My Little Chequered Kitchen

Busy Work Night Meal Solutions

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.  


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.  


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.   


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).  


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.  


Indonesian Braised Pork with Sweet Soy Sauce (Babi Kecap)
Serves 4
Write a review
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
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

Quick & Easy Beetroot & Thyme Soup …


A friend told me the other day about a discussion she had had with her boyfriend about salt. Specifically, they were disagreeing about the addition of salt to mashed potatoes.  She claimed that she was brought up to eat mashed potatoes without any salt added at all, and found that her boyfriend’s cooking contained far too much salt.  When she told me this, I’m afraid my sympathies laid with the boyfriend.  Mashed potatoes without salt is like a pina colada without pineapple, or a screwdriver without orange juice – it’s just not conceivable!  And what about fries without salt? Disgusting!  I admitted to my friend that I too was a big fan of salt, and consider it to be one of the most important aspects of correctly seasoning a dish.  


I didn’t think anything more about the topic until I discovered that I would be choosing a recipe from Aranka’s low-salt food blog for this month’s foodblog swap.  Although I admit to panicking slightly about the thought of having to cook something that contained little or no salt, my interest was also piqued.  Why would anyone want to eliminate salt from their cooking?

After a little research on the internet, it soon became clear to me that most of us eat far too much salt in our everyday diets.  The biggest problems associated with a high-salt diet is high blood pressure and heart disease.  And the biggest sources of high-salt foods come from pre-packaged meals like those bought at takeaway joints or in the supermarket, as well as tinned or preserved foods.  But for those of us who tend to always cook from scratch using only fresh ingredients, unfortunately we are also to blame for adding too much salt to our foods.    

There are some options for ensuring your food remains tasty without adding salt.  Using herbs and spices for instance is a great way of giving flavour to food and allows you to add less salt than you otherwise would.  And if you are using salt, then use course salt rather than regular table salt, as it contains less sodium.  

Beetroot Soup

So am I going to stop using salt?  No.  Salt is such an important aspect of my cooking that I simply can’t part with it.  But I have learned my lesson, and going forward I’m going to ensure that I monitor my salt use, adding only when necessary and as little as possible while still ensuring that my food is well seasoned and flavourful.  And I also intend to re-assess my usage of preserved or tinned foods and try to always opt for cooking with foods in their most natural states.  

For my Dutch readers, check out Aranka’s low-sodium foodblog called “Aranka’s Foodblog – Ongezouten“.  I chose to cook Aranka’s Beetroot and Thyme soup as I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with beetroots.  And I have to say that I am now in love with beetroot soup!  I slightly simplified Aranka’s cooking method in order to make the recipe fit into the “busy work night meal solutions” category.  It would also be perfect for Sunday lunch, especially as the weather starts to cool back home in New Zealand.   

Beetroot & Thyme Soup
Serves 4
Write a review
500g raw beetroot
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
1 large carrot
20g unsalted butter
olive oil
1 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1 tbspn palm or brown sugar
1 liter vegetable stock (preferably made from scratch to avoid the addition of salt)
1 tbspn fresh thyme leaves
3 large potatoes
freshly ground black pepper
Set a medium sized pot of boiling water on the stove and bring to the boil.
In the meantime, prepare the beetroots by washing them thoroughly and trimming off the stalks before boiling in the water for 30 minutes. A knife will easily pierce through them once they are cooked.
While the beetroot is cooking, dice the onion, garlic, carrot, and potatoes.
Add the butter and a good slosh of olive oil to a large pot and set over a medium heat.
Once heated, add the onion and cook until slightly softened. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add the carrots, potato, and garlic and cook over a low heat for a further 10 minutes until softened.
Next add the vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Let it simmer while you prepare the beetroot.
Once the beetroot is cooked, the skin should easily peel off by hand. Soak them for a minute in cold water so that they aren't too hot to handle.
Dice the beetroot and add it to the soup. Let the soup simmer for a further 5 minutes before serving. Season to taste.
Eet Smakelijk!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per serve: 3
Adapted from Aranka's Kookblog
Adapted from Aranka's Kookblog
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Quick & Easy Beef Pho …


“I very very much dislike this contemporary attitude that cooking makes you a better person, people who feel they are superior because they can cook … Anyone can cook for their own sustenance.  And I do think at the moment there is an awful lot of smugness that goes on about people who cook as if it makes them better people, and it really really doesn’t”  

- Nigella Lawson, College Tour, NTR Television


As much as I love cooking – and that entails the whole process from deciding what to eat and planning a week’s menu, which usually involves pouring over a couple of cookbooks for inspiration before making my shopping list, right through to the actual process of preparing the ingredients and creating a delicious dish – I don’t particularly enjoy anything about coming in the door at 6.30 pm in the evening and rushing to prepare something healthy and edible in time for a hungry Meneer Prins who will be walking through the door as well any minute from and counting.  On those weeknights, I just simply want to eat. And it’s for that reason that I’m always on the lookout for healthy, quick and easy meal ideas that I can throw together without much thought.  This recipe is one of those. 


Beef Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a popular street-food dish in Vietnam.  If you wanted to make it as authentically as possible, then you need to give a lot of attention to making a flavoursome broth or stock, using meat bones and charred ginger and onion.  But for the purpose of a quick and easy weekday meal, just a stock cube will do.  Of course, if you are in the habit of making beef stock and freezing it, then pull some out of the freezer in the morning before heading off for your busy day.  

Another cheat in this recipe is the use of Chinese five spice mix, which includes all the main spices used to make a pho broth anyway.  If you wanted to make your own ground spice mix, then you would use ground coriander seeds, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground cardamon pods, and ground fennel seeds.   

This recipe has been adapted from Annabel Langbein’s Beef Pho in her book “Free Range in the City”.  It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally managed to complete my Annabel Langbein book collection and I’ve very much happy that I spend the money to have them shipped all the way over from her New Zealand bookstore.  Why they aren’t available on Amazon I do not know.  But click here if you are interested in ordering “Free Range in the City” online.  


Quick & Easy Beef Pho
Serves 2
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
100g dried rice vermicelli (glass noodles)
1 1/2 litre beef stock
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice mix
pinch of ground cloves
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf (available in the Netherlands at any good toko store)
8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
100-150g beef (I use a tender cut of steak) sliced as thinly as possible across the grain
2 spring onions, sliced into thin strips or matchsticks (julienne)
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin strips or matchsticks (julienne)
handful of mung beans (tauge)
1 lime, cut in half
to serve ...
coriander leaves
Pop the vermicelli noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Place the beef stock, fish sauce, Chinese five spice mix, cloves, grated ginger, chili, kaffir lime leaf, mushrooms, and the bruised lemongrass stalk (use a rolling pin to bash it, or some other such blunt object) into a large pot and bring to the boil before simmering for 5 minutes.
While the broth is coming to the boil, prepare the rest of the ingredients - slice the steak into finely cut strips and make sure you slice across the grain (this makes it more tender when eating) and slice the carrot and spring onions into thin strips or matchsticks (julienne).
Next, drain the vermicelli noodles in a colander, and divide into two fairly large serving bowls. Place the beef strips evenly on top of the noodles.
Once the broth is ready, remove the lemongrass stalk and the kaffir lime leaf. Use a soup ladel to slowly pour spoonfuls of the broth over the steak. The heat from the broth will be sufficient to very quickly cook the thin slices of steak. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over each bowl, and top with the carrot, spring onion, mung beans (tauge), a handful of coriander leaves and a good sprinkle peanuts.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per serve: 7
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
My Little Chequered Kitchen


spaghetti alla carbonara …


 As part of a new initiative within the Dutch food blogging community, each month we food bloggers will choose a recipe from another Dutch food blog to try out.  The blog I was given this month is Italiaans koken met Antoinette (which is Dutch for Italian Cooking with Antoinette!).  Antoinette is Dutch, but she lives in Italy with her Italian husband and shares her culinary experiences from Italy through her blog.  I couldn’t believe my luck then when I discovered that I would be selecting something from her blog to cook!  Italian food has always featured high my list of favourite cuisines, or at least the bastardized version which is the only version I’ve probably ever been exposed to.  Spurred on by my planned trip this summer to Tuscany (first time ever in Italy!!) and further encouraged by my Italian colleague who in typical Italian style, insists that no food can be claimed Italian unless it has been cooked in Italy or by an Italian – I’ve become ever more curious to learn more about authentic Italian cooking. 


For this reason, I wanted to pick something from Antoinette’s blog that felt familiar so that I could try and learn the authentic version.  My heart skipped a beat when I found her recipe for spaghetti alla carbonara.   I have always been crazy for a good carbonara, and whenever I dined at an Italian restaurant back home in New Zealand, I found it nigh impossible to skip past it on the menu and try something else. 

In an effort to remain as authentic as I possibly could, I made a quick dash down to our local deli and picked up a small block of Parmigiano-Reggiano as well as a chunk of Pancetta   I was almost home when I suddenly panicked as I discovered that I hadn’t put cream on the shopping list.  So I toddled back down to the supermarket to buy a decent amount of full cream.  I mean, cream is the most important ingredient in a good carbonara right? 


Wrong!  To my surprise when I re-read the recipe I found no mention of cream at all!  I took a double take and decided I had better read the recipe a little more thoroughly.  It turns out that the sauce in an authentic carbonara is made purely from the eggs and a little of the cooking water from the pasta.  I began to get a little nervous.  I mean, I had eaten plenty of creamy saucy versions of carbonara before and it was because of this creaminess that I adored them!  But I chose to ignore my niggles and determinedly continued to follow Antoinette’s guidance and make the recipe as authentically as possible. 

And boy am I glad I did!!!  Authentic spaghetti alla carbonara has now taken it’s place as an all-time favourite recipe, and Meneer Prins made me swear an oath that I would make it as regularly as possible.  I didn’t protest.  Not only was this recipe so incredibly simple and incredibly quick to make, it was nothing short of heavenly delicious!  The mouthwatering flavour from the Pancetta envelops the entire dish, as does the punch from the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  And the rich egg sauce is just divine. No cream needed at all!!  


I was so excited with my efforts that I shared my discovery with my Italian colleague.  In typical Italian style, he then spent a good twenty minutes telling me what I did wrong and how I could have done it better. Apparently the dish originates from Rome, and considering he was born and bred in Rome, he was convinced he knew all there is to know about authentic carbonara. Who am I to argue?  I thought it worthwhile mentioning his tips here as well. 

Firstly, he recommends that I use Guanciale instead of Pancetta (not sure if I’ll be successful in finding that here in the Netherlands though) as this is the bacon most traditionally used with carbonara due to it’s stronger flavour and more delicate texture.  Secondly, he recommended that I use about 40% Parmigiano-Reggiano and 60% Pecorino cheese.  Finally, for a richer and slightly more thicker sauce, he recommended only using the egg yolks and discarding the egg whites – or alternatively you could use one egg white if you find it too rich with just egg yolks.  I’m definitely keen to try this out next I make it, which will be very soon, as it’s now a firm favourite in our little household!  Thanks so much Antoinette!!!


And finally, because this recipe post is intended to portray an authentic version of spaghetti alla carbonara, I think a little note about Parmesan vs Parmigiano-Reggiano might be in order.  In a nutshell, there are certain laws in Italy that were created in order to protect the authenticity of Italian foods and wines.  Parmesan cheese is therefore an attempt by non-Italians to recreate the incredibly tasty, crumbly cheese that is Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Therefore whenever possible, try to avoid Parmesan in favour for the real thing!  


spaghetti alla carbonara
Serves 3
Write a review
400 gram spaghetti
pinch of salt
3 cloves of garlic
125 grams smoked bacon cut into small pieces
(use preferably Guanciale, or otherwise Pancetta)
3 eggs (or 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks)
freshly ground pepper
about 75 grams of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or Pecorino cheese
extra freshly grated cheese for garnish
Boil a large pot of water on the stove.
Add a pinch of salt (much debate as to why this is done, with some claiming that it raises the temperature of the water. I reckon it has more to do with seasoning).
When the salt is dissolved, add the spaghetti to the pot and stir until all the spaghetti is covered in water.
Peel the garlic cloves and cut in half. Add both the garlic and the bacon to a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. No need to add any oil as the bacon will fry in its own fat. Let the bacon brown a little but don't overcook it, otherwise it will be too tough. A good indication of readiness is when all the fat has turned translucent. Turn the heat off at this point.
Whisk together the eggs (or egg yolks and one egg white) and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Be generous with the pepper. Once whisked, stir in the freshly grated cheese.
Remove the garlic pieces from the frying pan.
Check the pasta. Once cooked to al dente, drain in a colander and then add to the frying pan.
Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and bacon, adding a tablespoon or so of the cooking water from the pasta and mix all together. The trick here is to ensure the pan isn't too hot, otherwise your egg sauce will turn into scrambled eggs!
Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle a little extra of the cheese on top. Enjoy!!
Approx. WeightWatchers ProPoints (per serve): 13
Adapted from Koken met Antoinette
Adapted from Koken met Antoinette
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Spanish Style Chorizo Chicken …

My most vivid memory of my brief encounter with Madrid in 2011 is simply that of continually devouring the incredible food on offer, from early morning until late at night.  I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that I spent the entire three days eating the most delicious array of dried meats and tapas, with every mouthful a new adventure.  


This easy throw-together oven meal adapted from Jo Seagar’s recipe in “It’s Easier Than You Think” is a welcome reminder of the vivid colours and flavours that I experienced during my short time in Spain.  If you can get your hands on “real” chorizo, then so much the better.  However my local Jumbo supermarket only has these thin round slices in the cold meats fridge section.  It still does the trick, however you’d do even better with the real thing chopped into chunks.   


You can serve this oven dish with boiled and seasoned potatoes or with rice.  But personally I like to serve it with Damper Bread, which is a bread that can be whipped up in minutes (no kneading required) and is baked in the oven at the same time and temperature as the chicken.  It’s also perfect to mop up the juices left on your plate or in the pan.  (Watch out for my recipe for Damper Bread coming soon!).

Spanish Style Chorizo Chicken
Serves 4
Write a review
1 cup of chorizo, chopped
8 chicken drumsticks, with skin
1x red capsicum, chopped (rode paprika)
1x yellow capsicum, chopped (gele paprika)
3x red onions, quartered (rode uien)
8x garlic cloves cut in half
1x can of chopped or crushed tomatoes
rocket leaves (ruccola)
black olives, chopped
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Fry the chopped chorizo pieces over a medium heat in a deep frying pan or wide-based pot. You shouldn't need any oil as the fat from the chorizo should be enough. If possible, use a metal pan (i.e. don't use non-stick) because you want the meat to brown well on the bottom of the pan. Once the chorizo is lightly browned, transfer to a roasting dish, while leaving the chorizo oil and juices in the pan.
Next pop the chicken drumsticks into the frying pan and brown. A fairly high heat works best for this. Turn the drumsticks every so often so that they are browned on all sides.
While the chicken is browning, chop up the red and yellow capsicums, garlic, and red onions. Add to the roasting pan along with the tinned tomatoes.
When the chicken is properly browned, add it to the other ingredients in the roasting dish. Pour a cup of water into the frying pan and de-glaze the pan (this means cook the water in the pan to loosen up the browning on the bottom - this is where all the flavour is!). Pour this into the roasting dish.
Make sure everything is evenly spread out in the roasting dish. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, and pop the roasting dish into the oven to roast for 30 minutes.
When ready, pull the roasting dish out of the oven and sprinkle with a handful of rocket leaves and the chopped black olives. Serve straight from the roasting dish.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints Value per serve: 11
Adapted from Jo Seagar "It's Easier Than You Think"
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Butternut Pumpkin with Quinoa, Feta, basil & mint …

 I’ve been wanting a Lorraine Pascale cookbook for a couple of years now, ever since first watching her BBC Christmas series. I love getting to know new cooks and being inspired by their fresh ideas.  With Lorraine, I love the fact that she is an ex-model, she’s young, hip, and trendy and therefore a welcome addition to the world of (British) cookbook writers and TV personalities. Her specialty is “baking”, but not just of the sweet variety.  Lorraine considers baking to include anything that can be cooked in an oven, which just so happens to be my favorite method of cooking as well. (To buy her cookbooks, click here


Last week my colleague generously allowed me to borrow her cookbooks (a dangerous thing to do – I didn’t want to give them back!  At least my colleagues know what to buy me for my birthday this year …) and one of the recipes that struck me was this butternut pumpkin recipe (I say pumpkin, you say squash).  It seems to tick so many boxes.  It’s healthy (quinoa is one of the most healthiest grains available), vegetarian (yet still satisfying), and perhaps most importantly, at least to me, is that it looks fiddly while in reality it’s incredibly simple.  The only catch, as with all baked foods, is that it does take an hour to cook.  But, it’s so easy to prepare and assemble that it’s still included in my weekday meal repertoire.   


I’ve added a few of my own touches to Lorraine’s recipe, including the addition of lemon juice (I just can’t eat quinoa without it) and ground cumin instead of fennel seeds (mainly because I didn’t have any fennel seeds on hand at the time, but also because I love the combination of cumin and pumpkin).  

I do however have one disappointment to share regarding this recipe.  Meneer Prins has developed a dislike of quinoa (he only ever tried one particular recipe but immediately declared his permanent dislike).  When I tasted this particular dish before serving it to Meneer Prins, I was convinced that he would change his opinion – I mean, what is there not to like about this dish?  However, Meneer Prins is a hard nut to crack, and so unfortunately this one isn’t a keeper, at least not as far as he is concerned.  For me – it’s possibly my favorite vegetarian dish to date!

Butternut Pumpkin with Quinoa, Feta, Basil & Mint
Serves 4
Write a review
2 butternut pumpkins cut in half length ways and de-seeded
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 bulbs of garlic
quinoa (one standard box)
2 red peppers, sliced (rode paprika)
ground cumin (komijn gemalen)
2 handfuls of pine nuts
2 small red chillis, finely chopped
block of feta cheese, crumbled into pieces
squeeze of honey
good squeeze of lemon juice
bunch of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
bunch of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
dash of balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Place the butternut pumpkin halves and the garlic bulbs with the top chopped off on a baking tray or in a roasting dish and generously drizzle with olive oil, and season well with freshly ground pepper and salt (I like to use flaky sea salt). Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa as per the instructions on the packet and chop the red peppers into strips.
After the 30 minutes, pull out the oven tray/roasting dish and remove the garlic and set aside to cool slightly. Scatter the strips of red pepper onto the baking tray/roasting dish next to the pumpkin halves. Sprinkle some ground cumin over the pumpkin halves. Bake for a further 30 minutes.
Meanwhile add the pine nuts, chili feta, honey and lemon juice to the cooked quinoa. Squeeze the roasted garlic flesh out from the skins and mince it up in a small bowl with a fork. Add it to the quinoa mixture and mix everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if necessary.
Place the cooked pumpkin pieces on a plate (one half per person). Spoon the quinoa mixture in/on the pumpkin, leaving some of the orange pumpkin showing (to act as a border for aesthetics).
Sprinkle the red pepper slices and chopped herbs over the quinoa mixture. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic oil to finish.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers Propoints value per serve: 13
Adapted from Lorraine Pascale
Adapted from Lorraine Pascale
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Thai Style Beef Salad …

I often pull this recipe out when I feel like I need an injection of healthiness.  It’s quick and easy enough to serve on the busiest of workday evenings, while fancy and incredibly delicious enough to serve at a dinner party.  Healthy it may be, and simple too – but it’s fresh flavors are so tasty that it definitely features near the top of my favorite dinner ideas.

I have Annabel Langbein once again to thank for this one, adapted from her Thai Style Beef Salad (The Free Range Cook, available here).  In her recipe, Annabel uses her Chili Jam, which is definitely worth the effort if you are serving this in a fancier setting.  However I normally throw this meal together at short notice and so I’ve replaced her jam with simple store-bought sweet Thai chili sauce combined with lime juice.  I also omit the fish sauce – only because I’m lazy.  :)

Thai Style Beef Salad
Serves 2
Write a review
Thick slices of good quality frying steak (1 per person) (biefstuk)
Punnet of Lebanese cucumbers (mini komkommers)
Punnet of cherry tomatoes (cherry tomaten)
1x red onion (rode ui)
2x spring onions (bos ui)
bunch of fresh mint leaves (munt)
handful of fresh coriander (koriander)
2/3 cup sweet Thai chili Sauce
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (limoensap)
salt & pepper
olive oil
Rice to serve
Coat the pieces of steak generously with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
Heat a large frying pan and add the steaks. Fry on a high heat until cooked to your liking (I prefer my steaks "medium" to "medium-well-done" so that there is a good amount of pink but no red).
Rest the steak on paper towels while preparing the rest of the salad.
Chop up the cucumbers into small batons (sticks), cut the cherry tomatoes in half, finely slice the red onion and spring onions, and roughly chop up the mint and coriander. Add all of this to a large bowl (the bigger the better to give you plenty of room to toss the salad later on).
Slice the steak across the grain (this makes it more tender) and add to the other ingredients.
Mix together the sweet Thai chili sauce and the lime juice together in a small bowl. Pour over the salad. Season well with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Serve with plain rice on the side.
Eet smakelijk!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints value per serve: 9
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Sweetcorn, Courgettes & Mint Fritters …

A lot of people ask me why we chose to live in Lelystad (well, they usually word it more like “why on earth did you move to Lelystad??).  But it’s really very simple.  I work near Amsterdam in the south, and Meneer Prins works in his home town of Steenwijk up north.  If you look at a map of The Netherlands, then you can clearly see that Lelystad is smack bang in the middle. 

What we forgot to consider is that there is a lot more traffic heading to Amsterdam in the morning than heading up north to Steenwijk.  But that’s another matter …

The down side of living here is that all our friends and family live somewhere else, which means we spend a lot of our lives in the car.  The plus side, is that we get a fair amount of people staying overnight on their way to somewhere, or simply popping in for a visit to break up the drive.  So last weekend, while they were on their way home from the airport, we were able to host a couple of my in-laws for Sunday brunch.  And of course, me being me, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to cook for them.

I’ve always been a big brunch fan, and especially on a lazy Sunday morning.  I think it’s embedded into me after growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, where brunch is a popular time to go out to a cafe, and where they serve the yummiest foods like pancakes, french toast, and yes you guessed it, corn fritters. 

My favorite corn fritter recipe comes from Jo Seagar’s cookbook “It’s Easier Than You Think” (why oh why is this only available in New Zealand?).  The batter is reasonably thin, which produces a flatter and crunchier fritter.  The grated courgette/zucchini gives the fritter a wonderful moistness and colour, while the mint adds a fresh bite that compliments the accompanying sweet thai chili sauce and sour cream (or creme fraiche if you are in the Netherlands).  If you are cooking these for a group of people then you can pop the cooked fritters (layered between paper towels) in the oven at a low temperature and on an oven proof plate. 

The perfect Sunday brunch.   

Sweetcorn, Courgette & Mint Fritters
Yields 8
Write a review
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour (tarwebloem)
3 tspn baking powder (bakpoeder)
1 cup of drained sweetcorn (blikje mais)
1 courgette
3 tbsp freshly chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp sweet thai chili sauce
salt & pepper
Canola oil (zonnebloemolie)
To serve ...
sour cream (creme fraiche)
sweet thai chili sauce
rocket leaves lightly dressed
Using a metal whisk, mix together the milk and eggs in a large bowl.
Sift in the flour before adding the corn, courgette, mint and sweet thai chili sauce. Season generously.
Fill a large non-stick frying pan with the oil so that it's about 1 cm deep. Keep the oil topped up in between batches.
Spoon 1/4 cups of the mixture into circles in the pre-heated oil. Fry the fritters on a medium heat - it should be hot enough to create a nice golden brown finish, but not so hot that the outside is ready before the inside is cooked.
Flip the fritters over (be careful of the hot oil!) and cook the other side.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints Value per fritter: 10
Adapted from Jo Seagar's "It's Easier Than You Think"
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Chicken, Brie & Cranberry Toasties …

I’m always looking for quick and easy weekday meals, and for the past week I’ve had to rely on those few slap together food ideas that we all store in our heads and pull out for use when the going gets tough and time for creativity is pretty much non-existent. 

This is one of my go-to meals that is so simple, requires few ingredients but is good enough to be served at any cafe … and of course like many of my favorite foods, this one is a staple at any New Zealand cafe (although usually it’s made with panini bread instead of ciabatta).

Chicken, Brie & Cranberry Toasties
Write a review
chicken breasts
olive oil
brie or camembert cheese
thick pieces of ciabatta or ciabatta buns
salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Pour olive oil onto the chicken breasts and add some freshly ground salt and pepper. I keep the chicken in the original plastic container it comes in and use this as a bowl. Use your hands to ensure the chicken is completely and evenly coated in the oil and seasonings.
Put the chicken into a lined roasting dish and bake until the chicken is golden (about 20-30 minutes).
Slice the chicken into thin long slices and lay onto your ciabatta pieces and season well with more salt and pepper.
Smother the chicken in cranberry jam, before adding slices of brie or camembert
Place the other ciabatta slice on top and toast in a panini press, toasted sandwich maker, or grill.
Serve with some rocket dressed with olive oil, a couple of teaspoons of freshly juiced orange and salt & pepper.
Eet Smakelijk!!
Monique xx
Approximate WeightWatchers ProPoints per toastie: 11
My Little Chequered Kitchen

Chicken, Mango & Coriander Salad (with Chilli & Lime Dressing) …

If you are anything like me, then right now in the middle of winter, the last thing you are really hankering after is a salad.  When it’s cold, I tend to bring out my slow cooker a lot so that I can come home to a kitchen smelling of exotic spices and a warm hearty meal almost ready to be eaten straightaway.  But then perhaps because of my over indulgence in rich winter meals during this time of the year, every now and again I crave the crisp freshness that a salad delivers.  And for me, the ultimate salad must contain chicken, mango and an over-abundance of fresh coriander.


I came up with this recipe almost 10 years ago now, after eating out at my favorite Asian-fusion restaurant back home in Wellington, New Zealand.  It was the first time that I was introduced to the taste of fresh coriander and I was immediately in love.  The next day at home I attempted to recreate the magic, and after all this time, I haven’t made many changes as I think you can’t beat it’s simplicity and zing of fresh flavors.  The trick to the salad is treating the coriander leaves as a salad leaf – and thereby being generous with the amount of coriander leaves that you add to the salad. Also I prefer to eat the salad while the chicken and cashew nuts are still warm, as it provides an interesting contrast to the other cold and ingredients.

Chicken, Mango & Coriander Salad
Serves 2
Write a review
2x chicken breasts
1x Mango (or one tin of mango pieces)
bag of rocket leaves (ruccola)
mung beans (tauge)
coriander leaves
handful of cashew nuts
... for the Chili Lime Dressing
fresh chili
olive oil
white wine vinegar
salt & pepper
In a large bowl, add the fresh rocket leaves, mung beans (tauge), mango slices and coriander leaves. Treat the coriander leaves as a salad leaf and therefore be generous - the more the better!
Finely chop a little bit of chili (about 1/2 a teaspoon) and mix together in a small bowl or jug with the juice of one lime, a good slurp of olive oil, a slosh of vinegar, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Coat the chicken breasts in olive oil and season with salt before adding to a griddle pan to brown. Once cooked through, shred the chicken with two forks and add to the salad leaves.
Gently toast the cashew nuts in a dry pan (no oil) and then add to the chicken and salad leaves. Mix everything well.
Serve on a plate and drizzle with a little of the chili and lime dressing. Season well.
Eet Smakelijk!
Approximate WeightWatchers Propoints Value: 8
My Little Chequered Kitchen