250 g chickpeas
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
1 handful of coriander, chopped
1 chili pepper, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp flour (I used gluten free flour for this one)
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 ltr vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. Take a large bowl and put in the chickpeas. Then, pour over enough water to cover the chickpeas and an additional 2 cm more. Leave to soak overnight. In the morning they will look plump and swollen.
2. Hold the chickpeas over the sink and drain off the water. Now spoon the chickpeas into the blender bowl. Don't overfill the blender! Close the blender and pulse a couple of times, then blend on full power until you create a breadcrumb like mixture. Check the consistency by stirring with a spoon. If necessary, blend again on full power until you create a fine purée. Then transfer into a bowl.
3. Put the parsley, coriander, chilipepper, garlic along with 2 tablespoons of the puréed chickpeas into the bowl of the blender and blend until well combined.
4. Spoon the blended mixture into the bowl of puréed chickpeas. Then add the flour, the cumin, the crushed coriander seeds, the baking soda and about one and a half tablespoons of salt. Finally, add some pepper. Combine it all together thoroughly with a spoon. If it looks too dry, a few drops of water can be added.
5. Place the saucepan on the hob and add the oil. Then heat it up on a medium high setting.
6. Take a small amount of the blended mixture in your fingertips and mould into small balls. Then place onto a baking tray. This amount of ingredients should make around twenty five to thirty balls. Kept covered, this mixture will keep for one day in the fridge.
7. The oil should now be hot enough to fry. Individually, spoon half the batch of falafel balls into the oil. Allow to fry for 2 minutes until golden brown, stirring with the slotted spoon, so they brown evenly. Then remove and drain on a tray prepared with some kitchen towel. Now repeat the process with the remaining falafel balls.

Serve and enjoy. The falafel balls are now ready! They are usually served inside pitta bread with tahini, humus, or chopped salad.

Daring Cooks - Beef Wellington

Now while the challenge has been done and I'm too late to post, I did make the dish and made pictures. I'm not happy about my pictures, because I had to make them with the kitchen light on as it was already dark outside. That aside, even though the pictures aren't perfect (I will post them later...) the beef wellington was really nice. I made the pastry myself too! It was a while ago that I made shortcrust pastry, but it was as nice as any other time I made it ages ago. For me the beef wellington was nicer when it was cold. The flavors of the beef came out better that way. And even though the beef was a little overcooked (it's hard to judge whether the meat is done whilst wrapped in a nice pastry ;-) ) it is something I would make again.

Beef Wellington is a preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in pastry and baked. Some people wrap the coated meat in a herby crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent it making the pastry soggy.
A whole tenderloin may be wrapped and baked, and then sliced for serving, or the tenderloin may be sliced into individual portions prior to wrapping and baking. Many spices may be added to enhance the flavour; some examples are curry, allspice, any grilling mix or ginger.

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Beef Wellington
250 gram button mushrooms
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
500 - 600 gram beef fillet, center cut piece
1 tbsp mustard
500 gram of short crust pastry (instructions below)
3 slices of nice ham
1-2 tbsp of milk

For the herb crepes
50 gram all purpose flour
125 ml milk
1 tbsp mixed herbs (chopped, I used rosemary, thyme and parsley)
1 egg
0.5 tbsp butter

1. To make the crepes, whizz the flour, egg and milk with a pinch of salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Pour into a jug and stir in the herbs and some seasoning. Leave to rest.
2. Fry the mushrooms in a little oil until they give up all their moisture and it has evaporated, leaving you with a thick paste. Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
3. Stir the melted butter into the crepe batter, heat a 15 cm crepe pan and oil it lightly. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly. Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple more than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe. (Make sure the crepes are big enough to cover your meat!)
4. Sear the beef all over in a little oil in a very hot pan. Brush with the mustard, season and allow to cool.
5. Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little. Lay over the ham. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and put the beef in the centre. Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. Chill for 1 hour.
6. Heat the oven to 200°C/390F. Roll out the pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under. Trim to keep it nice and neat. Brush with milk or egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
7. Cook for 20 minutes. The best way to test if the meat is done to your liking is to neatly and carefully stick a skewer into the beef, count to three and then test it against your inner wrist. If it is cold, the beef will be raw, if it is warm then the beef will be rare and if it’s hot, it’ll be cooked through. Leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Shortcrust pastry
450 gr of all purpose flour
200 gr cold butter
pinch of salt

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

Caramelized Carrot Risotto

It's been a while since I posted. Mostly because I'm quite busy writing my master theses and also I didn't really have anything to write about. I didn't try any new recipe's that I was happy enough over to write about it to you.

But now I have a recipe I would like to share. Last summer I ate my first risotto. When my boyfriends parents were over, we did a big family dinner. My parents, brother, his girlfriend, my boyfriends parents and us two joined each other at our house for dinner. Now what is a nice and easy meal for 8 people? My boyfriends mother and I decided to make risotto. Everyone loved it! And since that summerday I have been meaning to make some more risotto.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. We were having our monthly potluck dinner with the neighbors again. And I needed to come up with something new and nice. Since we had some carrots left over and the meal needs to be vegetarian I decided to make a caramelized carrot risotto. It was a hit! Everyone loved it. One thing I might have done wrong this go though was that I used the wrong stock. The stock I used was a little bit overpowering. So next time I will make this dish I will try to use a stock that is not so strong and overpowering in flavor.

Caramelized Carrot Risotto - adapted from Yummy Mummy

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped as finely as possible
0.5 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1.2 liter stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 finely chopped onions
300 grams of arborio rice
125 ml of white wine
125 gram of freshly shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley, plus a bit for garnish

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat and add carrots. Stir until well coated. Add 125 ml of water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the sugar; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Continue to cook until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown. Reserve half of the carrots. In a blender, purée other half with 200 ml of hot water.

2. Bring stock to a simmer and keep at a simmer, covered, over low heat.

3. Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in same (unwashed) pot used for carrots. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat rice with oil. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates. Add carrot purée and cook, stirring, until mixture no longer looks soupy.

4. Add 125 ml of hot stock, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 125 ml of stock at a time and stirring often till each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes; at least 250 ml stock will remain).

5. Fold in reserved carrots (save 2 tbsp. for garnish),  half of the parmesan and 1 tbsp. parsley. Add up to 250 ml of (75 ml at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Sprinkle each bowl of risotto with some of remaining parmesan, remaining 1 tbsp. parsley, and reserved carrots. Enjoy!

Chilli Jam

About half a year ago we went to a Dutch flower show. Whilst it wasn't as amazing as the famous British flower show in Chelsea it was nice to see the displays of tulips, hyacints and other spring flowers. There was also a little market at the show. We walked around there for a bit and found an English couple that had a stall there with chutneys and cheddar cheese. We tried a couple of the chutneys and my boyfriends eye fell on the chili jam they were selling. It made him remember home, and the chili jam they always have in the fridge there for cooking with and eating with cheese on toast. So when we went home later that day, we took some cheddar cheese and a jar of chili jam with us.

About 4 months later he finished it all. As chili jam didn't sound really tasty to me I never tried the jam out of that jar. As my boyfriend ran out of his cherished chili jam he really wanted some new chili jam. Normally his parents send him the products he wants from the UK and can't buy here, by mail, but this is not easy to send a glass jar over the mail. So I offered to make him some. This time, as I had to taste if the jam was good enough, I did try. And it was lovely. The chili jam I made that day didn't last very long as I started eating cheese on toast with chili jam nearly every day and I had to make new. Also I gave one jar away to my best friend so he could try and he loved it as much as I did. He has been asking for more for a couple of weeks now and as we ran out too I spend today in the kitchen to cook us another bigger batch of this delicious jam.

This post will be this weeks entry for Weekend Herb Blogging. This week it is hosted by Cinzia of Cindystar.

Chili Jam (adapted from bbc good food)

8 red peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
10 red chillies, finely chopped (with seeds)
finger-sized piece fresh root ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
400 gram can cherry tomatoes
750 gram  caster sugar
250 ml red wine vinegar


1. Tip the peppers, chillies (with seeds), tomatoes, ginger and garlic into a food processor, then whizz until pureed.
2. Scrape into a heavy-bottomed pan with sugar and vinegar, then bring everything to the boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until it becomes sticky, stirring occasionally.
3. Once the jam is becoming sticky, continue cooking for 10-15 mins more, stirring frequently so that it doesn't catch and burn. It should now look like thick, bubbling lava.
4. Cool slightly, transfer to sterilised jars, then leave to cool completely.

Serve with some cheese, or with with your sunday roast or other cut meats.The jam will keep for 3 months in a cool, dark cupboard - refrigerate once opened. Enjoy!

Daring Cooks - Vietnamese Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

I was quite excited about this challenge. It was my first daring cook challenge, and I immediately decided i was going to do the long version of the recipe. Which included chopping up a chicken carcass and making my own chicken stock. Two things i had never done before. Especially chopping up the chicken was going to be a challenge. I hate bones, I cant stand the feeling of bones on my teeth, and the cracking noise bones make when you break them gives me shivers down my spine. But I was going to try anyway, its called daring cooks for a reason right?

So there I was, standing in the kitchen with a sharpened big knife. Looking at the chicken, and wondering where to start. I got the chicken breast off with some help of my boyfriend in the end. Next was chopping it up... It took me some time to find the courage to start chopping. It even took my boyfriend to show how to do it and tell me I could do it to start! But in the end it was all good and I'm proud that I did it.

So what is Vietnamese Pho? Well, it’s a delicious noodle soup popular in Vietnam. The broth is simmered for hours and hours with either beef knuckle/leg bone or with a whole chicken. Other accompaniments include ribbons of rice noodles, fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, a wedge of lime or lemon, fresh bean sprouts and fresh sliced chilies if desired.

What makes Pho so different than any other type of noodle soup is the spices that go into the simmering broth. Warm spices like coriander, star anise, cloves and fresh ginger transform an ordinary broth into a very authentic Vietnamese Pho.

Our challenge focused on Chicken Pho, or “Pho Ga” in Vietnamese. By the way, the correct pronunciation of Pho is “fuh?” Yes, you say the word like it’s a question!

Some of the secrets to making great Chicken Pho is:
1) Toast the spices and char the onion and ginger. This brings out the flavor and fragrance of these ingredients!
2) If you’re cooking the longer recipe make sure you’re pre-boiling the chicken first – give it a hard boil for a few minutes to get rid of the scum and stuff in the chicken. This will help you create a crystal clear, clean broth.

The spices for Chicken Pho is whole coriander seeds, whole cloves and whole star anise – they should be easily found in your grocery store.

An essential component of Pho is fish sauce. Make your best effort to find fish sauce – your local Asian market should carry it. And if not, visit your local Thai or Vietnamese restaurant and see if you can buy a bottle from them. Soy sauce is a poor substitute for fish sauce, but if you can’t find fish sauce, then go ahead and make the sub.

I used this recipe http://steamykitchen.com/139-vietnamese-chicken-noodle-soup-pho-ga.html. Below is the recipe for if you don't want to make your own stock

Vietnamese Chicken Pho (recipe Source: Jaden of Steamy Kitchen from her new book The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.)
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice

1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients. Enjoy!

Chocolate Palmiers

When I made the daring bakers challenge there was plenty of puffpastry left over. And as everyone said, homemade puffpastry is valuable. It tastes so much better then store bought and even though mine wasn't perfect it was still really tasty! There are so many things you can do with puffpastry, but I had never done any of them. Puffpastry was new for me. And that is one of the main things I like about the daring kitchen, you use ingredients and techniques that might be completely new for you.

So I went looking for an easy recipe that was going to be tasty and sweet. With me having a sweet tooth, I went to google and quickly found several recipe's and movies on how to make chocolate palmiers. These little hart shaped cookies are really delicious and I'll eat these anytime! They are baked until the sugar thats on and in them is caramelized. Which makes them absolutely yummy!

250 gram of puff pastry
130 gram of sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoapowder

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Mix the sugar and the cocoa powder.
3. Sprinkle about half of the sugar mixture over the work surface and place the pastry on top. Sprinkle the other half of the sugar mixture over the puff pastry. Try to leave some sugar for later. With your rolling pin gently press the sugar into the pastry.
4. Roll out the pastry a bit more so it is in a nice square shape. Turn the pastry over often to make sure most of the sugar goes into the pastry. Fold the top and bottom edges of the pastry about a third of the way toward the center, then fold each edge over again, leaving about 1 cm space in the center. Finally, fold one side over the other making a long narrow pastry rectangle with 6 layers.
5. Cut off the edges of the pastry and discard. Cut the remaining pastry into slices about 1 centimeter thick. If you had any sugar left over dip the cut edges into the mixture. Gently press the bottom of the palmier together and open the top bit a bit. This will make a nicer palmier shape. Place the slices, with the cut side down onto the baking tray and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Make sure there is enough room between the palmiers as they will expand quite a bit.
6. When the pastry is nice and cold again, and the oven is properly preheated put the palmiers into the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes or untill the sugar is fully caramelized. Take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. They are tasty both hot or cold. Enjoy!

Plum Chutney

2lb plums weighed after stoning.
1lb carrots
1 pint vinegar
1 lb stoned raisins (optional)
1 lb light soft brown sugar
1oz Chopped Garlic
1 oz Chillies
1oz ground ginger
1 1/2oz salt

Mix the plums with minced carrot and vinegar and simmer until soft.
Add the other ingredients, and simmer until the mixture is thick.
Put into jars and cover tightly.