Because I like it hot

I live in the Netherlands, and this year so far we’ve had 6 months of winter, 1.5 months of spring, and a week of summer. In the past few days, the temperature has gotten upwards of 33 degrees celsius and it’s uncomfortable no matter what you wear or what you do – unless you’re fortunate enough to find some airco. When I saw a recipe for a chickpea wrap in a sauce of sriracha, I have to admit that I was sort of sceptical as to whether it was an appropriate choice – all things considered, but I went ahead with the dish and really, I have no regrets about that decision. This is a fantastic recipe, which I found at Olives for Dinner. The most unfortunate thing in this case is that I forgot to photograph the end result. These things happen when you’re racing to pull all the last-minute details together (like forgetting to go out to the garden for fresh cilantro) and you have hungry dinner guests.

What did I change from Erin’s recipe? (and I say Erin because it’s the closest thing I could find re: her name) A few things. For one, I didn’t slow cook mine, but rather I simmered it for about an hour whilst preparing the rest of the meal (and some fantastic popsicles, which I felt might be well received in the heat and with a burning mouth – and I was right!) Anyway, I don’t have access to Earth Balance here, and I also feel uncomfortable about using some dairy replacements, so I did add a tablespoon of pure butter to my chickpeas. I had some leftover herbed goat cheese that needed to be eaten, so I tossed that in as well. I believe it was about 3 tablespoons, and what it did in the end was thicken the sauce a little. Ah and I also don’t have access to Tofutti so I used fat-free plain kwark with my avocado and it was really awesome. I did add some soy “chicken” bits to the dish to add a meaty element for my meat-eating dinner guests and whilst browning them in a separate pan, I gave them a few sprays of Liquid Smoke. The jury is still out on Liquid Smoke, as I feel that it has some sort of artificial taste that doesn’t sit well with me, however, I LOVE smoked anything (this is a lie, as I don’t eat smoked fish, for example, or smoked pork, so I’m using exaggeration to stress my fondness for it. You get it, right?) and sometimes, I just want that flavour in my food.

And – how was it? It was SPICY! Everyone had seconds, complimented the avocado sauce, and said they’d want to have it again. It ended up working well with the sweltering heat, since we were all sweating anyway, and what’s a little runny nose?

Is there anything I’d change about this dish? Not really. I might add some lime to the avocado and serve a sweet, sliced baby tomato and cucumber salad on the side. I did this last night and really, it was nice to have something to cool my palate. I’d also suggest serving this with homemade lemonade or something with a fresh flavour that’s soft on your tongue.

Overall – this scored an 8 out of 10 and it’s going into my recipe book. I think I have a new appreciation for the uses of sriracha and will be a bit more ballsy about it moving forward. As a sauce – it ROCKED! Thanks Erin!

Buffalo Chickpea Soft Tacos with Avocado Sour Cream

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Ever made a quinch?

That’s what my mother calls them… you may know it as a “quiche”. I’m not really fond of eggs, but I can manage them in a quiche as long as it has really delicious and flavorful ingredients. To me, less egg, more veg and cheese is ideal. So, I found myself attending a small party over the holidays and wanted to make something special, and decided to try it out. I deliberated over using a nice quiche dough mix that I found at the Eko Plaza or making one from scratch. I have horrible luck with dough. My pizza making endeavors never really pan out… so I really didn’t know if this was going to be a good time to try again but I did. Well, E did. We do most of our cooking together, or at least share the prep work. This crust from Life’s a Feast is really very easy. In fact, I made it this week on my own and it was a breeze.

Pastry Crust for Quiche (Makes about 8 x 4 1/2 –inch (11 cm) individual quiches):

  • 1 3/4 cups (245 g) flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 12 ½ Tbs (180 g) unsalted butter, cubed (yes, that’s no typo. 12 1/2 tablespoons!)
  • 4 – 6 Tbs cold water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the cubes of butter, tossing to coat with flour. My butter was pretty soft and I cubed it small so it’s very easy to mash it into the mixture as you toss them in. Using the tips of your fingers and thumbs, rub the butter and flour together rapidly, as if pushing the butter into the flour, until the mixture is crumbly and it resembles damp sand. Do not overwork this mixture as the butter will melt and start to clump; it will be blended better later.

Add about 4 tablespoons of the cold water and blend vigorously with a fork. Add more water, up to 2 more tablespoons, but only as much as needed, onto the dry flour and continue to stir up from the bottom until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough begins to pull together in a shaggy ball. Once you add the water, the dough starts to form into a ball right away.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. With the heel of one hand, rapidly smear and push the dough onto the surface and away from you, about a tablespoon of dough at a time, smearing it onto the work surface. This will complete the blending of the butter and the flour. Don’t over analyse this instruction. Just put the dough on the surface and use the hell of your hand to push it away from you, working small. You’ll see if there are any spots where the butter hasn’t mixed. I think because I used softer butter I didn’t have much of an issue here.

Scrape the dough up and gather it into a ball. Knead gently and briefly, just enough to make a smooth ball of dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to roll out easily, about 15 minutes.

Now is the time to:

  1. Butter your baking pan
  2. Prep the filling for your “quinch”
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)

For my filling, I decided to use this roasted tomato and feta recipe as a base, but I ended up changing it quite a bit.

Roasted tomato and feta quiche photo

Basic Quiche Filling: for 12 x 4 ½-inch quiches(make 6 then refrigerate the rest of the batter for a day or two for a new batch with different flavors)

  • 3 large eggs *
  • 1 cup heavy cream, light cream or part cream/part milk *

                * for 6 quiche use 2 large eggs + ½ cup cream

  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Cherry tomatoes – 2 or 3 per quiche worked well on my individual tart sizes. You will have to decide how many you’d like in a larger one, but I’d suggest that you not skimp on that as the roasted tomato flavour really makes this quiche outstanding
  • 3 ½ oz (100 g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled or chopped (for 6 quiches) – I used herbed Chèvre (goat’s cheese) instead as I thought it would pack more flavor and I was right! For my mini quiches, I placed one round slice in each, and gently mashed it with a fork
  • Handful of rocket (arugula, rucola, roquette), coarsely chopped – I used spinach, cooking and salting it gently in a touch of water over medium heat. I drained it well and then added a bit to each tart
  • Handful pine nuts I opted out on these as I do not fancy them
  • Sliced black olives – My own addition

Now, IF you are going to use roasted veg in your quiche, why not do this part at the beginning, before you start your dough? You can put your oven to an appropriate roasting temperature, and do the following:

Start by roasting the cherry tomatoes: Stir together 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in a glass baking dish or pie plate. Season with a little salt and pepper and add 2
peeled and crushed garlic cloves. Toss the cherry tomatoes into the flavored oil and roast for about 20 minutes or until the skins are split and shriveled and the tomatoes start to show signs of roasting (a bit golden). Remove from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the rest.

Assuming you have all your veg roasted, chopped, and prepped for use, prepare your liquid filling: Measure out the cream or cream/milk in a large measuring cup and whisk in the eggs. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg (totally do the nutmeg. It makes such a difference). Doing this in a measuring cup or glass with a spout or pouring lip is ideal for pouring into individual or mini quiche/tartlet tins avoiding a mess. I used a ladle with a lip, which was perfect for the mini quiche cups.

Place your mini quiche tins on 1 larger pan, and start adding your filling. Place your cheese in each cup. I lightly mashed mine with a fork. Add in 2 or 3 roasted cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, a few olives, and a bit of spinach. Now whisk the quiche batter so it is blended and pour carefully into the shells. Fill up each shell
only about ¾ full as it puffs up and rises as it bakes. Sprinkle each quiche with pine nuts (if you’d like).

Slide the whole baking tray with the filled quiche tins into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is puffed up and set. The top – or at least the edges – should be a deep golden color.

Via: Life’s a Feast

Even breakfast can be sexy

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I tried this recipe last weekend after having some leftover quinoa or bulgur from dinner. It’s really a filling dish with a lot of texture and flavor. It has all kinds of whole complex carbs, vitamins from fresh berries, protein filled nuts (I used walnuts) and natural sugar. I love it. You should give it a go.

  • 1 cup organic 1% low fat milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup water (I used leftover bulgur so I omitted the extra water required to make it from scratch)
  • 1 cup organic quinoa, (hs note: rinse quinoa)
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted* (I didn’t toast mine)
  • 4 teaspoons organic agave nectar

If you are making the quinoa or bulgur from scratch, follow the recipe below. However I find it more handy to pre-make it so that you can warm it more quickly in the morning. I added the plain grain to a pot, added almond milk and frozen berries with the nuts. When the berries are warmed through I add the cinnamon and agave. The whole process takes 5 minutes, and is much more realistic for my lifestyle (you know, late to rise, lazy, ect…)

  • From scratch: Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blackberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

Serves 4

source: 101 Cookbooks

savoury salivating comforting goodness

So on a whim, I decided that I was going to give making a vegetarian pot pie a try. When I was little, I loved chicken or beef pot pies… flaky crust, creamy insides, cubed potatoes, carrots, and peas… mmhhh.

Initially I wanted to make it vegan, but I was in a hurry and using my mobile and didn’t have time to investigate user comments on the recipes I found. One called for using soy milk and tofu in place of milk, for example. I wasn’t sold on the idea since milk and soy have entirely different viscosity from one another.

In the end, what I opted for was the exact opposite of my and my flatmate’s ideal of “eating healthy”, but hey, fuck it. It was good and I’m proud of how awesome it turned out.

I didn’t follow the recipe closely at all, so bear with me.I would estimate that this will serve 4-5 people (normal portion size)

  • 2 medium onions roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 4 smallish potatoes cut to bite size cubes
  • mushrooms, approx half a package or 1 cup chopped
  • 1 cup organic low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • large tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 c flour (I forgot this so I used a small amount of quiche pastry mix, which worked wonderfully)
  • 2 ready made flaky pastry crusts (defrosted)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt, pepper
  • liberal amount to taste of rosemary
  • same with parsley
  • celery salt or 1 stalk of celery chopped
  • Package (1 cup) of veggie chicken or meat (can be crumbles, pieces, etc.. or even real meat, as you like, but cook it first!)

Heat oven and butter your pot pie dish. Place one pie crust into the dish, press it in, and allowing for some hangover, trim off excess dough. Whip 1 egg yolk with a TBSP of water and brush it over the crust. Place in the oven to brown.

In a non stick pan, melt butter and sear onions and carrots for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms, celery and potatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes, add your veggie meat, or meat of choice and season well with S & P, stir together.

Take approx 1/4 c flour and sprinkle it over the veg, and mix it together until the veg is coated, continue stirring for 2 min

Add the broth and mix into veg. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to avoid the milk breaking, continue to stir the mixture until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Top with rosemary and parsley and mix together

Remove the mix from the heat and set aside

Check your crust, remove it when it is browned and spoon the mixture in. When it is full, cover the top with the other pie crust, pinching it and trimming off the excess. Here you can get creative by topping the crust with strips or cut out shapes (leaves, for example). Mix another yolk with a tablespoon of water with a whisk and brush the raw dough. Poke a good sized hole in the center of the pie and place in the oven.

Here you will need to keep an eye on it, and remove when the pie crust is brown, but not burnt. The egg yolk will help brown the crust, so make sure you do that part. Estimated time in the oven, 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the height of your oven rack and the kind of crust that you use.

Remove and allow the pie to set for 5-10 min before serving.

This dish was far from healthy, thanks to the whole milk, butter, and processed pie crust, BUT it was amazing and worth keeping in your recipe files for a cozy night by the fire.

Don’t forget to grab a bottle of red.

Image via: Serious Eats

Recipe via: I forgot… D’oh!