Monday, April 30, 2012

Semolina and Raspberry Tart

Semolina pudding makes you think of your childhood... it is comfort food. Put it in a pastry shell and you end up with the most lovely tart. The semolina filling is wonderfully smooth and creamy and has this warming smell of vanilla. The sweetness of the raspberries builds a perfect contrast to this. The tart has been bookmarked in my Ottolenghi cookbook for way too long - good thing Alex, who probably knows this book by heart, reminded me of it this weekend. Ottolenghi calls this tart "the pinnacle of comfort". So true. Instant smiles on the faces of those who eat it. And don't be put off by the long recipe instructions, it's worth it.

(from: Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

For the sweet pastry: (you can use store-bought pastry if you don't want to make it yourself)
330g plain flour
100g icing sugar
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
180g cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

Put the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and add the butter. Rub it in with your hands (or do it with a mixer or food processor). Mix until you get a coarse breadcrumb consistency, make sure that there are no large lumps of butter left.

Add the egg yolk and water and mix just until the dough comes together. Don't mix longer than necessary. Maybe you need a tiny amount of extra water.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead lightly for a few seconds only. Shape it into a smooth disc (5-6cm thick). Wrap in cling film and chill until ready to use. The pastry keeps in the fridge for about a week and at least a month in the freezer.

You won't need the whole amount of this sough for the tart. I just froze the rest and will use it for another tart.

For the tart:

vegetable oil for brushing the tin
plain flour for dusting
250g sweet pastry (or store-bought pastry)
80g unsalted butter
180ml whipping cream
345ml milk
60g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
60g semolina
1 egg
200g raspberries
50g apricot jam (optional)
icing sugar, for dusting

Lightly brush a 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a tiny amount of oil and set aside. You could probably also use a 20cm cake tin.

Make sure you have a clean work surface. Dust it with a bit of flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out your dough. You should have a disk that is about 2-3mm thick. Once you have reached the right thickness, cut the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the tin and most of the sides comfortably. Carefully line the tin and patch up any holes with excess pastry if necessary. Once you lined your tin, trim the pastry with a sharp knife, so you have a nice edge, about 3cm high. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cut out a circle of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and the sides of your cake tin. Place inside the case and fill up with dry beans or rice so that the sides of the pastry are totally supported by the beans and wont collapse during baking. Bake the case blind for 25-35 minutes or until it is very light brown. Remove from the oven and take out the beans of rice (you can keep it for future tarts).

To make the filling, put the butter, cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan. Slit the vanilla pod open lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out all the seeds. Drom them and the scraped pod into the saucepan. Place the saucepan onto the stove and bring to the boil. Let it simmer while you slowly whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking until the mix comes back to the boil and thickens up like porridge. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg. Remove the vanilla pod.

Pour the semolina mixture into the pasty case. Push half the raspberries inside, allowing them to show on the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing the tart from the tin.

Put the apricot jam in a small pan with a tablespoon of water and bring to the boil. Strain it through a sieve and brush over the tart. Finish with the remaining raspberries and dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strawberry Jam with Lemon and Black Pepper

As promised, here comes the post on my Sunday-evening jam-session. I think it's a great idea to use leftover fruit for jam. It's not that much of an effort and if you have some glasses of jam in your kitchen cupboard, you always have a small present ready. When making jam, I like to experiment with herbs and spices... strawberries go nicely with peppermint, lemon balm, thyme or chilli. I've successfully used the combination of lemon and black pepper for my butterfly cookies recently and it also works great here - it gives this jam a sour spicy twist.

(own creation)

750g strawberries
500g jam sugar
2 lemons
1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper

Wash the strawberries and cut into small pieces. Put them into a large deep pan. Add the grated zest of the two lemons. Then, peel off the rest of the lemons zest and cut the fruit flesh into small pieces also. Add to the berries. Add about 1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper. Put the pan onto the stove, heat up and add half the jam sugar. Bring to boil while constantly stirring. Then, stir in the rest of the jam sugar. Let simmer for about 8 minutes.

Test whether the jam has reached the desired consistency by putting a little drop of it onto a plate. If it's not flowing anymore it's fine. Otherwise cook a little longer.

Fill the boiling jam into cleaned, preheated glasses and seal them. Then turn them upside down for about a minute (kills the fungus spores) and then turn around again and let cool.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rhubarb Oatmeal Cake

The weather changed its mind about every half hour yesterday. Good reason to stay in and spend some time in the kitchen. Cooking, baking, food-styling and foto-sessions... Alex, my fellow cookbook-addict who is a great and passionate cook himself, joined in the fun. I had bought lots of strawberries and a huge bunch of rhubarb on Saturday. It took us some time to make up our minds about a recipe until we stumbled over an old scrap of paper hidden somewhere in my recipe collection. We decided to use the rhubarb for this cake. I turned the strawberries into jam later (post to follow). In our opinion, this rhubarb oatmeal cake is a perfect Sunday teatime cake. Not too heavy, not too sweet and a nice flavour combination.

(slightly adapted from an old Coop Magazin)

350g rhubarb (we used 400g)
165g flour, plus 2 extra tablespoons (we used spelt flour)
150g brown sugar
1/2 sachet baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
75g butter
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
3 tablespoons coarse rolled oats
3 tablespoons porridge oats
200ml milk
1 large egg
60g ground almonds (had none, used ground hazelnuts)
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 26cm cake tin with parchment paper, grease it with the oil and scatter the porridge oats onto the base.

Wash the rhubarb, peel and cut it into 2cm pieces. Mix with the two tablespoons flour. Mix the 165g flour with sugar, baking powder, coarse oats, salt and powdered ginger. Slowly melt butter in a small saucepan. Mix the melted butter with the milk, add the egg and mix well. Add to your flour mixture and mix fast with your electric handmixer until well blended. Add ground almonds and rhubarb. Mix well.

Fill your batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothen a bit with your ladle and bake for about 60-70 minutes (60 was fine with my oven). Let cool, dust with icing sugar before serving.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


The oven stayed off last weekend. Sometimes, even I need a break... But, here we go again. With oh-so-yummie cookies! When I saw this recipe over at Technicolor Kitchen, I was intrigued. You all know that I am a huge fan of brownies and since I've been in quite a cookie-mood lately, this recipe instantly made its way up very high onto my to-bake-list. These really are a chocolate-dream come true... Lighten-up-my-mood-cookies :-)

(slightly adapted from the lovely and delicious Technicolor Kitchen)

233g dark chocolate, chopped
28g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
134g sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
35g all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
175g dark chocolate chunks or chips
a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line two large baking sheets with pachment paper.

Melt the 233g chocolate with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until
smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Mix eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Combine
thoroughly. Set aside. Sift flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. Add melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and slowly add your dry ingredients. When stirred, add the cup of chocolate chunks and the chopped nuts and stir.

Scoop 1 ½ tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are
firm on the outside. Leave to cool completely on sheets.

Makes about 18. (I made rather large cookies and ended up with 12.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Banana Baileys Cake

Due to their popularity, banana cakes seem to have become a regular on this blog lately. Bananas and Baileys are a very nice combo. Although the banana flavour is predominant here, the Baileys comes through in a subtle manner. Cakes such as this one usually get better after a day or so because the flavour intensifies. However, I liked this one the most shortly after we had baked it when it was still a little warm inside. Ice Cream would probably be a perfect match for this cake, I was thinking about Fior di Latte or Vanilla...

(from:Saveurs 3/2011)

4 ripe bananas
300g icing sugar
250g flour
1 sachet baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
100g butter
2 eggs
2.5 cl Baileys
100g chopped walnuts (I put them in my food processor)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a 24cm diameter springform pan with parchment paper and grease with butter.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and set aside. Mash the bananas. In a bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, then mix with mashed bananas and Baileys. Add butter, sugar, vanilla extract, chopped walnuts, flour and baking powder and mix well. Fill the batter into your prepared springform pan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Let cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lemon Black Pepper Chocolate Butterflies

Sometimes, ideas for flavour combinations just come to me spontaneously. This weekend, I felt like lemon, dark chocolate and black pepper. So I took a basic cookie recipe and adapted it. These little cookies are a velvety, sweet and spicy treat... butterflies in the stomach :-)

(adapted from: Betty Bossi - Backen in der Weihnachtszeit)

150g butter, soft
100g sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg
1 lemon, grated zest
250g flour
a large pinch of black pepper
ca. 20-30g grated dark chocolate (I used 70%)

With an electric hand mixer, beat butter in a bowl until creamy. Then, add sugar, salt,black pepper, egg and lemon zest and beat until smooth and pale. Add flour and form a smooth dough. Add the grated chocolate and incorporate with your hands. Flatten the dough a bit, wrap in cling film and put in the refridgerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Roll out the dough (about 4mm thick) and cut out cookies. Put them onto your trays and put in the refridgerator for another 10 minutes before baking. Then, bake for about 8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix together about 150g icing sugar with 2.5 tablespoons of lemon juice and either spread the icing on your cookies with a pasrty brush or dip the surface of the cookies into the icing and let dry on a wire rack.

These cookies keep, in an airtight container, for about 2 weeks.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Carrot Brownies with Chocolate Maple Icing

Here comes a recipe for unusual brownies. And boy, they are delicious! Sweet, moist and spicy. The chocolate maple icing is my own addition and I think it makes these cute little brownies a special Easter treat. I'm going to take them home for my family today. I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend at mum's. Happy Easter to all of you!

(slightly adapted from: here)

4 egg yolks
120g sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream
200g carrots, grated
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch ground cloves
200g ground almonds
100g dark chocolate, in pieces
4 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
50g flour
½ tsp baking powder

for the glaze:
100g milk chocolate
40g dark chocolate
125ml heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a brownie tin (ca. 18x23cm) with parchment paper.

With an electric hand mixer, beat egg yolks, sugar and cream until light and foamy. Add grated carrot, ground almonds, spices and chocolate and mix well.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. Set aside. Mix flour and baking powder, sift into your brownie batter and mix well. Fold in egg whites.

Pour the batter into your prepared brownie tin and bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool.

For the glaze, break chocolate into pieces. Bring the cream almost to the boil in a small saucepan, take away from the heat, stir in chocolate until melted. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and stir until smooth. Spread over your brownies with a rubber spatula.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Mixed Vegetables with Yoghurt and Chilli Herb Oil

Ottolenghi calls this a "real scene-stealer of a dish". I agree. What is so simpe to prepare turns out to be a hit. That's what I like so much about Ottolenghi's dishes, they are usually colourful eye-catchers with lots of different herbs and spices. To me, that's what makes them exciting and comforting at the same time. I imagine this one to go well with grilled meat, you can serve it with rice also. I just served it with some baguette as a light dinner for Annette and me yesterday.

(from: here)

2 courgettes, cut into 2cm dice
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
3 large plum tomatoes
Sunflower oil, for frying
2 red peppers, cut into 2cm pieces
150g Greek yoghurt
1 big garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp fresh mint, shredded
1½ tsp dried mint
1½ tsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper

For the chilli and herb oil:
1 green chilli, chopped roughly
20g parsley
5g mint
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 150°C. Mix the courgettes and aubergine with a teaspoon of salt, place in a colander for an hour, then drain.

Cut each tomato into six wedges, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Roast for 40 minutes, to dry out a little, then set aside to cool.

Put all the herb oil ingredients in a food processor with a pinch of salt and process to a smooth, thick sauce.

Pour sunflower oil into a medium saucepan to come 5cm up the sides and place on a medium-high flame. Once hot, lower the flame to medium. Pat dry the courgette and aubergine, mix with the red pepper, and deep fry in batches for four or five minutes. Drain in a colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yoghurt with the garlic, fresh and dried mint, lemon juice and plenty of pepper. Add the vegetables and tomatoes and stir very gently. Serve with the herb oil spooned on top.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Coconut Cake

What is better than coming home from a relaxing afternoon at the spa? Coming home from a relaxing afternoon at the spa knowing there's cake waiting for you. Anina and I just discussed it, it's not really Sunday if there is no cake...

I decided to make this coconut cake more interesting flavour-wise and visually by spreading it with apricot jam and sprinkling it with more desiccated coconut, but I'm sure it would be delicious just plain as it is. If you're a coconut-fan, go for it! I think this would also be great served with fresh berries or other fruit.

(slightly adapted from: Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra - Warm Bread and Honey Cake)

225g plain flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g butter, softened
225g sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten with
1 tsp vanilla extract
135g desiccated coconut with
90ml warm water

for the topping:
apricot jam
more desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to  160°C. Line 20cm square tin (I used a 24cm diameter springform pan) with parchment paper.

Mix the desiccated coconut with the warm water and set aside. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and lightened in colour. Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and add to your mixture, a little at a time. Beat well. Fold in the flour in three batches, then fold in the coconut until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the topping, heat apricot jam in a small saucepan and strain through a sieve. Spread over your cake while it's still warm. Sprinkle with more desiccated coconut. You could also roast the coconut in the oven for a bit before spreading over the cake.

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