I now see what bloggers mean when they write those inevitable posts after a long hiatus apologizing for their short disappearance. When I wrote my resolution list, it was assuming that I would have noooothing better to do for the rest of the year. No unexpected occurrences, no troubles, no distractions. And that just doesn’t happen. So, my apologies for the break! But, I’m back, with food!
I can easily call food one of my greatest loves in life. It’s good for enjoyment, for comfort, for showing affection, and bringing people together. For a lot of people, including me, life kind of revolves around food. That might explain why food shows up so many times in my list of resolutions. Including #78: Make a Traditional Dutch Recipe and #8 Cook a Julia Child Recipe.
#78 Cook a Traditional Dutch Recipe
I complain a lot that since my parents divorced, and then after my father passed away, a lot of my Dutch heritage was lost for me. I was no longer in an environment where the traditions, food and culture permeated my everyday life. I felt a little cheated. I’m always proud to tell people that I’m half Dutch, but what good does that do me if there’s nothing Dutch about me but my genes?
So, since the language is notoriously difficult to learn (though I hope to learn it someday), I figured I could at least get really good at cooking the food. I started small with this one, a recipe I remember from my childhood as one of the most hearty and comforting foods that came out of my mom’s kitchen. Hutspot. It’s a mash of potatoes, carrots and onions that is usually served along some sort of meat like sausage or beef.
This traditional dutch recipe was ever present at holiday meals, when company came over, and most of all on sick days where all we craved was something simple, warm and comforting. Dutch food is good for that. But as soon as I moved away from home, hutspot disappeared off the menu, because I never bothered to learn to make it.
So, I figured the first recipe I should learn is that one that I would most want to be able to make for my own family–if/when I actually have one of my own.
There are a hundred and one recipes out there for hutspot. Including a Flemish version that isn’t mashed at all, but for the sake of tradition I went with this recipe from Food.com and it turned out great. We served it up with some simple beef tips and gravy, which I highly recommend.
- 6 onions
- 6 large carrots
- 8 russet potatoes
- 1/2c evaporated milk
- 1/4c butter
- Salt & Pepper
Dice the onions and carrots and boil for 20 mins, then drain and set aside. Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil 20-25 minutes until tender; drain and dry thoroughly. Add onions, carrots and potatoes back to the pot and mash well until combined. Add butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve hot.
#8 Cook a Julia Child Recipe
It’s thanks to Julie and Julia that I actually know who Julia Child is, and I’m so glad I do, because while I thought I was pretty good in the kitchen, her collection of brilliant and complicated French recipes makes me feel like a rookie. You mean there are instances in which a cake requires more than one bowl?? The best brownies don’t come from a box?
…Kidding about that last one.
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at one of her famously decadent recipes, and after scouring the internet for sweet and savory, I landed on her Reine De Saba (Queen of Sheba) cake. A nearly flourless chocolate almond cake that is supposed to put all other chocolate cakes to shame.
For a simple chocolate cake, it’s a pretty labor intensive endeavor, involving perfect timing and the ability to multi-task, but it was pretty worth it. Isn’t there a quote about the more work it takes, the sweeter the outcome? I think they were talking about this cake. My only complaint is that I think I cooked mine a little too long which I think detracted from how fudgey it should have been, but it still tasted delicious! It’s not a very sweet cake, which surprised me. Not even the icing called for added sugar. It’s very much a chocoholic’s cake where the chocolate is the star, not the sugar. It’s dense, heavy, and just about 80% butter. In short, my dream cake.
For the cake:
- 4 ounces or squares semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tbsp rum or coffee
- 1/4 pound or 1 stick softened butter
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup pulverized almonds
- 1/4 tspn almond extract
- 1/2 cup cake flour (scooped and leveled) turned into a sifter
For the icing:
- 2 ounces or squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 2 tbsp rum or coffee
- 5 to 6 tbsp unsalted butter
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter and flour the cake pan.
- Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.
- Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.
- Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
- With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract.
- Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.
- Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.
- Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula.
- Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack.
- Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.
For the icing:
- Place the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and set in a larger pan of almost simmering water.
- Remove pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth. Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time.
- Then beat over a bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife.
To serve, use the butter icing and press a design of almonds over the icing.
Question of the Day: What is the recipe that brings back the fondest memories for you?