Monthly Archives: June 2010

Daring Baker: pavlova (with infused lavender mascarpone mousse)

Just back from vacation… there was a lot of cleaning up, washing and ironing to do before getting back to work and normal life. But there was also a Daring Baker challenge waiting for me, when I arrived back home. One I could not miss out of. One my husband would never forgive me if I missed out of it. Like I mentioned before on this blog Pavlova is my hubs specialty. So to be completely honest this is my husbands daring baker challenge.
He did all the handy work and I shouted instructions and mingled with the flavours.
And again I changed the challenge a lit bit… I cant seem to control myself…; Every single time a need to get of the wonderful road the challenge is giving me to do my own thing. But after a lovely holiday in France I just could not be bothered with chocolate and more chocolate. I really wanted to try out my newly bought lavender flowers and I thought they would go wonderful with our bottles of Montbazillac. So we left the chocolate for what it was and we made this incredible Pavlova. We also used another recipe for the basic pavlova. I really wanted a marshmallow inside and a crunchy snowwhite outside, so I used my cant fail recipe from Nigella Lawson. We served it on my birthday party and it was received with wildly enthusiastic cheers from our guests!

 INGREDIENTS

for the meringue base

 6 egg whites
300 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vinegar (white that is!)
2 teaspoons of corn starch
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 for the filling

 500 grams mascarpone
250 ml heavy cream
2 teaspoons of dried lavender blossoms (make sure these are blossoms you can eat. Not every lavender is meant for consumption!)
6 tablespoons of icing sugar
3 drops of food coloring

topping

strawberries (or any other fruit you like)
250 grams of white chocolate pearls
35 ml of montbazillac whine
1 teaspoon of lavenderblossem

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

 Add the egg whites to a large shallow bowl and beat the eggs on medium high speed until they hold soft peaks. Now start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time while constantly beating the eggs.
When the mixture is thick and glossy, you need to test if all the sugar is dissolved. You do this by taking a little bit of the batter between your fingers and rubbing it gently. Do you still feel some grains, then keep beating! The mixture is ready when it feels smooth like pomade.

Now sprinkle the vinegar, the cornstarch and the vanilla over the meringue and spoon it in with a wooden spoon.

Now line up a baking sheet with some parchment paper and draw a circle of about 18 cm on it.
Spread the meringue gently inside the circle, smoothing the edges and building the pie. Make sure that the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the centre. Cause you want to fill that up with lovely mascarpone cream and fruits!

Place the meringue in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The moment you place the meringue in the oven, you need to turn down the heat to 100°.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes dig in with a little fork or spoon to taste. (Don’t worry about that little Is the top deliciously crunchy? Is the interior thick and lush like marshmallow? Yes, then the meringue is ready! But don’t be to fast! Turn the oven off and let the meringue rest in the oven until it is completely cooled down!

Now for the cream filling… I made fresh mascarpone using a recipe we got from another daring baker challenge. It is lovely in every way, but a good store-bought version will work wonders to… so don’t worry if you don’t have the time to make the fresh cheese.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form and set it aside. Now add the mascarpone, the lavender blossoms and the icing sugar to a bowl and mix it will. I recommend you do not use a mixer for this, because it can ruin your mascarpone. Because of the high speed the creamy texture is broken down and the mascarpone becomes a bit runny.
Now add the whipped cream and the drops of food colouring. The food colouring is not necessary, but we loved that sweet pink cream on top of the heavenly with meringue. It made it all a little bit more sexy. J

Now for the sauce… just add the chocolate chips, the montbazillac and the lavender to a pot and place it on a medium low fire. Its important that the lavender gets some heat to infuse his flavour into the sauce. Its also important that the alcohol disappears from the sauce. And it is very important that the chocolate melts!

While waiting for that you can slices the strawberries, or any fruit you like, so that it is ready to serve.
When the chocolate has melted set it aside to cool down a little bit.

Now it is time to arrange the pie! Spoon the mascarpone mousse on top of the meringue and scatter the strawberries on top of it. Now drizzle the chocolate sauce all over the meringue.
Voila ready for serving!

I hope that Dawn of Doable and Delicious can forgive me the adaptation of her dessert. When I have more time and I am again in a chocolate mood I will defiantly give her chocolate pavlovas with chocolate mascarpone mousse a go!

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Goulash

I love the smell and the colour of goulash. Deep red, a lovely heat… strange it’s the first time I ever make it.
When I still lived at home my mother used to make it once in a while. I would sneak into the kitchen and dip some bread into the sauce just to taste it.
So when I opened our freezer and saw a package of meat mend for stews I instantly thought of goulash.
“Honey, do you like goulash?” (Since we been living together for over 4 years now this should indicate how long it had been since we last ate goulash.)
“I love goulash!” he yelled from the back of our garden where he was planting flowers.
Goulash it was then! Just a quick visit to my mom across the street to ask for her recipe and then thinking of what to serve with it. Traditionally it is served with rice or potatoes. But my darling husband preferred fries with it. And what the heck? The real Hungarian goulash is actually a soup, so this stew is not traditional at all. So why not serve it with home sliced fries!

INGREDIENTS

1 kg beef for stew
9,5 dl beef stock
0,5 dl white wine
2 green paprika’s
2 red paprika’s
2 small jars of tomato puree (In the middle of summer I would use 3 fresh tomatoes. But the flavour of tomatoes now is kind of bland so I opt for puree.)
1 tablespoon of sweet paprika powder
1 tablespoon of spicy paprika powder
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
1 bay leave
salt and pepper
oil
butter
According to taste: peas, carrots, mushrooms….

Heat in a stew pot the oil and the butter. ( The oil will make it really hot, while the butter while take care of a lovely brown colour.)
When this is searing hot, add the beef and fry it until it has a nice brown coating.
Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside. If needed heat a little bit more oil.
Peel the onions and slice them into rings, mince the garlic and dice the paprika’s.
Now add the vegetables to the pot and mingle them well. Let this stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the beef again and season it with the tomato puree, the caraway seeds, the white whine, the paprika powder, the bay leave and the stock. Stir it well.
Bring this to the boil and place the lit half on top of it. This way there is room for the water to get away and you will be left with a thick, flavourful sauce!
let this bubble away for about 1,5 hours or until the meat is very tender and soft.
The last 5 minutes I add a cup of peas to the stew.
Mix a little bit of sauce together with a tablespoon of cornstarch and add this to the sauce. Bring it to the boil once again and you are done!

Stir fry with black bean garlic sauce and zucchini

A little while ago I bought a jar of Black beans and garlic sauce from the brand Lee Kum Kee in our local Chinese shop. What I was going to do with that? I had no idea to be honest. But it sounded exciting, exotic and the hubby always orders beef in black bean sauce when we order take out Chinese… So I was going to give it a try. I found some inspiration at Cooking Light, where they prepared chicken and zucchini with the sauce. The recipe needed some adaptation, cause it was a little bland in flavour. That’s the problem when you see the dish prepared in your head but the results in the pan don’t look anything like your imagined dish. But I worked some magic with all kinds of jars and pots and the result was a very tasty, slightly hot chicken with zucchini.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CHICKEN

Chicken filet
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of dark soja sauce
1 teaspoon of cornstarch

FOR THE SAUCE

2 tablespoons of black beans and garlic sauce
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek
½ tablespoon of ginger powder
½ teaspoon of lemongrass powder
1 teaspoon of ketjap
½ tablespoon of brown sugar
100 ml vegetable stock

FOR IN THE STIRFRY

1 zuchinne sliced into thin rounds
2 tablespoons of wok oil
2 spring onions
cooked rice

Slice the chicken into small pieces and mix it with the rice vinegar, the soy sauce and the cornstarch into a ziplock. Let it rest for at least one hour in the fridge.

Mix in a small bowl all the ingredients for the sauce. ( Black Bean sauce, sambal, ginger, lemongrass, ketjap, brown sugar and stock)

Heat a tablespoon of wok oil in the wok and bake the zucchini in it. The zucchini is ready when she is slightly brown and tender.
Take the zucchini out of the pan and add another spoon of oil. Now stir fry the chicken in it. When the chicken is done add the zucchini together with the black bean sauce.
Bring it to the boil and serve it with rice and spring onions.

Gordon Ramseys cottage pie with Guinness

My husband loves Guinness. When we go into the city he visits the Irish pub and in my fridge I can always find a bottle or two of Guinness. When we were still in college I once convinced a friend to bring me some glasses from the Guinness Brewery to surprise Michael with. I still go all mushy when I see him handling those pints with care.
He showed me the recipe for cottage pie with Guinness with great enthusiasm. He had found that in one of my cooking books, namely “Great British Pub Food by Gordon Ramsey”. I was not over the top with joy to prepare this dish. I kind of dislike the Irish Black Gold. But I am a huge fan of Mister Ramsey… so I was willing to give it a try. And thank God I did, cause this is just delicious! Although I added some veggies, cause the dish lacked a healthy portion of greens. But it was so good… so utterly amazing good… I made it twice in one week, does that say anything about its goodness?

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons of olive oil
900 grams of minced meat (I used pork – veal minced meat)
1 onion, peeled and finally chopped
2 garlic gloves, peeled and finally chopped
3 carrots, diced
150 grams peas
some stacks of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
330 ml Guinness
5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
300 ml chickenstock
fresh mashed potatoes
some grated cheddar cheese

Place a big, high pan on a high fire and heat the olive oil in it. Fry the minced meat in it until it because nice brown with a little crust. Poor the meat into a sieve so that all the excess grease can poor out.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan and heat it up.
Now add the onions, the garlic, the carrots and the thyme and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Now add the meat together with the tomato puree and let it bake for about 5 minutes, while constantly stirring.

Add the Guinness, the peas and the Worcestershire sauce and boil till the liquid has reduced by half. Then pour in the stock and bring it back to the boil.

Now turn the heat town and let simmer for 20 minutes.
By this time the mixture should be thick . If this is not the case you can easily add a tablespoon of brown sauce binder to it.
Now take a pie dish and spoon the meat mixture into the dish. Then spoon over the mashed potatoes and top it of with the cheddar cheese.
Pop this in a preheated oven of 180 degrees for about 20 minutes. The dish is ready to serve when the cheese is melted into a lovely golden brown oozing paste and you see the sauce bubbling into the cracks of the potatoes.

Lekker hapje cup: Swiss veal with estragon sauce and rosti potatoes

Part two in our cooking challenge held by Lekker Hapje and Swiss is still the country that I defend with heart and soul. It even comes to the point that I find myself googling information about Swiss and I even know some curious facts about this “neutral” country now!
The main course however cost me blood, sweat and tears. Not that you cant find any Swiss products, no they were easy to find. But typical Swiss cuisine just seems to be a mingle of some French dishes, some Italian foods and some German creations.
So my main course is builded around some real typical product, like gruyere and smoked ham. With that I serve rosti, which is actually a big hit in Swiss! And to top it of I prepared a lovely estragon sauce with a little bit of Fendant Du Valais, a lovely dry white wine from the Valais region. Yes they even make wine those mysterieus Swiss people!

INGREDIENTS

1 veal roast
4 slices of gruyere
6 slices of smoked ham
pepper and salt

300 grams of mushrooms
2 teaspoons of estragon
30 ml white wine (I used the Swiss Fendant Du Valais)
200 ml heavy cream
pepper and salt

500 grams potatoes
2 onions
150 grams bacon bits

VEAL ROAST

Use a sharp knife to slice the veal into two parts. Place the gruyere on the inside of the roast and fold it again. Season the roast with pepper and a pinch of salt. Not to much salt, cause the ham will be salty enough.
Now wrap the roast in the slices of ham and bind it with some kitchen string.
Place the roast on a rack and pop it in a preheated oven of 175 degrees for about 20 minutes. (My roast weighted about 450 grams.)


ROSTI POTATOES

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes one day in advance!

Peal the potatoes and grate them with a mandolin into thin stripes.
Peal the onions and slice them into fine rings.
Heat a little bit of butter in a pan and bake the bacon until they are nice and golden brown.

Take a large bowl and mix the bacon with the potatoes.
Now roast the onion rings until they start to caramelize and add them to the potato mixture.
Season this with pepper and salt. I used some grated gruyere for some extra flavour.

Add a little bit of butter in a non sticking pan and heat the pan well, now bake the rosti potatoes. I made small heaps of potato mixer and pressed them into a pancake form in the pan. When golden brown I flipped them and let them cook for a couple of minutes.

ESTRAGON SAUCE

Heat some oil and a nut of butter in a non sticking pan. Bake the mushrooms until nice and golden brown.
Sprinkle the estragon over them and mix well.
Now pour over the white wine and bring this to the boil.
The wine needs to evaporate for about 50%. Then you can add the cream and let it boil until you get a thick and creamy sauce.
Season with pepper and salt to your liking.

Pesto Rosso

When a friend told me this week he had eaten something “pre -prepared” he looked at me with scared eyes.
“Yes, so?” I answered and he looked even a little bit more afraid. “But you love to cook and you do it so well. You must be anti pre-prepared stuff?”
I almost rolled on the floor while holding my laugh. Anti pre-prepared? Hallo, who do you think I am? God? Yes, I love to spend my time in supermarkets looking for good quality food. I get happy from using fresh product and yes I love to cook. But that doesn’t mean that I never use something out of a package or carton! I work full time, I have a husband who gets home pretty late and works weekends. I don’t have a housekeeper or a person who does my ironing. So sometimes it has to quick and easy for me.
To test my theory that I am not anti pre-prepared I examined my pantry and my fridge. With the following results:
– Gazpacho from Alvalle. There is nothing, but absolutely nothing that can beat this gazpacho. Even my Spanish friend buys it, cause she cant make it better herself. Over the years I have tried to make fresh or taste other brands, but nothing beats Alvalle!
– Mix for falafel
– Mix for couscous
– A jar of marinated zucchini
– Pastasauce from Bertolli
– A lasagne

Just to say I am not anti pre-prepared.
This week in the supermarket I even places a jar of red pesto in my bags. I had been planning some dishes with red pesto and ready made pesto is quick and easy. Waiting at the counter I studied the ingredients and noticed chiliflakes and cashews. I don’t know about you but I don’t think those two represent the authentic Italian taste I was looking for. So I left the line, place the jar back in his rack and started searching for fresh ingredients for red pesto. And to be quiet honest.. the fresh pesto only took 5 minutes to prepare….

INGREDIENTS

200 grams of half dried tomatoes on olive oil (dredged from the olive oil)
15 grams of fresh basil
2 gloves of marinated garlic (If you cant find these, just use regular garlic)
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
40 grams of pine nuts
75 grams of grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons of olive oil

Add the sundried tomatoes, the basil, the garlic, the vinegar, the pine nuts and the cheese together in a bowl. Mix with your standing mixer until you get a smooth paste.
After the mixing spoon in the olive oil so it gets creamy.

Pesto can be kept in the fridge for a month. Just make sure that there is always a tiny bit of olive oil on top of it. This seals it from the air and protects it from any germs.

Holiday

You ‘ll find me in the next couple of weeks here:

Where I ll be enjoying:

Wine, food and good company.
I tried out my pre-press function and if everything goes well you’ll be able to see some of my recipes passing every few days.