Sunday, 27 March 2011

Earl Gray Torte

I am totally blown away by this cake. It is so light, yet so rich. It's like eating expensive chocolate with a hint of Earl Gray. The texture is amazing- it's like eating a cloud. This is not a cake a child would love but an adult would relish this with a nice strong cup of coffee or tea.

Adapted from BBC Good Food

200g unsalted butter, diced
140g ground almonds
250g 78% dark chocolate
6 eggs, separated
2 tea bags of Earl Gray Tea
200g caster sugar
100ml milk
1/4tsp salt

1) Microwave milk until almost boiling. Add tea leaves (cut the tea bags) and stir.
2) Melt the butter, chocolate and salt in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water.
3) When it has all melted, add the ground almonds and then the egg yolks and milk mixture.
4) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and then add the sugar. Whisk for an additional minute or so. Then, turn on your oven and heat to 180 degrees celscious.
5) Finally, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and pour mixture into baking tin.
6) Bake for about 30-35 minutes.
7) When completely cool, dust icing sugar and cocoa powder on top.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dinner at Basiliek

Basiliek is a cute restaurant, with 1 Michelin star, in the even cuter town of Hardewijk. As it partipates in a bi-annual event called "Restaurant Week", we were able to dine there for just 37.50 euro per person (3 courses, everything else to be paid separately). Of course, we took that opportunity! Basiliek was only our 4th visit to a starred restaurant and if I'll be honest, it was probably the worst (although it was NOT AT ALL bad) amongst the 3 starred places we dined in.

We started off with a glass of champagne and then moved on to the amusés which were quite tasty. I especially liked I enjoyed the amusés, especially the apple chips with a herring mouse (the green cones).

This was lovely. A boullion from eekhorrnsbrood (a kind of mushroom). Delicate tasting but just full of flavour. I could drink quite a few more of this one hehe.

First course: Tartare of mackeral with apple, yuzu and what-not. It was OK. Fresh, quite good but didn't blow my mind.

2nd Course: we paid an additional 10 euro p.p. for this. Razor clams with a garlic froth, spinach etc. This was really tasty but I think I ate more celery than clams.
 Main: Braised beef. Very well-done. Considering it was braised, you wouldn't think it would still be rare and yet so tender. Would have liked slightly more vegetables though.

Palate cleanser: An Apple & Pear (plus probably some liquor) sorbet

Desser:Mango- 4 ways with coconut cream . Was OK. Not too heavy which is great.

Coffee & Friandises
This was OK. Friandises were nothing special. I was quite disappointed as the friandises we had at other starred restaurants were better (more innovative, not just mere chocolates). Also, it cost 9.50 euro p.p. for coffee and 5 pieces of chocolates/sweets.

All in all, not bad but I wasn't totally impressed. There were some issues with the service which I thought was not befitting for a Michelin starred restaurant. For example, they dripped olive oil on the table clothes (when pouring it , for the bread), they couldn't remember who ordered de-caf and who ordered normal coffee, my 2nd course as you can see was plated dreadfully (didn't wipe the plate and you call this a Michelin restaurant??) etc. Also, at times, they seemed somewhat money-minded, like the fact that friandises were included when not everyone wanted it (and was priced quite a bit as well.. The amazing friandises we had at another Michelin starred restaurant was just 6.90 euro), they poured champagne and wines were topped up (and charged for) even when you didn't want anymore. 

Bill for the 2 of us : 186.80 euro (Dutchman did not drink)

Monday, 14 March 2011

Salsiccia & Savoy Cabbage

This was SO good. It's technically a stew but really resembles a soup more. I ate so much of this last week. The broth is absolutely gorgeous. I used good salsiccia from the organic butcher. They were quite expensive (I paid about 10 euros for 500g) but it's well worth it, especially because I couldn't find Italian sausages anywhere else.


500g salsiccia, squeezed out of their skins. skins are to be discarded.
2 onions, 1 sliced, the other minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
325ml white white
150g canned/jarred haricots blanc (white beans)
1 savoy cabbage, chopped
1 liter chicken stock
500ml water
2 bay leaves
parmesan/gruyere/ old gouda cheese
1 small bunch parsley, chopped

1) Brown salsiccia in a pot. When done, transfer to a plate/any kind of container.
2) In the same pot, saute the minced onions and garlic and saute until all the lovely smells start to come out. This should take about 10 minutes. Don't do this on high heat, do it slowly to draw out all the juices.
3) Then, add the wine and beans and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4) Add all the other ingredients (EXCEPT the cheese & parsley) and bring to a boil. Then, simmer for 45 minutes.
5) Serve soup/stew with some cheese and parseley sprinkled on top.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough. I love it and will be making it many more times!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Potato & Leek Soup

Simple but tasty! Eat it plain, sprinkle with cheese, top with creme fraiche or herbs. Yum either way.


2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
1.5 l chicken stock
0.4kg potatos, cubed
0.5kg leeks, greens and bottom discarded, white part sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large onion, sliced

1) Saute carrots, onion, leeks, celery and garlic with olive oil for about 20 minutes over medium heat.
2) Pour stock, add potatoes and bring to a boil.
3) Then, simmer (covered) for about 30 -60 minutes.
4) When done, use handmixer to puree everything.
5) Season with salt & black pepper

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Apple-Lemon Yoghurt Cake

This is so easy and relatively healthy. GREAT texture. Dutchman loves this. He is not a cake person but he ate the entire loaf (minus 1 slice) within 2 days! While I love how this cake looks, how easy it is to make and the gorgeous texture, I found this cake lacking (I like my cakes rich so when there is no butter, it just falls flat). This would be perfect as a treat for your kids.

For the cake
1.5 cups plain flour
1 cup plain full fat yoghurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
zest of one lemon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 large apple (I used Jonagold), chopped into 1cm blocks

For the glaze
juice of one lemon
powdered/icing/confectioner's sugar

1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder.
2. In another bowl, beat everything else needed for the cake. Then, whisk the flour mixture gently into the wet ingredients (only until incorporated).
3. Fold apples in (again, do it gently).
4. Bake at 180 degrees celscius until done (about 50 minutes). If it browns too much, you can cover the cake with some foil while it bakes.
5. When cake is done and cool, pour glaze onto cake. To make glaze, mix icing sugar with lemon juice until thick.