Local Heart, Global Soul

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)

(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

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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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)

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 29, 2017

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next step in our evening cake workshop was the answer to two of the questions I always asked myself  whenever I tried to get fondant onto a cake.

My first question was always: “How come theirs is smooth and wrinkle free?” and my second question: “Why can’t I do that?”.

That evening I learned the true importance of having a few insider tips from someone experienced in the trade, and a couple of ‘must have” equipment pieces.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am all for using whatever I have to hand around the house.

No rolling pin? a wine bottle did the trick …not perfectly, but enough, once I mastered the technique.

I have used cardboard cutouts instead of cookie cutters and a heap of other short cuts because I refused to go to the shop for another implement that I assumed I would never need again, but sometimes having used a specialist item you just know there is no going back. This is where a turntable of some sort is invaluable. The “smoother’ thingy is useful but I’d think I could still improvise that one, not something I could do the same with a turntable now that I have seen what a difference it makes.

First remove the cling-film / plastic wrap from the cake. Put the cake onto some sort of base so that it can be transferred to where ever you want after decorating. The ones under our cakes were of course the sort of cake bases commercially available. Our tutor then starts by kneading a block of ready-made fondant, the sort available in many shops and supermarkets these days. As soon as it is pliable enough she rolled it out thinly.

NOTE: Sorry, Please do not trust me with a brain. I messed up again and left out quite a few photos from the beginning of this sequence. Important: Please see tomorrows post and use the instructions in BOTH of them together, not one after the other. I have changed the title of this post to help if someone searches for these instructions later.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then she picked it up with the rolling pin and draped it loosely over the cake.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then comes a little technique: whilst slowly spinning the cake on the turntable with one hand, she uses the other hand cupped so that the side edge of the hand is against the cake.  Starting from the top she pats the fondant to the cake, turning as she goes. There is no pressure, no pulling or force, just start from the top, work slowly downwards and the fondant will stick to the side of the cake like magic!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Of course, having done the correct preparation first (see yesterdays post for instructions) helps enormously. Feel free to pause for a moment if you feel you need to get the hang of it but it’s actually quite easy: the entire class managed to do theirs without incident right after seeing this demonstration. We were all a little nervous at first but the smooth and even turning as you go makes all the difference in the world. Work from top to bottom, using the same hand movement all the way down until you reach the bottom of the cake. All of a sudden, voila! your cake has a fondant layer that’s smooth. Our tutor then took the flat smoothing tool and very gently smoothed the top, then the sides, rotating the turntable as she went and working from top to bottom. This is to get any air bubbles out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Once at the bottom she used another tool (I think a knife would be just fine) to gently take off the excess fondant which was then peeled away. Hey presto, a smooth fondant covering to a round cake, with no creases or wrinkles. This smooth ‘canvas” now awaits any other decoration you may wish to add.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 28, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Filling And Preparing Cake For Fondant Layer…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in March of this year my best friend took me out for an evening workshop: to learn how to decorate a cake!

It was her treat and so having arrived and gotten acquainted with our tutor and fellow classmates the lesson began.

My New Zealand Grandmother always held to the idea that people interesting in cooking fall into two categories: Cooks and Bakers.

She was a Baker, I am most definitely a Cook. I can do biscuits (cookies) these days with help, but leave me alone with a cake recipe and I break out in a cold sweat.

After all, I hold the family record for once baking a cake that was flatter when it came out of the oven than it was before it went in.

In my naivety I did panic that we would have to bake our own cakes first but was assured to see pre-baked cakes wrapped in cling-film on the table when we arrived. Gone these days is baking every cake from scratch: all of these cakes are made with a special mix. I suppose that it is this way for speed and efficiency but somehow I would miss the ritual of creaming butter and sugar and tasting the batter at the end of the process: especially in my case because the batter is in all likelihood going to be better than the finished product.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since pain and medication mess with my memory I documented the process in several parts and yes, it’s taken me until the end of the year to sort the photos and make a step-by-step tutorial. Better late than never.

Not that I have much experience with cakes, but my few attempts at filling one have been done wrong every time. (Why on earth was I not surprised?).

This tutorial sets me on the straight and narrow when it comes to remedying my errors.  I have always felt that “making do” with implements around the house was more than fine when it came to cakes. Having now used a few specialist tools for the first time I now realise what an enormous difference they make.

Of course you don’t need everything, but if you really want to decorate cakes on a regular basis I can not recommend a rotating stand, and an adjustable wire cake cutter enough.

Before pushing your cake cutter wire through your cake, make a small cut with a knife where the wire will first touch the cake: this gives a far smoother entry point for the wire and your cake won’t “tear’ as the wire goes in. Gently slide the wire through the cake: speed is not necessary, it is more important to concentrate on not accidentally lifting the wire up as you go. Going smoothly, slow and steady will help ensure that your cut section is even all the way through.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After your cake is sliced through (we were cutting our cakes into three parts) we were given a piping bag with Creme Patissiere in it (it’s like a thick custard) and told to first pipe a line around the rim of our first cake layer. This raised layer helps keep the rest of the filling in later.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The second bag was a thinner filling (I am now struggling to remember if it was also Creme Patissiere or not) and once that is smoothed out the next layer of cake is put on top, but then a thin layer of Creme Patissiere is spread on top, filled secondly by a ring of Creme Patissiere around the outside edge. (slightly the opposite of the first cake layer).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This raised edge  gives a boundary that stops the next layer (jam) from leaking down the sides of the cake. The jam, (strawberry in our case) fills the inner part of the second filling layer. This starts to make sense because it will make a tidier outside layer later on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the top layer of cake went on and a thin, light coating of icing went on to be the “undercoat’ for the fondant layer that is to come in my next post.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post is all about learning how to do the filling between the cake layers first. Nothing like there being good preparation! Since it was too difficult to take the “action” shots whilst working on my own cake, these are a compilation of photos between my own cake and that of my friend, where I photographed her doing the piping etc. My next post will be a step by step tutorial about getting fondant neatly onto your cake without a single wrinkle or a moment of frustration!

November 12, 2015

Stroopwafel Taart… A Step By Step Tutorial

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nothing is more typically Dutch than Stroopwafels.  They can be found in every Dutch supermarket,

there are mini versions, the double biscuit (cookie) version, cheap ones and expensive ones.
If you are really lucky though, you might be on the street and find a vendor making and selling fresh Stroopwafels, these are in an entirely different league, soft, chewy, warm sticky caramel dripping delicacies of deliciousness.

My personal favourite is the double biscuit version because I find the other types overly sweet, my children, given half the chance (increased if visitors have come to stay) inhale as many of any sort as they could get their hands on and Himself likes all varieties but does moderation far better than the children do.

A few years ago I was musing about other ways to enjoy these biscuit treats, and wanting a really different dessert, decided to try a sort of ice-cream cake using these as the main ingredient. Not having a recipe I just eyeballed the ingredients and made it up as I went along.

This is a recipe where no stove-top or oven cooking is necessary but it would be handy to have a really large bowl or even a large saucepan to mix things with. You will also need some thick rubber gloves because you need to use your hands and things get very cold and messy.

I have a Tupperware container in my cupboard that contains rubber gloves of the washing-up variety which I only ever use for food. They come out if I am cooking and prepping beetroot (beets) for bottling (canning), and whenever I have to mix a lot of ingredients by hand.

Before I start with the ingredients, I first need to line a low sided pie dish with cling film, so that I can get the taart back out of it later.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Open several packets of Stroopwafels, using the thicker double-sided biscuit ones as well as the normal ones, added to a food processor and reduce to crumbs. Split this crumb mixture into two parts, reserving one half for use later in the recipe.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Put half of the crumbs into a large mixing bowl, add half a cup of white caster sugar, a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and enough margarine, approx 2 heaped Tablespoons to form the mix into a dough that holds together. (I took these photographs on an occasion when I made two of these at once and didn’t have quite enough stroopwafels, so added come plain biscuit (cookie) crumbs… Maria’s, Graham crackers, Vanilla or Round Wine biscuits would all do).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next, press your cookie dough mixture into your low sided pie dish, covering the base and curving the mix up the sides to reach to top of the dish. If the weather is warm, refriderate to firm up the mix until the next step is completed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is where the largest bowl you pocess and an extra pair of hands will come in handy. Either way you will have to work very fast and have everything you need to hand. I usually rope in Himself or Kiwi Daughter to help with this stage.

Take two 1 liter containers of icecream, (in our case we also have Stroopwafel Icecream in the Netherlands, but vanilla would be just as good) (Ideally the first person gets the ice-cream out of the tubs whilst the second person mixes like crazy) get all of the ice-cream out and into your large bowl. Add ¾ of the remaining Stroopwafel crumbs and (the person wearing the rubber gloves) mix into the ice-cream as quickly as you can.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The mixture will become mushy very quickly so work at speed, you don’t  want all of the ice-cream to melt, in fact it’s even nice to leave whole sections of the ice-cream as-is so that you get variation in your cut slices at the end. Get your now rapidly becoming soft mixture into the pie dish as quickly as possible. (if the base was in the fridge your helper can get it out at the last minute for you). Push the mix onto the crust and smooth over the top…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then quickly add the remaining crumbs over the top of the taart and cover with plastic cling film (your helper is useful here too) and get it all into the freezer as quickly as possible. The entire time for mixing and getting everything back into the freezer should be only a few minutes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cover with foil as well if you would like to freeze this for a month or more… and freeze for at least 24 hours before cutting.  To cut, you will find that cutting the entire taart in half will release the rest from the sides more easily, in fact this is usually so successful that I can lift half of it our in one piece, which when transferred to a cutting board, can be then easier cut into small pieces with a large knife. Do work fast when cutting the pieces, and keep them small, a piece of this is very  filling. Be warned the pieces will be really solid and you will have to work hard to cut it, for this reason I now cut it into pieces in the kitchen well before needed, then return it to the freezer so that it’s already in pieces when you bring it out to serve.  I’ve managed to get as many as 18-20 slices out of each taart, especially when serving in partnership with other desserts or after a large buffet meal.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 8, 2014

Diversification Comes Naturally…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are having a quiet rest day in Platania  when my sister-in-law asks me if I would maybe mind to do a favour for one of their friends in the village.

Like many Greeks, the locals here have had a difficult time in the economic crisis and we have heard many of stories of  hard times and forced diversification.

For instance after government cut-backs meant withdrawal of subsidies for physiotherapy treatments, many patients faced with the full tariff simply cancelled their treatments because they could no longer afford them.

In turn the physiotherapist has become the local odd-job man, turning his hand at various D.I.Y. needs in the local region to make his own ends meet.

He is not alone, some people in the village apparently have several part time jobs, some seasonal, some year round and many former professionals in the district now survive by the same method.

Unlike in the big cities, people here have the advantage of  having their own garden plots and chickens as an important way to keep within budget.

The tourist trade, partly because of bad press about Greece and unrest in cities like Athens at the time contributed to a roughly thirty percent downturn in tourist trade (at least this was so in 2012) and local businesses across the board were feeling the pinch.

Nikos, The owner of  Des Roses Hotel in Platania has been interested in ecologically friendly tourism for a long time now a some years back began hosting local eco-tours and then int0 making his own soap products with local organically grown herbs, flowers and spices and fresh local olive oil.

The favour that is being asked is that Nikos’s website needs updating and could I maybe help out by taking some photographs for him to use please?

I was delighted to be of help and immediately got a demonstration from Nikos on how to make natural, organic and amazing soap. The process begins with his own crops of organically grown thyme, lavender, myrrh, bay-leaves, roses, camomile, rosemary, mint and geraniums. Each of these is harvested and put into large jars, which are then filled with pure olive oil. This is then closed and left to infuse for at least two months.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The colours in the jars are like jewels. the smell when the lid comes off is amazing…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Let the soap making process begin…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The infused oil (in this case it’s lavender)  is strained though a sieve into a large pan…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You need to get every drop of oil but sieve out the lavender bits (they have done their job).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

More olive oil is added…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now starts the stirring process… the liquid at this stage is very yellow in colour and thin in consistency…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The stirring process thickens it very slowly…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And the colour slowly but surely changes to a soft creamy yellow…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now it’s noticeably thicker…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Time to add a little bit of Vitamin E oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And stir well until it’s well mixed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The tray for the bars has been lined and prepared…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And the mixture is now poured into the tray…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are too many photographs for one post so I will continue with Nikos’s demonstration tomorrow…

http://www.greecepelion.com/desroses/

http://www.peliondesroses.gr/desrosessoapactivities-en.pdf

July 16, 2014

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Recipe For Curing Olives…

Filed under: FOOD,GREECE,PHOTOGRAPHY,PLATANIA,Recipes,Step-by-Step Tutorials — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are lots of advantages of having family who have become very familiar with a particular place over a long period of time.

Our in-laws have holidayed  in Platania for several decades and now own a small holiday home there.

Not only are they excellent friends with many of their neighbours, they have learned Greek and the whole village knows who they are, and many locals are also good friends.

One of their Greek friends is Thomas, the owner of the small local grocery shop, and I had instructions from my sister in law when I went there to let Thomas know that I was “family”.

The smile and friendly greeting that I was received with quickly got broader and I soon had recommendations of places to go, the best products to buy, and by the end of our stay,  his family recipe for curing olives. We visited Platania in the last week of October 2012. It was our children’s half-term school holiday but luckily for us, it was also the beginning of the olive harvest in Greece. Himself and I are olive lovers, Kiwi Daughter is slowly acquiring the taste  and mega fussy Little Mr, who knows, might discover the taste of many a gastronomic delight one day in the future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two days before we left Greece the olives started to arrive in the shop…  there are trees everywhere and naturally many local cure olives from their own gardens but there are also freshly picked olives for sale in the shops.

I tentatively asked the price thinking they would be expensive but got a very pleasant surprise when I found out that 1 kilogram of olives costs only one Euro.

This was the moment I started ruing the fact that we had packed light for our budget airline flight and had squeezed everything into a small bag for the convenience of having only one bag and not two.

Fortunately my brother in law had bought some tools  for their renovation project from home and was planning to use them when he came back in the new year for a “work week”, so there was space in their luggage I could use.   I stocked up on five kilograms (approx 10 lb) of fresh olives for the princely sum of five Euros and with Thomas’s recipe ended up with the best souvenir I’ve ever bought in my life.

Tip: Thomas said you know your salt water mix is good if you take a raw egg (in shell) and float it in the water, if only 5mm of the shell sticks out of the water your salt solution is a good one. (the egg is only used to see how salty the water is, you don’t use it anywhere in the recipe)

Kiwidutch Tip:  Our In-laws cured the olives off their trees at the same time as I did mine. Both lots were edible around Christmas time and they couldn’t resist trying theirs: once they did, their entire stash of olives was gone by the time they rang in the New Year. Family Kiwidutch put our olives into jars and stashed them out of sight so we wouldn’t be tempted. We opened the first jars in April 2013 with extended family members present and the in-laws who had finished their olives, immediately conceded that we had hit the jackpot by leaving ours a few months more…the olives were soft and beyond delicious. Commercially bought olives taste nothing like these… so if you think commercial ones are good then you would find this recipe simply divine.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Greek Thomas’s Divine Family Olive Curing Recipe: 

– Take each olive and slice lengthwise three times.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– cover with water at least 1 week and change water every two days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– after 1-2 weeks tip the most recent water out and for every litre of water you put in new, add 80g salt. Soak olives in this mixture 1 week.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

– after 1 week rinse off the salt water, and make the following mixture: 50-70 ml olive oil + 150g vinegar + 80 grams salt for very litre of water used(the water should cover the olives). Keep the olives in this new mixture for two weeks.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In “theory” the olives are ready to eat at this point BUT if you keep the olives in a cool dark place the flavour will improve with age.

If you want to flavour your olives with garlic etc then add the garlic into this mix. You can also put the mix into glass jars after the two weeks so that you can age them, and the olive oil in the mix should float to the top and seal the jar.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

April 1, 2014

Chicken Roulade: Quick Prep, Slow Cook, Divine Result….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I scored this recipe from a fellow foodie friend after a dinner out at their place over a year ago.

Since then I have made this recipe fairly regularly and have even tweaked the original recipe in a way that I think makes it even better.

The recipe in question is a “roulade” and the name comes from “rouler” (French for “to roll”) and in the Netherlands at least,  consists of  raw meat tightly rolled up and encased in a net of butchers string.

The meat is slow cooked, lifted out to cool, very finely sliced and a jus (gravy) made from the resulting stock.

The cooked roulade meat is then served in the gravy.

I know that roulardes come in pork meat and in chicken, this recipe is for the chicken version.

What I like most is that there is minimal work needed for maximum flavour, the slow cooking is the secret and who doesn’t like an easy recipe?

Don’t worry at all about this recipe being to “mustard-y”, even if you use a really strong mustard the resulting meat will have a lovely full flavour but rather surprisingly not at all be of overpowering  mustard. In fact, I never would have believed how much mustard this was made in had I not made it myself. The onion and chicken seem to balance things out perfectly. If cooking this recipe in bulk don’t be afraid to add as much garlic as you like and also some extra onion, as you will see later in the recipe, I use it all in the end anyway so nothing is wasted and the flavour just gets better and better. Since this meat is slow cooked, I usually cram my le crueset pan as full as I can manage and then later when the recipe is finished, freeze the rest of the meat for easy meals at a later date.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I haven’t yet tried to make this in my crock-pot / slow cooker, simply because it’s so easy to make on the stove top: prepare and leave for hours to simmer.

The only hassle is that sometimes the supermarket only has three roulades on their shelves, when I really would have liked there to have been five so that I could fill the pan up. I took the step-by-step photographs over various cooking sessions.

Ingredients:

1 chicken roularde (already prepared and tied up in butchers netting)

2 large onions

3-6 large cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)

100 grams  (3.5 oz) butter

2-3 bayleaves

1/2 of a 350 gram / 12 oz jar coarse mustard

water

Method:

Chop your onions and garlic…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With a spoon or a spatula, coat the roulade as evenly as you can with the mustard.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Melt the butter on a low heat in a heavy based cooking pan, then place the roulade into the pan and gently brown it on all sides.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and enough water to cover. (The roulade will want to float so I often place a soup plate on top of them to keep them better immersed in the liquid)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cook on a very low heat (the water should be just moving) for 3 to 3 1/2 hours depending on the thickness of the roulade.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Remove the meat from the liquid, be careful because the meat is soft and the roulade can break apart at this point (even inside the string net). Whilst the meat is still hot, use tongs and scissors to gently cut the net away from the meat. (doing this whilst the meat is hot can be a little tricky but if you wait until the meat has cooled then the net will stick to the meat and tear chunks of it away when you try and remove it). Try not to break the roulade as you take the net off. Leave the meat to cool completely before cutting it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Take the cooled roulade and using either a very sharp knife or a cutting machine, cut as thin slices as you can manage. (my cutting machine setting made slices 1-2 mm thick).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At this point in the original recipe my friend usually makes a packet mix of vegetable gravy and adds the meat to it to serve, my own addition to this recipe is as follows: Making sure to keep all of the liquid, Sieve the mustard/onion  and bay leaf from the water,  discard the bay leaf, and using a stick blender, blend the mustard and onion pulp so that it becomes a paste. Add some flour to this paste to thicken the gravy, cook it on a low heat and then add several cups of the liquid that the roulade cooked in for added flavour.

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bag and freeze any bulk cooked chicken (with or without the gravy as preferred)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This recipe is divine with mashed potato, and I’ve mixed the chicken sans gravy into stir fry and pasta dishes. Yum!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 26, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Peas Pulao (Rice)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Peas Pulao (Rice)

2 Cups (260 grams) Basmati rice (for best results use Tilda): approx for 4 persons
Water for rinsing the rice
4 Cups water for cooking the rice

2 Tablespoons Gee or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
3-4 small piece cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 onion (finely chopped)
3 Tablespoons Gee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil

Frozen peas (approx 50 grams) (the amount can be varied according to taste) Take them out of the freezer at the beginning of the recipe so that they begin to thaw.

This is the final recipe in my Indian Cooking Lesson series… and I’m ending the series as I began it: with one of my favourites of all the recipes.

This is a recipe that I can see myself making again and again and again. It’s spiced up enough to give it some flavour but not so much that you will scare off the fussy eaters. It’s the kind of side dish that will go not just with other Indian dishes, but also with food from around the rest of the world, it’s more exciting for the numerous vegetarians in our family than the usual plain rice and ever since I discovered that the rice can be cooked first in the microwave, it’s easy, easy. easy to make!  Your buffet table will never look the same again.

Our teacher cannot stress strongly enough the importance in getting Basmati rice if you can… it might cost a little extra but the difference in taste is streets ahead every other type. I also like the fact that after splashing out on the rice, all the other ingredients are mainstream ones, cheap and easy to find in the average supermarket.

Yes, there is Gee in the recipe, but you can make your own by slowly simmering a block of butter for some 40 minutes… the butter during the process clarifies itself and turns into Gee. When it’s cooled a little pour it into a container, keep it in your fridge and hey presto, you have Gee (clarified butter) on hand for whenever you want it.  A recipe that’s easy on the budget, tastes great and is simple to make: What’s not to like?

Method:

Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water (three times) in a pyrex or microwave proof container. Add 4 cups of cold water (Important note: always use same cup for measuring rice as well as the water) Place in a microwave for 20-21 minutes at 900 Watts.
For step-by-step photographs of this please see:   https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/new-1118/

In the meantime, heat the gee (or vegetable oil) in a deep frying pan (wok pan is ideal). Our teacher used a little of both which also works…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To the heated gee and oil  add the cumin seeds and fry for one minute until slightly brown.(Important: do not let the cumin seeds burn or your whole dish will taste bitter).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the bay leaves and cook gently for a few minutes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the chopped onion and fry for 3-4 minutes until it  starts to often.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the cinnamon sticks and continue frying for a further 3-4 minutes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cook until the onion is well sauteed and a soft pale golden colour …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the peas,  stirring them in..

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally add the cooked rice and stir thoroughly over a low heat until everything is mixed and the peas are fully cooked.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Teacher’s Serving Tip: Perfect accompaniment  with any type of curry.

Kiwi’s Note: tomorrow a surprise!

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