Very Berry Chutney

My bag of veggies actually also contains 2 different kinds of fruit each week. But I guess I mostly see that as an extra and don’t really see it as anything special. My main focus sofar has always been on the veggies. That is also why I am thinking of switching to the vegetable only bag. Same price, but some more veggies 🙂

Don’t get me wrong: I eat lots of fruit. Mixed fruit in my breakfast yoghurt (banana, pineapple, cherries, mango, strawberries, whatever happens to catch my eye at the market) and apples or pears or something the like with lunch each day. But I hardly ever cook with fruit or use it in dessert or something (I would first need to start making dessert for that to happen, I guess). Also, there is always very little fruit in my bag, almost like it is an afterthought. Which means I am still buying lots of other fruit. Better go for the all veggies one then!

But, as long as I still have fruit in my bag, I decided to create something with fruit for a change. I asked friends on Facebook to give me some suggestions on what to do with white berries I would be getting and I decided to go for the chutney. Not dessert yet, obviously. It turned out to be a perfect make-ahead dish that went perfectly with the curry I had planned for Saturday night.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams berries (the original recipe called for red berries, but the white ones I used worked just fine)
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped (I only used 2, since The Boyfriend is not very fond of onions , to put it mildly)
  • 5 tablespoons red whine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 200 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 black peppers

Image

Preparation

Bring berries, onion, vinegar, sugar and ginger to a boil. Stir until all sugar is absorbed. Add salt and pepper and let simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. stir occasionally. Et voila!

The chutney can be stored for several weeks, just keep it in the fridge.

Image

Check out my next post to see how I served this chutney!

Cooking for guests

I love cooking! But not so much cooking for just me. That is why I love having The Boyfriend around on the weekends. And I love girlfriends who invite themselves over for dinner, which is what happened last week 🙂

However, I am sort of a control freak and perfectionist. So whenever someone comes over for dinner, I want to make the perfect dish and not disappoint my guest. I know, most people are not at all that critical. But still, it is a hard habit to break. So, when my friend and I set our dinner date, I started thinking and deciding on what to cook. Which took me several weeks 😉

I will try out many new dishes, but sofar, I only dared to use my mom and The Boyfriend as guinea pigs. When having other people over for dinner, I like to stick to past success recipes. And I think this one absolutely is just that. It is not hard to make, and can be prepared in advance, but it does require some work.

Make sure to have all ingredients ready!

Dough

  • 20 grams parsley
  • 175 grams cream cheese (I used philadelphia)
  • 175 grams grated Gruyere
  • 4 eggs, separated

Mix half of parsley with cream cheese, Gruyere and egg yolk

Mix egg whites (make sure to degrease bowl and mixer with lemon juice first)

Carefully fold egg whites into cheese mixture

Evenly spread mixture on baking dish and bake at 200 °F (400 °F) for 12 minutes. Let cool.

Stuffing

  • 500 grams mixed mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 150 grams herbed cream cheese with garlic
  • some water

Heat oil and bake mushroom and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Place “dough” on baking paper.

Add hot water to herbed cream cheese.

Spread cream cheese over ” dough”.

Place mushrooms on top and roll into a roulade.

Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes (when preparing ahead, do this right before serving).

Another World Food Café Hit

Ready for a (somewhat) adventurous dish? My BFF was visiting for a weekend and I suggested making this. She did not dare though and opted for the vegetable quiche instead. So, be prepared for this one 😉

This turned out to be a somewhat non-conventional, but absolutely yummie dish. I especially liked the combination of savoury and sweet, hot and cold. Again from one my favourite cookbooks ever:

World Food Cafe

I had spotted this recipe a while ago already and was just waiting for a chance to try it. When my bag of vegetables contained red beets (again…) I seized the opportunity. Enjoy!

Curry with beets and eggplant

served with cocnut rice and pineapple chutney

For the curry

  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 red hot chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of lemongrass
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500 grams raw beets, cubed
  • 2 medium sized eggplants, cubed
  • 200 ml vegetable broth
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 125 grams cashews

Roast cashews.

Purée onions, garlic, chili peppers and lemongrass in blender.

Roast cumin, coriander, and fennels seeds until brown, but don’t burn them!

Heat oil and bake onion mixture for a few minutes over high heat. add the spices, the beets and the eggplant. Stir fry for about 2 more minutes.

Pour in the broth, lower the heat, cover pan and cook veggies until the beets are done. Add coconut milk and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with cashews.

For the coconut rice

  • 250 grams basmati rice
  • butter
  • 1 red onion, in rings
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 150 ml coconut milk
  • salt

Melt butter and bake onion rings until soft. Add cardamom and rice. Mix well. add coconut milk and add water until everything is covered with about 1 cm of water. Add salt to taste.

Cover pan and bring water to a boil. Lower heat and cook rice until all water has been absorbed.

Let rice stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.

For the pineapple chutney

  • 60 grams grated cocnut
  • 1/2 a fresh pineapple, in small cubes
  • 3 green chili pepper, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste

Roast coconut (keep stirring!) until lightly browned. Let cool.

Mix pineapple, chili peppers, lime juice and salt thoroughly. Add roasted coconut. Serve with the curry and rice.

Pod some beans!

When I got these in my bag of veggies, I knew what my evening would look like 😉

I was gonna pod some beans! Fava beans to be exact.

This might seem like a somewhat daunting task, but not to worry! It is very easy to pod these guys and it was such a mindless job it turned out to be quite a relaxing activity 🙂

Take the bean, open it on the side and remove the beans from the pod. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat… It is quite meditative actually 😉

Most people I know probably eat these beans the “standard” way with meat and potatoes. Obviously, that is not me 😉 I did some googling and found that apparently, fava beans go very well with artichokes. As I happen to like artichokes this was a combo I has to try.

Pasta with fava beans, artichokes and tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 200 grams fava beans
  • 200 grams artichoke hearts (I used canned, not fresh ones this time!)
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes
  • some thymian
  • short pasta for 4, I used penne
  • grated parmesan

Cook pasta according to directions. Cook fava beans in boiling water for about 6-8 minutes.

Cut onion and garlic. Heat oil and fry onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.

Halve cherry tomatoes and cut artichokes into chunks. Add cooked beans, artichokes and cherry tomatoes to the onion and garlic mixture and heat for a little while.

Add cooked pasta with thymian and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the vegetables, mix and heat well. Serve with (lots of!) grated parmesan.

Artichoke with homemade garlic sauce

In one of my my previous posts, I mentioned we had artichoke dipped in garlic sauce. How to make and, more importantly, eat an artichoke?

How to make?

Take an artichoke

Add to boiling water with some lemon juice and cook for about 20 to 40 minutes (depending on size of artichoke) or until you can easily take off the leaves

Et voila!

How to eat?

Take off a leaf from the artichoke, dip in a sauce and pull the white flesh off with your teeth. Continue until you get to the heart of the artichoke. This is the best part!

I served this with homemade garlic sauce:

  • 100 ml yoghurt
  • fresh mint, coriander and parsley
  • 6 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Thoroughly mix all ingredients and let stand for at least 15 minutes. This sauce was also very good with the roasted cauliflower.

Wedding fever

Over the last 2 weekends, we were invited to 2 weddings. Both within the same group of friends: my girlfriends from high school back home.

It is pretty amazing to think about how far back we go! We are coming up to 20 years now. We made it through high school together, went off to college but remained close. And even now that we are all grown up, I don’t live near them anymore and I often don’t see them more than once a year, we still manage to remain a close. Every time I see them, we just go on from where we left off.

Here is the bunch of us all dressed up 🙂 Just one of us missing, but she had a good reason having just given birth to a baby girl the day before wedding Number 1 🙂

And, we love us some dancing to eighties music 🙂

And wedding Number 2!!!!

Roasted cauliflower

This one was a little bit of an experiment. My previous issue of Vegetarian Times had this article on several combinations of spices. A fun article, since it gave some good ideas on combining spices and uses for them that I would not think of myself. One was called Ras el Hanout, a Moroccon mix. The example was a recipe with cauliflower, which just happened to be in my bag of veggies 🙂

Ras el Hanout

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground  coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 ground nutmeg

Combine and store in a container.

Roasted cauliflower with Ras el Hanout tahini sauce

Cauliflower
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs tahini
  • 2-3- tbs Ras el Hanout mix
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into flowers

Preheat over to 400 °F (200 °C).

Whisk together Ras el Hanout and tahini in bowl and add cauliflower. Toss to coat with sauce.

Add cauliflower to an oven dish and roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

Tahini sauce

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Ras el Hanout mix

Whisk together all ingredients with little bit of water.

Serve cauliflower in pita bread and add the tahini sauce.

For appetizers, we boiled an artichoke and dipped it in homemade garlic sauce. The leftover sauce was a perfect addition to this pita bread with cauliflower. Though I am not so sure if the people in my spinning class the next morning agreed 😉

Easy Tuesday Dinner Part 2

Let’s do another easy weeknight dinner! This pasta salad can be eaten (luke) warm or cold. It is also a good dish to take on a picknick. And most importantly: it is healthy and quick 🙂

Pasta salad with tomatoes and goat cheese

  • Pasta
  • Tomatoes, cut into pieces (I used cherry tomatoes, but any will do)
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Goat cheese
  • Arugula, if you like

Cut tomatoes in chunks

Add crumbled goat cheese

Slices of black olives

Mix in olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Season with some basil, pepper and salt

Cook pasta

Add pasta to tomato mixture and add some arugula if you like

And serve!

Excercise away from home

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am crazy about excercise. During the week I take spinning, bodypump and bodybalance classes. And I try to squeeze in some spinning on the weekend as well.

As active as I am when it comes to excercise, as non-active is The Boyfriend. I do hope this might change eventually and I can get him to join me here and there. Who knows, I am a patient girl 😉

At the moment, we are still in a “weekend relationship” and see each other mostly on the weekends. Our weekends together are great, of course, but I do miss my excercise when I am staying at his place. I tried taking some spinning classes in his town, but I did not like them much. Also, most gyms make you take out a membership. No way I am doing that!

So, I have been thinking long and hard about how to get some excercise in on these weekends. Running is out of the question. This is a sport I absolutely loath. For a long time, I made myself run. Telling myself I should like it. But it never happened. Some 2 years ago, I finally gave in, cut myself some slack and accepted that I do not do running. I like so many other sports, why torture myself with a sport I absolutely do not enjoy.

(inline) skating is not a great option either: I am terribly afraid of falling, so that really ruins the experience of skating. So, apart from biking outside and going on walks, I was desperate to find something to do.

And I now found a sport! And I even got The Boyfriend to join me. Double win 🙂 Last Sunday, we went SWIMMING!!!!

I must say, swimming is not the most exciting excercise that is out there, and it takes me a while to get into the flow of it. But it felt good to go out and excercise. And it was fun to be able to do it together. Judging by how sore I was for about 3 days afterwards (I guess one uses different muscles while biking…), I think it counts as good excercise 🙂

I managed to swim for 45 minutes (not counting laps this time), and The Boyfriend also did good, though taking it a little easier 😉 I am now aiming for 45 minutes of swimming once a week, but I hope to at least manage to keep it up during my weekends away from home. Hopefully, I can convince The Boyfriend to keep joining me, while preparing him for the next step in my big plan: spinning 😉

Easy Tuesday Dinner

Normally, I do not cook much during the week. I cook on the weekends and freeze single servings of my dinners. So, after work, I head straight to the gym and then only need to reheat my food and am good to eat within 5 minutes 🙂 However, on Tuesdays, I take a earlier spinning class. This means I have a little time to cook after I get home and still have dinner on the table by 8. Not much time to cook however! So I pick easy and quick recipes. Often, this means pasta with a spinach cream sauce. Today, I used the carrots from my “bag of vegetables” to make this quick but satisfying dish.

Hot carrots

Ingredients

  • carrots, cut into pieces
  • powdered ginger, 1/2 tsp
  • cayenne pepper or chili flakes, 1/2 tsp
  • 1 clove of garlic, cut thinly
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • little bit of honey

First boil carrots for about 3 minutes. Drain.

Heat oil and add garlic, herbs and mustard. Then add carrots, lemon juice, some honey and a little bit of water. Cover and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes or so.

Serve with a grain like couscous, rice or quinoa. How is that for an easy weeknight dinner?

%d bloggers like this: