Books, Bikes, and Food

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


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Recipe: Mushroom “Ceviche”

Sorry for the long silence (again). I have a good excuse, we holidayed (yay), and since we’ve come back it’s been way too hot to do much in the way of cooking and biking, or reading for that matter (I’m sure my brain has melted more than just a little bit). The mere idea of adding more heat to the environment by turning on my stove has been so offputting I haven’t done it in the past two weeks, except for making coffee in the mornings. Cold dishes have been the order of the day, like this one, and all kinds of salads.

And then, as is wont to happen when the heat turns up, came the desire for ceviche. But the life of a Central European is tough, what with the distance to the sea (especially if two of your favourite sports include kayaking and surfing). And the life of a Central European fish lover is even tougher. My and Mr BBF’s moaning about the lack of good, affordable fresh fish could fill volumes. So what’s the Central European ceviche fiend to do? This one looked for alternatives and found: mushroom ceviche.

Although my favourite variety by far is Peruvian ceviche, I have to say I’m not afraid to shamelessly steal from other countries’ cuisines too, so this is based on a Colombian recipe. Next time I’ll try the original recipe using artichokes and palm hearts (two further obsessions of mine). This time, I made do with what I had around, mushrooms and a red bell pepper. The result of the experiment was… well, not really cevichesque, but more than edible. Tangy and fresh, this is best if the mushrooms and onions have had a chance to interact with the lemon/lime juice for at least a few hours.

Ingredients (serves 2 for a starter, 3 as a light main)

  • 6-7 large brown champignons, peeled, stems trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, halved and cut into very thin slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 4 limes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt

To take away some of the its sting, soak the sliced red onion in hot water with a bit of salt for 5 minutes. Mix the lime and lemon juice with the vinegar in a large bowl. Drain the onions and add. Let them marinate for 30 minutes (meanwhile, prepare all your veggies). Add the vegetables and the chopped cilantro, mix well, cover, and refrigerate for at least another 30 minutes (a few hours is best). Add salt to taste and serve. Enjoy!


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Recipe: Beetroot Salad with Feta Cheese and Roasted Nuts

Last week, my parents came to stay for two days and help me with the final touches to my new flat. You know how it is when parents visit: you want everything to be just perfect and clean and also impress them with some tasty food that still leaves the kitchen in a presentable state post preparations. This beetroot salad recipe is absolutely delightful and has a pre-parental visit cheat shortcut: instead of roasting the beets myself, I bought them pre-cooked. It worked a charm (even though I forgot the thyme) and is incredibly easy to make. Served with fresh baguette or ciabatta, this salad works well on parents and other to-impress guests (just make sure your tablecloth isn’t white…).

Ingredients (serves 3 as a starter):

  • 500g of pre-cooked beets
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 1 small handful of nut mix (mine included almonds, cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts), roasted and roughly chopped
  • leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme (or not…)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the beets into thin slices. Place them in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over them. Mix carefully with your hand and cover the bowl to marinate the beets for about 30 minutes. Arrange them on a platter and crumble the feta cheese over them. Top with the nuts (and thyme for those of you with a good memory). Serve and enjoy!


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Recipe: Pumpkin quinotto

Sometimes, wires cross in funky ways and turn out things that are just plain awesome. In my quest to do exciting things with pumpkins, a conversation with a colleague over lunch sold me on a great idea: pumpkin risotto. Also lately, I’ve been reading a lot about “quinottos” lately – using quinoa to make a risotto-like dish. So as I was sitting on the couch the other day thinking about what I might eat these days, it suddenly hit me: pumpkin quinotto. I’m pleased to let you know that as culinary ideas go, this was quite a good one! Not that I’ve reinvented the wheel, but I made this without any guidance (hence, I’m also a bit uncertain on the quantities… just keep an eye on the texture while making this). I set out with my basic risotto recipe and what little I know about cooking quinoa and – bazinga! It worked.

Ingredients (2 portions):

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 75g (black) quinoa
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • white wine
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin purée (recipe here)
  • about 6 small-medium brown champignons, cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp goats cheese
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan
  • 1 knob butter
  • a few fresh sage leaves (about 5-6 for this amount of quinotto).

Rinse the quinoa (some people seem to soak it for 1-2 hours before cooking it, which reduces cooking time from 20-25 to about 10 minutes. For this quinotto I wouldn’t soak it. This gives you the chance to work in all the ingredients during the cooking process).

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Lower the heat and cook the onions until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook a little more. Crank up the heat and add the quinoa. Fry for a few minutes, then add a healthy dash of white wine. Lower the heat. Once the wine has almost evaporated (keep stirring!), add some of the vegetable stock to cover the quinoa. Keep on stirring and adding vegetable stock as needed. After about 10 minutes, add the pumpkin purée and massage it into the quinoa/veg stock mix. After another five minutes, add the champignons, the ground ginger and the nutmeg. Keep stirring and adding stock if needed.

Towards the end of the quinoa’s cooking time, melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the sage leaves in it until crispy.

Once the quinoa is cooked, turn off the heat, but leave it on the hob (if you’re on a gas hob, maybe keep it on a very small flame). Stir in the goats cheese, the sage leaves (and the remaining melted butter from the pan), and the parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!


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A New Thing and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

So, I did a thing today: I joined Mealsharing as a host. The idea is a bit like Airbnb, except with food. You advertise on-line with a profile and people can ask to dine at your house. You can also invite others to dine with you. Since I mostly cook for myself these days, this seems like a fun excuse to make some more elaborate dishes for more than one. It also sounds like an interesting way of meeting new people and I’m curious to see when I get my first dinner request. If you’re ever in the Hamburg area, please do pop in.

I also did another thing: I made roasted butternut squash soup and it was delicious and I can’t wait to tell you – so you’re getting an extra recipe today! I crossed a butternut squash soup recipe from Martha Stewart with inspiration I got from this recipe.

Ingredients (about 3 portions)

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3cm fresh ginger, peeled and cut
  • ca. 500ml water
  • ca. 100ml milk
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dried chile
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a few fresh sage leaves
  • sour cream

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place cubed squash on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon. Then drizzle generously with olive oil and mix with your hands until evenly coated. Roast the squash in the oven for about 30 minutes. The squash cubes should be tender and slightly browned.

In a large sauce pan, sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and the ginger and sauté for about another 6-8 minutes. Add the squash cubes and some of the water and start puréeing. Crumble in the stock cube and gradually add the water and milk and keep puréeing until the soup has reached the desired consistency and smoothness (dreamy-creamy!). Add the nutmeg, chile and bay leaf and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. The soup sticks easily, so stir it occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and chile. Add the sage leaves and serve with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!


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Recipe: Gazpacho

It was my birthday last Saturday, the last one before I officially turn old next year. (Although thanks to a 15 year-old from my sports club, who steadfastly refused to believe I was any older than 21, I can still safely claim I just turned 22.) Luckily, summer decided to celebrate with me and bow out on a high – it was hot and sunny, the last day before autumn arrived on Sunday. I’d invited some friends over, and to go with the weather I fed them gazpacho (and chili, and Mr Liburuak made a Spanish omelette and a fantastic pasta salad that I’ll very likely talk about another day). This cold Spanish tomato soup is fantastic for hot evenings, and also later on in the year as a starter before you tuck into your autumnal comfort food of choice.

I used this recipe and doubled the quantities.

Ingredients (serves four to six as a starter)

  • 6 large, meaty tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 slices of white bread without the crust
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • white wine vinegar

Place the bread slices on a deep plate and cover with water, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside. Peel the cucumber. Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion and garlic and place them in a large plastic bowl for puréeing or in a blender. Add a little bit of water and puree them. Add the slice of bread and keep pureeing or blending until the gazpacho has a creamy texture. Pour through a colander to eliminate the pieces of peel and tomato seeds floating around (this step will be a bit messy, but the gazpacho will be so much creamier after). Add vinegar and salt to taste. Chill the gazpacho in the fridge. Before serving, drizzle a few drops of olive oil and sprinkle some diced cucumber on top. Enjoy!


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Recipes: Bulgur Tabouleh and Iced Tea

This post is for the heatwave. I honestly never thought Hamburg could get this hot. But I’m not complaining, after the winter and non-existent spring we had, we deserve a good summer. When it’s this hot, I don’t usually feel like having a hot meal, unless it’s been done on a barbecue. So this combo is for when you feel like you’re just about to melt. The only thing is, your supermarket might have run out of mint for the bulgur salad. Yeah.

Bulgur Tabouleh

This salad is perfect for when it’s very hot. It’s really quick to make and doesn’t involve much cooking (and therefore little heat).

Ingredients (for 2 portions)

  • 1 cup bulgur (I actually used a cup to measure this out – a coffee cup to be precise – what matters here is the bulgur : water ratio)
  • 2 cups water (see above)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • half a handful smooth parsely, chopped
  • half a handful mint, chopped (if you can get any – I couldn’t and it still tasted amazing)
  • salt and pepper

Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan with some salt. Remove from the heat, add the bulgur wheat and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dice the cucumber and tomatoes. Combine the lemon juice and the olive oil with some salt and pepper for the dressing. Once the bulgur is done, combine with the cucumber and tomatoes in a bowl, add the parsley and mint and pour the dressing over the salad. Done.

Iced Tea

This is the easiest thing to make. It’s so refreshing and I just swear by it in the summer. I was inspired to finally post this recipe because my friend Ida posted her iced tea recipe today. Hers looks delicious too, be sure to check it out (along with all the other lovely things she does with food).

Ingredients

  • 1l water
  • 3 Assam tea bags
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Boil the water and pour it over the tea bags. Let the tea infuse for about 5 minutes to make it nice and strong. Take out the tea bags and stir in the sugar while the tea is still hot. Let it cool and then add the lemon juice.

Enjoy!


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Recipe: Moroccan Lemon and Yoghurt Soup

Do you ever get that thing where you suddenly notice something – a word, a song, a book – and all of a sudden, it’s everywhere? I’ve had that a lot learning languages. You’ve never seen a particular word, but all of a sudden you need to know what it means and don’t know how you could ever live without knowing it, because wherever you look, that word pops up. Well, this can also happen with food. Chickpeas, for instance. I knew they existed somewhere alongside me in this universe and that you could make some pretty amazing stuff with them – hummus, for example – but I’d never cooked with them until quite recently. And bam, out of the blue, recipes involving chickpeas are everywhere. I don’t seem to be able to get away from them. Chickpeas are the new black, or something like that.

This soup is just one example. It’s amazingly quick to make and one of the most summery soups after gazpacho. In fact, it’s ideal when you want summer, but the seasons don’t quite play along: this soup is refreshing and warming at the same time.

Ingredients (2 portions):

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 courgette (2 if you can get very small ones)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • 600ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 threads of saffron or 1 good pinch of ground turmeric
  • 150g chickpeas (canned), drained
  • 200g natural yoghurt (I used whole milk, but you can also use the kind with 1.5% fat)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • some mint leaves

Cut the onion into fine rings and the courgette into 1cm thick slices. Mince the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil together with the cumin. Add a bit of salt. Add the stock, saffron, chickpeas, and courgette. Bring to the boil, cover, and let simmer at low heat during 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, lemon juice, and egg. Take the soup off the heat and slowly stir the yoghurt-lemon-egg mixture into the soup. Season to taste and sprinkle generously with mint leaves. Enjoy!