more eating than cooking

it’s been quiet here . There are several reasons: I did not have much time or energy to do the daring cook thing, and some of the last challenges didn’t appeal to me all that much. I haven’t been cooking many new things lately. And then we have this big party in the summer that needs to be planned (it is going to be wonderful).

But, we have been eating out a lot lately, and I bought myself a new cookbook: Home Made Summer, by Yvette van Boven. I first saw this at a friend of mine’s and liked it immediately. can’t wait to have a quiet weekend with lots of shopping at the market and then playing in the kitchen with in.

As for eating out, we went to (not in this order):

1) Bestial (twice). Happy to say that service has improved! We are especially glad about the new bar tender Sam, who makes very good cocktails (he was in Sierra, Oldenburg before). We ate burgers one time, which were good. Good quality meat, not to dry (and not to medium), with nice bread, and good sauces. The pinot noir went down well also. (we started with an aperol spritz, not made by Sam, and that was unfortunately not all that great. Or let’s say: mine is better.) The second we came here, we ate from the grill. They placed two huges grills on the terrace and make a very nice menu from them. A recommendation! fresh meat, nice vegetables and interesting combinations (but I don’t remember them all that well anymore, except for the patty from calb meat, which was lovely).

2) der Schwan. This was basically just because we had a meeting there and hadn’t had anything to eat. I wouldn’t go there for dinner, because the food is not great, and I especially do not like the service there. They are extremely slow, unattentive and sometimes even rude. But, we again had burgers with fries and they were ok. And of course it has a very nice terrace directly next to the small harbour. Anyway, for a beer or so it is nice. Wouldn’t come back for food though.

3) Schmitz. We’ve been here before and were very happy about this ‘newish’ restaurant. They changed the menu a bit since last time, now also offering a menu with a wine menu as well, which is what we took. Before that we had austern, always nice, even though it was not the best time of the year (but, we had to celebrate a birthday, so what can you do?). After that, we had the three course menu, starting with tuna in two variations (one grilled, one as a tartare), both delicious. Very good quality fish, very fresh tastes and great combinations (with mint for instance), without being complicated or prententious. This was followed by calb in a sauce with herbs, with polenta and some things I don’t recall (and somehow the pics on my camera are gone, so I cannot trigger my memory). Desert was great, but too much, which I always find a pity, because you then end up feeling overeaten. (ok I did not have to eat all, but it really was very nice!). In Schmitz, service is great, for instance, we got a luke warm red wine to our main dish, which, really was just too warm. We commented on it, and immediately got a new glass, from a bottle taking directly from the cellar, which had a perfect temperature. Of course, if you pay a little more, this is what you should be able to expect. But it is nice anyway.

4) Het Strand (Katwijk, Netherlands). Sliptongetjes met patat, after a walk at the beach. Perfect. It is full, loud, relatively expensive (although I think the prices for the fish are justified, sliptong is not supposed to be cheap!), but the view of the sea makes you forgive everything.

5) Bistro Bord’o (Leiden, Netherlands). This I will probably do in a longer blog post with pictures. Summary: really good food, creative kitchen, beautiful plates, very nice wines, good service.

Some more dining out this week, and then for the rest of the month and next month, I would really like to eat in, and start cooking all those nice summer vegetables that are arriving at our market!


Dutch Kitchen: gevulde koek

This weekend I finally gave the recipe for ‘gevulde koek’ (a typical Dutch filled pastry) a try. Something I had wanted to make for a long time, since I love gevulde koeken and they are hard to get here in Germany. It looked quite complicated though, which is why I hesitated for quite some time. I used the recipe from the book: de banketbakker, by Cees Holtkamp. Possibly the best book on Dutch cookies, pastries, cakes etc. And it is in fact not all that complicated.

Start at least 4 days in advance with the filling! This is what you’ll need:

for the filling:

white 150 gr almonds, 150 gr sugar, about 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest

for the dough:

200gr butter, 100 gr caster sugar, 6gr baking power, half an egg, a pinch of salt, 300gr zeeuwse bloem, a teaspoon grated lemon zest.

For assembling: more eggs (about 3-4), about 20 whole almonds.

Zeeuwse bloem is fine  low gluten flour, which is similar to German 405 or English ‘pastry flour’ or Italian 00 flour according to this website. I haven’t tried out any of the variants, since I got some zeeuwse bloem from a friend of mine.

Start at least 4 days in advance making the filling. It is a simple almond filling (amandelspijs), which is used  often in Dutch pastries (see my gevulde speculaas entry).  Try to grind the almonds as finely as possible, mix with the sugar and lemon zest and then mix in the beaten egg. The consistency should be like a thick paste. Put this in the fridge to let it ripen. And yes, it is ok to have the raw egg in it for 4 days (or even more, I had it there for almost 6 days and we didn’t get ill from the koeken), there is so much sugar in it, that nothing bad can happen to it. Of course you should always use fresh eggs for this. The paste really gets better when it gets some time to ripen in the fridge.

Then it is time to make the cookies.

First make the dough: mix everything but the flour, until well mixed. Then add the flour (I do this with my hands, that’s the easiest way), form a ball, put this in cling foil and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

Then: assembling!

First preheat the ofen at 210 degrees. Then carefully role the dough (which is called ‘weenerdeeg’) until 2mm thick (i had mine a bit thicker, which was not so good, cause then the cookies become a bit drier.) and then make about 24 round pieces of about 10 cm diameter (or more if you want smaller cookies like I did). Put half of them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Now first, mix the filling with some beaten egg so that it is just about possible to spray it, be carefull not too make it too thin, it should not drip, or run from your cookie. Mine was definitely too think this first time, and I made a huge mess. Actually, come to think of it, next time I will use a teaspoon. Try to get as much of the paste on the cookie as possible. When done, cover all the cookies with the other pieces of dough and push the sides together a little bit so that they stick. Now cover each cookie with some more beaten egg and put one whole almond in the middle of it. After half an hour cover with some more beaten egg and bake in the oven in about 10-15 minutes.


This is what they should look like:IMG_2912

Although very pretty, I need to try again. My dough was a little too thick and my filling was way too thin, hence, I had relatively much dough and relatively little filling in each ‘gevulde koek’. It tasted nice, but was not yet exactly what one buys in a Dutch bakery. But: their looks are perfect!


Dutch kitchen: Stamppot rauw andijvie

One of my alltime favourite dishes is a traditional dutch dish: stamppot rauw andijvie. Which translates as: stew of raw endive, or better described: mashed potatoes mixed with uncooked endive.

I love it. And it’s the time of the year, so here comes a recipe for two hungry people, since this is perfect food for after working in the garden for a whole day, hiking or any exhausting and outside activity.

You’ll need:

  • endive, not too much, one crop is usually too much, but you can eat it as salad as well.
  • kilo potatoes ( the sort you would buy for mashed potatoes)
  • 100- 200 gr striped bacon cut in small cubes or pieces (basically as much as you like, is there such a thing as too much bacon?)
  • one or two eggs per person
  • milk
  • butter
  • pepper, salt

BTW: vegetarian variant, also very very good: instead of bacon, either use an old cheese (any not too mild cheese would work I think, but of course if you can get a mature gouda that would be nice), or a combination of cheese and roughly chopped cashew nuts. Of course these do not need to be fried crispy, but apart from that follow the recipe below.

Peel and cook the potatoes in enough water, with salt. In the meantime, wash and cut the endive in small stripes. I usually take of single leaves and then cut these in stripes of about half a centimeter or even less (this way you can save the rest of the crop for a neighboor, or for making salad). Lots of dutch people are less sensitive about this and just roughly cut it. Wash well, cause it is gonna be sandy. The amount you’ll need for two persons is about one big colander full. But again, this depends on taste as well. I like it if the mix is green, and you yet you still taste the potatoes as well (see picture). Cut the bacon in small cubes. Fry them until crispy.

When the potatoes are done, mash them together with a bit of butter and a good splash of milk, until you have a nice and smooth mash. It doesn’t need to be fully smooth, there can be smaller parts of potatoes in it (again, this depends a bit on taste). Make sure it doesn’t cool too much, either by mashing it while still on the stove, or by being quick!

Then, switch of the heat and mix in the bacon and the endive, for the latter: as much as you like. Work quickly, cause you do not want to cook the endive, it should be as fresh and crisp as possibly, cause this gives the whole dish its freshness, with a slight bitterness. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the mix seems dry add some more milk/butter. In the meanwhile, use the pan that you used for the bacon to fry one or two eggs per person. I like them best when the yolk is still soft and the rest is done.

Serve a generous amount on a plate and put the egg(s) on top. Enjoy!


OK, it is not really pretty food, but, it is the perfect comfort food, really!


gevulde speculaas -update

My gevulde speculaas baking infected die Kaltmamsell, who turned it into a much less messy baking event: a couple of changes to the original   recipe makes our lives much easier (and the kitchen cleaner). Thanks dear Kaltmamsell!

So, first of all: you can make the dough in advance, it is even recommended, but, do not leave it in the fridge all the time, cause it’s gonna be rock hard and you will not be able to use it. Either take it out well in advance, or, like I did last time, just let it rest in a relatively cool place. This makes it much easier to get it into the form.

Second: I followed Kaltmamsell’s recommendation and first made the top of the speculaas, rolling half of the dough (or in fact a little less than half) on cling film, which I put on the form, so that it had exactly the right size. (I used a springform, so this was easy). once done, put it aside and the role the other half onto the form. I left over a little bit of dough to make a small edge/rim, so that the almond filling is covered from the sides as well. I just rolled this on my working top, cut small stripes and put them carefully into the form. After this the almond paste comes in. Mine is to thin to role, but I actually think that makes it easier. Just put it in, and then, carefully smear it into the form, so that it is divided equally. I used a spoon for that, which I made wet with a bit of water, so that the paste does not stick to it.

Then: tricky part: getting the top on the almond paste. I now had a beautifull top, but…no idea how to get it in without making a new mess. I just turned it over carefully, and it happened to land approximately there where I wanted to have it, but it also broke a little bit. I think as Kaltmamsell suggest, the Tortenretter (no idea how to translate that) is indeed needed here.

I’ll have to make another one, to optimize the process!

But, most importantly: the taste was great. It had a nice crust, I made it a little less sweet, and all agreed it was very good and better than the stuff bought in the supermarket.IMG_2858

White beans with chorizo and tomatoes

I am always a little bit proud (well quite a bit actually) of myself when I cook something without a recipe. I mean: when I actually invent a recipe. Of course I often cook without a recipe, but that’s because I know the recipe by heart. Very seldomly do i actually cook something that I invented myself.

Today I made white beans with chorizo. And I may not be the first or the only one who ever made this. But I created this recipe myself, and I have to say, it’s good. And it’s a quick dish too. Takes about 20 minutes all in all.

So here goes, and I am not good with planning amounts, so go with whatever you feel like. You’ll need fresh white beans by the way. Fresh white beans taste much better than the dried ones, and are hardly comparable to the stuff from a can.

  • about 500gr fresh white beans
  • about 100 gram chorizo (actually we had chorizo and another hot garlicy dried italian sausage), cut in small pieces
  • 2-3 spring onions finely sliced
  • one small onion, in thin half rings
  • one garlic clove, sliced
  • tomatoes ( I put in 6, more is ok as well), cut in 6 pieces
  • flat parsley (a bit), roughly chopped


  • Wash the beans and then cook them in enough salty water, it took a little more than 15 minutes until they were done.
  • In the meanwhile cut the onion and chorizo and garlic and slowly fry it in a little oil (I used olive oil).
  • Then, chop the parsley, cut the spring onions and the tomatoes.
  • Add the tomatoes to the onion and chorizo, but not too long before the white beans are done, cause then you’ll just have tomato sauce and I wanted to have some pieces of tomato. Of course, I you rather have sauce…cook them longer.
  • Try whether the beans are done, and if so, throw away there cooking water and add the beans to the pan with the tomatoes and chorizo.
  • Carefully stir and heat through and through so that all flavors are mixed, and then add the spring onions and parsley and eventually salt and pepper to taste. I also added a good splash of good olive oil at this point. Mix well.
  • Done. You are ready to eat. Enjoy!

It’s an Eeny, Meenie, Miney, Moe Cooks’ Challenge! Gevulde Speculaas

In a “celebration” of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

So, I picked this: Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was our January 2013 Daring Bakers’ Hostess and she
challenged us to make the traditional Dutch pastry, Gevulde Speculaas from scratch! That includes making our
own spice mix, almond paste and dough! Delicious!

First of all, I thought it would be nice to do some baking instead of cooking this time. Second, I am Dutch, living in Germany, where it is very hard to get a good gevulde speculaas. Finally, I am Dutch, I love gevulde speculaas, surely I can make this myself??

Well, yes, I can, as it turned out, and it is not even all that bad, but oh my god is that messy! I probably did several things wrong, and I admit I also smuggled a bit by not making my own spice mix. I still had speculaas spices in my cupboard which I wanted to use (sorry).

Except for not using my own spices, I pretty much followed Francijn’s recipe. Making the almond paste was easy (it does become better if you leave it in the refrigerator for two-three days, and making the dough was easy as well.

But, I let the dough rest in the fridge for one whole day and then took it out yesterday after cooking, and then it was completely stone hard. Pffft (i could have known with this amount of butter). So first, I had to wait. Then after it softened somewhat, it turned out quite hard to roll it exactly into the shape of my form, it broke all the time. Which for the bottom was not a real problem, I just pasted it in, but, the second layer on top was really frustrating. The good thing though: you can cover any mistakes with almonds, and in the oven the dough melts together again anyway.

Then another problem was that my almond past was a little too thin. This was basically very very messy, but I got it in, and it looked kind of ok. (and I was sticky afterwards). Anyway, although it was messy and somewhat frustrating, it turned out fine:



Daring Kitchen: POTATO GNOCCHI

Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

Gnocchi: Love them! And hadn’t made them for quite some time, so this challenge came to the right time. Only, I did not have all that much time, crazy work month this month, so I decided to go for something easy, but fun. I wanted coloured gnocchi. And since we’ve discovered a new market stand, which sells old, and interesting, and colourful vegetables, the idea came to make purple gnocchi. With a purple potato, which I love anyway, because it is so pretty, and very tasteful. The potato on offer was called ‘blauer Hermann’, a solid potato, which was however, according to the guy who sold them, very good for mashed potato as well. Which meant to me: good gnocchi potato.

I used a variant of a recipe I have been using for gnocchi before, which comes from the silver spoon: 500 gram potatoes, 100 gram flour (or a little more), 1 small egg, a little salt.

Cook the potatoes in salted water until done, mash them as good as you can (use a ricer, that’s the easiest way), and let it cool a little. Then mix with flour and egg. If it is too sticky: add some more flour. The more flour, the less light they get. I do not mind the stickyness all that much. When everything is mixed well, I flour the working space on which I will be rolling very well, and my hands as well. Then I put one largetablespoon of gnocchi dough on the working space, roll the dough until it is about as thick as my smallest finger (this actually really is a matter of taste I think) and then cut them in 1 cm size (well about) pieces. I never bothered with scoring the pieces on a board or with a fork, probably because I am too lazy. Never mind, I think the gnocchi taste just as well (it might be better for the sauce though). Set the gnocchi that are done aside on a floured plate or so.

Then boil a huge pan of water, and through in the gnocchi, in small portions. They are done as soon as they are getting to the surface again. Get them out, and boil the rest.

We ate these gnocchi (aren’t they pretty?), with brown butter with sage and pine nuts and lots of parmesan. Hmmmm nice!


purple gnocchi_combi