Cheese and onion bread

I got a heart-shaped terracotta bread form as a Christmas present, so here is its first outing!

  • 300g strong white bread flourIMG_20151230_214705
  • 200g strong wholemeal flour
  • 1 sachet fast action yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g hard cheese, finely grated
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • a knob of butter for greasing the bowl

Tip the flours into a large bowl. Put the salt on one side and the yeast on the other, and sprinkle the sugar over the top.  Add about 370ml warm water and the olive oil, then the chopped spring onions, and mix to a dough. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it for ten minutes. Put it into a greased bowl and cover with greased clingfilm. Leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.  “Knock back” the dough and split it into eight or nine balls.  Put the balls into the breadform with a bit of space between them, then set it to prove in a warm place for another 20 minutes or so.  Then sprinkle the cheese (and any chopped spring onion you have left) over the top of the bread, and bake in the oven for 20  minutes until it’s slightly golden, and sounds hollow if you tap the base of the bread.

Hangover cure

IMG_20151212_092045[1]Well not really, and not really a recipe, but it certainly helps you feel more human.  It’s another Dutch speciality, uitsmijter, which literally means “thrower-out”, or bouncer.  It’s traditionally served at the very end of a party as an untypically Dutch way of being polite and telling people to go home.

You will need:

  • Some nice sliced bread – typically white sliced but I like Vogel‘s sunflower & barley bread
  • Eggs – usually 2 per person, but depends on the size of your bread
  • A slice of ham
  • A slice of Gouda cheese (any hard cheese will do, including Cheddar or Edam, but young Gouda is the more authentic choice)
  • A bit of butter
  • A dessertspoonful of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan

Heat up the frying pan with the oil in it.  Lay the bread on a plate – you can butter it but it’s not usual to do this in Holland, that would be a bit too profligate…  Put the ham on the bread first, then the slice of cheese. It has to be this way round so that the hot egg can melt the cheese a bit.  Crack the eggs into the frying pan and let them cook until they go brown and frilly round the edge.  You can baste the yolks with the oil to get them to set slightly.  When they are done to your satisfaction, lift them out of the pan with a fish slice and drain them on some kitchen paper before placing on the cheese/ham/bread you’ve already prepared.  This is best accompanied by a large mug of koffie verkeerd and two paracetamol.

Savoury pancakes with spinach and mushrooms

Another experiment from Morgan, and a very successful one. We tried it with a spinach/mushroom filling but there are plenty of other possibilities.  Gram flour is higher in protein than wheatflour and is gluten free.  This recipe feeds 4 for a light lunch , served with a side salad.

  • 250g gram flour (flour made from chickpeas – available in most big supermarkets or Asian supermarkets)
  • 500ml cold water
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 small red chili, finely chopped
  • small handful finely chopped coriander (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • veg oil

Sieve the flour into a bowl and slowly pour in the water, whisking all the time.  Make sure the batter is free of lumps before adding all the other ingredients and mixing well.

Heat about 1 tsp veg oil in a medium sized frying pan for about a minute.  Add a small ladleful of the pancake mixture, move it about the bottom of the pan until the base is covered. When the pancake begins to bubble and set slightly on the top, flip it over carefully and cook it until the whole thing is golden. Turn out the pancake onto a warmed plate and repeat with the rest of the mixture until it is all used up.


  • 2 big handfuls of mushrooms ( we used frozen mixed mushrooms but fresh would be even better)
  • 2cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach (again we used frozen, but fresh would also work)
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • Grated cheese, preferably a strong flavoured hard cheese like mature cheddar or Old Amsterdam
  • Black pepper

Put the mushrooms and spinach into a pan over a low heat until they are all defrosted and heated through. If necessary drain off the water.  Add in 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche, the crushed garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Keep cooking over a low heat until it’s all bubbling together.  Season with pepper (you may not need salt as you’ll be adding grated cheese).  Spoon the hot filling over the pancake and then sprinkle with a good amount of grated cheese so it melts a bit over the filling.



wild garlic pesto

We have a small patch of wild garlic growing in our bombsite of a garden.  At this time of year the leaves are fresh and tender and make an excellent pesto.

  • 150g wild garlic leaves, washed
  • 150g hard cheese (cheddar, parmesan, or a mixture)
  • 150g nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts, pine nuts and almonds that all needed using up)
  • 100ml olive oil
  • big pinch of salt
  • black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until it’s all amalgamated, but stop before it reaches a completely smooth paste – it’s nicer if there are still recognisable bits of nuts and cheese.

This will keep in the fridge for about a week with a bit of extra olive oil drizzled over the top in a sealed container, or you can freeze it in an ice cube tray.  Use it as you would any type of pesto – stir it into cooked pasta, or with sauteed mushrooms, or use it as a topping for pizza, or swirl it into vegetable soup.

Labneh – easy cream cheese

Well, yogurt cheese actually.

500g Greek yogurt
1 level tsp salt

Mix the yogurt and the salt together.  Put it in a sieve, lined with cheesecloth or muslin, over a bowl. Cover it with another cloth (or clingfilm) and put it in the fridge for a day or so.  Throw away the whey that has collected in the bottom of the bowl, and turn the cheese out of the cheesecloth into a plastic container. This really fresh-tasting cream cheese should be eaten it within two days. You can mix in chopped chives or other herbs, black pepper, or even a little garlic.

Update February 2016:  I got a yogurt cheese strainer for my birthday, and having used it quite extensively since then, I’ve discovered that you don’t actually need to put in the salt for this to work.  Good news if you’re trying to restrict your salt intake.