Almost Summer!

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The temperature has been rising in Brussels, and it’s beginning to feel like Summer!!! I can sit outside and drink my tea in the morning, and after-work drinks are back on the menu.

I haven’t been baking much as of late, because I haven’t been home for most of May – I went to a wedding in the UK, and then I went to visit family and friends in Copenhagen for a week, because my best friend is about to have a baby, and we needed a pre-baby hangout!

But this weekend I’m staying home, doing some much needed cleaning and baking, and later watching the Eurovision (oh yes, drinking games will be involved) with some friends.

I had some rhubarb in the freezer, and decided to make this effortless rhubarb compote. It takes 30 minutes, and can be used as a jam, in layer cakes (I made it with layers of meringue and whipped cream with a bit of elderflower for my sister’s birthday last year!), and makes your kitchen smell awesome.

Since the rhubarb I had on hand wasn’t super pink, alas, my compote is a greenish colour, not very vibrant. But it still tastes amazing, and I’m going to try to add it to some browned butter jam financiers (kind of like these ones) I’m planning on making later today 🙂

The recipe is from a lovely book called ‘Kager der smager‘ (Tasty Cakes).

Easy Rhubarb Compote

  • 1 big bunch of rhubarb (about 600 g)
  • the seeds from 1 vanilla pod (I didn’t have one, but used cane sugar I had on hand, in which I’d put some vanilla pods after scraping out the seeds)
  • 120 g sugar (3/5 cup) (I used the vanilla pod infused cane sugar mentioned above 🙂 ).
  • 3 tbsp water

Cut your rhubarb into chunks of about 3 cm, and spread them out in a ovenproof dish.

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Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the sugar, mixing, then sprinkle the sugar-vanilla mixture over the rhubarb chunks (keep the empty pods and add them to jars of sugar for fragrant vanilla sugar to use in baking and whatnot!).

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Add the three tbsp water, and place in the middle of the oven, preheated to 200°C/400°F. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the whole thing has disintegrated into a beautiful mess. I had to bake mine for a wee bit longer, since the rhubarb had been frozen.

Let cool, then use as you like 🙂 keeps in the fridge for a few weeks in a sterilized jar, or in the freezer for several months.


Falafel!

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A little while ago I made falafel for dinner, served in pita breads with a yoghurt, tahini and garlic sauce, and a crunchy vegetable, feta and mint salad (inspired by this one from smitten kitchen! I used carrots, shallots, yellow peppers and cucumber, and omitted the seeds, mainly because I forgot to buy them. It’s a super yummy, easy peasy, healthy but filling salad, and I urge you to try it! I had a bit left over for lunch the next day, and it was delicious, even though the feta had sort of merged with the dressing, the vegetables were still crunchy and I wished I’d made more).

As is usually the case, because I was hungry, and because the light wasn’t good, and because I just wanted to get dinner on the table, I only managed to snap these few pictures in the process (please excuse the poor lighting!):

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THE SAUCE was just about a cup of full fat yoghurt with a small clove of crushed garlic, 2-3 tsp tahini, a bit of ground cumin and a dash of salt (both to taste), put ’em all in a bowl and give it a good stir. Set aside.

I made the falafel based on a recipe by Rachel Allen, but I didn’t really measure things out carefully, just blitzed everything together. I also doubled the recipe, even though it said it serves 2. And even though we should then have had enough for 4 people, we only had a few left over (hello lunch and breakfast).

Although it sounds super garlicky, it really wasn’t at all overpowering (and didn’t linger afterwards, either), but if you have some very potent garlic on your hands/aren’t a huge fan, you can always dial it down a notch 🙂 I also find that removing the green bit in the middle of the garlic clove really helps to remove the bite/’after burn’ that garlic can otherwise have (but it’ll still be plenty garlicky!) – especially in the sauce, where the garlic stays raw.

FALAFEL
Eyeballed/adapted from Rachel’s Favourite Food
Yield: 16-18 little falafel, or however many bigger ones you want 🙂 serves 2-4 people, depending on how hungry you are!

  • 2 x 400 g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, crushed/very finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and ground cumin (1/8 of each)
  • A generous sprinkling of sea salt
  • about 2-3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour + a bit more for flouring your hands when you shape the falafel
  • Olive oil, for cooking

In a big bowl, use a hand/immersion blender to blitz together the chickpeas, minced garlic, chopped parsley, spices and salt (or throw the lot into a food processor). Give it a good stir with a spoon, then taste to see if the mixture needs a bit more seasoning. If using a food processor, transfer to a bowl and stir in the flour; otherwise just stir the flour into the chickpea mixture with a spoon.

Lightly flour your hands, then shape the chickpea mix into little patties (about 1 1/2 tbsp for each) by rolling into a ball and flattening the ball a little between your hands, flouring your hands lightly for each one.

Heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, then add half of your falafel to the pan. After a few minutes, when the falafel are nice and brown on one side, flip them over (a little carefully, they are firm but very smushable!), and let them brown up on the other side for a few minutes. Add a little bit more oil if the pan seems too dry. Squish the cooked falafel a little with the spatula, then transfer them to a dish/plate, and proceed to cook the remaining falafel.

Heat your pita breads in the oven or toaster, smush a couple of falafel in there, drizzle a bit of yoghurt sauce on top and stuff as much of the salad in there as you can! The mint/feta/garlic/tahini/cumin combo is really good. I might make the falafel a bit chunkier next time, by blitzing them less! But then again maybe not, I like them like this, a little velvety, with a few chickpea chunks and parsley here and there. They also make a great base for a veggie burger, maybe add a bit of chilli, some kidney beans, a bit of sweet corn… and some garlic mayo or sweet chilli sauce on top!

P.s.: they taste just as good cold for breakfast, with an orange and a cup of tea!

P.p.s.: I also made these flourless peanut butter and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last night, using Ela’s recipe from over at Ela’s Home Patisserie, they are very peanutbuttery and wholesome, and satisfied my craving for something ooey-gooey. They’re also super quick to make when you have a major craving on a Friday night (I didn’t have the patience to cool the dough before baking, and they still turned out fine). I only had enough peanut butter for half a portion, and ended up with 9 beautiful little cookies.

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Beautiful Berlin (Or: That Time I Ate All The Food)

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Last weekend I went to Berlin to visit some friends and family (my brother and sister in law live there, so I try to go once a year). And boy did I eat. This also happened the last time I went – I don’t think Berlin is famous for good food, but it should be!

The sun shined gloriously most of the time I was there, and we even had to take our coats off at one point as we sat in the sun drinking an apfelschorle, after walking around for hours playing tourist (Checkpoint Charlie: check; The Jewish Memorial: check; Under den Linden: check; East Side Gallery: check).

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I’m not very good at remembering to take a picture of my food before I eat whatever I’m about to eat, so alas, I have no photographic evidence. But I have addresses! And some were just too good not to share. So here goes 🙂

DINNER

I’ve been to Berlin twice before, and last time I went, for my brother’s birthday, we had THE BEST Mexican food this side of the equator. I kid you not. I find that good Mexican food really isn’t all that easy to come by in Northern/Western Europe, none that I’ve tried anyway, other than really mediocre Tex-Mex that could very likely give you salmonella (true story).

But thankfully Maria Bonitas is nothing of the sort, and I highly recommend that you try it, should you find yourself in that neck of the woods. It’s a tiny sort of ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant, with a few seats inside, if you’re lucky, and two or three tables outside during the Summer months. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, their motto is ‘Eat More Tacos’ – and we did. I had the tinga de pollo burrito (slow cooked chicken with caramelised onions and refried beans), with guacamole and tortilla chips. Portions are massive, almost so much so that I wish they had a ‘I’m very hungry but maybe slightly more medium-hungry than that’-sized portion, because as good as it is, I didn’t manage to finish, this time or last. Although the boys seemed to have less trouble. Long story short: well worth the trip, and I’m most definitely going back 🙂

Tacos

BREAKFAST

On Saturday we had breakfast in a lovely little place that is well worth a visit, Malinikoff, a sort of German-French café on Helmholtzplatz. I had a croissant with butter and blackberry jam which I’m still dreaming about, blackberry jam is my jam (pun intended). I also had a big old cappuccino, a fresh pear juice, and lots of bread and butter. The others had soft-boiled eggs and fresh fruit with yoghurt, but I was too wrapped up in my carb-fest to try any of their stuff. Apparently their food was also delicious, and the service was super friendly (a rare treat in Berlin 😉 ).

SNACK TIME

Another little gem is the Hokey Pokey ice cream parlour, which just happened to reopen after the Winter hiatus on the very Saturday we were there! We had the salted caramel ice cream, which was so good that we’d planned on going back the next day. But then it rained and we got side-tracked by other culinary delights. I’m told they also sometimes do a salted caramel with sour plums ice cream, which is apparently to die for. Next time!

LUNCH

We also visited the street food fair in the KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg, which is on every two weeks on Sundays – and luckily for us fell on the Sunday we were there. We had these amazing pulled pork burgers from a big green van, the name of which I’ve unfortunately forgotten (but it’s this green one, at the bottom!). The others had the Southern pulled pork burger with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, and I had the Classic: homemade burger bun, BBQ sauce, succulent pulled pork with green salad and slices of crisp apple. It was the bomb.com, and totally made up for the rain and wind and frozen legs and feet, and we ate them huddled around a gas heater under a parasol. No regrets.

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LOPPIS (flea market) AND GLÜHWEIN

After the street food fair we strolled around the flea market in Mauerpark, and I unexpectedly found a stall selling Danish salty licorice (!!!!), so I was VERY happy. I also bought some fridge magnets with dancing cows and robots on them, and some old tins. Although I’ve imposed an ‘old tin-embargo’ on myself, because I have such a ridiculous amount of old tins in my apartment that it’s becoming a problem, I feel as though all bets are off when you’re abroad. The Mauerpark flea market is on every Sunday, and includes an outside food area with a little inside bar, where we took refuge from the rain and wind and had a glühwein. When we came back out the sun had reappeared, and we had the market mostly to ourselves compared to how crowded it normally is, so the rain had done us a service. Although it wasn’t on this Sunday, during the Summer months there’s also outside karaoke right next to the flea market, which is really fun and entertaining and well worth a visit, and provides a nice break from the usually very crowded flea market lanes 🙂

MORE DINNER

Berlin is divided into a number of boroughs, and although we walked around a lot of Berlin, for some reason most of our meals were consumed in Prenzlauer Berg (probably because we were staying there, and also because there’s a lot of good food around that area, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?). But for our last meal in Berlin (this time around), we ventured all the way to Mitte, for cocktails and burgers at Hans Im Glück. This is apparently a chain, and is a bit gimmicky, but what it lacked in ‘artisanal feel’ (I’m sorry I just said that), it made up for in cocktail and burger originality, so who gives a hoot. We were seated amongst a bunch of tree trunks that go from floor to ceiling, and which serve to break up the massive restaurant and make it feel a little more homey than I imagine it otherwise would, and although the place was super crowded and there was a long line of people waiting to be seated, we had no problem hearing each other over the hubbub. I had a spicy veggie burger with garlic mayo, and a ginger and elderflower virgin cocktail (I decided to go forego the boozey cocktails because we had to get up at 4.30 to catch a 5 am train the next morning). They also had a really delicious burger with goat’s cheese and fig sauce, and I’ve definitely been inspired to up my burger game at home.

So that is the story of how I ate my way around Berlin 🙂

 

P.S. / A FEW OTHER EATS WORTH A MENTION: Last time we also went to The Bird (there are two of these, the original one in Prenzlauer Berg and a second one in Kreutzberg which opened a year ago, but I would recommend the Prenslauer Berg one. The Bird is known for making some of the best burgers and steaks in Berlin, and I had the best club sandwich in my life there, and was really sad not to be able to fit one in this time around – but I just didn’t have any space left in my belly, and it’s such a popular place that you usually have to reserve a table well in advance); and Due Forni (according to my brother, the best pizza and pasta he’s had outside of Italy, Due Forni is a kind of grungy/punky cantina-style Italian restaurant with a massive terrace, slow service, but really good and cheap food, and very good tiramisu! My sister-in-law had the spaghetti carbonara, and it was seriously good). Both very much to be recommended!

 

 

 

Poached Eggs (Without the Headache)

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Brussels has been quite gray and cold lately, the kind of weather where it’s pouring down, but too windy to rely on your umbrella not doing that inside out thing umbrellas will do. This morning it’s been raining and hailing, but with super bright light and patches of blue sky all the same.

Today is Saturday, and for some reason I’ve been craving eggs for a few days now. I must be low on vitamin B or something. So I woke up and decided on a whim to try my hand at poaching eggs. Again.

My previous success rate when it comes to poaching eggs is about one in three, which has been very frustrating. I’ve tried all the different recommendations: super fresh eggs, a wide shallow pan, a few inches of water, either a rolling boil or a gentle simmer, swirling the water with a wooden spoon to create a vortex into which you drop the eggs, adding vinegar to the water, using a small bowl to drop the eggs into the water, not using a bowl to drop the eggs into the water, leaving them on the heat, or taking the eggs off the heat and covering with a lid, even a special egg-poaching device (that one was a complete failure let me tell you).

Today I was like, no thank you. So I got out a saucepan, added a few inches of water to said saucepan, put it on the stove top at a high heat with the lid on, and waited for the water to come to a rolling boil.

When the water was boiling, I turned the heat down low so that the water was still gently bubbling, and then cracked two eggs into the pot (about an inch apart to keep them from sticking to each other) and began debating with myself as to whether to swirl the water. I decided to wait, for a minute or so (I’ve found that sometimes the swirling will actually make the egg whites spread and create those straggly bits nobody wants?). Some of the egg white sort of spread out and clouded the pan, and so after about a minute I gently swirled around each egg with the handle of a wooden spoon. All the extra egg white that had clouded the pan wasn’t actually sticking to the eggs, and the whites seemed well distributed around the yolk.. well here goes nothing, I thought to myself. After about 2 minutes I gently fished out one egg with a slotted spoon, to check how done it was, put it back into the pot for about 30 seconds, then fished out both eggs, leaving them to dry on a plate covered in kitchen roll for about 20 seconds while I buttered my toast.

And lo and behold: these are the best looking poached eggs I have ever managed to make. None of those weird straggly bits of egg white, just even, perfectly poached eggs. And I wasn’t stressing about how much to swirl the water, or creating the perfect vortex to drop the eggs into. Just a few inches (more or less) of boiling water, two eggs, a bit of swirling once the eggs have settled into the water, 2-3 minutes (depending on how set you want the whites to be – I am ALLERGIC to gloopy egg whites – just use a slotted spoon to gently fish out the egg and check that the whites are nice and opaque) and a short rest on paper towel once done, just to absorb the water sticking to the egg.

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I shall report back once I’ve tried this again, but I have a really good feeling about it! And it took less time than boiling an egg!

Happy Saturday to all 🙂

Next day update: I’ve now successfully made a second batch, and whilst they were slightly less even-looking (but only very slightly, and I think this is because I attempted four at the same time and got a bit overwhelmed with the swirling), and I slightly overcooked the yolks (they were still yummy and runny though, but one can never have too much runny yolk, and very easily have too little, in my opinion), they still worked out just great! So I’m definitely sticking with this method of poaching eggs 🙂 Happy Sunday!

Baked Camembert

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Happy New Year everyone!!

I’m so excited to leave 2014 behind, I have a really good feeling about 2015.

This New Year’s, some friends of mine have been visiting from Australia, via the UK, and it’s been a trip in the sign of cheese. On NYE we had Raclette – melted Raclette cheese over these naturally sweet little boiled potatoes, with different cured meats and hams, teeny tiny pickles and pearl onions. My house still kind of smells like cheese, which is awesome in my book.

Last night was their last night here, so I decided we should have one more big cheese dinner before they go. I went looking for Mont d’Or cheese, but had to ‘settle’ for Camembert, which wasn’t a huge tragedy – I love melted Camembert, it’s one of my staple comfort food dinners. I usually pair it with a green salad and some good, crusty baguette. Yesterday I added some fennel to the salad, and a quick honey-mustard vinaigrette. And then we gorged ourselves on cheese.

I was going to get all fancy and add a bit of garlic and white wine to the Camembert, but when it came to be dinner time I completely forgot and just shoved it in the oven. It doesn’t need to be fancy though, as the gooey, melted Camembert cheese is full-flavoured enough on its own, and this is how I usually have it. You can also add some sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme, cut little slits in the top of the cheese and push in the sprigs of herb before baking it. But really, you don’t need to; just the cheese will do, and do plenty.

If serving as a starter, count about 1 cheese for 2-4 people. If serving as a main, count 1 cheese per person (trust me!). Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad, and you have a decadent (but cheap) dinner that’s ready in under 30 minutes.

Make sure you get the cheese with the stapled box, not the glued together one, as the wooden container will then come apart as the cheese bakes. Get a good quality cheese too, as the cheaper ones won’t melt properly, but stay sort of gelatinous – not at all what we’re aiming for here.

Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Take all of the paper off of your cheese, and place it in the lid of the wooden container (the bottom part is often half made of paper). Place your cheese (or cheeses) in an oven-proof dish.

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Bake the cheese(s) for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to swell up and feel completely liquid inside when you press gently on the top.

While your cheese is baking, slice up your bread and prepare your salad; I made a simple honey-mustard vinaigrette by mixing 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp honey (the firm cloudy kind, not the runny clear kind), 1/4 tsp dijon mustard, and a good few pinches of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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When the cheese is done baking, place it on a small plate and cut a cross in the top of the cheese, to bend back the crust and expose the melted centre. Serve immediately!

 

 

Caramelised Onion Quiche

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OK, so I do occasionally make things other than Christmas cookies, and last night I made this caramelised onion quiche.

I loooooove pastry. To me, there is almost nothing better than flakey, home-made-with-butter, pastry. Especially when paired with caramelised onions. I mean… (deeply satisfied butter-pastry-and-caramelised-onion sigh). I always decide to make this sort of last minute, when I get a big enough craving for it, and it usually results in a sort of late dinner, depending on what time I make it home from work. But it’s always worth the wait (I’m exaggerating here, it really doesn’t take that long to make, but I am very much a fan of the ‘ready in 30-minutes’ dinner during the week, and that, this is not. But oh, the onions. And the flakey pastry.

My recipe is a mix of this one, and another one for Quiche Lorraine from one of my mum’s old Danish cook books that she inherited from her mum (I very much doubt it’s still in print, it’s this awesome compilation of baking recipes from the 1960’s, small but very comprehensive, with drawn illustrations of cakes and such). If you’d rather, you can always buy ready-made pastry instead of making it yourself, but do try to get one made with butter, and not the kind with vegetable fats/margarine – if nothing else then for the flavour.

But the onions take about an hour to caramelise, so if you’re feeling industrious, why not make your own pastry in the meantime! And this one is super quick and easy to make 🙂 What discourages me from making quiche more often is the rolling out the dough part – I just can’t always be bothered to roll out dough, somehow that just seems unbelievably exhausting to me sometimes. But for a while now I’ve been pressing the dough into the pie dish instead of rolling it out, and while it probably takes the same amount of time, I feel like it’s just a whole lot easier, no flouring the counter top, no faffing about with the rolling pin. Win-win.

This is not a quick dinner, but doesn’t take hours and hours to prepare either (about 1 1/2-2 hours total, including baking) and it’s easy, cheap, and very filling and delicious!

CARAMELISED ONION QUICHE
Adapted from Simply Recipes (and my mum’s old cookbook)

For the caramelised onions, you’ll need:

  • about 6 medium-sized onions (+/- 650 g / 1.4 lbs), red or white
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Begin by slicing your onions. Make a shallow cut at the root end, just to remove the root bit but so that the onion still stays intact, then make a slightly less shallow cut at the other end of your onion, and remove the papery bit.

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Place your onion root-end up on your cutting board. Cut it in half, then cut each half into about six-eight thinner slices, so that each slice stays (more or less!) intact/attached at the root end. Do this with all your onions.

Heat up the oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, and add your onions and a good sprinkle of sea salt. Cook the onions on medium to high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, to give the onions a nice colour, then turn down the heat and leave them to simmer for about 30 more minutes, stirring now and then. You don’t want the onions to burn, but if they get a little charred here and there that’s perfect!

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When the onions are nice and soft, and quite brown, add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a final 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring a good few times to prevent burning. Take the onions off the heat.

Whilst the onions are cooking away, make the pastry:

For the pastry, you’ll need:

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 150 g (2/3 cup) butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3-4 tbsp cold water

Rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs; add the salt, giving it a mix with your fingers. Then add the egg yolks and 3 tbsp of water. Mix with a fork to distribute the egg yolks and water throughout the mixture, then gently press the dough together with your hands (if the dough is too dry to stick together, add a tiny bit more cold water, 1/2-1 tbsp).

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Press into a round disc, place the disc in your pie dish (no need to grease the pie dish). Using he ball of your hand, press the dough into your pie dish, pressing from the centre outwards to the edge of the dish, and turning the dish clockwise to repeat and cover the whole pie dish.

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Use your finger to press the dough up the sides of the pie dish, until you have a bit of overhang. Cut most of the overhang off but leave a little bit, about 5 mm, and use any extra dough to fill any gaps or thin patches.

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Leave to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes before blind-baking. When the onions are about half way done (or whenever you want to blind-bake your tart shell), preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

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Just before adding the balsamic vinegar to the onions, take your pastry out of the fridge. Poke little holes all over the pastry with a fork, then blind-bake for about 10 minutes until it begins to brown just a tiny bit. When blind baking, I usually cover the pastry with baking parchment and fill it with dried beans (you can use these again and again, just pour them into a little tin/bag when not using), but I lost my ‘blind-baking beans’ when I moved and haven’t gotten some new ones yet, so I had to blind bake sans beans! But it was fine even so, I think it’s safe to skip the beans-step with this particular pastry (especially if you’ve let it get nice and cold in the fridge before baking) 🙂

For the filling:

  • 5 eggs
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) of cream
  • 100 g (1 1/4 cups) grated cheese, preferably Gruyère (I used Emmenthaler, because that’s what I had in the fridge 🙂 )
  • A good amount of freshy grated pepper (maybe 20 good turns on your pepper mill?)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (delicious but completely optional – don’t worry if you don’t have any, the caramelised onions are so flavourful that no one will notice)

Mix the eggs, cream, pepper and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

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Sprinkle half of the cheese on the blind baked pastry, distribute the caramelised onions on top, followed by the rest of the cheese. Pour over your egg-and-cream mixture, then bake for 20-25 minutes at 200°C/400°F until the pastry is golden brown and the filling no longer wobbles.

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Take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly for 5-10 minutes before eating! The filling will have puffed up a little like a dome, but it will fall back down once it’s out of the oven and has cooled a bit.

Keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or microwave (the oven will ensure a crispy bottom, but it’s equally delicious albeit less crispy, pastry-wise, if reheated in the microwave).

 

 

Mushy Peas

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Adapted from Jamie Oliver

I love mushy peas. Love love love.

Tomorrow I’m making bangers and mash with mushy peas for dinner, and I decided to make the mushy peas ahead of time so that I could have some tonight already!

This recipe is so, so simple, and so, so yummy. It always turns out perfect, no one could mess this up. Plus these take about 15-20 minutes to make, most of which is simply the peas simmering by themselves. This is high a very low maintenance, instant gratification side dish.

You will need:

  • About 500 g / 17-18 ounces frozen peas
  • About 1 tbsp of butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A small sprig of fresh mint, chopped (if you happen to find yourself without fresh mint, you can absolutely leave it out, it will still taste yummy; but I still recommend using mint, if you have it!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Melt the butter in a sauté pan (a pan with semi high sides). Add the chopped mint and frozen peas to the pan, cover with a lid, and leave to simmer for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the peas are nice and soft, add the lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. Take off the heat and whiz up in a food processor/directly in the pan with a hand blender for a minute or so; make sure not to over-whiz – you still want some chunks of peas in there, for texture. Give it a good stir with your spoon and check the seasoning; it may need a bit more salt, pepper or lemon juice.

Eat the mushy peas on their own, with fish and chips or bangers and mash, or  however you fancy, really 🙂 They keep well in a Tupperware in the fridge, and can be reheated over medium-low heat. If they are too dry upon reheating, add a tiny bit of lemon juice.

 

 

 

Sunny Super Quick and Easy Carrot Salad

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Today is a beautiful Autumn day in Brussels; these sorts of clear and sunny, crisp days almost make me favour Autumn over other seasons (until it begins to rain again, that is – and Brussels is notoriously rainy).

I love the cosiness of Autumn (scarves!), the windy, sunny days and the leaves turning red and yellow. I’ve been drinking a lot of hot cloudy apple juice with cinnamon and ginger (best when made in a pot with a stick of cinnamon and a slice of fresh ginger, but in a pinch can also be made directly in a glass or mug with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and ginger and microwaved for a few minutes 😉 ). We carved some pumpkins last weekend for Halloween – first time pumpkin-carving for me, so I’m afraid the result was less than spectacular. Although my boyfriend’s one reminds me of a Ninja Turtle, which I think is ace. I propped them up on pots on the terrace outside my window so it looks like they’re peeping in, which makes me smile every time I come home. Here’s the Ninja Turtle one; please don’t judge us for our less than stellar carving abilities.

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Sunny, windy days aside, I’ve been feeling the lack of daylight already, and have found myself being drawn to and craving really vibrant, brightly coloured foods.  Enter this super bright and sunny carrot salad.

I started making Orangette’s French-style carrot salad years ago, and have sort of adapted it into an even simpler version, mainly out of laziness, and also because for a while I didn’t own a mandolin. The original recipe calls for a tiny bit of garlic, but I now completely omit this step because I often cannot be bothered to clean the garlic press, and also have tended to add a bit too much garlic and found it a bit too conspicuous when I brought the salad to work as part of a packed lunch..
Although I am a garlic fiend, I think this salad tastes just as bright and delicious without garlic.

I very often make this carrot salad, as it takes next to no time to make, keeps well in a tupperware for a day or two, and feels like pure vitamin when you eat it. The lemon juice and olive oil make a sort of juice if the salad is left to sit in the fridge for a little bit before eating, and it is simply delicious.

I have tried both julienning the carrots and grating them on the large-hole side of a grater, and I’ve come to prefer the grated version, as I find this allows for more juice to accumulate, which is very yummy. Julienning, on the other hand, makes for a prettier, crisper salad.

Anyways, here goes:

  • 1 kg carrots (just over 2 lb)
  • 5-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 tbsp lemon juice (more or less the juice of one lemon)
  • about 1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste

Peel and rinse your carrots, then grate (or julienne!) them all into a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice (you can play around with this a little, adapting it to your taste and making it more lemony/more olive oil-y according to your preferences – just taste it as you go along and be careful not to add too much lemon juice!), and the salt (add a bit at a time; I use fleur de sel, but the amount of salt needed may vary according to the type of salt you use/how salty you like things). Mix thoroughly with a fork.

Store in a tupperware container in the fridge for up to two days.

P.s.: You can also add a tsp of toasted cumin seeds to the salad for a more dressed-up version – it’s delicious, and goes really well with Lebanese food, for example, especially hummus and falafel with a yoghurt-tahini dressing! 🙂

P.p.s.: Found this awesome little candle holder at my local thrift store, who’d throw this away?? Managed to break the little dude in the bag on my way home, but glued him back together and it hardly shows, I think.

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