Deep emotions lightly pickled

We had not been there for 2,5 months. The sun is bright. The apartment empty. As empty as we found it a long time ago. Before we started making memories there. Many memories. I said downstairs in the lobby while checking the mailbox: ‘it isn’t as bad as I feared it would be. The revisiting I mean’. Little did I know. We ascend to the first floor, entering a bare but trodden apartment. I am surprised to find some of my stuff left behind. I loose focus and I take his hand, leading him up the stairs, to our bedroom. We undress. Like we did a hundred times, a thousand times. Half close the blinds. Duvet on the floor. A rush of hormones is running through my veins. Before I know it I am all over him. And then, suddenly, I burst out in tears. Rolling from the deep, warm, unconsolable, uncontrolable. After quite some sobbing, the tide slowly alters. We make love like never before. We leave the apartment behind us, empty as is. I am fulfilled with the remnants of past hope, glory and boundless expectations that could only be countered by the chemistry of our bodies. Talking an universal language without words. Singing a song without a melody. Rocking it without rolling waves. Desperate longing without an horizon. Kept and preserved as if in hot desert sand. Not since long, just lightly pickled.

1 continental cucumber with skin, cut in half lengthwise and de-seeded, sliced in 1 cm thin half circles, preferably a bit diagonally cut, Japanese style
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tblspoon salt
1 tblspoon sugar
A piece of 3x3cm Kombu (Thick seaweed) optional
Find a glass jar that fits the cucumberslices

Disolve sugar and salt in the vinegar, add cucumber slices, fill up with cold water all the way to the top. Put lid on it. Shake the jar slowly, turning it upside down. Place in fridge. Ready to eat after 24 hours.

Check mate before breakfast

Plenty of time for an intellectual board game while cooking salmon. That sounds weird. Preparing something to eat, especially something as delicate as fish, usually doesn’t leave much room or head space to focus on anything else. However serving saumon confit – spelled in sexy French – for breakfast does free body and mind to dedicate attention to something else. That could be equally sexy. I mean chess.
An entire filet of about one kilo takes one and a half hour to cook. Theoretically it isn’t cooking. It’s confire. Which literally means preserving. This eldest conservation technique according to some, is done by inserting fruit or meat in fat, oil or sugar syrop for a long time on low temperature. Today we do not practice this medieval culinairy technique only to conserve. Like we no longer solely make love to produce babies. We do it to pleasure our senses. To capture our taste buds, merging delightfully, soft and pink, becoming one and complete in our mouth with the desire to feed ourselves.
The salmon filet we confit at a temperature as low as 70 Celsius. Hence the time for a game of chess. It’s drown in olive oil. Not ‘covered’, ‘generally sprinkled’ or ‘rubbed in’ with oil; the fish meat is immersed into a shallow bath of olive oil, just deep enough to completely succomb the pink, soft and slippery flesh. Size of the tray, weight of the filet and performance of the oven influence the confit time. It’s simple to determine though when the salmon is done. When white dots of congualated protein form at the outside of the flesh, the salmon is to be taken from the oven. Gently poor the warm olive oil over in a container to free the fish and stop the cooking process. Let the flesh breath and cool down. Please don’t cut the filet. Gently tear it apart. Preferably just with your fingers. And eat it. The sensation in your mouth, because of the super soft texture, the mellow fullness of butter, the sudden burst of deep and heavy pink flavor, are all as honorable of an homage to and hopefully reminscent of what you actually did in bed while waiting for the salmon to cook.

La Hollandaise

Bred, born and grown up in The Netherlands and cooking professionally the better part of my life, until very recently I never made, served or ordered sauce Hollandaise. Does an Italian ask for an American Pizza? The culinary world is fascinating. It’s basically just about feelings. Like our taste for music, for sex and for beauty. Embedded in emotions, opinions and attachments. Lovely! I had to go Down Under to be properly introduced to sauce Hollandaise. Here in Melbourne an indispensable item if it comes to breakfast and poached eggs. The perfect recipe however I thank to Sheila from San Francisco. I like to complete circles. This one goes from Amsterdam to Melbourne, to California. Reinventing recipes in this case involves a thermomix. To put you off just a little bit!

Use the following order adding ingredients to the thermomix

Juice of 1 lemon

4 egg yolks

300 gram melted butter, slightly cooled down (5 minutes)

Install thermomixer at 8 minutes, 70 C and 3.5 turning speed

If you want to season the sauce Hollandaise, do it just prior to serving. Salt will trash the eggs. Sauce can be served as cold or hot as you like.

Old to New – 1 January 2018 

Taking the old and worn, full of intense flavours. It’s sweetness gone stale; it’s texture trodden, sucked, torn. Take it, don’t throw it. Arouse it, water it, nurture it with new milky fluid, soft yellow yolk, spice it up with lemon zest and sugar. Baby Sugar Me as Lindsey De Paul sang in 1972:

Save me, save me 

Baby, baby sugar me 

Gotta get my candy free 

Sugar me by day 

Sugar me my baby, baby sugar me 

Gotta get my candy free 

Sugar me by day, sugar me by night 

Sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar

It’s 10 am, first of January 2018. I find myself in the kitchen. The newest morning of the year. After the most worn out night of the foregone one. I am not fully aware of the symbolic thing I intuitively do. I like to loose my conscious mind in the kitchen. And just do it. Sometimes a bit frantic. Sometimes thoughtful and slow. It’s like making love. And that’s what it tastes like:
Muffin tray

Diary butter

The Italian pannetone that is still in the fridge/colorful box/back of a shelf

3 cups milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Lemon zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven at 150 C

Mix eggs, milk, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl

Dice 4 cups of the pannetone – any kind of old bread or cake will do actually

Butter the individual muffin holes generously

Fill the holes with the diced pannetone

Poor the egg/milk mixture on top of it, spreading evenly

Press the diced cake down in the liquid

Take bits of butter and place them on top of each individual mixture

Place muffin tray in the preheated oven and immediately lower the temperature to 120-130 C

Set alarm for 1.5 hours, take it out, let it cool

Cut individual pain perdu’s loose and lift them cautiously out of muffin tray

Sprinkle with sugar / icing sugar / lemon zest

Garnish with fruit, cream, custard, cinnamon or nothing at all
Happy 365 Chances to New Beginnings. Just Don’t You Cut the Root!

Recipe for therapy

Art can be therapeutic. Especially creating art. A dear friend of mine in Italy is in the course of becoming an art counselor. She is not advising on what works of art to purchase. She uses artistic expression as a form of therapy. I find that mindblowing and very natural at the same time.

My friends used to tease me with my habit of ironing. I was not a housewife. Far from it. I’d spent my time working, socializing and leisurely. There was no such thing as interior decoration in my house and cleaning or laundry were chores hard to keep up with. But ironing was different. Ironing was my meditation. My friends found it funny and a little weird. 

Ten years have past and I am not so weird anymore. As if that’s possible. But my love for ironing is a memory belonging to a past reality. It has been overruled. Without realizing it, ironing has been overruled by cooking. It goes back far into my early teenage years, me practicising cooking. Especially the cooking for beloved ones. I feel like I free myself, the time I spend making pizza dough, preparing next days lunchboxes, rolling date balls, experimenting with confit de canard, pickling mushrooms and especially, en faisant l’art de la cuisine for the man I love. 

 The dynamics in making lunch for the man I love or while rolling date balls certainly go far beyond the simple purpose of feeding tummies. Be it my own or his or any of my beloved ones. Both the activity of combining the ingredients and the creative process beforehand consisting of selecting the different ingredients, even to be brutally honest, the step it takes to purchase the raw ingredients from my favorite Turkish shop here in Collingwood, all the single steps together form a process that lead to a wholesome feeling of completeness. Therapeutic. It saves and secures my physical and mental well being. 

Over to you. Let me take you by the hand.

Kafir lime and Goji berries date balls

2 cups pumpkin seeds, ground in a coffee grinder or roughly chopped with a knife

2 cups pitted dates (medjool or other dried but succulent specimen), finely chopped with a knife

1/3 cup gojiberries

2 kafir lime leaves, very finely cut

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup quick rolled oats

4 tbsp tahini

A dash of coarse salt

Combine well quick rolled oats, orange zest & orange juice, salt and kafir lime 

Add all other ingredients

Form a dough

Prepare a bowl with lukewarm water and storage container(s)

Scoop a quantity of dough measuring something between a cherry tomato and a golf ball and form a ball by rolling it between your hand palms. Possibly, when dough sticks to hands and fingers too much, wet your hands at intervals of rolling two or three balls. Continue until all dough is finished. This is the meditative part. Focus at scooping each time the same quantity of dough and at delivering really round balls. You do not even need to eat them in order to enjoy the satisfying feeling of accomplishment when your super healthy treat is done

Date balls can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks

Why date balls pass for Bliss and Love

Or as my eldest daughter calls them: Yoga Balls, refering to a very mindfull practice. A state of bliss, submerged in love is what I take in when I treat myself to a date ball. Not suprisingly I process at least once a week the raw ingredients consisting mainly of dates and seeds or nuts, into approximately thirty nutrious round little balls, in snack sized measurements of ’round and about 20 grams weight each.

The irony is that culinairy combinations of dried fruits and nuts going way back in time and location, typically are not associated with sweet love and a state of bliss. The harsh texture and not subtle flavors have even given rise to the archaïc appelation: Pan Forte. Beautifully wrapped and labelled Italian ‘Tough Bread’, being probably the most renown culinairy version of processed dried fruits and nuts, flavoured with ginger, lightly dusted with icing sugar.

So where did we deteriorate and start to associate dryness, sticky chunks and pieces, crumbly bits and a lot of protein with Love and a State of Bliss? Please contemplate when preparing a very straightforward date ball dough before meditatively taking small scoops of it in the palm of one hand, as to subtly roll it into a little ball using light pressure exerted with the other hand palm, secretely transforming the culinairy process into an act of love and health and mindfulness.

350 gram dates, preferably a combination of half medjool (sweet and sticky) and half regular dried dates (caramel flavor and more sturdy)

200 gram raw cashew nuts

Zest of 1 orange

A walnut sized or shallot sized chunk of fresh ginger (15 grams), finely grated

2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste) or any other nut/seed paste

Sprinkling of sea salt

Take pits out of the dates where applicable and dice the dates with a sharp knife into chunks no larger then sweet peas. This takes quite a bit of time and effort. But the secret of the recipe lies in cutting instead of food-processing.

Transfer into large bowl

Take a coffee bean grinder or set up the magic mix with it’s small container, and grind the cashew nuts into a paste. First the nuts will turn into meal and consecutively they will form a paste much like butter. It’s not necessary to have the emulsion transform all together into butter, somewhere half way is fine

Add to large bowl

Add the remaining ingredients, form a dough with bare hands

Set out a shallow bowl filled with water and a storage container lined with baking sheet

Wet your hands and keep them wet throughout the process (here is where the shallow water bowl comes in) to keep the dough from sticking at your hands and fingers as much as possible

Take a golf ball sized amount of dough in the palm of your hand, form a ball, start rolling it in between the palms of your hands and dispose of it in prepared baking sheet lined, storage container.

Repeat the process until all dough is finished

Place storage container in fridge

Ready to eat and to be kept in the fridge for several weeks without turning rancid or bad (the flavors actually mingle more over time)

And Love Your Balls Ever After

Bless You

Series II: Fucking Complicated

Fantasizing about Blue Almond Iced Tea. I’ve got the clitoria flower! It’s a dried product mainly used in Thailand for making tea and coloring blue rice. It’s the only natural genuine blue food coloring. Blue berries being discarded as too purple and algae as too greenish blue. Clitoria flower is blue as in blue. I realize the Blue Almond Iced Tea has got to wait. I feel it’s finally time for my much anticipated Sexy Sea Water Petits Ronds, the delightful desserts I got the clitoria flower for in the first place. And yes the name clitoria comes from where you think it comes from. No wonder they not only turn my raw cakes magnificent blue but also super sexy. Isn’t sex supposed to be a delightful combination of naturally sweet as rice malt sirup and dates, slightly bitter and salty as almonds and chick pea liquid; sweaty and soft as the aqua fava mixture and most of all satisfying, as fulfilling as the complexity of the whole range of our taste palette can bring about.

The recipe reminds me of one of the most complicated dessert recipes I have ever made. I was only in my early twenties, following precisely the directions as prescribed and pictured in the recipe book Desserts from the Time Life cookery book series. God they were ahead of their time with the step by step visual instructions. I’ve been brought up with Time Life, I realize now. The recipe was for the authentic British trifle, champagne syllabub included. It took several days to make it. I never felt as proud as I did when it all came out exactly like the pictures. 

Right, I put the blue almond iced tea on hold for you guys. We start with a recipe as complicated and lengthy as the trifle I made 25 years ago, much less traditional; other side of the culinary universe actually. It involves no cooking, no diary, no animal products at all, no refined sugar, no gluten and no artificial flavoring nor coloring. I wonder how we ended up being so discriminative in the kitchen. Is it all because of our precious health and that of our planet? Or do humans in general like to be difficult? I don’t know. I do know I get excited by the thought of creamy, smashing blue, sweet and slightly salty, raw, plant based, guilt free, individual cakes that remind me of feeling blue or make me long for Hawaiian beaches. That’s why I call them Sexy.

Sexy Sea Water Petits Ronds

Day 1 morning

Step 1.

2 cups raw almonds, roughly chopped

2 cups water

Soak for 4 hours at least
Day 1 evening

Step 2.

after 4 hours, discard almond water and divide almonds evenly over oven tray lined with baking sheet

Set the oven to 45 C

Hydrate overnight, at least 12 hours

This process is called activating. Nuts are nice when roasted. But then they’re no longer raw and according to some, have lost some of their nutrious properties. Dehydrating them in a temperature under 48 C keeps them ‘raw’ (enzymes don’t die) and makes them slightly crunchy
Step 3.

Take 1 cup dried chickpeas and 3 cups water 

Soak overnight
Step 4.

cut 12 rounds of baking sheet in exactly the shape of muffin tray bottoms only

cut 12 strips of baking sheet 3 cm wide, 12 cm long

Align muffin tray with the strips, 1 per hole and rounds on top of it. Make sure either side of the strips stick out from the holes

The crust will be pressed on top of the strip and the round. This is to make sure you can take the individual cakes once they’re done out of the tray without using a knife or having to damage the shape
Day 2 morning

Step 5.

Drain chickpeas, transfer to a pot, add twice the quantity of water and bring to the boil. 

Simmer for 2 hours or until chickpeas are done
Step 6.

Drain chickpeas, saving the cooking liquid

Store cooked chickpeas to be used in another recipe

Bring cooking liquid back to boil adding a tbsp of dried clitoria flower / pea flower tea, turning it blue

Let the blue aqua fava (literally meaning, bean water) cool down completely
Step 7.

Grind 1 cup of the almonds in coffee grinder or heavy duty food processor into almond butter

It will first crumbe, hence turn into meal, keep on grinding, pauze every now and then to give appliance a break and not overheating it, keep on going until a clump is formed. Keep on going and it will turn into butter

Step 8.
Make crust by combining 1 cup regular pitted dates, roughly chopped, 1 cup medjool dates, roughly chopped, the other 1 cup of activated almonds, chopped finely. Form 12 balls the size of a ping pong ball, rolling between the palms of your hands
Step 9.

Firmly press balls into discs in bottoms of the muffin tray. Place tray in fridge until further notice
Day 2 evening

Step 10.

1 cup pea flower / clitoria flower blue aqua fava 

1 cup activated almond butter

1 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup brown rice malt sirup.

Mix blue aqua fava with handmixer on high speed for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks are formed resembling egg white merengue

Step 11.

Make the Salty Sea water cake mixture

Mix in a separate bowl almond butter and cream of coconut, add rice malt sirup. Slowly fold stiffened aqua fava through almond butter mixture, in three badges. Once mixed, make sure to use it right away

Step 12.

Take the muffin tray from the fridge and fill up the individual holes with the Salty Sea water cake mixture. Place in freezer. Freeze overnight.

Day 3 anytime

Step 13.

To serve the cakes, dip the whole tray with it’s bottom in water (fill a shallow oven tray with just a few centimeter of luke warm water and place the muffin tray in there for 15 seconds). Pull at the baking sheet strips to gently lift the cakes one by one. Peel off the baking sheet rounds from the bottoms of the crust, can be tricky, be patient and careful.

Step 14.

Sprinkle the cakes with grapefruit zest and serve with sweet or sweetened fruit. I’d opt for grapefruit sweetened with maple sirup or ripe mango.

Congratulations guys. You’ve made it. Recipe for blue almond milk iced tea is next. Will be part of the KiSS series: Keep It Stupid and Simple, again. Pfffft!
Mise en place

2 cups raw deskinned almonds, coarsely chopped

1 cup dried chick peas

Baking sheet


Muffin tray

1 tbsp Pea flower tea / dried clitoria flower

Coffee grinder or heavy duty food processor (1000 Watt min)

1 cup regular pitted dates, chopped

1 cup medjool dates, depitted and chopped

Handheld mixer or Kitchenaid

1 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup brown rice malt sirup

Zest of 1 grapefruit

2 cups of grapefruit particles sweetened with maple sirup or brown rice malt sirup / ripe mango