Local Heart, Global Soul

December 14, 2017

When Your Bread Leaps Out At You…

Filed under: BELGIUM,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Belgium supermarket just a few kilometers from Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, has come up with a third and final surprise.

Still in the bakery section where I found the bread slicing machines of yeterday’s post, I now find another difference to Dutch supermarkets.

There are individual cabinets for the various bread loaves, Ok, a few Dutch supermarkets have this but we have seen it more often in Germany.

The ones we have seen before however are just the sort where there is a row of (usually perspex) containers, and they have drop-down (or occasionally lift-up) doors so that you can reach the items inside.

This one goes a leap further because each section extends out quite a distance, that said I have not quite figured out why this would be a bigger advantage over the “flat” wall systems we already know.

I can only guess at two reasons: it would be easier for staff to clean inside the cabinets and if two customers wanted access to the same cabinet then they could take a side each and get what they want without waiting. there are probably more reasons that I haven’t twigged to yet, but this style of bakery cabinet is yet another ‘first” that we have seen here. I know… it’s the small things that get me excited, but I prefer to think of it as: a new discovery is a new discovery no matter how big it is.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 13, 2017

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? …

Filed under: BELGIUM,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Still inside the supermarket of yesterday’s post I now see a second thing I have never seen before: a machine where customers can slice their own bread.

A different form of the slicer is less unusual, most Dutch barkeries have them, you select your whole loaf and if you don’t want to slice it yourself at home, then you ask the bakery staff to cut it for you on the machine behind the counter.

What is completely different about these two machines is that customers slice their bread themselves: it even has adjustments where you can choose various thicknesses, you choose which setting you want, slice the loaf and then the bag slips over the metal bar that the bread is standing on and everything slides into the bag in one smooth go.

Perfect! I love this idea, the fact that there are two machines and not one must also mean that these get plenty of use.

It would also save time, no need to stand in a queue waiting to have your bread sliced. I think that the main reason bread is only sliced at point of sale is: some people prefer to cut their loaf at home, others not so this saves having two uncut when maybe one customer wants cut the other not, and the uncut bread stay fresher for longer since less air gets around the bread to dry it out. If a household uses less bread they may prefer to slice it as they need it. It’s a way to save waste too, you stock the bread in a form where it can be sold either way then let the customer choose their preference.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 8, 2017

Oh, And Just A Little Mayonnaise Please…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Any New Zealander will tell you that when you want something to put onto fries, nothing beats good old “Watties” (brand) tomato sauce.

Not just any tomato sauce, it has to be Watties.

You can taste the difference of substitutes a kilometre away, and the absence of it in Europe is the reason I would rather eat fries with just a little salt than anything else.

Ask any born and bred Dutch person though and you will get the answer for their preferred topping in a nano-second: mayonnaise. In fact for many Dutch, anything except mayonnaise is almost unthinkable.

After a busy morning touring Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, Himself suggested some fries for lunch.

He was hungry, after all all I have to do is sit in the wheelchair and take photographs, he’s the one doing the pushing.

After twenty-three years of marriage I know he’s a big fan of mayonnaise but nothing quite prepared me for the sight that greeted me when he exited the shop with this. I was about to say “this monstrosity” but since we were sharing and I was getting the mayo-free ones from the bottom I thought I better not make too much fuss over how gross I thought this looked. Needless to say ALL of the mayonnaise was for him. Good thing he’s in training for a marathon, you’d need to after a lunch like this.

November 19, 2017

Delighting In The “Every Day”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Arriving for breakfast in Baarle Nassau’s “Den Engel” (The Angel) Hotel is a tricky ordeal for us arty folks.

On one hand you are hungry but on the other you can not bear to tear yourself away from the delicious stained glass windows that illustrate the long and colourful history of this southern Dutch town.

Eventually my hunger won,  with more than a little help from Himself  who eventually said he would rather not dine alone so please come to the table please.

Breakfast was well worth stopping for: we were up early so had the serre to ourselves right until the very last part of our meal.

We were treated to a continental breakfast, tea / coffee,  choice of breads and toast, cold meats, sweet spreads and cheeses, eggs prepared to our preference and juices. We had already decided to build in several breaks into the day, an early start would allow us to do this and still have time for a leisurely dinner in the evening. Pattern, texture and form delight me, so after breakfast I got photographs of the seats by the bar area, and a massive pile of cloth serviette. The latter was not anything special as in rare antique or specialist work of art, I was just drawn to how the stack looked, it’s folds, shadows and composition. I suppose that’s me in a nutshell: I can find equal beauty in an old Master and a stack of serviette, it’s the delight in the “every day”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.hoteldenengel.nl/
Hotel Den Engel / Baarle Nassau / (Baarle-Nassau/Hertog) The Netherlands

November 16, 2017

The Ultimate Compliment To Give To A Good Meal…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before I get to the beautiful interior of the “Den Engel Hotel” (the Angel Hotel) in Baarle Nassau, I will first give you a glimpse of the delicious cuisine.

After a busy day and journey here, Himself and I were ravenous.

We had booked a table in the hotel restaurant when we checked in, and were among a group of late diners.

A large group had a long table close by, judging by the banter we heard and the ages of those at the tables, someone there was having a special birthday and the entire close family were present.

We were tucked away by the window in relative quietness, and with the main rush of the evening already over, and other staff assigned to the birthday group, our waiter had time to give recommendations, and explain the menu in detail.

Himself chose steak and I chose prawns: we shared a side salad for two plus fries. An appetizer arrived soon after we sat down, we were both so hungry that my plate was empty and Himself was on his last bite when I grabbed the camera and remembered to snap a photo. Everything in the main course was delicious and things got even better when dessert arrived. I’d ordered a waffle (not my usual sort of dessert, especially because it came with loads of whipped cream which I usually avoid because it’s bad for my asthma). On this occasion the dietary restrictions went out of the window and I indulged, an experience made doubly delicious by the addition of lashings of warm chocolate sauce.

Himself usually helps me out with desserts but not on this occasion because he said that eating anything sweet would ruin the taste of his cheeseboard. So I was (sigh) “forced” to finish this myself. If that’s not taking one for the team I don’t know what is. The small detour outside to get to our room gave us both a much needed breath of fresh air after we had stuffed ourselves. It was a classic case of “I’m full, but this is so good I’m finishing it anyway“. Himself had the same with his cheeseboard. I suppose that’s the ultimate compliment to give to a good meal.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.hoteldenengel.nl/
Hotel Den Engel / Baarle Nassau / (Baarle-Nassau/Hertog) The Netherlands

November 8, 2017

Step-By-Step: Wok Are Your Tips And Tricks?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I covered our discovery of “Eazie” in Scheveningen, one of a chain of restaurants in the Netherlands.

The principle behind the cuisine is that diners select fresh ingredients which are then wok fried in front of them, the prepared food can be eaten in the restaurant or taken away.  As usual I asked permission to take photographs of the restaurant interior and once given, added that I would love to also take photographs of the cooking process.

Permission was given for that too and soon I was clicking away. During this observation I also picked up some wok cooking tips and tricks. The first tip for doing this at home is probably the most basic: all meat, fish and veggies have to be cut in sizes suitable to them all cooking evenly together.

The thickness of all the carrot pieces, for instance should be as uniform as possible. I have the luxury of having an electric slicer, and during the summer tried an experiment that turned out to be a huge success. I got Himself to bring home a huge bag of veggies from the Haagse markt where  the prices are less than half the price of the supermarkets.

That said, you will need to do a fraction more work with your bargains: (a) often you have to check veggies for bad spots or the odd bit that’s well on the way to going rotten,(b) veggies are often waaay cheaper because they are misshapen, so be prepared to spend more time peeling around knobbly bits of carrots etc. (c) veggies are usually more on the “ripe” end of the scale than the “under ripe” end of the scale, so be careful buying in bulk if you can’t use it all before it’s past being edible.

Since sitting is something I do rather well these days, I sat on a stool and washed, peeled, topped, tailed, stripped off nasty outside bits of carrots, onions, beans, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum peppers, broccoli, and other seasonal veggies so that I had a massive pile of whole, but prepared veggies for slicing. Then the slicer came out and on a thin setting I started slicing it all.

Soon I was surrounded by mounds of white, green, orange and yellow veggies, which I then mixed up together. The last step was easy: fill up freezer bags and stack them all in the freezer. Whenever we fancied a stir-fry at a later date, all we had to do was grab a bag of pre-cut veggies from the freezer and head towards the stove. The thinness of the veggies means they separate, thaw and cook easily. The biggest surprise is that the onions and Chinese cabbage stayed white and mostly kept their shape, I had imagined I’d get a soggy brown mess once it thawed so this was a wonderful surprise.

Here at “Eazie” the veggies are fresh of course and not frozen; and have already been cut to appropriate thicknesses and even sizes.  An excellent tip I learned from these professionals is that they put your meat/fish/veg into a sieve and plunge it into a pot of boiling water to blanch them for a couple of minutes, then drain/ shake the water off and transfer everything to the waiting hot wok.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This not only partly cooks harder things like carrots, broccoli and cauli stems and the like, it also keeps the colours bright so the end result doesn’t look like a dull coloured mess. (I’ve been there with my stir-frys, I’ll bet you have on occasion too).

Then the hardest bit of all: a serious heat and a decent wok pan. Stupidly when I bought my new stove I was delighted that it had a special Wok burner that goes far harder than the other gas flames.

Less intelligent of me was that on this model stove this element is near the wall and not in the middle row (I have six burners), so I can only use a very small pan to use it with. I have been making do with a regular fry pan but think that I should think about getting a proper wok for the job because then the heat is in the right place at the right time.

The problem with a fry pan is that you have a lot of heat but the flames get too big around the pan so I keep turning it down, and needing longer cooking time and my stir-frys have been a little more wilted than I’d like.

I’ve heard raves about Ken Hom stainless woks so maybe I need to have a word with Santa about that one. The next thing I learn from watching the Eazie chefs is that they keep the heat high and the pan moving more than I imagined they would. They use the long handled spoon/ ladle thingy to work the sauce around the meat and veggies as the meal cooks. I am going to try this technique, especially the quick blanching first and see if I can improve not only the appearance but also the taste of my wok meals from now on.(Please note that my photos are a compilation of several different meals since I was tired and not all of my pics were sharp).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

November 7, 2017

Wok Kind Of Place Is “Eazie?”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter was responsible for the next stage of our family outing. Actually there was no saying “No” to this one, she was insistent that “Eazie” was the only place we would be going to eat.

The restaurant in question is located on the front side of the Kurhaus almost right on the junction of the Gevers Deynootweg and the Badhuisweg.

Set back just a fraction from the road, this is a place I remember vaguely from the past as a restaurant, but just not as this particular one.

The idea behind the menu is simple: These are custom-made wok meals. First as a customer you  choose from an array of fresh meat, fish and vegetables; these are put into bowl by staff,  you then choose a sauce and the chef cooks your selected wok meal for you in front of your eyes (should you wish to watch, rather than go take a seat).

Kiwi Daughter is sixteen and she and her friends have a series of favourite restaurants that they like to go to eat and hang out in, this is one of them. The food is fresh and tasty, it’s easy to cater to various dietary needs and specific cultural requirements, the prices are very reasonable and the seating areas are relaxed and comfortable for large or small groups. Since these kids are too young for bars, (Dutch law is strict about underage drinking) and they still have a decent amount of study to get done for school, these places are ideal meeting places, especially during weekends and school holidays.

Himself and I had never been here before so she was keen to show us around, point out how it worked and see if we agreed with her about how it tasted. We checked out the menu options: there are various sizes of meals, double portions of meat or fish have a small additional cost and some sauces are very spicy, some sweet. My one and only complaint is that there was no Soya sauce on the sauce menu since I prefer my wok veggies served with just a hint of salty flavour and nothing else. No double portions were needed on this occasion, we just started picking out vegetables with gusto.

Little Mr had been promised chicken nuggets as a treat but was prepared to wait for us to eat here first, so the rest of us got our bowls picked out and into their separate woks. Afterwards the food is transferred into cardboard boxes and served at the table from those into small bowls. Yum! This was excellent! Vegetables were cooked but still with crunch, we each had our favourite ingredients and this was relaxed, healthy and quick. I’d come here again no problem. Even better it’s possible to get food home delivered and there are more branches in the Hague and other Dutch cities.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

November 1, 2017

The Real Stars Of The Show Were The Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this last post from my night out learning how to decorate a cake, I set out with my fellow classmates to try and make  decent decoration with fondant.

I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve because I’d seen something on the internet but no real clue about how to go about it.

The first thing was to choose two blocks of ready-mixed fondant colours from the shop stock,  there were small amounts of other colours available from our tutor or we could arrange swaps around the table with other classmates.

I managed to get brown from the tutor which was pretty much all I needed. I wanted to sculpt a the head of a giraffe from my fondant, so with a print from the internet to go by, I set to work.

I found it easier then I expected in some ways, harder in others.

For instance sticking on the flat brown pieces was harder than it looked because you had to paint the back of the fondant piece with just the right amount of water: too little and it didn’t stick, too much and the piece would slide down the cake. I ended up holding quite a few pieces whilst they dried out a bit and this took up precious time. Time in fact was my biggest enemy, if I had tried this at home I would have sat down at a good moment when I had some energy and worked slowly.

The unused fondant pieces keep, and can be stored in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out so this would be an ideal project to have completed over a week. Instead my effort is a bit of a rush job, which is why my giraffe looks more like a dragon instead of a giraffe.Still, as a first attempt it was a learning project and if you got into doing this regularly (which I am not) then you would learn how to use the modeling tools and would get better at it. This was a strange mix of “I knew I could have done better’ and “not unhappy for a first attempt”.

The shop has every tool, cake form and item imaginable for cake decoration. There are even edible coloured powders, two of which I used (brown, and then a hint of gold) to dry ‘paint’ onto my cake. Again the time constraints didn’t help but practice would make perfect there too.The real stars of the show however, were the students cakes; some were for upcoming birthday parties or special occasions, my friend was going to gift hers to her neighbour who always helped her out if she needed a cake pan or other item. The rest, like mine were just heading home to be looked at and devoured…  what good is a pretty cake after all if it can’t be eaten!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 31, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Silicon Form Fondant Flowers & Decorative Strips.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of this year one of my best friends decided I needed that I needed to do something fun outside of home so booked the two of us on a cake decorating course.

We learned how to prepare a round cake for covering with fondant, how to then cover it without wrinkles.

Now our tutor demonstrates how to use silicon molds to make decorations for our cakes.

I did not personally use the molds because I already had a theme for my cake that did not involve them, but have enough photographs and notes about the technique to hopefully help you here.

She takes a silicon form that has on it a long beaded decorative strip (there is more than one pattern on the mold, but she is just using one of them).

This beaded strip of fondant will go around the bottom of the cake to hide the join between the cake and the board. A long thin “sausage” of fondant is hand rolled, it is then picked up and gently pushed into the mold, making sure that the entire length is filled up. Then, she uses the rolling pin to push the fondant into the mold. A small plastic palette knife is used to scrape off the excess in sections, not in one long swipe. The excess fondant is removed. Our tutor explains that a common error is that people try to ‘dig’ the fondant out of the mold, but this often results in breaking or damaging the fondant decoration. Instead the silicon is bent so that the fondant pops out. She then repeats the process as often as needed to complete the edging for the cake. (I have put the photographs for this next, then followed with the instructions and instruction for fondant flowers and other deeper decorative forms, so you may have to scroll a little).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then our tutor progresses to a fondant rose. First she dabbed the silicon mold with a small bag that contained a small amount of cornflower (cornstarch / maizena) because this mold is deeper and the fondant may be more difficult to remove intact. A ball of fondant is pushed into the mold, and the process that was used with the beaded strip of fondant was repeated. A small bend of the silicone form and voila! … a fondant rose appears. One of the other students said that if your form still sticks, then leaving the fondant to dry out a little may help, or even put the mold in the freezer for  ten minutes. I have no idea if this was a real ‘tip” though, or just a ‘via via’ thing that is more guesswork than fact. The lesson however is really helpful information for people like me who struggle to know where to start when it comes to using equipment like this. I have learned a lot and will hopefully now be a little more daring when it comes to decorating a cake!

Fondant Roses… Flowers and deeper decorative forms.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 30, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part I.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As usual I am all up in the air when it comes to concentration.

In yesterday’s post about Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part II    I managed to miss out quite a few photographs near the beginning that will probably be helpful.

This is why I have labeled this in the title as “Part I” and amended yesterday’s title to ” Part II”.

When I discovered my error I had  several options: leave them out and hope that anyone following my tutorial manages to muddle along anyway (duh, No!), re-do the post completely or, since there were quite a few photographs missing, make a new post detailing what was missed.

Of course it goes without saying that the last option was the only realistic one I would take.

The photographs concern the first part of when the fondant goes onto the cake, and since as the saying goes ” a picture is worth a thousand words” here are the photographs you will need if you are following this tutorial. The block of fondant is kneaded with the heel of the hand until it is soft enough to pull out without breaking off.After using the rolling pin to transfer the fondant to the cake you use the same technique as in yesterdays post to slowly cover the cake.

The real part that I missed was that when the fondant goes over the rim of the cake, use the inside edges of both hands to bring it in neatly. Then very gently pull out the fondant (but not stretch it!) so that the wrinkles are removed from the section you are working on, pat that section in neatly and then keep turn the cake on the turntable a small distance and repeat the easing out, patting in neatly, turning, making sure that you are slowly heading evenly towards the bottom of the cake.

It’s important to read these two posts as one instruction as a whole rather than attempting to do everything in one post and then everything in the other. Apologies for the jumbled up intermingled parts, my brain was not in gear when I labeled the many photographs I took , hence the mess. The last photos are the efforts of my friend and I: if we could manage to do this first attempt, then so can you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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