Cooking with Petit Tom: Moroccan meatballs

June 14th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Cooking with kids - Moroccan meatballs

Since Petit Tom has been around, I have secretly been longing for that day where he and I would share the kitchen and cook a meal together (Yes I know… I am a crazy foodie).

Last week friday was bliss. We cooked together for real for the first time. Not just like pricking the dough with a fork… A real dish. Moroccan meatballs. One of my favorite as a kid too.
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Running late for Christmas?

December 21st, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

Eid, Christmas and Hanoeka are coming close…


Are you all set? … I am not: the house is a mess, haven’t had one minut yet to think of my christmas dinner, still got to get the christmas tree, the presents… and my family will be at the door two days from now for a whole week of festivities! Sounds desperate… Well, nevermind! I’ve decided to (try to) keep cool this year. *deep breath*.  

In case some of you out there can recognise themselves, I thought I could share my christmas race with you (If I manage to fit posting in the program). 

First, I’ve got one tip for your christmas presents: Have you heard of the Menu for Hope raffle yet? If not, have a look… you’ve got until tonight to get a chance of winning amazing food related prizes worldwide (meals in world famous restaurants, culinary tours of your favourite cities, cooking equipment, signed cookbooks, cooking workshops…) while helping children in Lesotho getting food for lunch! Don’t miss it… I got tickets for the guided tour of El Bulli of course, a culinary tour of Barcelona and a lovely vintage print.

For the rest, my moto this year is: get organised and go simple!
(I know that my friends will no doubt get tears of laughter reading this…)

So in that spirit, here are a couple of tips for great homemade appetizers that will impress your guests while being so simple and easy to prepare…

Asparagus mousse, cheese sablés* and candied tomato tartlets

Mousse or soup shots always make a great impression, while they can be pretty easy and prepared in advance. The asparagus and vanilla mousse on the picture is based on the recipe I cooked for Blog Appétit quite a while ago. This time I used canned asparagus, and I baked the mousse in shot glasses for 20min. They can be prepared a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. For the decoration, I used green aspasragus tips blanched for a couple of minnutes an strips of smoked salmon. For Christmas, I am thinking of trying this with artichoke hearts instead of asparagus, with seared slices of scallops on top maybe.

You can also think of shots with a celeriac or pumpkin cappuccino or creamy jerusalem artichokes soup topped wth scallops or langoustines.

For the celeriac, cook in half water, half milk until soft (~15min) and mix. For jerusalem artichokes, sauteed them with a small shallot before adding the liquids, spice to your taste. You can prepare and freeze these soups well in advance. Take out of the freezer the night before. On the day itself, mix with liquid cream and warm up before serving. Top with whipped cream, seared scallops, truffles, langoustines, crushed hazelnuts, nutmeg, sechuan pepper… whatever fit your mood that day.

mini candied tomato tartlet
And what about homemade mini savoury tartlets? sounds to complicated…

The trick is to prepare a savoury shortcrust well in advance (70g flour, 30g powdered almonds, 60g butter, 1 Tsp milk, salt, pepper and any spices or herbs you fill like). Bake in mini silicon molds and freeze the tartlet bottoms. You’ll only need to take them out of the freezer a couple of hours in advance, garnish when thawed and warm up in the oven.
I like to garnish them with homemade candied tomatoes, or spicy apple compote topped with ‘magret de canard’ (smoked duck breast), sauteed spinach and goat cheese or smoked trout… but really the possibilities are endless!

And then, there’s the scallops… I love scallops, just seared served with a drop of argan or hazelnut oil, spiced with sechuan pepper, or with a strawberry coulis. Or mini blinis or baghrir (prepared in advanced and frozen), just warmed up, topped with creme fraiche with a touch of lemon or wasabi and garnished with salmon or fish eggs.

I could go on for hours, but I’ve got to seriously get started, so I’ll finish with dried fruits… Prunes rolled in bacon and baked until crispy in the oven, dates filled with foie gras topped with sea salt and pepper. So easy!

Bon appétit and merry christmas!

*I’ll post the recipe later, I’ve got to run to the market…


Italy in the garden

October 3rd, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve never been known for my “green fingers”. Every time someone offers me a plant that need a slight bit of attention, I can’t help but thinking “Oh no, how long is it going to last under my care”.
Yet, after three years in our house, me and my dutchie finally managed to made a garden out of our garden, with green grass, healthy looking and flowering plants and all kinds of herbs… a miracle.


For the veggies, we’ll have to give it another try next year though: out of my three plants of tomatoes and my plants of strawberries, I hardly managed to get a dozen of half eaten strawberries (damn snails!), a dozen of cherry tomatoes (at the rate of ~2 per month) and a dozen of roma tomatoes (out of 30 that just ended up rotting before even turning red… damn weather!).

Nonetheless, proud of my tomato harvest… my little head started boiling with ideas of beautiful tomato salads to present my very own tomatoes to the world (or let’s say the maximum I could feed with my dozen of tomatoes: my dutchie and a close group of friends… ). Before settling on a final recipe, I thought I should at least try one tomato… What a disappointment: with the lack of sun this summer, it must really have been a struggle to get to maturity. The flavour was there, but the structure was terrible (what we would call “farineuse” in french, literraly ‘”floury”). Bye bye salads! my tomatoes were only good for a tomato sauce. A great tomato sauce though, with herbs from the garden as well of course….


Canneloni with fresh tomato saus
Canneloni aux tomates du jardin

serves 4. prep: 15 min cook: 15 min + 35 min

16 cannelonis
8 Roma tomatoes (that’s all I had)
400g minced beef
100g minced pork
small oignons
1 small clove of garlic
a small handful parsley
a few twigs of thyme
1 twig of rosemary
1 laurier leave
4 Tsp olive oil
5cl red wine
3 Tsp freshly grated parmeggiano
a pinch of cayenne chilipepper
sea salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Wash and peel the oignons. Chop 1 1/2 thinly. Press the remaining half with a garlic press. Chop half of the thyme and rosemary thinly. Put the minced meat in a bowl, add a third of the chopped oignons, the pressed oignon, the parsley, and the chopped rosemary and thyme, season with sea salt and pepper and mix alltogether with your hands. Reserve.

Set some water to boil in a large pan and in a smaller one. In the larger pan cook the cannelonis for three minutes in the boiling water. Then rince in cold water to stop the cooking. Add a few drops of olive oil to prevent them sticking to each other. Reserve for later.

Wash the tomatoes and plunge them for 1 min in the boiling water in the remaining pan. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and chop them. Blend the tomatoes for 30s with 1Tsp olive oil. Sauteed the oignons and pressed garlic clove briefley with 1Tsp of olive oil in a cooking pan. Add the blended tomatoes, and remaining herbs. Season with sea salt, pepper and cayenne chilipepper. When it gets to boil, add the wine and lower the fire. Leave to reduce for 15min.

In the meantime, fill the cannelonis with the minced meat and lay them in a large oiled oven dish. When it’s done pour the tomato sauce over the cannelonis. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 35 min. Remove the foil 10min befor the end.  Sprinkle the grated parmeggiano over the dish and serve immediately.

Bon appétit!

nb. I prefer to use minced veal but it’s hard to find at the supermarket in holland and my butcher was closed.
nb2. You might wonder why I only add the cheese at the end… Well, for the simple reason that my dutchie cannot stand cheese (damn it!). I am condemned to add the cheese in my own plate or to make sure his part remains absolutely cheese-free. I was however very happily surprised by the result. I loved the taste of the freshly grated cheese on the cannelonis.

Blog appetit #9: Tartelettes croustillantes aux sardines et tomates confites

August 23rd, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Today is the latest “Blog appetit” contest in the french culinary blogweb. This edition’s ingredients will probably seem less startling than the strawberries and asperges from the last edition (I had a lot of fun with them though), but they are worth a detour: Our stars of this month are sardines and tomatoes. I hope you will excuse me if the rest of this post is in french. I promise the translation will follow soon.


Lors de la derniere edition de Blog apetit, je me suis drolement amusee a concocter ma recette et je me suis promise de recommencer. Cependant, lorsque les ingredients de cette edition ont ete publies, j’ai d’abord penser a faire l’impasse… J’etais en pleine flemingite aigue apres un mois de travaux intenses a la maison. De plus, je n’avais jamais prepare de sardines fraiches et malgre mon amour du poisson, l’idee du nettoyage et de l’odeur de ces petites sirenes argentees ne m’ont guere enchantees… Et puis finalement, samedi dernier je me suis decidee d’un coup en faisant le marche: sur les etals, des petites sardines fraiches (J’ai fait du charme a tous les poissoniers du marche… mais j’ai finalement du les nettoyer moi meme. A ces hollandais!), des mini tomates roma bien rouges et parfumees. Pour ce qui est de la recette, j’ai improvise sur place, tout en arpentant les allees du marche:

Les sardines fraiches me rappellent le Maroc: Les sardines fraichement pechees degustees grillees sur le petit port d’Essaouira, ou marinees a la  chermoula (comme chez Requia) puis frites degustees chez une tante avec toute une flopee de cousins entre deux eclats de rire, ou crues, justes marinees preparees par ma maman et degustees sur la terasse avec un petit verre de rose. J’ai voulu reproduire ces saveurs dans ma recette et mettre les sardines en valeur, sans trop de fioritures.  Pour les tomates, ca faisait longtemps que j’avais envie de tenter de confire des tomates, l’association m’a tout de suite titille l’esprit et ma recette etait nee: Pour ce qui est de la touche “sardines grillees sur le port d’Essaouira”, j’ai decide de faire griller mes petites sardines tres brievement apres les avoir fait mariner dans une sorte de Chermoula simplifiee. Puis de les deposer sur un lit de tomates confites, le tout dans une petite fleur en feuilles de brick pour le cote croustillant….

Un samedi apres midi dans ma cuisine plus tard, voila le resultat:


J’etais invitee a une soiree le soir meme, mes tartelettes n’y ont pas fait long feu…

Tartelettes croustillantes aux sardines fraiches et tomates confites 
(Cracky tartlets with moroccan style sardines and candied tomatoes)

pour 12 tartelettes.

pour les tomates confites:
prep. 5min. cuisson 1h35.

500g  de mini tomates roma bien charnues (des tomates cerises c’est bien aussi)
1/2 cc de paprika
1 Cs de sucre roux
2 Cs d’huile d’olive

fleur de sel, poivre du moulin

Prechauffer le four a 150 deg. Lavez les tomates et faite une incision a la base de chaque tomate. Disposez les dans un large plat a four anti-adhesif. Rajouter 1Cs d’huile, secouer legerement pour huiler les tomates. Enfournez pour 20min. En dehors du four, rajouter le paprika, le sel, le poivre, la moitie du sucre et le reste de l’huile d’olive. Secouer a nouveau le plat pour bien repartir l’huile et les epices sur les tomates. saupoudrer du reste de sucre et oubliez au four.  Au bout d’une heure, retourner les tomates delicatement une a une et remettre au four pour 15 min.  A la sortie du four, laisser refroidir dans le plat a temperature ambiante.

pour les sardines:
prep. 5min (+ 30 min  pour le nettoyage) cuisson. 6 min

500g de petites sardines bien fraiches (~ 15 pieces)
1 cc de paprika
1 petit piment fort,
4 ou 5 graines de cumin,
4 ou 5 grains de poivre,
1 petite poignee de coriandre fraiche
1 trait de jus de citron
5 Cs d’huile d’olive
fleur de sel

Pendant que vos tomates ce dorent la pilule, vous avez tout le temps de vous occuper de la cure thermale de vos princesses argentees… laver ces demoiselles a grande eau en les brossant avec les mains, des pieds a la tete pour eliminer les ecailles. Retirer la nageoire dorsale d’un coup sec. Inciser les au niveau du ventre, dans toute la longueur et vider les. Enfin, couper la tete, enlever l’arete centrale et ouvrez les comme des papillons. Sechez  vos papillons  d’argent du papier alu et disposez les dans un tupperware. Vous avez fait le plus dur!

Dans un mortier, pilez toutes les epices, le sel et le poivre. Melangez les dans un petit bol avec le jus de citron, l’huile d’olive, la coriandre fraiche hachee et la demi gousse d’ail pressee. Verser le melange sur les sardines. Melangez et laisser mariner pendant au moins 30 min.


pour les fonds de tartelettes qui croustillent:
prep. 10 min. cuisson. 5 a 10 min

6 grandes feuilles de brick (ou 12 petites)… histoire de faire 12 x 6 ronds
20 g de beurre
1 Cs d’huile d’olive
moules a tartelettes (J’ai utilise une plaque de 6 empreintes en silicone)

Une fois vos tomates confites, prechauffez le four a 200 deg. Decoupez 12 x 6 rondelles de feuille de brick a l’aide d’un emporte piece legerement plus large que vos moules a tartelettes. Faites fondre le beurre et y rajouter l’huile d’olive. A l’aide d’un pinceau trempe dans le melange, beurrer tous les ronds de pates, puis les empiler 6 par 6. Garnir les moules a tartelettes beurres de ces piles de feuilles de brick en froncant bien chaque moule. Haricots secs ou autres galets sont les bienvenus pour empecher les fonds de tartes de gonfer a la cuisson. Faire cuire en une a deux fournees de 5 min suivant le nombre de moules a votre disposition.  Surveiller bien la cuisson… 1 minute de trop et pfft vous aurez du charbon! Demouler et disposer sur un plat de service.

Dressage des tartelettes:
prechauffez le four au maximum, position grill. Disposer vos sardines recomposees (refermer les papillons!)  sur une grille allant au four. Les faire griller 3 a 4 minutes de chaque cote puis les mettre de cote. Pendant ce temps, couper vos tomates en 2 dans la longueur et garnir chaque fond de tartes de 4 a 6 demi tomates. Avec un pinceau, vous pouvez ajoutez un peu de leur jus de cuisson. Deposer une sardine grillee sur le dessus, et ainsi de suite… Saupoudrer l’ensemble des tartelettes avec un peu de paprika. Vous pouvez servir de suite voir quelques heures apres le dressage en les rechauffant legerement avant de servir. Vous pouvez aussi preparer tous les elements a l’avance et faire le dressage au dernier moment (faites griller les sardines au moment du dressage)

Blog appétit!

Allez, une petite derniere pour la route:


Ah et puis j’ai failli oublie, la suggestion vin de mon dutchie: un pouilly fume, ou pour les indecrotables du rouge un brouilly leger legerement frais!

Under the sun, at last!

May 12th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Sun in the netherlands is something you should not fail to enjoy… as it will not always be there! For the last 10 days, it has been sunny and warm and I did enjoy it, hence the lack of posts on this blog. The thermometer generously  exceeding the twenties, I finally found the courage to clean up my garden which had become more like a war field. After work, I could not avoid the sunny and crowded cafe terasses in the center of the city or at the beach for a rest in the sun and a white and fresh Hoegaarden while chatting lavishly with my friends. Then of course,there was the market, its fragrant and colourful vegetables and fresh fish, which filled me with idees and sudden urges for fresh spring and summery dishes. Let’s not also forget the call of our newly bought and still shiny barbecue… How could I find time to sit behind my computer outside of the working hours!But don’t worry, all good things have an end and bad weather is expected this weekend. I’ll surely find some time to blog after I clean the house. Or maybe I’ll just blog! Coming up on my kitchen diaries: oysters, sea bass, asperges and strawberries.In the mean time, the sun is still here and I had a light lunch on my terasse today…


Mini minut made gazpacho

1 pers. prep: 10 min

5 mini grape tomatoes
1 small cucumber (they are called turkish cucumber in Holland)
1 small red paprika
1 shallot
1 clove of fresh garlic
a small handful of fresh flat parsley
1 Tsp. balsamic vinegar (I used raspberry balsamic v.)
tabasco to taste
sea salt, pepper
6 ice cubes
Wash the vegetables and chop them roughly. Pour all ingredients in your food processor and mix until you get a smooth soup. Pour in a summey glass or bowl. Take a sit on your terasse or garden and enjoy your minute made gazpacho with fresh bread in the sun while reading your favourite magazine.Bon appétit!

I love squids… but would you clean them for me?

April 29th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

Last saturday, 2. p.m, at the crowded local market: I am standing exhausted among the fish stalls, my shoulders hurt from all the bags I’m carrying. I have everything I need for a whole week of fresh season vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, the asperges have not appeared on the stalls yet… but I got fragrant deep red strawberries and a juicy mango instead. The fish looked amazing that day: after a lot of hesitation, I decided for a beutifully fresh sea bar, some mackerels. There is also that fish: “Wijting” in dutch. I don’t know what it is, but there has been a massive arrival. Next time maybe. Time to go! And then, I almost bumped into the stall: squids! I love these animals… But cleaning them is always such a hastle. Ok, I’ll have some of these too. I tried my most charming smile and asked if they could clean them for me… But, that doesn’t work in Holland! Anyway, I gave it a try. Off with my kilo of calamars to clean…

Back in my kitchen, it took me a good half hour to clean these damn animals! First carefully removing the inside, then the skin. Water, lemon… All bright  and clean,  packed in plastic bags and off to the freezer. a complete spa treatment. I was definitely out of energy after that and almost regretted buying them.

Few days later, in my kitchen again, you could have heard me singing, like Edith Piaf, “Non, rien de rien… Non, je ne regrettes rien”! It was worth every effort: searching for an idea for my lunch box I remembered! I unpacked my first little bag of squids, and got started. With squid, I always remember the cleaning part, and forget the recipe. It’s everytime different eventhough there’s always a mediterranean touch to it. One thing is sure, there were a lot of jealous the next day at the cantine!


Improvised sauteed squid. 
(Calamars sautes: impro du jour)

1 pers. prep: 10 min(excl. cleaning), cooking: 15/20 min

300g small or mid-size squids cleaned
3 small tomatoes (or more if you want more sauce)
1 new carrot
1 red oignon
2 cloves of fresh garlic
a small handful flat parsley
5 cl. of red wine
cayenne pepper to taste (or fresh red chili pepper)
a pinch of cumin powder
sea salt, pepper
olive oil

Roughly chop your tomatoes and oignon. Chop your carrot in very small pieces. If your calamars are big enough, you can cut them in slices or the Jamie Oliver’s way (cf. Jamie’s Dinners) as featured in the photo: To do so, insert a wide cook’s knife in the squid and with another cook’s knife, slice the squid along it’s length at small intervals.
Oil your skillet slightly so that it doesn’t stick. Let it warm up on high fire. Add the cleaned calamars. After 5 to 10 min, they will have released most of their water. Keep these juices aside for later and add the chopped vegetables, the fresh garlic cloves, a bit of olive oil, season with salt peper and cayenne pepper. Once the vegetables start to colour, add half of the calamar juices, the wine and leave to cook for 10 min on mi. If it dries out, add the rest of the juices. Add the end, add a pinch of cumin, the flat parsley. Serve promptly with some white rice for example. 
Bon appétit!

This will also be delicious warmed up the next day. In my lunch box, I replaced the rice with grilled new carrots.

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