Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tabbouleh with a Twist

Tabbouleh is a traditional dish that finds its origin in Syria and Lebanon. It's normally made with bulgur, parsley, mint, tomato, spring onion, lemon juice and olive oil, but I've kind of mixed a few dishes together in this one, because I couldn't remember a certain recipe and couldn't be bothered looking for it in my umpteen cook books, heaps of recipes torn out of magazines or folders with recipes that are stored in my computer. It tastes good though, I've just had this, trust me.

I love cooking with bulgur. It's usually made of durum wheat and it has more nutritional value than white rice or couscous. This recipe is quick and easy and delish! It looks great if you put it in a whole, cooked bell pepper, but don't ask me how you eat it without spilling. I only took a picture of the mixture in the bell pepper. After the thing fell of the plate five times, I took the bell pepper, chopped it up and mixed it in with the rest...

Kitchen utensils

  • oven
  • small cooking pan
  • small pan
  • chopping board
  • knife
Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 4 large sized red bell peppers (green should taste nice too, but haven't tried it)
  • 100 grams/3,5 ounces uncooked bulgur
  • 1 courgette (zucchini for my Australian, Italian and American readers), cut in tiny blocks
  • 200 grams/7 ounces (soy) feta cheese (I use Apetina Feta light. It has 10 percent fat, and doesn't contain rennet), crumbled
  • fresh mint
  • fresh coriander (cilantro for the Americans, trust me, it's all the same, what's in a name anyway?)
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit). Boil bulgur as indicated on pack. Should take about ten minutes. In the meantime, put a little oil in a pan to cook garlic and courgette (zucchini) for about ten minutes. Slice the top of the bell peppers and clean the insides. Put them in preheated oven for about 7 minutes till they are cooked (top included). Put bulgur, garlic, courgette, chopped mint and coriander in a bowl, mix in with the feta cheese and a bit of lemon juice. Scoop into bell pepper, and put the little top back on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chocolate Cake

This recipe is the worst recipe I have ever found and I regret the day I googled 'vegan chocolate cake'.

It's quick, DELICIOUS, any decent cook is always in possession of the ingredients... and it's loaded with calories. Hence the 'I regret' part. It is THE worst recipe to have when you're at that time of the month, it's late and there is nothing to scoff in the entire house. However, since I don't want to be the only fat person on this planet who is addicted to this chocolate cake, I will post the recipe so you too, can succumb. Because I am mean like that.

However, DISCLAIMER: Do not come crying to me if you've found yourself evening after evening scoffing this lovely, rich, moist, chocolate cake. Because I have warned you. The recipe is for the base only. The cake. There are endless possibilities to decorate it. Use your creativity and your taste buds. Chocolate goes well with raspberries, strawberries, jam, chocolate paste and nuts. I usually decorate it with store bought chocolate icing and chocolate or sugar sprinklers, because I'm lazy like that. But release your inner Martha and go wild.

Kitchen utensils

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Sifter
  • Fork
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • Oven dish/silicone pan (I use a silicone pan, which is great for cakes, but I don't think silicone should be used for muffins or cup cakes, your product stays too moist, which is great for cake, but not for muffins or cup cakes)


  • 1 cup/200gr sugar
  • 1,5 cup/150gr all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa/30gr cocao
  • 1 tsp baking soda (NOT baking powder, in Dutch it is 'zuiveringszout' and you can get it at baking goods stores or in my case, at the health food store)
  • 1/3 cup/80ml vegetable oil (go with a neutral one, like sunflower oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup/240ml water

Preheat oven till 350F or 175C. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, pour in liquids. Stir until smooth. Pour batter in dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Lick batter of spoon and mixing bowl and smile knowing you won't get salmonella from raw eggs. Does stick to hips, though.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pasta Salad with blue cheese

I've always hated the term: it takes an acquired taste. I've always thought it was silly to keep on eating stuff you didn't like until you liked it. What, you can't accept there's food on this planet you just don't like? Is it a competition between you and the food: damn it... I wíll get to like you... I don't care how often I will have to try you?

I also thought it was a very pretentious term, since it usually applies to 'fancy' stuff like wine, olives, abstract art and jazz.

But over the years I've gotten to appreciate wine, olives and abstract art. Thanks to exposure and the willingness to try, or the unwillingness to look like a bloody peasant in a fancy restaurant. Jazz and I still aren't friends though.

The acquired taste certainly goes for blue cheese. The first look, the first smell and if you dare, the first taste kind of makes a person want to gag. It's creepy looking. There's mould on it. Who in their right mind would eat something with mould on it? Yet, as off putting as it may be in the beginning, the more you try blue cheese, the more you like it. In a dish, or just by itself with a nice red wine, that has also taken an acquired taste. The things we do for our stomach.

This blue cheese salad is somewhat of a classic. For lunch or for diner after a warm summer's day, it's easy and quick to make and very lovely.

Kitchen utensils

  • pan
  • small bowl for mixing vinaigrette (if you don't buy ready made)
  • small whisk or fork for mixing vinaigrette
  • bowl
  • knife


  • farfalle pasta (aka butterfly pasta or bow-tie pasta)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • blue cheese (Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton, Danish blue. I used Cambonzola, but only because it was the only one in the store without rennet at that moment. Cambonzola is smooth (it's a brie) and milder than Danish Blue or Gorgonzola. It might actually be a good one to start with if you've never had blue cheese.)
  • white grapes or pear (both are nice with blue cheese. I used the grapes this time.)
  • almonds (with or without salt. The salty ones are nice, but blue cheese can be quite salty so you might want to watch your blood pressure.)
  • vinaigrette: you can use a ready made vinaigrette from the supermarket like a sweet raspberry vinaigrette. I made mine with grape pit oil, apple juice, red wine vinegar (because I was out of white wine vinegar) and some salt. Just make it a sweet vinaigrette. The cheese has a sharp and salty taste and the sweetness of the vinaigrette is a nice contrast.

Cook pasta as indicated on pack. Keep it al dente, nice and firm. When done, run under cold tap, stir in a little bit of (olive) oil so they won't stick together and let it cool further in the fridge. Chop or crumble cheese, make vinaigrette and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Ready to serve!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunny Salad with Goat's Cheese

Summer has arrived here. And after a long, hot day, nothing tastes better than a crispy salad on your balcony or in your garden. Of course with a glass of cool rosé. Or have it during lunch, under a parasol... of course with a glass of cool rosé... Fancy yourself Greek for a moment, minus the huge debts.

Kitchen utensils

  • chopping board
  • sharp knife
  • oven
  • butter brush (I have silicone one, because it is easer to clean than the wooden ones. Plus, I suspect the bristles of the wooden ones come of the back of a pig. No... no... no...)


  • mixed salad (I used a mixture of rocket, baby leaves and lollo rosso)
  • goat's cheese (Dutch Albert Heijn has goat's cheese without rennet)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • sun dried tomatoes (I usually buy the ones in a bag, instead of the ones in a jar. An opened jar will only keep five days in the fridge, a bag of dried tomatoes lasts much longer and they don't have so many calories as the tomatoes in oil. You need to soak them in lukewarm water for about 15, 20 minutes, rinse them with cold water to get rid of the salt and they are ready to use. Personally, I like the dried tomatoes just as much as the ones in oil. Experiment with brands. I recently had a cheap one that was horrible. Same goes for the ones in jars, there are major differences between brands. Always look on the pack for instructions.)
  • walnuts
  • pine nuts
  • balsamico cream (balsamico cream is thicker and sweeter than plain balsamico and I like it better in these kind of salads or on bread.)
  • bread (I used ciabatta.)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to about 200 Celsius/400 Fahrenheit. In the mean time, chop a few tomatoes, dried and fresh. Crush some walnuts and pine nuts. Cube goat's cheese. Cut bread in long slices, about an inch, two centimetres thick. Rub the slices with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over them if your blood pressure allows it. Heat slices in preheated oven till warm, this should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep watch, because you don't want them to be too crunchy. Place salad in bowl or deep plate, put tomatoes and goat's cheese on top and sprinkle the nuts over it. Pour a little bit of balsamico cream over your salad. Take care not to use too much as it has quite a overbearing taste. Serve with warm ciabatta and rosé or white wine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tamari Spicy Noodles

My favourite cuisine is the Asian kitchen. Whether it's Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Japanese or Chinese, I love their use of fresh herbs and stir fried vegetables. There's nothing I hate more than overcooked vegetables. They loose their taste, their colour and more importantly, their vitamins. Most of the time, the Asian cuisine is quick, easy and extremely tasteful. It is vegetarian and vegan heaven too. Although a lot of Asians love their meat, fish, insects, snakes and even spiders, the possibilities to cook without having to kill your meal first or having to milk a goat are endless.

You really don't need a recipe either. The simplest meals are the best.

But... this wouldn't be a recipe blog without recipes.

So here I'll give you the recipe for a quick but lovely simple noodle dish. As with most of my stir fry recipes, I use vegetables that I like, in the quantity that suits me. Feel absolutely free to use what you want and the quantity you want. If you don't like snow peas but love broccoli, use that. Just take into account that some vegetables need to be stir fried longer than others.

Kitchen utensils

  • pan
  • wok
  • sharp knife
  • grater
  • wooden spoon

  • garlic (to make things easier, I used jarred garlic paste)
  • chopped onion
  • grated ginger
  • chili pepper (again, to make things easier, I used the condiment sambal)
  • fresh cilantro (which I cut with a scissors I use only for food, easy peasy)
  • noodles (I used thick Chinese wheat noodles)
  • tofu (I used spicy tofu cubes that you can buy in most stores these days)
  • red bell pepper (cut in pieces)
  • shiitakes
  • snow peas (LOVE them, I cut them in half)
  • scallions (cut in half an inch/one centimeter long pieces)
  • tamari soy sauce (you can use others, this one is Japanese)
  • oil (I use rice bran... don't use olive oil. Stir frying is too hot for olive oil and the taste of olive oil is quite strong and doesn't suit stir fries in my opinion. You can use sunflower oil or sesame oil if you like the taste)
Cook noodles as indicated on pack. Heat oil in wok. Throw in chopped onion, grated ginger, garlic and chili peppers (sambal). Stir fry until onion and ginger are soft. Throw in shiitakes, bell pepper and snow peas. Stir fry until vegetables are almost done (it needs to be crunchy, I'd do about five minutes). Throw in the scallions and a bit of tamari soy sauce. Stir for some more minutes. I use one table spoon for two servings. Stir in the fresh cilantro and noodles and stir until cilantro is warmed up a bit. This should take a few seconds, if you heat it up too long it will lose it's lovely taste. Turn off heat and bon appetite...

The key with this recipe is to keep the vegetables crispy. Crispy, but warm and not too raw.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tomato/Basil soup

I love soup for several reasons. It makes a great lunch, a great entree or a fabulous snack. It can even be breakfast. Why not? Almost the entire Asian continent has done that for centuries and hey, look at them... they are healthier than most of us in the West.

Soup comes in handy when you've got lots of little left over vegetables, herbs or potatoes in your cabinet and fridge. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in meals for one, for those days you can't be arsed to slave over the stove or when you simply don't have time because you've got better things to do than be a kitchen princess, like shopping. And... think of the dishes. Only one pan. Yay!

But best of all, you can get really creative with soup. There are endless varieties, and most of the time, you only need to know how to chop things up and boil them. Any idiot can make soup.

For my first recipe, I've chosen a soup that I've made up all by myself. Probably a million Italian women before me have come up with the same, but I swear to God, I don't know them.

Kitchen utensils

  • big pan
  • chopping board
  • knife
  • wooden spoon
  • water boiler
  • blender
  • measuring cup
  • oven

  • medium sized onion, chopped (any will do, I've used red onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • table spoon of olive oil
  • small courgette/zucchini, in cubes
  • 1 cup/250ml of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups/500ml of siffed tomatoes (you can buy it ready-made in packages but also make it yourself by pealing off the skin of tomatoes [carve the skin with a knife, drop the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes and it comes off without problem] and siff the seeds out, chop them up and throw them in the soup. It's more work, but if you're watching your salt intake it is better to make it yourself because to most packages of siffed tomatoes, salt is added. Plus, I love the taste of fresh tomatoes. Get really beautiful roma tomatoes or vine tomatoes. They have a lovely full taste.)
  • dried Italian herbs like oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil...
  • fresh basil, chopped (I used a package that had a few stems of basil)
  • bread (optional)
  • (soy)butter (optional)

Preheat oven for bread (about 200 Celsius or 392 Fahrenheit). Chop up onion and crush garlic. Put olive oil in medium hot pan and fry onion and garlic for a minute or two. Add courgette/zucchini. Stir for a few minutes until courgette is softened. Add vegetable stock, heat until it simmers. Add siffed tomatoes. Heat until it simmers. Trow about two table spoons of dried herbs. Let it simmer for five minutes. Turn off stove. Use the blender in the pan to make a smooth soup. Turn on the stove, let the soup simmer and throw in fresh basil. Simmer for a minute. Turn of stove and use the blender one more time. Put bread in oven (you can do that while making the soup so everything is ready at the same time). When the bread is ready, carve the top a few times and put (soy) butter in the bread. You can also use herb butter or garlic butter.

When you reduce the water in the stock or let the soup simmer for a while longer so it will thicken, this will also be an awesome pasta sauce.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010