On October 19, 2010 I moved from the US to The Netherlands. This is a love story many years in the making.

Sneeuw en Recepten

Winter arrived a few days ago. There’s nothing subtle about it at all; temperatures plummeted to -6C (21F) seemingly overnight – and have more or less stayed right there, too – and we woke a couple of mornings ago to the first snowfall of the year. Fluffy, feathery, unexpected and so very pretty. We went for a walk to De Poopen Place and I took the camera along.

Hard to imagine that a couple of meters to the left is a road, and then a set of houses, isn’t it?

In order to avoid this being a photo-only post, I thought I’d include a couple of recipes people have asked me about. Sarah, you wanted the chicken with mustard and cognac:

Dice into large chunks (or not) 2 chicken breasts and saute’ them in butter and thyme until golden brown. If you happen to have some white wine around to add, go for it. Be generous with the heat as you want there to be brown gooey stuff in the bottom of the skillet.Β  When you’re done with the chicken, remove it to a warm covered plate in the oven. Lower the heat and deglaze the pan with a couple shots of cognac. Holding it off the heat, swirl it around until all the brown stuff is melted into the remains of the cognac. Return to heat and pour in a half cup of cream (or so), and then stir in a spoonful of mustard. How much of that you use is strictly up to you, I don’t like it much and only use a little less than a teaspoon. Raise the heat and continue stirring the cream until it boils and thickens. The result should be a slow-pouring rich brown sauce, which you can then pour over your chicken. I like to serve this with mushrooms stewed in red wine and a big salad.

Back to the snow..Carel took this one.

and this one…

I made Brussels sprouts for him the other night. He’d vigorously protested that he hates the bitter little things – just like everyone else I know does – but he’s an adventurous soul and agreed to try them my way. So: use fresh sprouts. Cut off the bottoms and peel them apart into leaves exactly like you would a green cabbage. It’s tedious work but worth it. When you have enough, microwave them for a minute and a half then toss them into a pan with some smoking hot butter or olive oil in it. You can add some spices, I often use cumin but Italian seasoning or just some tarragon would work great too. Toss them slowly over medium heat until the leaves are soft and sweet. Salt to taste and add some balsamic vinegar (or balsamic cream, which is excellent stuff) if you like it. Toasted pine nuts go wonderfully with this. Throw a small handful over the finished dish before serving. And yes, he liked them.

I love these two photos. They handily capture how this place feels, to me.

I tried out a couple more baking experiments. I made the cake from this post though I replaced the maple syrup with the Dutch stroop, which is more like treacle or molasses than what I think of as “syrup”. I also laid down the center of it a thick ribbon of dulce de leche Ivo had made. This was indisputably a win. We ate quite a bit of it and then Ivo took the rest home with him.

Playing with verticals and colour:

I made snickerdoodles, too. That was an adventure, since most of the recipes for cookies I know require baking soda (and cream of tartar, usually) and when I asked about that here in NL I got the blank stare I’m starting to expect when discussing baking. Even finding a cookie sheet was an exercise, to my profound surprise. The first batch I tried with baking powder, but they came out round and poufy. They were good, but not even remotely close to what I’d had in mind! The second batch was made after I found baking soda, from a recipe I found at Allrecipes.com. (I love that site, as it has the incredibly handy feature of being able to convert measurements from metric to US on the fly, as well as doing the math on recipe reductions for you! Handy!)

I used 1/4 brown sugar instead of all white, and used more vanilla than it calls for. The dough was very sticky so I chilled it for a while. It’s so short I had to chill it between batches just to be able to handle it. I also cooked them for less time than they say: 6 mins. These came out wonderfully – crisp, buttery, slightly chewy in the middle, with a lovely caramelized flavor. Rolling the little balls of dough in cinnamon sugar before baking was perfect.

These old Volvos are handsome. Oh, where did you go wrong, Volvo?

These were just so very beautiful…

Let me know if you try any of the recipes?


5 responses

  1. Megan

    Hi Coyote,

    I don’t have any cognac. I’ve got a full bottle of whiskey. I can’t seem to convince anybody to throw it down their neck. What do you suggest in the way of using it for cooking? Is that possible?

    December 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm

  2. aimee

    the chicken sounds perfectly delish! i mean, it’s hard to go wrong with cognac and cream. a sauteed SHOE with cognac and cream would be good. i will def try it one of these days!

    December 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm

  3. yetanotherfoodpr0nblog

    It is also excellent with ham. πŸ™‚

    December 3, 2010 at 10:52 am

  4. yetanotherfoodpr0nblog

    Megan: I just dont know. Whiskey? Ill look into it for you.

    December 5, 2010 at 11:57 am

  5. aimee

    I made the cognac dish, with some variations at it was soooooo yummy!

    Sauteed a whole bunch of sliced mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper, then deglazed with a little chicken stock. Set aside.
    Cubed 2 boneless pork chops and sauteed in butter with salt, pepper, and thyme. Set aside.
    Deglazed pan with lots of cognac. Added a little more chicken stock. Added dijon mustard (I like a lot!!), some half and half and a glob of sour cream.
    Cooked that down a little, then added back in the mushrooms, pork, and all accumulated juices. Cooked it down a little more until creamy good.
    Served it over egg noodles with some steamed broccoli on the side.

    – already had pork defrosted… the other while meat πŸ˜‰
    – no full cream on hand, and the half and half seemed a little thin, so that’s why the sour cream.
    – added the chicken stock so there would be a larger volume of sauce for the noodles.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:38 am

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