Monthly Archives: December 2015

Festive Dish

Just have a PB&J tonight, there’s enough to eat and drink before the clock strikes midnight, and the red ball drops on Times Square in New York. On this side of the Big Pond, we’re 6 hours ahead of you, all’s well and the Year started with a bang.

New beginnings, fresh starts, reaffirmation of love and promises for a brighter future all come to mind as we ring in a New Year. There are the superficial, yet purposeful, promises we make to ourselves. We resolve to get in shape, lose weight, improve career paths, and the like. Then, there are the heartfelt promises we make to others, whether out loud or in our minds. We want to care more, express love more, reverse bad feelings in old relationships or seek out new loving relationships. We try our very best to put these desires into words…
Peanut-Butter-Jelly-Sandwich

10 Handy Last Minute Tips

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1. Preparation is everything
Make as many dishes or ingredients ready beforehand. Potatoes taste equally delicious when heated and sauce is even better when they pull though for a while. Also think carefully about the order in which the ingredients need to be prepared. Read the recipe on it, or Google it if necessary, what steps you can take in advance. Keep sauce warm in a thermos for example, so you do not need to warm up again.

2. The dishwasher is your best friend
While cooking, load the dishwasher and wash larger or fragile pieces manually. You can of course also set a family member to work.

3. Fresh drinks
You forgot to put the drinks in the refrigerator? Roll the bottle in wet paper towels and put them just now in the freezer. For a more festive way to serve wine, gin and tonic or cool fruit juice. Put some fruit in a freezer bag in the freezer and sprinkle it into the glass of the guests.

4. Peel fruits and vegetables on old newsprint
No time to lose! Peel your fruits and vegetables directly on an old newspaper, so that you can throw the peels in one movement in the trash or compost bin. Do you have an environmentally responsible ‘wurmery’ at home? You may throw in the newspaper. Of course, not too often, but the holiday season is the perfect time to make use of it.

5. No crying party with these tips
Cutting onions is often so emotional that we start them cry. These tips can help you chop those nasty balls.

6. This will avoid water boiling over
A wooden spoon that you no longer (regularly) use can still prove useful. Place it over the pot with boiling substance and it will help avoid that the pot boils over.

7. Avoid clogging of the drains
Don’t pour any fat from the turkey or roast in the drain. It can solidify and block the outlet. A very unpleasant surprise when your next try to wash it off. Keep rather an empty container ready where you can pour in the fat. If all the fat is in the package, wait until it has solidified and throw it in the garbage. Good riddance.

8. Grated cheese
You need a huge amount of grated semi-soft cheese? Freeze the right amount and use this piece to grate. It will go much faster.

9. Ice cream for dessert?
Store ice cream in a freezer-bag. That way it is easier to scoop!.

10. Last but not least
Keep calm and have fun. Pour a glass of wine while cooking or taste already some of your favorite snacks. It’s not a disaster if something goes wrong and it’s not a shame to ask for help. Enjoy the party!

Festive Dishes #10 to 12

Festive-dishes Asparagus with Gorgonzola and Roasted Walnuts

Makes 4 servings

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 14 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 30 ml or 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 60 gr or ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 85 gr or ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

walnoten-largeTO MAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 200° C or 400 degrees F.
  2. Rinse asparagus and cut off woody stem ends.
  3. Dry asparagus and arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus and roll the spears to coat well.
  5. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
  6. Roast in oven for 7 to 14 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears (thin spears will take much less time than thick ones).
  7. When done, asparagus should still be crisp.
  8. About 3 to 5 minutes before the asparagus are done, place chopped walnuts in a small pie tin and put into the oven alongside the asparagus.
  9. Watch so they don’t burn!
  10. Remove asparagus and walnuts from the oven.
  11. Divide asparagus among four luncheon plates.
  12. While asparagus are still hot, sprinkle them with the gorgonzola and the roasted walnuts.
  13. Allow to cool slightly.
  14. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

Cook’s Note: Toss on dried cranberries for more color to fit the Xmas spirit and to complement the gorgonzola.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 257
Total Fat: 22.7g
Cholesterol: 22mg
Sodium: 313mg
Total Carbohydrates: 6.5g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3g
Protein: 9.3g

PDF of this recipe: 20151224-Festive-Dishes-10-Asparagus-Gorgonzola-Walnuts

Festive-dishes Grandma’s Corn Pudding

Makes 8 servings

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 60 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 5 eggs
  • 75 gr or 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 50 gr or 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 120 ml or 1/2 cup milk
  • 30 gr or 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 432 gr or 1 (15.25 ounce) whole kernel corn
  • 860 gr or 2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn

corn-kernelsTO MAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 200° C or 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 2 liter (23 x 23 x 5 cm) or 2 quart casserole dish.
  3. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs.
  4. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk.
  5. Whisk in cornstarch.
  6. Stir in corn and creamed corn.
  7. Blend well.
  8. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  9. Bake for 1 hour.

Cook’s Note: To make it even easier is to combine the cold milk and the cornstarch and stir out the lumps before adding to the egg mixture.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 277
Total Fat: 12g
Cholesterol: 138mg
Sodium: 558mg
Total Carbohydrates: 39.6g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3g
Protein: 7.7g

PDF of this recipe: 20151224-Festive-Dishes-11-Corn-Pudding

Festive-dishes Sweet and Spicy Swiss Chard

Makes 4 servings

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 15 ml or 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard – leaves and stems separated and chopped
  • 55 gr or ⅓ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2x ⅓ cm or 2 (¼ inch) thick slices fresh ginger root, peeled and julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 ml or 1 tablespoon maple syrup

swiss_chardTO MAKE:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cook the chopped chard stems, onion, and ginger in the hot oil until they begin to soften.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the chopped chard leaves to the skillet.
  5. Reduce heat to low.
  6. Continue cooking until the leaves have wilted, about 2 minutes more.
  7. Drizzle the maple syrup over the mixture, stir to coat evenly.
  8. Remove from heat and serve.

Cook’s Note: Add a bit of lemon to it and use honey instead of maple syrup. Same effect, delicious dish.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 60
Total Fat: 3.5g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 219mg
Total Carbohydrates: 6.9g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2g
Protein: 1.2g

PDF of this recipe: 20151224-Festive-Dishes-12-Sweet-Spicy-Swiss-Chard

One Week, Three Palaces…

QPQHSZ44Within a hectic week I still found, or should I say made time, to visit three palaces. Monday started at the hospital, an echo of my heart was made. It’s still ticking and not much has changed since my last one in 2012. On Tuesday I went with friend Ger to the Palace off Art, aka Rijksmuseum in my hometown. At last we could find time in our agenda’s to visit the Asia > Amsterdam exhibit aka Luxury in the Golden Age. We were both amazed we took 3 hours to see the 170 art pieces in the 8 halls, including several stops to rest. Most museums let mobility scooters in, not the Rijks. That’s why I only visit one era at a time.

Made of special, precious materials and adorned with intriguing exotic patterns no one had ever seen before, the Asian treasures caused a sensation in Amsterdam. With their colour and richness, they aroused the curiosity and stimulated the imagination of the Dutch bourgeoisie. Very fine white porcelain with blue designs from China, boxes displaying excellent lacquer work and ivory from Japan, gem-studded jewellery from India and Indonesia, silk fabrics from Japan, remarkably shaped shells, black ebony, filigree from India… the Dutch gasped at the beauty of it all and enthusiastically incorporated these treasures into their hitherto more modest interiors. It was also remarkable that not only the super rich could afford to buy these items, but also a large part of the growing middle class. All that precious luxury was shipped to Amsterdam – at that time ‘the world’s harbour’ – by the ‘world’s first multinational’, the Dutch East India Company.

The exhibition: Asia > Amsterdam will be on view in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, US from February 27 till June 4, 2016.

Wednesday was a Coffee Morning for the elderly Gays in my part of town. The Old Age Pensioners home (OAP) provides the coffee (freshly made, not instant!) I bring cookies, cream and talk with the visitors. There are a few regulars but also new faces who complete our group. Afterwards I visited my Dad, he wasn’t feeling that well, maybe he had the flu or something else. Just before I arrived he had a visit from a nurse who checks in on him on a weekly base, first she came to look out for my Mom, but since she’s passed away last year, he’s the next in line. He didn’t need anything, but seeing one of his kids is still something to make his day.

collectie_GuldenVliesThursday came, and an appointment was made to visit the Royal Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn. Yes, I do know one of the curators but didn’t want to bother her. We, friends Nicky, Adrie, Mario and me, saw the expo on Emperor Wilhelm II, the last emperor of Germany. But also Royal Showpieces II, another display I know the curator off. The whole palace is turned into a Christmas spirit, trees decorated as they would be in the period of the room but also decked tables, with porcelain plates, silver and/or gold cutlery, crystal glasses, sweets, exotic fruits…  We had lunch in the Royal Ballroom, three of us had croquettes and Nicky, who likes something different, had guinea fowl pâté.

Afterwards we also visited the Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden (Chancellery of the Dutch honors). It has one of the biggest collections of Orders in the world. Adrie is a military woman, she liked the military awards of course the best. We could see an original Order of the Garter but also the Order of the Golden Fleece. But also orders as far away as Nepal, Australia or mid-Africa.

Friday was a day of rest, most of the day. Something I really needed after the long walks the day before. But I was expected to turn up at the OAP home for the volunteers day, which I did. We were welcomed with Glühwein and delicious snacks, after a thank you message from the director of nursing, we all had a choice of a box of chocolats, a Volunteers Agenda and a giftcard with code. Online we could pick out the gift we really wanted to have instead of something you don’t need. Or you could give the amount to a good cause of your choice. I’m not telling you what I did.

Saturday was a day off, so I slept in and didn’t do that much except a visit to Dad to see if he needed something. He was enjoying some play on TV, which was a bit strange to me because he’s a Master in Channel hopping. During the festive days, which are coming up, we all program or VCR’s to the shows we want to see, at Dad’s home we only see snippets.

SetRatioSize500500-Juliana-vierkantSunday came faster than I thought. Friend Mario obtained tickets to a musical play at the Palace of dramatic Arts, aka Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg. The title was “Juliana, moeder van het volk” (Juliana, mother of the people). A look back at the life of the late Queen Juliana, who wanted to be normal, one among the people she ruled. On Saturday evening was the world premiere with former Queen Beatrix in the audience, on Sunday was the last performance.

It was a nice play, great songs, and performers you wouldn’t expect on stage in a normal play. A former news broadcaster was one of the storytellers, same as a royalty reporter, but also the former mayor of Amsterdam.

Afterwards Mario and I had a warm beverage in the main hall of the theater and we would meet again in a bar on Zeedijk for a final drink. He took a tram to the bar, I drove my mobility scooter and after two drinks we both went home.

The coming days ‘My Home is My Castle’ after I cleaned up, and before the domestic help turns up at my doorstep. Wednesday is again fully booked, domestic help,  a dentist and specialist appointment, shopping for Xmas etcetera. On Thursday I will read two poems during the Christmas celebration at OAP home… and on Friday…

 

Festive Dishes #07 to 09

Festive-dishes Sweet Potato Casserole

Makes 12 servings

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Shopping List:
Bottom

  • 1.6 kg or 12 cups sweet potato, cubed
  • 300 gr or 1½ cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 9 gr or 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 170 gr or ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 355 ml or 1½ cups milk
  • 8 ml or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping

  • 110 gr or ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 40 gr or ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 45 gr or 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 55 gr or ½ cup chopped pecans

sweet-potatoTO MAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 165° C or 325 degrees F.
  2. Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover.
  3. Cook over medium high heat until tender.
  4. Drain and mash.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Mix until smooth.
  7. Transfer to a 23 x 33 cm or 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  8. In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour.
  9. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse.
  10. Stir in the pecans.
  11. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

Cook’s Note 1: Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Cook’s Note 2: Do not substitute other nuts for pecans, it’s just not the same.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 226
Total Fat: 11.1g
Cholesterol: 50mg
Sodium: 187mg
Total Carbohydrates: 30.1g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9g
Protein: 2.9g

PDF of this recipe: 20151217-Festive-Dishes-07-Sweet-Potato-Casserole

Festive-dishes Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews

Makes 6 servings

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 680 gr or 1½ pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 75 gr or ⅓ cup butter
  • 15 gr or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 45 ml or 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 10 ml or 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • ½ gr or ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 45 gr or ⅓ cup chopped salted cashews

cashew-noten-largeTO MAKE:

  1. Place the broccoli into a large pot with about 2½ cm or 1 inch of water in the bottom.
  2. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes, or until tender but still crisp.
  3. Drain, and arrange broccoli on a serving platter.
  4. While the broccoli is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
  5. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Allow the sauce to thicken a bit so that it will stick to the broccoli.
  8. Mix in the cashews, and pour the sauce over the broccoli.
  9. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note 1: Try toasting the cashews (375 degrees for 8-10 minutes on a cookie sheet) first.

Cook’s Note 2: Saute the garlic in the butter a bit before adding the remaining ingredients for the sauce.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 187
Total Fat: 14.2g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Sodium: 611mg
Total Carbohydrates: 13.2g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3g
Protein: 5.1g

PDF of this recipe: 20151217-Festive-Dishes-08-Broccoli-Garlic-Butter-Cashews

Festive-dishes Roasted Radishes

Makes 4 servings

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 2 bunches radishes, trimmed
  • 30 ml or 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 gr or 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • salt to taste
  • ½ lemon, juiced

radijs-largeTO MAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 230° C or 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Cut radishes into halves, cut any large radishes into quarters.
  4. Stir olive oil and thyme together in a bowl and toss radishes in mixture to coat.
  5. Spread radishes onto prepared baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Roast in the preheated oven until tender but firm in the centers.
  8. Toss them every 5 minutes, 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. Drizzle with lemon juice.

Cook’s Note: Switch out the thyme with either rosemary, basil, or crushed garlic, depending on your mood and what main dish these will be served with.

ENJOY !

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 70
Total Fat: 6.8g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 114mg
Total Carbohydrates: 2.1g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8g
Protein: 0.3g

PDF of this recipe: 20151217-Festive-Dishes-09-Roasted-Radishes

Christmas Party

I had a great time during the Christmas Party of Luna Lunettes crew and guests of Siorée Frivolettes Culinettes at Martine’s home base, the farm just outside of Amsterdam. We celebrated the past year in the barn, just outside the sliding doors the cows were standing and the chickens were rummaging to find something to eat. Everyone brought something to eat or drink, and knowing our crew we had enough to drink!

251574Next to SFC we also celebrated the X-mas Extravaganza, that a part of the crew is to show next week, during a Pink drink in the eastern part of the city. We’re part of a “family”, a bunch of friends who work together, party together, but also do cultural things together.

Pictures of todays event will appear later, I didn’t brought my camera. But one thing is for sure… a large amount of white powder was available to all… this is Amsterdam after all! Icing sugar to cover the pancakes and Weihnachts-stollen.