July 28, 2012

Boterkoek, a Dutch treat

I already talked about boterkoek in my first post when I tried using a recipe from the internet that failed spectacularly. The recipe I tried afterwards was the one that's been in my family ever since I can remember. It works a charm, but if you're on a diet you might want to give it a pass anyway, because it's so delicious, you're bound to eat unhealthy amounts of it.

Yield: 8-10 slices


  • A 20 cm/8 inch round baking tin


  • 200 grams all-purpose flour, sieved (1.5 cups, sieved and leveled)
  • 175 grams unsalted butter (3/4 cups)
  • 125 grams white soft sugar (10 tablespoons)
  • 8 grams of vanilla sugar or vanillin sugar (3 teaspoons)
  • salt, a pinch
  • About 1 tablespoon of milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200-220°C (400-430°F) and line the baking tin with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix the sieved flour with the sugar, vanilla sugar and salt.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces with two knifes and knead the butter pieces into the dough with cool hands until the dough looks uniform. Wash your hands with cold water beforehand if necessary.
  4. Press the dough into an 8 inch baking tin and, with a fork, make a checkered pattern on the top of the dough.
  5. With a brush, coat the top of the dough lightly with milk.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Take out of the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack until it has almost cooled down. Then remove the koek from the tin for further cooling on the rack. If you let it cool down too much, the butter will solidify which will cause the whole thing to stick to the tin. If that happens, heat briefly and remove from tin immediately.

Tip: Baking is a precise affair. I urge you to use the metric measurements from the original recipe to ensure the best possible result.

Approximate nutritional content per serving:
310 kCal, 35 grams carbohydrate, 3.5 grams protein, 17.5 grams fat.

July 23, 2012

The Seed of an Idea

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I believe the proverbial seed for my interest in food was sown ages ago in my childhood. I visited the community garden regularly and I can still remember my amazement when I saw the crops had visibly grown since the previous week. What I found even more enjoyable was harvest day, when we kids ran riot around the place trying to secure the best fruit and vegetables to take home.

At home, it would be straight to the kitchen to prepare one of my signature salads. I would clean and dry the lettuce that would usually come with complimentary, unwanted 'escargots' and carefully chop cucumber and tomatoes before drowning the veg with a 'dressing' made from an improvised combination of condiments and herbs we had on hand. My parents never said anything, but thinking back, my concoctions must've been pretty bad.

With this enthusiasm for cooking you might think I was an easy kid when it came to eating food, but you'd be wrong. Sure, I ate my greens, but a lot of other things proved to be an acquired taste; one which I often acquired only after someone tricked me into eating the food in question. You'd be surprised what grating some cheese and giving it a creative name can do to a fervent cheese-hating child.

Over time I had to adapt especially since my father insisted on a set of rules regarding food. You had to taste everything at least once and you were exempt from eating only one food item. I chose mushrooms and forced myself through everything else.

Recipe for disaster
More recently I was baking a boterkoek and although I thought I followed the recipe it turned out to be a spectacular disaster. The koek got stuck to the baking tin and it was impossible to remove it. I had to throw my hard work and a ruined baking tin into the trash. I re-made the boterkoek with a different recipe and it came out beautifully. I learned a valuable lesson too. Don't just use any recipe. Use one that has been tried and tested and if you're not sure, compare recipes.

After creating salad dressings, analysing margarine and writing recipes and packaging information as a job, I rediscovered my love for food. I started emerging myself into food blogs, cookbooks and anything that would tell me about the science of cooking. In this blog, I hope to share what I learn along the way and of course, I will post some recipes as well.

Please stick around and enjoy the ride.