dinsdag 18 februari 2014

Fusion-style: Stir-fry with Spanish chorizo and mango

As a result of increasing globalisation, cultures, people but also cuisines find their ways across borders. It gives people a chance to open up their eyes and taste pupils to the unfamiliar and let their 'little minds' be inspired. As flavours and techniques of different cuisines intertwine, we get to realise how much culinary beauty the world has to offer and how well certain ingredients may actually match with flavours that are familiar to us. This so called 'Fusion-style' of cooking is the result of limitless creativity, guts and the desire to create something new by combining the unknown with what we already have.

This dish is a surprising combination of Asia, Spain and the tropics: an undiscovered place in Paradise. Pack your bags and be ready to be swept off your feet by the sweetness of the mango, which perfectly matches the spicy chorizo and chili's. Hopefully bringing you a new, bursting flavour combination that evokes a little holiday feeling :)

Ingredients 4 persons:
* 300 grams of rice
* 1 red onion
* 100 grams of Spanish chorizo
* 1 pak choi
* 1 mango
* 200 grams of peas
* 1 table spoon of sesame seeds
* olive oil

Spice it up with:
* fresh coriander
* salt and pepper
* 1 red chili peper

Preparation and cooking instructions:
1) Boil the rice until fully cooked

2) Chop the onion and fry it in a pan with olive oil. Add the chopped red chili (make sure you removed the seeds if you don't want your dish too spicy) and chorizo (remove the skin first)

3)  After 5 minutes, you may add the sesame seeds. Steer well for 1 minute

4) Peel the mango and cut it into small pieces. Add the chopped pak choi, mango and peas to the mixture in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes.

5) Finally, add the finely chopped coriander and rice to the pan, steer for another 2 minutes and your fusion dish is ready to be served!

Music: Manu Chao - Desaparecido (takes you instantly to Paradise!)

zaterdag 1 februari 2014

The art of cooking

Need a little inspiration cooking-wise or ever wondered why you even should start baking or frying?
Well, my friend, let yourself be inspired. Cooking is art :)

Life is art: the way you feel, your personality, the way you live your life, the way you love someone, the way you dress up, and the things you cook. Whatever is created from the heart and soul (whether it's considered pretty or not), it's yours and can't be exactly imitated by anyone else. As for cooking: blend, create, dance to music while baking, taste, mix exotic flavours, fail, try again, invent, enjoy, give a recipe your personal touch and share: you are an unique artist. Creativity is not something you either have or don't, it's a matter of guts, practice and passion for what you are doing.
May your creations be colourful and inspiring!

Beetroot and red wine risotto with goat cheese and rocket

Some people ask me "Mel, what's your signature dish?". I do not know how to react to that seemingly simple question. It's similar to asking someone to name his favourite movie: I usually can't think of anything in a total black out, or find myself in total indecisiveness, when hundreds of movies suddenly pop into my mind at the same time. I learned that some people like one answer: A or B, black or white, Messi or Ronaldo, pasta or potatoes. A possibility between both options simply does not exist and having more than one favourite is absolutely out of the ordinary. Those people got me wondering about which one dish defines me... And you know what? I can't choose... I narrowed my options down to a few, which I already think is a big achievement, and I realised that perhaps this is a good opportunity to let those A-or-B type of people be surprised. Instead of me downsizing my list of favourite recipies, let them upsize their openness to all the deliciousness the world has to offer :-).

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to present to you on this blog: MANY of my favourite recipes!

May you enjoy for example my newest dish: a beetroot risotto with goat cheese, walnuts and rocket salad. A dish which is based on existing recipies, but twisted with my own inspiration. It's a secret pleasure and a delight to cook and taste! The sweetness of the beetroot combines perfectly with the richness of the goat cheese and nutty rocket salad. Add a few walnuts for the crispy bite, et voilá... Here is a dish to add to your list of favourites! Bon appetit..

Ingredients 2 persons:
* 100 gr. of rocket salad
* 400 grams of beetroot
* 200 grams of risotto
* 1/2 cup of red wine
* chicken stock
* 1 red onion
* about 180 grams of soft goat cheese
* Handful of chopped walnuts
* Olive oil

Spice it up with:
* fresh thyme
* fresh rosemary
* salt and pepper

Preparation and cooking instructions:
1) Chop the onion delicately and fry it in a pan with olive oil until the onions become soft and glazed.

2) Add the risotto and keep steering for about 3-4 minutes. Then add a generous splash of red wine, until the risotto is covered and soaking up the taste and colour of the wine. Add half of the chopped beetroot to the mixture in the pan.

3) Boil water and add it to the chicken stock in a bowl. Add half of the chopped beetroot and mix all the ingredients well with a hand mixer.

4) Add the mixture to the risotto, one spoon at a time. Make sure that the risotto is moist and covered with the liquid mixture of stock and red beet, keep steering until the risotto has absorbed almost all of the liquid. Then it's time to add the second spoon. Continue with adding liquid until the risotto has become soft (taste it!) or the stock has been used up fully. Make sure you are steering the pan the entire time, so that the risotto does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

5) Add freshly chopped thyme and rosemary to the risotto and season the mixture with salt and pepper.

6) Plate up by covering the plates with a layer of rocket salad. Then add the beetroot risotto mixture on top. Finish off by adding drops of goat cheese (which will start melting as soon as they touch the warm risotto) and chopped walnuts to the dish.

Music: Bob Marley - Red, red wine

woensdag 31 juli 2013

Summer salad with gambas and avocado

No story needed. Simple and ideal for those hot summer days when you don't feel like cooking.. Straight from the beach, this fresh and crispy summer salad is made within a couple of minutes; leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the summer eve, and your healthy but delicious gamba salad!

* 100 gr. of rocket salad
* 4 tomatoes
* 2 avocados
* 200 gr. of pasta
* olive oil (extra vergine)
* balsamico vinagre
* 500 gr. of peeled gambas

Spice it up with:
* 2 red chili pepers (remove the seeds)
* 4 cloves of garlic
* salt and pepper

Preparation and cooking instructions:
1) Cook the pasta for about 8 minutes in boiling water

2) Mix the rocket salad, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocados in a bowl

3) Chop the red chili's and the garlic and bake them in a pan with some olive oil. Add the prawns and steer well. Bake the peeled gambas for about 2 minutes, until they show a nice pink colour

4) Make a dressing of Olive oil (extra vergine), balsamico vinagre, salt and pepper.

5) Add the pasta, the dressing and the prawns (including the baking oil with chili's and garlic) to the salad bowl and mix all the ingredients.

Ready to be enjoyed during a sweet sunset with your friends! Music: Bakermat - Zomer

zaterdag 27 juli 2013

6 Reasons why you should always have Greeks around your dining table

1) Plenty of food
Never again will you have to be afraid of starving. As a rule, Greeks prefer to ensure they have enough food to feed the whole village, rather than risking empty bowls on the table and hungry guests.

2) The pleasure of sharing
"Mezedes", Greek tapas, are always shared with everyone around the table. A joyful experience, which is very convenient at the same time. Do you know the feeling of wanting to taste sardine, but don't want to decline freshly cooked melanzanes with roasted lamb either? Greeks don't like eating just one dish, they rather order the whole menu to share :) So just find some Greeks to gather around the table with and challenge your taste pupils!

3) No washing of the dishes
Greeks love simple living. If you are done with your dinner, why bother cleaning the dishes? Just throw them on the floor, do a little Sirtaki dance, and you're done for today. Much easier, no?

4) Unlimited garlic
Have you ever encountered a great smelling dish, of which you are sure there must be at least 3 cloves of garlic inside? Next, you find yourself in a huge dilemma whether you should dig in, or resist temptation in order not to kill the next ten people you are going to meet with your "garlic-perfume". Well, if you are dining with Greeks you don't face these kind of difficult life problems. Greeks eat garlic as normal human beings eat bread. So don't worry, be happy, and smell as much as you like; everyone at the table does anyway!

5) Healthy
Mediterranean cuisine is known to be very healthy. The Greeks owe it to their pure olive oil, which is not to be missed in any of the Greek dishes. Olive oil contributes to a healthy heart and veins.. Suddenly a Pita Souvlaki doesn't sound so bad anymore..

6) Fun
Dining with Greeks is never dull. They are loud, fun and they don't do "etiquette-rules". Instead, they dance, sing, and talk while chewing. So if you don't want to be bothered with 'which cutlery you should use for which dish' or any other polite dining rules, then eat with Greeks. You are allowed to wipe the leftover sauce of your plate with a piece of fresh bread and no one will look at you with a strange face. Food is to be enjoyed to the fullest!

Kali orexi!

woensdag 12 juni 2013

Cucumber soup with a touch of Spain

The story:
No worries, I hear you thinking: Cucumber soup? Soup of cucumbers? You call that a culinary dish, you've got to be kidding me?! Yes, these were the exact same thoughts I had when I heard my friend expressing this culinary idea.
It was a cozy evening in Seville, some friends and I were hanging around the kitchen table, thinking of how to fill our stomachs before planning our road trip through Andalucia. Cucumber soup was the last thing I would have thought about.. But, luckily, in life, people think differently and Stephanie had this dish ranked as one of her favourites. Convinced of her culinairy inspiration she suggested this brilliant dish. Unfortunately Maaike, Violet and I were not so convinced of its brilliance, as could be seen by our not-so-charming faces and a big question mark rising above our heads screaming "CUCUMBER SOUP?! What the..". But before we could make up any excuses to politely turn down our friend's idea, we found ourselves cutting onions and steering in the soup pan.... filled with.. cucumbers. Yes, we were weak.. we swayed... But now I am glad we did. I am so happy Stephanie had this moment of brilliance that night in Seville and that she dragged us on the adventure called 'Cucumber soup with a touch of Spain', cause I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for a thing! I must even admit, it is one of my favourite soups nowadays.. Especially for hot summer eve's, like those back in Seville..

Ingredients (for 4 persons)
* 2 onions
* 8 cucumbers
* 1 tablet chicken or vegetable stock
* 125 ml creme fraiche

Spice it up with:
* 20 gr. of fresh coriander
* salt and pepper
* Jamon Serrano (Spanish raw ham, as the 'touch of Spain')

Preparation and cooking instructions
1) Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half (in their length). Remove the inside of the cucumbers, so that only the 'solid' outside parts are left, and chop these in small pieces
2) Chop the onions and fry them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. After 2 minutes add the cucumbers and fry for another 5-7 minutes, to soften the cucumbers

3) Add about 1 liter of boiled water to the mixture (the exact quantity depends on the amount of stock you use) together with 1 tablet of chicken or vegetable stock. Season the mixture with plenty of salt and pepper. Let the soup boil for about 15 minutes until the cucumbers have become extremely soft.
4) Take the soup from the stove and mix it with a hand-mixer until the soup is completely smooth

5) Add the creme fraiche, chopped pieces of Serrano ham (this is the delicious Spanish touch!) and chopped, fresh coriander to the mixture, steer it well, and serve it in soup bowls, with a piece of fresh, crispy bread

Delicious on warm summer evenings, enjoyed with lovely friends. Music: Jose de Rico - Rayos de Sol