Chicha Morada Popsicles (made with Peruvian Purple Corn)

Chicha morada is a non-fermented purple corn drink from Peru. It is said that this particular corn is packed with antioxidants. But for me it’s not about its nutritional value, that’s just a plus. For me, it reminds me of my childhood. Just the smell of it while it is cooking brings me back to Peru. This is and will always be my favorite drink. If you go to Peru, the chicha morada will taste a bit different at each restaurant. Some add more cloves or cinnamon. Some add more sugar or less lime juice. So you can always adapt it to your palate. If you make it to drink it though, keep it refrigerated for 3 to max 4 days. You can also spike it with Pisco or rum to make it into a punch. A good chicha morada will have a deep purple color, so it will not be a translucent liquid. You can buy the purple corn at stores that sell Latin American products or online.

This recipe makes about 12 popsicles or about 2 littles of Chicha Morada.

Ingredients:

500g Purple Corn

Rind and core of one pineapple

4 cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

2 apples cut into quarters

4 liters of boiling water

Sugar to taste (I add about 1/2 cup of sugar)

Juice of 2 to 3 limes (or to taste)

 

Place the purple corn in a large pot with the pineapple rind and core, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, apples and 2 liters of boiling water. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes. You can also partially cover it with a lid because it does splatter if it gets too hot. Otherwise just lower the heat a bit. After the 45 minutes have passed and the liquid has reduced, add the remaining 2 litters of boiling water. Let it simmer for an extra 45 minutes. You know it’s done when the corn kernels sort of crack and you can see the flesh of the corn.

Sift the liquid and discard of the solids. Be careful not to splatter the liquid over your clothes.

Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Since the liquid is hot, it will dissolve quicker. Transfer it to a pitcher and let it cool at room temperature. Once the chicha morada is cold, add the lime juice to taste. Mix well and then pour it into each popsicle mold. Insert the sticks and freeze overnight.

The next day, carefully remove them from the mold by rinsing them over hot water. Enjoy!

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Logroño & Bilbao (Northern Spain) Photo Diary

Last week I was in Spain for 3 days. I had a direct flight from Amsterdam to Bilbao airport and after a 1.5 hour drive, I was in Logroño (the capital of the Rioja province). A very small but charming town. We explored the city during the siesta (afternoon), which was great because the streets were not crowded.

That night, we went on a Tapas tour. We were told that each bar specializes in one kind of tapa and that is what they are known for. We went to a lot and I don’t remember the names of them all, except for these ones: El soldado de tudelilla for their tomato salad and Bar Soriano for their garlicky mushrooms. We also had some piparras, fried peppers similar to shishito peppers. They are just fried in olive oil and then sprinkled with sea salt. Some are spicy and some are not. So fun to eat with a group. If you like crispy pork, look for a bar that sells cecina.

The next day we visited the Campo Viejo vineyard and had some paella for lunch there.

    

That afternoon, we headed back to Bilbao and visited the Guggenheim museum. After the tour we had dinner at Nerua, the 1 Michelin star restaurant located at the museum. The food was amazing. Simple and delicate dishes, but very well executed.

The next morning, we had a little tour of the Mercado de la Ribera (market). You can have some tapas there. I bought some piparras (chilies) to bring back home. After that, we had a private tapas workshop at Los Fueros (Bilbao’s oldest restaurant).

    

The picture below is from the chilies I took back home. I’m so hooked that I am going to try to find them here, or at least something similar.

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Spaghetti Carbonara

An old classic that needed a picture update. I had a very old picture here from before the time I had photography backgrounds so it was time for an update. This is a no fuss recipe that is ready in 15 minutes. It is made with a few basic ingredients and it is full of flavor. Traditionally it is made with guanciale or pancetta and Pecorino cheese but I like to substitute them for bacon strips for its crispiness and Parmesan because well, I really like Parmesan.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

250g fresh spaghetti

3 egg yolks

1 egg

150g bacon strips

40gr of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Cook the bacon in a non-stick pan over medium heat until it becomes crispy. Remove from the heat and reserve the drippings. Chop the bacon strips and set it aside. I like to save a bit to sprinkle on top just before serving, this way it still has some crunch.

Cook the pasta al dente as instructed on the package. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and egg, and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 of a cup of the reserved cooking water and about 1 teaspoon of the bacon drippings. This prevents the eggs from curdling. Add the spaghetti and bacon. Toss to coat. Gradually add the Parmesan, stirring and tossing to melt it. Toss until the sauce thickens, adding a few more tablespoons of the pasta water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta into two bowls and garnish with extra Parmesan and the bacon (if you reserved some for crunch). Enjoy!

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Mexican-style Rice, Black beans & Spinach Enchiladas with Red Pepper Sauce

It’s been a long time since I’ve made enchiladas. I don’t know why, because I love them. I wasn’t sure yesterday of what to make for dinner and then this popped into my head. I love roasted red pepper sauce and buying the peppers already roasted saves time and at least here, it tends to be cheaper too. The sauce couldn’t be simpler, just blend all of the ingredients and you are done. No cooking since it will thicken in the oven. I went veggie for the filling, and used Mexican-style rice, black beans and spinach. This is a very filling meal and any leftovers make a great packed lunch. Weather hasn’t been great here. It’s cold for being summer, so this was the perfect meal to warm up.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

100gr of fresh spinach

1 cup of shredded cheese, I used Gouda

1 cup of canned black beans (drained)

For the Mexican-style rice:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of white rice

3 3/4 cups of boiling vegetable stock

½ cup of tomato puree

For the red pepper sauce:

350grs of roasted peppers, about 5 large bell peppers if you want to roast them yourself

250ml of cream

1 teaspoon of celery salt

1 teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

Extras:

6 tortillas

1 cup of shredded cheese, I used Gouda

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced

Fresh coriander for serving

1 lime, sliced into wedges for serving

 

Start by making the rice. Place the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over the lowest heat. Once the oil is hot, add all the spices and rice. Stir for about a minute. Then add the boiling vegetable stock and tomato puree. Cover it with a lid and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

In the meanwhile, make the red pepper sauce. Just blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Place it in a big bowl and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the rice is cooked and while it is still hot, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the fresh spinach, black beans and cheese for the filing. Stir until everything is mixed and the spinach has wilted.

Spoon a thin layer of the red pepper sauce on the bottom of your baking dish

Dip one tortilla into the red pepper sauce, shake off the excess sauce. Then place the wet tortilla on a cutting board. Stuff it with the rice and then roll it tight. Place it in the prepared baking dish. Repeat for the rest.

Add the remaining sauce on top of the stuffed tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Then broil for an extra 5 minutes.

Serve with some chopped coriander, sliced jalapeños and lime wedges. Enjoy!

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Cajun-style Shrimp Tacos with Greek Yogurt Cabbage Slaw

Can’t go too long without tacos and this time I opted for shrimp. I just made a spiced flour coating for the shrimp which adds flavor but not crunch. If you would like crunchy shrimp, just go an extra step. After coating the shrimp in the spiced flour, coat it in beaten eggs and then panko. For the slaw, I wanted to keep it light. So I used Greek yogurt for the dressing.

Ingredients:

For the slaw:

1 medium green cabbage, shredded

1 small red cabbage, shredded

For the dressing:

1 cup of Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon of mustard

1/3 cup of white vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of onion powder

½ a teaspoon of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of salt

For the shrimp:

1 cup of vegetable oil

500grs of peeled raw shrimp, make sure that the shrimp is dry (use paper towels)

For the seasoning:

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried coriander

1 teaspoon of celery powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of onion powder

2 teaspoons of cayenne powder

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 cup of all-purpose flour

If you want a crunchy coating:

2 eggs

2 cups of panko

Salt

Extras:

Hot sauce

Tortillas

 

First shred the cabbages. To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until everything is well combined. Add the dressing to the cabbage and mix well. Leave it in the fridge to rest until ready to serve.

If your shrimp is a bit moist, make sure to pad it dry with paper towels.

Mix all the spices and flour for the seasoning. Coat the shrimp in the spiced flour mixture.

If you want crunchy shrimp: After coating in the flour, coat it in the beaten eggs and finally the panko mixed with a bit of salt.

Pour half of the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the shrimp in batches. This will take about 2 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan if needed for the next batches.

Place the fried shrimp on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Have a taste and sprinkle them with some salt if you wish.

To serve, warm up the tortillas in a pan. Then serve each taco with some slaw, shrimp and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti with Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

It’s mussel season over here in the Netherlands and I couldn’t resist getting some. I love their taste and the fact that they are cooked in no time. Add some pasta and this becomes a very filling meal. I used anchovies for the sauce and for me, that made it salty enough. So I didn’t add any extra salt, but you can always add salt later if you wish.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

2 kilos of mussels, scrubbed and beards removed

250grs of spaghetti

Chopped parsley for serving

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

20grs of anchovy filets, finely chopped (use the oil too)

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of freshly chopped red chili (you can add more or less, depending on your taste)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 cup of white wine

500ml of tomato puree

1 cup of vegetable stock

 

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water, pulling off any beards. Discard of any mussels that are broken or that don’t clamp shut when tapped.

In a large pan with a lid, place the olive oil plus the anchovy oil over medium-low heat. Once it’s hot, add the red onion, anchovy, oregano and chili. Let it cook for about 4 to 5 minutes till the onion becomes translucent. Don’t forget to stir.

Then add the garlic and stir. Add the white wine and let it reduce to half. Then add the tomato puree and the vegetable stock. Let it reduce until you have a creamy sauce. About 12 minutes.

Then add the mussels, give it a good stir and cover with the lid. Let it cook over medium heat until the mussels open. This will only take a couple of minutes, so keep an eye on them.

One the mussels are cooked, remove them from the sauce and set them aside (discard of any that haven’t opened). Let the sauce reduce again over medium heat.

In the meanwhile cook the pasta as instructed on the package. By the time the pasta is cooked, the sauce should have reduced enough. Add the drained cooked pasta and toss to coat. Taste for salt. I didn’t add any because the anchovy made it salty enough for me.

Serve the pasta with the mussels. Sprinkle some chopped parsley. I also served them with roasted cherry tomatoes. To roast them, just place a few vines of cherry tomatoes in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil, salt, onion and garlic powder. Roast for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. Enjoy!

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Curry Fried Rice with Mango & Pineapple

Last week, I bought a little container of mango powder at a spice store here in Amsterdam. It’s called De Volkskruidentuin, if you ever want to go there. I’ve been wanting to use it since, but I wasn’t sure on what yet. And then I remembered one of the dishes we ate quite often while we were in Thailand. Both Pieter and I loved the curry fried rice serve in a pineapple boat. So I thought of making my own version. If you can’t find the mango powder, don’t worry. This dish still has plenty of flavor from all the other spices. I made the coconut rice the night before, so keep that in mind if you have the time.

This dish serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

For the coconut rice:

1 ½ cup of rice

1 ½ cup of coconut milk

1 ½ cup of boiling water

Pinch of salt

For the fried rice:

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger

1 cup of cashew nuts, coarsely chopped

1 large sweet pepper, finely chopped (you can also use a bell pepper instead)

½ a teaspoon of onion powder

½ a teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of hot curry powder

1 teaspoon of mango powder (optional)

1 teaspoon of lemongrass powder

1 teaspoon of kaffir lime leaf powder

1 tablespoon of Thai shrimp chili paste

1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of fresh pineapple, finely chopped (reserved from the pineapple for serving)

1/3 cup of raisins

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

Juice of half a lime

3 tablespoons of chopped coriander

Extras:

1 whole pineapple

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped Thai basil (optional)

Chopped coriander for serving

Lime wedges for serving

 

It is better to make the rice the night before if you can. Place the rice, coconut milk, water and salt in a medium pot over the lowest heat. Give it a good stir and cover it. Let it cook for about 15 minutes. Then let it sit covered for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and allow the rice to cool down. Once cold, keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

To prepare the pineapple boats, slice the pineapple in half lengthwise. Remove the flesh with a spoon and discard of the core. Save half of the flesh for the stir fry. I ate the remaining pineapple while I was cooking. I just can’t resist it, it’s one of my favorite fruits and this one was so sweet.

Place all of the ingredients for the fried rice in a large pan except for the coconut rice, lime juice and coriander. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, while stirring. Then add the lime juice, cold coconut rice and chopped coriander. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes till everything is mixed together.

Serve the fried rice on the prepared pineapple boats. Add some chopped coriander and Thai basil. Serve with a wedge of lime and enjoy!

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Summer Nachos with Mango & Nectarine salsa

I love fruity salsas and now that summer is in full swing, it is the perfect excuse to make it with all the wonderful produce out there. This is a vegetarian recipe which can easily be made vegan if you skip on the sour cream.  You can either fry or bake the tortilla chips. I ended up doing half of them baked and the other half of them fried, since I had a little problem with my oven.

For the tortillas:

About 12 tortillas (I used 3 different colors)

Vegetable oil

Pinch of salt

For the mango & nectarine salsa:

1 medium mango, very finely chopped

1 nectarine, very finely chopped

1 medium red onion, very finely chopped

1 medium jalapeño, very finely chopped (without seeds)

1 medium red chili, very finely chopped (without seeds)

Juice of 1 lime

1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons of chopped coriander

Extra toppings:

The kernels of one ear of corn, cooked

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 avocado, thinly sliced

Extra jalapeño slices

Extra red chili slices

125grs of sour cream

 

You can either bake or fry your tortilla chips.

If you bake them, preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush each tortilla with a bit of vegetable oil. Then using kitchen scissors or a knife, cut each tortilla into small triangles. Spread the small pieces of tortilla in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Bake them for about 10-12 minutes, till crispy. Repeat for the rest.

If you fry your tortilla chips, place about ½ cup of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry the pieces of tortilla till golden on both sides. Do it in batches without overcrowding the pan. This will only take about a minute or two, so keep an eye on them. Once fried, place them in a plate lined with some paper towels and sprinkle them with a bit of salt.

To make the salsa, just mix the finely chopped mango and nectarine with the remaining ingredients. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Set it aside.

To assemble the nachos, first place the tortillas in a sheet pan or plate. Add small dollops or quenelles of sour cream all over. Then spread the mango & nectarine salsa. Sprinkle the corn kernels over the chips. Top with some slices of radishes, avocado, jalapeño and chili. Serve right away and enjoy!

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Kimchi, Caramelized Onion & Potato Pancakes with Okonomiyaki Sauce

For me, kimchi makes everything better. Of course, you have to like kimchi. If you don’t, you can skip it. A potato and caramelized onion pancake is still delicious, but I am going for Asian vibes here. For the sauce, I just paired it with a very simple Okonomiyaki Sauce (you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry). For a cheap and easy meal, give this a try!

This recipe makes about 6 small pancakes

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

1 kilo of potatoes (like russet), peeled and shredded

½ cup of kimchi, minced with a knife

2 ½ tablespoons of tapioca flour

1 egg

1 egg white

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Pinch of garlic powder

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

For the Okonomiyaki Sauce:

½ cup of ketchup

3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tablespoons of honey

Pinch of garlic powder

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Extras:

Vegetable oil for frying the pancakes

Chopped chives for serving

 

Start by shredding the peeled potatoes. To save time and the possibility of hurting my fingers, I used my food processor for this. Once the potatoes are shredded, place them in a fine mesh sieve. And press them to get rid of all the liquid that you can.

In a medium pan, add the sliced onion over low heat. Let it cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time until it caramelizes.

Add the potato, onion, kimchi, tapioca flour, egg, egg white, salt, pepper and garlic powder to a medium bowl. Mix well using a fork.

To make the sauce, just mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve for serving.

Add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pan over medium heat. I used a mold to try to get the pancakes more even in shape, but you don’t have to. I placed a circular mold in the hot pan. Then I added a few tablespoons of the potato mixture and pressed to shape it. Then I removed the mold. I cooked 3 at a time. Let the pancakes cook until golden on both sides. Time will depend on the size/thickness of course. Mine took about 4-5 min per side.

Serve warm with the okonomiyaki sauce and chopped chives. I added some edible flowers for a pop of color.

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