Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mussels à la Belgique

I don't actually know that there is such a thing as Belgian-style mussels but I'm not entirely making this name up either. The way these are prepared are very similar to how they're eaten on the Belgian coast. With a dipping sauce, some bread and, here I am majorly lacking today, some golden fries.

In the Netherlands, mussels are usually on the menu when the letter "R" is present in the name of the month: from September till April, you can find mussels on the menu at restaurants, for sale at the fish mongers and on the stove in Dutch kitchens all over the country. Well, I wasn't up for making fries what with one thing and another, but I didn't mind making the sauce and baking the bread. "R" has been in the months for a long time and I was really starting to crave these puppies!

I dug out a bag of mussels from the freezer. They're so quick to prepare and totally hit the spot today: their salty, oceany smell reminded me of summer, of holidays on the beach and of happy times. Get frozen ones if you can, they've been cleaned and scrubbed already and will save you a lot of time. Don't eat the ones that have broken shells or don't open up during the cooking process: they're likely to be bad and may make you sick.

2 pounds of mussels
1 rib of celery, diced
1/2 carrot, peeled and diced
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups of white wine
2 cups of water

Dipping sauce
2 tablespoons of mustard
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of vinegar

Mix into a smooth sauce.

Put the water, the wine, shallots, carrots, garlic and celery in a Dutch oven with a lid. Bring to a boil. Lift the lid, add the mussels and boil for seven to eight minutes. The mussels will open up and will be ready to eat.

To serve, place the pan on the table with an extra plate for the shells. Serve with fries and a dipping sauce. Use your fingers to pull the mussels out of the shells or a small fork, dip into the sauce and eat up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leftover Lasagna

Sometimes the pictures don't do food any justice, other times they make it look a lot better than it actually tastes. When I attended the culinary arts program at the Selland College (now CWI) at Boise State University, the students that were in charge of desserts for our restaurant would make the most beautiful displays: perfectly scooped ice creams with chocolate drizzle, lovely dollops of whipped cream......Showing the selection of goods to our guests always drew longing sighs and looks of admiration and dare I say, hesitation, from the diners. After all, you can't really say "They all look so good, I think I'll have a piece of each"  without getting at least a raised eyebrow from one of your fellow diners. (Which makes you wonder whether it's time to seek out more like-minded folks to eat out with).

I digress. The point is that these desserts all looked marvelous to me too, until I learned that the icecream on display was just a greasy scoop of shortening and that the whipped cream was actually shaving cream. Ewwww!!!!!!!!!! No wonder they held up so well during a two hour lunch service (I'm not always the quickest one to catch on, as you can tell). may look good but may taste not so fantastic, and the other way around. And all this to say that the picture of the lasagna posted may seem like the least appetizing thing posted so far, but I'll say: I had two helpings and I don't even like lasagna. Go figure.

I stood in front of the fridge and tried to find some inspiration for dinner. The ground beef I pulled from the freezer earlier last week to make sausage rolls with ended up being put back in the fridge because I made Brat Buns instead, and I had all kinds of leftovers: half a jar of spaghetti sauce with mushrooms left over from pizza night a couple of weeks ago , about a cup and a half of shredded Parmesan cheese from that same evening and about two cups of a garlic-and-herb cheese that usually goes on crackers from eh....Christmas. I used part of it up for some Boursin buns, but still had two packages left, and they were pushing their sell-by-date.

I also had spotted nine lasagna sheets before that had been in the cupboard for quite some time. Perfect!

Leftover Lasagna
1 pound of hamburger
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
2 cups of garlic-herb cheese
2 eggs
1 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
9 lasagna sheets*

Brown the pound of hamburger in a skillet, drain the fat and add the spaghetti sauce. If you wish you can add more bulk by adding fresh or canned mushrooms (drained). Put the garlic-herb cheese in a bowl and slowly whisk in one egg, then the other until it forms a thick sauce.

Boil the lasagna sheets according to the instructions on the box. Spray the inside of the pan you are going to bake your lasagna in with cooking spray, then spread a thin layer of the spaghetti meat sauce on the bottom. Lay the first layer of lasagna leaves on top. Cover the lasagna with a layer of the cheese sauce, sprinkle Parmesan on top, then put another layer of meat sauce. Repeat the pasta sheets, the cheese sauce, the cheese and the meatsauce until you've reached the last layer of pasta. On top of this, place the rest of the meat sauce and sprinkle Parmesan on top. I had some cheese sauce left over and dolloped the top as well.

Cover with foil (spray the inside of the foil with cooking spray so that no valuable cheese goes lost by sticking to the aluminum!), and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Let sit on the counter for ten minutes so that the lasagna can set.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown beans with rice

I don't know if I should post this recipe on this blog, because nothing that I used came out of the freezer. I love beans and try to eat them at least once a week: they're healthy, affordable, quick and versatile and tasty to boot, but that was not what I set out to prepare.

I pulled a pound of hamburger out of the freezer on Monday to make Dutch sausage rolls but I ended up making Brat buns instead. So I thought I'd make spaghetti tonight, but by the time I walked in the door, it was too late to get that started (plus I wanted to make sure I could catch the 6:30 pm episode of "The Office") so.....I'm rummaging through the fridge to see what I can scrounge up and here is this sad little piece of salt pork, just sitting there, all by its lonesome self. And immediately brown beans and rice come to mind: it's quick, it's tasty and mighty comforting on a cold, windy night like this one.

Brown beans and rice, or as we say in Holland, bruine bonen met rijst, is a typical dish from Suriname, a former colony of the Netherlands. Here in America, I don't have easy access to the Dutch brown beans, so I use pinto beans instead.

Brown beans with Rice
1 small piece of salt pork
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of water

1/4 cup of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of celery leaves
1 tablespoon of sugar

1 cup of instant rice

Cut the salt pork in small dice, then fry in a Dutch oven until soft. Add the onion and the garlic. Stir until soft, then add the tomato. When the tomato has softened as well, add the beans, the water, the tomato sauce, ginger, pepper, the bouillon cube and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes. Taste and adjust (don't add any salt before tasting, the pork tends to be salty enough), add the sugar and the celery leaves, remove the bay leaf and stir everything together. Simmer for another five minutes while you prepare the rice.

Put the rice in a microwaveable bowl, add enough water so that the rice is covered, then microwave on high for two and a half minutes. Let it sit to dry for a minute or two, then stir.

Serve the beans on top of the rice. Nice with some crunchy slices of cucumber.

Yummmmm....that totally hit the spot. Now I have to think of what to do with that thawed hamburger meat....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fried chicken

Oh boy!!! I had some leftover chicken legs and wings and a cup of buttermilk from the buttermilk buns I made the other day, and no plans for dinner. Hmm....chicken......buttermilk......ha! Buttermilk fried chicken!

There's a place in town that claims to have the best fried chicken in the valley. I have to agree, as I've not yet had chicken that good anywhere else, and I've been wanting to try my hand at preparing it myself. It is not a traditional dish in Holland so I can't remember ever frying chicken before. I love these little adventures!

From what I've read, one is supposed to marinate the chicken in a buttermilk dressing for 24 hours, then flour and let sit for another four. Well........this girl wants to eat now! For those of you that know me well enough, you're probably laughing right now because you all know that patience is NOT one of my virtues.

So I made a buttermilk dressing, de-skinned the chicken parts except for the wings and marinated the whole thing for a whopping.......20 minutes. That's about the time it took me to make the flour mix and to get the fryer started. I deep-fried these puppies, but you are welcome to fry them stove-top instead in a large skillet with an inch or so of oil. As always, please take care in the kitchen, especially with hot oil. Roll up your sleeves so they don't catch on a handle or hang in the oil, send kids/pets/husbands out of the area so that you don't have to worry about tripping or anybody getting hurt.

Fried Chicken

2 chicken legs, no skin
2 chicken wings
2 chicken thighs, no skin
1 cup of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay spices
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Oil for frying

Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a ziploc bag and add the chicken one by one. Make sure each piece is covered with the marinade, push most of the air out of the bag and close. Set aside, turning over every now and then.

When you feel the chicken has marinated long enough (if you are planning on using the chicken within half an hour of adding the marinade, you can leave the bag on the counter. Any longer and you should refrigerate the meat with the dressing, for food safety reasons), mix the two cups of flour with the rest of the ingredients and put it on a large platter. Take a piece of chicken out of the bag, and while dripping wet, lay it on the flour. Do the same with the rest of the chicken. When all the pieces are on the flour, discard the rest of the marinade. Turn over the chicken pieces so that each piece is now covered in flour. Set aside for ten minutes, then turn them over again. The marinade will slowly moisten the flour that's on the chicken. By turning it regularly, you will be able to add additional flour which will give you a nice crispy crust while keeping the meat moist.

After about thirty minutes, turn on the fryer or heat two cups of oil in a skillet. When hot, carefully place the chicken, two by two in the pan. If you are using a fryer, check the manual to see what setting is recommended for frying chicken. Fry only matching parts at a time, that way you know they will all be done at the same time. Fry the chicken legs for approximately 7 minutes or until golden-brown. Now fry the rest (they will need less time) and let all the pieces drain on a plate with several sheets of paper towels.

You can serve the chicken with dressing or just as is.

The picture is probably the most un-inspiring one of this series. If it was only scratch-and-taste.......

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Shoarma, or shawarma, is a Middle Eastern dish traditionally made with lamb. The seasoned meat is skewered in layers and roasted vertically in one large cone shaped piece, then sliced in thin strips and served in pita bread with crunchy vegetables or over french fries. The spices are pungent and flavorful and are complimented by a garlic buttermilk dressing.

I used the breast and thigh meat from a whole chicken I cut up yesterday and three leftover tortillas from last week's roti.

2 chicken breasts
2 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon of shoarma spices*
1 tablespoon of olive oil

4 tortillas
1 small cucumber, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of mayonnaise

Cut the chicken meat in slices or chunks, stir in the spices and let sit for about 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and quickly saute the meat until done.

Mix the garlic, buttermilk and mayonnaise and stir into a smooth dressing.

Fold a tortilla in half and fold again, so that you have two pockets. Put the cucumber in the bottom pocket and the chicken in the top. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

*As for the shoarma spices, they are easy to make. If you double or triple the following recipe, it will provide you with enough spices to cover several meals. All the spices are ground.

Shoarma spices
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1/4 teaspoon of cloves
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix together and store in an airtight jar.

Chicken Soup

Sometimes less is more. A brothy soup with just a few choice vegetables can be more satisfying than a five course meal (not including dessert ofcourse, dessert always wins!). I'm not claiming to make the perfect soup but the one I prepared yesterday was pretty darn good!

Last night I cut up a chicken that I pulled a couple of days ago. I used the breast and thigh meat for shoarma, and saved the carcass to make today's soup.

Chicken Soup

1 chicken carcass, or four chicken thighs
1 large carrot, peeled
1 celery rib
1 medium size onion, peeled
6 cups of water
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns

For the soup
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large celery rib with leaves, diced
Chicken meat from the carcass
2 chicken bouillon cubes

Take the skin off the chicken. Break the carrot into pieces and do the same with the celery, this is just for the stock so it doesn't have to look pretty. Put the chicken carcass in a stock pot or in your Dutch oven, add in all the ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for a good two hours.

Remove any scum that may have gathered on top with a spoon. Ladle the broth into a clean vessel. Pull all the meat from the chicken: discard the bones and the vegetables.

Bring the stock to a slow simmer and add in the carrot, celery, the chicken meat and the two bouillon cubes. Stir and let simmer on low until the vegetables are done. Taste, adjust and enjoy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beef in red wine

The problem with having dinner with the Ladies once a month is that one usually goes home with loads of leftovers and there is no cooking done in the next couple of days. Nevertheless, it's going to be a busy week so I'm preparing a couple of dishes that can last me for two or three evenings.

I pulled a beef cross rib roast out of the freezer: I've had pork and chicken for the last couple of days so it's time for some change......

Beef in red wine is flavorful and tender and smells like summer in a Mediterranean country. I like to do the initial preparations in a Dutch oven and then transfer the whole kaboodle to my crockpot and forget about it for the next six hours while it simmers and fills up the house with beautiful smells. This beef will serve well with mashed potatoes.

Beef in red wine

2 strips of bacon
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 beef roast (approximately 2 lbs)
1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of water
2 cups of red wine
1 beef bouillon cube
2 bay leaves
4 slices of dried tomato (or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste)

Cut the two strips of bacon in one inch pieces and fry in a Dutch oven. When browned (but not crispy), take them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Saute the carrot, onion and garlic in the bacon fat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the vegetables are sauteed, remove them as well. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and heat until it starts to smoke a bit. Season the beef with salt, pepper and thyme, and quickly brown the roast on all sides. Add in the water and the wine, add the two bay leaves and one beef bouillon cube (or a cup of beef stock), the tomatoes and simmer for four hours, or until the beef is tender.

If you prepare the dish the day before, you'll be able to scoop most of the fat off the chilled sauce before serving it the day after. If you serve it the same day as you prepare it, you may want to ladle some of the fat off during the preparation: it will rise to the top.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Leftover dinner...............

Yummm.....I'm busy baking bread for tomorrow's Ladies Dinner so tonight I'm eating the leftovers from yesterday's pulled pork on tortilla chips with a dollop of sour cream and some refreshing salsa yummm! Wow, what a sentence......

Shredded Barbeque Pork with Black Beans

It's cold, it's dark and there is no sign of summer in any way, shape or form. The snow is still on the ground and, in my most pessimistic moments, I'd almost dare say I am sure the sun's left us for good. Global warming? Ha! Half of the globe is snowed in and iced over, and the other half is drowning in rain. Kinda sort of. But look at this cold or is this cold??

I'm exaggerating a little bit but yesterday was one of those days where a healthy salad, a quick snack or a boring sandwich could not have managed to make the blues go away. Fortunately, I have just the food for that! The beautiful smell of barbeque wafting from your crockpot will put a smile on your face and make you feel a little warmer inside, and with the help of your faithful storage items, this dish is a cinch to make. Global warming? Huh. Cold outside? It's all good. Just pull up to the table, grab a plate and enjoy this gorgeous summery dish. If you don't like pork, it can easily be made with chicken or beef.

Barbeque Pulled Pork

1 pork roast (about 1lb for four)
1 medium size onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 small can of roasted green chiles
2 cups of your favorite barbeque sauce
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Sour Cream

Fire up the crockpot and add the onions, tomato sauce, chiles, barbeque sauce and spices and stir. You can cut up the roast in chunks or put the whole thing in whole, whatever fits best but turn it over once or twice so it's covered in barbeque/tomato sauce.

Cook on high for 6 hours or until the meat is tender. Pull the pork out, shred it with two forks to pieces and stir it back into the sauce. Taste and adjust (you might like more cumin or chili). Stir in the can of black beans. Heat for another ten minutes or until the beans are hot.

Warm the tortillas, put one on a plate and put two heaping spoons of barbeque pork in the middle. Add a dab of sour cream and salsa, roll up and eat! For some crunch, you can top it with some shredded lettuce.

This meat is also good over a plate of tortilla chips nacho-style or served over rice.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cauliflower soup - a quick lunch

Of all the food that I cook, perhaps one out of five makes it to this blog. It's either because I didn't care for the taste or because the recipe was too complicated or required too many ingredients. And sometimes it's because whatever I cooked is all gone before I can take a picture or jot down notes.

This recipe is one that would have not made it to the blog had it not been requested by a friend. It's one that I often make when in a hurry or just not in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It's filling, comforting and above all easy and affordable.

Cauliflower Soup

1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon of butter
1 bag of frozen cauliflower florets
2 cups of water
1/4 of bouillon cube
1/4 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of spicy Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of shredded cheese

Saute the onion in the butter until slightly browned. Add the florets, the water and the bouillon cube, bring to a boil and simmer for about five to six minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft. Remove one or two florets if you want some for garnish. Blend the cauliflower with the water into a soft puree. Add the milk and the mustard until well blended, stir in the cheese and taste. Adjust with salt and pepper if needed.

Now...this is your basic cauliflower soup and from here on it's all yours to make it your own. If you use grated sharp Cheddar cheese and have some leftover crumbled bacon, stir in a handful. The cheese combined with the slight hint of mustard and the bacon will make a great soup. You can also cut up some ham and stir it in, add some croutons and some extra cheese and you've got a great lunch. A leftover boiled potato from last night can be cut in dice and added to the final minute of boiling to add some body and volume to the soup.

Whatever you add, think texture. A creamy soup with crunchy croutons will challenge the mouth and keep things interesting.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Chicken in white wine

Last week's roti left me with some extra chicken to use up. No despair! I love the following dish which is one of my favorite Spanish recipes - I still cannot master my mom's recipe but this one is a close second.

Great for using up leftover wine from the Christmas holiday celebrations. This dish is light enough to serve for lunch or dinner and a big hit with all. Many dishes are better the day after: so is this one.

Serve with rice and a green salad, and some nice, crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.

Chicken in white wine

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 chicken legs and thighs (or 2 chicken breast, cut in chunks)
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 small can of mushrooms (or one cup of fresh mushrooms, sliced)
1 1/2 cup of white wine
1 1/2 cup of warm water
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 bay leaves

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and quickly brown the chicken on all sides. Add the sliced onion and the garlic clove and saute until translucent. Add the wine, the warm water, the bouillon cube and the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the bay leaves, a sprinkle of thyme and pepper and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Taste the sauce and see if it needs adjusting. If not, thicken it with a little bit of flour and water and simmer for another five minutes.

Serve over rice or just by itself, with a green salad and plenty of bread! It somehow doesn't look very appetizing on the picture but by's all gone!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

White beans with sausage and spinach

Whoa! This morning was a slippery slide to run errands: the snow thawed yesterday but froze up again during the night. The outside steps and walkway were covered in a superthin sheet of ice. Perfect weather to run out and do what you gotta do, then come home and make a quick, comforting soup, which is just what I did.

I pulled a serving of spicy breakfast sausage out of the fridge, two handfuls of fresh spinach that was left over from earlier this week and half a carrot. The sausage came out of the freezer last week because I had planned to make biscuits and gravy this weekend but somehow never got around to it. Fortunately, it will be perfect for my quick lunch soup: I'm busy baking some raisin buns and don't want to spend too much time on preparing lunch.

Quick lunch soup

1 serving of breakfast sausage*
1/4 onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup of carrot, peeled and diced
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups of fresh spinach
2 cups of warm water
1/4 of a bouillon cube

Brown the breakfast sausage in a Dutch oven and add the onion and the carrot. Saute until the onion is translucent, add the can of beans, the two cups of warm water and the 1/4 bouillon cube or stock. Stir, bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes or until the carrot is soft and the beans are warm. Stir in the spinach, taste and adjust seasonings and simmer for five more minutes until the spinach is wilted.

And that's it. Easy as can be, and it's tasty, filling and affordable.

* You can use any kind of breakfast sausage for this: spicy, sweet...whatever you like. As for biscuits and gravy, I like a combination of sweet and spicy so I usually buy two 16 oz packages with breakfast sausage: one sweet, one spicy, and divide each one in three pieces. I place one of each in a ziploc, mark it and freeze them until I need them.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Surinamese Chicken with Green Beans (Roti)

The country of Suriname is located on the northern coast of South America. A former colony of the Netherlands, it obtained its independency in 1975 but not before its culture and cuisine became a part of the all-embracing Dutch culture.

The Surinamese cuisine is a very exciting mix of European, Indonesian, Indian and South American influences. Suriname is a huge country with a variety of geographical differences, each one of which influences the regional kitchens. The Dutch brought over workers to plant and harvest the plantations: they were from Indonesia and India, equally former colonies. They prepared their own traditional dishes with local ingredients which in turn became local specialties. Roti is one of those dishes.

The roti is a flat unsweetened pancake, made from flour, oil and water. Often there is no leavener like eggs, although sometimes baking powder will be used. The roti is heated on a hot plate where the baking powder will puff it up, creating pockets of air and a tender structure. In various countries around the world rotis are served one way or the other: sometimes as a breakfast item, covered with sweetened coconut milk or as dinner with a variety of side items. That's how I'm eating my roti today, with a side of potatoes, chicken and green beans. The traditional roti is filled with yellow lentils, but I'm just making an easy one today. If you want to skip this part, a Mexican tortilla for burritos or fajitas will do just fine.

I pulled two chicken legs and thighs out of the freezer (I'm making progress!!) and thawed them to make this dish, one of my favorites.

Suriname Roti

For the roti

1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 of warm water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
extra flour

Mix the flour, the baking powder, salt and pepper in a bowl, and slowly mix in the oil and water. Knead into a flexible dough, adding flour if you need to. Let the dough rest, then cut and roll into balls the size of a small egg. Heat a griddle or cast iron pan. Roll a dough ball into a large, flat pancake and place it on the hot surface: the roti will puff up in various places. Turn it over with a spatula until the other side is done. Place them on a plate and cover with a towel.

For the chicken

1 tablespoon of oil
2 chicken legs and thighs (or two medium chicken breasts cut in large chunks)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 cups of water
2 tablespoons of curry powder*
1 pinch of sugar
3 large potatoes, peeled and quartered

In a Dutch oven, heat a little bit of oil and brown the chicken on all sides. Add the garlic and the onion, saute with the chicken for a couple of minutes. Add the curry, the water and the bouillon cube and stir in the pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for thirty minutes. Add the potatoes (you may have to add a little bit of water if the water doesn't cover the potatoes) and simmer until the potatoes are done. If the sauce doesn't thicken through the potatoes, bind it with a little bit of flour.

For the beans

The beans used in this dish are traditionally long beans, or yard beans. You may be able to find them in the Asian grocery stores. In this case, I used standard green beans, they make a valid substitution.

1 lb of green beans
3 cups of water
1 bouillon cube
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Cut the green beans in one inch pieces. Bring to a boil with the water and the bouillon cube and boil until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, the potatoes and the beans on a plate and serve the warm roti on the side. Tear a piece of the roti and fill it with a piece of potato, chicken and green bean, wrap it up and eat it up, yummmm!!! This is not a dish to eat with fork and knive, but with your fingers....

Friday, January 01, 2010

Zuurvlees - A tangy meat stew

It's snowing outside like crazy, but I don't mind. Safely tucked inside, I'm busy preparing for the New Year, and in good Dutch fashion that means copious amounts of fried food. It's as if we're trying to ring in the New Year while slipping and sliding down Saturation lane, straight into a new decade!

These fried foods are not making any dents in my freezer space but I have to eat dinner as well so I've pulled a package that contains a pound of stew meat. It's the last of the beef from a Hereford steer I kept for a short while. I've set it in a marinade early this morning and, this afternoon, it will sit easy and quietly simmering on the back of the stove. Gotta love a meal that practically takes care of itself during these busy days!

I'm making Zuurvlees, a tangy beef stew from the south of the Netherlands. It's traditionally made with horse meat and appelstroop but I'm sticking to beef. It's a great dish to use cheaper cuts of beef that need some extra "lovin'" on the stove to become tender and tasty.


1 lb of beef, cubed
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 cups of water
2 bay leaves
5 black pepper corns
2 cloves
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of brown sugar*
1 tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup of water

Put the beef in a container, place the slices of onion on top and cover with the vinegar and the water. Add two bay leaves, the peppercorns and the two cloves, cover and marinate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Separate the meat from the marinade. Pat it dry with a paper towel, melt the butter in a Dutch oven and brown the meat. Drain the onions and cook with the meat until they're opaque, then add the marinade and the spices. Stir in the brown sugar. Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the meat is tender.

Mix the flour with the water and stir little by little into the juices in the pan, so that it thickens like gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes and sweet peas, or over a plate of French fries.

*If you happen to have appelstroop, add a tablespoon of it instead of the brown sugar. You can then use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.