Stuffed Zucchini

stuffed courgettes

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

The ingredients: for 4 persons

  • 4 zucchinis
  • 600 g minced beef (“américain”, we call it in Flanders)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red chilli pepper (small one)
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Pre-heat the oven at 180° C.

Wash the zucchinis and cut them in 2, lengthwise. Steam the courgettes until they are just done. Don’t overcook them at this time, they still need to go in the oven for a while.

Put the meat in a bowl together with the seasoning. Cut the onion and the pepper extremely fine, press or grate the garlic, and mix all of this with the meat. I just use a fork to mix it all together.


When the courgettes are steamed, take out the seeds of the zucchini with a spoon. By doing this you create a small gutter for the meat. This does not have to be too deep, otherwise your zucchini will lose its strength and you may run into trouble serving it.

DSC00476Once you’ve filled the courgettes with the meat mix, put them in an oven dish and cook them for 20 minutes in the oven. Check if the meat is not red anymore to figure out cooking time.

The Tip:
We serve this with a jacket potato with sour cream.

This is also an ideal recipe when you’re trying to avoid calories. You can easily make a calorie friendly version limiting the meat to 100 g per person and serving the potato without the sour cream.

The Secret:

You probably also have days when you think ‘what am I going to cook tonight?’ or ‘what are we going to eat this time?’. Since i often have to go out for business diners, I have taken the habit of asking people – when appropriate of course – what they like to cook or what their favourite dish is. It also starts up the conversation again, when everybody start to get tired talking about work items.

It has inspired me quite often and brought the greatest ideas to the table. The recipes handed over like this often shined in simplicity and great taste.

Looking for inspiration one day, I popped the question during work lunch with colleagues ‘and what would you like to eat tonight?’ One of our engineers said… ‘it’s nothing fancy but at least I can cook this for my wife…’ and he explained about his stuffed zucchinis. Since then, thanks to Jürgen, the stuffed zucchinis are a returning item during lean weekdays .

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Chicken Fajitas

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Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

The ingredients: for 4 persons

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  • 2 double chicken breasts
  • 2 red paprika
  • 3 onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 fajita seasoning mix
  • tortilla wraps  (3 medium sized or 2 larger ones per person)
  • cheddar
  • iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • taco sauce (hot or mild)
  • sour cream
  • salt & pepper
  • harissa (optionally)

The work:

At home, we serve the fajitas with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheddar cheese, taco sauce and sour cream.

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As the toppings will be sprinkled on the chicken before the wraps are folded, you should make sure everything is cut in small sizes. Start by cutting 1 of the onions in small rings. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and cut them in small dices. Grate the cheese. Put all these toppings in separate serving dishes, also the taco sauce and the sour cream. You can prepare this ahead of time.

P1000253For the fajitas, chop-up the chicken breasts and start frying them in a pan with salt & pepper. While you do this, crush the garlic, take out the seeds of the paprika and chop them up in larger pieces. Also cut the 2 remaining onions.
As the chicken starts to become a bit crispy, add the garlic, paprika’s and the onions. Pour the fajita seasoning
mix over all of this. Depending on the type of mix you’ve bought (a jar or a bag), you may have to prepare the mix beforehand by adding some water to the seasoning. Follow the instructions on the product label for this. Stir to mix all the ingredients.
After the seasoning mix has been added it’s a question of keeping the pan on the fire until the vegetables are cooked and most of the moisture has dries out. We are aiming for seasoned meat, not for seasoned soup.

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Heat up the wraps in the micro wave. Follow the instructions on the package.

P1000259Now you are ready to serve. Put one wrap on everyone’s plate. Position the fajita (sizzling) pan and toppings in the centre of the table and let everyone fill their own wrap. First add some chicken, then add some toppings, fold up the fajita and try.

The Tip:
First time fajita tasters typically make two beginners mistakes: they overload the wrap and just roll it up. An overly charged wrap you cannot eat without pieces dropping out of it. When trying to eat a rolled-up wrap, the sauce will drip out at the end. The trick is to fold a part of the back to the inside, over the meat, and then close the left and right side like a small envelope. When you then lift up the wrap, the sauce is caught in the wrap envelope, at least for while.

harissa

We tend to favour chicken fajitas, but you can make variants with scampi’s, steak, lamb, or even mixed.

If you want to make the fajita mix a bit more spicy, you can add some harissa.

Don’t choose between taco sauce and sour cream, try adding both, their blend is fantastic.

The Secret:

It was around 1997 that I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant next to Mark S., one of my former US colleagues. With his typical enthusiasm he ordered ‘sizzling fajitas’. I had never heard of fajitas before. The dish looked, smelled and tasted delicious! Back home I tried to explain how impressed I was with the small Mexican wraps, but at that time the fajita seasoning was nowhere to be found in our local Belgian shops.

Many years later when making a walk at the coast we spotted a café specialized in serving Fajitas. It was the ideal moment to drag in my husband and daughter. Hehe, yes! Afterwards we found the fajita mix more regularly in the supermarkets and endeavoured making our own version.

Sizzling fajitas is now one of our typical Sunday evening favourites. So is Scampi Diabolo, one of my earlier posts.

For the Belgium readers who would like to try fajitas first before making their own attempt, I can recommend café Carrello in Heist (Knokke-Heist), a family business specialized in serving great fajitas. Make sure to book your table.