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cherries

Valentine macaroons

Posted on 2008.02.14 at 18:31
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There are people in this world who never celebrate Valentine's day, me including. There are exceptions though ..... clearly. How can I resist an invitation from Zorra at 1x umruhren bitte for her A heart for Valentine event.

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Since quite a while I had wanted to make macaroons, but every time I went shopping I forgot to buy glazing sugar. So off I went on Saturday morning going shopping, forgot my shopping list at home, but sugar was high on my priorities. I was going to be lazy and buy the glazing sugar. But once home I realized I took regular sugar - so in the end I had to grind the sugar.

The result was delicious. It wasn't easy making heart shaped macaroons of equal size, so I quickly let go of that idea and tried to make some round macaroons of equal size - well, I wasn't very successful with that either. So I thought, forget about equal sizes, forget about the lemon curd, and just go with simple heart shaped macaroons.

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I found this recipe on-line at http://www.linternaute.com and adapted slightly, the original title being Macarons citron.

Ingredients:
3 egg whites
25 gr of sugar
some drops of lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
225 gr of glazing sugar
125 gr of almond flour/powder
lemon zest (optional)

Preparation:
Separate the egg whites.
Mix the glazing sugar, the almond flour and the lemon zest, grind it all very fine.
Beat the egg whites. When firm add the sugar and salt, and lemon juice, continue beating until really firm.
Using a spatula mix in carefully the almond-sugar mixture.
Covering an baking plate with waxing paper - and make little heaps of 3 cm diameter with the egg-almond-sugar mixture using a decoration "tool".
Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Bake them for 12- 14 minutes in a pre-heated oven of 150 degrees Celsius.

Enjoy.


cherries

Lemon Apple Chestnut cakes

Posted on 2008.02.03 at 17:47
Current Mood: happyhappy
Tags: ,
I am back, hurray. After many months of silence, finally a little moment to write something in my journal.
So many things happened, so many travels, and not that much time left for blogging. Eating on the contrary never stopped, cooking never stopped - after all one has to eat, but than also taking pictures .... not high on the agenda.

But as it was my birthday yesterday, I wanted to bake something. But unfortunately I did not have much time for shopping so had to do with left overs in the refrigerator.

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I had already decided that I wanted to make mini cakes, but with what - good question.
I had many lemons that were just waiting to be squeezed, some apples that I should have eaten a two weeks ago, butter, chestnut flour ........

It took me forever to make these little cakes as the phone would just not stop ringing. Isn't it great if every one remembers you :-)

I also wanted to use this entry to participate in Meeta's Monthly Mingle, the topic for this month being "comfort food". For me the comfort was definitely in the baking. I was soo tired from all those crazy weeks I had just left behind me, that all I wanted was to be in the kitchen and play with my kitchen utensils. Our house smelled wonderful as the scent of lemon and apple slowly took over. Today I brought a few to the office and one of my dear colleagues confirmed that these mini cakes definitely fit in the category comfort food.

Ingredients:
180 gr butter (or 210 gr butter/2 sticks and 3 eggs)
4 eggs
1 cup cane sugar
100 gr of honey (I did not have enough sugar and honey goes great in cakes)
almost 1 cup lemon juice and water added to have one cup
1 cup chestnut flour
2 cups flour
1 sachet baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 apples cut in small pieces

mix the butter with the sugar and honey. Add the flours, baking soda and baking powder in batches adding the lemon juice in between.

Add the grated apple (or cut in small pieces)

Because of the apples the volume was enough for 2 cake tins. I used my 6 mini cake tin (silicon), and 2 muffin pans to make mini muffins.

In the oven for 25 minutes (or until golden and a knife stuck in it comes out clean).

Delicious has been every one's verdict so far.

Meeta, here is my entry. Am happy to be back.


cherries

Kir Safari

Posted on 2007.09.16 at 21:25
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: ,
I cannot believe it myself, but I have so completely missed the Montly Mingle Meeta organizes every year. Not missed in the sense that I did not know it was taking place. I missed the deadline, and not by a day or a few hours. But by 6 days, i.e. a week late. So what will I do in order to participate a little bit: I shall add the link in the comment section. Sorry Meeta, your biggest fan from the first day on has failed. But than I am not a magician, although sometimes I wouldn't mind having a magic stick. One of my wishes would be education for everyone.

There are many drinks where you mix a liquor with wine: Kir (white wine with cassis), Kir Royal (sparkling wine or champagne with cassis), Communard (red wine with cassis), and Kir Safari (sparkling wine with Safari). The list is long.

Years ago, when I was a student, a friend and me had signed in to stand behind the bar of our student building. So every thursday evening for some 6 months it was up to us to serve beer and other drinks. As in all student towns Thursday evening is the big evening to go out, so most of the time the bar at our student building was quiet. We decided that we wanted to do things different. So every Thursday evening we had a different theme. One evening was our safari evening. We invented 6 cocktails based on Safari liquor. We organized a slide show with pictures from Africa, and we had full house. What fun we had. I have lost complete contact with Marie Louise, but still have fond memories of the fun we had. The only cocktail I still remember is Kir Safari. Maybe we had given it another name, but it was delicious. We had used sparkling Italian wine (very cheap), and with the Safari the taste was great. I have had it with champagne, at a friends wedding, of course I introduced this drink to all my friends.

This Thursday my sister was visiting me and we had Kir Safari. I used a cremant de bourgogne - brut, with a little bit of Safari. Delicious.

So Meeta, cheers to you. And next time I hope to be in time.

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cherries

European Gooseberry jam MM#12 Earth Food

Posted on 2007.08.01 at 13:53
Current Mood: productiveproductive
Some days ago my mother in Law gave me groseille a maquereau, European gooseberries. This year she had too much, and she knows I like them. The latin name being Ribes uva-crispa.

The gooseberry is indigenous in Europe and western Asia, growing naturally in alpine thickets and rocky woods in the lower country, from France eastward, perhaps as far as the Himalaya.

Meeta from What's for lunch Honey, asked us what we do to honour mother earth, what do we do toward a better environment. Her theme of this months Monthly Mingle being earth food.

Well, obviously, not to let fruits go spoiled, but rather preserve them in fruits and chutneys. As I do with the vegetables in my garden, all natural, no chemical treatment or fertilizer. Spoiled vegetables or fruits as well as the greens from our kitchen are converted into compost, and used to naturally fertilize our vegetable garden. The neighbours have cows, and the dung is converted in to compost as well. And twice a year we go down the little road next to our house to dig for compost for our garden.

We triage our glass bottles and jars, carton, tins and actually everything that can be recycled. We bring it once a month to the designated "decheteries".

In the winter we have our heating system regulated/programmed, when we are out, it is lower and when home again automatically it turns the temperature higher. But to save fuel, we just wear an extra pullover if it is to cold.

The list goes on, but that is not the purpose of this post.

Back to preserving fruits. What did I do with the European gooseberries. I turned 1 kg into jam of only gooseberries. A second kilo I turned into a mixture of gooseberry/blackberry jam. The latter I picked at a friends house over the weekend, who also had way too many blackberries and had no idea what to with them anymore.

Ingredients:
1 kg european gooseberries, 1 kg sugar, juice of 1 lemon, and 20 cl water.

Heat the water with the sugar until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the gooseberries and lemon juice. Bring it slowly to a boil. Let it boil on a high heat, stirring regularly for 10 minutes, until the gooseberries have becomes translucides.
Verify on a cold saucer if the jam sets well (put some drops on a cold saucer and wait one minute, if it doesn't run, it has the right consistency). Put the jam in sterilized jars.


cherries

Cranberry focaccia

Posted on 2007.07.30 at 21:42
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
During the weekends, that is if I am at home, I like to bake different types of bread for my breakfast. One of my favourites has become a fruit focaccia, and am trying all kinds of different fruits with it. This time cranberries. I had bought a little bag with dried cranberries to have as a healthy snack at home. But I didn't read the labels correctly. So when I opened the package I had cranberry juice everywhere, on my screen, on my computer, and on my desk. And only a tiny little bit on my keyboard. Indeed cranberries, juicy and soft said the label, so not something I could snack in between, cause the juicy part was just not compatible with my office environment. So what to do with them? Of course a fruit bread.

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At the same time Zorra from 1x umrühren bitte aka kochtopf had sent me an invitation a little while ago to participate in the new monthly event: breadbakingday
But I had missed this as I was traveling in Kazakhstan. No problem as it is a monthly event, all I had to do was ensure I would participate in the next round. After all breads are my thing.

The theme for this months event is to bake a bread with fruit and hosted by Columbus Foodie. It couldn't fit better in my street as a Dutch expression says. For me no luxurious cakes with chocolate or cream, no a fruit bread is more up my alley (if I remember well this is how it would sound in English).

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Ingredients
For the dough:
250 gr of whole wheat flour, 250 gr of white flour, 1 teaspoon salt, one diner spoon sugar, 315 ml water, 1 sachet dried yeast.

Filling and cover:
1 packet dried cranberries (250 grs)
50 gr butter, 1 sachet vanilla sugar

Mix all the ingredients for the dough, throw in the bread machine, use the dough cycle and remove the dough when the cycle has finished. You might have to use some flour to remove the dough depending on the consistency of the dough.

Knead the dough slightly, roll out on a buttered oven dish (round or square). Take the cranberries and push them into the dough. Sprinkle vanilla sugar over the top, and cut 50 gr of butter in flakes and put over the dough.

Let the dough rise a second time (the first time was part of the dough cycle in the machine), and bake for 25 - 30 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees.

Result: delicious. I had some this morning with home made blackberries jam.


cherries

Freezing apricots

Posted on 2007.07.29 at 17:36
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Tags:
Somehow I ended up with this book: "The complete freezing book" translated from German in to Dutch, and written originally by Ursula Borchert, 1974. I guess my mom must have given it to me one day. I never used it a lot, until I wanted to freeze apricots. I had bought a bit too many and after making jars and jars of jam I still had plenty left.

There are two several ways explained in the book, and to be honest I did not fully follow the tips, as I was too tired and could not be bothered when I was ready to freeze the apricots. And it worked very well what I did.

I washed the apricots and cut them in half - in the length. I removed the stone. And placed them in small freezer bags, each little bag enough for one apricot pie. When I wanted to prepare a pie: I prepared the dough, filled the baking tin, used the frozen apricots, with a fork made little holes in the apricot skins, filled the pie with them, added some sugar and placed in the oven.

The book discusses the options of freezing either with or without skin
With skin:
wash the apricots and cut them in half. Prepare one plate with lemon juice and one with sugar. Dip the apricot halfs in the lemon juice and than in the sugar. Put them in freezer bags. They keep up to 6 months in the freezer.

Without skin:
For 1 kg fruits you will need a sugar solution of 410 gr sugar cooked and dissolved in half a liter water. Let cool down, and just before using add ascorbine acid.
Peel the apricots (dip them in hot water for a few second, the skin comes off easily). Cut them in half, remove the stone and place them in a plastic freezer box(es). Cover with the sugar solution and freeze. They will loose some of their original sweetness/taste. They keep up to 10 months in the freezer.

Use:
With skin:
Defrost for some 5 hours at room temperature.
Use in pies, omelets, fruit salads.

Without skin in sugar syrup:
Defrost for 8 hours at room temperature.
Use in deserts and pies.


cherries

Kazakhstan 2

Posted on 2007.07.18 at 14:39
Current Mood: contentcontent
On the last day of the training (I ensured we were done before lunch by starting earlier), with a few colleagues we went by car to the ski resort close to Almaty. It was so nice to breath some fresh air and leave the hot city below us.

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We looked down upon the highest ice-skating rink in the world;

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And I took a picture of some flowers along the roadside where we stopped to look at the mountains.

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cherries

Kazakhstan

Posted on 2007.07.17 at 17:43
Current Mood: curiouscurious
My latest trip took me to Almaty in Kazakhstan. It is one of these places I have heard mentioning for years, and I never thought that one day I would actually go visit it.

Most of you might have heard of the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which was signed at the International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978. One of the most important statements is: "health is a state of complete physical, mental
and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realization requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector".

For me this above statement is indeed a fundamental principle in my work and of many others all around the world.

Almaty (or Alma Aty) is a very pleasant city. It has side walks every where lined with trees, so even in very warm temperatures one can walk around. And walking I did. Had I known I would have brought even better walking shoes, but I managed. What I also really liked is the fact that I could just walk around alone without being stared at, or asked to buy something. But than it is not the most touristy place in the world, although we had a hard time getting our reservations as it is high season. Wondering where all the tourists were.

Kazakhstan makes their own chocolate. Of course I had brough Swiss chocolate with me (I do so everywhere I go for my work to give to my colleagues), but I also took some back with me.

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And of course I visited a super market to see what they sell. Everything. One could get everything, especially tea. To my surprise there was a huge selection of teas available.

The image on the chocolate bar is taken from

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the candy-coloured Zenkov Cathedral, one of the few pieces left of the old Tsarist Russia. For many years it was a museum, but now it is restored to being an orthodox church again.


cherries

Safari sorbet

Posted on 2007.06.25 at 20:26
Current Mood: complacentcomplacent
Tags:
Ok, the theme is ice-cream, but than sorbet is water ice-cream as we would say in Dutch. I never quite understood people's fascination for ice-cream, never ate it as a child. Indeed having a lactose intolerance does not help, but than I never developed a craving for it either, nor for sorbet. The only exception being lemon sorbet, and even that I would eat once or twice a year.

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Until one day, I was living in the US, I discovered Ben & Jerry's. A friend of mine loved their ice-cream. After our bike rides we would go over and she would have an ice-cream. So I looked at all the flavours and couldn't be bothered. One day they had lemon sorbet, so I had that. Wow, delicious.

To my huge sadness they stopped having lemon sorbet. The lady behind the counter couldn't accept that I would not have anything else. So she invited me to taste all the sorbets they had. And right she was. I fell head over heels in love with the Purple passion fruit sorbet.

So for Meeta's Monthly Mingle # 12, and a link to Ben & Jerry's I was thrown back in time, and thought longingly of this passion fruit sorbet, with this tangy taste to it, like lemon sorbet, but than fuller, and more colourfull.

I don't have passion fruit at home, but I have Safari, a liqueur based on passion fruit, papaya, mango and other fruits. So what better idea than to make a sorbet with this liqueur. The advantage also of adding a bit of alcohol to your sorbet is that it will freeze more smoothly.

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I also made raspberry sorbet, with raspberries from our garden. The marriage of the two of them ...... mmmmmmm.

For the syrup (that I divided in two)
1 cup sugar and 1 cup water.
Boil for 5 minutes and let stand for 10 minutes
Divide in two.

Safari sorbet
Ingredients:
1.5 cup orange juice, 8 tablespoons safari liquer
Mix with 1/2 of the syrup

Raspberry sorbet
Ingredients:
1.5 cup raspberries, 1 lemon juice, 2 tablespoons vodka
Mix with 1/2 of the syrup

Freeze the liquid in a plastic container. When semi solid mash with a fork and freeze again. When solid frozen place in a food processor and process until smooth. Freeze again.
At first I was a bit hesitant about the food processor thing, but I did it anyway. Great idea, the sorbet became real creamy and smooth.

So Meeta, here is my entry, just before heading of to Kazakhstan. Enjoy the ice-creams and sorbets coming in.


cherries

Cows in the garden

Posted on 2007.06.20 at 13:22
Current Mood: amusedamused
And one Sunday mornign I woke up, walked down, set the coffee machine going, and only than did I look out the window. Well the kitchen door window. And what did I see .....?

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cows in our garden.

Our neighbours cows decided that the grass was greener on the other side and wanted to check out for themselves.

So out came my camera:
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However they were not really in the mood to be photographed:

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