This is really healthy and really tasty. Whenever you have a hankering for pasta, but you are feeling really guilty, go for this. It has the same feeling because of the tomato sauce, but you’re only eating white fish.
You can serve it with whatever you wish, it’s pictured here with white rice & sautéed broccoli, but any green vegetable will be a nice compliment and if you want it to be one step healthier go for brown rice.
- A large glug of olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 400g can chopped tomato
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme, or a few sprigs of fresh
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 cod fillets or another white fish
- Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the onion, and stir around a bit to soften (5 minutes), before adding the garlic. Stir around for a few more minutes and add the tomatoes and the thyme.
- Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes, before adding in the fish, and covering each filet with a bit of sauce.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the fish flakes apart. Season well with salt and pepper, and serve.
Armenian preserved walnuts are the biggest surprise of 2016. No one saw it coming.
It all started when I took a day off with a friend here in Brussels, to do a full pampering luxury day. We went to the spa, we relaxed, we went out for an 8 course lunch, we had cocktails. A little bit of everything.
At this fancy restaurant where we had our lunch, we had these walnuts for dessert. We. were. floored. We couldn’t help but ask the waiter how they made them. He pointed outside, and said ‘you buy them in a jar at the Polish store next door, they cost 5 euro.’ The mark up was criminal.
Jaws on the floor.
So since then, I’ve been on a quest to get back there, to buy my own and to recreate this magical moment. Thoughtful & generous Felix offered to drive me, and all of a sudden there we were.
The lady at the store was very interested about how I heard of them, and what I was going to do with them etc. She mentioned that they are delicious on fromage frais and I’ll admit I’ve done it and it’s incredible.
- 1 Jar of Armenian Preserved Walnuts
- Vanilla Ice Cream (or fromage frais)
- We don't really need a recipe here...
- I think it looks nice with the walnuts halved on top, and the most critical part is to drizzle plenty of the sugary syrup from the jar over the ice cream.
- Easiest dessert of all time.
Just another slow cooker miracle.
This one requires a teensy bit a of pre-work- probably 15 minutes worth before you can throw everything into the slow cooker, but it’s absolutely worth it.
You can eat this chili as soon as it’s done, but it’s honestly better 2-3 days later when all of the flavors have melded together.
- 2 small or 1 large ancho chile(s)
- 250ml hot water
- A large glug of vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes
- 1.4 kilos Boneless shin of beef (carbonnade meat), cubed
- 150ml Bourbon whiskey
- 1 33cl Bottle of Mexican beer, or lager (I used Maes)
- 400g Dried black beans
- 200ml Water
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- First of all, you should soak the beans in cold water overnight before you cook. It makes them easier to digest.
- When you are ready to cook, put the ancho chiles in a measuring cup, and add boiling water to the 250ml mark.
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring every once in a while, for 5 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the garlic, followed by the cumin, coriander, and chili flakes. Stir.
- Add the cubes of beef, and then the bourbon and let it bubble up before pouring in the beer.
- Add in the black beans and the ancho chiles ripped up, along with their soaking liquid (warning do not touch the wet ancho chiles with your fingers, I put my hands in tiny sandwich bags and ripped them apart like this). Add the water, salt, and maple syrup, and stir to combine.
- Pour this into the slow cooker and set it for 10 hours on low.
So as it turns out, ricotta is not that hard to make, and you get awesome results. total. crowd. pleaser.
I’ve been eyeing recipes for homemade ricotta for months, but have been unable to find cheesecloth here in Belgium. After a quest last weekend that included 14 different stores (grocery stores, speciality cheese shops, speciality Italian shops, craft shops, cooking stores, you name it, I was desperate…) I actually gave up entirely.
On my walk home I passed by a pharmacy and decided to pop in for some more cough syrup (only just now shaking the autumn cold after a few weeks!)
While standing at the counter I spotted something in the background… GAUZE. Absolutely. yes.
I purchased sterile medical gauze, the largest available. The kind you might be wrapping a wound in.
And tonight was the night, when we found out that medical gauze 100% effectively replaces cheesecloth. It’s a new era, a revelation. Our lives will never be the same! Ricotta will be made every Sunday!
Just try it:
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- In a non-reactive pot, combine the milk, cream, and salt, and bring it to a simmer. You don't want it to boil, so watch it closely.
- While you are waiting, set up the cheesecloth/gauze station: Put a large strainer (preferably mesh but whatever), into an even larger bowl, and line the strainer with cheesecloth/gauze. You want a good amount in there. I used 6 sheets of gauze.
- Take it off the heat, and gently stir in the lemon juice and vinegar. You really only need one gentle stir, any more might ruin it.
- Leave it undisturbed for 8 minutes.
- Pour it over the strainer slowly and carefully. Allow the ricotta to drain for 25-45 minutes, depending on how thick you'd like it to be (it will get even thicker in the fridge).
- Once done, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
This is a Turkish soup, which is really somewhere between soup and daal.
It’s got rice and bulgar already in it though, so it’s a one-pot dish.
It’s hearty and comforting, and most importantly beyond simple, as long as you can wait for the lentils to cook themselves.
It’s originally from a book called ‘The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian’, by Sally Butcher (which is just a fantastic book- buy it now). In the book it’s called ‘The Soup of Ezo the Bride’, and the story behind it is that a woman named Ezo Gelin, who basically had two horrendous marriages, the first was a bum, and the second had a monster mother-in-law. This soup apparently stemmed from her efforts to please this mother-in-law.
I’m surprised it didn’t work- it’s amazing!
- Butter/oil for frying
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils, cleaned and rinsed
- 1/4 cup long-grain rice
- 1/2 cup bulgar
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- Salt & Pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- Melt then butter in a soup pot, and add a bit of oil. Fry the onion until it starts to soften, and add the garlic. After a minute or so add the tomatoes, cumin and paprika.
- Stir for another minute and add in the tomato paste followed by the lentils, rice and bulgar. Store in the broth, and bring to the boil. Turn down to a summer and cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Once cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the dried mint.
- When ready to serve, squeeze a half a lemon over each bowl, and stir. You can also top with a dollop of yogurt.
This is a super easy weeknight meal. Don’t be turned off by the ‘homemade’ part of the meatballs, it’s really an overstatement, all you need to do is open up some sausages and roll the meat into meatballs.
You can also get totally wild with the vegetables, throw in whatever you have. The only thing that must be in there is the tomatoes, but if you’ve got leftover green beans on hand or a giant handful of parsley, go go go.
- 4-6 sausages, your choice, I love Italian sausages with fennel seed
- 1 small onion
- 2 carrots
- a handful of frozen diced pumpkin or squash
- 3 garlic cloves, finely hopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 140g or 3/4 cup long grain rice
- 850ml vegetable stock
- 1 400g chopped tomatoes
- 1 small bunch of coriander
- Cut the sausage skins open with a knife and peel off. Roll the meat into small meatballs about the size of a large olive. Heat the oil in a large pan, then brown the meatballs well on all sides until cooked. Set aside.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Soften for 5 mins, and then stir in the carrots and pumpkin. Mix for another few minutes, and stir in the spices and rice. Cook for 1 more minute and then pour in the stock and tomatoes.
- Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 10 mins until the rice is just cooked, then stir in the meatballs with some salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, and scatter with coriander.
The steak here is not the main act. It’s delicious, but the whole thing works very well without it.
This is equally good cold as it is just after cooking it, so it’s an easy thing to serve when you have people over because it’s not very fussy.
There are quite a few adaptations you could make if you wanted, I can easily picture chicken or tofu instead of steak.
- 1 8oz bag of soba noodles
- A large spoonful of toasted sesame oil
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 1 large spoonful of sugar
- 6 thick slices of fresh ginger, peeled)
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large or two small steaks
- 2 small zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks (in half lengthwise, in long slices, and then in 2-inch chunks)
- 2 cups of edamame (frozen or fresh)
- 4 spring onions, sliced thinly
- 2 large spoonfuls toasted sesame seeds
- 1 large bunch coriander, washed and chopped
- 6-12 hours before you want to cook, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, ginger, garlic, salt and 1 cup water in a small pan, and bring to the boil. Let cool, and marinate the steak(s) in this mixture until you are ready to eat.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan.
- When you are ready to go, boil the water for the soba noodles, with plenty of salt. Cook the soba noodles for 4 minutes (or according to the instructions on your package), when done strain, rinse well, and toss with the sesame oil so that they don't stick.
- In a sizzlingly hot pan fry the steak(s) 3 minutes on each side, or as you like to eat your steak!
- When done, take the steak out and set it aside, pour the marinade into the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling throw in the edamame and zucchini and cook for 2 minutes or so. You want them tender but not overcooked.
- In a large bowl mix the soba with the sesame seeds, spring onion, and coriander. When done, add the zucchini and edamame, leaving the marinade in the pan to boil for another few minutes, until it's a bit thicker.
- Toss the salad well, top with slices of steak, and once reduced drizzle with the sauce.
Made this for a wonderful weekend in the Ardennes with a great group of friends. Pure heaven.
It’s a firmer gingerbread, not a ginger cake, so keep this in mind. In fact it’s a bit Christmassy, so would be nice to make around the holidays.
Try it hot out of the oven with a giant slather of salty butter.
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 Egg
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 heaping teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup dried currants or raisins
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and line the bottom of a buttered 8-inch round tin (2 inches deep) with parchment paper.
- Melt the molasses with the butter.
- Beat the egg with the buttermilk.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix in the currants or raisins.
- Add the egg mixture, then add the syrup mixture and mix well.
- Bake 10 minutes in the 375-degree oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees F. and bake 35 to 40 minutes more.
- A few crumbs will stick to a tester when the cake is done.
Not much to say here. It’s a classic chocolate chip cookie.
I’m unable to find chocolate chips in Belgium so I always wind up chopping up a bar of chocolate instead. Of course I get impatient and wind up with giant chunks of chocolate, but that’s fine, these cookies are pretty adaptable.
- 2 cups/260g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup/170g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup/190g packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon/15ml vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups/roughly 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, or a dark chocolate bar, all chopped up by hand
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
- Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
- Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
- Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
So the Germans are very specific about birthdays. It is strictly forbidden to wish someone a happy birthday before the day itself (unless you are actually intending to curse them).
As far as cakes go, there is only one option. There is only ONE German birthday cake: Marmorkuchen.
I made one for Felix’s birthday, and it was apparently absolutely perfect, the right texture, the right taste, the right consistency. Since then I’ve repeated the recipe twice and both times it hasn’t come out ‘just right’ according to the German experts.
I’ve always used the same recipe, so maybe you can help me figure out what I’ve done differently each time.
Regardless, this is basically a delicious pound cake with vanilla and almond extracts, very simple but perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2-3 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tsp almond extract
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 2/3 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 heaping Tbsp cocoa
- 3 Tbsp milk
- Cream softened butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add this mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the 1 cup milk.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 3 Tbsp sugar, 3 Tbsp cocoa and 3 Tbsp milk. Add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of white dough to this cocoa mixture.
- Put 1/2 of white dough in a greased & floured bundt pan. Smooth chocolate dough evenly on top. Add the remaining 1/2 of white dough on top.
- Use a fork to fold the chocolate through the white dough.
- Use a rubber spatula to flatten out the top so that it bakes evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 1 hour.
- If you realize that the top is browning too much, cover it with foil. Do not shorten the baking time nor turn the heat down.