Tamarind Roasted Aubergine

I love how versatile aubergines are, and how they don’t have to be just a side dish. In this recipe, they are the stars. I like to eat these over a bed of rice and snow peas sauteed in sesame oil. They add some crunch and I love their flavor too. Since the past year, I’ve been kind of obsessed with tamarind. And it goes so well with the aubergine. It adds a bit of sourness which is then balanced out with the brown sugar and honey.

This recipe is for 4 small aubergines.

Ingredients:

4 small aubergines

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon of finely chopped red chili, you can add more if you like it spicy

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 tablespoons of tamarind paste

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of honey

3 tablespoons of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

Extras:

Chopped chives

Fried onions (store-bought)

Chili flakes

 

Preheat your oven to 200C/390F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Slice each aubergine in half, lengthwise. Then grab a sharp paring knife and make long cuts down the length of the aubergine without slicing through the skin. Repeat with perpendicular cuts to form cubes. It’s the same way that you would slice a mango. If you need visuals on how to do it, check out these instructions with pictures from the kitchn. Do this for all the aubergines.

To make the sauce, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Then place the aubergines in the prepared baking dish, skin side down. Brush generously with the sauce. Make sure it gets in between the cuts. Roast them for 40 minutes.

You will probably have a little bit of sauce left. Once the 40 minutes are done, I like to brush them with the little bit of sauce that was left over. Then broil it in the oven for 5 minutes, so that the top caramelizes a bit.

Remove the aubergines from the oven. Serve them with a sprinkle of fried onions, chopped chives and chili flakes. I like to eat them with some rice and sautéed vegetables.

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.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Linguine with Pecan Crumbs

Processed with Snapseed.

Autumn has settled in and with it winter-like temperatures for me. So I turn to my trusted carbs to keep me cozy. The combination of roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions in the sauce, and the topping of toasted breadcrumbs with pecans and spices, make a wonderful combination of flavors. To save time, I bought the bell peppers already roasted.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the pecan crumbs:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ cup of pecans, finely chopped

1/3 cup of breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon of oregano

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of onion powder

Pinch of cayenne

Salt

Pepper

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 white onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon of celery salt

4 roasted bell peppers, peeled and deseeded

250ml of cream

40grs of grated Parmesan

Extras:

350grs of linguine or the pasta of your choice

Extra parmesan for serving

 

Start by making the pecan crumbs. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pecans, oregano, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Stir for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Transfer it to a bowl and set it aside.

For the sauce, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and lower the heat to low. Cook for about 16 minutes, stirring from time to time until the onions are caramelized. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the celery salt and roasted peppers. Blend until smooth.

Start cooking your pasta according to the package instructions.

Then add the cream and parmesan to the bell pepper sauce over medium heat. Let it reduce for about 3 minutes. Taste for salt and turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss or stir to coat the pasta.

Divide it into 3 plates and serve with the pecan breadcrumbs and extra parmesan

For more foodie inspiration, 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 my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

Oven Fries with Feta, Preserved Lemon & Oregano

Processed with Snapseed.

I am a sucker for fries. I wanted to try a new method for making them crispy. So the other night, I tried the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for oven fries. The result was super crispy fries with a bit less guilt since they are baked. Her trick is to boil the potatoes first and then roast them at a high temperature. Easy, peasy!

But I wanted to make something a bit different to top the fries. So, I sautéed fresh oregano, finely chopped preserved lemon, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Just for a bit until the oregano became aromatic. Then I mixed it with the crumbled feta. This turned out to be delicious! Not only on fries, but also on toast or crackers. So please give it a try!

This recipe serves 2.

For the fries:

½ kilo of potatoes (that will hold its shape like Russet), scrubbed and thinly sliced.

About ¼ cup of olive oil

Salt to taste

For the feta topping:

200gr of crumbled feta

1 preserved lemon, very finely chopped

Leaves of 4 fresh oregano stems, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

Cayenne to taste

A pinch of salt (optional, but not too much because the feta is already salty)

3 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley

 

Thinly slice the scrubbed potatoes, and boil about 2 litters of water.

Preheat your oven to 230C/450F.

Place the sliced potatoes in a large pot and add the boiling water. Let the potatoes boil for 7 minutes.

In the meanwhile, line your baking tray with aluminum foil and pour the ¼ cup of olive oil into the tray. Swirl it around so that all of the surface of the tray is coated with olive oil.

Place the tray in the oven to heat up.

Drain the potatoes. Then place them in a single layer on the hot baking tray. It is important that they are in a single layer. Don’t over-crowd them, otherwise they won’t get crispy. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Roast them for 20 minutes. Then toss them, and finish roasting them for an extra 10 minutes.

To make the feta topping, place two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the oregano, preserved lemon, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute while stirring. Then remove it from the heat and add it to the crumbled feta. Mix well. Taste for salt.

To serve, just top the fries with the flavored feta. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and enjoy!

For more foodie inspiration, 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 my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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.

IMG_4456

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!

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

Tamarind Roasted Chickpea Tacos with Apple & Cabbage Slaw

IMG_3036

It’s taco Tuesday again and I have a thing for vegetarian tacos. This time I made an apple and cabbage slaw with buttermilk dressing. And for protein, I made my tamarind roasted chickpeas again. It’s such a delicious combination. Tangy, sweet and spicy!

This recipe is for 12 small tacos.

Ingredients:

12 small tortillas

For the tamarind roasted chickpeas:

260grs of canned chickpeas, drained

2 tablespoons of tamarind paste

4 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of honey

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Pepper

Pinch of cayenne

For the Slaw:

4 cups of finely chopped cabbage

1 apple, shredded or julienned (I used Royal Gala)

For the slaw dressing:

1/3 cup of buttermilk

1 teaspoon of mustard

1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

¼ cup of Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of sugar

Celery salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

Pinch of chili flakes

Extras:

1 avocado, thinly sliced

Coriander leaves

Chili flakes to taste (optional)

1 chopped red chili (optional)

 

Start by roasting the chickpeas. Preheat your oven to 160C/320F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the tamarind paste, brown sugar, olive oil, honey, cayenne, salt and pepper. Then add the drained chickpeas and mix well. Spread the chickpeas on the prepared baking sheet. Roast them for 15 minutes. Then stir and increase the temperature to 180C/350F. Roast them for an extra 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and keep the chickpeas in the oven until ready to serve.

To make the slaw, whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. In another bowl, mix the cabbage with the apple. Then pour in the dressing and mix well. Let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Once the slaw has rested in the fridge and you are ready to serve, warm up the tortillas in a pan and remove the roasted chickpeas from the oven. Place some of the slaw on each tortilla. Add the roasted chickpeas, a few coriander leaves and avocado slices. Top with chili flakes and chopped red chili to taste. Enjoy!

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

Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Harissa Butter, Feta & Pomegranate

IMG_3936

This is a very easy to make side dish for the holidays. The harissa butter adds a bit of heat that goes well with the sweetness of the butternut squash.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, sliced in half

1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon of harissa or more to taste

2 tablespoons of Parmesan

2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Salt

Extras:

½ cup of pomegranate seeds

100grs of crumbled feta

Micro arugula for decoration

Handful of arugula

Olive oil

White vinegar

Salt

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200C/390F.

Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Add ½ cup of water and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake until very tender. Mine took about 1 hour but the time will depend on the size of your squash.

Once the butternut squash is tender, spoon out all of the flesh into a bowl but leave some attached to the edges of one half so that it holds its shape for the second bake.

Turn up the heat to 230C/440F.

Melt the butter in a pan with the harissa. Place the butternut squash flesh, harissa butter, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and salt in the food processor and pulse until smooth.

Stuff the reserved butternut half with the butternut puree. Place it on a oven tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.

To serve, mix the arugula with a splash of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place the butternut squash in the middle of a large plate. Place the arugula salad all around the squash. Top it with the crumbled feta, pomegranate and micro arugula. Serve right away.

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

Roasted Tomato Soup with Zoodles & Mozzarella

more light

It’s cold and wet today. It’s been raining nonstop since yesterday, so a warm soup was in order. I roasted the tomatoes, onion and garlic in the oven to add more flavor. This is the first time I made zoodles and I am a fan. Plus by adding them raw to the soup, they still keep a nice crunch.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

8 tomatoes, sliced in half

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic

1 ½ litters of vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

125ml of cream

1 zucchini

10 mini mozzarella balls

Pepper

Salt

 

Slice the tomatoes in half, place them in a baking tray skin side up. This will make peeling them later easier.

Add the onion (with the skin on) to the baking tray. Wrap the garlic cloves(with the skin on) in foil and drizzle some olive oil. Close the foil and place it on the same tray. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the tomatoes and onion. Roast them at 180C/350F for 1 hour.

Once the tomatoes are roasted, let them cool down enough to handle.

Then peel the tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves. Place them in a pan. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves. Let it cook for 20 minutes on medium heat.

Remove the bay leaves, and blend the soup. Pass it through a sieve and place it back in the pan. Add the cream and let it reduce for 15 minutes on medium heat.

To make the zoodles, I just used a mandoline with the julienne attachment. I stopped when I got to the core. You can also make them with a spiralizer or a potato peeler. If you use a potato peeler, just slice it into ribbons and then using a knife, cut it into julienne. Set aside.

FullSizeRender

Once the soup has reduced, taste it for salt. Divide the soup in between two bowls. Add a handful of the zoodles in the middle. I added them raw because they will end up cooking in the hot soup anyways. Add the mini mozzarella balls and sprinkle some pepper on top of the zoodles.

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

Beet tartare

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.

FullSizeRender (1)

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.

 

Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Sumac

IMG_4541

A while ago I was craving rotisserie chicken from Peru. It is one of those things you would often eat as a kid on a Sunday , when your parents didn’t feel like cooking. Either you would go out to eat it or have it delivered at home.  There is something about the combination of spices that they put on it that makes it so delicious.  Tender and juicy chicken with French fries and lots of chili sauce to dip them in, was the perfect Sunday meal. I even remember that while I lived in Maryland as a kid, my parents found a Peruvian rotisserie chicken place that was absolutely delicious. It tasted as good as back home.

I wanted to make something similar at home. I soaked the whole chicken overnight in buttermilk because it makes it more tender and juicier.  Then rub it with a lot of spices before roasting it in the oven. I added sumac to the rub because I love the lemony taste that it brings to the dish.

IMG_4660

This recipe is for a small 1 kilo chicken, perfect for a dinner for 2.

Ingredients:

1 kilo chicken

For the buttermilk marinade:

1 litter buttermilk

1 teaspoon of sumac

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

For the rub:

5 tablespoons of butter, softened

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

3 tablespoon of sumac

3 tablespoon of dried oregano

2 teaspoon of cumin

2 teaspoon of onion powder

2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Pinch of cayenne

Salt

 

The night before, whisk together all of the ingredients for the buttermilk marinade in a big bowl. Add the chicken and let it soak in the buttermilk mixture overnight in the fridge.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture. Discard of the liquid. Pat it dry with some paper towels.

Mix all of the ingredients for the rub in a bowl. Place about 1/3 of the rub in between the skin and the meat.  Place the other 3rd inside the cavity and then rub the remaining of the spices all over the skin of the chicken.

Place the chicken in an oven dish, breast side down. Roast for 40 minutes.

Then remove the chicken from the oven, turn the breast side up. Place it back in the oven and roast for an extra 10 minutes. Baste it with the juices every couple of minutes.  After the 10 minutes are up, check if the chicken is fully cooked. Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and breast, if the juices that come out are clear and not pink, the chicken is cooked. Otherwise leave it in the oven for a few more minutes and check again.

Once the chicken is out of the oven, cover it with some foil and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then cut it in half and serve with the side of your choice. I went for pan-roasted potatoes and asparagus.

Roasted Carrot & Leek Salad with Greek Yogurt & Gorgonzola Dressing

leek salad

I wanted to make a simple salad of roasted vegetables that would be great to accompany any meat or be eaten on its own.  I don’t use leek enough as a main ingredient and it is such a nice vegetable. Roasting the leeks makes them silky and tender. Once they are roasted and you separate all the layers, they look almost like pasta.  I decided to add rainbow carrots to make the salad pop and add a different texture.  I made the gorgonzola dressing with Greek yogurt to make it a bit lighter.  This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

8 medium carrots (I used purple & yellow)

5 medium leeks (not the hard green parts)

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Handful of pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or any other nuts/seeds that you may like

For the Dressing:

100gr of Gorgonzola

150gr of Greek yogurt

Juice of ½ a lime

½ teaspoon of mustard

Salt

Pepper

 

Peel and slice the carrots lengthwise. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place the carrots on the prepared baking tray, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add some salt.

Slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Clean them. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Arrange the leeks in a single layer. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add some salt. Cover the tray with aluminum foil. Seal it.

Roast the carrots and leeks in an 180C/350F oven for 30 minutes.

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

To serve the salad, first separate the layers of the leeks and arrange them on each plate. Add some of the carrots. Drizzle some of the dressing and finish with the seeds/nuts.