Books, Bikes, and Food

Reviews, Recipes, Rides… and some other things, too.


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Recipe: Spinach Salad Bowl

The other day, I broke my little toe. Not fun. They put my foot in a silly cast shoe that I have to wear for six (!) weeks. Apparently, this is how long even a little toe takes to heal. I can also attest to the fact that three and a half weeks after the event, it still hurts when I step on it too strongly, so the cast shoe is probably for the best. All this to say, I haven’t been moving around much, as opposed to my usual habits. On top of that, summer has really started over here and I’ve been more than antsy to get out hiking, swimming, biking, and all the fun activities you get to do in the summer. Except I don’t get to be active. 

All this to say, I’ve been trying to watch what I eat a bit more because I’m not using any calories since I’m mostly stationary. And I’ve really been feeling like summer foods. Enter this beautiful salad bowl. The great thing with these things is, you can throw just about anything into them and it will taste amazing.

Ingredients (1 portion)

  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 5 radishes, finely sliced
  • 4 artichoke hearts, quartered
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • dash of olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Just assemble everything in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the salt, mix well and enjoy! Also, you can plop a soft-boiled egg on top if you like.


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Recipe: Cold Avocado Soup with Cucumber and Yoghurt

I haven’t been posting many recipes lately, because I haven’t actually been cooking that much. There have been some culinary discoveries in my kitchen and I’ll share them all eventually, but first I need to tell you about THIS COLD SOUP. It’s been a while since I’ve been so completely wowed by a recipe that I feel the need to get on a soapbox or sing it from the rooftops, or else I might burst. Here’s a bit of context though: spring has officially sprung in this corner of the world, and with it came an appetite for tangy, fresh dishes, salads and cold soups, and lemon, definitely lemon, and also avocados. Browsing through my recipe bookmarks, I came across this beauty, and the stars aligned. (Also… I appear to love avocados even more than I realised, seeing as the last few recipes have all involved this wonderful green fruit.) I didn’t quite follow the recipe to the letter, so here’s my take on it.

 Ingredients (2 large portions)

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 very small onion, or 1/2 normal size
  • small handful of fresh flat parsley (or cilantro as per the original recipe)
  • 150g full-fat or Greek yoghurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (really) cold water
  • olive oil

Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a tablespoon. Then cut half of the cucumber and one of the avocados into large chunks. Dice the onion and roughly chop the parsley. Place the chunks of cucumber and avocado in a mixer along with the onion, parsley, yoghurt, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt, as well as some freshly ground pepper and a dash of cold water. Process until smooth and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate.

Dice the remaining half of the cucumber and the second avocado. Add the chunks to the avocado paste and add some more cold water until you reach the desired creamy consistency. Refrigerate until serving time. Drizzle with some olive oil just before serving.

Optional: dice a small tomato and top the soup with it. Enjoy!


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Recipe: Chicken with Avocado-Yoghurt Dip

It occasionally happens that you get inspired. On Monday, I was going to make this recipe and follow it pretty much step-by-step. I was also feeling supremely lazy (so if you’re feeling too lazy to click on the above link to the original recipe, I totally hear you – it’s called “Greek Chicken Skewers with Avocado Tzaziki”), so I decided to make this recipe even less work than it originally was. I was going to leave out the skewers and just fry the chicken breast. I was also going to leave out the “Greek seasoning mix”, mainly because I wasn’t quite sure what it was (I’d never even heard it was a thing), what it contained, and was too lazy to google it – so I was just going to replace it with whatever Mediterranean spices I could find in my spice drawer.

And then, inspiration struck. Because what exactly would happen if in addition to the olive oil, garlic and assorted spices I coated the chicken breast in tahini before frying it? In one word: magic. The tahini really made the chicken pop! And the avocado-yoghurt dip was divine. On a side note, I’m refusing to call it tzaziki, for the love of Greece. The poor Greeks already have it hard enough as it is without folks – and worse, Germans – butchering their cuisine (although, might I say, in a freaking delicious way). And on that note, this video, made by German public television (you will not believe this), is absolutely BRILLIANT. It had me in tears laughing.

Man, so many words for such a simple recipe. So here it finally is. It admittedly doesn’t photograph very well (poor lighting, bad camera, etc.). It was a whole lot more interesting than it looks in this picture. The dip, which was velvety avocado-yoghurt perfection. And the chicken breast was soft and at the same time almost-crunchy tahini perfection. Maybe the next time I’ll add some actual sesame seeds too, to make it even better.

Ingredients (2 portions)

For the dip:

  • 1 avocado
  • 150g natural yoghurt (I used the low-fat kind and it was still incredibly creamy)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 drops tabasco sauce
  • 1 pinch oregano
  • pinch pul biber
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt

For the chicken

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of oregano
  • pinch of pul biber
  • pinch of thyme
  • 2-3 tsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt

To make the dip, place the pitted avocado, yoghurt, garlic, and lemon juice in a blender and whizz until smooth. Add the tabasco and spices, stir, cover, and leave it to chill in the fridge while you make the chicken. Wash the chicken breasts and cut them into thin strips. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the olive oil, tahini, garlic, and all the spices. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix until it’s is evenly coated in the dressing. Fry the chicken pieces in a non-stick frying pan until golden. Serve with the avocado-yoghurt dip and enjoy!


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Recipe: Pear and Avocado Salad

You know the kind of food that’s so good you want to cry when it’s gone? And how it’s even better when you can cobble said meal together in about 10 minutes? Because this salad, you guys, this salad is it. It’s so unbelievably fresh and creamy at the same time, sweet and sour and mustardy and avocado-y and all other kinds of goodness. This is a comfort food dish that’s not just rewarding, it’s also healthy.

Unattractively enough, the original recipe is from the January diet programme of a women’s magazine. But don’t judge a book by its cover, right (erm, I do that all the time to be honest… #loveprettybooks). Anyway, this is my take on it, I did tweak a few things. The original has you use curry powder, but I’d run out so I used some spices that also go into curry and it was just fine. But if you, like a normal person would, have ready-made curry powder rather than an assortment of random spices sitting in your pantry, just know that you can use it here.

Ingredients (1 portion)

  • 1 pear (with peel)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt (I used the full-fat kind)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • small pinch of each: ground coriander, turmeric, ginger (alternatively, curry powder)
  • A few shavings of parmesan or Idiazabal cheese

In a medium sized bowl, mix the yoghurt, mustard, lime juice, and spices for the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finely grate the pear and add it to the bowl with the dressing. Mix well. Slice the avocado. Place the avocado on a plate and top with the pear and the cheese. Enjoy with some Swedish crisp bread.


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Dinner for two: Empanadas with chimichurri de cilantro and salsa criolla

dinner42One of the things that my move thankfully and finally brought about is being much closer to Mr BBF. We now live less than two hours apart and it’s just amazing (it will be even more amazing once we actually live together again, one should hope, but in the meantime this will do). We can see each other every weekend now, unless one of us is travelling somewhere else.

When we were living five and a half hours apart and seeing each other only twice a month, we’d celebrate these weekends like mini holidays, complete with fancy dinners and all. If we kept up this rhythm on our new weekend schedule, we’d probably be quite broke rather quickly, so we’ve decided to do one thing a bit more that we both enjoy: cook together. This is how the idea for this new series was born. The thumbnail, by the way, is a photo of the sign hanging above the only table at an amazing bar in Donostia (San Sebastián), Néstor‘s. Néstor makes a delicious chuletón and the most amazing potato tomato salad ever to exist in this world. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen people eat their chuletón at the bar.

Yet the first edition of our new culinary adventures very nearly ended in what would’ve become known as the Great Empanada Disaster of 2014. But luckily, it seems that empanadas are a little more resilient than we thought to being mistreated by two inexpert empanada makers. We made two kinds of fillings for our empanadas, one with avocado and another one with minced meet (from here and here). We also made the empanada dough (original recipe here). This was where our problems began – the dough and the avocado filling didn’t have such a good time together. Whenever we lifted up one nicely stencilled out empanada disc, it’d begin to shrink. Pair that with our rather creamy avocado filling and you’ve got yourself a beautiful mess when trying to close the empanadas. So if you make this, you ought to mash the avocado a lot less than we did and you should be fine (or at least finer than we were). But even though our avocado-filled empanadas refused to stay shut and looked like delightful green little mussels that had opened up when they came out of the oven, they actually tasted better than the meat-filled ones. You’ll also notice that the avocado filling is basically almost a guacamole. We had some left over and it was delicious just by itself.

What we learned from this is that empanadas are definitely not the easiest thing to make for the first time, but perfection comes with practice, right? Oh, and we also made chimichurri de cilantro and salsa criolla. Fortunately, these were a cinch to make, so at least they didn’t mean more trouble in empanada land, just a lot of chopping.

Two final important notes: 1) we decided not to be purists and liberally combined empanada components from Argentina and Colombia, and 2) you can probably eat fewer empanadas than you think. This probably serves about 3-4 people with a normal appetite.

Recipes after the jump!

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