20.11.14

Bisetti Himalayan Salt Cooking Stone Review





Himalayan pink salt makes a lovely table salt, I've even seen some hippy lamps made with the stuff. But I hadn't seen it used as a cooking stone before. So off course I had to have one when I came across this one from Bisetti. 

According to the instructions you can use it both as a way to cook your food and to chill it, thanks to the excellent temperature retaining qualities of the salt. You can use it in the oven as a cooking stone with the added benefit that the salt stone seasons your food for you. You could also cool the stone in the freezer and serve some sashimi. But today I used it by heating the stone in the oven and then taking it out and baking some red mullet on the slab.


29.7.14

Dutch Jamie Mag 25th Issue and The Role of Foodie Mags



The Dutch version of the Jamie mag is celebrating its 25th issue this month. Which is a fantastic accomplishment in a market that is not just over-saturated on the magazine front but a market that is also competing with the behemoth that is the foodie web. One of the reasons why 'Jamie' is succeeding is because it fully embraces the online foodie community. A magazine nowadays is nothing if it doesn't also have a great website and online presence.

18.7.14

In The Jar Basil Mayo



Making mayo with a stick blender might be considered a bit of a cheat. But it does make life a whole lot easier and it also allows you to make your mayo straight in the jar, sparing the dishwasher. Making your own also allows you to have fun with the flavours. A handful of basil and a clove of garlic make this pale green mayo a perfect accompaniment to fish and a lovely addition to a tomato salad/sandwich. Besides a stick blender you will need a clean jar that can accommodate said stick blender. The jar I am using is perhaps even a little bit too large.

9.7.14

Grow Your Own Individual Cress Portions


Cress, or micro greens if you're being fancy, are a great way to spice up a sandwich or salad. From the traditional egg and cress or my new favourite of rocket cress on a cheese sandwich, cress can pack a real punch. On top of that micro greens are terribly easy to grow. Spread them thickly on wet cotton wool, keep moist, and within a couple of days the sprouts are ready to harvest.

16.5.14

Emmer Flour Pancakes With Brie



Ancient grains are everywhere now. There is even a shortage of spelt flour threatening the supply. Emmer, or farro, is another ancient grain that is gaining popularity. And while it is often a bit tricky to make breads with these flours because of their lower gluten content, there are many other ways to use them. Emmer's pleasant nuttiness lends itself particularly well to a savoury and sweet pancake. Though the combination of melting brie, pancake, and sweet treacle is good enough to make with any flour you have available.

25.4.14

Crystallized Violets





Chances are that you bought some violets to have some flowers in early spring. Violets are real troopers and will still be flowering abundantly. Because by now they will have had several waves of flower, the flowers will now be completely free of pesticides, no matter where you bought them from. Which means you can eat them raw in salads, or do what I did and crystallize some for a wonderfully twee cupcake decoration.

There are two main species of violet that are suitable for this, viola odorata or viola tricolor. The odorata has the most violet flavour and the tricolor comes in most colourful variations. Crystallizing such delicate flowers is a somewhat fiddly job, but the results are worth it.

4.4.14

30.3.14

Apple Pie



Every country that grows apples has some variety of apple pie. The French make a mean tarte tatin, the English love a good apple crumble, German speaking countries indulge in lovely strudel. So when ER suggested I bake an apple pie for my spotlight on the humble apple I decided to make a traditional Dutch apple pie. The crust is not quite short crust pastry and a simple trick keeps the bottom nice and firm. It is important to use the right apple for the pie. It needs a little tartness and it should stay firm. Jonagold, Cox Orange, Elstar and Goudrenet are the traditional options. It is easiest to bake the pie in a tin with a removable ring so you can easily remove the pie when it is done.

22.3.14

Homemade Ginger Ale





After my sudden appreciation for bitter orange, I've had yet another taste shift. I never cared particularly for the taste of ginger. I didn't mind it doing its thing in the background in a stirfry but stem ginger or ginger sweets never did anything for me. That was until my recent visit to London. My uncle had no other soft drink option than Waitrose own brand ginger ale. And on a particularly pleasant spring day some thirst quenching was in order. And you know what? It was delicious , first with a dash of fresh OJ and later all by itself.

14.3.14

Wild Garlic and Chives Spread




Chives have been one of my favourite things to grow on the allotment. I threw down a packet of seed the first year and now I have a good square meter of the stuff.  And besides normal chives I've expanded my collection to include garlic chives, society garlic and wild garlic. Society garlic gets its hilarious name from the Dutch settlers in South Africa, who considered it a good replacement for garlic before society events because it does not cause garlic breath. All these plants are looking good now and it is a great option for eating something fresh out of the garden this time a year. The garlicky goodness of the wild garlic, society garlic and garlic chives combined with the subtle onion flavour of chives mix really well with cream cheese for a delectable spread.


6.3.14

Search Term Questions



As a blogger it is always interesting to see what search terms lead people to your blog. These terms are usually very logical and sometimes bizarre, but my favourites to see are when people actually put a question into the Google bar and end up on my site. Most of the times these questions will be answered in the post, but sometimes they are not. So I thought it would be fun to answer some of these questions which led people to my site.


How does no knead bread work?


No knead bread works by letting the yeast do the kneading for you. A wetter dough means the yeast can move more easily, kneading the bread for you. The extra liquid also means the bread will have big holes in it, caused by the steam. Check out this brilliant article by Serious Eats for an in depth investigation.


What is toast in dutch?

Alas we don't have a single word for toast. A slice of bread in Dutch is a 'boterham' and a piece of toast is a 'geroosterde boterham' or toasted slice of bread. Though to be fair we sometimes use toast as well. Just don't use the diminutive 'toastje' because that would get you a cracker, possibly topped with some cheese or other topping. 





How long to boil a dozen eggs for deviled eggs?


You want the yolk to be completely firm for deviled eggs. So put your eggs in a pan with cold water and put on the heat. Once the water is boiling the eggs will need about 9 minutes for deviled egg perfection.




Chocolatey or chocolaty?


See this bothered me as well. Oxford dictionary gives 'chocolatey' but notes 'chocolaty' is also acceptable. Mirriam Webster switches it by preferring 'chocolaty'. I've looked at the word for so long now it stopped making sense. I've heard people say their editors prefer chocolaty so I'll go with that for now. It does look a bit weird.





How do you spell szechuan?



Sichuan.

How to test yeast for freshness.


Put your yeast into some warm milk or water with a little bit of sugar. If the yeast is active it will go frothy and bubbly within 15 minutes. 




How to serve poached pears?


If you are serving them as dessert, serve them warm and with their own syrup. Some cream, or even ice cream would be nice with it too. The Dutch poached pears I made can be served this way but if you leave out the extra sugar you can also serve them traditionally as a side dish with a hearty winter stew.



So this concludes my first Search Term Questions feature. Let me know if you like it because there are more questions where that came from.


5.3.14

Dulce de Leche Test



I've always made Dulce de Leche by throwing a tin of sweetened evaporated milk in a pan of simmering water and waiting 3 hours. Granted it takes a good while but it is fairly hands off, just top up the water now and then. Which is why I was intrigued by Claire Thompson's recipe in the Guardian which didn't use evaporated milk but a normal full litre of milk, some sugar and a pinch of bicarb. The comments were filled with people who thought doing it from scratch surely was too much of a hassle. So I decided to put it to the test and cook some dulce de leche from scratch alongside my usual in the tin method. Would there be a noticeable difference in taste, texture, colour? I was about to find out.



First off I put my tin of sweetened evaporated milk in a pan on a medium heat. And this is where it would stay for the next three hours. If the tin starts dancing around in the pan just gently push it over on its side. And don't forget to top up the water now and then to lessen the chance of the tin exploding in your face.


I combined 1 litre of full fat milk with 300 grams of sugar and a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and put it on a high heat. It took a surprisingly long time before it came to a violent rising foam boil and Claire wasn't kidding when she said to use a pan with high sides. After 5 minutes I removed it from the high heat and put in on a gentle heat and the epic stirring began.


Milk has the charming ability to burn and stick to the bottom of the pan when you take your eye of it for a single mistimed second so it is crucial to stay with the pan and stir. The first hour of this is particularly boring because really not much is happening yet. I just pulled up a chair and did some multitasking, Ipad in one hand and stirring implement in the other.



After that first mind numbing hour things start to happen. The milk, while still thin, is starting to take on a bit of colour, and a mild sugary smell starts to waft through the kitchen. In another half hour the milk will have visibly thickened and I decided to turn up the heat a bit.


After a full two hours it looked like the dulce the leche had reached prime consistency. It had a nice golden colour and formed ribbons. And while I scooped it into a sterilized jar I let the tin boil for another hour.







After a short cooling off period the tin was ready to be openend and the tasting could begin. First thing you'll notice is a slight difference in colour. The tinned dulce de leche is slightly darker in comparison.



The biggest diffrence however is the texture. The tinned DdL has that blobby, puddingy texture that can trick you into spoon after spoon of the sweet stuff. The DdL from scratch has a more caramel like texture, pulling ribbons when you scoop it up. My guess is that the moisture content of the former is much higher. Because it is in a sealed tin the dulce the leche is allowed to carmelize (or more specifically Maillard reactionize) without losing any more moisture. Allowing for that unique texture and the deeper colour. Doing it from scratch in the pan however means that you consistently evaporate more water and it is difficult getting a much darker colour before going into toffee territory.

When it comes to taste, the difference between the two is not very pronounced. Though thanks to the difference in texture the tinned dulce de leche kicks in a little sooner than the one from scratch.

Which brings us to the question; ''Is it worth making Dulce de Leche from scratch?''  Short anwser, no, not really. Though it takes less 'absolute' time compared to the tin method, the constant stirring is a big pain in the arse and you don't get a spectacular improvement in taste back for your troubles. The only reason why I would do it again is that you can make a fantastic pourable dulce de leche sauce by cooking it for a shorter amount of time.

28.2.14

Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake)




Dutch buttercake, or boterkoek as we call it, is a dense sweet and indeed buttery cake that is easy to make and unfortunately even easier to eat. Because it is rather heavy it is often served in very small pieces. Characterized by the shiny golden top with a diamond pattern cut in, boterkoek is an ideal cake to make in advance and bring to any gathering. The ingredients are super simple to remember. It is basically a poundcake with less egg and no raising agents.


Ingredients

  • 250 g butter
  • 250 g sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 175 c. Melt the butter and add to the sugar, flour, salt and one of the eggs. Mix this for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is completely incorporated. It will be a shiny sticky dough/batter. 


Step 2

Put the dough into your pie tin, or even cake tin, and smooth down the top. You can butter the tin in advance, but it isn't strictly necessary. Whisk the remaining egg and use as a glaze. Now use a knife to carve in the diamond pattern. 


Step 3

Put into the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes. The top should be a golden brown. Take out of the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin. 

22.2.14

Call For Recipes : Apples



As it says on the tin. I'm going to start doing 'Fruity Fridays', highlighting the wonderful world of fruit. Part of this will be a recipe roundup with some of the most appetizing fruit recipes from the web. So if you have any apple related recipes or even just a fun apple tip, don't hesitate to drop me a comment or contact me via the contact me box somewhere on the left.

21.2.14

Honey Crunch Peanut Butter





Making your own peanut butter is easy and it gives you the opportunity to experiment. This peanut butter combines a smooth base with some honey coated crunchy bits. Giving this peanut butter that salty sweet moorishness of salted caramel. All you need is some peanuts, honey, sugar, salt and a food processor.


Ingredients

  • 450 gr dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt


Step 1


To make the crunchy pieces; take two handfuls of peanuts and put them in a hot dry pan. Roast them for a couple of minutes before adding a teaspoon of honey and a good pinch of salt. Shake the pan so every peanut is coated. To give them an extra crunchy caramel layer you can add a spoonful of sugar. Once the sugar has caramelized you can remove the peanuts from the pan and let them cool off.

Try not to eat all these, even though that is quite a challenge.


Step 2


Transfer the caramelized peanuts to the food processor and give them a couple of pulses so they break up a little. Remove from the processor and set aside.


Step 3

Now add all the other peanuts into the processor and press start. At first the peanuts will look like a powder but they will quickly form a ball and later a paste. Once it is smooth you can add some pinches of salt and a teaspoon of honey. Blend it some more and taste to see whether it could use more salt or honey, it probably will. Once you are happy remove the peanut butter from the machine.


Step 4


Now add your lovely crunchy bits to the smooth peanut butter and mix them together. Transfer to one of those empty peanut butter jars you probably have laying around somewhere. 

There are no emulsifiers in this peanut butter so it is entirely possible a layer of oil may form on top. This is no big deal just stir it back in when you want to use it.

12.2.14

Shiitake and shrimp rice paper rolls




Having your knifes professionally sharpened is just great. Simply chopping veg suddenly becomes tremendously enjoyable. So making these healthy rice paper rolls with chopped shitake and thin slivers of red pepper and spring onion was a no brainer. Even the sound of sharpened knifes appears to be more musical than before. (Click the little audio button on the left hand side of the vine below for sound)



It is also mildly dangerous. No matter how careful I am, I will cut myself within the first week of use.

But you could never do this with dull knifes. No radish was left unharmed during the making of this GIF.


What I wouldn't give for a high speed camera.


I saw this pin on Pinterest and loved the way it looked. I remembered I still had some rice paper sheets laying around somewhere and got chopping.



Ingredients

  • Rice paper sheets
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Spring onions
  • Red Pepper
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Bean Sprouts
for the dip
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice vinegar
  • Red chilli
  • Garlic

Step 1



Remove the ends of the stalks on the shiitake mushrooms and throw them in a pan with a drop of oil. Cook them until soft, about 5 minutes. Chop them as finely or roughly as you like. Cut the spring onions and red pepper in thin strips.


Step 2



Soak the rice paper in warm water for about 30 seconds. It becomes sticky, translucent and not particularly easy to handle. Lay it on a board or plate and assemble the shrimp, shiitake, veg and beansprouts on the paper. Roll and fold up and you're done.


Step 3

This isn't the traditional dip but I made this as an emergency dim sum dip and rather like it. Smash and cut up a red chilli and clove of garlic. Mix with soy sauce, a splash of vinegar and a couple of drops of sesame oil. It is quite salty so you could use low salt soy.


Makes for quite a saintly lunch.