woensdag 27 februari 2013

Week 9: Rosemary and other breads

This week, we're making rosemary bread:

Bread is just great. Good bread is a joy to eat. We, the Dutch, eat a lot of bread and brown bread is officially the thing we miss most when we're away from home (apparently, people hold questionnaires about this sort of thing). There is a world of difference between good bread and bland bread. That is why I'm departing relatively far from the GW2 recipe for bread. Instead of water, I use milk and butter, and I add salt and sugar to a mixture of plain and wholemeal flour. If you're a purist, you can use the same quantity of water and just omit the salt and sugar, but I really don't recommend it. If you do that, you will end up with what is technically bread - but it will be so much less tasty. So forgive my transgression and just roll with it. Whatever you do, do not make a bread with only wholemeal flour. It will not be good. At most, use 2/3 wholemeal and 1/3 plain flour, but you will need to add a bit more yeast than for the ratio given in this recipe.

I don't usually bake bread by hand, as I have a bread maker. There's not that much difference between a bread from the oven and a bread from a bread maker, except (obviously) the shape, and bread from the oven is often more dense as it is harder to get the conditions perfect for rising dough. If you have your own bread maker, just follow the instructions in the manual to make the bread of your choice and add in the herbs. You can also let your bread maker make the dough and proof it the first time, and then do the shaping and second proofing by hand and bake it in the oven.

Two other breads in the GW2 arsenal that you can make with this same basic recipe are tarragon bread and saffron bread. When using saffron, place the saffron threads in some hot water for a while before using it. And you can try much more: Just replace the rosemary with the herb or spice of your choice!

Bread with herbs or spices

400 g plain flour
100 g wholemeal flour
320 ml milk, lukewarm
50 g butter, melted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried rosemary or other herb/spice
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast, or however much is necessary for 500 g flour according to the packaging

Activate the yeast if necessary according to the instructions on the packet (keep in mind that sugar and milk you use for this come out of the total amount for the recipe). Mix both types of flour with the rosemary in a bowl. Make a hollow in the middle for the liquid ingredients. Sprinkle the salt along the edge of the bowl. Add the yeast, half of the milk, butter and sugar to the bowl by pouring them into the hollow in the middle. Carefully mix in some flour with your fingertips. When all the wet ingredients have been absorbed, add a bit more milk. When all the milk has been added, knead to a strong dough. Form the dough into a ball, place this in a bowl and cover with a warm damp tea towel. Put in a warm place for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
When continuing with the dough, first beat into it with a fist. Transfer the dough to a worktop. Knead it through a few times, then form into a ball again. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, cover with plastic film and leave for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Remove the plastic film. With a sharp knife, make two 1-cm-deep cuts into the dough ball so that they form a cross (see before-and-after picture below). Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 40 minutes until the crust is a nice, even brown. The bread should sound hollow when you tap it with your fingernails. Leave to rest on a rack for about 30 minutes before cutting it. Great as an accompaniment to a hot meal, but also for sandwiches. Enjoy!

Before and after baking


zondag 24 februari 2013

Extra recipes: Citrus poultry with almonds and roasted parsnips

So, last week this blog was featured on two websites, which is great! I got a lot of lovely comments and I want to thank you all for reading. Also, welcome, new followers! I hope I don't disappoint. Please also leave feedback on recipes you've tried, so that I can improve them (they worked for me, of course, but that could be a fluke! A sample size of 1 isn't the most reliable).

To thank you all, I've decided to publish two extra recipes today: we're making a full meal with citrus poultry with almonds and roast parsnips!

So there you are, having people over for dinner and thinking 'X likes parsnip, I'll make roasted parsnip! And that's a GW2 recipe, two birds with one stone!'. But then you think, 'You can't make an update with just roasted parsnip... I'll know, this citrus poultry with almonds thing sounds good, I'll do that too.' And you're cooking away, and people at the table are chatting... and waiting... and waiting a bit more... because the parsnips take longer than expected and you can't turn the heat too high under the chicken or the almond/ginger paste will burn. So by the time you finally have dinner ready, you don't even care about taking decent pictures for the blog anymore, you just want to eat.

That's my excuse for these terrible pictures and I'm sticking with it. (still beats using hair lacquer and glue to pretty up the food)

The GW2 illustration looks like a roulade has been made of the chicken. I rarely work with quantities of meat large enough to make a roulade, and I find that unless it's a special occasion or you're having to feed 12 people at once it's not really worth the effort. So I didn't bother with that and just used regular chicken breasts. If you're one of those people who colour-coordinates their meal even when cooking for themselves, you're going to have to serve the parsnip with some beef and the citrus poultry with something green. I only colour-coordinate at Christmas and Easter, so I just go by taste. And I love both of these! Best served with a nice boiled waxy potato. 

Citrus poultry with almonds
Ingredients (4 portions):
2 whole or 4 halve chicken breast (or whatever quantity of chicken breast you usually serve for 4 people)
50 g almonds
2 cm fresh ginger
25 g butter
30 g flour
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel the ginger and cut into strips. Put the almonds and the ginger in a food processor and blend until it is a rough paste (add a drop of vegetable oil if necessary). Rub the mixture into the chicken and pat on the remaining mixture. Cover tightly with cling film. Leave for 20 minutes up to 1 hour.
In a pan with a thick bottom, melt the butter. When the butter has stopped bubbling, add a tablespoon of flour. Stir well until all the flour has been absorbed. Continue doing this 1 tablespoon at a time until all the flour has been added to the butter. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the orange and lemon zest and juice. Stir well until the juice has been absorbed by the roux. Now add a splash of milk and stir until it has been absorbed. Continue doing this, just a splash at a time, until the sauce is the desired consistency. I like to leave mine quite thick, but you can make it into a delicate thin sauce for pouring over the chicken. Cover the pan and turn off the heat.
Rub (don't wash!) the excess ginger-almond paste off the chicken. Fry the chicken in a shallow frying pan over low-to-medium heat, flipping regularly and covering it with a lid for the last 5 minutes or so. Reheat the sauce just before serving, stirring it well. Serve the sauce either on the chicken or on the side. Enjoy!

My sister's citrus cream sauce
For a different take on the citrus cream sauce, try my sister's recipe. Works well with both savoury and sweet dishes!

20 g butter
20 g flour
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250 ml milk
Salt or sugar

Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the lemon and orange zest and stir for 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir until all the flour has been absorbed. Stirring continuously, add the fruit juice and milk a bit at a time. Season to taste with salt or sugar depending on wheter you use it for a savoury or sweet dish. My sister serves it with quail, with roast potatoes and caramelized carrots. Yum!

Roasted parsnips
Ingredients (4 portions):
800 g parsnip
3 tblsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Peel the parsnips, remove the end, cut in quarters lengthwise and remove the hard core. Cut into thin fries. Place in a baking tray, sprinkle over the oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Cover with aluminium foil and roast in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, giving it a good stir about halfway through. Remove the aluminium foil and roast for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

woensdag 20 februari 2013

Week 8: Front line stew

This week, we're making front line stew!
It's called a stew, but let's face it, with those ingredients it's a potato soup. At least, that's what I made of it. Potato soup with lots of garlic. It's a very short recipe, but the result is more fancy than you might expect: you can easily serve this as the starter if you have guests! It's the roasted garlic that gives it just that little bit extra.

Front line stew
1 liter poultry stock (from a cube or homemade), or vegetable stock for a vegan version
500 g potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1 head of garlic
1-2 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped

Slice the top off the garlic bulb, so that you can see the individual cloves. Brush with a bit of vegetable oil, wrap in aluminium foil and roast in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 45 minutes. Take out and let cool.
Bring the stock to the boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Press the now mushy garlic from its peel and stir through the soup. Turn off the heat. Puree the soup until completely smooth. Season with parsley, either in the pot or when serving. Enjoy!

Tip: fry some bacon cubes and/or sliced mushrooms and add these to the pot after pureeing the soup

donderdag 14 februari 2013

Week 7: (Eda's) apple pie

Two weeks ago, we made an apple-passion fruit pie. This week, we're making a proper apple pie!

Hm. The plan was to have those things appear next to each other. Computer genius I am not. I'll try again next time.

This recipe is almost true to the GW versions, except for one thing: I used self-raising flour instead of plain flour. You can make a perfectly serviceable dough with plain flour, but in my opinion, not for apple pie. For tarts and such, yes, definitely. But not an apple pie. I also gave a list of optional extras in case you're feeling like a bit more fancy a pie. Try them all! Try a different apple pie each week. Hey, you only live once.

(Eda's) apple pie

1 kilo firm apples
300 g self-raising flour
150 g witte basterdsuiker
200 g cold butter
2 tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For Eda's apple pie:
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into lumps and add to the bowl. With your fingertips, press the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add 1 tblsp cold water and knead to a dough. If more water is needed, add it, but be very careful not to make the dough too wet. If the dough becomes warm and sticky, place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before continuing. Butter a baking tin with a 24 cm diameter. Take 3/4 of the dough and roll this out on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to fit the bottom and sides of the baking tin. Don't be tempted to roll it out larger for an easy fit, as it will make the dough too thin. Place the dough in the tin. If necessary, press the dough into the tin so that it comes up to the edges. Cut off any excess dough and combine this with the 1/4 left. Place the tin and the remaining dough in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees centigrade. Peel the apples, remove the cores and cut into slices. Toss the apples with the sugar and spices to coat evenly. Remove the baking tin from the fridge and toss the apples into the tin. Take the remaining dough and roll this out to form the lid. Place the lid on the pie, pressing the edges together. Make three cuts in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in the middle of the oven for 75 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for an hour - I know it's hard, but it's necessary! Don't remove the pie from the tin too early. Enjoy!


- Brush the top of the pie lightly with beaten egg (as was done in these pictures)
- Add a bit of grated lemon rind to the dough
- You can add all sorts of things to the apples: sultanas or raisins, mixed nuts, caramelized nuts, chopped dried apricot... Experiment!
- If you find the pie is a bit soggy, next time scatter the bottom of the crust with breadcrumbs before adding the apple

woensdag 6 februari 2013

Week 6: Stuffed peppers

This week, we're making stuffed peppers:

The first main dish of the blog is, of course, one I really like. Stuffed peppers are often a basic dish for omnivores to make when they have a vegetarian coming over for dinner, but they're actually really versatile. You can stuff with anything from lemony potatoes to spicy rice. But, as this is the GW2 version, we're going to be working with a sweet tomato-minced meat-rice mixture. The recipe calls for red bell peppers, but if you prefer the taste, there's nothing stopping you from getting yellow or green ones instead.

Stuffed peppers
Ingredients (4 people):
4 large red bell peppers
300 g minced meat (beef or 50/50 pork-beef)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tblsp fresh basil, chopped
250 g tomatoes, chopped*
150 g long grain rice

Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Fry the minced meat in a non-stick frying pan until it's done, then remove from the pan. Add the chopped onion and sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add the basil and tomatoes. Turn the heat to high. Add the rice and give the mixture a good stir. Add 250 ml of water and bring to the boil. Over low heat with a lid on the pan, boil for 12-15 minutes until the rice is done. If the mixture is in danger of boiling dry, add a bit of water, but only a little bit at a time. When all the water has been absorbed and the rice is done, add the meat and stir through. Season to taste.
Cut the caps off the peppers and remove the seeds. Rub the outside of the peppers with a bit of vegetable oil - that includes the caps! Fill the peppers with the rice-mixture and place in an oven dish, preferably a small one so they can't fall over. Place the caps back on the peppers (if necessary, secure with a cocktail stick which has been soaked in water for a few minutes). If you don't want to or can't replace the caps, cover the dish with aluminium foil. Place in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. The skin of the peppers may get a bit black, but it will then easily flake off so you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy!

*: You can use chopped tomatoes from a tin if you prefer