donderdag 23 december 2010

merry x-mas, part II

It's too funny not to share...

happy holidays everyone!

maandag 20 december 2010

Merry X-mas!

Dear All,

Best wishes for happy Holidays and a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!

Love, Jaap & Mickey

zaterdag 11 december 2010

home made vanilla extract - in the making!

It was in the plans for a long time already. Last year I received some home made vanilla extract from my friend Debbie. I haven't used anything else since. But now there's only a few drops left.

Yesterday I finally got out my vanilla beans, bought some vodka, split the beans, scraped out some of the seeds (got lovely smelling hands!), put it all in the bottle and in about 8 weeks, with a weekly shake and a hiding in a dark closet my homemade vanilla extract will be ready. Dark, syruppy, vanilla-y, pure, fragant gorgeous vanilla extract.

How to do it? Uhm...get some vodka, get some vanilla beans, split, mix, and wait.:-)
And read more here.

Do read all the comments as well for tips on what other alcohol you could use instead of vodka.
Since I had lots of vanilla, a whole bottle of vodka and no jar or other, smaller bottle available I decided just to infuse the whole bottle and I used about 10 vanilla pods for that. It also ment I did not have to sterilize my jar :-).
There'll be no shortage of vanilla extract in this house for a while!!

PS. Vanilla extract works wonders for smelly fridges, I learned last week after leaving half an onion in uncovered (blegh!). The usual trick (leaving some bicarb of soda in the fridge to absorb the odour) did not work so I searched online and found this tip: clean the fridge with hot water with 3 tablespoons of bicarb, and a splash of vanilla. It worked like a charm!

zaterdag 4 december 2010

happy B-day

Oh yeah, I am now the proud owner of a PINK KitchenAid standmixer! Thank you hubby and Happy B-day to me :-)

dinsdag 9 november 2010

NY food - Serendipity 3

Today I saw an old Oprah-show in which she said you HAVE to put Serendipity 3 in New York City on your bucket list. Or, to be more precise, the 'frozen hot chocolate' at Serendipity 3.
I have seen that one featured in many food shows on tv, a blog or two and just about every travel guide out there. Serendipity 3.
THE placee to go. For Frozen Hot Chocolate :-)

Or, if you fancy, for the famous us$ 1000 golden opulence sunday. Choclolate icecream, yes. With edible gold.

Since I did not have an extra $1000 in my pocket I went there for the FHC. Online I studied the menu, they had a lot of all time american favourites besides the FHC.
And a waiting line of about half an hour. Not too bad, so I decided to wait for my 'table for one'. While I was standing there another single girl came in and we decided to join up and share a table for two. We ended up sharing a cheeseburger as well, but decided on a FHC each.

Well...what shall I say.
I'm not sure it is the best chocolate milkshake I ever had. I mean, it was nice enough, and certainly big enough, but the taste? It is made with a chocolate blend from 17 different chocolates, made into a powder, their signature mix. One cup full of this powder is mixed with one cup of milk and three cups of ice, and blended 'till smooth. Then you add whipped cream, and chocolate shavings.
I have to say, it reminded me a lot of the taste of the chocolate milk made from little dissolvable chocolate powder balls called 'Benco' from when I was a child.(I loved that stuff, by the way). Or perhaps even nesquick powder.
I was a little dissapointed, so to speak. My expectations ofcourse were quite high, with all this media coverage.
But...What a charming lovely place, and what a nice afternoon I spend there with my friend-for-the-afternoon, we shared the burger, laughter and facts of life and later on had fun in Dylans Candy store next door, before each going our own way.
And Serendipity 3? Don't let my opinion stop you. If so many people like their FHC, and they sell the mix online to all over the world - it's definitely worth a try!
Wether it has to be on one's bucketlist...well..I dare to disagree with Oprah on that one!

donderdag 4 november 2010

jam and jelly and Swan turnes one!

Time flies...
One morning you wake up thinking it's time to blog about your jam-making again. And then you realise: Jam! That whas my first real entry on this blog. ONE YEAR AGO!!! Time flies..!

So I was in the Netherlands again, this september. Beautiful weather, and there was time to enjoy our house, family, friends, fall weather and cooking. And my favourite: Apple and pear picking in (commercial) orchards. Sun in your face, rubber boots stuck in the mud in the wet orchards, the smell of the fermenting fruit that fell off already, doing some shopping in their organic supermarket - I love it!

I came home with bags full of apples and pears. I made some juice, I baked applepie, and I made jelly!

Searching the internet I found lots of recipies that call for extracting the juice from the fruit by cooking chunks of fruit (no peeling or coring necessary) for half an hour with water until soft, and filtering this juice through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a teatowel, to make sure you get very clear juice for unclouded jelly.

Patient as I am...I decided to take the easy, quick way out and just extract the juices in my superjuicer that can handle the whole fruit (just half them to check for worms :-) )
First I juiced the pears, left the juice to stand for half an hour so the foam could separate from the juice.

With a large spoon I removed as much foam as I could, then mesured out my juice and sugar. (like last year I used the special jam-sugar with pectine that gives you half-sweet, fresh tasting jam and jelly)
For a little difference I infused my pear jelly with rosemary, by adding a sprig of rosemary to the boiling juice and sugar and allow to infuse for about 3-4 minutes. (on 1 litre of pearjuice I used one sprig, which is plenty).

Spooning of the foam from the hot liquid, by the time the roar in the pan was over I tested the jelly and spooned it into the sterilized jars. Voila, that was my first batch!
Ofcourse the first jar is opened already and nice as it is on toast, it works wonders with cheese, or even better: use it to glaze your apple pie. No, I mean it: USE IT FOR YOUR APPLE PIE!!!

The apples underwent more or less the same treatment, this time giving the jelly a hint of calvados by adding one tablespoon of calvados only, to the amount of one litre juice and 500 grams of this special sugar. The jelly gets a nice little kick but is still ok to use with children or pregnant women - my yield was 4 jars of jelly , so hardly any alcohol per jar. Besides, the jelly is very hot when you add the calvados so some of the alcohol will evaporate.

By all means add an extra tablespoon if you like!
I am sure the jelly will mature beautifully but as it is now it has a wonderful fresh, happy, comfortable flavor. And who wouldn't want that from her jam!

Using the juicing method instead of the boiling-and-filtering method worked well for me. The pear jelly came out just a little clouded - but just a little - nice and golden and beautiful and just not 100% see-through.
The apple juice, from which it was indeed easier to remove the froth, made into a perfectly clear jelly.

Ofcourse I could not NOT make my fig-jam, so that has been done as well. With rose-tea again, this time I enhanced the rose flavor a little by adding some rose syrup.

The only downside is I could not take all my jars with me to while I do have some here, the rest is patiently waiting for transportation when we next visit...!

dinsdag 2 november 2010

Ofcourse they use English in the supermarket!

I'm glad they cleared THAT up for me :-)

dinsdag 12 oktober 2010

donderdag 30 september 2010

how it all started

You may see that I don't post here as frequently as on my 'jaap and mickey in HongKong'blog.
That is not due to lack of things to write about, nor to the language (jaap-and-mickey is in my native language Dutch).
No, it has to do with the character I had in mind for this blog. More food, more cooking, recipes, more travels and more books. You know, like a cosy library-type café, with open doors, strawberries and a breeze in summer, and a burning fireplace and the smell of applepie in fall and winter.

And now I'm finding out that writing a bookreport, and even more so writing a good recipe, is not half as easy as it seems.
I have to admit, I haven't looked into it. I'm sure there are guidelines out there on how to write good recipes, or how to make them your own if you use others for inspiration.
But still.

There are some great examples out there. They intimidate me a little. I love reading other peoples foodblogs! I have some of my favorites mentioned in my reading list.
But for me it all began with this one. The blog that celebrates its 7th B-day this month. I have been quite active for a while on the forum and participated in foodswaps and get togethers, in New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, and all that brought me a great variety and wealth of new experiences, new foods and great new friends from all over the world, some of whom I've met once, some several times and will continue to see, and with some of whom a meeting is still in the making.

So, you see, that's quite an example. Not that I want or need to reach that as well - but I would be happy to get a little bit better at it.
So I will start to write some more again, dive into my archive of food pics from the past months, all taken with this blog in mind, and I'll keep practising. And enjoying it.

But if you can't find me here, hey, I'm probably travelling.
Or reading my favourite blogs...

zondag 4 juli 2010

a culinary Tour de France

While we are still excited about our progress in the World Cup another big sport event has started. The Tour the France.
Yes, you may laugh, oh dear friends and family, as you all know how much I'm interested in sports (NOT). Still - this one I will follow with interest.
No, not the cycling one, THIS one!
Barbara, whom I've met through the forums of chocolate and zucchini, is the writer of the weblog 'winos and foodies' and has launched a great initiative:

"For the next 3 weeks a group of food bloggers will bring you the food traditions and recipes from the stages of the 2010 Tour de France. Recipes to represent each region the 2010 Tour de France will pass through."

One of the regions she herself will write about is the start, which is in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. To get a little more insight in dutch food, food culture and food history she asked for my help (Barbara is Australian) and it was great fun thinking a bit closer about the things that are so natural to me - to each of us: our typical food-habits.

I think Barbara can be very proud of the result (as am I!) and I'm looking forward to reading the specialities of the different regions of this Tour the France!

woensdag 30 juni 2010

a new cookbook

When surfing the internet and following links some favourite websites and blogs I often find a new gem I haven't seen before. Some end up on my favourites-list, some are bookmarked, some just visited now and then. A few keep lurking in the back of my mind, and are visited and revisited.
Stonesoup is one of them. Now and then I stop by and I keep being surprised and pleased by the beauty and simplicity of Jules' blog.
Today I found a nice surprise there: She took all her 5 ingredients/10 minute recipes and collected them into a beautifully designed e-cookbook.
Free for anyone to download. (!)
So I suggest to click here, download the e-cookbook and start drooling - eh - cooking....
Don't forget to read the rest of her blog as well!

zondag 2 mei 2010

Flourless Orange Cake

This week it was Queens'Day, a famous and much loved Dutch National Holiday. The whole country dresses in orange, eats orange treats, (drinks lots of beer and a dutch liqueur called 'oranjebitter'), has the day off and celebrates with large garage-sale-like-street markets, music everywhere and parties all over.
The 30st of april was the actual birthday of our former queen Juliana. And since her daughter Beatrix, who is our queen since 1980, has her birthday in january, she decided to keep the holiday on april 30, weather-wise...and why orange? The last name of our royal family is 'van Oranje', which means orange.
I had a coffee-date with 3 dutch girlfriends at our place when I realised that would be on Queens day. No better excuse to do some baking, ofcourse!

I opted for some cookies and the flourless orange cake. Orange both in color and in flavor! I made it before, to success, and it was about time I made it again. I consider it sort of healthy - no butter, no flour, but fruit and nuts inside :-)
The recipe is well tested and written upon, to name a few: Claudia Roden, Nigella Lawson and Clotilde Dusoulier.

Flourless Orange Cake

2 or 3 oranges, preferably organic (uncooked weight anything between 250-375 gr)
6 eggs
225 gr sugar
225 gr finely ground almonds/almond powder
1 teasp. baking powder

*if you can't find almond powder or almond meal use chopped or course ground almonds and use the foodprocessor to make them finer. Pulse in short blasts to avoid making almond butter, there's a lot of oil in almonds.
** if you use whole almonds and grind them yourself, make sure you use the ones without the little brown skin - my friend made the cake with home-ground-almonds-with-skin and it turned out a bit too bitter. Thanks for the tip, Ans!

- Put the washed oranges whole in a pan and cover with cold water. Boil for 1 1/2 hours until soft. (make sure the pan doesn't boil dry). I love the smell...! Drain and let them cool.
- preheat oven until 180 C
- grease (butter, oil or spray) a round (springform) caketin (any size between 8-10 inches, 20-25 cm is fine). Or use a rectangular cake/bread pan.
- When the oranges are cooled cut in quarters, remove the pips. Put whole oranges, skin and all, in a foodprocessor and whizz 'till pureed. (or use an immersion blender, or cut by hand very, very fine).
- mix the eggs with the sugar until light yellow and creamy.
- Add almond powder, baking powder and orange puree and mix well.
- pour into prepared cakepan and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 50-60 minues, until a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on the color and cover with foil if necessary.
- cool inside the tin!!
- remove the tin and decorate with icing sugar or with a glaze, frosting or icing

lemon icing
150 gr icing sugar
a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
food coloring if desired ( I used a few drops of red and a few drops of yellow to create a bright orange)

- sift the icing sugar and stirr into a not too runny paste by adding first some food coloring if and when using, and then some lemon juice. Make it more runny if you like it to drip off the sides of the cake or to be less visible, or as thick/spreadable as possible to do just the top.
- spread onto the fully cooled cake

This cake can be made with all sorts of citrusses. This time I used minneola's, it can be made with clementines, tangerines, mandarins, all lemons or a combination.

It tastes good at any time but is especially nice after one or two days, so ideal to bake in advance. The flavor improves, it really does. Today was day 4 and it's just getting better. Too bad we finished's quite moist due to the almonds, so just keep it in a tin or covered at room temp.

the cookies were just simple butter-cut-cookie-dough, some funny cutters and lots of glazing and food coloring!

vrijdag 23 april 2010

Impromptu dessert

Yesterday we had an unexpected dinnerguest. One of the salesmen from Jaaps company was here and they needed some time to talk - and we all needed to eat. As our guest has been on the road for over two weeks now I suggested the men to come over for a home cooked meal - I was making a huge lasagne anyway. They happily agreed.
Having guests in your house is not a regular 'thing' in HongKong. Or in our appartment. The dinnertable is permanently in use as a desk - so I had to clear that out. Having guests is definitely good for the appearance of ones little house!
Usually the two of us have dinner on the couch - so laying the table was a new concept in this appartment.

While laying the table a dessert came to my mind. So simple - and so good!

quick summerfruit icecream

300 grams of frozen red fruit, mixed (I have them premixed in my freezer, ususally to add to smoothies in the morning)
150-200 ml of cream ( I had one of those long life packages lying around)
3 tablespoons of yoghurt
2 tablespoons of sugar
to taste a dash of rosewater, rosesyrup or perhaps a nice liqueur, I used rosesyrup. (not required but it does add a certain ' je-ne-sais-quoi'!)

-Add all ingredients in a stand-alone blender or in a high jar when using an immersion blender

because the fruit is frozen you get instant ice cream, soft and creamy.
Either serve immediately or place in the freezer until it's dessert time. When frozen hard give it ten - fifteen minutes to soften.

Serve in nice glasses, just like it is or with some extra cream, a cookie or liqueur on top.

Mango and orangeblossom water, one fruit only, banana with chocolate sprinkles or caramel on top...

zaterdag 10 april 2010

the Japan-files

the stories are in Dutch but the pictures of Japan speak for themselves...

My wonderful week in Japan is documented and updated here !

zondag 4 april 2010

zaterdag 3 april 2010

egg-free ' mayonaise'

OK. I am cool. I am very, VERY cool. I made mayonaise....!
I've always been a little intimidated by home made mayonaise. And I was ok with the store-bought ones. And I don't use that much mayonaise. So, no reason yet to try making my own. I did bookmark a few recipes for 'easy' or 'one step' mayo - all involving immersion/hand held blenders (staafmixer in dutch). Now THAT's a tool I love and can handle. And own. And enjoy. Due to tiny kitchen space many other toys will not make my shelves here in HK, but this one is a joy.
So, back to the mayonaise.

As a part of my morning rituals I read the new entry on David Lebovitz's blog. About eggless mayonaise. EGGLESS?!?!?!
A little more reading brought me here and here. OK. Officially we cannot call this mayonaise because it contains no eggs. is an emulsion (oil in liquid) and it's silky, creamy, light and taste a lot - well- like mayonaise!

It's open for variations: different oil will give slightly different flavor, one can stirr in a variety of herbs or spices, even some caramelized onions (or onion jam from a jar :-) ), some yoghurt or mustard.
It will be a beautiful dip for crudite's of steamed artichokes, spread it on (toasted) bread or pita, use in salads or on sandwiches.

I feel a potato-salad coming up. Or deviled eggs. Or tuna salad. Or maybe with lots of fresh herbes, some extra lemon juice and some yoghurt stirred is as a sauce for fish - or asparagus?

The use of an immersion blender is highly recommended in this recipe, or a small tabletop blender.Regular blenders may be to large for this small amount.

egg-free mayonaise with parsley

1/3 cup (80 ml) cold milk, whole (in dutch: volle melk)
1 teaspoon fresh lemonjuice
1 small clove of garlic
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup (+/- 180 ml) vegetable oil. I used sunflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and next time I might try rice bran oil

- In the high plastic or glass jar that comes with the immersion blender mix the milk, lemon juice, pepper and peeled garlic. (or use any high glass jar that can hold around 2 cups)

-Buzz for around 30 seconds until frothy

- with the motor on high speed (if you have options :-) ) very slowly start to add the oil, drop by drop. It might emulsify and thicken - but that could also only start to happen towards the very end. Keep blizzing!

- Continue to add the oil, gradually increased to a thin stream, until the mayonnaise is thick and smooth. Be patient, it may take a few minutes before it resembles mayonaise.

- If you are happy with the thickness of the mayonaise stop blending. You may have a little oil left, or you may need to add just a little more. This can vary every time.

- Add a little salt to taste.

- finely chop the parsley and add to the mayonaise. Ajust seasoning with a little more salt or lemon juice.

- transfer to a smart looking jar :-), that looks nice and professional in your fridge!

* note: as lemon juice does curdle milk don't add too much
**note to myself: next time use a little more lemon juice and only half a garlic clove. Will try the stirring in yoghurt or mustard after finishing. Or a tablespoon of truffle-oil (definitely less or no garlic when using truffle-oil)

This dip will keep in the fridge for at least a week (and probably longer).

zondag 21 maart 2010

local specialty

It's been a while. There was lots of flying and organizing and ' things' involved. I was back in HK, ofcourse. And a long weekend in the 'Hawaii of China', Hainan.
And now...Oh YES, I AM IN JAPAN!!!! Have been looking forward to this little trip a lot. It's Sakura-time. (cherryblossom).
Not just in the country - also at Starbucks!
I found these lovely looking 'steamed Sakura-cakes' - had to try one ofcourse!!

They were soft and sweet and tasted a little!

HERE I will post pictures and stories of my trip...

zondag 14 februari 2010

Enjoying Holland!


Outside it's snowing again, inside the house is filled with tulips and daffodils and peasoup and applepie and family and friends.

dinsdag 2 februari 2010

eye of the tiger

The Chinese will celebrate the beginning of their new year on feb 14th. The year of the Tiger.
Would you believe these decorations? They're all flowers! Almost like the 'Bloemencorso' in the Netherlands, a parade with beautiful displays on carts - parading through the streets the first weekend of september, all made out of flowers.
Obviously I'm not the only one who *hearts* flowers!

Happy year of the Tiger!

dutch love III

Tulips don't *heart* airco....

donderdag 28 januari 2010

Burns, baby, Burns!

It was quite the international environment, last weekend.
At our table alone we counted at least 9 languages spoken fluently amongst 5 or 6 nationalities with a background of many cultures.
A Scott born in Hongkong whose cantonese is unbelievable. A Dutch girl with a scottish background, married to this Scott. She speaks Bahasa, by the way. Oh, and they live in Macau. A Sri Lankan man, but from Australia, living in Macau. Another Dutch girl with Middle European background, living in HongKong. A Spanish lady, some Britts, a real Dutchman, another Aussie...

All this at a Scottish party - in a Portugese Pousada - in Macau - which is China.
It was Burns Night!!

As our host the Scotsman explained:" Robert Burns was a womanizer, a sexist, a racist, and a briljant poet. He died young, and his friends started to honour him with lunches where the ate, drank, sang and read his poetry. This became a tradition and the aniversary of his birth (1759) is now celebrated by Scots all over the world. Ah, Scots take any excuse to eat, drink and celebrate..."

So we were invited by our Scottish-Dutch friends in Macau to celebrate Burns Night.
Quite the official affair: black tie. So Dirk (our host) in his kilt, Kat, his wife, with the families celebration tartan sash,
Jaap in dark suit, a new shirt and bowtie and me in a cocktaildress.

Not just the clothing was official, the program of the night was as well, with our hosts being the Chieftain and Chieftains wife this year, which is some sort of mix between host and guest of honour, and it means he got to bless the meal, and his knife (called a 'Dirk' as well) was used to stab the haggis. (don't ask - another tradition!)There was traditional Scottish food (as mentioned: haggis), and there were speakers: one man recited a Burns poem, by heart! which lasted for 10 minutes - the ladies were greeted, the guests were toasted, the men were thoroughly mocked and greeted - speeches full of wordplay and wit.
There was music ( a chinese band - singing Scottish songs..!),
there was dancing, there was singing, there was booz.

AND I got to the bottom (no pun intended!) of the kilt -secret....But I promised not to publish!!

woensdag 27 januari 2010

dutch love II

Did I mention I **heart** tulips?!

it's spring in my house!

zaterdag 23 januari 2010

dutch love

I *heart* tulips!

Ikea was kind enough to have them this week....

happy home!