Tag Archive for Autumn

Courgette and Feta Salad

I would never have though of making this combination of ingredients on my own. And that is what I love about the recipes by Tom Kerridge, usually they have something odd, something quirky, something that leaves you wondering if it would work. And when you make it, it is fantastic. I would love to be able to create recipes like he does, that go further than the standard combinations.
The salad consists of contrasting flavours. Soft, mellow grilled courgette; tangy, salty feta; crisp, bitter green paprika; fresh lettuce; but even though they are contrasting, they marry perfectly into a very tasty salad.
Tom Kerridge suggests to serve it as a side with slow-roast leg or shoulder of lamb, or on toast for a light lunch or supper. I like to serve it the Italian way as a separate salad course, because it is quite strong-flavoured it might otherwise overpower the other flavours of the dish. I also think it would be a great dish for a buffet, bbq or even a picnic (it is quite sturdy).

Feta and Courgette Salad

Courgette and Feta Salad (serves 4)
Adapted from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

2 Little Gem lettuces, leaves washed and separated
1 green paprika, finely diced
100 g feta, crumbled
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 courgettes, cut diagonally into 0.5 cm slices
sea salt
25 ml sherry vinegar

Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Fry the courgette slices in batches until golden-brown on each side (about 1-2 minutes on each side). Sprinkle a little sea salt over each batch. Arrange together with the lettuce on a large serving platter (or individual plates). Sprinkle the paprika and feta over. Mix the olive oil and sherry vinegar, drizzle over the salad. Serve.

Olive Oil and Cider Carrot Cake

A lovely dense, spicy and moist carrot cake. It is not too sweet and not very fatty, which together with the whole grain flour, carrots and apple juice makes it quite a healthy cake. So it is perfect for those normal days, on which you still want to have something nice in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but nothing too heavy or too indulgent. I love a thick slice of it with some cream cheese mixed with a little brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla.
You can keep it at room temperature for a few days, or supposedly longer in the fridge. I didn’t try storing it in the fridge, because I always find storing baked goods in the fridge a bit iffy. But if you do want to keep it longer, slice the cake, put in a freezer container with baking paper between the layers and freeze. It will keep for about 2 months in the freezer. When you want a slice, take it out and leave to defrost at room temperature, or put it in the bread toaster.

Carrot Cake

Olive Oil and Cider Carrot Cake (for 1 23×13 cm loaf pan)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

200 g flour
90 g whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp speculaas spices
1/2 cup olive oil
145 g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup soft cider (fresh, unfiltered apple juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
260 g coarsely grated carrots
Olive oil for baking pan

Heat the oven to 175C. Coat a loaf pan with olive oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and speculaas spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown sugar, eggs, cider and vanilla. Stir grated carrots into wet ingredients until evenly coated, then stir wet ingredients into dry just until no floury bits remain.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Let cool in loaf pan for 20 to 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool the rest of the way on a rack.

Dutch Food: rice porridge with brown sugar and butter

Rice porridge, or rice goo (rijstebrij) as it is sometimes called, is a traditional Dutch dessert. Rice slowly cooked in milk with some vanilla, sprinkled with brown sugar and topped with a pat of butter. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon, or a handful of raisins is added. Another possibility is to serve it with a berry (or other fruit) sauce. Creamy, warm and soothing, but definitely not light. That it was filling was perfect in the old days, when people did hard physical labour, and weren’t eating much fat and sugar in the rest of the day. Nowadays, it usually is a bit too heavy. Therefore I like to serve it after a light soup on cold days (together making a good-sized meal), or I make the amount below for double the amount of people, making the portion size smaller.
Swapping some milk for cream, and adding egg yolks at the end are generally not things done in the Netherlands as far as I know, but I have seen it in foreign recipes. It makes a richer pudding, but also makes it more heavy, so I would definitely downsize the portions.
I use special dessert rice for this dish, which cooks a lot faster than standard rice, but I know that this isn’t available abroad. Back in the old days, this special rice wasn’t available either, so you can make this dish perfectly fine with standard white rice. Alternatively you could use risotto rice or sushi rice, but I’m not quite sure what the right proportions are and how long to cook it. Even with the instructions below, it can happen that your rice stays quite wet even though it is already cooked, or gets quite dry but isn’t cooked yet, because every rice is different. Luckily, soupy rice porridge is still delicious, and when it gets dry, you can add a bit more milk.
As a variation, you can pour the rice porridge in ramekins or glasses, smooth the top and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to cool down and firm up. These rice puddings are delicious served with a fruit compote.

Rice Porridge with Brown Sugar and Butter

Rice porridge (serves 4)
1 litre milk
200 g dessert rice
2 tsp vanilla extract
brown sugar and butter to serve

Mix the milk, rice and vanilla in a pan with a thick bottom. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for 12 minutes, or until the rice is soft and most of the milk is absorbed. Stir regularly to prevent catching. Serve sprinkled with the sugar and a pat of butter on top.

To make this dish with “normal” white rice, use 150 g per 1 litre milk and cook for 1 hour on very low heat.

Chicken and Barley Soup

A deliciously soothing and warming soup. It does take a while to prepare, but it keeps well, so make a large pot and freeze portions for later. And of course, there are few things that smell better than a pot of chicken stock bubbling away on the stove, or onions that are gently caramelizing.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Chicken and Barley Soup (serves 4 + leftovers)
Adapted from “Leon – Ingredients & Recipes”

2 chicken legs
2 carrots
2 small onions, peeled
2 sticks of celery
1 leek, washed
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 bay leaves
a few whole peppercorns
a few pieces of mace
a few sprigs of thyme
a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, with stalks
150 g pearl barley
250 g button mushrooms
salt and pepper
Optional: butter and/or olive oil (use if your chicken did not release enough fat)
Optional: crusty bread to serve the soup with

Chop 1 carrot, 1 onion, the celery and the green part of the leek coarsely. Smash 3 of the garlic cloves. Crush the peppercorns coarsely. Cut the stalks from the parsley, set the leaves aside for later. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, set the tops aside for later. Throw in a stock pot, together with the bay leaves, mace and thyme. Heat a frying pan and place the chicken legs in it. Fry, turning regularly, until the skin is crisp and brown all around. Reserve the pan and the fat that came out of the chicken skin for later. Place the chicken legs on top of the vegetables in the stock pot, add 1.5 liter water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile, dice the second carrot and the second onion. Thinly slice the white part of the leek. Finely mince the 3 garlic cloves that were left. Pour half of the chicken fat into a (sauce)pan (large enough to accommodate the stock later on) and heat. Add the onion and a generous sprinkle of salt, fry until soft and translucent. Then add the carrot, leek and garlic. Sauté on low heat until very soft and golden. This will take about 30 minutes.
Take the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. Pour the stock through a strainer into the pan with the caramelized vegetables, discard the vegetables from the stock. Add the pearl barley and leave to simmer for another hour.
Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms thinly and chop the parsley leaves finely. Heat the pan you used for the chicken with the reserved fat in it and fry the mushrooms until they are golden. Pick the meat of the chicken bones and chop it into pieces (discard the skin if you prefer). Check if your barley is tender, if not cook for a bit longer, if it is, add the mushrooms, parsley and chicken to the soup. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to adjust it. If the soup is a bit thick (can happen especially with the leftovers) you can add some extra water. Serve hot.

Celeriac-bean mash

Celeriac is often combined with potato to make a mash. In my opinion, the trouble with that is that it gets a weird texture, and the flavour is not that good as well. I prefer my celeriac raw, or in soup. But then I found an alternative recipe for celeriac mash in the allerhande magazine, with a solution I never thought of for the mash texture: it uses beans. They also add a nice, earthy flavour to the mash and make it more filling.
Using beans instead of potato also makes it possible to stick a blender in it to make a smooth purée (doing that with potato will give you glue). If you like a coarser mash, just use a potato masher instead.
Because it contains both a vegetable and a pulse, it makes a nice 2-in-1 side-dish. It is delicious with all kinds of roast meats, or with a topping of sautéed mushrooms as a vegetarian/vegan alternative (see note for an Italian variation/vegan version of this mash).

Celeriac-bean mash (serves 4)
1 kg celeriac
2 cans of cannellini beans (400 g can, 185 g without the liquid; you can use other white beans)
25 g butter
100 ml milk (more or less)
salt and pepper
20 g flat-leave parsley, chopped

Peel the celeriac, then rinse to make sure that no dirt is left. Cut into chunks, place in a pan with a little water and cook until done (about 15 minutes).
Add the beans and the butter, mash, and add milk until you reached your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and mix through the parsley.

Note: to make this dish vegan, don’t use butter and milk, but use a nice glug of olive oil instead. And use rosemary or sage instead of the parsley to give it an Italian touch, which combines well with the olive oil.

Baked onion

How often do you think about onions as a vegetable dish? Well, I never though of that, until I found this recipe from Sophie Dahl. And why not? Onions are tasty and cheap, so why should they always be added as an extra flavour layer to a dish, and never shine for themselves? And shine they do in this dish. I’ve used yellow onions, but it would also be very tasty with white onions or garlic. And I expect a similar preparation with leeks would work very well too.
The original recipe suggested to cook the onions 20 minutes in boiling water, but I found that this made them loose their flavour and turn quite mealy. It works better to sweat/stew them.

Baked Onion

Baked onions (serves 2-4)
Adapted from “Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights – Sophie Dahl”

4 onions, peeled
salt
generous knob of butter

140 ml light cream (20% fat)
50 g parmezan

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onions, a sprinkling of salt, a splash of water, and cover the pan with a lid. Cook on low heat until the onions are soft.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the onions in half and place in a baking dish. Pour over the cream and sprinkle over the parmezan. Cook 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven.

Note: to make this dish truly vegetarian, use a vegetarian substitute for parmezan.

Italian pumpkin soup

A delicious autumn soup. Hearty, warming and bold of flavour. Sometimes pumpkin soup is icky sweet and lacks other flavours, but this soup certainly doesn’t. I’m not a big fan of cooking with wine, because you always only need a glass and have to finish the rest of the bottle in some other way, which often goes wrong around here. And the small bottles of wine generally aren’t that tasty. So usually I just omit the wine in the recipe without any problem, but this is an exception: the soup needs the acid and the complex flavours of the wine. Serve the soup with something cheesy, like cheese straws or cheesy croutons.

Italian pumpkin soup (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from James Martin

1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds discarded, in large cubes (about 1 kg)
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
500 ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine
1 glass dry white wine
75 ml cream
Salt, pepper, chilli powder and lemon juice to taste

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Combine the pumpkin, onion, garlic and rosemary in a baking tray. Add the olive oil, mix until everything is coated. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and nicely roasted. Mix halfway through the cooking time to ensure the bottom of the cubes roasts as well. This also prevents catching (pumpkin is quite sweet, which makes it prone to burning).
Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil. When the vegetables are cooked, put in a blender with the hot liquid and white wine (or use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth, then add the cream and return to the pan. Warm through on low heat, don’t let it boil. Taste, then adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, chilli powder and lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

Carrot and orange salad

A small and fun side salad, fresh and slightly sweet. You can add bits of orange or grapefruit if you like. I like to make this in autumn and winter, when carrots are abundant but other salad vegetables are not. The salad on my photo has a bit of a strange colour, because I used white, yellow, orange and purple carrots from my garden. When you use “normal” orange carrots, the salad will be orange too. I like to grate the carrot finely, but you can also slice the carrot into julienne or grate it coarsely, if you prefer.

Carrot and Orange Salad

Carrot and orange salad (serves 2)
Inspired on a recipe of the Voedingscentrum that I read somewhere

30 g raisins
150 g carrot
30 ml orange juice

Wash the raisins and soak them 10 minutes in warm water. Wash (or peel, when you use thicker/older carrots) and grate the carrots. Drain the raisins and mix with the carrot and orange juice.

Roasted pumpkin, feta and hazelnut salad

Pumpkin is a real autumn vegetable. It is harvested in autumn, and it lends itself perfectly for all kinds of dishes that suit the weather. In the Netherlands there are two species commonly available: butternut squash and ‘pumpkin’ (smallish bright orange, I suspect it is Hokkaido pumpkin). I prefer to use butternut squash, because I find the hokkaido usually a bit to sweet and quite mealy, but in this recipe I did use a hokkaido because I got one as a present. You can make this recipe with any winter squash.
In the Netherlands the naming conventions for pumpkins and squashes are a bit different than in English, which can lead to confusion. In English you have summer squash (harvested immature, no seeds developed yet, tender skin; examples are courgette/zucchini and pattypan) and winter squash (harvested mature, contains seeds, tough skin; examples are butternut, acorn, spaghetti and the different kinds of pumpkins). In the Netherlands summer squash is not known as summer squash, but just as the species it is, for example courgette. All the winter squashes are generally named pumpkin, except for ‘sierkalebassen'(ornamental gourds), which are not suitable to eat.

This salad is perfect for autumn. It is a salad, which always gives me a bit of a summery feeling, but it has enough bulk and bold flavours to satisfy me even when the weather is getting colder. Roasting is my method of choice for preparing pumpkin, because it is easy and it gives you the nice, caramelized crust, while cooking/steaming tends to make pumpkin watery and mushy. Roasting also gives you a great chance to add extra flavour to the pumpkin, in this case garlic and rosemary oil. Pumpkin always needs some bold or pungent flavours to prevent it from tasting icky sweetish. The feta adds a salty touch, and a bit of sharpness (for some extra sharpness, add a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar). The hazelnuts complement the nutty flavour of roasted pumpkin, and give some crunch to a dish that would otherwise be quite mushy. Delicious! To make it from a side-dish into a main, add a cooked grain (bulghur would be very nice).

Roasted Pumpkin, Feta and Hazelnut Salad

Roasted pumpkin, feta and hazelnut salad (serves 2)

1 small pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
salt
75 g hazelnuts
100 g feta

Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds (you can wash and roast them if you like). Divide into wedges and place in a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 200C.
Finely crush the garlic, rosemary and salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil and mix well. Use a brush to spread half of the oil over the pumpkin wedges. Place the baking tin in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until nicely roasted. Brush with the remaining oil, then place back in the oven for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts until golden, then crush them or chop them up. They have the best flavour when they are really roasted until golden, but they do tend to burn quite quickly as well, so keep an eye on them. Crumble the feta.
Place the pumpkin wedges on two plates, sprinkle over the hazelnuts and feta. Serve.

Brussel sprouts with mustard sauce

I usually serve my brussel sprouts very simple, either simply boiled, or boiled and then grilled on very high heat, which makes them a bit sweeter. But sometimes you want something different, so I thought to share this recipe with you, since it is the beginning of the brussel sprout season. It is a very simple mustard sauce, the creaminess mellows the flavour of the sprouts and the heat/flavour of the mustard gives it something interesting. Keep in mind when making this sauce that mustards can be very differently, so add a little and taste, you can always add more but you cannot take out. This sauce would also be very delicious with other vegetables, for example savoy cabbage or green beans. Or use it as a sandwich spread and layer it with sliced cold meats.

The work in this recipe is in the cleaning of the brussel sprouts. You can buy cleaned sprouts, but usually those are very bitter and not tasty at all. This is caused by a degradation of components in the sprouts, very fresh sprouts taste very mild and sweet, and when they get older they get more bitter (less sweet) and more cabbagy. The cleaned sprouts are usually quite old, they keep longer because of special packaging tricks but the flavour will still change. So I think it is worth it to spend the extra time on cleaning fresh brussel sprouts. Another thing that is quite detrimental for the flavour of brussel sprouts is overcooking them. They will get horribly stinky and bitter. So make sure you cook your sprouts until just tender.

Brussel sprouts with mustard sauce (2-4 persons)
500 g brussel sprouts
3 tbsp cream cheese (normal or light)
1 tsp, or to taste coarse mustard
1 tsp, or to taste Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Clean the brussel sprouts: slice a bit from the bottom and remove the outer leaves. Drop in cold water and wash to remove any sand or other unwanted stuff. Drain, place in a pan and barely cover with water. Add some salt to the cooking water. Bring to the boil, when boiling turn down the heat. Cook until just tender (test with a fork). The sprouts will be bright green and will just start to smell slightly cabbagy.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the cream cheese and mustards. Taste and season with salt, pepper or more mustard.
Combine the sauce with the brussel sprouts and serve immediately.