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!