Xmas Lunch at the Conservatorium Hotel

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I can’t believe how fast this year has passed by. With Christmas just around the corner, lots of restaurants already have their holiday menus planned. A great alternative if you want to skip on the cooking. As much as I enjoy the whole cooking process, sometimes it’s nice to let others do it and just enjoy the meal and the company.

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Today I had a Xmas lunch at the Conservatorium Hotel. Our table was beautifully decorated and with live singing, it was impossible not to get into the holiday spirit. We started with the Hamachi sashimi with caviar, beef tartar with nashi pear, Alaskan king crab with avocado & blood orange, and a wild carrot tartar with ash & chardonnay vinaigrette. This was all to share. The first two were my favorite. I love a good steak tartare and the combination with pear was just delicious. And the Hamachi, well I ended up eating a bit of my neighbor’s as well.

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Then we had a cappuccino of roasted celeriac with white truffle. The soup was very airy and full of flavor with a surprise of citrusy mushrooms in the bottom. For a more traditional touch, the main course was composed of very tender and juicy beef Wellington with structures of mushrooms, Bordelaise sauce, mashed potatoes, poached pears and chestnuts in salted caramel sauce.

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fullsizerender-2And since there is no ending without something sweet, we had the winter wonderland dessert and some gingerbread men. I really enjoy Schilo Van Coevorden’s cooking. I’ve been coming here since early this year and it never disappoints.

The Conservatorium Hotel

Van Baerlestraat 27 , Amsterdam

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Terpentijn

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Located at the Rokin, this French-Asian inspired restaurant is open for lunch, street food and drinks. I had been there once before for drinks and assumed that the first floor was the whole restaurant. When we arrived this time, we realized that there is a second floor where you can have dinner. It is a cozy restaurant with many plants, funky art and books decorating its walls.

We started the evening with the lady boy oysters which were one oyster with lychee, mirin & pink ginger, and another one with soy, sesame & spring onion. And for drinks, we asked for one of their signature homemade ice teas with elderflower & mint, and their Blue Goose cocktail with vodka, lavender & lemon. Both drinks were refreshing without being overly sweet or too strong. The oysters were delicious and the one with pink ginger was really the eye catcher.

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For the first course, we got the fish in a cookie and the surf & turf. The fish cookie were very crunchy fish cakes served with a crème de foie gras. Yum!

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The surf & turf was a beef tartare with deep fried baby squid, smoked sriracha mayo and a quail egg. So good! And the sriracha lime mayo was an excellent touch!

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For the main course, we ordered the pork belly roast and the king boletus. I love pork belly and this one was cooked perfectly. It had a nice caramelization and it was juicy inside. It came with a silky pumpkin cream. The king boletus was a vegetarian dish with mushrooms, tofu beignets, parsnip, Romanesco, black garlic and ginger foam. It was a wonderful blend of flavors and textures.

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Unable to decide on the desserts, we ordered three. I know piggy us! We got a raspberry mousse which was the special of the week.

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We also got the go bananas and roasted pineapple. A slice of banana cake with banana ice cream, chocolate truffle and cacao beans.

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And the roasted pineapple came with vanilla ice cream, sticky rice and salted caramel.

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We left the plates pretty clean.

If you like Asian-French fusion, this is worth checking out. We left with very happy bellies!

 

Terpentijn

Rokin 103, Amsterdam

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Sweet Potato Falafel Salad

FullSizeRenderOn Sunday we visited the Japanese cherry blossom park at the Amsterdamse bos. It’s one of those things I look forward to every spring. The weather was just perfect that day! Sunny and warm. People brought their picnics and were chilling on the grass. It’s a beautiful place around this time of the year and very close to Amsterdam.

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I had been craving falafel and I made this one by adding mashed roasted sweet potato to the chickpea mixture. It adds a slight sweetness to it. I served them over a very simple salad with baby Swiss chard, Kalamata olives, cucumber and feta. It’s healthy, easy to make and filling.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the sweet potato falafel:

1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight

1 bunch of parsley

1 cup of mashed roasted sweet potato

½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of celery salt

Juice of ½ a lime

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of salt

For the salad:

1 cucumber, core removed and thinly sliced

100grs of crumbled feta

100gr of Kalamata olives, sliced

100grs of baby Swiss chard or any leafy greens of your choice

Garden cress (optional)

For the dressing:

1/3 cup of olive oil

¼ cup of white vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of honey

1 teaspoon of mustard

Salt

Extra:

Olive oil for pan-frying the falafel

 

To make the sweet potato falafel, soak the dried chickpeas in enough water overnight. For the sweet potato, you can roast it the night before, mash it and keep it in the fridge. Roast 1 medium sweet potato at 180C/350F for 1 hour.

The next day, drain the chickpeas and place all of the ingredients for the falafel in the food processor. Pulse until everything is well combined and there are not big chunks, but not too fine that it becomes a puree. You want it to still have some texture.

Then grab some of the mixture and form it into a ball using the palm of your hands. I grabbed about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture. It makes about 25 small balls.

Once all the falafels are assembled, pour about 1/3 of a cup of olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the falafel in batches until lightly browned. This will take about 5 minutes per batch. Just be careful not to press on them too much while turning them so that they don’t break apart.

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

In a large bowl, mix the sliced cucumber, crumbled feta, Kalamata olives, baby Swiss chard and garden cress. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Divide the salad among 3 plates and then add the falafel. Enjoy!

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Bar Brasserie OCCO (Dylan hotel)

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Occo is the new all-day brasserie of the Dylan hotel. It is open daily from 9am to 1 am. It used to be the lounge area of Vinkeles, the one Michelin star restaurant of the hotel. About a week ago, I met fellow food blogger and friend Teri from No Crumbs Left at this hotel. She was staying at the Dylan while visiting Amsterdam and we met her there for drinks and bites. We had delicious gyoza and bitterballen so I was excited to come back and try the lunch menu.

The new brasserie has a very chic feel. The bar is made out of marble and above it sits an 8 meter long copper lamp. If you sit by the window, you can overlook their terrace. When weather allows, you can also eat outside.

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The bar specializes on handcrafted cocktails and doesn’t stop at alcoholic beverages. They offer a Vir “Gin”,  a virgin gin & tonic. It’s made with a non-alcoholic gin that they created by mixing different spices and it is served with Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic. We ordered one VirGin and one My First Date which is made with date syrup, pomegranate and a pear-thyme-rosemary mix. They were both delightful with different layers of flavors and quite unique. My hubby described them as a mature juice for adults (or kids for that matter since they are alcohol-free). They also offer a Fermented Mary (with vodka) which I was curious to try but we ended up being too full with food so maybe next time.

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Now off to the dishes, we started with a small Caesar salad with roasted shrimps and oysters with red wine vinegar & shallots.

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For the main course, he went for the rigatoni with mozzarella, tomato, green asparagus and Parmesan.

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I went for the Peking duck noodle soup. His pasta was delicious and very suited for spring. My noodle soup was divine. The broth was flavorful and the Peking duck was tender. The portions were quite filling so we didn’t have space for dessert this time.

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Bar Brasserie OCCO at the Dylan hotel

Keizersgracht 384, Amsterdam

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Thai-Inspired Steak Salad

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On the weekends, I prefer to keep my meals simple and not time-consuming. It’s not always the case but I try. And a steak is always welcome, it cooks quiet quickly and both my husband and I go gaga for it. It’s not something we could eat everyday but when we do, it is really a treat. And lately our favorite way to eat it is in a salad. This time I made a Thai-style dressing. And I added Thai basil, coriander and mint to the salad. So you have all these mini explosions of flavors in every bite. I used a mandoline to slice the carrots and cucumber into thin ribbons, but you can just shred the carrots and thinly slice the cucumber with a knife.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the steak:

500gr of Flank steak

Vegetable oil for brushing the steak

Salt

Pepper

For the salad:

½ cucumber, sliced into thin ribbons using a mandoline

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow carrot, sliced into thin ribbons using a mandoline

1 medium purple carrot, sliced into thin ribbons using a mandoline

10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size

4 tablespoons of chopped coriander

8 Thai basil leaved, finely chopped

8 mint leaves, finely chopped

About 100grs of a lettuce mix of your choice (I used lamb’s lettuce, baby spinach, baby Swiss chard and baby red tatsoi)

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 big lime

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 small bird’s eye chili, finely chopped

¼ cup of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of minced ginger

1 small clove of garlic, minced

Optional:

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

½ red chili, thinly sliced

 

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Cover it and shake it. Set it aside until ready to use.

Prepare all your veggies.

To cook the meat, heat up a large pan over medium heat. Brush the steak with some vegetable oil. Add salt and pepper on both sides.

Once the pan is hot, place the meat and cook it to your liking. For medium rare, it takes about 5 minutes per side but it will also depend on the thickness of the steak. My steak was a bit thick in the middle so it took about 1 extra minute.

Let the steak rest for 5 minutes and then thinly slice it.

Once the steak is done and sliced, place all the vegetables and lettuce in a large bowl. Give the dressing another shake and add it to the salad. Mix it well so everything is well coated, I just used my hands.

Serve the salad and then add the steak slices. Sprinkle some of the sliced spring onion and chili over the steak. Finally pour the remaining dressing from the bowl on top of the steak. Enjoy!

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Kimchi Fried Rice

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I made this for lunch a few days ago to make use of the kimchi I had in the fridge. I got many comments asking me to post the recipe, so here it is. It is very simple and you can add pretty much anything that you have in the fridge, which is what I did.

This recipe serves 1 but you can easily double it.

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked rice

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/3 cup of kimchi, chopped

1 tablespoon of ginger syrup

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of Korean chili paste (optional)

A handful of bean sprouts

1/3 of a cup of shredded kale

A handful of edamame, I get it frozen so I just place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds

2 radishes, thinly sliced

1 fried egg

Other nice extra:

A handful of Broccolini sauteed in sesame oil

 

Mix the ginger syrup, sesame oil, oyster sauce, Korean chili paste and soy sauce in a bowl.

Place the vegetable oil in a pan or wok, over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the rice and kimchi. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the sauce, bean sprouts and kale, stir-fry it for about 3 minutes.  Then add the edamame and mix well.

Serve it with a fried egg, radishes and some black sesame seeds.

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Boretti Valentine’s Lunch

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Last Friday I was invited to a Valentine’s day lunch at the Boretti showroom. I was very excited to go considering my kitchen is practically my office. And since we recently bought an apartment here in Amsterdam but we won’t receive it till June, we are busy looking and planning how we are going to remodel it and fill it up. As it was for Valentine’s, I could bring my husband. We arrived at the showroom which was not far from Amsterdam and I immediately felt like a kid in a candy shop. While I was going gaga over the kitchen stoves, ovens and fridges; my hubby was going gaga over the BBQs.

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The lunch was divided into two groups, one group helped make the appetizers while the other was given a tour of the showroom. We were the first group to be given the tour. Boretti is known for their kitchen stoves which come in a gorgeous range of colors and styles. Lately their BBQs have become quite popular. They are big, American style BBQs. One even comes with a mini fridge. A dream for anyone who likes to cook outdoors. They also make coffee machines, induction cooktops which are getting more popular nowadays and wine coolers. They also produce the M-system line which is more affordable and is produced in the same factory. After buying a Boretti product you can visit this showroom where they can provide you with extra information or instructions on how to use and take care of your product.

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After the tour was done, it was our turn to help prepare the next course. Chef Ben Van Beurten made some delicious pasta and salmon. He was telling us how his preference for cooking goes to the induction cooktops because it’s faster to cook with them and it’s easier to control the heat. After we ate, we learned a bit about latte art. This is something we were very excited about since we’ve been trying it at home with no luck. We actually made hearts and we were quite proud of ourselves. At home however is another story, we just need to practice more.

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Boretti

De Dollard 17, Watergang

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Greenwoods

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Greenwoods is a very popular brunch restaurant located at the Keizersgracht canal. It has a great location (close to Leiseplein) and it is very accessible by tram. And when I mean popular, I mean try to make a reservation if you don’t want to wait in line. It´s a great spot to eat and catch some rays in the summer too, as they have tables outside along the canal.

A couple of people on Instagram actually recommended me this place some months ago and today I finally went there for lunch along with my husband.

I had been craving steak for a while and I was very happy to find a steak sandwich on their menu. My hubby went for the open faced club sandwich on soda bread as recommended by our waitress. Both came with French fries and aioli. As we were cozy inside waiting for our order to arrive, I saw the lovely Eliane from InstagramBlogger.nl having lunch with her family. You can get a feel of how it is to live in Amsterdam by checking out her Instagram account here.

And then our order arrived, I loved my steak sandwich. It was perfectly cooked, very tender and juicy inside. The portions are big so you won´t go home hungry. I couldn’t end lunch without satisfying my sweet tooth. I saw a picture of a pretty looking cake on the Dutch girls on the blog Instagram account so I had to order it. It’s called chocolate glory, and it is filled with white chocolate ganache and topped with dark chocolate buttercream icing. Rich chocolate goodness!

Greenwoods

Keizersgracht 465, Amsterdam

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Kale, Gorgonzola, Butternut squash, Apple & Strawberry Salad with Date Vinaigrette

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A simple warm salad for these colder months. I love the sweetness that the dates give to the dressing, to add some more flavor I added a shot of port. It’s important to really massage the kale with the vinaigrette to make it softer and for the dressing to really get through.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the salad:        

200grs of shredded kale

1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

1 small butternut squash, chopped into small cubes

200grs of gorgonzola, crumbled

6 large strawberries, cut into small cubes

3 tablespoons of olive oil, to cook the butternut squash

Salt

Pepper

For the date vinaigrette:

1 small white onion, chopped very fine

5 tablespoons of olive oil

8 small dates, chopped very fine

1 shot of port

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of honey

Salt

Pepper

 

To make the vinaigrette, place the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, dates, salt and pepper. Lower the heat to low and cook for about 6 minutes, while stirring. Then add the shot of port and cook for about 2 minutes, to let the alcohol evaporate. Turn off the heat and transfer it to a jar with a lid. Add the vinegar and honey. Close the jar and shake it to emulsify the vinaigrette. Taste for salt and pepper.

Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the chopped butternut squash, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring from time to time until it is cooked through. Set it aside.

Place the shredded kale in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and massage the kale with your hands. This will allow the dressing to really get in.

Divide the kale among 3 plates. Then add the butternut squash, strawberries, gorgonzola and apple. Enjoy!

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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!

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