Spring Polenta with Peas, Shrimp & Asparagus

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The weather is always indecisive in spring. We had a few good days where it was very warm. One where we could actually be outside without wearing a jacket. Then the temperature dropped again and I was back wearing my winter jacket. And yesterday we had hail. So in the spirit of sunny but cold days I made this spring polenta. Still comforting but with more veggies. I wanted to also top it with some Parmesan shavings but I only realized I had forgotten it after I finished shooting. So add some if you like. We have been going nuts buying plants and seeds in preparation for our new apartment since it has a garden. We will only be moving in summer but we are already growing some plants in our balcony and my prop room has become a green house. We grew this green basil ourselves and cannot wait for all our other plants to grow.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the shrimp:

250gr of shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of salt

Pinch of celery salt

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ a lemon

For the asparagus:

150grs of thin asparagus, thinly sliced except for the tips (If you get the thick asparagus just cook them longer)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of garlic powder

For the pea polenta:

¾ cup of coarse yellow cornmeal

2 cups of frozen peas

3 1/2 cups of boiling vegetable stock or water

250ml of cream

Salt

Pinch of celery salt

Pinch of garlic powder

Extras:

Handful of micro basil (I used green and purple)

Juice of ½ a lemon

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Edible flowers (optional)

 

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the asparagus, a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Saute them for about 2 minutes. Set them aside.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp, garlic powder, celery salt, and salt. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are pink. The time will depend on the size of your shrimp, mine were small. Then add the lemon juice and zest. Cook for an extra minute while tossing. Set it aside.

For the polenta, place the frozen peas in the jar of the blender and add the boiling stock or water. Let it sit for 30 seconds so that the peas get blenched and then blend until smooth. Pass it through a fine mesh sieve.

Pour the pea stock (reserve ¼ of a cup of the pea stock), cream, salt, celery salt, and garlic powder into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts simmering, slowing sprinkle the cornmeal while whisking. Whisk on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes until it becomes creamy and it is fully cooked. It is important to keep whisking to avoid lumps from forming.

Once the polenta is cooked, add the remaining ¼ of a cup of the pea stock if it needs to loosen up a bit. Taste for salt.

In a small bowl, mix the micro basil with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Serve the polenta with the asparagus, shrimp, dressed micro basil and edible flowers.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Skillet Breakfast Pizza (with Greek yogurt)

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Yesterday was such a gorgeous spring day here. For the first time this year we could bike without our jackets on. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and were out pretty much all day. We went out for lunch, for ice cream and just biked around the city feeling the sun on our skin. Since the weather is quite temperamental here, if it’s sunny and warm you go outside and enjoy it. No question about it because you don’t know when you’ll have another day like that. And of course the whole city was out. People were laying in the park and having BBQs. The cherry trees are blooming. On the weekends I try to be more active on Snapchat, especially if the weather is nice. So if you would like to get a peek of Amsterdam, you can add me: cravingsinams.

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I could eat pizza at any time of the day and now that spring is here, why not a breakfast pizza that screams of spring? It’s perfect to make on the weekend. For the sauce, I made it with Greek yogurt, spices and olive oil. The only cheese I added was thinly sliced Parmesan.

This recipe makes 2 small pizzas. I used a 23cm cast iron skillet.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3.5grs of dry yeast

1/2 cup of warm water

Pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of salt

1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour

For the Greek yogurt sauce:

120grs of Greek yogurt

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of celery salt

2 teaspoons of olive oil

For the toppings:

¼ cup of blanched edamame

6 asparagus, thinly sliced (I sliced the tips in half lengthwise)

4 slices of Parma ham, broken into pieces

20grs of parmesan, thinly sliced with a knife or grated

2 eggs

Extra:

Olive oil

 

Start by making the pizza dough; place the warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes have passed, add the flour, salt and olive oil. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes using the dough hook attachment. If the dough is too sticky, just sprinkle a bit more flour and let it knead for 1 extra minute.

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.

Once the hour is up, place your skillet in the oven and preheat it to 230C/446F.

Mix all of the ingredients for the Greek yogurt sauce.

Place your dough in your floured working area. Divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll out one piece about the same size as your cast iron skillet. Once your oven is hot, remove the skillet (use gloves). Pour about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet and swirl it around so it covers also the edges.

Place the dough in the skillet, spread half of the yogurt sauce and add half of the asparagus, edamame, ham and Parmesan. Separate the egg white from the egg yolk in two small bowls. Only add the egg white in the middle of the pizza.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the pizza from the oven and place the egg yolk on top of the egg white. Bake it for an extra 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and repeat for the remaining piece of dough. I suggest you share this one while the other is in the oven.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Mashed Avocado Toast with Sautéed Shaved Asparagus & a poached egg + How to Poach an Egg

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I post my breakfasts on a daily basis on Instagram, and I love to eat poached eggs. But my poaching skills were not up the part. I tried wrapping the egg in plastic wrap and then poaching it. That didn’t work out for me. I tried the old fashion way, how I was taught in school (simmering water, splash of vinegar and swirling around the water hoping the egg will form nicely), but I would only get nice looking eggs some of the time. I wanted them picture perfect and sometimes it would work out on the first egg, and sometimes on the third or fourth… It made me dread poaching time. But then the lovely Jennifer from The Lemon Apron gave me a tip that would save me a lot of eggs. Just crack an egg on a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the watery part of the egg white. This tip has worked wonders for me. Thank you Jennifer! And since I often get questions on Instagram of how I poach my eggs, here is how I do it now.

Have a medium saucepan filled about halfway with water and a splash of vinegar. Let it come to a simmer. Once the water is simmering, crack an egg (at room temperature, the eggs need to be fresh) on a fine mesh sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the watery part of the egg white. Let it sit there for 30 seconds to about 1 minute.

Then carefully drop it on the simmering water. I only stir the water a bit once the egg has a nice shape, you don’t want to disturb the uncooked egg white otherwise it will separate too much from the egg yolk. Let it poach for about 2-3 minutes and then carefully remove it with a slotted spoon.

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This recipe is for 1 person.

Ingredients:

1 slice of toasted bread of your choice

1 small avocado

Juice of ½ a lime

Pink Himalayan salt

Black pepper

Chili flakes

4 asparagus

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Garden cress

1 poached egg

 

Shave the asparagus using a vegetable peeler. Don’t worry if parts break. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute the asparagus with salt and pepper, for about 30 seconds. Set them aside. Then mash the avocado with the lime juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes.

To assemble the toast, add first the mashed avocado. Then the sauteed asparagus, cherry tomatoes and finally the poached egg. Top the egg with salt, chili flakes and garden cress.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Butternut Squash, Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Sumac & Za’atar Roasted Cashew Crumbs and Shaved Asparagus (Vegan)

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A very easy and comforting soup with added crunch from the raw asparagus and cashew crumbs. Perfect for this cold weather.

On another note, I recently made a tutorial for the blue background that you see in these pictures. You can check it out by clicking here.

 

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This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

1 medium butternut squash, just chopped into pieces

4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into pieces

2 medium sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 litter of vegetable stock

½ teaspoon of celery salt

Pinch of paprika powder

Salt to taste

For the cashew crumbs:

1 cup of salted cashews, finely chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of paprika powder

1 tablespoon of sumac

1 teaspoon of Za’atar

Pinch of salt (optional)

For the asparagus:

8 asparagus

Salt

Pepper

 

Chop the butternut squash (leave the skin and seeds on, they will come off easier after being roasted) and carrot into chunks. Place the butternut squash, carrots and whole sweet potatoes in an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil over the squash and carrot. Sprinkle with some salt and then roast them in the oven at 180C/350F until tender. This will take about ½ hour for the squash and carrots, and 1 hour for the sweet potato. So just check from time to time.

Once the vegetables are roasted, scoop out the seeds from the butternut squash and discard them. Then scoop out the flesh and set it aside. Peel the sweet potato.

In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil over medium heat. Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the butternut squah, carrots and sweet potatoes. Add the stock, celery salt and paprika powder. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then blend it until smooth using an immersion blender. Taste it, and then add salt to taste.

To make the cashew crumbs, mix the chopped cashews with the spices and olive oil. Roast them for 15 minutes at 180C/350F. Stir the crumbs half way through.  Set it aside to cool.

When you are ready to serve, reheat the soup and start preparing the asparagus. Grab a potato peeler and start to shave the asparagus. Don’t worry if some break. Then season them with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup with the seasoned shaved asparagus and some of the cashew crumbs. Enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Asparagus & Basil Risotto with Rainbow Carrots

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I went to the market yesterday and got beautiful asparagus that I decided to add to this risotto. To add some extra color and texture, I topped it with julienned rainbow carrots which I just sautéed with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. A comforting vegetarian dish that I had for dinner yesterday since the weather was still a bit chili. At least it stopped raining, so I won’t complain!

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This recipe serves 3

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

400gr of Arborio rice

1 bunch of asparagus

1 cup of white wine

1 ½ litter of vegetable stock plus 1 cup to blend with the basil

125ml of cream

1 bunch of basil

30gr of grated Parmesan

Salt

Pepper

3 rainbow carrots, julienned

Garlic powder

Extra olive oil to saute the vegetables

 

Start by prepping the vegetables. Chop off the tips of the asparagus and set them aside. Chop the stalks into small pieces and set aside. Slice the carrots into julienne.

Saute the julienned carrots in a bit of olive oil, a pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Do it over medium heat for about 1 minute. For presentation purposes, I sauteed the purple carrots separately because they tend to stain the others.

Saute the asparagus tips in a bit of olive oil, a pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper. They will also take about 1 minute depending on their size. Set aside.

Blend the basil with the cream and 1 cup of the vegetable stock, set aside.

Keep the stock warm in a pan with a ladle close by.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and cook for about 2 minutes until they become translucent. Add the minced garlic and rice. Stir for about 1 minute. Then, add the white wine and let it reduce.

Start adding the vegetable stock one ladle at a time and keep stirring. Once the liquid has reduced to half, keep adding more stock and stir. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

Add the chopped asparagus stalks to the risotto along with the basil cream and parmesan. Stir until everything is combined and let it cook for about 1 minute to allow the liquid to evaporate a bit and become creamy again. Taste for salt.

Divide the risotto into 3 plates. Add the sautéed asparagus tips on top of the risotto. Finish by adding the sautéed carrots. Sprinkle some extra Parmesan if you want.

 

 

Spring Frittata with a Salad of Shaved Asparagus and Grana Padano

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This dish makes a great breakfast, lunch or light dinner. I added a few potatoes to have a bit more sustenance. Every time the word sustenance comes to mind, it reminds me of the first Thor movie (Nerd Alert!). In the movie, Thor says he needs sustenance because his mortal form is growing weak. My hubby and I always joke about it. Whenever one of us is hungry, we say: “I need sustenance” in a commanding voice. It is just something that stuck with us.

Even though most people cook their asparagus before they eat them, you can also just eat them raw. In this salad, I prepared them raw but you can also sauté them in a pan.

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This recipe is enough for a 23cm skillet and serves 4.

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Ingredients:

For the Frittata:

4 small potatoes, (boiled, peeled and diced)

10 radishes, sliced into quarters

1 yellow zucchini, chopped

½ cup of frozen peas

9 eggs, beaten

¼ cup of milk

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of cayenne

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

For the salad:

1 bunch of asparagus

30grs of Grana Padano, shaved

Juice of ½ a lemon

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Boil the potatoes until tender, peel them and dice them. Chop the radishes and zucchini.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a cast iron skillet. Add the zucchini and radishes. Cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the boiled potatoes and frozen peas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir so everything is mixed. Pour the egg mixture and let it cook for another 4 minutes without stirring. Then transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the frittata is in the oven, start preparing the salad. Wash the asparagus and snap off the hard ends. Then shave each asparagus into thin ribbons using a potato peeler, cheese slicer or mandolin.

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Shave the Grana Padano.

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar, close it and shake it.

Place the shave asparagus on a plate; add the shaved Grana Padano and the dressing. Mix well.

Once the frittata is cooked, slice it into 4 pieces and serve with some of the salad on top.