Burrata with Balsamic & Honey Glazed Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

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When it comes to entertaining friends or family, my preference goes into making simple dishes so that I can also enjoy their company, instead of being fully occupied in the kitchen. This is a super easy appetizer that you can make in advance and just garnish before serving. I sliced the butternut into very small cubes and then glazed it in a pan with balsamic vinegar and honey. It goes so well with the creamy burrata and the slight tartness of the pomegranate seeds. This is a perfect use for burrata this fall/winter.

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This recipe is for one burrata, but you can always double or triple it if you are feeding a large crowd.

Ingredients:

For the glazed butternut squash:

2 cups of finely cubed butternut squash

1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons of honey

Extras:

1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 baguette, sliced and toasted with olive oil

Chili flakes

Garden cress

A drizzle of olive oil

 

To make the glazed butternut squash, place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced butternut squash, salt and cayenne. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring from time to time. Then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an extra 3 minutes until it has reduced, don’t forget to stir. Finally add the honey and cook for an extra 2 minutes. Taste it and adjust the salt and cayenne to your liking. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool down a bit.

In the meanwhile, toast the bread with some olive oil.

To serve, place about ¾ of the butternut squash on a plate. Place the burrata on top. Add the remaining butternut squash on top of the burrata. Finish with a sprinkle of chili flakes, garden cress and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with the toasted bread. Enjoy!

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Ficelle with Brie, Figs and blackberries

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This is more an idea than an actual recipe but it is great when you don´t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It is perfect for a picnic or to serve at a dinner party. This is one of those things that I could eat at any time of the day. If you have never had ficelle before, it’s type of French bread. It is smaller than a baguette. If you can’t find it, just use one baguette instead.

Ingredients:

2 ficelles, sliced in half lengthwise (Similar to baguette, but smaller)

200gr of brie, sliced into pieces

4 figs, thinly sliced

1 cup of blackberries

¼ cup of pomegranate seeds

150grs of arugula

2 tablespoons of olive oil

About 3 tablespoons of balsamic reduction

Salt

 

If you have never made balsamic reduction, is it very easy to make. Get a small bottle of balsamic vinegar (about 250ml). Since you are going to reduce it, just get the cheap kind. Pour the balsamic in a saucepan over medium heat and let it reduce to about 1/3 of the original volume. Then pour it in a glass container and allow it to cool down. As it cools down, it will harden a bit. This is something I always have in the house since I love drizzling it over salads.

Mix the arugula with a pinch of salt and the olive oil. Spread it over the sliced ficelles. Top with the figs, blackberries, brie and pomegranate seeds. Finally drizzle some of the balsamic reduction and enjoy!

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Frisée, Gorgonzola & Bacon Salad with Cherry and Port Dressing

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This past weekend, I saw cherries for the first time at the market and of course I had to get some. Besides snacking on them, I saved some for this salad. For the dressing, I used frozen cherries just because they already come pitted but you can also use fresh ones. I love the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the bitterness of the frisée, the salty bacon and creamy gorgonzola.

This recipe serves 2.

For the dressing:

1 cup of frozen cherries, pitted

1 shot of port

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of honey

Pinch of garlic powder

Salt to taste

For the salad:

5 slices of crispy bacon, crumbled

½ a head of frisée, torn into bite sized pieces

80grs of gorgonzola, crumbled into small pieces

1 cup of fresh cherries, pitted and sliced

 

Start by making the dressing. Place the cherries in the microwave for about 1 ½ minutes to thaw. Then blend them and pass it through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the cherry juice into a medium saucepan. Add the port, balsamic, olive oil, honey and garlic powder. Cook for about 4 minutes over medium heat, until it thickens a bit and the alcohol evaporates. Add salt to taste. Then pour it into a bowl and allow it to cool down.

To assemble the salad, just divide the frisée among two bowls. Add the gorgonzola, cherries and bacon. Serve with the dressing on the side. Enjoy!

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Beet Couscous with Balsamic Glazed Carrots & Carrot Top Dressing

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I didn’t like carrots as a kid and now I love them, especially when they are roasted. These are sweet and still crunchy, and to not waste the carrot tops, I made a dressing with it. A very simple and easy vegetarian dish but still packed with flavor.

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This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the carrots:

7 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into about 6cm long sticks

3 tablespoons of melted butter

¼ cup of balsamic vinegar

¼ cup of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

For the couscous:

1 cup of couscous

1 cup of vegetable stock

1 tablespoon of butter

1 medium roasted beet

For the carrot top dressing:

½ cup of chopped carrot top

2 tablespoons of chopped basil

1/3 cup of olive oil

20gr of grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of honey

Juice of ½ a lime

Salt

Pepper

Extras:

¼ cup of toasted slivered almonds

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the melted butter, balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Then add the carrots and toss to coat them. Spread them on a single layer in the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining glaze over the carrots.

Roast the carrots for 45 minutes, stirring half way through.

While the carrots are roasting, start making the dressing. Just blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Set it aside.

Once the carrots are done, start to make the couscous. Blend the vegetable stock with the roasted beet. Then pour it into a medium saucepan and add the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and add the couscous. Mix it well and cover it with a lid. Let it be for 5 minutes and then fluff it using a fork.

Serve the couscous with the glazed carrots, the carrot top dressing and slivered almonds.

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Beet & Barley Salad with Black Radish, Brussels Sprouts, Arugula, Kumquat & Grana Padano

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This past Saturday at the Farmer’s market, I got some beautiful black radishes. I had never seen them before so I was very excited to give them a try. They are stronger in flavor than the average radish. They are a bit spicy. I wanted to keep things simple so I just thinly sliced one radish (they are quite big) and added it to a simple beet & barley salad. This one is a bit different since I cooked the barley in a mixture of vegetable stock and beet juice. A delicious and filling salad for these colder months.

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This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the barley:

2 cups of barley

1 ½ cups of beet juice

4 ½ cups of vegetable stock

For the salad:

75 grs of arugula

1 black radish, thinly sliced

9 kumquats, thinly sliced

30 grs of thinly sliced Grana Padano cheese

12 Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, halved and leaves separated

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the balsamic dressing:

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of mustard

2 tablespoons of honey

Salt

Pepper

 

Cook the barley with the stock and beet juice over medium heat for about 40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender. Once it is cooked, let it stand for 5 minutes with the heat off. Then transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool down for a bit.

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar and close it with a lid. Shake it until it emulsifies. Set it aside.

To cook the Brussels sprouts, place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts leaves, salt and pepper. Cook them for about 20 seconds. Set them aside.

To plate the salad, mix the arugula with the barley. Divide it over 3 plates. Top with the radish, kumquats, Grana Padano and Brussels sprouts. Serve he salad with the dressing on the side.

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Beet Crepes with Whipped Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction (Gluten-Free)

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Growing up I didn’t like beets. Then all of the sudden I started to crave them for some reason. This was a few years ago, nowadays I cook with them so often. Maybe I am making up for the time I didn’t eat them. I am even growing some on my balcony now.

I used buckwheat flour for these crepes so they are gluten free. This is just a basic savory crepe recipe, you can play around with the filling. Maybe top it with a green salad or use them as tacos.

To keep the pink vibe going, I made a raspberry slushy. This was my very bright lunch today. If you like beets, maybe you want to check out my beet tartare with roasted strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette by clicking here.

This recipe makes about 9 crepes.

Ingredients:

For the batter:

1 cup of buckwheat flour

1 1/3 cup of milk

1 egg

1 cooked beet, shredded or blended (I used a food processor)

1 pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

For frying:

Olive oil or coconut oil

For the whipped goat cheese:

300gr of goat cheese

6 teaspoons of Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon of agave or honey

Toppings:

Balsamic reduction

Fresh cherries

Fresh Strawberries

 

If you have never made balsamic reduction before, it is super easy to make. Pour 250ml of balsamic vinegar into a pan. Reduce over medium-low heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 of a cup.  Don’t let it get too thick though, as it will thicken as it cools down. If it gets too thick, you can always warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen it up. You can make this in advance and keep it in your pantry.

To make the whipped goat cheese, just place it in the food processor with the Greek yogurt and honey. Then pulse until smooth. Transfer it to a bowl, cover with plastic film and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the batter, just blend all of the ingredients together. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit olive oil or coconut oil. Once the pan is hot, add about 1/9 of the crepe batter and swirl it around the pan. Once bubbles start to form on the top, loosen the edges with a spatula. Then gently flip it using the same spatula. Let it cook for about 30 seconds on the other side, then transfer it to a plate and repeat for the rest of the batter.

To plate up, fold each crepe in half, and then fold it in half again. Serve with some of the whipped goat cheese and fruit. Finish it by drizzling some of the balsamic reduction.

 

 

 

Adult Fruit Salad (Cherry, Orange & Strawberry Salad with Balsamic-Elderflower Dressing)

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As soon as warmer weather approaches, I start looking forward to summer fruits, especially berries and cherries. I love going to the market, and seeing all the stands filled with gorgeous and colorful produce. That’s my kind of guiltless candy shop. I wanted to make a fruit salad that was a bit different, with a bit more adult flavors so to say. And by adult, I don’t mean alcoholic.

Balsamic reduction is a staple in my pantry. I actually still remember the first time I tried it. I was having dinner with my parents at an Italian restaurant about 15 years ago, and we ordered an octopus salad that came with a balsamic reduction.  We all loved it and my mom asked how to make it. Since then, she’s always had it in her pantry and when I moved out, I started to do the same.

To make the dressing, I reduced some elderflower cordial into the balsamic reduction. It adds a floral depth to the dish. The combination of the dressing and the juices from the fruits are a nice explosion of flavors in the mouth. Add the creaminess of the whipped goat cheese and crunchy pistachios, and you’ve got a great mix of textures as well.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 cup of fresh cherries, pitted and halved

2 cups of strawberries, thinly sliced

3 oranges, segmented

¼ cup of unsalted pistachios, chopped

For the whipped goat cheese:

100gr of goat cheese

4 tablespoons of cream

For the dressing:

¼ cup of balsamic reduction

5 tablespoons of elderflower cordial

 

If you have never made balsamic reduction before, it is super easy to make. You don’t need a fancy bottle of balsamic vinegar; just get a cheap one, since it’s going to reduce a lot. Pour 250ml of balsamic vinegar into a pan. Reduce over medium-low heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 of a cup.  Don’t let it get too thick though, as it will thicken as it cools down. If it gets too thick, you can always warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen it up. You can make this in advance and keep it in your pantry. I use it often so I normally make a bigger batch. It is very nice to drizzle over sautéed asparagus.

Prepare all of your fruit.

To make the whipped goat cheese, just place the goat cheese and cream in the food processor and pulse until smooth.

To make the dressing, place the balsamic reduction and elderflower cordial in a pan. Let it simmer over med-low heat for about 1-2 minutes, until it is all mixed. Don’t let it reduce too much, otherwise it will become a caramel and you won’t be able to pour it.

To plate up, pour some of the dressing on the plate. Then add the fruit. I formed quenelles with the whipped goat cheese. Finally, sprinkle some pistachios.

 

Beet Tartare with Whipped Goat Cheese and Roasted Strawberry & Balsamic Vinaigrette

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With strawberry season in full swing, I’ve been eating them pretty much every day.  I’ve been putting them in my breakfast bowl, salads, dressings and cupcakes.  There are more strawberry recipes to come to the blog for sure!

This is a great vegetarian dish to serve as an appetizer or just eat a big bowl of it as a main course. If you have the time, mix the beets with the strawberry vinaigrette and let it sit overnight in the fridge for the flavors to develop. It’s worth it! I found this out because we had some left over the next day and my hubby was scouring the fridge for something to munch on. He grabbed the bowl and went at it. He brought it to me and said: Wow, you have to try it! It is even better now than yesterday. The strawberry flavor is intensified with the sweetness of the beets.

I love frisee.  If you are not familiar with it, it is a member of the endive family. It has curly and bitter leaves and it is great in salads. Frisee can be hard to find. Supermarkets here usually include it in their salad bags but as a mix, not by itself. I got this one at a big stand at the Albert Cuyp market.

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On another note, I have been featured on the Kitchenbowl journal. I was honored when they approached me about sharing my tips for great food photography. Kitchenbowl is an app where you can share your recipes, an international community for people who love to cook. It has been featured in the app store as one of the best new apps. I’ve been part of the Kitchenbowl community since last year and it is still one of my most used apps.  You can read my tips about food photography by clicking here.

This recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

6 roasted beets, diced (you can roast them in the oven for 1 hour at 180C/350F)

¼ of a head of frisee

1 apple, finely sliced

1 cup of pecans

6 strawberries, sliced

Micro basil

For the roasted strawberry & balsamic vinaigrette:

200gr of fresh strawberries, sliced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons of agave syrup

¼ cup of olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the whipped goat cheese:

200gr soft goat cheese

2 tablespoons of heavy cream

To make the vinaigrette:

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Place the sliced strawberries on the prepared tray, pour the balsamic vinegar on top and drizzle 2 tablespoons of the agave syrup.  Roast the strawberries for 15 minutes.

Place the roasted strawberries, including the juices in the food processor. Add 1 extra tablespoon of agave syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until you get a smooth dressing.  Set aside.

To make the whipped goat cheese:

Just place the goat cheese and cream in the food processor and pulse until smooth.

To make the salad:

Mix the diced roasted beets with the vinaigrette. If you have the time, do this the night before and let it sit in the fridge for the flavors to develop.

To plate up, place a bit of the frisee on the plate. Add the beets, then place a few strawberry and apple slices. Add a few pecans, the micro basil and finally the whipped goat cheese. I place the goat cheese in a piping bag and just piped a few small dollops onto the plate.

 

Olive Rice with Balsamic Pork Chops, Apples & Shallots

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Yesterday was such a beautiful day. The first day that, for me, actually felt like spring. It was sunny and warm, so we decided to go for a bike ride to a nearby forest.  It is a nice escape from the city and now that all the wild flowers are popping up, it is beautiful to see. I recently found out that there is an area in that forest where you can see Scottish Highland cows and there was a calf that was just born. So I was very excited to go see them.  We were not able to see the calf but there was one cow just chilling by the side of the bike path, apart from the rest. It was nice to see it up close. All the people passing by were stopping to take pictures of it, myself included.

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After about 4 hours of biking, we arrived home starving.  This dish was a perfect finish of the day, comforting, filling and ready in about 35 minutes. Olive rice is something I used to eat during Christmas growing up. I actually don’t remember eating it at any another time. It is the side dish that was always present at our Christmas table. We would eat it with either roasted pork of turkey and apple sauce among other things. Nowadays it is not just a Christmas side dish for me anymore. I crave it more often. It evokes nice memories. Sometimes I like to eat with some store bought rotisserie chicken and apple sauce. But this time I made it with some pork chops with apples and shallots. The combination is just great together. This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the olive rice:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

2 cups of rice

300gr Kalamata olives, pitted

1 clove of garlic, minced

4 cups of boiling water

½ teaspoon of salt

For the caramelized apples and shallots:

2 apples, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of sugar

5 shallots, sliced in half

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs of thyme

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

A good pinch of salt

Pepper

Pinch of paprika powder

Pinch of cayenne

1 cup of water

For the pork chops:

3 pork chops

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 tablespoons of honey

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Salt

Pepper

 

Place the olives in the food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of water and pulse until you get a paste.

Over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a medium pot. Add the garlic, rice and cook for 1 minute while stirring. You want the garlic to be fragrant and the rice to become translucent.

Then add the olive paste, salt and boiling water. Give it a good stir, cover it with a lid and let it cook on low heat for 18 minutes. About half way through, give it another stir so the olive paste doesn’t burn at the bottom. After the 18 minutes are up, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for about 5 minutes.

To make the caramelized apples and shallots, place the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the apples and the shallots. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients. Let it cook for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.

To make the pork chops, first salt and pepper them.  Then pour the olive oil into a large pan, over medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the hot pan and brown both sides. Once they are browned, pour the balsamic vinegar and honey over them. Finish cooking the chops for about 2 minutes on each side, until they are completely cooked through and the sauce has caramelized. The total time will depend on the thickness of your chops.

To plate up, serve the rice first, then place the pork chop and finish with some of the apples and shallots.

Beet, Carrot and Wheat Berry Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

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As a child, my mom would make wheat berry as a stew with tomato sauce.  That’s pretty much the only way I remember eating it as a kid. Then I kind of forgot about it, and only started eating wheat berries again about 1 year and a half ago. I still make it the way my mom does, but this time I wanted to make it into a salad with these beautiful vegetables from my local market.

Just make sure you keep the purple beets separate from the rest so it doesn’t turn the rest of the salad purple.  The vinaigrette is quite thick because of the figs and the balsamic reduction.  If you have never made a balsamic reduction before, it is very easy to make. It is just reducing it until it has become a syrup. I tend to always have it in my pantry, since I like to drizzle it over salads. It is a very wintry kind of salad and it is great for the holidays as the colors really pop and you can make it in advance.

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Ingredients:

For the salad:

400gr wheat berry

4 golden beets (3 roasted, 1 raw)

2 purple beets (1 roasted, 1 raw)

1 yellow carrot, sliced

1 purple carrot, sliced

150gr of gorgonzola, crumbled

1 pomegranate

6 sprigs of thyme

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette:

2 shallots, chopped

4 dried figs, chopped

1/3 cup of balsamic reduction

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of honey

¼ cup of water

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

To make the salad:

Reserve 1 golden and 1 purple beet for later. Wrap the rest of the beets in aluminum foil and roast in the oven at 180C/350F for 2 hours, until they are tender.  Allow to cool, then peel and slice them. You can roast the beets in advance.

Rinse the wheat berries under cold water and then boil for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.  You can also cook the wheat berries a few days before.

In a medium pan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrots, thyme and sauté for a few minutes, until tender.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Peel the raw golden and purple beet that you reserved earlier. Slice them as thin as you can, then chop them into thin strips and then into really small cubes.  Do them separately, so the colors don’t get stained. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette:

First make the balsamic reduction, pour 250ml of balsamic vinegar into a pan. Reduce over medium-low heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 of a cup.  Don’t let it get too thick though, as it will thicken as it cools down.  You can make this in advance.

In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the shallots and figs. Cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add 1/3 of a cup of the balsamic reduction and cook for 30 seconds. Then pour it into a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.  Taste if it needs more salt or pepper.

To assemble the salad, mix the vinaigrette with the wheat berry in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix the roasted beets with a bit of olive oil and salt.

Serve the seasoned wheat berries on each plate. Then top with some of the crumbled gorgonzola, roasted beets and carrots. Finally add some of the pomegranate seeds and the raw chopped beets.

I do all of this separate only to show the different colors of the vegetables. Feel free to mix it all if you don’t have the time, but the purple beets will stain the whole salad.