10 European Desserts to Try

One of the things I love about travel is trying all the different foods that countries are famous in each area.  I try to do a little research before traveling to make sure I know what I should try.  I found the following article helpful and can’t wait to try the following.  I do not have recipes attached, but I might have to start finding them and trying them at home.

On The Great British Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood had the contestants attempt to makePastéis de Nata, and it was not one of the more successful endeavors, so not sure if I am going to try that one.

Europe’s cultural diversity manifests itself in its cuisine, from Italian pasta to French escargot. But for those travelers with a sweet tooth, this appetizing variety extends to the continent’s many mouthwatering desserts. Forget about your diet if you’re planning a trip soon, here are ten European desserts you have to try.

Rødgrød

Rødgrød
You’ll find fruity rødgrød if you visit Denmark, but the similar rote grütze can be found just across the border in northern Germany. Served hot or cold, it’s bursting with summer berries like redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. The fruit is cooked with sugar and some form of starch, like semolina or potato starch is added to make the pudding. Custard or cream often accompanies the dish to balance the acids in the fruit.

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is the traditional Portuguese custard tarts that are small enough to fit in your mouth in one go. The best place to find them is in the Pastéis de Belem bakery that’s been churning them out in their millions since 1837. The proof of the quality is in the length of the queue, which snakes around the block whatever the time of day. They sell about 50,000 of these delicious tarts every day, which surely makes them a contender for western Europe’s favorite dessert.

Gelato

gelato
Italy’s dessert menu might encompass tiramisu, pannacotta, and zabaglione (all fabulous!) but its gelato is legendary the world over. Every imaginable flavor can be found, on street corners, at pavement cafes, and in fancy restaurants. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same as ice cream, however. If what you see is heaped high above the edges of the container, it’s full of air and not the real deal.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis
This baked French dessert originates from the Limousin region and was popularized in the 19th century. It is usually made with black cherries, though raspberries, plums or blackberries are occasionally substituted. The fruit lines a baking dish and a thick batter is poured over the top. Traditionally, the cherry stones are left in, adding an almond-like flavor to the dish.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel is one of Austria’s greatest exports. Layers of thinly-rolled dough are filled to bursting with sweet apples, juicy raisins and a liberal measure of cinnamon. The first recipe dates from Vienna in 1696 and it’s just as popular today in the city’s many coffee houses.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding
Peruse the menu in any British gastropub and you’re almost guaranteed to find sticky toffee pudding. This dense, dark pudding is topped with lashings of toffee sauce and served with cream, ice cream or custard. It’s rich, so save plenty of room for dessert if you plan to try it.

 

Flan

Flan
A flan is not a flan when it’s from Spain. Instead of receiving a small tart or quiche, order flan in Spain and you’ll be presented with a tasty crème caramel. To make it, a caramel syrup lines a mold and warm custard are poured on top. It’s cooked in a water bath to ensure the custard doesn’t curdle and flipped over to serve once cooked and set.

Waffles

Waffles
If there’s one dessert synonymous with Belgium, then it’s surely waffles. Known as gaufre to the nation’s French speakers and waffels to Flemish speakers, the two most popular kinds hail from Brussels and Liege. Buy one from a street stall and eat it straight from the paper, dusted with icing sugar. In a cafe, you’ll find them served with fruit compote, Nutella or Chantilly cream, but hold off on the maple syrup as that’s not the way it’s done on home turf.

 

Baklava

Baklava
Layer upon layer of rich, flaky filo pastry bound together with sweet honey and lavishly sprinkled with nuts, baklava is understandably the Greeks’ most popular sweet treat. But though they’ll argue the toss, it actually originated in the city of Istanbul in Turkey before migrating east. That’s still Europe, at least in part. Wherever you try it, it’s delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Gateau

Black Forest Cherry Gateau
Germans know a thing or two about cake, but its most famous cake is not quite what it appears. That signature bake, Black Forest Cherry Gateau, was invented, so they claim, in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It’s so popular it even has its own food festival. The key ingredient is the “Schwarzwälder kirschwasser”, a potent cherry brandy which made its way across the border from Switzerland but is named after the Black Forest region of Germany. Without the kirsch, it’s just a chocolate and cherry cake.

10 European Desserts to Try

I do not like Stuffed Bell Peppers

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This photo is nowhere near as bad as what my mother used to make on a weekly basis.  She used only hamburger and rice and put it in the green bell pepper.  The gook from the hamburger sat on top and it was hard to look at, let alone eat.  To this day, the thought of it takes away my appetite.

Here is the problem.  My husband loves it and has fond memories of eating it when younger.

So I thought about it and came up with my own version of Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove and discard the stems, then finely chop the tops; set aside. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them upright.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the lumps, until the meat is cooked through and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the fat.

Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and chopped peppers and cook until beginning to soften (3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through, then stir in the beef and rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in 4 oz of the cheese.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and top each with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese. Pour a small amount of water into the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until the peppers are soft and the cheese is melted and lightly browned, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Since I still could not get my head around the “bell pepper” part of this, I put a little in miniature pie plates and just baked.  I actually liked it. It is not as pretty, but it was yummy.

 

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The other thing that I actually did, was use leftovers.  I had made mushroom and onion risotto the previous night so I just used it in place of the rice, onion, and garlic.  The risotto was a good way to use a bottle of white wine that I did not like the taste, but if you added a bit of butter to the risotto, it was DELICIOUS!   I used Romano cheese, so the risotto was dairy free.  But the pepper jack was not.  It is amazing how much different Pepper Jack cheese tastes when cooked, as it is not one of the cheeses I would normally buy.

The original recipe was from Lee Drummond, but she added zucchini, and even though I have it over-growing in my garden, it did not appeal to me in this dish.

BTW my husband loved it.  I served it with baby carrots, so he was a happy husband.

I do not like Stuffed Bell Peppers

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

Going to make this tonight for dinner. I will post my photo later, for a comparison.

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Ingredients

2 big handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1/2 jalapeno, sliced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, grated

2 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Pinch sugar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 (6-ounce) block sushi-quality tuna

1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 of the cilantro mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.
Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

Bring Life to Outdoor Walls With Nature’s Green

Whether you live in an apartment building or a single-family home, chances are there’s a blank wall or vertical surface on your home’s exterior that could benefit from added interest. Filling or covering a blank wall with plants is one of the easiest ways to add appeal, and plants bring a touch of nature to a man-made space. For inspiration, take a look at these 13 planting designs that rely on flowering vines, espaliers, hanging gardens and more to help transform blank walls into garden focal points.
Bring Life to Outdoor Walls With Nature’s Green

Balsamic Beet Salad with Marcona Almonds

Made this Ina Garten recipe for dinner the other night and it was delicious. I actually used the bright yellow beets but forgot to take a photo of it. 

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Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with half of the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings.

Place the arugula in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the arugula on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, almonds, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

I did the beets the day before and they were perfect.  It is an easy make-ahead dish for dinner.  Usually, I have beets in my garden, but they were not happy this year, so bought mine at a local Farmer’s Market.

 

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Balsamic Beet Salad with Marcona Almonds

Yummies from my garden

Cauliflower Soup and Caprese Salad for dinner the other night was perfect, although I think either one would have been enough for dinner with a little delicious bread.

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup (Vegan)
serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (about 2 cloves), plus more to taste
2 cups (200g) chopped leeks (white parts only, from 2 or 3 leeks)
Natural salt
1 head cauliflower, chopped
7 cups (1.65l) vegetable broth
1/4 cup (35g) raw unsalted cashews or 1/4 cup (35g) blanched slivered raw almonds, soaked
3 tablespoons chopped chives or a grating of nutmeg (optional; choose one, not both), to garnish

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic, leeks, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the cauliflower and saute for another minute. Add the vegetable broth, increase the heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely tender. Stir the mix periodically and mash the cauliflower with a wooden spoon.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly; stir in the nuts. Pour the soup into your blender in batches and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. (Remember to remove the plastic cap in the blender top and cover the opening with a kitchen towel so steam can escape while you blend.) Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Stir in salt to taste. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with either chopped chives or grated nutmeg.

Caprese Salad

This is a simple salad that I often make for dinner or for friends.  I do make my own pesto and this one was pesto from my garden.  Grab a handful of Basil (a few stems are ok), some toasted pine nuts, good EVOO, a few heads of garlic, Reggiano Parmesano to taste and throw it all in your blender.  Add a little salt and/or pepper to taste.  Just sample till it tastes great to you.  Couldn’t be simpler.  I had to laugh a few years ago on a Rick Steve’s trip to Italy that people thought the demo on how to make Pesto was impressive.  I thought it was runny and not particularly tasteful.

Now, you’ve mastered making your own pesto, put it in layers with the Heirloom tomato (sliced 1/4″) with Burrato mozzarella (the good kind with the runny middle – YUM) and drizzle a little Balsamic Reduction over the top.  Not only is it pretty, but it tastes delicious!

Pair it with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio and you have the perfect summer dinner with hardly any cooking.

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Yummies from my garden

Working Projects

 

Ad for BPA

As a working designer, I sometimes forget that it is important to share projects I am currently working on.  This a remodel of a kitchen that is about to start construction. We completely re-designed the area with a sitting area to enjoy the view, lots more storage, and more light.  Can’t wait to see the work begin.  satre Orr Front Door in Color

The front entry will be enhanced with a Store Front door and side windows, to let in additional light and make more of a statement entry.

Satre Kitchen Floorplan

The kitchen is completely re-designed to make the space open and user-friendly.

Kathy_Bill Living Room View 6_20

There will be lots of storage and a raised bar area at the entry to the house.

Kathy Bill Window Wall Cabinetry 6_20

The window wall will give you lots of storage with a view.

Kathy_Bill Kitchen Aisle 6_20

The inside aisle will be a cooks dream with a gas cooktop and two ovens.  I will keep you posted as the work begins.

Happy to help you with all your interior design needs.

 

 

Working Projects

Lessons from My Cruise

On a recent Holland America cruise to Alaska, they had a couple of live America’s Test Kitchen on board.  I bought the ONLY America’s Test Kitchen apron that was on the boat.  The sessions were full, but the classes were so very simple, it was a little disappointing and I have to admit most of the people in the classes could not cook very much, as they asked the most inane questions.  Maybe I should do this, but I don’t think I would like the “stateroom” you might get for free.  The one I paid for was a small cave in the dungeon and the last one on the back of the boat.

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Lessons from My Cruise