dinsdag 23 april 2013

Week 17: Zucchini chilli

This week, we're making zucchini chilli:

[again with the screenshots! I keep forgetting the screenshots]

This is a very healthy vegan recipe! Yes, it uses many of the same ingredients as last weeks recipe, but... well, actually, it's purely because tomatoes were on sale at my local supermarket. Also, I'm trying to fit one vegetarian or vegan dish into my diet per week, and this one seemed like a great choice!

Zucchini chilli
Ingredients (3-4 portions):
2 zucchinis (ca. 600 g)
2 red chilli peppers, finely diced
4 tomatoes (ca. 400 g)
70 g tomato puree
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 tblsp sugar
Basil to taste

In a dash of vegetable oil, sauté the onions, garlic, chilli peppers with the cumin and smoked paprika for 5-8 minutes until the onions are soft. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in chunks. Add the tomato chunks, seeds and all, and the tomato puree to the onion mixture. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cut the zucchini in bite size chunks. Add the zucchini to the chilli. Give it a good stir, then cover again. Leave to simmer until the zucchini is done, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and keep at boiling point to allow excess moisture to vaporize. Stir in the sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning (basil, salt, pepper, chilli powder). Serve with plain rice. Enjoy!

dinsdag 16 april 2013

Week 16: Meatball dinner

This week, we're making a meatball dinner:

Yes, the humble spaghetti-and-meatballs. But with some interesting twists! Particularly the meatballs are just a little different than you may be used to. I call for either 100% beef or 50/50 pork/beef as minced meat, but I feel obliged to add that if any of that turns out to be horse meat, the meatballs won't suffer for it at all!

Meatball dinner
Ingredients (4 portions):
500 g tomatoes
140 g tomato puree
2 medium sized red onions
6 cloves of garlic
400 g minced meat (beef or 50/50 pork/beef)
1 egg
20 g bread crumbs
15 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese + more to taste
200 g whole wheat spaghetti
2 tblsp fresh basil, chopped

Lightly beat the egg. Place the minced meat, beaten egg, bread crumbs and 15 g grated Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Squeeze 2 cloves of garlic into the bowl. Knead the meat and other ingredients until they are well mixed. Divide the mixture into twelve portions and make a meatball of each portion by rolling it between your hand.
Dice the onions and remaining cloves of garlic. Chop the tomatoes in small pieces.
Heat some butter or vegetable oil in a large pan. Fry the meatballs on medium heat until they are browned on all sides. Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan.
In the fat that is left in the pan, sauté the onions and garlic over low heat until they are soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, pulp and all, the tomato puree and a splash of water. Bring to a bubble, then turn the heat down and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped basil and stir through. Adjust seasoning.
Boil the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and stir gently, so that the meatballs are coated with the sauce. On low heat with the lid on the pan, leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti. Serve the sauce and meatballs on top of the spaghetti. Grate more Parmesan cheese on top to taste, and/or garnish with a beautiful basil leaf. Enjoy!

donderdag 11 april 2013

Week 15: Yam soup

This week, we're making yam soup:

This soup, as so many in the game, uses the cream soup base. I'm a bit over that, really, having made two soups like that already, so for this yam soup I cheated a little bit: I stuck to all the ingredients, but used in a different way than suggested.

Yam soup
1 liter chicken stock, or vegetable for vegetarian version
600 g of yam, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 good sized onions
3/4 tsp dried thyme
50 g butter
ca. 3 tblsp flour
50 ml single cream*

Boil the yam chunks in the chicken stock for 15-20 minutes.
Dice the onions. Melt the butter in a pan with a thick bottom. Add the onions and the thyme and sauté over low heat. Take your time for this (at least 10-15 minutes), as you want the onions to be nice and soft. Meanwhile, take the stock of the heat. Puree the yam until the soup is completely smooth.
When the onions are soft, add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir the flour into the onion mixture. Continue this until the flour has absorbed all the butter and the onion mixture is something of a solid mass (you may need a bit more or less than 3 tblsp of flour). Add one ladleful of soup to the onions and stir well. Repeat this three times more, than pour the onion mixture into the rest of the soup. Heat the soup through. Add the cream. Do not let the soup boil after adding the cream! Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Enjoy!

*: For Dutch people: gewone kookroom is prima

Tip: For a different flavour, replace the thyme by ground allspice.

woensdag 10 april 2013

Update will be tomorrow

Today's update will be postponed until tomorrow because - I got a great job today and am going to celebrate! Much as I love this blog, I love telling everyone I know that I'm starting on my dream career just a little bit more!

Also, to all the people who responded to the '5 facts about me and GW2' post: thanks for your great reactions (especially those recommending guilds/groups), I've read them all, I'll be responding to them individually tomorrow as well.

So check back tomorrow for the recipe for a very tasty yam soup!

zaterdag 6 april 2013

5 Facts about me...

... and Guild Wars 2

1) I am not a lvl 400 chef
I haven't found every recipe, and am currently floating somewhere between lvl 325 and 350. So don't expect to see any recipes involving ghost peppers or lemon grass for a while yet! It doesn't speed things up that I don't look recipes up on the internet, I just sit here and mess about with combinations of ingredients and keep lists. Yes, lists, on paper, with tables and little lines going from one ingredient to another and crossing out ingredients for which there are no new recipes etc.

2) My favourite area is Caledon forest
It's a newbie area and there is no challenge whatsoever for me there, but it was the first region of GW2 I saw and I absolutely love it. I've been known to just go there, sit my character down under a tree and just look at the view while knitting.

3) I haven't completed a single dungeon
I used to play the original Guild Wars, and I had a lot of fun with it for years. Unfortunately, several times when I teamed up with others to go do X (I wasn't in a guild), I was berated for either not having good enough gear, or for not being good enough at the game. I know that's not the typical experience (at least, I sure hope not!), but it's made me nervous of joining groups for dungeons. I'll jump in straight away when people are trying to kill dragons or take the temple of Balthazar or whatever (does anyone ever succeed in taking Balthazar's temple? See point 5), but when I see a 'lfg' or party join request, I chicken out. Doing MMORPG's wrong and missing out on loads of content, I know.

4) My favourite NPC is Tybalt Leftpaw
Poor, poor Tybalt Leftpaw.

5) I absolutely hate Balthazar's Temple
All I need to get 100% on the Strait of Devastation is the skill point at Balthazar's Temple. I've tried to sneak in and get the skill point under the enemy's nose, but those fire balls keep interrupting me. I have participated in over a dozen runs on the temple and I am now utterly convinced it is impossible to conquer it. I still check every time I log on, though. 

Feel free to share! What's you're favourite area? What's your favourite actually-not-the-point-of-the-game-at-all thing to do?

woensdag 3 april 2013

Week 14: Mushroom risotto

This week, we're making mushroom risotto!
For a while, I thought I wasn't going to bother with a mushroom risotto recipe until I started running out of recipes. Mushroom risotto is one of those things that are served everywhere as the easy vegetarian option, and practically everyone has a recipe for it. The reason I decided to post one anyway is because I absolutely adore risotto. There's something soothing about risotto: lots of chopping, then lots of stirring. If you've never made risotto, now is absolutely the time to start, as I've made sure this recipe explains exactly what to do and is illustrated with in-progress pictures. So let's start!

The GW2 recipe calls for 'mushrooms', which judging by the picture I always took to be champignon or button mushrooms, and portobello's. In fact, you can use almost any mushroom or combination of mushrooms. I do recommend using more than one type of mushroom, as it will give the dish more flavour. Some of the mushrooms are mixed into the risotto, the rest is served on the side, as you don't want to clutter up the risotto too much. Mushrooms you can use for this include, but are not limited to, button mushrooms, portobello, chanterelle, shimeji, nameko (Pholiota), shiitake, oyster mushrooms, or horse mushrooms (which, oddly enough, taste of aniseed).

Note that this recipe is for 2 servings as a main course, or 4 servings as a starter (as risotto originally is). Also note that Parmesan cheese is not, and cannot be, vegetarian (if it's not made with rennet, it's not Parmesan). As risotto requires some form of fat to really be a creamy risotto, you can replace Parmesan cheese with butter. Or you can just use butter if you don't like Parmesan. Most recipes add a lot more Parmesan than I do, but you can just add more to taste!

Mushroom risotto
Ingredients (2 servings as a main course, 4 servings as a starter):
180-200 g risotto rice
350 g mixed mushrooms
1 medium-sized onion
2 shallots (or another medium-sized onion)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary*
1/4 tsp dried sage*
1 bay leaf*
50 ml sake or white wine*
1 liter chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
25 g grated Parmesan cheese + more cheese to taste (or 25 g butter for a vegetarian version)
4 tblsp olive oil

Finely dice the onion, shallots and garlic. Remove the hard stems from those mushrooms where it's necessary. Divide the mushrooms in two parts: chop one half quite finely, and cut the other half in rougher pieces. Bring the chicken stock to the boil.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, shallots and garlic and sauté on low to medium heat until they are soft (5-10 minutes). Add in the rice and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add in the sake or white wine and turn the heat to high. Keep stirring until all the moisture has been absorbed. Add the herbs and one ladle (125 ml or 1/2 cup) of the hot chicken stock to the rice. Keep stirring all the time: this makes the risotto nice and creamy. When all the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladleful.
Top left: Rice-onion mixture before adding stock. Top right: After adding first ladle of stock. Lower left: After first ladle of stock has been absorbed. Lower right: After adding in finely chopped mushrooms.
When about half the stock has been added to the rice (this should have taken about 10 minutes), turn the heat down a bit. Add the finely chopped mushrooms to the risotto along with another ladleful of stock and give it all a good stir. From now on, only stir when adding stock. Keep adding the stock as instructed. When you're nearing the end of your stock supply, really only add a little bit of stock at a time: it's easy to add more moisture when it's needed, but it's hard to take it out again! You may not need all the stock, or you may need a bit more than 1 liter. Taste a few grains of rice occassionaly to check if they're done. If they're not done yet when you've run out of stock, just use hot water until the rice is done. When the rice is done (after about 20 minutes), turn off the heat. Add the butter and/or Parmesan cheese and stir until this is melted. Now taste the risotto and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes. If you're running late with other cookery things, transfer the risotto to an ovenproof dish, cover the dish and place it in an oven at 100 degrees centigrade until you're ready for it.
In another pan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the coarsely chopped mushrooms to the pan and fry over medium heat. When the mushrooms have turned a nice golden brown, turn the heat way down, just enough to keep the mushrooms warm.

Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve the risotto on warm plates with the mushrooms spooned unto it. Let every person add more grated Parmesan to taste. Enjoy!

*: If you don't have this, don't fret: the recipe works without it too

Tip: I like to fry mushrooms in a shallow pan to prevent me overcrowding them. Putting too many mushrooms in the pan will make them 'sweat' and you'll end up with a pile of soggy mushrooms. It's better to fry them in two portions if you have too many to fit in a single layer in one pan.
Tip: To warm plates, you can either put them in an oven at 75-100 degrees centigrade, or place them over a pan with boiling water (don't forget to wipe them dry if you take that last suggestion!). Be careful when handling them!

What to do with leftovers
When I'm cooking just for me, I often end up making a two-person meal anyway because some ingredients just don't come in small quantities. If you have left-over risotto, you can make a tasty luncheon bite the next day. Let the risotto cool down completely, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day, make little balls of the risotto (no larger than a table tennis ball). If you want, you can put a little something inside each ball - a piece of cheese or ham or something - or you can leave them plain. Mix some grated Parmezan with breadcrumbs. Roll each ball through the mixture and pat the crumbs unto the balls. Fry in a bit of oil. Enjoy!