sweet treasures #13: a special lunch date & a letter from my past…
Posted in amsterdam, holland, personal, pia's photos October 31st, 2010 by pia

A couple of weeks ago, Romain and I had the pleasure of having lunch at my favourite Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam with my great uncle Roel who I had not seen in 15 years. Oom Roel lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but he is Dutch-Indonesian, and grew up both here in Holland and Indonesia. Over our long lunch of rijs tafel – a Dutch-Indonesian speciality – he shared stories from his childhood, and told me things about my Opa that I never knew.

Oom Roel’s mother – my great grandmother  – was half Indonesian, half Scottish. She spoke many languages and she traveled the world regularly, even in her nineties. As a child I was so inspired by her, and I felt somehow deeply connected, even though I’d only met her a handful of times. During lunch, oom Roel gave me a letter that his sister-in-law had been saving for me all these years. It was a letter that I had written to my great-grandmother when I was just 8 years old. As soon as I took the letter out of the envelope I had the most vivid memories of the paper. But the content of this letter is what captured my heart the most. To my delight I discovered that even “sometimes” wishes can come true…

many thanks to the cook’s atelier…
Posted in food, france October 28th, 2010 by pia

photograph by Jen Altman

Marjorie Taylor from The Cook’s Atelier has cooked up a delicious storm in the (blog)house kitchen this past month. Today in the kitchen you’ll find her last recipe -a classic apple tart – which completes her autumn menu & her stay here. What a treat it’s been to have Marjorie here this month. I hope you’ve all enjoyed her recipes and incredible photographs. Here for easy reference is her complete autumn menu:

roasted cream of cauliflower soup
rôti de veau
winter market salad
apple tart & pâte sucrée

You can keep in touch with Marjorie by following her blog, and she also has lots of great pics on flickr.  For now though,  please join me in saying a big merci beaucoup to Marjorie for being here. Merci Marjorie! Please come back again, you’re welcome anytime. x

Marjorie Taylor’s apple tart…
Posted in kitchen October 28th, 2010 by pia

photograph by Marjorie Taylor

This apple tart is a classic.  It is not too sweet and the touch of vanilla is perfect.  You can serve this with chantilly cream with a touch of Calvados, or a spoonful of creme fraiche with a little vanilla, or of course, homemade vanilla ice cream. Bon appétit…

Apple tart
Serves 6 to 8

1 recipe pâte sucrée (recipe follows)
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced into even 1/8 inch slices
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

for the apple puree:

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled cored and diced
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 375o

Line the tart pan with the pâte sucrée.  Prick the bottom with a fork and line the shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes until the edges are set and lightly browned.  Take the tart out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and dried beans.

To make the apple puree, put the diced apples, vanilla bean pod, sugar and butter in a saucepan with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water.  Cook gently, stirring often until soft, adding more water if necessary, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Using the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean, the discard the pod.  Transfer the mixture to a food mill or mash with a fork until smooth.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan and gently sauté the apple slices to coat them in the butter until just softened.

Spread the puree evenly in the partially baked tart shell.  Carefully arrange the apple slices in a neat circle around the edge, they should be tightly overlapping but not squished together.  Depending on the size of your tart pan and the apples, you can repeat to create an inner circle or just fill in the center in a decorative patter.  Sprinkle over the sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven until just browned and tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Pâte sucrée
Makes enough for 2 tarts

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
A pinch of sea salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Whisk the cream and the eggs together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter until you have a coarse meal.  Gradually add the cream and yolks, and mix until just combined.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  Bring the dough together with your hands to incorporate completely.  Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and wrap one of them to freeze and use later.

If the dough is soft, put it into the refrigerator for a few minutes prior to rolling. Place it on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle with a little bit of flour. Roll it into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, flouring as needed. Started at one side, roll and wrap the dough around the rolling pin to pick it up.  Unroll the dough over the 9-inch tart pan.  Gently press the dough into the pan, being careful not to stretch it as this will cause it to shrink when baking.  To remove the excess dough, work your way around the edge pinching off the excess dough with your fingers.  Chill for 1 hour before baking.


Recipe from Marjorie Taylor, The Cook’s Atelier

I wonder…
Posted in amsterdam, pia's photos October 27th, 2010 by pia

Every day I see things float by in the canal outside my window. I wonder what I’ll see today?

a thing for baskets…
Posted in amsterdam, pia's photos October 26th, 2010 by pia

This past month I’ve developed an obsession for baskets. I spotted these by one of the houseboats in my neighbourhood.  I love the idea of growing conifers or the likes in random, mismatched baskets. Seriously, can you ever have enough baskets? I don’t think so.