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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
  • 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
  • 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.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary seems to be a good friend of everyone who ever had to deal with the morning-after syndrome. Potassium and vitamin C (and vodka) make it a perfect choice for brunch, especially when Mimosa is just not enough.

There are at a few conflicting claims of who invented the Bloody Mary (and even if most of these bartenders are lying, it's hard to blame them). The cocktail was probably created in the first half of the 20th century. Its name comes from sorbiquet given to Queen Mary I of England, known for gory executions of Protestants when she tried to turn England back to Roman Catholicism.

The simplest recipe includes vodka and tomato juice, the most classic mix adds lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, salt and pepper. There are numerous variations. Bloody Fairy contains absinth instead of vodka, Bloody Maria replaces vodka with tequila, Bloody Moly - with Irish whiskey. The inventors of Bloody Bull combined beef bouillon with tomato juice, the admirers of Bloody Mariyaki substitute Worcestershire sauce with teriyaki. Bloodless Mary comes without tomato juice, Bloody Shame is a sad cocktail without vodka.

The most common garnish is a celery stalk, sometimes coming with olives, pickles and lemon slices. More elaborate ones include jalapeño peppers, becon, cheese, oysters or shrimp. The most extraordinary Bloody Marys are garnished with mini burgers (as well as full-size burgers), pizza slices (as well as entire pizzas) and hot dogs.

Recipe: Bloody Mary

Serves: 2 adults
  • 160 ml of vodka
  • 320 ml of tomato juice
  • juice of one lemon
  • 5-6 dashes of tabasco
  • a dash of salt
  • a dash of pepper
  • Combine all the ingredients in cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice.
  • Strain into chilled cocktail glasses.
  • Add garnish.

Recipe: Garnish

  • celery stalks
  • caper berries
  • dried chili peppers
  • lemon slices
  • prosciutto wrapped shrimp, grilled or roasted

seafood pot

Seafood has three essential assets: it’s scrumptious, it’s healthy and it’s almost ludicrously easy to prepare. A pot of mussels and prawns is one of the simplest and most effective dishes you can serve your friends at dinner. The most difficult step might actually be getting fresh seafood.

Once you’ve put your hand on some deliciously fresh mussels and prawns, it’s a piece of seafood cake. Start with throwing away defective mussels: tap open mussels against the counter and, if they don’t close up immediately, discard them. Next, rinse mussels under cold water, cut the beards and brush off any sand or debris from the shells. If your guests happen to enjoy interacting with their food, you can limit yourself to rinsing prawns before cooking. If, on the other hand, this might cause horror rather than pleasure, you can do some more work yourself. Chop off the heads, pull off the shells and legs and use a sharp knife to make slits around prawns’ back and belly in order to devein them.

Now all you need is some butter, a few cloves of garlic, onion, white wine, lemon juice, fresh parsley and a crispy baguette. If you want to keep it really simple, butter, garlic and white wine are enough for a mouthwatering dish. Or, if for some reason you have failed to get the seafood, wine will be fine on its own. White or red, doesn’t really matter at this point. Just make sure there is enough for everyone.

Recipe: Seafood pot with mussels and prawns

  • 1 kg of fresh mussels, cleaned
  • 200 g of fresh tiger prawns
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • one medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp. of finely chopped parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Melt butter in a heavy-bottom pot. Add garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until they are soft, but not browned.
  • Add wine and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Add mussels and prawns, cover the pot, increase heat to high and cook for about 5 minutes - until the mussel shells open and the prawns turn pink.
  • Before serving, top with parsley and freshly ground pepper and drizzle with lemon juice. Serve with a crispy baguette.

avocado & shrimp sandwich

Recipe: Recpie: Avocado & shrimp sandwich

  • 250 g of peeled shrimp
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • whole grain bread
  • one ripe avocado
  • one shallot, finely diced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. of chili flakes
  • a pinch of salt
  • To make the avocado spread, smash avocado with lime juice. Combine with shallot, season with chili and salt.
  • Set aside in a cool place for at least half an hour.
  • Melt butter in a pan and fry shrimp (about 2 minutes for each side of a shrimp).
  • Serve the shrimp with avocado spread and bread.

pumpkin-orange soup with prawns

Recipe: Pumpkin-orange soup with prawns

  • 700 g of pumpkin
  • one garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, coarsely diced
  • 2 tsp. of freshly grated ginger
  • 500 ml of homemade vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 400 g of peeled prawns
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • Cut pumpkin into large chunks, place them in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 200C for 30-40 minutes. Let cool and remove the skins.
  • Heat one tbsp. of olive oil in a large pot, saute garlic and shallots, add ginger and fry for a moment. Add pumpkin, pour in the stock and bring to boil.
  • Add orange juice and blend the soup.
  • Melt butter in a skillet, add prawns and cook them for 1-2 minutes each side. Serve them with soup.