woensdag 27 maart 2013

Week 13: Sugar cookies

This week, we're making sugar cookies!

Fun fact: The American word 'cookie' comes from the Dutch 'koekje', whereas the British 'biscuit' comes from the French 'biscuit'. However, in Dutch, both 'biscuit' (pronounced the French way) and 'koekje' are used, with biscuit denoting those, uh, biscuits/cookies that have been baked twice and are therefore harder and more dry than koekjes.

This is a great, basic cookie recipe. With this recipe, you can have a batch of cookies in twenty minutes start to finish. Seriously. Although you may want to wait a minute or two for them to cool down before sticking them in your mouth. It is therefore also an excellent recipe to make with kids, particularly if you have cute cookie cutters!

If I had my way, by the way, these would be called 'vanilla cookies' rather than 'sugar cookies'.

Sugar cookies
75 g cold butter, diced
75 g table sugar
225 g flour
1 egg
1 vanilla bean
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade.
With the tips of your fingers, rub the butter, sugar and flour together in a bowl until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the egg. Cut the vanilla bean open and scrape the insides with a knife to collect all the pulp. Add to the dough. Continue mixing the dough until it is firm. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is approximately 5 mm thick. Use cookie cutters up to 7 cm in diameter to cut out cookies, or cut rectangles of ca. 6x4 cm. Knead all the leftover bits together, roll out again and repeat until you run out of dough or you're tired of the whole thing. Place on a baking tray covered with baking parchment. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the edges start to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool for 1 minute on the tray, then dust with confectioner's sugar. Move the cookies to a rack to cool off completely. Keep in an airtight container - or just eat the lot now. Enjoy!

Tip: Don't discard the vanilla pod after you've scraped out the marrow! Vanilla beans keep their scent and flavour for quite a while. You can use the empty pod to give flavour to, for example, rice pudding; or you can keep it in a small jar with sugar to make your own vanilla sugar.

Tip: Instead of vanilla, try some grated lemon or orange zest, or cinnamon!

woensdag 20 maart 2013

Week 12: Orange cake

This week, we're making orange cake!

What can I say about orange cake? This is a dense, rich cake made with butter and plenty of eggs. I prefer to make my cakes with less sugar than a lot of recipes call for, which in my opinion puts the emphasis more on the ingredients that give a cake taste - vanilla, cocoa powder or as in this case, orange. Great to serve with tea, or take into work to leave by the coffee machine. Everyone will love you for it!
Orange cake
250 g self-rising flour (or flour with baking powder)
125 unsalted butter, melted
150 g castor sugar
3 eggs
100 ml orange juice
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade.
Beat the eggs and sugar for 10-12 minutes, until very thick. Keep beating while pouring in the butter, then the orange juice and zest. Sift the flour and salt into the mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour into the batter until it's smooth (but no longer!). Pour the batter in a well-buttered gugelhupf. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean and dry. Leave to cool in the gugelhupf for 15 minutes, then tip unto a rack and leave to cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

Tip: Make an orange syrup from orange juice and sugar or orange juice and honey and sprinkle this over the cake before serving.

vrijdag 15 maart 2013

Extra recipe: Saffron-mango ice cream

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear che-ef, happy birthday to me! 

As you probably guessed from that, today is my birthday! And because it's my birthday, I've decided to cheat a bit and share a recipe with you that I actually haven't discovered yet in-game. On my request, my lovely sister figured out a delicious recipe for saffron-mango ice cream!

[this is where the GW2 recipe for saffron-mango ice cream would be if I had discovered it]

Hmm, mango. Who doesn't like mango? There are a few things you should know before trying to start this recipe. First off, you should start making this two days before whenever you want it finished. You will need an ice cream machine. This recipe contains raw eggs. For practical purposes, snow has been left out of this recipe, although you're more than welcome to add it if you think it will do any good.

My sister was also kind enough to add imperial measures and in-progress pictures! What more can you ask for!

Mango-saffron ice cream
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream (Dutch: slagroom)
1 cup (250 ml) half and half (Dutch: koffieroom)
1 vanilla bean
2 large or 3 small mangoes, peeled and stone removed
3 saffron threads

Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Bring the heavy cream, half and half, saffron and the vanilla bean and seeds to a boil and let it simmer on a low heat for approximately 20 min. Let the mixture cool completely, then cover it and refrigerate overnight.
Finely dice the mango
Puree the ingredients
Remove the vanilla bean from the cream mixture. Put the cream mixture, eggs and sugar in a blender and mix for about one minute, until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Add three quarters of the mango and blend until smooth. Cut the remaining mango into small dices. Stir in the diced mango and pour the mixture into an ice cream maker. Follow the instructions of your ice cream maker from here on. Enjoy!

woensdag 13 maart 2013

Week 11: Hearty red meat stew

This week, we're making a hearty red meat stew!

I like stews. They're a good, strong winter food. It's great if meat is expensive where you are, because you can use cheap cuts of meat and you can add a lot of bulk with vegetables. And they're more versatile than people think! This recipe is for quite a basic stew, obviously using the vegetables given in the GW2 recipes. A stew like this is great for using up leftover vegetables (you know, you buy a whole cabbage but only end up needing 3/4 of it, that type of thing). No flour or corn starch in this stew: the potatoes serve as the binding agent here. Nevertheless, if you find that the stew is a bit too liquid, just sprinkle a bit of flour over it and give it a good stir.

I only found out while making this recipe that the type of pan I have always used to make stews is called 'Dutch oven' in English. Which is pretty appropriate, as I'm Dutch. Anyway, I do recommend a Dutch oven, in particular because of the heavy lids, but don't fret if you don't have one.

Hearty red meat stew
Ingredients (4 servings):
450 g stew meat (beef)
2-3 onions
500 g potatoes (floury)
300 g carrot
3 stalks (ca. 200 g) celery
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
500 ml meat stock

Peel and halve the onions, then slice. Cut the celery stalks in half lengthwise, then slice. Cut the meat into bite size chunks. Heat some oil or butter in a large pot/Dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides. Add the onion and celery to the pot. Fry for 3 minutes while stirring. Add the meat stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pot and simmer for an hour*.
Peel and dice the potatoes. Add to the pot and stir well. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for another hour. 
Stir the stew well, breaking up the potato chunks to bind the stew. Clean and slice or dice (depending on their size) the carrots. Add to the pot and stir. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for another hour.
Finally, remove the bay leaves from the stew. Season to taste. Enjoy!

*: For some types of meat, you may want to simmer for a bit longer at this stage. The tougher the meat, the longer it needs to simmer.

woensdag 6 maart 2013

Week 10: Tomato-zucchini soup

This week, we're making tomato-zucchini soup!

This is a rich soup that can be a starter, or if you're not in the mood for a three course dinner just serve it with some bread and it'll work as a full meal. In GW2, you make this soup by adding a few ingredients to tomato soup, for which I already gave a recipe. So I'm going to stay with the basic structure of the tomato soup as I gave it earlier, with a few adaptations to properly incorporate the ingredients for the tomato-zucchini soup. I roast the zucchini in the oven, which gives it an absolutely stunning flavour, but if you're pressed for time just cut them into chunks and sauté these for a  few minutes before adding them to the soup.

Tomato-zucchini soup
Ingredients (4 servings as main course with bread):
800 ml poultry stock, or vegetable stock for vegetarians (from a cube or homemade)
800 g tomatoes
2-3 zucchinis
1 tblsp sugar
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 red chili pepper
1 tsp of fresh dill, chopped*
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
100 ml cream, milk, or sour cream
25 g butter
30 g flour

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Centigrade. Cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise. Place with the cut side down on a sheet of baking paper. Rub the outside with oil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, then check to see if they are browning unevenly. If they are, turn the baking sheet the other way; otherwise, leave as they are. Either way, roast them for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place aside so they can cool down enough for you to handle.
With a knife, make a shallow cross on the bottom of each tomato, just so it punctures the skin. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20 seconds and then immediately remove them and place them in a bowl with cold water (add a few ice cubes to keep it really cold, if you like). When they've cooled down, after a minute or so, take them out of the water and peel off the skin. Cut the tomatoes in chunks, discarding the watery seeds and the core.
Remove the seeds from the chili pepper (see 'tip') and chop finely. Chop the onion and the garlic. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a pot and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili pepper and dill and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat up. Bake for another 5 minutes, then add the poultry stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the soup to a bowl or food processor. Puree the mixture until it's smooth and drain through a sieve.
Cut the flesh from the zucchinis by laying them skin-side down, cutting along both sides and pulling the flesh out. Scrape your knife along the skin to remove any scraps of flesh left behind. Cut the flesh in bite-size chunks and discard the skins. In a large pot with a thick bottom, melt the butter over medium heat, until the butter stops bubbling but do not let it turn brown (we're making a white roux). Sieve part of the flour into the pot and stir well. Keep stirring until all the flour has been absorbed, then add the next portion of flour. When all the flour has been added, keep stirring until the roux is one firm ball. Next, add a cup of tomato soup and stir well until the mixture is smooth and even. Continue with the next cup of soup until all the soup has been added.
Add the zucchini chunks to the soup. Heat the soup through, add the sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the cream in just before serving, or pour a little bit of cream in each individual bowl. Enjoy!

Tip: to remove the seeds from a chili pepper, cut off the top, then roll the pepper between your hands vigorously. The seeds will come loose and you can just shake them out. This is particularly useful if you want to cut the pepper into neat rings rather than just chopping it.

*: Don't worry about this ingredient if you don't have it, the recipe works just as well without

This soup goes great with, for example, the rosemary bread we made last week!