Lemon – Parmesan Cod

A nice and healthy way to prepare cod.

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All you need is:

  • some nice pieces of cod – count on 150 gr per person
  • a nice big lemon
  • grated parmesan cheese (10 – 15 gr per person, according to taste)
  • breed crumbs (15 gr per person)
  • olive oil
  • some black pepper and garlic (fresh or powdered)

Pre-heat the oven at 200 c (390 F).
Grate the lemon rind (a tablespoon for each piece of cod)
Mix the grated lemon, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic and pepper
Arrange the fish in  a greased oven tray and lightly baste the fish with olive oil
Cover the pieces with the mixture and press firmly until well coated
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes
Put each fillet on a pre-warmed plate and garnish with a slice of lemon
Serve with pasta or fried potatoes, a green salad and a nice white wine!

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Smoked Salmon or the joy of simple food

I must confess I love simple food. The original taste, not swamped by heavy sauces. Or obliterated by all kinds of (sweet) condiments. I know I am going against the trend. And yes, I also know it that each day it is getting harder to find food like that.
So once again, if you can’t find it, make it!

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There are few nicer ways of preparing fresh salmon – and it is ridiculously easy. All you need is one of those little smoke-ovens you can find in outdoor shops or on the internet. All you have to do is buy some nice pieces of salmon and salt them for about four hours. Wipe them clean and put them on the griddle.
Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons woodchips on the bottom of the oven, close the lid tightly, light the (spirit) burners and let the fish smoke for 30 minutes.

Serve your freshly smoked salmon warm, with a green salad, some lemon and a French loaf (Baguette).
Enjoy!

The North Sea – In Winter

When people talk about the sea, they think of golden beaches under a warm, smiling sun. Of cocktails and snacks and swimming and sleeping under a parasol. Few of them realize that same sea has a totally different face, a face  only the professional seamen know…

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A face distorted by a force 6-7 gale, by driving rain and sleet and snow. With waves sending curtains of spray over the bows of the ship, soaking the oilskin-clad deckhands that longingly look at the lights of the port, just peeping over the horizon.

A tough life.

Old Amsterdam – in Winter

When I say “…the Magical City of Amsterdam…”. it is because I can remember images like this one, etched forever in my memory. The crisp, freezing cold, the tang of coal and wood smoke in the air and all sounds muffled as if the city itself is awed by the majesty  of this blanket of snow that has turned even the ugliest places into a fairy-tale.

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The “Brouwersgracht” in the winter of 1952

The Last Apple

On this last day of the year, I like watching the last apple on the tree in my backyard. It grew from a single blossom in May , was surrounded by a riotous multitude of brothers during the summer and gradually became lonely in the fall.

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Now it is still there – in the cold, freezing wind, waiting for the moment a hungry blackbird finally manages to take it down.
It is like tonight, when we close the books on 2016 and start on our new journey around the sun, called 2017 and lasting exactly 365 and 1/4 days.
What will our new journey bring us?
I hope it will be health and happyness and understanding….

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL, WHERE EVER YOU ARE!

 

The Art of Baking Bread

I think most of us are by now fed up with tasteless, mass produced bread, stuffed with grease and preservatives to make it last longer. Finding a good, artisanal baker is about as likely nowadays as finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Is there no solution then?
YES – bake your own!

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All you need is a breadform, a good mixer (preferably one with a bowl attached) and an oven. Supermarket flour is ground to fine (and often mixed with things you don’t want) so the challenge wil be to find good, slightly coarse flour. It is frequently stocked by health stores, as is dried yeast. Once you’ve found it, use this recipe to begin with:
Ingredients:

  • 500 gr flour
  • 290 ml lukewarm water
  • 12 gr dried yeast
  • 10 gr sugar
  • 10 gr salt

Preparation:

  1. Mix the ingredients in the bowl and knead for 5 – 8 minutes;
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic cling foil and let the dough rise for about 30 mins;
  3. Lightly dust a flat surface with flour and firmly knead the dough for 3 minutes;
  4. Use a rolling-pin (if you don’t have one, a wine bottle will do) and flatten the dough intil you have a (more or less) square piece about 1/2 inch thick;
  5. Roll it up and put in a lightly greased bread-form, seam at the bottom;
  6. Put it in a draught-free place (I use the microwave) and let rise for 60 – 65 minutes;
  7. Pre-heat the oven  to 220c;
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 220c, then reduce heat to 180c and bake for 30 minutes;
  9. Remove the bread from the form;
  10. Put it on a tray and bake for an additional 5 minutes (to harden the crust);
  11. Take it out of the oven, put it upside down and let it cool off before you cut it. (This is the hardest part!)

Once you’ve  tasted your own baked bread, you’re hooked. And you will soon get the hang of it and experiment with different kinds of flour, fillings, etc. And each and every time, your whole house will be perfumed by the wonderful smell of honest, freshly baked bread.

Smell is a powerful guide to the past. The smell of freshly baked bread always takes me back to my schoolboy days when each day, in the cold and dark of the early morning, I cycled past this bakery on my way to school. And each and every time I thought:

‘THIS IS HOW IT MUST SMELL IN HEAVEN’