Indian Sides

29th March 2015

Indian SidesI love Indian food, but it’s a lot of work to prepare everything from scratch. If you wait last minute you will be in the kitchen the entire day! Luckily, many sides and sauces can be prepared ahead of time so you only have to prepare your main course the day you are going to eat your meal.

The two sides I always need to have with my Indian food are Cucumber Raita and Mango Chutney. Indian food is spicy, and raita offers coolness while mango chutney adds a bit of sweet and sour. Both of these sides are available premade in jars at the grocery store, but you should prepare them yourself! These Indian sides are super easy and inexpensive to make. The cucumber raita can be prepared up to 5 days before and the mango chutney stays good for up to a month.

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber RaitaCucumber Raita

  1. Peel the cucumber and slice in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Grate the cucumber and place into a colander. Add a pinch of salt and allow it to sit while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yoghurt, salt, cumin, and coriander. Stir to combine. Roughly chop the herbs and add to the bowl. Peel the ginger and grate it finely into the bowl.
  3. After the cucumber has been sitting for at least ten minutes, press it into the sides of the colander to extract as much moisture as possible. Add it to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve the sauce immediately or refrigerate to allow the flavors to combine. Stays good for up to 5 days.

Mango Chutney

Mango Chutney

Mango Chutney

Mango Chutney

Mango ChutneyMango Chutney

  1. The night before you want to make the chutney it is necessary to peel one’s mangoes, cube them and sprinkle them with salt. This draws out some of their moisture and softens them. Make sure to rinse before use!
  2. Add the apple, ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar, onion seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, chilli flakes and chilli powder into a pan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the mango and bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Simmer the chutney for 30-40 minutes until it has achieved a thick, sticky consistency. Season to taste. Once the chutney is done transfer it to the jar and allow to cool before applying the lid.

Everything Bagels

24th March 2015

Everything Spelt Bagel

I love bagels. Especially everything bagels. And you can’t find them in Antwerp, Belgium. Or at least I haven’t been able to!

What to do if you can’t find them? Why, make them of course!

Making bagels is a time consuming but rewarding process. You need to plan ahead, because the first steps take place the night before. But if you’re planning a nice brunch, you’ve most likely already bought all of the ingredients ahead of time.

And how to eat your bagels? You prepare them simply with cream cheese or butter, or make sandwiches out of them like my husband and I did. I was in the mood for bacon and eggs with a lot of vegetables (tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce) and my husband went for the classic lox and cream cheese with capers and onions.

The recipe is a hybrid from the BBC and Epicurious.

Everything Spelt Bagel

Everything Spelt Bagel


Everything Spelt BagelEverything Spelt Bagel

Everything Spelt Bagel

Everything Spelt Bagel

Everything Spelt Bagel

Everything Bagels

Make the Dough the Night Before

  1. Tip the yeast and 1 tbsp sugar into a large bowl, and pour over 100ml warm water. Leave for 10 mins until the mixture becomes frothy.
  2. Pour 200ml warm water into the bowl, then stir in the salt and half the flour. Keep adding the remaining flour (I had to add a bit more) and mixing with your hands until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Then knead for 10 mins until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and put in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1hr.
  3. When you’re ready to shape the bagels, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil or lightly coating it with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces.
  4. There are two methods to shape the balls into bagels.
    • The first method is to poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.
    • The second method, preferred by professional bagel makers, is to use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter.
  5. Place each shaped bagel on the prepared sheet pan, then mist with spray oil or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

Baking Day

  1. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them. Immediately check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (seeds, onions, garlic, and so on). You’ll also need to rehydrate the onion and garlic powder – just add about a tablespoon of water.
  2. To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of  toppings as soon as the bagels come out of the water.
  4. Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C). Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving. Enjoy!

Baked Black Bean Taquitos

10th March 2015

TaquitosI really miss Mexican food. For some reason it hasn’t quite caught on here in Antwerp. Not even in the surrounding parts. The only Mexican offering you have in the supermarkets are ingredients for tacos, burritos, and fajitas. But there is so much more!!

Taquitos are easy to make and so delicious! Normally they are fried, but at home I like to prepare a healthier version (baked not fried) by Naturally Ella for Black Bean Taquitos. These crispy rolls are perfect served as snacks are as a main course with a large serving of guacamole on the side. When I have to describe them to Belgian people I say they’re like Mexican eggrolls: aka small, fried, and easy to dip into sauces (guac, salsa, sour cream). This recipe is vegetarian, but you can also fill them with shredded chicken, pulled pork, and other meats.


TacquitosBaked Black Bean Taquitos

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and pepper until onion becomes translucent. Stir in garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add in black beans and cilantro, cooking until beans are heated through- two to three minutes more.
  3. Place a tortilla on a cutting board and scoop one spoonful of black bean filling and a hefty pinch of cheese on top. Roll tight and place seam side down on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Repeat until all the filling is used. Brush each piece with oil.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the corn tortilla is a light brown color. Serve with guacamole, salsa, or sour cream. Enjoy!

Grilled Halloumi with Blueberries and Herbs

8th March 2015

Grilled Halloumi with Blueberries and HerbsI love halloumi – so delicious and salty! I like to have it on hand for meals and sometimes even a late night snack. One night a couple of weeks ago my husband came into the kitchen and asked who fries halloumi at 11 o’clock in the evening. That’s me and I can’t get enough.

If I make a meal out of this delicious Cypriot cheese, I like to pair it with something a bit sweeter like tomatoes, or in this case blueberries. The sweetness balances out the saltiness creating a delicious taste explosion in your mouth.

This recipe for Grilled Halloumi with Blueberries comes from Naturally Ella. It is so easy to make and the combination of flavors is perfect – salty, sweet, spicy, and fresh! The only change I made to the recipe is leaving out the hazelnuts and adding pita bread. I’m not a huge fan of hazelnuts but you can always add them if you’d like! I think the intention of this recipe was as a snack or a starter, but I made it for dinner. With the pita bread, you can stuff everything inside them or scoop the delicious cheese and blueberries on top. Yum!

Grilled Halloumi with Blueberries

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and black pepper. In a separate bowl, toss blueberries with the minced jalepeño pepper, 1 tablespoon mint and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Pour dressing over blueberry mixture and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add halloumi and cook until golden, 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Place cheese on a plate, spoon blueberries over cheese slices, and finish with remaining herbs. Serve while halloumi is still warm with freshly baked pita bread. Enjoy!