Goat’s Feet… a Sweet Treat

Yeah, so what’s with the Goat’s Feet being a sweet treat, right? I mean, really, goat’s feet? Uh huh.

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere in the past that I come from a Dutch background. One of my very first jobs was in a Dutch bakery and that’s where I learned about a delicious cookie that translates as Goat’s Feet. In Dutch, they’re called Bokkepootjes and if you come from a Dutch background, you’re probably familiar with this delicious almond sandwich cookie that’s filled with buttercream, with the ends dipped in chocolate.

The reason behind the name is that, once the ends are dipped in chocolate, apparently they look like … you guessed it…. goat’s feet. They’re a lot tastier, though.

The cookies start with egg whites, sugar, and a pinch of salt, beaten to stiff peaks.

Then, the almonds and icing sugar are carefully mixed in. Sound familiar? So far, the process is almost the same as macarons. However, once the almonds and icing sugar are incorporated, the flour and vanilla are folded in to the mixture.

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Once carefully blended, the cookies are piped into finger shapes onto parchment lined sheets, sprinkled with sliced almonds and baked.

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While the cookies are baking and cooling, the Baker’s cream, the base for the buttercream, is made using egg yolks, sugar, milk, a vanilla bean, and a little corn starch. Once done, the mixture is allowed to cool completely.

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To finish making the buttercream, softened butter (the butter really does need to be very soft!) and powdered sugar are beaten until light and fluffy. Then, the Baker’s cream is mixed in by tablespoon until the mixture is well mixed and fluffy.

At this point, the buttercream is piped onto half the cookies; the cookies are assembled, then dipped into chocolate.

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After dipping into the chocolate, they’re placed back on to parchment lined sheets and allowed to rest until the chocolate has hardened.

That’s it! Goat’s Feet Cookies…. Bokkepootjes… a true Dutch treat. They really need a better name, don’t they? Really, though, why should it be just the Dutch who get to enjoy these? They’re not difficult to make and they’re SO good! (They should have a different name, though… I mean, Goat’s Feet??)

To download the recipe, just click………. bokkepootjes-english.

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Croissants and Speculaas

Yesterday was gluten free day but I did also start a batch of croissants. I’ve made them before and they were a resounding success and, honestly, I don’t know why I don’t make them more often. They do take time but it isn’t a solid block of time.

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The first step is making the dough and refrigerating it overnight (or several hours). Easy – the mixer does all the work; I just throw in the ingredients. The second step is rolling the dough with enveloped inside it – three times. The dough needs to rest between rolling sessions and, after the third time, the dough is, once again, refrigerated overnight. The third step is the final rolling and shaping of the croissants, then baking.

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Even though I’ve found a recipe for gluten free croissants, I’m not sure I want to go there yet. And, besides that, I think John’s feeling a little bit of gluten free overload.

Also in the plans for today is a batch of Speculaas, a beautifully spiced cookie from Holland. You may have seen windmill cookies in your favourite grocery store; well, those are speculaas and when you bake them yourself, your house smells amazing and your taste buds sing. They’re nothing like the store bought cookies. I won’t be rolling them out and using cookie cutters; I’ve had my eye on a cookie stamp and yesterday, I bought one. I’ll be rolling the dough into balls and using my lovely cookie stamp.

The recipe I’m using comes from a Dutch cookbook, given to my mother by one of my cousins. Mom’s on her own and doesn’t do much in the way of baking anymore and she knows I can read Dutch so I became the proud owner of this cookbook. I’ve made a few things out of it already and they’ve all turned out great. I have had to resort to Google Translate once or twice but I’ve managed pretty well.

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There’s just one measurement in the recipe that has me bemused. In Dutch, the recipe calls for “2 mespunten” of a couple of spices. Translated, that’s two “knife points”; how much is a knife point? The recipe also calls for Almond Essence; it’s not something most of us are familiar with but Dr. Oetker makes essences in tiny tubes. They’re much more potent than our North American flavourings. I just happen to have some, so that’s what I’ll be using. If you don’t, simply use 1 tsp. almond flavouring. Another substitution I’ll be making is that I’ll be using a Speculaas Spice Mix rather than the cardamon, clove, and cinnamon called for in the recipe. If you’d like to do the same, I have a recipe for the mix here.

I should add that they’re not as spicy as some I’ve had but they’re pretty darned tasty.

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Here’s the recipe, as written (translated); my measurements are in parentheses.

Speculaas (Spiced Cookies)

[printable]

  • 500 grams flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 drops almond essence (or 1 tsp almond flavouring)
  • 2 knife points ground cardamon (1 tsp)
  • 2 knife points ground cloves (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 grams soft butter
  • 100 grams ground almonds or hazelnuts

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your stand mixer, at low speed until mixed, then at high speed until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is too soft to work with, refrigerate until it’s firm enough to roll. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes or use the dough in a speculaas mold. Bake at 170-200ºC (350ºF) for 10 minutes or until cookies are set.

Peachy Sambal Chicken

I’m of Dutch background; the Dutch have a long history with Indonesia and over the years, many foods of Indonesian origin have made their way into Dutch cuisine. This recipe is based on the Indonesian dish, Ayam Samba. I found this recipe in a cookbook I’ve had for quite some time; it was written by a Dutch woman who emigrated from Holland to Canada where she married a Canadian (“Let’s Go Dutch” by Johanna Van der Zeist-Bates). I’m sure that when the book was written, it may have been difficult to find some of the ingredients that would originally have been used in a recipe like this. Now, we do have access to a broader choice of imported items that were hard to find around here even ten years ago.

For instance, the recipe in the book calls for whipping cream. I’ve substituted coconut milk as I think it’s closer to what the original recipe would have used. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have known what coconut milk could be used for, let alone have a can or two of it in my pantry! Now, though, it’s a staple in my kitchen.

The writer of the recipe also uses margarine quite extensively. Personally, I refuse to use it… ever! She also calls for oyster sauce; I didn’t have any so I subbed fish sauce, which I did happen to have..

The recipe also calls for sambal oelek, a sauce made of crushed red chilies. You could easily use sriracha. I thought that since the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sambal oelek, it would be very spicy but I made it as written. I was pleasantly surprised. There’s definitely some heat there but it does not overwhelm the dish and push it into the realm of “OMG, that’s hot!”.

Seeing as it’s the end of January and fresh peaches are in very short supply… read that as “ain’t no way you’re gonna find fresh peaches!”… I used canned peaches. I’ll try this recipe again when the local peaches are abundant; I’m sure it will be even better than it was!

I served this over a bed of mixed red and basmati rice but any rice or grain would work. A light salad and some freshly steamed green beans complement the dish nicely. We’ll definitely be making this again and again!

Sambal chicken

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Peachy Sambal Chicken (Ayam Sambal)

[printable version]

  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek (crushed chili peppers)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole chicken breasts, boned, halved and cut into large chunks, skin and fat removed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 5 fresh or canned peaches, sliced (if using fresh, remove skins)
  • 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Rice for serving

Combine the sambal oelek, fish sauce, sesame seed oil, and 2 tbsp olive oil in a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken pieces and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and saute in the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and the butter. Brown the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side and then add the marinade mixture along with the peaches and the coconut milk. Simmer on med-low for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken and peaches from the sauce and keep them warm. Sir the turmeric into the mixture in the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and peaches to the pan, then simmer with the sauce for another three minutes or so. Serve over cooked rice.

For additional eye appeal and nutritional value, serve with steamed, fresh or frozen, whole green beans. 

Serves 5