Pure and simple
One day a year the Netherlands turn into an Orange on steroids, we call it Queensday. That is until today we called it that: this will be the last Queensday for at least a few decades with a new king taking the throne.
Queensday is not so much a celebration of the queen as an excuse for a great party: when I was a kid it was all about selling old junk on your doorstep. Then it became about joining the thousands of people on the streets of Amsterdam drinking way too many luke warm cans of beer. Nowadays the perfect Queensday is sitting at a friend’s window looking out on the mayhem, enjoying a lovely glass of wine.
The food that I associate with Queensday has also changed over the years: First I remember eating half of the cake I was trying to sell by slice. Then there were years of greasy shawarmas, French fries and burgers. And now I am nibbling on a few delicacies that have nothing more in common with Queensday than that they are ….orange.
These salmon bites take no effort to put together and make a great appetizer for any celebration.
Small tip: as only part of the salmon filet is thick enough to cut it into beautiful even cubes, have another recipe handy for the remaining salmon. Have some Salmon Burgers for lunch, for example.
a piece of thick sashimi quality salmon
Fish roe ( I used orange for the occasion, but black roe gives a very sticking effect as well)
- Cut the salmon into even cubes.
- Place salmon onto serving dishes.
- Top each piece with a dollop of roe.
- Cut the green parts of the spring onion into oval slices.
- Top each cube with a few onion slices.
Tips & Variations
You could prepare the fish in a soy sauce marinade for an Asian twist
Enjoy gravlax with ease
Why are we so ready to believe that great results require great effort?
We live in a culture that tells us that to achieve anything worthwhile, we have to work hard, to struggle and to fight. But I am beginning to feel that quite the opposite is true. There is no proof that struggle leads us to success. Actually the focus on battling through life seems to undermine any goals of peace and happiness.
The key seems to be to look at life through different eyes; to let go of fear and strife, and to replace them with effortless and creative living.
So with this in mind, this post is not just a recipe for wonderfully tasty cured salmon, but my proof that effortless living is the secret to joy
For this dish you need to do nothing more than wrap some fish in salt, sugar and dill. Let some days pass (they will do that all on their own) and then enjoy the experience of a beautifully, clean tasting, tender piece of cured salmon.
(And just to prove that ease and adventure go together hand in hand, see “tips and variations” below for a truly wild way of making gravlax.)
400g fresh salmon skin on
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
a large bunch of dill
- Rinse the salmon and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- Place a double layer of cling film on your counter top. Place half the dill on the cling film.
- Combine salt and sugar. And rub all over the fish.
- Place fish on cling film and dill. Top with remaining dill.
- Wrap fish tightly in cling film and place into a (zip lock) bag.
- Put the parcel in a Tupperware container or oven dish.
- Place a plate or chopping board on the fish and weigh it down with heavy objects. (Or completely forget about this step as I sometimes seem to do.)
- Keep the salmon in the fridge for 3-5 days. It is best to turn the fish once a day to ensure even curing.
- Unwrap the fish and discard the dill.
- Rinse, pat dry and remove the skin.
- Cutting against the grain, serve in thin slices.
- The cured fish keeps for at least one week in the refrigerator.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following
- add a little crushed black pepper to the salt and sugar
- drizzle the fish with a tablespoon of vodka or aquavit
- Add lemon zest
Adventurous Gravad Lax
A friend of mine shared his way of making Gravlax with me. It is so much more exciting & wild than my “domesticated” recipe. Unfortunately it is a true winter recipe that requires frost. So although winter is hardly gone I am already looking forward to its return to try this myself.
- Rub the salmon generously with Cognac (he uses Osborne)
- Wrap the fish in aluminum foil and then in cling film.
- Bury the fish in the garden about 40cm deep (this is where the name originates from: gravad lax.)
- Dig up three weeks later and enjoy.
Thank you GdB for this amazing recipe!
Red fruit and veg smoothie. Full of healthy goodness, ever so tasty and really quick to make – what more can you ask for
There has been a dramatic shift in weather (the snow vanished overnight and temperatures are 10C above 0C instead of below). And no matter that it is January, it feels like spring. All of a sudden I am craving fresh vegetables and fruit.
I remembered the fabulous Green Smoothie that I was making regularly before winter set in. I decided to experiment with some different ingredients. I remembered a recipe with beets that just seemed crazy enough to try. The result? A fabulous red smoothie that I just cannot get enough of. It is fresh and fruity with a deep earthy undertone.
Sound interesting? Try it, you will not be disappointed
Sound too weird to be any good? Try it, you will be surprised
150g (1 cup) blueberries or cherries
1 medium beet, baked or cooked until soft
1/2 medium cucumber
handful of spinach
juice of 1/2 lime
splash of vanilla essence
250ml 1 cup rice milk (or hemp or almond)*
optional: 1 tsp chia seeds
optional: 1 tsp faxseeds
- For a wonderfully icy drink add frozen berries to the blender. Otherwise allow the berries to defrost first.
- Peel the beets and cut them into chunk and add.
- Cut cucumber into chunks and add.
- Add spinach, lime juice, vanilla and milk.
- Optional: add chia and flax seeds.
- Blend until smooth.
Tips & Variations
- Spinach can be replaced with 3-4 kale leaves
- Add a spoon full of protein powder or hemp
- Truth be told: variations are endless
Smoky aubergine dip also know as caviar d’aubergines
Baba ganoush is an aubergine dip with an amazing smoky flavour; I have never tasted anything like it! Gorgeous! I was over the moon when I discovered it really is not that hard to make yourself.
You start by charring some eggplant over an open flame or under a grill. The hob method is more adventurous. Cooking them under the grill is particularly good if you are making larger amounts (and you will want massive amounts, this stuff is so delicious).
Before making the baba ganoush I would actually set aside a little of the roast aubergine to use as part of this recipe for Lentils with Roast Vegetables.
Serve your baba ganoush as an appetizer with some wraps.
Or as a side dish to spiced lamb and a salad for a fabulous main course.
Or….go crazy and serve this dip as part of a mezze style feast.
Last but not least this dip not only keeps in the fridge for about five days, it actually tastes better after a day or two.
2 large aubergine
3 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of cayenne or chili
optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp leaf parsley
I know two methods for preparing the eggplant.
Option 1: Hob & oven
- Heat oven to 200C.
- Prick the eggplants a few times with a fork. Char them by placing them directly on the flame of your gas stove. Turn them regularly until the skin is blackened and bubbles.( I so enjoy this part of the recipe – I mean how often do you get to do something like this.) Depending on how smoky you like you dip, char them for about (5 to )15 min.
- Put the aubergine in an oven dish and bake about 45 min until soft and wrinkled.
- Transfer them to a colander and allow to drain for 30 min.
- Line a baking tray with a double layer of aluminum foil.
- Pierce aubergines a few times with a fork (to stop them from exploding.)
- Place them directly under a hot grill for about 1 hour, turning them a few times. The aubergines should deflate and the skin should burn and break.
Making the dip
- Boil a little water and throw in the garlic just briefly. (This removes the sharp edge of the garlic.)
- Carefully remove the garlic skin. Cut the aubergine into rough chunks and put these to your food processor together with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cayenne, cumin (if using). Process until you have a creamy dip. (I prefer my baba ganoush with some texture, but you can go as smooth as you like.)
- Chill at least for a few hours before serving. The dip will taste even better after a day or two. It will keep for about five in the fridge and can be frozen.
Spicy Lamb Chops or Mini Kofta
Soft Warps or Pita Breads
Cauliflower Tabbouleh or Watermelon Feta Salad
Lentils and Roast Vegetables (you can use either baba ganoush or plain roast aubergine for this dish)
Grilled Aubergine on Lentils and Roast Veg
Tender coconut chicken with fresh herbs and a hint of heat
A wonderful little appetizer that is quick to put together but looks stunning on any dinner party table. Lovely for a summer celebration or an Asian feast. This time however it was the third salad I made for my Thanksgiving appreciation of ALL – the sea, the earth and the sky.
(based on a Donna Hay’s recipe from ‘Instant Entertaining’)
about 6-8 wonton cups
2 chicken breast
about 1 can of coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp Muscovado sugar (or other brown sugar)
a few leaves of basil
1. Slice the chicken breast down the center into two large thin pieces.
2. Gently heat the coconut milk. Add the chicken and poach 10-12 minutes until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Deseed and chop chili.
4. Combine with lime juice and fish sauce. Set aside.
5. Chop the fresh herbs. Combine the meat, dressing and herbs.
6. When you are ready to serve spoon the filling into the wonton cups.
Tips & Variations
• Instead of serving the chicken in a wonton cup you can also shallow fry a sheet of wonton in some oil, allow to drain and use it as a “cracker”.
• The original recipe uses plaincooked chicken. If I am making this dish from scratch I prefer poaching the chichen in coconut milk – but if you have some chicken leftovers this is a great recipe for using them up.