Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pizza with aragula, goatcheese and sundried tomatoes

The first time I made my own pizza I fell in love all over again with it. It is so simple to make. Granted, you need time, a lot of time, but since that is not an issue any more I have made quite a few pizzas. Most of them are simple, but I am also trying to think out-of-the-box.

I do feel a little awkward posting a recipe for pizza, but I've noticed that it happens quite often so I'm just going to give it a shot.

Like I said I try to make new combinations every time and if at all possible with ingredients I have left-over. So the last time I wanted to make pizza I had several ingredients at my dispossal, including my own home-grown aragula which had to be used before it grew too big.

I ended up with a combination of aragula, soft goatcheese and sundried tomatoes. A combination I would normally use in a salad. But you know what? It actually works great on a pizza!

I realize it is a very sloppy recipe, but you should consider it more as a guideline. Just let it inspire you.

So, if you're looking for a new, fresh combination for a pizza, that is great on summer days.... Look no further!


Pizza with aragula, goatcheese and sundried tomatoes


1 portion pizza dough
Pizza sauce (will post a simple recipe soon)
50-100 gram (2 ounces) soft goatcheese like Bettine blanc
Sundried tomatoes, to taste
A couple of handsful of aragula
A handful of chopped walnuts
Some honey


Prepare the pizza dough.

Preheat the oven (and your pizza stone) as high as your oven can go.

When you have laid out the dough, put on some pizza sauce.

Put chunks of the goatcheese on the pizza. Add the tomatoes and the chopped walnuts.

Bake the pizza for about 8 minutes.

When you've taken the pizza out of the oven, put the aragula on top and drizzle some honey over it.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When Nikki was invited for a sleep-over party by her cousin she jumped up and down for about an hour! She was extremely excited. Her cousin, Phoebe, is two years her senior, but there is a real click with all three of the girls. Whenever they get together, they get really excited and love spending time together.

As a thank-you gift I wanted to bake something yummy for her to take along to her cousin and my sister. Unfortunately I had about two hours in which to make that thank-you gift and no time to go shop for ingredients.

And so I searched through my cabinets and assembled a variety of ingredients. I then turned to my new book: Baking, From my home to yours, and found a great easy recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, for which I had all the ingredients. I just love it when I find recipes that you can make with standard ingredients. It gives me the opportunity to whip something up on any given time!

I have to admit I had my doubts about these cookies. I have never baked with peanut butter, so I wasn't sure if it would taste good. But I am now converted. The peanut butter gives these cookies a full, rich flavour, which of course goes great with the oatmeal and the chocolate chips. I did add a little less than the recipe indicated, but it was enough. I only had smooth peanut butter, but chunky peanut butter, of even better, chopped peanuts would go great with these cookies. The cookies were crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. Just as I like them!

On more thing, the recipe said to chill the dough for two hours, which I didn't due to lack of time, but shaping the cookies went really well and they turned out very nicely shaped!


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: about 60 cookies (recipe can be halved)


3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, room temperature
3/4 - 1 cup peanut butter (depends on your taste)
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks or 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Beat together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Add one egg at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.

Beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended.

Mix in the chocolate.

Cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours, or for up to one day (optional, for more evenly shaped cookies).

Drop rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the baking sheet, or, if the dough is chilled, scoop rounded tablespoons and roll the balls between the palms of your hands and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes.

The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula.

Source: slightly adapted from Baking, From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peach Ice Cream

We brought with us from France about a truckload of peaches, all of which had to be eaten in the course of three days. So what do you do when you've eaten all the peaches you can eat? That's right! You turn the peaches into something different. For instance.... Peach Ice Cream!

Now, I have to say that the weather here is terrible. It is almost like fall has come really, really early. But that doesn't stop me from making ice cream! I love ice cream all year round. I think it is one of the foods you can wake me up for at night.

I found the recipe in The Perfect Scoop (again). This book it starting to be really special to me... I'm definitely developing an intimate relation with it! I made one alteration: I reduced the amount of water to 1/4 cup, because I like my ice creams creamy. This worked out perfectly, because the peaches contain a lot of water also.

So without much further ado I give you: Peach Ice Cream.


Peach Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart (or 1 liter)


1 1/3 pounds (600 gram) ripe peaches (about 4 large peaches)
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (or 1/2 cup (125 ml))
3/4 cup (150 gram) sugar
1/2 cup (120 gram) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice


Peel the peaches, remove the pits and slice them into chunks.

Put the peaches in a medium, nonreactive saucepan and cook them with the water over medium heat. Cover the pan, stir occasionally, until the peaches are soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the sugar and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Purée the mixture in a blender or foodprocessor with the rest of the ingredients until almost smooth but slightly chunky.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Source: slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Super Lemon Ice Cream

Due to unlucky circumstances my big baby girl had to spend an afternoon home without friends or baby sister. None of her friends were able to play and so she was faced with nothing to do. Off course there were plenty of things to do, but for some reason she was bored. And so I was faced with a dilemma. Do I let her be bored and grumpy? This would usually be my choice as I think it is also a bit of a learning experience for her... Or do I pick her up and do something fun with her?

I chose to do something with her, but under my conditions. I wanted her to help me cook something. Anything...didn't matter what. She could choose.

And she chose ice cream. But not just any ice cream. No, my baby girl has a thing for lemons, absolutely loves them! So when we found a recipe for Super Lemon Ice Cream, the choice was obvious.

Super Lemon Ice Cream it was to be. Again this is an easy recipe. No cooking involved (my favorite!), a nice fresh taste, but not too lemony so you won't be puckering up. No, it has a very full lemon flavour, but one you can easily handle. All-in-all a great recipe for those hot, sweltering days, when you really don't feel like doing anything!


Super Lemon Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart

Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
2 cups of half-and-half
Pinch of salt


Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender.

Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine.

Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Blend in the half-and-half until smooth.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Source: The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Berry Tartlets

Whenever we are in France we indulge ourselves in, well almost anything, from the beautiful scenery, to the fantastic weather, but mostly we indulge ourselves in the amazing food. One of the things that to me are mandatory are Fruit Tartlets. You can get these at any patisserie and, though there are off course differences, they are always good.

When I'm eating a fruit tartlet it instantly transports me back to warm lazy summer days in France.

This time of year there are a lot of different berries, so when my baby girl came home from school with a whole bunch of berries from the school garden I immediately wanted to make these typical french fruit tartlets. The beauty of these tartlets is that you can use any kind of fruit you like. I love them with raspberries, but other kind of berries are high on the list as well.

I love the combination of the sweetness of the pastry cream combined with the tanginess of the berries. It is a piece of summer on a plate.

Although you can make one big tart I love these in one-person tartlets. It also makes handling the tartlets easier, as the dough is very, very fragile. Which it is supposed to be, but making it into a large tart can be very tricky...

You can prepare everything ahead and assemble the tartlets the moment you need them. It only takes a couple of minutes to put everything together. So it makes these tartlets perfect for a dessert with a huge wow-factor!


Berry Tartlets

Yield: 6 one-person tartlets


For the tartlets:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

For the pasty cream:
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, cut in to bits, at room temperature

1 - 1 1/2 pints berries of your choice
1/4 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for glazing (optional)


For the Tartlets:
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in.

Stir the egg yolk, to break it up, and add it little by little to the flour, pulsing after each addition. When the egg yolk is completely in, process in long pulses, about 10 seconds, until the dough forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage the sound of the machine will change.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. But keep the kneading to a bare minimum.

Butter the tartlet pans (with a removable bottom). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F).

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Because you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil.

Bake the tartlets for another 5-8 minutes until firm and golden brown. Transfer the tartlets to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before filling.

For the pastry cream:
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and the cornstarch, until thick and well blended.

While whisking continually slowly drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the egg yolks. Slowly pour in the remaining milk, while still whisking. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cold. Or put the bowl in ice cold water, stirring occasionally until thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Assembling the tartlets:
Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough of the pastry cream into the crusts to come almost to the rim. Even the surface with a rubber spatula. Lay the berries on the cream, arranging them how you like.

For the glazing (optional):
Bring the jelly and the water to a boil. Working with a pastry brush, dab each berry with a spot of jelly, or glaze the entire surface of the tartlets. While I skipped this step it does keep the berries sticking together and to the tartlets, making them slightly easier to eat.

Source: Baking, from my home to yours, Dorie Greenspan