Monday, December 31, 2007


Here in Holland we have some special foods that we make for New Years eve. Most of the people bake oliebollen but in our family the tradition is to make appelflappen.

The recipe I follow has been in the family for a long time, my grandfather made them this way, than my mom and now I have been doing it for quite some years. I only added one little thing to make them even more tasty, which is vanilla extract.

You need a couple of kilo's of baking apples, we use Goudreinetten, a very old Dutch apple breed that is tart and hold it's shape nicely when cooked or baked, this apple is too tart to eat raw.

The evening before you peel and core the apples and slice them, than sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon. Let them sit overnight.

The next day you make a batter from half a kilo of self raising flour, 2 eggs, some vanilla extract and enough milk to make it nice and sticky, you don't want it to thin!

Heat sunflower oil up to 180 C. Drag the apple slices through the batter and fry them in the oil until golden brown.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

HAPPY 2008 TO YOU ALL!!!!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beer Battered Cod

My brother and I love to fish. We live close to the coast so that is the place where we go. A great advantage from sea fishing is that you can eat what you catch. Last week we caught some cod which I filleted and froze. Today I made fish and chips with the fillets.
I made a light batter with 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and a can of beer.
It should be thin, but thick enough to coat your finger... if it stays on your finger, it will stay on your fish.
Then fried the fillets for 8 minutes in sunflower oil. Two per batch, more wouldn't fit the pan.

Served them with fries and a wedge of lemon, very yummy!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Made it back to Chicago Land on Tuesday after a nice drive from Coralville. Tomtom set to avoid highways which gave us a much nicer scenery. Wild dear, halloween decorations, family run restaurants.... just the way we like it.
Friday we spend shopping a little more.

Saturday, off to Chicago for the Apple store and a dinner at Topolobampo. Reservations were made three months in advance because this place is always packed. We had lunch before in the less formal part of the restaurant, the Frontera Grill which was fabulous.
Well the dinner was one to put in our top 10! Gourmet Mexican food with suprising twists in taste and presentation. As a starting food blogger I found it a little emberrassing to take pictures here so no pictures to go with this dinner.
We started with a Mezcal Martini, nice and smokey . I had crab apples filled with goats cheese and pecans, micro greens and a chile sauce as a starter, Maine lobster with ancho chiles and squash as a main and the most surprising was the desert, a 2 chocolate torte with pumpkin seed and black olives! The olives gave it a salty taste which made it very different. Oaxacan hot chocolate and chocolates finished it all. The service was perfect and not too much in your face.

Sunday, we had to go back home but not after a visit to Billy Goat's Tavern. This place is located in "the belly" of Chicago. If you're on North Michican Avenue in front of the Wrigley Building you will find stairs going down, there's another layer of roads here and this is also were Billy Goat's is located. Go here to eat their famous Cheezborger or better get a triple one with bacon :-) This is one of those places that you will miss if you are just wandering around as a tourist, but the burgers are the best and the atmosphere even better!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dodge City

Yesterday we left from Pagosa Springs, Colorado and drove through the mountains to Lamar, Colorado, yes it's a big state :-) Beautiful ride through the Rocky Mountains, 2 passes over 10.000 feet, great views and smooth roads with hardly any traffic what more do you want?
Today we continued our trip and reached Dodge City, Kansas by lunch time. Wyatt Earp was the marshal here and they erected a nice statue in his honor.

We had lunch at Casey's Cowtown Steakhouse. Casey the owner was very friendly and helpful, the Steaks were absolutely fabulous. We love these independently owned restaurants that have way more character than the chains.

Before we reached our destination for today, Emporia, Kansas, we passed through Mullinville were we ran into M.T. Liggett's Political Sculptures. People who know us, know that we have a weak spot for kitschy stuff like this so we had to take a few pictures before we head on.

Mesa Verde National Park

On our way back to Chicago we passed by Mesa Verde National Park, I recalled that it was the place where people in the past build houses in the mountain and I recalled right. This park took us the better part of the day, it was worth it! Great if you are not really on a schedule and can make time for something special like this.

We saw the dwellings, could even walk around in them, saw some wildlife, deer and wild turkey, and we had a very nice lunch, Navajo flatbread with chili. The lunch was terrific even though it looks like (and probably is) fast food and I can recommend the restaurant in the park.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley

Yesterday we visited Bryce Canyon, this time we were impressed! Incredible what mother nature created here. For the first time during our trip it was cloudy, which added a nice effect on the rocks. The colors changed every time a cloud passed by.
Tip of the day, when you enter the park drive all the way to the end and on the way back pull out for the views, all the pull outs are on that side of the road so this way you don't have to cross the road all the time.
Hoodoo's in Bryce Canyon

Today we visited Monument Valley and again we were impressed, we've seen most of the States but Utah has the most spectacular landscape, probably also because it looks so alien. Monument Valley isn't a National Park, but is run by the Navajo Indian tribe, you can drive through it with your own car or take a ride with them.

Zion National Park

From Las Vegas we drove on to Zion National Park, to be honest we weren't impressed, sure it's a nice canyon, but after all the other beautiful things we have seen so far this was a little bit disappointing.
After Zion we went in to the direction of Bryce Canyon and we drove through Red Canyon which was a lot more impressive than Zion.

Viva Las Vegas

Vegas was great! We stayed at the Planet Hollywood Resorts and Casino which was fabulous. Beautiful room on the 29th floor, nice casino, great restaurants. Their buffet "the Spice Market" won the best buffet award for 2007 and we agreed with the judges! Nice prime rib, king crab legs, sole filet rolls stuffed with crab meat etc. There is a Asian, Mexican, American, sea food, Middle Eastern, salad and desert section. The desserts were also great, too bad you can only eat so much.

We also visited Ka, the Cirque du Soleil show, at the MGM Grand. What a show! Great that there is so much money in Vegas that a group as Cirque du Soleil gets every chance to build a show like that, a theatre that is build for the show, a show with mind boggling effects and fantastic performers!
I will certainly see this show again next time I'm in Vegas.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Arches National Park

Park Avenue

No Vegas today, we passed by Arches National Park which was on our list and decided to visit this park first. It was beautiful and worthwhile the small detour. The rock formations have incredible shapes and are enormous.

the Delicate Arch

After the park we drove on to Green River where we had filet mignons at Ray's Tavern, they were bacon wrapped and grilled to perfection, the milk shakes were also very nice here.

250 more miles to Vegas, reservations are made for the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino right in the middle of the Strip. We also have tickets for Wednesday for Cirque du Soleil's Ka show at the MGM Grand. No idea if I'll be bloging from Vegas since you have to pay for your internet access there. If I don't have access I'll report when we 're leaving Las Vegas on Friday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Q and b'day lunch.

Yesterday we had lunch at Skeeter Barnes in Kearney, Nebraska, what a fabulous bbq restaurant! Loved the pulled pork and the Texas sausage.
We had a sample platter called the Skeeter Feeder which was plenty for the three of us.

Today is a special day I turned 40, to celebrate we had lunch at Chap's Grill and Chophouse in Vail, Colorado for my birthday, I had sirloin steak topped with a salsa with ancho chile's which was very tasty!

As a birthday cake I got an enormous chocolate chip cookie baked in a skillet with vanilla ice cream.
Spending the night in Grand Junction, Colorado and tomorrow we head on to Vegas which is "only" 500 more miles.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Only 1019 miles to the next turn...

We left last Saturday to meet up with our friend in Chicago and to travel with her to Las Vegas. Unfortunately she fell down her garage stairs just 5 minutes after we got to her place and broke her wrist so bad that she had to be operated on. So with a few days delay we hit the road and are now on our way to LV. This is the first time I saw on the tomtom that I didn't have to make turn for another 1019 miles!

Today we passed by Earlham, Iowa home of the Master Griller's Homestead, the place where we ate the best pulled pork sandwich ever. Too bad they close at 2:30 PM and we arrived at 2:50 PM. Oh well maybe if we are in the neighborhood on the way back...

If you are ever in the neighborhood this is their address:

The Master Griller's Homestead
142 S. Chestnut
Earlham, Iowa

Monday, June 18, 2007

Last Seen Movies

I've added a new item to the column on the right where I'll post the last movies I've seen.
Nothing fancy just a little list of my 10 last seen movies.

Didn't write much the last couple of weeks, I was busy filling my other blog, it's in Dutch and focuses on barbecue. the URL is if you want to check it out.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

3rd International WSM Smoke Day

Yesterday was the 3rd Annual International WSM Smoke Day. It's an event initiated by the Virtual Weber Bullet site and invites people to smoke something that day, and I did!
Last week I had two smokes that didn't went very well, rabbit legs on Sunday that should have been on, according to the recipe for 1.5 hours, but took over 5 hours to reach the right temperature and beef ribs on Thursday that should have taken 4-5 hours but ended up like beef jerky (they looked right after 3 hours and probably were), so I decided to do my tried and tested rib recipe Noskos' Classic Baby Back Ribs.

The recipe is an altered one from Steven Raichlin's book: Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs

2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder

Mop Sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Noskos' Sweet & Smokey BBQ Sauce

4 racks of baby back ribs
4 chunks of hickory smoke wood

The evening before: mix the rub ingredients, take the papery skin of the inside of the ribs, wash them and pat them dry with paper towels.
Apply the rub and put the ribs in the fridge.

The next day, prepare the WSM for smoking 225-250 F, I used the standard method to light it, one full burning chimney starter of briquettes and one full unlit chimney starter of briquettes on top. On top of that the hickory chunks. When all the briquettes are covered in ash assemble the smoker, close the bottom vents and keep the one on top fully open. After about an hour the temperature should be OK.

Take the ribs out of the fridge half an hour before they should go on the barbecue.
Put them on the barbecue in a rib rack or roll them up.

After 50 minutes heat up the mop ingredients. At the one hour mark mob the ribs with the mop sauce and do so every hour (I let the sauce cool down in between mop sessions).

After 3 1/2 hours take the ribs of the barbecue and brush on the glaze, in this case I used my own homemade BBQ sauce, I will post the recipe another time, but you can use any sweet smokey barbecue sauce.
Put the ribs back on for half an hour so the glaze can firm up and get nice and sticky.

These ribs are great with BBQ beans, homemade fries and homemade apple sauce.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

B.R.I.T.U. (Best Ribs in the Universe)

Last Sunday I had my first cook on the weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. I had decided to follow a well tried recipe from the Virtual Weber Bullet site, the B.R.I.T.U. which stands for the Best Ribs In The Universe.

At 11 AM I fired up the weber and at 1 PM the temperature had stabilized at about 250 F, that is about 50 F too high but that is normal for a new WSM. The reason for the higher temperature is that the inside is still shiny and reflects the heat back inside, when the WSM is used a couple of times, the inside will become dull from smoke and grease and will conduct the heat out.

At 1 PM I put on 3 racks of ribs and closed the lid for 3 hours, the temperature hardly changes, it did get a bit lower but that must have been the layer building up on the inside.

After 3 hours I turned the ribs, checked the water pan, which had still plenty of water, and opened the bottom vents a bit to take the temperature up to 275 F for the final stretch.

One hour later the ribs were done, suck of the bone tender and good eats!

I am really surprised at how easy it is to maintain a steady temperature in the WSM, if I use my weber kettle I have to keep adjusting the vents.
The B.R.I.T.U. recipe was OK, but next time I'll use my regular recipe, I like a little more kick.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kahlua Flan

Yesterday I made Kahlua Flan for dessert. Flan is a custard based dessert which originated in Spain and is very popular in Spain and Latin American countries.

This recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse and can be found on the FoodNetwork website.

3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweet condensed milk
2 tablespoons Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur)

Heat the sugar in a small sauce pan over medium high heat, when it start to melt lower the heat and let it caramelize until it's golden brown, swirl the pan, don't stir it. And be careful, this mixture is very hot!

Pour in a flan mold, swirl it to cover the bottom and let it cool. I don't have a flan mold so I used a 20cm cake tin.
Preheat the over to 350 F.

Whisk the eggs together, add the cans of evaporated and sweet condensed milk and the Kahlua. Whisk well to blend. We only have Kahlua Especial, which is higher in alcohol percentage) at the moment, but that didn't really matter for this recipe.
Put the mixture in the flan mold and put the mold in a larger roasting tray, add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the flan mold. Place this in the oven and bake until the flan is set but still jiggles a bit in the center when you shake it. This takes about 50-60 minutes.

Take the flan out of the roasting dish and let it cool down on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Before you serve it, take a thin knife and run it along the rim of the mold, place a plate on top and turn it over. Lift the mold.
Emeril uses chocolate on top, but I think it's just fine the way it is!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Blackberry Blossom

Lots of blossoms in my blackberry bush. It's the second year I have it and I got a few blackberries last year, but it looks like I will have a truck load this season.

Will make jam out of them and I think I have a BBQ sauce recipe here somewhere that uses them too.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas

With the corn tortillas I made chicken enchiladas. The recipe I used comes from Elise's Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog and can be found under the Mexican Food Recipes section.
I had to use 4 tablespoon of chili powder and 2 drops of Dave's Insanity Hot Sauce to get a bit of bite, I think that the chili powder here in Europe is less potent than the US version, I will pick up a bottle next time I'm there to test.

The enchiladas turned out great! I served them with chili, sour cream and home made guacamole.

Corn Tortillas

Yesterday I made corn tortillas which I used for enchiladas. As I wrote in an earlier post I found the tortilla corn flour online here in Holland. I learned how to make them at Pilar's La Casa de los Sabores (the house of flavours) Cooking School in Oaxaca City, Mexico were we took a cooking class on our vacation in March. She took us to the market and we bought ready to use masa (dough) there.
Now I had to mix it myself, which isn't very hard but it takes some time to get the consistency right.

I used 2 cups of tortilla corn flour and started with 1 1/4 cup of very warm water, brought it together and found out it needed more water. If you make a little dough ball and flatten it and it cracks easily it's too dry.

When I had the right consistency I rolled balls which were a little bigger than a golf ball. Keep the bowl you put them in covered with cling film to prevent them from drying out.
Cut up a freezer bag in such a way that you have 2 sheets that fit inside your press. This makes it easier to press the tortillas and it keeps your press clean.

Place one of the balls on the plastic sheet in the press.

Put the second sheet of plastic over the ball and flatten it a bit by hand.

Use the press to flatten the ball in to a tortilla. Pilar's tip was to open the press, flip the tortilla over and press again, this way you get a nice even thickness.

Remove the plastic, if your dough sticks too much to the plastic it's too wet, and put on a hot griddle and cook until they are done on both sides.

You can put them in aluminum foil and cover them with a dishtowel to keep them warm for a while.

In Oaxaca we made smaller once, the dough balls were about 2 cm (3/4"), which we filled with squash blossoms and Oaxacan string cheese (a cheese that's gets nice and runny when heated). This was served with Salsa Verde Asada, a nice green salsa made with jalapeno, avocado, garlic and roasted tomatillos.