PFEFFERNÜSSE

Pfeffernüsse translates in English as “pepper nuts”, and they are one of the most traditional cookies made during the holidays in many countries in Northern Europe. It is a perfect cookie to offer as a gift, as they are best when consumed a few days after baking. The recipe is found in the cookbook “Classic German Baking“, but it is also available online (click here). I made half the amount of spice mix, and still had plenty leftover.

PFEFFERNÜSSE
(as published in Tasting Table)

For the Lebkuchengewürz spice mix:
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground mace
¾ teaspoon ground star anise

For the cookie dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lebkuchengewürz
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon baker’s ammonia
1 tablespoon rum, slightly warmed
1 egg

for glazing:
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
lemon juice added to desired consistency

Make the lebkuchengewürz: In a small bowl, whisk together the lebkuchengewürz spices until well combined. Makes about ½ cup. Store in an airtight container.

Make the pfeffernüsse: Heat the oven to 375° and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt to combine. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lebkuchengewürz and white pepper.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baker’s ammonia in the rum, then stir into the honey mixture. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and add the flour mixture and the egg. Stir until a smooth dough forms.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place ½ inch apart on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the cookies have domed and dried, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. If you want a thick glaze, add very little juice, if you want a transparent, thin glaze, add lemon juice and thin further with water. When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the glaze. Let the cookies cool completely, then store in an airtight container for 2 days before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a very warm spot in my heart for any sweets containing spices, Speculaas probably being at the very top. These cookies were a huge hit with my beloved husband and his golfing friends. You can approach the glaze in two different ways, thick as I made, or very very thin. Some say that the traditional type has super thin glaze, but I prefer the way they look with a thicker coating. Your kitchen, your rules, do whatever feels right for you. They pack a lot of flavor, and because they are so small, you don’t really feel guilty having one. Maybe two. I would advise you to stop before you inhale the fifth one. That might be harder than you anticipate…

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ZUCCHINI-PROSCIUTTO PARCELS

Two ways to make these delicious little morsels, perfect as a little appetizer or even as a side-dish, which is how we served them. You can use a creamy cheese, such as ricotta, perhaps mixing a bit of egg yolk for added structure, but I opted for halloumi cheese, that retains its texture quite well during baking. The first method requires a mandolin to slice the zucchini, as you need really thin slices so that they bend. You could slice it thicker and blanch them before forming the parcels, but I prefer to skip that additional step.


ZUCCHINI-PROSCIUTTO PARCELS
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 or 2 large zucchini
prosciutto slices, one per appetizer
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
halloumi cheese cut in pieces, one per roll

Whisk the olive oil with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

If using ribbons, cut the zucchini in very thin slices, as thin as your mandolin will go. If using zucchini pieces, cut them in squares of a size similar to the cheese. Brush the zucchini with the emulsified oil-lemon. Assemble each little package, either rolling or stacking.

Place over aluminum foil on a baking sheet and bake at 400F util the prosciutto is golden brown (about 25 minutes, depending on size). The zucchini will release a lot of juice during baking but it will dry out as it continues roasting. Do not panic, it will look a little hopeless before it looks great…

Serve while warm.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know which version I prefer. The one with very thin zucchini slices looks a little more elegant but the zucchini pretty much disappears as far as taste and texture are concerned. The second way to do it makes the zucchini more prominent, but it does not look as good, so it’s really a matter of deciding which path you want to take. I do like the use of halloumi. If you go with a melting cheese, definitely do the zucchini ribbons to wrap the whole thing better.

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ACCORDION POTATOES

I am not a fan of tiktok, but apparently this method to cut the potatoes was a huge hit a while ago, everybody doing, sharing videos, raving about it. I was intrigued, decided to give it a try. Super cool technique, and if you don’t need to make too many of those, the air-fryer does a great job. I made three, which fit well in the basket of our fryer. Most people deep fry the potatoes, but I almost never choose that path. I suppose you could use a very hot oven too, but I haven’t try it, so feel free to experiment. If you want to see how to cut the potatoes, this video explains it in detail.

ACCORDION POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

3 large Russet potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and trim them to form a nice rectangle shape. Place the trimmed potato over a cutting board, nudged between two chopsticks that will prevent your knife blade from cutting the potato all the way through. Make very thin slices – around 1mm thick. Turn the potato over, and make the same type of cut, but diagonally (check the video if you need clarification).

Thread a wooden skewer in the center of the cut potato and carefully open it like an accordion. Soak the potatoes and skewers in cold water for 30 minutes or so. Dry very well. Spray olive oil, season with salt and pepper and air-fry until golden brown, flipping the pieces every 5 minutes or so. Time will vary, depending on the power of your air-fryer and size of the potato.

You can deep fry if you prefer. Season with additional before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It is hard to understand how to cut the potato without watching a video, so I advise you to either watch the one I linked in the post, or search the many options available on youtube. The most important thing is to cut the slices thin, or you won’t have the accordion effect. I sometimes wish we had a larger air-fryer, and this was definitely one recipe that would benefit from it. But for the two of us, three accordion slabs are enough, so no need to invest in a bigger machine.

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The best part is the crispy edge, but the center will be cooked nicely, very creamy. Even if you mess up and cut the slices a bit thick, it will work, but might take a little longer and not be so crispy. Experiment with it, we made it three times already. I intend to try with sweet potatoes soon…

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE APPLE CARPACCIO

I love to bake but we rarely have dessert at home. Only dinner parties will find us enjoying sweets after a meal. Still, when it is your perfect match’s Birthday, it is nice to close the meal with some sweetness. We wanted something light, no heavy laminated dough, no cake, no pie. I stumbled on this recipe by accident, simplified it quite a bit and we absolutely loved it! At the end of the post, I will give you a suggestion to turn it into a verrine, in case you do not want to go through the trouble of slicing the apples so thin.

APPLE CARPACCIO
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 apple (I used honey crisp)
1/3 cup pistachios, toasted
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt
honey to taste
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
lemon juice

Cut the pistachios in small pieces, mix half with the yogurt, add honey to taste. Reserve the remaining pistachios.

Quarter the apple, core it, but do not peel it. Slice it super thin, ideally using a mandolin. Spread the slices over a plate, squirt lemon juice all over.

Place a dollop of yogurt in the center of the slices, top with pomegranate seeds and reserved pistachios. Drizzle with a little bit of honey and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was delicious, refreshing and light. I highly recommend it if you want to serve dessert but keep it on the light side. If you don’t own a mandolin and don’t want to go through the effort of cutting the apples by hand, dice the fruit and layer on a little glass. A layer of apple, some lemon juice, yogurt-pistachio layer, more apple, and top with the yogurt mix, finishing with pistachios, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of honey. It will be a different serving style, but equally delicious.

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IN MY KITCHEN, JANUARY 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hard to believe another year is gone, I blinked twice and here we are… In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Please visit her site to see whateverybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, on the first day of January, April, July and October. If you are a food blogger, considering taking part of this fun event. It is chance to share those little things you bought or received as gifts and that make your life in the kitchen easier. 

Starting with gifts…

From my friend Caro, all the way from the UK this rolling pin to make phyllo dough from scratch arrived at my doorstep… Can you imagine my excitement? I have not been able to indulge in the adventure yet, but will do so very very soon. Stay tuned.

From our friend Dave, all the way from Oklahoma, very delicious pears, bursting with flavor and oh so juicy!

From my beloved husband, a coffee mug from our favorite artist (Mary Rose Young). He’s found this cup on eBay, as usual. It is my favorite now, she painted this one in 1995 if you can believe it. No idea how she paints the inside… it is just absolutely beautiful!

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From our friend Ines and her family all the way from New York, a double pleasure: Panforte from Siena, and a wonderful book!

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From our friends Pat and Bill, all the way from Michigan, a beautiful platter that shall be part of many cookie and dessert productions for years to come!

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AND NOW, LET ME SHOW YOU THE RECENT ACQUISITIONS IN THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN

In our kitchen…

I got the heads up about this product from my dear friend Elaine, her husband loves it. I decided to get some and wow, it is very very good! If you love chipotle flavor, go search for it and bring a bottle home.

In our kitchen…

I rarely buy prepared food in the supermarket but something about this product caught my attention. Maybe because it is cooked sous-vide. They have many different kinds, and this one really hit the jackpot with me. The sauce is hot but not overly so. The texture of the meat quite pleasant, so if you need a quick lunch, ready in less than 10 minutes, this line of product is a good option. No, we don’t use it for dinners, Phil is not fond of it, so it is my little dirty secret…

In our kitchen…

For those who live in our town, Manhattan, KS – this place is amazing. Right near Wal-Mart, they sell high-quality beef farmed from a place in Northern Kansas. We were super impressed by their store, it had the feel of the fancy butcher places from Paris. Everything beautifully packed, the store is clean, neat. And the meat absolutely wonderful. Click here for their website, or stop by for a visit.

In our kitchen…

A very special kind of brown sugar from Belgium, the one used to make authentic speculoos cookies. I had one experience with it using a recipe for springerle-type cookies but was not happy with it, so it is back to the drawing board on that. It is not always easy to find, even online, but you can take a look at amazon with a click here.

In our kitchen…


Speaking of springerle cookies, I got two new molds this year, but this one I have not yet used. Isn’t that gorgeous? My favorite animal shall be turned soon into a cookie entity… The mold was from Gingerhaus but is currently unavailable.

And the second new kid on the block? Cheeky Santa, available here….

In our kitchen…

These are great for cookies! I used to get exclusively PME spray but it is quite a bit more expensive. Thanks to Marlyn’s advice, I tried them. Excellent coverage, no after taste, although PME smells a little more like vanilla once it dries. I used these three in many different cookies over the holidays. They are usually available at stores such as Jo-Ann and sometimes even in grocery stores.

In our kitchen…

Hazelnut Bakery Emulsion from LorAnn. It has a strong smell that I did not care for, but it was recommended by a very reputable cookie baker, so I decided to go for it and use it in my sugar cookies. It is actually super nice, I love to pair it with I am pairing it with orange zest and orange extract, and find that combination particularly lovely. I have also used it to make buttercream for macaron fillings.

and now…
it is time for the Dynamic Trio to bark their piece…

Prince, the Puppy, turned 6 months old and we cannot quite believe
how big that little puppy got, in such a short period of time!

It seems like just the other day he was barely able to peek over the countertop…

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Whereas now……….

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Our home had turned into a very quiet, silent spot since BogeyQT left us,
but Prince brought new energy to the whole pack…

He loves to play with Buck, all mornings start with several rounds of play. Of course, Oscar takes no part of it… (sigh)

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Here you have a short video of the Two Stooges in action… I absolutely love the way he always ends up rolling on the floor at some point….

Oscar all of a sudden shows a lot more interest in playing with whatever toy Prince fancies….

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Prince has a lot of respect for Oscar and will never challenge him.

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Prince just observes from a safe distance when Grumpy gets his Christmas gift….

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and all of a sudden two pups enjoy a game of tug of war, although NOT with each other!


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Prince adjusted to our routine as if he was born here… he is a fun pup to have around, super loyal, super affectionate and superbly naughty….
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He is the Destroyer of Earrings…

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The Armageddon of Furniture

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The Chewer of Scrunchies

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The Stealer of Shoes

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But no one can resist his eyes inviting you to play….

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Or begging for a little sample from your plate….

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Or his incredibly cute head tilts…

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The video below on the day he turned 5 months (November 12th)

We feel so lucky to have him as part of our pack! And we hope we can help him explore the world and grow up to be the happiest pup in the known universe!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year in My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy New Year in My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy 2020 In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

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ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

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