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The Cooking Coach – Rabbit Stew with Prunes

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The Cooking Coach

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu

 rabbitprunestew5

Karen Vivers is originally from Scotland and has lived in Amsterdam since 1997.  Following on from her award winning delicatessen, Karen now runs her business ‘The Cooking Coach’.

The Cooking Coach is all about sharing great food.  Karen does this by eating her way through Amsterdam with her Private Food Tour clients or writing about food in the city and further afield.  And, if she’s not eating out, she’s cooking at home –  developing lots of tasty recipes to share on her blog or for her next cook book.

Rabbit Stew with Prunes

Every year, when the days get shorter and the temperature drops, I start to crave comfort food.  This comes in many forms for me, and one category is stew.  It never used to be. I grew up eating stew in some form or another practically every day.  I was so bored with it and had no appreciation for how good it really was.  I was completely oblivious to the goodness and taste of all those fresh root vegetables, straight from our garden, and the cuts of local meat and game my dad procured from farmers and game keepers on the island.

Now, it’s a different story.  I would love to pick vegetables from my own garden or pop next door to the game keeper for some fresh rabbit, deer or pheasant.  We always want what we can’t have I suppose.  But that’s not going to stop me having good go at it.  Until now I’ve concentrated on stews with beef, oxtail, casseroles with chicken and even sausages, but this year I’m upping my game.  Enough time has passed and the trauma of skinning rabbits at our kitchen table while the Border Collies looked on licking their lips, has subsided.  It’s time to make rabbit stew.  I looked at a lot of recipes and decided I liked the idea of adding some prunes as well as a bit of booze, so this is my first very own rabbit stew.  I’m really pleased with it, and, as with all stews, it’s easy to make.

Where to get your Rabbit

In the Netherlands you can buy rabbit at the poultry shop (poelier), and not the butcher (slager).

The Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  two and a half to three hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 x tbsp olive oil and 2 x tsps unsalted butter
2 x rabbits, jointed
200gr / 7oz. prunes
1 x tbsp honey
A little plain flour to dust the meat
100gr / 3.5oz. bacon, sliced finely
2 x medium sized carrots, chopped roughly
1 x onion, chopped roughly
2 x cloves of garlic chopped roughly
The leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme chopped finely
2 x bay leaves
150ml / 5fl. oz. Madeira
150ml / 5fl. oz. red wine
200ml / 6.5fl. oz. good quality chicken stock (no cubes please)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Some freshly chopped flat parsley leaves to serve

rabbitprunestew2rabbitprunestew1

Method

  1. Set your oven to heat to 150°C/300°F.
  2. Sprinkle a small handful of flour onto a dinner plate and roll the pieces of rabbit in it until they are lightly covered.
  3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large stew or soup pan (that you can put in the oven) on a medium to high heat. Place the pieces of rabbit into the pan and allow them to brown. Make sure they sizzle as you put them into the oil and butter mix, but not too aggressively, you don’t want the butter and oil to burn.  This should take a couple of minutes on each side.  You may need to do it in batches as all the meat will need to come into contact with the base of the pan so it can brown nicely.  If you move the meat too soon after putting it into the pan, it will stick, so resist the temptation.
  4. Once the meat has been browned, set it aside and add to the same pan (without cleaning it) the onion, bacon, carrots and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes allowing the bacon to brown, but be careful the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. Return the rabbit to the pan, add the thyme, bay leaves, Madeira, red wine, stock, honey and prunes. Add a little salt and pepper too.
  6. Bring the stew to a gentle bubble, put its lid on and place it in the oven for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falls off the bone – check after the first 20 minutes to make sure it is bubbling very gently.
  7. Check for seasoning and remove the bay leaves before you serve and sprinkle some fresh parsley over the stew before you bring it to the table.

Tips and Variations

  • My favourite way to serve this rabbit stew is with some boiled potatoes and Savoy cabbage.
  • This stew will keep for a few days in the fridge, so you can make it the day before if you wish.

The Cooking Coach – Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

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The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy 

www.thecookingcoach.eu 

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu 

Karen Vivers is originally from Scotland and has lived in Amsterdam since 1997.  Following on from her award winning delicatessen, Karen now runs her business ‘The Cooking Coach’.

The Cooking Coach is all about sharing great food.  Karen does this by eating her way through Amsterdam with her Private Food Tour clients or writing about food in the city and further afield.  And, if she’s not eating out she’s cooking at home –  developing lots of tasty recipes to share on her blog or for her next cook book.

Pasta with Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach

This is a bit of an pastaroastpumpkin2accidental vegetarian recipe.  What I mean by that is that I didn’t set out to make a vegetarian recipe, but it sort of just happened that way.  Staring into the fridge one day at a butternut squash that I had bought on impulse (ok, some women buy shoes on impulse, I buy squash – what of it?), I had to come up with a way to use it.  I had been obsessing over a curry with squash for a while, maybe combine it with some frozen spinach which I always have in the freezer anyway and perhaps some chickpeas.  But, I didn’t feel like a curry that day, and then it came to me, all of a sudden, it had to be pasta……

Preparation Time:25 minutes (includes roasting the squash)
Cooking Time:10 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
For the Butternut Squash
2 x medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (smallish, bite sized pieces– remember though, they will shrink a bit in the oven)
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp olive oil
½ a freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
For the Spinach Sauce
2 x tbsp olive oil
500gr / 1.1 lb. frozen spinach (not creamed spinach), defrosted
3 x shallots chopped finely
5 or 6 sage leaves chopped finely
2 or 3 large garlic cloves chopped finely
300gr / 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, quartered
300ml / 10 fl.oz. buttermilk
To Serve
75gr / 2.5 oz. toasted pine nuts
50gr / 1.5 oz. grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)
Some extra virgin oil to drizzle over (optional)
Lumache Rigate pasta

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray big enough that you can spread it out. Drizzle over the oil, mix it through to cover all your squash, then drizzle over the honey, grate over the nutmeg, sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. The time will depend on how big you made your pieces of squash. The result you are looking for is that the squash has softened a little (not mushy though) and that it has taken on some colour.
  3. Whilst the squash is cooking you can get on with the pasta and the spinach sauce. Drop your pasta into boiling, salted water for as long as the packaging instructs.
  4. For the spinach sauce, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the shallots, garlic and sage. Cook until they have browned then add the spinach. I like to keep any water that has come from the spinach, I don’t drain it, just add it all. Stir through and add the tomatoes, mix in. Once bubbling, add the buttermilk, mix it through, then add and some salt and pepper to taste. This part of the cooking only takes a few minutes, you don’t want to overcook the spinach otherwise it will lose its vibrant green colour.
  5. When the squash is ready, add about 2/3 of it to the spinach in the pan and stir through, keep the rest back to dress.
  6. To add the pasta, I don’t drain it, as I want to get a little (just a little) of the water in which it has cooked into my sauce. To do this I decant the pasta into the pan with the spinach and butternut by using a slotted spoon. Stir your pasta through, check for seasoning.
  7. To serve sprinkle over the remaining squash, pine nuts, cheese and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil if you wish.

pastaroastpumpin3

Tips and Variations

You can make the squash in advance and heat it through the spinach sauce.

The Cooking Coach – Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

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Karen Vivers is originally from Scotland and has lived in Amsterdam since 1997. Following on from her award winning delicatessen, Karen now runs her business ‘The Cooking Coach’.

The Cooking Coach is all about sharing great food. Karen does this by eating her way through Amsterdam with her Private Food Tour clients or writing about food in the city and further afield. And, if she’s not eating out, she’s cooking at home – developing lots of tasty recipes to share on her blog or for her next cookbook.

Sausages in Onion and Tomato Sauce

I really can’t resist a sausage, and when autumn starts to peek its head around the corner, the cravings only increase. Luckily, I’ve got lots of sausage recipes – not that you need a recipe, a good old sausage sandwich (or piece n’ sausage as we’d say in Scotland) with loads of tomato ketchup or brown sauce is hard to beat.

If you live in Amsterdam there’s no shortage of good butchers making their own excellent sausages these days. I norrecipekvsausageontomspinmally go to Alain Bernard, or the French butcher as he’s known, on the Albert Cuypstraat for mine, and lots of other meats too. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re French, but the cuts seem to be more similar to those I recognise from the UK, and they understand the need for large pieces of meat to roast, whereas in the Netherlands, very often the meat at the butchers is already portioned up into small pieces.

This recipe is one of my versions of a sausage and mash style meal. It has a tangy, almost sweet and sour sauce instead of the traditional onion gravy. I love to serve it as pictured with wild spinach and garlic (you’ll find this recipe on my website) and some mashed potatoes.

Oh, the ketchup I use in the sauce is my own home made chunky tomato ketchup for which you will also find the recipe on my website but don’t worry, any good ketchup will work.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

1 x tbsp olive oil
600 to 800gr / 1.3 to 1.7 lb sausages. I like to use plain pork, something like bratwurst or a breakfast sausage.
2 x large onions sliced into thin rings
3 x large cloves of garlic chopped finely
6 x medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
3 x tbsps tomato ketchup
2 x tsps English mustard
1 x tbsp tomato purée
100ml / 4 fl. oz. red wine
100ml / 4 fl. oz. water
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme leaves chopped finely
1 x tbsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan then place the sausages in it, turning them to brown. Leave them on each side a couple of minutes to do this. Make sure your pan is on a relatively high heat so that you get colour.

2. Add the onions and garlic, allow to brown and cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the wine and water to deglaze the pan, stir through.

4. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, tomato purée, thyme, honey and a little salt and pepper. Stir through and bring to the boil. Set the heat to a gentle simmer, cover with a close fitting lid and let the sausages cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.

recipekvsausageoniontompan

5. Check for seasoning and serve.

Tips and Variations

* The sausages don’t have to be completely covered by the sauce during cooking, about half way up is fine.

* When the sausages are cooked you can reduce the sauce if you want by turning up the heat, taking the lid off and allowing to cook until you get a thicker more concentrated sauce.

* I like to serve these sausages with some boiled potatoes and garlic spinach.

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email: karen@thecookingcoach.eu

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad | Cooking Coach | Summer 2016

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Karen

By Karen Vivers

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad

If you follow me on facebook or twitter or google+ or even Instagram you might have noticed a couple of weeks ago I posted about a really good bargain I found on red peppers.  10 Euro for 10 kilo!  I couldn’t resist.  So off I trotted home with my peppers under my arm and a head full of ideas on how to use them.  This was my first recipe – I think because I’m always looking for these kinds of salads.  I like to combine my vegetables and carbs in the one dish.  Saves on time (and dishes, and pans), but it also means that I can cut down on the carb element without it being too noticeable (for me, anyway).  Not that I’m particularly worried about carbs, I’m not one of those cooks, not at all, but every little helps, right?  Watch my blog and social media for lots more summery recipes, some of which will include red peppers.

 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

 PepperPotatoSalad1

Serves 4 to 6

The Salad

700gr / 1.5lb. potatoes, boiled in their skins and cut into bite sized cubes (use new potatoes when in season).
200gr / 7oz. green beans, cooked and chopped roughly
150gr / 5oz. cooked chorizo, sliced thinly.
1 x tbsp olive oil
2 x medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
5 x spring onions cut into 5cm / 2in. lengths
3 x red peppers de-seeded and chopped roughly
A large handful of fresh flat parsley leaves chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The Dressing
1 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of a lemon
2 x tsps honey

Method

  1. Set your oven to heat to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Lay the tomatoes in the bottom of a roasting tray evenly, then the chorizo, the peppers and the spring onions. Drizzle over the oil and place in the oven for up to 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and browned.
  3. Whilst the vegetables are roasting, mix the dressing ingredients together, set aside and place the potatoes, beans and parsley into your serving bowl.
  4. When the vegetables are ready empty them into your serving bowl (still warm or you can cool them first, whatever suits best), pour over the dressing, toss through until everything is evenly combined, check for seasoning and serve.

 

Tips and Variations

  • This is a great salad to serve with roast chicken or lamb.
  • I often use leftover potatoes and beans or other vegetables, but if you need to cook them especially for this recipe, just boil the beans in the same pan as the potatoes – they will only need a few minutes.
  • Instead of potatoes, rice or chickpeas work well too.

 

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

51AVmhu0f6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Thai Glazed Salmon | Cooking Coach | June 2016

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Karen

By Karen Vivers

 

Thai Glazed Salmon

Having done this for a few years now – creating recipes, sharing them, publishing them I mean.  I’ve come to realise that certain recipes hit the spot with people and others go by seemingly unnoticed.  So, I decided to try working with all those statistics provided by my website and here’s some things I found out:-

  • Salmon recipes get up to 10 times more hits on my website than other recipes. They get the most comments and shares on social media too.
  • Recipes containing chilli and spices get a lot of attention from British people and not so much from Americans or other Europeans.
  • Quick recipes (taking less than half an hour to prepare and cook) are always a hit.
  • Marinades and glazes are very popular in Netherlands, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Germany.
  • The more ingredients, the less interest.

Apart from the hard numbers, I’ve heard lots food and cooking dilemmas over the years.  When talking to  about food, lots of folks get quite posh and technical but when it comes down to what they actually want to cook and eat, it can be very different.  Most people will rhyme off all sorts of fancy stuff they’ve seen and heard on TV, but then will tell me that they just want to do something tasty with a piece of salmon, or they want to learn how to make a good tomato sauce for pasta or a nice comforting meal that they can have ready quickly after a long day.   With all that information in mind, I had a look through my ever growing list of recipes and found this one which I think should tick all those boxes.

 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients for 4 Servings

700gr / 1.5 lb. of skinless salmon filet sliced into strips of about 2cm / just less than an inch thick

2 x tbsp of sunflower oil

4 x spring onions chopped finely (keep a little back to dress the dish)

1 x red chili chopped finely

50gr / 1.7 oz. of fresh ginger sliced julienne (matchsticks)

2 x garlic cloves chopped finely

4 x tbsp of sweet chili sauce

Juice of one lime

2 x tbsp honey

2 x tbsp Thai fish sauce

To Dress

Some fresh coriander leaves, lime wedges and spring onion.

 

Method

  1. Heat the oil on a high heat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan.
  2. Season the salmon with a little salt and when the oil is hot place the salmon filets in the pan. They should sizzle a bit but not too aggressively.  Cook the salmon on each side for about 3 minutes.  Be careful not to overload the pan, if you have too much salmon, then cook it off in batches.
  3. While the salmon is cooking you can prepare the glaze mix by measuring the chili sauce, honey, lime and fish sauce into a bowl and mix through with a fork.
  4. Remove the salmon from the pan and set aside on a clean plate.
  5. Put your pan straight back on the heat and add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chili to the pan and fry off for a minute or so.
  6. Add the glaze mix, stir through and let it bubble and reduce for a couple of minutes until it is quite thick and syrupy.
  7. Serve the glaze poured over the salmon with the spring onions and coriander and a few lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

 

Tips and Variations

  • You can make this glaze to cover chicken to. I like to use chopped chicken breast, but I don’t remove the chicken from the pan to make the glaze.  I also prefer this version with soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
  • Serve with rice noodles.

 

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

51AVmhu0f6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

 

Lemon Drizzle Cake | Cooking Coach | May 2016

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Karen

By Karen Vivers

 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I really try not to eat too much cake.  Given the choice and the opportunity I’d eat it at least once a day, but not just any cake.  I’m actually not into those huge elaborate creations.  For me, it’s about:

  1. A good chocolate cake, quality ingredients (well of course, but even more important with chocolate.) Preferably flourless.
  2. A really flavoursome tea loaf.  You know something with some spice or juicy dates or figs.
  3. The perfect carrot cake.  Has to be rich and moist and the icing has to be decadent.
  4. The ultimate lemon drizzle cake.

Having found or created a recipe for the first three, I still needed my lemon drizzle.  A lot of the recipes read just didn’t have the right balance, and that is what the perfect lemon drizzle is about for me.  So the search has taken me years.  You might think that’s a bit over the top when you see the simplicity of this recipe, but that’s exactly the point.  It has to be simple, but perfect.  I was looking for the exact taste ratio of sweetness to sharpness not only in the cake but in the drizzle too.  I wanted to get the right consistency of cake so that it would soak up all that delicious drizzly topping and leave a little crunch on the crust of the cake.  And this is it for me:

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Baking Time:  45 to 50 minutes

Ingredients

For the Cake

225gr / 8 oz. unsalted, softened butter cut into small cubes

225gr / 8 oz. caster sugar

225gr  / 8 oz. of self-raising flour

4 large eggs

Finely grated zest of 2 ripe lemons

For the Lemon Drizzle

Juice of 2 lemons

85gr / 3 oz. caster sugar

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C / 360°F  and line a loaf tin with baking paper.  I find the easiest way to do this is to first scrunch the paper and run it under the tap.  This makes it easier to work with.
  2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together with an electric whisk until it becomes a pale yellow colour.
  3. Add the eggs, mixing them in one at a time. You can do this by hand with a wooden spoon or with the electric mixer.
  4. Add the flour and the lemon zest, bring everything together into a smooth batter by mixing with a wooden spoon.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. Check after 40 minutes just to be sure.  The cake is ready when you can insert a skewer and it comes out clean.
  6. When the cake is ready set it aside in its tin.
  7. Mix the lemon juice and caster sugar together. Prick the cake all over with a skewer or fork and almost right to the bottom of it – do this whilst it is still in the tin.  Pour the lemon drizzle over the cake evenly whilst it is still warm.
  8. When completely cool, remove the cake from the tin and serve.

Tips and Variations

  • Store in an air-tight container – it’ll keep fresh for 3 or 4 days like this.
  • To get the most juice from your lemons, roll them on a hard surface to loosen the insides before cutting them open.

 

 

Here is the link to my recipe on the website:

Website

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

51AVmhu0f6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu

Spinach and Paneer Curry | Cooking Coach | April 2016

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Karen

By Karen Vivers

Spinach and Paneer Curry

Ever since my south Indian travels I’ve been working on getting to grips with some of my favourite food from the trip.  This curry with spinach and paneer (Indian fresh cheese) is really fresh and light and, it uses a very (in my opinion) exotic spice –  asafoetida.  This spice has a sort of earthy onion type aroma and flavour and in its raw form is a root like ginger or turmeric.  In the South of India they use it in a lot of vegetarian curries.  I had heard of it, but I had absolutely no idea how to use it.  That’s the great thing about travelling to the places where your favourite food originates, you get to taste how it should taste and that makes it so much easier to understand how to use it.

Preparation Time:  25 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients for 4 Servings

500gr / 1.1 lb. of paneer cut into cubes (you can also use tofu)
For the Curry
2 x tbsp of sunflower oil
2 x red onions, quartered
2 x large tomatoes, quartered
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x tsp of cumin
1 x tsp of turmeric
3 x tsp of coriander
3 x tsp of cardamom
1 x tsp of fenugreek
¼ tsp of Asafoetida (optional)
¼ tsp of salt

For the Spinach
500gr / 1.1 lb. of fresh spinach, cleaned and the most woody stems removed.
2 x green chili’s
2 x large cloves of garlic
75gr  / 2.5 oz. piece of peeled ginger

Method

Place the spinach leaves in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes.  Remove them and plunge them into a bowl of iced water.  This keeps the vibrant green colour.Put all the curry ingredients (except for the oil) into a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Set aside.

  1. Put all the curry ingredients (except for the oil) into a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Drain the spinach and put  it in the food processor with the chili’s, garlic and ginger and blitz until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil in a non stick pan and cook the curry sauce for about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach mix and stir through, cooking on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes.Add the paneer, stir through and check for salt before serving.
  4. Add the paneer, stir through and check for salt before serving.

Tips and Variations

This can be served as a main dish or without the paneer it makes a great side dish to a curry menu.Why not give cheese making a go?  Indian paneer is an ideal place to start.

Here is the link to my recipe on the website:

Website

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

51AVmhu0f6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu

Postcard from India

Categories: Cooking Coach, Food and drink, Travel and holidays
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India: My Food Mecca

By Karen Vivers

 

IndiaPaneerCurry Paneer Curry

India: My Food Mecca

Tips from my first visit to India:  What to eat, where and how.  As well as some general travel tips.

I suppose every foodie has their own Mecca, and mine has to be India.  I know, I know, you’d probably expect it to be France or Italy.  Of course these places have a fantastic culinary tradition, and I don’t know where I’d be without either of them, but when it comes down to it, I need spice.  I need the firey heat of chili and the warming sweetness of cinnamon, I need the freshness of coriander and the fragrance of cardamom.   These are the things that make my culinary world go round.  Although I’ve been eating and cooking with spice for years, I always felt like I missed a bit of basic background knowledge.   I needed to go to the source, I needed to eat curry in the land of its fathers.  You may think this is a little over the top, but I firmly believe you cannot cook something until you have eaten it.  You need a starting point, something to aim for, and eating, tasting, smelling the food is what works for me.  Not only that of course, but observing the circumstances in which it is prepared and was created, gives my own food much more depth and meaning.  It gives me confidence in my recipes.

 

Fruit Sellers on Brigade Road, Bangalore

Fruit Sellers on Brigade Road, Bangalore

Planning my pilgrimage has not been without its challenges.  I’ve been skirting around it for years, choosing the Middle East instead of going right to the heart of it.  And I learnt so much about spice in places like Jordan and Oman – how to use it in the most unexpected ways, creating not only flavours but those hypnotic aromas that Arabic countries are so famous for.   So why has it taken me so long to get to India?  Well, you see, India is huge, the lands are vast.  The culinary traditions are hugely varied, where should I start?  Then of course there is the ultimate dilemma for a greedy cook.   What if you get sick?  What if I get sick and can’t eat any more?   I needed to think about this carefully.

 

Hindu Temple, Russell Market, Bangalore

Hindu Temple, Russell Market, Bangalore

Then fate intervened, as it so often does.  Around September time I was thinking about planning a trip somewhere warm in January to escape the bitter Northern European winter, get away from the biting cold and the never ending darkness.  Something to get me through the no man’s land between the celebrations of Christmas and New Year and the start of Spring Time.  Just at that moment an email popped into my mailbox from an airline with an offer for Bangalore.  Bangalore, I thought, hmmm …  Straight on to google and I could see that a flight to Bangalore would open up South India to me.  That was it, decision made, my starting point would be Bangalore (or Bengaluru as it’s now known) and then I’d head down to the ancient spice capital of Cochin and then to the fishing areas near Kovalam in Kerala.

 

Fast Food in Bangalore

Fast Food in Bangalore

 

Breakfast Combo in Bangalore

Breakfast Combo in Bangalore

To get the most out of our short stay in Bangalore we decided to hire a private guide.  I of course turned to the company I work with – Tours By Locals – I told Hermie, our guide, that I would really like to focus on food during our time together and our first stop was Russell Market.  The market was originally built in 1927 by the British and still feeds the city today.  You can get everything here.  The vegetables are amazing.  There is also a part of the market that not only feeds the city, but organises all of its catering too.

 

Lunch at Rasovara in UB city, Bangalore

Lunch at Rasovara in UB city, Bangalore

In one small square there are dozens of tiny stores, packed to the brim.  Each has its own speciality.  There is the linen place, full of crisp, clean soapy smelling tablecloths and napkins.  Quite a contrast to their surroundings where the smells are rather more pungent.  Then there’s the bloke who has glasses, next to him cutlery guy and their neighbour the fella with the crockery.  Mostly they hire out to venues for the huge Indian weddings that last three days and have a thousand or more guests.  Big business the linen people tell me.

 

Russell Market Vegetable sellers

Russell Market Vegetable sellers

We visited the market on a Monday when there is no fish or meat (or at least very little), at first I was disappointed, but ended up being quite glad.  I don’t consider myself squeamish when it comes to butchery – I’m too greedy for that.  But when I saw the state of the live chickens and ducks in this place, I really had to force myself not to clasp my hand to my mouth.

 

Early Morning Cochin Railway Station

Early Morning Cochin Railway Station

From Bangalore we took the night train, an adventure, of course we booked first class air conditioned which sounds quite fancy, but in reality is basic.  Basic and pretty run down.  At least we had some personal space which is the real luxury in India.  After a bit of hectic chatter and confusion about platforms we found our train with the help of a smart looking I.T. professional heading home for a few days well earned rest.  In our carriage, taking in our surroundings the locals were taking us in too.

 

Cup of Sweet Coffee on the Train

Cup of Sweet Coffee on the Train

There still doesn’t seem to be many European faces taking the Indian trains and so we were a bit of an attraction.  The conductor appeared to welcome us personally and told us about his 25 years on the trains in a form of English that I had trouble following.  He was only interrupted by the boys selling ‘chai’ and coffee and all sorts of biryani’s and chapatis to make sure we got through the night without going hungry.  I’ve never subscribed to the hype at home about chai.  I have no time for the usual suspect coffee chains making a big marketing fuss about a drink which is essentially builders tea.  Builders tea is what we in the UK call tea that is strong, maybe a blend of Assam and Darjeeling, has been stewed until it is almost black in colour then lots of sugar and milk are added.  Tea drunk by builders.  But here in India I was more than up for it.  We purchased two cups for 10 rupees each (so little I can hardly convert it back to Euros), sipped the sweet stuff and settled in for the night.  It’s easy to get lost in the romance of the trains in India, to get mesmerised by the vastness of the network and what they achieve each day.  However, I wanted to point out that after our journey I read an article in an Indian newspaper about the working conditions of India’s train drivers.  They work 12 to 13 hour shifts with no breaks.  NO BREAKS, not even to use the bathroom or eat.  Their trades union is trying to change this as they say that it is the explanation for the high number of accidents, not to mention the higher than average incidences of suicide amongst train drivers.  To date the government is not budging on making improvements for train drivers.

 

CochinViewOur destination was Cochin.  This spicy city is 650 km from Bangalore and 12 hours on the train.  Located on the coast facing the Arabian Gulf, it has a long history in trade.

 

Cochin Ferry Terminal, view from Brunton Yard Hotel

Cochin Ferry Terminal, view from Brunton Yard Hotel

Especially the spice trade.  As tired as I was when we arrived, I couldn’t wait to get out and walk the streets.  They say that India smells, in fact, they say that it stinks, and yes, sometimes it does.  But this a country of enormous contradictions, and sometimes the way that India smells is fantastic.  Charcoal fires, tandoori ovens, ayurvedic oils and of course spices.  On stepping out of the rickshaw it didn’t register with me straight away.  It took a few minutes to name the scent.  All I knew was that this place smelt amazing, of course, that’s it, the air was full of the smell of ginger.   And in Cochin the streets are literally paved with it.  Merchants are busy with tonnes of the stuff, packing it, weighing it,  haggling about prices for it.

 

Worker at Ginger Merchants

Worker at Ginger Merchants

Countless dark little doorways open to reveal a wealth of ginger roots piled up inside.  Just as I was being seduced by the scent, I started to sneeze, and again.  I looked up through watery eyes to see a frail ancient lady drying her long black pepper on jute sacks along the pavement.

 

IndiaPepperLadyI had turned the corner of the ginger street and moved into pepper town.  After inhaling myself almost high on spice I headed for a collective run by and for women who have been abandoned by their husbands.  This little organisation is based above a place they call the ‘Ginger Factory’ and helps these ladies establish some financial independence.

The Ginger Factory in Cochin

The Ginger Factory in Cochin

 

Not so much of a factory, more like a storage space.  In a warm room, cooled only by some lazy fans, a tiny smiling lady from Cochin let me smell all kinds of intoxicating spice mixes.  For vegetables, for meats, for fish, even for tea and coffee.  You’ll understand I didn’t hold back and have bought enough spice to start my own market stall!

 

Packing Ginger into Jute sacks at the factory.

Packing Ginger into Jute sacks at the factory.

On the way home, our rickshaw driver (his name was ‘Happy’) stopped at his local sweet shop.  The base of  these bite sized sweet treats seems to be milk, or condensed milk, sugar and maybe some semolina or other flour, of course spices, with the addition of maybe a nut or two, cashews or pistachio’s being the most popular.

 

Sweet Shop.

Sweet Shop.

The brighter the colour the better, the sweeter the better and the very best sweets are topped with edible gold and silver.  Most of which seemed to be inspired by Gujurati recipes.  The Gujurat region comes up quite a lot when talking about food.  I got the impression that the region is held in high culinary regard throughout India.  When people talk about it I got the idea that it is seen as a refined area.  I mean, Ghandi came from there, as well as a number of India’s more popular Prime Ministers.  I tried a few Gujurati dishes and the use of jaggery (an unrefined light brown sugar) and tamarind (a taste that is reminiscent of some kind of orange and vinegar) gives the food a subtle sweet and sour flavour.  Under Happy’s instruction, we filled a box and ate them with him parked on the side of the road in his rickshaw, he joked with each bite that he shouldn’t eat so many as he was getting fat (there was nothing of him).

 

Kerala Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters

With our luggage full of spices and our bellies full of curry it was time to catch the train again, this time to Trivandrum, Kerala’s capital.  The reason why we headed way down almost to the most southerly tip of India was of course the promise of those Kerala spiced coconut curries, but it was also the beaches.  I’m very sorry to report that after much investigation, most of which took place in the back of the noisiest rickshaw ever, the sad truth is, the beaches are just not very nice.  They are packed and pretty dirty.  Around the edges burn endless fires, people trying to rid themselves of plastic and all sorts of other toxic trash in the only way they know how.  Little rivers of black liquid, I suspect oil based, snake their greasy, sticky way around the sand.  There was no way I would be putting my tootsies anywhere near that black sludge.

 

Kerala Spices

Kerala Spices

After much questioning of locals, seasoned India travellers and various travel professionals we gave up and retreated to the hotel pool.  Which was beautiful by the way, I’m not complaining, but just didn’t understand where all those white sandy beaches, empty and pristine as depicted in the travel brochures were?  Not in India is the answer.

 

Uttapum rice pancakes and chutneys for breakfast.

Uttapum rice pancakes and chutneys for breakfast.

The food more than made up for the lack of beach.  I couldn’t get enough of the classics like King Fish Curry – probably Kerala’s most famous.  The sauce (or gravy as the Indians refer to it) is coconut based and is flavoured with Kerala spices.

 

Prawns marinated in Kerala spices and served with grilled pineapple.

Prawns marinated in Kerala spices and served with grilled pineapple.

You hear a lot about ‘Kerala Spices’, it’s a mix they use in the south.  It varies, but as far as I can tell (by consensus) it usually contains: Coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and sometimes bitternut.

The thing I loved most about the Indian people is that they talk about food all the time.  If you ask them about their country or the regions, they immediately start with giving you food references.  They want to know where you will be eating and what you will be eating.  The understand their food, they all know how to cook it, they understand spice.  Who wouldn’t love that!

 

Egg Curry at Brunton Boatyard, Cochin

Egg Curry at Brunton Boatyard, Cochin

There is so much to Indian cuisine, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m home now, armed with a flavour memory, a pile of scribbled notes from cooks and chefs and locals, some cook books that I just couldn’t resist buying and of course all those spices.  Can’t wait to get cooking.

I’ve put together a little list of things that I learnt along the way, general tips and of course some ideas of where to eat should you ever find yourself in Southern India.

General Travel Tips

Visa – this is a complicated process.  I’ve travelled quite widely and this visa was the most time consuming to arrange.  Make sure you get the right instructions as there are a few dodgy websites out there and give yourself as much time as possible.

Train Journey – if you have the chance I’d recommend a train journey.  However, book first class air conditioned (it’s cheap) give yourself a lot of time to get to the station and to negotiate it.  Also, take toilet paper.

Flights – we found out that Air India very often cancels flights.  If you do book with them, make sure you are flexible in your time and/or your onward connections.  Again, give yourself a lot of time.  I would suggest a day between an Indian internal flight and your connections.  Check the internet regularly for schedule changes.  There are plenty of other airline options, like Indigo Air, we heard that they are very reliable and stick to timetables.

Wi-Fi – This can be hit and miss.  Hotels tend not to have it as standard and often want you to pay (I’m talking even 5 star hotels).  You end up constantly signing in for service.  In some areas the connections are not great.

Rickshaws and Taxi’s – rickshaws and taxi’s are basically on the make.  You can’t avoid it.  If you don’t look like an Indian you will be scammed.  They take you to their friends shops, you know, the usual, even if you specifically give them an address.  They’ll want to ‘show you the sights’.  It’s very common to be presented with a list of places to visit as soon as they have you in their vehicle.  It’s not that bad if you have time and you don’t mind, I mean the amounts of money we are talking are so minimal.  However, if you need to be somewhere, best to get a car with chauffeur.

Leave Plenty of Time:  This goes for absolutely everything, from getting to the airport to paying a bill.  They will get you there, but they are bogged down in paperwork, regulations, hierarchy, bureaucracy and of course traffic.

Noise:  India loves noise, it’s difficult to escape it, they even shout at each other.  And with all their religions someone is always in the middle of some kind of festival.  They pump up the music so loud that it vibrates through you.  We even woke to a religious festival with drums, flutes and Indian style dance music going on from 5.30 am to 9am – yes, I said a.m!

Hotels:  I would advise to book the best hotel you can afford – it’s worth it.  Look for somewhere that has been recently renovated and make sure it will offer you some peace and quiet.  You’ll need it.  A day out and about takes it out of you.  Whether it’s the noise and confusion or the dirt, dust and heat, you’ll be glad of a little oasis to retreat to at the end of the day.

Alcohol: The government is trying to crack down on alcohol use and so is making it very difficult for restaurant owners to have a licence to sell it.  There are even ‘dry days’ each month.  I am not sure however if this relates only to Kerala or if it is throughout India.  Hotels that cater to foreign guests have licenses.

 

Tandoori Kebab

Tandoori Kebab

Hygiene and Staying Healthy

So, here it is the first thing everybody says to you when you tell them you’re going to India.  Aren’t you afraid you’ll get sick?   And yes, I was.  For all my eating and cooking, I actually suffer from some stomach issues so if I get a dickie tummy it can turn nasty.  Before I left I did a huge supermarket sweep style buying session at my local pharmacy as well as getting stocked up on all sorts of alternative, homeopathic remedies.  I bought antiseptic hand wipes and gel.  What I decided was that it was up to me to minimise my risk.  So, I decided to start with my own personal hygiene and use common sense:

  • I didn’t drink any tap water or what they call filtered water. I only drank from bottles with a glass or straw.  I checked that the seal on bottled water was unbroken.
  • I didn’t use any ice.
  • When ordering juices or yogurt drinks (lassies) I checked with the staff if any water had been added.
  • I washed my hands frequently. I used my wipes when water wasn’t available.
  • I tried to be very aware of touching my face, especially my mouth and nose area.
  • I also kept my shoes either outside or in one place near the door so that I didn’t drag in all sorts from the streets. I tried not to put my bag down on the floor, especially toilet floors.
  • I carried toiled paper with me, especially when travelling around.
  • I minimised my intake of fresh salads (just in case it was washed in not so good water). I didn’t eat fruit like apples and pears – only items that had been peeled.
  • When choosing where to eat I looked at the people preparing and serving the food – were they clean? Did they use plastic gloves?  Hair nets?  Often you can see where they are preparing the food, so this gives you a good idea too.  Where are they washing the dishes.?
  • The seasoned travellers advice seems to be to go vegetarian when in India as the risk of getting ill from a badly cooked vegetable is practically zero, but meat?   I didn’t go completely vegetarian because I was in the area of India that eats the most meat and fish.  Although, I hardly ate any meat, and only some fish.  Purely because the vegetarian options were so delicious, varied and plentiful I really didn’t think about it.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. It’s tempting to ease up on your rules if you survive a few days without any symptoms, but keep it up.

I am very pleased to report I didn’t get sick at all.  In fact my sensitive stomach was calmer than it has been in months.

If you are unlucky and get some tummy troubles, I spoke with other travellers who said that the best remedies are available at Indian pharmacies, better than our western pills.

 

Lady Working with pepper in Cochin

Lady Working with pepper in Cochin

Etiquette 

Normally, when you see a heading like this it’s to help us travellers not offend the locals.  In this case I suppose my reason for mentioning etiquette around food is to prepare you for some rather non-European habits as well share some observations that I found interesting.   The food is of course amazing, the variety, the colours, the aroma’s, the flavours.  Indian food, South Indian I suppose I’m talking about here has evolved over centuries and incorporates a vast knowledge of the use of spice.  Meals are prepared lovingly and with skill, some taking hours to get just right, some literally days.  So many meals are a feast of lots of different curries.  But when it comes to eating, that’s a whole different story.  It’s quick, fast, over and done with.  There is no ceremony around meal times.  All that wonderful food is wolfed down in seconds.  There is no time to enjoy it, it seems anyway.  I guess in a busy country of 1.2 billion people there is always something you need to do, somewhere you need to be.  Everything in India seems to take and age, except eating.  Most people will eat with their hands, and if you want to do this there is no taboo any more about which hand you choose to eat with.  Don’t feel like you are expected to eat with your hands though, cutlery is normally provided, if not, just ask.  There is something that I couldn’t get used to and that is that burping doesn’t seem to be rude, people (men mostly) let rip.  Not only during a meal but even when they are talking to you, mid-sentence, no apology, not even a discrete hand to cover their mouth.

 

Mouth refreshers served at the end of meals. A selection of sugar coated spices like cumin mixed with fresh spice and dried ginger.

Mouth refreshers served at the end of meals. A selection of sugar coated spices like cumin mixed with fresh spice and dried ginger.

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What to Eat and Where

You can eat anywhere at any time in India.  There is a constant supply of street food and simple restaurants serving local and regional foods around the clock.  A lot of the street food is deep fried and many of the restaurants vegetarian.  The places I have listed below are a little more up-market (in general), but by no means less authentic.  The reason I have listed hotels is that they tend to give you the time to savour the food and also the opportunity to ask questions about how they make it.  I continually pestered chefs and waiting staff for recipes and cooking tips, everyone was incredibly knowledgeable and generous.

Bangalore

  • Rasovara at UB city: Normally, I avoid Shopping Malls like the plague.  But our foodie guide to Bangalore said we really should try this place.  In the middle of a food court in a modern middle class mall, you’ll find Rasovara restaurant.  Just sit down and everything will be done for you.  There’s no menu.  As soon as you sit, the food starts coming, and it doesn’t stop.  I am not lying when I say that they bring at least 30 if not closer to 40 different small portions.  It’s like tasting your way around India.  From weird salty but at the same time sweet drinks to bread, soups, curries, rice, sweets, they keep coming.  The waiters continually walk around with their serving pans laden with all kinds of vegetarian delights (not that you miss meat here at all).
  • All Day Breakfast: I’m not exactly sure what to call this place I can’t remember the name, but it’s a sort of fast food / street food kind of establishment.  It’s on the M. G Road diagonally across from the Oberoi Hotel under the metro station called Trinity.  There are pictures of all sorts of snacks, go for a combo plate which costs about 75RP and has some sambar, semolina both savoury and sweet, chutneys, rice pancakes and a sort of savoury doughnut.

Cochin

  • The Tasting Menu at the Indian Restaurant in Le Meridien Hotel: The hotel is a bit dated but the restaurant offers a great menu where you can try the best of Kerala cooking and beyond.
  • Brunton Boatyard Hotel: This is a beautiful colonial style hotel. Perched on the waterfront where the ferries come and go.  Even if you are not in Cochin for the food this is an absolute oasis, is decorated with lots historical artifacts and is brimming with history.  Rick Stein made a stop here to find out how the chef prepares his famous mutton curry.  I didn’t have that (sorry Rick) I went for the paneer curry and an egg curry, both of which were delicious and cost about €7  each.

Kerala

  • Villa Maya, Trivandrum: This restaurant is situated in an old Dutch Colonial House, absolutely beautiful. The cuisine is Indian, but here they try and give a more fine dining twist and you will find some European influences there too.  I say ‘try’ because I just want to manage your expectations.  It is not what we would call fine dining by European standards.  I’m not trying to criticise or belittle, it’s just a fact.  Ask the staff to show you around the building, they’ll gladly give you a tour.  When we were there this restaurant had no license to sell alcohol, but they have some really nice fresh juices that work with their food.

Some Dishes to Look out For

  • Appam: A fermented rice pancake often eaten at breakfast time.
  • Dosa: A super thin and crispy crepe style pancake eaten at breakfast but also on the side of many meals.
  • Paratha: A flaky bread eaten with curry.
  • Sambar: A smoky lentil dip served with dosa’s and breads
  • Kerala Beef Fry: Hot and spicy beef dish.
  • King Fish Curry: Fish curry in coconut milk.
  • Biryani: A curried rice dish.
  • Paneer Curry: Paneer is a fresh cheese.
  • Mutton Curry: Slow cooked mutton in spices.
  • Braised Spinach: Lightly spiced and flavoured with garlic.
  • Fish cooked in banana leaf: Marinated and cooked over coals.
  • Avial: Mixed vegetables in Coconut.
  • Paal Payasm : Rice Dessert with spice and cashew nuts.
Happy’s neighbourhood in Cochin.

Happy’s neighbourhood in Cochin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Mustard Soup | Cooking Coach | Mar 2015

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By Karen Vivers

 Dutch Mustard Soup

At first, when I heard about Mustard Soup, I thought it must be a joke.  It must be just a name surely, because of course you can’t make soup out of mustard – can you?  I began to wonder if we were talking about a version of the mythical ‘stone soup’.   I watched others eat it and it didn’t look appetizing, a sort of muddy sludge.  What I didn’t know at the time is that the Mustard Soups I had witnessed were ones from a packet.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I tried it in the safety of a friend’s house.  As he set the plates of mustard soup down, all I could do was make the same anticipatory noises as my fellow Dutch diners and hope for the best.  As I dove in for my first mouthful, I got mentally prepared and told myself to be polite and  not to grimace if it was awful.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This was proper Dutch Mustard Soup, the way it was supposed to be.  Creamy and light with a background of mustard flavour – delicious!  I wouldn’t be without this recipe.

I really like to serve this as a starter to a fish based meal, but of course it is a great precursor to meats too.

You will notice that some of my ingredients are not quite Dutch, I have adapted this, if only slightly, to my own taste.

Preparation Time:  less than 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients for 4 Servings

150gr / 5.3 oz. bacon lardons
40gr / 1.5 oz. plain flour
40gr / 1.5 oz. unsalted butter
1 x liter / 1.7 pt. (UK) / 2 x pt. (US) chicken stock
100ml / 3.4 fl. oz.  single cream
1 x medium sized shallot chopped very finely
2 x large cloves of garlic chopped very finely
2 x tbsp of grain mustard
2 x tsp of English Mustard
½ a fresh nutmeg grated
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped spring onion to dress

Method

  1. Fry off the bacon in a frying pan until it is cooked and crispy, set aside. You can drain off any excess oil by placing the bacon on some kitchen paper for a while.
  2. In your soup pan, add the butter and heat until melted, then fry off the garlic and shallots gently so that they soften but don’t take on colour. This should take about a minute.
  3. Then it’s time to make the roux which is the base of this soup. Add the flour and stir quickly into the butter mix with a wooden spoon until coated, then add the stock and whisk through with a metal whisk.  Keep going until the soup starts to thicken.  This should take about 7 minutes.
  4. On a medium heat, add the cream, mustard and nutmeg. Stir through and then check for seasoning.  You may find that you don’t have to add any salt and pepper as the mustard can be salty as well as the stock.
  5. You can either add the bacon to the soup, or as I like to do sprinkle a little over each serving with some spring onion or chives.

Tips and Variations

  • You may have noticed that there are a couple of ingredients that are not authentic in this recipe, the English mustard is of course one of those. I like to use it as it gives an extra depth as well as colour.  Nutmeg is also my own personal addition.  I think it works well in this roux/cream soup it also adds a little to the depth of flavour.
  • I would always recommend good quality stock to make soups as this is will affect the flavour greatly. Try and go to your butcher for this or some supermarkets do nice ones too.  The stock cube tends to just be a little bomb of salt and trans fat.
  • This soup is nice served with some rye bread, perhaps with some Dutch mature Gouda (only if you can get the real stuff though), if not, I like Emmentaler with some fresh tomato.

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

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Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu

 

Leek and Bacon Quiche | Cooking Coach | Feb 2015

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By Karen Vivers

Leek and Bacon Quiche

I have this thing about ‘Having Something In’.  Sounds vague I know, but what I mean is I get nervous at the thought of having visitors and nothing to feed them.  I’m sure it’s about how I grew up.  I heard the words ‘Oh, I’ll need to make sure I’ve got something in’ so many times it has stuck in my brain.  It could be said when we knew people were coming, then it was with purpose, or it could be more of a mused thought of the knowledge that people always seemed to be popping in and out as mum scribbled down her shopping list.  It has left me with a slight panic if I have ‘nothing in’ and a feeling of contentment when I know I have ‘something in’.

Then there’s what you should have in.  It could be something you buy, biscuits, snacks etc.  But, that really is a cop out.  In our house the rules were that there had to be a pot of soup on the go, or at least soup that could be heated up (home made broth of course).  Then there had to be enough things like tins of salmon, cold meats and cheese, chutneys and pickles  to make up sandwiches.  And most important of all, baked goods.  This would normally come in the form of a of some kind of sweet tea loaf.  I carry on this tradition to some extent, although I must confess, I don’t always have ‘something in’ but I do my best.  And as my mum did, it is very often a tea loaf, but sometimes I like to have other options, and one of my favourites is quiche.  Great to eat fresh from the oven or to have as a bit of lunch when somebody pops by

Preparation Time:  40 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

For this recipe I use a springform cake tin that has a diameter of 28cm / 11 in.  and is 6cm / 2.5 in.  in height.

Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings

For the Pastry
A little unsalted butter, a couple of tsps should do it, just to grease the tin.
400gr / 14 oz.  ready made puff pastry.

For the Filling
1 x tsp olive oil
2 x medium sized leeks, cleaned thoroughly and chopped finely
2 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
250gr / 0.5 lb smoked bacon chopped into small cubes
8 x large eggs
200ml / 6.5 fl. oz. crème fraîche
2 x tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp nutmeg
200gr / 7 oz.  grated mature cheese like cheddar, gouda or gruyere
2 x medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
Some salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Not too much salt as the bacon can be quite salty.

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Roll out the pastry until it more than fits your cake tin. Grease the tin with the butter.  I find the easiest way is to take a bit of the paper in which the butter is wrapped and use this to wipe around the inside of the tin.
  3. Lay the pastry into the tin gently, and still being gentle but firm make sure it fits neatly into the edges. Make sure you have enough pastry to hang over the top of your tin a little.  Don’t press it over the rim, just let it hang loosely.  This gives a rustic finish and allows for shrinkage of the pastry during cooking.
  4. Blind bake the pastry for about 20 minutes. I do this by placing some baking paper on top of the pastry and then pouring over dried beans to weigh it down.
  5. Whilst the pastry is having its first bake you can make the filling. Add the oil to a frying pan and heat it on a medium high heat.  Fry off the bacon for a couple of minutes until crisp.  Add the leeks and garlic with a little salt and pepper, stir through, set to a medium low heat, cover with a close fitting lid and cook until soft.  This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir from time to time just to check that the mix is not sticking – if the heat is not set too hot, it should be ok.  Check for seasoning and adjust if need be.  The amount of salt you need will depend on how salty the bacon is.
  6. Mix the eggs, crème fraîche, nutmeg and thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl – I use a metal whisk for this.
  7. Once the pastry has been blind baked, remove the beans spread the leek mix gently and evenly over the pastry base. Sprinkle over the cheese, also evenly.   Hold back about a little of the cheese to sprinkle over the top of the quiche.  Pour over the egg mix carefully – you don’t want to splash it in as it will disperse your leeks and cheese making some areas a little sparse on the tasty filling.
  8. Lay the sliced tomatoes carefully over the top and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese.
  9. Cover the quiche with tin foil and put it back in the oven to back for about 45 minutes or until it is almost set.
  10. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes to brown the top and completely set the filling.

Tips and Variations

  • If you want to avoid the pastry shrinking, once you have lined the tin, place it in the fridge for about half an hour. As I go for a rustic look with this quiche I don’t bother with this step.
  • You can use this method with almost any sort of vegetables. Some need a bit of cooking, others for example spinach (works really well with goats’ cheese) you can just add raw.  It’s a great way to use up left over vegetables.
  • When cooking or sweating down the leeks, try not to get too much colour on them, ie. don’t turn them brown. It doesn’t matter that much if you do, but it is nice to keep the pale green colour.

Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen.  The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes.  Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.

As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy”  and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

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Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating! 

The Cooking Coach 

Love Food, Live Healthy

www.thecookingcoach.eu

Mobile : 06 1424 0009

Email:     karen@thecookingcoach.eu