Is European cooking bland?

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What do you think…is European cooking bland?  I have had some lively discussions about this question with my son who lives in China.  It seems some people gravitate to the subtle flavours in a cream sauce. Others prefer very lively flavours. What do you like?  Click here to link to a blog from “The Salt” about how snobbery took the spice out of European cooking.

We would love to hear your opinion. Do you have an example of bland European cooking?  Do you have an example of European cooking that is anything but bland?

Chocolate on bread…!

IMG_3417It has been said that getting to eat chocolate sprinkles on bread is one of the reasons why Dutch children are so happy. Of course, the Dutch are not the only people who have figured out that chocolate and bread are a great combination.  The Danish make thin chocolate slices to eat on bread called palaegschokolade.  And don’t forget Nutella and its variations.

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DeRuijter hagelslag are probably the best chocolate sprinkles available at least here in Canada…definitely in Welland.  They are also great on ice cream, yoghurt or cakes. Those crunchy cake sprinkles like the ones that Tim Hortons puts on doughnuts are just pure candy.  Dutch hagelslag is real chocolate; it melts on your toast and in your mouth.  Once you have had the real thing you will never go back to those cheap imitations

Did you know that hagelslag means hail storm?  After the winter we have had in Welland, it’s nice to know that there are some types of storms that are only pure pleasure. Of course, some of us don’t even want to bother with the bread! IMG_3416I wish this little one lived closer to Welland so I could enjoy watching her pick her sprinkles off and put them directly into her mouth every day!

For more about chocolate sprinkles check out this link:   http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/12/eating-sprinkles-the-dutch-way-hagelslag-on-bread.html

Spring comes to Welland!

IMG_3402The snow is still evident here in Welland but spring is peaking through! IMG_3399

Snowdrops & anemones…always the first flowers to brave the world each spring. We have also noticed that the people of Welland are re-emerging from winter hibernation.

Our European Pantry sign is no longer obscured by a pile of snow. Now people shopping next door at the Welland Farmer’s Market can see our sign again!

IMG_3404What are the signs of spring where you are?

Almond Plum Tarts (Gluten Free)

IMG_3336These tarts got rave reviews when I served them recently.  After several requests for the recipe I decided to share it here on our site for more of you to enjoy. This recipe will make about 32 small tarts.

You will need:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup (brown) rice flour
  • 1 tbsp almond flavouring
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • approx. 2 tbsp  of 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk
  • Zentis plum butter
  • greased mini tart tin.  I recommend using butter.

Mix the first 5 ingredients together evenly. Knead in the butter. Add just enough of the egg mixture for dough to hold together without being sticky. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.

IMG_3324Putting a ball of dough in each tart form, press a depression into the center with your thumb.  Your tarts will not be quite as large as these pictured. Slightly smaller tarts are easier to remove from the tin.

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Spoon about a 1/2 tsp of plum butter into the center of each tart. A good quality apricot jam like Bonne Maman could be substituted for the plum butter.  Bake at 350 degree F for about 15 minutes or until golden brown as pictured.  Cool before removing them from the tin.

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Cutting the Cheese…

IMG_3321Check out our new cheese knife collection from BOSKA. We now have about a dozen styles of knives available. Choose a knife to match the cheese you are serving.

IMG_3314For example, this oak handled slim profile blade is especially suited for semi-firm cheeses that tend to stick to a standard slicer. Great for mild Goudas and Havartis.

IMG_3316This mini double handled knife will thrill your guests when you serve a firm cheese. I photographed it here with our large store knife that has been used in our family business for over 40 years.  BOSKA knives last and last. Note how the handles are riveted on through the blades of both knives.  The vintage cheese box has also been in the family for years….the cheese it contained enjoyed many years ago!

IMG_3322If you want to shred just a bit of cheese onto a salad or into soup, this it the right tool for the task.

IMG_3323This mini slicer it the perfect size for a cheese board. The perfect price to include several so everyone can slice at the same time! If you like cheese and crackers in your lunch but don’t like your crackers getting soft, throw one of these in and make up your cheese and crackers fresh at lunch time.

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We have several gift sets to bring to your favourite host.  Or be creative, choose several pieces of cheese, a slicer, one of our inexpensive beech wood boards and maybe a package of our ready sliced salamis.  We’ll provide a kraft paper gift bag and ribbon.  You will definitely be invited back!