Kruidnoten & Taai Taai – Dutch Holiday Treats for Sinterklaas

If the title sounds foreign to you, then chances are that you have not yet had the pleasure of enjoying typical Dutch treats that make their appearance during the holiday season. Tomorrow, December 5,  is Sinterklaas – the day on which children across the Netherlands wait in anticipation for the gifts that Sinterklaas or Saint Nicolas brought them.

Much like the Santa Claus tradition in most English speaking countries, Sinterklaas is something that’s exciting if you have children in the family. Traditionally, he arrives sometime in November. The event is marked with much fanfare  – Sinterklaas and his helper Zwarte Piet (literally, black Peter, this character has become the centre of a controversy related to race and skin color very recently in the Netherlands – quite surprising considering the origins of the character are unrelated to race and has survived for centuries) arriving by steamboat in Amsterdam.

dutch spiced cookies

 

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Savoury Spiced Cornbread

Cornbread is one of those things that works perfectly as a side dish to a hearty meal. Go to any place that serves southern style cuisine in the US and you’re guaranteed to be served a generous hunk of cornbread along with your gumbo, barbecued ribs, etc.

There are many schools of thought on the right way of making cornbread – white cornmeal vs yellow cornmeal, should it be slightly sweet or not have any sugar in it at all and the list goes on. I personally prefer the slightly sweet tasting version. So when I got around to making my own cornbread for the very first time, I went for a recipe that used just the right amount of sugar but also added my own spin with some roasted cumin and coriander to add a spicy note.

spiced cornbread

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

A while ago, I bought a jar of Kretschamer wheat germ with the intention of amping up the flavour and nutrition level of my usual bowl of morning cereal. Since then, every time I open the cupboard and see the jar lying there, I’m reminded of it’s existence and the need to put it to good use. So I started searching for recipes that used wheat germ.  I was looking for ways of using up some overripe bananas as well and that’s how this banana bread made using a recipe on their website came into being.

If you’re curious about wheat germ, read all about it here.

whole wheat banana bread

bread with bananas and dates

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Kouign-Amann – the queen of all pastries

I dedicated the whole day yesterday to making kouign-amann (pronounced ‘queen-a-mahn’). This delectable pastry is a French specialty, more specifically, from Brittany. I knew it had to be a tough cookie to crack because of it’s many delicate, flaky layers. I came across a detailed step by step version of how to make kouign-amann in the 04/14 edition of the ‘Bon Appétit’ magazine. They had it down as a project and a project it is, given the amount of time you have to put in. It’s been at the back of my mind ever since and a recent article in the New Yorker about pastries made me want to dive into this project head long.

how to make kouign amann

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Five Days, Five Easy Meals: Udon Soup with Poached Egg

I’ve been following the 20-day online cooking school that’s going on at ‘The Kitchn.’ The lessons have been and full of useful information and tips on how to improve basic cooking skills. Even if you are an expert cook, these lessons serve as a refresher and reminder of why things are done the way they are in the kitchen.

So far, we’ve covered a wide range of subjects ranging from knife skills to cooking with varied ingredients such as tofu and tempeh, whole grains, etc. Today’s topic is related to boiling and simmering – those two terms that are perhaps the most commonly used ones in most recipes. One of the practice sessions mentioned in today’s lesson involves poaching an egg.

easy udon soup

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