Senin, 30 Mei 2011

Apple Crumble

When I went to the supermarket the other day to get some nice rhubarb so I could make a crumble, I was a little disappointed when I couldn't find any decent looking strands. I decided to make an apple crumble instead, since you can always find some nice apples.
Technically, the season for Apple Crumble is already over but for me this is a year round desert. The smell of an apple crumble in the oven is so irresisitible that even when it is 90 degrees outside, my family still devours this dessert. Although my kids prefer Jamie Oliver's classic Fruit Crumble recipe I love the nuttyness of  Nigella's version. She adds sunflower kernels, oats and almonds as a topping which adds a lovely crunch to the dish.

Apple Crumble

(adapted from Nigella Lawson's Blackberry Crisp)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)/115 g  plus 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups sliced apples
  • 1/4 cup vanilla or granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Yields: 4-6 servings


Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200 C. Melt the butter and put to one side for a moment.

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds, kernels, and cinnamon in a bowl. Tip the blackberries into a wide shallow baking dish (I used one here with a 3-cup capacity), sprinkle over the vanilla sugar and cornstarch, and tumble about to mix.
Stir the melted butter into the crisp topping and spoon on top of the apples to cover but not absolutely thoroughly. Bake for 25 minutes and serve with ice cream or heavy cream.

Jumat, 20 Mei 2011

Cold Tomato Soup with Mozarella

Insalata Caprese or Tomato Mozarella is a popular appetizer around the whole world. When you are sitting outside on a hot summer day it, you feel like you are in Italy. This recipe is a liquid version of the tasty dish. However, this soup is cooked with a red beet which gives it an incredible dark red color and a hint of earthyness. Use the best ingredients you can find, it will make all the difference.
Michel Richard recommends adding a piece of pineapple to the soup if the tomatoes are not perfectly ripe.

Tomato Soup with Fresh Mozarella
Michel Richard: Happy in the Kitchen
(serves 4)

1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 medium) finely chopped yellow onions
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium beet, peeled and cut into eights
2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 small sprig rosemary (Bouquet Garni)
2 garlic cloves
Fine sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

1 ounce (30 g) fresh mozarella, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1  cup dice (1/4 inch) peeled tomatoes
16 small basil leaves

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Add the tomatoes, beet, and bouquet garni. Using a rasp grater, grate the garlic directly into the pot (or mince the garlic and add it). Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. (I cooked my tomatoes on a low simmer with the lid on).

Remove the beet and bouquet garni. Save the beet for another use or discard; discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth. Strain into a bowl and let cool. Refrigerate, covered, until cold, or for up to a day.

Before serving, stir in lemon juice, Tabasco, and additional salt to taste. Divide soup among four soup bowls. Garnish with the cheese, diced tomatoes, and basil leaves.

Jumat, 13 Mei 2011

Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes

When you look at the dessert menu at any restaurant, you will usually find some version of a Molten Lava Chocolate Cake. If you've ever ordered one, you know why they are so popular. It is a dessert that was created by  mistake - somebody took the cake out of the oven too early and discovered how heavenly it tasted! You can easily recreate this cake at home and unlike a souffle you can prepare it some time in advance, even freeze it for a day, and then pop it in the oven when you need it. Don't over-bake them however, because then you'll have a chocolate cake without the heavenly inside.

Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

1 stick (115 g) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces (120 g) semisweet chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa solids
2 eggs
¾ (170 g) cup superfine sugar (I took less)
3 (25 g) tablespoons all-purpose flour
Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins

Optional: Cocoa powder to dust the ramequins
1 pinch Espresso powder


Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 F / 200 C .
Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter and dust with cocoa powder.
Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and 1 stick butter, then set aside to cool a little.
In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour with a hand whisk and beat in the cooled butter, the Espresso powder if using and chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins. Put on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey underneath.
Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve. Make sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

Senin, 09 Mei 2011

Layered Vegetable Torte

Sorry for the picture, but this is all that was left when I brought this dish to our monthly Potluck. Perfect to prepare in advance, a little bit messy to cut, but absolutely tasty. This torte comes in handy if you have to serve a crowd or need a vegetable side dish for a BBQ. It can be served at room temperature or warmed up in the oven. You can take whatever vegetable you like and I think it would also be great with some feta or goat cheese or on crusty bread. The choice is yours.

Layered Vegetable Torte
(From Mark Bittman)

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into
  • ¼-inch slices
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a grill pan over medium-high heat, or prepare a grill; the heat should be medium-high, and the rack about 4 inches from flame. Brush eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms lightly with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; if roasting, grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft (10 - 20 minutes).

2. Coat bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with oil. Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing outer ring of pan, then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Rabu, 04 Mei 2011

Mini Cheesecakes

When my son craves a special food, he doesn't stop asking for it until I make it.
Last week I decided not to cook for an entire week, but to defrost all those leftovers in my freezer in order to make space for new dishes, a spring clean up sort of. It was a hard week! All those recipes piled up that I still didn't get to cook. New cookbooks close to my bed with so many fantastic recepis only waiting to be tested. So my son started to stick little post it notes everywhere in the house, saying" Mini-Cheescakes"  Just to make sure, he sets the alarm on my cell phone and when it rang there were also the words "Mini-Cheesecakes" coming up. Finally I gave in (that's what I usually do) and made him his little treat.

Mini Cheesecakes
(Nigella Lawson "How to be a Domestic Goddess")
makes 24

scant 1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pus 2 tablespoons or 9 oz graham crackers
7 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 12-cup mini-muffin pans

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Melt the butter in a pan or microwave. Put the graham crackers, broken up roughly, in the processor, and blitz. Still processing, add the melted butter down the funnel and turn the wet sand onto a plate or into a bowl. Put a heaped teaspoonful of the biscuit base into each mini-muffin cup, press it around the edges and up the sided of the cup with your fingers,  and let it harden in the refrigerator.

Beat the cream cheese until it's smooth, and then add the sugar (You can do all this in the washed-out processor bowl). Add the egg, beating well, and then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice, combining everything until it's smooth and creamy.

Put the cream-cheese mixture into a measuring cup and pour some into each mini-muffin cup, leaving the top of the crust still visible. Put in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, by which time the cheese mixture should have set.

Let them cool and then put them in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before gently easing them out of the pans. Or, if you like me and lose patience, after some cautious prising with a rubber spatula turn the pans upside-down and rap firmly, and the little cheesecakes fall out unharmed.

Minggu, 01 Mei 2011

Chicken Tajine with Preserved Lemons

Lately, I have been a little obsessed with Moroccon recipes. Maybe because I got a beautiful Tagine for Christmas? Or maybe because a friend gave me some home made preserved lemons (Thank you Kathy)? Either way, this dish from Jamie Oliver is made with Fennel, Saffron, the above mentioned preserved lemons and olives. It is mainly a very mild stew with a deep and lovely flavour. If you happen to have a Tagine or a Claypot you should use it and you will be impressed how juicy and tasty the chicken will get.

Chicken, Olive and Preserved Lemon Tagine
(Jamie Oliver "Jamie does")
Serves 4-6
1 whole chicken (approximately 1.5kg), preferably free-range or organic, skin-on, jointed 
into 4 (get your butcher 
to do this for you)
Olive oil
1-2 large bulbs of fennel

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

A small bunch of fresh coriander

4 cloves of garlic, peeled 
and sliced

2-3 small preserved lemons, deseeded and chopped

80g black and green olives, stoned
A good pinch of saffron

500ml hot organic chicken stock

For the spice rub
1 heaped teaspoon coriander seeds, bashed up
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Put your chicken pieces into a large bowl, massage them with the spice rub, then cover with clingfilm, and put into the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or, even better, overnight. When you’re ready to cook, heat a generous lug of olive oil in a tagine or casserole-type 
pan, and fry the chicken pieces over a medium to high heat, 
skin side down first, for about 
5 to 10 minutes until gorgeous and golden brown.
While your chicken fries, chop each fennel bulb into 8 wedges, and add these to the pan along with the onions, coriander stalks 
and garlic. Stir well and fry for a couple more minutes, then mix in the preserved lemons, olives and saffron. Pour in the hot stock, give everything a good stir, then cover with a lid or foil, and simmer on a low heat for 1½ hours, or until the meat starts to fall away from the bone. Halfway through, have a check and give it a good stir. Keep an eye on it and add a splash of water if it looks dry. When the time’s up and your chicken looks perfect, stir gently. If it’s still a bit liquidy, leave it to blip away with the lid off until thickened slightly.
Have a taste, season with a pinch of salt and pepper if you think it needs it, then sprinkle with the coriander leaves. There’s enough love and care in the tagine for it not to need anything fancy, so serve it simply, with a large bowl of lightly seasoned 
steaming couscous.