A rice dish with eggplant, beef and raisins

A long time ago, I left my parents house to study at university in the big city of Amsterdam. My mother gave me a book of recipes as I had already showed signs that I would not be eating pizzas and French fries all the time but actually do some cooking.

In my first student room – a rented room with a family in the Bijlmermeer high-rise area – I built a two-burner bottle-gas kitchen around the sink, using the hot plate of the coffee maker to slowly cook rice. That recipe book from 1981 is still in my collection and one of the dishes I made from it was called Turkish stuffed aubergines (eggplant), that used ground lamb or mutton meat.

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Milan-style Ossobuco and ceps risotto

The other day I made a grilled chicken with lemon and did not feel like throwing the remains away so I turned it into a chicken stock. Then my wife suggested I made risotto and then I saw nice veal shank at the butcher’s. The ossobuco, “bone with a hole” can be made in advance and is even nicer when reheated. It also takes several hours. Risotto is best eaten straight off the stove, because of the grated cheese, but leftovers can be reheated later.

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Ceps risotto with French cheese, guinea fowl and sweet beetroot

One of the things I love about cooking is they way you can use your inventiveness to make subtle changes to existing recipes and use the seasons and products at hand instead of a list of prescribed ingredients.
So it is here. The ceps risotto is a nice savoury dish for cold days to start with. There are still some fresh ceps on the market but I decided to use the dried ones from the larder.

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Risotto with lemon, ginger and yoghurt

Recently I went to a restaurant in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, le Bistrot de Laurent. Overall, the food and dishes were decent but I was disappointed about the risotto that was served with my tuna steak.
It was supposed to have asparagus, very late in the season, but I could hardly taste that. There was a lot of chives and much olive oil.
I decided to ‘invent’ a better risotto to go with fish.

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Guinea fowl with girolles and rice

There are still various mushrooms on the market, some late ceps, cantherelles, the black “trompettes de Maures” (also called trumpets of death) and the yellow girolles. I do like mushrooms, especially ceps, but I find most of the mushrooms a lot of bother to clean. Girolles go well with poultry, so I bought some of … Read more