August 24, 2014

in season now - figs and hazelnuts

The market this weekend had some freshTurkish, Spanish and Sicilian figs (not quite figs) so before the summer fruit season finishes one more sweet treat. My favourite : figs

Love using them in savory and sweet dishes. They are great for jam and chutney as well. I made 2 different delicious figs, feta and flowers salads and warm honey figs with ricotta. Easy no cook instant salads by combining figs with feta, nuts and a dressing. Herbs and flowers will make it pop, dainty and salivating.

I added some fresh hazelnuts, they give that green nutty taste that’s why I prefer fresh versus dried, it gave the salads a nice crunch. and they are bang in season too.

The dressing I used on the salads was equal parts of guava syrup, lemon vinegar and a mild olive oil with a twist of pepper and salt. 

The flowers and herbs are from my garden: lemon geraniums for the warm figs and lavender, borage, oregano flowers, capucine flowers and few lemon verbena leaves.

I warmed the figs with honey in the pan and added a few lemon germanium leaves for taste. I added the warm figs to ricotta. Add granola and serve for breakfast.

August 17, 2014

home made granola

I LOVE granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit as breakfast, it's easy and delish. But it can be good for you if you make it yourself, so i tried and there is nothing easier, believe me. Well i did burn the 1st batch and added goji berries before baking and got those burned so i learned how NOT to make it. I tried several recipes and some made it to oily, some to bland, some to sweet, some too many nuts. So here is the way i like it, what you think?

need: 100 gr of oats, 50 gr of quinoa flakes, 25 gr sunflower seeds, 25 gr flaxseed, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 40 gr of agave sirup and 20 gr of sunflower oil, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of almond powder.
go: mix the oats, seeds and cinnamon in a bowl. in a separate bowl mix the sirup and oil and pour over the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till all is coated. preheat the oven at 175C and spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. bake for 10 minutes. keep an eye on it and remove when golden brown, remove sprinkle the almond powder and the salt, mix with wooden spoon and let cool, store in a jar when cooled.
tip: once cooled you can add dried fruit such as raisins, goji berries or dried apple, any dried fruit really.  

August 11, 2014

Koksijde - Restaurant Ten Bogaerde: 3 great lunches

How lucky am i to spend my summer holidays at the Belgian coast, Oostduinkerke. And not only once nor twice but 3 times ate at 1 Michelin star restaurant "Ten Bogaerde" - what a great holiday!

vitello tonato, mackerel w clams and white chocolate mousse w berries

The Chef's lunch menu really shows what he can do with fresh market products and the result is always different ever so light and ever so delish. My mum and i remarked: "never is it less good, it is always excellent! it never disappoints". His dishes are colourful, dainty, enticing and precious. Each dish has depth in flavour and excels in marriage of textures. The dish that stood out was the vitello tonato as not only is it my favourite Italian dish but he brought it so fresh with a pickle sorbet and crunchy potato wafer, so i had it twice.
You can choose from the extensive wine list your choice of beverage or have the good humoured sommelier bring you a glass of what he recommends for lunch. We tried their suggested champagne to start, a "blanc de noirs" a 100% pure Pinot Noir, what a threat, so much so we had several glasses to be sure we liked it.
Of course sitting in the garden is bliss, although near the North Sea, this old abbey is located inland but with glorious views over the fields. On the way out you pass the vegetable patch of the Chef and i can never resist to feel up the thyme.

home smoked Scottish salmon, Belgian pork w taboule and summer fruit w champagne ice
I went back with friends and had again the vitello tonato.The main course was pasta with pig cheeks although topped and stuffed with goat cheese (not my favourite) it was light and scrumptious. Goes to show that it is all in how you use a product.

main: goat cheese pasta w pig cheeks - starter: vitello tonato - sweets: coconut cracker, boule de Berlin, pear financier

August 4, 2014

a new kitchen gadget and another summer dinner in the garden

Is it just me or are we having more summer nights in the garden than last year? The inspiration today was a new kitchen gadget and more eatable flowers popping up in the garden. 

I am not a gadget person, nor with electronics nor in the kitchen. Seriously, apart from a mini food processor, i use none. I think it is much faster to use a knife to cut anything up. But making vegetable spaghetti, one of those new trends, is not easy without the right machine so here is my veggie pencil sharpener. To be honest i found it hard to use and not that great a result, so am not that convinced. 

As i had a busy spring work schedule i could not commit to vegetables sowing, so i went with easy option of just sowing flowers: eatable and field flowers. And, i truly love the result, feels like i ve more bang for my buck than the few radish, beets and carrots of last year. I think i will repeat this next year but expand my eatable flowers range. I still ve tomatoes but only because my mom nursed them all spring.

Cocktail: Recently a new wine store opened i my hood, "Vinum" specialized in wines from the Alsace region so i went for a fab Crémant d'Alsace "Muré". To follow the flower theme, i added a candied flower: rose or violet. It turned the bubbly all pink or violet and a tad sweeter.

Quinoa with smoked Belgian trout, summer veg, fruit, herbs and flowers
Need: 1/4 quinoa boiled with some stock, cut up watermelon, tomatoes (i chose yellow), cucumber (peeled and deseeded), pomegranate seeds, fried red onion, spaghetti of carrots, fresh herbs ( mint, marjoram, verbena, lemon geranium), flowers (lavender, borache, cappuccine), smoked trout, almonds diced.
Go: just layer all ingredients, add the herbs and flowers at the end and season, drizzle olive oil and lemon vinegar 

July 24, 2014

tomatoes tart, feta salad and rose water cream with berries

More recipes from my summer dinners:

What is more easier and satisfying than a homemade tomato tart.
need: puff pastry ( i use shop bought), several different type or  coloured tomatoes,  1 red onion 1 table spoon of mustard,1/2 cup of feta cheese, fresh thyme and chilli flakes
go: slice tomatoes and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C degrees till soft, blind cook the puff pastry. when cooled, spread mustard, layer tomatoes, onion and feta, add chilli, thyme and season with salt and pepper as preferred.
serve: add a few fresh tomato slices and cook for 10 minutes in hot oven to finish cooking and serve.

Such a pretty and tasty salad.
need: blanched beans, sliced cucumber, handfull of salad de ble, pomegranate seeds, feta, lemon verbena leaves, lavender and cappuccine flower
go: toss it all together and dress with the flowers at the end.
serve: provide olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to your guests so they can season as they prefer.

and what a treat summer berries...
need: puff pastry ( i use shop bought), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cream, 1 table spoon rose water, lemon geranium leaves
go: bake the puff pastry weighed down to keep flat ( i baked it in between 2 baking sheets), whip the cream and rosewater with a little sugar, clean the berries. 
serve: once cooked and puff pastry is cool, layer the cream and the fruit, add the geranium leaves