Cook Book Discovery – Part 3

Yesterday it was Piet Huysentruyt time. For all you people who don’t know him, Piet Huysentruyt is without any doubt one of the most famous tv chefs in Belgium.  He used to own a Michelin star awarded restaurant and he still owns a restaurant in the South of France. The idea of Piet is that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. He always tries to explain the art of cooking in the simplest way. He does this in a TV show called ‘SOS Piet’  where he  goes to people’s homes to fix their cooking problems. Besides that, he also shares his knowledge through his books.  The fact that he has sold more than 1 million copies of them says enough! (knowing that Belgium is not a huge country).

So yesterday I decided to prepare a dish with “Brussels Sprouts” from Piet’s  “Leven & Koken als Piet in Frankrijk” (living and cooking like Piet in France) cookbook. This cookbook is divided in 4 parts, the four seasons to be more precise. In every part/season he gives some great recipes that would fit perfectly in that specific season. I made the “Grilled quail with mashed sprouts” and gave it a little Spinelli twist. The original recipe would be a quail  covered with bacon and a gravy sauce. Here I used chicken instead of quail and instead of rolling the bacon around, I used bacon cubes. For the sauce after baking the chicken and bacon in same pan, I added some Porto and squeezed Orange juice and a little bit of butter to bind the sauce (reason, I still had an orange in my fridge). The mashed sprouts is exactly as in the book (p107). Basically cook 500g of sprouts with 2 or 3 potatoes (depending on size) and some garlic. When cooked mash them, add salt, pepper and some nutmeg and in case you like it some cream or milk.

I’m pretty satisfied with the result.

If you like the Piet Huysentruyt recipes, you can either buy one of his books, look at the Belgian tv channel VTM just before the news or you can look on the zesta website.

What was your last dish you made out of a cookbook? Let me know!!

My second week of Cooking with Cookbooks

I just had a great weekend! When I opened my eyes Saturday morning, the first thing I saw was sunshine and I really could not stay in bed (even when it is 7o’clock in the morning)… On top of that I also had the urge to go to the Open-air market in the centre of Antwerp (Vogeltjes markt)  aka ‘Vogeltjesmarkt’.   I like to go there because I have my usual market stalls where I buy my ingredients. This week I decided to buy the promotion of the week at the vegetable stall.  For 5 euro I got: 1kg Red paprika, 1kg Brussels sprouts, 1kg of tomatoes, 1 cabbage, 1 kg of Belgian chicory  and 1kg of spinach. Not bad for only 5 EUR? So I had to build my week menu around these vegetables… and got my inspiration in some great cookbooks.

I also would like to mention Véronique and Tom, dear friends of my girlfriend an me. They invited us for a dinner party on Saturday night. Véronique made us a pasta with pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, rucola, basil, Italian ham and some gooooood olive oil!

But the ‘moment supreme’ was definitely the dessert!! This was based on a Princess Misia Recipe (one of my favorite food/recipe bloggers, check her website and you’ll know why!!). Veronique made the  Speculoos Cheesecake In A Jar and they were really really good if you ask me. See pic below for the result:

And as if that was not enough, they introduced me to the wonderful world of Fattoria La Vialla. But I’ll be coming back on this Factoria in another blogpost. One thing is for sure, the things they sell are mighty good!! (word going to Italy and visiting them).

Now it is time to get back to my original topic, cooking with cookbooks. Yesterday night I cooked the “Terrine of red pepper and spinach” from the book “My Italian diet” of Gino D’Acampo. This recipe was surprisingly easy 🙂 .

The only difference between what I made and the original recipe, is that I added some basil and used fresh spinach. If this recipe is too vegetarian for you, just add some ham. (that would work to my opinion.

You just simmer some spinach in olive oil for about 10 minutes and let it leak until almost all water is gone. Peel (best in the oven or over the stove, because this also ‘cooks’ the paprika a little bit)  and cut the paprika, add some chili flakes. Once the spinach has almost no more water in it, you put it in a bowl, with  fresh cheese, 3 eggs, fresh grated parmesan cheese and some salt and pepper. Mix it all. Take a  terrine form or if you don’t have this, you can just take the form you use to make a cake (rectangular). Put half of the spinach mix on the bottom of the form, on top of this you put the paprika and finish with the remaining spinach mix. Put for 30 minutes in a pre-heated hot air oven on 160°C (320°F) and voila 🙂

I was pretty happy with my result, hopefully Mr. D’Acampo would agree? 🙂

The Gino d’Acampo cookbook is nice  if you want to be on a ‘diet’ but still want to enjoy the Italian taste (and feel less on a diet).  I also cooked the Frittata di spaghetti con rucola (a few months ago). Although choosing a recipe out of this book is not easy as they all look good.

Tomorrow it is Piet Huysentruyt time!

Cooking with Cookbooks

I really have so many cookbooks and honestly I barely use them (or most of them). So since last week I decided that every week, I at least have to make 1 recipe from a cookbook (every week a different one).

This week I actually did 2  🙂 . This week I made the Vol-au-vent  the Peter Goossens Way (Hof van Cleve ***) from his book “Meesterlijke Klassiekers” in English this would be “Masterly classics”. I must say that in this book they really explain everything really well! The only thing that I changed was that instead of using chicken, I used pheasant (also for the stock) as I still had some left in my freezer from last Christmas. I also left out the calf thymus (kalfszwezerik).

You can find the recipe on the following link  or buy the book 🙂 and cook like a 3 Michelin Star chef

This was MY result 🙂 . Probably not as good as the one from Mr. Goossens, but it sure tasted really well!

The other dish, was one from Jeroen Meus out  out of his “Dagelijkse kost” cookbook.  When you see him cooking it is like your best friend explaining something… I really should get to Leuven one day to eat at his restaurant “Luzine“, but finding an open spot is the tricky part 🙂 Anyhow, I choose the Meatloaf with onionsauce, boiled potatoes and lettuce. Man man, really fantastic, if you don’t like unions, I think this dish might even make you change your mind! And on top of that very easy to make!!  Basically mix minced meat with some herbs (fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley finely chopped), eggs , breadcrumbs, pepper and salt. Bake it for a second in butter on each side. Put it in a pre-heated oven from around  170°C (338°F) for about 30-40minutes (with enough fresh, real butter). When you take the meat out of the oven,  take the meat out of the pan. Use the pan from the meat to  bake the sliced onions, add (if needed some butter) Thyme, red wine, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Let the red wine reduce its volume and voila 🙂 For more details I would advise to buy the book 🙂 or look on the following link

The result (you are lucky I took a quick picture, because the meatloaf has a short existence). As Jeroen would say “Nen Topper”

Not sure yet which cookbooks I’ll be choosing next week. But I’ll keep you posted.


Thinking of soya, the link to Asian food is immediately made. Personally I wasn’t really convinced in the beginning when the soy products started to find their way into our kitchens. But I have to admit that I have changed my mind as I started using more soya products when cooking. Did you know that soya was already used as nutrition in the 18th century?   The most well know soya product would definitely be soya sauce used to dip your sushi or for stir-fried dishes .

The reason why I had to start using Soya products, is because my girlfriend has become lactose intolerant. So now I use soy milk, soy cream, soy margarine, etc… There is 1 thing I don’t use, and that’s Tofu. The reason is simple, if I want meat I eat meat and nothing to replace it!!  You guys should really try to sometimes replace dairy products with Soya products, for example if you make my chocolate cake (that I posted a while ago), use the soy margarine… you won’t taste the difference… and this is the case with most of the soya products.

Some very good cookbooks I have for cooking with soya (as a base) would be “Elke dag gezond” in Dutch and “The new soy cookbook” in English (by Lorna Sass). The following recipes that I tried were really nice:

  • sea-devil with basilsauce
  • Cannelloni filled with punchy lamb
  • Chicken filled with baby pineapple

 OK, it is true that some dishes just need really farm butter. But some for some things you can replace it .

In Escoffier’s footsteps: Cookbooks

You have them in all sizes, colors, types of cuisine and I would love to have them all :-).

What people sometimes forget, is that for lots of those cookbooks you need a certain basic knowledge to be able to use them. For example if they talk about a fond, that you have to know what it is, how it is made, etc… or at least this knowledge is often expected (even though you can almost buy everything nowadays). So you should basically always check the degree of expected knowledge of the cookbook before buying it and not only buy the book because of the incredible pictures. Make sure you first have a good basic knowledge for cooking as everything stands and falls with this. If you paint a wall, it won’t be as good if the base is not done properly….

 And to get that basic knowledge, books that I love are Basic cooking(they also have basic Italian, sweet basics, etc…) or “Kookschool”. In the “Kookschool” cookbooks they have step-by-step pictures how everything should look. At first I just bought they because they looked nice 🙂 I also hoped that my girlfriend would start cooking. But I’m sure today’s they there are many more basic knowledge cookbooks available. But the most traditional and most used cookbook in all European Cooking Schools to learn the French Kitchen are Escoffier’s cookbooks!! (picture on top)

 My All-time favorite cookbooks are the ones from Anna Del Conte.  The Italian gastronomy book almost falls apart, that’s how much I used it! The Best Of Anna Del Conte is also recommended.

Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli is my brother’s bible 🙂so that is also a reference. If you prefer literature and cooking I would highly recommended the books from Manuela Darling – Gansser, who takes you on a journey through Italy and Switzerland. She does this per season and one by one, all her books are amazing to read! You will not only be hungry, but you will also feel like going on holiday

Mmm, you guys probably think I only like Italian cookbooks … Sorry, but Italian food is just so great 🙂

No no, it is just a joke. A chef I like both for his television appearances and his cookbooks about Belgian cuisine, are the books from Jeroen Meus. One of the books I ‘ve got from him is Jeroen Kookt. It is really a great book!

 High class cookbooks for the more refined cuisine that I also like are: Pure Provenceby Wout Bru; Guy van Cauteren’s ‘t Laurierblad; Rick Stein’s Seafood Odyssey(or any of his seafood books) ; Cees Helder’s Cees Helder, etc….

And there are many many more. But as I said before, pick up that book before buying it!

What’s your favorite Cookbook?