I am firmly of the belief that a good pie crust improves just about any dish, be it savory or sweet. Flaky, crisp, and butter-rich, such a crust can transform many a ho-hum pile of fruit or bowl of stew into exciting new fare. Take the Vol-au-Vent from Yvette van Boven's Home Made Winter, for example. A simple stew of root vegetables, mushrooms, and crème fraîche is good enough on its own; but place it inside a buttery pastry shell, and it turns into an elegant vegetarian main dish. Brightened up with a smidgen of red onion compote, and you'll have a real winter winner on your hands.
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Blinis make for an excellent nibble before dinner; the yeasty mini pancakes can cradle just about anything from cheeses to jams to luxe caviar. A sliver of smoked salmon and a dollop of mascarpone cheese may be at the very top of that list. Add roasted beets, star anise, and pomegranate seeds as Yvette van Boven does in Home Made Winter, and you'll have a gem of a dish on your table.
Homemade cheese can sound like a daunting proposition--after all, most of the cheese we buy at the store has been aged, molded, or dried for months before it enters our mouths. Making a cheese like gouda or gorgonzola takes proper equipment, patience, and practice. Fresh cheeses like chevre and ricotta, however, are little more than drained curdled milk. Making these from scratch is easy, rewarding, and many times better than most of their store-bought kind. In Home Made Winter, Yvette van Boven offers a recipe for her own particular fresh cheese, called Brousse.
Salads are a staple of many a resolution-conscious eater come January. And while eating more vegetables is always a healthy choice, meal after meal of barely-dressed plates of carrots and mixed greens will get old quickly. Yvette van Boven's Speckled Salad with Quinoa, Leek, Bacon, and Chervil in her new Home Made Winter hits many health points (Vegetables! Whole grains! Spinach!) while still including enough pleasurable bits (Bacon! Wine! Bacon!) to prevent boredom.
Not much beats a warm scone slathered with butter and marmalade—flaky, rich, and sticky—for a breakfast treat. In Home Made Winter, Yvette van Boven takes this breakfast staple and adds her own funky twists. Instead of simply adding the orange marmalade to the hot scones at the table, she incorporates the preserve into the dough as well as a bright glaze and creamy mascarpone-orange cream. The marmalade's bittersweet flavor is complemented by the richness of the butter and cream, and its floral character is amplified by a generous dose of ground cardamom throughout.
Van Boven's take on Duck Ham is a quick salt cure, an almost effortless process that required barely any effort at all, especially when considering just how impressive homemade duck ham sounds. It's basically a matter of procuring a nicely fatty duck breast, scoring the layer of fat, sprinkling it it orange zest, and submerging the duck in a mountain of kosher salt.
Hearing about hangover cures from foreign lands never gets old, which is one of the reasons I decided to tackle this Hangover Curing Pork Belly from Home Made by Yvette van Boven. The other reason? Pork belly never gets old—for me at least. Van Boven describes how she serves this pork belly in her restaurant, sliced and presented on crusty bread with a side of potato salad and sinus-clearing horseradish-lemon sauce. Sounds like the kind of carby, fatty, spicy plate that can cure what ails you, right?
Yvette van Boven, author of Home Made, likes to use her labne for these cocktail hour ready Seasoned Labne Balls in Olive Oil by rolling them in an aromatic blend of herbs and chiles and letting them soak in good olive oil. Herby on the outside and mildly tangy within, these little yogurt balls make for genius snacks either on their on or spread onto toasted triangles of pita.
Just because the title of Yvette van Boven's cookbook is Home Made, it doesn't necessarily mean that everything has to be made from scratch. Her lovely Long Leek Pie uses store-bought puff pastry because, really, in some cases store-bought is just fine. This pie comes from the "On the Side" chapter, which is full of simple sides to accompany her DIY mains.
Keeping with the DIY theme of Home Made these Black Olive Mini Blinis with Pink Mascarpone, Salmon, and Preserved Beet embrace two of van Boven's made from scratch techniques: preserving and working with yeasted doughs. Here thin slices of parboiled beets are quick preserved in honey and raspberry vinegar and the yeasted dough is for fantastically nutty little buckwheat blinis.