Friday favourites

(Nederlandstalige versie)

It’s Friday and I have favourite things I want to tell you about!

#1: When my wife was a shiitake

Rice and shiitakes
Yesterday I read the short story When My Wife Was a Shiitake, in which a man rediscovers food after his wife passes away, and I immediately felt inspired to make sushi with stewed shiitakes. I soaked my shiitakes in water, pan-fried them in oil, stewed them in water with soy sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, and a pinch of sugar, and served them on top of vinegared brown rice with vegetables on the side.

#2: Pancake soup

Pancake soup!

Pancake soup! I’d heard about this before (probably on Mihl’s blog) but I decided I had to try it after reading this post by Bianca. You make a few thin pancakes, cut them into strips, and put them in your vegetable soup. They’re like noodles, but thicker and better and more like pancakes.

#3: Gewoon Vegan

Gewoon Vegan is a new website by Martine from Vegetus with photos and reviews of products you can buy in Dutch supermarkets. It already helped me discover a few things I didn’t know about!

#4: Vegan paaseitjes

Chocolate Easter eggs

If you’ve been to Martine’s site you already know about this, but just in case you don’t: Lidl now has several kinds of vegan chocolate eggs! Pictured above are amaretto-filled eggs (on the left), eggs filled with hazelnut praline (on the right), and a big hollow egg (in the middle). Usually solid dark chocolate eggs are the only vegan ones (in regular supermarkets, anyway) so I’m glad Lidl is giving vegans a few more options this year.

#5: Poffertjes

Poffertjes!

I finally made poffertjes in my waffle iron and that worked wonderfully and now I want to eat them every week. I did feel like these came out a little drier than the ones made in a poffertjespan, but that may have been due to the amount of fat I used. I updated my recipe so it’s now available in Dutch as well as English and in grams as well as cups.

Have a good weekend! :)

Three attempts at purple pasta

(Nederlandstalige versie)

I recently bought another bag of purple carrots and a few containers of purple beetroot leaves (more on those in my next market post!) and I thought I’d use them to make coloured pasta. The final dishes weren’t as brightly coloured as I’d hoped, but I did have a lot of fun making them, so today I’m sharing a few photos of the process and the end results.

Pasta dough

I started with purple tagliatelle coloured using a purple leafy vegetable called “bull’s blood”, which I stir-fried and olive oil and blended before incorporating it into the dough.

Pasta dough Purple pasta

In addition to flour, salt, and oil, I also added a bit of soya yoghurt to the dough. I’d never seen this done before, but non-vegan pasta recipes often include eggs and my favourite vegan pasta dough contains chickpea flour, so I wanted to try this as a way to add extra protein. The texture of the dough was good, but I’m not sure whether it would go with every type of sauce because the cooked pasta did have a faint yoghurt aroma.

Purple pasta Purple pasta

Whenever I’d made fresh pasta in the past, I’d have to stop halfway through to figure out where the heck I was going to leave all the pasta while I rolled out the rest of the dough. This time I decided to try hanging a laundry drying rack from my kitchen wall, and that actually worked pretty well! OK, we hardly had any room to walk and the floor was a floury mess, but at least I could finish the pasta without everything sticking together.

And now for the plates of cooked tagliatelle. I knew in advance that I didn’t want to dress the dishes up too much so that the focus would be on the pasta, both in terms of colour and flavour. Unfortunately the lack of sauce also gave the pasta the chance to get super sticky, so next time I would use more oil/and or cooking water (even though the latter looked dark grey and fairly creepy after I’d used it to boil the purple pasta).

Purple pasta with chillies Purple pasta with dill and sunflower seed pesto and peas

For the plate on the left, I just fried slices of red chilli pepper and garlic in olive oil and stirred them into the hot pasta. I think this is one of those dishes that’s incredibly simple but very easy to love, and it definitely allows the pasta to shine.

I wanted to use a little more sauce for the pasta on the right, so I made a pesto with dill, toasted sunflower seeds, lemon juice and salt, inspired by three creamy pasta dishes with dill that I’d seen on Alynda’s blog De Plantaardige Keuken. I also added some peas. Of course the sauce dulled the colour of the pasta, and the pasta was still a bit sticky, but the combination with the creamy dill sauce was lovely.

Purple gnocchi Purple gnocchi with roasted purple carrots and parsley pesto

I had purple carrots on hand and I’d made orange gnocchi before, so this time I made purple carrot gnocchi using the same recipe. Again, the dough looked great, but the colour of the cooked gnocchi wasn’t nearly as bright. They were almost more blue than purple. I mixed in roasted orange and purple carrots (which may only have made the dish look even more alien) and put some parsley pesto on top. I love gnocchi and pesto and roasted carrots, so I think this was my favourite of the three dishes.

So: would I recommend making these kinds of pasta dough? Yes, especially if you’re like me and it makes you happy to see all these bright colours in your kitchen. It’s a nice change, and it doesn’t take much more work than regular fresh pasta. The colour does limit the number of sauces you can serve with the pasta if you don’t want it to look too revolting.

Have you ever made coloured pasta? I still feel like fresh pasta takes a lot of work, but it gets easier every time and I kind of feel I should use the pasta machine more often to justify the space it takes up in my cupboard. I’d like to find a way to make the colour of the pasta even more intense — maybe by using roasted carrots for the gnocchi instead of boiled ones? But then you still have to boil the dough, and that gets rid of a lot of the colour as well. I did some googling and I found ideas for all kinds of coloured pasta with different vegetables — look at these! And these! Ahh so pretty.

Market log: samosas, spanakopita, colourful carrots and a lot of dill (with bonus rabbit video!)

(Nederlandstalige versie)

This is what I lugged home from the market last month:

Haagse Markt, 10 December 2014

Two bunches of ripe bananas, five fennel bulbs, six bunches of dill, a bag of red onions, a bag of carrots in various colours, two heads of broccoli, and two pineapples; all for 7 euros.

Many stalls at The Hague Market sell their vegetables in 1-euro portions and those are the ones I usually go for: it’s easy see which deals are good value, and it’s convenient to pay whole euros in cash. The quantities you end up with are larger than what you’d buy at the supermarket, but I enjoy finding new ways to eat the same vegetables without growing tired of them. I know how to deal with multiple bunches of bananas by now (they’ll end up in baked goods or oatmeal porridge) but I’d never bought six bunches of dill before. I was afraid I’d be eating nothing but dill-flavoured foods for a week, and that’s almost what happened:

Roasted vegetables, dill hummus, dill bread

This was dill bread with dill hummus and roasted vegetables. I really enjoyed both the bread and the hummus, but I’m glad I decided not to add extra dill to the vegetables themselves. Oh, and don’t you love how those purple carrots look?

Roasted purple carrots with dill and sunflower seed dip

These are more of the purple and orange carrots that I roasted with cumin, paprika, en chili powder and served with a dill dip made with sunflower seeds. It’s a pity that the bright purple doesn’t really show in the pictures (they almost look burnt, but that’s dark purple) – I’ll take a better photo soon.

I ended up spending quite a bit of time cleaning and sorting the dill and part of it was already going slimy, so maybe next time it would be better to pay a bit more for one beautiful bunch. On the other hand, I now have a large supply of dill in the freezer and I got a lot of suggestions on how to use it up over at the (Dutch) NVV forum.

Spanakopita Pineapple chutney with lentil samosas

On the left: One of those suggestions was spanakopita, which had been on my cooking list for a while. I looked at a few recipes (including those from Vegan with a Vengeance and The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen) and made my own version using frozen spinach, tofu, onion, garlic, capers, olives, herbs, and lemon juice. A lot of recipes add nutritional yeast to the tofu to imitate feta, but I had just used up the last of mine and I thought the olives fitted in nicely as well. My phyllo pastry always falls apart so when I couldn’t form any more triangles I switched to little ramekins.

On the right: a pineapple chutney (which was a little dark because of the brown sugar) and samosas filled with lentils, potatoes, and yellow carrots. I used the method described here and made a filling with what I had on hand. It takes a bit of time, but I really enjoy making samosas (and eating them).

Other things we made: marbled banana bread from the PPK, a failed banoffee pie, oatmeal porridge with banana, broccoli and potato mash, broccoli soup with dill, popcorn with dill (which was recommended to me by Bianca), fennel salads, and the roasted roots with apple and rosemary from the cookbook River Cottage Veg Every Day! (loved this recipe).

And now for some actual rabbit food: I had a few carrots left over when I went to my parents for the holidays, so I thought I’d bring them along to let our rabbit try them. Then I read this post about a rabbit-friendly Christmas menu on Iris’s blog and we decided that Amina should also get a nicely plated Christmas lunch:

Bunny meal

Thin slices of purple and white carrots, parsley and coriander along the edge, and a small kale leaf with an apple heart in the middle. View the video below (or click here) to see how she liked it. (She was moulting at the time, so that’s why her fur looks a little shabby!)

She didn’t clear her entire plate (she had to get back to hopping around the garden) but I do think she enjoyed having a little taste of everything. :)

Market log: roasted pumpkin bowl and green soup

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Market day 14 November

Here’s what I bought at the market last month (I’m such a slow blogger): red onions for €1, round courgettes for €1, leeks for €1, four pomegranates for €1, two bunches of fresh coriander and one bunch of fresh parsley for €1, and a butternut squash for €1.50 (as well as bags of spinach and a garlic, €1 each, that I forgot when I took the picture).

Unfortunately two of the pomegranates were brown on the inside (maybe I should’ve peeled them all straight away) and we ate most of the other two as a snack, but I managed to save a few seeds to sprinkle into this bowl:

Roasted pumpkin and chickpeas

It’s roasted chickpeas, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds over short-grain brown rice with a coriander, parsley and tahini sauce. I crammed everything into my little oven at the same time so it was tricky to get the chickpeas and seeds crispy while the pumpkin had to soften, but the flavours were great together. Next time I think I’ll try stacking an oven dish and a baking sheet on top of each other and see how that goes.

Curry soup Green soup

On the left: I posted about this curry soup here. I had the leftovers (which get very thick and creamy) while sitting in the couch under a blanked because it’s been COLD. The only thing I got from the market in this soup was the fresh coriander (and chilli peppers I bought and dried months ago), but I think it counts because this post needed an extra picture.

On the right: I had no idea what to make for dinner until I saw this green soup recipe on the Dutch blog Ikbenirisniet. I had no cucumber, peas, or celery so I just used the green vegetables I did have (leeks, courgettes, spinach, parsley and coriander ) and it was still super good. This is a great way to get a variety of greens into your day with minimal effort. (My blender doesn’t like green smoothies and it’s way too cold for them anyway.)

Other things I made but didn’t photograph included a pumpkin and spinach curry, a polenta pie with red onions, and just a whole lot of mixed vegetable soups. (Did I mention it’s cold? OK I’ll shut up now.)

I’ve posted my most recent market haul here. It included a ridiculous amount of dill so if you happen to have any dill-heavy recipes you recommend, please send them my way. :)

Curry soup with lentils and rice

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Curry soup

I’ve been making this soup a lot lately while trying to get used to the cold weather: it uses ingredients I usually have on hand, so I don’t have to go out into the rain to get groceries, and it requires very little chopping and preparing so I can just get everything into the pot and go hide under a blanket near the heater while it cooks. The recipe is pretty budget-friendly (I sometimes leave out the coconut milk, though if you have it definitely put it in!) and you can add extra vegetables if you like. I’ve made it with cauliflower, chickpeas, kale, potatoes—but the basic version is still my favourite.

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe from my Mum’s recipe binder (she also makes it a lot). The original is on a magazine clipping with no other information so unfortunately I can’t tell you who wrote it. Whoever came up with it: thank you! :)

Curry soup with lentils and rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 red chillies, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 litres (about 6 cups) vegetable stock
150 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice
150 grams (3/4 cup) red lentils
200 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk
toasted sliced almonds and fresh coriander/cilantro (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until they’re translucent (about ten minutes).

2. Stir the red chilli and the curry powder into the onions and sauté for another minute. Add the vegetable stock and the rice. Rinse the red lentils in a sieve under cold water and add them to the pot as well. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high until the stock comes to the boil, then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until the rice is cooked and the lentils have fallen apart (about 40 minutes).

3. Mix the coconut milk into the soup and serve it with fresh coriander, almonds and/or bread.

Market log: chicory and tomato pies and vegan bitterballen

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Market day 4 November

The market was almost over by the time I arrived on this day, so I couldn’t find everything I wanted but I did get a few discounts. This is what I brought home (in the dark, hence the halved cabbage that I didn’t photograph until the next day): seven sweet potatoes for €0.50, eleven yellow peppers for €0.50, a red cabbage for €0.50, tomatoes for €0.50, mushrooms for €1, little aubergines for €1, and five heads of chicory/Belgian endive for €1

And here’s how we ate it: the yellow pepper and aubergine stew with chickpea flour dumplings that I posted about earlier, baked sweet potato chips, cabbage salad, a kind of savoury cobbler with sweet potatoes and white beans, roasted tomato and endive pies, stewed red cabbage with potatoes, stir-fries, and mushroom bitterballen.

Endive and tomatoes Endive and tomato pastries

This dish was inspired by something my Mum used to make (original recipe — in Dutch — here). The original consists of boiled chicory, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese wrapped in puff pastry. Of course this could easily be veganised using vegan cheese and pre-made puff pastry, but I wanted to try it with a cheese sauce and home-made pastry. The pastry was not what I wanted but the other elements worked well. I roasted some halved tomatoes at 200 °C (400 °F) for about 50 minutes I decided to do the same with the chicory so I wouldn’t have to boil it in a separate pot. I wrapped the vegetables in pastry with a layer of cheese sauce based on this recipe from Vegetus and baked them until crispy. If chicory’s bitter flavour doesn’t appeal to you, I think a dishes like this are an excellent way to get used to it.

Bitterballen

Finally, I decided to try my hand at home-made bitterballen. This snack usually consists of a meat ragout which is rolled into balls, battered, and deep-fried, and served with mustard. I’m pretty sure these are mainly eaten in the Netherlands and Belgium, but if you live elsewhere and you’ve had something similar, I’d love to hear about it! :)

I was half expecting this experiment to be a disaster because I’ve had shop-bought bitterballen fall apart in the deep fryer far too often, but all of these held up beautifully. I only got a picture of the ballen before they were cooked, so the ones above are still very pale, but they came out of the fryer nicely browned and crispy. I made the ragout with mushrooms instead of meat and oil instead of butter, and I used a chickpea flour batter to help the breading stick to the outside. I’d like to post a full recipe sometime, but I’d have to make them again first (poor me, right?).

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

I first made this stew after I kept seeing blog posts about shakshuka, which is a dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. I’ve never actually had shakshuka but I tried to imagine a vegan version, and whenever I think egg replacement I think chickpea flour. Of course these dumplings are nothing like eggs — and you definitely wouldn’t want to undercook them to dip your toast in the middle — but I liked this stew so much that I decided to share the recipe anyway. I’ll have to look for vegan shakshuka elsewhere (Terry Hope Romero has a recipe I’d love to try!).

I’ve made several versions of the sauce (some with just onions and peppers and another with quartered cherry tomatoes added in), so if you’re not an aubergine/eggplant fan you can just leave it out. If you’re like me and spicy food makes you cry, don’t be a hero; just take the seeds out of the chillies. Maybe we’ll get there someday.

I’ve written the recipe the way I prepare it, which is by adding the vegetables to the pan as I’m chopping them, but if you like mise en place of course you can chop everything in advance. I think it makes for a good one-pot meal on its own, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to some fresh bread on the side.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers and aubergine in tomato sauce

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 medium aubergine/eggplant (or a handful of smaller ones), quartered and sliced 1/2 cm (1/5 inch) thick
3-4 yellow bell peppers, in 2-cm (1-inch) pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is great, sweet paprika is cheap; I use a mix of both)
500 g (about 2 cups) passata (smooth tomato sauce)
Fresh coriander/cilantro and/or parsley (optional)

For the dumplings:
100 grams (about 3/4 cup, packed) chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 75 ml (5 tablespoons) water

1. Place a large frying pan or sauté pan over low to medium heat and add in the olive oil. Quarter and slice the onion and add it to the pan. Keep stirring occasionally as you add the other vegetables.

2. Depending on the size of your aubergine, halve or quarter it and cut it into 1/2-cm (1/5-inch) slices. Add it to pan with the onion. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, roughly chop them, and mix them into the onions en aubergine. Mince the garlic and thinly slice the chilli (removing the seeds if you want to), then add both of those to the pan as well.

3. Add the cumin, paprika, and tomato passata to the frying pan, stir to coat the vegetables, turn the heat up, and cover the pan to bring it to a simmer while you make the dumpling batter.

4. To make the dumplings, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, baking powder, and oregano in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and mix in the water a little at a time, starting with a few tablespoons and mixing until smooth — I find that this helps to prevent lumps. The batter should be thick but quite smooth.

5. Once the sauce in the frying pan has come to the boil, turn the heat down to low and add in the dumplings by dropping teaspoon-sized blobs of the batter all over the sauce. Put the lid back on the pan and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft and the dumplings are cooked; I’ve found this can take 10-20 minutes depending on the tightness of the lid. When you press on a dumpling with your finger, the surface should spring back; if it just forms an indentation, you should let it cook for a bit longer.

6. Ladle the sauce and dumplings into bowls, sprinkle it with fresh herbs (if using) and serve it on its own or with bread.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce