Make Good Food an Everyday Thing!

Gorgeous fresh fruit ready for eating or juicing!

It’s no secret that I love food, good food, as unprocessed as possible, as fresh as possible and as organic as can be. In my small urban garden I have as many fruit trees as I can fit in: apples, plums even figs and you can see some of them in the photo above, chopped and ready to be placed on some puff pastry and sprinkled with freshly ground spices and maple syrup. Into the oven at 190 fan bake for 15-20 mins and hey presto – scrummy dessert for all.

I have been doing lots of cooking courses in the past year in London and locally. Macrobiotic cooking, Fragrant Lebanese, Classic French bread-making with Maria  - http://www.bakewithmaria.com and this week a Raw SuperFoods course in Amsterdam – http://www.rawfoodworks.org

We tried a raw foods restaurant in London called Saf which you are all probably sick of hearing me talk about but it was (and is) STUNNING. We – even the kids- loved it although there were the usual quips from Mike. “Do we have to pay for it, if they don’t cook it”  and so on. Boy, did he change his tune when he tasted their Laksa and Blue-berry cashew nut cheesecake!!!! Not to mention their super fresh energy juice and mocktails!

Many of the other participants on the course – Diabetics (type 2 who had cured themselves) raw fooders who raved about their fabulous immune systems (no colds for years) and those who just loved the fresh clean taste of herbs, juices, oils, nuts and veggies blended – were already converts. I am pretty convinced that there is much merit in having green juices and eating as many green, orange and yellow leafy type things as possible, but I also love cooked foods, particularly at this time of the year. On a day like this, with rain, huge gusts of wind and a cold that seeps into your bones, I like a French onion soup with crusty bread and melted cheese and something piping hot and warming. But I am going to give juicing and Diana’s Raw Food Lasagna made with courgettes instead of pasta a go. As an asthma sufferer I am keen to boost my immune system and I am keen to get the whole family eating more raw food. I tried out my first green juice on my kids yesterday. “It has a kind of after taste,” said my fussiest child. Yes, I said that’s called vegetables honey! I am going to have to do some serious experimenting to get the kids on board which brings me to Bill Granger who is a cook I really do admire!

Bill Granger, a top Australian chef has some top advice for parents in this months Vegetarian..”If everyone else is eating it then kids will eventually try it too. You need to make good food a normal thing – if you eat badly then your kids will eat badly too. Be unrelenting too, if they don’t eat it, don’t give them something else!”

I also made ANZAC cookies today, experimenting with Lemon Curd in the mixture as it is Armistice Day when we think of all of those who fought or perished in the many wars of the world, and in particular the Great War. Our ANZAC cookie recipe is in our old blog http://thelunchbox.blog.com  where many of our recipes are archived.  Served with a fresh green juice made with apples from our garden, spinach, parsley, lemon, ginger and mandarin I felt that adding in an ANZAC cookie was almost a healthy combination!

Ginger, apple, parsley, spinach and mandarin juice with fruit

Cakes Galore & More…., nothing ventured, nothing gained! We set up Shop in The Hague!

Raspberry friand made by Bintou of www.bintousbanquets.nl

Raspberry friand made by Bintou of http://www.bintousbanquets.nl

What a beautiful raspberry and almond friand made by my friend Bintou. A little morsel of edible art really. Even though I regard food such as this as “sometimes” food, I am only human. I, too, love the odd  bit of  special “sometimes” food, even though I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and I may well by one of the few people in the world who isn’t that keen on chocolate (except a salty caramel dark choc to be taken with an expresso). (photo of friand by Christine Fischer)

But  what I do love is homemade, personal, well sourced ingredients, and cakes made with love and care. I also love it when those cakes, muffins, etc are made with organic or alternative flours, less sugar or even no sugars, using agave, maple, dates or stevia. I also think, just like Mary Berry, that a little scone, still warm from the oven, spread with good butter and homemade strawberry jam is just the bees knees, and I think I have my scone recipe (made with spelt flour) off pat. I might even be immodest enough to boast that my date & cardamon scones are the best in the city.

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I also believe that there is a shopkeeper in all of us. It’s just a thing humans like to do, trade stuff, sell stuff, talk about what we’ve made, what we love, be it knitting or food.We do love to be appreciated and to talk “shop”, don’t we? I’ve been writing about food, experimenting with it, developing recipes and sharing food for most all of my life and now I am about to put my muffin so to speak where my mouth is. We, my friend Bintou and I,  have a small 2 metre space in a start up venture called The Barbershop & Co in The Hague. We will join up with an Israeli/Palastinian duo called Love & Peas and a few others in a food hall, hoping our wares will find favour with the locals. We will use recipes, tried and tested that our friends and family love, and see if small and personal will find strike a note.

Our plates will all be second hand, knickknacks, and things lent to us by friends in an effort to be as sustainable as we can . We will try to buy nothing new to set up and decorate our little space. And we will see if we can complete against the large stores such as the newly opened Marks & Spencers who sell scones for 85 cents or the brioches at Albert Heijn – 6 for 2.98???  Although we can’t complete with such cheapness, we shall do our very best to make some beautiful food, so do pop in if you are in the area.

Our opening day is March 7 from 11 am to 15.00 at The Barbershop & Co on Torenstraat 35a. We will let you know what  and when we are cooking and what’s on offer on our FB page Cakes Galore – & more

Beetroot  & Dill Dip

And now a recipe. I catered for the launch of the New Zealand foundation KIN which will replace the KEA Netherlands chapter at their launch party on Saturday at De Wandelaar. I made a number of dips, hummus, tapanade etc but the most requested recipe was the very simple beetroot dip. Take a medium cooked beetroot, and blend with a small clove of garlic, some fresh dill, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, some mint leaves and a cup of either creme fraiche (can use Greek yoghurt as well). Blend, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with black onion seeds  (Nigella seeds) t0 finish. Serve with sliced carrots, cucumber, crackers or strips of toasted lavas.


catering at KIN

Brrr, Party Food Fit for Jack Frost – December is (almost) Here!

Jack's Chrissy Tableau is up

It’s been 3 years now since I starting writing recipes for this Shiny Bright new blog. Three years of experimenting with food, testing it out on family, friends and complete strangers. Three years of cutting back on white sugar, salt and white flour. And many long years learning that ‘home-made’ is in danger of always becoming ‘store bought’ and full of hidden sugars and bad fats.

It’s been quite the journey for a technophobe such as me but I like to think, it has been a delicious and relevant one. I passionately believe that we should all know how to cook and where our food comes from. I absolutely believe that we must pass on our skills in both the culinary world and the gardening one to our children. And in this increasingly complicated world I still believe that anyone with a common cold will benefit from a hot lemon and manuka honey drink, that a meal made with love will bring joy to a sad heart, and a gift such as chutney or jam will send a wave of goodwill to a friend or neighbour.  I hope you find these recipes useful. I wish you a holiday season full of good, honest food and someone to share it with, all the very best, Kathy Voyles, The Hague, The Netherlands.

fritartia

 

Here are some requests from friends and food colleagues and some ideas for the party table!

Sweet Potato (Kumara) and Feta mini Frittarta 

2 medium sweet potatoes

olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

fresh basil, parsley or chives

baby spinach leaves

half a cup of either grated parmesan, feta or cheddar (whatever is in the fridge)

6 eggs

160 mls cream

Method

Roast the peeled cubed sweet potato in olive oil with the ground cumin at 180 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes and leave to cool

Mix together the cream and eggs with chopped herbs and baby spinach leaves

Line 12 greased muffin cases with paper muffin cups or cut round from baking parchment to line the muffin tin bases. Place the sweet potatoes in the base of the muffin tins, pour the cream egg mixture over.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 160 fan forced oven. Allow to cool and gently loosed and turn out. Serve with a chutney or a spice yoghurt dressing.

 

Whole Wheat Oattie Quinoa Cookies

This is based on a recipe from 101cookbooks.com. I have changed some of the ingredients and amounts. This recipe makes enough dough to make about 40 cookies. All I can say is hide them because if you don’t, they won’t last! They are simply too delish!

 

 

 

101 cookbooks cookies

2 and a half cups of rolled oats

1 cup of whole wheat flour (can use spelt)

2 thirds of a cup of quinoa flakes or puffed quinoa

1 tsp Baking Soda

half a teaspoon of sea salt (not coarse)

225 grams of soft butter

1 cup of dark brown sugar

half a cup of palm sugar (101 uses 2 cups of light and dark brown sugar)

2 large eggs

2 tsps of vanilla extract

280 grams of dark chocolate (I use the Sligro dark choc drupples) Break half up but leave some large rounds for decoration

Combine the dry ingredients and put aside.

Place the butter and sugars into the mixer and cream together. Add in vanilla and eggs, mix

Add in dry ingredients and the broken chocolate pieces. The mixture will be moist but not too liquid

Place large teaspoonfuls of mixture on baking parchment. Place a large round piece on each cookie in the centre. I fit in about 20 on each tray. They will spread a little. Bake at 175 fan bake for about 12 minutes. If you like them chewy then cook them for about 12 minutes. For a crispy darker cookie then leave them for about 15. It really depends on your oven. Cool on a rack and store in air-tight tins. Prefect for a class party or trip. The Quinoa is protein so will really keep you going!

Other ideas for class parties

Spanish Tortilla cut into squares

Kappa Maki – simple cucumber sushi

Morning Glory Muffins

Cheese, tomato and basil tooth picks

Stuffed eggs

Corn, coriander and panner bagjees with yoghurt sauce

Ottolenghi’s sweet potato fritters served with a minty lemon thai chilli sauce

Omelettes rolled and tied with chives

jack's Chrissy Tableau

More Pumpkins Than You Can Shake a Ghoul at…. and how to bring a glow to a grey day

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Thank goodness there is a bit of colour in our lives on days such as these, when grey skies are above and the world is damp and chill. Jack and I were entranced by the pumpkin display at Vlinders ann de Vliet in Voorshoten, so we had to stop and take a photo. So many types, so easy to grow and quite delicious to eat (some not all). One of our family favourites is the roasted butternut and sweet potato (kumara) pasta dish, mixed in with loads of herbs, blue cheese, olives, pine nuts and baby rocket leaves, prefect for serving piping hot on a dark, dank day. It’s a time of year where we need to be uplifted by colour, candle light, stories and warm music. 

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A wonderful friend of mine, Jo Parfitt (author and writer’s mentor – http://www.joparfitt.com) sent me this glorious glowing picture of spices from a market in Malaysia and it conjured up spicey memories of saffrony sauces, tumeric, cauliflour and coconut soups, minty cumin sauces and markets including our own Haagse Mart. This huge market open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday is well worth a visit for any aspiring cook, just go early and take some bags and your largest shopping trolly! Fresh herbs, preserved lemons, flat breads, thick breads, nuts, dried fruit, you will find it all here and more.  

So what recipes will I offer you on an Autumn day as the last leaves fall soggily to the ground? The first is from a little catering job I did for the hockey girls last week and it is a request from my Norwegian friend Kurt. It’s a popular filling for sandwiches in our house and yes, you can make devilled eggs with it too! 

Curried Egg Sandwich filling

Note you can make this with a hint of curry or not but I like it with Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney which I will be using next Saturday the 9th when I make Kiwi inspired food for Jens Hack’s new Kiwi Shop de Wandelaar. 

4 free range organically farmed hard boiled eggs – I have always been told to remove them straight from the boiling water and plunge into cold to stop the yolks becoming discoloured and greenish. Now this could be an old and wishful tale but it seems to work. Peel underwater and make sure they are free from shards of shell. Place in a large bowl.

2 tablespoons (again up to you!) of a good quality mayonnaise. I use the lemon flavoured mayo from De Marqt organic store

1 tablespoon of soft salted butter

pepper/salt/celery salt

sprinkling of capers/finely cut celery

finely cut chives/spring onions and parsley to add flavour and colour

some milk for mixing

Using a fork, mash it all together, adding in some curry paste such as Pataks mild curry paste or some chutney or just season to taste with pepper and salt.  

Use on toasted bread or in rolls or for stuffed egss. Garnish with lettuce leaves, sprouts etc Image

 

Now for a weekly tip and one which will hopefully save time and give a tomatoey richness to the weekly dinners. Just about everyone I know is juggling: their time, work time, kids time, exercise time and learning time, not to mention, tired time! Some people tell me they just don’t have time to cook, others say they don’t much like cooking. This sauce will take you no time at all and hopefully will form the basis of many tasty dishes such as the tofu mince shepherd’s pie I made last night. 

 

Roasted tomatoes in the oven as a basis for pasta sauces, pizza toppings, mexican bean dishes etc. 

1 kilo of fresh tomatoes, organic if you can afford it

2 tbsp olive oil

some whole peppercorns or soft red peppercorns

coarse sea salt

a sprig of rosemary if you have some

2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped in half – smell it in the shop, you will know if it is a wholesome smell or a chemically one! Also remember to smell the butternut and other pumpkins as well – I have really been quite horrified by unpleasant smells from some supermarket veggies of late.

1 red or white onion, peeled and quartered

1-2 Turkish peppers, seeds removed, sliced into 2 halves

Heat the oven to 185, place all the above into a roasting pan, roast for approx 20 -30 mins, check and savour the smell. Take out of the oven when the edges of the onions, peppers and tomatoes are just beginning to caramelize, and set aside to cool. 

When completely cool, remove the stems and skins of the garlic, tomatoes, and peppers plus the rosemary twig and blend in a jug with a wand. If you want a Thai style flavour add in some sweet chilli sauce or a chilli pepper.

Adjust pepper and salt to taste and use throughout the week in whatever way you fancy! You will not want to go back to a commercial variety of tinned tomato ever again. Enjoy and get cooking!  Will I see you at the opening of De Wandelaar in Amsterdam on Saturday November the 9th, hope so! 

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October Already – Birthday warm Fuzzies, Roasted Almond Pesto, Favourite Things, November 9!

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I’ve been working on developing some new recipes for an exciting new shop (www.dewandelaar.nl – but more on that later!) and thinking about food, food, food. There was yet another birthday to celebrate in our house (mine!) and this year I invited my friends to cook their current favourite food or bring a tried and tested recipe to afternoon tea. It’s so lovely to share beautiful food with wonderful friends!   It all ended way too soon for me so I have decided to do the same for next birthday. I made my usual carrot cake, with half the amount of sugar but with lots of pineapple, decorated with dried cranberries and fresh berries.

And delicious it was

And delicious it was

I also made some curried egg sandwiches, jazzed up with roasted almond pesto, and some of Jenny’s Tamarind Pickle (from Waiheke Island) and garnished with broccoli cress. My, but the spread was grand, Antonio surpassed himself with a Spanish style aubergine tortilla, Basma made Cheese Fatayer, a sort of yeast pastry with olives, feta, herbs and spices, Jilly made a beauteous banana cake, Fanny  baked a light as a bee’s wing, honey cake, Anna prepared some fresh tasting hummus laced liberally with loads of flat-leafed parsley, Sharyn made a carrot souffle, Ute stuffed dates with walnuts and cream cheese, Johanna, a pumpkin and walnut loaf, Nancy some coconut date balls, and Michele, a lime and lemon tart that everyone raved about, Carolyn,  a plum cinnamon cake – and I could go on and on!! Please forgive me if I have missed anyone out – all I can say was thanks, thanks and more thanks!

The food was varied, delightful and delicious, the conversation brisk. And really that’s what life is all about isn’t it: honest homemade food, good company, love and laughter! More please, more sharing and caring!

On a more serious note, it was Buy Nothing New month so I asked everyone NOT to bring a present or buy anything new. Thus Lily-Anne had “borrowed” some peppers, and roasted them, Elske had raided her garden for a magnificent bunch of flowers and I even received some used teabags for my composters!  Thanks Helen!

Red peppercorns, paua shells, cooking mags, sumac & flowers

Red peppercorns, paua shells, cooking mags, sumac & flowers

The Buy Nothing New Month began in Australia (check the expatsincebirth.com October 9 blog post) but is starting to catch on here in The Netherlands and I am a firm follower. Of course food may be purchased, in fact I positively encourage it, but like everything, it must be brought with care. I am asking myself constantly “Do I really need it? Will I use all of it? How can I best utilize it? I will admit I have a bit of a siege mentality and find myself shopping as if an impending disaster may happen at any moment!  Yes, the amount of lentils in my cupboards would see my family (and quite a few others) through quite a few weeks of any siege.  I’m working on changing that!

I am also developing some Kiwi style recipes for a new shop, selling a taste of the South Pacific without having to go the whole 18.000 kilometres to get to the land of the long white cloud! Happily, it’s all about food and wine –  it will sell  the very best of New Zealand’s artisan products which will marry well with local products. If you are keen to come and sample what’s on offer – and have a chat with me – I will be cooking! – then do join me on November 9 at 14.00 in the Oude Zuid of Amsterdam. See http://www.dewandelaar.nl for more details.

Now, a new discovery (for me at least) and a simple one, it’s already a new favourite in this house.

Roasted Almond Pesto (to serve with pasta, egg sammies, cheese toasties, on crostinis etc)

Half a cup of blanched almonds, roasted carefully in a fry pan until golden and aromatic – use a tiny spray of olive oil if you like!

A good bunch of fresh basil or flat-leafed parsley or a mix of both.

Some mild flavoured olive oil or half and half of lemon infused olive oil – use about half a cup

2-3 cloves of garlic depending on how strong you like your garlicky flavours, peeled

parmesan or percorino cheese (or frankly whatever cheese you fancy using that’s been hanging around the bottom of the fridge for a while!) – use half a cup chopped or grated, depending if you have a good hand blender.

Blitz the lot with a hand held blender. Taste, and season with salt if needed and freshly ground red peppercorns. I am buying some slightly soft but still crunchy red peppercorns and the flavour is surperb!  It will keep for a few days if you top it up with oil and keep it in the fridge in a covered jar.

I sent this to school with some pasta and Jack said it was the best lunch ever!

I leave you with some of my favourite things for the Autumn

Loving making simple quick Thai style soups with onoff spices (from the Ekoplaza, the Massaman is excellent!) So easy and uses up all sorts of bottom of fridge veggies.

Loving the feta roasted cauliflower recipe from Flash Cooking

Adoring using the Lime infused Avocado oil in my Mexican style Friday Night lentil soup (testing some NZ products for dewandelaar.nl – infused oils are some of them!)

Loving that my kids cooked me a secret “morning glory” birthday cake with fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting  - yah, they can cook! It has all been worth it then!

Laura Santtini's gorgeous Flash cooking cookbood!

Laura Santtini’s gorgeous “Flash Cooking” cookbook! Beautiful!

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Jamming into July, and the Best of all Tofu Dishes

Little wild strawbs ready for jamming!

Little wild strawbs ready for jamming!

straining the fresh jam into sterilized jars

straining the fresh jam into sterilized jars

Ready to try with spelt, orange zest and date scones

Ready to try with spelt, orange zest and date scones

So, an unexpected gift arrived this week in the shape of some pretty squishy strawberries ( 8 punnets) some of which were slightly past their best. “Jam” we said, and began tailing the tiny wee things. We added in some sugar but not too much, the juice of 2 lemons, and gently cooked it down to a pulpy mass. The smell was divine and went right to the top of the house, bringing a smell of summer even if the sky said, no, not yet, but very soon. We sterilized our extra jars and lids by simmering them in a soup pot for 5 minutes. And then we poured, ladled, prodded and tasted. Naturally we left a small sample dish to try and then we had to make scones, because you just do, don’t you. Three guests dropped by for a taste and some added in the whipped cream flavoured with vanilla pod they found in the fridge. The verdict – total deliciousness in both taste and perfume. How can we go back to commerically made jam ever? Go on try your hand at jamming. It will make your summer!

My favourite Tofu dish of all time (and I have tried a few!)

Garlic and Ginger Tofu

Garlic and Ginger Tofu

So, yes, Tofu is rather bland, well extraordinarily bland. Yet it is a great source of protein, particularly for vegetarian families or those who have cut back on meat! I only buy organic tofu so I don’t have to worry about the very many chemicals used to grow non-organic soy beans.  I have been experimented with this product for quite some times but it was Yotam Ottolenghi’s black pepper Tofu dish (from his book Plenty) which really showed me just how gorgeous soy bean curd can really be. Try it, it will literally blow your socks off with its 8 chillies and 5 tbsps of black peppercorns. Here I am erring on the side of delicate palates but I think this dish has enough oomft to win over a dedicated non-veggie. The secret is ginger and garlic so buy in liberal quantities of each, you won’t regret it.

Tofu

1 cm chunk of fresh ginger, peeled

1 large clove of glaric (or 7-10 small cloves)

finely chopped spring onions

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp sweet Indonesian soy sauce

1 packet (for a family of 3-4) of organic pressed tofu not the silken sort, drained and chopped into small cubes of the same size. You can pat dry if it is particularly wet.

Fry the tofu cubes gently in Rice Bran oil or olive until it is crispy on all sides. Don’t be in a hurry, it may take 5 minutes of gentle frying to achieve this. Drain on kitchen paper and put aside.

In a small blender mince one of those huge cloves of garlic or if you can’t’ get hold of them, 7 small cloves of garlic and the peeled cube of ginger. Add in some water to make it a creamy blend and some whole peppercorns. If your small grinder is like mine, it will do a fairly good job but there may be one or two whole peppercorns left.

In a wok or heavy bottomed frypan  fry the garlic blend in some oil. Don’t let it burn but fry very gently for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the different soy sauces and cook slowly for a few minutes. Taste and adjust accordingly. You may like to add more of the soy sauces or some palm sugar.  You may like to add in some water to make more of a sauce or some lemon juice if you think it too sweet. Take off heat until you are ready to serve.

Cook some rice, couscous, udon noodles or bulgar to serve with the tofu dish.

To serve, add the tofu to  the soy mixture and warm through. Serve on top of noodles and garnish with spring onions, or coriander. It is just as good cold as hot. It has become a firm favourite in our family. Do let me know what you think!

Make a fresh Thai style cucumber and carrot salad to compliment this and a fresh honey lemonade. And yes, summer will come next week! I’m sure of it……. ingreds for lemonade

Summer, dear Summer, you are here at last!

peppers, herbsOh, it’s been a long time coming this year. Yes, there have been tasters, a warm day or three, the hazy sound of a lonesome bumble bee on the wing, but just as we went to put away our mittens and our heavy winter coats, there was a fresh burst of arctic air to keep us down and chilled. But now the plants are growing like the wind (as are the weeds), the birds are singing their hearts out and I am making a meal out of our small garden. It’s true the tomatoes are far from being harvestable but I can see the first beans, there are some little stalks of tender ruburb and celery, the chive flowers are ready for my goat’s cheese salad, the mint ready for iced teas and the lettuce leaves/herbs are being used everyday in sandwiches, bagels and salads.

 

garden is growingYou can see how my garden grows above, with the help of the Green Room’s organic anti snail pellets and a local toad or three to keep those slugs at bay and those plants are really powering along, which just shows you what you can do with a few metres and some earth. And below ladies, gentlemen, girls and boys is my very own organic compost (made with the help of quite a few hundreds of kindly worms) which will go into my little veggie gardens and enrich the soil. You can just see the traces of egg shells for that my good people, is our family left-overs, which I place diligently into my worm composters every morning.

I thought my clever little worms had frozen to death over that long winter but I have a healthy bin of them, breaking down the family scraps although I do worry about their coffee intake. They must be a little buzzy in there. Everything apart from bread, dairy products, meat or fish goes into 2 bins and therefore replenishes our garden after it is broken down – wonderful. No composter?  Never fear,for as a fabulous young woman explained the other day, blend up your leftovers (not stones or bones) and simply dig them into the garden directly but at least 6 inches away from the nearest tree! I managed to get on a http://www.cityplot.org edible gardens workshop this month and learned so much from the charming Suzanne about how little soil we actually need to grown a lettuce, 5 cms and a carrot, 7 cms and how we can all grow micro greens and our own sprouts. So, there is not excuse, grow we must!

compost

Lastly, this month I purchased a dehydrator which has been loads of fun. I have been dehydrating mangos from the market, cherries, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, bananas and apples. They are a taste revolution and it’s as easy as cutting them up really. I continue to experiment but so far I can thoroughly recommend this new generation of small 5 tray dehydrators ( I got mine from the Sligro wholesale stores but am willing to bet that Amazon will probably do them cheaply).

fruits of my new dehydrator

Above, strawberries, white fleshed wildman peaches (are there any other), cherries, strawbs, and mango. Below cherry tomatoes in olive oil, thyme and rosemary, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper. It’s fun, easy and delish and it makes me kinda feel a bit Heston Blumenthal if you know what I mean. Next time garlic and ginger tofu with bulgar salad and pomegranate pearly dressing! Enjoy, enjoy!

dehydrated

Super Squishers – Delish Spring Smoothies made by 10 teams of year 3 kids

ImageOh, it’s a grand thing to do. Work with eager young minds who are keen to learn, try, taste and enjoy, which is why I look forward to doing workshops with kids, even if they take place in halls, rather than fancy master chef style kitchens and stretch me, mentally  and physically.

Yes, there is a lot of bringing stuff hither and thither, unloading, reloading, shopping and schelping but you know it really is all worth it, particularly when kids try new stuff, like a pomegranate seed, a piece of pale green celery, a crimson piece of melon and when we talk about eating “a Rainbow”  they are all for it!  Two weeks ago I was back in another hall, working with 10 groups of six, a great band of teachers and parents amid the happy blending of various combinations of veggies and fruits. This time we made 2 lots of green smoothies using apple juice as a base and nut milk bags to squeeze the best of our green juices into our jugs.

This is what the kids called their smoothies: The Bubbly Banana Whizz (banana, strawberry, yoghurt, and a little honey), The Healthy Pink (banana, pineapple, raspberry, butter milk and honey), The Alien Surprise (pineapple, cucumber, apple, celery, mint, banana, spinach, and apple juice), The Sunset Smoothie (strawberry, pineapple, mango, and natural yoghurt), The Beach Smoothie (banana, apple, rice mil and mango) The Bitter Honey (watermelon, lemon, orange juice and honey), The Jazzy Razz Smoothie (raspberry, oatmilk, strawberry, banana and strawberry) and The Super Green Energy Smoothie (green apple, spinach, cucumber, water and honey)!!  Now, how is that for a great bunch of glorious, healthy, delicious drinks. That sure beats a blue drink, anytime! Well done, year 3 at BSN Vlaskamp and if I have missed any of your smoothies, do contact me and let me know. Remember you are now Master Smoothie Chefs, one and all!

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And  is it worthwhile, teaching our kids about food. Oh absolutely, they will so need to know about what they are eating/drinking because there are huge companies out there determined to make them (me and you) buy fizzy drinks (and ‘foods’)  in flamboyant colours which are overprocessed, over-sweetened and over-coloured, plus non-nutritional!  The best thing we can do as parents for our kids is to cook with our kids from scratch, make lovely things that smell of real plants and gardens. So, how do you make a smoothie? The year 3 children from Vlaskamp are all experts and they will tell you.

Smoothies

There are no hard and fast rules and I do encourage you to experiment. I will give no measurements because you will quickly get the hang of how much fruit/veggies to use and what consistency you like.

Choose and prepare your fruit. We used mainly frozen fruit as summer is most definitely not yet upon us. Choose from fresh or frozen strawberries, raspberry, mixed berries, mango, banana and citrus. Prepare and peel, taking out cores and stones.

Add these frozen or fresh fruits to a water or fresh juice base with some ice if you have any. Or use a dairy or non-dairy type base. We experimented with rice milk, nut milk (can make it from soaked almonds or cashews using a nutmilk bag), oatmilk, butter milk, natural yoghurt and water), Blend, and taste for sweetness. You may need a little maple syrup or honey to sweeten your smoothie.

And Green Smoothies… honestly these are really, really good and you don’t need a fancy blender. I use a fairly normal blender and squeeze my green juices through a nutmilk bag. You can purchase these via ebay at myworld.ebay.co.uk/nutmilkbags for a very reasonable cost. You can also use these to make your own nut milk from almonds, cashews and brazil nuts as well. It is best to soak the nuts overnight before you make your milks.

Blend 2 chopped apples, cores removed but peel left on. Add in a variety of lettuce, spinach, cucumber, bok choy, courgette, water and ice. Blend  and place your nut milk bag into a large jug. Pour the green juice into the bag and gently squeeze the juice through. Adjust for taste and you may need to add in some more water. The result should be a lovely, clear green juice delicious for breakfast. Keep cool. Can add ginger and honey, mint to flavour.

Lastly, a tip from Jack. He asked for a hot drink last night and suggested that chocolate might form a part of it. Oh no, said I, Chocolate will not help you get to sleep. Instead we heated some milk, grated in a little nutmeg and cinnamon and called it a sleeping drink. Worked a treat on a cold, damp evening!

I have recently created a Facebook page to post quick recipes, ideas and workshops. Do please join it if you like via Facebook at My School Lunchbox! And do plant some salad leaves/herbs on your balconies or in your gardens if you are lucky enough to have one. I have a rather damp balcony full of various lettuces, red basil, dill, parsley, rosemary and chives which I use every single day. And at the market you will find 75 different herbs to experiments with!!!

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High Tea, ANZAC Biscuits and Being Sweet….

Hi ho, it’s been 14 days at home on school hols with the kids.  It’s also been chilly, greyish and hovering near freezing. My dreams of loading up bikes and heading to places unknown had proved unlikely. Plans of walking in daffodil yellow fields filled  neither my kids (or myself) with inspiration and even I had to force myself out into the small urban garden to plant a few beans and herbs. All and all we needed some sort of motivational tool to make this dull rainy afternoon feel radiantly spring like. So, I decided to celebrate our late spring with a high tea to be served only after rooms had been cleaned, jobs had been done and various things accomplished. It certainly cheered me up immensely and proved to be an excellent “clean room” tool. We practiced drinking tea in tiny cups with our pinky finger extended. I made up a recipe for apricot, cardamon and palm sugar scones, Jack pulverised the cardamon seeds and I served them with lemon curd, natural yoghurt and passionfruit. The combination worked very well (I was my own best customer!) …… oh and I cheated a little and purchased some of the sweetest little tea cakes from Philipe Galerne, in Statenkwartier….www.philippegalerne.nl

Gorgeous little cakes for high tea

Gorgeous little cakes for high tea

We served egg and radish open sandwiches, scones, fresh strawbs (a big treat from Ekoplaza), organic baby heirloom tomatoes, natural yoghurt mixed with lemon curd, lemon zest and passionfruit pulp and local salted butter from the Farmer’s market on a lovely old bit of linen with some cups from the second hand market! I haven’t met a better high tea in The Hague, except at my friend Jilly’s house!

I will also admit that I am developing a menu for a pop-up  New Zealand wine-tasting with shades of Kiwiana – Antipodean style – party finger food with an emphasis on Madmen, hostess trollies and paper doliles. I do so adore a paper dolilie and look what you can do with them - http://pinterest.com/questforbeauty/pretty-paper-doilies

The menu I am working on, will celebrate my home country, New Zealand and will take place on ANZAC day, April 25,  in The Hague so in honour of that, I am sharing the ANZAC biscuit recipe with you in this blog.

These are cookies with history – as wives and sweethearts sent these long lasting eggless treats to soldiers abroad in WWI, ANZAC being short for The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Made with rolled oats, coconut, butter, sugar, and syrup, they are dead simple, smell of far off golden shores and never last long in our house.  If you are in the lowlands and want to come to a wonderfully fun event with 10 New Zealand wines to taste (and food from yours truly), email jarrod@cellar-door.nl for more details and to reserve. I am fairly excited about this event as it will allow me to showcase some great local products from The Netherlands while stirring up a pot full of New Zealand food memories.

ANZACs  are great cookies for a lunchbox for any soldier big or small, and you can healthy them up by experimenting with using different flours and sweetners – maple for golden, etc.

ANZAC Biscuits

Preheat oven to 175 fanbake and grease a biscuit tray

1 cup of spelt flour

3/4 cup of light brown sugar  - have used palm sugar as a substitute (note that most recipes call for a full cup but you could take this down to half a cup and they would still be sweet enough in my opinion)

1 cup of coconut

2 cups of rolled oats – place all these ingredients in a bowl and mix together

Melt 125 grams of butter with 2 tbsp of golden syrup (have used maple instead) in a pot on the stove top

When the butter and syrup has melted, add in 1 teaspoon of baking soda that has been mixed with 3 tbsp of boiling water – it will froth up. Add to dry mixture and form into small balls, placing on an oven tray that has been greased or has been covered with baking parchment. Flatten the balls with the back of a fork, and bake until golden at 175 for exactly 12 minutes. Do keep an eye on them as they can burn easily!

tea cakes

Velvet Smooth Soup to Ward Away the Easter Chill!

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I was feeling, oh so slightly under the weather as snow blew along beside the train to Amsterdam. I was heading off to a meeting with the Chair of KEA (Kiwi Expatriates Abroad) in The Netherlands and the portents were not good. The wind chill factor was arctic in nature, the sky was heavy with wet snow and frankly I just wanted to be back on that dry, summery Island of Waiheke composting happily and listening to the sound of the sea.

We were meeting at a previously untried cafe called Vinnies Deli on Haarlemmerstraat to talk about ideas, meetings, home and of course, food matters crept in just a morsel.

We walked in, decided what to order, liked the living room feel of the place, felt some Ottolenghi influences and settled down to a velvety soup of celeriac, fresh truffle and garlic croutons. Suddenly the day didn’t seem quite so dull, in fact it seemed full of promise. I came home and immediately started to try and re-create that delicious and heart warming soup. Although it wasn’t the same exactly, the recipe below made all the family very happy.

Celeriac is rather a plain, unglamorous root veggie but it has star quality. Go and try one now! It is apparently Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall fav root veg of all time and can be used in heaps of ways, salads, coleslaws, gratins, mash and of course.. soup. And if you are in Amsterdam give Vinnies a try. We were both impressed both by the friendliness of the service, the homely lounge room touch and most important by the FOOD! The sourdough bread was excellent as well. 

Celeriac Soup (for 4)

1 large celeriac bulb, peeled and cut roughly into cubes

1 large white onion, chopped finely

1 – 3 cloves of garlic depending one how much you like garlic

2-3 large floury potatoes, peeled and chopped in cubes similar in size to celeriac

I also had a stalk of asparagus, a bit of leek and some zucchini to use up so shoved that in as well. I think cauliflower would work as well.

1 litre at least, of a good stock (I made my own out of old veggie peelings and am organic stock cube)

100 mls of fresh cream (or low fat organic milk or you are off cream!)

seasonings 

favourite spices or herbs – cumin seeds, or a little sprig of thyme. Saffron would also be rather nice, I feel.

Fry the onions in a little butter and olive oil until translucent. Add in chopped garlic. I blended my soup a little with a hand blender but left a few lumps. It is entirely up to you, what consistency you like and you may find it good to add more milk, more stock etc to the finished product. 

Add in the cubed celeriac, and potatoes plus the cummin seeds, fry until fragrant. Pour in stock and cover the vegetables. Simmer until the veggies are softly tender. Add more stock etc if needed and remove thyme sprigs. Add in the cream and simmer again for awhile, then you can either cool and blend in a food processor or use a hand blender, or just mash it up a bit with a potato masher. I served it all up just like Vinnies Deli with garlic croutons. I made these with left over crusts from club sandwiches I made for a school do. Bake the crusts with olive oil which has had crushed garlic added, season with salt and pepper and bake for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven until golden bread. Don’t you just love frugal food? 

Now serve it up the family and ask them to guess what sort of soup it is… My family were at a loss and then I showed them the celeriac bulb. By the way the fussy family really did really like this soup, so try it out on the unbelievers (you know the veggie nay-sayers!).

If you want to make it really, really special, see if the ladies at the Portabella have a little spring truffle for a good price (I got a little spring truffle, there last week for around 7 euros). Now, here’s a fact I didn’t know – from the North African coast from Morocco to Egypt to the deserts of Iraq you can find truffles in the sand and while they are hugely expensive in Europe, a family in Basra may have quite a few of them hanging about.  Experienced gatherers simply look for a mound in the sand and gently dig them up – thanks so much, my friend Basma, for telling me all about them.  

I will leave you with a photo of the little cakes at Smith and Caugheys in Auckland, NZ and suggest you go to this blog to try out making some divine hotcross buns for Easter … I think you might just be tempted by these recipes from http://www.poiresauchocolat.net

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And if you are in Amsterdam, you might just fancy one of these little morsels below, at Unlimited Delicious who currently have the best salty caramel chocs I have come across in The Netherlands (also on Haarlemmerstraat at no. 122)

Enjoy the Easter holidays by sitting at a table with family and friends, talking about things that matter and things that don’t….

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There and Back again with Added Flavours – a trip away broadens the food horizon!

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Shellfish (called Pippies in NZ) dug up with toes from Blackpool beach

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Our home-grown peaches and avocados

big O

I have been there and back again in true hobbit sense and I confess my heart mostly lies there. It is taking me some time to adjust to my urban wintry skyscape and digest all that I have seen. Firstly let me say I know that I am lucky in the extreme to be able to call such a unique part of paradise my  home (at least when I am in New Zealand). I post the pictures above not to make anyone feel envious (no, really) but to show how it closely nature and food can be connected, well particularly in a warm temperate climate. Sadly the climate was almost too warm and dry when I was home, as on Waiheke, similar to many other places in New Zealand, we are reliant on rain-water fed tanks for drinking, washing and watering plants. It hadn’t rained for many, many weeks when I left and many farms have become dustbowls. But onto food…

The top picture shows a favourite New Zealand shellfish, similar to a cockle, usually dug up with ones feet, which we harvested from a little tidal beach not far from our house. We made them into the typical fritters with some eggs, flour and herbs. The New Zealand government allows you to take 150 per person per day! You are also allowed 50 sea eggs (Kina), 20 scallops or 50 mussles – when I was young I don’t remember any restrictions but these days limits have been set to conserve natural resources.

On the island (see pic above) you can fish off the  rocks and catch a snapper for supper if you are lucky. No license is required for sea fishing but the fish must be of a certain size, unlike the fish I saw being sold in Crete last year which would barely make a mouthful! There’s a lot of composting going on and many residents grow vegetables, fruits and are the guardians of beehives. There is what I call extreme recycling going on with grey waste water, and at the local dump where you can drop anything usable so others may benefit from your castaways. Island residents are very aware that non-recylables have to be transported off island at a high cost – so the least amount of waste the better. And at the market on Saturday everyone is doing a little honest trading with anything from sun-dried plums on sale, to cardamon and lemon tarts, to fresh herbs, lavender products, coconut buns, second hand books, locally made fashion – it’s the place where everyone meets for a chat and some fine, homemade food and coffee. See below for the lovely home-made tarts on sale. Waiheke is a vibrant community where people are doing what they can, to earn a daily crust, keep the earth as healthy as possible and get by. I did an Eco tour while there and learned much more about composting Bokashi style, about eco- style building, about grey water use and square foot gardening – the latter is entirely ‘doable” for us here in the lowlands, and I will be attempting it this year.

One man has built a Gaudi style Bio Backpackers out of home made mud bricks and old paper, madly interesting and an intense labour of love. Suffice it to say I was inspired by the food I tasted while home, the people who shared their valuable knowledge and I will do my best to pass it on to as many people as I can.

Not only was I gathering knowledge I was collecting recipes and sampling as well. My friend Linnet in Singapore was kind enough to share some of her favourite recipes with me and so I am now sharing with you. Given that we quinoa eaters are in danger of depleting  the locals main protein source, I leave it up to you to use quinoa or substitute it with bulgar as I did. This dish is good warm or cold, can be stored in the fridge for 3 days and is an excellent and substantial side-dish. I served it recently with Halloumi and pea fritters, a yogurt sauce and a crisp green salad – the punters were impressed.

I will call this Linnet’s Yummy Tahini & lentil Salad

1 cup cooked bulgar or quinoa

half a teaspoon salt

quarter of a cup of lemon juice

quarter if a cup of olive oil

quarter of a cup of tahini

same of warm water

1 clove of garlic

half a tsp ground cumin

half a tsp ground black pepper

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 cup cucumber diced (optional to make it a more summery dish)

1 cup cooked drained lentils – green or cooked chickpeas etc ( I used roasted red peppers for a little sweetness!)

2/3rd cup of finely chopped parsley

2 finely chopped spring onions

Method

Mix the lemon juice, oil, tahini, warm water, garlic, cumin, pepper and salt together. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, toss and serve.

Linnet's yummy salad with halloumi fritters

Linnet’s yummy salad with halloumi fritters

Oh, I have loads more recipes to share but I won’t overburden you! Travel is wonderful to broaden the mind and the broad bean mash I met along the way was pretty jolly good too.

Thanks Tracey, Linnet, Jacinta, Jane, Fiona, Briar Sheryl, Tanya, my sister Dyanne, nieces Charlotte & Annabelle, nephews Sam and Paul for putting up with me and showing me a right royal time. New Zealand, Waiheke I pray to all the weather gods for a decent drop of life-giving rain for that dusty earth.

Apologies for the empty blog post earlier today, some tiny, weeny, over-eager typing fingers I fear!

Kathy Voyles

14 March, 2013

homemade gorgeous pies at the Saturday market on Waiheke

homemade gorgeous pies at the Saturday market on Waiheke

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