The last five months have been rather quiet around these parts, and it’s not for lack of things happening, but exactly the opposite. There has been so much going on that I haven’t had the time to write about our vacation or post a recipe (or even a picture) here.
First things first. I graduated! It took 14 years, two countries and a change of degrees, but I am officially an Engineer. Official title being Master of Science in Civil Engineering. Fancy, ain’t it? In order to achieve this, of course, I had to finish my master’s dissertation, write a whole book on it, and defend it in front of my promoter & advisers, plus an infiltrate (foreign doctorate student) that was happy my defense was in English and not in Dutch so he’d be able to follow along. A few weeks later I got to wear a graduation gown and cap and throw said cap in the air for the pictures :)
And then we worked hard for three weeks to get our house(!) in order so we could move in. That meant very long days sanding and prepping walls and ceilings, painting and more painting, installing flooring and bathroom furniture and a whole lot of cleaning. Also getting the kitchen installed (snafu from the company: our counter was requested without a hole for the induction stove, we’re now waiting for it to be replaced).
We then had a fun 1st of November. Epic moving weekend! We managed to move everything with the help of friends & family, and we’re now getting slowly into the hang of (new) things. There are still a few things to finish around the house but it gets done bit by bit.
And finally, the job search for me. Looking for a position as an in-office engineer, doing calculations & stuff. There are many positions for construction managers, but not that many for designing engineers it seems. So the search goes slower than I wish. I have also had my fill of “your profile is very interesting for our company, but we don’t have a matching position at the moment” replies. When they called me!
Anyway, that has been the last five months of my life. Time has flown by and I hope next year I have (make) more time for posting here.
It’s Jan’s birthday, and the birthday boy deserves a birthday cake. I gave him three options to chose from: lemon curd filled lemon cake, chocolate cake or cinnamon oatmeal cake. He chose the latter, because it sounded “weird”. So I adapted a recipe from Dessert for two a little bit, and here we are!
Cinnamon oatmeal cake with salted caramel sauce
Cinnamon oatmeal cake
(adapted from Dessert for two)
- 15 gr oats
- 60 ml hot water (straight from the kettle)
- 85 gr salted butter (or use unsalted and add a pinch of salt)
- 35 gr dark brown sugar (cassonade)
- 30 gr cane sugar
- 1 large egg
- 100 gr all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a 15 cm spring form with parchment paper and grease. Set aside.
- In a small bowl / ramekin, add oats & hot water and set to soak.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar very well. Then add the egg and mix (it’ll split, it happens).
- In a smaller bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda & baking powder. Add dry ingredients and soaked oats (and if there is liquid left, the liquid) to the creamed butter mix, and stir until combined.
- Transfer batter to lined spring form. Bake in oven on center rack for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven, let it cool for 5 minutes before removing from spring form.
Salted caramel sauce
(adapted from Cookies & Cups)
- 25 gr butter
- 75 gr cane sugar
- 100 ml cream (20% fat)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a big microwave safe bowl melt the butter. Then add the sugar and cream and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- Microwave on high (750W) for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir.
- Microwave again for 1 minute, until bubbly and slightly thickened. Remove from microwave, add salt & vanilla extract and mix well.
- Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Cashew nut dip
- 120 gr roasted cashew nuts, soaked in water for 3-4 hours & then drained
- 4 spring onions, white parts only
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp freeze dried shallot
- 3 tbsp (10 gr) nutritional yeast
- 2 tbps (20 gr) olive oil
- 60-100 ml water
Put all ingredients in a food processor (starting with about 50 ml water). Process until creamy, adding water if necessary. Scrape the sides of the bowl often to obtain a nice creamy dip. Add more water if you want to turn this into sauce for nachos.
Portobello burger with salad in the background
Ingredients (for one burger):
- 1 portobello (about 10-12 cm in diameter, or 70-80 grams in weight)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp grated cheese (mozzarella is a good option) or a slice of cheese to top it all
- salt & pepper
- one pita bread that fits the portobello
- fixings to taste: mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles….
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Oil an oven proof dish that fits the portobelo(s).
- Put portobello(s) in the oven dish, underside up. Season mushroom lightly with salt and pepper.
- Season beaten egg with salt and pepper, and pour it inside the mushroom cap, trying to not spill. Top it with the grated cheese (as much as the cap can hold, do not overfill since it will bake over otherwise) or wait with the cheese for now.
- Put dish with mushroom(s) in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the egg has set. If using sliced cheese, top the mushrooms with it for the last 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
- Pop the pita bread in a toaster until warm, crunchy and puffed. Let cool enough to handle. Slide burger into pita pocket and add desired toppings.
- It is handy to use a toothpick to keep the burger in place while eating it!
I like to serve the burgers with a big salad: mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and vinaigrette dressing. Feel free to serve whichever way you usually do with burgers.
Lately I’ve been in a rut when it comes to cooking. It didn’t help that for two weeks it was too warm to consider turning the stove on (less so the oven), so we ate mostly salads. And then I had to start studying for (second chance) finals. And I was tired, and fed up, and didn’t have any imagination whatsoever to think up new exciting recipes. Or to look through my cookbooks to plan something different.
But today I felt like something different. Jan had been asking we had pitas (which translates into pita bread pockets filled with vegetarian gyros and vegetables / salad). To make it a big different, we decided to make coleslaw instead of the usual salad. And since we like to live on the edge, we made a nice spicy coleslaw. Here is the recipe so you can enjoy it too.
- 1 head white cabbage (I used pointed, but feel free to use plain ole round), approximately 860 grams
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 l water
- 3 medium carrots (~175 grams)
- 3 tbsp (45 gr) mustard
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (20 gr) agave nectar
- 2 tsp (15 gr) sambal oelek
- freshly ground pepper
- Cut cabbage in quarters, remove core, and slice thinly into ribbons (or shred with a kitchen robot if you have one, I don’t). Put the cabbage in a big bowl, make a brine with the salt & water, and pour over cabbage, making sure cabbage is submerged. Leave cabbage to pickle for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure all cabbage gets a salt bath. Once the time has passed, drain cabbage (discard brine) and rinse under tap water.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots, and grate them (using the big side of a box grater, or shred them with said kitchen robot).
- In a small bowl, mix mustard, vinegar, olive oil, agave, sambal oelek & freshly ground pepper until it forms a nice emulsified dressing.
- Mix cabbage & grated carrot in big bowl. Pour the dressing over it and toss until veggies are all covered in dressing. Cover the bowl and let rest for at least and hour before serving.
- Leftovers keep well in a closed container in the fridge for a few days.
Makes: 8 servings (~150 gr / serving)
Protein: 2 gr
Fat: 2 gr
Carbs: 10 gr
It’s that time of the year again, when Jan celebrates his 18th birthday! This year it was really warm the days before, so neither of us felt like me turning on the oven to bake something. Luckily the supermarket publicity came to the rescue with a nice summery recipe that required no oven! It did require some stove top time, but not too much. And so, the strawberry tiramisu became this year’s birthday dessert.
- For the coulis:
- 250 gr strawberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- For the cream:
- 4 eggs
- 50 gr powder sugar
- 500 gr mascarpone
- For assembly:
- 300 gr ladyfingers (the cookies)
- 500 gr strawberries, clean, hulled & sliced
- Make the strawberry coulis: clean, hull and quarter strawberries. Place in a sauce pan with lemon juice, heat gently for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit collapses. Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries. Sieve the sauce using a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Add enough water to obtain 250-300 ml of sauce.
- Make the filling: separate egg yolks from whites. First, whip up whites until firm peaks form (or if you’re so inclined, they hold when you upturn the bowl above your head!). Then (don’t bother cleaning the whisk) mix the egg yolks with the sugar until white and volume is two-three times the original. Finally mix the mascarpone on its own (to soften) before adding the egg yolks and mixing thoroughly with whisk. Switch to a rubber spatula to softly fold in the egg whites in three times.
- Assemble the dessert: dip lightly the ladyfingers in the strawberry coulis and arrange one layer on the bottom of a serving dish. Spread with half of the mascarpone mix, then place half of the sliced strawberries on top. Place another layer of dipped cookies, then mascarpone and finish with strawberries.
- Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving.
Makes: 6 servings according to the original recipe, but make that more like 12-14 servings.
Sometimes I miss eating a burger. Not the (meat) flavour, but the possibility of just going out and grabbing a burger. It’s hard to find a good vegetarian burger! So what’s one to do? Make your own (deluxe, according to Jan) burger at home.
Portobello burger deluxe
- 2 multi-grain poppy seed bread buns (baked or unbaked)
- 2 big portobello mushrooms, stems removed, clean
- 50 gr mature cheddar (use the good stuff here)
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard (to taste)
- lettuce mix, tomato, cucumber, carrot (or other salad fixings), for serving
Here I’m really only telling you how to make the portobello burgers. I like to eat a nice salad with my burgers. Today’s was young leaves, carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a olive oil, balsamic vinegar & salt dressing. Salad is pretty much a pick your own adventure sort of thing, so get creative with it!
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Bake the bread buns for 10-12 minutes if unbaked, or heat up for 2-3 minutes if already baked. Take out and let cool slightly on a rack before slicing in half.
- Heat up a pan, drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil (about 1 tsp) and place the mushroom caps, cut side down. Press hard down and let them cook 2-3 minutes on medium heat before turning and cooking another 2 minutes.
- At this point the mushrooms are still raw. Put them in an oven proof dish (stem side up so you have a cup), season with salt & pepper, and divide the cheese on top of the mushrooms, making sure it’s inside the cup. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Spread bread with your favourite seasonings. For me that’s mayonnaise on the bottom, ketchup on the top half. Put a mushroom on each bun, top with some lettuce & tomato slices if desired, cover with the other half of the bun and devour.
If you can’t find big (and by big I mean 12-15 cm in diameter) portobello mushrooms, you can also use the smaller ones. Just make more per person and balance them on the bread bun.
Makes 2 burgers
Nutritional info is very dependent on what bread you use, how big your mushrooms are, how much mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise you use, etc. We had a burger each with a nice side salad for 485 calories.