January 25, 2015

it's all about beetroot: dips and crisps, juice and salads and much more

Winter months like January and February are the worst, it's grey, cold, damp and dark - I need food to cheer me up! 
I had some beetroot that appeared in my shopping bag and here is what i came up with: beetroot and peer dip with beetroot crisps.
Beetroot is so versatile: love it in salads, click here for recipe. Love it in juice with apple and ginger, and great in soup with bacon.
I also cured salmon with a beetroot marinade , recipe here

For the dip:
need: 3 small cooked beetroots, 1 very ripe peer, salt, chilli flakes, pepper
1. in a food processor / blender add the beetroot and peer, with the spices and blend till smooth. 
2. taste and adjust seasoning and serve.

For the crisps:
need: 1 large beetroot, salt crystals
1. slice with a mandolin thin beetroot slices. Damp them off with kitchen paper. add to baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil.
2. bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 15 minutes, keep an eye on them as depending on the size they may be done earlier.
3. toss in a paper bag with the salt and serve.

January 22, 2015

Favourite food moments of 2014

Moet's pink dinner in Brussels

Eton Mess at La Mercerie in Brussels

that amazing Florentine steak in Florence

so FAB Vitello tonnato at Ten Bogaerde in Koksijde, Belgium

sauce cooking class at mmmmh! Brussels

white peach Belinni at Granger in London

delish venison at Menus by Pierre Gagnaire in Moscow

Squid ink pasta at Bondi Beach in Sydney

January 18, 2015

Dinner with friends at home: beetroot-cured salmon, pheasant with kale and saltcrust-baked pineapple

I used to think when I entertained at home, as it is a lot of work, I might as well do it for 8 people only a few times a year. Well, I have since changed my mind and i rather have more friends over or friends in smaller numbers. So either bigger or smaller. The middle zone is not that attractive anymore: a lot of work, you never really sit and enjoy the dinner and you never get to talk to the guests. 
When I have table of 4 or less than i am not soo stressed in the kitchen,  i can hear what is talked about and participate while i plate up and bonus ... less dishes to wash after! 
When i want to invite a bunch of people than i rather do a buffet style walking dinner, where everything is on the table and just help yourself. Sit, stand, walk, talk, whatever you want; just mingle while you eat and drink. What a great concept! 

So here my first dinner at home of 2015. 

To compose my menu i also find inspiration in either one of my foodie magazines or an ingredient i crave or a food show on TV. This menu was a combo of all 3: i wanted to have pheasant one last time before the seasons ends and cook it at home ( sorry no pic). I was inspired by Gordon Ramsay's "cooking at home" reruns on TV and wanted to try his beetroot-cured salmon and while looking up the recipe online, i saw his saltcrust-baked pineapple.. et voila , my menu was born.
Drinks and pesto

I am a big fan of wine bars that serve little bites to eat as well. You select whatever you fancy to go with your wine: charcuterie, cheese, houmous, pesto, dips,... 
So i recreated that winebar-feeling at home. I made a carrot pesto served with a feta cream. I served some comte cheese, fuet saucisson and bread. Plated it up on a nice wooden cutting board. I served  champagne Veuve Clicquot Rose as aperitif. 

for the carrot pesto
need: 4 fresh carrots, 3 baie leaves, 1 teasp grated horseradish, 1teasp ginger powder, 1 teasp of cumin, 1/2 cup of fresh cut carrot top greens or parsley, lemon vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil
1. clean, cut and boil the carrot with baie leave in salted water till cooked but still crunchy. Drain and cool down with a good rinsing with cold water.
2. in a food processor/blender add to the carrots, horseradish, ginger, cumin, cut greens, and a bit of olive oil. Blend well, and to taste add vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend till a smooth mixture, olive oil can be added to make it more runnier.
3.  store in a closed container in the fridge until about 30 minutes before serving. serve with bread, on pasta or with meat.

for the feta cream: i simply blended feta cheese in a food processor/blender with a bit of milk (or cream). I didn't season the cheese as my pesto was very powerful.

Starter of beet-root cured salmon:
preparation time: 24 hours
need: 3 to 4 grated raw beetroot, 1 cup of kitchen salt, 1 cup of sugar, 3 teasp of grated horseradish, 1 cup of dill, 1 piece of super fresh salmon
1. combine the beetroot, sugar, salt, dill and horseradish in a bowl and mix well. 
2. place your salmon on top of cling fill, skin down in a baking dish. top the salmon with the mixture, about 2 cm tick layer covering the entire fish, pack it in tight with clingfilm. and add some weight on top of the fish, i used a heavy cast iron pot. refrigerate and let marinate for 24 hours.
3. remove from fridge and discard the marinade, rinse the fish under fresh water and slice very tinly. serve with a green salad and a separate dressing of olive oil, salt, dill and lemon juice.

Main of pheasant and kale with a mustard cream sauce
need: whole pheasant, a few knobs of butter, olive oil, large bowl of washed cut up kale, 2 teasp of hot mustard, 100ml cream, 500ml game or chicken stock, 2x2 diced shallots 
1. brown the pheasant on all sides in cast iron pan with butter and olive oil and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 45 minutes depending on size of the bird, check with your supplier what cooking time he recommends. 
2. In frying pan, sweet the shallots in butter and olive oil, add kale, season with salt and pepper and cover till the kale is cooked.
In sauce pan, sweet some shallots in olive oil and butter, add stock and let reduce by 1/3. 
3. Always remove the bird from the oven about 10 minutes before end of cooking time and cover, leave rest for 15 minute before carving. I check with a meat thermometer the degrees in the bird, once just over 80C i remove it from the oven and cover it.
Add cream and mustard to the reduced stock and heat without boiling. strain the sauce and season to taste. 
4. serve a leg of pheasant with 1/2 a breast per person, layer kale and add sauce. serve on heated plates to keep warm.

Dessert saltcrust-baked pineapple and passion fruit with ricotta and basil

need: 1 small ripe pineapple, 1kg of corse salt, 2 egg whites, 1 table spoon of cumin and 1 table spoon of cinnamon, 6 cloves, bunch of basil leaves and ricotta cheese (1 table spoon per person), optional granola 
1. prick at random the gloves into the pineapple skin, in a bowl mix the salt and spices and add a little eggwhite. Check if the mixture holds together in your hand, it is important not to get the mixture to wet or it won't hold.
2. take a baking dish and lay a 1 layer of salt mixture on the bottom the length of the pineapple. Unless you 've a very little pineapple that can stand up straight easily, than you can pack the salt around it standing up. Mine was longer so i layed it down. Pack the salt around the pineapple. 
3. bake in a pre-heated oven at 150C for about 20 minutes. the spices will fill up the smell of the kitchen gorgeously. Chop the basil leaves and add to the ricotta.
4. remove from oven and crack the salt-crust open, rinse the pineapple under fresh water and cut length wise in 4. serve with the ricotta and basil, drizzle the passion fruit juice over it. and sprinkle some granola for crunch over the ricotta.

wines i served

January 9, 2015

fighting a cold again: chicken soup and lemon-honey tea

It's that time of year where I always seem to fight a cold and crave my chicken soup (read recipe here) and lemon honey tea (recipe here). This time i used purple carrots which gave the broth a deep purple colour.

Halleluja, i feel much better already...

January 6, 2015

Epiphany tea celebration at home: a golden crown and duck sandwiches

my new gold tea pot and the FAB wallpaper: Tenue de Ville - Palma
On the 6th of January we celebrate Epiphany by eating an traditional almond cake with a hidden bean ( now one of 3 Kings in plastic) . If you find it in your slice you are Queen or King for the day and you should keep the bean near your wallet for good luck! Commonly referred to as the 3 wise men or 3 kings that visited Jesus of Nazareth; kids used to dress up and go door to door and I think get candy, can’t quite recall. These days I don’t know if many kids still dress up, but for sure we eat cake!

As savoury treat I served an open sandwich of duck, salad leaves and pickles from Tierenteyn in Ghent on pumpernickel bread.

... unfortunately i didn't get the bean in my slice of cake.

(I did in another cake celebration, so I am all set for 2015!)