Puff pastry + apple, pear, cranberry & raisin mini galettes

Something strange is going on. Ever since i'm again the proud owner of an oven, i've been baking non stop. I'm really obsessed. I enjoy it so much. I love to go through the flour with my hands and pinch & kneed the soft butter. Mix it up and make a (tiny and organized) mess. (Flour and powder sugar look like snow don't you think?! Especially when you trow some in the air. Just kidding). And the SMELL, the smell in my house while i'm baking is so amazingly good. It pushes me to think about something else to bake before the smell flies away. Maybe some blueberry/rosemary scones, chewy chocolate and salty caramel cookies, or apple butter biscuits - sounds good right? 

Ah, i'm totally forgetting all my favorite savory foods, which I promise will come next (yes I talked about pizza before, but that's something baked too right? And it had butter and sugar on it, so hmm…)

But now I can still talk about my latest pastries. It's again a very simple recipe. I have made a lot of galettes these last couple of weeks, but I couldn't seem to settle on a favorite crust. Sometimes I find it too heavy, too dry, or just not suitable for a galette style pie. Until I tried it again with puff pastry. And I must say, I'm really liking the buttery (because it does really contain a lot of butter!), crispy but still light crust. To me personal, until now, this is the best crust for a galette pie. And so easy to make! Perfect no? 


Rough-puff pastry

recipe from Gordon Ramsay

makes 9 mini galettes
 

Ingredients dough

250g strong plain flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft
about 150ml cold water

Hints

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter.

Make a well in the bowl and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.

Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.



The filling

makes around 7/9 mini galettes

 

Ingredients filling

1 big or 2 small Granny Smith apples
1 pear
100 gr mixed cranberries and raisins
15 gr unsalted butter
2 tsp cinnamon sugar

The way to success:

Cut the apple(s) and the pear in small, 1/2 inch blocks. Toss the apple, pear, cranberries and raisins in a frying pan and mix it with the butter and the cinnamon sugar. When the apple and the pear look a little soft, remove from fire and let it cool.



To make the galettes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled pie dough. It should be around 10 x 10 inches. Cut it into 9 evenly divided pieces for mini galettes. Dust off any extra flour and lay it on the parchment. 

Pile the filling in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough up, so it covers at least 2 inches of the filling, more is ok. Repeat with the others.

Brush the edges with some milk and dust generously with cinnamon sugar. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and fruit is soft and bubbly.

Serving suggestion: if you like you can add some powdered sugar on top.

Hmm, can you smell it?

Enjoy!!!


Brekkie pizza

I don't know about you but i'm that type of person who is able to eat a lot after just waking up. But I am a picky breakfast eater. I prefer things like fried or soft boiled eggs, pancakes, fresh baguettes with something sweet or savory, a hot cup of green or Kusmi tea and a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice would be great too.

When we are on holiday in Thailand or Vietnam I will devour a big plate of fried rice or even Pho, for breakfast. I would eat so manny delicious things at the breakfast table (the buffet breakfast table in a nice hotel are the worst for me, especially if they have a nice selection of French cheeses) I would get so full that I could only eat again at dinner time. Which I hate because during the day we would find so many good places to eat and delicious things to try. Don't think I wouldn't eat all these things though, let's say I would feel a little less comfortable while eating it (so full!). I must admit, I don't start my day like this during the week in normal life because you know, I would get fat.

But how I can enjoy a good breakfast, oh my...

On this particular Sunday I decided to make something like a pizza for breakfast, but I covered the dough with my favorite brekkie items, like eggs and butter with sugar. These are separate pizza's off course. And oef, it was so good and so quick to make, once you have the dough waiting for you in the fridge, there is no turning back.


Pizza dough

recipe from Jamie Oliver

makes 6 to 8 pizza's
 

Ingredients dough

1 kg white bread flour or Tipo '00' flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 x 7 g dried yeast sachets
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
650 ml lukewarm water

Let's make some dough:

Sieve the flour/s and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. 

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas.

Timing-wise, it's a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don't roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though – if you are working in advance like this it's better to leave your dough, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there's one less thing to do when your guests are round, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted tinfoil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with clingfilm, and pop them into the fridge.


To turn my pizza into a 'breakfast' pizza, I topped one version with cheese (any kind will do), fresh rosemary, fresh time, bacon, some pepper and salt and let it bake (at 250 °C) for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I added 2 eggs and let it bake again for 6/7 minutes. I added it later so the yolks would still be runny. 

The second 'brekkie pizza' I just baked plain. After 15 minutes I took it out of the oven to cool and topped it with a nice butter and sprinkled it with sugar. So basically I treated it like toast. And since I had enough dough for 8 pizzas (each around 200 grams) I had pizza at night too and covered it with anything that was left in my fridge: cheese, tomato, mushroom, bacon, red onions and some pepper and salt. And it only took me around 30 minutes  (15 minutes prep, 15 minutes staring at the oven) to get it ready. 

I hope you enjoy your brekkie/lunch/dinner/late night snack pizza's too!

Gooey pumpkin butter cakes

It was last week when I walked around the local market to buy my daily fruit and veggies, when I saw them. There they where, between the piles of garlic and ginger, the stacks of bok choi, egg plants and pots filled with clams and other exotic fish: all kinds of colorful and delicious pumpkins! I couldn't be more happier.

For some reason I didn't expect to find pumpkins on a local Asian market. Apparently that was very foolish of me. Very foolish. Taiwanese locals eat it with Hotpot, or rice, heck they also bake pies with it like everyone else (not many people, but some of them do). Anyway, the moment I eyeballed the pumpkins, I could't resist buying a couple of them. I brought 6 medium sized ones home. You can't imagine how heavy it was and how much I hated myself for buying so many pumpkins all at once. I'm sure it was a pretty sight for people passing me by: while I was cursing in Dutch the plastic bags ripped and I had to run after my pumpkins, which on their escape for pumpkin freedom, run over old ladies feet (oh my goood, i'm sorry!)

A well, what can I say.

By the time I got home I forgot about my losing face moment by baking a gooey pumpkin cake.

I have to warn you though, this is not a healthy recipe. When I first laid eyes on this recipe, internally I thought: hmm yellow cake mix, a whole package of cream cheese, wait what? AND 16 table spoons of butter? Really?? But, this recipe is really easy and super delicious. It's a perfect easy autumn cake and even better; a quick fix up if you have sweet cravings on a movie night. And as long if we keep a balance with the rest of our diet, I see no reason to not try it just once. 

I did compensate a little by making my own pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin puree. It's not that hard to make and it tastes a whole lot better. So if you have the time, I would recommend doing the same. There are many different ways to make pumpkin puree. The best and most easy one, in my opinion, is the one you can read over here

PUMPKIN CAKE-7583.jpg

Gooey pumpkin cake

recipe from Paula Deen

makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients cake

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Ingredients filling

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) home made pumpkin puree (or can pumpkin)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg



Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer, or like me; with your hands. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

That's it, easy no?!

Serve with fresh whipped cream and some lime or lemon zest. I made whipped cream without sugar, to balance with the sweetness of the cake. I prefer it like this, but if you like it sweet, off course add the sugar!



Variations!!!

For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin.


We bought an oven + made apple pie

I can't believe it! We now are the proud owners of a beautiful, amazing, funny, cool, smart, medium/small-ish sized oven!! As soon as the metal stallion was shining in our kitchen, I started fantasizing about what I should bake first. I started looking for recipe's in my pie book, but realized I didn't have any of the ingredients they pre-scripted, other than some basic stuff like flour and apples. And since I wanted to start baking that very moment when the oven was plugged in I decided to go for a simple apple pie to start my baking + grilling adventures.

I asked the chef if he knew an easy apple pie recipe. Because you know, I haven't baked since AGES. He looked at me, said "OFF COURSE" and instructed/drilled me with the following, delicious and very tasty recipe:


Apple frangipane pie

recipe from chef

makes a 26 cm pie
 

Ingredients dough

100 gr butter
80 gr powder sugar
1 gr salt
40 gr egg
200 gr all purpose flour

Ingredients frangipane

zest of 1 whole lemon, lime or orange
100 gr butter
100 gr normal white sugar
100 gr almond powder (you can make it yourself by grinding fresh almonds)
100 gr eggs
10 gr all purpose flour

Additional ingredients

4 apples
100 gr melted butter
100 gr cinnamon sugar (mix white sugar with cinnamon to taste)


To make the dough

In a large bowl, combine butter, powder sugar and salt. Mix together with your hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture becomes smooth. Add egg and mix again (the mixture will get a little lumpy now, this is normal). Add flour and mix until dough becomes smooth.

Wrap the dough in plastic foil and make it flat till 2 to 3 cm thickness (the dough should feel soft by now). Place the dough in the refrigerator and let it rest for at least one hour (it's best to let it rest overnight). 

To make the crust

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll until it's 3mm thick and big enough to fit your pie pan. Slide the dough into the pan and make sure there's no air bubbles between the dough and the pan. Cut the edges so it will be around 3 cm high. Pinch holes with a fork so air can escape and the bottom stays flat while baked. Let the crust rest and dry overnight at room temperature. This will prevent the edges from falling down.

The next day, I baked the crust for 10 minutes at 160°C before placing the filling. This prevents the crust from being half-baked because of the juices of the apples. The bottom should look slightly browned. Let it cool before placing the filling.

Making the frangipane

Combine the soft butter, zest and sugar in a bowl, stir.  Add the almond powder and egg, keep stirring. Add flower, stir until the mixture becomes smooth.

Place the frangipane on top of the crust. Make sure the filling doesn't exceed 1 cm, measured from the bottom.

Peel, core and slice the apples.

You can decide how you want to place the apples on the crust (anything will do, as long as there is apple on top of the almond filling!). If you want to do it like I did it make sure you cut the apples really thin (2 mm) while keeping the shape of the apple. Don't toss the apples in a bowl after cutting, leave it as cut on the cutting board. When placing the apples on the almond filling, gently sliiiide the apples along the edges, going down. Work your way from the outside to the inside.

Almost done...

Melt the additional butter and brush the apples until covered with butter. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon sugar. This prevents the apples from burning.

Baking time!

Slide pie into oven and let it bake for 30 minutes at 170°C. The pie is done when the apples look nicely tanned. Let the pie cool before eating.

Happy pie eating!

Tomato risotto + magic tomato water

Living in Asia makes you eat a lot of Asian food. It's (often) cheap, delicious, convenient and sometimes adventurous or dangerous. But having so much Asian food for the past 1,5 year made me crave for Western food. This ends up in me making lots of Dutch food like 'hutspot' or 'gehaktballen' and Italian food like pasta or Panzanella. Except for risotto

I tried to make risotto several times a couple of years ago and it was horrible. Dry, uncooked, flavorless. I know it is one of the most easiest Italian dishes to make but I just couldn't succeed. (I think it was the little Asian in me that said: "y u poring so much funny water into the rice?").  I told myself I should keep risotto to the Giovanni's and the Francesca's in the world and never try again. Until last week.

It was when I was wandering around my favorite book store and came across a book with mouthwatering photos of Italian food and yes, risotto's, I decided then and there I had to face my risotto fear and try to make it again. I took me 3 times and a scared boyfriend around dinner time, but I succeeded! 

I stumbled on this risotto recipe using tomato water as stock instead of a regular chicken stock. I never made tomato water before but this made all the difference in the world!!! This magic tomato water can replace stock in a variety of dishes.

The recipe does require some work: you need to prepare the tomato water and oil-poached tomatoes before, to add later in the risotto. Gah, but I promise you: it's SO worth it. I could eat this dish every week. And my kitchen smelled like tomato infused garlic all week, which I like.


Magic Tomato Water

recipe from Bon Appetit

makes about 2 cups
 

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 3)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

How to

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth; set over a large bowl. Pulse tomatoes, shallots, garlic, basil, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Transfer mixture to prepared sieve. Cover and chill at least 12 hours. (Now BA advices you to not stir or press on solids, or the tomato water will be cloudy. Since i'm a stirry person and my Asian roots and all, I stirred. And I pressed. Because I don't care if my water is cloudy and I wanted all the good stuff to come out, leaving nothing behind. But if you do mind cloudiness: you know you should leave the stirring and pressing). Discard solids; cover tomato water and chill.

You can make the tomato water 3 days before. Keep it chilled!



Oil-Poached Tomatoes

yes, recipe from Bon Appetit

makes 4 servings
 

Ingredients

1 head of garlic, cloves separated
2 sprigs rosemary
sprigs thyme
1 cup olive oil
1 pound plum tomatoes (about 6), halved, cored (I couldn't find plum tomatoes so I used the tomatoes I had left; cherry tomatoes. I think you should stick with the plum ones because they are meatier)
1 tsp. kosher salt

How you should make it:

Preheat oven to 300°. Toss tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs, oil, and salt in a large baking dish.

Bake tomatoes until they are soft and skins begin to shrivel, 35–45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slip off skins. Discard herbs.

How I made it:

Now, since I don't own an oven yet, I had to improvise. I used a small pan, with closed lid and let all the ingredients shiver softly for about 30 minutes. Worked for me. This might help you if you're an temporarily oven less person too. 

This can be made 5 days ahead. Keep the tomatoes chilled.



And finally; Tomato Risotto

another recipe from Bon Appetit

makes 6 servings
 

Ingredients

1 small onion, chopped
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup Tomato Water (1st recipe from this post)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan plus more for serving
6 Oil-Poached Tomato halves, coarsely chopped (2nd recipe from this post)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt (I used pink Himalaya salt) and freshly ground black pepper

Indications

Bring 6 cups water to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup water and cook, stirring often, until water is absorbed. Continue adding water by ½-cupfuls, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, 20–25 minutes. (You may not need all the water).

Mix in Tomato Water, butter, and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Mix in Oil-Poached Tomatoes.

Serve risotto topped with more Parmesan and combine with a nice glass of dry white.

Enjoy!


Starting my very own food blog

Hello, hello, to everyone who's reading this.

I'm so excited to write my first post on my brand new blog. I've collected many recipes that are ready to be cooked. Now the only thing I need is a nice oven to squeeze in our kitchen, so I can FINALLY start trying out recipes from my amazing new pie book: 'The Four & Twenty Blackbird Pie book'. 

The title {Wolves Table}  is inspired by my idea of a successful meal. If it's being devoured by guests who act like a pack of hungry wolves, my cooking was a success. Even when I cooked something vegetarian. 

My background in cooking is not so extensive. Offcourse my interest for food was always there, especially while having Asian roots (my mom was and is ALWAYS cooking in the kitchen)  and dating a pastry chef for the last decade. But when I started cooking and trying recipes out of my comfort zone, I discovered my knowledge about food was a little, how to say this, standard. I knew how to make a smashing spaghetti carbonara or a mouth watering bowl of Pho, but other than some more standard Vietnamese, Italian or Dutch dishes? Nope, not really. And don't get me started about baking… But, now i'm cooking and trying out new recipes every day and i'm surprised how much i've learned just by doing and making mistakes. And boy did I make some mistakes. Planning to make a lot more mistakes in the future. 

I aim to cook a recipe for the blog at least two times so I know what i'm dealing with and to see if it's any good. Recipe development is something i'll leave for the future. Although i'm tweaking some recipes already by adding a few or leaving some others, all to my own taste.

I'm also planning to use some of my recently bought cookbooks in the future on the blog. I'm talking Polpo by Russel Norman and Nigelissima by my still favorite Nigella. Both Italian, I know. But i'm just such a big fan of Italian food. I'm also eyeballing Julia Child's famous cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking, i'll let you know as soon as I get a copy back here in Taiwan. If you have any recommendations of your favorite cookbooks, do let me know. 

Getting the right ingredients back here in Taipei is sometimes a struggle. It's impossible to find kale here for example and products like cheeses are really expensive. I did find some great local markets in the city, if you are a Taipei local too and you're interested, you can find a list of markets over here. So if I can't find the right ingredients for a traditional dish, i'll try to make it anyway by being a little creative with the products I can get over here. 

Living in Taipei has also taught me a lot about Asian food I never experienced back in Europe. Just recently I ate Korean food (SO GOOD) and i've had Japanese food like never before. I'm also amazed by the quality of meat they serve over here. It's completely marbled and so tender. Some of my favorite restaurants in Taipei are: Addiction, Tsubaki, Bellini Cafe, Mitsui (had dinner there once, but it was amazing), Kanpai Classic, VeryThai, Kyung Ju and Modern Toilet. I'm kidding! The last one was a joke.

Best pastry or bakery places for me are: Mandarin Oriental cake shop, boîte de bijou and Le Ruban Chocolat. Taiwanese fruit is amazing as well: sweet and juicy pineapples, big, soft peaches, i'm even having fresh coconut juice everyday since it's back in season (!!!). 

So yes, welcome to Wolves Table!