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Summer Gazpacho

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It’s way too warm too blog… But the perfect weather for this gazpacho.

The approximate recipe (the nice thing about gazpacho is that you don’t need to be very precise).

In a food processor or blender- you’ll probably need to work in batches- , combine about 10 peeled tomatoes*, 1 cucumber, and 4 bell peppers, and process for about half a minute to a minute. Add about 6 slices of (crustless) old bread, and process for a bit. Add vinegar (I used white balsamico), lemon juice, pepper and salt to taste, then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the mixture resembles an emulsion.

Another traditional ingredient to add to the gazpacho is onion, but I have some trouble digesting raw onion, so I skipped it. You can also add garlic.

Serve with decorations: cucumber, tomato and bell pepper in small cubes, plus whatever else you think will taste good (I still had some salami, though chorizo would be more appropriate. I also bought lemon-filled olives for this purpose, but completely forgot about them).

Serve cold: you can let it cool down by putting it in the fridge for an hour or so, or you can also just serve it directly over ice.

*to peel tomatoes, cut a cross on top, then submerge them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Rinse them under cold water, and you should be able to peel the skin off easily.

Cherry Pie

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No recipe, since I followed this one pretty much to the letter (I added a splash of lemon juice to the filling, but that’s it), and because the original post is very much worth checking out (it has a picture by picture tutorial for making the lattice).

Instead: pictures! Taken with my very cool new camera (thanks dad!), playing with shallow depth of field especially. My aim was to emphasize the contrast in textures: the gooeyness of the filling versus the flakyness of the crust.

Playing with M’s camera

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BF Birthday Brownies

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Taken from Lisa Slater’s Brownie Points (a cherished gift from my friend Lani)

Ingredients:

– 225 g (1 cup) butter/boter

– 220 g (1 cup) brown sugar/bruine basterdsuiker

– 280 g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar/kristalsuiker

– 390 g (14 oz) dark chocolate (I used a mix of leftover bars: some Tony’s Chocolonely, some “extra bitter” Delicate, and some pure chocolate, also from Delicata)

– 6 eggs/eieren

– 1 Tbsp vanilla extract/vanilla extract

– 1 tsp salt/zout

– 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder/instant koffiepoeder (liefst voor espresso)

– 130 g (1 cup) all-purpose fl0ur/bloem

for the ganache:

– about 200g chocolate (I used chocolate chips M brought from Belgium, in a 2.5 kg bag)

– about 100 ml heavy cream/slagroom

(no, I’m not a paedophile, just someone with too few candles. BF turned 5^2, not 7)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 150° C (300 F). Line a big pan with parchment paper (or use a silicon baking mat – I’m seriously in love with mine). Melt the butter with the sugars in a pan, stirring until it’s a grainy but homogeneous mixture. Take off the heat, and add the chocolate – the recipe says to wait ten minutes, but I prefer not to: if you let it cool too much, the chocolate won’t melt and then it’s tricky to get back on track. Whisk until the chocolate had melted, then wait a little for the mixture too cool. Add the eggs one by one, whisking until the mixture becomes heavy and smooth. Add the salt, vanilla extract and coffee, and finally the flour. Stop mixing as soon as you cannot see the flour any more. Bake for 30-35 minutes – not longer! It’ll look too liquid beneath the surface, but if all goes well it’ll firm up (see warning).  Refrigerate at least one night.

For ganache: scald cream, then pour it over chocolate chips (or chopped up chocolate) and stir softly until it becomes a sauce. Turn out the brownies onto a board/big plate, and pour the ganache out over it, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate again, for at least a few hours – and try to resist digging in before the guests arive.

Warning: for me, this has been a fickle recipe. The first time I made these brownies they were fairly good, though there was something a bit off about them, maybe because I served them straight out of the oven. The second (and last) time I made them they turned out way too gooey, as in can-only-be-eaten-with-a-spoon soft, and aside from BF and his sister, it wasn’t a big success. I didn’t dare make them for over a year… and then this time they turned out beautifully, maybe the best brownies I’ve ever made. Was it the bigger oven, that I now have more baking experience, the weather, the chocolate? Who knows. In any case, if you’re a bit intimidated and  looking for a delicious and fool-proof brownie recipe, the “first and foremost brownies” from this same cookbook has yet to fail me.

Landscapes

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Lemon & Ginger muffins

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My parents got me a bottle of ginger syrup from France some time ago (well, they originally bought me a bottle of peach liqueur, but my mom apparently had an unfortunate encounter with a step that left the whole street smelling like peach), and I’ve been looking for ways to use it. So, here it is: my very first recipe! Which I like, thought out beforehand, tested, adapted and then tested again (because I’m thorough and precise. Not because it meant delicious muffins two days in a row. Honest!)

I departed from Susanna Tee‘s standard recipe, though I adapted the quantities a bit. I went for just all-purpose flour, milk as a liquid, and granulated sugar for the muffins – though very light brown sugar (witte basterdsuiker) would probably work just as well – you don’t need much anyway, because the syrup and the topping already provide quite a bit of sweetness. The inspiration for the topping came from this cookie recipe: cane sugar, rubbed with lemon zest.

Ingredients (for 12 muffins)

280 g all-purpose flour

60 g granulated sugar

4 tsp baking powder

dash of salt

zest of 1 1/2 lemon (reserve the other 1/2 for the topping)

2 eggs

8 tbsp/ half a cup/ 120 ml milk

4 tbsp ginger syrup

4 tbsp lemon juice (+/- the juice of 1 lemon)

90 g butter, melted and cooled (that’s about 3/4 stick)

for topping: 50 g cane sugar, zest of 1/2 lemon

For the muffins, follow the standard procedure:  mix the dry ingredients, lightly beat the eggs in another bowl and add the liquid ingredients to it, then pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix briefly. The batter will be less fluid than for your average muffin, almost more like a dough – I meant these muffins to be quite cake-ey, and that’s how they turned out. This also means you can fill the muffins shapes more, almost to the edge. For the topping, rub the zest with the sugar using your fingers, and spread over the top of the muffins before putting them into the oven and baking them for 20 minutes at 200° C  (about 390 F). And if all goes right, you’ll end up with these delicious, lemony, gingery treats.

Next up: muffins based on the one sweet thing BF bakes, “kruidkoek”. I was going to try them today already, but my attempt to make candied orange peel failed quite spectacularly – I ended up with rock-hard caramelized orange peels instead, which weren’t NOT tasty, but not suited for baking either.

Sunshine and happiness

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Cranberry-Oat muffins

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While I love to experiment, it’s good to have a few standby recipes. I have a trusty one for brownies, for apple pie (my mom’s, naturally), for lemon tart… And the BF would be perfectly satisfied if I never again made any other muffins as long as I made these on a regular basis. They’re the perfect breakfast muffins: the oats make the structure more interesting than of standard brownies, and with the cranberries, you can almost pretend you’re just eating a bowl of muesli. Right?

The recipe is adapted from Susanna Tee’s “1 mix, 100 muffins“, a book I love because it’s so honest: she gives you the template recipe she works from right at the beginning, allowing you to improvise at will, but her suggestions are so yummy and varied that you don’t have to.

Lots of pictures this time: BF’s friend M, who’s almost the third member of our household (he stays over one weekend out of three, on average), bought a new camera yesterday, and he was kind enough to let me play with it. Of course, now I’m considering upgrading too, despite the hefty price tag.

Ingredients:

140 g flour/bloem

140 g oats/havervlokken

3 tsp baking powder

90 g brown sugar/basterdsuiker

100 g dried cranberries

2 eggs

250 ml buttermilk/karnemelk

6 tbsp sunflower oil/zonnebloemolie (can be replaced by 90 g of molten butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the two eggs, then add the other fluid ingredients. Add the fluid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix briefly (it’s a quite wet dough, that’s ok). Fill the muffin shapes to about 2/3. Bake for 20 minutes at 200° C  (about 390 F).

Makes about 15 (12 according to the recipe, but I always end up with more). It’s a good thing M eats even more than BF – else I wouldn’t have been able to restrict myself to eating 2.5 of these.

First real spring weekend

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Recipe for the cappuccino muffins here, with a slight modification: I used 2 bags of vanilla sugar (16g), filled up to 1/2 cup with normal sugar (a bit less would probably have been enough too, since the chocolate chips provide plenty of sweetness), instead of 3/4 cup of vanilla sugar. Note to dutch readers: buttermilk = karnemelk. BF’s friend M brought us ridiculously cheap chocolate chips from Belgium, and they were perfect for this.

The second image is Hoegaarden white beer, just as tasty in a wine glass!

Our decadent Easter weekend

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1. When I came home around 1 a.m. on Friday night (after a nice curry dinner at my brother’s place, followed by the Johannes Passion), the smell of freshly baked bread welcomed me. BF rules that way.

2. See previous post. Made these for BF’s D&D buddies on Saturday afternoon.

3. Ok, we make these all the time. I love these mugs,  they date back to my mom’s student days.

4. Dinner on Saturday: polenta, rollade, beans, yum.

5. Mm, pancakes. Best combination of toppings? Cream cheese and honey. Though appelstroop (thick apple syrup), banana and raisins was a close second. Also: these were whole-wheat, and I’m a convert. They have so much more taste!

6 & 7. I can’t defend these in any way though, except by saying they were delicious. Next time I’ll use less sugar for the cookies though – together with the icing, it was a bit much. Also, I learned a lesson: when making icing, start with the powdered sugar, THEN add liquid (I ended up finishing a whole package of icing sugar, and with about 4 times too much icing). Recipe below

8, 9 & 10. Mango smoothie, before, after, and just before being slurped down.

LEMON COOKIES:

Mix 200 g all-purpose flour (bloem), 125 g softened butter (zachte/gesmolten boter), 90 g light brown sugar* (90 g lichte of witte basterdsuiker), the zest of 1 lemon (rasp van 1 citroen), a pinch of salt, and 1 egg (ei) to form a smooth dough. Refrigerate for half an hour, then roll out to about 1/2 a cm thick (+/- 1/5 inch), and cut out shapes (alternatively, form little balls and press them down to about that thickness, to make round cookies). Bake for about 12 minutes at 180° C (350 F). Make icing by adding lemon juice to icing sugar, and glaze the tops of the cookies after they’ve cooled down a bit. Source: Allerhande 03 2010

*I in fact used “witte basterdsuiker”, which would be white brown sugar, but that just sounds weird. I used 115 g (already less than the 125 suggested in the recipe), but I think  90 g should be enough. Maybe you could even go as low as 75 g.