Tag Archive for Spices

Dutch food: bean soup

Bean soup is a traditional Dutch full-meal soup, similar to pea soup. Because the original is quite heavy and wintery, and because it would be a bit boring to put a recipe online that is so similar to one that I already have on this website, I decided to jazz it up with some spices and some roasted red paprika’s to make it more summery. The recipe is a cross between goulash soup and a Serbian bean soup that I found in a cookbook. Normally bean soup is made with brown beans, but I’m not completely sure that those are available abroad, or how they are called abroad. Sometimes white beans are used as well, I used the borlotti beans that I had leftover in my cupboard, but I think you could use any bean (or even lentils or chickpeas) you like.

Bean Soup

Bean soup (serves 4-6)
250 g dried beans
olive oil
100 g of smoked bacon, cubes
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin (70 g) tomato purée
2 tsp sambal badjak
1 L water
2 beef stock cubes
2-3 bay leaves
6 cloves
2 juniper berries
3 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of majoram (or oregano)
1 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce

2 red paprika’s

Soak the beans: place them in a large bowl and cover with water generously. Leave to soak for 24 hours.
Heat a large Dutch oven with a splash of olive oil. Add the bacon and onion, until the bacon releases its fat and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, fry for another minute. Add the tomato purée and sambal, fry for a few minutes to de-acidify and release the flavours.
Throw away the soaking liquid from the beans and rinse them. Add them to the pan together with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook for at least 1 hour, but preferably longer. I simmered mine for 3 hours. Stir occasionally, to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Slice the red paprika’s in strips and grill them in a hot skillet. Add to the soup at the end of cooking time.
Serve immediately, or cool down (keeps for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer).

Note: Beans contain a toxic substance (phytohaemagglutinin), therefore you need to soak them for at least 5 hours, discard the soaking liquid, and boil them for at least 30 minutes at 100C. This means that the toxin is not deactivated when you prepare beans in a slow cooker (which typically only reaches a temperature of 80C). Canned beans can be eaten directly, as they already have been processed this way.

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread should say it all. A delicious whole grain bread base filled with a perfectly balanced swirl of sugar, cinnamon and raisins, to be enjoyed as it is or roasted smeared with butter. Extra perfect, because I could use up some of the grain flakes and other stuff that I had left. Unfortunately, I had some difficulties with this recipe. For some reason (probably my flours) the dough came out much too wet, even after adding lots of extra flour, making it quite impossible to kneed and roll. Luckily, the end result was (even though it didn’t have a perfect swirl) very jummy. I expect that making this recipe is a lot easier when you have a stand mixer. In the original recipe they add the water to the liquid ingredients, I adapted the recipe here to hold it back and only add it (or some of it) if necessary to prevent a very messy wet dough like I had.
The recipe makes two loaves, you can halve the recipe but you can also make both breads and freeze one of them for later use. My loaves are unequally sized because I do not have two loaf pans that are the same size. For that, I used a bit more dough and filling for the larger one, and a bit less for the smaller one.

Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Whole grain cinnamon swirl bread (2 loaves)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

635 g whole-wheat flour
160 g mixed whole grains*
2 tsp salt
50 g brown sugar
1 large egg
55 grams vegetable oil
300 ml lukewarm milk
13 g dry yeast (or 2 packets)
300 ml lukewarm water

100 g sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
85 g raisins or currants
5 g flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Combine milk, sugar and yeast, whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Add the egg and the oil and whisk until combined. Combine flour, grains and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and use a large wooden spoon to mix for about 1 minute. Gradually add the water while mixing, the dough will be coarse and wet, but should not be too wet. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes.
Mix the dough for another 2 minutes with the spoon. The dough should be firm and more smooth, supple and sticky. When it is very wet you can add more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it is very stiff/dry, add more water, a spoonful at a time. Mix another 4 minutes, using the large spoon.
Dump the dough onto your workspace. Knead a few times, form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes (cover with the empty bowl upside down). Repeat this process two more times. Then transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl that is large enough for the dough to double. Cover with cling film and place on a warm spot to rise for about 60 to 70 minutes. The dough should be doubled.
Prepare the filling by mixing the sugar, cinnamon and flour. Prepare your loaf pans by greasing them.
Divide the dough in two. Roll one of the pieces into a rectangle of 40 x 20 cm. Brush the dough with the egg and water mixture. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture over the dough, then half the raisins. Beginning with a short edge, roll the dough into a log. Press the seam and ends to close them, and place in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Cover the pans with cling film, placing it loosely on top to keep room for rising. Place the loaf pans on a warm place and leave to rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough crowns about 3 cm over the rim of the pan. Meanwhile heat the oven to 190C.
Place the loaf pans in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. When done, it will sound hollow when tapped.

*Which whole grains to use: rye flour, rye meal, rye flakes, cornmeal, cooked grits or polenta, rolled oats or oat flour, amaranth, uncooked ground quinoa, cooked whole quinoa, quinoa flakes, whole or ground flax seeds (limit this to under 30 grams of the mix), or cooked brown rice, bulgur or barley.
I used 35 gram cornmeal, 30 gram of flax seeds, 30 gram amaranth, 30 gram quinoa flakes and 40 gram of millet flakes.

Chickpea stew with chorizo

A delicious chickpea, tomato and spinach stew flavoured with chorizo and spices. It is warming, spicy and full of bold flavours. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the juices. I expect this to be a great vegetarian/vegan dish as well: don’t use the chorizo, use a flavoursome vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and add a bit more of the spices for extra flavour. This dish is also perfect to feed a crowd and/or to prepare in advance (make the sauce in advance, add the chickpeas and spinach when you reheat the sauce just before serving).

Chickpea Chorizo Stew

Chickpea stew with chorizo (serves 4)
Adapted from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

1 tbsp olive oil
200 g chorizo, in chuncks
2 onions, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced very finely
2 red chillies, chopped*
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes (400 g)
1 chicken stock cube
2 cans chickpeas, drained (260 g drained weight each)
400 g spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (like a Dutch oven). Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release its fat. Add the oninons and fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chillies, fry for another 2-3 minutes (keep stirring to prevent it from burning). Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground cumin and smoked paprika and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, crumble the stock cube over and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. It should reduce and thicken a bit, but add a splash of water when this happens too fast or too much.
Add the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Then stir through the spinach (it should just be wilted). Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

* Adjust this according to your tolerance and the spiciness of your chillies. I substituted the fresh chillies with 1/2 tbsp sambal badjak.

Chicken Korma

Chicken korma is one of those classic Indian dishes that everyone loves. The only problem: usually that is a westernised version, which tastes quite different from the real thing. Luckily the real thing is also very delicious! I served it with carrot rice on the side, you can make this by cooking rice and adding grated carrot and some raisins when cooked. This gives the rice a lovely sweet taste that works great with this curry. Some toasted slivered almonds on top would also be delicious, but I ran out of those. I also served a cucumber salad as a side dish, to refresh the palate.

The original recipe asked for a whole chicken jointed in 8 pieces, or 8 chicken pieces (like thighs or drumsticks) on the bone. I used chicken thigh without bone because it was what I had available, and I cut it up in large cubes because whole boneless thighs tend to cook quite uneven. It worked perfectly.

Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma (serves 4-6)
From Rick Stein’s India

1,5 kg chicken pieces, without skin

125 g fresh or frozen (not dried) coconut flesh, chopped or grated
50 g blanched almonds, chopped
5 tsp white poppy seeds

2 medium onions, roughly chopped
50 g ghee or vegetable oil
6 cloves
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
3 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder, like Kashmiri
200 ml water
125 ml thick greek yoghurt mixed with 125 ml water
3 black cardamom pods, seeds only, finely ground
2 tbsp raisins, soaked

Blend coconut, almonds and poppy seeds togheter in a food processor to make the coconut paste. Add enough hot water to give it a smooth texture.
Blend the onion to a paste with a splash of water. Heat the ghee in a large pan over medium heat, add clove, green cardamom and cinnamon and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion paste and salt and fry for about 10 minutes till dry, soft and translucent, but not brown.
Add chilli powder and chicken pieces and fry for 10 minutes to brown slightly. Add the water and the coconut paste and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add the yoghurt mixture and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, adding a little water when it becomes too sticky, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thick and rich (it will look curdled, that is how it is supposed to be).
Stir in the ground black cardamom, sprinkle with raisins and serve.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrots are a real winter ingredient, they are abundant and cheap right now (although you can get them the whole year, and they are an environmentally friendly choice the whole year as well). Usually I prepare them quite plain, but sometimes I want something else. This salad is perfect for that. It is hearty, comforting and warming, and it is delicious.
It is a lovely side dish for simple meals, for example some rice and a piece of fish or chicken. Because it has all the spices, it can clash with other strong flavoured dishes, or overpower delicate flavours, so keep that in mind when matching it with other dishes. I served it with bulghur cooked in stock, sweet potato with ras el hanout, dried apricots, roasted almonds and feta.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from “Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi”

900 g carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium green chiles, finely chopped (use less when you want it less spicy)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped preserved lemon
bunch of parsley or coriander, chopped
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt

Peel the carrots and cut them in cylinders of about 1 cm thick (if you have large carrots make them half moons). Place in a pan and add water and salt. Place on the heat and boil until the carrots are tender, but still have a bit of a crunch.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until soft and golden. Add garlic and chiles, fry for a few minutes. Add all the spices, fry for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Add carrots, sugar, white wine vinegar, preserved lemon and salt, mix well. Leave to cool; the salad is tastiest at room temperature. At this stage you can place the salad in the fridge for about 1 day, take it out and let it come to room temperature before the final step.
Before serving, stir in the parsley or coriander and yoghurt (you can also dollop the yoghurt on top instead of mixing it through) and serve.

Indian Sweet Chai Tea

The first time I saw this recipe was in a Rick Stein program. Unfortunately, the recipe was not available on-line, and I didn’t pay attention enough to remember the exact amounts. So I forgot about it… until recently. I had a bit of condensed milk left from another recipe, and I thought of this to use it up. I just guessed the amounts, and it turned out very tasty. I was happy that I served small cups (instead of our usual large coffee/tea mugs), because it is very sweet. But the combination of the tea, spices, sweetness and creaminess is delicious!

Indian Sweet Chai Tea (2-3 small cups)

250 ml water
1 strip orange or lemon peel
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 small cinnamon stick
few slices of fresh ginger
1 bag of black tea
100 g sweetened condensed milk

Pour the water in a small pan. Add the orange or lemon peel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Bring slowly to the boil and leave to simmer for 5-15 minutes (depending on how intense you want the flavour of the spices to be). Add the bag of tea and leave to infuse for another 5 minutes, but make sure the water doesn’t boil, otherwise the tea will get bitter. Add the condensed milk and simmer for a little longer to warm through. Sieve and serve immediately.

Egg Curry

It may seem a little weird to put boiled eggs in a curry sauce, but it works very well. The spiced, slightly acidic sauce contrasts beautifully with the rich, creamy and mild taste of the eggs. Serve with rice, naan or chapatis, and a raita or kachumbar.

Egg Curry

Egg curry (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from Rick Stein’s India

6 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil
small handfull of fresh curry leaves (omit if you can’t find them)
1 tsp fennel seeds
250 g onion, sliced
2 dried Kashmiri chillies (see note)
20 g ginger, finely chopped
20 g garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
400 g tomato passata
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: some chopped fresh coriander, to serve

Boil the eggs using your preferred cooking method. Officially, they should be hard-boiled, but I like to keep them quite soft, because they will cook some more when simmered in the sauce later on. Peel them and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the curry leaves and fennel seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then add the onion and fry until soft and golden (about 10 minutes). Add the dried chillies, ginger and garlic, fry for 3 minutes, then stir in the ground coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric, and fry for 30 seconds (keep an eye on it, because it is quite sensitive to catching and burning). Then add the passata and the salt, simmer for about 10 minutes until rich and reduced. Add the eggs (whole), put a lid on the pan and simmer for 4-5 minutes to heat the eggs through.
Sprinkle with the fresh coriander (if using) and serve immediately

Note: Dried chillies are kind of a Russian roulette: you never know when they make a dish turn out inedible hot. Furthermore there are many different kinds of (dried) chillies, that all have different levels of spiciness. That is why I don’t use them myself, I use a teaspoon of sambal instead, because it is a lot milder and I know exactly how spicy it will be. Go ahead and use something you have available and to your taste.

Cured Salmon with Pancakes and Beetroot

Tom Kerridge is an amazing chef. He elevates British pub food to very high standards in his gastropub with two michelin stars. He regularly cooks in Saturday Kitchen, after participating as a candidate (and winning) he judges Great British Menu, and recently his own programme was shown on the BBC. His combinations are surprising, sometimes even weird, but always delicious. The downside, his recipes are always very rich, and sometimes lack vegetables. This recipe (cured salmon and pancakes, the addition of beetroot was my own idea) was the first one I cooked from his book, and I was very happy with it. The salmon tasted amazing and very intense, and the pancakes were lovely and fluffy. The maple syrup gives it a hint of sweetness and the cream cheese adds creaminess and a little acidity. Together it works brilliant. We ate this as a main, but by stacking the pancakes with some salmon, a dollop of cream cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup, they would be great posh appetizers for parties. And the pancakes are also great for breakfast and brunch. I will certainly make this recipe again!

Variations for the cured salmon: juniper berries and gin, or dill and wodka. Remember, you have to start this dish 48 hours before you want to serve it!

Cured Salmon

Cured salmon with Pancakes and Beetroot (serves 4)
From Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

175 g brown sugar
165 g sea salt flakes
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 x 300 g salmon fillet (with skin)
150 ml whisky

125 g flour
40 g sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
300 ml buttermilk (I used 4 tbsp greek yoghurt and a few drops of lemon juice combined with milk to get 300 ml in total)
50 g butter, melted
1 egg

400 g precooked beetroot, sliced
125 g fresh goats cheese
salt and pepper

cream cheese or creme fraiche, to serve
maple syrup, to serve

Line a non-metallic dish large enough for the fillets with clingfilm, leaving enough overhang to wrap around the fillets later on. Mix the brown sugar, sea salt and coriander. Spread a layer on the clingfilm and place a salmon fillet skin side down on top. Pour the whisky over it. Spread a layer of the salt-sugar mix onto the salmon, then place the other salmon fillet on top skin side up (flesh sides of the fillets facing each other). Put the remaining sugar-salt mix on top. Wrap it tightly in the clingfilm. My clingfilm immediately seemed leaky, so I placed the parcel into a ziplockback, pressed the air out and closed it, to make sure the fish really was tightly wrapped. Place in the fridge for 24 hours with a weight on top, then turn the parcel over, place the weight back on and leave for another 24 hours.
When ready to serve, unwrap the salmon, rinse and pat dry.
To make the pancakes, mix flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together. Mix buttermilk, butter and egg together. Add about half the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and give it a whisk. Then fold in the rest of the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix! It should be quite thick and a little lumpy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the salmon (discard the skin) and arrange pretty on a plate.
Then cook the pancakes. Heat a frying pan over low heat with a little oil. Add spoonfu1s of the batter and fry for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate (if you like you can keep them warm in a low oven) and cook the rest of the batter.
Mix the beets with salt and pepper and arrange the goats cheese on top.
Serve the salmon with some pancakes, a dollop of cream cheese, a drizzle of maple syrup and a scoop of beetroot salad.

Yoghurt panna cotta with plum compote

I make lots of delicious stuff, but every once in a while you discover something that is truly amazing. This is one of those: very creamy, slightly tangy, barely set panna cotta. I could eat it all the time! It is delicious with the plum compote or other fruit compotes, but also with honey and walnuts as the original recipe suggested, with other sauces or even plain. Besides the deliciousness, it is also very easy to make and can be prepared in advance. I urge you to make this as soon as possible, because you really miss out on something!


Panna Cotta


Yoghurt panna cotta with plum compote (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 sheets gelatin or 1 1/4 tsp (3.5 gram) powdered gelatin
250 gram full fat greek yoghurt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
50 gram sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

6 plums (no problem if they are quite hard, because you will stew them)
honey to taste
strip of lemon or orange peel
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
3 whole cardamom pods
a piece of mace
1/2 small stick of cinnamon

Soak the gelatin: sheets in a bowl of cold water, powder in 30 ml water.
Combine 1/4 cup of the milk and the cream in a small pan. Add the sugar, warm until dissolved and the mixture is just simmering.
Meanwhile, mix greek yoghurt and the remaining milk in a bowl with a whisk.
Take the cream mixture from the heat and add the soaked gelatin (sheets: without soaking liquid, powder: with soaking liquid), stirring immediately to dissolve. Add this mixture to the yoghurt mixture while whisking. Add the lemon juice and whisk. Pour into 4 ramekins or cups and place in the fridge. These small amounts are set in about 2 hours, but to be sure, make them 4 hours in advance. They can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

A note on demoulding. My original plan for this dish was to turn out the panna cotta on plates. Although I greased my ramekins with oil, the panna cotta would not get out, not even by heating the outside of the ramekins. So I served them in the ramekins, which was plan B anyway and works fine.

For the plum compote, half the plums, take out the stone and half the halves again. Place in a pan. Add the peel and spices (I like to put the star anise, cloves, cardamom and mace in a tea egg to get them out easily). Place on high heat. At first the fruit will bake a bit, which will give a nice, caramelly flavour, then the juices will come out and the whole thing will start stewing. Stew for about 10 minutes, the fruit should be soft but keeping its shape. Set aside. I like to keep the spices and peel in to let it infuse further, but take them out before serving.

Serve the panna cotta together with the plum compote.

Baba Ganoush

I never liked aubergine much. It is kinda squishy and spongy and doesn’t have much flavour. But when I recently had a very delicious aubergine curry, I was curious to see if there are other ways to make aubergine delicious. So when I found a recipe for baba ganoush, a sweet, smokey Mediterranian/Arabic/Middle-Eastern aubergine dip, I knew I had to try. Traditionally the dip is flavoured with tahini, garlic, salt and lemon, but ground cumin, chilli powder, parsley, mint and black pepper are often used as well.

I used an ingredient that is not very traditional: pimenton de la vera picante. Normal pimenton (Spanish paprika powder) is made by drying paprika with the sun and hot air, but the pimenton from the la vera region is smoked, which (obviously) gives it a delicious smoky flavour. A pinch of the spicy (picante) variety gives the baba ganoush a lovely extra smokiness and a mellow heat. This stuff overpowers easily (both the hotness and the smokiness), so make sure you use only a tiny bit!

This dip is delicious served with all sorts of flatbread, but also with vegetables, for example cucumber and carrot. It is also very tasty as a spread on a sandwich or wrap with grilled vegetables.

Baba Ganoush
3 aubergines
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a teaspoon of salt
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of pimenton de la vera picante
Optional: lemon juice
Garnish: chopped flat leaf parsley, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, pimenton

Prick the aubergines with a fork. Grill the aubergines until the skin is charred and blacked and the flesh feels soft when you press it. Turn a few times to make sure that all sides get blacked. If you have a smoke alarm in your kitchen it might be best to take the batteries out while you are grilling the aubergine, otherwise it will probably go off.
When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a fork (or leave it chuncky if you prefer). Add the crushed garlic, tahini, olive oil and pimenton, stir well to get an emulsified smooth puree. Taste and add some extra salt, pimenton and/or lemon juice. Place in a serving dish and finish with one or more of the garnishes, or store tightly covered up to two days in the fridge and garnish when serving; make sure you take it from the fridge in time to serve the dip at room temperature, cold it is quite icky.