Deze Sinterklaas Sandwich Cookies zijn eigenlijk ontstaan door een challenge. Astrid van Bon Apetit bedacht een challenge waarbij je uit een ‘vergeten’ kookboek een recept maakt. Dit was de tweede keer (de eerste keer maakte ik een paprika-bonen-spread) en het moest een recept zijn van pagina 26. Voor de challenge van november koos ik een boek dat ik al sinds 2001 heb: Stijlvol Tafelen van Donna Hay.
Caramel Waffle Cookie Banana Bread
Caramel Waffle Cookie Banana Bread – that really is a mouth full. Caramel waffle cookies or ‘Stroopwafels’, literally translated as syrup waffle, are thin crisp waffle cookies, with a gooey layer of soft caramel in between. These Dutch stroopwafels are quite popular worldwide and have found their way to supermarkets across the globe.
In 2015, United Airlines even started serving original Daelmans stroopwafels on their flights. The stroopwafels were so popular, that when United Airlines stopped serving them last year, passengers kept asking on social media to please have them back in their snack rotation. And United Airlines listened. Since January of this year, the stroopwafels are back.
While coconut and almond macaroons are well known around here, hazelnut macaroons are quite a rare thing at least outside Germany. And that really is a pity, as they are darn delicious, if I may say so. And easy to make.
As long as I can remember, well almost that long, you can buy ground hazelnuts in Germany. They can be found in the baking aisle in most supermarkets. Just until fairly recently, it was pretty hard to get them in Belgium and the Netherlands. But also there, they are finding their way into the supermarkets. And you can now order ground hazelnuts or hazelnut meal at most of the online nut and seed shops.
Grinding your own
Grinding your own hazelnut meal in a blender or food processor is also an option. That’s what we used to do when I was a kid, when there were ground nuts at all. I can remember me and my mom grinding almonds and hazelnuts for Christmas cookies.
Easy does it
Anyway, even though I can perfectly do that myself, and it might be a lot cheaper, it’s so easy to simply them already ground. I usually buy them in bulk whenever we’re in Germany, either on holiday or on a shopping trip. Which is so fun to do especially in December, with all the Christmas markets and decorations.
Leftover egg whites
I usually start the Christmas cookies frenzy with other types of cookies for which I mostly need only egg yolks. Which means that I’m stuck with 10 or more egg whites once I’m done. I keep them portioned by 3 or 4 egg whites in containers in the fridge. So, I can just grab a container and start on some macaroons. Just like these hazelnut macaroons that I made with the 4 egg whites I had left after making my Butterplätzchen.
4 egg whites
A few drops of lemon juice
250 g sugar
400 g ground hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I usually use 2 ro 3 baking sheets to be able to quickly bake them all off.
Beat the egg whites with a few drops of lemon juice until stiff peaks are formed.
Keep beating and slowly add the sugar.
Fold in the ground hazelnuts.
Using two small spoons, lay small heaps of the batter on the prepared baking sheet. If you use larger spoons, you’ll get larger macaroons. Either is fine. A great tool for portioning are cookie scoops.
Bake ca. 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven.
They are still very soft when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 to 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to let them cool completely.
This recipe rendered 16 large and ca. 45 small macaroons.
They are really utterly delicious. To make them extra special, you could dip them in chocolate.
Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars, I think these are fairly unknown outside of the US. That is, I have not met a person who was familiar with these. It’s like one giant sheet pan cookie cut into pieces. This is a recipe I have made for several years now. And I’ve made these cookie bars so often, it never occurred to me to actually right everything down and publish the recipe.
The original recipe is from an American food blog, Lauren’s Latest. It’s one of the first food bloggers I started following, about 6 years ago. When Lauren published this recipe a couple of years ago, I made them right away and it’s been a favourite ever since. In the original recipe, the sugar cookie bars are topped with icing, but I don’t think these cookie bars need that. I leave them plain. And with just a few minor adjustments, this recipe has become a staple in our house.
So, it’s safe to say that these are quite popular, whenever I make them. Though there is the odd one who doesn’t like them. There is almond extract added, which makes the cookie bars taste like marzipan. If you are not a fan of marzipan, you can still make these bars by simply swapping the almond extract by any other extract of your liking, such as vanilla or lemon.
It’s just not the taste and texture (soft bite) that I like very much. These bars are so easy to make too. I love cookies, but sometimes it’s just too much hassle. Cooling the rough, rolling it, cutting it out, etc. These sugar cookie bars are way easier and faster. Everything goes into one bowl, all ingredients at once, kneed it together, press it into a baking dish, bake it, cut it, eat it. That’s it, now let’s get baking!
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
400 g flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking dish with parchment paper. I usually use a brownie tin. You could of course use any other baking dish, like a 13×9”.
Put all ingredients into a bowl and quickly kneed into a dough. I love using my KitchenAid for this, but you can do this by hand as well.
Press the dough into the prepared baking dish. Use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass to smooth out the top.
Bake ca. 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Let cool completely and cut into pieces.
Banana bread with apple and oats
Autumn seems to keep its schedule this year. As if on cue, right on the 21st of September, the warm weather is gone and it’s rainy and windy outside. Like flipping the switch. And I can’t help it, but I’m immediately in the mood for fall baking. So, I started the season with this delicious banana bread with apple and oats.
There is so much you can do with banana. I really don’t like eating (over)ripe bananas, but they are a perfect natural sweetener for cake. If any at all, you just need to add a little bit of sugar or other sweetener to your dough and much less fat. From classic banana bread to heavenly chocolate, everything goes. There are already more than 15 recipes using banana on the blog and I’m still bubbling with ideas for more.
Apple and oats
The weather will get better towards the end of the week, but the wind and rain made me long for comfort food. Apple pie is the ultimate comfort food. We still had a full bag of apples in the pantry and I needed to come up with recipes to make use of those. So, I made apple sauce, apple pear sauce and this utterly delicious banana bread with apple and oats. Perfect with a cup of tea and easy as a grab&go breakfast.
By using (over)ripe bananas you need much less sugar or other sweeteners. Compared to a regular cake, there is a lot less sugar in this bread. And by using whole wheat instead of white flour and throwing oats into the mix, you’re adding extra fibre. Which is not only healthier, it keeps you full longer. Though I don’t think that food should ever make you feel guilty, if it really does bother you, this banana bread definitely should invoke less guilt ;).
2- 3 sweet-tart apples
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 bananas (peeled ca. 250 g)
2 eggs (L)
100 ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla-extract
50 g light brown sugar
150 g whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
100 g oats
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a cake tin with parchment paper.
Peel the apples and cut into small cubes.
Add 1 tablespoon sugar to the apples and mix.
Mash the bananas and mix with the eggs, oil and vanilla-extract.
Add sugar and mix well.
Now add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix until no lumps remain.
Fold in the apples and oats.
Pour the batter in the prepared cake tin and bake ca. 50-60 minutes in the middle of the oven.
This banana bread / apple cake is delicious in the afternoon with a nice cup of coffee or tea, but it’s also great for breakfast. As is or with good dollop of cookie or peanut butter.
Hot Cheese Dip
It’s become a vast classic in our house: Hot Cheese Dip. Not hot as in ‘spicy’ (though that is a possibility of course), but rather as in ‘very warm’. That’s because this dip is served straight form the oven. For those of us who can’t wait (not mentioning any names), this may result in a burnt mouth. I mean, this is really, really good, you won’t be able to wait that it’s cooled down just a tiny bit.
Let’s dig in
Once on the table, everyone digs in. No-one is willing to share just the tiniest bit. That lovely golden brown, bubbly crust, the gooey cheese, it will disappear right before your eyes. There’s never been a dip as popular as this one. Dip those (tortilla) chips, fresh bread or veggies in it. Serving this at a party? Double or triple the recipe and prepare several dishes.
I used mature cheddar in this dip. Cheddar has quite a strong taste and might not be to everyone’s liking. As the cheese is quite strong, I did not add any salt to the dip. If you’re using a much milder cheese, you might want to consider adding a bit of salt, but most of the times that won’t be necessary. Try Emmenthal, Mozzarella, goat’s cheese, blue cheese or a mix of cheeses. Do you want it hot and spicy? Add chili paste, sriracha or extra chili powder toe or finely dice jalapeño’s or a red chili pepper and mix it in.
200 g cream cheese
150 g grated mature cheddar
75 g mayonnaise
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp chili powder
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Put the mixture into a small baking dish and smooth out the top.
Bake ca. 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
Serve immediately, but watch out: it’s piping hot! And now, dig in.
Blueberry Lemon Curd
Do you ever do that, buying way too much if something is on sale, without thinking about what you’ll with all of it? No? Well, I do (unfortunately). Just recently, I bought buckets full of blueberries, just because they were extremely cheap. Yes, buckets, two of them. Way too much of course, because after baking muffins with blueberries and putting loads of blueberries in my yogurt and smoothies, there was still about a bucket left.
I could have made my Blueberry Chia Seed Jam, but we still have quite a few jars with all sorts of jam in the pantry. So, I had to come up with something different, something new. It’s fun, trying new things. And as I also had a whole lot of lemons (same principle), I thought of combining those two and make Blueberry Lemon Curd.
Lemon Curd is becoming more and more popular in our region since it’s been ‘imported’ from the UK and the US. A deliciously fresh, tangy yet sweet cream. Wonderful on scones or added to yogurt. Or incorporated in pies and other baked goods. It’s becoming more and more available at supermarkets around here, but it’s so easy to make yourself and it’s much tastier.
And since blueberries and lemon are a match made in heaven, just like in my Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake, I used both to make this wonderful Blueberry Lemon Curd. And I can safely (and proudly) say: I nailed it. An utterly delicious cream, silky and smooth, sweet and also a bit tangy due to the lemon. Delicious on freshly baked scones with a slather of clotted cream, but also so tasty added to your yogurt for breakfast. Or straight from the jar (I promise I won’t tell). And just as easy to make, like regular lemon curd.
250 g fresh blueberries (it doesn’t have to be exact, a few more or less berries are just fine)
100 ml lemon juice (depending on the size and juiciness of the lemons, you’ll need 2-3)
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
3 egg yolk
175 g sugar
50 g unsalted butter (cold)
Put the blueberries, lemon juice and zest in a small pan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for a couple of minutes until all blueberries are soft.
Strain through a sieve and press all the juice through is. Make sure to scrape the underside of the sieve.
Return the juice to the pan, set aside and let cool.
Beat the egg yolk, egg and sugar until the mixture reaches a light-yellow colour.
Pour the egg-mixture into the blueberry lemon juice and mix well.
Bring slowly to a boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes on low heat, whisking constantly.
Let cook until the mixture starts to thicken. When the ‘sauce’ covers the back of a spoon, it’s ready.
Take the pan off the heat and beat in the butter, a small cube at a time, until all the butter has been incorporated.
Pour the curd in clean jars and put the lid on.
Let cool completely.
Well sealed and refrigerated, the curd will keep well for a couple of weeks. Once you’ve opened a jar, it’s best to eat it within a couple of days.
Stir-fried vegetables with freekeh
Stir-fried vegetables with what? Exactly. That’s the reaction I got when I answered the boys’ daily question ‘what’s for dinner’. Freekeh seemed to gain on popularity a couple of years ago and was even called the ‘new quinoa’. But to me, it seems it’s already losing ground and is disappearing from the shelves in supermarkets. Which is a pity, if you ask me. Fortunately, I still had one box stashed away in the pantry and I made this delicious side with it.
Now what is freekeh? Actually, it’s simply wheat but harvested when it has not ripened yet. It’s dried on the land with the chaff and then set to fire. Might seem a strange process, but due to the high moisture of the unripe kernels, only the chaff and straw are burnt. The kernels remain and get a nicely toasted flavour. Freekeh is chuck full of nutrients and fibre which makes this grain a healthy supplement to your diet.
Freekeh is cooked like rice and can then be used in a wide variety of dishes, hot and cold. The cooking time is a bit longer compared to other types of grain and rice. The instructions say 15 minutes, but I usually cook it quite a bit longer. But even after cooking it longer, the texture remains quite chewy. I use stock to cook it in, which gives it even more flavour.
I went even a bit further than this extraordinary grain, by adding a less obvious vegetable to the stir-fry: flat green beans. As it is, I happen to love flat beans, but rarely prepare them. When I spotted fresh flat beans at the store, I had to buy them (without thinking about what I would make). So, when I stood in front of the fridge, contemplating what I would make for dinner, I figured I could use them in a stir-fry. And I think this really is a nice addition.
Freekeh finds its origins in the Middle East. It is often added as a filling to soups and stews. But it is also a great addition to salads or stuffed vegetables. As I used it in this stir-fry with peppers and flat beans, I figured that a Middle Eastern spice mix was just fitting: Baharat. With only a handful ingredients, you’ll get this fragrant and delicious side everyone will love.
200 g freekeh
2 chicken stock cubes
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
400 g flat beans
1 à 2 tsp Baharat
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Put the freekeh with 1 litre water and the chicken stock cubes in a pan and bring to a boil.
Let cook for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cut the peppers and flat beans into 1-2 cm pieces.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the vegetables with a pinch of salt, pepper and the Baharat spice mix.
Drain the freekeh and add to the vegetables.
Stir and fry for one more minute.
We served the freekeh with lamb burgers and a fresh salad. I actually saved the cooking liquid as it had become this gorgeous, thick and tasty broth. Would have been a sin to just throw it out. Added a small can of tomato puree and let it reduce a little bit. Then a bit of sugar and pepper to taste and we ended up having a wonderful, rich tasting tomato sauce with our meal.
If you don’t have Baharat at home or you don’t like the taste, simply add your favourite spices. Anything goes, really.
Have you ever tried freekeh?
Guys, how hot has it been these past few weeks?! Today, we finally got some cooling air coming in. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed these hot temps. But I know a lot of people are really suffering from the heat. For some, this even means getting sick or not being able to function at all. The most important thing during such heat waves, is staying hydrated. Whether you can easily stand the heat or not, there is always the risk of dehydration, without you even noticing it. With disastrous consequences.
Water is by far the best drink, but I know it gets boring and you would like to taste something else as well. Infused water is an easy way to pimp regular tap water. Simply add fresh fruit and/or herbs and let those infuse the water with a subtle flavour. Delicious. But you know what I like best? Homemade lemonade. And making your own syrup for lemonade isn’t hard at all and way better than store-bought syrup. My favourite: lemon-lime syrup.
Once you have the syrup ready, fresh lemonade is made in just seconds. The syrup is made with a lot of sugar, but you can use as much as you want. Personally, I don’t like overly sweet beverages, so I just use a wee bit of syrup. With a good amount of ice cubes, a bit of extra fruit and a twig of fresh mint, you’ll get this wonderfully refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drink.
350 ml freshly squeezed juice (ca. 5 – 6 lemons and ca. 2 – 3 limes)
250 g sugar
Squeeze the lemons and limes. The exact amount of fruit you’ll need, depends on the size and juiciness of the lemons and limes.
Put the juice and the sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Pour the syrup through a strainer into a clean bottle.
Seal the bottle and let cool completely.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Refrigerated, the syrup will keep well for several weeks (though it never lasts this long on our house).
The syrup is now ready to make a nice refreshing lemonade. Add a few ice cubes to a glass, pour a little bit of syrup into the glass. Start with just a little bit, you can always add more to taste. Fill the glass with cold water (I like to use sparkling water). Add a twig of fresh mint and/or a slice of lemon (or other fruit).
Classic banana bread
Alright, I know it’s been way too hot the past weeks to even think about turning on the oven. But if you don’t mind or it’s not as hot where you live, I got this wonderful recipe for you: classic banana bread.
Just recently, I reviewed a new cookbook, called ‘Bananenboek’, the banana book. Unfortunately, it’s only on Dutch. As the title already says, it’s a cookbook all about the banana. Banana a s ingredient for sweet AND savory dishes. Quite interesting. So, for the review, I tried several recipes form the book, but I didn’t try any of the baking recipes. Why? I already have about 15 different banana recipes on my blog and there are still more to come. And then I suddenly realised that there is still one important recipe missing: one for good, old fashioned, plain banana bread.
Anything but plain
Although I wouldn’t want to call it plain, really. But next to all those funny combinations and unexpected ingredients, the most delicious recipe was missing. Of a simple, easy, and tasty banana bread. Banana bread as it is supposed to be. And even though the hot temps are not really inviting me to turn on the oven, this definitely is worth the extra sweat. And it might be a welcome distraction from all those recipes for the BBQ, drinks, ice cream and salads ;-).
3 small bananas (peeled about 250g)
200 g crème fraiche or sour cream
75 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 ml vegetable oil
300 g flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a cake tin or line with a baking sheet.
Mash the bananas.
Beat the eggs with the sugar, crème fraiche, oil and vanilla until smooth. You can use a whisk for that.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and fold the two together. You could use a whisk or electric mixer, but down overmix.
Fold in the mashed banana.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for ca. 60 minutes in the middle of the oven.
Out comes this wonderfully fluffy banana bread. Now you should wait until it’s cooled down, but I have to admit that that is the most difficult part for me. I can’t muster the patience and usually cut off a piece when it’s still warm. It’s so good!
It’s tasty just as is, but I also love to slather it with peanut butter (especially if it’s the salted caramel type).