Friday, April 15, 2011

Daring Cooks challenge

 Yet another entry in the Daring Cooks challenge of March 2011. This time the form choosen was a contest. To make an edible container with filling.
Sounds easier than it was. But thank you Renata for the challenge, it was fun to do.
Finally I choose to make a polenta container. And I liked the final result very much (I hope you do to).

The recipe goes as follows:
 - 2 cups of water (480 mL);
- 1 cup of milk (240 mL);
- 2/3 cup vegetable stock (160 mL);
- 1 1/3 cup polenta (225 gram);
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (75 gram);
- 2 tablespoon butter (24 gram);
- 2 tomatoes, chopped;
- 1 small onion, chopped;
- 1 red pepper without seeds, chopped;
- 30 gram salami, chopped;
- 2 teaspoons chopped coriander;
- 1 tablespoon lime juice;
- sour cream (topping);
- coriander leaves for garnish.

Heat the milk, water and stock in a small saucepan. When boiling stir the polenta through the liquid and keep stirring on low heat for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir the parmesan cheese and the butter in. Butter a muffin form and put 1 tablespoon of polenta in each slot. Put a glas on top and push (a container form is created). Put the polenta in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven at 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius). Take the polena out of the muffin forms and put the bowl on a griddle. Wipe a bit of oil on top of the bowls. Bake the bowl for 10 minutes.
In the meanwhile prepare the filling by combining the tomatoes, onion, pepper, coriander, salami and lime juice. Put the filling aside for about 15 minutes (the taste will become much better).
Put the filling in hte polenta containers and spoon a bit of sour cream on top. Garnish with a coriander leave.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Black and white chocolate cookies

I love chocolate and I love cookies. It's inherited, my father had it, I've got it and all of my children have it.
Luckily for them they also got their fathers genes, so they need a lot of energy and stay thin whatever they are eating. A shame that I don't have that gene pool.

My middle son tought the cookies were so delicious the first one dissapeared before I've could made a picture of it. You can see the last crumbs on the photo. Luckily I made a batch of this cookies, so the pictures eventually were made.

A good thing of this cookies is that you can keep the dough in the freezer, for the time that you need them. You have to add 2 minutes to the baking time when frozen, but you will got the nicest fresh cookies for your visitors (or your own family). You just double the amounts on the ingredient list and put half of it in the freezer.

So the recipe goes as follows:
- 1 cup of plain flower (125 gram);
- 3/4 teaspoon salt;
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder;
- 10 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature;
- 1/2 cup of sugar (110 gram);
- 1/3 cup of light brown sugar (60 gram);
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla-extract;
- 1 large egg;
- 1/2 cup of pure chocolate chips (or chopped pure chocolate, 80 gram);
- 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips ( or chopped white chocolate, 80 gram);
- 1/2 walnuts chopped (65 gram)

Warm the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Put a baking sheet on two baking plates.
Mix the solid ingredients: the flour, salt and baking powder.
Mix in a second bowl the butter, for about 2 minutes (untill it gets lighter). Poor the two sugars in the bowl with butter and mix for another two minutes. Mix the vanilla throught the butter and lower the speed of your mixer. Spoon the plain flour through the butter, and mix on low speed for about 1 minute. Put the chocolates and walnuts in the bowl and mix them in with a woodenspoon.
Use a spoon to put a small mountain of dough on the bakingplate. Leave enough room between the cookies, because they will get bigger. 
The baking plate goes 12 minutes in the oven. Afterwards put the plate for about 1 minute by room temperature and use a wide spatula to move the cookies from the plate to a rack. Cool down for about 15 minutes and the cookies will be harden out enough to put them in your cookie basket (and I croos fingers that in your familiy the cookies will make it all the way to the basket).

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Espresso muffins

     Again, I made a recipe of a book of Dorie Greenspan, called: from my home to yours. I love this book and make a lot of recipes from it. These muffins were so delicious that before I blinked my eyes, they seemed to be gone.
    And so I am going to share the recipe with you.

    Ingredients (12 muffins):
    - 2 cups plain flour (250 gram);
    - 1/3 cup sugar (70 gram);
    - 1 tablespoon espresso powder;
    - 1 tablespoon baking powder;

    - 1/3 cup light brown sugar (75 gram);
    - 1 cup espresso (240 ml);
    - 10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (115 gram);
    - 1 large egg;
    - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
    Mix in a large bowl both sugars, flour, espresso powder and the baking powder.
    In a second bowl mix the liquid ingredients: the espresso, egg, melted butter and the vanilla extract. Poor the liquid on the dry ingredients and mix fast with a wooden spoon. Clumbs aren't a problem.
    Divide the batter in the muffin plate. Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Put the plate on a rack at room temperature for about 5 minutes. The muffins are ready to eat. Enjoy.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Everything seems to grow

    April has arrived and all plants are starting to grow. Last week I had to seek my strawberry plants, today there are already a few leaves above ground. My bulbs are thriving. The crocusses are not there any more, but the tulips, narcisses and the daffodil flowers are blooming in full colours. That gives a full border.
    As I'm looking at my practice border (because of the grass problem) of 2 times 3 metres I come to the conclusion that these borders are finished. They have  a good flower density, that I like. But my future border is 2 times 25 metres. There can be no other conclusion that there's going to be a lot more bulbs in the ground next fall (otherwise I've to seek my flowers).
    A real beauty is my nectarine tree, with it's pink blossom. It's got a lot of blossom, so that's promising. Because bees aren't realy active around here in April I have used my little brush. In that way the tree will be pollinated well (I hope). I've brushed already every flower, so let's hope for a good yield this summer!

    In my strawberry plant assortment I only got one at this moment: Fragaria 'Mara des Bois'. 
    I've also seeded wild strawberries last week which fruit, when ripened, are a white color instead of red. These will be planted between my bulbs.
    Other strawberry plants will be planted this year on a temporary spot: Fragaria Elsanta, Fragaria Korona, Fragaria Lambada, Fragaria Polka and Fragaria Honeoye, which will give me strawberries throughout the season.
    Maybe you're questioning why buy strawberries this year when the yard is planned for next year? That's a good question, but it is a fact that strawberry plant have the best yield in the second year. Beside of that I hope that the strawberry plant will form offspring, so I've got more plants for next summer.
    The wild strawberries, offcourse, will get there final place this year, because the fruittrees are planned for this year.

    As you can read there is a lot going on in my garden and I'm enjoying, also because of the beautiful weather around here, fully.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Gingerbread cookies

    On wednesday, after school my sons and I love to bake. At least two of them, most of the time. The little one standing on a chair, having dough every where on his clothes, hands and face (he tastes everything). The second one with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, practising very intense (he wants to be a cook when he grows up or a butcher or both). This wednesday was no different, we baked gingerbread cookies. They were delicious and probably one baking session in a week isn't enough. These gingerbread cookies doesn't require a difficult recepture or a lot of different ingredients. Probably most of them are already in your pantry.

     When the work was done, I've been sitting down in my chair and lounged for a while in the sun (that was widely available). What a blessing such a wednesday.

    - 2 sticks butter, roomtemperature (250 gram);
    - 2 teaspoons ginger, powder;
    - 2 cups of flour (250 gram);
    - 2/3 cup sugar (125 gram);
    - some fine sugar to sprinkle on the top.

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (or 160 degrees Celsius). Mix the butter with the sugar until it's fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the flour and the ginger and mix the batter just until the ingredients are well mixed. 

    Place bakingpaper on a bakingplate. Sprinkle your working space with a little bit of flour and roll the dough untill it's about 1/5 inch (0,5 cm) thick. When the dough sticks, you can place it, before handling, for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator. 
    With a cookie cutter stab the dough and place the cookie on you're griddle. Finish when you don't have any dough left. Put it for about 20 minutes in the oven. When taking the cookies out of the oven, sprinkle with the sugar.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    My meadow, update

    Finally after a long period of rain in august and september, march is finally dry enough to sow my grass. That's the first step in creating my fruityard, herb garden and vegetable plot.

    Our soil is mainly clay so first off all the soil is ploughed. And now it's drying in the sun. You'll see clumbs in the picture. After a few days drying, the assumpion is that the clay can be ploughed finer so the grass will be neater.

    Than the sowing can start. After probably 8 weeks a straight grass meadow is created. In the meantime the fruittrees and the herb garden will be created. The fruittrees got to be in full ground before the start of may. The herb garden will not make any use of the grass, so both will start. Pictures of that will be blogged as soon as I'm busy. But work has been started and I'm thrilled.