Eating together as a family has always been a priority. On the rare occasion when hubby has to work late, I make sure to wait with getting dinner on the table. If necessary, I’ll give Kirstie a small snack so she can hold out. But just like family dinnertime is a big deal, so are our Saturday evening dinners for two, at home. Complete with candles, records and wine. We usually go for simple, good food. A nice steak, hubby’s chicken with tomatoes, maybe a platter of assorted antipasti and some bread. Those Saturday dinners (and a million other things) are why still, after nearly eighteen years, we love each other like crazy.
One of the perks of my job is being invited to interesting events in the world of food. Restaurant openings, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings, book presentations, etc. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Gastrobar Anton, a new hot spot in the ritzy Dutch city of Laren. It was quite a lively evening full of champagne, cocktails, great wine, a posh selection of bites and fabulous oysters! The gastrobar has a Scandinavian inspired interior with warm color accents, robust materials and different types of seating options.
I’m not going to give you a full review just yet as I’m planning on going back there for lunch, but suffice to say that I had a great time. One of their wines, by the way, just happens to be a favorite of mine — Le Petit Berticot Cabernet Sauvignon from none other than my beloved Duras! How awesome is that?! Highly recommended by yours truly.
After the event, my friend and I decided to try out another restaurant in Laren. We figured we were already there, so why not? Both of us love Spanish food and Bodega, also located on the Brink, seemed like a good choice. Their menu features a varied selection of tapas as well as ‘Paella Valencia’, which is what we both went for, agreeing that perhaps this would make up for our last paella experience — ahem, it took place at an awful restaurant in Barcelona’s La Rambla called ‘El Choquito‘. El Choquito does not have a website, in case you’re interested, just a restaurant full of rude, frustrated waiters, crap food and weak sangria. Luckily, our experience at Bodega was not as appalling (kudos for the friendly staff), though their paella left a lot to be desired. The seafood selection was mostly deep-fried and I barely detected three tiny little mussels hidden in the rice, which missed more saffron, in my opinion. Some lemon wedges could’ve also helped the dish a bit, too.
In other news, it’s almost weekend! In case you don’t have any cooking plans yet, allow me to suggest grabbing a copy of the latest Vriendin (#43) where you can check out six of my easy and seasonal mushroom recipes! My aromatic noodle soup with shiitake and prawns is especially recommended today — rain, rain, and only rain!
I’ll be headed to Amsterdam tomorrow to review a new restaurant that boasts a menu which made me go a little weak in the knees when I read it. You can catch the review here on Sunday.
Have a delicious weekend!
I’ve been having a rather slow morning today. A well-deserved one, though, which started with a bowl of oatmeal, beauty tutorials on YouTube (yes, I do like to watch those every once in a while) and a strong ristretto. The to-do list is pretty big right now, but I’m not feeling the least bit guilty about this little indulgence. In fact, I should make it a habit! I’m pretty precise when it comes to sticking to the agenda of the day, but really, I think this chick needs to loosen up!
So, what’s on my mind this Friday? A lot! From finishing an article on Dutch meat croquettes to happy anticipation for things like the mailman delivering a set of make-up brushes any minute now to a few very cool press events that I have coming up within the next weeks. I’ve been ignoring those more than I’d like due to a serious lack of time, but I’ve decided I simply need to make the time to show my face at these happenings a lot more often!
I’m still busy with the appetizer recipe production for Vriendin, and as soon as I hit ‘post’ for this blog, that’ll be the first thing on my agenda: writing the next eight recipes and trying them out tonight. By the way, those of you in the Netherlands, might want to check out this week’s issue (nr. 42) where you’ll find six of my quick and easy stew recipes, perfect for those days when you come home from work in need of serious comfort food that doesn’t require hours of cooking.
And speaking of recipes, a few weeks ago hubby surprised me with Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, Plenty More. My goodness am I pleased with it! The book features colorful and flavorific vegetarian recipes with stunning ingredient combinations and gorgeous photography. This week we tried the root veg mash with shallots braised in red wine. All I can say (with my hand on my heart and as a serious Francophile!) is that it gave even the best boeuf bourguignon I’ve ever had a run for its money. Holy sweet lord!
It’s going to be a busy weekend again with shooting a new food video (cupcakes!) and checking out a new restaurant tomorrow (very excited about that as it combines an awesome menu with one of my other biggest passions). Curious? Stop by Sunday for the full review!
For now, I wish you all a happy weekend. Open a bottle of something wonderful tonight… just because!
During the past few weeks, I have been working on a pretty big recipe production for Vriendin, the Dutch women’s weekly for which I am a regular food writer. Thirty-two appetizers for the first issue of December, featuring all sorts of verrines, crostini, amuse spoons and various other fingerfoods. In an attempt to combine work and pleasure (something that isn’t all that difficult when your job is actually your passion), I organize a nibbles party for dinner every Friday night, complete with a nice bottle of wine and good music. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding productions up until now. Although, come to think of it, exploring the authentic Thai kitchen for issue number 17 wasn’t half that bad either.
Making tiny little bits of food means that I am usually left with a fridge-full of half used ingredients. Which in turn means that I have to keep that in mind when planning my meals for the days that follow. This works out pretty well most of the time (today we’re having pasta with left over mascarpone, for example), but sometimes I get stuck with something I have little use for. At least in my opinion. Like theleft over cream cheese. Really, I’m not a cream cheese fan unless it’s on a bagel, and bagels are not something I frequently have.
So, what to do with the cream cheese? Frosting? Yes! For cupcakes!
It’s been ages since I made cupcakes, and because the teen is home on autumn break, the time seemed ripe. The only thing I didn’t want was to make a whole dozen. Therefore, I wrote the recipe for six, but nothing should stop you from doubling it if you’d like.
They were so good and so simple to make. Try them, and if you do, let me know what you think.
Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- 120 ml milk
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 50 g fine sugar
- 2 tbsps sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 g flour
- 2 tbsps cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
For the frosting:
- 70 g cream cheese, soft
- 40 g butter, soft
- 40 g pure chocolate
- 120 g powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 6 liners. Try to use Halloween themed liners or a mix of orange and black. Pour the milk into a jug and whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Then, whisk in the sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract. In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Stir well, but do not whisk or beat. Pour the batter into the liners and bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, first melt the chocolate au bain marie. Beat the cream cheese and butter on a low speed until creamy. Add in the melted chocolate, powdered sugar and milk and beat again until it forms a nice thick consistency.
Frost the cupcakes, decorate as you wish and serve!
PS: A fake spider on each cupcake also makes a fab decoration!