Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lentil stew with smoked bacon

Boil lentils (I used French Du Puy lentils) together with a slab of smoked bacon and onion until the lentils are soft.

Use some of the cooking water to make a roux. Add salt, black pepper and nutmeg to season the roux.

Dice the cooked smoked bacon and pour the roux, together with the diced bacon, back into the pot. Mix well.

This is a great dish to remember because you can use it as a base for German Linseneintopf. You can add carrots, potatos, peas or different kinds of meat.

Talking about German cousine, I should try this one: Labskaus.

500 g Kartoffeln
1/8 L Milch
1/8 L Brühe
1 Zwiebeln
10 g Butter
300 g Corned Beef
50 g Rote Beete
2 EL Rote Beete Saft
9 Rollmöpse
3 Gewürzgurken
10 g Margarine (or: Butter)
3 Eier
Pfeffer aus der Mühle
1/4 TL Meersalz

Die Kartoffeln schälen, kleinschneiden und in wenig Salzwasser garkochen. Die Zwiebel in feine Würfel schneiden, in Butter glasig dünsten und beiseite stellen. Die Milch und die Fleischbrühe erwärmen. Wenn die Kartoffeln gar sind, das Kochwasser abgießen und die Milch zufügen. Mit einem Kartoffelstampfer die Kartoffeln zerdrücken. Mit soviel Fleischbrühe auffüllen, bis ein nicht zu steifes Puree entsteht. Dann die Zwiebeln unterheben. Das Corned Beef in Würfel schneiden und unter die Kartoffeln heben. Die Rote Beete feinhacken und ebenfalls dazugeben. Zwei EL Rote Beete Saft unter die Kartoffelmasse rühren. Mit Pfeffer und Salz würzen. In einer beschichteten Pfanne die Margarine auslassen und drei Spiegeleier braten. Nach Geschmack würzen. Das Labskaus auf möglichst vorgewärmten Tellern verteilen und je ein Spiegelei darüber geben. Die Rollmöpse, Gewürzgurken und die restliche Rote Beete dazureichen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Texels lamb & salty sea vegetables

Zacht gegaard Texels lamsfilet met zeekool en kokkels, geserveerd met een frisse salade van zilte groenten met krokant gebakken lever, zwezerik en gerookte lamstong, afgemaakt met een vinaigrette van lamsorenmosterd. Recipe (in Dutch)

The lamb's tongue reminds me of dish I used to eat in Tanzania a lot: ulimi ya (za?) ng'ombe, cow's tongue. I'm not sure how it was made but it was served on a plate, sliced into small dice sized cubes with a heap of salt on the side and a small bowl with (presumably) the tongue's stock. It was the perfect late night snack with a big glass of ice cold beer. Dip the cubes in salt, sip the stock and drink the beer... I'll have to recreate this dish one day. Probably as simple as to boil the tongue in water for a couple of hours with bay leaf and some black pepper corns.

Thai red curry (shopping list)

From Rick Stein's Seafood:

5 big red chillies
1 thumb-size piece ginger
2 stalks lemongrass (outer leaves removed)
6 cloves garlic
3 shallots, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp blachan (Thai shrimp paste)
2 tsp paprika (powder)
1/2 tsp kurkuma
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Red table wines & Pinot Blanc

Domaine Deshenrys. Vin de Pays D'oc 2003. Merlot. Languedoc-roussillon. Bouchard & Fils. [used in Red Cabbage stew: one red cabbage (shredded), 200 ml. red wine, one large apple, one large onion, 100 gram butter, one tbs red wine vinegar, bay leaf, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Simmer for 3 hours. Add sugar to taste. From: La Vraie Cuisine Francaise by Robert J. Courtine. Dutch translation: De Echte Franse Keuken (Bruna & Zoon, 1963)] I don't know, the red cabbage remained quite sour and bitter despite the long cooking time. It took 3 full tablespoons of sugar to make it edible. Not really my favorite, maybe my cabbage wasn't too tasty to begin with (bought in supermarket).

Finished the remainder of the wine with blue Stilton cheese from Nottinghamshire. This Stilton is soft like butter, which means it has aged a further 5 weeks (or more?) after the usual 9 weeks it takes to make blue Stilton. Amazing cheese! Omelette with Stilton is brilliant. Beat the eggs, pour in a pan and add plenty of cubed Stilton. Fry with the lid closed.

Domaine Siméoni. Vin de Pays de l'Hérault. Mas Siméoni 2006. Organic wine. [okay but not great, won't buy again.]

White wine. Domaine Rieflé. Pinot Blanc 2007. Bonheur Convival. Vin D'Alsace. [will keep for choucroute garnie Darn, already opened it. It's a lovely wine, quite fruity and will be excellent with choucroute but also on it's own. Drink at slightly warmer temperatures: 10 degrees. Also excellent for asparagus]

Chicken with prunes

1 sliced onion
sliced fresh ginger
cinnamon stick
2 grated onions
dried prunes

From: Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. The recipe is quite ancient and was mentioned in the thirteenth century manuscript Kitab al Wusla il al Habib containing 74 chicken recipes.

Boil the chicken in plenty of water with sliced onion, salt, saffron, ginger and cinnamon. Simmer without a lid. After half an hour add the grated onions and cook until the chicken is tender. In the last half hour add the prunes and cook until the sauce is reduced.

I tried this with several chickens. I bought one in the supermarket (Albert Heijn) and was left with a sauce extremely rich in fat. The next day when the sauce was cold it had the consistency of jelly. Then I tried this recipe with a Dutch free range chicken (Polderhoen, origin: Flevopolder. Butcher: Reijn-Uljee). What a difference! The sauce was more tasty stock than fat. Modern supermarket chickens are very fatty because during their short lifespan they hardly move about. The food they’re eating is largely transformed into fat instead of lean protein.

In the Channel 4 program Dispatches: Supermarket Secrets you can see how one chicken can contain up to a pint (500 ml) of pure fat of the unhealthy kind (Omega-6 fatty acid). Skip to 34:34 in Part 1 of Supermarket Secrets.

You can recognize an obese fatty chicken: when the thighbone is soft, the chicken has not been walking much of her life. If you see brown spots ('hock burn', or ammonia burns) on the lower legs, the chicken has been laying down on a dirty floor for quite some time. Of course the price is also a give away. A proper free range chicken costs around 16 euro. A supermarket chicken can be as cheap as 3 euro.

Watch Dispatches: Supermarket Secrets Part 1 and Part 2.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chickpea salad

Another one in the series 'damn quick and easy'.
Heat olive oil in a pan, add one sliced red onion and cook, stirring, over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes until soft. Add 2 garlic cloves, one chili and fry for another minute. Tip in one can of chickpeas and stir. Squeeze over lemon juice and add plenty of flat leaf parsley.

Remove from heat, crumble over Greek feta cheese and toss well.

... from Gordon Ramsay's 'Healthy Appetite'. I don't own this book, which was apparantly written by Ramsey's side-kick Sarge. Ramsey only wrote the intro and branded the book with his name.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and soy beans

1) Soak 200 gram of soy beans overnight. Cook the soy beans until soft and rub the skins off, this can be pretty time consuming. Instead of soy beans you can also use fried tofu.

2) Reconstitute some dried hijiki sea weed

3) Cut 2 large carrots in thin strips.

Fry and simmer the soy beans, hijiki and carrots in sesame oil for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add: 250 ml dashi stock, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce and 3 tbsp of mirin. If you have, add 3 tbsp of sake as well. Many recipes call for sugar, I omitted the sugar (and sake).

Simmer until the liquid has reduced.

This dish is nice with Japanese rice and miso soup. The taste was a little bland, use more soy sauce for a saltier taste.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dal: Vegetable Chaunk version

For my own reference:

2 tablespoons ghee
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (and/or fresh chili)
2 bay leaves
Pinch of hing (asafetida)
1 medium size chopped tomato
1 small courgette chopped into cubes
6 string beans chopped (optional)
1 carrot (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add hing, cumin seeds, mustard seeds. After seeds crack add bay leaves and chili powder, stir for few seconds and add the vegetables. Stir the vegetables and cook for 4 to 5 minutes till the vegetables are tender, add chaunk to dal and mix well.

I used yellow moong dal, which is split and dehusked mung beans. Simply boil the dal with some salt and a tsp of turmeric.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sauvignon 2006, Loire Valley

Sauvignon 2006, French white wine. Producer: FOURNIER Père et fils, region: Loire River banks. Grape-variety: Sauvignon. A simple white table wine. Bought for cooking mussels. It’s July and the mussels are just in season, until March next year. [a very nice wine for 8,50 euro, it was the right choice for mussels, would buy again]

More photo's on my Flickr photostream.

More wines
Pinot Blanc Bonheur Convival 2007. White wine. Grape: Pinot Blanc Producer: Domaine Rieflé. Region: Vin d’Alsace. [very fruity, I'm drinking it without food, one glass per day. However it's better to drink with a meal. Won't buy again as an evening wine, but will buy again for dinner: sauerkraut would be nice.]

Bourgogne Aligoté 2006. White wine. Producer: Catherine et Claude Maréchal. Grape: Aligoté. Contains no sulphites. [A very, very dry wine. Nice. Drank on August 30]

Royal St-Charles. Vin Mousseux sec. A French sparkling rose. Not much information on the label, but I found this wine on a Dutch website under the name: De Neuville, Royal St. Charles Rosé. [a little too sweet for my taste, drinks easily but won't buy again. The color is pretty dark red for a rose]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chai Recipe

For my own reference:

Boil 5 min. then steep for 10 min.:

1 tbsp fennel or anise seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
ginger root, sliced thin
1/4 tsp black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
7 cups of water

Add, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes:

2 tbsp Darjeeling tea



6 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1 cup milk

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Junmai ‘extra dry’ sake, Harushika

A Junmai ‘extra dry’ sake brewed by Harushika. It’s one of the six sake’s Harushika brews for export.

Commercial Description:
日本の名: 春鹿 純米 超辛口
Rice: Yamada Nishiki
Nihonshu-do: +12
Seimaibuai: 58%

Very dry sake with medium body. Refreshing earthy aroma with hint of flower, combined with crispy citrus fruits flavor and clean bitter finish. [Drunk before and after pasta bolognese, it seemed pretty dry indeed although I have little to compare. I believe the pitch "goes well after a big meal" (see below) is correct. Will buy again, but only to accompany a full dinner.]

Marketing pitch:
“This is about as dry as they get and is nonetheless pleasant and finishes grassy and light bodied. It goes well after a big meal.”

Harushika, or "Spring Deer," takes its name from the deer that roam free in Nara Park. Harushika began by brewing sake for the well-known shrine Kasuga Taisha. Seventy percent of Harushika's brew is junmai and is quite dry indeed. A very subdued nose and clean, smooth flavor combine to give a non-obtrusive flavor profile. Although Harushika is quite pleasant slightly chilled, it goes down smoothly when gently warmed as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tengumai sake

A 720 ml bottle of tokubetsu junmai-shu sake: Tengumai, brewed by Shata Shuzo Co. Quality: Junmai-shu, taste: full flavoured, slightly tangy, medium dry. Rice polishing ratio: 60%, alcohol content: 15,9%, origin: Ishikawa. Only naturally cultivated lactic acid bacillae are used. [excellent sake, although I don't have much reference. For the time being: will buy again. Much better cold than at room temperature]

Founded in 1823 in the late Edo period. At the time it was founded the Kura (brewery) was surrounded by dense forest where Tengu, long-nosed goblins seemed likely to exist. Tengu, according to Japanese tradition, possess mysterious powers. The sake's name, "Tengumai", is derived from the meaning that even Tengu would dance after drinking this sake because it tastes so good. Since its foundation the Shata family has operated the brewery in this beautiful pastoral setting and the present head is the 7th generation. [source]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zen Blackness, lost in the mail

I bought a black chawan (see photo) made by Seigan Yamane but it seems it has been lost in the mail somewhere between Japan and Amsterdam. It should have arrived almost 3 weeks ago.

Oh well, I still have this to read: Zen Blackness,
The Beauty of the Dark Side by Robert Yellin.

Update July 21
Still no black chawan in the mail. I’ll probably have to buy another one. Maybe one of the Rikyu Shichi-shu, the seven 16th century raku bowls Sen no Rikyu owned made by Chojiro, the first Raku potter.

Only three are black, the other four are red.

The kuro (black) raku chawan are called: Hachibaraki, Oguro (‘big black’) and Toyobo (named after a Zen monk of Shinnyo-do temple, who was a good friend of Rikyu).

The red chawan are called: Hayafune (‘fast ship’), Kengyo (‘blind monk’), Kimamori (‘tree guardian’) and Rinzai.

The workshop of Sasaki Shoraku produces copies of all of these chawan. Quite cheaply as well (around 50 - 60 euro). However, if you want a raku chawan made by Sasaki Shoraku III himself (and not by one of his assistants) these chawan will be roughly three times as expensive (around 200 euro). That's (much) more than I'm willing to pay at the moment.

A Chinese classic

Quick, simple and tasty.Apart from the dried shrimp you can buy all the ingredienst in a normal supermarket.

Just 4 ingredients:

25 gram dried shrimp
4 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 Chinese cabbage
4 spring onions cut in 2 centimeter sections, seperating the white from the green

Soak the shrimps in boiling water for 30 minutes, drain and preserve the water

Chop the cabbage in thin bite size strips

Heat oil in a wok, fry white spring onion, add ginger. Shortly afterwards add the shrimps, stir for a few seconds.

Add the cabbage, toss and add the shrimp water, season with salt. Cook until the cabbage is tender yet crunchy.

Add green spring onion and serve immediately. A few drops of sesame oil will enhance this dish.

From Yan-Kit So’s Classic Chinese Cookbook.

A Chinese classic

Quick, simple and tasty. Apart from dried shrimp you can buy all the ingredients in a supermarket.

Just 4 ingredients:

25 gram of dried shrimp
4 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 Chinese celery cabbage Dutch: Chinese kool
4 spring onions cut in 2 centimeter sections, seperating the white from the green

Soak the shrimps in boiling water for 30 minutes, drain and preserve the water

Chop the cabbage in thin bite sized strips

Heat oil in a wok, fry white spring onion, add ginger. Add the shrimps, stir for a few seconds.

Add the cabbage, toss and add the shrimp water, season with salt. Cook until the cabbage is tender yet crunchy.

Add green spring onion and serve immediately. A few drops of sesame oil will enhance this dish.

From Yan-Kit So’s Classic Chinese Cookbook.

In season: tuinboon (Vicia faba)

The broad bean (Vicia faba) has been cultivated for around 8000 years. Typical harvest time in The Netherlands is June and July.

How to prepare? Shell the beans and blanche for 30 seconds in boiling water. The outer skin of the shelled beans can be pretty bitter, so after blanching you need to take off the light grey skin. You’re left with the bright green inner part, which has a wonderful flavor. But taste first! When the beans are really young, the skin is much less bitter and can be used.

Recipe for 2 persons:

200 gram of bulgur. Take the water you have used for blanching the broad beans and peas, this will add extra flavor to the bulgur. Pour 400 ml of this boiling hot vegetable water on the bulgur and wait for 15 minutes. Don’t boil the bulgur.

Mix the bulgur with:
Shelled, blanched and skinned broad beans
Fresh shelled and blanched peas (also in season)
Diced Greek feta cheese
Sweet cherry tomato’s, halved
50 gram pumpkin seeds

Make a dressing with:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
garlic, pepper and salt

After mixing the dressing into the bulgur, add a hand of fresh mint leaves, roughly cut, and toss everything over until the flavors are mixed. This recipe only works when everything is fresh. Canned broad beans and peas are no substitute, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ao Hagi Yunomi by Seigan Yamane

An Ao Hagi (blue Hagi) yunomi made by Seigan Yamane. The blue glaze is called 'Seigan blue', his trademark glaze. The greenish blue color really shines when it's hit by direct sunlight.

The shape is different from the usual tsutsugata (cylindrical shape).

GOHONDE-Yunomi, Seigan Yamane

Another Hagi GOHONDE-Yunomi made by Seigan Yamane. The spot pattern is called GOHONDE or HOTARU (firefly).

This cup is somewhat larger than a standard yunomi, so I'm using it for houjicha and herbal tea.

A little background story on yunomi: Fired with Flavor by Robert Yellin.

Pouilly-Fumé, Michel Langlois

Pouilly-Fumé 2007. Grape: Sauvignon blanc. Producer: Michel Langlois. Region: Pougny, Cosne-sur-Loire. What is Pouilly-Fumé?

A gift from my neighbour for watering her plants on the rooftop terrace during her holiday. Vigneron Michel Langlois should not be confused with Langlois-Chateau, a different wine producer. [not opened]

Pouilly Fumé can be kept for five to ten years, according to the year and vintage. It normally peaks in its second or third year. [source] I guess I should keep this bottle for another year or so..

Korean BBQ: bulgogi

This couldn’t be simpler.

Slice good quality beef, like sirloin steak (Dutch: lendelapje), in very thin slices and marinate in bulgogi sauce for half an hour. When pressed for time buy a jar of bulgogi sauce from an Asian food store.

These are the basic ingredients for the marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, salt

When the BBQ is hot, place heavy tin foil on the grid and fry the marinated meat. At this point you can add mushrooms and sliced onion.

Grilling without tin foil is also possible, but the meat has to be sliced much thicker.

When the meat is done, take a leaf of lettuce (or any other large leavy vegetable), put some rice on it, the hot meat, a little fermented soy bean paste (sunchang ssamjang), slice of garlic, kimchi, and fold the lettuce leaf to form a small package. Eat.

The fermented soy bean paste provides for a great umami taste and can also be used as a dipping sauce for cucumber, raw onion or carrots.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wari-Koudai Totoya Chawan

This is a pretty strong (visually) chawan. Another work by the Japanese ceramist Deishi Shibuya. The photographs don't do justice to this bowl. The white glaze is amazingly bright. It's really a nice piece of work. Definitely a keeper.

The shape is called Totoya, which means “fish dealer” in Japanese. In the sixteenth century a wealthy fish dealer from Sakai (Osaka) imported a bowl of this shape from Korea. The famous tea master Sen no Rikyu discovered the bowl in the shop front of the fishmonger and used it for his powdered tea. Or so the story goes...

I have to do some more digging to find out whether this story is true.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spaghetti Carbonara

Many people know this Italian dish as a creamy spaghetti sauce. However, Spaghetti Carbonara doesn’t contain any cream.

Just 7 ingredients:

Spaghetti (400 gram)
Pancetta (better: guanciale)
Egg (2 for 400 gram)
Pecorino romano, grated (40 gram)
Parmesan, grated (40 gram)
Garlic (crushed)
Black pepper and salt

The egg is the sauce. Fry diced pancetta in olive oil, add crushed garlic. Boil spaghetti. Put spaghetti in a hot bowl, add hot pancetta and oil but remove the garlic. Add half the cheese.

Break one egg, or egg yolk, per person over the spaghetti, add the rest of the cheese and mix. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the egg. The egg and cheese will form a cream like sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Even more authentic: use half Parmigiano-Reggiano, half Pecorino Romano. The prefered meat is not pancetta but guanciale, if you can find it outside of Italy.


This famous Aztec dish has just 5 ingredients:

Ripe avocados
Minced tomatoes
Black pepper and salt
Lime or lemon juice

Mash in mortar and pestle. The garlic and black pepper provide enough taste, but you can add red chili. Don't use it a as a dip for supermarket nacho's, but toast some good bread.

And hey, it's vegan! Restaurant critic Jay Rayner Eats leaves and shoots ... himself

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weingut Debus Riesling Eiswein

I finally made the splurge just for myself: Eiswein from Weingut Debus, region: Rheinhessen, Germany. Grape: Riesling. Should be drunk very cold, around 4 or even 3 degrees Celsius. I drank a sparkling wine from Weingut Debus, which was really excellent. I will look out for more wine from this producer. [Update: The color is the most amazing color I have ever seen in a drink: a deep golden amber. I decided to drink the Eiswein on a hot evening on my rooftop terrace. Despite a bucket of ice, it was difficult to keep the wine cold enough: an uphill battle. The difference in taste between the first cold sip and the last warm sip was enormous. Eiswein is best drunk near a refrigerator. Also: cool the glasses beforehand. It’s a very sweet potent (taste wise) wine. Works fine with white grapes. I also bought some dark chocolate, but the sweetness of the chocolate killed the wine.]

Eiswien is made from grapes which are harvested after frost, at least -8 degrees Celsius, in December or even January. Eiswein has an increased concentration of sugar as a result of freezing out water.

Prabi Bianco 2006

Prabi Bianco 2006, Italian white wine. Producer: Cesconi, region: Trentino Alto Adige, Dolomites, Northern Italy. Grapes used: Manzoni Bianco, Riesling (5%), Pinot Bianco (15%). Good with fish. [Excellent wine, highly recommended. Also excellent without food]

Manzoni is a grape made by crossing Pinot Bianco and Riesling Renano (=alternative name used in Italy for the German Riesling grape).

Fish stock

For my own reference, to be accessed from my mobile phone when shopping:

1 kg fish bones, heads etc.

1 onion
1 bulb fennel
100 gr. celery stick (sliced)
100 gr. carrot
25 gr. mushrooms (champignons)


3 leeks
1 bulb fennel
3 carrots
large handful fresh parsley
175ml. dry white wine

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watanabe Blade Wa Gyuto

I just knew sooner or later I had to buy a gyuto made by Shinichi Watanabe. He is famous for his high quality hand forged kitchen knives. After using high end kitchen knives for a couple of years now, I have learned which types of knives are best for me. I could live with just two knives: a 210mm gyuto (Japanese version of the chef’s knife, or French knife) and a deba knife (Well, and a cleaver which can cut through chicken bones. That makes three knives). I now have three gyuto:

A Ryusen 210mm Blazen, powdered steel, stainless. Light as a feather, sharp like a razor.

Shinichi Watanabe
... and my brand new 210mm Watanabe wa-gyuto (link shows 240mm version) made of Blue Steel with keyaki wood octagon handle. The above photo shows the 240mm version. I’m so impressed by this knife. It’s made from carbon steel, which is not stainless. A wa-gyuto is a gyuto knife with a traditional Japanese handle.

Takeda Hamono
I own another gyuto made by Takeda Hamono, a 240mm gyuto. This gyuto is a little long for my taste - and cutting board - but very usefull for big vegetables like cabbage. I will keep my Takeda because prices of Takeda knives have shot up since I bought mine. It’s a good investment. I also have a Takeda nakiri bocho and a small Takeda banno kobunka bocho. All my Takeda’s are made from high quality Aogami Super Steel (AS), or Blue Steel #2, from Hitachi Metals, at the core, layered between softer, low carbon steel.

Deba bocho
The other indispensible knife would be a Japanese deba knife. You can’t really cut bones or hard food with a gyuto - the edge is too delicate - so here comes the deba in play. Of course they come in a variety of shapes. A thinner mioroshi deba is used for precision work like filleting fish or deboning meat. A heavy Western deba (double bevel) can be used to cut through chicken bones like butter.

Watanabe deba
I have two Watanabe deba from the cheaper standard series. These knives are made from White Steel and have crappy cheap handles. Other than that, they are of very high quality. I have a 150mm Watanabe kurouchi (=rough surface) deba, White Steel (Hrc62 to Hrc64) laminated to a wrought-iron back, and a 165mm Watanabe mioroshi deba, White Steel.

Because these knives are so hard - at least Hrc62 - they can't be used to cut bones other than fish bones. The edge will easily chip. I’m thinking of replacing the handles as an upgrade. Update: The Epicurean Edge charges 25 USD for replacing the handles + the cost of the wood. My deba knives are going on a trip to the USA.

What is the difference between White Steel and Blue Steel? Click here and scroll all the way down. See the complete manufacturing process (website Moritaka Hamono).

Oops. I forgot my Franz Güde breadknife. It's a monster, blade length 32 cm. Olive wood handle. It's indispensable .. and almost half a meter in length.

Bread salad. Panzanella

This Italian dish from Tuscany is somewhat similar to gazpacho being in essense a bread salad. Panzanella is also a perfect leftover salad. Throw in anything you like. As long as you use: bread, tomatoes, basil, salt, vinegar and oil.

The base is bread, traditionally stale bread, but fresh will do. Use ciabatta, or any other type of bread. I used pretty heavy sourdough rye (rogge) wheat bread, which worked perfectly. I sprinkled the sliced bread with olive oil, fried it in a pan, then diced it. You can also bake the bread in an oven, toast it or use stale old bread. Good quality bread is essential for this dish. Don't even think of supermarket bread. Ever.

Put the diced bread in a bowl, add canned tuna, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion in chunks. At this point you are free to use anything which is suitable: black olives, capers, diced potatoes, hard boiled egg. But remember: less is more!

Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and make sure the bread soaks up the vinaigrette.

I didn’t have any basil, but fresh basil leaves are an important addition. I did use the pine nuts I had left over from the pesto. Blanched almonds will also do nicely.

Good thing this salad doesn’t need any lettuce. I’m not much of a lettuce fan. It doesn’t keep very well and it’s impossible to eat with a spoon.


This recipe for panzanella, as it is known in Italy, comes from Hiro
Sone, the very talented chef/owner of the restaurant, Terra, in St.
Helena, California. Hiro's is, hands down, the best version of this
Italian classic we know.

Ingredients (makes 6 servings)

1/2 small baguette (about 12 inches long)
1 large garlic clove, mashed
Olive oil for brushing
6 medium to large California tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1/2 medium onion chopped
3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh basil
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven.
Split the baguette lengthwise. Rub the cut side of one half very well
with the mashed garlic. Brush liberally with olive oil. Cut the
garlicked half in half again lengthwise, and then cut these strips
into 3/4 inch pieces. Place the croutons on a baking sheet, crust
side down. Bake 30 minutes, until dark golden.
If croutons are made in advance, put the California tomatoes in a
large mixing bowl a bit before you intend to mix the salad, then
drain off and discard any juice that may accumulate.
To serve, add the croutons, onion, and basil to the California
tomatoes. Whisk the vinegar and oil for the vinaigrette. Pour over
all and toss.

Nasi goreng

Nasi goreng (literally: rice fried) is a well know Indonesian dish, especially in The Netherlands. It’s great for leftovers (rice, meat, vegetables). You have to use old rice, which has been cooked the day before. I use brown basmati rice. And you really need a wok.

The base is an onion-spice mixture. Most people buy a weak spice mixture from the supermarket (Nasi goreng mix). Forget about that. Making your own spice mixture is so much better! And it only takes 2 minutes. Really.

Sauté a thickly sliced onion for three minutes in a hot wok. Add:

1 tsp trassi (Indonesian shrimp paste)
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) or dark soy sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
3 tbsp thinly sliced fresh green chili peppers, deseed

Stir fry the onion-spice mixture for a minute, then add the cold rice. Keep on tossing until hot. This will only take a couple of minutes. While tossing the rice you can add almost anything you like: pre-fried shrimps, chicken, ham, egg (make a thin omelet and slice into strips), pre-cooked or raw vegetables (cut into very small cubes) and mushrooms. Rick Stein uses flaked mackerel, which seems like a good idea.

Guinomi, sake cups

I don't drink much sake because it's a rather expensive drink in Europe. Of course there is Gekkeikan sake, brewed in the USA, and easy to find. Unfortunately, the cheaper Gekkeikan is not tokutei meishoshu but futsuu-shu. I'll order some 180ml. sample bottles from sake.nl and keep track of the names and quality.

More information on John Gauntner's sake-world.com

In the meantime I bought two sake cups on eBay.

An ONI-HAGI WARA-HAI-YUU GUINOMI (rough sand straw-ashes glaze sake cup) made by Deishi Shibuya. KOUDAI (=the foot) of this cup is WARI-KOUDAI (cut KOUDAI), often seen on Hagi ware. Hagi ware is excellent for sake. Even five days after use the cup still smells of sake. I guess this cup should not be used for anything else but sake.

And a GUINOMI (sake cup) with black iron glaze by Seigan Yamane. The glaze contains a lot of iron. The clay is HIME-HAGI-TSUCHI (fine-grained Hagi). Works very well with Nigori sake. Visually that is.

GOHONDE-Yunomi, Seigan Yamane

Another winner. A GOHONDE-Yunomi made by Seigan Yamane. The colorful spot pattern is called GOHONDE or HOTARU (firefly). This pattern is also called "Fawn spots". Either way, it's a beautiful cup to drink from.

"Gohon wares originated in Korea and were order-made for Japanese tea masters and the daimyo class in the late 1500s. Orders were sent to the distant kilns via a design book, the "honorable book" (go hon), thus the name.

The "gohonde" technique's characteristic orange or pink spots appear only under the most precise kiln conditions - a narrow window where oxygen is sapped out of the ash slip during reduction firing." source

Shira-hagi Mentori Tsutsu chawan, Deishi Shibuya

I bought this Shira-hagi-te Oni-Hagi Mentori Tsutsu-maccha chawan (white HAGI camfering pipe type powdered-green-tea teabowl ONIHAGI type) made by the Japanese ceramist Deishi Shibuya.

'Tsutsu' means for winter use, at the moment of writing I’m already breaking this rule because I’m drinking from it now (maccha of course). 'Mentori' means 'camfering pipe', which refers to the shape. I'm not 100 percent sure, but the name 'Oni-Hagi' refers to the demon Oni. I also read that the term Oni-Hagi refers to the distinctive cracks in the glaze. Hagi is the origin of the clay. The New York Times has an old (1988) article on Hagi ware: The Where and Ware of Hagi

The motif of this chawan is the famous old cherry tree "USUZUMI SAKURA".

Moretum, the origin of pesto

“A single colour, not entirely green

Because the milky fragments this forbid,

Nor showing white as from the milk because

That colour's altered by so many herbs.”

- Moretum

Moretum is the proto pesto. Vergilius (70 BCE – 19 BCE) mentions a moretum recipe in the poem of the same name. His moretum does not contain any basil, but a mixture of parsley, cress, endive and colewort. However, all the other elements (salt, garlic, olive oil and hard cheese) are there, more than twenty centuries ago.

The proper ingredients for a modern pesto Genovese:

A bush of fresh basil leaves, at least 50 gram just the leaves.
2 to 4 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano (minimal 24 months old)
2 to 4 tbsp Pecorino Sarde (Pecorino Romano is too salty)
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp salt
2 gloves of garlic
200 ml. olive oil, Ligurian preferably.

First crush the salt, pine nuts and garlic in a mortar. You need a big mortar, an electric kitchen machine will do, but after reading Vergilius’ poem, how can you not use a proper mortar and pestle? I bought a heavy granite stone mortar and pestle from Thailand for 25 euro.

Seperate the basil leaves from the stems. Cut the basil leaves with a sharp knife, so you don’t end up with whole leaves in the mortar, do not crush the leaves at this point!

In the mortar rub the basil leaves together with the salt, nuts and garlic, add the very finely grated cheeses in a 1:1 ratio (or more Parmigiano Reggiano than Pecorino Sarde). Carefully mix in the olive oil while rubbing the mixture with the pestle. Do not mash.

Never cook pesto. When heated basil gets bitter.

Friday, June 6, 2008

White HAGI, Kazu-Chawan, Deishi Shibuya

I won another object, a White HAGI, Kazu-Chawan (tea bowl for tea ceremony), made by the Japanese ceramist Deishi Shibuya. His trademark is a thick white glaze, unevenly applied to show the rough clay beneath the glaze. The inspiration for his unusual style is the old huge cherry tree "USUZUMI SAKURA", listed as a natural treasure in Gifu Prefecture. The glaze is made with straw ash and took Deishi 30 years to develop.

'Usuzumi' apparantly means ‘pale ink color'. This is the tree.

An explanation of the term ‘Kazu-Chawan’ (copied form the seller's website): "KAZU-CHAWAN is the work made in the form where it is intentionally the same so that the teacher of the tea ceremony can carry many teabowls in piles." That explains why this chawan was relatively cheap: 31 euro.

More photo's here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

White HAGI Yunomi, Seigan Yamane

After using my tea ware for over one year I thought it was time to add some new pieces to my collection. I buy them on eBay. Last week I won the above White HAGI yunomi (=tea cup, not used for tea ceremony) made by the Japanese ceramist Seigan Yamane ( 山根清玩). It's perfect for mizudashicha.

It’s a piece of Hagi ware (萩焼); soft clay, which easily absorbs water. Because of this Hagi ware ages as time progresses. This process is called ‘Hagi no nana bake’ (7 changes of hagi).

Over the years Seigan Yamane developed his own special glazes, like his trademark Seigan Blue glaze. This yunomi has a white glaze, with a blue hint. ‘Like beautiful snow’, according to the seller. You can see more photo's here, here, here and here. I'm not sure what the market value is of this piece - probably the starting bid 19.95 USD - I paid 26 USD (17 EUR).

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I should start writing down the wines I've bought for future reference. Most wines are between 10 and 15 euro per bottle, all bought at Van Bakel & Cavé located in the Kerkstraat, Amsterdam. Photo: Jean-Pierre Margan, owner of Château la Canorgue.

Château la Canorgue 2004. Red wine. Organic farming, producer: Château la Canorgue, region: Southern Rhone, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Cotes du Luberon. [I don't really have an opinion on this wine, to be fair, I had a bit of a sore throat when I drank this bottle, undecided]

Canorgue 2005, White wine. Organic farming, producer: Château la Canorgue, region: Southern Rhone. Nice with bass, so I was told. [good wine, will buy again]

Vin de table de France, Louis et Chantal Julian Vignerons, Ribaute. Red wine, one liter bottle. Organic farming, does not contain sulfite. [one of the better simple table wines I have drunk, though not very complex. It has a little added carbonic acid. Open in advance for the gas to dissipate; good for cooking]

Weingut Debus, 2005 Sprendlinger Klostergarten, Pinot Noir. Rosé Brut. German sparkling wine from quality grapes. Region: Rheinhessen. [Very nice! A winner. Will buy again. Drunk without food]

I have six Schott Zwiesel wine glasses: 2 for red wine, 2 for white wine and 2 for sparkling wine. The red wine glasses are the Diva 'Burgunderpokal Claret Burgundy'. It's a huge glass, holding up to 839 ml! I wish I could remember the series of the other glasses. Diva as well, Fortissimo?


What is summer without gazpacho? On the internet there are plenty of gazpacho recipes floating around. Some even list tabasco and worcestershire sauce as ingredients. I'm somewhat of a purist: keep it simple.

Gaz is thought to be from an Arabian-Spanish word, kaz, a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding or mashing bread (Johannes van Dam: "De Dikke van Dam", page 221. Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2006). If true, gazpacho could be any soup made from ground vegetables, bread and oil & vinegar. Before the 16th century gazpacho was certainly made without tomato, and was most likely more of a bread soup. The basis of gazpacho are good quality olive oil and vinegar.

Start with a few slices of stale bread, without the crust. Don't use bread from the supermarket! Grind the bread together with 5 ripe tomatoes (seeded and peeled), green pepper (seeded and peeled; bake in oven to make this easy), 2 cloves of garlic, 4 table spoons of white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar), black pepper and salt. According to Johannes van Dam cucumber does not belong in gazpacho.

Like when making mayonnaise, add about 50 ml. of olive oil while grinding the bread-vegetable mixture to a thick paste. Before serving, add ice cold water, or ice cubes, to taste. If eaten as a full meal, serve with cucumber, tomato, onion, bread and boiled egg on the side.

Methods of reusing used up tea leaves

It is "mottainai" to throw away used up leaves after infusions, full of beneficial nutrients! Here are some methods to recycle leaves after infusions (re-posted from Maiko Tea Shop).

Used up tea leaves, a dash of salt, sakura ebi (dried up shrimp), jako (tiny dried fish), tarako (fish eggs), sesame seeds

1. Microwave the used up tea leaves to evaporate the water
2. Crush the dried up leaves (e.g. in a food processor)
3. Dry-roast the crushed leaves in a frying pan to bring out a pleasant aroma. Add salt and other ingredients depending on your taste.

Enjoy by sprinkling over rice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hoji-cha & iced tea

Probably not very well known outside Japan: Hoji-cha, a green tea roasted over charcoal at high temperatures. Because of the roasting the color of the leaf changes from green to reddish-brown.

Hoji-cha is made from the lower parts of the bush, the stem (karigane). Because of this and the roasting, this tea contains little catechin (causes the astringency/bitterness of green tea) and caffeine. I love the sweet smokey flavor of this tea.

Hoji-cha (or spelled as: houjicha) can be used to make iced tea. The traditional way is to boil water in a kettle, add the leaves (according to taste) and boil for another 2 minutes. After cooling, chill the tea in the fridge. Without the leaves, of course.

Green tea like sencha or gyokuro is also perfect for iced tea. For the best 'green & vegetal' taste I steep mizu-dashi-cha for a long time in cold water: I add one tea bag of mizudashicha from Maiko Tea Shop to 500 ml - 1000 ml of water, and keep it in the fridge for about 8 hours, or overnight. You can use any green tea, but mizudashicha is stir-steamed extra deeply before drying, thus making it more suitable for extraction in cold water.

I can't imagine a summer without iced tea. It's cheap, easy to make and healthy since it doesn't contain any sugar. But you have to use really fresh tea – buy it in Japan from an online shop! – for the best taste and fragrance.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Octopus in red wine

This recipe is Greek: Oktapodi Krasato. You need a kilo of baby octopus to serve two people if used as a main course or four to eight people if used as antipasto. This recipe tastes even better the next day. Beware: it takes almost 3 hours to prepare.

Unfortunately, unless you're living near certain coastal areas, it's very difficult to obtain fresh baby octopus. You're more likely to find them cleaned and frozen. The one's I bought were packaged in Vietnam. Defrost the octopus and cut in smaller pieces; slice the head in two and cut the tentacles in sets of four. Boil the octopus in their own liquid for 20 minutes. You'll be surprised how much water will be released. Boil until dry. If that takes too long discard excess water.

Add a a few tablespoons of olive oil and 200 gram of whole pearl onions (of course, remove the outer layers). They are really tiny onions used for pickling; zilveruitjes in Dutch. Coat the octopus and pearl onions with olive oil and fry for a minute or so. Then add:

200 ml of red wine
80 ml of red wine vinegar
one cup of water
one tomato, skinned and grated or made into a pulp
one bay leaf
one teaspoon of dried oregano
half a teaspoon of crushed black pepper

Simmer for 1,5 to 2 hours until the octopus is tender. You should be left with a thick, not watery, sauce covering the octopus and onions. Do not use cheap wine for this recipe.

I buy my wines at Van Bakel & Cavé located in the Kerkstraat, Amsterdam. The owner of this small shop is a professional enologist. All the wines he sells have been properly tested on their chemical make-up, including the level of sulfite and the type of yeast. In his career he has reported about 500 instances of bad and even dangerous wines to the Dutch ministry of health. However, on average it takes at least three months for the authorities to spring into action, if they take any action at all. In the meantime these wines are being sold to the unsuspecting public. This should be considered a scandal.

Last summer he tested a batch of Argentine wine and found a type of yeast which - at temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius - produces dangerous levels of oxygen. He declared the batch unsafe for consumption and the boxes were labelled as such. Regardless of this, the batch was sold to bars and restaurants for less than 2 euros per bottle. This resulted in numerous exploding bottles of wine, causing at least one nearly fatal injury. This story never made the newspaper.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Bakkeljauw is basically salted cod. It does need a little preparation though.

This recipe is for half a kilo of salted cod. You can use the much cheaper pollock (coalfish; Dutch: witte koolvis).

Wash in cold water to remove salt. Try to remove as much of the skin as possible. Cook the cod for 15 minutes, cool and remove the bones. Flake the cod and set apart.

Fry in some vegetable oil:

1 onion, cut in very small pieces
2 tomato's, cut very finely
1 table spoon of tomato puree (for color)
1 or 2 fresh hot chili peppers, mashed
2 gloves of garlic, mashed

Add the cod/pollock flakes and fry for another 10 minutes. Season with black pepper. Keep in the fridge for about a week.
Since this is a Surinamese recipe this works best with Surinamese peppers like adjoema or madam jeanette.

Bakkeljauw can be eaten with rice and even tastes great in a tortilla (Spanish omelette).