An amazing gift ……

My parents gave me such a lovely gift: A bottle of wonderful wine, a jar of perfectly paired spice and a recipe.

The wine: Saint Julien. One of the most famous Bordeaux wines from the Médoc.

The spice: Pimentón de la Vera . An amazing smoky paprika used in traditional Spanish cooking. It is the spice that gives the chorizo sausage its unmistakable flavour.

The recipe: steak tartare. A dish of chopped meat that became popular at the beginning of the 20th century.

This weekend I assembled my gift. The combination of the Pimentón flavoured tartare and the rich wine was just incredible: powerful, harmonious, complementary.

Out of curiosity I also made a serving of a more traditionally seasoned steak tartare. On its own right I slightly preferred the classic version. I also really enjoyed having two tartares with different textures and flavours. But in the end the combination of the pimento tartare with the wine was unsurpassable.

Such a wonderful present! Just a little tip though: Apparently Saint Julien is not the easiest wine to find for a palatable price. So it might be worth looking for a more affordable alternative with similar flavours – elegant berries, warm plum, velvety spice.

Or fabulously spoil yourself or a very lucky person the way I was…..

A big thank you to my parents!

Serves 2

300g tenderloin (NL: ossenhaas, DE: Rinderfilet, -lende) (see tips for alternative cuts)
1/2 red onion
4 cornichons
salt, pepper

1 tsp Pimentón de la Vera
2 tsp capers
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mayonnaise

To serve
2-4 (quail) eggs
sliced baguette
other pickled vegetables you can get your hands on (silver onions, caper berries, cauliflower)
the jar of Pimentón de la Vera

1. Chop the meat as fine as you like. (I like a very fine texture but it really is up to you).
2. Chop the onion and cornichons fine. Combine with the meat, salt and pepper.
3. Separate the meat into two equal portions.
4. Mix the one half with the pimento.
5. Chop the capers finely and combine with the second half of the meat as well as all the classic seasoning.
6. Taste the tartare and adjust to your liking!
7. The tartare can be served on one big plate, as individual servings or as canapés (For more info on how to serve see below).
8. Make indents into the tartare and allow the raw eggs to slide in.
9. Serve with all the side nibbles.

Tips & Variations

  • Buy your meat from a butcher and tell him/her what dish you are making to get the freshest meat. Do not buy a pre-wrapped piece of meat from the supermarket.
  • You can experiment with the cut of meat:

o Mild flavour: sirloin or tenderloin
o A little more bite: flank steak
o Beefy flavour: chuck or brisket

  • You can also add:

o 1 lightly whisked egg
o chopped parsley
o chopped spring onion
o 1 tsp ketchup

  • You can crisp the bread

o preheat oven to 150C (300F)
o brush bread slices lightly with olive oil
o sprinkle with salt
o bake for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden

To serve

  • rustic sharing: place the tartare in the middle of a large dish and surround with bread and other sides
  • 2 individual servings: using a serving ring place half of the meat on a small dish. Press down a little. Add half of the side servings. Repeat for the second serving.
  • amuse or party canapé: Place small amount of tartare on slices of bread or one  amuse –  or Asian soupspoons. You can use a table spoon to form the tartare into quenelles.

Tartare – Left: with Pimentón – Right: Classic


Juicy lamb chops with the punch of spice

A spice party in your mouth, that’s what these lamb chops are. Incredibly easy and wonderfully tasty – need I say more?

My only extra advice is to use good meat – it will make all the difference!



Serves 3-4

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp fresh or ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp fennelseed
1/4 tsp majoram
Optional:1 tsp ground dried mint
1 tbsp olive oil
12 lamb chops


  1. Mix all the spices in a zip-lock bag. Add the lamb chops and coat in the spice mix on all sides.
  2. Marinate overnight.
  3. Allow chops to come to room temperature (about half an hour).
  4. Fry about 3 minutes on each side. Keep warm and allow to sit just briefly.


Serve with

On my first bite I swooned and exclaimed: “oh, these are good!” All before I realized that praising your own food with so much gusto is not really the done thing. But these meat pies were so good I repeated myself with the next bite…

I combined a few ideas from different recipes and then cooked a little test meatball in a frying pan. To my surprise the filling only needed some additional salt -but I am sure I was just lucky. I would definitely suggest testing your mix and adding more spices if necessary.
Next to being absolutely delicious, these bites are also incredibly convenient! You can prepare them and them freeze them uncooked. When you want to serve them you just pop them in the oven straight from the freezer.

(dough based the blog ‘Wandering Spice’. Cannot remember where I found the meat filling)
makes 20

125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
125g  (1 cup) self-raising flour (= 125g flour + 2 tsp baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

65ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
about 170ml  (2/3) cup water
1 tsp of cumin seeds

20g (1/3 cup) pine nuts
1 apple
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
400g lamb mince
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 -1 teaspoon of crushed chilies
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Optional: fresh mint for decoration
Optional: pomegranate seeds for decoration

1. Sift flours in a bowl. Add sugar, salt and oil. Gradually mix in as much water as needed to bring together a loose dough. Add the cumin seeds and knead for a few minutes until soft and pliable. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 15-10 minutes.
2. Roast the pine nuts in a frying pan without oil.
3. Grate the apple, onion and garlic. Chop the herbs. Add the mince meat and spices. Combine quickly. Do not over knead.
4. Form a little ball and fry until cooked. Taste the meat ball and adjust the seasoning.
5. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
6. Cut the pastry into four pieces. Roll each piece out thin enough to cut out 5 rounds of 9 cm. The dough has a tendency to shrink. You can give the cut out rounds another roll.
7. Place about 1 tbsp of the meat mixture in the center of the dough. Pinch the rounds together to form a square.
8. Arrange the pies on a baking tray and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
9. Or place the baking tray in the freezer. After a few hours the shifas will be frozen solid and can be transferred to a zip-lock bag. They can be baked straight from frozen in about 25-30 minutes.
10. Optional: decorate with mint and pomegranat.

Mince and Lentils – Food for the Soul

Summer has not yet commit itself to sticking around. Some evenings still cry out for heartwarming  comfort food. This Ragu with Mince and Lentils really hits the spot.

Who would think that such unpretentious ingredients could taste so incredibly soothing. It really is all in the seasoning. Believe me: keep tasting this dish and add little more of this and a little more of that, until you have difficulty putting down the spoon. And do not worry if the first few spoonful taste disappointing – it really is all in the seasoning!


(based on Nigella Lawson’s ‘Ragu’ recipe from ‘Nigella Express’)
Serves 4

2 tbsp (garlic) oil
125g pancetta (or a thick bacon rasher) (or NL: spekblokjes)
500g minced lamb (or beef)
3 red onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
80ml Marsala (or more to taste)
1 400g can of tomatoes
125g green lentils
125ml water
½ cube of vegetable stock
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp of ketchup
big splash of balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper
50-100 g grated tasty cheese (old Gouda, red Leicester)



  1. Fry pancetta until crispy. Remove from pan and drain on kitchen towel.
  2. Wipe pan . Chop onion, add to the pan and cover with a lid. Cook until soft. Remove onion from the pan, add it to the pancetta and set aside.
  3. Add oil to the frying pan. Add meat and fry until lightly browned.
  4. Add onion and pancetta mix. Add garlic, brown sugar.
  5. Add marsala, tomato, lentils, water, stock cube and bring to the boil. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are done, stirring once in a while.
  6. Season with honey, ketchup, balsamic, salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese over the dish and serve.

Serve with

  • Pita Breads
  • Hummus mixed with yoghurt, ground cumin, lemon juice, lemon rind, salt pepper. Decorate with a  little olive oil and pomegranate seeds
  • Salad of green beans

Delicious Moose Liver

Ok, granted; this is probably not the most useful recipe I have ever shared. But tell me, could  you resist posting a recipe for Moose Liver if you had cooked it?
I am using “cooked” in a very wide sense here.  The only thing I did was to slice the liver. The Swedish friends I was visiting did all the cooking.
I really do not enjoy the more readily available types of liver. So this started out as an experiment. But I can honestly tell you that Moose liver is absolutely delicious! I took so much pleasure in it, that I not only took second and thirds (and fourths I think) I also wanted to share the joy so much, that I kept piling more and more on everybody else’s plates . Believe me, we enjoyed every last little morsel of that huge liver.

A big thank you to JKB and RB for their hospitality and this amazing experience!

The good life in the Swedish countryside


1 Moose liver
about ¾ -1 liter of milk
oil or butter
salt, pepper



  1. Put the liver in a dish that is only slightly wider and higher than the liver.
  2. Fill the dish with milk until the liver is covered.
  3. Cover the dish with cling film and place in the fridge for about 1-5 hours (or even over-night).
  4. Remove the liver from the milk and pat dry.
  5. Slice the liver into thin slices.
  6. Heat butter or oil in a frying pan. Turn heat to medium high. Fry the liver brown on one side. Flip and fry just brown on the other side. (Try to avoid turning the liver more than once).