Some days I long for familiarity, whether it is in the form of a show that I have watched already (anyone else rewatching BBC’s Sherlock?!), or a recipe that I know cannot fail.
These smokey-salty and sweet morsels are just that: easy, comforting, familiar and incredibly tasty. Even better is that these come together really quick without the need for any fancy ingredients. Eaten with a raw red cabbage salad (this one is a favorite) this makes a perfect wholesome lunch or simple dinner.
But they might be best eaten on their own, together with some roasted nuts, a cheese platter and drinks.
When stuffed with an almond, these are considered to be Spanish tapas, but I mostly associate these snacks with retro party bites, in good company of deviled eggs. Which both deserve to be un-retroed to be honest. 😉
Whenever you would like to skip the bacon part and make this a vegetarian snack, Heidi Swanson has a wonderful suggestion. She fries dates in butter and adds saffron. What I can imagine to be a very nice vegetarian alternative as well. is to fry some dates in butter and then sprinkle them with smoked salt, smoked paprika powder or to stuff it (before frying) with a smoked almond.
In any case, do not let yourself get discouraged by the less than perfect look of this snack. Part of their charm is the imperfection and the super easy preparation that comes with it. Enjoy!
- 30 dates (pits removed)
- 10 strips of smoked streaky bacon
- Notes: these seem to turn out best when prepared some hours before frying, almost as if the bacon sticks better to the date. These can be oven-fried on a sheet of baking paper, but I prefer the charred effect of pan frying.
- Regarding the dates you do not need to buy any fancy dates, simple dried dates (be careful not to buy those sweetened with glucose syrup) will do.
- I tend to use a longer chopping board to prepare these, to make sure I can thin out the bacon strip a little with my finger.
- I find that a thinner layer of bacon sticks better but also means that there is a more subtle note of salt and smokiness.
- I then divide the strip of bacon into three and use each piece to wrap around a date.
- As said, the bacon seems to stick better to the date once it has been in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- To prepare these, lay each bacon-wrapped date in a dry frying pan on medium heat and turn each one carefully. Depending on your pan it might take 10-20 minutes before these are crispy and done.
- If you feel extra fancy, you can sprinkle these with finely grated parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!
I would like to argue that January is the perfect month to indulge. And with indulging I mean watching Grace & Frankie’s brilliant season 4 in one weekend, having loads of candles burning, big glasses of red wine, crusty bread and big bowls of pasta with loads of grated cheese on top. Because even if your belly is bulging a little after the holidays, why should one cope with all the healthy dishes that seem to be creeping up from all corners of the internet now that it is so dark and cold outside?
So now that I have set my stage, I’d like to introduce you to this perfect cheese dish that manages to hold a lot of cheese, but doesn’t leave you gulping for air like fondue or raclette can. This is another recipe from Nigella that is simple but incredibly tasty. Armed with a package of halloumi, a lime, a fresh chili pepper and a good glug of olive oil, you have set yourself up to a great dish that you could – if you must – serve next to a salad or some roasted vegetables. From experience I can tell you that it is great with some crusty ciabatta and even more olive oil as well.:)
Grilled halloumi with chili-lime dressing
- 250 - 400 grams of halloumi, sliced into 0.5 - 1 cm thick slices
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 fresh chili pepper, deseeded and chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
- This recipe is inspired by Nigella and I have made only slight adaptions.
- The great thing about this recipe is that you can freely change the amounts up to your liking.
- One thing to take care of is to eat this dish as hot as you can, once the halloumi cools down, it loses a little of its charm. No salt is added, as the cheese itself is rather salty already.
- Put the sliced halloumi in a hot, dry pan (I found that either a grilling pan or a cast iron skillet work best) until they are dark, almost on the edge of burning.
- Assemble on a plate and sprinkle with the fresh chili pepper, olive oil and lime juice.
- Enjoy while still hot!
Hello, how are you doing? I am happy to report that I am back. Truth to be said, I wasn’t really sure anymore what I was aiming at when I started this blog. Along the way I think I got confused by reading all sorts of articles about how to make your web space popular and successful. And honestly, even though it would be nice to get a bit of attention (it always is!), the reason I started writing this blog is to keep a diary of all my favorite recipes and to make sure that those that I feel really close to, are able to reproduce my dishes, even if I am not around.
And, on top of that, to share the recipes and food that I enjoy so, so much!
Having doubts is normal, and it is reassuring to read that many of us, even those who seem effortlessly successful are not always sure that the road they are walking is going in the right direction. And in the theme of taking time to recalibrate our inner compasses, I have rounded up some links that I really liked reading.
The Amateur Gourmet is back!
Anne Street on spending a year in the provence and letting go of all seemingly normal routines.
And Hummingbird High on her blog anniversary.
And then some links that really make me excited to spend some time in the kitchen.
This beautiful fluffy vanilla nougat. I am considering how cool it would be to gift this for Christmas?
Or this hand rolled pici pasta that I think would be beautiful with a simple sage brown butter sauce, next to roasted brussel sprouts (maybe with some bacon and raisins?).
This crispy chocolate florentine cookies look like a dream.
And for whenever friends are in town, I would love to make this stromboli as a really hearty snack.
And with all the grey skies and rain here in Frankfurt, I could not be happier to report that I am diving into Blue Planet II. Have you started watching yet?
Even though I am a big fan of easy weeknight cooking (I really loved reading this article, in which Michelle of Hummingbird High gets very real on how to fit in making food after coming home from work and the gym), I would like to make an argument for lighting up the bbq when you come across one of these beautiful, cooler evenings at the end of summer. Even if you have worked all day.
I know this is a controversial statement, not only because lighting up a bbq takes time and patience but also because you are supposed to light up your bbq in the sunniest middle of summer. What I find, however, is that by the time the air cools down a little, all of a sudden it is really nice to feel the heat of the bbq on your terrace (and arms) a little. And once it turns dark, you finally see this beautiful glow that fire (!) gives.
And one more thing, especially now in autumn, I want to eat all the hearty things to fill up on before a cold and long winter (read: burgers, steak and shashlicks).
This grilled pineapple somehow fit perfectly in this inbetween season, they are sweet and sticky, but still light as summer.
The grilling brings out a syrupy quality with loads of caramel flavor. I sprinkled the pineapple pieces with some demarera sugar in advance, to let the fruit macerate. It is not about the added sweetness of the sugar, but much more about slightly amending the structure of the fruit. The sugar draws out some of the pineapple juice and makes the flesh softer and much easier to sear on the bbq. Leaving out the sugar would more often lead to almost drying the fruit on the grill. The syrup, released by the pineapple can be perfectly used in a summer lemonade (I love making this one in summer).
Nigella accompanies her grilled pineapple with chocolate sauce, but I would argue that that is a bit too much of good. Instead I’d advise you to sprinkle some finely sliced mint leaves on top of the grilled pineapple or even some mild cayenne pepper, if you’re feeling fancy. 😉
- 1 pineapple (even a less sweet or ripe one will do), cleaned and core removed, cut into 8-10 vertical sticks
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- Wooden skewers (makes it much easier to handle the pineapple after the grill, but is not necessary)
- Clean, core and slice the pineapple vertically. Lay the pineapple sticks on a plate and sprinkle with the sugar. Let the fruit macerate for about an hour or overnight if you prepare this the day before.
- Put on a hot grill and let the fruit caramelize until golden brown.
- Be careful not to burn your mouth. Delicious with some good sorbet ice cream, but also amazing on its own. If you want to go fancy, sprinkle some shredded mint leaves on top and serve with rum. Enjoy!
I am a big fan of homemade condiments, for many many reasons. You see, having this smoky and spicy mayonnaise in my fridge makes me feel excited about even the most mundane kind of food. Such as, let’s say, thinking of having a boiled egg and a slice of bread for dinner. Mwahhhh.
But when I think of adding a spoonful of this mayonnaise to the equation, all of a sudden I’m cycling home a bit faster.
And that is exactly what a homemade condiment does for me – bringing normal food to a level of awesomeness. Which is also what I remind myself of when I go through the motions of making this mayonnaise (or this pesto, labneh or fig mustard), as it does not give the immediate satisfaction of having a meal ready.
I love serving (and obviously eating) this mayonnaise next to a grilled burger, roasted paprikas, with polenta fries (and yes, I really need to reshoot these photos *hiding face in hands*) or on top of said sandwich with some boiled eggs.
In case you are a little intimidated by making your own mayonnaise, feel reassured, as I think pretty much everyone is. You might not get it right the first time, but I am sure it will all work out the second time (at the latest :)).
I will admit that I have a success rate of around 90%, and I have given some tips in the recipe notes on how to fix a ‘troubled’ batch of mayonnaise. In any case: enjoy!
Smokey & spicy paprika mayonnaise
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- Juice of one lemon
- 250 milliliter of neutral oil
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon of chili flakes, or more depending on how spicy you like your mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon of salt, I use pink himalayan salt, but you can use any
- Optional: 1 tablespoon of smoky whisky such as Laphroaig, if you chose to do so reduce the lemon juice by half. Another tasty addition could be 1 teaspoon of crushed & finely chopped garlic
- There are (roughly said) two methods to make mayonnaise.
- The conventional way would be to whisk the mixture into emulsion by hand, demonstrated here by Jamie Oliver.
- The method I prefer, however, is less biceps-heavy and uses a hand-blender, and is accidentally also ready within minutes. Here is a very handy description with useful photos, and Kenji Lopez description is gold.
- By all means, I find that I have the highest success rate when all ingredients are cool, rather than on room temperature.
- With this method you place the egg first in a larger cup (for example the measure jug that comes with your hand blender) or large mason jar, together with the mustard and lemon juice (wait with adding the salt until your mayonnaise is ready, as it might cause it to not firm up). You then place the hand blender in this mixture without turning it on. You then pour the oil on top of it. Only now you start the hand blender without moving, in short intervals (to ensure that you don’t incorporate too much oil in one go).
- Once you can see the egg, mustard and oil binding on the bottom of the glas, start moving the blender slowly upwards until you have a homogene mayonnaise.
- Once your mayonnaise has come together, turn of the hand blender and mix in the salt and spices (and optionally a spoon of smoky whisky) by hand.
- To lighten the mayonnaise up, you can add a little more lemon juice (be careful in case you already added extra liquid by means of some whisky) and eventually also some thick (Greek) yoghurt.
- What do if your mayonnaise turns into soup?
- By all means, do not throw away and be reassured that it can still be rescued.
- The way to save your mayonnaise is by practically making more (or starting over, just how you want to see it). You restart the whole process (one egg, teaspoon of mustard, juice of a lemon) in a jug, and instead of pouring oil on top, you slowly add the 'soupy' mayonnaise while having your handblender on.
- Good luck and enjoy!