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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

I have never been indifferent about what I was eating. Raised in a home where we always consumed fresh products, I was taught from the very beginning how important it is to wisely choose ingredients. Later on, when I moved to the south of France and had to cook for myself, I always went to the green markets to buy my fruits and veggies. And also nowadays, I get really annoyed when I have to eat plastic meals, which unfortunately, sometimes seems to be just inevitable.

Over summer I decided to take care again more consciously of my body and health. I was very active and went to the gym much more often. The more I moved the hungrier I became. At some point I decided to learn a little more about nutrition and what ingredients would really help me to build strength and fuel my body with energy. I have no intention to give up on meat, but still I found that there are many more foods that provide you with protein, iron etc..

The health benefits of lentils are numerous, nonetheless it seems they are highly underestimated. They include high protein content on one hand and contribute to a healthy heart, diabetes and cancer control on the other. During my research I found out that lentils are a rich source of essential amino acids such as isoleucine and lysine. They are also a god source of micronutrients like vitamins or minerals.

It seems that to date, lentils are considered to be the plant that provides the highest amount of protein. The amount of protein generated from lentils equals around up to 35%. This rate is comparable to red meat, poultry, fish or even dairy products. A positive side effect however is, that they are the ideal source of protein without adding any extra fat to the body.

For 4 large servings you need:

530g red lentils
1/2 yellow onion
1 fist-size baking potato
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground curry
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch of salt
1,6L vegetable broth
chopped coriander 
1 tbsp olive oil

In a medium-sized pot prepare the vegetable broth. 

Then start chopping the onion, peeling the potato and cut it into cubes. Chop the carrot as well, then mince the garlic. Now rinse the red lentils to have all the ingredients ready and start cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and let it sauté for around 3 minutes until golden brown. Now throw in the potato cubes and the chopped carrot. Sauté for another 2 and a half minutes, then add the garlic. 

Pour in the vegetable broth, then add the lentils and let them simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Straight after haven thrown the lentils in, add all the spices one at a time. Stir your soup every now and then in order to avoid it to burn. 

Once your lentils start falling apart and are beyond al dente you can turn off the heat. Depending on how chunky you want them to be let them simmer another 5 minutes if you prefer them softer. 

Serve with fresh chopped coriander.


Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cake

Just by writing this blog post and looking at the picture here above I am already craving another marble cake loaf. I bet that just by looking at this picture, loads of memories are brought back to your mind. Am I right? We all remember marble cake from our childhood; it's a classic. I mostly had them at kids' birthday parties or at school, when someone brought cake. In my teenage years, we sold loads of cake to collect money for school excursions or just a good cause; or as my German teacher used to call it 'Getting fat for a good cause'. 

But besides making me dive into memories, the classic marble cake is to me a synonym to comfort food. We often refer to comfort food when talking about hearty and mostly greasy dishes, but for me, and yes this is definitely linked to my giant sweet tooth, comfort food is mostly composed of cookies and cake. This is probably mostly due to the fact that I feel like it takes only a small piece of cake or one or two cookies to comfort you. But who will ever have only a tiny portion of mac n cheese? Right.. nobody. 

For one loaf you need:

280g flour
180g butter
380g sugar
250ml milk
2 eggs
1tbsp baking powder
30g cocoa powder
1tbsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°

Whisk together the butter and sugar on full speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, then the milk and the vanilla extract. Pour in the flour, then add the baking powder and the salt. Mix until you get homogenous batter. 

Separate the batter into two smaller bowls. Add the cocoa powder to one and mix again. 

Fill the cake mold with the help of two ladles (or normal tablespoons, depending on the pattern you want to obtain) altering the vanilla and chocolate batter. When both batters are gone, take a fork, put it into the dough at one end of the mold and push it to the other end. Now you got the final swirl.

Bake for 50 minutes. 


Friday, August 28, 2015

Mediterranean Zucchini Fritters

Last week, when I was visiting my parents my mom offered me a giant zucchini. It was the first time in my life that I saw such a big vegetable. It was at least 5 times the size of a normal zucchini. But well.., I thought, with more zucchini you can try out more new recipes. I was first hesitating whether I should experiment on a new version of zucchini fritters or give the zucchini crust pizza a try. As you can see, the fritters outpaced the pizza. 

The good thing about zucchini fritters is that you can play around with ingredients. The first time I prepared them I added a lemony note. This time I choose to get them all cheesy. At first I was not sure if I didn't exaggerate a bit with my double cheese creation, but in the end, the answer was clearly NO. Another positive aspect of these fritters is that you can easily prepare them ahead. They make a nice low carb dinner or a perfect side dish to co with salmon for instance. 

For 10 fritters you need:

400g zucchini
2 garlic cloves
60g grated Parmesan 
90g feta
1 egg
olive oil
1 pinch of nutmeg

Wash the zucchini and cut them lengthwise in two parts. Grate the veggies on the coarse patch. Then peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Now mix the zucchini with the garlic and the Parmesan cheese and finely crumble the feta cheese into the bowl.

In a large frying pan heat some olive oil. Form your fritters with two tablespoons. Carefully drop the mixture into the pan. 4 tablespoons form 4 fritters, which you can easily place into one frying pan. Cook the fritters until golden and then turn them.

Place the fritters on paper towels to absorb the fat.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Pina Colada Smoothie

Summer, sun and loads of fruits, was definitely my motto of the last few months. I really really love fruits, but over the first half of the year, I have not eaten many of them. It might seem crazy what I am about to say, but sometimes I just don't have enough time to prepare myself a whole plate of different fruits. At some point I got a juicer and had all kind of different juices in the morning or after lunch. I really love my new juicer and I will definitely keep using it, but sometimes, all I do is crave a yummy smoothie. They are way more filling and you can easily play around with dairy products or plant-based alternatives. 

Only three weeks ago I discovered coconut milk. Not the one you'll find in the foreign products area of the supermarket. The one I found is placed next to the plant-based milks. After almond, oat and hazelnut I finally tried coconut. First, the coconut milk gave my daily muesli an exotic flair. Then, out of a sudden, two days ago over breakfast, the idea of this Pina Colada smoothie came to my mind. I really like the coconut-pinapple combo. And that's when yesterday morning I went to the supermarket to get all the ingredients for my new recipe. 

For 4 servings you need:

1 large fresh pineapple (around 850g)
300ml coconut milk or 170ml coconut cream
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 ice cubes
4 tbsp liquid sugar (optional)
grated coconut

Peel the pineapple and cut it into little cubes. Pour 2 tbsp of lemon juice, the ice cubes, pineapple, liquid sugar and coconut milk into your blender and mix until smooth. Pour the remaining lemon juice into a small bowl and the grated coconut on a small plate. Turn the glasses around and place them upside-down in the lemon juice, then in the grated coconut. Pour the Pina Colada smoothie into the glasses.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

White Chocolate Mango and Coconut Spread

Here it is, my white chocolate mango and coconut spread. The idea for this spread came when I was having brunch with friends at a local bar here in Luxembourg. Next to the main plate, they served a small selection of bowls filled with honey, jam and nutty spreads. We were able to identify most of them, but one was very special. After tasting over and over again, all I could tell was that it contained coconut. The waiter finally revealed the myth: white chocolate mango and coconut. Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was: I have to try this one too. No sooner said than done!

I really love the result. The only thing I knew before preparing the spread were the ingredients. I had no clue about proportions but in fine it's all about personal taste. You prefer the chocolaty flavors to the fruity ones, well; it's pretty easy, you don't put too much mango into it. You want to add a little extra nutty touch; you add more coconut. I personally think that the recipe hereunder presents a good balance of all of the ingredients. 

For one jar you need:

1 ripe mango
2 tbsp desiccated coconut 
250g white chocolate

Cut the mango into chunks and put it into a juicer or blender until completely fluid. Melt the chocolate over a hot water bath until entirely molten. Remove the chocolate from the heat and pour in the mango juice/smoothie. Mix the chocolate-mango mixture until you obtain an even spread. Add the desiccated coconut and mix again.

Let it cool down for an hour.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Kniddelen - Luxembourgish Creamy Mint and Pea Dumplings

Today I finally shot my summer Kniddel recipe. I've been planning this blog post for quite a while but never really took the time to cook it. Some of you may think that Kniddelen are only to enjoy during the cold months, but let me prove you wrong. I mean, many people eat pasta in summer and ice cream in winter. Why shouldn't we enjoy this delicious creamy mint and pea Kniddelen in summer then? Moreover, as hot summer days are pretty rare in Luxembourg anyways, the calendar season shouldn't keep you from cooking some doughy love. 

This recipe was inspired by a dinner I had a friend's last summer. After a long day at the beach volleyball court, he prepared us pasta with this hearty mint and pea sauce. After the first bite I thought, wow! this sauce would perfectly match with our traditional Kniddel recipe. Adding mint and peas to your dishes directly gives them a summery note. 

There exist many alternatives to the traditional Kniddel recipe, notably one with heavy cream and cheese. Developing this recipe I started from last summer's memories but obviously without measurements and proportions. It is a very flexible recipe so depending whether you prefer a strong mint note or not, you can easily change the proportions. 

For 4 servings you need: 
800g flour
5 eggs
450 ml milk
200g thinly slided bacon
200g peas
30g Parmesan 
250ml heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh mint

Pour all the flour into a large bowl at once and mound it like a volcano. Add four eggs into the hole and start beating. Then add the milk little by little and keep mixing until you get a very sticky dough.

In a large pot bring water to the boil. Add some salt, then turn the temperature down to middle heat. With two tablespoons, form little dumplings and throw them into the hot water. The Kniddelen are ready when floating on the surface. Depending on their size let them simmer for another 30 seconds.

To prepare the sauce, heat butter in a frying pan. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy. Chop the fresh mint leaves and add them to the bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the heavy cream and the egg yolk of the remaining egg. Add the liquid to the fried bacon and stir for a minute. Now throw in the peas and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Finally add the Parmesan and stir again for 30 seconds. 

Pour the sauce over the Kniddelen, stir until they are well coated. Now you can serve them.


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