Quiche and Emile Henry Dishes

The other day I got a quiche dish by Emile Henry. Emily Henry products are glazed earthenware for baking and cooking in the oven. They come in a range of bright colors with a white finish on the inside.

I find them really great for cooking in the oven. They are non-stick, easy to clean and do not mind ovens, microwaves, freezers or dishwashers. They have a nice, clean design and especially the red ones look great!

emile henry quiche dish

To try out the new dish, I made mushroom quiche. I put the recipe together from two recipes I found on Epicurious: Mushroom-Shallot Quiche and Madame Quiche’s Quiche au Fromage.

For quiche it’s important to get the right quantity of dough versus vegetables. Too much dough and the quiche gets dry and bland. Too little dough and it won’t get solid and becomes a mushy mess.

Here are my recommendations:

The pastry I buy directly from the deep-freeze department of the local store. It’s just easier.

For the dough, let’s start on the basis of three eggs, which will result in a quiche for 2 – 4 people. Then add 75ml of milk and 75ml of creme fraiche. So basically should have 25ml of milk and creme per egg. I find that quiche get a lot more flavor if you add the creme fraiche.

Then you want an even amount of vegetable (or other ingredients). So in my case I went for 225g. For this quiche I used 125g mushrooms and 100g cheddar cheese. I find cheddar cheese great for dishes made in the oven in combination with eggs. It adds a little sharp, spicy taste.

You will want to bake the quiche for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Then take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes to solidify.

Simple, fun and tasty!

Here are the steps to follow:
1. Get deep-frozen pastry from store, let thaw for 1 hour
2. Put some oil in quiche dish, spread pastry to make bottom
3. Make dough – 1 egg, 25ml milk, 25ml creme fraiche per person
4. Prepare vegetables and cheese, 75g per person, stir fry mushrooms, grate cheese
5. Spread out vegetables in dish on top of pastry
6. Add cheese to dough and pour over vegetables
7. Cook for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius
8. Let sit for 5 minutes

Sharpening Global Knives – minoSharp

I love my global knives and use them a lot. Especially the GF-33 chef’s knife is in constant use and requires maintenance and sharpening.

The web site of Yoshikin, the manufacturer of global knifes, provides advice on maintenance. Sounds good in theory. But in reality it requires purchasing several ceramic sharpening whetstones; setting them up rather precariously on a wooden board as foundation, near the sink with water running for rinsing during sharpening; and finally meticulous sharpening technique to get the angle of the blade just right while sharpening.

Simply too difficult.

So instead I would bring my knife to the shop for sharpening about once every six months. This worked fine for me although I always thought it was expensive (EUR 10+), below expectations in sharpness and also meant not having my knife for at least a few days.

So I was quite happy when recently I discovered the minoSharp – a handy little tool specifcally made for sharpening global knives.

minoSharp water sharpener

It has two ceramic whetstone wheels – a coarse and a medium one – mounted at exactly the right angle. You fill it with water which will rinse the whetstones wheels when they turn during sharpening. Simply draw the knife through the wheel seven or eight times and voila!

The minoSharp is super easy to use, less than 15cm large and also a good deal for about EUR 20!

Red Bergerac 2005 at Tromp Winkel

I have always liked red Bergerac wines – strong, aromatic wines from the region east of Bordeaux, along the Dordogne river.  Bergerac wines are usually made mainly from Cabernet and Merlot grapes. They are tannin-rich and fruity with red fruit, black fruit and vanilla aromas.

Bergerac wines are not as dry as Bordeaux wines and much more easily combined with many sorts of dishes. They are great for meat and cheese and also go very well with pastas or risottos with cream sauce. Some people will even combine a red Bergerac with fish in a buttery sauce.

Another advantage is that – as a region – Bergerac is a lot less famous and renowned as Bordeaux. So while you pay for the reputation of a Bordeaux, you mainly pay for the quality of a Bergerac. My price range for buying an everyday wine is usually between 5 and 10 euros. Anything below 5 euros is too risky – there might be some great finds but the majority is just plain bad. And spending more than 10 euros is not only a lot of money for drinks. But also not many people have a fine enough palette to taste the difference every day.

So I was quite pleased to find a great Bergerac at the Tromp Winkel – a cheese store on Beethovenstraat – the other day. It’s a 2005 Chevalier de la Rogère, made by a Dutch couple who emigrated to the south of France to make wine:

Red Bergerac 2005

The Tromp winkel on Beethovenstraat frequently has some great wines next to its great selection of cheeses. The Chevalier de la Rogère will set you back 9,95 euros per bottle. During the special offer in October you can get 24 bottles for the price of 15.

The wine has a dark red color and is full of fruity aromas. I find that it still has a rather alcoholic nose, so I might leave it in the cellar for another one or two years. It’s made almost 100% from Merlot grapes.

One of my favorite restaurants, De Witte Uyl, used to have a great Bergerac, the Château Grinou 1999, which was 100% Merlot. Guess I was not the only one who liked it – they ran out.

If you like red wine and cheese, head over to Tromp for some Epoisse and a bottle of 2005 Bergerac before they run out, too!

Samosas – easy and yummy

I find starters the best every time I eat at an Indian restaurant. The bhaji, pakoras and samosas are often so good that I end up having too many of them and feeling somewhat full even before the main course. All the starters are delicious, but samosas – Indian, fried, triangular-shaped pastry with a spicy potato and veggie stuffing – are my favorite.

The other day I decided to try making my own samosas. At that time, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. But was pleasantly surprised to find out that samosas are actually quite easy to make. Most of the ingredients are easy to find and it took me less than an hour to make 8 super yummy samosas. The dough was made in minutes and the stuffing is very easy, consisting of only potatoes, veggies and spices. Folding and stuffing the samosas took a little trial and error, but proved quite doable. I definitely recommend trying it: they are super yummy and something you can impress your friends with!

One thing that helped greatly was watching a video of an expert doing it. I found two great ones on youtube, with expert Manjula – a lovely Indian lady with a cute accent – demonstrating all steps of making samosas. They are quite funny, but even more so instructive and spot on. I am including them below. The first video is 8:30 minutes and shows how to make the dough and the stuffing. Part 2 lasts 5:30 minutes. It starts with Manjula folding and stuffing the samosas and ends with the frying process.

I only made two changes, substituting corn starch for semolina flower (which I didn’t have in the house) and using broccoli rather than green peas (which I simply preferred).

The hard to understand ingredient is “garam masala”, a mix of spices that is used a lot in Indian dishes and good to have at home. Among many other spices it includes cumin, clovers, and cardamom. And I also made some tamarind sauce, by mixing tamarind paste with some water and sugar. You can get both garam masala and tamarind paste at your local toko or Indian / Asian store.

Oh, and in case things go wrong, here is a great place for Indian delivery. Just give Indian Express on Pieter Langedijkstraat, behind Overtoom, a quick call. And they will bring you some great samosas, bhaji and pakoras. And they will even be happy to bring a main course if you still feel like having one after all those super yummy starters.

marqt opening soon near Leidseplein

marqt is a new type of supermarket that focuses on selling fresh and tasty food. It has gotten a lot of attention in the press and many of us have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the first store. From well-informed sources I have now heard that the first shop will open on Overtoom, near Leidseplein, in December.

The focus of traditional supermarkets like Albert Heijn is clearly on convenience (“new extended expiration date!”) and price (“price permanently reduced on another 3000 products”). And the recent trend towards biological food has been shamelessly exploited by above supermarkets and chains like De Natuurwinkel to offer food that is not much better but definitely more expensive.

I buy most of my groceries from the turkish store on the corner. Why? Because it’s *good* – good as in tasty; good as in fresh, savory ingredients that make all the difference in cooking; good as in flavors coming from fruits, vegetables, meat, spices and herbs rather than from some mass-produced ready-mix. In Amsterdam, every saturday morning, thousands of people flock to Noordermarkt for exactly the same reason. So I must not be the only one…

What is the secret behind *good* food? The Slow Food movement has seen substantial success in promoting *good* food. Slow Food was founded in 1989 to “counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world”. Slow Food members consider themselves “co-producers, not consumers”.

marqt’s concept is to focus on local products rather than mass production; to employ personnel that loves food and is knowlegeable about it rather than students in pursuit of extra cash; and to partner with the producers through revenue sharing.

I am sold and cannot give it a try as soon as the first marqt opens its doors to the lucky co-producers of Amsterdam!

For more info see:

Le Creuset Pots – Special Offers

This weekend I bought a Le Creuset pot! I had been looking at them for a while because I like the cast iron with enamel coating. It’s perfect for cooking – providing for a very balanced heat distribution. And the enamel coating gives them a great look and makes it easy to clean and maintain them.

Looks and quality do come at a price, so I have been doing some comparison shopping. I do find the number of models they have confusing and there is little usable information available on the web.

In the end I bought a 22cm soup pot for EUR 69,- from a local store here in Amsterdam. I could have probably found it for EUR 5 – 10  less, but I got good advice from the shop owner and went with it.

The soup pot is a new model and specially priced as an introductory offers. I saw that many stores, online and offline, have the soup pot on special offer.

When I first saw the pot, I was a little confused: Is this the standard Le Creuset model? Or one of the many specialty items they started making when they became popular? I was in the market for an all purpose, everyday pot. So I did some research online which proved much more tedious than I had imagined. I am summarizing it here for everyone interested in going for the special offer.

So first of all, I was interested in pots and during my research disregarded the plentiful mini cocottes, exotic stuff like woks and tajines, pots in the shape of vegetables, plates, spatulas and anything else that is not a container for cooking.

That narrowed my choice down to the following three model: The Round Oven (Cocotte Ronde) shown on the lft, the Oval Oven (Cocotte Ovale) shown in the middle, and the Soup Pot (Madeleine), shown on the right.

Le Creuset Round OvenLe Creuset Oval OvenLe Creuset Soup Pot

But that’s only the start. The model come in many different sizes and colors. I didn’t think color was important (altough I like – and got – the classic red look shown above). But choosing the right size is very important – the pot should be large enough to hold the quantities of food you are usually preparing, but also not too large because it takes up space, is harder to clean and makes it more difficult to judge quantities of ingredients.

I could not find a good overview of size, so I made my own. Here it is:

Model Diameter Volume
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 16 cm 1,3 l = 1½ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 18 cm 1,8 l = 2 qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 20 cm 2,4 l = 2½ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 22 cm 3,3 l = 3½ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 24 cm 4,2 l = 4½ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 26 cm 5,3 l = 5½ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 28 cm 6,7 l = 7¼ qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 30 cm 8,4 l = 9 qt
Cocotte Ronde / Round Oven 34 cm 12,4 l = 13¼ qt
Model Diameter Volume
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 23 cm 2,6 l = 2½ qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 25 cm 3,2 l = 3½ qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 27 cm 4,1 l = 4½ qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 29 cm 4,7 l = 5 qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 31 cm 6,3 l = 6½ qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 35 cm 8,9 l = 9½ qt
Cocotte Ovale / Oval Oven 40 cm 14,8 l = 15½ qt
Model Diameter Volume
Madeleine / Soup Pot 22 cm 2,5 l – 2¾ qt
Madeleine / Soup Pot 26 cm 4,2 l – 4¼ qt
Madeleine / Soup Pot 32 cm 7 l – 7½ qt

I went for the Madeleine becuase it was on offer, opting for the smallest one. I think the soup pot is very versatile but will mainly be useful for soups and sauces. Later on I hope to add a round pot, going for a little extra volume for preparing veggies, pasta, etc.