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Chard & goat cheese pizza

Chard and goat cheese pizza

Super simple and delicious pizza. Chard is my favourite vegetable and this is a whole new way of preparing it. It gets a very strong, almost peppery flavour from being grilled on a pizza.

ready made pizza dough
1/2 jar tomato sauce that comes with the ready made pizza dough
+-20 stalks of chard
1 small white goat cheese
dried thyme
salt & pepper
olive oil

Pre-heat the oven at its highest setting. That is 250 degrees Celsius for mine.

Wash the chard, wrap it in a towel and swing it around to make it dry. I advise you not to do the swinging part indoors.

Roll out the pizza dough on an oven tray. It usually comes with baking parchment.

Spread the tomato sauce thinly over the dough, then lay the chard on top of it. Slice the cheese and spread it on top of the chard. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Bake till the dough is crispy and brown.

Chinese inspired turnip and stew


“What do you do with turnip?” Katinka asked me. “I don’t know.” I said “I never cook with turnip. I guess you could mash it with potatoes and make pommes duchesse with it.”.

Then I remembered the dinner Xingfeng Huang cooked for me and my wife five years ago. He cooked many different dishes and I didn’t remember exactly but some things I recalled. He made meat with ginger, garlic and star anise. He told me that he used many strong flavours to mask the flavour of the meat because in the region of China where he is from, people don’t like the flavour of meat. I also remembered a dish with strips of white/yellow  vegetable. Potato or turnip but it might just as well have been cabbage. Flavoured with ginger. I thought of these flavours when I came up with this dish. I am sure it isn’t Chinese at all. I used Dutch beer and I suspect I flavoured to Dutch taste rather than to Chinese taste. However, it certainly is my taste.

1/2 turnip
1 big leek (only the white part)
1 (leftover) scallion (leave out if you don’t have one)
2 teaspoons of honey or sugar
250 g beef, diced. Any part that requires 3 hours simmering will do.
fresh ginger
1 green chilli pepper
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 bottle of beer (I used Hertog Jan)
2 tablespoons Kikkoman less sodium soy sauce.
2 teaspoons roasted garlic (or use chopped garlic from a jar)
2 pieces of star anise
150g noodles

Make a marinade of soy sauce, roasted garlic and star anise. Add the diced beef and set aside to mind its own business.

Pre-heat the oven at 150ºC. Grate the green chilli and a piece of garlic the size of your thumb. Take a pan that is you can use in the oven and put it on the hob. Put some oil into the pan and fry the ginger and chilli for half a minute. Add the tomato puree and fry for another minute. Then add the beer, the meat and the marinade. Leave it on the hob for a little while to warm it through but you don’t have to bring it to the boil. Put a lid on the pan and place the pan in the oven. After two, two and a half hours, check how tender the meat is and if necessary, give it another half hour or so. Once the meat is almost falling apart, take the pan from the oven and let it rest for half an hour with the lid on.

While you are waiting for the meat to cook, peel the turnip and cut it into slices a little smaller than McDonald’s french fries. Also slice the leek and scallion and grate another half-thumb of ginger.

Put a big splash of water (100 ml or so, no need to take out a measuring cup) in a pan and stir in the honey. Wash the leek and add the leek, scallion and turnip to the pan. Put a lid on the pan and gently cook for half an hour or until the turnip is soft. You can prepare this and wait with cooking until you take the meat from the oven to rest.

Check the package of the noodles for cooking instructions. Time it so that the noodles are done just after the turnip is ready to be served.

Drain the noodles and put them in serving bowls. Scoop the meat and sauce over the noodles. Put the turnips on top.

Camargue black rice with haddock, button mushrooms, tomatoes and chard


My parents brought black rice from the Camargue for me. Not knowing what to do with it, I asked Anne how she cooks this rice which grows near to where she grew up. She didn’t give me a recipe, she just told me she’d make a dish with black rice, fish, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Because Anne didn’t tell me how to make this dish, I just followed my instinct and this is what I came up with. This one is a gem. It is the best food I ate in a month or longer. And I ate some really good food this month. This is how it is made:

1 cup of black rice from the Camargue
1 haddock fillet
5 button mushrooms
6 stalks of chard
4 tomatoes
1 big splash of red vermouth
olive oil
salt & pepperStrip the leafs from the chard stems and put them aside. Chop the stems in 1cm cubes. Dice the mushrooms and haddock. Quarter the tomatoes. Roughly chop the chard leafs and wash them.

Bring 1/2 litre water to the boil. Wash the rice in cold, running water. When the water boils, add the rice. The rice needs to cook 20-25 minutes so now you’ll have to wait about 10 minutes until you can prepare the rest.

Melt butter with some olive oil in a wok. Add the mushrooms with some salt and pepper. Once they have some colour, add the chard stalks and stirfry for a minute. Then add the haddock. Meanwhile, taste the rice to see whether it is done. Once it is, drain it and set it aside for a moment. If it isn’t or once you’ve set it aside, add the chard leafs to the wok. They’ll wilt quickly and once they are almost gone, add a big splash of red vermouth. Cook it through for another 30 seconds and then add the black rice. Cook everything together for another minute or a half and serve.

Grownups’ sandwich and the nature of creativity

Today is saturday. I have a day off, it is lovely weather, there is a food market downtown and I have time on my hands. Days like today usually start off with me watching Saturday kitchen on BBC1 followed by a trip to the market and the ‘Nature butcher‘ where I’ll buy whatever looks interesting and whatever suits my mood. By the time I get home, I have a vague idea of what I’ll be cooking but only once I start cooking, the preparation explains itself to me.

And so it was today. The Nature butcher sold me some lovely bratwurst and at the market I bought new season’s beetroots, last year’s celeriac and freshly baked carrot sourdough bread. On my way home, I thought I’d make a celeriac mash with baked sausages and a salad of beetroot and lettuce (from the garden) with balsamic vinegar. However, once I started peeling and grating the beetroots, I noticed that they tasted awful. Fortunately, I also noticed the funny stalks sticking out of the celeriac and the beetroot. They taste great and this recipe introduced itself to me. A hearty sandwich packed with flavour. It is heavy, earthy, bitter, sweet, rich and complex in flavour. I think this is the kind of sandwich I would not have liked when I was a kid because children experience bitter flavours stronger and dislike them more than adults. However, like coffee and beer, with a few more years of life and taste experience, I now think this is the best sandwich ever!

You might have noticed that I talk about ideas that come to me. I think creativity and ideas do not merely come from within ourselves. They also come from outside us. Most of the recipe’s I create are given to me by the ingredients I bought, the problems I run into while cooking, the things I did that day and my genius.

1/2 celeriac bulb
the stalks of 1 celeriac (remove the leafs unless you like seriously bitter flavours)
the stalks of 3 beetroots (remove the leafs) (or use chard)
2 bratwursts (take them from the fridge 10 minutes before you start cooking)
4 slices of carrot sourdough bread (any dark sourdough bread will do)
50g butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt & pepper
1 bottle Karmeliet triple (the perfect beer for a warm spring day)

Peel and cut the celeriac bulb into strips. Wash it and cook it with little water with a lid on for +-10 minutes or until soft. Drain and put the celeriac back into the pan and add some butter, salt and pepper. Mash it and set aside with the lid on the pan.

Meanwhile, finely cut the celeriac and beetroot stalks. Wash it and cook it with little water and some olive oil for +- 10 minutes or until soft. Drain it, put it back into the pan and set aside with the lid on the pan.

Put the grill pan and a frying pan on the stove and turn the heat to maximum. Add olive oil and butter to the frying pan, leave the grill pan to become very hot. Put the sausages in the frying pan and put a large lid on the frying pan. This helps to cook the sausage all the way through. Turn once or twice. Once the sausages are done, remove them from the pan, wrap them in tinfoil and set them aside to rest for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat below the frying pan.

Place the slices of sourdough bread in the grill pan. Pour half a bottle of Karmeliet trippel in the frying pan and use a wooden spoon to mix it with the frying fat and to remove all bits that stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt & pepper.

Turn the bread slices once or twice until they are golden with black char marks on both sides. Then remove them from the grill pan and turn off the heat.

Spread the celeriac puree onto the toasted bread, sprinkle the celeriac and beetroot stalks over it. Slice the sausages and put them on top of the stalks. Drizzle with the beer gravy and serve with a glass of Karmeliet trippel. Cheers!

Grilled green asparagus with marinated chicken thighs and mash

Recently, I got a job with Willem&Drees, a company that sells regionally produced fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and catering companies. One of the great benefits of working for a company that sells fresh food is that you sometimes get to take some food home. On monday I got some green asparagus and potatoes grown by Ronald and Helma Vader. They have a farm in Oude-Tonge which I visited a few times now. Now I had a chance to taste their produce and it is fabulous!

green asparagus (go for a generous portion of at least 6 per person)
chicken thighs
olive oil
cider vinegar

Start by marinating the chicken thighs. In a plastic bag, mix cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme and add the chicken thighs. Press all air out of the bag and tie a knot to close it. Massage the chicken inside the bag for a bit and place it on a plate in the fridge for as long as you’ve got time (I had 15 minutes, over night would be better).

Peel and slice the potatoes. Cook them in salted water.

Put the grill pan on the biggest, hottest hob of your stove and wait for it to get hot.

Meanwhile, was the asparagus and click off their stalky ends. Pat them dry with a tower or kitchen paper.

Remove the chicken thighs from the bag and pat them dry with kitchen paper. They should be dry otherwise you can’t grill them. Rub them with little oil and place them onto the searing hot grill pan. Wait for a few minutes until you can see on the side of the chicken that the heat has penetrated through more than half way. Then turn the chicken around and grill the other side.

Drain the potatoes, add butter, salt and pepper and mash everything together. Put the lid back on the pan and set aside till serving.

Remove the chicken from the grill, place it on a place and cover it with tinfoil. Set aside till serving.

Put the asparagus in the grill pan. Don’t use any oil. Wait for a few minutes and then turn. Just keep turning until they’re soft and grilled and look right.

Place the asparagus on a plate and sprinkle them with a few drops of cider vinegar (really, a few drops, no more), olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re ready to serve.

Flammkuchen with pear

A flammkuchen is basically a pizza without yeast or a Mongolian pancake with a topping. It makes a quirky and hearty dinner. The recipe comes from the Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking. I added pear because I wanted to lighten it up a bit.

300g flour
2 teaspoon sea salt
175 ml water
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g bacon
500g onions cut in half and thinly sliced
200ml crème fraîche
1 pear,

Place the flour in a large bowl and stir in the salt. Mix the water and half the olive oil together and pour them into the well. Immediately start stirring with a wooden spoon and then your hands to form a soft, spongy dough. Turn this out on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest while you make the topping.

I like to cut my own lardons. I make them much bigger than the ones for sale in the supermarket. This enables them to get a firm crust on the outside while remaining soft and juicy inside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large non0stick frying pan and fry the bacon for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil and fat as possible in the pan, and set aside on a small plate covered with kitchen paper. Tip the sliced onions into the pan and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes until well softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the onions from the heat and leave to cool slightly for a few minutes. The onions will brown when the flammkuchen is baking. Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the pear.

Preheat the oven to 240C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough circle or rectangle about 3mm thick. I made mine about 5mm thick and it turned out too thick and bread-like.

Lift the dough with the rolling pin and transfer it to the prepared tin. You can make several smaller flammkuchen if you prefer.

Spread the crème fraîche over the dough, leaving a 2cm border all the way around the edge. Scatter the onions and then the bacon and pear on top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 16-20 minutes or until the base is crisp and lightly browned around the edges and the topping is bubbling.

Serve like pizza.