Roasted Grape & Brie Crostini, with Honey Roasted Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds

This is such an easy recipe for entertaining. You can make the roasted nuts in advance and just store them in an airtight container once they are completely cold. I also bought the baguette the night before and froze it. There is one really good French artisanal bakery here (it is called Le Fournil de Sebastien). Even though it is not very far from my home, it is out of my usual route and very often I just don’t have the time to go there. So now I just stock up when I am less busy, and keep it the freezer. I just sprinkle some water over the baguette. Then I bake it for about 15 minutes at 180C/350F and voilà, perfect baguette as it was just freshly made. For this recipe, I like the grapes to still keep their shape. So when you bite into them, they just burst open in your mouth. I roasted them in a bit of balsamic vinegar and port to add a bit more of a complex flavor to them. So good!

This recipe is for two medium baguettes.

Ingredients:
For the honey roasted walnuts & pumpkin seeds:
100grs of walnuts
60grs of pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of honey
Pinch of salt
For the roasted grapes:
500grs of red seedless grapes
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of port
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle of salt
Extras:
2 baguettes, sliced
400grs of Brie
Fresh thyme leaves to decorate

Start by making the nuts. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the vegetable oil, a pinch of salt and honey in a bowl, mix well with a fork. Then add the walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Mix well until they are evenly coated.

Spread them in a single layer and bake them for about 15-18 minutes, stirring half way through. Check that they don’t burn. Once the nuts are done, set them aside to cool down.

Raise the oven temperature to 220C/420F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the grapes from the vine. Add the olive oil, port, balsamic vinegar, thyme and sprinkle of salt. Add the grapes and toss to coat them. Spread the grapes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Don’t forget to also pour the sauce.

Roast the grapes for 20-25 minutes until they begin to burst. You want them to still keep their shape.

To serve, place a slice of brie over each slice of bread. Top with some roasted grapes and a bit of the juice. Then add some of the honey roasted nuts and a few thyme leaves. Enjoy!

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Treating the Winter Blues with an Energy Lamp

I’ve never been a huge fan of winter. I’m just not a cold weather person. But it wasn’t till I moved to the Netherlands that winter actually took a toll on me. Right now the sun rises at 8:33am and the sunset is at 4:28pm. That’s not many hours of daylight in a day and it can have a big impact on some people, including myself. It is only while living here that I learned of SAD (a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder).

They say that the lack of sunlight upsets your biological clock (sleep patterns) and causes hormone problems which affect your mood. Some of the symptoms include feeling lethargic, getting easily irritated, wanting to sleep more, and craving carbs.

I feel it the most on the days in which I work behind my laptop. On some occasions, at around 4pm, I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Once it is dark, I don’t want to go out anymore. When I have something to do in the evening, I really have to push myself out of the door.

I’ve been very curious to try light therapy for a while, and to see if it actually makes a difference. These kinds of lamps simulate the exposure to sunlight. This past week Pieter and I tested the Medisana LT 480 Daylight lamp. We always have breakfast and dinner together, and nowadays it is dark at that time. So we just sit in front of the light while we eat. And we really feel a difference. Now, we don’t feel hyper as if we had taken an energy drink but we do feel more awake. In the morning, it helps me get the day started and in the evening, it helps me to stay awake till we go to bed. I am the kind of person that can very easily fall asleep on the couch, or anywhere for that matter. So I am really happy with this lamp. It makes these dark days more manageable.

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Prinz Wolf

Today we had lunch at Prinz Wolf, the newly opened restaurant from Chef Michael Wolf (Wolf Atelier). This new tartaria as the name implies, specializes in tartare. They currently offer 6 different kinds, and yes there are vegetarian options too. They also offer some small bites/sides and oysters served with mignonette.

We went for the salmon tartare with mango, chili and avocado; and the tuna with daikon, jalapeño and coriander. Both were delicious and well balanced. From the sides, we had the ceviche with Argentinian prawns which was really nice in flavor. But it reminded me more of a crudo than a ceviche, since ceviche tends to have more sour notes.

We also had the glazed pork belly with pearl couscous and pumpkin puree. I’m a sucker for pork belly and Ï loved the crunchy onions coating it. The prices are very reasonable. Especially considering the prime location that it has, as it is located right by the Prinsengracht.

Prinz Wolf Tartaria

Prinsengracht 411

 

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Quinoa, Broccoli & Chicken Enchiladas with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Inspired by the classic broccoli cheese soup, I made this enchilada recipe. It is stuffed with quinoa, broccoli and chicken. If you are vegetarian (or want to skip on the chicken), substitute it for 2 extra cups of finely chopped broccoli. For the sauce, I made a simple roux, then added grated Cheddar and some pale beer. I also added some sour cream to make it silkier. This is a very filling dish, perfect for this time of the year. I should have bought some Coronas and pretend it is Friday already.

This recipe makes 8 enchiladas.

Ingredients:

For the Filling:
1 cup of white quinoa (I prefer this type for this recipe, as it is fluffier and absorbs the sauce better)
225grs of chicken breast
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of celery salt
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of chipotle powder
12 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups of finely chopped broccoli
Salt
1 cup shredded Gouda

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of pale beer, I used Heineken
300grs of Cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
125ml of sour cream
Salt to taste

For the tortillas:
8 large tortillas
1 cup of tomato puree
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of celery salt

Toppings:
125ml of sour cream
Chili Flakes
Garden cress (optional) or Fresh coriander leaves
Lime wedges
1 avocado, thinly sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped (I used red, yellow and orange)

 

First cook the quinoa. Rinse it under cold water and then boil it for 12 minutes. Drain it and set it aside.

While the quinoa is cooking, boil the chicken breast in another pot for about 10 minutes. I sliced it in half so that it cooks through quicker. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with two forks. Set it aside.

In a large pan, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add the red onion. Cook while stirring for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic, spices and cherry tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes while stirring.

Then add the tomato puree, shredded chicken, broccoli and quinoa. Don’t worry about the raw broccoli, it will finish cooking in the oven. Add a pinch of salt, the cooked quinoa and the shredded Gouda. Mix well and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Start making the Cheddar beer sauce. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour. Stir for 2-3 minutes until it thickens and becomes a golden color. Then slowly add the beer while stirring. Stir for 3 minutes.

Then slowly add the grated cheddar while whisking. Keep whisking for about 6 minutes until it thickens.
Turn off the heat and add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sour cream and salt to taste. Whisk until everything is well combined. Then set it aside.

Pour about ½ a cup of the cheddar beer sauce in your oven dish.

To assemble the enchilada, first place 1 cup of tomato puree in a small bowl. Add the onion powder, garlic powder and celery salt. Mix well. Place one tortilla on a cutting board. Brush both sides of the tortilla with the tomato sauce. Then stuff it with the quinoa filling and roll it tight. Place it in the prepared baking dish. Repeat for the rest.

Pour the remaining Cheddar beer sauce over the stuffed tortillas. Bake it for 20 minutes. Then broil it for about 5 minutes, keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.

To serve, spread some of the sour cream in the middle of the enchilada. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes in the middle, sprinkle some garden cress and chili flakes. Finally add the sliced avocado. Serve right away with lime wedges.

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Mama Kelly Amsterdam

Mama Kelly finally opened its doors in Amsterdam. If you have never heard of this restaurant, it is known for its Surf & Turf (Chicken and Lobster) in The Hague. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the restaurant already. They went very bold in terms of interior, as the whole restaurant is pink. I was not sure what to expect as I’ve never been to the one in The Hague, but the dishes were quite good. We had a tasting on the opening night. My favorite starters were the Lobster soup, Chestnut and Pumpkin soup, and the Burrata with avocado cream. Their famous rotisserie chicken with lime and parsley, and the lobster with butter were also nice. They also have a BBQ chicken which looked very good, unfortunately we didn’t try that one. And for dessert, the Blondie was a winner at our table. We asked for a second one to share. For now they only serve dinner, but starting from the end of November they will start serving lunch.

Mama Kelly Amsterdam

Olympisch Stadion 35
1076 DE  AMSTERDAM
020 – 225 26 84

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Onion Jam Stuffed Buns with Baked Camembert

I finally got a chance to post this recipe. It is another take on the flavor combination of onion soup. It is perfect for a dinner party and the holiday season coming up. Baked cheese is always a winner in our house and with our guests. You can make the onion jam a few days in advance and just keep it covered in the fridge.

Ingredients:

For the dough:
3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
7grs of dry yeast
1 cup of milk (lukewarm)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
5 tablespoons of melted butter
1 egg
For the onion jam:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoon of olive oil
4 medium white onions, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of port
2 tablespoons of sugar
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

Extras:

1 Camembert

Fresh thyme leaves

1 egg for the egg wash

 

Start by making the dough. Place the yeast, the lukewarm milk and the sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Place the rest of the ingredients for the dough in the bowl with the yeast. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  If you knead it by hand, it will take about 10 minutes.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

While the dough is rising, start making the onion jam. Place a pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. You want the onions to become translucent.

After the 10 minutes have passed, turn down the heat to the lowest. Then add the port, balsamic vinegar, sugar and thyme. Keep stirring and let it cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and blend it until smooth. Let it cool down.

Once the hour for the dough has passed, remove the dough from the bowl. Place it in your working area and punch it to remove the air. No need to use any extra flour. Divide the dough into 32 equal pieces.

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Remove the cheese from its round cardboard casing and place the cheese back in the fridge. You are going to use the casing as a mold.

Place the cheese casing in the middle of your prepared baking tray.

Grab a piece of the dough, shape it into a ball and then flatten it with the palm of your hands. Add about a teaspoon of the onion jam in the middle of the dough. Then carefully close it and shape it into a ball again. Place the stuffed ball by the rim of the cheese casing. Repeat for all of the dough. I ended up only using 24 of the balls for this, just for aesthetics as it looked more even. But you can use them all.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for an extra hour to rise.

About 10 minutes before your bread is done rising, Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, brush your stuffed rolls with egg wash. Remove the cheese casing from the tray and replace it with the camembert. Bake for 30 minutes till the rolls are golden and the cheese has melted.

Carefully slice off the top part of the rind to uncover the melted cheese. Sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves. Serve straight away and enjoy!

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A Magical Weekend in Western Germany (Burg Eltz, Cochem, Schloss Drachenburg & Monschau)

I had read that fall was a beautiful time to visit the castles in Germany, so I was really looking forward to this season just for that. We rented a car for only two days to drive to there. The weather on Saturday was not ideal as it started raining quite hard by the time we arrived in Germany. Our first stop was Eltz Castle, about 4 hours from Amsterdam. Since the weather was dreadful, we parked the car and got in the shuttle bus (2 euros per person, per ride). In about 2 minutes, we arrived at the castle. It was really magical to see it tucked away in the forest.

After that we drove to Cochem. The ride took us about 35 minutes. This is a very pretty town along the Mosel River. We drove up a very steep and narrow road to get to the castle. Mosel is one of Germany’s wine region and this castle was surrounded by vineyards. We were planning on exploring a bit more here but the weather got worse so we decided to drive to Bonn and have dinner there, since we were going to spend the night there anyways.

The next morning we drove to the Dragon Castle (Schloss Drachenburg). The ride was around 30 minutes. On our drive, we caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the castle in the mountains.

There is parking lot close by where you can leave your car and then you have to walk up the forest for about 10 minutes to get to the castle. Tip: We got there 1 hour before the castle opened and we found a few parking spots a lot closer to the castle. Instead of parking your car at the parking lot, follow the road to the forest (it’s at the end of the parking lot). Following the path that leads to the castle, there were a few cafes and also a couple of parking spaces. So if you don’t want to walk, be there early. Otherwise you can also take a tram. On this day we were lucky with the weather as it was dry and very sunny. It costs 7 euros to go to the castle premises. This one really looked like it came out of an animated Disney movie and it has a beautiful view of the Rhine river.

Once we were done exploring there, we hopped into the car and drove to Monschau which was just 1 ½ hours away. Monschau is a town close to the Belgian border, sort of in the way back home for us. That’s why we left it for last. We were not sure if we would have time to stop there, but we are so happy we did. It is such a picturesque place with half-timbered houses and narrow streets. We only stayed there for a few hours but that was enough time to explore its medieval center. We really enjoyed this mini road trip and can’t wait to return to Germany and explore more.

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Honey Chili (Sriracha) Potatoes

A while ago, one of Pieter’s colleague from India told him about this dish, and how he should definitely try it. I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. This weekend I finally got to it and started testing it. This is my version of it and I love it. It is an Indian-Chinese dish and it sort of reminds me of sweet and sour chicken, but the potato version of it.

Ingredients:

For the potatoes:
600grs baby potatoes with skin, chopped into cubes (as even as possible)
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon of  sesame seeds
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of Sriracha
3 tablespoons of ketchup
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of honey
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of white Vinegar
1 teaspoon of corn flour
Salt to taste

Start by slicing the potatoes into small cubes. Keep the skin on. Then add the vegetable oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the potatoes in two batches. You don’t want to crowd them. Try not to move the potatoes too much as it will prevent them from getting golden. Place the cooked potatoes on a plate lined with paper towels.

Place the Sriracha, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, honey, white part of the spring onions and vinegar in a bowl.

In a clean pan, add one tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger, sesame seeds and cayenne. Cook for two minutes while stirring. Then add the sauce mix and the corn flour. Cook for another minute while stirring. Then add the fried potatoes. Mix well until the potatoes are coated in the sauce. Add salt to taste.

Sprinkle the green part of the spring onions and some extra sesame seeds. Serve straight away. Enjoy!

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Dom Pérignon Vintage 2009

A couple of weeks ago, Dom Pérignon launched their Vintage 2009 limited Edition with a dinner at the Conservatorium Hotel.

Dom Pérignon has been working for years with well-known artists like Karl Lagerfeld, Andy Warhol and David Lynch. This year they enlisted the talents of designer Tokujin Yoshioka. Their Vintage 2009 Edition celebrates the sunlight that embraced the Champagne region during the harvest year. Tokujin reinterpreted the brand’s shield label into a three dimensional hologram that sparkles with iridescent color. He also created Prism, by working with his signature crystal prism to project a vibrant spectrum reminiscent of the sun that gave the wine its rich complexity.

As you guys already know, I am a fan of Chef Schilo’s cooking, and this evening was filled with delicious pairings. From Fruits de Mer, to Alaskan black cod with miso and Hida Gyu Wagyu beef bourguignon. The night ended with a chocolate, avocado and of course Dom Pérignon dessert. It was a very memorable evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Potato Gratin with Chanterelles (Tartiflette my way)

We tried Tartiflette for the first time when we were in Annecy a couple of weeks ago. It is basically a potato gratin made with Reblochon cheese (a cheese from that region) and bacon. On our last day there, we went to a supermarket (like we always try to do when we travel) and we brought home some of this cheese. So I was looking forward to make my own version of this dish. I made it vegetarian by adding chanterelles and skipping on the bacon. And I added a few other things to make it more flavorful. This is a perfect side dish when you are having a dinner party or for the holidays coming up.

For the gratin:

1 1/2 kilos of waxy potatoes (not the kind for mashing)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 medium white onions, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

180ml of white wine

450grs of reblochon cheese

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

Pinch of salt

Pinch of nutmeg

For the Chanterelles:

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

250grs of chanterelles (or any other mushroom that you like)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt to taste

Fresh thyme

 

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and lightly grease your oven dish.

Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin pieces. I used my mandoline to do it quicker. You can also use a food processor if you have one.

Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onions and cook them for about 10 minutes until they become translucent. Stir from time to time, you don’t want the onions to get dark. Then add the garlic and stir for 1 more minute.

Then add the white wine, reblochon cheese and mustard. Stir until the cheese has melted and it looks like fondue. Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt to taste.

Spread 1/3 of the sliced potatoes into the prepared baking dish. Then spread 1/3 of the cheese sauce over the potato layer. Repeat this 2 more times, finishing with the cheese sauce on top.

Bake it for 35 minutes until the top is slightly brown.

Place the butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chanterelles and garlic. If your pan is not big enough, do it in two batches as you don’t want to overcrowd the mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms are golden. Add salt to taste.

Serve the potato gratin with the sautéed chanterelles and add some fresh thyme. Enjoy!

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