A true discovery

As you could read in yesterday’s post, my weekend was filled with food!! It already started on Friday evening, where I prepared dinner for a lovely lady. I really like spoiling people and I always try to do the best job ever cooking things my guest likes even if this is not always my  favorite dish. You don’t always have to think of yourself…

In this case the lovely lady liked ‘Foie gras’ lamb meat and ‘gratin dauphinois’. So I decided to give as a starter some foie gras and afterwards make some amb filet with a honey thyme sauce with gratin dauphinois. I got my inspiration for the Lamb from Start to Cook and for the gratin it was Roger van damme who gave me the idea and when cooking  I gave it my own twist. With a satisfying result (I think). This dish got accompanied by a nice bottle of Barbaresco by Batasiolo

But my food filled weekend didn’t stop here, it only just got started. Like many people, this weekend I did some Christmas present shopping:

Normally I would do this alone, but this time I asked my mom to join me 🙂 . You know what I like about going somewhere with my mom, I just know that  we’ll be going somewhere for lunch . Like  every time, we’re doubting  where we would go. And then suddenly we made a discovery (literally), we saw Enoteca ‘La Scoperta ‘ (which means the discovery). Apparently my mom had already been here a few times  (and she didn’t tell me)… So I HAD to try it. An enoteca is actually a place where you drink/ taste and buy wine, but you can also have a little something to eat like ham, cheese, maybe a panino . In La Scoperta it wasn’t any different… This shop/ enoteca had a nice assortment of wines, ham, cheeses mostly from Tuscany  and Piemonte.

I’m sure if you still need to find some Christmas presents, that ‘La Scoperta” might have something for you! Our first reason for entering was actually have something to eat, so that’s what we did 🙂 Both me and my mom took the ‘panino con prosciutto, mozzarella and pesto’ and as we are in an enoteca I just had to take a glass of wine (life can be hard). I choose a glass of Nebbiolo d’alba by Due corti, I really lilke wines made with the Nebbiolo grape… This one was also very lovely.

When looking around, I saw something that every time I see it I just wanna have it (also the ham on top of it), A Berkel cutting machine… Look at the picture below… isn’t she a beauty? If I ever have a kitchen big enough I just have to have it!!

When looking around, I saw something that every time I see it I just wanna have it (also the ham on top of it), A Berkel cutting machine… Look at the picture below… isn’t she a beauty?

When cooking meets technology

You guys know that I usually go to the open air market on Saturday morning to buy my food for the week. It already happened that I bought a package of season vegetables  and I did not know what to do with some of the vegetables in the package … and as I’m at the market I want to buy everything at the market …

At that moment I’m really glad the Smartphone was invented or better the applications you can run on it. As you know, there are apps for everything at the moment. So in this case I like to use the recipe apps :-). You just fill in a vegetable and will immediately find a wide variety of dishes you can make … and this way can continue your market shopping

Me as an Android user, I frequently use the zesta app.

For the Iphone/Ipad user you could use the Njam app and/or zesta, because they both work really good. But if you are or will become a KitchenAid owner (like me), it will get even better! KitchenAid has created an app based on the kitchenaid cook book  with recipes from  Veerle De Pooter  and photographer Tony Le Duc. All Recipes that can be made with your KitchenAid machine… This  way you can even have a more refined way to look for recipes and make a more frequent use of your KitchenAid.  (and not only for Desserts!). What is nice about this app, is that you can even unmark the ingredients you already have at home, in this way you get a better shopping list…

The advantages of Modern technology are just great!! For non-smartphone users, you can still buy the cookbook or a smartphone 🙂

For singles or a whole family

This dish is good for single people, but you can easily make it for a whole family, just by doubling, tripling, etc…  the ingredients. This one is made with chicken, but y ou could also replace it by another meat or even use some fish, or sometimes change the salad, or add tomatoes or a forgotten vegetables, replace the herbs by cumin, or the Guacamole by sour cream. Like every dish you should try to make it until like it 100%


  • 1 chicken filet
  • Iceberg salad
  • Olive oil
  • Guacamole (you buy it or make it yourself, I’ll give you the recipe anyway)
  • Cucumber
  • 2-3 pita/kebab breads
  • ½ lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Salt, pepper, paprika powder
  • Honey


You might ask, what the hell do I do with all the left over ingredients? Well Here are some tips… again for single people, as we don’t throw stuff away.

  • The pita breads that remain, you can just put in the freezer and heat them in a toaster or oven next time you might need them
  • The iceberg salad and other remaining vegetables, you can just use the next day (or two days after)  with maybe canned Tuna in olive oil or with salmon, etc… and use the remaining guacamole as sauce… or you can also make a dressing with the remaining lemon (and add some honey and mustard)
  • In case you prefer buying a whole chicken instaid of a filet, you just put the pieces in the freezer for the next time you might wane use chicken
  • As for the Rosemary, I usually put my fresh herbs in my top freezer drawer, and every time I need it, I just take a bit and put it back (be quick, because once it melts … you cannot put it back in freezer)

Get started:

  • Cut the chicken in small pieces.
  • Heat the pan with some olive oil in it. Once oil is hot you put bake the chicken.
  • Add some of the rosemary (this is upon taste), add a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika powder.
  • Bake chicken cubes until they are golden-brown on all sides.
  • Add the juice of ½ lemon and a drizzle of honey (again, this is upon taste, the more honey, the sweeter it gets).  Cook it until half of the juice is gone. Turn off the heat.

To fill the bread

  • You could add some Guacamole (to make it, just use 1 or 2 soft  avocado’s, squeeze them until they are all puree (youcould also use blender), add some fresh mint and coriander, salt, peper, a glove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix it and voila)
  • Cut up some ice berg salad (or you could also use rucola or any other type of salad that tickles your fantasy)
  • I add some cucumber, but you could again replace it by carrots or tomatoes, etc…

You heat the pita breads in the toaster (or oven or pan)

Cut them open and stuff them 🙂 .

A perfect wine to go with it was Piceno superiore La Rocca by Costadoro

Gnocchi di Zucca

“Gnocchi di Zucca” aka pumpkin gnocchi. This is a specialty from the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region in Italy. This region is  located next to Veneto and next to the Slovenian border. This is also the region where my sweet zia Livia lives. The idea of making this recipe actually came from her.

What is good about this recipe, it is very easy to make with a smashing result J The best would be to already cook the pumpkin the night before.


Ingredients: (for 4-5 people)


  • 1kg pumpkin (doesn’t really matter which kind)
  • 200g pecorino cheese or ricotta affumicato  (not easy to find outside of Italy), but you can also do it with Parmesan cheese (depending the cheese you use, the flavor will be stonger)
  • 250-300g flour
  • Salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • 1 egg

To serve:

  • 200g farm butter
  • Sage leaves
  • Parmesan cheese if wanted

Get Started:

  • Peel the pumpkin and put in a pot with cold salted water.
  • Once you see that it start boiling, you drain it and let it leak for a whole night (or at least 4 hours). To continue you must be sure that most of the water that is in the pumpkin is gone
  • When most of the water is out of the pumpkin you flatten/puree the pumpkin with your hands and put it pumpkin in a bowl
  • Add the cheese, flour, egg, salt pepper and nutmeg.
  • Mix all. Now we had the gnocchi mix
  • We will serve the gnocchi with Burro salvia (butter and sage) . So put the butter in a put and let is melt on low heat. Add the sage and set aside.
  • For cooking the gnocchi Put a big pot of water of the heat and let I boil.
  • Once it start boiling, you take an table spoon, fill it with some of the pumpkin mix. And put it in the boiling water. And continue until the bottom of the pot is full.
  • When the gnocchi are floating on top  of the water, this means they are ready.
  • You then take them out with a skimmer , in this way you can still use the water to make more gnocchi.

  • When you cooked all of the gnocchi you serve them and put some of the melted sage butter on top (and parmesan cheese if wanted)

Buon appetito

A great dinner at my friends’ house

Friday I was at a dinner party of some friends of mine, who had decided that they would cook for a change. Which came as a very nice surprise as for some reason people always feel nervous when they are cooking for me?? I really don’t know why as I’m really not a difficult person….

Anyhow it was really great to not having to cook for a change and just sit back and relax. I must say they have really outdone themselves , they have prepared a royal feast with a lot of love and care. Knowing they don’t have a real cooking experience, made it even more special. They started with a duck salad with pieces of apple, walnut & bacon with a coulis of Gorgonzola cheese… I know some people might be afraid of the strong taste of the Gorgonzola, but I must admit that it gave a nice harmony in this dish.

So a great start was already set! Now up to the main course…  Here they choose to make a  Chicken stew prepared with Old Geuze beer and Peperkoek (this is a kind of breakfast cake spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg). Again a really nice preparation! Funny enough that this was a dish that I wanted to prepare this week for me and my girlfriend 🙂 but they beat me to it 😉 It was a sweeter dish, this because of the ‘3 fonteinen old Geuze’ beer and the ‘peperkoek’. This they made a day before (which is best for a dish like this, then it can rest over night .

But the real top of the evening was the dessert, a kiwi tartlet . This was made with a crust of petit beurre cookies  with pastry cream and on top of that slices of kiwi (can also be replaced by passion fruit or raspberries…). Really yummy, just thinking of it makes me want one (ok two) again.

They served a red Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wine. TWO THUMBS up for Laurent and Stijn!! Thanks guys you really did a great job. Now next time I’ll have to cook for you guys I will be nervous :-).

Stijn and Laurent got their inspiration in following books.

For the Duck Salad: La cuisine à quatre mains

The main course : Dagelijkse kost 2 by Jeroen Meus

For the Dessert: De Desserts by Kookschool

The missing ingredient

I don’t know about you guys, but I honestly find it very difficult to find cooking inspiration when coming home after a hard day of work …

The best source of inspiration and creativity is of course using cookbooks or magazines…  But everything has to go quick since you are hungry and just want one thing, quick food 🙂 But lots of times you encounter another problem when you finally found a recipe… You don’t have all the ingredients that are required to make it L I know I’ve encountered this already lots of times in the past …

What happens then, is I start using my imagination of what things I could replace with ingredients I do have at home and hunger is the best sauce to make you cook faster 🙂 These usually give me the best tasting dishes.

Let me give you an example, a few days ago I had bought a celeriac (knolselder) and needed to find a recipe, as I didn’t want to make a puree or a soup with it… So I found this really nice recipe in Weekend Knack special (Belgian Magazine) “cod with celeriac chips and choron sauce”. But problem n°1, I didn’t have the cod, but I did have was Pangasius… so I figured I’ll just use that.  In the original recipe for the Choron (Béarnaise with tomato), it said that I had to use fresh tomatoes… same story, so I replaced it by tomato purée  (which worked just fine).

So the Knack Weekend recipe à la Spinelli looked like this 🙂

Not bad for some made in max 30 minutes…

For the celeriac chips, you just cut the celeriac (after peeling it) like you would cut fries… put it in a mixing bowl, add some curry powder, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Heat a regular pan or you can also use a chip pan 🙂 throw them in and bake them as you would with French fries.

For the fish, you take any fish you want (sole, salmon, cod, etc…) it really doesn’t matter as this dish can go with everything. You can bake it in a pan, poach it or which way you would prefer for preparing the fish.

For the Sauce. Take 3 eggs (always 1 for the pot + 1 per person, so in this case it was for 2 persons) fill one of the broken eggshells and fill it with white wine (do this 3 times as you used 3 eggs) . Melt 250g of butter… I know it is a lot, normally  you won’t use it all. This depends of how thick you want your sauce to be (as the butter will thicken it). Put the stove on medium heat. Start whisking the eggs by forming an 8 (more or less) . You will see that the sauce starts binding, you know when it is ready, because than you will see that the whisk shape will stay longer in the pot…. Take of the heat and gently add the melted butter (not all at once, little bits at a time). You will see that the sauce will start thicken. When you think it is good enough for you, you add tarragon, salt, pepper, tomato purée and if you want some paprika powder… And voila your dish is ready.

Moral of this story, try to be creative in the kitchen… Don’t worry if there is an ingredient missing, I’m sure you will have something in your fridge or  closets you can use…. And no recipe police will arrest you 🙂

Seppe Nobels’ shrimp impression

Hi Guys,

Here you find the first recipe 🙂 , this is one from Seppe Nobels. Let me know how it worked out?

It is not an extremely difficult recipe… only the Sorbet might be tricky.

I hope you guys weren’t lazy and bought some fresh unpeeled North sea shrimps? I know I have bought them…

Btw when you peel them, you just put all the peels and heads in a pot, add some water and let it boil for a while … This way you are making a light shrimp stock

What do you need for 4 persons:
– 1 sea bass 1 kg = 500g fillet (more or less) (make sure it is VERY fresh)
– 100 ml extra virgin Olive oil
– 500 ml lemon juice
– 500 ml lime juice
– salt and pepper
– 50 g dried kroepoek
– 400 g unpeeled grey north sea shrimps
– 3 branches of thyme
– 125 g glucose
– 150 g sugar
– pinch of wasabi powder
– 750 ml water
– 2 eggs
– 2 egg yolks
– 1 T.B. mustard (don’t take a to strong mustard)
– 1 T.B. ginger puree
– 1 T.B. soya
– 300 ml peanut oil
– 30 g red vein sorrel (rodenerfzuring )
– 30 g spring onion
– 30 g enoki mushrooms (champignons) (I have to admit, they were not easy to find, but I found them)
– ½ lime

* T.B.= table spoon

Get started:

–          Cut the sea bass in fillets , remove the skin and cut the fillets into equal cubes .

–          Add olive oil, lemon juice (not all of the juice, as you still need some later in this preparation), salt & pepper

–          Fry the dried kroepoek for about 20 seconds at 165°C (329°F) Drain it afterwards on kitchen paper and mix it in a blenders until it becomes like crumble. Peel the shrimps (if you haven’t done it yet)

–          Now the more difficult part. To make the Sorbet, boil the water together with the glucose, sugar and wasabi powder. Add the remaining lemon juice, lime juice and chopped thyme. Leave it on the heat until it starts boiling. When it does, you take it off the heat and put it in the fridge. And use a sorbetière  to make the sorbet. In case you don’t have a sorbetière, just let it cool down and put it in the freezer when it is cool… it will now be as perfect as with the sorbetière, but it will do just fine. If this worked, everything else will be daaaaamn easy J

–          To make the vinaigrette, you beat the eggs and egg yolks together with the mustard, ginger and soy. It is kind a like making a mayonnaise … and you finish my add the peanut oil (like you would do for making mayo). Add salt, peper and lime juice (from the ½ lime).

–          Chop the spring onions and the Enoki mushrooms, add salt, pepper and juice
And now we are almost at the end of the preparation:
–  Dress the plate as follows: use a form (found, squared, as you prefer)  for the tartar of sea bass .

–          On top of this you put the grey shrimps and arrange the salad (mushroom salad) around the sea bass form J

–          Finish off with the kroepoek crumble and thyme sorbet.

It should look like this:

Trust me, it is worth the work!

What do Jeunes restaurateurs d’europe and shrimps have in common?

Crangon crangon they used to call them in Latin 🙂  We now  know them as North Sea Shrimps (aka brown/grey shrimps. Now they probably sound more familiar.

Aaah, nothing better than being on the beach with a bag of fresh North sea shrimps and a glass of Rodenbach on a sunny day , just lovely (if the seagulls aren’t bothering you)! Local, season and fresh products, that’s what it is all about. I really like to eat local things on the moment you should eat them … One of those local products that I really like eating are North sea shrimps. They mainly get fished in northwest Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, UK). They are so small, but sooooooo full of flavor and really worth the effort of peeling 🙂

I know, I’m also a very lazy person from time to time (almost never 😉 )… so buying them peeled is very tempting. But nothing beats the taste of freshly peeled shrimps! As lots of products, shrimps also have seasons  when they are at their best  (not many people know this).  Maybe if I explain you how in 4 simple steps:

Step 1:

take the shrimp’s tail in your left hand with the shrimp’s back towards you


 Push the nail of your right thumb in the middle between the slabs and bend the spine until you hear it


Step 3:

 Pull with a pinching movement the tail section, from back to front.

Step 4:

Grab hand the shrimp with your left in the middle and pull  the head off with your right hand.

The best periods for  eating shrimps would be April-May and in the Autumn  months. Nowadays this gets done with boast … but there used to be a time when the fishermen used to do it on the back of horses… The only city they are still doing this in the old fashion way is Oostduinkerke. So if you are ever in that region during the season, it is really worth seeing

Something nice to know is that there are no catch limits and this means that it they are not threatened  species.  Another thing that I really didn’t know was that most shrimps are born as a male and become female after 2 years … (inartificial).

Anyhow, I’m  wandering off… back to my initial question, what do ‘Jeunes restaurateurs d’ Europe’ and shrimps have in common?  Well, very simple the “JRE” love working with great fresh and local products 🙂 Did you guys read my post about JRE?? No, shame on you 🙂

You k now what’s we’ll do? This weekend we (you guys and me) will buy some fresh shrimps (unpeeled)

Let’s say about 300g? Then on Monday and Tuesday we’ll make the following dishes from ‘JRE’ together?? Is this a deal?

Breaded shrimp on a bed of nettles, watercress and feta by Laurent Van De Vijver (Restaurant Du four à la Table)

And maybe a recipe from Seppe Nobels? (you might remember him from ‘Jong Keukengeweld’ A  Sea bass tartar with hand peeled shrimp, thyme sorbet and crumble crackers

Or maybe … well, I’ll see when I get to the open air market.

Can’t wait…

And then there was the day that my girlfriend cooked

Yes, that’s right, she cooked. And it was really nice! She didn’t use a cookbook, but a recipe from Smulweb. The dish she prepared was “quick cabbage with minced beef and yellow rice”, I know it might not look good or sound good, but I promise you that it was good (I even took twice). You can find the recipe on the following link.  She even  gave the recipe her own twist 🙂 She added some beef stock and some white wine. She did leave out the ginger. I’m so proud of her!

The result:

The day before I had made a “Witloof in de oven” or “Chicory ham roles in the oven”. For this recipe I used “Natural Basics” cookbook  on page 93. The basic cookbooks are actually the first books that gave my brother the interest of cooking… Good books for people who don’t have much experience!

The difference between this recipe and the usual “Witloof in de oven” recipe is that they add a little bit of cayenne pepper (to spice it up) and before putting it in the oven they sprinkle some sliced almonds on top. Which gives it a crunchy crust J Personally I didn’t find that the almonds gave it something special, but they for sure didn’t disturb me…

My result:

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!!