Bacon wrapped dates might not be anything new to you, but until two days ago they were to me. After making this incredible delicious Ottolenghi salad with dates in it, I decided to make a lot more with this sticky little fruit. So for my new recipe video I made these bacon wrapped dates – I kept them as simple as possible, but of course you can fill the dates with cream cheese, other kinds of cheese or almonds – and I just pulled a banana-date cake out of the oven.
At this time next week, I’ll be getting myself drunk on cheap Chinese liquor on my own goodbye party, cause on Friday morning I’ll be catching a plane that will take me back home; to the Netherlands that is. I will not spend my summer lying on a beach on some tropical island or backpacking in Asia, but I will spend it nice and calm with my family and friends, by baking cakes and in a (much-needed) healthy environment.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been having these crazy little nausea attacks. This happened to me before I left to spend two summers in Taiwan and it also happened before I moved to Beijing. It is a mixture of adrenaline and fear for the unknown. The weird thing is that I’ll not be going to an unknown place this time, but instead I’m going home.
On the one hand I’m feeling excited; I’ll be seeing my friends and family again, I’ll have all the opportunity to cook and bake whatever I want, I’ll know what is in my food (no pork that is actually rat meat) and I’ll be breathing fresh air (instead of the Beijing Air Quality Index stating something between “unhealthy / very unhealthy / hazardous / more than the index can count”).
But on the other hand I’m feeling a bit uneasy; two months ago, after living in Beijing for about 8 months, my life finally got a bit of a routine and I started feeling more at home: bought a bike, got OCD on my morning swim, started studying more diligently and started tutoring the cutest 14-year-old girl. Now I have to put this all on hold, so when I come back (/home?) I can pick it up from where I left it.
A couple of weeks ago I made a 5 day-trip to Shanghai. It was time to become more independent and I didn’t want anyone standing in the way between me and all the delicious food I was planning to eat. So no boyfriends, no friends, nor family to accompany me on this trip.
Due to going to a bar, a nighttime skype session and still having to pack my backpack at 4 am I set of for Shanghai without any sleep in the early morning. That lack of sleep came at handy, cause I had to share the room in my hostel with five snoring guys.
I loved every single minute of my trip, I loved walking the streets and parks of Shanghai, having conversations with locals, and most importantly: eating a lot of the sublime food the city has to over.
To be honest, I actually did not enjoy everything. Without any reason, my left foot started hurting about a week before going to Shanghai. I didn’t think it was necessary to go to the hospital (note: it’s a bit more of a fuss to go to a Chinese hospital than to the GP back home) and I figured my foot would heal on its own while walking the whole day in Shanghai. Surprisingly, the opposite happened. At the hospital I got some antibiotics and (highly appreciated) painkillers and the advice to ly down and rest. The result was a cripple girl gimping around the streets of Shanghai.
Anyway, these soup dumplings are one of my favorite Chinese foods (I think I say that in every post on Chinese food..). Admittingly, they are quite a fuss to make, but please don’t let this stop you from making them, cause when you bite into one of these it makes all your worries, and foot pain, go away.
You might have noticed that I’m a bit homesick; to me this means that I’m missing my friends and family, but also my kitchen. Of course I’m still enjoying my time in Beijing, but I can’t help myself longing to get busy in the kitchen. Probably the first thing that I’ll be making is a decent sandwich, like this mozzarella and prosciutto one. But for now I’ll just have to suck it up and give you lucky people with your easy access to crispy loads and various kinds of cheeses and cured meats the recipe (not that there’s a recipe needed to make a simple sandwich).
For the last two months, my daily breakfast and lunch consisted out of the same kind of steamed dumplings – I’m on a varied diet, can you tell? Do I still love them? Yes. Do I think that having about 120 (of the same) dumpling meals in two months is gross? Yes. But no judgement please, it already sucks that I have to take a shower and get dressed before I can get any breakfast, you can’t expect me to walk 15 minutes in the cold as well, right?
The recipe I post today are not the same dumplings, but you might still want to eat them for breakfast and lunch on the same day. Half of them were steamed, half of them were pan-fried. I wasn’t a big fan of the fillings, as they included fennel – which apparently I don’t like – and I prefer a more meatier filling; the more meat, the merrier. The dumplings were delicious nevertheless, but if you want to try a different filling, be my guest and let me know how it worked out.
When my friend and me had a cooking marathon two weeks ago, we finished the day with these dumplings. Although they don’t look appetizing, they tasted pretty good. We had much fun cooking all day long, the only thing was that we got a bit tired after making a croque monsieur, a rocky road, a banana cake with caramel sauce and cookies that we kept reading the recipe over and over again without actually reading the words. So of course we added the wrong ingredients, but other than their ugly appearance and not so authentic outcome, they were still very delicious.
I promised to post this recipe a couple of days ago, but then the weather got all tropical in the Netherlands and I couldn’t do anything else than enjoying these last steamy and sweaty days of summer. Now the temperatures have dropped again I’m happy to post this incredible porchetta. Just as most pork belly-recipes it’s very easy to prepare, the hardest part is tying the knots and if you find that difficult you should just order in tonight, cause it probably isn’t going to work out for you in the kitchen.
I didn’t get my skin as crispy as I wanted to, but maybe that’s because I didn’t (I mean: my butcher didn’t) make as many scores as stated in the recipe. Anyway, it was still very delicious and, once again, the guys in my student house made sure there wasn’t any piece of pork left.
Since my final outcome pictures failed, this last picture in which you see me focussing – and biting my lip in concentration – on cutting the meat is the most decent picture of how the porchetta turned out.
I had a full cooking/baking marathon with my friend Esther yesterday. We met each other when we were working in the same shop, but we became friends through our love for food and traveling to far places (especially to places where there is an abundance of great food). For our marathon we both picked out a couple of recipes we would like to try out, we went to the farmers market and started cooking. In the end we had made croque monsieurs, a cake, cookies, white chocolate rocky road and dumplings. We started at 11.30 AM and finished our dumpling dinner around 7.30 PM. I’m writing this the morning after, on a lazy Sunday from my bed and I’m in no way hungry yet. Wonder why that is.
We completely followed the original recipe, except for the part that I threw in an egg in the bechamel sauce. If you’re already making a calorie bomb, why stop with regular bechamel sauce? We weren’t big fans of the sauce on its own, but it gave a nice creamy texture to the grilled sandwiches. After we made them, we devoured them on my little balcony which you can enter if you climb through a big window in my kitchen. The weather was great and our croque monsieurs were crispy and gooey. It was the perfect kick off for our cooking marathon.