Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Making Syrup Waffles in Gouda




Syrup waffles (siroopwafelen)

Siroopwafelen (syrup waffles, also sometimes called stroopwafels) are a traditional Dutch treat which I've often enjoyed. So when I learnt in the Gouda tourist office that it's possible to see them being made, I jumped at the chance to witness the baking process.

Gouda

Tucked away behind this unassuming shop front, the "factory" is a little room at the back which tourists can visit - on the condition that you keep behind the green line (away from the machinery) and don't get in the way.

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

The process starts with a machine that deposits appropriately-sized chunks of waffle dough into a series of rotating waffle irons:

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

At the other end of their circuit, the now-cooked waffles are picked up by vacuum suction cups (sometimes imperfectly - see the one left behind?) and moved across to the conveyor belt:

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

At which point they're stamped with die-cutters, trimming each one to a uniform circular shape:

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

The waffle is then split by a jet of highly pressurised air, allowing the top to be lifted by another vacuum arm...

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

...so the thick syrup can be squeezed into the middle:

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

Making syrup waffles in Gouda

They are then conveyed to the final oven, and baked for a couple of minutes. Finally, they're packaged up (one of the few manual parts of the process) and displayed for sale in the shop. Where we bought some to take home, of course - these were definitely the nicest ones we've had.

Syrup waffles in Gouda


Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Clapper Bridge at Postbridge



Clapper bridge at Postbridge

The clapper bridge at Postbridge, a tiny village on Dartmoor, is a beautiful and practical piece of ancient architecture. There's a wonderful, solid feel to a bridge like this, with its stone pillars and huge flagstones.

Clapper bridge at Postbridge

Clapper bridge at Postbridge

It must have been a good crossing point, too, because the modern road bridge has been built just a few metres away.

Clapper bridge at Postbridge

Clapper bridge at Postbridge


Friday, 26 October 2012

Checkpoint Charlie



I walked up to see Checkpoint Charlie on my first night in Berlin. I knew I'd arrive too late for the museum, but since the checkpoint was at the top of my "must see" list - and just a short stroll from the Movenpick hotel - I thought I'd go and take a look.

I was really surprised by the jovial atmosphere around the reconstructed hut - the majority of visitors seemed to be more interested in posing for photos, laughing and joking as they took their turns, than thinking about what the checkpoint had represented back when the Berlin Wall still divided the city. (By contrast, when I visited the Berlin Wall Memorial later in the week, the atmosphere was sober and contemplative and - to my mind - far more appropriate.)

I was particularly interested by the multilingual signs, on which a German translation seemed to be an afterthought - presumably because the local German population were the most restricted in their movements.

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Monday, 22 October 2012

Creamy Mushroom Farfalle



Farfalle has been my favorite pasta shape since I was very young - it's pretty, plus you get loads of surface area to mop up any stray sauce. I wanted to create something with rich, warm, autumnal flavours, and mushrooms are perfect at this time of year. It would have been even better if we'd been out to pick them ourselves, but alas, not this time.

If you're cooking for someone with a nut allergy, you could skip out the almonds, but they do give a nice texture to the sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushroom Farfalle
Serves 4

2 large onions
1 small leek
6 cloves garlic
600g chestnut mushrooms
200ml double cream
2tbsp ground almonds
½tsp cinnamon
½tsp nutmeg
4tbsp fresh parsley
Lots of black pepper
350g wholemeal farfalle (pasta bows)

  1. Finely chop the onion, leek, and garlic, and saute in a little butter, until soft.
  2. Chop the mushrooms, and add to the pan with the onions. Continue to saute over a low heat until the mushrooms are cooked.
  3. Add the cream, ground almonds, spices, and parsley, and season generously with black pepper. 
  4. Simmer the sauce over a low heat, and meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet (mine took 15 minutes).
  5. Serve with extra parsley to garnish.

Hosted by Cate @ Cate's Cates


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Scenes from Berlin



Just a couple of moments that made me smile (and reach for my camera) as I explored this fascinating city.

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Red Cliffs at Sidmouth



Arriving at the small coastal town of Sidmouth, on the south Devon coast, we were immediately struck by the towering cliffs of vivid red sandstone. Dover's white cliffs are the more famous, but I found these ones far more intriguing.

Sidmouth

Sidmouth

At the top of the cliffs, the formal gardens featured impressive floral displays in vivid colours. There's also an attractive clifftop cafe which would certainly have tempted us had we not recently eaten.

Sidmouth

Sidmouth

Sidmouth

All in all, Sidmouth was a beautiful small town. We were passing through only briefly, but I hope we'll have chance to return for a longer visit.

Sidmouth

Sidmouth


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Daugavpils, Latvia's Second City



Daugavpils, Latvia

We went to Latvia's second city primarily to change trains en route from Vilnius to Warsaw, but we decided to stay overnight to get a flavour for Daugavpils in its own right. The overall sense we got was of a clean, but eerily quiet town. It was a Saturday night when we were there, yet wandering the streets we saw almost nobody. Many cafes and restaurants were closed: we managed to get an evening meal only by walking out of town to a shopping mall, where we found an American-style pizza place.

There's a large Russian population in Daugavpils, and the Russian influence is quite obvious throughout the city. From the imposing Soviet facades of the public buildings...

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

...to the beautiful, ornate designs of the Orthodox cathedral...

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

Here are a few more images from our rather lonesome walks around town:

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia

Daugavpils, Latvia


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Rumbledethumps



Rumbledethumps is a Scottish dish made with potatoes and cabbage, topped with melted cheese. I should probably confess that I've never eaten genuine rumbledethumps in Scotland: my knowledge of this dish comes from a supermarket ready meal, and I just decided I could make my own. Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes is a genuine Scot, and her rumbledethumps recipe is quite different, probably more authentic (especially as I just added onions because I felt like it). But this version is a staple in our house, so I thought I'd share it.

Rumbledethumps

Rumbledethumps
Serves 6-8

750g potatoes
750g swede (yellow turnip)
1 large savoy cabbage
350g mature cheddar cheese
3 red onions
black pepper

  1. Chop the potatoes and swede into small cubes. Shred the cabbage,  finely chop the red onion, and grate the cheese.
  2. Cook the potato and swede until soft, and the cabbage al dente. I use a steamer: about 20 minutes for the potatoes, 15 minutes for the swede, and 5 minutes for the cabbage.
  3. Meanwhile, fry the onion until softened.
  4. Stir all the vegetables together, season generously with black pepper, and sprinkle with grated cheese.
  5. Heat in the oven or microwave until the cheese melts into the vegetables.

Freezer Instructions
I usually divide this quantity into three portions, of which we eat one and freeze two. Cool the potato mixture to room temperature before topping with grated cheese, then freeze in a microwaveable container for easiest reheating.
To cook from frozen, microwave for 15 minutes on high power (950W), stirring every 5 minutes.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Goodrich Castle



Goodrich Castle

Despite the fact that it's only about an hour from my house, I was in Scotland when I first heard about Goodrich Castle, from a volunteer guide at Doune Castle who used to live in Gloucestershire! We haven't had much nice weather this year, so when a sunny weekend finally materialised, we headed across to explore.

Like most British castles, this one comes with a chequered and violent history. Indeed, there's still an impressive amount of Goodrich standing, considering it was blasted into surrender by the gigantic cannon known as Roaring Meg, which is now displayed in the castle.



Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle


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