A Day at Walt Disney World Orlando

I have very fond memories of the Disney World parks in Orlando. I used to go there on vacation with my parents as a kid. It’s been 15 years since my last visit and this was Pieter’s first time at any of the Disney parks. So, we were both pretty excited to be there. We had one day-hopper tickets which meant we could visit all 4 theme parks in one day. We originally wanted to end the day at Magic Kingdom in order to watch the fireworks show at the end. But the day we went, they had an especial Halloween show which meant no fireworks. We decided to start at Magic Kingdom instead.

We arrived bout 15 minutes before the park opened. I do recommend to try to go on a weekday if you can, and arriving a bit before the park opens. Then you can go straight to the most popular attraction that you want to go to, and can skip the lines. After buying some souvenirs and taking a mandatory picture in front of Cinderella’s castle, we headed straight towards space mountain. I had forgotten how much fun rollercoasters are. We got some pineapple Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, which was very welcome since it was scorching hot that day. We also grabbed a Mickey pretzel with cheese sauce.

We then took the bus towards Disney’s Hollywood studios and headed straight towards the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

We were too late to book a fast pass for this, so we waited about an hour in line. It was well worth it though. This was both our favorite ride that day. Then we went to Aerosmith’s rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This was so much fun and we only waited in line for about 10 minutes. We had a corn dog and then took another bus towards Epcot center.

There was a Food & Wine festival at Epcot so we grabbed some bites to eat at a few stands.

Then I had some shaved ice at the Japan Pavilion. We had some funnel cake with powdered sugar. This was so good and I haven’t had it in ages. We walked through the rest of the countries and then finished it off by going on Mission Space.

We had an amazing day at Disney and loved going to the thrill rides.

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Kale & Harissa Roasted Chickpea Salad

We’ve been currently obsessed with harissa. I’ve been using it a lot to roast eggplants and chickpeas. And Pieter just discovered that he loves topping his goat cheese crackers with it. I posted this salad on my Instagram stories and I got so many requests for the recipe that I made it again today to write down the exact measurements.

This is a great fall/winter salad. It has a lot of bite to it and it is quite filling. We had it twice last week and I always make 4 portions so we can have the leftovers (without mixing all the dressing) the next day for lunch. This recipe is also vegan if you swap the honey for agave syrup. Happy #meatlessmonday!

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

For the Harissa roasted chickpeas:

530grs of drained canned chickpeas (4 cups)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 heaped tablespoons of harissa paste, or more if you like it more spicy

2 tablespoons of agave syrup or honey

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of celery salt

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

For the salad:

16 cups of shredded kale, or any other greens that you like (enough for 4 servings)

1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds, toasted

1/3 cup of pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds

For the shallot vinaigrette:

2 small shallots, finely shopped

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup of white vinegar

¼ cup of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of mustard

2 tablespoons of agave syrup or honey

1 teaspoon of salt

 

Start by making the harissa roasted chickpeas. Drain the canned chickpeas. Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas, harissa, agave or honey, balsamic vinegar, onion powder, celery salt and garlic powder. Mix well. Let it cook until it caramelizes and turns slightly brown. This will take about 12 minutes. Don’t forget to stir from time to time, especially towards the end. Otherwise it can burn easily because of the honey/agave. Taste if it needs any salt. Transfer the chickpeas to a bowl and set it aside.

Toast the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts in a pan with no oil, on medium heat. Toss constantly so that they don’t burn. This will only take a couple of minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and set it aside.

To make the vinaigrette, finely chop two small shallots. Place the shallots in a jar that has a lid. Then add the olive oil, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, agave or honey and salt. Close the jar and shake it until it emulsifies.

Once you are ready to eat, massage the kale with the vinaigrette for about a minute. This will soften the kale. If you are not serving the whole recipe, don’t mix all the kale with all the vinaigrette. Just mix the amount that you are going to eat right away. Serve it with the roasted chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

 

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Peruvian Shrimp Risotto (with Aji Amarillo)

It’s already turning a bit chilly here, so comfort food is in order. This Peruvian risotto has a bit of a kick because of the Aji Amarillo chili paste (you can find it at Tijn’s toko here in Amsterdam, or online). I made a sauce using the shrimp heads and shells, so you can really taste the shrimp. It’s sort of a risotto with shrimp bisque. The flavors remind me of my childhood. That’s also why I served it with some fried calamari, besides just for added texture and flavor.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the risotto:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of Aji Amarillo paste

800grs of shrimp, with the heads and shells

3/4 cup of White wine

1 ¾ cups of Arborio rice (risotto rice)

1 1/2 litters of vegetable stock

½ cup of cream

½ cup of grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan)

Salt to taste

For the shrimp sauce:

The shell of the tails and the heads of the shrimp

2 tablespoons of butter

¼ cup of white wine

2 cups of vegetable stock

Extras:

Olive oil or butter to cook the shrimp tails

1 tablespoon of chopped parsley

Fried calamari (optional), recipe here

Lime wedges for serving

 

First make the shrimp sauce. Remove the heads from the shrimp. Then peel and devein them. Keep the tail shells and the heads. Place the peeled shrimp tails back in the fridge.

In a large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the shrimp shells and heads. Sautee them for about 1 minute. Then add the white wine. Let it reduce for one minute while stirring. Then add two cups of vegetable stock and let it reduce for 5 minutes. Then blend it all until smooth. Pass it through a fine mesh sieve. Set the sauce aside. Discard the solids.

Then start making the risotto. Place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onions. Cook for 4 minutes, until they are translucent (but not brown). Stir from time to time. Then add the garlic and the Aji Amarillo paste. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Add the rice, stir to coat it in the sauce. Then add the white wine and let it reduce for 30 seconds. Turn up the heat to medium-low. Add one ladle of the vegetable stock to the rice and stir until most of it evaporates. Repeat adding ladles of the stock and stirring for 15 minutes.

Finally add the shrimp sauce, grated grana Padano and cream. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring.  Turn off the heat.

In another pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. Add the shrimp tails and cook until they turn pink. Time will vary depending on the side of the shrimp, but they cook quite fast. Add salt to taste.

Serve the risotto into bowls, add the shrimp tails and sprinkle with some parsley. Serve it with some lime wedges. I also served it some fried calamari, this is optional but it goes really well with it. For the calamari; I just breaded it flour, then beaten eggs and finally in panko. If you want to have the full recipe (and how to clean the squid), you can check this recipe of mine. I just didn’t use cornmeal this time.

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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Cecconi’s Amsterdam

Cecconi’s is the recently opened Italian restaurant of the Soho House in Amsterdam. They serve hand-made pasta, seafood and dishes from Northern Italy. If you have never heard of Soho house, it’s a private club. They have locations in key cities all over the world. But you don’t have to be a member to come to the restaurant.

We were there at the press opening and tasted some of the chef’s selection. We ordered a few cocktails. Pieter’s favorite was the Ambrato Spritz which had St. Germain, Ambrato, mint and prosecco. My favorites were their Bellini and their Garibaldi sour. The Garibaldi sour was a mocktail with orange, homemade orgeat, flattened crodino, citrus and bitter.

For starters we had the burrata with tomato and basil, a classic topped with pistachio nuts. And the Vitello tonnato with caper berries which was also very tasty.

Our mains were the risotto with wild mushrooms, the lobster spaghetti and the veal Milanese. I loved the veal Milanese. It’s something I don’t eat very often but this one was very crunchy and perfectly cooked. The risotto was delightful. I’m a big fan of mushrooms and this one hit the spot.

For dessert, we shared a tiramisu and the profiteroles with pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce. Both were amazing and not overly sweet.

Overall the service was really good, our waiter was very friendly and proud of the food he was serving. The portions are big, so you won’t go home hungry. If you want Italian comfort food, this is the place to go.

Cecconi’s Amsterdam

Spuistraat 210

1012VT, Amsterdam

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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Al Pastor Cauliflower Tacos (vegan)

The heat wave is finally over and we are back to good old cold Dutch summer weather. 35C weather is no fun when there is no air-conditioning and you have to work, but I was loving the 30C days. For the last few weeks we have been practically living of salads (the filling kind, not just lettuce). Not only because it was too hot to cook, but I was so busy with some styling projects that I didn’t have time or energy to cook dinner either.

But this week I took some time off and I actually had some me-time, which is something my body really needed. As someone who gets migraines when I am stressed, I really need to listen to my body. The past few weeks had been really draining physically. Which is why I took a break from posting on social media to just concentrate in my other projects and not overwork myself.

For this recipe, I bought all the Mexican ingredients at Tjin’s Toko close to the Albert Cuyp market. This  is a super easy meal and you can also cook the cauliflower in advance and just reheat it when you want to eat. Just blend all of the ingredients for the adobo sauce, grilled the pineapple, and just cook the cauliflower in a pan with the sauce. And it also happens to be vegan. You can top the tacos with any sauce that you like. This time I served them with some store-bought salsa verde. And I served them with some Hibiscus iced tea with lime.

This recipe makes 12 small tacos.

Ingredients:

For the adobo sauce:

3 teaspoons of dried Guajillo chili powder

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

2 Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (comes in a can)

1 tablespoon of the abobo sauce from the chipotle chili can

1 tablespoon of achiote powder

1/4 cup of white vinegar

2 garlic cloves

½ white onion, roughly chopped

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of fresh orange juice

1 clove

Extras:

1 large cauliflower, sliced into small florets

1 ripe pineapple (peeled, cored and sliced into pieces)

4 tablespoons of olive oil

12 small tortillas

A handful of coriander, chopped

Limes for serving

Sauce of your choice for serving, I used salsa verde

2 avocados, thinly sliced

 

To make the sauce, just blend all of the ingredients until you have a paste.

Mix the sauce with the cauliflower florets.

Heat up a large cast iron skillet and brush it with a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, just use a normal pan. Once the pan is hot, grilled the pineapple for a couple of minutes until it is a bit charred. Set them aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Then add half of the cauliflower. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked but still has some bite and it is a bit charred. Don’t forget to stir from time to time. Wash the pan in between cooking the two batches because the remaining adobo from the first batch will burn. Then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the last batch of cauliflower.

Warm up the tortillas in a pan.

To serve, add a few slices of avocado to each tortilla. Then add some of the cauliflower, the the grilled pineapple and sprinkle some of the chopped coriander. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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