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

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

 

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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

Kitchen Trends You Should Know for 2018

This is an article from Home Polish that I thought was very interesting.

The Kitchen Trends You Should Know for 2018

Whether your goal is a full makeover or simply sprucing up your space, when it’s time for a kitchen renovation, you want to know what’s in, what’s out, and what’s here to stay. Which is why we’re constantly polling our designers and contractors for the details on what elements are worth the investment.

 

 

Most importantly: what are your goals? Kitchen renovations typically have a 65 to 80% return on investment when you resell—but that too can vary depending on materials, features, and budgets. If this is your dream kitchen, go ahead and try out those custom wood emerald green-painted cabinets, but if you’re focused on resale, remember that what you adore (and what you adore right now) could isolate a potential buyer. That doesn’t mean you can’t create an of-the-moment kitchen, you’ve just got to know which features are best for long-term.

For most homeowners, countertops and brand-name appliances are the biggest splurges. Brand name appliances mean something to people having Sub-Zero or Wolf appliances is similar to having a nice car in your garage. It ultimately depends on the style of the kitchen a person is interested in and what they want to prioritize.

So, what trends and materials are of the moment?

 

 

Goodbye Granite?
According to a recent study by Houzz, granite has been on a three-year decline among homeowners.

The small-scale texture of granite feels more dated than the larger scale texture offered by quartz and marble. People are willing to invest in their kitchens, so they will often choose higher-end materials like marble. Quartz is more durable than marble but looks very similar, so homeowners are able to get that high-end look without having to deal with the expensive upkeep of a material like marble.

Granite countertops stain easily and are not as durable to the everyday wear and tear of a family using their kitchen. So people prefer the less expensive option (quartz) that is also much more durable.”

But plenty of developers are still reaching for the classic, despite its price (depending on where you live and how much is needed.

Calcutta marble continues to be a go-to for high-end developers and clients alike. Its gray veining is quite universally liked and is never too aesthetically controversial for resale purposes.

 

D

White Out 
The all-white kitchen, adorn by modernists and minimalists alike, might be taking a backseat. Dana is noticing some people straying to the other end of the spectrum.

White kitchens are always de rigueur, especially in modernist homes, but we are seeing many clients opt for black now too. We recently even did a kitchen that was navy, which looked great.

And it’s no wonder people might be shying away from that all-white look, besides the stain factor, it can also be tricky to achieve.

There are a few downsides to an all-white kitchen. Making all of the whites match each other—from cabinets, tile, paint, and more—is incredibly difficult. The whites need to be complementary and blend well together. Even if all the whites do match perfectly, sometimes this palette can result in a less interesting, flat looking kitchen.

 

 

Hues You Can Use
So what colors are on the rise specifically?

White kitchens will always be popular, but we anticipate we’ll see less of the all-white kitchen this year. We are seeing two-toned kitchens and colors like navy, gray, and hunter green.

The trend of white/dark kitchens will make an adjustment and we will start seeing more colorful kitchens like we see in Europe.

While these bold colors can seem daunting, especially if you have resale in mind, there are plenty of ways to inject color into your space without investing in red tiles or emerald green cabinetry.

There are ways to make a colorful statement without breaking the bank: using accent colors on staple kitchen accessories like teapots, KitchenAid mixers, toasters, and linens can really bring the space to life and add personality.

A fun backsplash always adds pizzazz to any kitchen. Something in the blue family can add punch without being too loud, and patterned mosaics are always an artful option too.

All Matte Everything 
From finishes to hardware to kitchen appliances, you might notice things are sleeker than ever. Enter matte black

Companies like LG and Vipp have released entire lines of matte black stainless steel appliances that can add a layer of sophistication to any kitchen.

It’s all about matte black: kitchen islands, hardware, faucets, and refrigerators.  Paired with a glossed countertop or glazed backsplashes, the matte finish adds a contemporary twist.

 

 

Embrace the Dark Side 
Speaking of dark, while quartz and marble continue to reign supreme among countertop types, expect to see some experimentation.

Marble and brass hardware are not completely out, and for a good reason  The crisp and modern combination continues to elevate drab kitchens, but now designers are playing with higher contrast combinations. Instead of Carrera marble, designers are opting for Nero Marquina.

And this trend of moodier and darker kitchens goes beyond countertops.

Darker countertops, matte black, brass hardware, and deep forest green and navy kitchen cabinets are paving the way.

 

 

Beyond the Farm
While large, farmhouse sinks have been on the rise, our sources are noticing people opt for a more simple approach.

The Farm sink trend will slowly fade away this year and we will go back to under-mount sinks.  The farmhouse sink fade also goes back to convenience.  They look great initially but you’ll get splashed all the time and they don’t wear well at all, grit and grime shows up too much against the white!

However, considering the rise in vibrant shades, your classic steel under-mount sink just won’t do.  We will start seeing the trend of stainless steel sinks fade away. Colors will be big this year, even for sinks.

 

A Better Backsplash
In search of some creative inspiration? Lean into a global, old-world style.

This past year has seen a high number of kitchens using the countertop as the backsplash on the walls.  We will see less of that this year and more Spanish-style tiles in the kitchen and throughout the home. These trends are making a strong come back, and I expect to see a lot more of them this year.

Easy Access
Kitchen design has always been about balancing fashion with functionalism. (What good is a new kitchen if you can’t actually cook in it?) According to a recent study from Houzz, three-quarters of remodelers obsess over decluttering.

One trendy way to reduce counter clutter and achieve organizational bliss: Open cabinetry for spice racks, storage bins that are behind glass cabinets for easy access.

One other idea for a functional space isn’t so new but back in vogue: the pantry cabinet: a full height pantry cabinet can be incredibly useful, even if it means you need to give up a bit of counter space.

 

 

Mix and Match
Beyond bold color choices, designers are also being a bit more playful in they are put it all together.

With the trend of seeing more colors in the kitchen, we will see sharper contrasts than before. For example, making the island cabinets a different color than the kitchen cabinets (which is very common now). Or perhaps extreme contrasts between the cabinets and the appliance colors in order to help incorporate a different look for the kitchen.

We see people experimenting with mixing different types of countertops. For example, perhaps the kitchen island serves as a showpiece and is a high-end material like marble because it is a place of entertainment, but the rest of the kitchen countertops are quartz. The quartz still has a high-end look, but is more durable and better suited for food prep.”

The kitchen island can now act and look like independent pieces of furniture that do not have to perfectly match the surrounding kitchen.  Modern farmhouse islands have transformed into free-standing vintage butcher tables and the marble waterfall island is now the Vipp matte black island.”

A Natural Touch
En Vogue in the ‘90s, wooden cabinetry will likely have its resurgence (much like everything else from that era). Thankfully, it’s not in the way most of us remember.

Wood cabinets are making a comeback but in a much less traditional sense. People are interested in a form that is less detailed and more unfinished looking.  We are seeing this deconstructed premise of wood in many applications beyond cabinets as well, such as reclaimed wood ceilings or open shelving with wood.

As one of the three major investments of a kitchen remodel, cabinetry can have a great resale payoff in the long-run. You can never go wrong with beautiful wooden cabinetry as it endures and the fronts can easily be swapped out or re-painted or stained as needed in the future.

 

 

Finish With Some Drama
One of the most exciting places to experiment: lighting. And our designers encourage you to keep going wild.

Asymmetrical kitchen lighting has started gaining traction in 2017 and will continue to evolve over the next couple years. Instead of falling into the classic double or triple pendants above the kitchen island, designers are creating moments of drama by justifying pendants over to unexpected areas. By redirecting the eye with an asymmetrical pendant, the homeowner has the opportunity to create mini vignettes or highlight their favorite kitchen object.

Kitchen Trends You Should Know for 2018

Ceramic Tile versus Porcelain

This is an interesting article from Houzz
All tile is created equal, right? Not quite. Porcelain and ceramic may belong to the same family, but they’re two slightly different products. One may be more advantageous than the other depending on where you’re installing it. Here we pose five scenarios and explain whether porcelain or ceramic is the better choice.

But before we walk through each scenario, let’s note the key difference between porcelain and ceramic tile. Though they’re manufactured with different types of clay, the Tile Council of North America defines porcelain in terms of water absorption. Specifically, porcelain tiles absorb less than 0.5 percent of water. Ceramic and other non-porcelain tiles absorb more than 0.5 percent water.

 

Ceramic Tile versus Porcelain