Friday, November 30, 2012
This gingerbread house is a colorful hotel in the Netherlands, the Hotel ZaanDam.
Peruri 88 tower, science fiction type construction, was built by Dutch architects in Jakarta. I like the trees and gardens everywhere!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The work week has restarted, and today I was ready for some cozy food in the evening. What better to cook other that to put some squashes in the oven to roast? I cut up a small butternut squash, pierced a spaghetti squash, and placed the scooped butternut squash seeds simply on the baking sheet. It is a fabulous trick --- no cleaning, just place them on the sheet, they get crisp and the strands that held them together simply fade away during roasting. I used to toss out the seeds because it was too much of a hassle, but this is not. I added a sliced sweet potato and dinner plus more squash for the week’s meals was done.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Spiced red cabbage with cloves, red wine, and red currant jam
(makes a large pot, about sides for 10 people)
- 1 medium sized head of red cabbage (ca. 2-3 pounds)
- 1 red onion, diced finely
- 1 TB butter or ghee (my mom’s recipe actual calls for bacon fat)
- 1 medium sized tart apple, finely diced (not peeled but core removed)
- 1/2 TB whole cloves (or 1/2 ts ground cloves, whole one are better)
- 1/2 TB juniper berries
- 1/2 cup of red wine (e.g. cabernet sauvignon or a good table blend)
- 1/4 cup of apple juice (if not using red wine, use more 1/2 cup of apple juice)
- salt, pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 TB red current jam or black currant jelly(e.g. Bonne Maman or Schwartau)
- 1/2 TB beef broth concentrate, diluted in 2-3 TB of water
- optional: 1-2 TB aged good balsamic vinegar
Prep: quarter the red cabbage head, remove the core, and slice the quarters really thinly with a sharp knife (or use a mandoline) – the finer shredded, the better.
In a large cast iron pot, dutch oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter or clarified butter and add the diced onion, and saute until slightly browned. Now, add the shredded cabbage, the cloves, juniper berries, the bay leaf, and the diced apple to the pot, and mix all ingredients well.
Add the red wine and the apple juice, and close with the tight fitting lid (there is no other liquid and make sure the steam from the gabbage does not evaporate but helps steam the cabbage). Turn heat on medium-low, and cook for ca. 20-25 min depending on how ‘crunchy’ or ‘well-done’ you like the cabbage to be cooked. Nevertheless, stir once in a while to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. If it gets too dry, add more apple juice.
Once the cabbage is tender, turn the heat to low, and add the red or black currant jelly or both, remove the bay leaf, add more salt and pepper to taste, and a half TB of beef broth concentrate (or bouillon) dissolved in some hot water. Mix well, and add a glug of balsamic vinegar to round out the flavor. Enjoy!
Friday, November 23, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I don't really need anymore stuff. But here a few things that could tempt me.
I have many le creuset, but I never saw that there is even a 1 quart one available. 1 quart! It is only 5 1/2 inch in diameter and still costs (on sale) $100. Cute. Great for single portion chilis. But, no.
Now, I will hide out somewhere, and keep myself distracted with something productive.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
It is US Thanksgiving holiday week, work is winding down (I wish) and it is time to focus on cooking, turkeys, side dishes, buy good wine, and invite friends and family and/or be invited. To warm up, I cooked a beef bourguignon with some grass-fed local organic beef from the farmers market. While I am waiting for Guiliana and Bill to have their baby, I am writing this up.
Beef Bourguignon (makes ca 4 not too large servings):
- 4 oz smoked bacon, diced
- 1-2 TB olive oil
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into larger cubes
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 1 cloves of garlic, microplaned
- 1/4 cup cognac
- 1/2 bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 cups of beef broth
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 1 ts fresh thyme leaves (1/2 ts dried)
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dry
- 1/2 pound fresh whole pearl onions
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 ts thyme, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
- 1/2 TB butter
- 1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Add the diced bacon to a large Dutch oven and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is releases the fat and is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. Add the olive oil to the pan.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside. Add more olive oil if the pan gets too dry.
Again, add more olive oil if the pan is too dry at this point, and add the carrots, and onions to the dutch oven, 1 ts of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned and the carrots caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol (or just cook off). Add the braised meat and bacon back into the pot with all the juices.
Now, pour the 1/2 bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme and stir in. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 3-4 hours until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork (*).
(*) I used a very low-fat beef, and even after 4h in the oven it was still not tender. So, I placed the stew in a pressure cooker, the wonder weapon to get any meat tender, and cooked under pressure for another 30min. It was not perfect, but tender enough. If you are short on time, you can also cook the entire stew in the pressure cooker for about 45min.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012
No one could make this cake like my great aunt. It is involved, you have to have patience, nurture it, and it richly rewards you. Just like my great aunt was, one of the best cooks and bakers and gardeners I’ve ever known. Aunt Jenny, this is for you!
Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake)
This recipe is for a 10-12 inch square or round spring form.
Special equipment: standmixer with dough hook (can also be kneaded manually).
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 TB warm milk
- 1 ts fast rising yeast
- 40 g sugar (divided, 1 ts for yeast + milk)
- 1 TB bakers milk powder (optional, but helps the yeast to rise)
- 5 TB (40 g) unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
- 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
- pinch of salt
In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, 3 ts sugar and the bakers milk powder, and mix all three ingredients. Make a well in the flour, and pour the milk yeast mixture in it. Turn on the standmixer, and on slow mix the dry ingredients with the yeast mixture (do not yet add: butter, egg or salt since it interferes with the yeast). Once the yeast is well incorporated and distributed in the flour mix, add the butter, 1/2 egg and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed until it comes together as a ball (it will be crumbly for quite a while, ca. 10 min). If it does not come together after 15min of kneading, add 1 TB of warm milk. Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, continue kneading for another 15min on medium speed.
Now, remove dough from bowl of standmixer, and place in a metal, glass or ceramic bowl, and let rise for ca. 30min at a warm place. Time to make the crumbs!
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 125 g sugar
- 125 g unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
- 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
- 1/2 ts bitter almond extract
- 1 pouch Dr. Oetker Vanille sugar (or 1/2 ts liquid vanilla extract)
- pinch of salt
Stop the mixer, when the crumbs are at equal size.
Preheat the oven to 50-80F (warm). Spray a spring form with baking spray, and distribute the base dough into the pan.
Take a fork, and gently poke the dough all over the pan. Once done, brush lightly with some warm milk.
Now, distribute all the streusel on the cake evenly.
Place in the oven at 50F for about 45min for the yeast-based base layer to rise to about 0.5-1 inch thickness. After that, remove cake from oven, and preheat to 425F, and bake the cake for ca. 20-25min.
Before serving, sprinkle wit granulated sugar.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Well, after a bit of dusting the other day, we got the first snow last night thanks to the first Northeastern’er. Now, the wind is blowing and it is cold, and rain on top so it’s the mess. Just makes you want to stay put in front of the fireplace, cuddled by cats, and not venture out in the world. Brrrh! Winter to come.
Lunch is the last romaine in the fridge, cannellini beans and fried baby portabellas with gorgonzola and snippets of the last rescued rosemary from the garden and a blonde balsamic vinaigrette.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Borough Market is a produce and fresh fish and meat market for whole salers. On the weekend, it is open to the public at large.
A great place to have breakfast, oysters, or a glass of prosecco before produce shopping.
It's best to come around 9am when the market is still empty, private, and relaxed.
Food ranges from organic fruit to spanish ham and provence lavender.
Samples are available at most stands, and they alone a worth wandering the market.
The cheese is Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy and naturally some British goat cheese and Stilton.
Monday, November 5, 2012
October ended with keeping everyone in its grip watching Sandy, and November came quietly leaving us with assessing the damage, the devastation and helping to rebuild. In some ways, looking at the news coverage, it feels like Sandy is the Katrina of the Northeast. Not in means of lack of FEMA response but by the widespread devastation. So many people who lost everything. The weather report says there is a new storm on the way, this time a winter storm, with snow and cold temperatures. Looking at global climate change, unfortunately this will not be the last of a storm like this.
Things here in Maine are more quiet, we were not impacted much, at least not as long as you do not live in the Southern and coastal Maine parts. Our days consist of raking leaves these day, from trees finally emptied of their bright yellow coat by Sandy, clearing out the vegetable beds, buying dried local beans and bags full of beets for cheap at the farmers market, and also wondering if there will be the first snow this week.
One thing this week is for sure, though, tomorrow is election day, so GO VOTE.