Monday, July 23, 2007

Things from our kitchen

It has come to my attention recently that I am apparently a lazy blogger. I tried explaining that, well, we're boring. I doubt anyone really wants to know about how I walked the dogs this morning again or that we want to rent a carpet cleaner from the shoppette on post, but the people who rented the two that they have are never ever bringing them back. Or that I vacuum every day and Ben is still training for a triathlon. This is boring stuff.

But as much as I know that I am, in fact, boring, I would hate for people to be bored with the blog due to lack of updates.

So for those of you who may be accusing me of slacking in the blog department, let me take you on a virtual tour of some things I love about the Netherlands. This episode of "Why I love the Netherlands" comes to you straight from my refrigerator. One of the most exciting things about being in a foreign country, at least in my opinion, is exploring foreign grocery stores. I never cease to be amazed by all the cookies, pasta, frozen meals, and types of bread that I have never seen before. If I could, I would spend our entire time here eating. And then traveling and eating some more.

So let me share with you some of the exciting things that we keep in our kitchen now.

Okay, yes, I know that everybody has fruit. We are not special. But I wanted to show you the fruit first because it is fresh and declicious and cheap from our local market. Every Saturday we go and load up on all sorts of yummy produce for mere pennies (or euros, whatever).

And also at the market you stumble sometimes on something unexpected and wonderful, like mini bell peppers

I knew they existed because Martha Stewart has used them in recipes, but Martha uses a lot of things that normal people don't even know exist, so the mini peppers seem ridiculous to me, in a tasty sort of way. They're delicious stuffed with feta, tomatoes, and a few herbs. Yummy.

And next we have the Smoeltjes, or "Smilies" as I call them.

They taste kind of like Fig Newtons and come in several different flavors. And they really are assorted little faces, some smiling, some screaming "No no no! Don't eat me!". Fantastic.

Next, you knew it was coming, the chocolate.

Just a few of the kinds that are currently living in our refrigerator. How can you not love a candy bar called "Wunderbar"?

And finally, the pièce de résistance... poffertjes!

They're like miniature pancakes!

I sprinkled mine with cinnamon and sugar like the bag suggested

And they are delicious!!!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cooking with Ben and Ellen

What do you do if have a Saturday night with no plans and you aren't in Paris?

You make Beef Wellington!

On the way home from a long and lazy Starbucks trip, Ben and I decided to go home, pick something fun out of a cookbook and spend the evening chopping and sauteeing and stuff. We ended up picking "Beef Wellington for Two" out of The New Basics Cookbook. We had never made it before. Ben loves steak. I love pastry crusts. Beef Wellington would be perfect!

First we had to make Potted Mushrooms. Hmm, okay. So Ben prepared for choppin'.

And went to work on the mushrooms.

Ben does most of the chopping work in our kitchen, because I do not play well with sharp objects. Note the band-aid on my finger.

That was from just taking the knife out of the drawer. Imagine what happens when I actually try slicing things.

I am fabulous at sautéeing though.

And in case you were wondering, Potted Mushrooms are made with finely chopped mushrooms, leeks, shallots, chives and about 12 pounds of butter.

And what on earth do you DO with Potted Mushrooms? You put them on your steak!

And then, it was time for the puff pastry. I love pastry of any sort. And wrapping a hunk of beef in a rich, buttery crust sounds so heart-attackingly delicious, I knew this would be the best part of the dish. Apparently Spud thought so too, because when our backs were turned his little nose made its way up to the counter where he managed to chew the corner of the sheet of pastry before we saw him and yelled.

He looks so innocent. But that little bottom lip that's sticking out so sadly is the same one that drips with drool at the thought of your Beef Wellington. Don't let the beagle fool you.

So we draped the pastry all around the meat, and the recipe said we could use any excess pastry to decorate the crust. Excellent idea! So after a few minutes of deliberation, we decided on a jungle theme!

You won't get elephants and rhinos in any fancy restaurant. Only Chez Morrison.

And then they go in the oven. And we wait, some more eagerly than others.

And finally...

Elephant and rhinoceros decorated Beef Wellington in a jungle of fresh greens! And a carrot, hand-carved into a flower by Ben. Amazing! I don't even want to think about how many band-aids I would need after I tried to do that.