by cookbookarabia

Archive for the ‘Southern European kitchen’ Category

Beans & veggies

In Chickpeas, Pugliese kitchen, Southern European kitchen on December 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm

As often we tend to get an addiction when back from a foodie destination. So recently we made a Puglia feature for Dutch women’s magazine VIVA and we should share one of the recipes here. It just shows how poor kitchens can give so much satisfaction. So whenever it’s cold and you’re hungry, a plate of this farmers food will warm your stomach and satisfy your soul. At least that’s what it does to us. And this chickpea puree, does it remind us of something? did someone say hummus?

Chickpeas with endive and olive oil
Serves 4

800 g canned chickpeas ** (or 400 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in advance in plenty of water …. much better!)
endives or scarola or another green leave vegetable from the bitter endive family.
anchovy fillets in oil
olive oil

Cook the chickpeas in a small amount of water during 5 minutes (if you’re using fresh chickpeas, boil them in plenty of water for about 45 minutes until tender: of course this is much nicer than the canned friends). Cut the endive coarsely. Heat a little oil with lots of chopped garlic and add to taste quite a few anchovy fillets. Allow to simmer 2-3 minutes, add the endive. Stir fry until the endive is almost completely wilted. Mash the chickpeas with a little cooking liquid, salt and a generous dash of olive oil until a thick puree. Serve with some more olive oil  and next to it, the endives!

Image courtesy Sven Benjamins.


Olives & more from Puglia

In Olives, Pugliese kitchen, Southern European kitchen on December 13, 2010 at 11:17 am

Last week we were in beautiful Puglia in the south of Italy, for a very special occasion: Qoco : a young chef’s competition about the special Pugliese olive oil, made from the Coratina olive variety, and we were members of the jury. We got out of the plane, in the bus, and we saw olive trees, olive trees, olive trees and more…olive trees!

A beautiful countrysite rustic and pure.

Antonella Millarte, our Pugliese olive oil expert told us there are 60 million olive trees in Puglia! One for every Italian.

There were some chef’s from Italy and some more from nordic countries, as far up as the talented Magnus Nilsson’s Faviken, in the north of Sweden. We brought along Wally Bosman, chef at our Amsterdam favorite Toscanini restaurant (look how he’s enjoying the olives in the above picture), who made some nice dishes (with chickpeas, raw mackerel and orzo) but it was Magnus who deserved to win! But aside from these wonderful dishes the chefs presented with the high quality extra vergine Coratina olive oil –which is an oil that is often still stone crushed, temperature not higher than 27°C and has therefore and also due to the Coratina variety high levels of antioxidants and a very pure taste of green tomatoes and artichokes
we discovered something very very interesting! Not only was everyone telling us Puglia still has Arabic influence in their food, but we could taste it, like everywhere! Mashed up chickpeas like hummus, with cooked bitter vegetables (like endives) and other indigenous bean vegetables dishes, lentils, in combination with fresh cheeses (like the burrata), the typical sweets all was pointing in the same direction. And even the ancient olive trees, as they came to Puglia from Greece and Syria. We’ll be back soon in Puglia for our next book.

Who’s cookin’ for you? We are!

In Dates, Israelian kitchen, Libyan kitchen, Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Orangeflowerwater, Palestinian kitchen, Sardinian kitchen, Turkish kitchen on November 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm


It’s such a nice feeling to cook for people that specially came for you. Of course it’s pure joy for us to cook from our new book, all these dishes we love so much. The first monday we were a bit late, due to a presentation at PINC. which was in a city at an hour from Amsterdam. And to make things worse we needed to go past The Lebanese bakery in Almere, because we forgot to get the bread the day before. But there it was: warm and tender…everyone who knows the joy of freshly baked flatbread (when you have to open the plastic bag to get the moist out) knows what we mean. Then our saving angel was there in the person of Marnix, a talented upcoming chef, who was eager to chop lots of herbs and onions for us. Lucky girls we were! Everything was done just in time, and reactions were overly enthousiastic and we were proud as mothers with their babies. The next monday was very relaxed because we didn’t have to go nowhere (well we were missing out on the event of the launch of a big restaurant guide, but ah isn’t life about choices).

So cooking was filling our day, nice and peaceful. All set & done, and the evening went very well with some 32 happy guests. Two dinners yet to come…and we are looking forward to these: the big ones. Coming monday 50 guests and next monday another 50 guests. Which means literally fully booked, no seats left! Next monday 29th will be extra special as our good friends from Lebanon will join us, with Kamal Mouzawak cooking with us Lebanese dishes. Check out the menu later next week.

Next monday’s menu on 22th will have some slight changes:

Pumpkinhummus & Pistachiospread, Labne & Za’atar

Parsleysalad with pomegranate seeds and tahina

Yoghurtsalad with lemon & green peppers

Jaffa’s orange salad with fennel & almonds


Sardinian vegetable couscous with pinenuts from Carloforte

Yufka rolls with garlic yoghurt and hot pepper oil


Bread & Butter pudding with dates and orangeflowerwater

Our own little restaurant!

In Catalan kitchen, couscous, Israelian kitchen, Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Palestinian kitchen, Sardinian kitchen, Turkish kitchen on November 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm

We are so excited! Every monday starting 8th of november we will be cooking Bismilla Arabia dishes at eating designer Marije Vogelzang’s Proef! restaurant on the Westergasterrein in Amsterdam. Marije came with us to Lebanon for our first book Arabia and we became close friends ever since. It’s so great to finally have to chance to collaborate and cook our dishes in her fantastic little cosy place. Marije is of course designing beautiful drawings like these ones, to introduce our dishes…And there are still some seats left for 15th and 22th of october, and maybe if you’re quick even for the first one this coming monday. Check it out and send a mail to &

Here’s the menu!

Our Mezze: Pistachespread & pumpkinhummus & labne & za’atar with flatbread

Turkish walnutsalad with sour hot green peppers

Our Kisir, bulghursalad with paprikapaste, lots of herbs and pomegranatemolasses

Catalan garden salad with figs & hazelnuts

Fregola with wild herbs

Yufkarolls with lamb meat, garlic yoghurt & pul biber oil

Pistachecustard & sweet couscous with orange rind, almonds and raisins.

Spicy solutions for cold nights

In Catalan kitchen, Spices on October 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Image: courtesy Sven Benjamins.

Some months ago we made a delicious. veggie tajine for a huge dinner at the Environmental film festival, here in Amsterdam. And finally it became even a vegan version, without any plan to do so. We just followed our tastebuds! It was a very colourfull dish with beetroot, pumpkin, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, artichoke hearts, all golden roasted or stewed with a thick sauce of Turkish paprikapaste, onion and garlic and topped of with generous amounts of a wonderfull spice paste: a blend of roasted almonds, parsley, cuminseeds, fennelseeds, carawayseeds, pimenton, and olive oil, basically a variation on the Catalan picada. Wow, it was just an explosion of taste in our mouth and people were blown away by the dish. We made way to much, so we ended up making doggy bags for everyone, and recently I ran into a girl who was there that evening and told me she had been enjoying the left overs the whole week. Now that’s what we call sustainable! We ourselves loved it so much too we decided to fix it in our weekly culinary column at VIVA magazine…and the recipe was covered as well in the daily newspaper De Volkskrant. And as the weather in this part of the world is getting worse and worse, this is our perfect comfort food.

Here’s the recipe:

Vegetable tagine with picada

2 sweet onions
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp Turkish pepper paste
1 small butternut squash
1 large sweet potato
1 large waxy potato
2 large carrots
2 turnips
4 young beets
4 artichoke hearts (fresh or frozen if necessary)

the picada:
200 g almonds
oil for frying
1 bunch of parsley
4 tablespoons fennel seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tbsp pimentón
pul biber

Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large tagine or casserole and cook the mixture about 15 minutes, add the paprika paste and some salt. Peel and slice the other vegetables in roughly equal pieces. Add a little water to the onion mixture and simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Fry the almonds in a golden brown layer of oil. Drain and cool. Chop the parsley roughly. Roast the spices except the pimentón 1 minutes in a hot dry frying pan. Mix the almonds in a food processor with the parsley, ¾ of the spice mixture, the pimentón to a fine paste and stir vigorously with a little olive oil and season with salt. Spoon the picada generously over the roasted vegetables, sprinkle with pul biber and the rest of the spices.

Bismilla Arabia!

In Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Southern European kitchen on September 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm

…though as well still in Dutch. For this book we traveled in the south of Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Libya, Algeria, Catalunya in Spain and Sardegna in Italy. Bismilla Arabia is the fruit of our new understanding of the Arab influence on the kitchen, with so many similarities and differences.

Hello world!

In Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Southern European kitchen on September 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Finally we get on with our stories, not only in our books but we’re gonna try to keep you updated about our search for the Arab influence on the mediterranean kitchen, as featured in our cookbook Arabia (still only available in dutch) for which we traveled Lebanon and Syria, Morocco & Tunisia, Sicily in Italy and Andalucia in Spain. And we have a new one out there since just a couple of days!