Friday, 24 June 2011

How to make Hummus: part 1

Reading Andie's blog post on her favourite healthy foods, she made me think about my favourite health kick these days and I came up with: chickpeas!

You can make....

Or ... a million different types of hummus! Maybe some of you don't know this, but hummus is made with chickpeas, pureed chickpeas to be precise. And then you add whatever you feel like adding, that very moment.
As I know that a few of our readers are beginning cooks, I thought to have a little cooking series especially for them. This series is about 'how to make hummus'. We start of with part 1, making a very simply classic hummus. Then while we proceed in time, we are going to add spices, herbs and other kind of things to make hummus even more exciting.
By the end (if there is such a thing with cooking) you will be dreaming how to make hummus, and most of all, you will be craving hummus at a weekly base like I do.


  • one can of drained chickpeas 
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini (sesamepaste) --> invest in this one as you will be needing it during the course!
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 0,5 clove of garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • pinch of chilipepper
  • pinch of salt
How to make it:
It is the most easy thing ever!
Make sure you rinse the chickpeas after having washed them to take away most of the sodium that accompany canned foods.
Chuck everything in a high container.
Blend it down to a puree....taste.... add whatever YOU feel is missing... blend.....

Outcome: classic HUMMUS!!!

Get ready for part 2 next week or so; we will be adding some more exciting spices!


Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Cook to impress: Risotto Milanese

What is gold for a foodie??
Saffron is gold for a foodie....

Saffron is a powder extracted from a flower called the Saffron Crocus. They take it from the stigmas of the plant and seen that each plant only has 3 pieces of them, it is a rarity and difficult to cultivate and therefore so expensive. It is actually the most expensive spice that exists out there, hence the fact that saffron is a foodie's gold! Thank god that although expensive, the powdery gold is also very very powerful. The powder on each stigma is strong enough to colour and flavour a liter of boiling water into deep golden yellow, so you don't need much to cook a big bowl of risotto or paella!

And here is my link to the recipe of today.... Risotto Milanese! A simple yet impressive dish that is typical for the region of Milan. It is bright yellow risotto that I thought being boring at first, but when made right, it can be quite the taste-bomb! I made this a couple of weeks ago for Chef Stefano, and it was approved... few!

Ingredients: serves 4

  • two garlic cloves peeled
  • olive oil
  • a big glass of white wine
  • 4 cups of risotto rice and one for the guest (arborio rice is the best)
  • one liter of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 envelope of saffron powder
  • 50gr parmigiano
  • fresh parsley to serve
How to make it:
Contrary to what people think, risotto is actually quite easy to make. It just takes full attention for 20-25 minutes. So get ready to cook!
Prepare the broth and once it's boiling you can start making your risotto.
Heat the olive oil in a big anti-sticky pan and add the smashed garlic cloves (don't cut them up as you want to take them out after). Once they're turning golden brown and they are releasing their divine garlicky smells in your kitchen, you take the garlic out of the pan.
Add the rice and start stirring. You want to bake the rice until the grains get slightly transparant and start releasing a creamy white tail. At this point you add the white wine.
Keep stirring until the rice has absorbed the wine and releases the creamy white tail again.
Add a soupspoon of broth, keep stirring until the rice has absorbed the broth and releases the creamy white tail again. Repeat this process for 20 minutes more or less or until the rice is cooked. Some like their risotto firm and others like it more cooked - this is totally up to you, so make sure your taste it.
When it's almost done, add the saffron to the risotto and stir - this will turn your white risotto into a beautiful golden mixture of goodness. Then to finish it off, you add the parmigiano for a cheesy taste.

Outcome: GOLD! With a sprinkle of bright green if you serve it with the fresh parsley on top like I did.

Risotto Milanese
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Raffa's Quiche di Zucchine

Mi mancerete girls!!
Remember Chef Raffaella's Foccaccia di Pomodoro?
Did you make it already?
If you haven't you must.... if you have, then you're ready for step number 2: Raffa's famous Quiche!
She has made this twice for me now and each time it has been deluhcius! Like mouth-licking-give-me-another-piece-subito-if-not-I-will-kill-you goodness.

I do hope that Chef Raffa will keep up the good work by helping me post her recipes on the blog, because seriously, how do people keep up blogging EVERY single day? First of all, it takes time to create a good post, and second, where do they find the time to make all the food and then the pictures?? Don't they work????? Oh wait, it might be actually their jobs! In that case... lucky you!
My case is not as fortunate, it might become one day but until then, please cookers out there, enrich this blog with your national, international, healthy, unhealhty, original, traditional, vegetarian, meat, fish, good & bad recipes! This blog is here to share and learn from each other.. that's the goal anyways!

  • olive oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 small zucchini (summer squash)
  • 1 pastry dough (pasta brisè)
  • 2 yolks (the yellow of an egg)
  • 200ml culinary cream
  • 50gr parmigiano
  • pinch of salt
How to make it:
Heat up the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.
Slice up the onion and the zucchini in thin slices.
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and fry the onion and zucchini golden for 5-6 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
Put the pastry in a round shape and cover it up. If the pastry goes 'overboard' cut it around the edges and add it where there is some room left or just double the pastry wherever you like it! (I like thick pastry in the corners...) Make some tiny wholes with a fork in order to avoid the pastry to blow up when it's in the oven.
In a bowl, mix the vegetables, the cream, yolks, parmigiano and a pinch of salt all together. Fill the pastry with the mixture. 
Put the quiche in the oven for circa 30 minutes. At the end heat the oven only at the bottom for a couple of minutes.


Keep tuned for more PicNik episodes.... I still have some in store for ya! Can you guess what the filling of these quiches are????

Chef Raffaella

Monday, 20 June 2011

Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwich

Problems with inspiration for your lunchbox?? No particular idea on what you feel like having, and no desire to work your kitchen for hours today? My lunchbox today might inspire you a bit...

My seaside weekend inspired me to make a healthy 'seaside lunch'.
The salty water still in my nostrils reminded my brain of the existence of a tuna can in my cupboard and the sight of bread in my other cupboard then created the idea to make a fresh home made tuna salad!


  • tuna can (water based)
  • 2 tablespoons of yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of dried origano
  • two slices of whole weat bread
How to make it:
Mix the tuna, with the yoghurt, mayonaise, mustard and herbs.
Keep it in a separate container until you serve it, because otherwise your bread will soak up and it ain't particularly nice!
Once it was lunchtime I spread the tuna salad on my slices of bread and served it with a classic green salad with some balsamic vinaigrette and tomatoes.

Outcome: a very satisfying lunch if I may say so... next time I am going to add some fresh capers to give it a little hmpf extra!

Homemade Tuna Salad

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Absent Note: Italian Lifestyle....

Oh I have been absent again.... my apologies!
My absent note this time is that besides being super busy with seeing everyone and doing lots of 'last minute' social stuff in Milan last week, I have also been to the sea! Liguria to be precise, a gorgeous region on the upper west coast of the boot of Italy. A region only 3 little hours of driving away from Milan and one that I hadn't visited yet. Good thing I went because it is really breathetaking!
Have a look for yourself....

Obviously, I wasn't going to let you hanging with pics from scenery only!
I wouldn't be me, if I hadn't enjoyed some local yummyness. To start off the dinner, we had an aperitivo with some local cheeses and salumi accompagnied with a good Liguria Vermentino white wine.
Enjoying this looking over the sea with a salty wind in your hair is pure pleasure!
After that I had a spaghetti al vongole and a grilled Orata afterwards. I think my seafood levels are up to date now ;) Although I could have seafood every single day! Yummmmmm!!!

Talking of which... my lunch of today is a tasty tuna salad sandwich! Keep tuned for the recipe... (I do like to keep the tension and expectations high, don't I? ;) )

How was your weekend??? In particular, your culinary weekend??

PS: I might be absent for some more as I will be super duper busy the coming couple of weeks but I will try my best to keep up the recipe posting. If not, please fellow cookingclub mates, help me out here?!

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Crispy Catfish & Sweet Chicory

Many people don't like a lot of foods and to be honest, I don't like those people very much! Seriously didn't your momma teach you how to eat and try everything in front of you??

Adults that don't like certain foods act like kids. Because kids tantrum in order not to eat something they don't like, and if you, as a parent, give in to those tantrums it will result that once grown up, those kids will still not like the food! Instead, if you make sure your kid eats the food he/she doesn't like, they will most likely be cured from their aversion. Obviously you are not going to serve caviar or foie-gras to a 6 year old, as there are things that simply have too strong tastes for their young tastebuds to accept, but I do think you must slowly teach your kid to eat more and more vegetables and try new flavours in order for their pallet to develop itself. How else are you going to create foodies?! ;)

My memory about an episode like this is when my mom made this spinach casserole... I don't remember what exactly was in it, but I remember it had spinach!! And I DID NOT like spinach. I also remember that my parents had to leave that night, probably going out for a dinner or a party and that we were left with the sitter. My evil little mind thought 'briljant!! Def getting out of this one!' EEEEEEEHHHH WRONG! I was not allowed to leave the table unless I had finished my spinach, and I think I was still sitting there when my parents came back! In the end I ate the damn green things and obviously they weren't as bad as I thought but hell had to freeze over before admitting that to my parents, otherwise my tantrums wouldn't be as effective anymore - and I think my mom will confirm that they were quite embarrassing at times. Ops... I am sure there are several more episodes like this with chicory and fish!

Outcome of my parents insisting on me eating spinach, chicory and fish: I definitely like them much more now. Spinach and fish are a stable factor on my menu, however chicory is still not one of my favourites. But I can not preach what I don't believe so I looked and found a way to eat and like chicory: by adding sugar or at least something sweet in order to balance out the bitter taste.

Voila a magic recipe:

Ingredients: serves 2

  •  300 gr catfish
  • 3 slices of whole weat bread crumbles
  • 3 teaspoons mustard
  • 4 chicory
  • juice of an orange
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar
How to make it:
Heat the oven on 180 degrees.
Crumble the bread with a kitchenaid. Prepare the fish by seasoning it with the salt and pepper and place it in an oven tray. Spread the mustard on top (if you use spicy mustard, then be careful with the quantity you use) and sprinkle the crumbles on top of the fish. The mustard will make sure the crumbs stick to it. 
Put the fish in the oven for circa 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
In the meanwhile you clean the chicory by removing the ends and tearing the leaves apart. You can chop them in big pieces but I kept the leaves whole. 
Heat up the olive oil in a non-sticking pan and add the chicory. Bake for a couple of minutes until they get softer. Add the pinch of sugar and the orange juice and let them simmer for another 5-10 minutes. The sugar will caramelize the bitter taste of the chicory and will make them irresistible!  

Outcome: Place the chicory next to the fish, and serve with a fresh green salad or some bread, a potato... whatever you like! Or have it like that as a proteined dinner after a good workout! 
Crispy Catfish
Sweet Chicory
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Asian Cravings: Panang Gai Curry

Happy sunday peeps,

And yet another weekend is coming to an end. Why oh why do weekends pass by so fast?! And why oh why must weekdays be so long?! Is it because in the weekends you can do whatever the beep you want? Whereas the weekdays are filled with work and doing things one 'must' do, such as cooking, cleaning, sports to stay in shape?? 
Hmm could be, which is why I have decided that my goal in life is to have absolute pleasure in my work, and if I don't, well then I'll change. Because let's face it, you are stuck in the office or wherever a lot of hours of the week, so better make the best out of it. 
Another thing that I decided is to take away all the 'must do's' and turn them into 'wants': I must not do anything, instead I will do them because I want them. I want to clean the house because I want a clean house, I want to cook because I want a healthy and good dinner, I want to go running because it makes me look and feel good. Most importantly, if I want to see my friends I will see them no matter what day it is. Why limit yourself to the weekends? Let's make the best out of every day!!!

What do you like to do most on the weekends? 

Speaking about giving in on 'wants'..... once in a while, as we know from the beginning of this blog, I want and absolutely MUST give in on my Asian cravings. For these emergencies I always have my panang gai curry and coconut milk ready to turn into a yummy, fast and most of all easy curry. 
For Italians out there: check out the asian or international food stores near Centrale or on the borders of the city to get the'll be surprised about the number of things you can get there other than Italian shizzle.

Ingredients: serves 2
  • 2 espresso cups of rice
  • 300 gr of chicken cut in cubes
  • 1 green pepper cut in cubes
  • 1 paksoi cut in chunks
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons panang gai curry
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon lime leaves
How to make it:
Bring a big pan of water with a fist of salt to a boil. Add the rice and cook it according to the pack - usually it's around 10 - 15 minutes.
In the meanwhile you heat up one tablespoon of sunflower oil (olive oil is too strong for asian food), and you add the curry. Stir until it slightly melts a bit into the oil. Then you add the coconut milk. Heat it up before you start adding the chicken and vegetables.
Once you added the chicken and vegetables (which you can do at the same time) you let the whole simmer for 5 minutes in order for it to cook and suck in all the flavors. Then you add the fish sauce, peanut butter and lime leaves. Stir for another 2-3 minutes. 
The rice should be done by now. If it's cooked before the curry is done, then you can take it out of the water and let it steam a bit. 

Outcome: serve the rice with the curry and simply enjoy... nothing else... just enjoy

Panang Gai Curry

Buon Appetito
Chef Steph & Chef Cathinka

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fun Facts about Holland & Bosnia

I have an announcement to make: I am moving back to Holland!!! Before you start yelling 'seriously??? you are leaving Italy, THE land of good food, for Holland, the land of cheese??!', I am posting these pics to convince you of the beauty of my country!

Simply Breathtaking...

Furthermore, this morning I had a taste of some Bosniac sweets! My colleague whom you can follow on his blog  he posts really cool groundbreaking advertisement, marketing and communication activities from all over the world. If you are a marketing professional I'd suggest you follow his blog regularly as he collects the best ideas out there! Some are absolutely hilarious... check out this MacDonalds one.
Anyways he brought these cavity creating yummyness in the office this morning and around here you have to be fast because otherwise it is gone before you know it, so had a piece of baklava at 11am! MMMMMMMMMMMMMM.....

I am not sure to be getting recipes, because I think Bosniac mamma's don't like to reveal their secretes, like Italian mamma's do, but I will try real hard to get them before leaving end of June!!

Bosniac Sweets

Bon Appetito
Chef Steph

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cook to impress: Coeurs Fondant Tout Chocolat

International cooking means going beyond Italian and Dutch cuisine, hence today I offer you: Chocolat Fondant! A little French chocolate cupcake that will melt your heart with it's melting heart....
Basically you don't bake the cupcake all the way through so that the inside remains liquid, smooth, hot & sexy chocolate.

Food can be sexy and this is proof! Mmmmmmmmm....

I made this with Chef Cathinka in Hamburg two weeks ago and she got the recipe from Nestle's new app that you can get on your phone, or simply go to their site:
Obviously it's a site based on Nestle chocolate and has marketing intentions only, but heck, if that means we get easy going, real deal, sexy french chocolate desserts in our homes: je dirais que c'est tres tres tres bien! <3


  • 100 gr pure chocolate 
  • another 8 cubes of pure chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 80gr powdered sugar
  • 50 gr of butter
  • 1,5 tablespoon of flour
How to make it:
Preheat your oven at 260 degrees Celcius.
Melt the chocolate au bain marie and add the butter once it's melting.
In a bowl you mix the eggs with the powdered sugar, after which you slowly add the flour.
When the mixture is homogenous, you add the chocolate and stir well.
Butter and flour your cups in order to avoid sticking and fill them up for 1/3, place one chocolate cube in each cup and finish it by covering up the cups with the remaining mixture.
Place the cups circa 10 minutes in the oven.

Outcome: Eat them when they are still hot and you will truely be in heaven for at least a couple of minutes! 

Coeurs Fondant Tout Chocolat
  Bon Appetit
Chef Steph & Cathinka 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Italian Fish

I am about to reveal something that is going to make a nation jump up and down and yell: TOLD YOU SO! This month's 'La Cucina Italiana'  publishes the announcement that the mediterranean diet/pyramid is the most healthy and most aspired diet everyone should be following. 

The diet became a fact when an English writer and chef Elizabeth David published a book in 1950 about the mediterranean diet explaining the sobriety and simpleness of the food the Italian people were consuming after the war. The sobriety was of course due to the fact that people didn't have the resources to feed themselves like rich men anymore, because let's be honest, I am sure the Giuseppes and Marias at the time were craving some more meat and fish during the week, but they simply couldn't. So they reached out to vegetables and legumes that they could grow in their own backyard, combined with their beloved pasta made out of flour and eggs and some olive oil extracted from the olives of the neighbours. Unnoticed and definitely unintentional, they created the perfectly balanced meals.

This pyramid is no surprise to anyone who is into food, or who watches the fat percentage on their bodies. But the real surprise in my revealing all these little facts to you, is that UNESCO has included the diet in their Humanitary Heritage list. So there, it is a fact: Italian food IS the best in the world!

Hold your horses Italian friends: this doesn't mean that other foods aren't good or just as pleasurable to make or eat! Plus, I am a firm believer of variety.. NAH! :) But on your behalf, here's a good oven baked Orata fish with some healthy salad to go with.

Ingredients: serves 1

  • 1 whole sea bream (Orata) - cleaned
  • 1 scallion sliced
  • 0,5 lemon sliced
  • little handful of parsley
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes chopped
  • snowpeas 
  • vinaigrette: olive oil, balsamico vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey
How to make it:
Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius. 
Prepare the fish in an oven tray: put a couple of lemon slices, salt and parsley in the belly of the fish. Place it in the tray. Then you pute the scallion on top of the fish and sprinkle the whole with some olive oil. Voila, you're done! You can now put it in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
While the fish is cooking, prepare the salad and the vinaigrette in a bowl.

Outcome: easy, fast and super healthy dinner! I usually have this one after a good run because it is the perfect dinner after a good workout session! For your male friends: add some potatoes with the fish or simply have some bread with it.

Italian Fish & Healthy Salad
Buon Appetito
Chef Steph

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Introducing... International Catering Service

A couple of weeks ago my dearest friend Carmelo decided to throw a little rooftop aperitivo! really, the emphasis was on little!  Everyone out at midnight!

Another emphasis was on the invitation; Silvia, Katia and I were kindly invited to help out with the arrangements. Katia being russian, well that doesn't need a lot of maths to figure what she was in charge of ;), Silvia being spanish brought the frittata which was super good, and me being the cooking nerd as I am, was in charge of the buffet!

Seen the fact that I have some secret plans with Chef Kimberley to set up a catering service in Amsterdam, I am not yet revealing my recipes, but I do want to show you how it looked like. You might get inspired to throw your own rooftop party and hire me as your caterer.... have a look:

Salmon Ricotta Rols, Thai Peanut Chicken, Focaccia, Parmiggiano

Mozza-Tomatoes, Gorgonzola&Ricotta with Pears, Tomatonade, Brie&Jam

On top of the good food: it was the BEST night ever! Laughed my balls off.... nothing little  about that night.
So yeah a little message to my dear Carmelo, Andrea, Fabrizio, Luca and Rocco... 

Come and find me in Amsterdam!!!

Bacione Grande
Chef Steph