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!
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.
20th September 2015
I love a good bánh mì. When my husband and I were in New York City a couple of years ago, we went crazy trying all the different restaurants and determining our favorites. Unfortunately once we were back in Antwerp it was impossible to find. So what to do? Make your own! Now the Bánh Mì is becoming more popular in Antwerp and you can find it throughout the city, but we still enjoy making them at home.
So what is a bánh mì? Bánh mì is Vietnamese for bread. More specifically it refers to single serving size baguettes, introduced when the French colonized Vietnam. The bánh mì sandwich is a fusion of French and Vietnamese kitchens. You have the baguettes, mayonnaise, pâté, and jalapeños from France combined with the Vietnamese flavors of cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled carrots and daikon radishes. Yum!
This recipe comes from Food 52.
Caramelized Pork Bánh
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 baguettes (I bought a really long one from the bakery and sliced it into 4 serving sizes)
- Pickled carrots and radishes (see below)
- Sliced chili peppers
- Pâté (optional)
- Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap using a meat pounder, rolling pin, or large bottle.
- Mix ingredients from fish sauce to black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning – it should be sweet and savory so add more soy, salt, or sesame oil as you like. Add marinade to the meat and use your hands or large spoon to make sure all pieces of meat are coated in marinade. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.
- You can cook the pork on the grill outdoors (best) or indoors using a grill pan or cast iron pan, something that you can get very hot. Heat grill or grill pan to high and turn on that vent fan! Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Sear first side of meat until very dark brown on one side, then flip and sear on the second side. Be careful not to overcook it. The meat is thin so it cooks quickly, one or two minutes on each side.
- To assemble sandwiches, slice baguette and spread mayonnaise on one side, pâté on the other. Add meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers. Enjoy!
Pickled Carrots and Radishes
- 1/4 pound carrots, peeled
- 1 bunch of radishes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Slice carrots and radishes into thin slices. Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Let stand as little as an hour or up to overnight. They keep for several days.
11th January 2015
This recipe for Spicy, Peanutty Udon with Dark Leafy Greens comes from Food 52, a food lover’s community website. It is healthy, easy, and inexpensive to make. You can also easily adapt the recipe, making it spicier, more peanutty, changing the dark leafy greens, adding shrimp or chicken, etc.
I really love udon noodles. Every time I am in Chinatown, I can’t leave without at least 3 packets. They are perfect in soups and wok dishes. These thick noodles perfectly compliment the peanut sauce and leafy greens.
Spicy, Peanutty Udon with Dark Leafy Greens, serves 2 people
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Siracha
- 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened natural peanut butter
- 6 oz udon noodles
- 300g dark leafy greens (I used spinach, but you can also use kale, collards, etc.)
- Chopped scallions, for garnish
- Chopped peanuts, for garnish
- Heat 1 quart of water in a saucepan to boil.
- In a sauté pan over low or medium-low heat, add sesame oil and sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, Sriracha, and fish sauce. Stir ingredients and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add peanut butter, stir to combine, then turn off heat. The sauce will be very thick, but it will be diluted later when the noodles are added.
- When water is boiling, blanch greens for about 30 seconds. Drain the greens, and add it to the sauce in the sauté pan and stir to coat.
- Bring clean water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook following instructions on the packet.
- Use tongs or a large fork to add the noodles straight from the water to the sauté pan with the peanut sauce and the kale. The unstrained noodles will carry enough water to dilute the peanut sauce.
- Garnish with chopped scallions and chopped peanuts.