Local Heart, Global Soul

September 5, 2014

Argalasti, Excellent Pastries With A Smile…

Filed under: Argalasti,GREECE,Greek Cuisine,PELION PENINSULAR,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When travelling through Greece, even if unlike us you don’t need to allow extra time for numerous fresh air stops to combat motion sickness, it’s good to take a break and refresh yourself with a bite to eat.

Our brother and sister in law often come to Argalasti, the biggest town that closest to Platania and one of their most favourite places here is a bakery.

It’s this bakery that has been recommended to us and where were are making our last stop before heading back to our rented accommodation in Platania.

The staff are friendly and giggle at the idea of  their bakery being the subject of a blog post, however they are overcome by shyness and ask that I please photograph the food and not them, a request I’m more than happy to comply with.

There are a selection of pastries, and the staff  proudly rattled off the names of each of the delicacies as fast as I forgot them (I have a very visual memory so need to see a list written down to remember anything).  

We have been told to get the pastry that has the creamy filling  in it and once this mission has been accomplished we take our sweet threats  back to the car to share out.

I did try to get a photograph in the car, but I saved by piece to photograph and since everyone was tired, once Himself had finished his piece he got us back on the road again so that we could get the last stretch of the car journey over and done with.

I took  photographs of my pastry whilst the  car was moving and it was only when I saw the shots on the computer I saw how fuzzy they were.

The pastry by then had of course been safely stashed in my stomach and was no longer available for a re-shoot. I can attest that it was delicious and have made a mental note to ask my in-laws for the exact name so that if anyone gets close to a Greek bakery they can give this a try themselves. It’s also a place that we would definitely return to in the future because the pastries are delicious and the staff are so friendly even if their English isn’t too fluent. A big smile is International language of it’s own…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hmm, and a sharp photograph of a car dashboard, not quite what was intended…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

July 2, 2014

Cheesy Taco Pockets: I Need A Lazy Recipe And This Fits The Bill…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mama’s Kitchen (Hope) posted this recipe on what was the then “Recipezaar” (now Food.com) website.

I am currently going back though my recipe book and looking for ones that are easy to make, especially when we have a few people around.

Not being able to stand very long in the kitchen really produces problems when I want to make something for visitors,  so sorting out recipes like this one where parts (like the meat filling) can be made in advance and where the oven does most of the work last minute.

I tend to use whatever Dutch cheese we have to hand, I triple the coriander (cilantro), I’m too lazy to de-seed tomatoes and I tend to throw in some additional piri piri if I  serve people who like their food with a kick.

Dutch pastry comes in frozen packages of ten little squares so I just folded each square in half diagonally and they were a perfect size.  My original review read:

These were deceptive, at first I thought they were rather a dry-ish meat mixture enclosed in pastry and *then* the little kick of the cilantro/coriander and chili powder wound this up a notch with a slap in the taste buds that was quite refreshing. They certainly make nice appetisers or pot luck dish (all pre assembled and with an oven available to cook them in), or cocktail party where you’d like guests to be eating more substantially than just cheese on sticks with their drinks. I could also see this as an entrée/ appetiser to a long sit down dinner with time and conversation in between courses.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, basically you throw in all the filling ingredients, add the cheese last and then fill the pastry squares. Easy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients
2 (17 1/3 ounce) packages puff pastry sheets, 2 sheets per package
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon water
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded or 1 1/2 cups monterey jack pepper cheese, shredded for a spicier result or 1 1/2 cups colby cheese, shredded, any similar cheese will work

Directions
Remove pastry from freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for about 30- 40 minutes or until they are easy to handle.
Meanwhile, add the beef, onion and green pepper to a large skillet and cook until beef is browned and vegetables begin to soften. Stir occasionally to break meat up and prevent scorching.
Add garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
Drain all the grease from the pan and return to the heat.
Add tomato, catsup, cilantro or parsley, cumin, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. You want a pretty dry mixture so your filling stays put in the pastry.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Work with one pastry sheet at a time, keeping the others covered so they do not dry out.
On a lightly floured surface roll out a pastry sheet to a rectangle about 16 x 12 inches and then cut into 8 even pieces.
Put a heaping teaspoonful of meat mixture in the center of the pastry. (I always seem to over fill them no matter how carefully I measure so you may want to start with less than you think you should use and add a little more if needed. Voice of experience! ).
Mix the egg and water together and brush pastry edges with it.
Grab one corner of a pastry and fold over to form a triangle. Press edges with a fork to seal and brush the tops with more egg mixture.
Repeat until all ingredients are used.
Place the pastries on a sprayed or greased baking sheet. You could also use parchment paper or a silicone liner.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
To Freeze and Bake Later: Place pockets on parchment paper or wax paper and freeze until firm. They can then be transferred to a zip top bag and stored in the freezer. Remove desired amount from freezer when ready to use and bake as directed, increasing time to 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Great served with sour cream, catsup or your favorite dip.

http://www.food.com/recipe/cheesy-taco-pockets-211562

 

August 22, 2013

Preserving the Past…

Filed under: Audley End House,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuation of yesterday’s post, I’m still in the Audley End House kitchen.

This time we are in the scullery area where food was stored and preserved.

Since leaving real food on display for days on end in the summer heat would be courting disaster on many levels,  they have solved the problem by adding realistic plastic food.

What are real however are the jars of preserves, jams and herbs that line the shelves.  I think too that this is a the actual foodstuff storage area for items in use throughout the year in the two Cafe’s in the grounds of the house.

I’ve just started preserving my own beetroot again after previous attempts failed using jars that were different than I was used to, so my interest was piqued by these photographs.

What was also on display and caught my eye were the handwritten recipes used by Cook to make her pastry and scones. The light quality wasn’t great so taking the photographs was difficult, but I found them fascinating all the same… since I’m always looking for a better scone recipe I might even give this one a go one day. It’s my last post from the Audley End kitchen… a kitchen clearly still partly in use in modern times whilst at the same time preserving the past…

(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)

Audley End House  kitchen 2j (Small)

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 4, 2013

Zeeuwse Bolus: Zeeland’s Sweet Treats…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From yesterday’s post you’ll have discovered that Himself and I are sitting in a friend’s garden in the small town of Veere in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The weather is fine and sunny but our coats are still on due to a biting wind, so a hot cup of Rooibos tea and some fortification by way of food is most welcome.

Our friend duly presents us with a well known local delicacy certain to do the trick: a sticky, sweet “Zeeuwse bolus”  which is a type of bread rolled in cinnamon and treacle and then rolled into a spiral shape.

The result is softer and less bready than actual bread in texture, an ultra sticky confection that will stick to your ribs and put your teeth into shock mode with a mega dose of sweetness.

(There seems to be a lot of treacle in this particular one) I’d say that the sugar quotient of a Bolus would be on a par with for instance a Greek Baklava. Of course this is just an indication of the ones we had… each Zeeland baker has their own secret recipe and flavours and levels of sweetness differ a bit accordingly. Suffice to say that in the past when I wasn’t watching what I ate,  I *could* have wolfed down two cinnamon rolls  (albeit with a large dose of guilt) but although a Bolus is a close cousin of the cinnamon roll, I’d personally have difficulty even contemplating a second after finishing a first.

Wikipedia tells me:  A “bolus” is a sweet pastry of Jewish origin from the Dutch province of Zeeland. They are made by baking a type of dough in a spiral shape and covering it with treacle and cinnamon. The shape of a bolus differs between bakers. They are often eaten with coffee, and the flatter underside is covered with butter. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The bolus was first created in Zeeland in the first half of the 17th century by Sephardic Jewish bakers. There are signs of the Portuguese Jewish community that inhabited Zeeland at the Jewish cemetery in Middelburg.

Later bakers from Zeeland perfected the art of the bolus, sometimes using steam ovens to keep the cinnamon pastry tender.

Since 1998 every year during the “bolus week”, on the Tuesday of the 12th week of the year, the Bolusbaking Championships Zeeland are held, organised by the Dutch Bakery Centre.

Participating bakers may get eight boluses judged. A jury consisting of two bakers and two Zeelandia employees choses the best ten products and the winner gets chosen from these by the audience. The winner receives the Bolus Trophy and gets to call themselves “Best Bolus Baker” for a year.

The bolus is seen as an originally Jewish pastry and has been spread all over the globe during the diaspora. In New York they are sold in many delicatessen, usually in a sweeter and larger version. Boluses also get sold in Jerusalem, Moscow and in Paris and the south of France.

The word bolus comes from Yiddish. The Dutch Van Dale etymological dictionary says that the word bolus or boles is the plural of bole, which comes from the Spanish bollo meaning bun, or bola which means “ball”.

I went looking for an as authentic a Zeeuwse Bolus as possible and found a recipe (dutch language only) from dutch baker Piet Daane,  however the Dutch text also tells me that “this isn’t the official recipe as theirs is top secret”, so I decided to leave the link here but give you another recipe for it that’s a step-by-step recipe already in English. (hey why reinvent the wheel? ) If anyone still really really wants a translation of the Dutch version just let me know and I’ll scribble it out for you.

http://www.thecooksbelly.com/2013/02/zeeuwse-bolus-dutch-cinnamon-ecstacy.html  (please note that Will has iced his version with a lemon, that’s definiately not done in any authentic Dutch version of the recipe, but hey, each to his own)

http://www.zeeuwsebolus.nl/recept.htm  (Dutch language text only). (note the word “hier” (here) underlined in red in the middle of the text, if you click on that you’ll get step-by-step photographs of Bolussen being made in a commercial Dutch bakery)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeeuwse_bolus

November 30, 2012

Ingredient Search: Shortening

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my quest to recreate a “proper” Kiwi-style meat pie in the Netherlands , I’ve come up against a few obstacles.

One of them was obtaining metal baking forms to get the classic pie shape. After searching high and low in the Netherlands (understandably) without success because there is no meat pie culture here,  I put it these baking forms my shopping list for our next trip to New Zealand and subsequently bought some in Christchurch New Zealand.

The other thing I was having trouble finding was shortening… a.k.a. lard.

Incorporating a small amount of shortening/lard into your shortcrust  pastry is what gives a flaky crisp bite to the crust rather than a soggy weak doughy mush… but finding shortening was turning out to be more of the hassle than I first thought.

First I asked in the supermarket… big mistake. I was directed to a block of  “bakboter ” which I know is a sort of cooking butter that I know my aunts like to fry meat in. I really didn’t think sounded right for my pastry at all but the lady pulled over a colleague and they both  insisted that this is what shortening was in the Netherlands.  I took some home and made pastry with it on more than one occasion… the pastry survived and was edible but it was light-years away from my Kiwi meat pies in taste.

Knowing that my pastry still wasn’t right my next step was to contact a butcher… and confirmed that what I needed wasn’t bakboter, but  “reuzel” (translates literally as pig or beef fat, lard, shortening).

I now have reuzel sourced from several butchers… if you want to get hold of some, be warned that some butchers no longer stock it because demand is so low these days.

Some would order it for me, one butcher said he only stocks a packet or two at a time and we got the last packet.  Another butcher had two packets and we took both. In all instances the reuzel  was frozen, so be prepared to buy it when you can get  back home in time to get it  into your freezer before it thaws.

One packet cost about Euro 2,50 for 250 grams, the other two at roughly the same weight (pictured in blocks) was a bit cheaper.

Ok, it’s fat, but shortening is also fat (just with a more politically correct name) and yes I have made several test-runs of pastry with shortening in it. The taste was a lot like the classic Kiwi meat pie that I’ve been missing from home.

Bearing in mind that making the pies is labour intensive and is nowhere on any health-food list,  I won’t be making them very often, but when I do I want them to taste like the real thing  and not some lacklustre  imposter, so I figure that the use of a little bit of shortening can be excused now and again.

So if you want to make  savoury pie with a crisp and flaky shortcrust pastry,  get friendly with your local butcher and find yourself some reuzel .

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My recipe called or half shortening and half margarine…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 30, 2010

Kid Cooking made Easy… “Pigs in Blankets”

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

Kiwi Daughter: currently aged nine years of age, often expresses interest in cooking.

I’d like to think that it’s all due to the Maternal Influence in this household… that she has seen my passion for food, my deep love of cooking, of entertaining and feeding people.

Sadly more critical inspection reveals that the most likely cause of her motivation consists of her attempting over indulgence of her rampant sweet tooth, since about 95% of her chosen recipes involve chocolate or icing as an ingredient… or even more preferably, if she can manage it…. both.

Because of this I have been trying hard to show her that cooking savory items can also be satisfying and since she has recently discovered that she likes puff pastry, she asked if she could make something for lunch that included pastry.

I am not able to stand on two feet at the moment and the combination of crutches, an oven, a nine year old helper and a minuscule galley kitchen meant that I needed to think of something easy, whereby Himself could take care of the oven and assist in the easiest preparation possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thus the brainwave… smoked sasuages wrapped in pastry, a.k.a. “pigs in blankets”.

Dutch pastry of the commercial variety comes in small frozen packages of ten little square sheets, approximately 10 cm square (about 4 inches square).

Here in The Netherlands we do have soft sasuages in cans, called ” knackworstjes“. They come in regular length and in mini form and I think that the mini sized ones translate to the little sasuages that are called “cocktail franks” in North America.
Our version of these have soft side and no real skins and would quickly go mushy in the oven, so I used a different sort of knackworst that has a firmer skin and just sliced them into thirds to make them the right length.

All Kiwi Daughter needed next were a few sheets of pre-prepared puff pastry.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients:
Frankfurters
Several sheets Puff pastry
Milk (optional)
Mustard (optional)
Ketchup (optional)

Method:
Preheat your oven to 225 C (440 F)
Take a thawed sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and roll up your Frankfurter pieces.
Use a small dab of water to seal the join of the pastry, and place the pieces join side down onto a baking tray.
Brush with milk ( if you want a more golden coloured pastry).
Bake for about 12- 15 minutes or until the pastry, puffs up, is cooked and golden in colour.
Serve with mustard or ketchup if you wish.

Et Viola!, Himself was the Master Controller of the Oven and hot trays, Kiwi Daughter did the cutting of the sasuages and the rolling up of the pastry, she achieved a simple tasty lunch with minimum effort and adult input and she’s pleased as punch with the results.

hmmm… I foresee a looming addition to puff pastry, so dear Daughter, no you can’t have these every day this week, there are other savoury school-holiday lunch recipes at our disposal too… we will cover many of them in due course.

Meantime, my Compliments to my budding chef and her sous-chef helper: Himself… by the time my foot is mended I might have a fight on my hands to wrestle back my kitchen LOL!

November 4, 2010

When is a “Pasteis de Nata” not a “Pasteis de Nata”?

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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You know me by now… I’m a brazen hussy when it comes to investigating food. Well OK, certainly less of the hussy but it’s true that I’m no wallflower when it comes to asking questions about new culinary discoveries, or taking photos of food we find in our travels.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So…  we are walking around Porto, Portugal and  I spy a bakery.  I’m not hungry since we have just had lunch, but it’s food and it looks interesting.

I’m inside in a jiffy and try and ask what things are… the man smiles and is busy with customers, so I point to my camera, tell him I lovvve Portuguese food and ask if I can take photos. He looks bemused, smiles and kind of nods,  so I take that as a “Yes” and  quickly grab a few photos…

It’s now my mission to try and identify some of these lovelies and to see if I can unearth some recipes so that I can make them.

One of the delicacies on offer I already know well:  “Pasteis de Nata” is an eggy custard filling parked into a delicious puff pastry case, baked and best served warm according to some.

I also adore them cold, so is the serve warm advice just because some people simply can’t wait long enough to let them cool down? or are they afraid that if they don’t eat them warm then they will miss out as the hordes surge past them to grab one of what must be one of the worlds most divine little pastry desserts?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… or do they indeed really just taste better warm?

(in the photo at right, they are in the middle of the front row)

So when is a “pasteis de nata” not a “pasteis de nata?”

Well, you are allowed to call them by their original and “proper” name of  ” Pasteis de Belem” only if you are getting them there (in Belem), if you get them anywhere else  in Portugal (or elsewhere in the world) etiquette decrees that you must call them “Pasteis de Nata“.

So, “Pasteis de Nata” is not a “Pasteis de Nata”, when you have the supposed “real thing” e.g. ” Pasteis de Belem” as you stand in Belem. the original recipe there is secret, and many people swear that they could pick out an original from the generic “others” in a blind taste test  in an instant.

True or not, who cares?, as far as I am concerned you may scratch out both names and scribble “divine” in their place and still leave everyone happy.  Well, Ok, the purists  may well object.

I’ll have to do some digging for a recipe in my Portuguese cookbooks, make these sometime in the near-ish future and will be forced to do both a warm out the oven, and cold taste test so that I can see for myself  if the purists have a point.

Sigh, what a task, but I suppose someone’s gotta do it. Sacrifice…? well maybe my waistline will complain, but I’m sure that my taste-buds and stomach will be singing Hallelujahs  loud enough to drown out any murmurs of  “must exercise some self control here” . If not, I will be forced to eat some more until all dissenting noises are subdued.

In the meantime I have photos of various items on the bakery… for research purposes you understand.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…and if you are a Foodie, you will totally understand.

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