15 November 2013

Meat balls in tomato sauce

A favourite recipe in our household... stemming from Claudia Roden's book of Jewish food.

Serves 4

500 g minced beef
1 small onion or shallot, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, cut finely
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sugar
500 g tomato passata

Fry garlic in sunflower oil, then add tomatoes and sugar. Season with pepper and salt. Bring the sauce to the boil, then let it simmer.
Meanwhile prepare the meat balls: mix beef, onion, cinnamon and salt. Form small balls, the size of a big walnut.
Add the meat balls to the sauce, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and let the meat balls simmer for 15-20 min until cooked.


You can leave out the onion.
I used to add a small pepper (peperoncino) to the sauce to spice things up, but I'm leaving this out now for the sake of the little ones in our household.

05 January 2012

Cake with pears in syrup

While staying at my mum's I was leafing through The Silver Spoon cookbook (Il cucchiaio d'argento). Since we had guests coming to dinner I decided to make the Corona alle Pere for dessert. Another opportunity to sample the great St-Rémy pears from my mother's garden, a special variety that needs to be stewed.

Serves 6-8

4-6 pears, depending on the size (I used 4 huge pears)
juice of 1 lemon
250 g sugar
500 ml red wine
50 g butter
3 eggs
3 tbsp milk
120 g flour
pinch of baking powder

Peel the pears, remove the core and cut them in 4-8. Put them in a bowl with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
Move them to a saucepan, add 100 g sugar and the wine. The pears should just be covered in wine.
Bring to the boil over a low heat and simmer gently until the pears are cooked. Cooking time depends on the variety of pear used.
Leave the pears to cool in their syrup.

Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
Grease a cake tin with butter and dust it with flour.
Beat the egg yolks with 150 g sugar until pale and creamy.
Mix baking powder with flour and stir it in.
Melt butter and add milk and stir this in.
Wisk egg whites and fold them in.
Pour the mixture in the cake tin and bake for about 30 min.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile remove the pears from the syrup.
Put the cake in a serving dish.
Reheat the syrup, then sprinkle some of it on to the cake, a little at a time, to allow absorption.
Pour the reminder of the syrup over the pears again.
Serve the cake with the pears.

Note: The original recipe tells you to bake the cake as a crown and place the pears in the middle of it. The pears are cored and left whole. A lot more wine is used. Baking powder is only added completely at the end when making the cake.

Note: Another great recipe using stewed pears was blogged by Leafy Cooking.

22 July 2011

Chick pea casserole

Our favourite vegetarian dish at the moment also stems from Sarah Brown's Vegetarian Cookbook. It's quick and easy to prepare and you can use any vegetables that are lying around.

Serves 2

1 can of boiled chick peas
some olive or sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a few celery sprigs, chopped
some fennel, chopped
some green beans, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fennel or cumin seeds

Fry onion and seeds in oil for a few minutes, then add garlic and vegetables. Fry for a few more minutes. Drain chick peas and rinse them. Add them to the vegetables and fry for a few more minutes. Add some boiling water so everything is just covered. Add bay leaf and pepper and salt. Bring to the boil, then let it simmer on low heat for 15-20 min., until the vegetables are cooked.

We serve this with couscous and chilli paste (sambal or harissa). Sometimes I add chilli pepper while cooking the dish. You can vary endlessly with vegetables and spices.

Chicken or pork marinade

Someone in my household refuses to eat chicken breast or pork chops, unless they have been marinated, especially when they are going to be cooked on the barbecue. I use a marinade meant for tofu from Sarah Brown's Vegetarian Cookbook, a vegetarian classic that was a favourite in my student days.

For 2 chicken breasts or pork chops

1 small onion, chopped very finely
4 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed

Mix all ingredients, then add the meat and let it marinate for 2-3 hours. Take the meat out for cooking. Pour the marinade trough a sieve and let the juice boil for a few min. if you would like a tasty sauce.
No pic in these extremely busy times.

03 April 2011

London again

Spent a few days in London again. My main activity was: letting two little cousins meet. As one of the cousins was travelling with us, we couldn't go out for dinner at night. So we spread out a towel on the floor of our hotel room and had delicious Korean take away from Han Kang in Hanway Street. We had grilled seaweed of course, a very spicy soup, gyoza (grilled dumplings), 3 types of kimchi...

30 December 2010

Boeuf bourguignon

For New Year's Eve we are making boeuf bourguignon, based on a recipe by Alice B. Toklas. It's been prepared one day in advance.

Serves 4

1 kg beef, special meat for stews, in cubes
150 g bacon, in cubes
2 dl red wine
12 small onions, cut in quarters
2 cloves garlic, cut finely
2 carrots, cut in thin vertical slices
a few mushrooms, cut in slices
1 bay leaf
a few thyme sprigs
a piece of nutmeg
salt & pepper
1 slice of bread, without crusts

Put a big cooking pan on very low heat and add a little wine.
Fry beef in butter, seal it well on all sides, add pepper and salt generously, transfer to cooking pan. Fry one half of the meat first and then the remainder.
Fry bacon in the same pan used for frying the meat, then transfer to the big pan.
Fry onion for a few minutes in the same pan, then add carrots and garlic. Fry for a few more minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Fry mushrooms in the same pan, then remove and set aside.
Cover beef and bacon with red wine and some hot water if necessary. The meat should just be covered. Add bay leaf, thyme and nutmeg. Put the slice of bread on top.
Let this simmer on very low heat for 3 hours.
Then add onions and carrots and let it simmer for another 30 min.
Add mushrooms and let it simmer for 5 min.
Remove bay leaf, thyme and nutmeg.
Serve with parsley.

Note: I'm not sure about when to add the garlic. It's probably better not to add it together with the carrots. Then you can fry onions and garlic at medium heat without fearing to burn the garlic. I need to consult with master cook P on this.

03 September 2010


Spent a few days in London this Summer and we did have time for an English tea on the top floor of Waterstone's on Piccadilly. However one of us had to make many rounds of the bar to calm down our over-excited little one before we were able to enjoy our tea.

13 May 2010

Kousmine breakfast

When I was pregnant, my aunt told me to eat this for breakfast so I would have a very intelligent baby ;-) Not sure if he is, but in any case it's very healthy and helps preventing constipation during pregnancy and after giving birth. It's rich in fiber, vitamins and mineral elements.
This breakfast is actually called crème Budwig and is advised to eat by dr. Kousmine.

Here's the recipe which my aunt gave me:

1 tbsp lineseed (flax?) oil
1 tbsp organic maple syrup grade C
4 tbsp fresh white cheese (plattekaas)
fresh fruit
2 tbsp ground nuts
4 tbsp ground wheat/oat/... flakes or muesli

Add lineseed oil and maple syrup to white cheese and mix well until oil is absorbed.
Add other ingredients.

I developed this version:

1 tbsp lineseed oil
1 tbsp organic maple syrup grade C
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp white cheese
2 tbsp yoghurt with active bifidus
1 tsp of walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seed and pumpkin seed each (raw, not roasted or salted)
4 tsp oat flakes
1 dried fig
1 dried apricot
1 piece of dried mango
1/2 banana
1/2 apple
+ any other fruit (pear, grapes, fresh mango, ...)

Sometimes I left out the banana and the lemon juice, depending on how my stomach felt.
Banana has magnesium and is supposed to help with leg cramps.

I used to grind nuts, oat flakes and dried fruit but my blender got broken because of the dried fruit, so then I just ate these things as they were.

I really felt the benefits of eating this.

Apart from that, I have a few other pregnancy tips:
- drink loads of water
- start rubbing your bottom, belly and breasts twice a day as soon as possible (I loved the pregnancy oil by Weleda)
- hydrate your skin: use extra rich moisturizer and body lotion, and plenty of lip balm
- buy a pregnancy cushion (sausage)

Thanks cousin I. for stimulating me to make another post here and good luck!