Category Archives: Food

Good Enough To Eat…

Mosaic sushi is the latest food art trend to take the internet by storm. Instagram users across the world are sharing their snapshots of this artistic culinary craze that sees pressed sushi squares organized into vibrant, tiled compositions. Various ingredients from cucumbers to corn comprise colorful displays of carefully-cut pieces, forming an entirely edible artwork.

The staple Japanese cuisine is made to look like ceramic titles, where perfectly cut sushi squares are organized by pattern, color and hue. Bright pink pieces of tuna are positioned alongside golden egg arrangements, forming a mosaic design that satisfies symmetrical aesthetics.

Or visit: Tastemade Japan

Hidden Gems

Amsterdam is a city full of hidden gems, some in plain sight (but overlooked) and others in places you don’t expect them. For IDAHOT (International Day against Homo-, Bisexual- and Trans phobia) we did a show at CMA on Paradijsplein. In the former meter-building of the Eastern Gas Works. Inside it looks like a bar / theater from the turn of the century, red velvet, ostrich feathers and ‘brocante’ which translates best to flea-market art. When I told the rest of the crew what the surrounding looked like, I said “its old trash but its got atmosphere.”
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If you’re looking for me, I’m not in the picture! These people are the ones that are important, my job is doing the design and styling of the flyers / posters and taking care of the mon€y that goes in and out. That was May 17.

Last night I went out to dinner with friends, our first stop was the Proeflokaal (Dutch for tasting tavern) of Wynand Fockink. Many Amsterdammers have never been there or know of its existence, and I like to keep it that way. It’s one of the gems of the city.

-slurping-tulip-glasYou will find the Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal and liquor store in the Pijlsteeg, an alley behind the National Monument on the Dam square in Amsterdam. In around 1679 Wynand Fockink started a liqueur distillery. Soon a Proeflokaal was added, where customers could taste and buy the products. To this day, this practice has continued; here liqueurs and genevers are still being made using the same 17th century traditional craft methods. Wynand Fockink produces more than 70 Dutch liqueurs and genevers which can be tasted in an authentic 17th century environment in the old time honoured way of bowing to the drink and slurping the first sip from a traditional tulip glass.

Knowing what we would have for dinner, cod, we had us poured a ‘Mykonos’, a shot of Angostura bitter, a shot of Singelburger bitter (with a hint of ginger in it) and to finish the drink off a shot of lemon liqueur. Then we made a bow to the drink and slurped the first sip. Why waste good stuff because the glasses are filled to the brim.

Afterwards we went to Casablanca, to stay in the theme of southern places. Casablanca is a small theater restaurant on Zeedijk, which I’ve passed many times but never went in. Until now.

The decor is circus, all around, posters, clothing, props and Corgy toys of circus cars and trucks from the fifties. We had a wonderful meal, a vegetable stracciatella soup*, cod and a sweet dish to finish it all of. If you’re wondering what stracciatella soup is, (I did too, thinking of ice-cream) it a very tasty aromatic vegetable broth with loads of fresh herbs, but minus the beaten egg. Try the Food network for a recipe.

After dinner we had a nightcap at ‘t Mandje, Amsterdam oldest Gay bar (since 1927) when sodomy was still a crime.

BOWI5739-3Okay, here’s a photo of me during IDAHOT, together with the Brothers Grimm. Dresscode was black and gold…

A Cone Of Sugar

Sugar bakers they were called, the entrepreneurs whom from 1593 in Amsterdam used earthenware funnels to refine cane syrup to the precious white granulated sugar. In their sugar bakeries thousands funnels were lined up, filled with warm syrup, to be placed in special syrup jars to cool slowly.

Sugar cone funnel
Sugar cone funnel

Even before the Christian era, people in India were able to refine the sweet juice of sugar cane into sugar. Through the Middle East this knowledge spread across the Mediterranean where Venice for a long time was the center of the sugar trade and production. In the 15th century the Spanish and Portuguese trade worked on a further spread of the cane production. The story goes that Columbus first took with him cane cuttings on his journey to the New World and in effect has been the source of the vast sugarcane plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. On these plantations the harvested cane pieces were chopped and boiled and the sweet syrup was shipped in barrels to Europe.

In the sugar bakeries the syrup was further concentrated by heating it in open pans. If the syrup was thick enough, it was poured into funnels. While the contents cooled and crystallized a small hole in the spout let excess syrup slowly settle into the syrup pot below. What remained in the funnel was a cone of sugar. If the cones were sufficiently dried, they were taken from the hoppers, wrapped in fancy blue paper and sold as sugar bread. At home they used special pliers to cut the required sugar of the cone.

Print of a sugar refiner in 1793
Print of a sugar refiner in 1793

In the 16th century Antwerp was the sugar city of Northwest Europe. Because the Spanish blockade of the Scheldt River in 1585, the sugar trade shifted to the north, where merchants from Amsterdam enthusiastically invested in this lucrative market. In 1593 the first confectionery (sugar bakers) was established here, in the middle of the 17th century there were 66 in operation. Each confectioner needed many thousands of these sugar funnels. Therefore, the production of this type of pottery took a flight as equally in size as that of the sugar itself.

In the 17th century four potteries in Amsterdam were specialized in making funnels and syrup pots, three in the center of town and one at Overtoom, just outside the city walls, at the height of nowadays Schoolstraat. The pottery was in business until 1879 at Overtoom. Many hundreds of thousands of these earthenware funnels must have been made here. Yet during archaeological research in Amsterdam so far only three complete copies have been found. The open shape and the thin wall of the sugar-loaf shapes have proven very vulnerable. On the former site of the pottery at Overtoom an intact specimen was found in a waste pit in 2012.

Potato Soup

As I was cleaning up my files, I found this recipe for Potato Soup. I could have deleted it but since it’s getting colder here in Amsterdam, I just wanted to share.

Potato Soup

Makes 4 servings
See the notes for a vegetarian version.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 225 gr or ½ pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1½ cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 475 ml or 2 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes
  • 20 gr or 1½ tablespoon butter
  • 15 gr or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 120 ml or ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 gr or ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 gr or 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

TO MAKE:

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done.
  2. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside.
  3. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.
  4. Cook celery and onion in reserved bacon drippings until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add cubed potatoes, and toss to coat.
  7. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Return bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes.
  9. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  10. In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  11. Whisk in flour.
  12. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.
  13. Whisk in the heavy cream, tarragon, and cilantro.
  14. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  15. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture.
  16. Puree about ½ the soup, and return to the pan.
  17. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Cooks Note: Prepare well in advance, this is not a last minute recipe. Take care of peeling, chopping, dicing, mincing or cubing before you start cooking.

Note 1: Try adding some shredded cheese in the last step or stir some into a hot bowl of soup for an added kick.

Note 2: For those who do not wish to use bacon, substitute ¼ cup melted butter for the bacon grease and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Amount Per Serving Main recipe.
Calories: 594
Total Fat: 41.5
Cholesterol: 91
Sodium: 879
Total Carbohydrates: 44
Dietary Fiber: 5.2
Protein: 12.6

Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve and Lap-band [WLS] persons can eat only half a serving max !

PDF of this recipe: 20160112-Potato-Soup

End Of An Era…

2007-2015-thursday-recipeAfter nine years I really stop with the weekly Thursday Recipe. I planned it before in 2014, and then again at the beginning of 2015, but I stumbled upon some new recipes and before I knew it, I was 60 recipes, and a year later.

I’m not sure what I’ll do next, I already started the year with culinary tips…

Anyway… you’ll can find over 500 recipes on this blog in the categories: Food, Thursday Recipe or Recipe. Most have a PDF file to go with them.

And when you eat something just ENJOY!

10 Culinary Trends For 2016

4366067According to gourmets we cook in 2016 simpler dishes, beans are hip, we eat less meat, we snack differently and the beer trend continues. Ten culinary trends for the coming year in a row.

Food plays an important role in our society, which is nothing new. Food is more than a necessity. Food trucks, food festivals, pop-up projects and food halls are hotter than ever. Not only us, but also our southern neighbors, says the Dutch TV cook Mathijs Vrieze.

“We pay more attention to food, yet we have less and less time to spend on food,” he adds. “Nevertheless, we fully share our happy food moments on social media. Quality of food and quality time are becoming increasingly important.”

“During that enjoyment we also have fun, because eating and drinking together connects people. Tastes, smells and colors bring you back to those special and happy moments. Especially at a time when fears play a role, we like to reach back to those feelings and great memories.”

Say ‘no’ to food waste
In recent years the hype awareness of food waste has become a trend. Also in 2016, we try to minimize food waste, by appropriate and clever cooking or reusing the remaining ingredients on another day. The meal boxes also play a hand in this: because you will never find yourself with leftovers.

Restaurants also do it in large numbers. The number of eateries offering the so-called “resto leftover” to combat food waste is increasing. Restaurant visitors can take the surpluss to consume at home.

More and more products are also available in small packs. These are relatively more expensive, but then discard will be a thing of the past. Set your refrigerator at 4 to 6° C or 39 to 43 degrees F, this also ensures that products spoil less quickly.”

4366081Green is in fashion
Not only in terms of the ingredients, such as sustainable growing of crops or a better life for the animals, green is in fashion. Also in the field of preparation, we start to think greener.

We are also increasingly open-fire cooking. The barbecue is not just for summer, but also in autumn and winter we’ll eagerly grill.

Natural eating
Growing your food in the garden or on the balcony is now the most natural thing in the world. But there’s more. “We’re more into nature.” During wild picking in the woods we not only look for berries and fruits, but also flowers, leaves and grasses. Fresh superfoods!

Locally, but also from far away is near
Regional and local products are extremely popular. Witness the success of the so-called farmers markets, where you can go for the best organic and locally grown produce.

“On the other hand there is also the ‘exotic’ ingredients that we discovered during our travels, which win in popularity.” said Vrieze. A visit to the Asian supermarket is on the rise, and also online shops sell them to their advantage.

“We’re also going to see a growth of foreign products that are grown just in our regions. Farmers are developing at breakneck speed and move with the trends, so that these special varieties, that you would not expect there to be cultivated in our latitudes, are becoming available. This idea makes 2016 very durable.”

Less sugar
Years ago, fat was identified as the culprit of obesity. We now know that there are plenty of healthy fats and it is wiser to eat less added sugar. We see that more and more in everyday life. Products, especially soft drinks, with an (artificial) sweet taste we prefer to leave on the shelves.

“We are gradually getting used to a less sweet taste and go for pure. During breakfast we see that again. The sweetened yogurt is losing popularity and more pure variants are in great demand.”

Also the ’24-hour breakfast concepts are totally hip, so you order during the afternoon a tasty breakfast dish, according to the TV cook.

Food as an individual
Visitors to restaurants more often differ from what states the menu. They want to have their own version of steak or salad. An ingredient more or less, this phenomenon shows up more often. In the kitchen, the cooks must be increasingly flexible. Many delivery businesses know this phenomenon for some time now.

“We are now so used to being served at our beck and call (just look at the success of TV, film, music and articles on demand), we also see this back when it comes to food.”

Dry beans

 

Beans are hip
About our meat consumption last year was much written. For example, the Health Council recently with new guidelines for a proper diet, including the consumption of red meat. We are not massively vegetarian but are aware that eating less meat is better. Less meat but when we eat it, it has to be better meat.

“Flexitarianism goes from trend to be the new standard. Vegetable alternatives will be so popular.” A hip alternative is beans. All kinds of legumes (such as lentils, chickpeas and beans) are a protein and nutrient rich alternative. In the kitchen you can also be very creative with beans. “Special recipes with beans as a base ingredient spread rapidly around the web such as smoothies, spreads, brownies and pies.”

Sweets, but differently
According to Vrieze everybody wants sometimes something to snack and there are also to be found new trends, “such as small sugar sweets made of roses, marshmallows blueberries, coconut cream, vanilla disco-dip chocolates and popcorn. All culinary in small portions.”

The power of simplicity
Cooking is becoming easier. Where once more ingredients was the motto, it is now: less is more. “With just a few quality ingredients make a great dish full of flavor, this is the new trend.”

4358787Beer is in
The revival of beer continues. Moreover brewing in completely ‘in’. More and more hobby brewers venturing at home making their own beer. Even in a cocktail glass beer has become an increasingly popular ingredient. Jurgen Nobels won for example, last summer the Belgian final of the Diageo World Class Competition with a cocktail in which he included and incorporated some ingredients of beer and the perfume hops aroma. “It looked like a beer and it was served as a beer, but it was a pure cocktail, including tequila.”

Beers are becoming more common on the table. We are increasingly experimenting, and the appreciation rises. As in any good relationship when it comes to food pairing equilibrium. The flavors of the beer and the dish must balance. A golden rule for the optimal taste experience.

10 Handy Last Minute Tips

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1. Preparation is everything
Make as many dishes or ingredients ready beforehand. Potatoes taste equally delicious when heated and sauce is even better when they pull though for a while. Also think carefully about the order in which the ingredients need to be prepared. Read the recipe on it, or Google it if necessary, what steps you can take in advance. Keep sauce warm in a thermos for example, so you do not need to warm up again.

2. The dishwasher is your best friend
While cooking, load the dishwasher and wash larger or fragile pieces manually. You can of course also set a family member to work.

3. Fresh drinks
You forgot to put the drinks in the refrigerator? Roll the bottle in wet paper towels and put them just now in the freezer. For a more festive way to serve wine, gin and tonic or cool fruit juice. Put some fruit in a freezer bag in the freezer and sprinkle it into the glass of the guests.

4. Peel fruits and vegetables on old newsprint
No time to lose! Peel your fruits and vegetables directly on an old newspaper, so that you can throw the peels in one movement in the trash or compost bin. Do you have an environmentally responsible ‘wurmery’ at home? You may throw in the newspaper. Of course, not too often, but the holiday season is the perfect time to make use of it.

5. No crying party with these tips
Cutting onions is often so emotional that we start them cry. These tips can help you chop those nasty balls.

6. This will avoid water boiling over
A wooden spoon that you no longer (regularly) use can still prove useful. Place it over the pot with boiling substance and it will help avoid that the pot boils over.

7. Avoid clogging of the drains
Don’t pour any fat from the turkey or roast in the drain. It can solidify and block the outlet. A very unpleasant surprise when your next try to wash it off. Keep rather an empty container ready where you can pour in the fat. If all the fat is in the package, wait until it has solidified and throw it in the garbage. Good riddance.

8. Grated cheese
You need a huge amount of grated semi-soft cheese? Freeze the right amount and use this piece to grate. It will go much faster.

9. Ice cream for dessert?
Store ice cream in a freezer-bag. That way it is easier to scoop!.

10. Last but not least
Keep calm and have fun. Pour a glass of wine while cooking or taste already some of your favorite snacks. It’s not a disaster if something goes wrong and it’s not a shame to ask for help. Enjoy the party!