30th August 2016
My husband and I are headed to Japan this October so we’re currently in the midst of researching where to go and what to do – but most importantly what to eat!
One of our destinations is Osaka, Japan’s second largest city located in the Kansai region (also home to Kyoto). Known as the “nation’s kitchen” there is so much food to discover and taste! Koen and I were even more excited to visit once we learned of the saying “Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food.” This is our kind of city.
Osaka is known for a lot of different dishes, but one of its most famous is okonomiyaki. It’s mostly described as a savory pancake and is so delicious! Of course I can only vouch for the okonomiyaki I’ve made at home, but it’s definitely worth trying if you want to venture further into Japanese cuisine! This recipe is a favorite of mine from Food 52.
The sauces: okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, and sriracha (extra hot!)
Okonomiyaki, makes 12 pancakes (perfect for dinner for 2 (4 pancakes each), and lunch the next day (2 pancakes each))
Traditionally it’s with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise, and a spicy sauce if you like it hot. I’m lucky to have a great Asian supermarket closeby, but if you can’t find the sauces, you can make your own!
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sriracha, more or less to taste
- Whisk together the ingredients and your sauce is ready!
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups cabbage, finely chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
- 3/4 cup (roughly) chopped shrimp
- Oil for frying
- 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Fold in cabbage, scallions, and shrimp.
- Warm a couple glugs of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until glistening. Ladle the batter into the skillet as you would for regular pancakes, about the size of saucer. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Keep pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest. Scatter sesame seeds on top of pancakes and serve with lots of sauce!
28th August 2016
I love the My New Roots cookbook! I received it for Sinterklaas from my sister-in-law and love making all of the delicious nutritious plant-based recipes.
Every week I receive a bag of fresh vegetables from local farms, and this week included zucchini and green onions – so what better than a grilled salad with this hot weather? And I do mean hot! It’s been around 90 degrees all week!
I made this salad for a fresh lunch for Koen and me – so delicioso!
Grilled Zucchini and Spring Onions with Baby Spinach and Almonds, serves 2
- 1-2 zucchini, depending on how hungry you are
- Butter, coconut oil, or ghee
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium spring onions
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 fresh chile ( I didn’t have any on hand, so I used a few drops of hot sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
- Grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
- Few handfuls baby spinach
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted (I used almonds because it’s all I had on hand)
- Heat a grill pan
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin ribbons. Lightly rub melted oil on the slices and season lightly with salt and pepper. Slice the green onions in the same manner.
- When the grill pan is hot, lay the zucchini and green onions on the pan and cook uncovered until you have some char marks on the underside, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook until tender and marked, another 2 minutes. Remove the vegetabels from the grill pan and place them on a plate.
- Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, chile, maple syrup, and grated zest of 1 lemon in a small bowl. Put the spinach in a serving bowl, and pour this dressing over it; toss to combine.
- Roughly chop the nuts. Arrange the grilled veggies on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with the nuts and the remaining lemon zest, and serve.
15th March 2016
I love sweet potatoes and am always trying to find new ways to eat them. This recipe is inspired by Sarah Britton’s My New Roots cookbook. In her book she has a recipe for sweet potato and mushroom tacos with a red cabbage slaw. For my tacos I substituted the mushrooms for avocados and baked my sweet potatoes rather than broiling them on the stovetop.
These tacos are perfect for either lunch and dinner!
Sweet Potato Tacos
- 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, sliced
- Tablespoon of smoked parika
- Teaspoon of cumin
- Teaspoon of thyme
- Dried chili pepper to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 small wraps
- 1 avocado, cubed
- Red cabbage slaw (see recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.
- In a lasagne dish, combine the sweet potatoes, garlic, shallots, spices and olive oil. Mix well, ensuring everything is covered in olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, so that the sweet potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Build your tacos! I like to first toast my wraps, then add the sweet potatoes, avocado, and red cabbage slaw and enjoy!
Red Cabbage Slaw
- 1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
- Handful of cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients together and let set for at least 10 minutes to allow flavors to marinate.
19th January 2016
Whenever I’ve had spaghetti for dinner, I always have leftover marinara sauce. I love using it for dipping the following day. My husband is a great baker, so often he’ll make some garlic bread sticks or sour dough pretzels. But this time I was off from work, so I wanted to make our dipping snack!
I decided on Sprouted Kitchen’s Roasted Parmesan Parsnips – yum! The sweet taste of parsnips, umami taste of parmesan, and fresh rosemary! Baked in the oven, the only fat used in this recipe is the parmesan cheese – so enjoy these guilt-free fries!
Roasted Parmesan Parsnips, serves about 4 as a side
8 parsnips, cleaned and peeled
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground pepper
- And of course a marinara or tomato sauce for dipping!
Preheat the oven to 425 F / 215 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the parsnips into wedges or halves depending on the thickness. Since they taper so much, you can use the ends whole then cut the fat top into fourths. Try to get them as evenly sized as possible.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy with 2 tsp dried oregano.
Working with about half of the parsnips at a time, toss in the egg white and then gently roll in the parmesan cheese. Place each parsnip on the baking sheet, with space in between. Sprinkle the fresh rosemary and generous amounts of fresh pepper and salt. You may even want to give one more sprinkling of parmesan, you want them pretty well doused.
Bake the wedges about 20-25 minutes until crispy and cooked through. Rotate and test them after 15 minutes baking as the size of parsnips will vary. Serve with tomato sauce and enjoy!
10th January 2016
In Belgium parsnips are categorized as a forgotten vegetable. Why would anyone want to forget about parnsips! Parsnips are somewhere inbetween a carrot and potato – so delicious!
I first started eating parsnips as fries baked in the oven with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper and slowly been experimenting with other ways to eat them, like in soups and quiches.
Naturally Ella has such a delicious recipe on her site for a parsnip and thyme galette. This was my first galette aka a free form pie. Rather than using a pie dish, the dough is rolled out, the filling (savory or sweet) is poured into the center, and then the edges are folded up to keep everything inside.
This parsnip and thyme gallette is a great, light weeknight dinner or Sunday brunch!
Parsnip and Thyme Galette, serves 2 for dinner or 4 for lunch
- Pie dough (pre-made or your favorite recipe)
- 2 parsnips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup (120g) ricotta
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg and 2 tablespoons heavy cream for the egg wash
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C, or gas mark 5) and cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll out dough into a circle form (abotu 10in/25cm) and transfer to the baking tray.
- To make the filling: Toss the shaved parsnip with the melted butter and thyme and set aside. In a bowl, whip together the ricotta, honey, black pepper, and sea salt. Spread the ricotta over the crust, leaving an edge of roughly 1½ inches (3.8 cm). Layer on the parsnips, and fold the edges of the crust over the outer edges of the layered ricotta and vegetables, pleating the crust as you go in order to make an even circle.
- Whisk together the heavy cream and egg, then brush the crust with the egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is set and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
18th November 2015
Fall is all about root vegetables for me. Right now in the super markets here there is a wide array of beets: red, golden, and candy cane. I bought an assortment to experiment with at home. My husband made beet chips with the golden ones, we tried out marshmallows with the candy cane, so that left only the red.
Food 52 has a recipe for a Rustic Beet Tart, which served as inspiration for my beet pizza. Rather than a pizza with a tomato sauce, this version has a layer of goat cheese custard that pairs perfectly with the oven baked beets. You need a little bit of time for this recipe, but all of the ingredients are inexpensive and it’s quite easy to make!
Beet Pizza, makes 1 pizza
- 3 small (2 to 3 inch/ 5 to 7 cm diameter) beets
- Pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup / 60 mL whole milk
- 3-5 oz / 85 to 41 grams of goat cheese
- Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
- Peel the beets then place each beet on a small square of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in the foil. Bake at 400 F / 200 C degrees anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beets. They’re done when they are knife tender and can be pierced with the tip of a paring knife with ease.
- Once the beets are knife tender, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.
- While the beets cool, roll out the pizza dough into a nice circle. Transfer the pizza dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roll in the edges of the pastry about an inch along the edge so that you have a delicious pastry wall. You want to make sure that the custard doesn’t leak out when poured into the “shell”.
- Combine the egg and the goat cheese with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly add the milk or cream, stiring until you have a thick but pourable consistency. It should be no thinner than pancake batter.
- Slice the beets into rounds. You should get 5 or 6 rounds from each beet.
- Pour the custard into the pastry shell, then lay the beets on top, being careful not to overflow.
- Bake at 400 F / 200 C until the pizza is golden, the custard is set, and the top is just a little brown. Slice and enjoy!
13th November 2015
I love sweet potatoes all year long, but especially once the weather turns colder. So sweet, warm, and comforting!
This recipe for Sweet Potato Squares from Yotam Ottolenghi is perfect as a starter, a side, or a main course if paired with a nice salad.
The sweet potatoes are baked in the oven with goat cheese and chili peppers, then topped with a garlicky mixture before serving.
I used organic pastry dough because I was short on time, but if you have time you can also use your favorite dough recipe.
Sweet Potato Squares, makes 4
3 sweet potatoes
- 9 oz/250 g pastry dough
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 6 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 1/2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Course sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 F/205 C. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 mm thick.
- While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the pastry to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge at least half an hour.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the chili pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.
- While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries comes out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.
8th November 2015
Fall is here!
I love the Autumn – the weather: cool, fresh, and crisp, the clothing: layers upon layers, the colors: warm browns, golds, oranges, and reds, and of course the food! I love mushrooms, roots, pumpkins, and squash!
So for my first fall dinner this year I made Jamie Oliver’s Grilled Mushroom Risotto. This is one of my all time favorite recipes. You get a double dose of mushrooms. First, you soak the dried porcini mushrooms and add them with the rice along with the soaking water. And secondly, grilled mushrooms to top the risotto! The grilled mushrooms are combined with lemon and parsley and add a fresh and zesty accent to the risotto!
Grilled Mushroom Risotto, serves 4
- 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock , hot
- 1 handful dried porcini mushrooms
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion , peeled and finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery , trimmed and finely chopped
- 400g risotto rice
- 75 ml white wine
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large handfuls wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles), cleaned and sliced
- A few sprigs fresh parsley , leaves picked and chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 small handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
- Extra virgin olive oil
Heat your stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer. Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour in just enough hot stock to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes until they’ve softened. Fish them out of the stock and chop them, reserving the soaking liquid.
In a large pan, heat a lug of olive oil and add the onion and celery. Slowly fry without colouring them for at least 10 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the wine. Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Now pour the porcini soaking liquid through a sieve into the pan and add the chopped porcini, a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get a dry griddle pan hot and grill the wild mushrooms until soft. If your pan isn’t big enough, do this in batches. Put them into a bowl and add the chopped parsley, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Using your hands, get stuck in and toss everything together.
Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes.
Take your risotto and add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with some grilled dressed mushrooms, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
9th October 2015
On Sundays I tend to make Asian dishes because the supermarket in Chinatown is the only one open. My husband and I are fond of duck and really enjoy Peking duck pancakes with scallions dipped in hoisin sauce. This recipe comes from the Smoky Wok. The duck is prepared in much easier fashion, because as the website says, “recreating an authentic Peking Duck at home is almost impossible – the ducks are not roasted in regular ovens, they are supposed to be roasted over open flame lit with a special kind of wood that is also infused with fruits and some dates. For the duck to get that gorgeous crispy skin characteristic of a true Peking Duck, the ducks also have to be rotated and turned at precise times.” This recipe uses only the duck breast which is marinated in hoisin sauce and other spices. Mmm!
And if you want to serve this with guests, you can let everyone make their own pancakes and just create a spread with the pancakes, sliced duck, and scallions. Everyones loves a little DIY!
Peking Duck Inspired Pancakes with Scallions, serves 4 (makes about 20 pancakes)
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) water
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Enough cooking oil
- Sift flour and cornstarch into a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, water and sugar together in a separate bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture earlier and add in egg mixture gradually and beat well until mixed.
- Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of the batter to form pancake. Cook for about 1 minute on each side or until golden. Remove from pan and place on serving dish. Continue until all the batter is used up.
- 10 stalks green
- 300g of duck breast meat
- onions/ scallions
- Additional hoisin sauce for dipping
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
- Marinade the duck breast in the marinade above for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours or more (covered in fridge).
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Roast duck breast after oven is pre-heated for at least 15 minutes for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes, slice thinly and place on serving platter.
- You can create the pancakes yourself by adding a slice of duck and a scallion, then tying it together with the stalk of another scallion. If having guests, let them serve themselves by making the little pancake rolls at the table. Make sure to have enough extra hoisin sauce for dipping!
30th September 2015
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband I really love pickling leftover vegetables. Rather than having to throw them away, pickling preserves the vegetables to be used for many more months. Plus the flavors they develop become more complex.
Most recently Koen pickled our leftover carrots with dried peppers and other spices using Bon Appetit’s Moroccan style recipe. They were finally ready to be eaten, so we wanted to choose a dish that would pair well with the carrots. I decided on Green Kitchen Stories Moroccan Quinoa Salad. This is one of my favorite salads and I knew the carrots would fit perfectly. So many delicious flavors – the garlicky marinated zucchini and eggplant with the crunch of green onions, the soft avocado, and the warm, spiced quinoa topped with fresh mint and cilantro. Mmm!
- 1 1/4 pound baby or medium sized carrots, trimmed
- Peel from one lemon, in strips
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 dried hot chiles
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, cracked
- Pack carrots vertically into 1-quart jar, cutting spears to fit. If you have thick carrots, you can slice them lengthwise.
- Add lemon peel, garlic, and chiles, spilling some chile seeds into jar.
- Mix 1 1/2 cups water, vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, and cumin in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve, then boil 3 minutes.
- Pour hot brine over carrots, adding all spices to jar.
- Cool, then cover jar tightly and chill at least 1 week before opening. Keep refrigerated.
Moroccan Quinoa Salad, serves 4
- 1 zucchini, cut in thin slices
- 1 eggplant , cut in thin slices
- Olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 lemon
- 2 bunches mint leaves
- 1 bunch cilantro/coriander
- 2 avocados, cut into 1 inch squares
- 4 small spring onions, chopped
- Start by making the marinated vegetables. Spread out the zucchini and eggplant slices on a bbq, in a grill pan or in the oven, a couple of minutes on each side. Put them in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, garlic and salt over them and set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to the package but add one tbsp cinnamon in the water. When it’s done cooking, rinse and set aside to cool off. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and add five tbsp of olive oil into the quinoa. Chop half of the mint leaves and half of the cilantro, throw them in the quinoa and toss it around until everything is mixed.
- Serve in bowls together with the marinated vegetables, avocado, spring onions, the rest of the mint and cilantro and the pickled carrots.