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

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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!

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Crispy & Spicy Tofu Bánh Mì with Green Papaya Slaw

A mash-up Asian recipe which is very easy to make and perfect for this meatless Monday. The tofu is coated in a sambal marinade, and then coated in panko to seal in all the flavours. Served as a sandwich with a nice baguette and green papaya slaw. You’ve got crunchy, sweet, tangy and spicy. Umami all the way!

Last year we went on holiday to Thailand. I ordered green papaya salad as a side dish for lunch and dinner everyday while we were there. I love the sweet, tangy and spicy combination. Plus it was so cheap there, I might as well indulge in my cravings. My green papaya salad recipe is a bit different, I skipped on the beans and tomatoes. I wanted to keep it more like a slaw, but it is still bursting with flavor. You can find green papaya at most Tokos (Asian stores) in Amsterdam. I bought this one at the Honk Kong store on the Kinkerstraat. I also wrote a Grocery & Market Amsterdam Guide in case you are new here and want to know where to find specific ingredients. You can see the guide here.

I love tofu. But for me I always have to season it well, since it is quite bland on its own. Last week I received some sambals from my friend Lily. Her parents own an Asian store in the south of Holland called Amazing Sang Lee. They are known for making delicious Sambal and they now sell about 20 different varieties. I wanted to incorporate their Taotjo sambal into a recipe. And I came up with this one. I made a marinade with the sambal and coated the tofu in it. Then I coated it in panko to give it some crunch and seal in the marinade. The result is so delicious. This tofu in itself doesn’t need anything else. You can just snack on it like that. But since I wanted to make it into a whole meal, I turned it into a Bánh Mì sandwich.

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

For the crispy & spicy tofu:
300grs of firm tofu for frying
3 tablespoons of Taotjo Sambal (or the sambal of your preference), you can add more if you like it more spicy
4 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of honey or agave
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of celery salt
½ a teaspoon of garlic powder

For the tofu coating:
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
1 cup of all-purpose flour

For the green papaya slaw:
1 green papaya (about 600grs) shredded, gives about 4-5 cups
1/2 cup of toasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bird’s eye chili (or more to taste), minced
1 cup of shredded carrot
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar (you can also use palm sugar)

Extras:
Coriander leaves
2 baguettes
About ¾ of a cup of vegetable oil to fry the tofu
About 3 cups of mixed greens (lettuce)

 

First remove the tofu from its packaging. Pat it dry with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Then slice it into 1cm thick pieces. I prefer them not too thick because this way, you get a more balance bite of crunch, marinade and tofu.

To make the marinade: Mix the sambal with the rest of the ingredients. Brush each slice of tofu with the marinade on both sides. Place it in the fridge while you make the slaw.

To make the green papaya slaw: Peel the skin off the papaya. Then shred it. I used my mandoline with the julienne attachment. But you can also use a grater if you don’t have a mandoline.

In a big bowl, mix the chili with the garlic, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Mix it well, trying to dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Then add the shredded green papaya and carrot. Mix well until everything is coated in the sauce. Then add the peanuts. Mix well.

To make the coating for the tofu: Have the beaten eggs in one bowl, the flour in another and the panko in the last bowl. Take the tofu out of the fridge. Grab a piece and coat it in the flour, be careful not to remove any of the sambal marinade. Then coat it in the beaten egg and finally in the panko. Repeat for all.

Pour about ¾ of a cup of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu in batches. Fry until golden on both sides. This will only take a few minutes, so keep an eye on it.

To assemble each sandwich, first add a layer of mixed greens. Then add the green papaya slaw. Finally add the crispy tofu and top with some coriander leaves. Serve right away. Enjoy!

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Summer Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Every year the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam creates a special high tea menu for the summer.

This year’s theme is inspired by the coastal piers and charming beach towns of the USA. They offer a whimsical and more elaborate version of fun fair treats.

It started with a green tea and cranberry slushy. This was perfect to cool us down since we biked to the hotel and today felt like proper summer.

The amuse was a nori cone with tomato, avocado, crispy rice & soya. I love Asian flavors and I could have easily eaten a few more of this.

Then came the savory bites. A gingerbread horse with Foie gras paté and a smoked salmon sandwich with asparagus & cream cheese. And what’s a fun fair without some fast food? We also had a mini chicken burger with Thai basil & cucumber relish. And a mini hotdog with compote of red onions, crispy sauerkraut & mustard. Comfort food at its best!

The sweets entailed of a vanilla & strawberry clown shaped macaron, a unicorn shaped cassis & lemon sable, a popcorn cupcake, a tropical financier shaped like a donut, a lavender & apricot choux with cotton candy, and Taffy apples. My favorite from here was the donut since it has passion fruit, pineapple and mango. I just love that combination.

And just when you think you can’t eat any more, they came and served the most fluffy and soft vanilla & chocolate scones with clotted cream and jams. The tea served during this theme is the Chinese supreme rose tea. I loved it, it was very delicate.

The whole high tea was amazing and the service was great, as you would expect from the Waldorf Astoria. Just have a light lunch before you come because you will definitely leave with a full but happy stomach.

This summer afternoon tea is served daily at their Peacock Alley from 3 to 5pm until August.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

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Jansz Rosé Sundays

Dining al fresco overlooking a canal is as Amsterdam as it gets. And the weather today was a perfect excuse to do just that.

Starting from today Jansz will have Rosé Sundays every first and third Sunday in June, July and August. If you have never heard of Jansz, it is one of the restaurants of the beautiful Pulitzer hotel. It has two terraces outside, so you can dine overlooking the Keizersgracht canal.

They offer a especial BBQ menu from the Big Green Egg. We had the smoked salmon with egg salad and crouton which was really good. ½ BBQ lobster with orange mayonnaise and vitelotte potato. I loved this, it reminded me a bit of Peruvian causa Limeña. For dessert we had a raspberry dish with a macaron base, fresh raspberries and a sorbet.

And of course, it wouldn’t have been a Rosé Sunday without some wine. They served the MIP Rosé, a wine from Provence, with notes of red fruit and citrus.

This was a great and delicious way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Jansz Rosé Sundays

First & third Sunday in June, July & August

From 12pm to 5pm (Their regular lunch menu is also available during 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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Spaghetti Alle Vongole

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes and an Italian classic. I hardly ever order it at a restaurant just because it takes no effort to make at home. It is prepared in about 15 minutes. By the time the pasta is cooked, the vongole is ready and you just have to combine it all.

As cravings go with me, most of the times they don’t disappear like they do for my hubby. They keep hunting me until I satisfy them. A couple of years ago, we were in Italy on holiday. On our last dinner there, I saw this dish on the menu and all of the sudden I had to have it. Unluckily for me, they were sold out! As soon as we were back home, I went to get some vongole and made the dish at home.

I’ve been craving vongole lately so I have made this dish 3 times in the past month. If you are not familiar with cooking vongole, make sure that the shells are not open when you buy it. You’ll discard of the ones that are open, so you want to get your money’s worth. I like to squeeze some lemon juice in the end, even though it is traditionally not added. I made it last on a Saturday in which after running errands all day, I didn’t feel like spending much time cooking. It was gone in less than 5 minutes. Yes, I eat very fast!

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

500gr of Vongole

2 cloves of garlic, minced

14 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ bunch of parsley, chopped

250ml white wine

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

260gr of spaghetti

Chili flakes to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon (optional)

 

Rinse the vongole under cold water for a couple of minutes. Discard of any that are open and don’t close when you tap them.

Mince the garlic, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and chop the parsley.

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large pan with a lid. Over medium heat, add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the vongole and the white wine. Cover with the lid and let it cook till the vongole start to open, about 4 minutes. Stir. Discard of any that haven’t opened. Turn the heat off.

By this time the pasta should already be done. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the vongole. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Then add the lemon juice and parsley. Stir until everything is combined. Serve right away.

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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A Guide to the Tulip Fields in the Netherlands

It’s only since I moved to the Netherlands that I get so excited about spring. I’ve always liked spring, it’s warmer and it means that summer is coming. But we don’t have these kinds of flowers fields in Peru.

The famous Keukenhof gardens are gorgeous don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there twice and I’ve really enjoyed it. But it’s the endless sea of flowers in the fields that take my breath away every time. The tulip season is around mid-April to early May. When to go is a bit tricky since it is very weather dependent. But I think late April is usually best, especially if you are coming from abroad and planning this trip in advance. I always check the geo tags in Lisse in April to keep an eye for when the tulips start to bloom. This year we were also lucky that a colleague of Pieter, who lives in Lisse, was keeping an eye on the fields for us. She told us to go on the weekend of the 21st of April.

Lisse and its surroundings (Noordwijkerhout)

By bike:

For the first few years, we went to see the fields by bike. We would take the train from Amsterdam to Hillegom Station and take our bikes with us. We would take the train from Sloterdijk Station with a change in Haarlem. It takes about 25-30 minutes in total. You can also take it from Central station. It’s the same route just one stop before the one we take. If you bring your bike, don’t forget to pay the extra fee when you buy your ticket or load the fee on your transport card. Keep in mind that the train station in Hillegom is very small. It is more a stop than a station, so no bike rentals there. You can always rent a bike in Amsterdam.

You can check 9292.nl to plan your train ride. It is also in English. They also have an app which you can download into your phone.

I still remember getting off the train and you are immediately welcomed by the scent of the Hyacinth fields. From there we would just bike towards Lisse (using google maps) and from then on just get lost. We usually see google maps on satellite, there you can see which areas are fields. And you can use that as reference.

By car:

In the past couples of years, we’ve been visiting the fields by car. Just so we could cover more ground in less time. Depending on the time you go, some fields might already be cut down and in some the flowers may not be open yet. Which means you need to keep exploring, which by car is much easier and faster than biking. It takes about 30 minutes to get there from Amsterdam.

Flevoland Tulip route:

Lisse is not the only area in the Netherlands with flower fields. It is definitely the most popular and touristy, but Flevoland (north east of Amsterdam) also has gorgeous fields. We even saw much larger ones here than in Lisse. This year we also visited the area of Dronten in Flevoland. On their website, there is a walking, biking and car route. You can see them here. But since we went later in the season we decided to rent a car again. And we were happy we did because the distances between the fields were longer. The drive there is only about 1 hour. Once we were in Dronten, we drove around for around 3 hours and found some gorgeous fields and hardly any people. It might also had to do with the fact that it rained that day but still we didn’t see any tourist buses like when we visit the area of Lisse.

There are also flower fields where you can actually pick your own bouquet. I wrote about one of them here.

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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Ricotta Red Velvet Pancakes with Greek yogurt frosting (made with natural food coloring using beet powder)

There is something about red velvet desserts, so make your breakfast extra especial with these ricotta red velvet pancakes made with natural food coloring. Beet powder gives these their pretty color without artificial additives. They are super easy and perfect to treat your mom on Mother’s Day. Make them for brunch or just to make a normal day feel a little more especial.

When we were in Vienna, I bought some beet powder at the market. The color was just gorgeous and I had to get it. I wasn’t sure what to make with it but I thought it is always good to have some natural coloring in my pantry. And then I remembered that while we were in New York, we went to a donut shop and tried a donut stuffed with ricotta and covered in a beet glaze. It was so delicious. The ricotta and beet combination clicked in my head and I thought of making these ricotta red velvet pancakes with natural beet coloring.

You can always use artificial coloring if you cannot find beet powder, or you could also try buying some beet juice (if you don’t have a juicer). Then reducing it in a pan over medium heat until most of the liquid is gone and you are left with a thick syrup. I’ve done this with carrot juice to naturally dye some cream cheese frosting and it worked out great. Just remember that you’ll need about 1 litter of juice, because it reduces quite a lot. You need it to be thick because you don’t want to add too much liquid into the batter.

The amount of frosting for this recipe is just for drizzling the pancakes. If you want more, you can always double the recipe. I personally prefer mine not overly sweet.

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup of self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of beet powder

2 tablespoons Cacao powder

Pinch of salt

For the Greek yogurt frosting:

2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

5 tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted

½ teaspoon of vanilla essence

 

Start by making the pancake batter. Separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Place the yolks in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, flour, baking powder, milk, vanilla extract, beet powder, cacao powder and salt. Whisk until everything is combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites till they begin to foam. Then add the sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the pancake batter.

To make the frosting, just whisk the Greek yogurt with the icing sugar and vanilla. If you like it sweeter, you can always add more sugar.

Brush a large non-stick pan with a bit of vegetable oil. You can also use cooking spray or butter if you want. Place it over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot, pour some of the batter into it to make the pancakes. I prefer to make them small, but do it as you wish. Let it cook until the top part starts bubbling and the edges start to dry. Then flip it and cook until lightly brown. Repeat for the remaining batter.

Serve the pancakes with some of the yogurt frosting and fruit of your choice. 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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Van Dobben Croquetten and Biterballen for the Oven

cravingsininamsterdam vandobben stopmotion for blog

I’ve been a fan on Van Dobben ever since I moved to the Netherlands. It was one of the first things Pieter introduced me to. And what’s not to love? Beef ragout with a crunchy coating, served steaming hot with a side of mustard. Yum!

They have a small restaurant called Van Dobben Eetsalon close to Rembrandtplein. It has this old school, kinda diner feeling which I love. Their staff wear long white coats and they are super friendly. I always bring family and friends who come visit from abroad here.

Van Dobben just came out with a beef croquete and bitterballen variety which is made for the oven. We don’t own a fryer so this is perfect for us. Still has a great crunch and it is ready in about 15 minutes. Just preheat your oven to 220C. Once it is hot, pop them in and set your timer. And you can also cook them in an airfryer.

These are perfect for when you don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking. Or for when you want to invite friends over and just have an easy night in.

You can find the croquettes and bitterballen for the oven in the supermarket.

Vandobben.nl 

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A weekend in Vienna at 25Hours Hotel MuseumsQuartier

Vienna has been on my list for a while. So when Pieter got a birthday party invitation, we booked our tickets. We thought it would be a good excuse to visit, since both of us had never been. We stayed at the 25Hours Hotel at the Museum Quarter.

We arrived Friday morning and took the CAT train which takes about 17 minutes to get to the center of Vienna. From there we took the metro, and after a few stops we arrived at our destination. The hotel has a good connection, so it was just a short walk away.

We arrived quite early and our room wasn’t ready yet, so we decided to take a mini road trip. We had read that the Wachau Valley was beautiful and it was only 1.5 hours drive from Vienna. The hotel has a collaboration with MINI and they offer guests a car to rent out for free. It’s on a first come, first serve basis but when we arrived they still had one left. So we decided to take it and drive there for a bit since the weather was beautiful. The scenery was definitely pretty, we just thought that it would have been better to visit in late spring, or fall. We saw a few trees with blossoms but other than that they trees didn’t have any leaves yet.

25hours hotel Vienna

By the time we came back, our room was ready. This hotel is very hip, unlike some places in Vienna which are more traditional. The cool décor makes you feel more relaxed. For breakfast they offer a nice buffet selection with different breads, eggs, charcuterie and sausage. I really liked käsekrainer, a sausage stuffed with cheese. We ate so many of these while we were there.

The next day we went to the rooftop bar. We wanted to grab a drink and chill before heading to our friend’s birthday. Pieter had a mojito and I had a mocktail. Both were really good. We also ordered some bites. On the way to the birthday party we found these gorgeous Cherry blossom trees at Hofmühlgasse.

On our last day we decided to grab some burgers at their food truck on the terrace. The burgers were delicious and so were the fries. I had the sweet potato ones and Pieter ordered the ones with Parmesan and rosemary.

You can tell that the burger truck and bar are popular among the locals. We were there when they opened, and it got very busy within half an hour. Besides a good public transport connection, the hotel is also walking distance to the Naschmarkt. We walked there on Saturday and it is definitely a must stop, especially if you like food. You can find there many restaurant stalls, fresh produce, spices and second-hand items. I bought some spices, edible dried flowers and a cute straw bag there.

I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are in Vienna.

25Hours Hotel Vienna
Lerchenfelder Straße 1-3
1070 Vienna

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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