Poffertjes

This is the fourth and last installment (for now, anyway) of my series of Dutch sweets made with batter, which so fas has covered pancakes, oliebollen and appelflappen. Poffertjes are tiny pancakes made with a yeasted batter in a special pan called a poffertjespan.  They are usually served with melted butter and powdered sugar. Poffertjes are something you eat mostly as a kid, as a treat from grandma. Poffertjes are prepared at home or bought from a specialized streeet vendor, a poffertjeskraam. Poffertjes should be slightly crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. Continue reading “Poffertjes”

Malloreddus Pasta with Fennel and Sausage

I’ve been to most of the regions of Italy, but not yet to the island of Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian). Owen, one of the long time readers of this blog, requested a recipe for malloreddus, the typical pasta shape of Sardinia. At first I thought I had never heard of them, but then I realized that they are also known as “gnocchetti sardi”, and that DeCecco produces a dry version of them. I did some research and talked online to someone from Sardinia and found out that malloreddus are made from semolina flour and water, and that on Sundays saffron is added to the water (as saffron is too expensive to use on a daily basis). Continue reading “Malloreddus Pasta with Fennel and Sausage”

Celeriac Ravioli with Eel Tomato Sauce

Obtaining fresh seafood on a holiday is always problematic, but I wanted to serve seafood for at least one of the courses of the Christmas menu anyway. I’ve done lobster in the past, which you can keep alive in your refrigerator. Then I thought of eel. In Italy eel is prepared for New Year’s eve to ward off evil, so it is traditional for the holiday season. When I saw live eel at the fishmonger’s, my problem was solved. Continue reading “Celeriac Ravioli with Eel Tomato Sauce”

Fresh Pasta Squares with Peas and Prosciutto (Quadrucci con Piselli e Crudo)

On this blog I like to share all my foody adventures with you. More and more often they are inspired by other bloggers, and as you may have noticed if you have been following my blog for a while, I do not mind at all to blog about the results of trying other blogger’s ideas and giving them credit.

Today’s post is about a simple but very tasty Italian dish (aren’t they all): pasta with peas and ham. I’ve already done a post about pasta with (boiled) ham, peas, and cream, which was inspired by CampariGirl. Today’s version is different in a couple of ways: it uses cured ham (prosciutto crudo) instead of boiled ham (prosciutto cotto), it uses fresh pasta, and it doesn’t use cream. It has also been inspired by another of my favorite bloggers: Josephine of My Home Food That’s Amore. She is a wonderful person who shares her love for simple but tasty Italian food on her blog. Thanks, Jo, for introducing me to quadrucci, a type of fresh pasta that I had not seen before. I love them! Continue reading “Fresh Pasta Squares with Peas and Prosciutto (Quadrucci con Piselli e Crudo)”

Homemade Amaretti

Amaretti are those crispy Italian almond cookies that are crumbled and used for cakes, and in fact are not made of almonds but of apricot kernels. The word “amaretti” means “little bitter ones”. The home made variety is in fact made of almonds and it is initially more chewy than brittle. The recipe is easy: almond meal, egg whites, caster sugar, almond extract, and a pinch of salt. I’ve created my own recipe for cookies that was based upon this, adding lemon zest and coconut to the mix. I’ve been making them for so long that I wanted to make simple amaretti again just to see how I’d like them. The verdict is that I like them, but I like my enhanced variety better 🙂 Continue reading “Homemade Amaretti”

Fresh Pomegranate Juice

I’ve never really liked pomegranate juice because I always thought it was too astringent. Boy was I wrong! I had just never tasted fresh pomegranate juice before. Just like with orange juice, there is a huge difference between the real thing (i.e. freshly squeezed) and store-bought stuff. A post on REMCooks.com inspired me to try making my own pomegranate juice, and I absolutely loved it. Thanks, Richard! Fresh pomegranate juice is as different from store-bought pomegranate juice as freshly squeezed orange juice is different from orange juice from concentrate. Fresh pomegranate juice is sweeter, less astringent, and has a wonderful flavor. It also is very healthy. Continue reading “Fresh Pomegranate Juice”

Duck Stock

The flavor of soups, sauces, and especially risottos depends heavily on the quality of the stock used. Bouillon cubes are terrible because they are usually more than 99% salt. Store-bought stocks usually also have a very high salt content, which renders them useless for sauces and risotto. And it is so easy to make your own stock, it only takes a bit of patience.

From the comments of my readers and recipes on many other blogs, I’m starting to get the impression that many cooks out there believe there are only about four types of stock: vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, and fish stock. However, stock can be made from virtually anything and each ingredient gives off a characteristic flavor. So you can also prepare lamb stock, shrimp stock, pork stock, rabbit stock, hare stock, pheasant stock, etc. If you make a lamb dish with a sauce or a lamb stew, you will get more lamb flavor if you use lamb stock rather than beef stock.

So even though making duck stock is not different from making chicken stock (except that you use duck rather than chicken), I’m posting about it anyway to emphasize that duck stock exists, easy to make at home, and preferable to chicken stock in most cases for duck dishes. Continue reading “Duck Stock”

Pear Ice Cream

Pears are in season, and pear ice cream is one of my favorite flavors. If you own an ice cream maker, making your own pear ice cream is very easy. Just blend all the ingredients and pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. The ‘official’ way to make ice cream requires you to cook a custard first, but if you don’t mind eating raw egg yolks then that step can be skipped and you will still end up with very nice ice cream. The advantage of making your own ice cream from scratch is that there are no artificial flavors, just actual pears.

The most important thing to remember is to use ripe pears, and it pays off to buy them a week in advance if needed as they will ripen after you buy them. To obtain firm but pliable ice cream and just a touch of lemon, I add a small amount of limoncello. The alcohol will prevent the ice cream from freezing into a brick.
Continue reading “Pear Ice Cream”

Tarte Tatin

One of the most famous French tarts is the upside-down apple tart that according to legend was created by mistake by the Tatin sisters in the 1880s. Baking the cake upside-down helps to keep the crust crispy. The other success factor is the combination of apples with caramel. It sure is delicious and not that hard to make — the tricky part is turning it at the end.

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A few weeks ago I made a very simple Tatin cheat using store-bought puff pastry but without turning the tart. Many recipes for Tarte Tatin use store-bought puff pastry, but I’m quite sure that the Tatin sisters used more simple pastry so instead I made pastry dough from scratch. Here’s my version. You will need an oven-proof flat pan with a diameter of 28 cm (11″). Continue reading “Tarte Tatin”

Cold-fermented Pizza Dough

Although baking pizza on an aluminum plate under the broiler was a major improvement, I was not completely satisfied as it was very hard to stretch the dough. It kept retracting. I had also read in many sources that real pizza dough should have no sugar or olive oil, which I did include to let it brown more easily. So I did some more research and found an interesting article on Serious Eats about letting dough cold fermet for several days rather than letting it rise in a few hours. I gave it a try, and the results were amazing! … Continue reading Cold-fermented Pizza Dough