Hey! Welcome to Friday, and if you’re celebrating Halloween (like I am) happy Halloween! Since moving to the Netherlands in 1997, I haven’t missed celebrating one single US holiday yet. Keeping these traditions has nothing to do with fear of missing out on a party or finding a good excuse to cook a festive meal….although. It’s about honoring who I am, and about passing a little bit of that on to my daughter. Hubby has always been a good sport and is very keen on doing things like carving pumpkins or watching crappy scary movies. He’s less keen on me decorating the house in early October, though.
So what else is on my mind today besides making a ghoulish meal tonight? Well, mainly, where we will be headed for lunch tomorrow. I have been checking out a few options (most of them relatively new), but I’m still not quite sure yet. I might also just pop on over to De Foodhallen in Amsterdam (if not tomorrow, soon). However, a review will not be necessary, in my honest opinion. Just do a search on Google and the positivity from other foodies abounds. That it rocks our socks is beyond obvious.
Earlier this week a friend asked me if I get paid to write these reviews, or if I eat for free. No, and no. Yes, I have been paid to write reviews in the past, and sometimes my reviews are based on places that I am invited to visit, but the opinions are solely and completely mine. I don’t announce where I’m going beforehand either, as I don’t want any special treatment whatsoever. And last but not least, I’m not out to make friends. If I think your restaurant bites, I’ll make that obvious. But, again, that’s only my opinion. If you disagree with what I write, I’ll still love you just as much.
One thing I will probably start doing soon is blogging in Dutch again. Not on another blog, like I did in the past, but here. Everything under one roof. I write mostly in English (also on social media) because I feel that by doing so, I can reach a larger audience. But, on the other hand, I like writing in Dutch just as much. Besides the work I’ve published in Dutch for magazines such as Vriendin and Bouillon, I was also having a ball writing restaurant reviews for an old blog in Dutch a few years ago. Curious? Have a look here, here or here. Perhaps I’ll start by publishing a book review here in the near future. Stay tuned.
Before signing off and going for my pre-lunch walk (damn, is it really almost November and 16C outside??), you might be wondering what’s in the photo above. They’re rice cakes from the organic brand Zonnatura. These are coated with milk chocolate and coconut and ended up in my shopping basket this morning after a mad sugar craving. I wasn’t very hopeful (not a rice cake fan), but these turned out to be pretty good! PS: no one paid me to say that.
Happy weekend and ‘see’ you Sunday!
During the past few weeks, I have been working on a pretty big recipe production for Vriendin, the Dutch women’s weekly for which I am a regular food writer. Thirty-two appetizers for the first issue of December, featuring all sorts of verrines, crostini, amuse spoons and various other fingerfoods. In an attempt to combine work and pleasure (something that isn’t all that difficult when your job is actually your passion), I organize a nibbles party for dinner every Friday night, complete with a nice bottle of wine and good music. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding productions up until now. Although, come to think of it, exploring the authentic Thai kitchen for issue number 17 wasn’t half that bad either.
Making tiny little bits of food means that I am usually left with a fridge-full of half used ingredients. Which in turn means that I have to keep that in mind when planning my meals for the days that follow. This works out pretty well most of the time (today we’re having pasta with left over mascarpone, for example), but sometimes I get stuck with something I have little use for. At least in my opinion. Like theleft over cream cheese. Really, I’m not a cream cheese fan unless it’s on a bagel, and bagels are not something I frequently have.
So, what to do with the cream cheese? Frosting? Yes! For cupcakes!
It’s been ages since I made cupcakes, and because the teen is home on autumn break, the time seemed ripe. The only thing I didn’t want was to make a whole dozen. Therefore, I wrote the recipe for six, but nothing should stop you from doubling it if you’d like.
They were so good and so simple to make. Try them, and if you do, let me know what you think.
Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- 120 ml milk
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 50 g fine sugar
- 2 tbsps sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 g flour
- 2 tbsps cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
For the frosting:
- 70 g cream cheese, soft
- 40 g butter, soft
- 40 g pure chocolate
- 120 g powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 6 liners. Try to use Halloween themed liners or a mix of orange and black. Pour the milk into a jug and whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Then, whisk in the sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract. In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Stir well, but do not whisk or beat. Pour the batter into the liners and bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, first melt the chocolate au bain marie. Beat the cream cheese and butter on a low speed until creamy. Add in the melted chocolate, powdered sugar and milk and beat again until it forms a nice thick consistency.
Frost the cupcakes, decorate as you wish and serve!
PS: A fake spider on each cupcake also makes a fab decoration!