Asparagus… Bite the seasons*!

May 14th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Farm chicken with asparagus, chervil and lemon

They are here at last. Asparagus. Green and white. Purple too.
We’ve had to wait a while this year.

A bit more crooked than other years. Still so pretty too me.
So good. Sweet, slightly pungeant.
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Post Christmas goodies and a piece of lemon cake

December 28th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

Be merry!
So, we’ve made it past Christmas and the world is still turning around.
I hope you had a grand time.
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New year, new beginnings…

February 14th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink


Februari already… I can’t even remember how long it’s been since i started this post. It was ages ago.

It’s been kind of busy lately.

Exhausting too at times.

A bit scary even.

Yet, i’ve never been so happy for all the new things in my life:
The new house, the new blog (yep this is finally it:! i hope you like it. ) and most of all…

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On food extremism, tajine, preserved lemons and parsley roots

February 21st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

I have a confession to make: I can turn into a heavy-duty food extremist when it comes to the food close to my heart…


Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind free interpretations (I wouldn’t be well placed complaining about that) as long as the essence of the original cuisine remains. What bothers me, in particular in restaurants who are representing a specific cuisine, is, too often, the lack of care, of taste and the prevalence of quantity over quality… Hence my efforts in avoiding eating out in restaurants claiming any remote connection to Moroccan or Arabic cuisine when in Europe. I’ve gone through to many disappointments.

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Leeks, butter and lemon…

January 16th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

A bunch of young leeks from the neighbor’s garden and a roast chicken, …

Leeks, butter and lemon [1]

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These skirts who makes the world go round…

April 11th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

I’ve always loved that song from the French singer Alain Souchon “Sous les jupes des filles” (Under girls’ skirts… nothing naughty I swear!). It’s fresh like an early spring day with its -maybe cheesy but so poetically refreshing- message that as long as there are girls and women walking around the world with skirts there is a sparkle of light in the eyes of men when the breeze lift them up, hope for a better world!

Since I live in the Netherlands, Souchon is back whispering in my head every spring, when on the first warm sunny day, skirts blossom on all the terraces. The Dutch even have a name for that day. It’s “rokjesdag”, skirt day! It’s quite a big thing back here: They talk about it at work, on TV and in the newspapers. The true beginning of the Dutch Spring! And of course, the start for the girly magazine competition for the publication of the best miracle/no hassle/ecofriendly diet that will get you back in no time in those short little skirts without the fluffy protective winter layer accumulated through the Christmas period (and Easter)….

Luckily, no need to rush: I had to laugh when I discovered that some of the Dutch weather forecast websites even provide a skirt weather indicator, just as they have a UV or allergy indicator! Handy though, I must admit! My skirts and dresses are back in my wardrobe waiting impatiently for the next index 7 or 8 on the skirt weather index. In the mean time, I do my Pilates with dedication and I’ve got the perfect little salad to keep me waiting without guilt for the perfect skirt day while browsing through the new spring fashion in the magazines: It’s crunchy, it’s fresh and it smells and tastes like Spring! Perfect for your lunch basket, you can prepare it in advance and it will be a perfect match with steamed fish, smoked salmon or a chicken sandwich.

Fennel, celery and apple salad

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Craving mum’s food…

December 3rd, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

When I’m on the phone with my mum, we can’t help talking about food at one moment or another. Did I tell you what a wonderful cook she is? I’m sure I did. But it’s ok, I can’t say it enough, anyway.
She’s the first one I call for cooking tips and I’m not the only one… I love how she tells me about food. Her recipes are like her: original and very a bit crazy sometimes, full of love and passion, always elegant, always inspiring. Not always easy to follow though… she never measures anything, or writes down anything, always cook following her instincts, it’s a pinch of this and a drop of that, abracadabra et Voila! and I like it like that. She’s taking me on a culinary journey where I’m free to add my own touch of gourmandise.

Osso Bucco

Until I get to enjoy her cooking again at Christmas… just for her and you, I’ve cooked an old family favourite in the cold season, osso bucco a la milanese. I know she’ll love it. I hope you will too.

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Tasty tools: my kitchen grater

March 16th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m back from skiing! …in one piece, with a finally fading mustle ache, bruises on my sheens (damn ski shoes! why can’t we ski in slippers) and a lovely goggle-sun-tan. I loved it!
Yet, after one week in a foreign kitchen, it feels great to get back to my own kitchen with my sharp cooking knives, my fast heating oven, my well sized pans, my tons of spices, my home grown herbs… and my kitchen grater! Well, didn’t really missed that one as I took it with me skiing… and no, I’m not kidding. Next time I’ll also bring my vegetable peeler!

 Tarte au citron (2)
My favourite kitchen grater! not really a fancy microplane grater, but my best friend when it comes to grating lemon zest, nutmeg and parmeggiano without grating my nails along.
I use a small knife or a cocktail pricker to get out what’s left on the grater after hand. 

After 1 week skiing, après-skiing, cooking and feasting on local cheese, ham and potato dishes and local wines out Savoie, the holidays ended yesterday with two hours running around my favourite french supermarkt followed by 10 hours driving: I’m glad to have found my kitchen back, but I’m gonna take a short weekend break before I start cooking again. In the mean time, I’ve spent my sunday seeping tea in my pj’s, looking around what I missed on the foodblogging world last week and found out about Joelen’s ‘Tasty tools blogging event’ on her food blog Joelen’s culinary adventures.  The perfect occasion to praise my kitchen grater for supporting me bravely on my holidays and catch-up on my blogging delays with a ‘grown-up’ lemon tart I made for a dinner with friends about three weeks ago. I’ve promised my friends the recipe but couldn’t get to it before the holidays (Antonio, may I ask for the recipe of your delicious empanadas now?). For once, I had left aside my lazyness and my ready to use puff pastry rolls, made the dough from scratch (scroll down for the dough recipe and some insight on the baking blind technique) and used the classic french cuisine technique for the lemon tart (without the meringue though), hence the ‘grown-up’. Don’t be scared, it’s more easy than I make it sound… and so rewarding: the tingling of the lemon on your tongue, balanced with the sweet pastry, almost melting in your mouth.

Tarte au citron (1)

French style lemon tart
Tarte au citron

serves 4 to 6 pers.
prep: 20 min. cook: 15 min

250 g pate sucrée (see recipe below) or shortcrust dough,
2 1/5 lemons (juice and zest grated with your favourite kitchen grater),

1/2 tsp salt,
2 eggs,
70 g sugar (or more if you’d like it sweeter),
50 g butter, melted and slightly cooled,
1 tsp cornstarch (Maizena), diluted in 2 tsp water.

Preheat your oven at 180 deg C*. Prepare your tart shell in a buttered 22 cm tart mold and bake blind (see below the dough recipe for instructions) for 15 minutes at 180 deg C*. In the mean time, mix together the eggs, the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, the maizena and the melted butter. Whisk well until all ingredients are well binded together. When the pie shell is ready, pour the mixture in the shell and bake for an additional 15 min at 180 deg C*. Leave to cool on on pastry rack. Keep in the refrigerator until service.

Bon appétit!

Pate sucrée (sweet dough) with hazelnuts
Pâte sucrée aux noisettes

makes 500g (enough for two 22 cm Æ tart shells).
prep: 15 min. rest: 1 hr

210g all purpose flour, sifted,
50g icing sugar, sifted,
25g finely ground hazelnuts (or almonds for a traditionnal pate sucrée)
1 egg,
1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla,
125 g butter, at room temperature,

1/2 tsp salt,

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Then incorporate one by one: the icing sugar, hazelnuts, salt and vanilla, the egg and finally the flour tossing well until each ingredient is incorporated but without overworking it. Gather the dough together in a ball shape and cover with plastic foil. Refrigerate for at least one hour before use. 

Bon appétit!

Baking technique: baking blind
Technique: cuire à blanc

for one 22 cm Æ tart shell.
prep: 10 min. rest. 15 to 30 min. bake: 15 min.

For one 22cm tart mold:
2 Tsp flour,
1 small knob of butter,
250 g dough (pate sucrée, brisée or puff pastry), chilled,
baking foil,
pastry weights (I use small stones I picked up on the beach, dried beans are an excellent alternative too)


Baking blind (1)Baking blind (2)Baking blind (3)Baking blind (4)

Preheat the oven at 180 degC*. Lightly dust a clean and flat working surface with flour. Place the chilled ball of dough in the middle and lightly dust with flour. Bang out the dough a couple of times with the pastry roll to flaten it a bit. Roll the dough working from the center towards the outside, dusting frequently with flour to prevent sticking. Roll the dough into a 25 cm diameter. Butter your tart mold and sprinkle it with flour. Carefully fold a third of the dough on your pastry roll and lift into the tart mold fitting it into the sides and bottom. Prick the dough with a fork to prevent raising, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for 15 minutes to half an hour. Remove the plastic foil and line the tart shell with baking or aliminum  foil and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180 deg C*. If you want the crust to brown a little, remove the foil and weights for the last 5 minutes.

Bon appétit!

* I always use the hot air option from my oven,  you might want add 10 deg C for a normal oven or extend the baking for 5 to 10 min.

My kitchen goes skiing!

March 7th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Les menuires

The kitchen will be closed for the coming 10 days… It’s time for well deserved holidays.
Ok almost closed: it seems I’m the designated cook for the trip.
In the mean time here’s something to spice up your week a little!

See u soon!

Chicken and prawns red thai curry

4 pers. prep: 20 min cook: 15min + 10 min

500g chicken filet (~3)
250g tiger prawns (raw and peeled)

400g mixed vegetables (for ex. peppers, green beans,
soja, chinese cabbage, oignons, leaks, carrots…)
cleaned, peeled and chopped400ml coconut milk
3 Tsp red curry paste
2 Tsp fish saus (Nuoc Nam)
2 Tsp brown sugar
a few kafir leaves (or 1 tsp pureed lemongrass)
5 Tsp. wok oil (or olive oil)
a handfull fresh thai basil
sea salt, pepper

Prepare your ingredients: dice your chicken filet into ~ 2/2.5 cm dices, prepare the prawns (in my case unfreeze them!), wash, peel and slice the vegetables thinly (or if you’re in a hurry use a ready “asian like” vegetable mix from your favourite supermarket…). Set aside, ready next to the stove. In a small cooking pan, mix the curry paste (I usually start with 2Tsp and adjust during the reduction), sugar, fish saus and coconut milk, add the kafir leaves or lemongrass and cook on low fire for about 15 min until the saus reduces from one third. 15 min before serving time, bring half of the oil to warm up in a wok or large pan on high fire. Sauteed the chicken for 5 min (you might need 2 rounds, so that your chicken get quickly seared and golden). Reserve. In the same wok/pan, sauteed the prawns for a couple of minutes until colored. Reserve, with the chicken. Still in the same pan, add the rest of the oil, sauteed the vegetables 3 to 4 minuts until seared but still crunchy, lower the fire, add the curry saus, chicken and prawns, cook for five more minutes. Just before serving, add the roughly cut basil, transfer to your seving dish, serve and enjoy right away, with some rice and eventually some warm nans.

Bon appétit!

Lemon rice
4 pers. prep: 5 min cook: 15min

300g pandan or thai rice,
100ml coconut milk,
500ml water,
the zest of a lemon,
1 lemongrass stick,
sea salt and pepper to taste.
In a pan, pour the rice and cold liquids. Add the lemon zest and lemongrass, season to taste. Bring to boil on normal fire, then cover up and lower the fire. After about 15 min, the liquids are absorbed and your rice is ready.

Stewed pears, candied lemon and almond tiles

February 3rd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Pears are definitely my favourite fruit in the cold season. They are a dutch local too. Stewed pears are typical in holland, served warm, as a side dish with game or simply as a desert with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream… mmmmm. It’s been a while I’ve been willing to try cooking them by myself, but like many other dishes I never got to it.

When I came across Julia‘s inspiring bag of goodies for her monthly in the bag challenge, I had to sigh. Pears, lemon and nuts… It was the perfect occasion, yet I’d thought I’d never get to it on time before the deadline, and of course, I didn’t, it was just too busy last week… But anyway, this morning, while my dutchie was being grumpy about his cold and showed no sign of interest for anything else but catching up on his Prison Break DVD’s, I had all the time in the world to experiment in the kitchen…

stewed pears


Thanks to Julia, I finally made my own stewed pears poached with lemon peel and heartwarming spices. I topped them with a caramelized reduction of their cooking juices and served them slightly warm, with a spoon of whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon and candied lemon peel. For the crunch and for the nut part, I added homemade almond tiles.

 A perfect sunday tea time!

stewed pears (2)

For the stewed pears, I used the most common stewing pears in the Netherlands, the Gieser Wilderman variety. As a basis for the recipe, I inspired myself from my favourite dutch cooking book “Dutch cooking – The new kitchen” from Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer, with a few adjustments in the spices and in the cooking time: traditional recipes call for cloves, vanilla and sometimes cinnamon, but I was not in the mood for cloves although I wanted to spice up my pears a bit. In addition to the vanilla and cinnamon, I used green cardamom, star anise and black pepper. In the book, they call for a cooking time of 1h30 on very low heat, but I guess I went to low on the heat and had to stew my pears for an extra half hour on medium heat before they were ready. They came out just fine, nicely coloured and delicately perfumed. For the final touch, I kept the lemon peel and half of the cooking liquids. I reduced a fourth of the liquids in a thick caramel syrup in which I candied the lemon peel cut in thin stripes.

For the almond tiles, after hesitating between the fancy recipe from my Larousse des Desserts and the minute made one from my french-cooking-made-simple bible “Francoise Bernard – Les recettes illustrées”, I chose for the second option so that I too could have a pick at the Prison Break grand final! I kind of missed the last stage which call fo curling the almond tiles on a pastry roll as soon as they are out of the oven. I was too slow on that one and my tiles remained depressingly flat. Nevermind, flat roofs are in fashion lately!

But, enough with the blabla, here’s for the result and the recipes:

stewed pears (3)
Here’s how my sunday tea time turned out.

Dutch style stewed pears
Poires pochées à la hollandaise

serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 2 hrs (+ 15 min for the caramelized syrup)

6 Gieser Wilderman pears (or any other stewing pears), peeled,
enough water to cover,
peel and juice of 1 lemon,

1 cinnamon stick,
1/2 vanilla pod,
3 green cardamom pods,
6 black peppercorns,
2 star anise parts,
5cl xeres vinegar,
10 cl red wine,
150 g sugar.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, add the vinegar, wine, spices and lemon peel. Put the pears in the water. They should be completely covered so that they can colour evenly. Lower the heat (low but not too low!) and leave to simmer for one hour. Add the sugar and simmer for half to one hour more or until a knife can enter the pears without resistance. Carefully remove the pears (not by the stalk!) and sprinkle them with the lemon juice. If you’re not planning to use them right away, keep them in the fridege, in a closed recipient, in the cooled stewing liquids.

To top the pears, you can reduce a quart of the stewing liquids with the spices and lemon peel into a thick caramelized syrup. Just reduce on high heat for about 15 minutes or until the syrup is thick and coloured. Remove the candied lemon peel and cut it into thin stripes. Use to decorate.

Bon appétit!

Almond tiles
Tuiles aux amandes

makes ~20.
prep: 10 min. cook: 5 min

2 egg whites,
30g butter, melted,
1 full Tsp flour,

2 full Tsp sugar,
a pinch of salt,
30 g of blanched almonds in thin slices
optionnal: a pinch of lavander flowers, crushed

Preheat the oven at 250 deg C. With a wooden spoon mix the eggwhites (not beaten), the flour, sugar, salt and melted butter until smooth. Add the almonds and lavander and toss gently. On a baking tray covered with baking foil (grease the foil with butter if you dont use silicon foil), pour well spaced (~2 fingers) small amounts of dough using a tea spoon. Flatened them slightly with the back of the spoon. Bake for 5 minutes in the warm oven or until the rands of the cookies start to colour (beware: it goes very quickly from golden to black!). Take out of the oven and immediately set the cookies to cool on top of a pastry roll (empty bottles will do to). Once completely cooled, store in air tight tin.

Bon appétit!

I guess I am out of competition for this month in the bag challenge, but anyway, it was fun and it was good!  
For more recipes with pears, lemon and nuts, check out Julia’s A slice of cherry pie next week, I’m sure there will be plenty of tempting recipes (with her delicious pear and cheddar salad to start with)…

 stewed pears

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