's nicer for your guests to spoon little amounts onto their mouthful of french toast).
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Notes
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints per serve: 17
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/

Mushy Chicken Pie …

I´m taking part in the January 2013 Food Blog Event, the theme of which is `Creative Chicken`.  Chicken is, for me, the meat that I am most comfortable cooking with and so I was very excited when I read that it would be this month´s theme!  You can read (in Dutch) about the Food Blog Event on December´s winner´s blog, Uit de keuken van Levine.

 

If you ask me what my most vivid memory is from High School, I would ashamedly have to admit that it would be my lunch breaks, when I would swap my healthy salad that Mum made religiously for me for a measly 1 dollar coin from a friend of mine so that I could go to the school canteen and by a mince pie.  Sadly, my mother put much effort into making those salads as interesting as she could, using different ingredients and dressings to encourage me to eat them.  These days I would be incredibly grateful for them.  But back then my friend was the only one to appreciate my Mother´s culinary skills, while I preferred to queue with my 1 dollar coin to buy a soggy reheated mince pie. 

 

Later on I came to appreciate the difference in quality between those reheated atrocities and a real pie, the likes of which you can find in any half decent New Zealand bakery (I´m happy to point you to my two favorite pie shops in the Wellington region if you are interested!) and moved on from mince pies to steak.  

These days, living in Netherlands I´ve had to learn to make them myself.  Making a good steak pie takes time, and so more often than not I´ll cook a chicken version which is much faster.   

My Mushy Chicken Pie is an adaptation from the Three Star Pie found in the Speight´s Southern Man Cookbook (a highly recommended cookbook which sadly seems only to be available within New Zealand).  I prefer to poach and shred the chicken before quickly sauteeing in a wok with the flour and seasoning (the original recipe uses raw chicken breast covered in the flour and seasoning and cooked in batches).  I find the shredded chicken produces a mushier texture in the end and besides, I always take any possible opportunity to poach chicken so that I can freeze and reuse the left over stock.   

For the herbs, I prefer to use fresh rosemary and thyme.  But you could use tarragon instead (I´m personally not the biggest fan of tarragon, or anything that tastes anything vaguely like licorice).   

For the pastry, you always have the option of using store bought puff pastry, but only if you really insist on doing so.   I highly recommend trying Gordon Ramsey´s Rough Puff Pastry recipe which takes all of 10 minutes to prepare and produces a much nicer end result. I find bought puff pastry too greasy and can easily turn soggy from the filling.  

 
Mushy Chicken Pie ...
Yields 4
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Ingredients
1/2 cup flour (tarwebloem)
salt & pepper
4 chicken maryland pieces (leg & thigh in one piece, with skin and bone)
olive oil
25g butter
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
125g mushrooms cut finely
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream (slagroom)
1 tblspn wholegrain mustard
1 tbspn fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tspn fresh thyme, chopped
puff pastry (see my "Simple Puff Pastry" blog post)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
Poach the chicken pieces for 25 minutes in a large pot of water seasoned well with salt and pepper. Make sure when poaching your chicken that the water simmers rather than boils.
Shred the chicken into strips using two forks, then add to a bowl with the flour and lashings of salt and pepper.
Add a good slosh of olive oil plus the butter into a wok or non stick frying pan and sautee until the flour is cooked and slightly golden. Set aside.
Using the same wok or pan, add another good slosh of olive oil and cook the onion until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further minute.
Pour in the wine and allow to boil for a minute before adding the stock, cream, and mustard (use the leftover stock from your poached chicken and freeze the leftover stock for another time ...). Cook for another minute.
Remove from the heat and add the herbs and chicken. Set aside to cool while you preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and start rolling out and cutting out your pastry into bottoms and tops to fit your pie tins.
Place your pastry bottoms in your pie tins, and fill with spoonfuls of the chicken filling. Cover with the pastry tops and using a fork, crimp the edges together. Use the fork to pierce the tops multiple times to let the steam out.
Brush the egg mix on top of the pies to help them turn golden in the oven.
Cook for about 25 minutes or until the pies look nice and golden.
Notes
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per yield: 20
Adapted from Speight's Southern Man Cookbook
Adapted from Speight's Southern Man Cookbook
My Little Chequered Kitchen http://mylittlechequeredkitchen.com/