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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Korean-Style Pork Meatballs with Stir-fried Noodles

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This is an Asian version of spaghetti and meatballs. Juicy meatballs are coated in a sauce made with Korean chili paste, grated pear and other Asian ingredients. Because of the thick sauce for the meatballs, I kept the stir-fried noodles very simple.

This recipe makes about 19 meatballs and serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

500gr of minced pork

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

¾ cup of panko

Salt

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

For the Korean-style sauce:

1 tablespoon of Korean chili paste (Gochujang)

1 pear, peeled & shredded

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of hoisin

Juice of ½ a lime

Pinch of salt

For the stir-fried noodles:

200gr of noodles of your choice (I used glass noodles)

3 ½ tablespoons of oyster sauce

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of sesame oil

1 spring onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of ginger syrup (if you can’t find it, you can use some minced ginger and some honey, or make a simple syrup infused with fresh ginger)

Extras:

Chopped chives

Sesame seeds

 

Start by making the meatballs. In a bowl, mix the minced pork with the spring onion, ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, sesame oil, panko and salt. Then using your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs. This will make about 19 meatballs; just don’t make them too big otherwise they will take longer to cook.

Place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, brown the meatballs. Try to brown them evenly.  Then transfer them to a plate and set them aside. Don’t clean the pan.

Blend all of the ingredients for the Korean-style sauce until smooth. Pour the sauce in the same pan where you browned the meatballs over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring carefully so each meatball is evenly coated in the sauce.

Cook the noodles as instructed on the package. Heat up a pan or wok over medium heat. Once it is hot add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, spring onion and ginger syrup. Stir to mix it and then add the noodles. Stir-fry it for 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide the noodles among 3 plates. Then add the meatballs and the sauce. Finish it with some chopped chives and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Thai Red Curry with Shrimp & Sugar Snaps Peas

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This flavorsome meal with store bought curry is perfect for a weeknight. Easy and ready in under 30 minutes. I added sugar snap peas to have an extra crunchy texture in the curry.

This recipe serves 3 small bowls or 2 large ones.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons of minced ginger

1 lemongrass, (white part only) finely chopped

50grs of red curry paste

1 ½ teaspoons of brown sugar or palm sugar

2 tablespoons of fish sauce

600ml of coconut milk

1 sweet pepper, finely chopped

250grs of shrimp, cleaned and deveined

Juice of ½ a lime

For the sugar snaps:

150grs of sugar snaps

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Salt

Extras:

Cooked white rice

Coriander leaves

Lime wedges

 

Pour one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sugar snap peas and cook them for about 1 minute, while stirring. Add salt and set them aside.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Cook for about 1 minute until it becomes fragrant. Then add the sugar, curry paste and fish sauce. Cook for another minute while stirring. Then add the coconut milk, mix it well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat until it thickens.

Then add the sweet peppers and shrimps. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. This will take about 3 to5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the sugar snap peas and the juice of half a lime. Mix well.

Serve with white rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges.

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash

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This is a vegetarian take on the traditional Shepherd’s pie. Still hearty and comforting, but a bit lighter. The addition of smoked paprika and port to the lentils gives it another depth of flavor. The cauliflower mash is soft, creamy and cheesy.

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

For the lentil stew:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 bell peppers, finely chopped

1 leek, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 ½ cups of beluga lentils

1 shot of port

1 cup of tomato puree

1 liter of vegetable stock

¾ teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 tablespoon of sumac

11/2 teaspoon of celery salt

Salt to taste

For the cauliflower mash:

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into chunks

½ cup of cream

½ teaspoon of onion powder

1 cup of shredded Gouda cheese

Salt to taste

Extra:

40grs of grated Parmesan

Chives for decoration (optional)

 

Start by making the lentil stew. Place the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and leek. Cook while stirring for about 6 minutes. Then add the garlic, bell peppers and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring. Add the smoked paprika, sumac, celery salt and some salt.

Then add the lentils, port and tomato puree. Stir for about one minute and then add the stock. Let it cook for about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time. It’s done when the lentils are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. Adjust the salt and spices to your liking.

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Boil the cauliflower until tender, about 8 minutes. Then drain it.

Blend (or use a food processor) the cauliflower with the cream, onion powder and salt. Once you have a creamy mash, add the shredded Gouda and mix until it is well combined. Taste for salt.

Place the lentil stew in an oven-proof dish and spread the cauliflower mash evenly over it. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Place it in the oven for about 40 minutes until the top is golden. Sprinkle with some chives and enjoy!

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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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Miso Roasted Eggplant Gyoza

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I can’t go too long without having some dumplings. I mixed a finely chopped eggplant with miso sauce and used it as the filling. Very simple but packed with flavor. I normally let them steam but this time I pan-fried them. They are crispy little delights.

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This recipe makes about 30 gyoza.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, chopped into very small cubes

About 30 gyoza wrappers, defrosted

For the miso sauce:

1 tablespoon of aka miso

1 teaspoon of honey

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

1 tablespoon of ginger syrup

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

For the dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger

3 tablespoons of chopped chives

Juice of 1 lime

1 bird’s eye chili, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1/3 cup of soy sauce

Extra:

Vegetable oil for pan–frying the gyoza

 

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

To make the dipping sauce, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set it aside.

Thinly slice the eggplant and then chop it into very small cubes.Since the wrappers are quite small, you want the eggplant chopped as finely as possible.

Place all of the ingredients for the miso sauce in a large bowl and whisk until everything is well combined. Add the eggplant and mix well.  Spread it evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast it for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Then allow it to cool down.

Once the eggplant has cooled down, start to assemble the gyoza. Place about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper, brush the edges of the wrapper with some water and then fold it into a half moon shape. Starting at one end, fold/pinch the wrapper tightly together. Keep going until it is completely sealed, trying to get rid of any air bubbles. Repeat for all.

Once the gyoza are ready, pour about 1 cup of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the gyoza in batches until golden on both sides. This will only take a few minutes and since the filling is already cooked, it goes quite fast. Place the gyoza on a plate lined with parchment paper to absorb any excess oil.

Serve them right away with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

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BBQ Kimchi Baked Wings with Wasabi Peanuts

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Yes, I know I am on a kimchi phase. I think I’m trying to make up for all the years that it was missing from the life. This dish is inspired by my friend Chi from Pocha Factory. She made the most delicious Asian Inspired burger for the Final Burger Battle which took place last year, and which she won. Besides the kimchi and her secret sauce, she added chopped wasabi peanuts to her burger. This added a nice extra crunch and spiciness that went very well with the meat.

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This serves 3-4 people.

Ingredients:

800grs of chicken wings

For the sauce:

½ cup of BBQ sauce

½ cup of kimchi

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons of ginger syrup

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon of salt

Juice of ½ a lime

1 tablespoon of honey

Extra:

½ cup of wasabi peanuts, chopped

3 tablespoons of chopped chives

 

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

Blend all of the ingredients for the sauce until smooth. Taste it and adjust the salt to your liking. Pour the sauce into a large bowl and add the chicken wings. Toss to coat them well.

Spread the wings on a single layer over the prepared baking sheet.

Bake them for 1 hour until the wings are caramelized.

Sprinkle the chopped wasabi peanuts and chives over the wings. 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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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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Taiko – Conservatorium Hotel

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I had heard a lot of good things about Taiko and I had seen many pictures of their very carefully plated dishes passing by on my Instagram, so I was really looking forward to give it a try. Taiko is the Asian-inspired restaurant of the Conservatorium hotel and it is run by Chef Schilo Van Coevorden. My husband and I went there to try their Valentine’s Day lunch. We were welcomed with champagne and oysters served with kimchi, a wonderful way to start our meal. Our first course was an Atlantic lobster, served 3 ways. In sashimi, in a sushi roll with caviar & 24 carat gold, and in a salad. A very fancy and delicate course.

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It was followed by hand dived scallops; wrapped in kataifi pastry, stuffed in a gyoza & served with a kimchi puree, and in siu mai with yuzu foam.

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After that came the black cod; which was marinated for 24 hours in miso and served with a sea salad. A caramelized lovely piece of fish.

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We were really looking forward to their Wagyu beef course and it didn’t disappoint. Thinly sliced and melt in your mouth pieces with BBQ sauce, in a very mild and flavorsome red curry and cooked in a broth and served with black truffles.

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And then it was time for the sweet course. Their rose garden was a dessert fit for the occasion, a white chocolate/raspberry mousse with almond biscuit, yuzu cream and champagne sorbet.

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Next came the dessert that was making everyone else turn to your table as it was brought to you. A chocolate cigar brought to the table covered in a cloche which had been filled with shisha smoke. And for the ladies, an edible ring. A beautifully decorated and bubblegum flavored pâte de fruit.

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Overall it was an exquisitely crafted menu and great dining experience.

 

Taiko, at the Conservatorium hotel

Van Baerlestraat 27, Amsterdam

 

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