Monday, March 19, 2012

Yummus Hummus

Tonight was a vegetarian dinner - Mediterranean-style hummus... or as my husband calls it, "Yummus".
Yes, those are cucumber strips instead of circles. Easier to dip into the hummus, or jam into a pita bread. Unless your toddler only will eat cucumber slices, of course. The total time to make this meal is about 25 minutes (if the carrots are already prepped- peeled and chopped and stored in a container in the fridge, soaking in cold water. Great tip from my Mother-in-law: they stay fresh, crunchy, and you can prep them ahead of time for snacking.)
I would love to say I made the Falafel myself, but I took a short-cut and had my buddy, Albert Heijn make it. Just pop these beauties into a pan with a bit of oil, and fry them up for a nice, crunchy exterior.
Inform your two-year-old that these are meatballs and risk wasting one (unless you don't mind it ABC- already been chewed).
The key to this fabulous meal is of course, the Hummus. A recipe I found online long ago here: (and modified slightly)
Yummus Hummus
1 jar of chickpeas (trying to cut down on canned foods because of the BPA), drained but reserve the liquid (360 grams or 16 oz)
1/4 cup (60ml) of reserved chickpea liquid
juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup or 60ml)
2 Tablespoons Tahini paste* (about 30ml)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine (or if you don't like raw garlic, roast it first)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for garnish)

Blend everything in a food processor for 3 to 5 minutes, or until creamy. Add more reserved chick-pea liquid if desired, but don't add too much or you'll end up with soup.
To serve, place in a bowl and add a Tablespoon or so of olive oil as a garnish on the top.  Make it look pretty with a carved carrot flower or creatively placed tomatoes. Use cut veggies to dip, or stuff a pita-pocket (also AH supplied! and the par-baked pita pockets bake up nice in only 5 minutes!) with the hummus, falafel, veggies and a drizzle of oil if you like.
* = Tahini is sesame paste. If you don't have it and can't get it, you can use a mortar and pestle to grind up sesame seeds until they are a paste and use that instead. I've done it this way when I was out of tahini and craving hummus. It works okay, but you really have to work to grind up those seeds and it takes a long time.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tricky Marketing of Maple Syrup

Glance at this bottle of maple syrup and tell me that for a second you thought it was from Vermont. Right? It says "VERTMONT" not Vermont! But seriously- doesn't that seem tricky to you?

Maybe you have to be from the North-Eastern U.S. to feel this way, but I really was fooled for a moment. Once I realized the ruse, it still did not stop me from buying this maple syrup. It is quite good. I got it at the Ekoplaza on Geldropseweg. The cost of maple syrup here in the Netherlands is about 10-20% more than the USA, but it is worth the extra cost to not worry about luggage soaked with maple syrup.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Angel Food Cake Failure

My mom's favorite cake is Angel Food Cake, which (having lived in the USA with ample supply of said cakes) I had never made before. I thought of it earlier this year before my mom was going to visit us and decided to give it a try.
Lest you believe all my baking comes out perfect... here is an example of a decent failure. Angel food cake baked in a non-stick Bundt pan is not so pretty. It turns out that Angel food cake needs an non-non-stick pan. It needs to stick. The best thing to use is a non-coated tube pan. Otherwise, the sad cake will just slide down the sides of the non-stick pan, ending up a big goopy mess:
Since I was not to be deterred, and wasn't ready to purchase a tube pan, I decided to ask the internet for advice. When I tried a rectangular glass 9x13 inch baking dish, I had slightly better results, albeit still not pretty- with the cake only reaching about 1.5 inches in height. I guess I'll ask for a tube pan for my birthday this year!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Finding Cake supplies in Eindhoven

Watermolens (water mills) here in the Netherlands are both places to purchase baking supplies and at the same time, pet stores. Intuitively it makes sense, when you consider the grain is processed by the mill, powered by the river water. Flour is created, and grain for animals created, all with large stone grinders. When I first heard of this I thought it was strange but now it seems normal. Without my favorite Michaels around, I have to get my Wilton cake supplies fix somewhere, and De Dommelsche Watermolen is the place!

Located just south of Valkenswaard, (take N69 south, and turn right onto N397, you'll see it after a small river, on your left side).
Bergstraat 1
5551 AW Valkenswaard, Netherlands
In the background you see the different types of flours available. Zeeuwse bloem here is 1.50 instead of 1.25(at Genneper Park Watermolen). Check out all that Wilton stuff! And even Crisco- (4 euro for a tiny can). They have fondant, marzipan, gum paste, and everything you need to shape the stuff. Cookie cutters galore, cake pans, sprinkles, etc- it is all there. They even have chocolate chips made from Callebaut chocolate (you can also find them at Genneper Park, and I think the price is a bit cheaper there).

I was excited to find some special carousel candles for Dina's upcoming 3rd birthday. It is difficult to find carousel themed items and it looks like on, that this particular product has been discontinued, so I feel extra lucky to have scored these! They even had the carousel cake creator (for only 35 euro- it is $25 in the US! Love that EU tax! It is a stand, plastic horses that can support the shaped top made of plastic which you are supposed to cover with fondant)... but I felt like it wasn't for me. I feel the need to make the entire cake structure edible. Obviously, I'll have to use supports that are not-edible, but I don't want a fondant-covered plastic thing on the cake. At this point I'm making sketches and test-cakes (husband is happy with that) and so we'll see how it goes!