"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forgotten vegetable...black kale or Tuscan cabbage

Each year at the end of summer, the black kale is harvested at an organic farm near Cranberry Cottage. We buy it once a year for a special treat of a forgotten vegetable. It is a type of kale with a delicious strong taste. I prepare it in a similar way as my regular stamppot with kale with a few changes...

Dutch stamppot with black kale
1 bunch of black kale leaves
about 12 small/medium potatoes
vegetable bouillon tablet
salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: Dutch rookworst (smoked sausage)

Peel potatoes and place in a deep pan. Salt the potatoes and add a bouillon tablet covering the potatoes with hot water. Cut the stem from the middle of the black kale and slice up the leaves. Place on top of the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes.
Drain water and using a hand held potato masher, stamp your potatoes to a mash with the kale. Add a little knob of butter. I find I often do not need to add milk but do so if your mash is too dry. Serve with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper so you can omit adding any additional salt.

While the potatoes/kale are cooking, cook a Dutch smoked sausage or prepare any meat you wish to accompany your stamppot. This would even be tasty with simply bacon fried up and mixed in before serving.

To me, this has become a tradition for summer's end. It has the taste of those last summer days...

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Vintage Affair

A Vintage Affair: A Novel

I listened to the Audible version of this book read by Violet Mathieson. 

Often as I listened, I was working on handquilting a quilt I am making so perhaps it is partly due to the needle and thread connection that this book became so enjoyable. But it was also enjoyable to see how relationships both old and new come full swing in the incredibly descriptive story of Phoebe Swift and her shop selling vintage clothing called Village Vintage. 

Through the shop she connects with old and new when she meets a very sweet old lady, Thérèse Bell, who sells her some of her old clothes. They begin a short but meaningful friendship due to the fact that  Mrs. Bell has cancer. Phoebe works to give her new friend a gift of peace before she passes but also finds that Mrs. Bell has given her the same gift back. 

This has been a delightful book and a story that remains in your heart even as the last word is read!

Happy reading!

Note: I almost considered creating a new category called Not just chick lit as this book would most definitely fall into it. What I have learned lately is that a book that is chick lit is sometimes deeper than you would think. Some are just pure fun and other go deeper. That is A Vintage Affair.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stuffed red bell peppers

I had recently made a recipe that I needed just a little ricotta cheese. I had about 2/3 of the container left and decided when I saw these huge red bell peppers that I would play around with creating a filling for them with what I had in the house. Here is the results which Jos already said he wants to eat again...

Stuffed red peppers
2 large red bell peppers
3 spring onions, chopped
12 button mushrooms, quartered
2 tomatoes, remove seeds and chop
about 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper
about 1/2 cup grated cheese
2 tablespoons each of breadcrumbs and grated cheese

Cut the bell peppers in half and clean out the seeds. Par boil them in water for about 5 minutes or just until they start to soften. Now fry the onion, mushroom, tomatoes, sage and thyme. Spoon a tablespoon of the mix into each of the peppers.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta with an egg and freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Stir in the grated cheese mixing well. Mix the remaining vegetable mixture in the ricotta mixture and spoon into the bell peppers. Top with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese mixed together. Bake in a 200C/400F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Served with a good rosé wine, this makes a perfect dinner on a warm summer's evening.

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child's 100th birthday!

100e Geboortedag Julia Child

How fun to wake up to seeing this header on Google today. It is because Julia Child is 100 years old today. Did you know that her kitchen is at the Smithsonian for all to see? See...I want that kitchen for my own. *grins*

If you want to see more check out the link at the museum and wonder around this creative kitchen yourself online.
My Life in France
In the meantime, maybe I should start reading this book today in honor of Julia or perhaps I will watch the movie Julie & Julia or perhaps I will just pop into my kitchen and be really creative for dinner.....

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mr. Rosenblum's List

Mr. Rosenblum's List: Or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman

Even the full title of this book becomes as endearing as the characters contained within its pages...Mr. Rosenblum's List or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman by Natasha Solomons.

Jack and Sadie Rosenblum flee Nazi Germany for England. Jack strives in life to become a true Englishman creating a list of items that are to him true "Englishness". He becomes successful in business but to him, the English gentlemen are members of a golf club. After numerous rejections, Jack moves himself and Sadie off to a Dorset village to build his own. He buys a pretty thatched cottage with a large plot of land. The locals endearingly call him Mr. Rose-in-Bloom as he tries to become part of village life. Will he succeed to make his dreams a reality?

I would highly recommend this book. It pulls you in and you take Jack, Sadie and the villagers to heart.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Leek and potato soup - Tessa Kiros

This week, I made a pot of leek and potato soup from Tessa's cookbook 'Apples for Jam'. This soup is simple to make and so delicious. I do add one little ingredient to mine and change two.

Leek and potato soup
2 large leeks, well cleaned and sliced
3 tbsp/45g butter
ground dry flakes garlic
2 tsp/2 theelepels brandy
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups/1,5l hot water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
grated nutmeg
about 1/2 cup/80ml Dutch 'halvolle koffiemelk' or half and half
flaked Parmsesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Place the clean leeks in a large pan with the butter and cook until glassy. Now add the garlic flakes and brandy allowing the alcohol to cook down. Add the potato, hot water and bouillon and allow to come to a boil. Lower the flame to a simmer and cook 45 minutes until potato is soft. Turn off the heat and grate nutmeg in the soup. Puree the soup (I use a stick blender so that I can puree it right in the pan). Add the half and half to taste. Serve with flaked Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Notes about my changes:
I started using the Dutch 'koffiemelk' to cut back the calories added to this soup by using real cream. I find it works well without sacrificing all the taste but still keeping it low cal. I also do not add salt since I put in two vegetable bouillon tablets which contain salt themselves. I flake some cheese in the bottom of the bowl and then again on the top of the soup.

I served the leftover soup for lunch when a friend came over. It warms up very well and perhaps even develops more flavor the next day.

We had a visitor at lunch. This Speckled Wood (pararge aegeria) butterfly flew into my house and sat on the window. Even though this photo looks like he is outside, he is in the house.

Bon appetit or eet smakelijk!