"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maeve Binchy...A tribute

This month is ending on a very sad note. It was announced on the morning news that Maeve Binchy has died at the age of 72. The world has lost such a wonderful story teller! When you read a book by Maeve, you join in with Irish village life. For that time, we are all Irish living in the street she tells us about. You walk into her books like they are really happening...unfolding before your eyes. We will miss you dear Maeve and thank you for the warm stories you leave for us!

She left us a legacy of so many wonderful novels. I decided that I am going to start reading a Maeve Binchy book each month. I think I simply do not want to let go of knowing she is there and a new book is coming out. This way I can keep her near for a while longer.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Forgotten vegetables...Hamburg root parsley

I love trying out forgotten vegetable sorts. We bought Hamburg root parsley (wortelpeterselie) in Germany and I decided to use it in a Dutch stamppot. This vegetable looks like a white carrot but is more in the region of a cross between a radish and a parsnip for taste. A unique taste that was well worth trying out and we will be buying these more regularly when in Germany.

My Country root parsley Stamppot
5 or 6 root parsley, peeled and cut up in chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and cut up in chunks
1 onion, peeled and sliced very roughly (don't make this too small as you want to taste the onion)
branch of rosemary and three of thyme
1 tablespoon herb cream cheese
half red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped roughly
Dutch rookworst (smoked sausage) - you could also use salami

Cook the root parsley, potatoes and onion in a pan with rosemary and thyme. Use just enough salted water to cover and boil about 15 minutes until the potato and root parsley are tender. Discard the thyme stems and chop up the rosemary leaves.

In the meantime, cook the red pepper, onion and rookworst in a pan until the pepper is a little tender.

Stamp the potato mixture until they are roughly stamped. This is a country style meal and it should be left a little chunky. Now add the cream cheese and stir in well along with some freshly ground pepper to taste. Last, stir in the red pepper mixture and serve.

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cauliflower and potato bake...

This dish is great as a light summer meal on its own or as a side dish to your meat for the day. I use it when I want a light meal that is full of vegetables.

Cauliflower and potato bake
3 to 4 potatoes
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into flowerlets
3 carrots
3 spring onions
125g (1/4 lb.) bacon
salt and pepper
grated cheese of choice
1 vegetable bouillon tablet

Cook the cauliflower in water with the bouillon tablet until tender. Drain and sprinkle with pepper. Cook the potatoes until tender in the bouillon. Reserve a little liquid unless you would rather use a little milk.

Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes and cauliflower together leaving them roughly smashed. You want to have chunks of both potato and cauliflower in this dish. Salt and pepper further to taste.

Fry the carrot, spring onions and bacon until cooked. Now layer half the potato/cauliflower mix to a baking dish. Cover with half the carrot/onion/bacon mix. If you would like, you could also add some grated cheese at this point. Add the rest of the potato/cauliflower mix topping again with the rest of the carrot mix.
Now top with grated cheese and pour a little reserved bouillon or milk over the dish. Bake about 20 minutes in a 180C/350F oven.

This dish serves two as we eat it as our complete meal without a meat accompaniment.

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strawberry buttermilk

In Holland, buttermilk is very popular. It is something many drink with their lunchtime sandwiches. I normally do not drink it but when it is turned into strawberry buttermilk, it is simply delicious. You are able to buy 0% fat buttermilk here so see if you can buy something low fat to give yourself a wonderful and simple summertime treat.

Clean and puree a bowl of strawberries. This is not rocket science and I simply make it without measuring. I make this in a one liter (one quart) jug so ended up with about 300 ml (1 to 1-1/4 cup) strawberry puree.

Now simply pour in the buttermilk to fill your jug and mix well. Chill well and enjoy a very healthy treat!

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dinner with Tessa.....

Two years ago, I bought two Tessa Kiros cookbooks...Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries. Now for anyone who likes to simply read cookbooks, these are a must have but they are full of truly great recipes. So far, every recipe I have tried for us has been wonderful and for keeps.

So this week, I decided to try a new way to prepare spinach which is a favorite vegetable in our house. I found this recipe in Falling Cloudberries which I adapted for use as a side dish for two people.....

Spinach Pilaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 spring onions, chopped
dried ground garlic flakes
1 lb (450gr) fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup (125ml) long grain (silvervlies) rice

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add spring onions and sauté. Add the garlic flakes. Start adding the spinach leaves until they are mixed into the onion. It does not need to be totally wilted at this stage but you need space to fit the rice into the pan. Add the rice, salt and ground black pepper stirring in well. Pour 1 cup of cold water in and bring to a boil. Now reduce the heat and allow to simmer until all the water is evaporated. Fluff by stirring. I added a little more salt and pepper but do this to taste.

This is adapted from the recipe for two servings.

I served our rice pilaf with our meat for the evening and a vegetable dish we love...cook celery. I cut up celery to approximately 3 inch long pieces. Boil in water for about 15 minutes. Drain and serve with sea salt and a sprinkling of old Dutch cheese (or cheese of your choice).

The newest Tessa Kiros cookbook is coming out this October and I already love the name and cover photo! I am looking forward to getting this one but until then, I have a good number of recipes marked to try in my other two.

Limoncello and Linen Water

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Cotswold Ordeal

A Cotswold Ordeal

A Cotswold Ordeal is the second in the Cotswold Mysteries by Rebecca Tope. Thea is at her second housesitting assignment when she discovers a young man hanging from the rafters of one of the barns. A suicide? In the meantime, her sister stays with her at the house called Juniper Court while spending some needed time away from her abusive husband. The two sisters cannot seem to help becoming involved in the story of this Cotswold village while Thea also seems to become more involved with DI Phil Hollis.

I really enjoyed this mystery. It was a mystery where you think you figured out whodunnit and ended up being totally wrong. When the real motive for murder comes out, you find the story twisted without your even seeing it coming.

I am disappointed that I cannot get the third book in this series on Audible.com. I have no ídea why since they do have all the others. I will have to get the book to read before I get the next audiobook.

Happy reading!