Tag Archives: Culinary Tours

Santa’s Grotto for Cooks in Amsterdam

Dunkelman3 I had lots of plans for today.  A whole list.  I’m looking at it now, hardly anything ticked off, why?  Well, one of the things on my list was to pop out to Duikelman’s kitchen equipment store.  If you are already familiar with this store in Amsterdam, you’ve probably worked out why I didn’t get anything else done today.  I got side tracked.  I got distracted.  Again.  Even although I went there after giving myself a serious talking to – “Just in and out today, don’t hang around.  Only buy the Japanese mandolin and the potato ricer, that’s it.  THAT’S IT!”  I was convinced I would be good, that I could resist temptation, and in a way I did.  I mean, I only bought those two items, nothing else.


The only thing is, although I didn’t part with extra money, I did part with time, more than two hours to be exact.  There’s just something about the place, it’s magical.  I can feel my heart beating faster as I approach that tiny, unassuming front door.  Then a turn of the handle and I’m inside, the whole place opening up before me.  It’s like entering a magical kingdom, going through the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, through the wardrobe into Narnia.  Sorry if I’m getting carried away, but, really, I love it!  Duikelman’s is a breathtaking world of tools, equipment and gadgets for anyone who spends some time in the kitchen.  I’m not even a kitchen gadget person, I tend to like to work with my hands rather than gadgets, but this is about serious equipment.  The real deal.


As a shop in Amsterdam in one of the older parts of the city, it has that cosy feel.  It’s like a never ending rabbit warren of goodies.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn a corner and there’s another aisle of knives, or graters, or copper pans, or, well sometimes I have to ask the assistant what the things are for.  The thing is, maybe this is weird, but I never have the same feeling when I’m shopping for clothes, shoes or any of those other things that women are supposed to get excited about.  And, it’s not even about the buying, not so much the purchase or the ‘having’, it’s about the being.  Just being there surrounded by all these items that help make great food makes me happy.  Now, where’s that list??

A Taste of Amsterdam

Phew!  It’s been so busy lately with Amsterdam Culinary  Tasting Tours!  I’m really pleased that I’ve been getting so many bookings this summer.  And, as always I’ve met some really great people.  I have a little breathing space today, so I thought I’d put together a little gallery of the sights and flavour of Amsterdam this summer…… just a little taster….

Oh yeah, if you want to book:

Tours by Locals (Easier if you are based outside the Netherlands)

Contact me directly  on karen@thecookingcoach.eu (easier if you are based in the Netherlands)

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

As far as I’m concerned chocolate is a food group, so an essential part of a healthy balance diet.  With chocolate as with so many things in life, pure is best.  The chocolates I love to eat are the ones made from the best quality ingredients, no funny ingredients added to extend life or cover up nasties.  These chocolate shops all use fair trade ingredients.

I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I let you come to Amsterdam and not eat the very best, so here are my top three favourites.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops


Pompadour : Situated in the 9-straatjes, Pompadour is a great place to stop for coffee and some chocolate to recuperate from all that tiring boutique shopping.  Of course I’m not forcing you to eat chocolate, you could choose one of their tasty cakes instead.  A beautiful little tearoom where the interior reflects the decadence and quality of the products – the ornate panelling was brought from the council buildings of the Belgian town of Mortsel where it was made in 1795.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops


Puccini :  These chocolates are generous in flavour and size.  Italian traditions influence the product as well as some seasonal ingredients.  They promise every Puccini chocolate to be a unique experience and I’d have to agree, like they say ‘Why re-create something that already exists’.  You’ll find Puccini in National Geographic’s list of best chocolate makers in the world for 2012.

Amsterdam Top Choc Shops

Van Soest

Van Soest:  I shouldn’t show so much favouritism, but … Van Soest are my very very favourite and have been since I discovered them.  Each flavour works perfectly, and I mean perfectly.  They use Belgian chocolate to create their own recipes and with the injection of their personal classy style, I just cannot resist.  I have no words.

If this has put you in the mood for some chocolate, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours?  Just you and your own party with some of the very best sweet treats the city has to offer.  The Chocoholics Tour of Amsterdam



March 20, 2014


I’ve just finished another successful culinary tour.  As I left my group to explore the market on their own, I couldn’t resist heading to Alain Bernard, The French butcher for some sausages!  So, it’s a bit of a no brainer what I decided on for lunch, the only dilemma is – Tomato Ketchup or HP sauce…… I just hope I don’t finish my sausages before I decide….


Recipe for Roast Butternut Squash, Red Onion and Chickpea Salad


A week or so ago, after I had finished a culinary tour, I decided to treat myself to a healthy, if late, lunch.  I decided to head to Vinnie’s Deli. I’d seen it many times, walked passed, and promised myself a visit.  So today would be the day.  I was greeted by a display of colourful salads, boy, if I  wasn’t hungry before I came in,  I was now!  I opted for this salad.  Loved it, and of course went straight home to re-create it.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

The preparation of the salad and salad dressing can be done during time that the veggies are roasting.  This means that your total ‘active’ time is roughly 20 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings

For the Roast Vegetables
1 x medium sized butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into small bite-sized chunks.
2 x red peppers, de-seeded and also chopped into small bite-sized squares.
2 x red onions, chopped into small bite sized pieces
1 x tbsp olive oil
A good grind of black pepper
Salt to taste

Butternut Squash and Red Onion

Butternut Squash and Red Onion

Juice and zest of a lemon
1 x clove of garlic (raw) grated finely
1 x tbsp of honey
2 x tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (more if you want more of a kick of heat)
2 x tsp all spice (piment) powder
2 x tsp of paprika powder
A pinch of salt

The Salad
2 x tins of chickpeas (400gr / 14 oz.) drained and rinsed
3 x spring onions (scallions) chopped finely
A handful of fresh mint leaves chopped finely
A large handful of fresh flat leaved parsley chopped finely
Optional – some feta cheese


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Place the vegetables for roasting, the oil and the black pepper (not salt as this can make your veggies watery instead of giving them a crispy, caramalised finish) into a roasting tin, mix through with your hands to coat everything in the oil.  Place in the oven until they are cooked through, softened, but not mushy, and have taken on some colour.  This can take anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on the size you have cut your veggies and also each oven is slightly different, making cooking times variable.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, mix up the ingredients for the salad dressing and set aside.  This will be a thick, gloopy dressing, but it coats everything nicely!
  4. Also whilst you wait on the vegetables, mix up the salad ingredients in your serving bowl.
  5. When the vegetables have been roasted, remove from the oven, add a little salt, mix through check for seasoning, and pour into your salad bowl with the salad ingredients, add the dressing and stir through, firmly, but carefully.  You want to coat everything evenly with as least tosses as possible without being so rough that you mush everything together.
  6. Sprinkle some feta over as you serve should you wish.

Tips and Variations

  • This works really well with puy lentils instead of chickpeas.
  • You can allow your vegetables to cool if you wish before mixing them into your salad, but I feel that the heat releases more flavour in the herbs and spices.
  • This salad can be served warm or at room temperature.  It keeps really well in the fridge for a few days.
  • I like to serve it with roast chicken or with lamb chops.
  • If I have leftovers, I like to eat this salad on its own for lunch.  I also like to chop some rucola (rocket) leaves through the salad.
Roast Butternut Squash

Roast Butternut Squash