April 21, 2011

spring and its fresh greens

Easter is nearly upon us, and the nighttime frosts are finally over. what better way to celebrate than with fresh green chervil soup.

as i mentioned in my earlier post, my grandmother used to make this quite often when we were children. i always thought everybody knew what chervil was until i started watching cookery programs on the BBC and it never ever came up as a recipe, most often it would be tomato soup, or pumpkin, or carrot and coriander etc. but chervil only started being featured very recently, and more often than not, as a herby addition in a chique salad, or to go with fish (as it does have a slight aniseed flavor).

but over here in Belgium, 'kervelsoep met rijst en ballekens' (chervil soup with rice and little meatballs) was and still is a regular starter to a meal.

here s how i make mine:


200 gr chervil, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 banana shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
1500ml light chicken stock
rapeseed oil, or sunflower oil
some double cream to garnish


1. lightly sauté the chopped onion, shallots, and garlic in a bit of the rapeseed or sunflower oil until softened but not browned
2. add the chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes
3. in a blender, mix the hot stock with the fresh chopped chervil
4. serve immediately with a little cream

should you want to add rice or meatballs for a classic chervilsoup, add them already cooked to the blended soup and warm through, but be careful not to overcook or the soup will look grayish, it s so much more appetizing with its spring green color.

we had this yesterday evening under our flowering wisteria... balmy

April 18, 2011

a new name

just as spring has been showing us more and more signs of new life, so i have decided that i might re-name this blog. it came to me quite suddenly that i needed a change, and what better two words to use in this cookery blog than the two ingredients that have influenced my tastebuds and evoke so many memories of my childhood: chervil and miso.

chervil; because my Belgian grandmother would cook the most delicate yet flavorsome soup with it, and so, incidentally, does my mom-in-law. yet only now do i realize that not so many people are that familiar with it, so i ll be posting that recipe very soon.

miso; because my Japanese grandmother would make us this miso-soup on special occasions, especially at New Year, with roasted o-mochi (rice-cakes) and this was called o-zoni (i believe in the Kansai area where we grew up, the New Year o-zoni was often made with miso, but in the Kanto area more to the north, it would be made with suimono, which is more of a clear dashi-broth... must look that one up). i can t remember quite why, but my grandparents always enjoyed a western-style breakfast: thick toast with butter, jam, a boiled egg and black tea, so having a Japanese style breakfast like the o-zoni was certainly a treat.

so, chervil & miso, two taste sensations among many, but very important to me.

this weekend, i tried my hand at making some mousses and jellies. must admit, it didn t quite work as i expected, so will be tweaking.

here s my attempt at making a milk matcha (green tea) jelly:


300 ml milk
300 ml water
100 ml cream
5 tbsps sweetened matcha powder, or the same amount of normal matcha powder
and sugar to taste, but don t make it too sweet (i would suggest max 3 tbsps)
2 gelatin leaves (total 6gr)


1. soak the gelatin leaves in cold water until softened
2. heat the milk, water and cream to boiling point
3. add the matcha powder (and sugar, if using) and mix well
4. squeeze the water out of the softened gelatin, and add to the warm milk matcha mixture, stir until completely dissolved
5. leave to cool a little before pouring into ramekins or any kind of pretty little cups
6. cover with clingfilm (which i forgot to do, result: wrinkly skin) and refrigerate until set

i served this with a little rose-syrup which i thought went pretty well with the slight bitterness of the green tea.

not quite perfect, but getting there... next up, as promised, chervil soup to celebrate spring and the re-naming of this blog.

April 11, 2011

one month on

it s exactly one month since the big one hit the Japan north-east coast. i haven t been able to do much more than read up and follow the few news bulletins anxiously.

there was a beautiful but very sad video-clip posted on YouTube that i would like to share here too. the song is by Métis, a singer hitherto unknown to me, but i very much like her style, and the text of this particular song is very moving. i won t be translating, all i can say is that in general it questions whether we as humans haven t become too complacent and relaxed in our ways... haven t we forgotten to enjoy and appreciate the little things in life?

it is what has been going thru my mind for much longer now.

yesterday we foraged for wild garlic... and prepared fedelini with some added roast garlic, finely chopped chilli, an anchovy fillet, and some lemon zest, pure heaven, simple.

meanwhile i have been folding origami cranes (tsuru, just happens to be my middle name too, as it was my grandmother s) for an organization called Students Rebuild. i hope they succeed in their endeavor.

pray for Japan. don t forget about all the other disaster areas in the world.