Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crocus, spring has arrived

 Finally, spring has arrived in the Netherlands. And my bulbs have sprouted. A full load of crocusses are here. Aren't they beautiful?
At this time they are standing in my own garden. In the future the fruit yard is going to be their destination.
But that hadn't had it's new grass deck yet. But fortunately I got good news today. Next week seeding will start. Yes, finally (I'm after all waiting since september 2010, when the rain was spoiling my plans).

Also I've got a whole bunce of seedlings in my house, that are growing
nicely. I post pictures in the coming weeks. My husband says it takes a lot of gymnastics to move through our house lately, with all the seedlings growing for every window and our hall.

But after the 12th of May they will move outwards, to our back yard for my flower garden and to my herb garden.
In October the bulbs on the picture will also move to there final destination.

So there is a lot to do in the couple of weeks (read: months). But it is a real challenge and I'm ready for it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Papas rellenas, the daring cooks' challenge

For the daring cooks' challenge March, Papas rellenas was on the roll. It's a traditional meal in Peru. I even didn't hear of it, but it was really really tasty. Crispy, spicy and tender. The recipe:

2¼ lb (1 kg) potatoes
1 large egg

For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of olive oil;
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef;
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped;
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml));
 ½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes,    then minced;
 1 finely diced pepper;
 2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press;
 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin;
 ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika;
 ¼ c. white wine (60 mL), water or beef stock for deglazing;
 Salt and pepper to taste.

For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten;

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour;
Dash cayenne pepper;
Dash salt;
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs;
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven) or a frying pan. 

For the dough:
Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred). Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed. While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
For the filling:
Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes). Add the pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add ground beef and brown. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds). Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”
For the final preparation:
Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling. Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C) or heat your frying pan. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Celeriac souffle

Celeriac, I find it a difficult vegetable to cook with! It's a nice ingredient in a dutch split pea soup, or for a stock, but else. Could you make a nice side dish with this vegetable? Off course. Today I serve you the celeriac souffle. Family results after voting: slightly positive. The childeren tasted it and decided that it was a strange structure and didn't eat everything which was being served on their plates. My husband (our oldest child) also voted in the contest and ate everything. I loved the dish. It was a great dish for celeriac. I can recommend you to give it a try.

- 1 celeriac, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice;
- 2 egg yolks (L);
- 5 egg whites (L);
- 120 gram ripened cheese, grated;
- 30 grams butter, unsalted (diced);
- 2 tablespoons of mustard;
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated;
- salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Steam the celeriac above a pan with boiling water, for about 15 minutes. It's ready when the celeriac easily can be pinched with a fork. 
Mash the celeriac and mix it with the egg yolks, cheese and nutmeg. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the eggwhites untill they are stiff. Beware use a bowl with has no fat residue or you're whites won't stiffen. When you're not quite sure, you can treat you're bowl with a sour (like vinegar or lemonjuice), rinse the bowl and dry it. 
Use a spoon to mix (carefully) the eggwhite through the celeriac souffle and put it in the souffle mold.
Put the mold for 40 minutes in the oven and the souffle is ready. Don't open the oven before the end of the baking time or the souffle will collapse.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Simple cake

On Saturday I make something to serve on Sunday when we drink coffee with our family. Last Saturday it was a cake. A very simple cake, true, but my children love this recipe very much.

The most important key to the succes of this recipe is that all ingredients are at room temperature. This way you're getting the best texture.

The recipe:
- 280 gram plain flour;
- 20 gram baking powder;
- 200 gram sugar (and a little extra for topping);
- 3 large eggs;
- 250 gram butter, unsalted (and some for buttering the caketin);
- the grate of one lemon or lime;

Warm the oven on 180 degrees Celsius. Mix the butter and the sugar for about 5 minutes. Put the grate into the bowl and mix for another minute. Add the eggs (one by one), while mixing on low speed. Between the eggs, spoon one tablespoon of the flour in the mixture. When the eggs are well absorbed, use a spoon to mix the remaining flour through the dough.
Put the dough in a cake tin and sprinkle the top with a bit (about 1 tablespoon) sugar.Transfer the cake to the oven. After one hour the cake should be ready, however to check if the baking is done, you can use a wooden stick to punch the cake in the middle. When you pull the stick out of the cake and it's dry and clean, you're cake is ready. If not, put the cake back for another 5 to 10 minutes and check again.