Cooking for Mom-to-be: a nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

This Dad-to-be likes to cook. So, I’m already looking forward to making wonderful meals for baby when the time for eating from a spoon has come. One of the pleasures of that, is that I’m looking around for a good food processor. I need a new one anyway, and this is a good moment to invest a bit in a great kitchen tool. If there’s someone who has some advice, that would be welcome.

In the mean time, Mom-to-be is the one I’m preparing extra healthy and tasty dishes for. And that took a bit getting used to. What are safe foods during pregnancy, which are also giving the best nutrients for baby and are tasty, too? Fortunately, there’s a lot of great information out there on the web. Such as which fatty fish are good. You can not just serve Mom-to-be any sort of fish. You have to be careful with those that are high up there in the food chain. Such as my favorite fish: tuna. Too much mercury in that one, so a no go for Mom-to-be.

Anyway, one fish I found on the list was trout. I only made a dish with that once (not a big success), and I thought it would be nice to give the fish a second chance. From a wonderful looking recipe I found online, I created this super healthy good nutrient bomb of a dish. Almost every element in it, maybe apart from the regular potatoes, contains nutrients that are good for Mom-to-be and for baby in this sauteed trout on a mash of potatoes and sweet potatoes, assorted beans with a bit of carrot, topped off with roasted almond shavings and crispy coppa.

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Drink from the garden: holunder syrup

Elderflower in the garden

Elderflower in the garden

In a corner of the garden of my childhood home, almost like it was hiding, we had an elder tree. When it was in bloom, it would have wonderful parachutes full of flowers. I really liked it. But, just as with the rhubarb we had in our garden, I did not really care for the taste of it. My mother often made elderflower syrup, and its distinct taste was something I didn’t really get used to in the beginning. Contrary to the rhubarb, though, eventually this was a taste that I acquired.

On irregular intervals, the elder tree would come back into my life. Like that period I lived in a street named after it. Or now, in Germany, where during bloom season you not just see the Holunder – as Germans call it – everywhere, but during the whole year you can taste it everywhere. Mostly in drinks. From syrups to beer derivatives (sorry, but I’m not sure yet what else to call Fassbrau). And of course in the summer cocktail from Austria, the Hugo.
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Eating from the garden: rhubarb-sage compote

New stalks are already sprouting on our rhubarb plant

New stalks are already sprouting on our rhubarb plant

Having a garden is a lot of work: mowing the grass, trimming the trees, taking out the parasitic weeds that want to ruin everything. But, it’s also a great joy. What I always thought of, when thinking of living in a house with a garden, was to have at least some edible things growing in it. So, when we made our trip to one of those garden centers recently, we bought several herbs to plant. And some strawberries. The herbs I can use already, the strawberries we have to wait a bit for. Fortunately, there were already some plants growing in the garden, that are meant for consumption. One is a sage bush, that was placed in a not very nice looking pot sort of thing, and I replanted in a small sunny patch of the garden, right next to the rhubarb. Now, we used to have rhubarb in the garden when I grew up, and my mother used to make all sorts of things with it. I just never liked the taste of it. Still, after replanting the sage (and smelling the scents of it), I felt I could try to make something that combined the sage with the rhubarb. There were quite a few stalks growing from the red thing already, and the smell of the few branches of the sage bush that broke off during replanting somehow made me think this could be a great match.

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An artichoke experiment

Recently, I bought some artichoke hearts. At least, that’s the best way I can describe them. Now, I know what to do with artichokes, or canned artichoke hearts (no, I don’t buy them, I just know what to do with them). But this version was new to me.

Artichokes, in a form I hadn't used before

Artichokes, like I had not used before

Normally, when I find myself in a position like this, the web helps. But, since I prefer recipes in Dutch, and in The Netherlands you buy artichoke hearts in a can, it proved to be a bigger challenge. Anyway, I found a recipe. With step-by-step instructions and pictures. Seemed good, so I gave it a go, preparing stewed artichoke hearts.

First step was to clean them. Unfortunately, the instructions on said website looked easier than it was. I did no know where to stop. I removed all the tougher leaves, but had the idea that wasn’t enough. So, with one I removed more, deciding halfway through that process that it might not have been the best idea. Or was it?

Artichokes, cleaned. But did I do enough or not?

Artichokes, cleaned. But did I do enough or not?

For the stew, I chopped some garlic cloves, a bit of yellow bell pepper, skinned a few tomatoes and removed the hard kernel. In some olive oil I fried the garlic with bell pepper for a bit, then added the tomato, artichokes and a it of tomato puree from a pack. I also added a few chopped leaves of basil.

Everything in the pan, ready for some stewing

Everything in the pan, ready for some stewing

Then I let it stew for about half an hour, and served it with potatoes and steak. The end result was reasonable, I thought, although I left too much leaves on it. Maybe I produce something better next time.

The end result: too much leaves in it

The end result, too much leaves in it

My ShareDish: Crispy Fragrant Prawns, a Jamie Oliver recipe

For the second ShareDish Wednesday I made Crispy Fragrant Jumbo Prawns, a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie book. They’re delicious, and super easy to make.

First, you get some nice big tiger prawns. Fresh, of course.

Fresh tiger prawns

Fresh tiger prawns, straight from the sea

For the crispy, fragrant jacket, you need to have some bread crumbs, and mix some lemon zest, grated parmesan, fresh coriander and a bit of olive oil into it.

Bread crumbs mixture

Bread crumbs mixture

When you have that, you can let it work a bit. In the mean time, you can clean the prawns. Chop off the head, remove the scales (I leave the last bit and the tail on), and cut open the back to remove the little intestine that’s there.

Cleaned prawns

Cleaned prawns

To coat the prawns, you need something to make the bread crumbs stick. In the original recipe, it’s egg. I added a bit of milk to that before whisking it, to keep the end result a bit more moist.

Egg and milk, the glue for the crust

Egg and milk, the glue for the crust

Take the prawns by the tail, pull them through the egg/milk mix and then through the bread crumb mix. Put them on an oven tray covered with baking paper.

Prawns ready for the oven

Prawns ready for the oven

Bake them in the oven (at aboout 200º C) until they look ready. Pink tails and a golden jacket. It will take about 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Crispy fragrant jumbo prawns

Crispy fragrant jumbo prawns

My New Year’s resolution: use the pasta machine more

Recently I rediscovered the joy of making my own pasta, and decided to make use my pasta machine more often in 2012. To be honest, I made some mistakes, but the end result was still quite tasty. The biggest issue with my mushroom raviolis was that the pasta was too thick. Anyway, I thought this was a good dish to use for the New Year theme of the first #ShareDish Wednesday.

My pasta machine

My pasta machine rediscovered

Making pasta is quite easy. You have to get the right flour, add an egg for every 100 grams and knead it into a nice and smooth dough. Then let it rest for a bit in the refrigerator. Take it out and use parts of it to roll them into thin sheets with the pasta machine.

For the filling of my raviolis I used some portobello mushrooms, which I cut up in small pieces, and I stir-fried these with some onion, garlic, bacon and chili. This I put in small piles on one sheet of pasta, and then covered it with another one, pressing the sheets together in the spaces between the piles of filling.

Piles of mushroom filling

Piles of mushroom filling

Then I cut the raviolis into separate pieces. Simply using a knife this time. I made rather big ones, because I did not want to cut the portobellos to finely. You can also use a shape or a special ravioli cutter of course. I made sure the edges were tightly pressed together, so that they wouldn’t come loose during the cooking.

Raviolis ready for cooking

Raviolis ready for cooking

The raviolis were then put into some boiling water for a few minutes. You can see when they’re ready, because they turn nicely pasta-white. But if you make enough, you can of course also try one to see when they’re done. I served the raviolis with stuffed pork tenderloin and grilled green asparagus.

Portobello raviolis with stuffed pork tenderloin and grilled green asparagus

Portobello raviolis with stuffed pork tenderloin and grilled green asparagus

No Stove Party Food

Bacon-Cheesrolls being preparedWe’ve been living in our Paris appartment now for almost a year, and still we do not have a stove. So I haven’t used my amateur chef skills in a while. This all becomes quite interesting when you want to prepare fingerfood for a little birthday bash. All bites involving cooking are out of play, so I had to come up with something new, apart form the regular Tuna spread, olive tapenade and a selection of french cheeses. Fortunately, it worked out pretty well. I came up with these, simple to make bacon-goat cheese rolls.

The recipe is quite simple. You’ll need streaky bacon slices, goat’s cheese (a little roll), parsely, rosemary, olive oil and vinegar. Chop up the parsely and put it in a bowl. Add a bit of rosemary, a splash of vinegar and a little olive oil. Then put in the goat’s cheese and mix it all up with your hand, creating a smooth paste. Take the streaky bacon slices and cut them in half. Make little rolls of the cheese paste, about as wide as the bacon and a little thinner than your finger. Roll these in the bacon slices and you’re ready to eat.

But the most loved by the guests was the pepper-feta spread. To make it you’ll need a blender. You put in a clove of garlic, a touch of olive oil and vinegar, a yellow bell pepper (paprika) – preferrably roasted and peeled, two chili peppers out of a jar, and diced feta. Close the blender and hit the on-switch. Let it blend until you have a nice grainy-smooth paste. Put it in a nice dish to present and have your favourite type of bread next to it to put it on.

Gehaktballen met kaas

A Clear Blue Sky's Meatballs

Gehaktballen: simpel, maar erg lekker en veelzijdig. Op brood, bij pasta of gewoon met aardappelen en groenten. Mijn favoriete recept gaat ongeveer als volgt: stop 500 gram rundergehakt, 100 gram verkruimelde blauwaderkaas (bijvoorkeur cabrales, maar roquefort of gorgonzola mag ook), 1 ei (rauw), 1 zeer fijn gesnipperd sjalotje, paneermeel, wat italiaanse keukenkruiden (vers of uit een potje), zout en een paar druppels worcestershire saus in een grote schaal en meng het goed. Draai daarvan balletje die qua formaat het midden houden tussen een golfbal en een tennisbal. Deze braad je in een pan met verhitte olie en boter in ongeveer 10 – 15 minuten gaar (afhankelijk van de grootte).