Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

I am about to head off to England for a few days and wanted to use up some of the vegetables I have lying around before I go. Since I also had some good chicken stock (made in the slow cooker from bones leftover from Slow Cooker Basque Chicken), soup was a logical idea.

The result is one of those wonderful serendipitous soups that deserves a repeat! Sweet from the onions, roasted tomatoes, and sweet potato, nicely warmed by the green chile, with underlying depth from the stock, with a hint of smokiness from the roasted peppers. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Basque Chicken (Slow Cooker)

I made this thinking it would be a good alternative to coq au vin and a way to use a small organic soup chicken that I had in the fridge.

Despite the small size of the chicken, it was too big for all the pieces to fit easily in the slow cooker. Not to worry, I made a light chicken broth with the back, neck, and other bits that wouldn't fit.

The result was tasty but next time I will make some changes:

  • Use only chicken legs. This was a soup chicken, and with the long cooking it still remained fairly tough and stringy. And chicken breast always dries out.
  • Remove the skin from the chicken after browning and before adding it to the pot. I always remove the skin before eating anyway and wonder how much extra flavour it imparts.

Baked Halibut with Mustard and Dill

There is a store in Amsterdam called Fishes which deals only in sustainably caught fish, usually with a MFC (Marine Stewardship Council) certificate. It's not in my neighbourhood, so I don't often get there, but this week I placed an order with Ruud Maaz and treated myself to a piece of halibut from Fishes. I had forgotten how good halibut tastes.

It can also handle somewhat stronger flavours. I had some leftover curried spinach (saag without the paneer) that I planned to eat with it, so I decided to bake it with a bit of Dijon mustard and dill, and topped with some tomato slices. Sprinkled a bit of lemon juice and olive oil over top, baked for 10-12 minutes. It was wonderful!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Oatmeal Bread

I can sometimes get very discouraged about bread in Holland. There are a couple of good bakers in Amsterdam, such as Hartog and Vlaamsche Broodhuis, but most bread in supermarkets and even ordinary bakers is soft and squishy, no matter what the colour, grain, or the number of seeds in it.

So today I decided to make my own bread again. I dug into one of my new cookbooks and came up with Oatmeal Sandwich Bread. This recipe produces a very soft, sticky dough so it is not well suited to hand kneading. Instead, I put the apple-green machine to work.

The recipe calls for the mixed ingredients, except the salt, to rest for half an hour to autolyse. It lets the flour absorb more moisture and produce a moister loaf. It certainly seems to work, producing a large, flavourful loaf with a good crumb. It slices easily and does indeed work well for sandwiches.

The loaf is very large, rising well over the pan. I think I might split the dough into two smaller pans next time.