Spelt Bread

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One of the many things I tried to help with my excema was to cut out (or down on!) wheat.  

Mary B made it first and then gave me the recipe which is originally from the Cornucopia recipe book…which I have since bought!  It’s a vegetarian restaurant in Dublin (I’ve never been) and Gaye Godkin recommended their book for lots of recipes using pulses and veg etc, I haven’t made much from it so I must experiment with a few more recipes!

I’ve made this bread a few times however, I’m not an expert on bread but I have realised that every oven is different so it generally takes a few tries before you know the best temperature/time for your oven and bread.  I need to bake this for 5-10 more minutes than  the recipe says so I leave it in for over an hour and the most recent batch seems to have worked out well!

I cut half of it into slices and have put them in the freezer so I’ll let you know how well that works!  It’s very tasty, the molasses give it a good flavour, though I couldn’t find the blackstrap version here in Belgium – if you can even better.  It’s also very filling!

Ingredients

  • 425g spelt flour
  • 40g (3tbsp) sesame seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) sunflower seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) pumpkin seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) poppy seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) linseeds*
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt (heaped)
  • 550ml water
  • 1tbsp treacle (blackstrap molasses) – optional
  • 2lb (900g) loaf tin)

* If you don’t have all 5 different seeds, you can use whatever seeds you have – just make up a total of 150g of mixed seeds.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and brish the bread tin with oil, or line with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and all the seeds and combine thoroughly.
  3. Form a well in the centre of the mix
  4. In a jug, combine the water and treacle, stir well and then pour it into the well in the centre of your dry mix.
  5. Use a spoon or your hand to bring all the ingredients together evenly.   Make sure that the treacle is evenly distributed, not clumped in sticky pockets.
  6. Use as little mixing as possible to achieve an even mix.  It should be of a very sloppy consistency.
  7. Transfer the mix to the oiled tin and pres down evenly – I also run a knife down the centre of the mix.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 60 minutes, until well risen and evenly browned.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the loaf, turn out onto a wire rack and tap the base with your finger.  If it makes a hollow sound, the bread is cooked.
  10. Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool completely on the rack before cutting.

Catalan Fish Casserole

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This dish was a bit of an experiment but I’m delighted with how it turned out …

I have mild excema and in an attempt to improve it I went to see a nutritionist last year as recommended by Mary B.  Her name is Gaye Godkin and she is excellent, I’m not so excellent though – I followed her recommendations (which really were not difficult) for some time but I’ve slipped back into my old ways of late so I must start eating more sensibly again!

She recently posted this recipe on her Facebook page – though with no instructions or measurements just basically ‘made a sauce with x y z then added a bit of this and that’.  It looked lovely though and I fancied something light – obviously I added some wine and bread to my meal, not very light or healthy but they did compliment the dish perfectly 🙂

I gave it a go – below is what I used, it was very easy, and really really tasty. I didn’t use chickpeas on this occasion – Colin had a bad experience with them recently and he’s not over it yet, but I might slip them in next time!

It was my first time using fennel (I had to google how to chop and prepare it… the shame).  I wasn’t sure about it, I’m not normally mad on aniseed so I only used about 1/3 of a bulb, but there was not a strong flavour from it in the final dish so I’d definitely add more the next time!  The guy in front of me in the supermarket queue got very excited when he saw it, told me how much he loves fennel and that he would often eat it raw. I’m not quite there yet….

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1.5 Tin Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 stock cube (I used chicken but I guess veg or fish would be better!)
  • 1/2 Fennel Bulb chopped
  • 2 Carrots chopped
  • 2 small onions (or 1 large) chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped or crushed – my crusher wouldn’t work 😦
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Chorizo/Salami/Seranno ham – a few slices
  • 10-12 raw shelled tiger prawns
  • 1 fillet cod – cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 fillet salmon – cut into bite sized pieces or any fish you have
  • 1 tin butter beans (or 1/2 tin butter beans 1/2 tin of chick peas)
  • sweet paprika
  1. Saute the onion and add the carrot, fennel, 2 cloves of garlic and celery – fry for another few minutes
  2. Add the tin of tomatoes and about 300-400ml of stock (depending on how thick you want the sauce), 2 tsps of tomato puree and 1/2 tsp of sugar
  3. Simmer until veg is cooked then blend to a smooth sauce.
  4. Fry off the chorizo or whatever you are using and add it in with the butter beans and/or chick peas, let it simmer for another few minutes before adding the fish and prawns along with the last clove of garlic, parsley, corriander and fennel leaves plus some sweet paprika (I forgot to add this!).  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Chicken and Brocolli Gratin

How is it mid-November already? This year is flying, though I say that every year – is that what happens the older you get?

I have just spent the weekend in France – and why not? It’s only 2 hours down the road, we stayed in a very nice, small Chateau (well on the grounds of one anyway!), ate a 6 course meal, went champagne tasting and came back to Brussels with plenty of bottles clinking in the back of the car.

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Our fancy meal was fancy, there was St Jacques (I’m not a big fan unfortunately), fois gras – the cooked version, pidgeon, frogs legs – you name it.  Probably not my favourite but you only live once!  I only took a photo of the pidgeon and frogs leg, and the dessert – which was very tasty 🙂

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The following day, the sun came out and we found the Route de Touristique Champagne – it was beautiful:

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Apart from that, the day consisted of jambon-fromage croissants, croque-monsieurs and champagne tasting, after which we weren’t able for another big meal so instead got some (more) cheese, charcuterie, baguettes etc and enjoyed that with … some more champagne 🙂

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The weekend consisted of alot of cheese and bread in various forms so I thought it was time to eat some veg in preparation for the week ahead….

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I think the first time I enjoyed broccoli was in this particular dish, it’s very tasty and a great way of getting your greens in.

It can be made various different ways – using a whole chicken, or just chicken breasts – having tried both I think the whole chicken option is better, there is more flavour.

It can be made cheats-style by using tinned soup for the sauce – mushroom or chicken are best, and the condensed version I think also works best.  This has alot of flavour but be sure to use good quality tinned soup as the cheaper ones can be very salty.

I went back to basics yesterday and made a sauce from scratch – I went by the Avoca recipe but also added some curry as this always gives an extra nice flavour!

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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (or 6 chicken breasts)
  • 1 Spanish Onion or 2 normal onions peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks chopped
  • a few sprigs parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 300ml double cream
  • 120g Roux (60g flour 60g butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 head of broccoli divided into florets
  • 25g butter
  • 75g cheese grated (cheddar or another strong cheese)
  • 150g breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan with the onions, carrots, celery, herbs, peppercorns and enough water to cover.  Bring slowly to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked ( about an  hour for a whole chicken, 20 minutes for chicken breasts)
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool.  Strip the meat from the bones, tear up into large bite size pieces and set aside.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 600ml. (I actually left the veg in, and put the chicken bones back in whilst doing this – I didn’t boil all the way down to 600ml as I had alot but I let it boil for about another 20-30mins.  Next time I might add a 1/2 a stock cube at this point for extra flavour).
  4. Add the cream, (at this point I also added a heaped tsp of curry powder) return to the boil then whisk in the roux a little at a time to form a thick sauce.
  5. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.
  6. Stir the chicken and broccoli into the sauce and season to taste.
  7. Pour this into an oven proof dish.
  8. Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Spread over the chicken dish.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degrees C for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

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Avoca Fish Pie and a day off work.

The weather here has been terrible.  It hasn’t been very cold, but it’s been very dark and very very wet, it has felt almost like night time all day long.  Unusually however the weather gods decided to save up the sunshine for the weekend which was nice!  And even nicer it spilled over onto Monday which was a holiday (for some of us!).

I sit in my office today (Tuesday) and it’s grey, dull, and wet outsite, also our heating is broken so I’m freezing.

But the weekend was lovely, it was cold, bright, sunny and full of autumn colours.  Yesterday was 11th November and was a public  holiday in Belgium, although as many of my friends and loved ones work for one or other of the various European Instituions who do not have the day off it was a bit of an odd holiday!

I had a lovely day though, after a run in the morning, a bit of toast with the last remnants of Sylvia’s Ginger and Rhubarb Jam I went and met her for a coffee and then we took a stroll down to Bois de la Cambre where we walked for about 2 hours.

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After that we stopped in Cafe de la Presse for some lunch, which was lovely and warm and cosy.  We spotted a friend and his son strolling by so we strolled home with them.

By the time I got home the cold had run through me so no better way to warm up than spending some time in the kitchen.  My Mam had sent me this recipe the week before so I gave it a bash and it turned out very tasty!

Avoca Fish Pie
Serves 4 to 6

  • 300g cod fillet
  • 150g smoked halibut
  • 150g smoked makarel

(the original recipe called for 600g fish – I think you can probably use any combination – but smoked fish gives a really good flavour – I used the above combination because it’s what I had in the freezer)

  • Small glass dry white wine
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Approx 400-450ml of fish cooking liquid (milk)
  • roux  made with 50g flour and 50g butter
  • 1 lemon halved and zested
  • Tablespoon chopped parsley, stalks speerate
  • tablespoon of chopped dill (I didnt have this so used chives instead)
  • sea salt
  • freashly ground black pepper
  • 100g of grated mature cheddar cheese (optional)
  • creamy mash
Method
  1. Start by preparing the fish, remove the skin and all pin bones then dice into squares.
  2. Make the roux (melt butter and add flour and cook a little).
  3. Zest the lemon.
  4. Cut the grated lemon in half and place in a shallow saute type pan along with the diced fish, some of the parsley stalks, the white wine and just enough liquid to cover.  I used milk here – it worked out fine in the end though initially it looked a bit curdled probably because of the wine! I’d do the same again as the wine gave a lovely flavour but if you prefer you could either use water and wine to cook it in, or if using milk add the wine at a later stage while making the sauce.
  5. Simmer the fish gently for 6 – 8  minutes, no longer, dont worry if its not totally cooked it will be cooked in oven later.
  6. Using a slotted spoon gently remove the fish from the stock and place in an earthenware dish.
  7. Remove the lemon and parsley stalks from the stock and continue to simmer until it has reduced to around 125 ml if using stock.   ( I didn’t do this I just cooked fish in milk added parsley stalks then the lemon and removed them and used the milk for the roux) it was grand.
  8. Cook carrots and celery in a little water until al dente 6 to 8 minutes. Simmer liquid and allow to reduce.  Remove veg and add to fish, reserve the cooking liquid and add it to sauce later, to lighten the sauce if necessary.
  9. Place both types of stocks in a large saucepan and add the cream and lemon zest and heat gently.  Once the liquid is hot start whisking in the stock cook until sauce thickens.  Add the chopped parsley and chives. 
  10. Now pour the sauce over the fish and veg in the ovenproof dish mixing it gently between pieces of fish, sprinkle with the remaining herbs.   Sprinkle grated cheddar on top if using.
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  12. Then pipe on the mash.
  13. I cooked for 25 to 30 minutes at around 180degrees or until the mash is crisp and golden
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Flash Fried Moroccan Chicken

This is another dish I inherited from Gill.  She had the Nigel Slater Simple Suppers Book, it didn’t have pictures so I didn’t look at it much (mon Dieu I sound really stupid, but it’s true).

Thankfully Gill did read it as there are some really good recipes in there!  This was one of them, it’s super quick and easy, has a bit of spice and is delish.

Friday 1st November was a holiday here in Belgium, I went out on Thursday night with some old friends that I hadn’t seen in far too long a time, of course this ended up with us eating and drinking alot, and coming home late… and the inevitable hangover!

So Friday we decided to head downtown, get some brunch in Bia Mara (fish and chips – seabream, delish) and go to the cinema. Bia Mara is amazing, if you haven’t been, please go, of course we met Aisling and Jelena in there and Jelena joined us for the cinema trip – we saw Gravity, it was very good but un peu stressful for a hungover movie!

Anyway by Friday evening we weren’t hungry enough for a massive dinner but rather than snacking on toast and cheese I made this, and we had it with a bit of couscous pilaf  and natural yoghurt.

It was really good, but I’m not really good at remembering to take photos when the food a) looks good and b) there is still a full plate of it so sorry about this pic:

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Ingredients 

  • 350g chicken fillets/ boned pieces
  • 1 fresh red chilli papeer (seeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp crushed dried chilli pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sultanas or raisins
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1tbsp chopped mint

Method

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish
  2. Mix together the fresh and dried chillies, garlic, lemon, half the olive oil, cinnamon, sultanas or raisins and pine nuts, and then pour over the chicken.  Leave for 20 minutes or so.  An hour would be better if you have it
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a shallow pan; when it sizzles add the chicken pieces.
  4. Heat over a high heat until golden brown and then turn over and cook the other side.  Depending on how thick the chicken is you may need to lower heat slightly to ensure that the chicken is cooked inside without burning it
  5. Pour in the marinade ingredients and bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the mint.  Serve hot with its pan juices and sprinkle over the mint.