Saturday, November 8, 2014

Flour (Part I) - The final ingrediënt

So I’ve touched on butter, sugar, eggs and milk. We’ve almost got a full (Quarter) Pound Cake. We’re just missing one very important and essential ingredient: flour. Which baked good doesn’t use flour? Honestly. This stuff is important and you know it.

Components of flour
First if all, what IS flour? To understand the purpose of flour it’s crucial to know where it comes from. Flour is milled from grains such as wheat. The wheat grains are made up of several layers:
 - Endosperm. The center of the grain. It contains starch, protein, carbohydrates and small amount of oil.
- Brain (bran). The outer husk of the grain. Contains mostly fiber, but also adds texture and colour to flour.
 - Germ. The reproductive epicenter of the grain. It contains the most nutrients. Flours with germ are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It also contains a small amount of fat.
All flours contain the endosperm. Quite frankly, most (white) flours only contain this part. The bran and germ are found in whole wheat flours.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rest of the world in my oven: Sauces & condiments

After all the beverages I wanted to share some condiments. Heaven knows where I got the idea, but I wanted to try making some classic sauces myself - mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup just to name a few. How did it go?

The home made Mustard was the greatest success - soooo easy! I was really surprised by how well it turned out. I completely nailed the Sweet & sour chilli sauce as well - they're a weekly request now! (come to think of it - my mom eats a whole jar of sauce per week?!) The only thing I couldn't do was mayonnaise. Why is that so hard? It turned out as a solid oil which was completely inedible. Do you think you can do it better?

Thank you so much to all the lovely bloggers who let me share their posts! I wish I could taste all of your amazing recipes, but they're on my list now and I'm sure they'll find a way into my kitchen soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Busines & birthdays~ (scroll down to see the cake!)

Oh life is so hectic again. Every time I have to put my blog in second place a part of me screams and shouts and halfway dies. On top of that - right now is the most blog-worthy time of the year! Halloween is coming up and I just love the whole theme of pumpkins, bats, spiders & vampires and so on.. It's a pity we don't celebrate it here.

AND it's ALMOST Christmas! Thinking of that literally gives me a near heart attack - that's how excited I am! I feel like a little kid on Christmas eve just DYING to open presents, but I've still got so so sooo long to wait!!

While I'm waiting for Christmas, I'm waking up every morning at 5 to go to work and coming home at 7 in the evening again. I give myself some time to eat and rest, and then it's off to bed otherwise I won't be able to make the crazy time schedule I suddenly have. (That picture was from when the sun just came up at 6 in the morning - there's none of that happening anymore now!) Blogging has suddenly become a luxury like never before...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An unexpected combo - Pumpkin bread

Not everything in life goes as planned. 

I really wanted to write something on another sauce or condiment - I had my mom's killer-pesto in mind which she serves almost every weekend now. And I wanted to rant about Oktoberfest, through a recipe of the famous German pretzels. But my final batch pretzels failed since I was too busy to pay attention and as for the pesto - we simply ate it.

Which kind of left me writing about something that may not have been my intention but is currently all over my mind - Pumpkins. PUMPKINS! It's autumn: I must bake with pumpkins!! It's been colder for a while now, but finally the feeling hit me: it's autumn, we're heading into winter, it's nearly Christmas. I tried to explain it to my mom. She just looked at me funny. I tried explaining it again:


Sunday, September 28, 2014

5-Minute Mustard (roughly.)

Delicious, home-made and done in 5 minutes. Oh, and not to forget extremely easy, versatile and delicious. Did I mention delicious? Or that it's home-made and you're in total control of all the yummy stuff you put into it? And that it's extremely easy and done in only 5 minutes?

Wait, did I mention it was mustard?

You would not believe how easy it is to make mustard. Nor will you believe how good it tastes. Quite frankly, I hope you won't read anything of all the rants I usually rant and just run to your kitchen to try it out. You've got nothing to loose here.

I really wanted to try it myself, so I compiled a perfect recipe and set to work. After it was done I asked my mom for an evaluation, but all I got was "Woah, it's good!". And then after I asked if it needed salt or sugar: "Yes, it's good". And then after I explained it might need more salt or sugar the answer was "Mhm, it's good. Oh no, no more salt, it's good". So far the helpfulness of parents, but on the bright side the mustard appears to be good! (I told you this already right?)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thai sweet&sour chilli sauce (Nam jim priu wan)

Sweet and sour chili sauce is unmistakably intertwined with the Asian cuisine and is at least as popular all over the world, as it is in Asia. The sauce is used in a number of different ways and there are hundreds of different recipes out there. Very basically there are two different sweet and sour sauces: one used in cooking (like for wok, or as chicken rub) and one used as a dipping-sauce.

I made this last version - a sweet and sour, spicy dipping sauce. I love this with spring rolls or fried chicken, but you can use this like anyone would use mayonnaise or ketchup. I've seen my mom dip it into the strangest things. Like, really, THE strangest things. (not kidding!)

And now after a big family bbq I've got half the family requesting the sauce. It's like everyone's favourite sauce. Perhaps it's time I start making these in bulk, rather than a new bottle every single week. Honestly, I think I should start a factory...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Power of Eggs

Wauw, it's been a while hasn't it? And technically it's not even the first Thursday of the month, but I've been gathering more and more information and I'm dying to share it! So, wanna know what I found out about eggs?
Fresh eggs straight from our backyard!

Monday, September 8, 2014

American Ketchup from China

I really, really really really really, wanted to start a series on 5 famous sauces with mayonnaise. Perhaps it's not a staple sauce where you are, but over here practically everything is served with mayonnaise. We don't go for ketchup, we do mayonnaise. But for the life of me, I swear, I suck at making mayonnaise. I've made 3 batches. I tested different oils, different recipes and the consistency was perfect!

But the flavour was beyond horrid. It was like eating pure oil in a more solid state. It was inedible. But technically mayonnaise IS oil, so perhaps I did it all right and we're just not used to eating mayonnaise here anymore? (because actually, we never do.)

Is there anyone out there that can make mayonnaise? What kind of recipe do you use? And honestly: do you think I'm hopeless or just turned weird? Because I'd love to know..

Anyway, because of my lack of mayonnaise I just skipped straight to ketchup. Which is only one of the worlds most famous sauces ever and anywhere. It's made of tomatoes, so it's practically healthy as well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Rest of the World in My Oven: Beverages

Recently I made a roundup posts of all the beverages I've been sharing. I was actually quite shocked there were only 7. I've been researching and testing so many drinks - how did I end up posting only seven recipes? Since I don't have the time and space to 'travel' the whole world all by myself (I want to do so many more things than just beverages!) I had some bloggers help me - sort of. Basically I just demanded they let me steal their recipes to share here.

Thank you so much to all the bloggers who let me share their posts! I wish I could taste all of your amazing recipes, but they're on my list now and I'm sure they'll find a way into my kitchen soon!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The World in my Oven: 7 traditional drinks (Round-up!)

I'm finally ready for the round-up! I've been writing about beverages from all around the world for over a month now - and I only managed to try seven?!! It felt like so much more. I seriously feel like I'm missing something, but no, it was just seven. I hope you enjoy the few beverages I collected for you!

I really enjoyed making the series and I'll definitely continue with these kind of series. It makes more sense somehow - I can predict what I'm going to be researching next myself! Plus that way I can compare the different dishes from all over the world. (Although admittedly 7 drinks is not enough to say anything about different foodcultures across the continents) Anyway, I already have a 'theme' for the upcoming month: from next week on we'll have several weeks to get saucy!! (oh, such a bad pun, such a bad pun..)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Japanese iced tea (No sugar involved)

I've been talking about different types of drink for slightly over a month now (I really enjoyed it, did you?). And now the end of this series is drawing - no, correction, it's right here in this post.  In the previous post I shared not just one, but two whole recipe from America. And now I'm kind of cheating - this is the exact same recipe. Without sugar.

But honestly, Japan has such a rich history of tea and a tradition of drinking unsweetened iced tea in summer, I had to mention them separately. Another big difference lies in the tea - Japanese iced tea is more likely to contain green tea or oolong, whereas American iced teas are more often (also) made of black tea. Also, the recipes from Japanese iced tea ask for leaf tea in contrast to the tea bags that many American iced tea recipes use. In the end these difference result in a completely different drink.

Friday, July 25, 2014

American Iced Tea - 2 methods, 3 steps and 5 tips!

What's the one-stop, 100% summer drink for you? I'm pretty sure lots of people will go for iced tea. I know it one of my favourites! There's nothing that says summer like a glass filled with ice cubes, drizzled with tea and topped with lemon with a sprig of mint to the side. But that might just be my opinion..

The history of iced tea is unknown: it seems to be one of those things that turned up and was all over the place. Some recipes date back to 1861 and 1877, while some claim that iced tea wasn't invented until the 1904 World Fair. - I wish I had been there. At the 1904 World Fair foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, ice-cream waffles and iced tea were 'first' introduced to the world. All the newest technology (like an automated type-setter! Can you imagine?) could be found in a 15 by 15 km Fair in Louisiana. It sounds so amazing! I wish we still had World Fairs today.. (or at least Food Fairs!)

But let's focus on iced tea. One of the things that really surprised me about the iced tea is this: the recipes for iced tea haven't changed at all! I mean, a recipe from 1877 is the same as a recipe you fill find on the internet right now. For most recipes you will find a shift in the ingredients: less sugar, less salt or less fat (most of them were needed for preservation reasons). But iced tea remains the same - with only 3 ingredients perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lebanese Ahweh Bayda (white coffee)

Wauw, how long has it been since my last post? Please don't go check - it's too long ago! You'd think with all this vacation going on I'd have all the time in the world! In the meanwhile I'm close to the end of my drinks-around-the-world series (I can't wait to summon it all up in 1 post!). We've covered quite a bit of the world by now, but we're not there yet. I've got two more drinks to go! Today I want to share a Lebanese tradition: white coffee.

The Lebanese white coffee has nothing to do with coffee. It's name probably comes from the fact that it is served in stead of coffee for those who don't like actual coffee. It is usually served after a meal or during any sort of get-together. The soothing beverage is known to relieve stomach aches and facilitate digestion. And it comes in those cute and colourful Turkish style coffee cups (except that in my case it doesn't). Sounds pretty good right?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Turkish summer drink - Ayran

Ah, vacation. Don't you just love it when you get to relax 24/7? You'll get to cook up dishes whenever you want -you have the time for it now!-, take pictures at any point in time and take forever to make them and you have all the time in the world to find out how to put conditionals in your html (although I don't think time can save me there) and then 'suddenly' you find yourself in a country of 35 degrees Celsius (a lot of Fahrenheit I tell you!) and your brain turns to pulp and your body into a sack of potatoes and you're stuck...

And I didn't know what to tell you about Ayran. Or about my vacation. Or life in general. So I did what any person struck by heat would do: do research on the history of the drink and spend hours and hours on end figuring out the difference between things in which there IS no difference and end up ranting a full page full. That's sanity for you right there.

Ayran is a Turkish national drink (like all over the place, super-famous sorts of national) - roughly the same as the Persian/Iranian 'Doogh', the Arabian 'Laban', the Armanian 'Tahn' and the Kurdish 'Mastaw'. And a distant cousin of drinks as the Indian Lassi, the Mongolian Kumis (fermented drink from horse milk), the Indian Majiga or Moru (spiced buttermilks) and Kefir (fermented milk drink much like buttermilk). The summer drink is basically a salted mix of yogurt and water. You'll find it in Turkey and the surrounding countries especially on hot summer days as it's very refreshing - I can tell you from experience! It's most often served during dinner, no, it's served at almost every meal and people will still drink it during the day as well. It beats the heat way better than water.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In search of the Real Milkshake

Milkshakes are funny things. I mean it! I thought I knew what a milkshake was, until I found out that milkshakes apparently contain ice cream. And then when I actually looked into milkshakes, I found out that even that was wrong. You'll know what I mean if you take a look at the history of milkshakes:

(from The Food Timeline):
1982: "Milk shake also appeared in the late 1880s, but the term then usually meant a sturdy, healthful egg nog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat."
1999: "When the term first appeared in print in 1885, milk shakes may have contained whiskey of some kind, but by the turn of the century they were considered wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups."
2002: "Milkshake can be made of any flavor, but vanilla and chocolate are the most desirable flavors. This catalog included a milkshake recipe, which instructed the dispenser to fill a tumbler half-full of shaved ice, add 1.5 ounces of syrup, finish filling the glass with milk, and shake well. For a little extra punch, the recipe said to add port wine."

and from Wikipedia:
2014: "A milkshake is a sweet, cold beverage which is usually made from milk, ice cream, or iced milk, and flavorings or sweeteners such as butterscotch, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or fruit syrup."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

That Real Greek Frappé (φραπές)

On request of my mom an authentic Greek recipe: Frappé. You'll find this refreshingly cool drink in every café in Greece - and there are a lot of cafés in Greece. You'll also find that not only it is served everywhere, it is also consumed everywhere, by everyone, no exceptions. It's a Greek staple summer drink without a doubt. (The word frappé, funnily enough, comes from the French.)

Frappé is a foam-covered, iced coffee drink made from instant coffee. It's usually served in tall glasses, with ice cubes, usually with the addition of sugar and condensed milk. Oh, and a straw (preferably black or white) to make it fancy. Plus you'd be drinking the foam if you don't have one. And lastly, with a glass of water to the side. (for the aftertaste and because coffee dehydrates you). In Greece glass of water is always served for free in every restaurant or café, regardless of you ordering coffee.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Indian Mango Lassi

So, in the end I had to abandon my blog for another whole week, but now, now finally, I handed in my thesis!!! That's the end of it. Not even going to look back again. It's all just waiting for the grade now.

I took one day to celebrate. I sat back, did nothing and let my boyfriend take me out for dinner that night. And now I've found another place that needs work: my blog. Where is all the creative energy I had a month ago? Just to get back into things I'm going to start with a little project: I'm going to be making a series on drinks from all over the world. Are you with me?

Let's start in India (because we can), where they invented the lassi. Lassi is a yoghurt-based drink. It can be either sweet or salty. There are several common flavours, such as mango, plain sweet or salty and rosewater, but the possibilities are endless. In India, people drink lassis mostly in summer to beat the heat. For that reason it's quite important to serve them chilled. They taste better that way as well.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Substituting syrups

Last week I shared two recipes for Sweetened condensed milk, which is used in a lot of Asian recipes. On the other side of the map there's also plenty of ingredients that aren't available here. Think of American recipes: you'll suddenly find yourself needing shortening, pumpkin pie filling, a can of frosting, gingerbread oreos or peanut butter&jelly ice-cream. And sometimes you need syrup. You'd be amazed at how many syrups exist: maple syrup, golden syrup, corn syrup, light syrups and dark syrups. Syrup syrup syrup, I could go on.

As close as England they sell most of these syrups, but here in my tiny, wet and windy country they're not available! (aww, we're such poor people) And then comes the inevitable: you have to make it yourself. Or just quit baking.

Below, you'll see 3 different kinds of syrups. After each recipe you'll find a bit of ranting on the recipes itself or the use of the syrup. Here's all of them explained really short:
(Simple/Plain) Sugar syrup - most versatile recipe. The thickness can range from runny (used for drinks) to very thick (used in some sweets)
Golden syrup - A byproduct of sugar that got a life of it's own. Store-bought versions can vary greatly in taste and thickness depending on the sort of sugar and processing used. The substitute is a caramelized, slightly lemony, simple syrup
Maple syrup - originally tapped from maple trees and then boiled to a syrup. The substitute is made from sugar, but comes as close as possible in terms of flavour

!! Remember these are all substitutes and they can differ from the store-bought versions!!
They will not differ in texture (because you control this part) and only slightly in the effect they have in baked goods (in the end its all sugar, it will do what sugar does).

(Simple/Plain) Sugar syrup
about 500 ml - by Keuken Liefde

250 grams sugar
300 ml water
zest of 1 (small) lemon

1. Put all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
2. Reduce the heat so the syrup only just keeps boiling and leave to boil for another 20-30 minutes. The idea is to thicken the syrup: this process can take up to an hour depending on things like how high the heat is. *
3. As soon as the syrup has reduced to half, take off the heat and pour into a jar.

* Simple syrup used in drinks is not thickened. You can skip step 2 completely if you need the runny kind of syrup.

Despite how simple this recipe is, I feel it needs a little explaining and honestly I have no idea where to start. Basically, you'll find lots of recipes for 'Simple syrup' all over the internet, none of which require the syrup to be reduced to half. This is because the (flavoured) Simple syrup is most often used in drinks such as cocktails or iced tea. However, there is also a thick version: let's call it Plain Sugar syrup. I've seen this thick, barely pourable (think honey) kind of syrup used only twice: in several Dutch "breakfast cake" recipes and in a Turkish treat which is like a cross between baklava and churros.

With the option to reduce the syrup to half or leaving it slightly runny, this recipe is very versatile. Substitute the water for any kind of juice, flavoured water or even tea or coffee. Or substitute the lemon for any kind of flavourings or spices. This leaves you with an endless variety of syrups to use in drinks, cakes and onto your pancakes. Depending on how thick you need the syrup, leave to reduce to half, three-quarters or not at all.

Golden syrup
1/2-1 cup -inspired by Christines Recipes and TWRK

400 grams sugar *
200 ml water
3 tablespoons to half a lemon juice

1. Put the sugar into a pan with 2 tablespoons of the water. Bring to a boil and then caramelize over medium to low heat. This is the tricky part: you want a lovely caramel colour: anything too light will be too sweet and anything too dark will turn bitter.
2. In the meanwhile boil the water - or just measure another 200 ml in boiling water.
3. Once the sugar has caramelized add the boiling water and lemon juice.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium so it keeps boiling that tiny little bit, and leave on the fire for another 20-30 minutes.
5. Test if the golden syrup is 'syrupy' enough by dripping a bit on a cold spoon. Hot syrups are always runny, but once it's cooled down you should notice it has the honey-like consistency of syrup. If it turns rockhard on your spoon: add more water and lemon juice. If it's still runny you can choose to keep boiling for another 5 minutes.
6. Pour into a jar and it's ready to use!

* I found using (half) palm sugar here enhances the depth of the flavour and the caramel colour.

This recipe looks a lot longer, but it really is the same thing as Plain Sugar Syrup, the difference being the caramelizing of the sugar. You really need to watch this process! I have quite a powerful stove and the whole caramelizing thing has gone wrong way too often. If you have troubles with it as well: I found a non-stick frying pan gives the best results. And some extra bags of sugar along with endless amounts of patience. Does that help any? (Also, using a darker sugar will make it look lots more carmalized, shhh!)

Vanilla (/Maple) syrup
about 750 ml - as seen by Lucynda, onegoodthing and WikiHow

1 cup regular sugar
1 cup light or dark sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon maple or vanilla essence

1. Bring the water to a boil.
2. Add the sugar and keep boiling and stirring until everything is dissolved.
3. Take off the fire and stir in the maple or vanilla.
4. Pour into a jar and leave to cool.*

* I couldn't make this simpler. No wait: Boil, stir, jar & cool. Level of easyness: 100%.

There are several (more complicated) recipes out there. Mel's Kitchencafe has a promising recipe with honey, but as it yields 10 cups, I haven't gotten around to trying it. I have tried this recipe, which caramelizes the sugar and adds butter and I think it's especially good for pancakes. The Vanilla (/Maple) syrup recipe above, however, is the easiest one I could find. It doesn't need to be stored in the fridge and will keep for a very long time. As do the other two syrups.

I've used up almost all my syrups already (why do you think you're looking at spoons and not entire bottles?), so I can tell you that each and every one of them work in baked goods. They may not be exact copies, but when you incorporate it with other ingredients, these taste just as fabulous. I promise.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sweetened condensed milk & substitutes

Over the past months I've been compiling little bits of work and recipes from all over the world, and realized something vitally important: I'm missing ingredients. Remember the Kimchi I made? Traditionally kimchi is made with Korean pepper flakes (Gochugaru), which I could not for the life of me find anywhere this country (for as far as I looked). Substituting this with different pepper flakes or powder was easy enough. But sometimes substituting just doesn't work. So I decided to make the missing ingredients myself. Why not?

Sweetened condensed milk vs. evaporated milk. Since neither of these products are common here, I've always had trouble figuring out what they were. Now, after some research and tasting, I can safely tell you that sweetened condensed milk is sweet, thick and has a very full almost buttery flavour. Evaporated milk is just concentrated milk, so it's much runnier and much less sweet than sweetened condensed milk. Because of the difference in flavour and texture you can't substitute one with the other!

For Evaporated milk roughly 60% of the water in the milk has been evaporated to make a more concentrated version of milk. You can turn evaporated milk into milk again by adding water. (This is not entirely true as the milk is processed in some complex way to extend the shelf-life. Bacteria, but then also some of the nutritional value, are lost when treating the milk.) Evaporated milk often contains added vitamins such as vitamin D. Sweetened condensed milk is roughly the same thing, but contains 40-45% sugar. The sugar extends the shelf-life of the milk without the need for any of the extra processing. It contains more fat and milk solids than evaporated milk.

To make things more complicated again: both are used in desserts and other dishes. Only evaporated milk will sometimes be used in savoury dishes such as mashed potatoes. Since I have no clue how to make evaporated milk (yet!), I'll be focusing on a few recipes for sweetened condensed milk.

Sweetened condensed milk
roughly 1,5 cup - inspired by Kitchen Stewardship and Don't waste the crumbs

1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)*

1. Pour the milk and sugar into a pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved.
2. Lower the heat to keep just a little bit of a rolling boil going on: the water in the milk is supposed to evaporate, but you don't want the milk to burn. Lower the heat even further if necessary, this doesn't effect the process but it will take longer. Overall, this might still take an hour or so.
3. Once the milk has reduced to half of what it was (it will be slightly thicker now), add the butter.
4. Allow the butter to melt, then take the pan off the heat. Stir the vanilla essence into the sweetened condensed milk.
5. Pour into a jar, allow to cool and store in the fridge. If sealed properly, you should be able to keep this in a cool dark place for very long.

* Note that the colour of the vanilla essence will greatly influence the colour of your sweetened condensed milk. I used a dark vanilla essence, which results in a darker cream colour.

Vanilla flavours make things sweeter. We associate the flavour of vanilla with sweets, so adding a bit of vanilla flavour will make something taste sweeter without adding extra sugar. Vanilla is still in no way a substitute for sugar though (just in case you get the wrong idea). Canned sweetened condensed milk rarely, if ever, has vanilla added. In these recipes, it's really just to round the flavour (it goes together so well!) and to increase that feeling of 'sweet milk'.

Obviously, that's still a whole lot of work if you're looking for a quick substitute in a recipe. Especially when you need just a few tablespoons you won't be looking for an hours work and lots of leftovers. So here's a recipe that works for when you're looking for just the substitute. You might want to adjust the amount of butter and sugar depending on the use.

Sweetened condensed milk Substitute
1/2 cup - inspired by Paula, BS Recipes and

1/4 cup powdered milk
1-2 tablespoons sugar *
scant 1 teaspoon butter
2-3 tablespoons milk or water
vanilla essence (optional)

1. Mix the powdered milk and sugar together.
2. Heat the butter with the milk in the microwave until the butter has melted.
3. Mix everything together. Especially for larger quantities a blender might really help.
4. Store in the fridge until needed.

* Any sort of sugar or sweetener will work here. Personally, I love the extra depth of flavour that cane sugar gives.

Other substitutes: sometimes you might want to substitute sweetened condensed milk with something entirely different. It really depends on what you're making, but I've found two things:
Cakes - Substitute with the same quantity in milk, add a bit extra sugar if desired. You wont notice it's missing.
Drinks - A combination of milk, sugar and butter works, but it gives a different flavour and consistency. The butter might float on top of the drink, so omitting this altogether isn't the worst idea.

Wauw, I feel like I've made an 'Oven Info' post without any actual intentions in that direction. It's a nice feeling though: a bit of information on a product, along with some practical recipes on how to make it yourself. It's also a whole lot of text, so let's end it quickly! Ruuuunnn!!!
I hope you found these recipes useful and you'll be able to enjoy new recipes using these home-made ingredients/substitutions!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Almond cake with fresh fruit & custard

It's been a few days since my birthday, but I still wanted to share the cakes I made. Monday I'm planning on getting back to traveling the world again!
Anyway, to balance the warm flavours of the Amarettini Cheery  (No-bake) Cheesecake (wauw, that's a whole lot of name right there) I decided to add a very fruity cake as well. I've always been curious to try a cake with fruit on top and one of those jelly layers that prevent the fruit from discolouring and drying out.

Now that I've finally done that: 'New Skill Acquired!', 'Plan successful!' and 'Achievement earned'. Ah, my life would be so brilliant if I as inside a game. Imagine every course at school being a new quest and ending in newly acquired skills, bags of gold and endless fame&glory! Or every household chore would increase the reputation with members of the family. I'm not sure if non-gamers can follow this, but take it from me, it'd be amazing.  I think especially moms would love getting credit for their work for once.

Oh yes, but back to that cake. Personally, I think this fruity cake suited the warm weather much better than the cherry-cake. On hot summer days I prefer something fresh&fruity and this cake was exactly that!

Almond cake with fresh fruit & custard
24 cm/9" cake - adjusted from Het Superdikke Taartenboek

3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
90 grams sugar
60 grams flour
60 grams almond flour *
1 teaspoon baking powder

200 ml milk
2-4 tablespoons (vanilla) sugar
2 teaspoons custard
250 grams Greek or other thick yoghurt

1 can tropical (or other) fruit in syrup
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder **

1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
2. Beat the egg whites with the water and salt until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until the egg whites turn stiff and, lastly, add the egg yolks one by one and whisk until fully incorporated inbetween.
3. Sift the flours and baking powder over the eggs and stir until just incorporated.
4. Pour the batter in a greased or lined cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven of 175 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes.
5. Whisk the milk, sugar and custard together and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Leave to boil for a few minutes, then set aside to cool.
6. While it's cooling, cut shallow 'valley' to hold the custard in the middle of your cake: about 1 cm from the sides and no more than 1 cm deep. (If you pile the leftover cake up a bit higher in the middle, your cake will look even more like a large pile of fruit!)
7. Add the custard, before it has completely cooled down, to the yoghurt and mix well. Pour this over the cake into your 'valley'.
8. Lastly, top the cake off with the fruit (drain the syrup first). Bring 250 ml of the syrup to a boil with the agar-agar powder. Leave to boil for 1 minute and then take off the heat. Let it cool down a bit, but make sure it doesn't turn to jelly yet!
9. Using a brush, top the cake with the agar-agar (you can eat anything you have left). This way the fruit stays fresh longer and it gives the cake a nice shine!
10. Store in the fridge until you're ready to serve or serve it straight away.

* You can make this yourself by finely grinding 200 grams almonds in a kitchen processor.
** Agar-agar can be substituted with gelatine or jelly in package. 

This cake works a lot better if you keep storing it in the fridge in between every step. The custard and agar-agar will set slightly faster and the whole cake will stay fresh longer. If you plan on keeping the cake for longer than 1 day, I'd recommend adding an extra layer: add a layer of gelatine, agar-agar or jelly between the cake and the custard. This will prevent the cake from getting soft and soppy. Since I knew I'd be keeping the cake overnight I added the extra layer and it worked perfectly as planned!

Yes, that was it for this week. I'm going to be doing less typing today and more actual baking today! I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The perfect balance between sweet and savoury...

Another month has passed! Writing a Foodie Penpals post every month makes me realize how fast times flies. Every month after month again...  I must be getting old. Luckily there's a whole lot of people on the project who are getting old with me!

Thank you Dawn and Michelle for taking care of for this month of Foodie Penpals!

Everything I got came all the way from Scotland. Starting (because I finished those first) with hand-made oatcakes. They were exactly my kind of treat: I just love nibbling on crackers while I work (need to nibble to get rid of all the stress!). And these oatcakes were stuffed with lots of different seeds. They were delicious! I nearly felt myself getting healthier with each bite...

Secondly, I checked out a jar with 'Rosemary Jelly'. That is something different altogether. As soon as I opened the jar both of my sisters ran squeeling to the other side of the room. A powerful vinegar smell hit me. But then, when you taste it, it is mostly sweet in flavour. It actually has a perfect balance of sweet and savoury in a jar. With only a little hint of rosemary to top it off. I'm still not sure what to use it for though. Does this kind of thing go with cheese? On bread or toast? Do you eat it with meat? I'm afraid that this time I can't depend on my sisters to find out.

Oh, and then the sweet stuff: a chocolate lollipop, seriously buttery shortbread and 'Fruit Nuggets'. The latter especially surprised me. I had no clue what to expect, but they're tiny tiny little candies with a fruity flavour. I still haven't decided whether they feel healthy or just very yummy. They're all gone now, so we'll never know!

I hope everyone has an amazingly and lovely, somehow surprising or somewhat astonishing week! 

Do you live in Europe and wants to join the lovely Foodie Penpal 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!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Amarettini Cherry (No-bake) Cheesecake

I hope this counts as a cheesecake by cheesecake-eating-countries.The Dutch idea of 'cheesecake' is always no-bake (unless someone's gone mad) and always involves yoghurt or quark rather than young cheeses (unless they get creative in which its a combination, but never cheese alone). Which leaves me with a very confused notion of what Cheesecake really is. In this post 'cheese'-cake means 'yoghurt&gelatine'-cake, I thought I'd let you know. We're doing it the Dutch way.

Actually, I didn't even really start on cheesecakes in other parts of the world -like the Japanese one which is more a soufflé, or the Swedish one which is eaten warm with jam, or the Polish one which is more like a pie. Ah, now I just wish I could make them all to see which country is the best at making cheesecake. We could vote for it.

Anyway, this one is Dutch. Made by the Dutch, tested by the Dutch, made using Dutch methods, but nothing at all like a traditionally Dutch cheesecake and with barely any Dutch ingredients. I know, it's not completely my style, but if you look at it (I mean just LOOK at it), you'll know why I had to make it for the birthday party we had last weekend. I just knew my family would enjoy it! (And honestly who would not?)

Amarettini Cherry (No-bake) Cheesecake
26cm/10" cake - adjusted from Het Superdikke Taartenboek

80 grams butter
75 grams sugar
2 bags vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
200 grams almond flour *
2 teaspoons baking powder
70 grams Amarettini di Saronno

8 gelatine leaves **
500 ml vanilla yoghurt
75 grams mascarpone
300 ml (whipping) cream
50 grams powdered sugar

2 cans cherries in syrup or jelly
extra almonds, amarettini or sugar pearls for decoration

1. Separate the eggs into yolks and egg whites.
2. Cream the butter with the sugars and salt. Add the egg yolks and mix again.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
4. Sift the almond flour with the baking powder over the butter mixture. Stir until just combined. Add the egg whites and mix again.
5. Pour the batter into a greased or lined cake pan. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes on 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Leave the cake to cool.
7. Once cooled, make the "cheese"-part of the cake. Start by soaking the gelatine leaves.
8. Measure and mix all other ingredients (yoghurt, mascarpone, cream and sugar).
9. Melt the gelatine leaves over a low fire. Once melted, add a spoon of the yoghurt-mix and stir. Do this another three times and then pour the gelatine into the yoghurt and mix well. (If you don't 'dilute' the gelatine first, it will set as soon as it touches the yoghurt and you will get a few gelatine strands into a bowl of yoghurt that will never set.)
10. Pour everything over the cake and leave in the fridge until firm. This should take at least one hour, but can take up to 4 hours.
11. Once the cake is set and you are ready to serve, top with cherries and decorate and serve straight away! (If you do this too early, the 'cheese' will turn purple-blue from the cherries, tastes the same but doesn't look as good!)

* You can make this yourself by grinding 200 grams almonds in a kitchen processor.
** Agar-agar is a very nice substitute: you'll need enough for 0,7 liters. According to my agar-agar powder that would be 3 teaspoons.

If you plan on keeping the cake for longer than 1 day, I'd recommend adding a few extra layers. Add a layer of gelatine, agar-agar or jelly between the cake and the 'cheese' (made with cherry juice in this case). This will prevent the cake from getting soaky. If you're using fresh cherries or other fresh fruits, add a layer of jelly on top to prevent them from discolouring or drying out. Plus it gives an awesome shiny effect.

I added so much pictures of this cake it almost feels like I'm showing off. Of course I'm not. Who on earth would show off a cake that combines cheesecake, cherries and amarettini? It's not like it's a combination sent from heaven that begs to be shouted from a mountain, spread around the world, shown off, replicated or perhaps turned into a religion...

"Or is it?"  
- (my sister's famous words, never ask her what happens next in a movie she's seen already)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I want I want I want... Reeses

Today I decided I will rant. A whole post full of me complaining.. are you ready for it? Cuz if you aren't then perhaps you should scroll down all the way to the recipe and read the bits of tekst that come after. So, that ranting. Let's start! *takes a deep breath*

First of all I WANT my thesis to be over. There, I said it. As much as I enjoy working and researching, this one has taken over 8 months now. I've worked on it 24/7, 7 days a week without vacations although admittedly I took some off during Christmas (I need to stay sane). And I only have 120 pages to show for it. A whole lot of pages which I'm proud of though. Just one more month to go. I want that month to be over. How about finish before my birthday? That'd be nice. Thank you.

Secondly, I WANT to loose weight. There. I said it, I've been gaining some lately. I blame it on the stress. A lot of working behind the pc, a lot of deadlines which in my case is equal to a lot of eating. And tons of tea. Also I've been 'dieting', which means I'm eating a lot more fruit and more whole foods, like my superhealthy muesli bars (this needs to be posted one day). I realized a bit too late that when it's 1 bit of chocolate vs. 3 banana's, banana's still win in terms of calories. That's just my luck.

Lastly, I WANT to work on my blog. Gosh, I want it so badly. For some reason I'm bubbling with lots of ideas. I want to change things about the lay-out and little addons. I want to figure out how to make my own website (from scratch!). I want to learn how to use facebook or twitter. I want to learn how to make video-recipes. I want to scavenge the internet and find new recipes, new blogs and people to connect to. I want to do little series of recipes. I want to make more Oven-Info's, including some information on countries and their food. I want to finally wrap up all those unfinished projects I have. I want to post on Mondays, actually, for one. But I'm stuck: a little pot of boiling ideas that needs to keep the lid on because it's not time for dinner yet. I'm going to be feasting as soon as my thesis is done.

For a little at least. Because after that, there's an apprenticeship coming up (Oh, the life of a student is so tough). And after that I'll be working I suppose. How DO you guys find the time to blog?

Okay, now I'm done. Let's share something recipe-y to lift the spirits, ok?

never enough - inspired by TheSweet{Tooth}Life and New York

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2/3 cup biscuit or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 cups dark, milk or even white chocolate 
4 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)*  

1. Put the peanut butter and coconut oil in a bowl. Heat them in the microwave until the coconut oil has melted. 
2. Add the vanilla, crumbs and powdered sugar to the peanut butter and mix everything together. Then set aside. 
3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler . Once it's melted, pour it into a squeeze bottle or piping bag (because it's so much easier)
4. Now make the Reeses: layer the bottom of a mini cupcake liner with chocolate. Put a bit of peanut butter on top (try not to touch the sides!). Then fill the rest of the cupcake liner with chocolate.
5. Leave in the fridge (covered!) to set. 

* Makes the chocolate softer and less prone to 'chocolate bloom'.

How's that for lifting the spirits? If peanut butter and chocolate can't do it, you're a lost case. Really.

Now a little bit on the history of Reeses: Reeses were named after their inventor H. B. Reese (like every proper invention). They're barely 86 years old now and nearly instantly became popular. Nowadays you find them in millions of variations in several countries. It's so popular in fact, I dare say it counts as traditional somewhere in the direction of America and/or Canada.

A little note: if you do not want to use mini-cupcake liners, or don't have any: make Reeses Bonbons! Put the peanut butter-mix in the fridge for a while, shape into little balls or whatever shapes you like and freeze them for 10-20 minutes. Then dip them in chocolate. I haven't done it myself, but I'm 100% sure it will work. You'll end up with a bit more peanut butter than chocolate though. Unless you're patient enough to make multiple layers of chocolate...

Thanks for listening to the rant! (Just smile and wave) In stressful times like these it's nice to be able to rant somewhere... to follow it all up by lots of chocolate so we can start all happy again the next day. I hope it'll work for you too! And I hope you have a lovely week!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Catching up with April & a New addition

I'm home again after my little vacation in Belgium! As soon as I came home I went to check if my package for Foodie Penpals arrived. There it was: among the mountain of mail that stacked up in barely 5 days. Sabine from Germany sent me a whole box full of chocolate: chocolate cookies, chocolate cookies, chocolate bar, chocolate bonbons and more chocolates!

Since I just came back from Belgium - the country of bonbons - I didn't dig in straight away so I have no clue what anything tastes like yet! (Except for the Milka and Ferrero Rocher. I'm certain not knowing these is a crime) But it's all chocolate and one can never, ever, ever go wrong with chocolate! (Not even when they've all melted a bit, as you can see on the next picture)

Thank you so much Sabine for taking care of me this month!
Sabine doesn't have a blog for me to refer to, but you can find her right here on Twitter. Of course I didn't just recieve goodies, I also got to send some! I had the honour of sending Zoe a package filled with Dutch Easter breakfast,brunch&lunch thinggies and she said she loved it so far! (Ah, I can nearly feel myself beaming. Love it!)  
Thank you so much for being my Foodie Penpals-partner this month Zoe!

- Ooh, can I show off my new stuff now? Among the mail was also a package with some little trinkets for me to add to my camera tools! First, I got a 5-in-1 multidisc light reflector which is going to be so much fun to play with. But most importantly I got a set of close-up filters! They're tiny little magnifying lenses that I can attach to the lens that's already on my camera. I have wanted a macro lens for so long, but I don't seem to get any richer, so these magnifying filters are perfect for those detailed close-ups until maybe, hopefully and probably one day I'll own one of those macro lenses. Look at what it can do!

Amazing right? At first I struggled with getting the focus right until I realized I had to put my lens practically on top of what I'm photographing. I just love it. Now I can finally take pictures of the morning dew (or sprayed water) on grapes and the lines in a white chocolate bonbon -from my package- with everything else going blurry (also called bokeh). From now on I'll only show you the crumbs on the cakes I make!

Thank you for following my rantings again! I'm going to be back very soon with recipes and a post on Belgium and it's food and hopefully I will be able to replicate some of the deliciously spiced 'printen' they're so good at!  I hope you have a very lovely week! (you know, what's left of it...)

Do you live in Europe and wants to join the lovely Foodie Penpal 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!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I finally get a tiny and well deserved (I like to think) vacation! But that means that this week I won't be able to post any recipes, rant about festivities or traditions nor will I be able to post anything for Foodie Penpals. I haven't received my package yet, so I'll post something as soon as I do! (and as soon as I get home again...)

So, in the meanwhile, enjoy this picture of Belgium.  (It's green, its grassy and foresty and really pretty, with LOADS of daisies and dandelions. But also loads of bad weather; that's just our luck really.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tsoureki - τσουρέκι

While everyone is out and about for Easter, I'm chained to my laptop pretending to do homework, while in reality messing around with Photoshop. Okay, it's not really all that bad. For one, I have two whole Tsoureki's in this house. It's one of the most fragrant breads I've ever made or seen or tasted. Admittedly it's not a versatile bread: it's sweet so all you can really put on it is sugar or Nutella. But the smell and that soft taste, it makes up for everything.

You might not have any mahlepi (it's a spice, made from ground St. Lucie cherry seeds) anywhere in your house or even know where to find it. I have the luxury of my other half living on the Greekish side of the world so I can always beg him to send me some. Traditionally the fragrant mahlepi is used in Tsoureki. However, vanilla is a popular flavour for tsoureki even in Greece. So we can totally get away with our lack of mahlepi!

1 loaf - adapted from Bread

450-500 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoon dried yeast (7 grams)
zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons mahlepi *
175 ml milk
50 grams butter
40 grams sugar
2 eggs

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon water

1. Combine all the dry ingredients. Put them into a bread machine pan with the milk.
2. Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly mixed.
3. Add the butter to the bread machine pan and turn it on dough setting. (Alternatively, knead the bread by hand for 10-15 minutes until elastic. Since the bread is very sticky, you might have some troubles with this. Keep kneading until it stops sticking and use more flour if needed.) Leave to rise for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
4. Once the dough has risen, knead again for a few minutes to get rid of the large air pockets. Place back in a bowl or bread pan and leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
5. Gently knead the dough to get rid of the air again. Divide into three equal pieces (a weighing scale helps!). Shape every piece into a long cylinder and braid them together. To make the ends look prettier you can fold the ends under the bread. Place the bread on a baking sheet, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour.
6. Prepare the egg wash by mixing the egg yolk with honey and water.
7. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Once risen, place the bread in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Brush the bread with the egg wash in the last 10 minutes of baking to give it a nice shine.
8. Leave to cool before serving.

* Can be substituted with anise, cinnamon or cardamom (or combination). Vanilla and mastic flavoured Tsoureki are also common in Greece.

Funnily enough there is a Greek Christmas bread 'Vasilopita' which also uses mahlepi. It makes me wonder whether using the same, or at least a very similar, bread for both Easter and Christmas is some sort of universal truth.

Coloured Eggs
Traditionally, Tsoureki has red eggs 'braided' into the bread. Place about 3 red eggs on top of the bread at step 5, before leaving it to rise.

3 eggs
1 scant tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon red foodcolouring
(olive) oil

1. Boil the eggs slowly on medium or even low heat for 10 minutes. The water can boil lightly, but make sure your eggs don't break!
2. Mix the vinegar with the foodcolouring.
3. After 10 minutes, place the eggs on a wire rack. Don't leave them to cool, but the water needs to evaporate. Roll them into food colouring until completely red and then place them back on the rack to cool.
4. Brush lightly with oil before using.

I'm ashamed I don't have a picture of the bread as a whole, as it's quite a beautiful bread to look at, but Tsoureki is braided and decorated red-coloured eggs inbetween the folds. The egg-wash gives it a dark shine and the orange and mahlepi together give a wonderful aroma. I'll have to bake it again to be able to show you! (that's not a bad idea..)

I hope you're having or will have a Very Happy Easter! In case you're not celebrating Easter, I hope you have a very lovely weekend in stead and get to enjoy the weather! (It's looking like Spring here!)

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!