30.12.13

Oliebollen




 The Dutch Christmas meal is not set in stone, New Year however is a different story. No matter what party you attend, you can count on oliebollen being served. Oliebollen, which roughly translates charmingly as oil balls, are the national New Year's snack and they provide a much needed stomach liner to help you get through all the champagne. Once December hits you will find food trucks all over the Netherlands selling these tasty morsels. And while there is no shame in buying them, especially from the yearly selected 'best oliebollen stand', making them yourself is not hard and very satisfying. Now some might say the original would be without the raisins, currants and apple, but I don't want to live in a world of plain oliebollen.


Ingredients

  • 250 g flour
  • 250 ml warm milk 
  • 20 g butter
  • 1 small egg
  • 14 g yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 70 g currants
  • 70 g raisins
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small apple
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • icing sugar
  • oil to fry in

Step 1



Mix the lukewarm milk with the sugar and add the yeast to give it a head start. 


Step 2


Peel and core the apple and cut into small cubes. Mix with the currant, raisins and lemon juice and set aside. 


Step 3


Mix the flour, salt and cinnamon and add the egg and the softened butter. The batter is in purgatory between a dough and a pourable batter so the choice of mixer or dough hooks is up to you. Once the butter and egg are incorporated slowly pour in the yeasty milk. 


Step 4


 Once you have a smooth batter you can incorporate the fruit. 

Step 5
Cover your bowl with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot. 

Step 6


After 30 minutes you need to knock the air out of the batter, since there is no way you can knead it just flour your fist and hulk smash the air out of it. Then let it proof for another 30 minutes. 

Step 7


Heat your oil to about 175 c, 15 minutes before the batter will be ready. Use an ice cream scoop or a soup ladle and a spoon to drop roughly ball shaped blobs of batter into the hot oil. Don't worry if your scoops are not completely round. Those Cthulu like appendages will be pleasingly crunchy. 

Step 8


Fry the oliebollen for 8 to 9 minutes, until they are a deep golden colour and don't forget to turn them regularly so they brown evenly.

Step 9


Let them drain on kitchen towels and sprinkle generously with icing sugar before consuming.

Happy New Year




29.12.13

Chocolate Salty Caramel Balls





 I'm less and less convinced by silicone moulds for cake, chocolate however is a whole other story. If you have a small dome silicone mould, you can easily make fantastic chocolate balls, which in this instance I'm filling with salted caramel. I made a version of this as a desert component at Christmas. It was one dome filled with a little bit of salted caramel and a small scoop of five spice ice cream. You can fill the chocolate balls with a range of fillings, maybe half caramel, half peanut butter, or a boozy ganache, possibilities are endless. Since making chocolate covered potato chips I've become a complete convert to the microwave method of tempering chocolate, it is fast easy and the results are really good.


Ingredients

Salted caramel

  • 100 g sugar
  • 40 g butter
  • 60 ml cream
  • salt to taste

Chocolate balls

  • bar of white chocolate
  • bar of dark chocolate


Step 1


Since you need the caramel to be at room temperature or colder before filling the chocolate balls, it is best to prepare it in advance. Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and patiently wait for it to caramelize. Do not stir... however tempting. I find I do get away with a bit of a swirl of the pan near the end. 



Step 2


As soon as all the sugar has caramelized you can add the butter sliced in a couple of pieces. The caramel will start to fizz up, keep stirring until the butter is dissolved. 


Step 3


Now add the cream, it will once again bubble quite violently, just keep stirring. Let this cook for about 2 minutes and take off the fire. Now add about a quarter teaspoon, or big pinch of salt and stir through. Dip the back of a cold spoon into the caramel and let cool, now taste. I personally like a little more salt so I add an extra pinch. The caramel is now done and can be poured into a heatproof bowl. Set aside while you make the chocolate balls. 



Step 4


Chop your chocolate finely with a big sharp knife. Take three quarters of the chocolate and put in a microwave save dish. You want it to be mostly melted with perhaps one or 2 chunks left. White chocolate takes the least time to melt, one minute for me, dark chocolate can have a little more, 90 second or so. Take the chocolate out half way to see how its going and give it a little stir. Take out of the microwave and add the rest of the chocolate and stir until this chocolate has melted. A couple of chunks left in the chocolate is fine, and guarantees your chocolate has never been too hot.  


Step 5



Take a teaspoon of the molten chocolate and let it drip of your spoon, once it is a small ribbon use this to go Jackson Pollock on the mould. 


Step 6



Now temper the contrasting chocolate in the same way. The white chocolate needs 10 minutes to set and the dark chocolate you use as the main dome can also cool off a little during this time. Now take a teaspoon of chocolate and drop into the middle of the mould. Use a teaspoon to spread out. Let cool in a cool place that isn't a fridge to harden. Once set just pop the chocolate out of the mould.


Step 7


Now take a teaspoon of caramel and fill the domes, press together to make the balls. 




PS, below is a link to the baking sheet I used.



20.12.13

Kerststol








The ultimate in festive breads, Kerststol, or Christmas stollen if you wish, just hits the spot every time. An enriched yeast dough stuffed with raisins and currents and filled with a core of almond paste. The almond paste we use in the Netherlands is called spijs, and while the cheaper versions will be cut with white beans and apricot kernels, the real deal is all almond and egg and lemon and sugar. You can make it yourself by mixing 150 grams of peeled and very finely chopped almonds with 150 grams of sugar, an egg and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  You could also probably use plain marzipan and loosen it with egg and lemon juice. I use raisins and currents as the filling for the dough, but you can have fun with it and add chopped nuts, dried cranberries, sour cherries, even chocolate chips, anything you want.


Ingredients

for the loaf
  • 350 g flour
  • 80 g butter melted, plus some extra for brushing the loaf
  • 150 ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons of cognac, or rum, or whiskey. Any dark booze will do.
  • half teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 300 g raisins
  • 150 g currants
  • icing sugar to dust
for the spijs

  • 300 g spijs, almond paste.
  • half a beaten egg or a whole one if using marzipan
  • juice of a lemon

Step 1


Mix the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, yeast, sugar and zest together. Then add the milk, cognac, egg and the molten butter. Mix together with a spoon. 


Step 2


Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and start working it to develop the gluten. This dough is very sticky but keep kneading. After about 10 minutes the dough should stop sticking so much to your hands and you can use the patented closed hand punching technique to get the gluten going. The dough will still be somewhat sticky but also elastic and springy. Put it into a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm, let is proof for 50 minutes.



Step 3


Punch down the dough and place the raisins, currants and optional extras on top of it. Fold the dough and knead in the ingredients.


Step 4


Knead through the lemon juice and egg through the spijs and shape it into a long thick snake. Now shape the dough into a elongated oval. Push down half of the dough so there is a thin halve and a thick halve. Place the spijs on the thin part of the oval and fold over the thick part so you create a loaf. Pinch the dough together so no spijs is showing. Cup the ends with your hands and push softly towards the middle to shape the loaf.  Let this loaf proof for another 50 minutes under a moist tea towel. 


Step 5


Heat the oven to 200 c. Brush the loaf with a generous amount of melted butter before putting it into the oven. Put the loaf in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown.


Step 6


Let the loaf cool on a baking rack before dusting it generously with icing sugar. 






17.12.13

Soft Spiced Toffee





These soft little toffees are made using just a can of sweetened condensed milk and a teaspoon of spice. My coconut dulce de leche toffees were a big success and my mom came up with the idea to add a little spice to them. I'm leaving out the coconut milk to make a softer toffee. I'm using speculaas spice but any warm winter spice mix should work perfectly as long as it is a very fine powder.


Ingredients

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of spice mix


Step 1


This time I chose a frying pan to speed up the process. Add your spices to the condensed milk and start stirring over a low to medium heat. Don't worry if the spices don't seem to mix well, it will after some intense stirring. 

Step 2



The condensed milk wants to burn and stick to the bottom. It is your duty to prevent this by extreme stirring. The mix will go lumpy, but yet again your valiant stirring will in the end create one smooth shiny ball of deliciousness. By the way your pan may look ruined but it is nothing that a good soak won't fix. 

Step 3

Once the dulce de leche begins to come together you have the beginning of soft toffee. If you want hard toffee you can keep heating and stirring it for longer until it almost begins to burns. Turn the mass out onto a clean work surface and keep agitating it until it is still warm but doesn't burn you.

Step 4


Once the toffee is cool enough to handle you can roll it into a a toffee snake. Take some scissors and simple snip off  individual toffees. They will be very sticky until they have dried a bit so don't let them touch during the drying process.  Once they are completely cold they won't be as sticky and you can keep them in a glass jar. 




15.12.13

Speculaas Brokken





Your regular speculaas is a fairly dainty thin rectangle with a picturesque image of a windmill pressed into it. Now not many people have the wooden plates that you use to get that typical impression in the speculaas. Which is why speculaas brokken are a much more viable option to make yourself. Speculaas brokken are the thicker, more heavily spiced and darker brother to regular speculaas. You bake a gigantic slab of it and break it off in dunkable chunks.


Ingredients

  • 250 g flour
  • 175 g dark brown sugar
  • 100 g room temperature butter
  • 20 g speculaas spices, recipe here
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tblsp milk
  • big pinch of salt

Step 1




Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead until everything is combined. If the mixture is too dry then you can add an extra spoon of milk. It is perfectly normal if there are still sugar granules in the dough, this only adds to the crunchiness. 



Step 2

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge. Arguably it is best to let the dough rest overnight, but who has time for that. 2 hours works for me. 


Step 3


Take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 5 minutes. Now roll out the dough into a big slab. The slab should be a little thicker than 1 cm, or about the thickness of your pinky. 


Step 4



Preheat your oven to 180 c. Put the dough on a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. Let the slab cool on a baking rack until it goes crunchy. Break off portions of whatever size you desire. 

11.12.13

Red Pepper Shakshouka






Warming, healthy and chances are you already have all the ingredients you need. I like to add a red pepper to my shakshouka to pack more veg into that meal. The cumin does a wonderfull thing to the tomato sauce, making something wildly different to anything you ever poured over pasta.


Ingredients

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of harissa, or alternatively fresh or dried red chilli and a pinch of cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Step 1


Cut the peppers into strips and the onions into halve rings and fry them in a small frying pan on medium heat in some olive oil until tender. Then add the harissa or cumin and chilli and fry with the onions for a minute or two.

Step 2


Add a can of chopped tomatoes and lower the heat. Let it simmer for 15 minutes covered with a lid, or plate. 



Step 3


Season the sauce with salt and pepper and optional extra chilli. Push the peppers and onions away from the middle so you create a little pool in the middle. Crack one or two eggs into this pool. Keep the pan on a low heat so it is gently bubbling. The egg whites will take about 10 minutes to cook while leaving the yolk runny. Serve scorching hot with crusty bread. 



Once again I was introduced to shakshuka by Ottolenghi, his Jerusalem cookbook in particular. There is a hot sauce in there that left me with burning hands for 2 days, but it was worth it.