Monday, August 27, 2012

Nutty Butter Cookies and Pieke Dassen

If you enjoy the taste of  nuts and butter in your cookies and if you are looking for a cookie recipe that contains your favorite nut butter with some added crunch from chopped nuts and oats,  you will certainly enjoy the taste of the Nutty Butter Cookies.

This recipe does not necessarily have to contain peanut butter. It can be adapted to a nut butter of your choice, I baked these cookies using almond butter and chopped almonds. The dough also contains oats that are toasted in butter before they are being mixed into the dough, that enhances the nutty flavor of the cookie and adds an extra bit of crunchiness.

Recipe for Nutty Butter Cookies
(as adapted from MSL, April 2012)


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, softened
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup plus 2 tbsp AP flour (you could also use whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
one pinch of fine sea salt
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 package pure vanilla sugar (you can also use 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1 egg (L)
1/2 cup almond nut butter (you can also use a different nut butter such as peanut butter)
1/2 cup chopped almonds  (you can also use different nuts such as peanuts but remember to stick with one type of nut/nut butter per cookie batch)


1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt one 1/2 stick butter then add the oats, and cook, stirring, until toasted, about five minutes.
2. Spread the oat mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
5. With a mixer on medium high speed, beat together the remaining stick of butter, the sugars and the vanilla sugar until the butter mixture turns pale and fluffy.
6. Add the egg, and beat until combined., then add the nut butter of your choice, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
7. Add the oat mixture and  the chopped nuts of your choice, and beat on low speed until combined, then add the flour mixture, and beat until combined.
8. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls or use an ice cream scoop and place cookie dough on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
9. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks.

Note: These cookies keep well for about a week if stored in cookie tins.

I took these pictures of my cookies at the back of the tourist information centre in Maastricht, The Netherlands. The wall painting in my photos is dedicated to Pieke Dassen, a well-known Dutch actor, puppeteer, singer and painter, who was born in 1926 in Rotterdam, lived and worked in Maastricht until his death in 2007.

For more information:
Pieke Dassen:
Maastricht Tourist Information Centre:

Friday, August 24, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie - Peach (Pêche) Melba with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Peach (Pêche) Melba.

The Peach Melba is a well-known French dessert, invented around 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) at the Savoy Hotel, London to honour the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba (1861-1931). The classic elements of this dessert are vanilla ice cream, poached peaches, raspberry coulis, and slithered almonds. Crème Chantilly was added later. The original recipe was published in the “Guide Culinare”. I took the liberty of leaving out the almonds and making some pumpkin seed brittle to serve with this dessert instead.

Pumpkin seed brittle is wonderful with this dessert - I have seen so many "Peach Melbas" on so many restaurant, café and ice-cream parlor menues, that this seemed like a welcome "twist".

This is a classic dessert, particularly good in summer time not only because of the cool ice cream but also because it combines two terrific sweet summer fruits. This recipe is all about delicious vanilla ice cream, raspberry coulis, ripe Spanish pink peaches poached with sugar, a real vanilla bean, organic lemon peel and a few leaves of my lemon verbena plant, I love using this herb for baking and infusing teas, it has a wonderful lemon scent and it is a wonderful ingredient in Dorie´s recipe for the poaching liquid.

Less known desserts that Auguste Escoffier created for some other very famous ladies are the “Fraises Sarah Bernardt” (strawberries with ice cream and pineapple puree), “Poires Mary Garden” (poached pears with raspberry coulis and cream), or “Coup Emma Calvé” (poached cherries with ice cream and raspberry coulis) – seemingly long forgotten creations of this famous French Chef.

To see all the other Doristas´ summery creation of the Peach Melba, please click here.
This is the 100th post for this group from the book “Around my French Table” by Dorie Greenspan.
Congratulations to all the Doristas that actually managed to prepare all the 100 dishes so far!

Recipe for Pumpkin Seed Brittle


125 grams (4.4 ounces) pumpkin seeds (depending on how much brittle you would like to have, just weigh the pumpkin seeds and double the amount of sugar you are using)
250 grams (8.8 ounces) white sugar


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium-sized (dry) pan, lighty roast the pumpkin seeds until they smell nutty and aromatic, do not forget to stir while roasting, set aside.
3. To a medium sized sauce pan, medium heat, add the sugar and let it caramelize until it turns a light amber color.
4. Add the roasted pumpkin seeds to the pan and stir right away, a wooden spoon works best.
5. Take the pan off the heat.
6. Then immediately spread the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet  -  BE CAREFUL: this is extremly hot and it is therefore a very good idea to keep a bowl of ice water close by, in case you get some hot and extremly sticky caramel on your fingers - instead of spreading it out, you can also make about twenty or so tablespoon sized rounds.
7. Let the caramel cool completely on the baking sheet.
8. Break into odd sized chunks and keep in a cookie tin between layers of parchment paper (no humidity, or the brittle will "sweat" and stick like crazy).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School and Strawberry - Mascarpone Roulade - "Schultüten"

Today was the first day of school for our second youngest.

On their first day of school, German school children receive so-called “Schultüten” – big cardboard cones filled with sweets, fruits and small presents such as puzzles, coloring books, crayons etc. This is a tradition that dates back to the 19th century to Eastern Germany and, today, is popular across the country. In former days, the godparents would give these cones to their godchildren, today it is mostly the parents that craft or buy these cones, fill them and give them to their children on their first day of school.

So this morning our second youngest started school, carrying her cone with the unicorn design that she had previously chosen and her new school bag with the “forest/deer” design…every year, there are new designs for girls and boys and the kids just love their new schoolbags.

In order to celebrate her special day, she got to choose dessert too. And remembering Dorie´s Blueberry-Mascarpone Roulade that we made on July, Friday 13th, 2012 for the FFwD group, she asked that I “make that roulade but with strawberries, not blueberries”, and I gladly obliged using some late summer strawberries.

Dorie´s Roulade is equally delicious with strawberries as it is with blueberries, I think the kids liked it even better this way.

And I did add some mascarpone/whipped cream to the top of the roulade, decorated the outside with additional strawberry halves and served the remainder of the berries on the side!

This was a nice dessert for this special day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie - Popovers

Today´s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie group is Popovers.

I had never made popovers before, let alone tasted them. Not really that popular around here and considering that “Popover is an American version of Yorkshire pudding “, that does not really come as a surprise. But Popovers are easy to make. For the dough, all you have to do is mix five ingredients together, namely milk, eggs, butter, flour and salt. Then you have to butter either a Popover pan (which I do not own) or bowl or even cups or mugs (which I used), bake in the oven and wait for them to pop over the rim. That is it!

They are quite fun to make and can be enjoyed at breakfast or tea time with butter and jam or at lunch or dinner time to mop up some wonderful sauce.

They have a wonderful appeal to them because of their puffed tops and their crusty outsides and soft insides. Let us not forget their taste, to me they can be considered comfort food, they are similar in taste to the Yorkshire pudding that I ate a few times, sans the roastbeef drippings.

Today´s gracious hosts are my seriously talented blogger friend Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake with Amy.

The contributing baker is Marion Cunningham.

To see how the other members of the Tuesdays with Dorie group prepared the Popovers, please click here.

Let's call Yorkshire pudding
A fortunate blunder:
It's a sort of popover
That turned and popped under.
(Ogden Nash)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dille & Kamille, Middleburg, The Netherlands

At the Dille & Kamille shops located across the Netherlands and Belgium , you can find a wide selection of things that you might need for your kitchen, garden, bath or young children.

The assortment ranges from bakeware, home canning supplies, cake decorating, assortment of glassware and serving pieces to childrens' toys, craft supplies, gardening equipment, food stuff, cleaning items and things for the bath and body.

The stores carry a wide range of porcelain serving ware, butter dishes and bowls of different sizes...

...glassware and bistro-style dishes. I particularly like the off-white French inspired dinnerware with a blue or red rim that is part of the current collection and perfect on any table, for breakfast, lunch or dinner or just about anytime.

Then there is the huge selection of wooden boards and bowls and the enamel dinnerware, also off-white with a light green rim. A great choice for taking along on a picnic, to the beach or, perhaps, arranging a country-style table setting.

There are muffin and cupcake supplies, including liners of different colors and sizes. Pepper mills of many colors. Wooden cookie molds that are in particular demand around Christmas time to bake those wonderful speculoos cookies that everybody is raving about.

And, of course, scales - maybe a good idea to get one so that you do not have to recalculate the recipes with metric measurements.

Basics and gadgets for yourself or as gifts for the special people in your life. Love the sieves, colanders and salt shakers and in particular the old-fashioned hand-held whisk with a crank.

You cannot overlook the wonderful selection of childrens´ wooden toys,  all natural wood or cotton and safe colors. You are sure to find a lot of things that will make the small people in your life more than happy.

Which aspiring knight can resist those wooden swords or shields and which chef in training would not want these wooden stoves with tiny colorful pots and pans.

There is cotton tea towels and tablecloths of different sizes that are sure to match the dinnerware that the stores carry or make a wonderful addition to your collection.

You can also buy handmade soaps, natural cosmetic and bath products.

Then there the cookbooks, tea, coffee, chocolate, jams, jellies and preserves.

The emphasis at the stores is always on natural materials, especially wood (rooling pins, spoons, speculoos molds, carving boards, shovels and much more, and, in particular, childrens'  toys) or metal (spoons, whisks, racks, moulds, pans).

Dille & Kamille ( "Dill & Chamomile"), are stores in various locations in the Netherlands and in Belgium. And they ship only to these two countries (EShop). The website is designed beautifully and published in Dutch and French.

Please note that the above pictures were taken last week at the Dille & Kamille store in the utterly beautiful City of Middelburg (the capital of the Province of Zeeland) in The Netherlands.

A big "Hartelijk dank" - "Thank You" to the very friendly manager of that store who patiently endured one long photo session in his terrific store!


Stores in the Netherlands ("Winkels"):
Amersfoort, Arnhem, Breda, Delft, Den Haag, Deventer, Haarlem, Hilversum, Leiden, Middelburg, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Zwolle

Stores in Belgium ("Magasins"):
Aalst, Antwerpen, Brugge, Brussel, Gent, Kortrijk, Roeselare, Turnhout



Friday, August 17, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie - Café-Style Grated Carrot Salad

This week´s recipe for the French Friday`s with Dorie group is Café-Style Grated Carrot Salad (“carottes râpées”).

The recipe is nice and simple, with only a few ingredients required. Apart from fresh carrots, of course, the recipe calls for a dressing made of Dijon mustard, honey, cider vinegar, oil, pepper, salt and optional chopped parsley, walnuts and raisins.

I have been making grated carrot salad for years, on a weekly basis, and it is our favorite “raw vegetable” salad. Today I decided to prepare the carrot  salad as a side dish to grilled pork tenderloin with  homemade zucchini chutney and oven-roasted potatoes.

The recipe for the zucchini chutney was developed by one of my favorite cooks, I saw it featured on his cooking show on Wednesday and tried it for the first time today. Wonderful. The carrot salad was a nice side dish to the other dishes and the different tastes harmonized well together. I made sure to use the same apple cider vinegar for the salad and the chutney and used a neutral salad oil (sunflower) - so no one taste overpowered the other.

In summary, Dorie´s Café-Style Grated Carrot Salad is simple, refreshing, healthy and delicious, not only for a hot summer day. It is great picnic fare as well as a wonderful side dish and a winner at our house.

Zucchini Chutney
(recipe translated by yours truly from a German recipe)


300 g zucchini (use a medium sized zucchini, or use more and double or triple the recipe)
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
2 shallots
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 small bunch Italian parsley
fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper (to taste)


1. wash the zucchini, cut ends off and slice thinly (using a mandolin makes it easy)
2. using a pestle and mortar, grind the fennel seeds
3. peel the shallots, mince finely
4. to a medium sized heavy saucepan (depending on the quantity of zucchini you chose to use), add the olive oil, heat on medium
5. add the zucchini, fennel, sugar and vinegar
6. bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then simmer uncovered, stirring every once in a while, over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until the zucchini have “broken down” and the chutney has reached the consistency of your choice
7. in the meantime, wash the parsley, dry and mince relatively finely
8. add the parsley to the chutney, cook for additional 3 minutes
9. add salt and pepper to taste

To see how the other Doristas prepared the Café-Style Grated Carrot Salad, please click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum 100. Geburtstag, Julia! Happy 100th Birthday, Julia!

"Dear Julia,

before we start the celebration on your special day today, let me tell you that although we have never met in person or had our picture taken together and although I was never lucky enough to attend any of your cooking shows or book signings, our paths have crossed in more than one way, and one aspect stands out in particular.

For two years of your wonderful and interesting life, you used to live in the same City that I grew-up in and live in again today with my family!

While I was reading the fabulous book „As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto” (published December, 1, 2010), I came across the following excerpt from the book, it is one of your letters to your friend Avis, dated October 27, 1954:

In 1954, you and your husband Paul moved to what was then the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, namely Bonn. You lived here for two years. In your letter, you talk about your time in Germany, your struggles with learning the German language and the apartment that you and Paul used to live in. You write that the apartment was located at “Steubenring 3, Apt. 5, Plittersdorfer Aue, Bad Godesberg, Germany”. It was located in an area of Bonn known then as the American sector, it was an apartment complex owned by the HICOG, the “High Commission for Occupied Germany”.

Well, let me tell you, I was quite delighed to see that the housing complex still exists and so does your former apartment.



I took my two youngest daughters to the housing complex, a mere 15 minute drive from our house. When you compare the photograph dated 1952 with the photograph I took today, you will hardly see any difference. Except, today, the people that live in these apartments work mostly for the United Nations. While, obviously, the names have changed on the name plates, the apartments still bear the same numbers - yours was number five, third floor, on the right.

After our little photo session in front of your former apartment, we decided to wander in your footsteps for a brief moment in time and it felt really special! Right around the corner from the apartment complex, there is now the so-called United Nations Campus, then there is the Bonn International School and, of course the Rhine River. In your letters, I read that you really enjoyed your walks along the riverbank. There also used to be an American supermarket and an American Club. And just a few steps away, there is the “Stimson Memorial Chapel”.

Built in 1952 and owned by the American Government until June, 20, 1999, when it was presented as a gift of the United States of America to the City of Bonn...

…by the President at the time, Bill Clinton.

Julia, looking at the house where you used to live in while you stayed in Germany for two years with your husband Paul, and walking through your former neighbourhood, I could not help but wonder about the places where you used to take your walks, do your groceries and how your kitchen used to look like, I guess it was another “very small German kitchen”.

Oh, let me mention one more thing that we share. I was born in August too, just like you, born under the sign of the Leo – now, let´s celebrate and have a slice of the birthday cake that I baked for you, a marzipan cake, shaped like a flower and proudly displayed right in front of your former apartment by two young fans of yours, my two youngest daughters! And although I took the liberty of baking one of my recipes, I am sure that you approve, a German recipe to celebrate your birthday and remember the time that you spent in this country.

Happy 100th Birthday, Julia! - Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu deinem heutigen 100.Geburtstag, Julia!"