vrijdag 31 oktober 2008

No CEiMB #4: Sweet and Sour Brisket.....

For those of you coming here to see my Sweet & Sour Brisket: I'm sorry, not this week!! I have been terribly busy baking my butt off to make my colleagues some bueatiful pies, tarts, brownies and muffins for my last day at work..... Wondering how everything turned out? Stay tuned for my next post!!

dinsdag 28 oktober 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Tuesday again, the last time that I'll be able to bring a TWD-challenge to the office where I work now: my last week has arrived so fast all of a sudden...

This week it was time to make Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes and I looked forward to making them. But while I was busy planning what treats to make for my colleagues for my last workday I almost forgot all about the cupcakes, but fortunately Clara of I heart Food 4 Thought reminded me of them, she's the one who picked them! You can find the recipe here, on Clara's blog.

At the TWD-site I read that a lot of TWD-ers had problems with them baking time and thought that the cupcakes were too dry. So I decided to pull my cupcakes out of the oven after 17 minutes, like most of them did. I also may have added just a touch more butter in the batter, but certainly not a lot.

For the glaze I used half bittersweet chocolate and half milkchocolate, Dorie adviced us to dip the cupcakes into it and turn while pulling them out: that way we would create a nice swirl on top. My glaze was already thick to start with, so dipping was no option. Before I put the glaze on, I filled the cupcakes with a vanilla cream filling by popping the tip into the cupcake and filling it with cream untill I felt some resistance, I used the recipe that I found at Baking Bites:
Vanilla Cream Filling
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Sir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter (or shortening) and sugar together in a medium bowl until lightl. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electrick mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

These cupcakes were delicious: the cake was nice and fluffy, the glaze was perfectly chocolate and the filling just added that little bit of oompfh to the cupcakes. I would rename these Heavenly, almost better than sex chocolate cupcakes. And my coworkers agreed...... :)

To end this post with a slightly less naughty subject: doesn't Pien, my brothers Dachshund of 11 weeks old look cute and sweet when she's asleep??

P.S. Check out my fellow TWD-ers cupcakes here.

maandag 27 oktober 2008

Zwolle Culinair

It's that time of year again: the end of October, which in Zwolle means: time for Zwolle Culinair (or in English: Culinary Zwolle). This is an event that's been going on the last 5 years in one of the last weekends of October. Zwolle Culinair is held in an old church in downtown Zwolle, lots of (high) quality restaurants of Zwolle and area participate. The goal is to let people see and taste a presentation of dishes. Entrance is free and guests can have a seat in real miniature restaurants that also give a good impression of the atmosphere of the restaurant: so each restaraunts has different chairs, tables, etcetera. You buy plastic coins which you can use to pay for the dishes. Feel free to check out their website here (warning: it's in Dutch!!) scroll down to see which dishes my friend and I tried.....
We started of by walking around the church and looking at all the different menus to figure out where we wanted to try a dish. Ou first stop was Xanders Bazaar. My friend tried the Atúm con molho de pimente (freshly cut tuna with a slightly spicy dip of creme fraiche), I picked Domates kebabifirindan (Tomato-beef-kebab from the oven). The tuna was extremely fresh and very nicely combined with the dip. The kebab looked so cute and was very tasty as well!

Freshly cut tuna with a slightly spicy dip of crème fraîche

Tomato-beef-kebab from the oven
Then we went to one of my favourite restaurants: Restaurant Poppe, this was combined with another restaurant owned by the same family: Pampus. We had some difficulties trying to figure out what exactly we wanted to eat there.... So many good things on the menu! My friend picked the goatcheese mousse with mangochtuney and a cheesecracker, I choose the deer with nuts and a vanilla sauce. My friend liked the goatcheese combo, although the aftertaste of the goatcheese was a bit too tart for her taste. My deer was perfect, the vanillasauce also tasted a bit like cloves and was accompanied by a mash with cantharells. To finish it off we both had the apple-beignets with icecream made with five spices: this combination was delicious! The icecream tastes of cinnamon, cardemom, ginger, cloves and mace, it was perfect!

Mousse of goatschees with mangochutney and cheesecracker

Deer with nuts and a vanilla sauce

Apple-beignets with icecream made with five spices

Our next stop was a mexican restaurant called La Cucaracha. My friend wanted to try the Bocadillo Americano (miniature hotdog of jalapeño-cornbread and chorizo) and I picked the Quessadilla (quessadilla filled with cilantro, crushed pepper and sheepcheese served on a mash of carrots).

Bocadillo Americano


Then on to restaurant Binnen (binnen is Dutch for inside) where we both had Zwartgoud rolletjes (rolled-up carpaccio filled with parmesan) and the Chocolate surprise. The carpaccio was amazing, but surprisingly we both didn't care much for the chocolate surprise... Afterwards the restaurant gave us a free sample of their chocolate lollipops: they were truffles. Yum!!

Rolled-up carpaccio filled with parmesan

Chocolate surprise

Chocolate lollipops

After that my friend was full and had enough, but I still had a little appetite so we stopped at a new restaurant, part of the new hotel Pillows. There I chose Muffin of white chocolate a caramel of fleur de sel. This looked amazing but somehow managed to dissapoint me deeply....
The structure of the muffin was way too dense and dry. At first it was sweet with a saly afterbite, but after a couple of bites the salty flavour started to ovewpower the rest of the muffin which made this a 'yuck' experience for me.

Muffin of white chocolate a caramel of fleur de sel

So after that unsatisfying muffin I needed to finish Zwolle Culinair with a nice but not too heavy dessert since I was already quite full, so I went back to the mexican restaurant La Cucaracha and ordered EnRico (Granité of orange, tequila and spices with cinnamonfoam).
This was exactly what I expected: nice light shavings of orange icecream. Delightfull!

Granité of orange, tequila and spices with cinnamonfoam

On our way out we passed the restaurant 't Pestengasthuys where we saw that they had something similar to a doggybag: a carboard box with a picture of their restaurant on it, filled with three tiny miniature dishes. Since we had exactly 4 coins left (the ammount needed for this box) we decided to take this along for my brother. The doggiebag, named PGHuysje, contained a spicy 'Wolden' sausage (Wolden is the area where the sausage comes from), preskop (pieces of skinny porkmeat in jelly with parsley, onion and pickles) and marjolaine tart with chocolate mascarpone.


Spicy 'Wolden' sausage


Marjolaine tart with chocolate mascarpone

The sausage doesn't look very appetizing, but according to my brother it was very tasty.
He didn't dare to try the preskop, but neither did his girlfriend, my friend or I.
His dog (a dachshund puppy of 11 weeks) did however like the smell of it!
The marjolaine tart was delicious!

zaterdag 25 oktober 2008

Stuff I'll be baking this week.....

Busy weekend and week ahead of me: my final week at work. So for Thursday I need to have some cakes etc. ready..... I'm afraid I won't have any time for this weeks CEiMB..... :(
On my list of things to make for next week are:
1) White chocolate cake with mascarpone and cherries
2) Dorie's Quintuple Chocolate Brownies
3) Dorie's Perfect Party Cake
4) Dorie's Normandy Apple Tart
5) Dorie's Pumkin Muffins (or Butternut Squash Muffins.....)

Ow, and ofcourse the Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes foor TWD!! Thanks for reminding me Clara!

donderdag 23 oktober 2008

CEiMB #3: Banana Cream Pie

O Happy Day, my copie of Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger arrived in the mail yesterday: just in time for this weeks assignment that I wasn't making. So you all know how I spend yesterday evening: flipping through the book and droowling all over the beautiful pictures of tasty and healthy recipes!

This weeks recipe was choosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl, she picked Banana Cream Pie. At first I didn't want to make todays recipe. Normally when I make pies I go to my parents house and share it with them, but since they are out of town for two weeks that was not an option. But when I saw the fantastic results over at Heather and Holly I knew I had to make this pie.

So straight out of work I went to the supermarket to get me some bananas, whole weat mariabiscuits and gelatine, the rest of the ingredients I had in stock. We don't have graham crackers here, so after some Internet research (you gotta love Google!!) I found out I could use these whole weat mariabiscuits and used 12 of them for the pie crust.

Unfortunately the supermarket didn't have powdered gelatine, in fact I don't think I have ever seen powdered gelatine in my life: I only now the gelatine in sheetform. So I wasn't quite sure how much gelatine to use, I ended up using three sheets.

I'm not going to write down the entire recipe here, It can be found on page 276 of Food You Crave. The recipe was surprisingly easy: first you make the pie crust out of the biscuits, some butter and very little water, push it down in a pie plate, bake it for about 10 minutes and let it cool down.

Then you dissolve the gelatine in some water, you make a curstard out of egg yolks, non-fat milk, sugar, flour and vanilla essence. Mix in the gelatine water and let the custard cool down. Divide the sliced bananas over the pie crust.

Poor the custard over the crust and bananas and put in the fridge to set for 3 hours. Whip up some low-fat cream with a little sugar and pipe on top of the pie. Enjoy!

Penne with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Mushrooms

Seeing all the recipes and pictures at Foodgawker, Recipemuncher and Tastespotting of beautiful looking dishes with butternut squash, an unknown vegetable to me, made me want to try and make something tasty with just that: Butternut Squash (I will refer to Butternut Squash as BS for the rest of this post, do not confuse it with Bullshit ;) ), or Kalebas as they are called here in Holland.

At Foodnetwork I found the recipe for Farfalle al Rocco, courtesy of Assagio Italian Restaurant, Portland, OR and knew this was the one, it had lots of items

Boy, did I have a hard time trying to get hold of a butternut squash.... But when I have an idea stuck in my head, I will stick with it. So I visited 3 different supermarket: no BS, I went to the Natuurwinkel (Nature Shop, that's where all the nature freaks with their grey wollen socks buy outlandish and uberhealthy things like pumpkin and so on): no BS. My last attempt was the turkish supermarket, because I knew they have a great variety of exotic foods. At last: Succes was mine: lots of BS!!

1 small butternut squash
1 pound good quality dried farfalle, preferably Italian (I used Penne, since that's what I had)
1/4 cup pure olive oil
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 bunch spinach, cleaned, stems removed and chopped into 2-inch squares
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated fine (I used Pecorino Romano, since it was on sale)
Sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the butternut squash on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until you can easily slide a knife into the upper part of the squash. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Cut off the ends of the squash and pare away the skin. Cut the squash in half, removing the seeds. Dice the remaining flesh. Allow to cool completely.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. In a saute pan large enough to accommodate all of the pasta, over medium-high heat, add the oil, mushrooms, butternut squash and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for several minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften. You may need to add more oil, as the mushrooms may absorb the liquid. Add the garlic and mix to combine until garlic begins to brown and the sides of the butternut squash become brown as well.

If the pasta is not finished yet, remove the saute pan from the heat and wait until the pasta is done. When the pasta is done, return the pan to high heat, quickly add the spinach and deglaze with the white wine, which will help wilt the spinach lightly. Season with salt and black pepper. Quickly drain the pasta, add it to the pan and toss to combine the ingredients, mixing in most of the grated parmesan while you are tossing. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with more grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Serve at once!

I don't get the American portion sizes..... This recipe is supposed to be 4 servings. Since that is way too much for me I halved the recipeand should have had 2 servings, right?? WRONG, I got 3 servings!!! O well, I won't complain since I loved this dish!

Just one question for you: I still have 2 cups of roasted and diced Butternut Squash leftover, what would you suggest I do with them?

dinsdag 21 oktober 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

It's Tuesday again and ya'll know what that means: Tuesdays with Dorie!! Boy was I intrigued by this recipe: Kelly of Sounding my Barbaric Gulp requested us to make Pumpkin Muffins. Yes, you read that correct: Pumpkin Muffins.

I have some explaining to do to the non-Dutch readers: pumpkin is not regularly used in dutch cuisine, in fact people that do cook pumpkin are mostly known as 'nature freaks': people that wear gray wool socks etc. - I mean no offense, this is just the general image that comes up with people.... I have never cooked/baked with pumpkin before, so I was very curious about the result. To start with I had to make pumpkin puree, the recipe called for canned pumpkin but that was nowhere to be found here in Zwolle. It was easy enough, I packed the leftovers in Zipper-bags per cup and put them in the freezer for future use.

I divided the batter into two parts. The first one I made according to Dories recipe: with pecans and golden raisins. Because I wasn't sure I would actually like these I subbed the raisins with chocolate for the second part. Everybody knows everything tastes great with chocolate!!

Ofcourse the two looked so much alike, so to make sure I remembered which muffins had raisins in them and which ones had chocolate in them I sprinkled the raisinmuffins with red sugar that actually turned orange while baking in the oven: what do you think of these Halloween Orange Pumpkin Muffins??

These only needed 17 minutes in the oven. I managed to create 22 muffins instead of the 12 Dorie indicates, mine were smaller though: practically bite-size, so cute!! After the chocolate muffins cooled down I melted some chocolate to drizzle over the top to make them look even more fancy.

To my surprise I must admit I loved these, I actually liked the original ones (with raisin in them) better than the chocolate ones!!! My coworkers were also pleasantly surprised with these muffins and rated them very highly!

To see what my fellow TWD-ers thought of the muffins check out the blogroll here.

Let me leave you with one last remark...... These muffins should come with a warning sign:
CAUTION: overindulgence may cause muffin top!!

maandag 20 oktober 2008

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

The weather is turning colder and more autumn-like here, leaves are starting to fall the trees and every day it gets dark earlier... For me this means it's time for more wintery meals, like a nicely filled, hearty and spicy soup. Browing around I found this recipe for a Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup at For the love of cooking, ofcourse I adapted it a bit and only made half, but that was still more than enough for 3 big bowls of soup.

Shredded Chicken
1 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat
1,5 cups of chicken broth or water
1,5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp sweet yellow onion, diced finely (I used red onion, cause that's what I had)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and gently boil for 20 minutes. Let the chicken breasts cool then shred with two forks.

1 tsp olive oil
1 cups of onion, diced
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1 cups of carrots, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (more if you want it really spicy)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/4 quarts of chicken stock
1 400 gr (14 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 300 gr (10 oz) can of corn
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 a cup of fresh cilantro, chopped (divided)
3 fresh white corn tortillas

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 60 seconds. Add the carrots, celery, jalapeno, tomatoes, corn, broth, cumin, coriander, sea salt and pepper to taste and 1/8 cup of cilantro.

Cut the 3 corn tortillas in half, then cut them crosswise into 1/2 inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the corn tortillas have melted away. Add the chicken, taste and re season if needed.

Corn tortilla strips
2 corn tortillas
olive oil
Sea salt
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 F). Grease the baking sheet with olive oil . Rub in a little olive oil on each side of all the tortillas & lay in a pile. Cut into thin strips & spread across the baking dish then season with sea salt. Bake in the oven until golden brown - watch them carefully because they burn easily. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes.

Additional Toppings
1 avocados
dicedCotija cheese, grated
fresh cilantro (remainder from above ingredients)

Ladle soup into large soup bowls. Add some avocado, tortilla strips, a sprinkle of cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!

I didn't care much for the soft strips of tortilla that went into the soup before cooking, they didn't disolve and stayed all soft, mushy and slimey. Probably I'll omit those next time. Just found out I used flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas, maybe that's where it went wrong??

I did however love the salted crispy tortillastrips on top of the soup, in combo with the spicyness of the soup and the softness of the avocado. Definetely will be making this again!

donderdag 16 oktober 2008

CEiMB #2: Steak Tacos with Cucumber-Avocado Salsa

This week is the second round of Craving Ellie in My Belly (CEiMB) and we're making Steak Tacos with Cucumber-Avocado Salsa. Great pick CB!! I missed out on the first adventure but was determined not to miss this one despite not having received my book yet, so I went looking for the recipe on Internet. This search was very easy as the first link I found was this one from Foodnetwork which had the entire recipe on it.

I to alter the recipe to make it suitable for 2 persons instead of six, otherwise I had to eat this dish every evening this week as I am single. Now I get to enjoy it on Wednesday and Thursday! Yum!! I must say I thoroughly enjoyed making this: rubbing the steak with the spices, making my own salsa and ofcourse eating it!! I decided to sub the red cabbage with slaw, 'cause I don't really like red cabbage in my tortillas!

So here is the end result: I really liked the combination of the soft avocado with the crunchy cucumber and the tartness of the lime juice with the hot jalapeno pepper. I will definetely be making this again!

Check out what the others thought of this recipe on Craving Ellie in My Belly.

dinsdag 14 oktober 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti

For this tuesday Gretchen of Canela & Comini selected Lenox Almond Biscotti. The recipe can be found here.

Before this challenge I had had biscotti at several places and liked it somewhat, but I for some odd reason I wasn't really excited about making them. So I procrasinated untill it was Sunday late afternoon and started baking.

I added cinnamon to my dough, because I just love cinnamon!! I love it!! I love it so much that I usually double the amount of cinnamon that goes into my apple pies just to make it taste more like cinnamon. So for me it made sense to add a complete teaspoon of cinnamon.

Because I have such a tiny oven I had to bake one log at a time. Will my first log was in the oven I found out that I accidentally subbed the yellow cornmeal with bulgur.... No biggie, everybody makes mistakes, don't they? I mean, the packaging of the cornmeal and bulgur ar so much a like, right? Right? NO, THEY ARE NOT!! IDIOT!! Yes, the packaging is both coloured with red, bur you can still easily see the difference between the cornmeal on the left and the bulgur on the right!!

With no eggs left in the house I decided to take my chances and see what the biscotti would be like. The taste was actually OK, but the texture of the biscotti was way to grainy: the bulgur had remained as tiny little hard granules. I took them to work and all though they were nog to my liking, my coworkers actually liked them. Some even came back for another one!! But me being a perfectionist, I just knew I had to make this recipe again, with the cornmeal added this time!

Before putting the logs into the oven I sprinkled some sliced almonds on top of them. With this recipe the logs have to be baked twice: first for 15 minutes, then cool down, cut them and then bake for another 15 minutes. With mine I found that the logs spread out a lot: they doubled in with and needed almost 30 minutes for the first bake instead of the indicated 15. While the first log was in the oven I put the second one in the fridge, to prevent Senna (my cat) of nibbling on it.

A tip from Linda of Tender Crumb was to spray the log wet when cutting it into strips so it wouldn't crumble as much. This worked really well!!

Now, after the second bake of the second batch I can finally say it's all worth it: these biscotti taste great!! They will defenitely be made again!

ATTENTION: For those of you still wanting to join Tuesdays with Dorie, hurry up: the closing date is 31 October, after that date they will no longer accept new members.....

Now it's time to introduce my sweet pets to you all, here they are:

Senna, my 2-year old cat who loves to lay about, take everything in, sneak herself into the background of pictures, food and taking naps

Scott, my 6-year old Border Collie who loves to play, eat, sleep, play, eat and play!

Update: my coworkers preferred the non-bulgur biscotti over the bulgur biscotti, big surprise!! Hahaha!