Espresso Mousse

The perfect dessert for coffee lovers. It is light and airy, not too sweet, and has a very good coffee flavour.

Espresso Mousse (8 servings)
Slightly adapted from “De Banketbakker – Cees Holtkamp”

400 g espresso, still hot
10 g gelatin (leafs, not powder)
150 g sugar
400 g whipping cream

Soak the gelatin in cold water.
Squeeze the excess moisture from the gelatin and add it to the hot espresso, stir to dissolve. Add the sugar. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Whip the cream. Fold the cream through the coffee. Pour into a large, wet pudding form or into individual cups or glasses.
Put in the fridge for several hours.
Serve the individual portions in their forms, or dip the large form in hot water and turn it out onto a plate.

Nice to serve with vanilla sauce, but it’s not necessary.

Lussekatter

Lussekatter are Swedish saffron buns made with a brioche-type enriched dough. They are traditionally made for advent, and especially eaten on December 13th (Saint Lucy’s Day). But don’t let that stop you, they are delicious any day.

Making the snake shapes is quite a bit of work, so if you’re not up to that, make them round instead. Or play around with some other shapes.

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Lussekatter (makes 20)
Slightly adapted from Joe Pastry

0,5 g saffron threads (not needed, but the buns will be paler without saffron)
225 g milk
500 g flour
60 g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 sachet dry yeast
115 g quark, room temperature (or use mascarpone, crème fraîche or sour cream as substitution)
50 g soft butter
egg wash (use a yolk for the best colour and shine)

Crush the saffron threads. Warm the milk to just simmerring and add the saffron. Stir it, then leave to cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add the milk and quark. Stir with a spoon until roughly mixed, then dump out onto your workbench and knead for about 7 minutes, until a smooth and supple dough forms. Then add the butter about a tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Alternatively, use a standing mixer with a dough hook.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover and let it rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Dump out onto your workbench and cut into 20 pieces. Roll out into snakes (about 35 cm), flatten slightly with your hands or a rolling pin, then roll one end inwards to about halfway, turn the whole thing over and roll the other end inwards – you’re making an S shape. Or, if you don’t have much time, just shape them into little balls. Place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, to proof for 30 minutes. Halfway, brush with the egg-wash and preheat the oven to 240C. Brush the buns again before baking. Bake 8-12 minutes.
They are best freshly baked, but the day after they are still delicious. After that, they get a bit stale.

Apple-Speculaas Muffins

Moist muffins with the lovely warmth of speculaas spice mix and sticky apples on top. A real big hit in my house.

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Apple-Speculaas Muffins (12 muffins)
inspired on “Leon Ingredients & Recipes”

2 eggs
1/3 cup neutral tasting oil (for example rapeseed, rice bran)
1/3 + 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (from ~1,5 large apple)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup bran
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp speculaas spices
pinch of salt
handful chopped walnuts
1/2 apple chopped in small cubes, mixed with a little brown sugar and speculaas spices

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a muffin pan with paper cups.
Whisk eggs, oil, apple sauce, vanilla and brown sugar together.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, bran, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
Mix dry and wet ingredients until just mixed. Stir in the walnuts.
Spoon the batter in the prepared muffin cups. Top each one with a spoonful of chopped apple.
Cook for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Bread

Chocolate bread. All the chocolate flavour, without the sometimes cloying richness and heaviness of cake. It came out a bit crumbly, plain it was slightly too dry, but with a dab of butter it was delicious. I think a smear of cream cheese would be nice as well, or some jam (cherry would be especially nice). Or you could use some of it for french toast, or bread pudding. I left out the chocolate chips and nuts, but will make this recipe again with them in.

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Chocolate Bread
slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

180 ml milk, tepid
1 packet dry yeast (7 g)
75 g sugar
55 g butter
85 g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder (boosts the chocolate flavour)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
280 g flour (preferably bread flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
90 g chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (optional)
70 g toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add one tablespoon sugar, then set aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
Once the yeast mixture is frothy, mix in the remaining sugar, the instant coffee (if using), the egg, vanilla, and sea salt.
Stir in half the flour and cocoa powder, then the melted butter and chocolate, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring until well-incorporated. Mix vigorously with a flexible spatula for 5 minutes, or use a mixer for this. The dough will seem quite moist and sticky.
Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Butter a 23 cm loaf pan.
Stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using. Then use a spatula to fold the dough over on itself in the bowl for about thirty seconds, then transfer it to the buttered pan, pressing a bit to spread it to the corners. Let rise in a warm place for one hour.
Ten minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 175C.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it feels done and sounds hollow when you tap it. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Pintxos

Pintxos are slices of bread topped with some nice ingredients, skewered together by a pincho (hence the name). They are a speciality of the Basque region of Spain. Often they are eaten as an appetizer, together with a glass of wine or beer. But it is also completely normal to go from bar to bar, eating and drinking, with a group of friends. This makes the pinxtos the complete meal, eaten over the course of many small bites.

I first came across pintxos in Barcelona. Of course they were called pinchos in Barcelona, because pintxos is the Basque spelling, and Barcelona is in the Catalonian part of Spain. But I immediately fell in love with the concept, and I still am. It is the perfect way to sample all kinds of lovely ingredients in a simple and tasty way. A display of pintxos looks incredibly inviting. And I like the social way of nibbling and chatting away with your friends. So when we thought about what to serve on New Year’s Eve, I decided to make a selection of pintxos.

You need good bread for pintxos. If your bread isn’t right, it will muddle the flavours of the ingredients you top it with. I wouldn’t use toasted bread, this would make it quite hard to eat. That is also the reason why you have to slice the bread quite thinly. I used a good baguette, but maybe something like ciabatta would work too. Often the toppings are quite simple, but you can make them as elaborate and complicated as you like. Use good ingredients, they can’t hide behind something, the flavour has to be good.

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On the photo (top to bottom, left to right):
– grilled sliced of goat’s cheese with a drizzle of honey
– slow cooked red paprika with boiled egg and anchovies
– aioli, slow cooked green paprika, spicy sausage
– jamon iberico, slow cooked green paprika, anchovies, boiled egg, mayonnaise
– tuna salad (canned tuna packed on oil, drained, with a drizzle of lemon juice, some mayonnaise and a bit of salt)
– aioli and sauteed mushrooms

Other possibilities:
– manchego, membrillo, walnut
– grilled goat’s cheese, jamon iberico
– manchego, jamon iberico, slow cooked paprika, boiled quail’s egg
– jamon iberico, fried quail’s egg
– aioli, shrimps
– tomato and sardines
– pimiento filled with tuna salad
– smoked salmon and egg mimosa
– egg salad
– mascarpone with berry sauce and chopped nuts
– …

Leche Frita

Leche frita, literally meaning fried milk, is a thick vanilla custard coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, and sometimes coated with cinnamon sugar. The crispy outside contrasts lovely with the oozy soft inside, it is as much about the texture as about the flavour. It is rather indulgent, so I only make it as a special treat. It is a dessert, but you could also serve it as a snack with coffee, or something like that. As with all deep-fried things, serve them straight away after frying.

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Leche Frita (serves 6)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

500 ml full fat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod)
4 egg yolks
100 g sugar
30 g flour
40 g cornflour
oil for deep-frying
flour, egg and breadcrumbs for crumbing
Optional: cinnamon sugar to serve

Grease a shallow 19 cm square baking tin with a little oil (or use a silicon form instead).
Mix sugar, flour and cornflour in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and a splash of milk, and mix it to a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil. Pour slowly onto the egg mixture, while whisking. Pour back into the pan, on medium heat, and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring continuous, until you have a very thick custard. Pour the mixture in the prepared tin, press a sheet of clingfilm on the surface, and cool for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
Turn the set custard out on a board and cut into small triangles (or another shape that you fancy). Put flour, egg and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes. Dip a triangle in flour, then in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Lower in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Leave to drain on some kitchen paper, then serve (dusted with cinnamon sugar if you like).

Finished Project: Warm Slipper Socks

Winter has arrived in the Netherlands, with lots of snow and freezing temperatures. Until now, winter was just like autumn, not too cold and quite a bit of rain and sad weather. Luckily, I finished my warm slipper socks right in time to prevent cold feet. I don’t really like normal slippers, so knitting up a pair of warm socks with thick yarn and wearing them over my normal thin cotton socks is a great alternative. The yarn is a mix of wool, nylon and acryl, so I’m hoping it is quite durable.

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Plain Vanilla Pudding

A simple, plain pudding. Tasty warm, but also nice cold from the fridge. Even when cold, it has a nice, soft texture. Top with fruit, caramel sauce, bits of chocolate or cookie crumbles as variation.

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Plain Vanilla Pudding (4 ramekins)
Adapted from Food Network Magazine

100 g sugar
20 g cornstarch (or unsweetened custard powder)
pinch of salt
500 ml milk
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract (use less when using custard powder)
15 g butter

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large, heatproof bowl. Gradually add half of the milk, while whisking. Then whisk in the egg. Bring the other half of the milk to the boil and gradually add to the mix, while whisking constantly. Pour into the pan, and cook on medium heat until it thickens, while stirring continuously. Take from the heat and pour back into the bowl, then mix in the vanilla extract and butter. Divide over ramekins and eat hot, or place at least 2 hours in the fridge (covered with clingfilm).

Finished Projects: Two Shawls

Wavedeck

A lovely wrap made with a soft merino-cotton blend.

Vintervinge

A fluffy scarf with lots of drape made with a silk and alpaca blend.

Raspberry-Blueberry Muffins

Using yoghurt and light cream cheese instead of butter makes this muffins a lot lighter, it makes them very moist and give them a nice tang. They are not too sweet. I used a mixture of raspberries and blueberries for this recipe, but you could use other fruit instead, for example cherries, peach (cubed) or mango (cubed).
Officially, the recipe is for 12 muffins. But as you can see on my photo, this was a bit optimistic… quite some batter ended up on the baking tray, because the muffin cups overflowed. I think the recipe will work a lot better if you make 16 muffins with it. But probably I will make half of the batter and divide it over 12 muffin cups next time. Part of the reason they overflowed was the great amount of baking powder in the original recipe, they just grew too much, changing them into volcanoes. I reduced the amount of baking powder in the recipe below.

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Raspberry-Blueberry Muffins (makes 16)
Adapted from “Buiten Eten – Rose Marie Donhauser”

2 egg yolks
100 g sugar
250 ml yoghurt
150 g light cream cheese
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 g flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 egg whites
200 g fruit

Preheat the oven to 200C. Prepare 2 muffin tins.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, yoghurt, light cream cheese, salt and vanilla extract. Fold through the flour and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, and carefully fold through. Then fold through the fruit. Divide over the muffin cups and cook for about 35 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then leave to cool further on a wire rack. Can be frozen.