Thursday, March 31, 2011

Apricot bars

Tonight is the night! Tonight we leave for Bali!! 10 glorious days of sun, fun, beach, sea and God knows what more! I am so excited! Of course I'm also stressed out, because it means saying good bye to my girls... But I'm reeeeeally trying to focus on the fun part.

This is our first real holiday together since, oh approximately 8 years, when our first girl was born. Of course we go on minibreaks a couple of times a year, but the longest was 3 night and 4 days. Which I already found very hard... You know what's funny? Occasionally....sometimes......okay, okay...quite wish you could put the kids in a big black hole... I mean, I love my kids but they can be really annoying. But the moment I have to leave them behind, even if it's just for one night...I miss them like crazy.

Okay, enough blabbering. Let's get to work! I found another great recipe by Pioneer Woman. I keep forgetting to take pictures, but you can find what it looks like over here.

She calls it Apricot bars, but I personally think it's too sweet to be a bar. I think it's more a mix between a crumble and a really big cookie. But names aside... it just tastes good! Needless to say they vanished from my kitchen real fast! And I can't blame everybody else....I think I ate most of it...It happens okay? I just couldn't resist it!

Oh, and the recipe calls for an 8 inch square pan, but I just used a brownie pan, which worked excellent. And you can replace the apricot with other flavors. I'm already contemplating what flavor to use next time!


Apricot bars

Yield: 24


1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 stick butter, not too cold
10-12 ounce apricot preserve


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix all the ingredients except the apricot reserve together. Press half the mixture in a buttered 8 inch square pan, or something similar.

Spread the apricot preserve on top of the mixture.

Put the second half of the mixture on top of the apricot preserve. Try to press or pat the top as much as you can, but not too hard because you don't want to squeeze out the preserve.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes until it's light brown.

Let cool completely before you cut it into pieces! And I really mean it, because as usual I had a problem with waiting until it was completely cool and when I started cutting, it fell apart! So, again, don't be like me!

Oh and since I plan on spending the next 10 days in total bliss, I won't be posting!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shrimp curry

Last weekend I made a shrimp curry, to be specific a Mauritian prawn curry by the lovely Nigella Lawson. The recipe is from her book Forever Summer.

Because of the girls I didn't want it to be too spicy, but as the recipe only needs half a teaspoon of chili powder I thought it was safe to make. I have to admit that I have never made a curry before, but as I had most ingredients already I thought I'd give it a try.

Besides having never made a curry before I also had never cooked with curry leaves before, hence my mistaken opinion of this dish being not too spicy....

Apparently curry leaves make a dish spicy... and not just spicy but very hot if you throw in a lot more than the prescribed tablespoon. Of course I figured this out right at the end when the dish was finished.....

The curry was lovely, the flavors great but as was expected the girls didn't eat a lot...

They only ate white rice and sweet-and-sour cucumber. Off course this enabled them to eat a really big bowl of the chocolate mousse, so I didn't hear too much complaints!


Mauritian prawn curry


1 tablespoon kurkuma
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilipowder
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
a piece of fresh ginger (about 4 cm or 1 1/2 inch)
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
2 tablespoon of peanut oil (or something similar)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (400 gram or 8 ounces)
peel (zest) and juice of half a lemon
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry leaves (fresh or dried)
750 gram (1 1/2 pound) shrimp or prawn
grated nutmeg
a handful of cilantro
3 or 4 green chili peppers


Put the kurkuma, coriander, cumin, chilipowder and mace in a bowl. Grate the ginger and garlic cloves with a microplane and add to the spices. Add a little water and stir to create a paste.

Chop the onion and bake in the oil until soft. Add the spices-paste and stir-fry for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes, fill the can with water and add that also.

Add the lemonjuice, cinnamonstick and curry leaves and let this mixture simmer for about 30 minutes so the curry gets thicker and the spices more flavor.

Just before you want to eat add the shrimp to the sauce and cook until done. Taste the shrimp to make sure they are well cooked.

Pour the curry in a shallow bowl and add the grated nutmeg and lemonpeel. Put the cilantro on top.

Cut the chili peppers in half lengthwise and arrange them on the curry.

Off course, I left out the chili peppers completely because it was already a little bit too spicy!

Oh and you can make this sauce in advance and just add the shrimp when you want to finish the curry. It just gives the flavors more time to develop!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Mousse

Who doesn't love chocolate mousse? I know a lot of people in my house who do! So chocolate mousse is a regular at our house.

Usually I make a different chocolate mousse than the recipe below. The one I usually make I call Death by Chocolate. This one however is a lot less heavier, a bit sweeter and nice and creamy. And very important: it's extremely easy to make!!

As is the case with all chocolate mousse recipes this one also contains raw eggs, so it's not suited for everybody.


Chocolate Mousse


225 gram (1 1/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate (use a high %)
70 gram (5 tablespoons) butter
3,5 dl (1 1/2 cup) whipping cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Amaretto (can be a different liqueur like Tia Maria)
2 tablespoons honey


Melt the chocolate and the butter au bain marie (or with a double boiler). Put the bowl with the chocolate-mixture aside.

In a different bowl whip the cream until it has soft peaks, but is not complete stiff.

In a third bowl beat the eggs and honey with a mixer until it is fluffy. Gently fold in the Amaretto, melted chocolate and honey, being careful to keep it is light as possible.

Pour the mixture in pretty glasses or just in a large bowl and try not to eat half of it already!

Put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, so it can firm up.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Trying to make a dutch oven bread

Yesterday I tried to make a dutch oven bread. And lets put the emphasis on TRIED shall we?

See, the problem was, I made soup for dinner, but I forgot to get some French bread to accompany the soup. So I figured I could try out a recipe I found for a dutch oven bread with herbs. The recipe sounded really easy and delicious. There was just one teeny tiny problem.... I had just run out of bread flour, but as the recipe said it could also be made with all-purpose flour I thought.... why not?

Why not? I'll tell you the reason why not! Because it doesn't make a bread...that's why not! It starts out as a dough, which looks like it's going to make a great bread. It rises just like a bread should.... and when you put it in the oven it bakes like a bread. It looks like a bread, so you think everything is fine! Great! I just made a lovely bread with all-purpose flour.

But then you take it out of the oven and you notice that something is missing.... you see.... it doesn't SMELL like a bread and that should have warned me...but unfortunately it didn't.

I put the bread on the table, cut everybody a piece and THEN I tasted it. And you know what.... It doesn't taste like bread either... Absolutely not. It tasted like something else entirely. I don't even have words to describe it.

So if you ever think: Oh I can replace the bread flour with all-purpose flour. DON'T DO IT. BACK AWAY FROM THE ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR!!!!

Good! Now run to the store and buy some bread flour. It's what I'm going to do!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Easiest dessert ever!

Tonight I made the easiest dessert ever. I make this whenever I don't have any other dessert on hand and the kids are demanding something sweet after dinner!




Melt the chocolate in the microwave or au-bain marie.

Meanwhile, cut the bananas in slices. I usually take 2 or 3 bananas for the four of us, depending on the size of the bananas.

Put the slices on a big plate and pour the melted chocolate over the slices.

Give everybody a fork and let the war begin!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spicy molasses cookies

I just love food blogs. I have a bit of a cookbook addiction and combined with an unlimited supply of recipes at food blogs I can happily spend an entire day  just reading, drooling over and occasionally actually cooking the recipes I find on the internet. Yesterday I found a recipe for Spicy molasses cookies on the blog of The Pioneer Woman and I decided to try and recreate it. Oh and if you're not familiar with her blog. I sure can recommend it! She adds great play-by-play-photos with EACH recipe! Amazing. Check it out here.

The reason why I say try and recreate it, is because, as the name suggests, it contains molasses and molasses is a product unknown in The Netherlands. We do, however, have something resembling molasses, so I used that instead. Also, the recipe needs Crisco and that again is something unknown here. But I just used butter. You can never go wrong with butter!

And I have to say, the results was quite good. I think they could have been in the oven a little shorter. I had them in for 9 minutes (but with hot air circulation) and they were a little dark around the edges, but the taste had not been compromised! They are still delicious! They remind me of gingersnap.

Spicy molasses cookies


Yield: 36


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Crisco (or butter)
1/4 cup molasses (or something similar)
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Extra sugar for coating


Preheat the oven to 190°C (350°F).

Mix the sugar, shortening, molasses and egg together until well combined. 
Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and salt together, then add to the molasses-mixture and mix until it is well combined and a dough.

With your hands roll walnut-sized balls of the dough. Coat each ball with sugar (just roll it around in a small bowl with sugar). 

Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 9 minutes. Keep an eye on the cookies. You want the cookies to crack, but you don't want the cookies to brown!

Now stand back and be amazed by the fact that these might be the best looking cookies you ever made (at least that was the case with me).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweet and sour cucumber

The sun is shining here and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful spring day, so I'm going to keep it very short today. I'm going to do some work in the garden and later on my eldest girl has to swim for her final diploma. Very exciting! Hopefully all goes well!

Sweet and sour cucumber is probably one of the easiest sidedishes in existence. I serve this whenever I cook Indonesian, like nasi goreng or Bali chicken. It works great with a lot of Asian-style dishes with rice.


Sweet and sour cucumber


1 cucumber
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar


Combine the vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. I'm usually to lazy to stir until all the sugar is dissolved, so I stir a little, then add the cucumber and stir from time to time a little. Works very well!

Cut the cucumber lengthwise in half and cut both half's in thin slices. Add the slices to the vinegar-sugar mixture and let this "marinate" for approximately 1 hour. Stir from time to time.

Voila, your sidedish is ready. Oh, when serving, you don't want the vinegar-sugar mixture to end up on your plate, so with a spoon take out some of the cucumber and let the fluid drain a little, then put the cucumber on your plate.

Have great day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Peanut butter squares

After making Oatmeal raisin cookies AND Hummingbird cupcakes, I hadn't really planned on making another sweet snack, but unfortunately for me, the cookies and the cupcakes disappeared rather fast. How is that even possible, you might well ask... I mean, 36 cookies and 24 cupcakes for a family of four people.... it's absured... But rest assured, I gave a lot away to the neighbors and a friend of my youngest girl who spend the afternoon playing at our house.

So this afternoon I was really craving something sweet (in my defense...I quit smoking a few weeks ago). But I wasn't really looking forward to complicated or having to go to the supermarket. So I had a good thought and remembered a simple recipe by the lovely Nigella Lawson from her book: How to be a domestic goddess. The peanut butter squares. I had never made these before but peanut butter and chocolate is a combination that can't go wrong.

The recipe is incredibly simple. I had a little trouble with waiting until everything had cooled enough, but after cutting off a small portion I put it back in the refrigerator where it then had enough time to properly set.

Please, please, please try this recipe, it's simple, it's yummy, it's chocolate, what more could a girl ask for?


Peanut Butter Squares

Yield: 48 pieces


50 grams (scant 1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
200 grams (1 1/3 cup) confectioners' sugar
50 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
200 grams (heaping 1/4 cup) peanut butter

Chocolate layer:
200 grams (7 ounce) milk chocolate
100 grams (3,5 ounce) bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth. You can use the flat beater of your mixer or just stir everything by hand. The dark brown sugar will still be visible (tiny grains or small lumps) but that's no problem, don't worry about it.

Press the mixture in a 9-inch brownie pan, already covered with parchment paper. Try to make the surface flat (I failed miserably as you can see in the photograph).

For the chocolate layer, melt the two types of chocolate together with the butter. You can do this au-bain-marie or just stick everything in the microwave. Spread the chocolate-mixture on top of the base.

Put it in the refrigerator to set. Try to wait until it is properly set (unlike me) and THEN you can cut it into small squares. And although it is tempting to cut large squares, it is rather a rich treat, so please try to restrain yourself and cut small squares.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hummingbird Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

As promised I am now going to give you a recipe for Hummingbird Cupcakes which I found at Annie's Eats. But before I write down this recipe I'm going to burden you with my experiences while making these cupcakes. The recipe for the cupcakes was very easy to follow and while the end result was great, I did find it lacking. The cupcakes were very moist and you could really taste the banana and a bit of the cinnamon. However, the pineapple and the coconut had completely disappeared, which I found very disappointing. If I make these cupcakes again, I think I will increase the amount of pineapple and coconut. Furthermore, I omitted the walnuts, as I did not have these in my cupboard. Next time I will add them!

Okay, the next thing I have to say about this recipe is about the cream cheese frosting. I have a bit of a confession to make... I have never made cream cheese frosting, I have never tasted cream cheese frosting, I have never even seen cream cheese frosting. So, although it sounds delicious, I have no idea what the end result should be like.... I know...I know... I'm completely lacking in my culinary skills... who cares? I don't.

Anyway... the cream cheese frosting: I followed the recipe, but because I didn't even knew if I would like it, I decided to make half the frosting recipe. It started out very well, but when I added the confectioners' sugar it completely collapsed. So instead of having a firm yet fluffy frosting (as I think it's supposed to be) I had a semi-liquid gooey frosting. So I was unable to pipe it onto the cupcakes, which was actually very good, because I didn't really like the taste. Correction... I loved the taste of the frosting, I just didn't like it in combination with the cupcakes. So I don't know if I did anything wrong or not, I don't even know if the flavor of the frosting was good, all I know is that I didn't like the combination. But like I said I'm a culinary retard, I don't know anything..... So if you like cream cheese frosting, if you're good at making cream cheese frosting, if you know how it should taste, smell, look, etc.... MAKE THE DARN FROSTING!!!

Oh and after writing all this down I'm to tired to write down the recipe, but as I followed the exact recipe you can find that here.

Good luck and good bye!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oatmeal raisin cookies

As promised yesterday I'm going to give you a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies. I know there are around 2.475 recipes (if not more) for oatmeal cookies. I know you probably already have a least a dozen recipes you like. Then why are you giving us another? you might ask.... Well, because these are probably the only cookies that my hubby actually likes. And he doesn't just like 'em.... He LOVES them. And that is a first because my hubby is definitely not a cookie-lover. I've tried out quite a few recipes over the years and he always said he liked them. But never before have I seen him react like he reacts to these cookies. Needless to say, the cookies never last long.... they don't stand a chance....


Oatmeal raisin cookies

Yield: 36


1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
120 gram all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

Mix butter, sugars, egg and vanilla till it's well combined and fluffy.

In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermixture en stir until just combined.

Add oatmeal and raisins and fold them through the mixture.

On a baking tray lined with parchment paper drop heaping teaspoons of dough and shape them a bit like cookies (no need to be very precise, they'll still taste good, makes 'em kinda rustic).

Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes 'till the edges are light golden brown.

Place them on a wire rack to cool. And try to keep others from eating them!

Oh, and this great recipe I found at Annie's Eats.

Tonight I'm gonna try out another one of her recipes: Hummingbird cupcakes. I'll post all about it as soon as possible.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bruge lace cookies a.k.a. Kletskoppen

Yesterday was a bit of a boring Sunday, so my hubby decided that I could very well make Bruge lace cookies (we call them Kletskoppen). Having never made them before I set out on a quest of finding a recipe. First I turned to my trustworthy cookbooks... but alas! The recipe was not to be found. This was quite a shock. My ever growing collection over cookbooks (currently around 100) does not easily let me down.

When I had somewhat recovered I turned to Google and there I found a recipe. Unfortunately the times as told in the recipe was a bit too long, as I discovered when the first batch burnt..... Don't worry I figured it out in the end so the recipe that follows works very well (for me at least). Keep monitoring the cookies while baking, because they burn very quickly..

Oh and I had planned to take pictures but the cookies that turned out well were eaten before I even had a change to get the camera ready. So next time, hopefully....


Bruge lace cookies a.k.a. Kletskoppen


25 gram butter or margarine
100 gram soft white sugar
50 gram all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of cold water
40 gram almond slivers


Preheat the oven to 225°C (425°F). Combine the butter and the sugar. Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon above and stir. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water and the almond slivers.

Roll small balls of the dough. Put them on the baking tray. Leave plenty of space in between, because the cookies become much larger. Flatten the little balls a little.

Put the baking tray just above the middle of your oven, but NOT completely at the top of the oven (trust me... I learned that the hard way....). Bake the cookies for about 5 minutes, but monitor closely. When the cookies have spread, started bubbling and are starting to color, turn off the oven and move the baking tray to the middle of the oven. Leave them there for another 3 minutes. When the cookies are nice color brown they are ready. Put the cookies on a wire rack to cool.

When the cookies are still warm you can try to shape them, but they can only be shaped for a very short time!

Tomorrow I'll give you a great recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sort of spaghetti bolognese

I love cooking, but I have to admit I'm not a perfect cook. I'm very chaotic and though I like it if the food looks nice, I can't really be bothered to pay a lot of attention to looks. What I find more important is how it tastes. And the dish I'm making tonight sure tastes good!

It's very easy to make but does need to be put in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, so you really need to keep that in mind while planning to make this meal.

The recipe is one from Jamie Oliver, from his early work. I have to say that I like is early work best. Oh and, my cookbook is Dutch, so I translated it back to English. If I made a few mistakes.....sorry!


Sort of Spaghetti Bolognese


10 slices of pancetta or bacon
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, only the leafs, finely chopped
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
455 gram (1 pound) of ground beef
1 glass of red wine
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 can of tomatoes
200 gram (7 oz) tomato paste of 1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes
black pepper
455 gram (1 pound) dried spaghetti
a handful of fresh basil
2 handful of grated parmesan cheese or cheddar

Preheat the oven to 180 °C (350°F). In a large, hot fireproof 
dutch oven cook the pancetta and the rosemary with a little olive oil until slightly golden brown. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes until its soft. Add the ground beef. Cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes and add the wine. Let the wine slightly boil down, then add the oregano, the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.

When the sauce is almost ready you can boil the spaghetti.

Just before serving, add some fresh basil to the sauce. Serve the sauce with spaghetti and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.