Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eggplant Love

The eggplant. I don't like its name in English, the German or French "aubergine" sounds a lot nicer and highlights its beautiful color. We never had eggplant at home when I grew up, now I buy lots of them. Eggplants are one of the vegetables I buy out of season. I can live without tomatoes, without asparagus, without strawberries, just about anything, but you just can't replace the eggplant in my kitchen. We like to make a Moroccan tajine with chickpeas and eggplant here (recipe coming soon) and lately we began roasting them in the oven. The following is not a real recipe. But we already had it several times this year and it is just delicious.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Challenge Update

I'm back from my holidays. My bags are still unpacked, I already spent some minutes in the kitchen and made another easy little bread. I also created an about page and made a little header. Nothing fancy for now. Coming in the next week are a few recipes from my cookbook challenge. I'm going to cook from Heidi Swansons book in September since I have lots of dried beans, lentils, buckwheat and other things on hand, and I spent a little bit too much money on my holidays this summer. This is a great opportunity to use some of this good stuff, to save some money and try new recipes, so I'm really excited at the moment.
I also bought a few French food magazines (and one in Norwegian) which have a few recipes I can't wait to try out.
But first I need to unpack, and sleep.

Ricotta and Peas Crostini

I already talked about my mother's birthday party, but I have to tell you about these crostini.
My little brother (he is 14) is a bit of a picky eater. I did not expect him to like much of what we made, just because he is 14. I was somewhat surprised when he loved the smell (and later the taste) of the tortilla when I made it. But when he said he loved these crostini, I was almost shocked. The peas are not blended in completely so there were little bits still visible (my mother usually blends the tomato sauce with a blender because of him), there is a hint of mint in there (he is not used to that) and it's texture is not as firm as I wanted it to be (he would like it better that way), but no: he came back for more and asked me what was in there. He loved them, which was somehow really cute.

Monday, August 22, 2011

No-Knead Bread with Leek

I made this bread last winter, last year in fact. I haven't made a no-knead bread since, I don't know why exactly. It was mouthwateringly delicious. It crackled while it cooled down. It is beautiful.
Since then I missed out on this. I bought supermarket bread, which is bland in comparison. It is not freshly baked. It is not that crispy yet moist. And most important, I did not make it myself.
I'm still on vacation, but once I'm back I want to start a bread baking routine. And I have to take up my cookbook challenge again.

P.S.: I used the regular recipe for no-knead bread on the homepage of the Sullivan Street Bakery and just added leek, the white part, cut in rings. It made the bread even moister and added lots of flavor, but less suited to breakfast.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baking Bread

I love the idea of making my own bread. I love the smell in the house and the satisfaction that lies in cutting off the first slice of bread of a new loaf. But until now, I never consistently made my own bread. Or anything close to consistently. Usually I bake a bread every few months, think that I should do this often, and then go weeks without. I want this to change. I want to be the person who bakes bread. For the flavor. For the relaxation. And for the smell in the apartment.

I'm away on vacation again. Three weeks of cycling through France with my boyfriend. I'm looking forward to the croissants now, and when you read this, I might just be eating one right this minute (sorry!).

But before I left I made the Easy Little Bread Heidi posted just a few days ago. It really is an easy recipe, you basically just throw everything together, let it sit for 30 minutes and then bake it. No long waiting, no kneading. On some days I prefer a lighter, airier (is that a word?) bread, like the No-Knead Bread. But I just ate the first piece now, with a glass of beer, and it is just wonderful. I somehow taste bananas in there, don't ask me why. The bread is dense but moist and has a deep flavor.

Easy Little Bread
adapted from the recipe on, from the book Gran's Kitchen: Recipes from the Notebooks of Dulcie May Booker
3dl warm water
1 package of dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
265g whole wheat flour
100g rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter

Sprinkle the yeast on to the warm (not hot) water and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the honey and let it sit for about 10 minutes (until the yeast blooms).

Melt the butter in a pan, and brush a loaf pan with it. (we have adjustable cake pans in Switzerland, they range from 20-35 cm in length,  I used it at 25 cm length. Heidi suggests using a 8 cup loaf-pan)

In a bowl, mix flour, oats and salt. Add the liquid ingredients. Pour the dough in to the pan, cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (or 350F), put in the pan on a rack (in the middle of the oven) and let it bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the bread out right away. Let it cool on a rack. 
Don't cut off a slice when still hot, wait until it is room temperature. I don't know right now why this is, but I believe the masters and wait, impatiently, but I wait.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I am a recovering perfectionist. I expect things to be just as I imagined and planned them. This obviously results in lots of disappointment and stress. Then I offered to plan and prepare an "apero riche" for my mother's birthday. I think I talked of nothing else for about a week before her birthday. I had lots of ideas I knew my mother would not be too fond of - my family is not as experimental as I am when it comes to eating. They like the familiarity of the things they always prepare for birthdays and other celebrations.
I came up with a few ideas that were not too new, not too strange, but not boring and old either.
Everything turned out great, the food was a success and we made enough for everyone. (and way too much of the lentil and couscous salad...)
I'm going to share with you the recipe for Goats Cheese and Onion Confit Crostini. They sort of had a slow start, people were not too sure about the cheese, about the amount of onions and so only a few were eaten at first. But after that, when every one who tried one wanted more, we had to go back to the kitchen to make more.
The combination of the tangy flavor of the goats cheese and the sweetness of the onions is delicious, and makes people come back for more.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bavette with Lentils, Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

This recipe was inspired by Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce that I just saw today. I new I wanted to do something with Pasta and Lentils, but the thought of tomatoes roasting in the oven was just too irresistible.

You need quite a lot pans and pots for this, or at least more than I normally use on a normal weekday. First I wanted to slowly brown the onions in a skillet, but then I decided to just throw them in with the tomatoes and the garlic.

 They got soft and mild in flavor in the oven, rather sweet too. Just like the garlic.

I used two types of lentils because I loved how it looked, but the red ones kind of lose their color and turn a less interesting brown.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spanish Tortilla

When I was sixteen I spent 5 months in a host family in Barcelona, Spain. My host parents were divorced, and I spent every other weekend at the father's house. He lived outside of Barcelona, in a small town. I enjoyed visiting him. We often went to small restaurants with his new wife and their daughter. I remember going to a place in the woods, were Catalonian specialties were served. The leech that was roaster in the fire. It was eaten in a very special manner that I don't remember well.
This spring I went to Barcelona with my boyfriend. The city has not changed much. And what is just as good as when I lived there is the "Pa amb tomàquet". My host mother used to make this for me. Either plain or instead of butter in a sandwich, with Jamon or cheese. But as I found out now, the sandwich is even better filled with tortilla. It never occurred to me to put a tortilla in a sandwich, but the crispy bread and the soft tortilla go so well together. The onion in the tortilla, the garlic on the bread, and the juice of the tomatoes, they all add so much to the simple flavors of potatoes and eggs.
I haven't had a tortilla bocadillo (sandwich) since. The truth is, that, until this sunday, I never made a tortilla myself. But you should make one. Eat it plain, just as we did, or put it in a sandwich and enjoy a taste of Spain.