Vera and Aleksej shared a recipe for a Slovenian sweet bread called potica - it is yeast based, so the time the dough took to rise was perfect for writing some letters!
We are used to trying to hunt down tricky ingredients, but this was the first time we decided to invest in a special pan, because we have eaten poffertjes before, and love them. Our batter wasn't as runny as we thought it should be, so we added an egg to the recipe - the poffertjes were delicious!
The lovely Paarnaq from Greenland sent us a recipe for "Greenlander's Cake" - Kalaallit Kaaqiat. It's essentially a yeast loaf with dried fruit - we got the amount of water wrong in our first attempt and had to start again. For our second attempt, we had run out of raisins, so we used chopped apricots instead, which worked really well, too!
On Saturday, the postman brought post from Spain. Toby had asked Inés, Miguel and Javier for a recipe, and they sent a recipe for a Spanish tortilla that was so simple that Toby cooked it nearly all by himself - after harvesting our tiny potatoes! The recipe is in the picture, and we decided to include some pictures of the cooking and harvesting, too.
It has been a long time since we blogged, and we have much to tell the world, especially about the amazing holiday we went on. But first of all, let us wish those who celebrate it a (belated) Happy Easter. In our family, we have one Easter tradition that goes back at least six generations, and that has its roots in Eastern Europe; and that's the painting of Easter eggs. It is called "Pysanky", or "drop-pull method". You mark the egg with hot wax, before dying it batik-style. Take the egg out once the colour you want has been achieved, then paint more wax on, trapping that colour. Dye again, then repeat if you want. At the end, you carefully scrape off the wax and use a tiny amount of oil or butter to give the eggs a nice shine. We paint our eggs raw, so that if we like any, you can blow them out and hang them on an Easter display.
The process is very hit-and-miss - this year, some years, the eggs don't accept the colour well, others, you scrape a lot off when you scrape the wax off. But each year, there are one or two worth blowing out. Below is our haul from this year, painted by all the family. Toby painted his first egg when he was two years old, and we paint them every year - this year, a day later than normal, because of our holiday.
Do you have a special way of painting Easter eggs?
Toby says: James' parents got eaten by a rhino, and he had to live with his not very nice aunts. He went into a peach and there were insects in the peach, they were living in the stone. They had lots of adventures, and they were really cool. They ended up in New York. I liked that the book was really adventurous.
Mummy says: Toby got a whole pack of Roald Dahl books for his birthday, and this was the first one we read together. It was such fun - we were scared of the Cloudmen, talked about how many seagulls it would take to lift a house, and decided that it would be very cool to live in a peach stone house in Central Park, and have giant ladybirds and centipedes as friends.
Tatjana told us about these very yummy sweets - here is what she said:
Here's one of my favorites:
Melt 125 gr butter, 100gr powdered sugar and 200 gr dark chocolate. Take candy paper cups, put a cherry in each (we use cherries from '' slatko'' , a traditional thin fruit preserve but you can just boil cherries and sugar until it gets the consistency of syrup) and fill in with melted chocolate. Refrigerate.
As luck would have it, we were hoarding a couple of jars of sour cherry compote, which is not easy to get hold of in the UK, and which sounds like it's very close to the Serbian "slatko" Tatjana mentions. Looking at Google images, there are lots of ways to decorate these, we went for the messy "let's just plop them in the paper cups" approach.
We made this as part of our "food as a present" idea - since we started to cook and bake our way around the world, we have so much cake in the house, we need to share it! So, these coconut ice cubes, we made to give away.
- 1x 400g tin of evaporated milk
- 400g icing sugar
- around 330g of desiccated coconut (we say "around", we had a packet, which was 200g, then a "rest of a packet", which was maybe 40g, that made the texture too sticky, and when Mummy looked in a panic to see what we could use, we found another half-used packet of desiccated coconut, and threw in enough so the mixture handled like a dough. You see, we are well prepared and think everything through!)
- a few drops of red food colouring (optional)
Mix the evaporated milk, icing sugar and coconut in a bowl until you have a dough (tip, the longer it "sits" or the warmer it gets, the stickier it gets). Divide in two and work a few drops of red food colouring into one half (possibly better than we did, unless you like the mottled look). Cover a work surface with cling film, dust both film and rolling pin with icing sugar (frequently, in the case of the rolling pin!) and roll one half of the dough into a...well, oval. Repeat with the other half, so you have two separate, rolled out shapes (preferably the same kind of shape). Flip one so it's on top of the other, and roll with a rolling pin a couple of times (we liked doing this with the cling film still attached, it made it easier. You are now supposed to have a two-toned oval, roughly an inch thick. If, like us, you have something a lot thinner (oops!), peel off the cling film, fold in half and gently roll out again to make the folded bits stick to each other.
Leave uncovered for several hours (we waited five), then cut into cubes. They'll still be a bit sticky from the other side, so flip them over and leave to dry a bit more. Feel free to nibble on off-cuts as you go along. Enjoy!
Today is "Nikolaustag", St Nicholas Day. "Nikolaustag" is German, and they have "Nikolaustag" in Germany, and in Austria, and Switzerland. In Holland and Belgium, it's called "Sinterklaas". It's a day from the Catholic calendar, but just like Christmas, it has become a part of culture for lots of people.
St Nicholas was really Greek, and he lived a long time ago, around the year 350!! That's over one-and-a-half thousand years ago. It says that he used to leave secret presents. If you would like a present from St Nicholas, you have to be good all year, and the evening before St Nicholas Day, you have to clean your shoes or boots, and leave them for St Nicholas to find (Mummy said I couldn't leave my new Wellington boots that are still two sizes too big and didn't need cleaning). It's great because the bigger you get, the bigger your shoes get! St Nicholas always brings me lots of chocolate and a little present. This year, I got "Alfie Small: Captain Thunderbolt and the Jelloids", and I can read the Alfie Small books by myself, and I really like them. If you are naughty, St Nicholas just leaves twigs in your boots, but I've never had twigs, and Mummy says she's never had twigs, either! St Nicholas sometimes comes to grown-ups' work places, too, and leaves little anonymous gifts. I cleaned my boots really, really carefully, I even cleaned the bottoms and the inside of the straps! I really like Nikolaustag because it feels like Christmas is coming soon, and is already here a little bit!
This blog is mainly a way to keep track of our recipes - for day to day updates, please check out Toby's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/writingtotheworld