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Kitchen Exile Event in collaboration with Ataro Food & Spices and Kitchen Art

It's not often I get a chance to do an event, so I'm really pleased to announce my first pop-up. 

I've been working closely with Ebere Akadiri from Ataro Food and Spices on some recipes and we thought it would be a great idea to combine my love of BBQ and the Big Green Egg and her wonderful spices.

Ebere is the owner of Ataro Food and Spices, she has a fantastic range of West African spices that I've been using now for a couple of years. I do like trying out new and interesting cuisines and it has been interesting to learn about West African cooking and culture. Many of these spices are well suited to BBQ and one of them, Suya, is an integral part of West African street food, it's also one of my favourites to use as it is so versatile.

Ebere and I have teamed up with Yvonne Eveleens owner of Kitchen Art in my adopted home town of Leiden. It's also a shop I spend a lot of time (and money) in as it has some quality kitchen equipment and also is one of the main Big Green Egg dealers here in Leiden. It's the one place I can always guarantee to get great customer service and a friendly chat.

Yvonne is hosting us for an evening whereby you get a chance to learn about West African cooking and Spices and also learn more about cooking on the Big Green Egg. The evening will consist of cookery lessons and dinner cooked by both myself and Ebere.

You could learn dishes such as West African fish Stew

Or how about learning the art of Suya, West African grill

This Dodo (plantain) dish is easier than you think.

This Jollof rice dish is an essential in every West African kitchen

Join us on June 25th from 18:00 to 21:00 at Kitchen Art, Botermarkt 13, 2311 EM Leiden
 . Tickets are available on EventBrite. 

Places are limited if you book before 1st of June you can avail of the early bird tickets for €39, after that €49.

Tickets can be purchased via this link 

Spinach and feta frittata

This dish is my weeknight recipe for when I don't want to go to too much effort in the kitchen. Frittata is an Italian version of an omelette but doesn't require as much attention and you can pretty much use any filling or topping that you like. One of my favourites is spinach and feta.

100g baby spinach washed
70g feta
20g butter
6 eggs
Salt and pepper
1g grated nutmeg
50ml milk

Place the spinach in a frying pan and cook on a medium heat until it starts to break down, cook until all the moisture is out of the spinach
Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt
Whisk the eggs and milk until combined, add a little of the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and add to the pan with the spinach, stir to ensure the spinach is well distributed
cook for 2- 3 mins to allow the bottom to set
Next sprinkle over the feta and place under a hot grill for 5-7 mins or until browned

Guts and Glory - review

Guts and Glory is the brainchild of chefs Guillaume de Beer, Freek van Noortwijk and their business partner Johanneke van Iwaarden. It is nestled in the heart of the tourist district in Amsterdam, but don't let that put you off. The unassuming exterior gives nothing away about what culinary delights lie inside. Surprisingly though, it's not full of (annoying) tourists but is frequented more by locals. 

Guts and Glory is the sister restaurant of BREDA (a reference to their home town), it has a more cafe feel to the interior than its slick counterpart on the Singel which I've also been to. 

They have an interesting concept in that every three months they change chapter. The menu will have a different theme, it could refer to a country or a specific meat. This isn't my first visit to the restaurant, I dined there a while back during their French chapter and when I saw they were going Japanese it certainly piqued my interest, having travelled around the country myself. The chefs were heavily influenced by a trip around Japan earlier this year and they really have taken this menu to a new level. 

We opted for the 5 course menu for lunch with accompanying sakes (well, why not!).

The meal certainly had an interesting beginning with a simple tuna sandwich. If you've travelled around Japan, you'll notice there is an obsession with Western style sandwiches, which often have unusual fillings.

The next amuse was an assortment of pickled baby aubergine, croquettes with sashimi rice and japanese omelette. This was a tasty start.

Next up was a seasonal nod to spring with white asparagus and wild garlic with a fragrant yuzu butter. Lovely play on sweet and sour favours with the hit of garlic from the flowers which finished it nicely.

The next dish was a trio of sashimi, which were all excellently seasoned. This dish was paired really well with the sake, as the sake picked up on the different elements of each morsel.

what followed next was (for me) the best dish and highlight of the menu. Beef ramen with a deep, earthy, umami filled broth with a slight chilli heat. There was a good texture from the peanuts which added to the dish. 

The next dish was a perfectly seared steak with a rich mushroom quenelle. I would say the only downside to the dish was that the mushroom, which was very tasty, was powerfully flavoured and had a tendency to dominate.

Next up was a palate cleansing miso soup which had an interesting slight sweetness to it.

The following dessert dishes were a japanese style custard with a sweet fruit puree. The main dessert of nashi pear and an almost savoury ice cream with a caramel syrup, all of which paired really well together.

The sake matching was spot on with each of the dishes, really couldn't fault them at all. 

All in all a great meal with great service. I'm currently considering if I'll go back for second helpings of Japan.

For more information got to http://www.gutsglory.nl/en/

Utrechtsestraat 6, Amsterdam

Asparagus and ham pancakes with a gruyere sauce

My favourite season is back again, asparagus! This is a classic recipe with pancakes, ham and a rich cheese sauce.

500g cooked asparagus (blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes and plunge into cold water and allow to cool
200g sliced ham
5 pancakes

2 eggs
110g flour
290ml milk
pinch salt
Butter for frying

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt
Making a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the middle
Add about 50ml of milk

Start to whisk the eggs and milk, use small strokes and do not try and incorporate the flour all at once, otherwise you'll end up with a lumpy mixture
Add the milk gradually until you have a smooth and thin mixture
When cooking the pancakes, ensure the pan is evenly heated, not too hot so as not to burn the butter and don't pour too much in at once. 
The pancakes need to be thin, not thick
Coat the pan evenly with butter
Allow one side to cook, you can tell it is cooked through as it will no longer stick to the pan, you can now flip it over to cook the other side

Cheese Sauce
20g flour
20g butter
150ml milk

75g gruyere
10g dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to season

To make the roux sauce 
Melt the butter, add the flour and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes to cook out the flour

Take the pan off the heat and add the milk slowly whisking all the time to ensure it does not get lumpy
Place back on the heat and continue to whisk until it thickens
Add the dijon and gruyere and stir through, if the sauce is too thick, add a little extra milk to loosen it
Season to taste

To assemble the pancakes
Place a ham slice on the pancake and 5 stalks of asparagus
Roll the pancake up and place in a baking dish seam side down
Repeat the process until you have done the same with all the pancakes
Pour over the cheese sauce
Place the baking dish under the grill and bake until the sauce starts to bubble and turn brown

Patatas bravas/Mushrooms with blue cheese/Garlic shrimps/Chorizo in red wine

These are some of my favourite tapas menu dishes that I like to replicate at home. They are great for evenings when you have friends over and want some easy going sharing dishes.
Patatas bravas

For the potatoes
10 small potatoes halved
50ml olive oil or 50g of pork fat
1g salt and a few twists of pepper
Place the potatoes in an oven proof dish, drizzle with the oil and season with the salt and pepper cook at 210c (fan) 220c (normal)
Cook for 30 mins or until brown and crispy

For the sauce
100ml passata
10ml sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic finely sliced
1 shallot finely chopped
6 small fresh tomatoes or 3 normal sized finely chopped (use 100g tinned when not in season)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
10ml oil
Fry off the shallot and garlic in the oil on a low heat until soft, add the tomato puree and smoked paprika and stir through and cook for a further 5 mins
Next add the tomatoes and passata and cook for about 15 mins or until the tomatoes have started to soften
Add the sherry vinegar and stir through for about 1-2mins
Season to taste and serve with the crispy potatoes

Prawns with Garlic

10 large king prawns shell on
2 cloves of garlic finely sliced
10ml olive oil
20ml vermouth
salt and pepper to taste

10g fresh parsely to garnish

Add the oil and garlic to a pan and cook on a very low heat for 10 minutes to allow the oil to infuse
Turn the heat to medium and add the prawns and cook for 1 – 2 mins each side
Turn the heat up high and add the vermouth and cook for a further 1-2 mins
Season with the salt and pepper before serving and sprinkle with the parsely

Chorizo in red wine and port

100g chorizo sliced
20ml port
50ml red wine

Add the chorizo to a warm pan and cook until it starts to release it’s oils (about 4-5 mins) on medium heat
Turn the heat up to high and add the wine and port and cook for 1-2 mins until the sauce reduces

Mushrooms with blue cheese

2 portobello mushrooms quartered      
70g blue cheese such as gorgonzola dolce or stilton
20ml white wine
10ml olive oil

Place the mushrooms in a baking dish and drizzle with the oil
Dot with the cheese and place in a pre warmed oven at 170C (fan) 180c(normal) for 15 mins
Add the wine and bake for a further 5 mins

Chicken tacos Al Pastor style with achiote marinade

Al pastor is a central Mexican (Oaxacan) style of cooking either on a spit or grill. 

It is typically made using pork, but other meats be can used, in this recipe I went for chicken. The marinade for this dish consists of achiote paste and pureed pineapple which give it its unique flavour.

Achiote is mentioned in many al pastor recipes, it is a paste made from herbs and spices blended with oil and lemon juice or vinegar. It is also known as Recado Rojo, and is a combination of cumin, all spice, oregano, black pepper, salt, garlic, clove, cinnamon and annato. When using this paste, bear in mind the annato is what imparts colour to the paste and will stain your skin (and your clothes). It also provides a good spicy and sour foil to the sweetness of the pineapple juice in the marinade. 

Pineapple is also good for tenderising meat as it contains the enzyme bromelain which digests protein. You need to be careful on two points when using pineapple. First the marinating time, leave your meat too long and you'll end up with mush as the enzyme will break down the meat very quickly. The length of time will also depend on the thickness of the meat. Second the flavour, pineapple has a strong flavour use too much and it will dominate. You need a good balance in this recipe, so keep that in mind. 

I also use lime in this recipe as a seasoning, rather than in the marinade. Lime contains citric acid which can toughen and cook the meat if you use it in the marinade.

Serves 2
4 chicken thighs, cut into halves
2 slices fresh pineapple 

100g achiote paste 
10ml sherry vinegar
20ml rapeseed oil
2g chipotle chilli powder
1g salt
50ml pureed pineapple to be added about 15 minutes before cooking

Mix the achiote paste, with the vinegar, oil, chilli powder and salt to form a loose paste
Coat the thigh meat in the paste and marinate for 6 hours in the fridge
About 15 minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge to come up to room temperature and pour over the pineapple juice, mix in well 

Set your bbq for direct cooking at 250c
Place the onion and the pineapple slices on the griddle and cook for 2 minutes each side
Once cooked, remove to one side and keep warm
Cook the chicken pieces for 5 - 7 mins, constantly turning them to ensure an even char and cook

I like to serve these in corn tortillas with sprinkled with lime juice, chopped coriander and smoked feta.

If you want to purchase the achiote paste for this recipe you can order it online from the Cool Chile Co 

Cocktails and spirits - Wynand Fockink

Those of you outside of the Netherlands may be unfamiliar with the name Wynand Fockink. Tucked away in a side street off Dam square in Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands oldest distilleries. Many people visiting Amsterdam may have visited the tiny proeflokaal and distillery and availed of a kopstootje (beer and genever chaser). They were founded in 1679 and the actual tasting room has not changed much since then. 

Surprisingly, it's not all tourist trade at Wynand Fockink, it's almost a 50/50 split between locals and curious tourists.  I'm always in awe of history and love nothing more to visit places like this that are keeping it alive. Not only that, they are moving forward and bringing that taste of history with them too.

Wynand Fockink have more than 70 products to their name consisting of genevers, bitters, brandies and liqueurs. Not much has changed in the way of processes and all beverages are produced on site and bottled by hand. It is a very small operation but with a very large range. This however has not detracted from their quality, it is very much about working with real ingredients and producing artisanal drinks that are held in high esteem by many bartenders. 

They also want to bring back the focus on true Dutch products. In the Netherlands corenwyn and genever are very much perceived as an old persons drink and are often ignored in place of trendier drinks such as vodka and gin. Speaking with brand Ambassador Joeri Remeeus he said that the products should be seen as premium brands that speak for themselves. They have more diversity than people think and can be utilised more easily in cocktails. Bartenders such as Tess Posthumus are paving the way to revitalise the use of genever in cocktails and bars such as The Tailor in Amsterdam are already using many of the Wynand Fockink range in their cocktails. 

Distiller Joyce Keuker

I also met with two of the main distillers; Monique ten Kortenaar and Joyce Keuker. Monique's career started within food technology, she then joined Bols as a quality manager almost four years ago, before getting more involved in the distillery side a year ago. Joyce's background was in the beer industry before joining Wynand Fockink, she has been a distiller for three years now.

 Both women take pride in what they do and see that genever and corenwyn can be just as diverse  as what is produced within the whisky and bourbon industries. They also have a strong sense of the history of their brand and have an interest in reviving older spirits that are no longer made.

Distiller Monique ten Kortenaar

Despite the many liqueurs that they produce, both have a preference for the stronger spirits and don't really have what you would call a sweet tooth. Monique sees her best product as the Superior Genever and Joyce's choice would be the Spelt Genever, which she likes to call ''Dutch grappa". Both distillers are avid Corenwyn 6 & whisky drinkers and have a preference for Islay malts. 

Naturally, whilst talking about the products, we also spoke about food matching. Genevers and Corenwyns are more of a digestif, but also pair well with some older Dutch cheeses. They also pair well with blue cheese such as Shropshire Blue and French cheese such as Petit Tourtain or could be served tapas style with small bites. Many of the liqueurs on offer would also work well with desserts, rather than the traditional port and dessert wine selection.

So, when not cooped up in the distillery, Joyce and Monique have also joined forces to form the Dutch Female Brewers & Distillers Guild. Distilling and brewing are still seen as male dominated industries. For many women it may simply not appeal as a career, but doors have started to open and many Dutch distillers and brewers now employ women behind their stills and vats. The guild was seen as a way of knowledge sharing and networking within the industry for women. While there may still be an element of gender bias within the industries, it's people like Monique and Joyce who want the focus to be on the quality of the products they produce, not the people behind it. 

So, the next time you happen to be in Amsterdam, take a trip to Pijlsteeg just off Dam Square and sample a little bit of history.


Wynand Fockink Tasting room & Liquor store
Pijlsteeg 31
1012 HH Amsterdam