Hummus

humus (1 of 1)

Timothy van Poucke, photographer

And you are all thinking: Oh no, not another hummus recipe on a cooking blog!!!! I know, I know…..  No I am not posting this hummus recipe by default. Never mind that I have loads of papers to grade and couldn’t think of anything else to make for lunch that was quick and nutritious.  I am posting this recipe because this hummus is delicious and quickly made, has a light taste, it’s loaded with protein and makes a perfect sandwich, snack or part of a salad. Although I really like tahini in general this humus is tahiniless, since I don’t like the heaviness that it creates in this otherwise fresh summery dish. Chickpeas are creamy enough on their own, specially combined with olive oil.

Hummus

1 can of chickpeas (2 cups cooked chickpeas)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
1 tbs. cumin seeds
2 tbs. olive oil extra
1/2 chili pepper finely chopped
cilantro
black olives
paprika powder
extra olive oil

-purée the chick peas, olive oil, lemon juice, one clove of garlic chopped and salt with a hand blender until creamy, stir in the chopped black olives and some of the chopped cilantro leaves
-in a heavy frying pan heat the  2 tbs. olive oil and add the cumin, chili pepper and other piece of garlic chopped.
-stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant
-place the chickpea purée in a serving bowl and drizzle with the olive oil cumin mixture
-sprinkle the hummus generously with powdered paprika
-sprinkle the roasted pine nuts on top
-drizzle with a bit more olive oil and possibly a bit more lemon juice
-garnish with cilantro, parsley or chives (I didn’t have any today)

 

Peas!

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Photography: Tim van Poucke

 

Don’t you just love the feeling of being able to whip-up some elegant looking dish in less than 10 minutes and wow everyone around you and most of all yourself? Well, this Green Pea Tapenade will do that for you!
It has been a long and wonderfully hot weekend filled with activities. This hot weekend has really lent itself to light food with minimal cooking time and fresh tastes and colors. Stuff that you can just eat in the garden while drinking a glass of wine with friends or finishing that book which you only have time to read on the weekends. In our family’s case that would be food which lends itself to being made while major busyness is taking place around the house, like painting the house, helping out with homework, making summer plans, talking to your BFF for hours on the phone, grading papers etc….At about 11 today I thought of making this tapenade. I realized that I had almost finished a bag of raw fresh peas all on my own, since every time I passed by the refrigerator I would stick my hands in a bag filled with peas which I would greedily eat while doing something else. That is, eat the ones that wouldn’t fall on the floor to be eaten by the dog in the process of me putting them in my mouth while multi tasking and doing god knows what at the same time.  I figured I’d better think of something to do with the rest of the peas to avoid getting extremely bloated by eating an excess of raw peas as well as to prepare something to eat that others beside myself could appreciate and enjoy. This recipe is very easy and can be eaten in a much more elegant way than I ate those raw peas while roaming around the house. It can be used as a tapenade, on a sandwich, pizza or as a part of a salad platter and please accompany it with a glass of sparkling white wine! Feel free to use frozen peas if you don’t have fresh ones, although in that case you may get less of the nutty crispy taste and a more of a humus like texture.

Green Pea Tapenade

2 cups of fresh (or frozen) green peas
sea salt
olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
black pepper
finely sliced spring onions

-blanch the peas in boiling water for about 2 minutes
-drain the peas and put them in a bowl
-drizzle with good quality olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste
-blend with the hand blender (it doesn’t need to be totally puree)
-drizzle with lemon juice
-stir in the chopped spring onions
-adjust the salt and sprinkle with pepper if you like

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Photography: Tim van Poucke

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Anna enjoying her Green Pea Tapenade/ Photography: Tim van Poucke

 

Coconut-Mango Ice-cream with a split baked Banana

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Enjoying this beautiful Dutch spring day!  School vacation is almost around the corner and I am beginning to feel inspired to come out of my long hibernation to the world of ideas and inspiration. One of my main sources of inspiration in the last month has been a recent visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where I followed a route of paintings chosen by the modern Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton under the title Art is Therapy. This exhibit reminded me of the wonderful role that art has in our everyday life. Specially when looking at the famous paintings of Dutch 17th century artists which often play tribute to the  everyday work of art of which we are all part of and in which we all participate, like organizing our linen cupboard, just like in Pieter de Hooch’s painting The Linen Closet. We’ve all organized our closets, washed our dishes or done other less seemingly artistic activities or dignified shores, but what de Botton points to us, among other things is that works of arts such as The Linen Closet can remind us of the significance of our daily activities in creating a pleasant and beautiful life and that maybe doing these activities with a sense of purpose will bring a certain needed dignity, peace and beauty to our lives.

I couldn’t help but to feel a sense of connection between Art is Therapy and The Art is Cooking.

 

“Art can help us to remember stuff.”

“Art can make us less strange to ourselves.”

” Art can make us feel simultaneously happy and sad.” 

 

The Linen Closet

The Linen Closet’, a modest domestic scene by the 17th-century Dutch painter Pieter de Hooch.





Coconut-Mango Ice-cream with a split baked Banana

1 can coconut milk
2 cups of almond milk
2 ripe mangos roughly chopped
honey to taste

-put everything in the blender and puree until smooth
-you can the choose to use an ice-cream machine and follow the manufacture’s instructions or put the mixture in a container in the freezer. In this case after a couple of hours in the freezer blend again with a hand blender to avoid ice crystals and do this every 2 hours until the ice-cream is frozen and has the right creamy consistency.

Extras:

1/2 ripe banana per serving
chopped pecan nuts
about a teaspoon of honey per serving (optional)
a dusting of cinnamon
2 tbs. coconut oil

-cut the banana in 1/2 vertically a and shallow fry in the coconut oil
-place 1/2 of the baked banana in a serving cup
-scoop the ice-cream to the side of the banana
-drizzle with the extra honey (if using) and the dusting of cinnamon and top with the pecan nuts

Brunchner


granola (1 of 1)

Easter brunch is a tradition in our family. Usually the Easter bread with almond filling is made the day before and early on Sunday morning I’ll get up to make the rest which I shouldn’t really call brunch but Brunchner, since I truly fill up the table so that we can be continually eating from breakfast till dinner non-stop. Beside the standard stuff like tea, juice, bread, soy yogurt and some non vegan stuff for the less stricter or non veganlly oriented among us, we always have granola and tofu scramble. The rest of the menu usually depends on how creative I (or my kids) are feeling on that weekend. This year my daughter Ella took care of the Easter bread and the cinnamon rolls, which also have become part of our Brunchner tradition. I made the tofu scramble, which I thought came out finger linking due to a spontaneous brilliant idea I had due to some left over cashew nuts I had soaking on the counter. I also found a fantastic recipe for vegetable rolls rapped with rice paper from My New Roots blog(one of the most inspirational healthy cooking blogs I have seen so far), and concocted a fresh tomato salsa, potato pancakes and chocolate mousse. Daughter Anna took care of setting the table and making tea and coffee and Tim is our house photographer who makes most of the pictures on this blog. Cyrille usually is our D.J. and mostly concentrates on making sure that we get to hear the best possible recording of St. Matthew’s passion. This year however Ella took over the music with a beautiful recording of a Mendelssohn string quartet and Cyrille dug in the garden until the food was ready.Our oldest son didn’t show up until later in the afternoon since he had slept in after having had a recital the night before.

Granola

3 cups of oat flakes
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup of melted coconut oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 coconut (that’s those white little cubes you see in the picture which I got from the farmer’s market, but regular desiccated coconut will due)
any other nuts or dried fruits you like

preheat oven at 180* c

- mix oat flakes, cinnamon, maple syrup and coconut oil in a bowl.
- add seeds and nuts
- put the mixture in an oven tray
- bake stirring regular to prevent burning
- when the flakes are golden brown remove from the tray from the oven and add the coconut and raisins and the optional fruits.
- serve with almond milk or (soy) yogurt

 

scrambled tofu (1 of 1)

 

Tofu Scramble

1 block of tofu
1 onion in cubes
2 cloves of garlic minced
about a cup of corn kernels
1/2 red bell pepper in small cubes
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. majoram
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tbs. dijon mustard
1 cup of soaked cashews blended with a cup of water and 2 tsp. umesu vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup minced parsley

- crumble the tofu with your hands into a bowl
- in a broad heavy pan heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes
- add the bell peppers and corn and saute for a couple of more minutes
- add the grated carrots
- add the tofu and the herbs
- cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly
- add the mustard, and salt
- pour the cashew cream and saute a couple of minutes
- turn off the fire and add the parsley

Serve with salsa

vegetables roles (1 of 1)

 

Vegetable Rolls

I would say to just look at this link and while you’re at it look through the whole amazing blog.

 

 

chocolate pudding (1 of 1)

 

Chocolate Mousse

For this I mostly just improvised with the following ingredients in the blender:

1 cup soaked cashew nuts
1 cup almond milk
3 dates
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 chia seeds

- blend everything until very smooth
- put in individual serving dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve

Sexy Lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A couple of days ago my 16 year old son Tim, who takes most of the pictures for this blog was in the mood to take a ” food picture”. He has been amazing at getting to know our new Cannon camera and definitely inspires me to make my dishes as beautiful as possible. We have developed a fun collaboration which pushes us both to be better at this. Looking around at the ingredients I had in the kitchen, a carrot cake seemed like a possibility. We decided on an elegant carrot cake, sort of like the refined, well dressed sexy lady who stands out at the party. We wanted the mystery and elegance to ooze from this cake and I think we managed, not only with the beautiful shots he took, but with the taste of the cake as well. To me carrot cake can be a wintery sort of cake, perfectly suitable to the weather and mood here in the Netherlands, due to the carrots and the warm spices. However this winter has been extremely mild and for a while now we have been experiencing symptoms of spring; its a matter of fact Easter feels around the corner. Well, this cake is dressed for Easter, while at the same time keeping the spiced wintery carrot cake feeling to it.

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Carrot Cake

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup neutral tasting organic oil
1 1/2 raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup
grated zest of 1 orange
11/2 grated carrots
2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cups flour(mix whole and white)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 salt
1 cup walnuts chopped
1/4 date syrup
1 can pineapple in juice

-Preheat oven 180* and prepare two 8 inch pans by covering the bottom with baking paper and greasing the sides.
-Put the water, oil 1/2 of the raisins, the syrup and the orange zest in the blender and blend well.
-Add the carrots and ginger and pulse a couple of times.
-Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
-Add the blended wet ingredients and briefly mix.
-Add the remaining cup of raisins and the nuts, stir
-Bake for about 35-40 minutes
-Let it cool off and then transfer to a wire rack to frost
-spread one of the cakes with date syrup, or another sweetener
-put the other cake on top and frost with the cashew orange frosting(below)
-garnish with pieces of pineapple and some more grated lemon zest
(adapted from a recipe by John Robbins)

 

Cashew Orange Frosting

2 cups of soaked cashews
1/2 cup rice syrup or maple syrup
vanilla
juice of 1 orange
the zest of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of salt
about 1 cup water
1/2 tsp. turmeric

-put everything in the blender and blend until creamy, silky and shiny.
-let the frosting rest a bit before using so that it thickens a bit more
-pour from the center of the cake outwards.

*The flower garnish on the picture are dried roses which I found in an Asian foods store

Home Made Pasta and Semolina Cake

Pasta
IMG_2387If I told you that making pasta is easy, that it takes very little time and ingredients and that you don’t need a single machine to make it would you believe me? Well you don’t have to. Here is the deal, you take flour, salt and water and you make a dough that sticks together and is easy to knead. You form a ball, and wrap it in plastic or put it under an upside down bowl. Let it rest for an hour or less if you don’t have that much time and then roll it out using a rolling pin. Cut it in the shape you would like and set it on a clean and dry kitchen towel to dry. You can also hang it on a wooden stick. After you are done rolling and cutting you can either let it dry a bit or cook it right away in a large pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil until al dente. Make sure that the sauce is already done so that your pasta doesn’t have to wait for the sauce.

This is a very easy, not very messy and it tastes a zillion times better than anything store bought.
Try mixing different sorts of flours. For the pasta in the picture I used white spelt and semolina. Don’t be concerned with measurements, for more pasta use more flour and water and for less pasta less. It works!
Besides creating delicious pasta this is a beautifully artistic activity, and just like with bread it connects you with your food in a very basic way.

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Yesterday I was going to make Baklava, but I didn’t have filo. My husband volunteered to go to the store and buy some, but in the time he was gone I made this Semolina Almond Orange Cake with the ingredients I had at home. It came out really well, but it was even better today, when the orange syrup had been absorbed into the cake and the tastes had blended.

Semolina Almond Orange Cake

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Semolina Almond Orange Cake
3/4 c. almond flour
1 c. semolina
1 c. white flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 rice syrup
8 tbs. sucanat
the rasp of one orange
1/4 soy yogurt
1/2 c. soy milk

Syrup

3/4 c. rice syrup or honey
the juice of one orange
a handful of peeled pistachios
a handful of walnuts
a handful of raisins
1 tbs. rose water

-mix the dry ingredients in a bowl
-mix the wet ingredients in another bowl
-add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
-pour batter in a round cake pan, in which the bottom has been covered with wax paper and the sides have been oiled
-bake for about 30 minutes at 175* centigrades
-in the mean time put all the syrup ingredients in a small pan and bring them to a boil.
-after the cake is done make tiny wholes tooth pick or sate stick and pour the syrup with the nuts and raisins
-let it cool completely

 

Tiramisu

 

tiramisu

 

                                                                                                                                                                      “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Salvador Dali

At one point, about 16 years ago I chose to almost completely eliminate animal products from my diet. This decision brought about lots of positive things besides a healthier body. It brought my family and me awareness of the effect that our food choices can have on the environment, as well as a sharpened view of what the ethical and moral consequences of using animal lives wantonly can be. Nevertheless as a cook I found it difficult to ignore the traditional kitchens of most parts of the world in which animals had played a critical role. Not only did many past cultures thrive using animal products, but in much of the world’s cuisine animal products play a crucial part. While I haven’t felt the need to run out and buy a steak or a chicken in the last sixteen years, I have endlessly experimented with how to recreate some of the tastes and textures which characterize some of those traditional and maybe not so health or animal friendly dishes into plant based alternatives. I really, really believe that life is much more fun if we create a feeling of abundance and possibilities rather than limitations, and have never felt deprived by my choice to eat mostly plant foods. Veganizing dishes has been fun, not only because when successful I get to enjoy healthier and more compassionate versions of some of my favorite dishes, but also because in the process of veganizing a dish I feel I come to the essence of the dish and as a result get a deeper understanding of what cooking is about and what the actual role of the ingredients are. 

I veganized Tiramisu because it is a dessert I really enjoy and which brings me great memories of vacations in Tuscany and Umbria. Substituting the animal products in some dishes is a process. I have seen many vegan versions of Tiramisu which use tofu to substitute the mascarpone, and while I do understand why tofu seems like a logical choice(it’s white, low fat, neutral tasting…) I think the essence of tofu is opposite to that of mascarpone, which is high in fat. Using tofu to make Tiramisu defeats the purpose! And what about the eggs? They also play a role in this most decadent dish. I think that even though health should have priority in our food choices, substituting ingredients without regard for the role that they play in a dish leaves us dissatisfied and possibly with a sense of dullness regarding the particular dish. In creating art(which we all know cooking is) imitation and substitution of the components which create a particular work require understanding of the role is of these components. Superficially substituting notes or colors in a piece of music or art won’t create a comparable version to that original wonderfully, satisfying work of art. I chose cashews to substitute the mascarpone because they are high in fat and become very creamy when soaked and blended. In my experience cooked pumpkin doesn’t only add an eggy color, but also adds an eggy flavor, which I have often used in puddings and vegan flans to create the rich taste that eggs often add to a dish. I find this version of Tiramisu delicious and satisfying, but I still consider it work in progress since I will not be totally happy until I can make an authentic but vegan version of Lady Fingers.

I am really interested to hear from you about your experiences and ideas on veganizing dishes! I bet there most be some creative cooks out there with ideas as to how to create vegan like lady fingers? 

Tiramisu

Cake/cookie

1 cup white flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
8 Tbs. sucanat
3 Tbs. almod flour
1/4 cup oil
1 cup water
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

-combine the dry ingredients in a bowl
-add the combined wet ingredients
-spread batter on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper
-bake for about 10-15 minutes at 180* C
-when done cut in about 3 by 1 inch slices

Cream

2 cups soaked cashews
1 cup water or soy or nut milk
1 cup coconut milk
a pinch of sea salt
8 Tbs sucanat
a small piece of cooked pumpkin(about 3 Tb. pureed)

freshly made espresso coffee
brandy

-briefly soak each piece of cake in the coffee and make one layer on a broad and not too low form
-sprinkle with brandy
-spread the cashew cream evenly on top of the layer of cake
-proceed to repeat the process and after putting the second layer of cream sprinkle with cacao powder
-refrigerate for about 2 hours before cutting and serving

 

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Quick Noodles

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Yesterday was one of those Sundays when there are not real meal times. We started our Sunday with a late breakfast and at about 4.00 o’clock I began to hear voices emerge from behind screens claiming starvation. I had been preparing lessons for Monday and therefore also had to separate myself from my screen to think of how to solve this starvation situation. The solution it had to be a quick one since I wasn’t done preparing my lessons, so I opened a package of tofu I found in the fridge and decided not to allow myself to get flustered by the starvation taking place around me and by not yet having finished my school work and go ahead, try to make the best out the ingredients I had at hand and enjoy a cooking moment. What came out was quite attractive, tasty and very agreeable to the fuzzy starving eaters.Noodles with Tofu Coated with Chia Seeds

Quick Noodles with Tofu dusted with Chia Seeds 

Tofu
1 package of tofu cut in medium size cubes
3 Tbs. corn flour or tapioca flour
2 Tbs. chia seeds
a dusting of oregano
a pinch of sea salt
a dusting of smoked pimiento
oil for shallow frying

Noodles
1 package of udon noodles
broccoli cut in small florets
1/2 cucumber cut in small cubes
1 medium carrot grated

Dressing
3 Tbs.shoyu or tamari
1 Tbs. balsamico
2 tbs. olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced

1 red bell pepper cut in fine cubes
1 nori leaf per person

-in a wide bowl mix the corn flour, chia, oregano, salt and pimiento
-add the tofu cubes, cover the bowl and shake it to cover all the tofu cubes with the mixture
-in a wide frying pan heat the frying oil and fry the tofu cubes until golden brown

-boil the noodle as you normally would.
-towards the end of the cooking time throw in the broccoli and cook for another 2 minutes or until the broccoli turns bright green
-rinse the noodles and broccoli with cold water and put in a nice serving bowl
-grate the carrots directly into the bowl and add the cut cucumber
-give it a good stir
-in a glass mix the dressing ingredients
-pour dressing on top of the noodles
-mix in the fried tofu with the noodles
-mix in the dressing
-sprinkle with the red peppers
-adjust seasoning by drizzling with a little extra olive oil or shoyu or tamari if desired
-serve sprinkled with finely cut pieces of nori and minced parsley or fresh coriander

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Sweetness

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I had promised myself and my Facebook page to post this post today and it is now tomorrow! But if going to bed late counts as today then I’m all right.
These are two recipes I made this week.The brownies I’ve made millions of times and they work really well(arrowroot being the magic ingredient).  Muffins were part of today’s breakfast. My twelve year old daughter will not eat another bowl of porridge, which seems to be a tradition with twelve year old girls in this family. For years our family was totally happy eating nice large bowls of porridge of all sorts for breakfast, but as the kids got older they began to reject this tradition for something less “bulky”. This has made breakfast a bit more complicated for me since the old trusted bowl of porridge has been boycotted. Specially on cold, rainy Dutch school mornings it’s not always easy to magically create a nutritious breakfast out of the blue, which will sustain everyone until noon. However on lazy Saturdays or Sundays mornings a healthy muffin and a nice cup of tea can be a nice way to start off the day. The parsnip-carrot idea came about because I didn’t have enough carrots in the house this morning(what kind of nut has more parsnip the carrots in the fridge?). It turned out to give the muffins a nice natural sweetness, and as a result 8 tablespoons of sucanat were enough. Great breakfast muffins!

Fudgy Brownies

1 whole wheat or spelt cup flour(you can try substituting 4 tbs of the flour with coconut flour)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup arrowroot
1-11/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 water
1/3 light olive oil
1/2 chopped nuts

-mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
-mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl
-beat the dry ingredients into the wet
-cover a square baking pan with wax paper and pour in the batter
-bake for about 25 minutes at 180* C

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Carrot Parsnip Muffins

2 cups flour(1/2 whole and 1/2 white)
1/4 coconut flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs maca
3 tbs. flax seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
8 tbs. sucanat
1 cup soy milk
cinnamon
1 cup grated carrot and 1 cup grated parsnip

-in a bowl mix all the dry ingredients
-in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients
-mix wet and dry ingredients together and add the grated veggies

-pour batter in muffin tins and bake at 180* C for about 20 minutes

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Pearl Couscous

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I am really into one dish meals lately, which I think must have to do with my very, very busy life at the moment. For this year’s new years resolution I am committing to not abandoning the things that I really enjoy doing because of being caught in the routine of daily life. Cooking is one of those things I really enjoy doing, but in order to do that I can’t always expect myself to be making fancy dinners requiring lots of time. So yes, I am excited about rediscovering the beauty in the simplicity of simple meals. Pilafs and one pan meals which include grains, beans and veggies are great at doing this job. They are not only nutritious, uncomplicated and delicious but also beautiful to look at.

After wondering around the biggest outdoor market in Amsterdam last Saturday, I came home with lots of treats which I can’t buy in my neighborhood market. One of these treats is Pearl Couscous, otherwise known as Israeli Couscous or Ptitim. For those who are not familiar with it, it’s made from wheat just like most couscous, but the grains are larger and chewier, something in between pasta and whole grain, which has a very appealing and light feel to it. It is quick and definitely an elegant addition to your repertoire.

Pearl Couscous Pilaf

2 3/4 cups vegetable broth(which I didn’t have) or water(I used water boiled with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, a 1/2 tsp of sea salt and a tsp. of olive oil)
2 1/4 cups pearl couscous
1 eggplant cut in small cubes, sparkled with salt
2 bell peppers cut in big pieces
1 or 2 carrots cut in smallish cubes
3 cups of cooked chickpeas (can use canned)
a handful of chopped kale
a handful of roasted pine nuts

-roast the eggplant, peppers and carrots in the oven at 230* C. until the veggies are done
-in the mean time cook the couscous in the boiling hot broth(or water), simmer for about 12 minutes until the grains are cooked but not overcooked(they shouldn’t stick to each other.
-when the couscous and the vegetable are done, mix it all in an attractive serving dish
-add the kale and chickpeas and stir in the dressing and serve.

Dressing:
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbs. shoyu
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. harissa(or to taste)
1/2 tsp. powder cumin

-stir everything together in a small cup or bowl

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