Taleggio, speck and egg pizzetta

Pizzetas

Serves 4
Ingredients

1 recipe pain ordinaire (recipe below)
Extra-virgin olive oil to brush dough
115 gr (4 oz) of speck or prosciutto, sliced thin
225 gr (8 oz) taleggio cheese
4 eggs, slightly beaten (you might not use all)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
sea salt
crushed red pepper flakes

Recipe pain ordinaire
1/2 cup (118 ml) warm water
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast 
1/2 tsp sugar 
1 1/3 cups (150 gr) flour
1/2 tsp sea salt 
1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat bowl

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar and let sit for 5-10 minutes. It will look a little bubbly and smell very yeasty. 
Combine the flour and salt (I use my standing mixer with dough hook. Make a whole in the center of the flour and add the yeast-and-water mixture along with the olive oil. Stir to combine. Adjust consistency with flour or water. 
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes (here’s where I get to set the timer for 10 minutes and walk away :-)). The dough should be smooth and elastic. Cover and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour (until doubled in size). If you don’t have a warm spot, turn the oven to 50-75 C (120-170 F) briefly until warm. Turn off oven and place covered bowl in oven to let rise. 

After dough has risen, punch it down and divide into golf-ball sized pieces. Roll the dough into desired shape. Preheat a grill pan and lightly brush the dough with olive oil. Place the dough on the grill until it puffs up and is able to hold its shape. Turn it over and grill on the other side. You might need to re-flip dough; you’re looking for a crunchy dough with nice grill markings. 

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F). 
Place dough on a baking sheet. Lightly brush the grilled dough with some olive oil. Lay the speck on the dough and dot with pieces of taleggio (you can break pieces off the taleggio with your hands). Carefully pour beaten egg onto each dough. I sometimes don’t use all the egg as it sometimes does not set in the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle with Parmesan. 
Bake the pizzettas in the preheated oven for 3-5 minutes or until the eggs are set. 
Sprinkle with crushed red flakes. Serve immediately. 

Recipe by Anne Burell as featured in: New York Cooks; 100 receipes from the city’s best chefs. Available on Amazon.

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Bøg

Bog visitekaartje 1 Bog visitekaartje

As a christmas gift from my boyfriend, I  finally dined at Bøg last Saturday. I was so excited to go! Giddy, like a little kid almost. Not only because I had heard very good stories about the place or due to the fact that I’ve fallen in love with Danish cuisine over the past few years for business trips. Oh no… It was very much that it is a 4 minute walk from my house. No really! I google mapped it; 350 meters shortest route or take the scenic one at 400 meters 😉 If the food was going to be only a little bit as good as expected, I just knew I would be in big trouble. The good kind of trouble, of course.

And wouldn’t you know it…it was all that I was hoping for. With every dish, every smell, every bite, I found myself feeling like I was dining in Denmark! Truly amazing. With ingredients that were oh so familiar to me as I’ve had them on my plate in one form or another a few times at Cofoco (my personal favorite restaurant in Copenhagen). And even their menu made me think of the trendy restaurants of Copenhagen, with two menus to pick from, either fish/meat or vegetarian. I figure the Danes have a motto of simplicity and less is more mentality. And as a terribly slow decision maker in restaurant dining, I really agree with that. There’s a certain peace of mind to it. In addition, I think it makes the chefs capable of paying more attention to detail in each dish and thus making each course just a tad more perfect.

Pinot Blanc- Schouwen-Duivenland, Netherlands
T
he wine

We ordered the most interesting wine with our dinner. It was a Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois from Schouwen-Duivenland, the Netherlands (I love their play on words ‘Schouwen-DRuivenland’). For those of you not familiar, its the province Zeeland, which is widely known for their oysters and mussels. I’m embarrassed to admit, the only Dutch winemaker known to me was the Apostelhoeve in the Limburg province (basically the only region in the Netherlands with hills a.k.a., for the Dutch, mini mountains). Although, I wasn’t particular fan of the Dutch wine due to the high acidity, I knew we had to take gamble on this one. As expected, this wine too was high in acidity, but somehow it blended really well with it’s apple & pear aroma’s. Since the meat/fish menu was mainly fish, it was a great match.

Bøg menu March 2015
The menu
We enjoyed the meat/fish menu

Snack 1; Home made crisps with fennel seeds    Snack; oyster, celery, green herbsSnack; tapiaco crisp, crispy skin of fish, creme of anchovies, tomato chutney    Bread
T
he snacks
(left to right, top to bottom: Homemade crisps with flax seeds, oyster, tapioca crisp with crispy fish skin & anchovies & tomato chutney, bread)

Salmon, Radish, cucumber, roe of lumfish
Salmon, radish, cucumber, roe of lumpfish


Halibut, leek & sweet onions
Halibut, leek, sweet onion

Kemper chicken & langoustine    Salad, green herbs & fried chicken
Kemper chicken, langustine, salad, green herbs

Carrot, buttermilk, thyme
Carrot, buttermilk, thyme

L’Asino d’oro

L asino d oro

L’asino d’oro is a restaurant you don’t want to miss if you’re staying in or passing through Rome. Tucked away nicely in a small street in the city centre (Municipio I), you would easily pass it if you didn’t know about it. Or perhaps if didn’t have time to do your research before going out to eat 🙂
I would describe the food here as slightly experimental (which isn’t very typical of Roman restaurants), but still having enough Italian classics for those who swear by them (e.g. tiramisú). Every dish we had was prepared very well and very reasonably priced (primi & secondi: around €14, dolci: €6). In addition, the odd wine lover will love the great variety of great wines they have. We had a beautiful deep plum red wine (recommended by the waitress) from the La Marche region; a Montepulciano and Sangiovese blend.

The interior is very minimalistic, some might call it modern, which doesn’t make you warm, fuzzy and filled with anticipation immediately. Though the experienced waiters and waitresses and the great food make up for the slightly less cozy feel of the restaurant. By the way, I just love it when waiters are knowledgable about the food and wine they serve. I always pick their brains and ask them for their favorites, in a way to flatter them but also to mask my immense indecisiveness.

So here’s what my boyfriend and I had to eat:

Polenta & soup shot                                                               Polenta & soup shot

Veal cheeks in balsamico glaze                                                      Veal cheek with balsamic glaze
Sausage with white grapes                                                          Sausage with white grapes
Papardelle with rabbit ragu                                                         Papardelle with rabbit ragú
Slow cooked pork cheeks with persimmon and berry sauce                                                     Slow cooked pork cheek with persimmon and berry sauce
Foam of coffee and ricotta cheese                                                        Foam of coffee and ricotta
Cream of dark chocolate, mint and ginger                                                    Cream of dark chocolate, mint and ginger

This cracked us up, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to be funny.
CaffeYou can just see the Italian chef go “No! We only serve real coffee! No milk!”.

The above dishes were all very good, though my favorites were the slow cooked pork cheeks in persimmon sauce. The meat just fell apart with just oneI get the impression L’asino d’oro changes up their menu quite often (certainly with each season). If you want to have an impression on what the chef’s been cooking, Lucio Sforza posts pictures of his dishes on the restaurants facebook page every other two months or so (yup, no real website with menu, etc) and updates with regards to opening hours. Personally I feel the pictures of the dishes on the facebook page don’t do the creativity and skill of the chef justice. But if you’re curious you can check it out at: www.facebook.com/asinodoro

Be sure to make reservations by phone as this restaurant is popular and not the most spacious.

Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

 

Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

This has been a while, but did not want to not post this recipe just because I’m embarresed for not posting in a long time. So after only practicing one cake for my friends wedding, I finally decided to make this cake recipe (from Life in a Peanut Shell) that had been sitting in my recipe binder for ages. I never could find the occassion to make this cake, but the wedding seemed perfect for it. Lemon and blueberry and well…more lemon. Just the right combination for a summer wedding food table.

Food tableLemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

I absolutely loved the idea for a wedding food table created by close friends and family members. This added such a personsal touch to the wedding, I thought. Just like the garden which wa decorated in with selfies of the bride and groom and the wedding’s color themed flags and balloons.  Ofcourse my dear friend, the bride, also put in her share of baking and preparing 🙂 She made the wedding cake (seen below). The wedding cake turned out awesome! The cake was so spongey and the frosting in between the layers so smooth and creamy.  A very yummy wedding cake.

IMG_3973Wedding cake

Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake
(recipe and design 100% from Life in a Peanut Shell)

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1½ tsp lemon extract
7 egg whites
3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups milk
Fresh blueberries, for decoration

Lemon blueberry preserves (below)
Lemon buttercream frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
In a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.
Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remaining equally among the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. This gives you a smooth surface to work with. Add 2½ tbsp of the lemon blueberry preserves to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Use a skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the centre comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Lat the layers cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool completely.

Lemon Blueberry Preserves
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Puree the blueberries with any juices that have exuded in a blender. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, zest and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat, stirring often for 20 minutes, or until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup. To check the proper thickness place a small amount of a saucer and put in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through it. If a clear path is made through the preserve then it is ready. Let the preserves cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 eggs
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.
In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beast the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium,-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15-20 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. Beat in the lemon juice, and the frosting is ready to use.

To Assemble
To assemble the cake, place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread half of the lemon blueberry preserves over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining preserves over it. Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream.
Decorate with fresh blueberries and serve.

Chocolate liquorice cake

IMG_3870

 Two of my dear friends are getting married this June and I’ve been asked if I could bake a cake for the cake table. The bride (my friend Irene) is going to make the wedding cake and her idea was to surround it with some cakes home baked by some of her friends. So my search for ‘the cake’ for that day and my practice sessions have begun!

Chocolate cake with liquorice

I was somewhat overwhelmed with the amounts of recipes available online. Which ones should I try? Martha Stewart, Food Network, BBC’s Good Food, Pinterest and trillions of food blogs. Don’t get me wrong, I do love searching the web for recipes. In fact, I generally tend to lose track of time while doing this. It almost feels like a high; I turn back to reality and can’t believe my eyes when I look at the time. Hours later…This is the reason I sometimes prefer books. I just make myself pick a book from my shelf and then that’s the book I have to choose a recipe from. This time it was a cake book I got for my birthday last year, Trendy Taarten (roughly translates to ‘Trendy cakes’) by Linda Lomelino. There’s so many pretty little cakes in this book. I’m sure I’ll find the cake to bake for the big day in here. But for now, chocolate liquorice cake. Don’t let the liquorice put you off, it’s very subtle and blends very nicely into the chocolate.

Chocolate liquorice cake

Chocolate liquorice cake

Serves 8-10.

For the chocolate cake:
3 large eggs
75 millilitres of water
90 grams + 3 tablespoons of sugar
2,5 tablespoons of cocoa
100 grams of flour
1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
pinch of salt
50 millilitres of sunfloweroil
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar or extract

For the liquorice ganache:

150 grams of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
150 millilitres of cream
2-3 teaspoons of liquorice powder
1,5 – 2 tablespoons golden syrup (or light corn syrup)
50 grams of butter

For the turquoise vanilla buttercream:
300 grams of butter, room temperature
240-300 grams of powdered sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (or extract)
turquoise food coloring paste

2x springform rings 15 cm/6 inch

For the chocolate cake, preheat the oven to 160 C (275 F). Divide egg yolks from whites. Bring the water to a boil in a watercooker and let cool a bit. Sift 90 grams of sugar, the cocoa, flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Mix together the egg yolks, oil, vanilla sugar/extract and the somewhat cooled water. Sift the dry ingredients above the egg yolk mixture and beat until it just comes together. In a seperate bowl, beat egg whites until soft and foamy. Add remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Add one-third of the egg white mixture to the chocolate batter and stir to combine. Then add the second third of egg whites and fold, as to make the mixture light and aerated. Once incorporated, do the same with the last third of the egg whites. Divide chocolate cake batter between two 15 cm (6 inch) clean springform pans (do not butter/flour them). Bake for 30 minutes. After you’ve removed them from the oven, flip the cakes onto a wire rack to cool. Once cool, run a sharp nice around the edge and turn upside down above a plate, shaking gently to remove cake from pan.

For the  liquorice ganache, chop chocolate and place in a medium bowl. In a saucepan, heat cream, liquorice powder, golden syrup and butter until all is melted. This mixture should be warm, but not boiling hot. Pour warm cream mixture on chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds before gently stirring. The final ganache should be smotth and shiny.

To make the turquoise vanilla buttercream, beat the butter until pale (about 3-4 minutes). Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add cream and vanilla sugar/extract. Add a tiny drop of the food coloring paste until you get the desired colour.

Assembly of cake: Cut both cakes horizontally, giving you 4 cake layers. Place one of them on a plate or cake board and spread a layer of liquorice ganache over entire surface. Place the next cake layer on top of the first cake layer and continue with the liquorice ganache spreading with the remaining layers. Once all layers are stacked, spread a thin layer of  the turquoise vanilla buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. Then refridgerate for 20 minutes or so for it to stiffen. Fill a piping bag with the remaining buttercream and pipe small ‘roses’ all over cake, starting with the sides and end with the top.

 

Killer Brownies

Killer brownies 

As promised (a long  long time ago..oops), this is the brownie recipe. The Killer Brownie recipe. Like the Geman Chocolate Cheesecake I posted, this is a recipe from my Bea Vo book. So originally this recipe is called ‘killer Valrhona brownies’, but I find these to work really well with other high-quality dark chocolates. Sorry Valrhona 😉

Now these brownies aren’t your everyday brownie. Not only because they are loaded with good ‘stuff’, but also because of the way they are prepared.  Read on if you’re curious. 

Killer Brownies

Killer Brownies

Serves 9 large squares

250 gr / 9 oz. high-quality dark/semi-sweet chocolate
250 gr/ 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
250 gr / 1 1/4 cups soft dark brown sugar
250 gr / 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
250 gr/1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
30 gr/ 1 /3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
30 gr/ 1/3 cup pecans, roughlyl chopped
30 gr/ 1/3 cup hazelnuts, skins removed
100 gr/ 3/4 cup peanut butter
50 gr/ 1/3 cup dulce de leche

Preheat the oven to 180 °C (365 °F). Put the chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Melt the butter in a pan and let boil a bit. Pour hot butter over chocolate and stir until well combined and the chocolate looks glossy. Put the eggs, salt, dark brown sugar and the caster sugar in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Pour the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir until combined. Fold the flour into the chocolate mixture. Stir until just combined (don’t overmix if you want fudgy brownies).  Spoon mixture into the prepared brownie pan and scatter the coconut, pecans and hazelnuts over the top. Spread them out evenly and then push them down wih a spatula or spoon to level it out. Make sure the nuts are covered in the brownie batter. Add blobs of peanut butter and the dulce de leche. Use a knife to swirl it a bit, so you get nice streaks of peanut butter and dulce de leche. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 160 °C ( 340°F) and leave the oven door open for 30 seconds to cool down the oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the top shows no raw batter. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Immediately place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the brownies from the pan and cut into squares (as big as you please :-)) 

Source: Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Available at amazon.co.uk

Vanilla bean panna cotta & balsamic strawberries

Panna cotta

Have you ever imagined you were sitting on a cloud, sun shining in your face and truly enjoying the moment? I have. In fact, this is the image that came to my mind, after taking the first bite of this delicious dessert. Pure heaven! It’s creamy and silky, just sweet enough and the vanilla shines through beautifully. Plus, the balsamic strawberries counterbalance all of the characteristics of the panna cotta really well. And of course, it’s no surprise from whom I got this recipe. Misses Domestic Goddess herself; Mrs. Nigella Lawson.

Now, I don’t want to write a blog here, where in each post I rave about a certain chef or their cookbook. However, what I do want to accomplish is to write freely, with no restraint, and I believe if the recipe is worth posting, than the chef or their book is worth mentioning. Even if I do write about them in a romanticized and dramatic way. I’m not in any way trying to make a statement of any kind; just want to take advantage of my, somewhat, decreased inhibition 🙂

Panna Cotta

I was saying? Oh yes, the great and magnificent Nigella. Well, if you’ve watched any of her shows on tv, you will have noticed the lustrous way she presents food. Her show and her recipes are never for the faint-hearted or for those on killer diets. And the best part is that her recipes are manageable. I say ‘manageable’ here, because I wouldn’t dare to classify them as ‘easy’ or ‘simple’. That would just do them injustice. Especially, since I do think she has some recipes with ample steps that could terrify the odd cook. In general though, her recipes make you desire the food she speaks of so dearly and all is explained very thoroughly in a step by step manner. The recipe I’m posting today comes from her most recent book, Nigellissima. I’ve been cooking and baking from this book for a few months now and I believe I have not encountered a recipe in it yet I didn’t like. So there might be more where this recipe came from…

Vanilla bean panna cotta & balsamic strawberries

Panna cotta close up
Serves 4

75 ml full-fat milk
425 ml double cream
50 gr caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
2 leaves fine-leaf gelatine

200 gr strawberries
1/2 teaspoon of caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

4 x 125 ml dariole moulds

Combine the cream and milk into a saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod. I do this by taking a sharp knife and slicing the pod open en then using the sharp side of the knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds of the vanilla pod and the pod itself to the saucepan. Put over low heat.
While this is ever so gently heating and comes to the boil, in the meantime, put the gelatine into a shallow dish of cold water to soften (about 3 minutes).
When the cream mixture comes to a boil (when it is beginning to bubble/foam around the edges), take the pan off heat. Remove the vanilla pod and pour about a cupful into a heatproof jug. Take the gelatin leafs from the dish and squeeze them a bit to remove the excess water. Add the gelatin leafs to the heatproof jug and whisk.
Once the gelatine has dissolved, pour the mixture from the jug back into the saucepan and whisk. Then pour the mixture back into the jug and evenly divide the mixture into the dariole moulds. Refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight (cover each dariole mould with cling film once cool enough).

To make the macerated strawberries, dice the strawberries finely and add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.You can make this ahead and refrigerate, but do remember to take out of the fridge on time so it isn’t too cold.
To unmould, dip the bottom of the dariole mould into hot water for about 5-10 seconds. I run a sharp knife around the edge on the top before I do this. Put a saucer or small bowl on top and flip the pudding and saucer/bowl. Pour small spoonfuls of the macerated strawberries around the panna cotta.