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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Cauliflower Celeriac Soup with Savory Granola & Crispy Kale (Vegan)

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I had been wanting to try nutritional yeast for a while now. I found it at Eko Plaza and it is called Edelgistvlokken in Dutch. If you have never heard of it, it has a nutty and cheesy flavor and you can sprinkle it over food as if it was parmesan cheese. It is high in protein and a good source of B vitamins. I first tried it on popcorn and really enjoyed it. And the savory granola I made with it is quite addictive. You can eat it as a snack but this time I decided to serve it over soup. It adds a nice crunch to it.

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This recipe makes 2 large bowls.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

½ cauliflower, chopped

1 celeriac, peeled and sliced into chunks

1 ½ liters of vegetable stock

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of celery salt

For the savory granola:

½ cup of oatmeal

½ cup of nutritional yeast (Edelgistvlokken in Dutch)

¼ cup buckwheat

1 teaspoon of sumac

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of onion powder

¼ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds

For the crispy kale:

1 cup of shredded kale

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of lemon pepper

Pinch of salt

 

 

To make the granola, preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Mix all of the ingredients for the granola in a bowl and then spread it over the prepared baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring half way through. Then allow it to cool down. Leave the oven on to bake the kale.

To make the crispy kale, mix the kale with the olive oil, lemon pepper and salt. Spread the kale in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes until the kale becomes crispy (the time will depend on your oven, so check from time to time so it doesn’t burn).

For the soup, place the chopped cauliflower, celeriac, vegetable stock, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt in a medium saucepan. Let it simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat. Then blend it until smooth. Taste for salt.

Serve the soup with some of the savory granola and crispy kale. Enjoy!

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Beer Cheese Fondue

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I have not been shy about my love for cheese. If you look at my Instagram account, you can see that I cannot go too long without it.  But it is only since I moved to the Netherlands, that I started to make cheese fondue. Not being a cold weather person, cheese fondue is something I do look forward to in the winter. I finally got a Fondue set which means I can finally serve it properly. This Fondue Set Pro is by the Dutch brand Boska. It specializes in everything to serve cheese. I’ve been using their cheese boards since last year and I really love their products. They are aesthetically pleasing and functional. And of course, not just for cheese. This fondue set comes with a 1 litter pot made out of cast iron and a stove with a burner which helps keep the cheese warm. It is very easy to clean. As it is cast iron, I just used very hot water to rinse it off. The cheese just came off without any effort. You can make enough cheese fondue in this pan for 6 people as an appetizer. But if you are having it as dinner like we did, it serves about 4 people.  You can see the fondue set pro by clicking here.

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Back to the cheese fondue, I went for a more German approach here by adding beer. Since we are in the Netherlands I also used a young Gouda, which adds more flavor since Emmental is pretty bland. Once ingredient that you might find uncommon here is the use of lemon juice, I read here that it helps with the stability of the cheese, and it actually goes well with the cheese.

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With the dippers, you can be creative. This time I served it with a baguette, homemade soft pretzels, endive leaves (which I really enjoyed), sautéed asparagus and Brussels sprouts, Thinly sliced black radishes and pear. But you can also add some meat like sliced sausages if you like.

This recipe serves 4 as a main course.

Ingredients:

For the fondue:

350grs of Emmental, grated

170grs of Gruyere, grated

250grs of Young Gouda, grated

330mil of Pilsner beer, plus a bit more to loosen up the fondue if needed (I used Flensburger beer)

1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch

Juice of ½ a lemon

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of white pepper

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon of mustard (optional)

1 clove of garlic, cut in half

For the dippers:

A baguette, sliced into cubes

Soft pretzels, you can find the recipe by clicking here.

Sautéed asparagus

Endive leaves

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Pear, sliced

Black radish, thinly sliced

 

 

Before you start making the fondue, start prepping all your dippers.

To make the fondue, shred the cheeses and mix them with the cornstarch.

Rub the garlic clove all over the inside of a medium saucepan. Then add the beer and let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Then add 1 handful of the grated cheese and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese has completely melted. Then add another handful of cheese and continue stirring. Repeat until you are done with the grated cheese. Then add the lemon juice and spices to taste.

I really enjoyed this cheese fondue with mustard. Since I only had whole grain mustard and for the pictures I wanted the cheese to be completely smooth, I only added it after taking the pictures.

If the cheese gets too thick, you can always add a bit more beer at a time to loosen it up a bit.

Transfer the fondue to a preheated fondue pan and enjoy.

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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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Hendrick’s Glühwein

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Christmas markets are now everywhere around the city and they usually have at least one stand selling mulled wine. The lovely smell of spices always draws me in, but I prefer to make it at home since it’s so easy to make and you can adjust it to your liking. This time I added a shot of gin per serving to kick it up a notch. A good way to keep warm if you ask me.

This recipe makes 5 servings.

Ingredients:

75cl of red wine

2 cups of apple-elderberry juice

2 star anise

3 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, thinly sliced

1/3 cup of sugar

Juice of 1 mandarin

Juice of ½ a grapefruit

5 shots of Hendrick’s Gin

Extras for serving:

Cinnamon sticks

Star anise

Candied orange slices

 

Place all of the ingredients except for the gin in a medium saucepan. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Then divide it among 5 glasses and pour a shot of gin into each one. You can decorate each glass with a cinnamon stick, a star anise and a candied orange slice.

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Speculoos (Cookie Butter) & Pear Buns

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Speculoos is a spiced cookie that it is usually eaten around December here. It is delicious and luckily it also comes in butter form. I really felt like baking last week so I thought of making a different version of the traditional Swedish buns. So I just filled these with cookie butter, pears and then sprinkled some pistachios on top. A delicious fall/winter treat!

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This recipe makes 24 small buns.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 ½ cups of All-purpose flour

7gr dry yeast

½ cup of warm water

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg

For the filling:

10 tablespoons of speculoos

3 pears, grated & squeezed (use the ones that are better for cooking like Bosc)

For the egg wash:

2 eggs

2 tablespoon of water

Extras:

1/3 cup of chopped pistachios

 

Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Place the remaining ingredients for the dough in the bowl with the yeast.

Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also knead it by hand.

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 it with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Once the hour has passed, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap, enough to cover the baking tray and brush it with vegetable oil to prevent it from sticking to the buns later on.

Place the dough in your lightly floured working area. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.

Microwave the Speculoos for 30 seconds so it is easier to spread. Have the grated and squeezed pears ready.

Roll out one piece into a rectangle of about 30x23cm. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut out the uneven edges.

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Spread evenly half of the cookie butter all over the dough, you can leave a little space on the edges. Sprinkle half of the grated pears.

Grab the top 2 edges of the dough and fold it towards you. Roll it a bit with the rolling pin just to seal it. Then slice it into 12 pieces. Grab one piece and twist it. Then wrap it around your finger making two rounds and then make a knot, tucking one end through the middle. Don’t worry if they are not perfect. They will look better once baked. Repeat for the remaining pieces and the other half of the dough.

Place the buns on the prepared baking tray, bush them with some egg wash (then keep the egg wash in the fridge because you are going to use it again). Cover the buns with the previously oiled piece of plastic wrap.

Let them rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  About 15 minutes before the time is up, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, remove the plastic wrap and brush them again with the egg wash. Sprinkle some pistachios on top of each bun. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

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