It has been pretty silent around here on this blog the last week. I have my (wonderful) in-laws here at the moment and we’ve been busy doing all sorts of things together. Lots of walks, trips to Milan, delicious meals together and board game playing. The kids are in heaven with the non-stop playmates (and chocolate givers).
This past week-end the weather was rainy and miserable so we ended up spending the entire Sunday inside the house. For vieruurtje (Dutch for afternoon-snack and literally translated as “little 4 o’clock”) I made the clan some good ol’ Easter Hot Cross Buns.
This is a basic recipe and much simpler than the traditional recipes that seem to include a ton of steps. Usually I would also add some candied citrus peel or currents to the dough but unfortunately my kids would disown me for life and run out the door and never come back if they found such things in their buns.
I took a basic white bread recipe and added some extra sugar and cinnamon (similar to the Cinnamon Swirl Bread from last week). These buns come out really soft and spongy and actually keep fresh for a day or two. Before putting them in the oven I take a sharp knife and slash a cross on the tops. That way there is a perfect indentation for the ever important icing to settle into (after cooled).
Nothing really gives me that Easter feeling more than a pan of fresh-out-of-the-oven Hot Cross Buns (and a sunny garden full of blooming flowers of course). Throw in some kids wearing pastel coloured spring dresses and straw hats and it’s absolutely perfect.
Read on for recipe.
During the whole summer I proudly showed off my garden to anyone who dropped by the house and every single time I showed my overgrowing rhubarb plants I would say I was just about to make chutney with it. I started saying this 5 months ago and yesterday I finally got around to actually making it.
I’ll be honest. Rhubarb isn’t on my top 10 list of favorite fruits (is it even a fruit?). It’s actually not even in my top 20. The tartness of rhubarb usually makes my jaw ache and I personally find it tastes like what I think a mouthful of maple leaves would taste like.
But we planted it a few years ago and now we have a thriving supply of it all summer long. I made a surprisingly lovely Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam (the jam that almost killed me!) and a few tarts as well. But considering we live in Italy and down the street from an amazing fresh cheese farm I wanted to try making a chutney to accompany all that wonderful sheep and goat cheeses that we eat on a daily basis.
I first saw this recipe on Raincoast Cottage months ago and it’s originally from Martha Stewart. I had to change up the recipe slightly but in the end it turned out quite tasty and the perfect accompaniment with cheese, crusty ciabatta and assorted sliced meats for dinner. Click for recipe…
It’s cold and rainy over here today. It seems as though the summer is finally over and that the heating system might need to be put to work again. I have to admit that I’m absolutely not looking forward to winter and cold weather. I’m one of those people who can never feel warm in the winter months. I walk around the house with double wool socks, thick scarves and lots of fleece and I have the thermostat on 23 degrees and the fireplace on. It’s one of the main reasons I moved away from Canada actually. So wish me luck this winter and let’s hope for a short one.
To beat the chill I can usually be found baking. Last week I made these miniature pretzel bites and they were devoured within minutes of being out of the oven. The extra step of boiling the dough before baking is daunting for some people but it’s really not that bad!
I came across the idea to make pretzels over on Say Yes to Hoboken and the recipe is from the Our Best Bites site. I decided to make the dough into miniature balls so that I could make several different flavours. For this batch I made some savoury ones with sesame and poppy seeds and some sweet ones with cinnamon and sugar. They really are so chewy and tasty. My kids are asking for them on a daily basis now.
There’s nothing like Fleischmann’s quick rising yeast packets from Canada. Good thing my mom arrives in a few weeks with some more.
I’ve officially become a jammer (oh geez). I spend my days planning my next jam-making session and scour the local fresh fruit and vegetable stands for the best in-season fruits.
I’ve slowly acquired all sorts of different sized jam jars and bottles and I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the whole sterilizing process that goes into canning and preserving jams. I’m still terrified of poisoning my family or friends with botulism but my fear is waning slightly.
Last week I bought some delicious looking apricots from the local produce truck and decided to make Apricot Jam with Rosemary (found on my all-time favorite preserving site Food in Jars).
Seeing as I almost didn’t survive after making the Cherry Rhubarb Lavender Jam a few weeks ago I had to enlist the help of my husband to do the initial cleaning, pitting and chopping of the fresh apricots. But once they were safely in the Le Creuset and I was gloved, I was ready to start the whole process ( I was even tempted to don some swimming goggles but was terrified of some of the locals catching a glimpse of the crazy Canadian making jam WITH GOGGLES!).
This is a quick jam recipe and I have to say it has such a unique end result with the addition of rosemary. It’s sweet with a distinctive savoury background that really makes for a new experience for your taste buds. It might even initially confuse them. But that’s a good thing.
For lunch today I made this sandwich above. Rustic raisin bread with thinly sliced Gruyere cheese, salame di Parma and a good layer of the Apricot Rosemary Jam. It was more than delicious (although I’m pretty sure the kids would bolt from the table if I tried to serve them this). This past week-end I marinated magret de canard (duck breast) with this jam and some garlic and barbecued it and it turned out to be an absolutely delicious combination.
Please pop over to Food in Jars for the recipe!