Tortilla time II

My last post made me hungry for more tortillas! I made quasi Mexican tortillaswith spicy chicken, flavored rice, beans, guacamole and grilled vegetables.

RECIPE

mexican tortilla

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Spicy chicken

This spicy, marinated chicken is more Asian than Mexican, but the flavor goes very well with the other dishes. Use organic chicken meat for superior flavor, pound the following ingredients in your mortar (or chop finely and mix) and marinate the sliced chicken in them for about half an hour to a few hours.

Juice of 1½ lemon or 2 limes 2 cloves garlic 1 red pepper or 1 heaping teaspoon sambal A big dash of soy sauce A big dash of fish sauce A teaspoon of sugar or honey and/or some sweet chili sauce The stems of a bunch of cilantro

Drain the chicken (save the marinade) and add to a hot, hot oiled pan. The chicken will release more juice, drain if necessary and fry until nicely browned. Add the reserved marinade and boil down until the chicken is covered in sweet sticky brown juice. Serve with some fresh cilantro.

spicy chicken

Grilled onions, zucchini and bell pepper

Saute a couple of big onions (as many as your pan will take, really, you can use them for anything in the next few days) in a heavy bottomed pan. The longer you give them, the more beautifully they will caramelize and brown. It can take from twenty minutes up to an hour. Cut up a bell pepper and grill it in a hot pan with barely any oil. Add a bit of water to the hot pan every now and then, the steam will cook it more quickly. Cook the zucchini in the same way, but with a bit more oil and add a clove of chopped garlic.

grilled vegetables

Simple tomato salsa

A can of tomatoes Two cloves of garlic ½ red chili pepper (or to taste, if you can find some crazy Mexican chili or smoked chili powder or a nice sambal, go for it) Some pickled jalapeños A bunch of cilantro Salt to taste Lime juice or rice vinegar to taste A dash of sugar

Blend it all with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. I like to make it quite spicy to complement the other, softer flavors.

tomato salsa

Quick half-mashed beans

Gently saute a minced clove of garlic. Add a handful of your caramelized onions (or saute an onion with the garlic), and add a big can of beans. Add about ½ teaspoon of ground cumin, coriander seed, cayenne pepper and paprika, plus salt and pepper to taste. Take an immersion blender (or potato masher) to the pan and puree about half the beans. Add some water if desired.

mexican beans

Simple guacamole and/or sour cream

Mash an avocado with some lime juice, salt and pepper. You could thin it with some sour cream or 10% fat yogurt if you like. Cilantro is always good in guacamole, or a touch of garlic or green onions, or some chopped red chili peper.

guacamole and sour cream

Assemble!

Warm a few tortillas in a dry frying pan. I smeared my tortillas with some grilled pepper-eggplant dip. To make this, steam a chopped eggplant until soft, add a grilled red pepper (from a jar works just fine) a few heaping spoons of the spicy tomato salsa, which will provide all the flavor you need. Blend until smooth, adding perhaps just an extra squeeze of lemon or lime and salt to taste.

I also added some steamed, flavored rice. Saute a clove of garlic and an onion (or use the caramelized onions, very nice), and add a cup of dry basmati rice to the oil. Stir over medium heat until the rice turns translucent. Add a cup and a half of boiling water with bouillon (vegetable bouillon powder, a bouillon cube or stock instead of water all work beautifully). Steam the rice in a covered pan for about ten minutes, just taste for doneness and serve.

So, smear your tortilla with the eggplant (this is very optional), spread some lettuce (also not very Mexican at all, I just wanted greens and had to put them somewhere), rice, beans, fresh diced tomatoes, grilled vegetables and plenty of chicken. The tricky part is not to over-stuff, or it won't close. Add some dollops of cream and/or guacamole, as much fresh cilantro as you can stand and enjoy!

tortilla assembly

Tortilla time

Making tortillas is like making a sandwich: anything goes and they're hard to mess up. For this one I made garlicky yogurt eggplant withParmesan (recipe stolen from the great Nick Schonfeld), and added baba ghanoush, lettuce, grilled onions and peppers and fresh mint.

RECIPE

tortilla time .

Yogurt eggplant:

Fry a sliced eggplant in oil with finely minced garlic. Remove from heat and add plenty of Greek or Turkish yogurt (or any other 10% fat yogurt) and a handful of grated or flaky Parmesan cheese.

Assemble:

Spread some baba ghanoush or tahini on a warmed tortilla, cover with plenty of lettuce, slowly grilled onions and bell pepper. Top with the yogurt eggplant, lots of fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Or come up with your own variation, any vegetable lying around in your fridge will do. Fold it up burrito-style and tuck in!

Sander

Is a friend and a very good cook. He brightened a sad day with this gorgeous grilledherb stuffed trout with a homemade bearnaise sauce and rosemary potato mash. As a starter, we had deep fried smelt with a generous squeeze of lemon.

RECIPE

grilled herb stuffed trout fish recipe

This is how it goes according to Sander:

The trout was stuffed with herbs (fresh bay leaf, parsley, thyme) and grilled. Very nicely done and of course served with lemon. For the sauce: beat two egg yolks with some lemon juice and herb vinegar. Put on low heat and whisk in cubes of butter. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper and chopped dill or tarragon. We had the tarragon, it was great. The smelt is just shaken in a bag of flour, deep fried and served with lots of lemon. Very, very good.

deep fried smelt fish recipe

Homemade chocolate cake

I found a perfect recipe for chocolate cake, it never fails. It might be in a box but I swear I made it myself.There is absolutely no flour in it, so you can taste the chocolate much better.

RECIPE

chocolate cake . . I picked this recipe from foodnetwork.com after comparing a few dozen of them, and added a few final touches. It's so good because of its pure chocolate flavor, it looks great and it never fails. Always a winner, especially still warm and served with ice cream. A red fruit coulis works great too (or both).

550 g dark chocolate - as dark as possible, I found a kind with crunchy dark cocoa bits which is great, chocolate with nuts is nice too. 115 g unsalted butter 9 eggs, separated 3/4 cups sugar 100 ml heavy cream Any kind of nuts to top the cake or to crush and add to the batter, or both.

Melt 450 gs of the chocolate and butter. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow. Whisk a bit of the chocolate butter mixture into the yolks, add another spoonful and another (so it doesn't cook the egg), and add the rest of it.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold in the chocolate mixture. Pour into a 24 cm buttered or paper lined spring form cake pan. Bake at 180 °C for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry.

Melt the remaining 100 gs of chocolate and whisk in the cream. Spread it over the top of the cake for a beautiful shiny finish. It tastes really good too, none of that sugary frosting nonsense, just really pure creamy chocolate taste. It'll pour all over the place, but that's okay, it'll set soon enough. It might work better if you chill the cake first, but who has the patience for that? Just make sure you have something underneath the cake that can deal with it. Top it with nuts now if you like, they'll sink right into the chocolate layer. .

whole chocolate cake

Summer rolls

I made summer rolls, the most delicious Vietnamese snack everinvented. Actually I wouldn't know about that, I've never been to Vietnam, but they make a pretty good reason to go there all by themselves. They're hard to come by in Amsterdam, so I just make my own. Unbelievably fresh and tasty!

RECIPE

vietnamese summer rolls

. Summer rolls aren't hard to make, but it's a bit of work. Take your time and enjoy it, preferably make them together. Summer rolls are just sheets of rice paper, soaked in hot water until they're soft and filled with lots of delicious fresh vegetables, herbs, tofu, shrimp, even mango if you like it. The trick is to have all your ingredients ready, so you can set up an assembly line and to eat the rolls as soon as they're done. It's like sushi: if you wait for more than an hour, they become dry and tough and gross. If you have to wait for a bit, make sure to cover them with a damp towel. I'm pretty sure the ingredients I chose aren't all authentic, but I think it's okay to

adjust to your liking. You can easily find recipes online if you're interested in the real thing..

. Ingredients:

Rice paper (get it at your local Asian supermarket)

Lettuce: soft, smaller leaves - Boston or romaine lettuce is often mentioned but I found that this lettuce mix was just fine.

(Thai) basil, cilantro, mint: any of these or a combination are fine, just make sure to use lots of it because it makes it taste so fresh. Especially Thai basil makes a big difference if you can find it.

Strips of fried tofu with soy sauce or whatever sauce/spices you like, or boiled shrimp. Fried sliced mushroom, preferably shiitake, also with a little soy- or oyster sauce. Bean sprouts, raw or blanched. Crushed peanuts.

Lay out your ingredients, lettuce first, and roll it up like a little mini burrito. Serve with a Vietnamese dipping sauce: something with fish sauce, lime juice, red pepper, garlic, ginger and maybe a little soy sauce and sugar. Hoisin sauce works nicely too, or even that sweet egg roll chili dipping sauce from a bottle. .

summer rolls rice sheet

summer rolls assembling

Breakfast in bed

Bed bound for a week and a half due to a persistent bout of flu, my whole life took place in a few square meters.It was very relaxing to just eat, sleep and watch season after season of tv shows for that long. My body seemed to be saying 'if you're not going to take a vacation, I will'. The breakfast served here is a shiitake green onion omelet with garlic rubbed toast, hummus and mixed sprouts, cucumber and apple-orange juice.

RECIPE

breakfast in bed .

Garlic toast:

Slice your favorite bread (sour dough works very well) and drizzle it heavily with olive oil. It's okay if the bread is stale, it's one of the best things you can do with old bread. Put it in a hot oven (180-200 °C) until it starts to brown and feels crispy. You could also do it in a pan, or in a toaster. If it's toasted, add the oil afterward, or your toaster gets oily. Slice a clove of garlic in half lengthwise (you can leave the skin on) and rub the bread thoroughly with it. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. This is also great with some fresh chopped herbs on it if you have some lying around: parsley or cilantro, and maybe even some lemon.

Hummus:

The hummus used here is from a pack, it was a pretty good one, but of course there's nothing like making your own. It's so simple, too. I know you're officially supposed to cook your own chickpeas for this but I'm way too lazy for that. So I just take a can of chickpeas (drained), the juice of a lemon, a small clove of garlic (finely minced), salt and pepper and mash the lot with an immersion blender. I add some olive oil, but not that much. If I've got time, I'll take that garlic and a finely chopped onion and fry them in some olive oil until they're soft and sweet, and add them to the hummus before mashing. I definitely prefer cooked garlic over raw in spreads, you can use more because it's much less sharp. Officially I think you're supposed to add tahini (sesame paste) as well, but I prefer it without.

Omelet:

Slice your shiitake mushrooms and fry them in some oil until brown. Add about half a chopped green onion halfway through, and a dash of soy sauce at the end. Set aside. For the perfect fluffy omelet (I finally listened to all those tv chefs and it really does work), heat a non stick pan until very, very hot and add some oil and butter. The pan should be so hot the butter melts and turns brown immediately. When the butter is brown (but not smoking), add one, two or three eggs (whisked). They should start setting at the bottom within seconds, and now you take your spatula or a fork and sort of scramble the egg while it's still liquidy. Because you mixed it up, the bottom of the pan is now again covered with liquid egg, which will set as well, and the top of the egg is sort of half liquid, half solid. If you use three eggs, repeat this step, otherwise you've got too much liquid egg. Allow to set until just barely solidified, another few seconds, but never let it get tough and leathery. The egg should not be in your pan for a long time at all. This is the moment where you add your shiitake-onion mixture (or fresh herbs, or grated cheese, or anything else you like), fold the omelet closed, and serve. With a bit of practice, it will be seriously fluffy, and crispy on the outside.