28 February 2013

Triple Choc Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of the easiest sweets around : very few ingredients and no effort preparation for a very sweet and traditional dessert.  I wanted to jazz up my usual recipe by adding chocolate to it and although I am still slightly startled when I look at the finished result (because my rice pudding have always been whitish up to now), it has defininetely a great taste.

27 February 2013

Chicken Shawarma

If you are running out of time to prepare dinner, the easy option which comes to mind is to grab some take away. After all who doesn't like some fastfood like kebab, pitta, shawarma or however you want to call it.

Preparing shawarma however is so easy, that it would be a waste of money to buy it ready made.  The additional advantage of home made food is moreover that you know at least what you put into it.  In these times where it appears that horsemeat has been passing for beef in numerous industrially prepared dishes, it takes an ever bigger importance.

Making this dish is so easy that you can hardly call it a recipe, but here you go.  I have had and used it for quite some time and I think it came originally from a Weight Watchers website, so to top all the other advantages, it is also a skinny dish :o)

Ingredients for 2 servings :

* 1 box of mushrooms
* 1 red bell pepper
* shredded iceberg lettuce (I also added some raw white cabbage)
* 2 onions
* 260g chicken fillet
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1 Tbs of shawarma spices
* 2 pitta breads
* aioli

Preparation :

Slice the chicken fillets into strips, and dice the mushrooms, bell pepper and onions. Put everything but the bell pepper in a bowl and mix with the shawarma spices.

Fry meat and veggies in a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the bell pepper a bit later on, so that it keeps a bit of crunch (and isn't all mushy).

Heat up the pita breads in a toaster.  If you like to eat it as a sandwich, fill the warm bread with lettuce and the shawarma and serve with some aioli. Otherwise you can serve all the ingredients separetely on a plate.  The aioli can be homemade, but we always have a storebought jar in the fridge, so that's what I used.

That's all there is to it, quick simple and very tasty.

26 February 2013

Potato Pancakes (Raggmunk)

As promised in yesterday's Béarnaise Sauce post, I still had to post the recipe to the potato pancakes that accompanied the steak I made.  Considering the horrible lighting of my picture on the bottom of that post, I will not repost it.  [On a side note : I will be ordering my Lowel Ego lights by the end of March and hopefully then I will no longer have to deal with nasty glares, faded colours and the like.  Maybe, just maybe, my food pictures taken at night will start to look appetizing again.]

Anyway, these potato pancakes are present in a lot of cuisines around the world, but the inspiration for these ones comes from Sweden, where "Raggmunk" is a very popular potato preparation.

Ingredients for 4 servings :

* 800 g floury potatoes (°)
* 90 g all purpose flour
* 1 egg
* 300 ml milk
* a knob of butter
* salt
* pepper

(°) Because it is the starch contained in the potatoes which keeps the pancakes together, it is preferable to use older potatoes, as their starch levels are higher. Personally I opted for Bintjes potatoes, as they are grown locally.


Put the flour in a bowl, add the milk and egg and whisk it all into a the smooth batter.

Peel the poratoes and grate them.  Add the grated potatoes to the batter, season and mix it carefully together using a fork   

Melt a knob of butter in a large skillet on medium fire.

Put a good forkfull of potato batter in the pan, press it slighly in order to achieve a patty.  As these pancake are rather small, you can bake several of them simultaneously.

Using a small spatula, turn the pancake after 1 to 2 minutes and keep them on low heat until the inside is also done.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

25 February 2013

Béarnaise Sauce

I don't know for other parts of the world, but in Belgium the quintessential sauce to accompany steak is béarnaise sauce.  The sauce can be found ready made in the supermarket and some brands are really good, but nothing can beat a homemade béarnaise.

Making béarnaise is not that complicated really, but it requires a bit of preparation ahead of time, if you don't have ready-made gastrique at hand. Gastrique, a vinegar reduction, is the basis of this egg and tarragon sauce.  You can make it in a larger quantity as it keeps in the fridge for a long time.  I prepared it yesterday, knowing that I would be making this sauce tonight

So let's take a look at the key for any succesful béarnaise, the gastrique.

Gastrique - Ingredients.

* 1⁄2 L tarragon vinegar
* 1⁄2 L water
* 1⁄2 L white wine
* 3 small shallots
* 3 garlic cloves
* 10 peppercorns
* a few sprigs of thyme
* a few leaves of laurel
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon

Gastrique - Preparation :

Pour the water, wine and vinegar in a pan and put the resulting liquid on medium heat.

Bruise the garlic cloves and add them to the pot. Peel and dice the shallots and add them with the bruised peppercorns and the herbs (thume, laurel, tarragon) to the gastrique.

Let it reduce to approximately 1/3 of the original quantity.

Pour the liquid through a colander and reserve it.

Ingredients for the béarnaise :

* 150 g butter
* 3 egg yolks
* 3 egg cups of gastrique (made beforehand)
* a few sprigs of fresh tarragon
* a few sprigs of chervil (to tate)
* salt
* pepper
* 1⁄2  lemon (or a dash of gastrique)
Preparation of the béarnaise (yields 4 servings) :

Clarify the butter by melting it on a low fire and removing the protein residues floating to the surface.

Break the eggs and keep the yolks in a bowl.  Whisk them lightly.

Add the required amount of gastrique and whisk both ingredients to a foamy liquid.

Pour everything in a high pot and keep whisking, while heating it up on a low fire.  Keep whisking until you end up with a foamy mousseline.

Pour the clarified butter bit by bit, while whisking continously.

Season with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice (or gastrique).

Shred the fresh tarragon leaves and the chervil and add the shredded herbs to the sauce.

Serve hot.

Tonight, I substitued the regular jacket potatoes I make with steak for some potato pancakes.  I will post the recipe for them later this week.

24 February 2013

Chicken Pizzaiola

Another simple dish that was featured on the TV show Dagelijkse Kost (Everyday meals), on the Flemish channel Eén. (for more info on this show see my previous post) and which met a frank success at our house tonight.

Pizzaiola is a classic tomato sauce, which can be used in numerous dishes. For this particular dish, it accompanies chicken fillets filled with creamy pesto and ricotta.

Ingredients for 4 servings :

For the pesto:

* 40 g Parmesan cheese
* 30 g pine nuts
* 30 g basil
* 1⁄2 garlic clove
* 8 cl olive oil
* a dash of lemon juice
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

For the filled chicken fillets :

* 4 chicken breast fillets
* 8 slices of smoked bacon
* 1 large Tbs of pesto (made with the ingredients above)
* 3 Tbs of ricotta
* a dash of olive oil
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

For the pizzaiola sauce :

* 1 large onion (at leat)
* 3 garlic cloves
* 1⁄2 red chili (used my chili flakes mill instead)
* 200 g cherry tomatoes
* 3 dl tomato meat
* 2 Tbs of capers (not used as we don't like them)
* a pinck of dried oregano
* 2 dl water (or stock - I used chicked stock)
* a dash of olive oil
* parsley
* seasoning (salt & pepper)

Preparation :

Pesto :

Put the pine nuts, the parmesan cheese, the peeled garlic and the fresh basil in your blender.  Pour the olive oil in with the other ingredients and blend everything to a smooth pesto.

Add a dash of lemon juice and season to taste with a salt and pepper.

Chicken Fillets :

Start on the chicken fillets, so they have time to set for a while in the fridge.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta and the pesto to a smooth paste.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The remaining pesto can later be used in order preparations)

If your bacon slices have a rind or cartilage, you should remove them.

Clean the chicken fillets, removing the possibly remaining fatty bits or the though film. Slice every filet horizontally in order to have a chicken steak when folded open.

Spread a layer of the ricotta filling on each of the opened chicken breast and close the steaks again.

Wrap two slices of smoked bacon around each chicken breast and fix it with a tooth pick.

Place the chicken on a plate and put it in the fridge to set. Don't forget to rince off your cutting board after have worked with the raw chicken!

Pizzaiola sauce:

Chop the onion.  Heat a dash of olive oil and fry the onion until it becomes translucent.  Feel free to fry them for a few minutes, so they can give the sauce a sweet taste.  Keep an eye on the heat though, so the onions don't colour.

Peal the garlic and dice it before blending it to paste.

If you use a chili, chop it in fine pieces. In the original recipe, he left the seeds in but as I said, I used my chili flake mill.

Add the chili and garlic to the skillet with the onion and stir.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the skillet, with a large pinch of dried oregano.

If you like capers in your sauce, you should add them now to the skillet and let them stew.

Add the tomato meat and the water (or stock).

Stir and let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes on low heat,  The longer it simmers, the beter is becomes.  Season to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta al dente.  In general, a regular portion would be 100g of dry pasta per person, but I only used 170g for two servings and still had a some left over.

Preheat the over to 180°C.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet on medium fire and colour the chicken fillets in a few minutes.  Put the coloured chicken fillets in a oven dish and cook them further in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

22 February 2013

Japanese Cooking 101

Japanese Tower, BrusselsNot a recipe post today, but a little heads up to all of you who are interested in getting to know the Japanese cuisine and how you can make those delicious traditional dishes at home (instead of having to pay a fortune for them at Japanese restaurants).

Maki from Just Hungry is going to host a 5 part course on the Fundamentals of Washoku, the traditional Japanese cuisine, starting this March 4, 2013.

The course will be online, free (!) and no pre-registration is required.  To read all about the upcoming course and in order to find out if this is something you should embark on, check out Maki's announcing post over here.

I am all up and ready.  Although I already had almost all the required ingredients for this course in my pantry, I ordered the few missing items from Japan Center on Wednesday and I just got an e-mail saying that the delivery was scheduled for next Monday. Yay.

Oh, and while I was shopping for sake and miso, I also came across the book Everyday Harumi from Harumi Kurihara, and I couldn't resist adding it to my cart.  So don't be surprised if you see a few Japanese dishes appear on here in the near future :o)

Have a nice weekend !

21 February 2013

Croque Bagnat

This hot sandwich combines the best of two worlds : the mediterranean flavours of the Pan Bagnat and the melted yumminess of the classic Croque Monsieur.

For those of you who would be unfamiliar with these snacks, wiki tells us that Pan Bagnat is a "sandwich [...] composed of pain de campagne, whole wheat bread formed in a circle, although white bread is also sometimes used, around the classic Salade Niçoise, a salad composed mainly of raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs, anchovies and/or tuna, and olive oil (never mayonnaise)."  This sandwich is deeply rooted into the luncheon habits in the region of Nice in Southern France, but it is wide spread all through the Côte d'Azur and beyond.

Still quoting wiki,  "a croque-monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich [which] originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack."  Even in Belgian cafés, you'll have no trouble finding a croque monsieur on the menu as it is a quick, cheap and filling meal, ideal for those who are in a hurry or need something to layer their stomachs before downing more of the other thing Belgium is famous for besides chocolate, that's right, beer :o)

The recipe for this Croq Bagnat came out of the book "Croquez Monsieur!" by Philippe Conticini, which seems to be out of print nowadays (oh and don't even consider buying that book at 211,20 EUR from my link - it was a mere 10 EUR when it was just published!).

So anyway, back to our Croque Bagnat.

In order to make two croques you'll need :

*  4 slices of (wholemeal) pain de mie (pullman loaf)
* 2 Tsp of butter en pommade (butter that has softened to the point that it is spreadable)
* 2 pinches of salt (fleur de sel
* 8 fine slices of parmesan (or if you can't find slices, I have also used 15g of grated parmesan instead)
* 2 slices of mozzarella (about 1cm thickness)
* 1/2 hardcooked egg
* 2 anchovies (optional)

For the tuna mixture :

* 120g canned tuna in brine
* 3 leaves of basil
* 3 Tsp of balsamic vinegar
* 3 Tbsp of olive oil
* 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
* 4 drops of tabasco
* 5 (sliced) black olives
* 1 Tsp chopped garlic
* seasoning (pepper & salt) 

Preparing the tuna :

Mix the tuna, basil, balsacmic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco, olives and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the croques :

Butter each pain de mie slice on one side. Sprinkle it with fleur de sel and turn around.

Put on the bread, 4 fine parmesan slices, 1 big tbsp of the tuna mixture, a slice of egg (± 0.5 cm thick), 1 slice of mozzarella and to finish of, one anchovy.

Cover with another slice of bread, butter side out.


Put the croques in the croque machine for about 3 minutes until they have a nice brown golden colour.

If you don't have a croque machine at hand, I am sure you can prepare them in the oven or on a skillet as well.  The advantage of the croque machine however is that it seals the edges of the bread, leaving all the yumminess trapped inside.

20 February 2013

Three Cheeses Macaroni and Savoy Cabbage

This simple but filling pasta dish was featured at the beginning of February 2013 on the TV Cooking Show Dagelijkse Kost (Everyday meals), on the Flemish channel Eén. This daily show is hosted by Jeroen Meus, the Belgian chef of the restaurant Luzine, who has become increasingly popular since he began hosting this TV show and wrote several cookbooks (4 already, all of which I have on the shelf).  His dishes are not extremely sophisticated as he believes that you can make good food without having to spend fortunes on fancy ingredients.  Hence the name of the programme.

I choose to make this particular dish as I wanted something that I could use in my lunchbox and that wouldn't be too much of a hassle to prepare.  Moreover cabbage being in season right now, it was the ideal moment to give it a try.

Ingredients needed for 4 servings :

* 300g ground meat (beef/pork mix)
* 1⁄2 of a savoy cabbage
* butter
* pinch of dried sage
* pinch of dried rosemary
* pinch of dried oregano
* parsley

for the cheese sauce :

* 30g butter
* 30g all purpose flour
* 500ml milk
* 125g ricotta
* 75 g Comté cheese (the original recipe required mature Gouda)
* 75 g Parmesan cheese
* 1⁄2 lemon
* nutmeg
* pepper
* salt 

Bring a large amount of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile melt a bit of butter in a skillet on medium fire.   
Season the ground meat with a selection of dried herbs (sage, rosemary and oregano) and mix it all together.
Spread the meat over the hot skillet in medium sized lumps, and let it fry untouched for a while.  After a few minutes you can stir it while take care not to crumble it up too much.  As soon as it has reached a nice golden brown crust, set aside .

Remove the outer tough leaves of the savoy cabbage.  Cut the vegtable into quarters and then further into large strips. Rinse the strips of thoroughly making sure to remove any specks of dirt or sand and let it drain.

Boil the cabbage strips for 5 to 6 minutes in the salted water.  remove the cabbage from the pot and bring the water to the boil again in order to cook the macaroni.

In a large pot cooking pot, melt a bit of butter and add flour. Stir until you get a roux.  Let it cook briefly (until it smells like baked cookies).
Add the milk and keep whisking.  Bring the sauce almost to boiling point, until the bechamel has thickened without lumps. Reduce the heat.

Grate the Comté and the parmesan cheese.
Stir the ricotta and the grated cheese into the sauce and keep stirring until they have completely melted.  Season to taste with nutmeg, pepper and salt.  Finish with a dash of lemon juice. 
Keep the sauce hot but avoid burning it.

Cook the pasta al dente.

Stir the meat and the cabbage into the sauce.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce as well.
Mix everything together and season a bit more if necessary.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.

19 February 2013


A dish I make on a regular basis and which is always highly appreciated by those who get to taste it : straight out of the Creole cuisine,  Jambalaya.

Undoubtedly there are as many versions of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana and beyond. But this is the version I usually made, coincidentally also a rather skinny version of the dish.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

* 160g lean breakfast bacon (can be replaced by chicken as well)
* 1 red onion
* 2 garlic cloves
* 250g mushrooms
* 1 sweet ramiro pepper
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 125g brown rice (uncooked)

* 400g sifted tomatoes
* 150ml vegetable stock
* 400g gambas (pre cooked)
* 1 Tbsp parsley
* a pinch of sugar
* to taste : salt, pepper, thyme (and if you like spicy, you can add tabasco sauce as well)

Dice the bacon, the onion, the garlic cloves, the mushrooms and the bell pepper.

Bake the bacon in the teaspoon of olive oil, add the vegetables and stew.

Add the uncooked rice, tomatoes and vegetable stock.  Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar (and tabasco if you want) and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the gambas and heat for an additional 5 minutes, finish with the tablespoon of parsley (and thyme).

18 February 2013

Savoury mini cakes

And my baking spree continues ...

As I am going to pack bentos again this week, I baked a few savoury mini cakes. These are just the right size to pack in a lunchbox or a picknick but you could as well savour them as an appetizer with a drink.

These two recipes come from the book Mini Cakes from Ilona Chovancova.

The first one are Mini Cakes in Breton Gallette style.  The original recipe asked for smoked bacon and gruyère but as I didn't have any, I substituted them with cooked ham and comté cheese.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 cakes :

* 80g buckwheat flour
* 40g all purpose flour
* 2 eggs
* 80g grated comté cheese
* 7cl milk
* 7cl olive oil
* 1/2 sachel of dry yeast
* seasoning (salt, pepper)
* 80g diced cooked ham
* 1/2 leek

Cut the leek in small rings and then in smaller pieces.  In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with the oil and milk. Add the 2 flours, the leek, the diced ham and the cheese.  Season to taste.  Add the yeast.

As soon as the yeast has been integrated into the mixture, pour it into your previously greased cake moulds and put it in the preheated oven at 180C.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Proof the baking by inserting a wooden stick into the cake at the end of the baking. If it comes out clean, the cakes are ready.

The second cakes are Pattypan Parmesan cakes. The original recipe used potimarron, (a type of squash I was unable to find the English name of), but as I had still a pattypan squash laying around since Halloween, I decided to use that one instead.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 cakes :

* 1200g all purpose flour
* 2 eggs
* 70g grated comté cheese (originally gruyère)
* 7cl milk
* 7cl olive oil
* 1/2 sachel of dry yeast
* seasoning (salt, pepper)
* 100g pattypan squash
* 100g grated parmesan
* 3 sage leaves

Grate the flesh of the pattypan squash.  Press it in your hand in order to get rid of the excess liquid. Chop up the sage leaves. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with the oil and milk. Add the flour, the cheese and the sage.  Season to taste.  Add the yeast.

As soon as the yeast has been integrated into the mixture, pour it into your previously greased cake moulds and put it in the preheated oven at 180C.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Proof the baking by inserting a wooden stick into the cake at the end of the baking. If it comes out clean, the cakes are ready.

17 February 2013

Daring Bakers - Dutch Crunch Bread aka Tijgerbrood

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Since the challah baking had me on a roll, I decided to tackle this challenge from the Daring Kitchen as well :o)  Dutch Crunch Bread, known as Tijgerbrood (or Tiger Bread), has been a very popular bread type around here for the past few years. And I have to admit that I always buy this type of bread as I like its crunchy crust and I find it stays fresh longer than the other breads available in the grocery stores.  I thought it was a special type of bread, but thanks to this challenge I discovered that using this topping can make any bread special.

Because the challenge also consisted of making a sandwich, I choose the Soft White Rolls recipe supplied on the Dutch Crunch Challenge Sheet.  Next time I will double the ingredients though, because I was left with too much topping for the amount of dough, this recipe yielded. I am sure than I could have topped a dozen rolls. 

The rolls right out of the oven looked fabulous and I found it hard to resist the urge to sink my teeth into this crunchy goodness.  Nevertheless I waited because I wanted to use these tijgerbroodjes for a tuna burger.

And this was the final result.

The recipe for the tuna burger was taken from Burgers Faits Maison from Sandra Mahut, which I tweaked slightly.

Ingredients (for 2 burgers)

* 1  large can of tuna in brine (net weight 220g)
* 1 garlic clove, diced
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 cm of fresh ginger, chopped 
* 1 Tbsp of chiseled coriander leaves
* 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
* 1 Tbsp of sesame seeds

Mix all the ingredients of the list. Form 2 balls and flatten them in not too thick patties. Fry them slowly in a hot skillet with sesame oil. When they are golden brown, sprinkle them with sesame seeds.

Dared to bake Dutch Crunch Bread. Challenge completed !

Daring Bakers - Honey & Chocolate Chip Challah

May 2012’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I never made bread before, except in a breadmaking machine, which doesn't really count towards making your own bread.  But it is something I have been longing to try for a while.  My grandfather used to make his own bread and I remember how as a little girl, he would give me a piece of dough to play with and shape as I wanted.  Then it ended up under the cloth with the two loaves and although I was told not to touch them while they rose, I couldn't help but take a peak every now and then.  Even to this day, I never cease to be amazed by the miracle of rising dough.

For this challah, I opted for one of the recipes mentioned on the Daring Bakers Challenge Sheet, the Honey White Challah taken from Tammy's Recipes.  Because I planned to use it as a breakfast bread, I added half a cup of chocolate chips to her recipe and I also halved all her quantities as we don't eat enough bread around here to make two loaves.

Braiding the bread turned out being trickier than expected. My problem was actually to shape the 6 different strand rather than the braiding itself.  So the braids ended up too short and thick, and as a result the challah looked a bit ... well, let's call it rustic :o)

 Tastewise, it is really taste although, being the sweettooth that I am, I might increase the honey for my next attempt as I would have appreciated the extra sweetness.

Dared to bake Challah. Challenge completed !

16 February 2013

Daring Bakers - Empanada de atun

This past week, I have been nosing around the challenges on The Daring Kitchen and quite a few on there have caught my eye, making my baking fingers itch.

Tonight I decided to try my hand on a Daring Bakers Challenge from September 2012 : the Empanada Gallega.

[Although this is posted way after the closing challenge date, I am still adding the blogchecking lines to this post should someone do a google search on them.]

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

I have made empanadas before (with various stuffings), but up to now I have only used ready made doughs.  To make it more of a challenge, I wanted to make them from scratch this time and I used the recipe for wheat dough from the September 2012 Challenge Page

My personal tuna stuffing is fairly similar to the one suggested by Patri. I only reduced the amount of oil by 1/4 cup and tweaked the ingredients a bit.

For my tuna stuffing I used :

* 1 large red onion, diced
* 2 sweet red ramiro peppers, diced
* 3 garlic cloves
* 2 hard boiled eggs
* 200g of tomato frito
* 1 Tbsp olive slices (leftover from Friday's pizza making)
* seasoning of salt, pepper and nutmeg

I had some issues with overstuffing some of my empanadas (making them burst while baking), but overall they came out rather nice.  If next time I remember to prick the dough, before putting them in the oven, they will even be better :o)

Dared to bake Empanada de atun. Challenge completed !

14 February 2013

Berberechos a la cataplana

[First published on Bento Bliss on January 21, 2012]

During grocery shopping yesterday, I came across a little box of cockles in the seafood aisle and I knew immediately what I would make for starters on Friday night : Berberechos a la cataplana, or Portuguese cockles.  [Although it is originally a Portuguese dish, I gave it a Spanish name as (a) I don't speak Portuguese but do speak the language of Cervantes and (b) I put Spanish chorizo in this dish].

I am sure that there are as many versions of this dish as there are cooks in the world but this is how I made them.

Ingredients (for 2 servings): 

* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 330g fresh cockles (strange quantity but that was the contents of the box)
* 4 shallots
* 4 garlic cloves (you can use less, but we love garlic over here so always use a lot)
* 50g diced chorizo
* 50g smoked ham
* chiseled coriander
* a pinch of chili powder (the original recipe would call for a tsp of piri piri or tabasco)

How-to :

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the diced garlic and shallots, until they are soft but not coloured.

Add the ham and chorizo, season with a bit of chili (or tabasco if you prefer) and cover. Let simmer a bit, shaking up the pan every now and then.

Add the cockles and the coriander, cover and let simmer for an additional 5/6 minutes, shaking up the pan again.  As soon as the cockles have opened up, the dish is ready.

12 February 2013

Peas & Ricotta Moelleux

[First published on Bento Bliss on April 8, 2010]

A moelleux is a cake with a soft core. The most famous example would be a moelleux au chocolat, a chocolate cake with a gooey centre.  This cake is a savoury variation of that concept, although the core is clearly not runny like the chocolate version. The recipe for these cakes can be found below.

These little moelleux can be used as accompaniment to a main dish or can be packed as a savoury treat for a lunchbox or picknick.

Ingredients for 9 moelleux:

* 100g (frozen) peas
* 140g ricotta
* 3 eggs
* 20g grated cheese (gruyère)
* 60g all purpose flour
* 25 cl milk
* 40g demi-sel butter (i.e.lightly salted butter)
* salt & pepper

Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and mash them and mix with the ricotta.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

In a bowl, wisk the eggs as it to make scrambled eggs.  Add progressively the sifted flour, while mixing with a fork.

In a pan heat the milk with the diced butter.  When the butter has melted, pour the warm milk in the bowl with the egg/flour mixture. Mix and add the peas/ricotta mash.  Mix again and season with pepper.

Pour the dough into 9 individual recipients, sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes (according to the size of your molds).

Let them cool slightly before taking them out of the molds.

Baileys Cake

[First published on Bento Bliss on March 29, 2010]

Because no meal is finished without dessert, I made a Baileys & Mascarpone cake.

Baileys & Mascarpone cake

I saw the recipe for this cake on Miriam's blog, The Winter Guest, and as I had leftover mascarpone in the fridge, I decided I'd give it a try. After all, anything sweet AND containing Bailey's can't be anything but delicious.

The mascarpone was storebought but I will be making my own next time, because it seems rather easy to make (have a look at the link Miriam referred to in her post).

Miriam used agave syrup in her recipe but because I never encountered that type of syrup while shopping, I asked her if I could replace it with sugar. She advised me to increase the sugar amount to 200g, as the syrup sweetens more than regular sugar, and add an additional 80g of vegetable oil to the batter to make up for the syrup's liquidy.

The kitchen smelled deliciously of Bailey's (attracting all kind of curious houseguests to the kitchen) and the taste of this cake is simply divine. I think I will leave it in the oven just a bit longer next time (there will be a next time for sure!), because when the wooden testing stick came out clear, I took it out of the oven immediately for fear of the cake becoming too dry and just a bit less moist would have been better. In my rush to get it out, I managed to burn my arm but it's nothing I won't survive. This delicious cake was worth any blister :o)

L'heure de vérité

Tagliatelle a la carbonara

[First published on Bento Bliss on March 29, 2010]

Tagliatelle a la carbonara
I made Tagliatelle a la carbonara for last night's dinner, and I did it the Italian way i.e. with eggs and NO CREAM. I wonder why they always insist on putting cream in carbonara in my neck of the woods, when it's obviously unnecessary. Now I won't pretend that my version is the only legitimate one, because in the end it's just the taste that matters.  But this one was really good.

Googling up recipes for this dish, will lead you to hundreds of different recipes and variations, something for every taste. I'm going to add my version to that pile of recipes as well, who knows one of you might find it useful :o)

Ingredients I used (for two servings):

* tagliatelle (or any other larger size pasta - fettucine, linguine, ...)
* 3 eggs (if you want to make it in larger amounts, count 1 to 1,5 egg per person)
* 180 g of bacon (you should use pancetta if you have it available, but I couldn't find any)
* 60 g of grated pecorino cheese
* 1 tsp of garlic paste
* lots of ground black pepper
* chopped parsley

Separate the whites from the yolks and put the yolks in a bowl. Whisk them as if to make scrambles eggs, season with salt and pepper, add the grated cheese, mix well and set aside.

While cooking the pasta (in salted water), fry the bacon (or pancetta) sticks with the garlic paste in olive oil until it's nice and cripsy .

When the pasta is al dente, remove from the cooking water (without draining it too much) and add it to the skillet with the bacon, still on medium heat. Toss the pasta and the bacon, season with fresh ground black pepper.

Remove from the heat, pour the egg mixture on top of the pasta and toss until everything is coated with the eggs. The residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. If it seems to be too solid, add a bit of the pasta's cooking water to "loosen it up".

Add some freshly chopped parsley and serve hot.

11 February 2013


A new blog has seen the light of day.  Thank you for joining me on this little corner of the web, for Kitchen Tales of Sugar & Spice.

While surfing on the web this morning I ended up at the Daring Kitchen, and discovered their monthly cooking and baking challenges. Because I rarely shy away from a challenge and like to be pushed out of my comfort zone, I decided to sign up and make this my project for 2013 and maybe for many years to come. In order to participate it was recommended to have a blog to post the completed challenges in, so here we go ...

I have several blogs already, one of them a bento blog but I'd rather keep my bentoing separate from all the other things happening in my kitchen and this blog will be the ideal location to document not only the challenges but also all the sweet and savoury stuff that is created in the kitchen.

Grab a seat and join me in Kitchen Tales of Sugar & Spice.