Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kanzi

Last year I heard a documentary on the radio about the development of a new apple race which takes 10 years. Now the new apple was ready for commercialisation. It was a very interesting but by the time I was in the supermarket, I didn't think about the new apple anymore.

A couple of weeks ago I heard in the media all about the launch of a new apple race again. Hmm a relaunch because the Kanzi did already exist last year. But now it's really launched on a bigger scale commercially supported with the necessary media attention in Belgium and the Netherlands.

I am very picky when it comes to apples. Regular readers already know I am not very much into sweets so any sweet apples are lost on me. Apples also need to be firm and last a bit in my fruit basket without getting soft, mushy and wrinkled. My instructions to Jan when he goes shopping are always very clear: I need Granny Smith apples. Not a very "green" choice as they are usually imported from a far away country, but I every time I had risked buying a local apple I had regretted it and the last ones of the bunch got often thrown away.

So when I saw the Kanzi in the stores ....I took the risk. And I love them. They have a flirting red blush, are a bit sour and are very very firm. And they are locally grown in the Netherlands and Belgium (and Germany and Italy and Switserland). Excellent, it's a red Belgian Granny Smith!! This is what I had been searching for all along.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Essential herbs



Due to Lies's post about her new herb rack installed on an inside kitchen door, we started having a comment conversation about how many herbs we needed and which ones etc...

It made me think about our ridiculously huge herb drawer (90cm wide and very full!) and which herbs I actively use for dishes:
  • Salt & pepper: this needs no explanation
  • Basil (preferably fresh or frozen): anything with tomatoes, salads, ...
  • Mint (preferably fresh or frozen): cold cucumber soup, strawberries, anything that needs a "fresh touch" really.
  • Lemon balm (peferably fresh or frozen): back-up when I run out of mint, or to complement the mint , anything that needs a lemon touch.
  • Nutmeg: I can't imagine mashed potatoes without it...or broccoli soup
  • Cinnamon: baking apples, Indian & Maroccan dishes, pastries, pumpkin soup
  • Rosemary: lamb, roasts
  • Tarragon: tomato soup
  • Koriander (preferably fresh or frozen!): any Asian dish
  • Dill: salmon , pumpkin soup or zucchini soup, cucumber salad
  • Cayenne Pepper: spicy things, chili con carne, Indian dishes, goulash
  • Pili pili: spicy things, chili con carne
  • Cumin: potato salad, mediterrean or asian dishes, ragouts
  • Paprika: chili con carne, ragouts, goulash, Indian dishes, baked potatoes, Mexican food
  • Thyme: carrots, traditional stews, vegetable soups
  • Laural: carrots, traditional stews, vegetable soups
  • Sage: chicken with apricot and salty bacon
  • Oregano: anything with tomatoes, mediterrean, baked potatoes,
  • Garam Massala: to marinate chicken or scampi's or ...
  • Tandoori herbs: to marinate meat
  • Different Indian currys for Indian dishes, sauces, marinating, ...
  • Musterseeds: in mustersauce, salads,...
  • Guacamole herbs to create guacamole
  • Tzaziki herbs to turn yoghurt into tzaziki. I suppose I could create it on my own , just need to make sure to use enough garlic powder :p.
  • Kurkuma: for couscous, Indian dishes, Marrocan dishes
  • Ginger: any Asian dish, stews, ...

On the other hand I leave the "spaghetti" herbs and the "pizza" herbs etc unused. If you have all the others, why would you need this ready to go mix? Same counts for "Herbs de Provence" although I am finishing up that bottle in our drawer that I've bought when I started living on my own.

So which herbs are frequently used in your kitchen and for which type of dishes??? Let me know in the comments or blog about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Schredded leaves

I'd like to give a special word of thanks to the technical services of the city of Leuven. Thank you for vacuuming and schredding the leaves next to my parked car. Thanks for doing this early in the morning when the cars are still wet from early morning mist. Thanks for covering my car with a sticking layer of dust and leave bits.

Believe it or not : I had already planned to go to the car-wash this week, but now you've made it rather urgent.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Choices, comparisons, information

This was a weekend of shopping, surfing for information, visiting fairs, listing prices, comparing choices, ... Too much data in my head.

Some lessons learned:
  • Visiting Decathlon is a dangerous store. You always leave with more than anticipated. They also make you feel like doing more sports.
  • 3 years of searching nice but simpel water sandals in vain has come to an end. Instead of looking in normal shoe stores I should have gone to a store with watersport clothing. Dugh.
  • The diving goggles of 6€ at Decathlon are just as good as the expensive models.
  • Some of their cheapest clothes stretch out by pulling them on already and are extremely unflattering. I don't want to know how their 2€ T-shirts have been produced, how and where!
  • Fotographers at fairs are more expensive than those not represented at fairs. And their pricing is so untransparent and complex! Argh.
  • I have a very cheap taste for rings....those I like most turn out to be steel ones!
  • I wonder how much spam all my contest participations will generate. If I win them all, I'll have way too many wedding dresses :p.
  • Weddings are a big business where they try to create more needs than you had.
  • A wine fair that gives each guest a wine glass should have more spots to rinse their glass.
  • Gallo wines from California aren't good. Old Vine Zinfandel from Renwood 2004 on the other hand...mmmmm.
  • Romenia is a wine country? I didn't taste anything but other walker-by's were very positive about their wines. Turkey really surprised us with their excellent "Kavaklidere Egeo Cabernet Sauvignon- Merlot 2005".
  • I really like the sour citrus taste of Abadia de San Campio 2007. Very good on a thirsty day!
  • I'm glad the Dutch have spread out over the world in the past so now we can find their funny names in global products :p. Aaah the humor in the label "Zondernaam" will always make me smile :). A wine brand "Lindemans" can only make me think of Brussels beer though, not wine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moroccan inspiration


Although the blogging event created by Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste asked us to prepare a dish which represents your country (see the event's rules here), I happened to cook Maroccan twice last week and I enjoyed it so much that I do want to post the recipes as well. I'll let them decide whether they want to add it to their list or not.




Beeftajine with apples and raisins


  • 1kg beef (for a slow simmering casserole)

  • 2 spoons olive oil

  • 20g butter

  • 1 onion in rings

  • 1/4 ts saffran

  • 1/2 ts gingerpowder

  • 1 ts cinnamon

  • 4 branches of fresh koriander

  • 125g raisins

  • 3 spoons of honey

  • 3 sour apples eg Granny Smith

  • 1/2 ts extra cinnamon

  • 1 spoon roasted sesameseeds

Cut the meat in cubes of a square inch. Heat the tajine on a high fire (or a pan with a thick bottom), add half of the oil and butter and bake the meat brown on all sides. Put the meat aside in a scale.

Turn the fire down. Add some oil if needed and bakd the onions for 5 minutes. During the last minute you can add the herbs: saffran, ginger and cinnamon. Then add the 375 ml water, salt and pepper. Add the meat again and the coriander and let it simmer for 90 minutes. Add raisins and honey and simmer for another 15-30 minutes (meat has to be tender).

In the mean time you can chut the apple in pieces and bake them for about 10 minutes until they are soft. Add the remaining cinnamon. When the tajine is ready you can add the apple and the sesameseeds to the main dish.


Serve with couscous (that can be cooked in some of the broth form the tajine that you've taken away a bit during the cooking).



(our leftovers....we were too eager to start and forgot to take a picture before)


Warm eggplant salad


This dish is my Moroccan alternative to a ratatouille de Provence as it fits so well with any grilled or roasted meat and I've prepared it in the past as a sidedish on barbecues.


Ingredients:



  • 900 gr eggplant (aubergine)

  • 3 tomatoes (can be canned peeled tomatoes too)

  • olive oil

  • 2 bulbs of garlic

  • 1/2 ts cumin

  • 1/4 ts cayenne pepper (or more if you wish)

  • 1 ts pepper powder

  • 2 spoons finely chopped coriander

  • 3 spoons lemon juice

Peel the eggplants and slice them. Pour salt on top of them and let them rest for a while after which you must rinse carefully.

Heat the oil in a big pan and bake the slices of eggplant until they become soft and look a bit glazy and brown on both sides. They suck up oil like a spunge so it's a balancing exercises not to let them get too oily (and hence the entire dish), yet make them soft enough. They need to be done, yet not too mushy. When finished take them out of the pan (or do them in shifts).

Peel the tomatoes and cut the meat into pieces (without the seeds).


Bake the garlic in the pan on a low fire. Add tomatoes and the herbs and afterwards the eggplants. Let it all simmer. According to your preferences for texture, you can mash up the chuncks a bit smaller with a fork.

Finish the dish by pouring carefully excess oil away, add the coriander and the lemon juice, salt and pepper.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Looking Into

In the past I've already had the honor a couple of times to be the guest photographer on Looking into : a joint venture photoblog of Allison at Soccer Mom in Denial and Jenn in Holland. They are both great photographers that show me the beauty around me that I don't notice on my own.

This summer I've mailed them another couple of pictures hoping that one of them would please them enough to publish. Guess what !?! I am the guest photographer at Looking into today. And tomorrow. And on Wednesday too!!!! 3 days !

Please go and check it out over there! And of course come back tomorrow. And on Wednesday :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

World Food Day event

Our sink shows an empty bottle of cinnamon, cumin and we're running low on eggs, ginger and some other ingredients. Yep both Jan and I had a cooking evening.


Jen of A2eatwrite has brought a blogging event under my attention that wants to highlight the UN Food Day at October 16th. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has celebrated World Food Day each year on October 16 since 1945. The theme for this years conference is "World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy."




The objectives of World Food Day are to heighten our awareness of the problem of hunger in the world and to bring to our attention what we can do about it personally. It is a day to encourage us and our governments to be well informed on the issues and to have a plan of action!!! World Food Day brings to our attention the plight of 862 million undernourished people around the world ...even in our own backyards!! Global warming and the biofuel boom are threatening to push the number of hungry even higher in the decades to come. By debate and finding solutions we can combat hunger around the world together!!!!We need a plan of attack!!! To find out more about what you can do in your area... visit their site here .



In order to attract more people's attention , Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste have created a blogging event that sounds like too much fun not to join them :)



*Create a dish that would serve 6 and have it represent your country.
*Send your creations (virtually, via photo) back to Val and Ivy and see how far our dishes will spread back to back. Maybe we can feed the world, eh?To get the full details for participation in this worthy event, please go here.



Recipe 1: Belgian Waffles





Immediately I had to think of the Belgian waffles that we have baked last week. So I am reposting it once again.






Ingredients:
  • 500 gr flour
  • 150 gr melted butter
  • 100 gr sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 20gr yeast
  • 1 bag of vanillesugar (7gr)
  • 75cl half water/milk

Make a dip in the flour. Dissolve the yeast in some of the water and add it to flour. (Alternatively you could use self-rising flour, I suppose). Add the egg yolks, sugar , vanille sugar and melted butter to the flour. Add the water/milk. (in order to make it light, Belgians add sparkling water!) Mingle it all together. Mix the egg whites solid (with the salt) and then add them gently to the batter.
Then let the batter rest and rise for an hour so it can double in size.

The only thing that is left to do is pour the batter in the hot iron.

Result : Belgian waffles (the way the Belgians make them) and a cosy family afternoon!!




Recipe 2: Breadpudding



As this event is making us aware of world hunger, I was also thinking about all the food we waste in the western world. One thing we never waste is old bread. Since we are only 2 in our family, we can't always finish a bread while it's fresh and soft. When the last slices have turnd hard, we just keep it in its breadbag until we've gathered enough of old bread to make breadpudding.

Ingredients:

  • Lots of old bread of all kinds 300G
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 bag of vanilla sugar
  • 0,5 liter milk
  • cinnamon
  • a spoon honey
  • 200 gr sugar
  • 3 slices of peperkoek (type of gingerbread)

Warm the milk luke warm and melt the honey in it.
Mingle all the ingredients together and put it in a cake form. Put it 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C.




Recipe 3: Pumpkinsoup with dill
Today we got treated by my brother-in-law with a big pumkin as his vegetable garden had produced much more pumkins than they could handle themselves.



Ingredients:


  • 1,25 kg pumkin meat
  • 2 spoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1,25 liter of chicken broth
  • 1,5 spoon of dried or freshly chopped dill
  • 1,25 dl (whipped) cream
  • salt and grounded pepper
  • some lemon juice

As I'm too lazy to spend time cutting up a pumpkin in smaller pieces in order to cook them like that, I simply cut the pumkin in 2 and put both parts in a preheated oven for half an hour or more until it's totally soft.


Then I heat some oil and add the chopped onion and garlic to it on a warm fire for a couple of minutes until they soften. Then I add the pumkin meat, broth and make it boil for a while after which I put the fire lower and let it bubble for another while.

I add the dill and mix the soup smooth. Add the cream , salt and pepper and mingle well. Add some lemon juice according to your taste. Garnish the bowls with fresh dill.

(I don't have a picture yet as it's still cooking to be honest...but smells good! )

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ne me quitte pas

Belgium lost a great chansonnier 30 years ago. I am fairly Jacques Brel ignorant, but some of his songs that I do know always give me goosebumps.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rollercoaster

Sometimes someone crosses your path and they reach out to you unexpectedly when you didn't even realise yet that you needed some support so desperately. It's so heartwarming! It brought tears to my eyes.

And then I picked up this link from Jenn and it made me laugh out loud! Check it out.

Hmm I guess I had a bit of an emotional evening but it was good. And now I'm off to bed!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Recipe for a stormy fall day

Ingredients:
  • 500 gr flour
  • 150 gr melted butter
  • 100 gr sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 20gr yeast
  • 1 bag of vanillesugar (7gr)
  • 75cl half water/milk

Make a dip in the flour. Dissolve the yeast in some of the water and add it to flour. Add the egg yolks, sugar , vanille sugar and melted butter to the flour. Add the water/milk. Mingle it all together. Mix the egg whites solid (with the salt) and then add them gently to the dough. The let the dough rest and rise for an hour so it can double in size.


Then pour the dough in the hot iron.


Result : Belgian waffles (the way the Belgians make them) and a cosy family afternoon!!

tip to make them lighter: add sparkling water rather than "normal" water in the dough.









Friday, October 3, 2008

Spoilt

Woohoo I just got a gift from Jan: an iPod. I have never owned an MP3 player or iPod so far. In the last years however we stopped buying CD's and we buy are music now from iTunes store. Very often it gets on Jan's iPod and it travels up to London but I forget to burn it on a CD. As a result I never listen to it. As a matter of fact I rarely listen to CD's anymore: I turn the radio on or the tv.

However recently I wanted to listen to a relaxation CD regularly which gave me some logistic problems, lacking CD-players where I wanted to do so. And now it's solved. And after 30 minutes, I had 760 songs moved from the iTunes onto my new gadget (then I stopped transferring as I got too impatient to listen to it). Oh how I love technology tonight! Can you tell I am very excited?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An unexpected guest

In yoga class last hour I all of a sudden noticed an unexpected yoga guest in class. She was not really participating at that moment, but was quietly walking around in between the 2 people in front of me totally ignoring our teacher. Fortunately she was moving away from me.

I must say I did loose my concentration for a while and was glad I was wearing socks when I had seen the 8 long hairy legs moving around. Eeekh. Not sure if I was the only one who has noticed her, but nobody has uttered a sound during the excercises. Too bad, would have been funny if someone would have screamed :p.

Oh and since this is the second visit in one week , I think I've reached my spider ratio this fall. So if any spider is reading this blog.....please go elsewhere, I don't like you guys! The first visitor in my house doesn't live to tell you the tale anymore.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kreuners

Oh...this concert is on tv right now. Even on tv they can't hide that some parts of the concert were fairly meek and uninspired, whereas others rock a lot more. My feet are dancing on the floor again. Ah some of these hits really survive the test of times (the band members a bit less :p)


hmm can't see myself in the crowd ;)


Weird to see Axl Peleman though, I miss Berre Bergen!

Don't be a sheep

...although they are very cute I think. Don't you love this add? There must be really great people working for that company :p