Friday, October 28, 2011

FFwD: Pumpkin stuffed with everything good

O yeah, it's Friday again.
And I'm blogging my post very late. That's because I was very busy (who isn't these days?). Last week I hired someone to level out my herb garden and he came today. Without telling me (but I don't mind). That's great news, however I forgotten to paint a few boardsides (of my containers) and so I was the whole afternoon in my garden painting. And being happy that finally there is progress. Monday or tuesday it should have been finished. And I will be posting the photos by then to keep you on track. But because all of that my timetable became a mess.
But then again it's still Friday and time to blog another post from the book: " around my french table " from Dorie Greenspan. Every Friday we cook something from that book, and the recipe chosen is published on the site of French Friday with Dorie.
This week it was "pumpkin stuffed with everything good". And as a matter of fact, it's not a vegetable we eat a lot in the Netherlands. And I've never tasted it in a way that I would say, go on let's have it again. Until this Friday that was. The recipe of Dorie is really tasteful. The bacon, combined with the cheese and herbs gives the pumpkin a real boost.
After the preparation of the pumpkin I still had a lot of filling in my bowl. In my supermarket there was one sort of pumpkin and it wasn't very big. As a matter of fact, I don't even know where to get it otherwise.
With the rest of the filling I made a dish which I prepared in the oven. First a layer of beans in tomatosauce, then a layer of mashed potatoes and finally the filling. And this was also a very nice dish (and I didn't throw anything away).
We aren't suppose to write the recipe in our blog but at this link it is published:

And a photo of the end result:

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers challenge - Povotica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

A great recipe we've got from Jenni, also because we just had collected and dry our own grown walnuts for this season. And then this recipe came on just the right moment to do something with them. Jenni found out that the Povotica at the Farmer's Market she went to costed $25 dollars a bread. She was determined to find a recipe to make it.

After I made it, I can't say it's a sort of cake, nor a tart. It's a bit of a bread with filling. It looks great by the swirling. And it tasted wonderful.
The Povotica didn't last very long in my house. My eldest son eats everything with nuts. He's a big fan of them. My second doesn't like plain nuts, but did like this bread. My youngest, he's simple, he eats everything.

We had guests on the Sunday I made it and they loved the Povotica too. They asked for the recipe and I told them they had to wait until the 27th of October when the recipe will be revealed for the rest of the world at: www.thedaringkitchen.com. At that site you can also look at the creations of the other daring bakers, which appear in a slide show.

Ingredients (1 loaf):

To activate the Yeast:
- 1⁄2 Teaspoon (21⁄2 ml/21⁄4 gm) Sugar;
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon (11⁄4 ml/3⁄4 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour;
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water;
- 11⁄2 Teaspoons (71⁄2 ml/31⁄2 gm/0.125 oz/1⁄2 sachet) Dry Yeast.

- 1⁄2 Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk;
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/11⁄2 oz) Sugar;
- 3⁄4 Teaspoon (33⁄4 ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt;
- 1 Large Egg;
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml/30 gm/1⁄4 stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted;
- 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided.

Walnut Filling:
- 1 3⁄4 Cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) Ground English Walnuts;
- 1⁄4 Cup (60 ml) Whole Milk;
- 1⁄4 Cup (60 ml/58 gm/1⁄2 stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter;
- 1 Egg Yolk From A Large Egg, Beaten;
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon (11⁄4 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract;
- 1⁄2 Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) Sugar;
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon (11⁄4 ml/1 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder;
- 1⁄4 Teaspoon (11⁄4 ml/3⁄4 gm) Cinnamon.

- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee;
- 11⁄2 Teaspoons (71⁄2 ml/7 gm/1⁄4 oz) Granulated Sugar;
- Melted Butter.


To Activate Yeast: 
In a small bowl, stir 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into 2 tablesppoms warm water and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, 3 tablespoons (43 gm/ 1 1/2 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.  Add the beaten egg, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1/2 cup (120 ml/70 gm/2 1/2 oz) of flour.
Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Make the Filling
In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture. Add the egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly) Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (251⁄2 cm by 301⁄2 cm) in diameter. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 1⁄2 ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and
uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin
that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced. Brush the top of the loaf with a mixture of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.Cover the pan lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place
into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to slow
300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter. Check the bread every 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caramel macarons

Macarons, many food-bloggers have made them. But I didn't (yet). Why? I don't know. I have a sweettooth, so that's not the reason. But I've read that it looks simple, but isn't. A good macaron is crispy, has a bite, is sweet, but not to sweet. And it is whole.
I did find out that, that is a big issue. How do you get the macarons in one piece of the bakingpaper and then of the wirerack. And how do you fill them without breaking them? It took quite a while before I figured that one out (be really, really, really gentle and have a lot of patience).
But then I had make my own macaron! And I have to admit. They tasted wonderfull. It was totally worth all the cracked cookies, the lack of patience I have and the frustration that I had when I broke another one.
The slightly sweet macaron, the very sweet, but slightly salted caramel, which melted on your tongue and then the combination of the two. Wow. Wow. Wow.

After all the hard work I sat down, with a cup of tea and relaxed. Get the tension out of me. And enjoyed, totally enjoyed the macaron. It's certainly something I'm going to make more and in other versions. But after I do a yoga session or two (lol).

I adapted the recipe for the Caramel Fleur de Sel from a recipe from tartelette (www.tarteletteblog.com), a foodblog I do admire so much for the great recipes, but also for the ultimate photography (and styling).

The recipe:
Caramel Fleur de Sel
- 240 gram sugar;
- 80 mL water;
- 115 gram unsalted butter;
- 150 mL heavy cream (or 50 mL mascarpone and 100 mL whipping cream);
- pinch of salt.

For the shell batter:
- 3 egg whites (L);
- 50 gram sugar;
- 200 gram powdered sugar;
- 110 gram almonds.

Caramal Fleur de Sel
In a heavy saucepan set over low heat, combine the sugar and water and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter and salt. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Whisk to combine and put back on the stove. Let it come to a boil again (low heat) and cook another 10-15 minutes. It will get a bit creamy.

The Shell:
The day before baking the shells seperate your eggs and store the egg whites in a bowl with lid overnight at room temperature.
The next day mix the eggwhites until a foam appears. Add the sugar gradually untill the merengue gets shiny.

Mix in a food processor or blender the almonds with the powdered sugar. Pulse until it becomes a very fine ground. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the almonds and mix gently. Then carefully add the almondmixture with the remaining egg whites and fold the mixture in. Test a small amount of batter on a plate. When the top flattens it's good to go, otherwise fold it a few more times. Fill a pastry bag with a plain tip and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches - 4 cm in diameter) on a parchment paper baking sheet.
Let the macarons rest for an hour. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius). Bake the macarons for 10-15 minutes.

Preparing macarons:
Take two shells (without braking) and spoon a few tablespoons of the caramel on one shell. Place the other one on top and press gently down.

Friday, October 21, 2011

French friday with Dorie: Pissaladiere

This Friday we had a pissaladiere to make. A sort of pizza topped with onion, anschovies and olives. The onion are stoved for quite a long thyme with herbs and get a sweet bite. They tasted really well.
But to be honest. I really think this is not a recipe for a day in October when it is rather cold, as it was this week.
The salty anchovies and olives are probably tasting really well on a hot summer day with a cold glass of refreshment in one hand and a piece of pisaladiere in the other.
I certainly think that as a party dish this is going to work out quite well.
But not this week.
And, because of the particular taste of the olives and anchovies, it's not a very good recipe for my small childeren.
So I am not sure if this is a recipe that I am going to make a lot of times. Certainly not in winter.

But it looked great and it smelled very well too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My meadow

 As written before, I'm fully occupied by the plans of my meadow. My fruit trees were planted last april. My compostbins are fully operated since May. And then my plans were on hold for a little while. The design part that is. I was too busy with so much. I did grow a lot of herbs that should have been in the herbgarden in May, but they didn't. As you can see on the photo's, I've put them in a temporary bed, where the vegetable garden will be, so the work is not thrown away. The first photo shows part of the fruit trees. At the end there are two containers. One with roses, for rosebuds and the other contains cranberry plants. At the end of the containers, I've planted raspberry bushes.
Left (the big wooden box) are three compost bins. The second photo shows the surroundings of the herb garden. As you can see, the slope of the meadow is too big. Later this month, there will be two big containers behind the herb garden. Then the ground will be leveled. The herb containers will be placed on them and split will be put between the containers. The two containers that are placed behind the herb garden will contain several kinds of roses. In the herb containers there will be.... herbs of course, but because it becomes rather late in season, this project will be suspended until 2012 (but everything else will be finished).
The roses however will be planted around november, because it's the best time for planting them.
There will be two big containers placed between the fruittrees and the future vegetable garden. The plan is to place them later this month. In this two containers there will be fruit bushes. Most of them will have to be planted somewhere in November, so that's a job later this year.

What about the rest of the plans? The chicken coop is going to be made in winter. So the chicken can get in, in spring. It will be placed at the right at the back of my meadow.

The containers of the vegetable garden (which as you can see, already got two of the containers) will also be made in winter. There will be 12, including a cold frame.
Then I want a glass house. I don't quite know for sure when that is coming. It's a big project, so I have to save sometimes for the big projects. There will be a path between the fruittrees. On the left and right site of that path there will be lavender bushes and a lot of bulbs for spring.
And the herbgarden will be initially surrounded at the left and right side with wood, but in the near future that will become a wall. And before I forgot, at the end of the meadow there will be fruitespaliers. I guess thats something for next year (can't do everything right now).
The picture below gives an idea of a small part of the meadow, under construction but started.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The daring cooks: october challenge: Moo Shu

The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.
My second post this friday: Moo Shu. And honostly it wasn't a succes in my family. It looked great, the ingredients looked great on paper (although I never tasted bamboo shoots before) and while eating the taste.... As I wrote before I haven't cooked or eaten bamboo shoots before. The shoots I bought had a particular smell, which we (all of my family) didn't like. And it ruined the recipe, because we couldn't taste it with the right mindset. Maybe it was my can of bamboo shoots, I don't know if this was normal. On the forum of the daring kitchen I've explained what happened and some of my daring colleagues suggested to use carrot or another vegetable. Honoustly I haven't daring to try that one yet, but maybe it's a daring challenge for you????

For the recipe:

Thin Pancakes:
- 4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (193⁄4 oz) all-purpose flour;
- About 11⁄2 cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water;
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil;
- Dry flour for dusting.

Moo Shu Pork:
- 1⁄2 lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt;
- 3⁄4 cup (31⁄2 oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut;
- 3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut;
- 3 large eggs;
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt;
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil;
- 2 scallions;
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce;
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine;
- A few drops sesame oil.

Hoisin sauce
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce;
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter OR black bean paste (I used (because of my allergy) cashewnut butter);
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses;
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar;
- 1/8 teaspoon (2⁄3 ml) garlic powder;
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil;
- 20 drops (1⁄4 teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin sauce);

- 1/8 teaspoon (2⁄3 ml) black pepper.

Thin Pancakes:
 Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out. 
Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.

Moo Shu pork:
Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side. Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well. 

Hoisin sauce:
Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon.
At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.

Final preparation and serving:
Each of the three components that comprise the complete Moo Shu dish are served separately, and the diner prepares each serving on his or her own plate. Most restaurants provide four pancakes, a serving of Moo-Shu and a small dish of hoisin sauce as a single serving. To prepare each pancake for eating, the following is the most common process: a small amount of hoisin sauce is spread onto the pancake, on top of which a spoonful of the stir-fry is placed. In order to prevent (or, realistically, minimize) the filling from spilling out while eating, the bottom of the pancake is folded up, then the pancake is rolled, similarly to a soft taco. Once rolled, the prepared pancake is eaten immediately.

French Friday with Dorie: Buckwheat blini with smoked salmon and creme fraiche

This week I also tried another recipe from Dorie and as you can see: I blogged twice this day. The daring cooks challenge is also planned to go live at 14 october 2011.

So I didn't blog all week and then I blog twice a day. But I've been busy. The meadow project is going full speed right now. And it seems (as I did expected a little bit) that there is a big slope in my meadow. So the plan is to flatten the herbgarden with sand. To keep this sand in place there have to come big planters surrounding this part of the garden. In the planters there will come the roses. And these planters have been sawn and painted. Thanks to my father and my father in law, because without there help, I certainly wasn't this far for sure.
And I have to be, because the roses and a lot of the fruitbushes have to go in the ground in November. And November starts in two (!!!) weeks.

But today we also ate a recipe from Dorie. We had a wonderfull and sunny day here in Holland. And the recipe was excellent for this day. We loved the blini with the smoked salmon.
And as you can see it didn't only tasted well, it also did look very well to. Saturdayevening we try to eat small bites of food and this is a recipe that's certainly is going to be add to the menu. I also found a recipe for a blini with smoked chicken and mustard and I'm going to try that one too.
My childeren mostly like the blini's with powdered sugar. And that's not so weird, because the blini's are small pancakes, although made with yeast.
I certainly liked the change, because most of the times I make a wrap as a small bite. A really nice idea.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

French friday with Dorie: Olive-olive cornish hens

I've become a proud member of a new cook group: french fridays with Dorie. A group of people whom every week cooking the same recipe from the book: Around my French Table from Dorie Greenspan.
This book contains over 300 recipes, so as a group, cooking one recipe a week you'll participate around SIX YEARS. That's a long time. Participation is free, you publish on Friday and as a rule you can't write the recipe down on your blog (sorry!!).
For a while now I'm a big fan of Dorie. I've got another book of her: Baking from my home to yours, which also got his own group: Theusdays with Dorie. But that group is closed (they are already a few years baking). I loved to join that group, but probably it's for the best (for my waist) that I'm not.

So the recipe for this week: olive-olive cornish hens. Cornish hens, that's not something very common in my country, so I've took the liberty of taken another species. It became the "Mechelse Koekoek", which our own farmshop got. This chickens is free range, with a lot of space. And honoustly you can taste it. You've got a real bite, not as our supermarket chicken. And it got a lot of taste. Conclusion: a number one score.

It was a very simple recipe with olive tapenade and chicken. Well baked in the oven, with a crunchy skin.  To get a full meal, I baked Roseval potatoes in the oven. You don't peel them, just wash them. I cooked them for 12 minutes in boiling salted water. Then I put them 15 minutes in the oven with the chicken. The juices of the chicken combine with the potatoes. A pinch of fresh rosemary and they are done.

And we got beans with them. I cooked them untill they still had a bit of a bite. I took a slice of ham and rolled a few beans in the ham. I garnished the dish with lemon wedges and the simple recipe (by work and time) was done.
It was truly delicious (everybody agreed) and a good start for this group.

Now I'm cooking a stock with the chicken bones. I find it very handy to have stock in my freezer and I use everything of this chicken. The potatoes that were left are sliced and are going to be baked tomorrow. I can't wait.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pasta salad with fresh tomatoes

My tomatoes are ripening, at least. I've already had a few, but not enough to cook a meal with them. But finally yesterday there were enough. The weather here in the Netherlands is warm, very warm. 26 degrees Celsius and we could swim in our swimmingpool. On October 2nd that is. It really is a strange weather year. So a salad was a good choice for lunch.

My second, who wants to be a cook and butcher (can't tell how he came to the butcher idea) helped me pick the vegetables. And he cooked a little with me.

He didn't taste the tomatoes though (to healthy in his opinion, when you can see them in your salad). My youngest ate the whole salad. My eldest didn't. He first awaited the opinion of the other two and then... it was gone. There was no pasta salad left. Too bad for him. He had to eat something else for lunch.

So the recipe contains fresh tomatoes and balsamico cream.The balsamico adds a little sweetness to the salad. I didn't use plain balsamico vinegar, I used selfmade balsamico cream. How I made that? Very simple. You take a cup balsamico vinegar and put that on the stove (high) for 15 minutes. There will become a vinegar smell around your stove, so don't forget to use your ventilator.Let it cool down and you're balsamico cream is finished.

I've got red roma tomatoes and little yellow cherry tomatoes. An old dutch vegetable strain, I wanted to grow for a long time. And doesn't the two look great in the salad.

- 250 gram pasta, fresh if possible;
- 100 gram tomatoes;
- a handful of basil sliced very thin and a few leaves for garnish;
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme;
- 50 mL balsamico cream;
- 5 garlic cloves;
- 50 mL vegetable oil.

Boil the pasta while following the instructions and let it cool down. Wash the tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
Take a bakingdish and put the oil, thyme, cloves and tomatoes in it. Put the dish in the oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool down.
When both pasta and tomatoes are at room temperature, slice the tomatoes in edible pieces (if necessairy) and put them on a second plate. Crush the garlic with a fork. Take the thyme sprigs out of the dish. Add balsamico cream to the cooking liquid. Whisk the garlic through it and poor it over the pasta. Add the tomatoes and basil and mix very well.
Serve immediately