Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chou Grillé + Spain

I started this post back in December, when I thought it was strange of me to post a salad recipe just before Christmas when everyone (including myself, obviously) is eating way too much. And then I left Switzerland to visit Spain (Bilbao, Madrid and a few smaller places inbetween) and ate so.much! Spain is not the best country to travel to as a vegetarian, but we always found something to eat, and had a few wonderful Pintxos in Bilbao that I think I want to recreat now that I am home. (I still have to get over my reluctance to deep frying for that though, it is a miracle the Basque don't also fry the bread that is the base for all the lovely pintxos they serve)

But now I am back home, and craving salad and greens and vegetables and good pasta like a crazy person. I am not one to make New Year's resolutions, mostly because I know I can in no way ever keep them, so please don't look at this sort of kale salad as something you have to get yourself to eat now that it is January and the pants are tight and you are starting to plan your summer holidays.
This salad of sorts is the other gem Amy, Nicole and I had at Le Mary Celeste back in November in Paris and it is one of the best things I ate last year. Carrots and cabbage are such humble ingredients, but together with the spicy dressing the taste anything but virtuous. This is a dish I think about often, you really should give this a try!

Roasted Kale and Carrots in Chili Bean Sauce
Note: Adjust the amount of chili bean sauce depending on how spicy you like it. And as you see in the title, this dish was originally called chou grillé, so if you have any way of grilling the carrots and cabbage, please give it a try. I don't so I did not test it, but I imagine you'll have to precook the carrots and cabbage for a bit longer to avoid having charred carrots that are still hard inside.

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into pieces about 3-4 cm long (if they are huge, you might want to cut the pieces in half or quarters)
1 pound kale or savoy cabbage, the cabbage leaves cut into strips (I actually preferred the cabbage version I made the first time, but kale is lovely too)

1 tbsp chili bean sauce
1 tbsp chinkiang vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Start with bringing a pot of salted water to boil and precooking first the carrots for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and then the cabbage for 1 minutes.  Let them cool down and dry before proceeding.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Add the carrots and cabbage to a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and salt massage the olive oil into the leaves of the cabbage. Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast until the carrots are fairly brown (for about 40 minutes). If the cabbage leaves seem to be getting to dark, remove them and finish roasting them.
In the meantime, wisk together the chili bean sauce, the vinegar and the soy sauce.
In a small skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds until you hear them pop.

While the carrots and the cabbage are still warm, drizzle on the dressing and mix well. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds and serve.

Serves 4 or so as a salad.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Endives au Tamarin

Two weeks ago I went to Paris and I returned with only a few pictures, almost none of food and just one Instagram photo of Amy who I spent most weekend with. I feel like I returned with one of those stupid t-shirts for you instead of a great souvenir. I am sorry for that, but I do bring back a recipe for the best endives you'll ever have. At least that was our verdict after having a plate of Endives au Tamarin en salad, échalotes, menthe, coriandre at Le Mary Celeste. The Chou Grillé (more on that one at some later point I hope, still trying to figure how to replicate this at home) and the deviled eggs were amazing too, I'd consider our dinner there one of the most memorable meals ever.


We visited the Le Mary Celeste after reading a post by David Lebovitz (there are some great pictures over on his blog, it was way too dark to take pictures when we were there) and originally only wanted to drop in after eating at Candelaria but ended up ordering quite a bit of food, wine and a couple of drinks. We were the first to turn up after they opened the Restaurant/Bar but all regular tables were reservées so we were sat at the bar, which turned out to be great spot. A French hipster with a very nice moustache spent the whole evening shucking oysters right in front of us and answered all of our questions regarding the dishes we had ordered.
I tried making the endives first on the Friday after returning home, and today I want to share a somewhat improved version. You should give this salad a try, these really were the best endives we ever had.

Endives au Tamarin
Note: Until now I did not find a subtle way to add shallot. Next time I'll try a quick-pickled version and might update this recipe then if it turns out well. Adding it straight to the dressing gave off a too strong flavor after marinating and frying the shallots (as seen in the pictures on this post) is way to strong, too. The salad is fantastic as is, though.

3 endives (about 500g), leaves separated
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp mint leaves
1 tbsp cilantro leaves

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

In a small bowl mix together the tamarind paste, the sugar and the sesame oil. Layer one third of the endive leaves in a bowl, drizzle on one third of the tamarind dressing and massage in gently with your hands. You want all the leaves to be dressed lightly. Repeat for the other two thirds. Add the mint and cilantro leaves, toss gently and let the salad marinate for at least an hour. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds right before serving.

Serves 1-4, depending on how willing to share you are.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Hello and a Gift Guide (for Men)

Hello friends. I have been gone for so long, and I haven't even been that busy. For the past few weeks I resisted the idea of taking pictures of food, hence the lack of posts here. I hope to be posting a few recipes soon, especially a few salads I am trying to replicate that I had when I visited Amy in Paris (More on those soon, hopefully)
Right now though, holiday gifts are on my mind, and I'd like to share a few ideas if you are still looking for gifts for your loved ones.
I don't know about you but for me, the men in my life are the hardest to gift to. Especially if you rule out tech gifts (for the price), I often feel with very little ideas left.
Here are a few things that I think would make great gifts for men (or women, I'd love one of each, please)

1) Socks: This may seem a bit boring, but everyone needs socks. And I swear there are a few very old and threadbare socks in every sock drawer which need replacing.

2) Small Batch Tonic: Men love booze, or at least the men in my family do. And if you are not gifting a purist who only drinks whisky, straight, no ice, this small batch tonic would make a great gift. A bottle of gin, I really like Hendrick's, would go well with this, if you'd like to go bigger.

3) Whisky Stones: So you do have to find a gift for a whisky lover? Picking a whisky for a whisky lover can be really difficult, unless you know their taste very well. If you don't, why not give them these whisky stones? They cool without diluting, and look really cool. (Locals, I saw whisky stones at Globus before, if you don't want to order online)

4) Beer of the Month: More alcohol: Your man prefers beer? How about a beer subscription? I am linking to an online subscription, but you can also just do this yourself and deliver a different bottle of a special beer each month.

5) Breaking Bad - The Complete Series: I am including this because Michael is planning to buy them for himself. Right now there is only a very expensive set available on Amazon, but the DVDs themselves are not that expensive (and they are on sale right now).
6) Microplane Grater: Because everyone (who just remotely likes to cook) needs one, and not everyone might want to spend that much on a grater. (They are quite a bit more expensive in Switzerland than the one on Amazon)

7) A great knife: Because a good knife is probably the best gift Michael has ever recieved. They are expensive, but they'll last you a life time (if you care for them properly). The one Michael has is similar to this one.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Quinoa Maple Granola

Currently I am kind of unable to eat, thanks to a wisdom tooth removal on Thursday. Consequence nr. 1 of this is that I am actually kind of really grumpy, and walk around with the urge to punch people in the face so that they have swollen faces, too. (I get really hangry, sorry for that). And Nr. 2: I do some cooking nonetheless, preparing things I'll be able to eat once I can open my mouth again. Case in point: This granola.

I am not usually one to plan that much ahead when it comes to Christmas presents, but I made this not only to have something to cook today, but also because I wanted to give this recipe I came up with a test-run before preparing it for my friends in December. This urge to try a new granola recipe (not the urge to punch people) rose in me after seeing Melissa's granola two days ago and then reading on food52 about how to get really clumpy granola. I combined recipes, also remembering the müesli Talley posted quite a while ago, and this is how I ended up with this mixture. And unlike with Deb's recipe (it is in her book), I actually ended up with big clumps in my granola. Yay.
This is not a one bowl quick situation though.  You need different bowls to soak the quinoa, whisk the egg white and melt the coconut oil. And it actually requires to process the oats in a food processor to ensure maximum sticking power.

It is all worth it in the end, and if you make a big batch of granola in one go, you'll have quite a few breakfasts taken care of until you need to repeat the whole process again.

Quinoa Maple Granola

2/3 cup water
1 cup quinoa
4 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans, or a mix of both)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ground flax seed
6 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
1 egg white

First, add the quinoa to a bowl, bring the water to a boil, pour the water over the quinoa, cover with a plate and set aside for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor, slighly process the oats, until you have some fine pieces between the regular sized oat flakes. You don't want to end up with oat flour, though. Add the processed oats to a large mixing bowl. Add in the sunflower seeds and the coconut, chop the walnuts into smallish pieces and add them to the bowl, too, together with the salt, cardamom and flax seed.
In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, and stir it, together with the maple syrup, into the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Stir the quinoa into the granola mixture, then add the frothy egg white and mix well.

Distribute the granola mixture evenly on the two baking sheets. Make sure to press the granola down with your spatula and keep it nice and tight.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the granola is golden and toasty. If you have an old gas oven like mine, which has the amazing feature of having bottom heat only, you probably want to bake this granola on the top rack of the oven, that way you don't have to stir the granola, and end up with big chunks of granola that you can break up into the size you want them to be.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Minestrone

Autumn Day
Lord: It is time. The summer days were grand.
Now set your shadows out across the sun-dials
And set the winds loose on the meadowland.

Bid the last fruits grow full upon the vine,
do them the good of two more southern days
then thrust them on to their fulfillment, chase
the final sweetness into bodied wine.

Whoever has no house yet will build none,
Whoever is alone will stay alone
And stay up, write long letters out, and go
Through avenues to wander on his own
Uneasily when leaves begin to blow.