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.

Strawberry, Basil & White Chocolate Ice cream + Magimix Gelato Expert Review

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Ever since I started my blog, I missed having an ice cream machine. Before moving here, I used to have one where you have to freeze the bowl overnight. But the thing about living in Amsterdam is that space is limited, and that also means fridge wise. We’ve been living in a rental apartment which has a small freezer, so no space to freeze the bowl of those kinds of ice cream machines.

I’ve heard very good things about Magimix in the past. If you have never heard of them before, it is a brand known for their food processors. The Gelato Expert is the first Magimix product I have ever tested and I was not disappointed.

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It is the upgraded version of the Turbine à Glace. It’s a self-freezing ice cream machine. You only need to turn it on 5 minutes before you are going to use it to pre-chill the bowl. It comes with two 2 liter bowls, one is fixed to the machine and the other one is removable. You just need to pour in a measure of brine or alcohol (I used gin) on the fixed bowl. Then place the removable bowl on top and switch the freezer on. After 5 minutes of pre-chilling, you are ready to pour in the ice cream mixture. Its’s easy and quick. Just keep in mind to add only about 1 liter of ice cream mixture to the bowl at a time, as ice cream increases in volume while it is churning. For sorbets, you can add about 1 ½ liters of mixture at a time.

The Gelato Expert has 3 automatic cycles: Gelato, ice cream and granita. You can change the cycles at any time. It also comes with a manual mode where you can adjust the churning time to the consistency that you wish. This ice cream only took about 20 minutes. If you have a mixture with alcohol, it will take longer as alcohol delays the freezing time. I also made an Elderflower & Grapefruit Gin Tonic Sorbet which took about 40 minutes. You can see the recipe by clicking here.

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Overall, it is a great machine. It makes a smooth ice cream and sorbet without any large ice crystals. It is easy to clean and not very noisy. The removable parts are dishwasher safe, even though I don’t mind washing these kinds of things by hand. The Magimix Gelato Expert will be available soon in The Netherlands. You will be able to find it in big cooking stores and online by Fonq.nl and Coolblue.

This recipe makes about 1 ½ liters of ice cream.

Ingredients:

For the base:

1 ½ cups of whole milk

1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of sugar

4 egg yolks

150grs of white chocolate, finely chopped

For the strawberry & basil part:

225gr of strawberries, hulled (you can use fresh or frozen, just remember to thaw them)

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 cup of basil leaves

 

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.

You’ll need to make a double boiler. Add boiling water to a medium saucepan and place a steel bowl over it over medium-low heat. Pour the milk into the bowl and let it come to a simmer. Once the milk has come to a simmer, slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture while whisking it.

Then pour the mixture into the bowl of the double boiler and stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens. You know it is done when it coats the back of the spoon and the line that you draw with your finger stays. Turn off the heat.

Remove the bowl from the double boiler and add the chopped white chocolate. Whisk it until all of the chocolate has melted. Then add the heavy cream and whisk well. Let it come to room temperature and then place it in the fridge to chill.

In the meanwhile, chop the hulled strawberries and add the lemon juice. Place it in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the ice cream mixture is cold, remove it from the fridge. Blend the basil with the marinated strawberries until smooth. Then pass it through a fine mesh sieve. Add the strawberry mixture to the ice cream mixture and mix well.

Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine. I used the ice cream cycle of the Magimix Gelato Expert and it took about 20 minutes until it reached the consistency of ice cream. Then transfer the ice cream to a shallow container and cover it with plastic wrap (touching the ice cream). Place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours to firm up.

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

 

 

 

 

Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Tart with Basil & Almond Pesto

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I’m taking advantage of summer produce as much as I can. Every time I go to the market and see beautiful heirloom tomatoes, I can’t help myself and have to get some. For this tart, I first oven dried them to keep them from getting the filling moist.

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The filling is a bit lighter since I used Greek yogurt instead of cream. I swirled some pesto into the filling for extra flavor and to add a different texture.  I added grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper to the crust for extra flavor as well. I ate it with a baby kale salad with a simple vinaigrette.

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Ingredients:

For the tomatoes:

3 big heirloom tomatoes, sliced about 1.5 to 2 cm thick

5 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt

Drizzle of olive oil

For the crust:

1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons of grated parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

100gr of cold butter, chopped

Pinch of salt

¼ cup cold water

For the goat cheese filling:

1 cup of Greek yogurt

200gr soft goat cheese, at room temperature

2 eggs

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

For the pesto:

45gr peeled roasted almonds

1 bunch of basil, reserve a few small leaves to decorate the tart later

30gr of grated parmesan

1/3 cup of olive oil

Pinch of garlic powder

Pepper

Pinch of salt

 

To oven dry the tomatoes:

Place the tomato slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and drizzle some olive oil. Dry them for 2 hours at 130C/270F. Once the 2 hours are up, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the pesto:

Place all of the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until everything is mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. You will only need 5 tablespoons of this pesto; you can use the leftover for something else.

To make the crust:

Place the butter, flour, parmesan, salt & pepper in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for a few minutes until the pieces of butter get smaller.  Then add the cold water and mix on low for a few extra minutes, until you get an even dough. Form a ball with the dough, flatten it a bit with your hands, wrap it in plastic and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested in the fridge, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and flour a 9 inch – 23cm pie mold. It is better if it has a detachable bottom, just makes it easier to slice the tart later.

Lightly flour your working area and roll out the dough in a circular shape, enough to cover the pie mold. Line the pie mold with the dough, pressing firmly on the edges. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Take the pie out of the fridge and pinch the bottom with a fork.  Line it with parchment paper and fill it with uncooked rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove the rice and parchment paper, and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove it from the oven but the keep the oven on.

To make the goat cheese & Greek yogurt filling:

Just blend all of the ingredients until evenly combined.

To assemble the tart:

Pour the goat cheese filling over the partly baked crust.  Just don’t pour it up to the edges, because it still needs the pesto and you don’t want it to overflow.  Separate 5 tablespoons of the pesto and spoon it over the filling. Then grab a knife and swirl it around, be careful not to touch the crust. Bake it for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes are up, remove the tart from the oven. Spread the oven dried tomatoes over the top and bake it for 10 extra minutes.

Allow the tart to cool down for 1 hour before slicing it. You can decorate it with some fresh basil leaves. I like to serve it with a simple salad.

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.

 

 

Caprese Quinoa Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata and Greek Yogurt Pesto

FullSizeRender (1)I did a late market run the other day and got these gorgeous tomatoes and flowers.

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Since I had been craving burrata for a while, one dish came to mind: Caprese salad. With such great produce, you don’t need to do much with them. To make it a more filling meal, I added quinoa. I flavored the quinoa with some basil-Greek yogurt pesto.  It’s a quick dinner and also makes for a great lunch the next day.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa

700gr of Heirloom tomato mix

1 burrata (250gr)

For the pesto:

1 cup of fresh basil leaves

30gr of Parmesan, grated

40gr of toasted pine nuts

Zest of ½ a lime

4 tablespoons of Geek yogurt

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pepper

Salt

 

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

To make the pesto, just blend all of the ingredients together. Add the salt last, after you tasted it, since the Parmesan already makes it salty.

Slice the tomatoes.

Place the pesto in a large bowl, add the quinoa and mix it well.

To serve the salad, first place some quinoa on the plates. Then add the tomato slices and sprinkle them with some salt. Break the burrata with your fingers and spread it over the salad. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each plate. If you want, decorate the salad with a few basil leaves. Enjoy!

Strawberry Basil cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting

Pic1Berry season is in full swing and I can’t get enough of them. Since I’ve been craving a lot of sweets lately, I decided to incorporate them into a cupcake recipe. Blackberries add such a nice and bright natural color to the frosting.  And basil just goes so well with strawberries, it’s a match made in heaven! They are great for a birthday party or to take to a picnic.

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This recipe makes 8 cupcakes, but you can double the recipe to make a bigger batch.

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Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of strawberry puree (about 8 strawberries, blended)

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of buttermilk

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

113gr of butter, softened

1 cup of sugar

1 egg

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons of dried basil

For the frosting:

¾ of a cup of fresh blackberries

1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

5 cups of icing sugar

For decoration:

Extra blackberries

Fresh basil

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar, basil and vanilla. Then add the egg and egg whites.  Gradually add the buttermilk and strawberry puree.  Finally add the flour, salt and baking powder.

Place the paper cupcake liners into the cupcake pan.  Spoon the batter evenly and bake for 23 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Once they are baked, allow them to cool down for 5 minutes in the cupcake pan.  Then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool down completely on a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled down, start making the frosting.

Blend the blackberries and then pass the puree through a sieve. Whisk the blackberry puree with the Greek yogurt and vanilla. Gradually add the icing sugar. Once all of the icing sugar is incorporated, keep whisking for 5 extra minutes. Do this on high speed; it will make the frosting light and fluffy. Place the frosting in a piping bag and pipe it into the cupcakes. For these, I just used a round nozzle. Decorate each cupcake with a blackberry and some fresh basil.