Author: K J G

Pumpkin Cake

This recipe is suitable for a 26 cm spring-form tin. I used pumpkin which had been roasted in the oven for an hour. The pumpkin flesh should be soft, pliable and easy to mash into the other ingredients. Ingredients For the cake 500 gr. plain flour 400 gr. dark sugar 250 gr. butter 4 eggs 300 gr. roasted pumpkin 100 gr. decimated coconut OR 100 gr. crushed walnuts 1 tsp. cinemon 2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda * 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar Pinch of salt For the topping Approx. 300 gr. home-made cream cheese  * 2 tbs. honey Walnuts for decoration Directions Blend all the ingredients together until well mixed. It helps if you have a food processor. If not try with a hand-hold mixer. If not the only alternative, I’m afraid, is elbow power. Line the bottom of the tin with greased baking paper before adding the mixture. Place the tin in a pre-heated oven on 180 degrees centigrade for half an hour. Then take out of the oven and cover the top with tin-foil to prevent the …

Butternut squash and Ricotta Lasagne

Italians – wow they know how to transform fresh produce into a dish fit for a King. It was on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago that I discovered an Italian dish that had hit the nail on the head when it comes to serving pumpkins. Pumpkins have somehow always eluded me. I love their colour. Their quirk, folksy shapes appeal. They look like they’re brimming with the good stuff. I really want to get to know pumpkins and feel as though we could have a beautiful relationship – but somehow their flavour overpowers the whole meal and I just haven’t learned to love them in a way I feel I should. Sweet pumpkin pie…roasted pumpkins…pumpkins soup….regardless of method the overbearing taste of pumpkin always slams through and puts me off this wholesome looking vegetable. Until that is I had the good fortune of attending a friend’s wedding in Italy. On the buffet-table was a plate of pumpkins wrapped in a fine filo pastry. They tasted divine. What had the chef done …

Once Through the Garden Summer Soup

Every global culture has some kind of a vegetable soup with a bit of meat thrown in for flavour. The differences between the soups depend on the kind of vegetables which grew locally. Minestrone in Italy is full of tomatoes, lentils and small petals of pasta with a few bits of bacon thrown in. The core ingredient in the Belgian “Hutsepot” is brussels sprouts and a bit of smoked sausage. “Eintopf” (literally translated “One Pot Soup”) is so common in Germany I can hardly believe I have never made this soup at home before. The smell, the taste and the look whisk me straight back to my childhood where we ate this soup at least once a week. It’s not exactly haut cuisine or joyful festive fodder – it’s just a plain, simple, vegetable soup. That all said it still tastes pretty good and my highly picky children ate at least three soup bowls. This simple summer soup used to to be known as“once through the garden” soup. My Grandmother would go into the garden with her …

Honey and tarragon pork tenderloin

This is such a simple recipe. It takes ten minutes max. to prepare the marinade yet the long soak really does impart the fresh flavour of tarragon teamed up with the sweetness of honey. You can make this marinade for just about any piece of pork – fillet, chops, cutlets, cheeks.  You can fry the tenderloin, the chops or the cutlets but I’m not so good with frying – probably because I don’t have a very subtle hob that is good at controlling temperature. Further the honey in the marinade means the outside will caramalise and potentially burn before the meat is cooked properly, which is why roasting is a better option. Be sure to take the meat out of the fridge at least one hour before preparing so that the final meat is tender. Ingredients Pork 1 red onion 1 tbs. honey 1 bunch of tarragon A good glug of white wine vinegar A good glug of olive oil Salt and pepper. Method Chop the tarragon finely, reserving some for decoration. Combine the salt, pepper, tarragon …

Chilled Rhubarb Juice

Rhubarb juice is highly prized in our house-hold – especially when chilled and served with one or two raspberries and a slice of lemon. The juice I make is a by-product of making rhubarb jam and compote.  Since rhubarb is so seasonal enjoy it while it lasts. Soon the tastes of summer will replace those of spring and our enjoyment of rhubarb will fade into mere memory. Once again no measurements – you the cook decide how much you want to make. Ingredients Rhubarbs, strawberries, sugar. Method Slice the rhubarb into 1 cm thick pieces. Hull and cut the strawberries and mix together with the rhubarb. Add as much sugar as you like the taste of. Add plenty of water – at least 3-5 cm over the top of the rhubarbs and strawberries. Bring to the boil. When it has reached boiling point leave the rhubarb to simmer for 30-40 minutes on a low heat. When the fruit has stewed for long enough, pour the stewed rhubarb over a sieve resting on a deep pot. Bottle the …

Raw Strawberry Cheese Cake

In catholic Belgium May is a month for weddings, communions and confirmations. With unusual serendipity a four day week-end break coincided with a sunny and clement spell of weather. Over this period we celebrated a wedding anniversary, an 18th birthday party, a communion and mother’s day! So many celebrations call for a special, festive cake and I think this raw, strawberry cheese cake ticks all the right boxes! Tip: don’t skimp on the gelatine. The strawberries add quite some juice and the gelatine is necessary to hold it all together. Agar works as well but, to my mind, delivers a less pleasing texture. Ingredients Suitable for 23-26 cm sprung tin. For the base 250 gr of dry biscuit[1] (digestive, shortbread, speculaas) 80 gr. melted butter For the filling 300-400 gr. home-made cream cheese 250 ml. cream 500 gr. strawberries 5 eggs (separated) 3 packets powdered gelatine 120 gr. sugar Seasonal berries to decorate Method Day 1 Prepare the cream cheese. 1 lt. of yoghurt renders approx. 300-400 gr. cream cheese depending on how much whey is expressed. Day …

Traditional Fruit Tart

J. turned 18 last week. He requested a strawberry cake for his birthday celebration. I was not in the least bit surprised – it’s what he’s asked for since as long as I can remember. Strawberries and raspberries are an old favourite and his birthday happily coincides with the appearance of the first home-grown strawberries. You can always replace strawberries with blueberries, or raspberries or apricots or gooseberries …. Below is the basic recipe – you decide what fruit to use. This recipe is suitable for a shallow, 24 cm loose-bottom tin.   Ingredients For the base 180 gr. plain flour 100 gr. chilled butter 90 gr. muscovado sugar 2 egg yokes  For the custard filling 3 eggs 80 gr. sugar 100 ml. cream 150 ml. milk Vanilla essence or a vanilla pod. Method For the sweet pastry base In a mixing bowl rub the butter and flour between the fingers and thumb until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and add the egg yokes. Combine the ingredients together until the dough …

Beef, spinach and ricotta pie

This pie tastes great either warm or cold. Serve it with a fresh salad and with condiments such as pickles, sauerkraut or chutneys. It is probably not a dish for a quick evening meal but is fun to make over the week-end in preparation for a relaxing spring or summer picnic. I used suet for the pastry which works well with the beef but you can use lard or butter or a mixture of all three if you prefer. The meat in this pie derives from beef shin – a relatively cheap cut of meat since unlike veal shin, which is tender and delicious, beef shin is lean, tough and sinewy reflecting the beast’s age and working life. A cut or two of beef shin can be made to good use by turning it into a nutritious and delicious brown stock. The left over meat from the shin is too dry and tasteless for stew but is great when shredded and used for this kind of pie. Precisely because it is lean and tough it …

Sing a Song of Six-pence

Many regional cuisines and cultures make pastries but no other region that I can think of offers the home cook such a huge variety of savoury and sweet pies as Ireland and Great Britain. By way of example, the iconic ceramic “Black Bird” that acts as a vector for removing the internal steam from a covered pie could only have been conceived, created and made on the blustery shores of Old Blighty. I remember my great delight whenever Grandma made pies with the head of a black bird poking out of the middle. As a young child I loved the shiny blackness of the dinky bird with it’s neck stretched out to the heavens to sing a song of six-pence. We never ate pies in Germany. I have never been offered a pie in Belgium. French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese eateries rarely have pie on the menu. Compare this to British, Irish and North American cooking where pies are ubiquitous – pork pies, cheese pies, game pie, spinach and salmon pie, Cornish pasties, apple and blackberry pie, …

Pastry

– flour, salt, fat, water (sometimes sugar) – Cultures all over the world have teamed-up ground flour with a pinch of salt, some liquid and an animal fat to turn these simple ingredients into a paste that can be rolled and shaped to preference – there are hundreds of different pastry varieties to choose from; from the standard short crust pastry, to choux pastry, filo pastry, millifeuille and puff pastry. The later few are more suited to the master chef than the master cook. Unless you have an army of sous chefs to help you roll and fold your pastry over a dining room table or unless you have lots of time and a particular itch to turn your hand to puff pastry I wouldn’t recommend you engage in these delicious, though fancy pastries. For the purpose of simple home cooking it is perhaps easiest to stick to the basic recipes set out below. From these simple ingredients thousands of different pastry varieties are born and thousands of mouth-watering pies. For savoury pies I like to use lard or …