Thursday, 29 January 2015

White Truffles


Kornelia SantoroDear all,


Let’s start 2015 on a sweet note because I think we all need a bit of sugar. The events in Paris at the beginning of the year made me question if there is hope for Mother Earth. Will we ever be strong enough to forgive all the murders, all the bloodshed, and all the hate crimes? I honestly don’t know but I prefer to remain optimistic.

I don’t want to teach fear of different cultures to our son; however, there is a limit to tolerance. I don’t think any human being has the right to harm another human being intentionally. We all make mistakes and we inflict hurt on others. But when it is done with intent, we cross a line. I don’t know how to deal with the current situation in the world. I just know I don’t want to be one of the people furthering violence, for whatever motive. Nothing justifies violence, not the death penalty, not so-called democratic liberation US style and certainly not jihad.

Having stated this, let’s get back to the kitchen where things are easy and clearly defined. Before Christmas, I make a ton of truffles that I give away to family and friends. There is a big divide in the people who get to taste my truffles. Some love the dark mocha truffles and some prefer the white truffles.

Shortly before Christmas, I was invited to teach making truffles at the Grand Hyatt in Goa. I was astonished about the big interest. I noticed that my white chocolate truffles are quite tricky to make. Not the truffles themselves, but the almond praline that delivers sweet crunch. On my website I only give a short description how to prepare the praline. I intend to remedy this with my first newsletter of 2015.

Praline is a mixture of toasted almonds with caramel. There are two kinds of caramel: dissolving sugar in water and boiling it makes wet caramel. For dry caramel, sugar is cooked by itself until it melts and caramelises. It is easier to make wet caramel because it does not burn quickly. For years I have stuck to wet caramel but I had always problems with gauging the state of the caramel. It bubbles so much that it is difficult to see the colour you have achieved. Then I tried my luck with dry caramel. It is actually not as difficult as I had imagined and tastes much butter.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!

Kornelia Santoro with family
White Truffles
  • 150 gm almonds
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 300 gm white chocolate
Bring two glasses of water to a boil. Immerse the almonds in the boiling water and soak them for 10 minutes. Drain them, let them cool down and remove the skins.
peeled almonds
Toast the almonds in the oven at lowest temperature until they are golden brown. Be careful: they need constant attention as they burn quickly.
toasted almonds on cookie sheet
Chop the toasted almonds roughly and place them on a buttered cookie sheet.
chopped, toasted almondsMaking caramel is dangerous! Burns from sugar hurt terribly because sugar needs high temperatures to melt. Keep a bowl with ice water nearby when you make caramel.

Place the sugar in a pan with a heavy bottom over medium heat. The thing to remember when making dry caramel is to treat it carefully. When you move the sugar crystals too much, they tend to stick together and form big crystals instead of melting.

sugar starting to melt at the edge
Wait patiently without stirring until the sugar starts to melt around the edges.
sugar melting in the pan
When you see a bit of brownish colour, you need to gently nudge the sugar crystals around so the melted sugar at the bottom does not burn. Drag the sugar from the middle of the pan to the outside.
sugar melting in the pan second stage
Move the sugar around until it has melted completely and turned golden-copper in colour.
copper coloured caramelSpread the caramel immediately over the almonds. 
almonds covered in caramel
When the caramel is set, cut it into big pieces and chop them roughly. I do this by hand because my blender is not strong enough. You have much better control over the process too. You want crunchy, delicious almond praline chunks in your smooth white chocolate truffles.
chopping the almond praline
Put the white chocolate with the butter and the cream into a double boiler and combine everything well.
white chocolate, butter and cream melting in a double boiler
Be careful not to overheat it. White chocolate ganache splits easily.
white chocolate ganace close up
Stir the chopped caramelised almonds into the melted chocolate and place the mixture into the fridge until firm.
rolling white truffles into balls
Form small balls with the help of a spoon. This tends to get messy.
Roll the truffles in icing sugar. You can keep them about two months in the fridge in a sealed container.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Brussels sprouts top the charts

This vegetable bursts with nutrition; I don’t even know where to start with my praise. This mini cabbages top the nutrition charts in many regards. They deliver more glucosinulates than any other cruciferous vegetable. Glucosinolates are phytonutrients that our bodies use to produce a variety of cancer-protective substances.
They also deliver a huge amount of vitamins and minerals. One cup of Brussels sprouts has more than double the amount of vitamin K you need daily and more than your daily need of vitamin C. Vitamin K is important for healthy bones and proper blood clotting.  It also has serious amounts of folate, manganese, vitamin B6 and other minerals and vitamins.
The origins of Brussels can be traced back to the 16th century to a region near Brussels, hence the name. During World War I this vegetable spread throughout Europe. Nowadays, they are cultivated everywhere.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Steamed Brussels Sprouts In Garlic Butter

In India, it is quite rare to find Brussels sprouts. For several months now, a farm in the South of Goa offers Brussels sprouts regularly in my favourite supermarket so I wanted to find a way to make them edible for my men and me. When I was a kid, honestly, I hated Brussels sprouts. I remember them as extremely bitter.

But this vegetable is so healthy, that I don’t want to ignore it. Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetables that work better when they are steamed. Cooked in a steamer, they bind better with bile acids, lowering cholesterol levels.
However, the flavour of these sprouts needs a strong counterpoint. Crispy fried garlic in butter delivers this. You can prepare this dish in ten minutes what is a big plus for me. I love vegetables, but cleaning and chopping them tends to be a chore. I always get angry when I watch the chefs on TV just chopping vegetables without cleaning and washing them. A big part of cooking goes into this work and I feel slighted when the TV cooks just ignore this part of the job.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!


(for 4 servings)

  • 30 Brussels sprouts (4 cups or so)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sesame
  • salt
  • pepper

Clean the Brussels sprouts. Remove the outer leaves, cut away the dry end of the stalks and halve them. Check that there are no insects hiding in the tiny heads.

Wash them and let them sit for about 10 minutes. This helps to develop their health benefits.
Clean and mince the garlic cloves. I love garlic so I use it generously. If you are not so keen on garlic, reduce the amount. Let it oxidise also.
 I use a foldable stainless steel inset that fits into any pot. Place water under the steamer, add the Brussels sprouts, close the lid and let it bubble. Be careful when you open the lid. Escaping steam can cause terrible burns.
While the Brussels sprouts are steaming for five to 10 minutes, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the garlic and fry it over medium heat until it turns golden yellow and crispy. Be careful not to brown it too much.  
 Toss the Brussels sprouts in the garlic butter, season with salt and pepper according to your taste and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.