Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Colomba di Pasqua

It's almost and nearly Easter! Even though I won't have time to celebrate it myself, I got really excited about baking something Easter from another country. A little bit of research showed me that during Easter the most traditional food is bread. Every country seems to have it's own Easter bread or buns. In the Netherlands we have the Easter Bread, in America and the UK you've got Hot cross buns and in Italy there's Colomba di Pasqua!

Oh yes, I know the Dutch Easter bread is exactly the same as the Dutch Christmas bread. We use the exact same bread for both occasions! We sometimes variate the topping to fool ourselves (snow-like sugar for Christmas and almonds for Easter). And it's the exact same for the Italians! Have you ever tasted the delicious fluffy Panettone? It's a sweet bread the Italians get to enjoy around Christmas and New Year. Colomba di Pasqua is the Easter version of Panettone. It's the same, but just comes in a different shape and with a different topping.

Colomba di Pasqua
1 large loaf - from MangiaBenePasta

1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon yeast
3/4 cup flour

2 eggs 
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 cups flour
1 cup dried fruits*

1/2 cup almond flour or ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white
sugar pearls or almonds
powdered sugar

1. Add the yeast to the milk and mix until dissolved.
2. Add the flour and stir. Leave your starter to rise overnight.

3. Beat the eggs with the sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon zest.
4. Add the butter and the starter and mix again.
5. Lastly, mix in the flour and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Add the dried fruits while you are kneading. Then leave to rise for about 2 hours.

6. Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Shape the dough into the shape of a dove (Start by making the wings: one fat cylinder, slightly flattened. Flatten some more in the middle of the wings and put the body on top: one long cylinder. It might look a bit like an uneven cross). Leave to rise for another 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.

7. Grind the almonds if necessary. Add the sugar, cornstarch and eggwhite to the almonds and mix to form a paste.
8. When the dough is done rising, spread the almond-paste over the top of the bread. Sprinkle the almonds or sugar pearls on top. Sift powdered sugar on top. Leave for 5 minutes, then sift more powdered sugar on top. This gives the cracked effect on top of the bread.
9. Put in a preheated oven of 190 Celsius or 370 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. After those 15 minutes reduce the heat to 175 Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit and bake for another 20 minutes. Cover the bread in aluminium foil if the top turns too dark before the baking time is over.
10. Leave to cool before serving.

* Recommended and most traditional: candied orange peel and raisins.

Colomba di Pasqua is shaped like a dove
I didn't actually realize this bread was going to be exactly like Panettone until I cut it. Can you imagine my delighted surprise once I cut into what I thought was a bread and found out it was fluffier than a cake? Since it was such a large loaf, I froze half of the Colomba di Pasqua straight away to eat it on actual Easter. The rest of the bread? It was gone in a day! And I wasn't the only one nomming it!

Chocolate Colomba di Pasqua
Not everyone likes almonds or sugar pearls, so sometimes you'll find chocolate versions. For the chocolate version:
- substitute dried fruits for chocolate chips
- leave out the almond paste completely
- Once the bread has cooled cover it with melted chocolate or nutella, zigzag a white chocolate pattern or sprinkle sugar pearls on top (preferably all three).

No, it get's better: I remember trying a Panettone recipe a few years ago and it turned out to be such a disaster I never dared to try again. Now, without knowing I completely nailed a fluffy bread recipe. I suddenly feel like I've grown so much! (Okay, I'll stop my enthusiasm here...)

I really hope you have a lovely Easter! I won't be sharing a lot of Easter traditions with you this year, but I will be sharing two lovely -traditional!- breads to enjoy! I'll be around for a few more years at least, so I'll just have to make sure to enlighten you on how people celebrate Easter next year. Please survive one more Easter without knowing whether the Chinese hide Easter eggs or not!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kimchi - 김치

Ah, I feel like I'm disappointing everyone so much! More than a whole week has gone by again without me posting anything. I haven't been able to reply to comments, update the website or even check out your blogs! And I'm pretty sure this is going to continue for another week or two. I really wish I could find the time for even the tiniest post in between, but with my research coming to an end I really don't have the time. I might not even be able to say anything about Easter traditions! After my work's done though, I swear I will make up for everything!

But between all the business I was able to cook, take a few snapshots and quickly write a post for you! I hope you enjoy this traditional Korean dish! From what I know about Korea, this is something you will find any time anywhere and all over the place. It's kind of like potatoes here, or ketchup. If I were to describe kimchi to you: it's spicy and pickled and 'fermented'. The first one is definitely there and all over the place, you're not able to taste the pickled part due to the spiciness and apart from the fact that you know it has been hanging around for a few days, you wouldn't know it was fermented.

makes 2 large jars

1 Chinese or nappa cabbage
1 cup (roughly 300 grams) salt
10 cups water

2/3 large carrots or Korean radishes
3 spring onions/shallot
2 onions
4 chilli's

1/4 cup rice flour
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 cup ginger paste or chopped ginger
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 cup Korean red pepper flakes*

1. Wash the cabbage and chop into 5 by 5 cm chunks.
2. Take out a large bowl and sprinkle salt on the bottom. Add a layer of cabbage, sprinkle salt on top, add more cabbage, more salt, etc. until you have several layers of salted cabbage. Gently pour the water down the side (we don't want to wash all the salt to the bottom). Leave it to soak for roughly 3 hours. Give it a good stir somewhere halfway.
3.Chop the onions, carrots, chillis and any other vegetables you might like into thin slices. Put in a bowl and set aside.
4. Make the kimchi paste by putting the rice flour in a pan. Add a little water and dissolve, then add the rest of the water. Put the pan on low to medium heat and keep stirring until it starts to thicken. Leave, while stirring, to thicken until it is as thick as a paste.
5. Take off the heat and add all the other ingredients. Stir until combined.
6. Drain and wash the cabbage and put in a very large bowl. Add everything else and stir until combined.
7. Put the kimchi in airtight containers and leave it outside the fridge for 1-2 days. Afterwards, leave in the fridge. It should officially be left to ferment for around a week, but you can eat it after 2 days (or even immediately).

* or chilli flakes: see comment below this recipe!

* You can make this dish as spicy as you want! If you're really bad with peppers like I am, go for paprika powder. If you love spicy food then add piri piri flakes, hot peppers or anything superspicy you can find. Officially you should go for Korean (coarse) pepper powder or flakes, but not everyone has a Korean supermarket around the corner. Or even knows where to find one in the entire country. I for one really don't!

Since I made this recipe by studying several recipes and pictures and getting inspired all over place, I can't really give credit to one person. But since there are so many recipes that look quite good, I'll just give credit to the lot of them: Maangchi and Maangchi (best recipes I found, with lots of pictures as bonus), CrazyKoreanCooking (uses different fish sauces), EasyKoreanFood (uses pear in stead of sugar), theKitchn (most 'Western' recipe) and this link (no, I cant read it either).

There are quite a lot of kimchi recipes out there and not all of them use cabbage. Quite frankly, there's probably as much types of kimchi as there are fish in the sea, so getting creative, using what you have in your fridge and substituting half the ingredients is almost mandatory. What I do know about kimchi is that 'real' kimchi has a lot more of a fishy taste than my recipe does. I bought a bit of kimchi from an Asian supermarket, but nobody here likes the extremely fishy taste, so I'm glad I didn't use much fish sauce.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! I'm sorry for not having the time my blog and everyone reading this deserves. I can only hope to make up for it once I'm free again!

Monday, March 31, 2014

From dieting to candy-overdose...

Look! It's another month of Foodie Penpals! Time just keeps on flying! And I get no less nervous and excited about sending and receiving packages.

This time I got to send a package to the lovely lady over at Corpulent Capers. It was my first time sending a Foodie Penpals parcel to someone who didn't want sweets, so I was a bit nervous about how things would go. But turns out she totally loved the (black) Hawaiian salt I sent her! Can I please find a mountain again to scream something along the lines of how awesome I am? I mean: YES! There's no better feeling than sending someone something they like. It's become my monthly dose of self-confidence now!

Then there was a package full of goodies for my monthly dose of calories and foreign food! Christine sent me a parcel full of little things with little notes for me to try. Most of it was gone within a day or two. I mean, look at all that candy! How long would it last for you? I mean, gummy bears are like the best things ever! And I also mean you can never go wrong with caramels that taste like toffee and no words can explain crunchy caramelized almonds in a milka chocolate bar. As in I mean I'd kill to eat that chocolate all over again! (I'm a meaningful person it seems...)

I also got two different types of drinks: a hot and a cold one. I started with the iced tea drink and I was very surprised it worked. I wouldn't have thought putting a teabag in cold water would have much effect. I did put in lots of honey though, as my idea of iced tea has nothing to do with tea. Then, even though the weather is not at all implying we drink hot chocolate anymore, I sneakily had one last night. It's not as chocolaty as home-made hot chocolate, it's very creamy so I was enjoying every sip!

But there was more! These are all things I haven't tried yet though. I can't wait to try the aromas! I wonder if it gives a stronger flavour than the zest and essences I've been using. Oh yes, you can't see on the pictures but I also got a jar of fig jam! I've made quite a few of those last summer, but the one Christine sent me is so much softer than everything I made. I love it! I totally smashed the jar even before I could take a picture of it though. The little bit I managed to save is now sitting in my fridge!

Thank you so much Christine for all the things you sent me this month! And thank you Mrs. from Corpulent Capers for sending me all those lovely e-mails and pictures of socks!! I really enjoyed this month of Foodie Penpals again!

I hope you have a lovely and amazing week!

Anyone in Europe who wants to join this lovely project of sending random bloggers foodie presents? Check this link for more information. I could totally recommend it and I would love to see you there so I can shower you in whatever goodies I can think of!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jaje Dadar (Balinese coconut crêpes)

This weekend I was innocently strolling around the internet went suddenly *BAF* I found myself in the middle of Bali. Where we could be celebrating Nyepi on the 31st of March this year. Nyepi is the Balinese Day of Silence or the start of the Lunar Year of the Balinese calendar. This day, I found out, is truly a day of silence. Four Nyepi rituals are honored: amati geni (no lighting fires or lights), amati karya (no work), amati lelungan (no traveling), and amati lelanguan (no leisure activities). A whole day of fasting and rituals! Actually, Nyepi starts a few days before that with rituals and a parade of "ogoh ogoh" (demonic statues) and continues the day after with two rituals.

I couldn't explain what the festival is like. I have been to Bali, but it wasn't during Nyepi and it's so long ago I don't remember anything in the first place. But we could create a Balinese dish and meditate a bit? It's the closest thing I've got here!

As a Balinese dish I decided to make Jaje Dadar or Kueh Dadar or Kuih Ketayap. Regardless of the name, Jaje Dadar always consists of coconut, crêpes and pandan (leaves.. but don't worry I didn't have those either. There's a way around them!). The recipe possibly has Malaysian rather than Balinese roots, but that shouldn't stop you from making this. Eating these as snacks feels a lot healthier than cake, which I usually make and the coconut makes it tastes a lot fresher. The only thing I regret is not being able to use real 'gula melaka' or palm sugar.

Jaje Dadar
makes 12-15 - inspired by W&W

50 grams dark coconut or palm sugar*
100 grams grated coconut
2-5 tablespoons water

2 eggs
200 grams flour
425-475 ml coconut milk (and/or water or milk)
Few drops of pandan essence** 
pinch of salt and sugar
butter for greasing

1. Start by making the filling: put the sugar and water in a pan on medium fire until the sugar has dissolved. 
2. Add the coconut, stir until coated and keep cooking until the coconut turns dry(-ish) again. Set aside to cool while you make the crepes.
3. Then make the crêpes: add all ingredients together and mix. Press through a sieve to get rid of lumps if you have any. The crepe mix should be very runny.
4. Make crepes the way you would usually make crêpes or pancakes. Try to make them as thin as possible! Bake for a few minutes on each side until ready and leave to cool.
5. Now put them together! This part is fun to explain: place a spoon or 2-3 of coconut on a crêpe. Let's say, just below the middle. Fold 3 sides inside over the coconut (bottom first, then left and right), leaving one long side for rolling. Now roll.
6. Best eaten immediately! But can be stored in the fridge for several days. Just heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften the crêpe.

* Or light palm sugar. You might've noticed I cheated on this one!
** You can substitute with vanilla, but it won't taste the same. Like, far from, but it will still be pretty good!

So, what do you think? It's a lovely flower, right? Oh, you were busy reading the recipe? You got distracted by the overwhelming amount of (untraditionally white) coconut inside a crêpe? Or did you get stuck at my attempt to describe how to fold a crêpe? Perhaps this part needs another one of my amazing drawings to clear things up! 

Anyway, take care and till next time! Enjoy your week! (On a side note: someone please do my homework for me! It's too much to take! D:)
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