This is what life is all about:

Home-made Tonkatsu curry

I do think I’ll keep tonkatsu off the menu for now. We’ve eaten it three times within a single week — that’s a bit much…

Sweet potato croquettes!

Five years ago, I had a sweet potato croquette when I selected some random foodstuffs in the curry-udon restaurant we ate in Tokyo. Ever since, I have wanted to make sweet potato croquettes myself. With my new-found frying skills, it was time to try this out — people were enthousiastic when I suggested this as a side-dish on new year’s eve, and obviously we had to know if it was tasty or not before we serve this to our guests, right?

What you have been missing out on

So, yes, total success. Took a lot of panko, though. And next time, we’ll use our deep fryer for this, because that maintains a constant temperature and will prevent the croquettes picking up burned panko flakes — ought to yield an even better result!

Tonkatsu!

Today, I tried out a new recipe: Tonkatsu. It came out better than I had thought it would:

See for yourself:

Now I have to try out the recipe for curry roux, and I’ll be able to make Tonkatsu Curry at home! o/

Zero-prep stews

I love my slowcooker — we try to eat a stew every week. Most slowcookers are advertised as time-saving devices: you just toss everything in the slowcooker, turn it on and then go about your business. Which is true, in a way — but most recipes require quite a bit of prep-work: slicing and dicing meat and vegetables, pre-browing the meat, etcetera. That’s more work than I have to do for a typical meal!

So a week ago I experimented with a ‘zero-prep stew’. It’s not completely zero-prep, but close enough! You will need:
– 4 chicken legs;
– 500 gram of pre-cut soup greens (I used pea-soup greens);
– Packet of sieved tomatoes (500gr);
– Herbs and spices;
– Splash of red wine.

I skinned the legs and pre-browned the meat a bit, and then I stacked it all into the slowcooker: first the meat, then the greens. ingiechan made a selection from our extensive library of herbs and spices, we added the wine and as last we poured the tomato-stuff all over it.
It turned out quite nicely, with not too much moisture. And as always, the meat just fell off the bone — just how we like it.

Yesterday, I tried out making a beef rogan josh stew, with diced onions and tomatoes, but the tomatoes gave off so much moisture that the taste of the curry itself was muted beyond recognition. Not a recipe for the slowcooker, then!

I just placed my first recipe on the site where I got most of my slowcooker recipes: Chicken legs stewed in a mustard-cream sauce. For the slowcooker, obviously.

When I was a teenager, we (almost always) went to a club camping near Orleans, in France. Everyone knew everyone, and soon (mainly because of the social skills of my dad and my sister) our family was part of the clan. One of the members, an electrician, was a hobby-cook. He would invite the whole (adult) clique for a luxurious home-cooked dinner in his not-so-luxurious apartment in a suburb of Orleans. The last time we went to France as a family, I was old enough to join. I can’t remember what the menu was, except that I had delicious rack of deer with a very light red-wine sauce.
Later, he married the daughter of the owner of a vineyard, which meant he had access to the wines to go with the food.

One of the things my parents ate was ‘Lapin au moutarde’: rabbit with mustard sauce. My mom asked for the recipe, and she adapted it to use chicken — us kids didn’t really care much for the taste of rabbit. I cooked it a few times myself, but because it has to be stewed, it takes a lot of time to prepare.
Unless, of course, you have a slowcooker. The preparations themselves are pretty light-weight, and once it’s in the slowcooker you can simply forget about it until dinner time! So I tried the recipe, and at the second try I hit the jackpot: deliciously stewed chicken in a rich mustard sauce!

So it was time to do something back for the community that has provided me with many slowcooker recipes, and write it up.

So, I love my slowcooker. I have made a stew every week since I got it — in fact, today we had delicious left-over stew again (chicken that is so well done it just falls off the bone!). Best kitchen-related purchase this year, hands down.

gertvr, xaviar_nl, babarage and her boyfriend (that sounds a bit weird, he’s certainly not a boy anymore) are coming over this Saturday. And obviously I want to cook something with the slowcooker! The dietary requirements of the group are a bit hard to satisfy in one go: we have people allergic to beans (including soy) and nuts, we have vegetarians, we have people who don’t like cheese, and there are bonus-points to be earned if the meal is ‘light’. Obviously, this makes it hard to find a recipe that fits all the requirements.
So I was thinking of making two dishes: one vegetarian (that could use tofu as protein source) and one non-vegetarian.

I am looking through recipes, and I stumbled upon the blog of someone who really loves her slowcooker. Stephanie resolved to cook with her slowcooker every day for a year (starting the 1st of January this year), and so far she is succeeding! Every day, she posts a recipe with photos and clear instructions, and I don’t think she has ever done a repeat of an earlier recipe. Most impressive.

Obviously, a real treasure trove for me, and perhaps also for others who are looking for recipes to use with their crock pots/slowcookers.

Stew of the week

Ever since I bought the slowcooker, I have been making a stew every sunday. Most stew recipes are for four persons, so we just put half in the freezer to enjoy later.
So far, I’ve made rendang, Stifado, chicken with peaches, and today I made a babi ketjap that came out unexpectedly good. Next week I’ll try a beef teriyaki stew.

ingiechan predicted that I would turn into a ‘sunday afternoon cooker’ — someone who spends all sunday afternoon in the kitchen, drinking wine and pretending to cook. Not much chance of that with a slowcooker!

Sorry, all recipes are in Dutch, because I found some good Dutch sites with slow cooker recipes. Also, British and American recipes have weird measurements. It’s metric, people! Get with the friggin’ program!

Food and drink

Yesterday, we started the first beer-kit. It was a lot of hassle, this being our first time, and we had a slight equipment malfunction as well. But now we have an air-tight plastic bucket with 15 liters of brown stuff in the bathroom. You can hear the water-lock bubble quite a bit, so something is changing the sugars into alcohol — let’s hope it’s the yeast that was in the kit, and not some infection due to insufficient cleaning. We’ll find out in two months time, I guess.

Also, we used the slow cooker to create creamy caramel sauce out of a can of condensed milk with sugar. Three hours is not quite long enough, but we’re getting there.
Right now I’m stewing Stifado, a Greek dish. The drawback of using the slowcooker is that you’re cooking early in the morning. I was peeling shallots and dicing beef before having breakfast…
There are lots of exciting recipes for the slowcooker to be found, though. I find it fits with my style of cooking as well. And I love stews!

Cooking slow

Friday, we went to visit usmu. After having lunch, we went for a walk — Culemborg has various green spots hidden away not too far from the historic city centre, which is very nice. What wasn’t so nice is that usmu‘s hayfever was acting up, so we stopped by a pharmacy.
I was still looking for very small pans to use when melting chocolate au bain marie (now I make do with various larger pans, which is sub-optimal), and the Blokker had a sale going on — so we checked it out, but I came up empty-handed.

We went back to usmu‘s, where he took his medicine, and we swung by his parents’ gallery to say hi and check out the current exhibition. His mother mentioned that a new cook-shop had opened, so we went to check that out — the quest for the small pans continued.

I did find those small pans, but I also found a slow cooker (or ‘one pot cooker’, as Breville names it). At 3.4 liters, it’s a bit large for just the two of us, so I asked whether there were any smaller ones. There weren’t. But seeing that this one was very reasonably priced (we would have expected the price to consist of three figures, but that was not the case), I bought it anyway.

Today we are going to visit grandma, and we’ll be taking dinner with us. I have had Beef Rendang stewing all night, and it is deliciously tender!

I like stew, but making it is an involved process that needs constant supervision. Now I can just pre-brown the meat, put everything in the slow-cooker, turn it on and leave for the day!