Friday, August 28, 2015

Fresh & Creamy Lemon icing (or frosting)

It's been a hectic 2 weeks with me coming over from Greece back to Holland, preparing and baking for the 4-day Sail event in Amsterdam for roughly 150 people. So I'm a day late with posting and my head is still so full I can barely keep up with anything. Please bear with me while I'm still buzzing.

After those few days of baking, I realized I got one request over and over again - how do you make the lemon icing? The whole family kept stealing spoons of icing, demanding to have the leftover cake or just smearing it on strawberries and eating it as is. Well, fine, here you have it: lemon icing à la Siv!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

No-fuss Fudge Brownies

It's a busy two weeks for me while I run up and down from Holland to Greece and across the Netherlands. But I wouldn't go off without leaving a recipe - and this is one of my favourites.

I mean, who doesn't love chocolate, and who doesn't love brownies?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pickles - in your own flavour!

Now, in the mid-to-end summer season my garden is exploding with cucumbers. They are literally popping out of the ground like daisies! I'm getting roughly 4 cucumbers every day. The small pickling cucumbers are ready as well. So of course you can find me in the kitchen now, dishing up this family favourite pickle recipe.

This recipe is an experiment from me and my mom - the original recipe asked for 2 liters water and roughly 200 grams salt. It was way too salty for our taste and a bit of the vinegar was missing. Although the brining was a lot of fun, we set out to find a different recipe. This vinegar recipe with lots of spices & herbs was spot-on for us!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Dream Cake: Danish Drømmekage

Quite often I feel I should praise the recipes I made. I mean, why would I go through the trouble of making something and sharing it, if I didn't like it? But then again, that was never really the point of my blog. It was really just to show off I could make anything.  The point is to share recipes from all over the world, explore different cultures and learn.

This is one of those recipes that is praised by everyone as wonderful, amazing, orgasmic, The Dream come true. But for me it's one supersweet nightmare. Okay no, it's actually not that bad. I'm exaggerating. The cake has something. It's just not my kind of something.

But really, if you like sweet coconut - look no further! Despite me not liking it, my boyfriend downed it in two days. And he doesn't do that with every cake I make.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Self-raising flour - Make it yourself!

Self-raising flour, also called self-rising flour, is an all-purpose flour with a leavening agent, and occasionally salt, blended into it. It was created to make life easier for bakers. Rising agents are already added to the flour, so you could skip the parts with measuring flour and baking powder, sifting them and blending them together thoroughly. Super handy.

So why would you need a substitute?

Apart from not having it at home when you find a recipe that calls for it, some people choose not to buy it at all. Self-raising flour doesn't keep very long. The baking powder absorbs moisture from the air, affecting the flour and decreasing it's ability to rise. Especially if you don't use self-raising flour very often, it can be beneficial to make your own.

Some people don't have it at hand simply because it's not available. Every country has flour, but self-raising flour doesn't always show up on supermarket-shelves. When a recipe asks for self-rising flour or even self-raising cake flour, it might be handy to know how to make it yourself.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Turrón blando de almendras - Now that sounds fancy

This is one of those recipes that lets you make something super fancy with just a few common ingredients. I've been wanting to try making Turrón ever since I tasted it the first time. I just never did because I thought it would be too difficult. How silly of me.

A 4 ingredient delicacy? Don't mind if I do.

Quite a while ago by now - I went on a trip to Barcelona to visit my sister there. Everywhere you went in Barcelona that could even remotely have something to do with food, would have Turrón. Barcelona, and I believe Spain in general, is proud of it's Turrón.

Traditionally a Christmas desert, you can find it on every corner of the street the whole year through. There are so many different kinds! Some look like nougat, some are fudgy others look more like caramelized nuts or chocolate bars. I mean just look at the different varieties!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Norwegian 'Bløtkake' Birthday cake

I've been on a wee lil' vacation, which is why I'm a day late posting. But no, it wasn't to Norway. Although part of me wishes it had been - Norway looks like such a beautiful country! Anyway - without further ado: Bløtkake aka the Norwegian Birthday cake.

Here's what's make a Bløtkake a bløtkake: a sponge cake in layers, fruits and/or jam and whipped cream. Since it's a birthday cake: you're free to 'customize' it in whatever way you like. There are typically two or three layers of cake, but you can opt for five or more if you like. In between the layers cake you could find jam, fresh fruits or whipped cream or any combination of these three. The cake as a whole is then covered in whipped cream (although I've seen marzipan as well). Lastly, it's decorated with fresh fruits and more whipped cream. Berries seem to be a favourite - especially strawberry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fortune cookies for sister nr. 2

Shocking News: Fortune cookies are 100% Non-Chinese. It was the Americans!

"WHAT!?!" - I know what you're thinking. Why would Americans invent such a thing? Why would anyone invent new food to convey a traditional feeling?

So honestly, it's all the Japanese fault. They started it! Apparently the Japanese had a cookie that was slightly -just a little slightly- similar to the modern fortune cookie. When a few Japanese moved to the U.S. they brought the recipe with them and used it in their restaurants to appeal to the public - which worked. They also included little fortune slips that can be found in temples and shrines in Japan. That still leaves me in awe at the fact that it became a symbol of China.

Although the history of fortune cookies is a bit vague - with so many laying claim to it's origins - and it seems to have been invented by the Japanese (/Americans), fortune cookies were mostly sold to Chinese restaurants. Since they were greeted with so much enthusiasm there, they became a symbol of the Chinese cuisine and China in general.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bibimbap - 비빔밥 for my sister

Do you ever have periods? No, not those! I know what you're thinking. I'm talking about being 'obsessed' with something for a while. Like, at some point I'd only eat breakfast bars for breakfast. At another point, I'd cook Thai food for dinner every single night. There was a while in which I craved instant noodles whole days long. Or I'd suddenly have a coffee obsession. Or I'd be fascinated by Greek bakeries.

You know what I mean right? Ever experienced something similar?

Anyway, the point was: at some point I was fascinated by the Korean cuisine. Which led me to try bibimbap. And to my surprise my sister became obsessed with it - she LOVES the egg in it. Together with the stir-fried vegetables, rice and sesame/soy seasoning it was totally her thing. So I made it more often (I really liked it too).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spiced Bread for my mom

Since I'm no longer home to cook and bake for the family, I occasionally get questions on how to do things when someone feels adventurous enough to make one of my recipes. Or any recipe.

This recipe is for my mom, who loves the spiced baguettes I keep making. They go with any kind of occasion. We've served them on barbeques, fancy dinners and filled them like sandwiches for a lunch. Even my mom's made a few and she's pretty good at it too. She just forgets the recipe.

Don't you dare forget it now!

Friday, May 1, 2015

That one warm day - Iced Coffee Chocolate Parfait

I have a confession. Sort of.
I really don't understand how some (inspiring, wonderful, amazing, etc.) bloggers manage to make posts on dinner. Or even bread. In this house, literally - and I'm not kidding you - things are gone as soon as I make them.

Making a spiced curry loaf? We like them fresh and warm thank you. Finished cooking a thai minced meat salad? We'll eat it straight out of the pan while it's hot. Made a Viennese coffee? Fascinating, we'll have that too. And don't even think of taking pictures of those brownies, because they look - I'm sorry, I didn't see any brownies. What do you mean I ate them?!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thai green sticky rice (Khao Niao Kaew)

Since I've been cooking at home a lot, I realized I was leaning more and more towards Asian cuisine. It's something I can't stop. I simply love cooking anything Asian - even the spicy dishes I can't eat! I'm not sure if I just have the kind of personality that is bound to get along well with Asian culture. Perhaps it has something to do with our family living in Thailand for many years.

This is one of those dishes that brings back memories. I ended up going to a Thai restaurant with my sister and we ordered this desert. It got us pointing and giggling and (very quietly) screaming in delight. We totally knew this flavour!! The rice, pandan and coconut milk just scream Thailand all over. So I made it again at home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Vlaai fillings (also for pies)

There are as many types of vlaai as there are... different types of pencils. different hair-styles. different types of pastry. different colours in the rainbow, different molucule combinations in a single high-pressured valve of chemicals [hypothetically speaking]. You get my point right? So I wouldn't be able to do you any just by just giving you one recipe. I want to give you the recipe as shown on the pictures and two popular fillings that have had people begging for more for roughly over a few hundred or something years.

Oh, wait! You don't know what a vlaai is? Head over to this post where I explain the whole thing. In short, it's a traditional Dutch pie crust. But unlike a pie, where the crust is made of mainly butter and flour, a vlaai crust is made of dough. The buttery yeast-dough is what makes a vlaai a vlaai.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Dutch Vlaai

We've had quite a few birthdays this year already, and I've been asked to make cakes for at least 3 of those. For some funny reason people keep asking me for roughly the same sorts of cakes every time. One of these is the famous, traditional Dutch Vlaai. May I introduce you? 

Vlaai |vly| noun [C] (pl. vlaaien; ENG vlaais) 1. Pastry that consist of a dough base and a filling. 2. Pastry with upright edges covered in a fruit compote
These are actual dictionary inputs. The second 'dictionary explanation of vlaai' actually comes from THE Official Dutch dictionary (online version). I think it's the most inaccurate sorts of explanation I've seen. Apart from my horrible translation of 'upright edges', this is like saying a pie is 'a pastry crust filled with chopped apple'. Does that cover pies for you? I doubt it.

So let's try again, for my own explanation:
Vlaai |vly| noun [C] (pl. vlaaien; ENG vlaais) 1. Type of pastry similar to pie that consist of a yeast dough crust and a filling: I have a strong desire to eat a vlaai - Limburgse vlaai

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chocolate Mousse (without eggs)

Have you ever seen those layered desserts by famous patisseries? I mean, have you ever gazed in awe at those layers of cream, jelly, cake, ganache and mousse and wonder how it looks so amazing? Someone put together 5 different flavours and it would still all make such perfect sense? With Holland being a country of simple cake and an overwhelming amount of cookies, we have a horrible lack of fancy-to-impossible cakes. So I had to make it myself.

So, would you like another chocolate mousse recipe? Everyone knows the world does not have enough chocolate mousse yet right?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Flour (Part II) - A Guide to the different kinds of Flour.

Before I start with any new projects and recipe-sharing, I still need to finish my one ingredient: flour. Remember how important flour is? It's the structure and base of any baked good. Especially the proteins in flour play a large role in shaping the end product.

But even knowing all that, there's still something missing. Every flour has a different purpose and the amount of proteins can vary even per bag of flour. So knowing a bit more about the different types of flour is essential. You can't just substitute any flour with a different one - you'll see why.

Wheat flours
Wheat flours are achieved by milling wheat grains to various degrees. Some will use only the endosperm, while others include the bran and the germ of the wheat. I've sorted a few of the most widely used flours by their 'hardness', or the amount of proteins they contain. Harder flours contain more proteins and thus can absorb more water and create a stronger structure.

Cake flour
 - Cake flour made from soft wheat flour and is milled to a finer texture than all-purpose or pastry flour. It has a very low protein content, which keeps the gluten formation at a minimum. It's used for cakes and biscuits and other goods that don't need a lot of gluten, but require that soft, delicate and tender texture instead.
Pastry flour - This flour is a bit 'harder' than cake flour. It has more gluten formation than cake flour, but still contains less proteins than all purpose flour. It's often used the same way as cake flour. It has a finer texture than all purpose flour making this flour perfect for pastries, cookies, biscuits and quick breads.
White, Plain or All-purpose flour  All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft flours: it’s right in between cake flour and bread flour. You could even mix them 1:1 and get this versatile flour. It can be used for.. well, all purposes really. 
Bread flour - This is a hard wheat flour, meaning it has a high amount of proteins. It's used for baked goods that need a lot of gluten such as breads and buns. The stronger gluten give structure to the rising dough and ensure a chewy texture. The high gluten content helps the bread rise and gives it shape and structure.

* Whole-wheat flour - While all other flours use only the endosperm, whole wheat flour uses the whole grain (from endosperm to germ) to grind to flour. As a result this flour contains more nutrients and fiber. Because the bran can interfere with the formation of gluten, whole wheat flour often produces heaver and denser products than all-purpose, bread or cake flour. Whole wheat flours can vary from whole wheat bread flour to whole wheat cake flour. Stone ground flour is a whole wheat flour with a coarser texture.
* Self-raising flour - This is another flour that uses only the endosperm of the wheat grains. Self-raising flour is really just an all-purpose flour with chemical leaveners (normally baking powder) and occasionally salt added to it. Only use self-raising flour when a recipe specifically asks for it.

Making your own self-raising flour (substitute)
1 cup of flour (130 grams)     +     1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams flour (3/4 cup)      +     1 teaspoon baking powder

Self-raising or self-rising flour from the US contains salt as well: 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup.

Non-wheat flours and other
Not every flour is made of wheat. There is a whole range of different milled grains and nuts that are used as flours. Below I try to explain just a few of these. Some flours contain proteins and can be used to bake cakes and even bread. Some flours don’t contain the proteins glutenin and/or gliadin, but can still be used to create a unique texture or flavour.

Graham flour – Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour made by milling the endosperm very finely and the germ and bran coarsely. The flours are then mixed together to create a more nutritious flour.  
Rye flour - Rye flour is made from rye grains and is comparable to whole wheat flour. Because the bran and germ are included in the milling process, it often results in denser baked goods. Rye has a high amount of gliadin, but a lot less glutenin, which means it has less gluten formation than wheat flour. It contains more fiber than wheat flours.
Barley flour  This flour is made from a different type of grain: barley. Similar to rye flour, barley flour contains a lot of fiber and less gluten than wheat flours. 
Spelt flour - Spelt flour contains less gluten and is lighter and softer than normal flour. Wheat flour can relatively easily be substituted by spelt flour. Spelt breads may be denser in structure and need more yeast.
Semolina flour - Semolina flour is made from a specific sort of wheat called Durum. Durum wheat has an exceptionally high protein content, giving baked goods a dense and chewy texture. For this reason semolina is often used to make pasta and noodles. (Semolina can also refer to a coarse grinding and is not always made of durum wheat.)
Quinoa  flour - Another flour full of proteins, especially aminoacids, but this time without gluten. Quinoa flour can have a bitter taste. Substitute no more than half the amount of flour called for in a recipe. The texture will become a lot more dense and coarse.
Corn flour or corn meal - This flour is made by milling corn kernels. It contains no gluten and is therefore not suitable as a base for breads. Corn starch is made from the endosperm of the corn kernels and is often used for thickening soups and sauces.
Rice flour - This flour is made by milling rice grains. There are different sorts of rice flour ranging from white to brown and glutinous (sweet) rice flour. Rice flour is lighter in texture than wheat flours and contains no gluten.
Almond (or other nut) flour - Almond flour contains a lot of proteins and healthy fats as well as a lot of vitamin E. It does however not contain the proteins to make gluten, making it unsuitable as a base for cakes and bread. It is possible to exchange a quarter of the flour called for in a recipe for almond flour.
Soja flour - The amount of proteins, calcium and fiber make this flour a very healthy option. However, it does not contain glutenin en glutadin, making it unsuitable for cakes and breads. Substitute no more than a third of your normal flour in cake recipes. Soja flour is a perfect substitution for wheat flour when it comes to thickening sauces and soups.

And don't forget buckwheat, chickpea, oats, potato, soy, chestnut, acorn, tapioca, peanut, coconut, banana and other fruit and vegetable flours (just to name a few).

What I found the most interesting about this research was the huge variety in flours. Apparently in Europe, bleaching and adding any sorts of additives to flour is forbidden on a production level. Flour is simply milled wheat grains and to self-raising flour only baking powder is added. In the US one could find ‘enriched, bleached all-purpose flour, pre-sifted’. Self-raising flour from the US also appears to contain salt. Hell, some countries don’t even differentiate between pastry and cake flour. Although I never noticed during baking, I find it fascinating to know that there are such big differences across the world in such a basic ingredient!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Chinese New Years!

After all the hectic school busy-ness is finally over, what better day to start up your blog again then on the Lunar New Year?

I was thinking of how long it's been and how hard it's been. I was even contemplating on ranting about all of it. But my school career is now semi-officially over - I'm just waiting for the papers to be written. A new (Lunar) year has started. So really, it's time for a fresh new start. I'm all ready for it! 

Are you ready for some new recipes? Here's a little sneak-peak in the goodies you can be expecting!

Hope to see you soon! And don't forget to enjoy the New year! :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Years with Kniepertjes!

Wauw, it's been a while hasn't it? Last month December was way too busy for me to even leave a note to say I'm busy. Christmas can be a busy time right? I'm sure everyone was busy with preparations...

That's not what kept me busy though. Oh, surely the weekends were filled with that. But there were another 5 days in every week on which I was going to work for my apprenticeship. That meant waking up before 5, coming home at 7 and going to bed before 10 and working loads in between. There was no time or energy left to even look at my blog. Which killed me little bits every time. 

Now I'm done! Well, nearly done. But at least I don't have to get up so early any longer. So now I can start the new year freshly with more posts!

This recipe is from my grandma: traditional Dutch kniepertjes! This kind of recipe is handed down from mother to daughter. You won't really find kniepertjes anywhere but in peoples homes these days. These thin crunchy 'cookies' with an anise flavour are made and eaten on New Year's Eve and New Years Day. Add some whipped cream and you're all set for celebrating the new year!

lots* - recipe by my grandma

500 grams flour
250 grams sugar
2 eggs
250 grams butter
2-4 tablespoons liquor (optional)
25 grams anise powder
25 grams anise seeds
about 1/2 liter milk

1. Melt the butter. Combine it with the eggs, sugar, flour and anise in a large bowl.
2. Add the liquor with as much milk as needed to form a creamy dough. It should be quite runny.
3. Pour a small spoon of batter on a cookie/ice cream cone/pizzelle iron and close for about a minute until golden brown.
4. Take the cookie out with tweezers or a spoon, and roll! This needs to happen quickly as the cookies turn hard very fast. A slightly warm surface helps. And heat-proof hands. And a cylinder stick of about a fingers thickness to roll it on.
5. Leave to cool (that goes real fast!). Eat plain or fill with whipped cream**.

* According to my grandma you can make 120 kniepertjes in roughly 3 hours with this recipe. I think both the amount and time are slightly exaggerated, but it's safe to say 'lots'.
** Seriously, fill it with cream.

My grandma explained how, on New Year's Eve, people would eat kniepertjes in the shape of flat circles. It would represent the whole previous year, which would be all over (round) and clear to you (open). On New Year's Day the kniepertjes would be rolled up, 'the contents invisible', as you do not yet know what is ahead of you the upcoming year. I didn't know there was quite so much symbolism behind these cookies!

I really hope you enjoy the recipe! I'll be back with more very soon and hopefully I can get back into my routine of posting once weekly when I've got all the deadlines over and done with!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you guys all the best :)