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Pho soup

Delicious, aromatic and wonderfully warming, Vietnamese pho soup is a perfect remedy for a spring cold and a bad mood. As you can probably imagine, there are numerous variations and regional modifications of the recipe. The one I propose is my way of quickly making a satisfying bowl of soup.

I’ve made mine with shrimp, but you could use thin slices of beef instead. If you want your version to be vegan, go for cubed tofu. You can substitute mint and cilantro with your favourite fresh herbs and spice things up with Sriracha sauce.

It is consumed at any time of day in the North of Vietnam, whereas Southern Vietnamese usually serve it in the morning. It might seem weird to have a bowl of soup for breakfast, but trust me - it really is the best way to start your day. Especially on Mondays.

Recipe: Pho soup

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • one piece (ok. 5 cm) ginger
  • one green chili
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise stars
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • To serve: rice noodles, raw shrimp, green chili, lime, fresh mint and cilantro
Method
  • Char the onion and ginger over an open flame.
  • In a large pot, dry-roast cloves, cinnamon, anise, coriander and cardamom.
  • Add onion, ginger, chili and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for about an hour.
  • Season with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
  • In each bowl, place some noodles, shrimp, sliced green chillies, lime wedges, fresh mint and cilantro.
  • Top with hot broth.

Clams steamed with cider

A steamy pot of mussels or clams is a rather effective, yet extremely simple and easy dish. It takes so little time to prepare it that it almost seems unfair. Anyway, if you're looking for a spectacular main for a date, a family dinner or a larger party, go for shellfish. They're great with white wine, but beer and cider make delicious alternatives.

Recipe: Clams steamed with cider

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 kg of clams, cleaned
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • one tbsp. of butter
  • 300 ml of dry cider
  • 2 tbsp. of freshly chopped parsley
Method
  • Melt butter in a large pot.
  • Add garlic and shallots and cook until tender.
  • Add clams and wine, increase the heat and cover the pot.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes, until shells has opened.
  • Top with fresh parsley. Serve with fresh baguette and a glass of chilled cider.

Sweet potato and butternut squash soup

A perfectly orange soup is a perfect way to celebrate fall.

It's slightly sweet, slightly spicy and wonderfully warming.

Recipe: Sweet potato and butternut squash soup

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 350 g of sweet potatoes
  • 350 g of butternut squash
  • 500 ml of vegetable stock
  • one onion
  • 2 gralic cloves
  • one tbsp. of rapeseed oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • one tsp. of chili flakes
  • 3 tbsp. of coconut milk
Method
  • Peel and dice potatoes and squash.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot, add diced onion and sliced garlic. Cook them for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
  • Add diced pumpkin, squash and chili flakes, cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add vegetables stock and a pinch of salt, simmer over low heat until the vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes).
  • Blend the soup with 3 tbsp. of coconut milk. Reheat if needs be.

Camembert baked with figs

Everybody has a bad day every once in a while. Especially when it's getting colder. This baked camembert won't bring back summer heat and late sunsets.

But it will make you feel better anyway.

Recipe: Baked camembert with figs

Serves: 2 (or one if someone really craves cheese)
Ingredients
  • one wheel of camembert cheese
  • one tsp. of olive oil
  • one tsp. of fresh rosemary
  • one tsp. of runny honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • one fig
Method
  • Thinly slice off some of the top rind and score both side of the camembert with a sharp knife
  • Spread a thin layer of olive oil whisked with rosemary and honey on top and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake at 180C for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the cheese from the oven and top with thick slices of fig. Bake for another 5 minutes, until the camembert is runny inside.
  • Remove from the oven, top with freshly ground pepper and some more honey if you like it sweeter.
  • Serve immediately with crunchy baguette.

Warm tuna steak salad

This recipe falls into quick weeknight dinner that is not frozen pizza or Chinese takeaway category. All you have to do is to steam the vegetables, prepare dressing and pan-sear tuna steaks. It takes 15 minutes tops, but you can feel almost like a professional chef when serving dinner.

Recipe: Warm tuna steak salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • one cup of broad beans
  • one cup of snow peas
  • 2 tuna steaks
Method
  • Marinade tuna steaks for abou 30 minutes (it can be longer or a little shorter, if you don't have time).
  • Steam snow peas and broad beans for a few minutes, so that they soften, but are not overly cooked.
  • Combine dressing with peas and beans. Transfer vegetables into two plates.
  • Pan-sear tuna steaks for one or two minutes each side.
  • Slice the steaks and place on top of the vegetables. Top with freshly ground pepper.

Recipe: Marinade

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • one tsp. of chopped parsley
Method
  • Combine the ingredients

Recipe: Lemon dressing

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • one tsp. of chopped mint
  • one tsp. of chopped parsely
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Method
  • Whisk ingredients
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