06 September 2012

Canh dau hu he (tofu chives soup)

As you know I haven’t been blogging much (well not at all) anymore, but I’d like to give you an update of what is going on. Since I stared running I’ve been able to lose 6 kilos in total! I’m still trying to get rid of the last couple of kilos, which are the hardest but I’m heading in the right direction. I’m on 58 right now and my goal is 55. I know it won’t make me happier, but it will for sure make me feel better about myself.

There is no secret in losing weight and unfortunately there is no easy way to do it either. It’s something everyone knows, but so it’s hard to follow. All you need is to eat less and to exercise more. Easier said then done for sure.

To loose the weight I had to cut back on carbs (only one carb meal a day, which for me is two sandwiches for lunch) and have as less carbs as possible for dinner. Sometimes a bit more and sometimes a bit less.
And I’m running at least twice a week for 45 minutes per run. If possible every other day would be even better, but with the Dutch weather that is not always possible. No running in the rain for me.

I eat a lot of veggies and salads and cut out most fried food. And I drink lots of water, at least 2 litters a day. No snacking…well ok every once a while in a blue moon…you’ve got to live a little right?

I just love soups and it’s something I can eat every day. I pack mine with lots of veggies and some kind of protein; minced pork, beef or chicken.
This is soup is inspired by some freshly grown Chinese chives. My mom grows them in their back yard and ask me to take some home. These plants are so strong, they keep coming back, even after the cold cold Dutch winters.
It’s one of the easiest and fastest soup you can make and not only that, it’s also sort of healthy for you. At least that’s what I think =)

You can make the stock with all kinds of meat, but I prefer pork. It’s what I grew up with so that’s what I’m using. My mom usually make it with thinly sliced pork, but since I had some pork ribs I used that.

For this soup you need:
-          some pork (ribs or whatever you have at hand)
-          salt, pepper
-          1 fresh tofu
-          handful Chinese chives
-          1 tomato (I didn’t had one, but if I had I would put it in)
-          2 beaten eggs
I cooked the pork ribs with some salt and pepper till tender. If I had a tomato I would quarter it and add that at this point. To have a clear broth I scooped the foam off a couple of times.

You can cut the tofu anyway you like (mine were square) and add it to the broth. Boil everything till the tofu is cooked.
I stirred in the eggs to get egg threads and just before I was ready to serve I added the chives.
All I had to do then was to boil it for a couple of seconds and it was dinner time.
For some extra flavour I sprinkled some spring onions on the top. I ate the soup just the way it is, but for those who love their carbs, you can also eat it with rice.


18 July 2012

What am I up to...

I realize it’s been too long since I logged on my blog and it’s even longer since I took time to visit other blogs. Remember a couple of months ago I wrote that my relationship with food would totally change? That was like beginning of the year…Nothing really happened till the end of May when I actually started to change my eating habits. I’ve been cutting down on carbs and increasing the exercise. Every day the weather is nice I try to get my running gear on and go for a run for about 30-40 minutes. I was lucky that so far I manage to run a minimum of 2 times a week and in a good week it’s 4 times.

I’m happy to say that now I can run the whole way without needing to stop and catch my breath. I’m also very happy to lose 4 kilos making my weight a total of 60 kilos. Not bad for 2-3 months of exercising and cutting down on carbs. But it hasn’t been easy and I didn’t want to tempt myself by looking at all the good stuff everyone is blogging about, so I kept a very low profile. I want to reach my goal and bring my weight back to 55 kilos so I still have some losing to do. I know I can do it, because I manage to do it before, and I want to do it the right way. Once I reach this weight I just need to maintain it and that’s even harder than losing it in the first place. I’ve been neglecting my body and I really need to feel comfortable in it again. Besides I have a wedding in California next summer and I want to wow everyone there =)
I’m also thinking about what I want to do, since my work is no longer satisfying. It is just not the same anymore with all the rules (that can change per day). It used to be a very good job with all the extra little benefits, but without them, it’s just a job like no other. It’s a shame because I’ve been working there for 10 years and it’s almost my second home. The week always went by so fast and I never mind going to work and go that extra mile if needed. Now I just go in, do my job and go home asap. I miss the good old days, but I’m afraid they are gone forever. So if I don’t work here, what will I do then? It’s a question I haven’t been able to answer yet.
So my dear friends, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m doing well but just need time to work on myself and to find something I like to do...
I hope to get back to blogging soon. I still have some great recipes I want to share. Unfortunately great recipes are mostly not the healthiest ones!

16 June 2012

Fried chicken fingers

The Dutchies are very very nuts about soccer and the last few weeks the streets were decorated with orange flags. Holland has one more chance to go to the next round, but if they lose the next game I’m sure all the orange will disappear soon. I’m not a big fan of soccer. Well I’m not a fan at all, so while my hubby is watching the game I had time to prepare some finger food. I wanted to buy some chicken nuggets at the supermarket, but when I saw that only 80% was chicken and the other 20% something else I decided to make some myself. At least it will have 100% chicken in it.
I used 3 chicken breasts which I rinsed, dried and cut in finger size bits.
Then I set up my batter station.
To my store bought bread crumbs I added some salt, pepper, garlic powder and some freshly minced parsley.
To get a really nice crust on the chicken I covered it first with some plain flour. Then it went in the egg mixture and last in the bread crumbs. I know I could probably bake them in the oven, but since we were all pretty hungry I fried them in some oil.
It only takes a couple of minutes to brown and after they are done I drained them on a piece of paper.
The chicken fingers were so good they disappeared in no time.
The parsley really gave it a nice touch and although I didn’t season the chicken first they were still full of flavor and super moist.
My hubby already said no more KFC for him since these chicken fingers were way better!

Hope you all are enjoying the weekend. I'm going back to the kitchen for a father's day
Black Forest cake or Schwarzwälder Kirsch cake.

10 June 2012

Strawberry cloud birthday cake

Today marks a very special day for one little lady. Although it’s her 22nd birthday in my eyes she’s still little…that is till I realize how old she is. It makes me old thinking about it. In my mind I’m still 25 at most…

Since it’s her special day I’ll tell you a little something about her. You’ll have to know that my family has 4 girls and she is the last in the row. My other sisters and I are 2 and 4 years apart, but since this one was an attempt of having a boy we are 11 years apart. I remembered I had to take care of her when she was a baby because I was the big sister. Even now I’m taking care of her since she lives with me and my husband while she is in college here in The Hague. Our deal is: you pass every year and granulate or you go back to mom and dad. So far so good…she’s still here.
For her birthday she didn’t want to invite any friends over. Instead she’s at home playing on her laptop and chill out. This doesn’t mean that there is no cake. I saw this cake on Annabel Langbein’s show. Again one of those easy to make cakes that I had to give it a try and I followed her recipe to the letter. Well almost to the letter. Click here for her recipe.
The only thing I did different is using about 300 grams of whole grain biscuits and about 300 grams of strawberries.
I like a thicker biscuit layer so I used more biscuits. Here I’m mixing up 300 grams of biscuits, 100 grams of melted butter, 2 cups of shredded coconut and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. 
What I would do different next time is mashing the strawberries first before mixing it. Because I left the strawberries still a bit chunky they went flying everywhere when I started mixing it. I’m mixing 300 grams of strawberries, 2 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Also I would mix it on low speed first and then increase it to max till it fluffs up. And I would mix it a bit longer too. This morning when I checked on the cake some of juice was running out of the cake.
This probably means that I haven’t beaten it well enough. I would also reduce the sugar; 1 cup was a bit too sweet, so I’d go for ½ cup next time.
The cake was really fluffy and tasted like cotton candy. Who knew you could make something this easy with just 2 egg whites and some soft fruits.
Apparently you can freeze this cake to so after we all had a slice I put it in the freezer. Hopefully it tastes even better frozen!
Happy birthday baby girl!

07 June 2012

Chocolate Truffles

I used some of my ganache as a topping for my chocolate cakes (also a recipe by Annabel and will follow soon) and I still had so much left. I only used 250 ml whipping cream and 250 grams of chocolate, but it was still more then plenty to coat a big cake. 
So I used part of it for some chocolate truffles, just like Annabel. She said whenever she made ganache she always have to make truffles. They were easier to make then I thought.

I poured some warm ganache in a bowl and added some butter. Depending on how much ganache you have, I’d use a tablespoon of butter or a teaspoon. A little bit goes a long way, but if you don’t put enough butter in it won’t get hard. That’s not a problem since the flavour will still be good; it’s just difficult to roll it into little balls. I also added a bit of liquor. I had Amaretto at hand so I used that, but I know some like Cointreau.
After it’s all mixed it went in the fridge so it could harden.
In a different bowl I mixed the ganache with some shredded coconut and some butter so I could have 2 flavour truffles.
I used a teaspoon to form little balls and roll them between my hands. After that I dropped them in coco powder and swirl the bowl around so the truffle gets a nice coco layer. I found out that it’s less messy if you just scoop a table spoon of ganache straight in the coco powder and form them into balls after they are coated.
As you can see I didn’t make too much…Have you noticed the little chocolate cupcake in the back?
This is all we have...thank god, because they were so good I could eat them all in one time!

Chocolate Ganache

Have you ever heard of Annabel Langbein aka the Free Range Cook? She’s this Australian lady who pretty much grows everything in her garden and who makes fantastic food using whatever she grows. Of course you can’t grow a cow or a pig so she gets her protein from farmers markets and friends. If you watch her show her food looks so easy to make, you can easily copy after watching the show.

What she has, is considered one of my dreams…to have a great big garden with all kinds of fruits, veggies and herbs.

I love to see her disapear in her garden and come out with all kinds of veggies and fruits. So far I’ve been able to grow is some viges, blueberries, grapes and a couple of herbs; nothing comparing to what she gets out, but it’s a start.

This year my peony bush finally bloom! I bought this tiny little sprig and finally after 2 years it gave me 7 flowers in total.
Isn’t it pretty?
It’s overpowering my grapetree right now so I’ll have to do something about it this weekend. I grow it right in front of the house so it’s the first thing I see when I leave the house. One of my neigbours even complement me on it. She loves passing by and see the flowers blossem a bit day by day.

Anyway the other day she made chocolate ganache in her show. Her recipe was just too easy: equal parts of whipping cream and dark chocolate. She used 500 ml cream and 500 grams of chocolate. And she always uses the best chocolate she can find. Since I don’t really taste the difference between high quality chocolate and cheap stuff, I go for the cheap stuff. Maybe when my taste buttons develops more I’d switch to the high end stuff.
All you’ll have to do is cook the cream till you see little bubbles form on the edge of the pot. Then take it off the fire and put all the chocolate in.
Let it sit for a couple of seconds and then mix it all together till it’s one smooth and shiny mixture.
Pour it in a jar and store it in the fridge. How simple is that?

This ganache is a great base for chocolate truffles which I, just like Annabel, also ended up making.  

30 May 2012

On my BBQ table: freshly made garlic herb butter

You only know what you have when it’s gone. This is so very true. The last couple of days we had amazing weather. Although there was a lot of complaining about the heat and the pollen in the air, it was so nice. It was like having a holiday in our own country. After work we went biking to the beach and to Delft and we spent lots of time outside soaking in the sun. And of course in one week we had like 2 bbq parties!
After being spoiled for a week or so the temperature dropped and the sun somewhat disappeared. And it got cold! Well not really cold, but cold comparing to what we use to have. But it’s only spring so we have high expectations for a warm and sunny summer. 

To prepare for the bbq season and because everyone seem to love my bbq parties I will share some of the party flavours with you. 

If you are planning a bbq party or attending one, I have this amazing, but yet simple, recipe for something that can be eaten with pretty much everything. It’s great to have on your bbq table and even better to bring it as a present when you are invited. Of course I’m talking about garlic herb butter! I don’t know how common this is worldwide, but we Dutchies love our garlic herb butter! 

You can use a much or as little of the ingredients as you like; there is no right or wrong with this recipe. 

All you’ll need is:
- Good room temperature butter (I used 250 gram)
- Finely chopped chives (3 big tablespoons)
- Finely chopped parsley (3 big tablespoons)
- Garlic cloves (4 cloves finely grated)
- Few drops of lemon (about a teaspoon)
- Salt and pepper (1 teaspoon salt and as much pepper as you feel like having) 
I was so lucky that I could use fresh herbs from my yard! They look so fresh, vibrant and green. I just love my garden!
I started with chopping all the herbs as finely as I could.  
Then I added the salt, pepper, lemon juice and the minced garlic cloves and mixed this in with the butter. I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours and took it out about 30 minutes before dinner. 
This butter is AMAZING on some French bread and it will taste even better if you put the bread on the bbq so the butter can melt a little...
You can even put a bit on top of your steak or use it to rub it under a chicken skin before roasting it. How about brushing some of it on a corn on the cob? Or adding it to some mash or roast potatoes? The possibilities are endless!

You can keep this butter in the fridge for a couple of days and I believe you can even freeze it in the freezer. But to keep the nice fresh herb flavour I would just make enough and make more when needed. Something this easy doesn't have to be made in bulk.

I hope you’ll think about this butter when you’re having a bbq party!

Ps: I haven’t found any place where I could donate some of my food at…still searching. Also my body is sore all over from running, biking and exercising. Hopefully it pays off in a couple of weeks!

23 May 2012

Cinnamon sugar coated mix nuts

It seems like I’m back on the horse again! Well as a figure of speech…(I’m afraid of horses, especially the big ones). After sharing a few recipes I’m really in the mood for blogging! And to visit other blogs to see what I’ve been missing since my long break.
I’m soooo happy! For a while it looked like I didn’t have any inspiration at all!

Before I share this recipe…remember a while back I mentioned that I wanted to lose some weight? Well I actually tried to run here and there while I was on holiday beginning of this year, but after I got home it was quite difficult to motivate myself. When it’s cold outside, I’m not really in the mood to run or to make any move at all hihhi.
Yesterday the weather was extremely nice so my coworker and I agreed on running every Tuesday right after work. Since running one day a week doesn’t really make you lose anything I decided to try and see if I can run every day. Well at least when it isn’t raining then. Today after work I went home and started to run. Although it was not even for 30 minutes I was very proud that I did it! My whole body hurt from yesterdays run, but I still did it. Bonus points for me!
If I can only do it for 30 minutes (to start with) every day I might be good to go by the end of the summer. I miss the days that I could run for 45 minutes straight without having to stop for air. Now I can only run for 5 minutes and then I’ll have to walk for about 1-2 minutes to get my breath back!
But I’m determined and it has to happen now. I’ve been eating way too good and been packing on some more then I wanted. Starting beginning next month I’ll be on a low carb diet…so no more rice, potato, bread, pasta…and all other stuff I like so much.
That reminds me…I need to find someone to donate my food to. Well not the low carb stuff, but the bread, cakes and cookies I’m still planning on baking. Just because I can’t eat it (well shouldn’t eat it) doesn’t mean I can’t make it right? The neighbors can only eat so much also, so maybe a charity or something…I’ll need to look into that.
Anyway these cinnamon sugar coated mix nuts are so easy to make. All you need is 2 handful mixed nuts (or just almonds, cashews or whatever nuts you like), 3 tablespoons of sugar, a sprinkle of salt and a pinch or 2 of cinnamon.
I started with toasting the nuts in a non stick pan.
When they started to release some flavor I added 3 tablespoons of sugar, the salt and cinnamon and mixed that with the nuts.
Because all the sugar was stuck to the nuts I added 2 tablespoons of water and waited till the sugar turned to caramel and coated the nuts.
When all the nuts are covered with the sugar /caramelmixture I poured it on a baking sheet so they could cool a bit and I could pull them apart. Not all the sugar dissolved so you can see some clumps of sugar. I think next time I would melt the sugar with a bit of water first and then add the toasted nuts.
I ate a few of them after they completely cooled and they weren't bad. Even though I didn't add any butter, they some how tasted like I did!

It’s a good thing my parents are coming over tomorrow so they can finish the rest of the nuts. You’ll have to admit; they look much more appealing than the nuts in the first picture.

20 May 2012

Banana jam

After baking those lovely mini brioches today I was in the mood for some more “experimenting”. I have 3 so very over the top ripe bananas that had to be eaten. One more day and it was ready for the trash. So I really really had to use them. I didn’t want to make any banana bread or banana cake or anything else for that matter. I still have a lot of brioches we have to finish so it had to be something that could go with them. What else would go better with homemade brioche than some jam? This is just too easy. I’ve made jam before…I even accidently made jam when I wanted to make syrup! So this is what I did:
I squeezed the juice of one lime in a bowl. This was a very juicy lime so I ended up with about 60 ml juice. Then I pealed the bananas and sliced them about ½ cm and dropped them in with the lemon.
I don’t really like my jam too sweet so I started with adding 7 tablespoons of sugar; if needed I could always add some more. Then I added a good pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of cinnamon. I mixed everything and started to cook it in a pot.
Just when the sugar started to dissolve I had a taste. It was just perfect. It had a nice balance between sweet and sour, just the way I like it.
I added a drop of rum flavorings and cooked it till the jam thickens. There was a bit of foam so I scooped that off. The whole house smells so nice now...great combination of cinnamon and banana.
I poured it in a sterilized jar and let it rest upside down for a bit. After 15 minutes I turned it back up and after it cools off it will go in the fridge. Hope it will thicken more when it cools.
And it did!
It was sooo good with the brioche!