Monday, April 24, 2006

Are there any Dutch specialties?

Yes, there are. The Netherlands are not known for their haute cuisine. Or, when there is Dutch cuisine, it is not authentic, 'borrowed' from the French, Chinese, Italian, etc. But still, we have got a few specialties. For instance, this shrimp croquet (garnalenkroket in Dutch). I've bought these at the place to buy: pastryshop Holtkamp in the center of Amsterdam. They are really delicious and difficult to remake the same as good. If you buy them in Holland, be sure that you buy good ones, there are so many types and qualities. Most of the times, you will be able to buy and eat only croquets made with veal or beef. They could also be alright as long as there is still meat in them ....

The recipe will follow later.
If someone asks me, when I'm cooking abroad, to make a Dutch spcialty, I feel a bit embarrassed. Of course, we can be proud on our mashed potatoes mixed with 'boerenkool', a kind of cabbage' or the mashed potatoes, mixed with carrots and onions, 'hutspot', but really, is this our nation's proud?
Then finally, I end up making a delicious rice table, taken with us out of our former colony Indonesia. But not very authentic.
I will make a few recipes later on of this Indonesian food, because it is so good to eat.

Fortunately we have got our own pastry, like our apple pie (appeltaart) and the tompouce. The tompouce is a sort of millefeuille in French, but in this case only consisting of two layers of puff pastry. In between you will find créme patissière, sometimes 'lightened' with whipped cream. In this case they have topped the crème patissière with the whipped cream. This one is my favourite. You find them everywhere in every pastry shop, but sometimes they are too old, only the fresh one, a few hours old is the best. And them you can find horrible versions of the crème patissière or the puff pastry. So make sure you get a good one. And on Queen's day, the 30th of April, the pink glaze will be orange as we have the royal family of Orange to reign over us. Also when our national football team is playing in championships, we eat orange tompouces. At that time we paint everything orange, we are strange people.

Banketbakker Holtkamp (the pastry shop)
Vijzelgracht 15
1017 HM Amsterdam
tel: 020 6248757

Monday, April 17, 2006

Another foodlog sees its day light

Why not? Another foodlog on the internet. Reading already a lot of foodlogs all over the world, I feel the urge to add mine to. I will add a lot of recipes, using this blog as my personal archive but also, hopefully food adventures which I come across during my work as a home chef and food lover during my travels through Europe in search of wonderful food. So, let's start with one of my favorite recipes.

Recipe éclair au chocolat

Photo of Jean-Paul Hévin's éclairs, you will see the difference lies in the pastry chef and the photographer!

This is the divine chocolate éclair. There are many recipes leading to the same éclair. I've tried many for them but for me the best is the recipe of Jean-Paul Hévin in his recently published Délices de chocolat, a true must-have.

  • Listen to my podcast on choux pastry

  • Ingredients choux pastry

    12 cl of full fat milk
    12 cl of water
    110 grams of butter
    pinch of salt
    5 grams of sugar
    140 grams of sifted flour (which I tend not to sift, not a big need)
    5 eggs

    Preheat the oven at 180 C. In a pan, bring to a boil the milk, water, butter, salt and sugar. Off the fire, add the flour in once, and keep stirring with a wooden spoon. Once, well mixed, put the mixure back on the fire, and stir during one minute so that the pastry loosens some humidity. Transfer this mixture over in a bowl, let it cool down for one minut or so, add then the eggs, one by one, or if you prefer, two by two. Add the next eggs only after the mixture is smooth again.
    Now, the choux pastry is ready. Put this in a piping bag, equipped with a piping mould of 9 or 10 mm diameter. Pipe the éclairs: lines of approx. 13 cm on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for approx. 25 minutes.

    Jean-Paul's recipe goes with chocolate pastry cream, while I prefer the vanilla crème patissière. I give you my recipe.

    Crème patissière

    400 grams of full fat milk
    1 good vanilla pod
    4 egg yolks (80 grams)
    100 grams of sugar
    50 grams of flour

    Open the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape all the seeds out of the pod, put these in the milk, together with the vanilla pod (lots of flavour). Bring this to a boil. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks (make nice meringes from your egg whites, no need for the éclairs) in a bowl, whisk in the sugar. Mix these well with a wisk, not more than one minute. Add the flour, mix this in.
    When the infused vanilla milk boils, add this to the yolk-mixture, stirr well and put the cream-mixture back on the fire, stir well with a whisk, let it boil for one or two minutes. Yes, this is possible with the egg yolks; the flour makes the milk and yolks not to fall into tragedy.
    When it is ready, put your crème patissière in another bowl, cover with plastic foil, directly on the crème surface, so that no crust will come. Let it cool down.
    My éclairs, slightly different than above, but delicious

    Meanwhile, make three small holes on the back of your éclairs, this can be done with a smaller size of a piping mould. Then, when your crème has cooled down, you can pipe the crème into the éclairs, again with a piping bag, no other options. Well, yes, there are other options, but they do not look so fantastic: just slice open the éclairs lengthwise and fill with the crème.

    Then, the finishing touch, the glacage, the glaze. Also here, there are options. Mostly you will find éclairs with a glaze of fondant. This is noting more than sugar and more sugar, and a bit of cocoa powder, if you make it look like chocolate. I would prefer, like Jean-Paul Hévin does, the real chocolate, mixed with a bit of vegetable oil, for the shiny effect.

    150 grams of chocolat, 70% of cocoa
    40 grams of vegetable oil (for example sunflower oil)

    Chop the chocolate in smaller pieces, melt the chocolate in a au-bain-marie and add, of the fire, the vegetable oil. Stir in well, leave to cool down. Use the glaze at 28 C. If you use it warmer, it will drip of your éclair. Good luck with the recipe.