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Alright, alright, I know I am in the Netherlands and about to show you a recipe for an Italian salad, but this salad is so good tha you won’t be thinking Dutch for long.  Remember how I said that there is a bakery on every corner here?  This salad with homemade crouton was just beggin’ to be made.

I also may have let you in on the fact that Arne and I are larger humans now, thanks to the foodfest we had in Calgary/SK before leaving.  I truly do deserve the name foodlova.  We ate so much great food, that we weren’t even hungry for the last week of it.  Anyways, we made a pact to eat a salad every night for a week instead of the regular fare.  It worked out well and now we are both looking and feeling pretty much back on the lighter side of things.  A few 2 hour rides in the country didn’t hurt either.

Now I am liking the whole idea of a lighter dinner a few times a week.  I find since I stopped skating I am just less hungry.  I never thought that would be, but alas it has happened to me.   This was not one of the salads we ate on the diet week, though.  Actually, I’m not really sure why this is called a salad.  The only leaf it has to offer is a few basil leaves.  The main bulk to this masterpiece is the bread.  Big chunks of crunchy, yet tender, cubes of homemade ciabatta croutons. 

Day old bread is the way to go for this one.  I have used fresh and it is fine, but having left over bread is a great excuse to whip up this quick side or starter salad.  I usually serve it with some sort of meat.  You could do a steak, sausage or an italianized chicken breast.  Either way, make sure you serve it with wine because that is what an Italian would do, right?

Panzanella Salad – adapted from The Main’s Anthony Sedlak

½ loaf of ciabatta bread cut into large cubes

I large buffalo mozzarella ball torn up into bite size pieces

1 clamshell of cherry tomatoes or any toms you like (these ones looks so beautiful I had to get them! I used 3)

1 small bunch of fresh basil

**for this recipe you can really play around with how much of each ingredient you put in.  If you are using more just add another tbsp of both oil and vinegar and you can make heaps and heaps more if you’d like!

 Dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I had red wine vinegar and it tasted really good too)

½ small red onion finely diced

 salt and pepper

Toss the ciabatta cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Bake in a 400 degree farenheit oven until golden brown.

Mix up the dressing and set aside so that the onions soak up a little dressing.  It will make the onion a little more mild and give nice flavour to the dressing.  Add salt and pepper and stir/shake.

In a large bowl, tear up the mozza balls into bite size pieces.  Tear up the basil leaves and add to large bowl.  You can cut the mozza and basil for less of a rustic look if you’d like.  Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.  When the croutons are ready, throw them in with everything else.  Pour dressing over and toss.

Important: let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the dressing gets soaked up into the bread a little.  This not only tastes awesome, but then the croutons won’t scrape the inside of your mouth as much.  Don’t worry, they still stay crunchy, but get a kind of tenderness that is just amazing!

I arrived in Delft, the Netherlands, the world, the universe (movie quote anyone – it’s a tough one, but from my favorite flick) at the end of last week.  Setting up a life here takes lots of filling out of forms and creating passcodes and the such, but we have finally logged back on to the world wide web.  Eureka!  I didn’t realize how much I really did like talking to you all out there!  I’ve been writing blogs in my head for the past 6 days…

I was trying to come up with something I could make here with what I have found for accoutrement (feeling the euro love already:) ) here in my kitchen.  Well let me tell you – it is not much.  There is a small fridge and a 2 element hot plate.  They provided us with 2 times: 1 wok, 1 pot, 1 plate, 1 set of cutlery, 1 glass, well you get the picture.  We don’t even have a pan for frying up an omelet!  We do have some stuff in the boxes that will be here in 5-8 weeks, but good thing we packed a turkey roaster in our luggage.  I’m being sarcastic here, people, we don’t have an oven to speak of. 

So, showing you some Dutch culinary delight might take a couple of weeks, so I thought I would just tell you about some of the awesome stuff we found out at the grocery store.  I’ll preface this first part with a little story.  Let’s say that Arne and I were on a budget in Calgary.  What would we cut off of our food list to keep in the black?  Well, when it comes to expensive treats, the top of our list would be wine and cheese.  Let’s face it, in the real world we would not cut those two delicious items off our list, but some other savvy Canadian might :).  Anyways, if we were on a budget, like we are here, that would be the last things we would cut out!  We would eat more actually.  It’s so awesome!  Blue cheese was 1.09 euros!  Wine was 2 euros!  Other specialty cheeses like Camembert which are almost $10 in Canada – 1 euro here.  You can lift your chin off your desk now.  It’s perfectly true.  We have come to wine and cheese heaven. 

Everywhere you go there are bakeries, fruit and veggies stores, markets, and candy shops.  While walking Arne to school in the morning, we walk past a bakery and all you can smell are fresh-baked croissants.  Brings me back to early morning jetlag in the Van der Valk Wolvega….

I even got a gift from oom Johan and tante Marienne.  A new Dutch cookbook.  The first night we were here we stayed with them.  We told them that we were starting a diet since all our friends and family from back home were fattening us up for the past month.  We liked it, don’t worry, but it is time we shed a few kilos.  Nothing a few miles on the dutch granny bikes won’t get.  Tot ziens!

Hi there!  It’s been a while since my last post, but I have a good excuse.  I am moving to Europe!  The Netherlands to be exact.  I am moving to the land of Gouda.  Thank the lordy!  It is all very exciting and we are between houses right now.  We have moved in with Arne’s parents and now are moved in with my parents.  Less than a week to go and we are jumpin’ over the pond to our new home.  The first 2 months we will be in a temporary situation – a furnished one bedroom.  I am quite worried about the kitchen fixings.  What kind of pots, plates, stove, etc will it have?  I already got a little freaked when I made these cabbage rolls with my Mom.  What plate was I going to use for the pictures?  I already miss my blue rimmed Denby’s….

Enough about that!  Let’s get to the real deal here.  You are in big time luck right now.  I am coming through on my promise from last post.   Do you know how many people get an authentic cabbage roll recipe straight from a Ukrainian Daughter?  Not many.  And here you are – about to read the recipe for my favorite dish.  I bet you tried to find this on the net or in a cookbook.  Well, traditional recipes like this one just don’t seem right unless you are getting it straight from the horse’s mouth.  This is just that.  You’re welcome.

These rolls are the sour cabbage variety.  If you love sauerkraut – these are to die for.  And trust me, you may feel like dying a little the next day if you ate as many as I did…

My granny makes the regular cabbage ones with more rice than meat in the filling.  Those are another story all together.  This Easter weekend I indulged in both varieties.  Maybe my next recipe will be a diet one.  We really went for it out here in Saskatchewan.  There’s nothing like Mom’s food or like Big Bob’s Burgers (my Dad’s a BBQ genius!).  And when that feeling coincides with the fact that I won’t be eating it for months to come, let’s just say that I ate my fair share.

Sour Cabbage Rolls – Gail Simpson

500 g (1 pound) ground beef

500 g (1 pound) ground pork

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

1 head sour cabbage

2 tins tomato soup

salt and pepper

In a large bowl mix all the ingedients except for the sour cabbage.

Take the cabbage and core out the stem.  Gently separate the leaves and lay on a pan.  Set aside 2 or three of the largest leaves.  Save all of the juice from the cabbage and reserve for later.

In a large roaster, mix the 2 cans of soup with 2 tins (2 cups) water.  Season with salt and pepper and a little garlic powder.

Take a leaf and trim the thick center vein.  Lay flate and on one end fill with 3-4 tbsps of the rice and meat mixture.  Roll the end over, fold in the sides and finishe rolling.  Refer to pictures above.  Place in roaster, seam side down.  Preheat over to 400 degrees farenheit.

When the roaster is full, pour the can of diced tomatoes overtop.  Also, pour over the reserved cabbage juice.  Cover with the large cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning and any other letfover leaves.  If there are no leaves left over, use a jar of sauerkraut. 

Place roaster in the oven.  After 10 minutes reduce heat to 325 degrees farenheit and cook for 3 hours.  You may have to add one cup of water about half way through the cooking time.  They are great left over the next day!

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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