Saturday, June 18, 2011

Speculoos muffins

Every saturday morning I make little breads and a sweet snack for lunch. Not a speculooscake, because we eat that from monday until friday, but a lot of times I bake muffins. I blogged it earlier: I am a big fan of the book of Dorie Greenspan (cooking from my home to yours) and I use it a lot to bake the recipes and for inspiration. She gaves a big number of examples and recipes for the most delicious muffins.
When I got through the book I saw one with chocolate (and for a chocoholic like me, that's definitely one I'm going to try), but today with a lot of stormy spring weather I had a taste for something with speculoos. Speculoos is a spices which is most commonly used in December. It contains a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves, but can contain even more as I've seen many different recipes. 
In the book there was a recipe with all spice. I've exchanged the all spice with speculoos.
My small kitchenprince helped me by stirring. And with his 3 years old he's a good help for the preparation of muffins, because the batter may contain lumps. He is also the first man in line to taste.
He takes the tasting job quite serious. The crumbling top is examined by his little fingers. The muffin is eaten till the last crumb. His verdict: This is definitely a muffin were going to make more.   

Ingredients (12 muffins):
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour (60 gram);
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (110 gram);
- 1/2 teaspoon speculoos spice;
- 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (60 gram), in small cubes.

For the muffin batter:
- 2 cups plain flour (250 gram);
- 1/2 cup sugar (100 gram);
- 1/2 teaspoon speculoos spice;
- 1 tablespoon baking powder;
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (55 gram);
- 3/4 cup whole milk (180 ml);
- 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (100 gram);
- 2 large eggs;
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).

Prepare the topping:
Mix the flour, sugar and speculoos. Add the cubes of cold butter and use your fingers to make small crumbles. Put it in the refregirator. 
Prepare the batter:
Mix in a large bowl both sugars, flour, speculoos and the baking powder.
In a second bowl mix the liquid ingredients: the milk, 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. Sprinkle the topping on top and press it a little in the batter. 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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mint tea with cinnamon

This was a very busy day. Not only did I have a lot of appointments, but the childeren had friends over and my own childeren didn't listen all the time.
O, that can be stressfull.

I can get on with that feeling all day, but I didn't. I went to my meadow and picked fresh raspberries, which were ripe. And I put on my kettle on the stove. In my herb garden I picked a sprig of lemon verbena and a sprig of mint. I made tea and spent fifteen minutes (in the pooring rain under a shelter) enjoying the silence (my childeren don't like being in the rain).
This recipe can vary in a lot of ways, but today I made the following recipe:

- a sprig of mint;
- a sprig of lemon verbena;
- cinnamon;
- honey to taste.

Bring water to a boil and let it cool down for about 2 minutes. Pour the water in a glass. Put the lemon verbena and the twig of mint in the glass. Add honey (if you want to). Stir with cinnamon. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daring cooks challenge: healthy potato salads from around the world

The challenge of the month june was: make a healthy potato salad from around the world. Host Jami Sorrento was the inventor of the idea.
And because we had a lot of good weather here in Holland the challenge couldn't have come on a better moment.
My potato salad is made up by myself from vegetables and other ingredients from this season.
The broad beans were the suprise act. By removing the skin of the broad beans they were nice in the salad.
If it's healthy enough? I used yoghurt and just a little bit of mayonnaise (if you look at the size of the bowl). And furthermore lots of fresh and healthy vegetables. We thought it was a good side dish for a healthy barbecue. See for yourself.

- a pound new potatoes (500 gram);
- 3.5 ounces broad beans (100 gram);
- 3.5 ounces cherry tomatoes (100 gram);
- 2 cups chicken stock (500 mL), room temperature;
- 8 parsley twigs;
- 1 tablespoon sugar;
- 1/2 cup vinegar (100 mL);
- 1 onion, cjhopped very fine;
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (light for the healthy effect);
- 2 tablespoons yoghurt (light, see above);
- 8 ounces smoked chicken (200 grams).

Peel the potatoes, wash them very well and slice them in 0,3 cm slices. Get the broad beans out of their jackt and carve the outer skin. Remove the skin carefully. By removing the skin the broad beans don't get that leatherly bite. Chop the parsley. Slice the smoked chicken in cubes and quarter the tomatoes.
Put the potatoes with the chicken stock to a boil on high fire. Let it boil for 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, onion and broad beans and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat of and let the pan (with the lid on it) stand for another 10 minutes. Drain.
Let it cool down for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Mix the mayonnaise with the yoghurt and parsley and pour it over the potatoes. Add the tomatoes and smoked chicken. Mix well and let the flavours optimize for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Eat cold.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry sauce

My strawberries are ripening. My youngest sees it as his task to become an expert strawberry picker and every morning he is running to the garden for a new batch. Holding a cup he looks very well if the strawberries are still green or have become red. That's not a very easy task for a two year old. But the green strawberries are declining in his cup, so he's on the good way.
And than he comes inside, smiling. Not always for very long. He doesn't understand that he can't have them all by himself (sharing is a bit of a problem for the two year olds). And he also doesn't understand that you're stomach can hurt if you ate 2 pounds of them (so good taste and then a stomach ache?).

So when the day goes on we eat strawberries. Plain, with a bit of sugar (or cream), on a rusk or just in a cup. But what we also do like a lot is strawberry sauce.
It tastes well with yoghurt, ice creams or pudding. The childeren can eat this all day. And whenever there is no dessert, they spoon it away anyway.
It's not difficult to make it and by mashing the strawberries through a sieve there are no seeds in the sauce (and we like that better).

The recipe:
- 1,5 pound strawberries (750 gram);
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (65 gram).

Wash the strawberries and hull them. Put half of the strawberries in the blender and mash them. It can also be done with a fork or a mixer. Push the pulp through a fine sieve (the seeds will not get into the sauce).
Mix the sugar through the sauce.
The other halve of the strawberries are quartered and then sliced in half. The pieces of strawberries are mixed through the sauce. Chill for about an hour and it's ready to serve.