Monday, February 25, 2013

Almond Cookies with Dried Apricots

Somehow, winter still has us... it's cold, cold, coooold... However, that doesn't change the fact that I'm ready for spring! I'm in the mood for all those soft and bright spring colors: green, orange, yellow, lilac... So I went shopping for some new clothes last Saturday. And, as usual, I treated myself to a bouquet of flowers. It happens sometimes that I buy the decoration first and that it makes me think what I could bake that would look nice on a picture together with it. These apricot-colored roses led me to baking these cookies which I had bookmarked some time ago in one of my favorite books. These cookies have a lovely warm and full flavor, not too sweet, though. Depending on whether you like those soft or crunchy, you can adjust the baking time. I somehow managed to get them just right, with a crunch on the outside and still a little soft in the middle! I don't always manage to get cookies exactly in the consistency I would like to.

(from: Süsse Sünden - Tarek Malouf)

135g butter, soft
80g sugar
80g brown sugar
1/2 sachet vanilla sugar
1 egg
190g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
100g dried apricots, coarsly chopped
60g ground almonds
20g almond slivers

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Put butter and the three sugars into a bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and mix on medium speed.

Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda into another bowl. Add the flour-mix to the butter-sugar mix in two addition and combine well. Add the apricots and the ground almonds.

With a tablespoon form balls the size of a walnut and place on the baking tray leaving enough room between the cookies. Flatten them a little with your hands and sprinkle with almonds slivers. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 12-15 minutes. It depends on how large your cookies are, the book suggests bigger cookies and the baking time is about 20 minutes. They are still slightly soft when you take them out of the oven. I ended up with 24 cookies.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apple Quinoa Cake

I had discovered this recipe in this lovely book a while ago and this weekend, I was eager to find out how a cake recipe with quinoa and without eggs was about to turn out. Happy to report that it's a thorough success! Everyone who tried it so far liked it really much. It's a cake full of flavor, full of healthy and nourishing ingredients. The quinoa is still a little crispy and, together with the sweet and moist apple pieces and the raisins, gives the cake an interesting texture. It's not a cake you eat for dessert. This is what I call the perfect "Zvierichueche" (cake for an afternoon snack). It would be great to take to a picnic. Anne van Boven suggests to eat it warm, but let me assure you, it's still delicious even after a few days.

(from Yvette van Boven's Home Made - Winter)

170g quinoa, I used red quinoa
125g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g brown sugar
125g raisins
2 apples
100g butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease a 1.5l cake tin with butter. In a saucepan, cook the quinoa for 10 minutes, then drain. Peel and dice the apples. Mix the cooked quinoa with flour and baking powder. Add sugar, apples and raisins. Then, add the butter. In the end, add the spices and mix well.

Fill the batter into your cake tin. Bake the cake for about 50 minutes. Dust the cake with cocoa powder before serving if you like.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cranberry Cookies

Here comes yet another recipe from Sweets. I have mentioned already that I am really fond of this book. Even more so since I made these cookies this weekend. They are the perfect snack to bring you through the day. I took them to the office today and Evelyn, Stefanie and I totally went wild :-) "Katriiiin??" Steffie asked every now and then, "Can I have another one of those cookiiiies?!". Evelyn opened the box about every third time she walked by our side board. And I... I can't help it anyway... when have I ever been able to only have one single cookie when there's a box full of them in front of me ;-)

(from Nicky Stich's wonderful Sweets)

100g dried cranberries, coarsly chopped (I was too lazy to do that)
50g walnuts (coarsly chopped, I used sunflower seeds instead)
100g butter, at room temperature
100g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
175g flour
75g coarse rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
fleur de sel (I left that out since I don't have any at home)

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer for about 3 minutes until smooth and pale. Add the egg and the sea salt and mix well. Add flour, rolled oats and baking soda and mix. In the end, add cranberries and nuts and mix until just combined.

With a tablespoon, form balls the size of a walnut and place on your baking tray. Flatten a little. Leave enough space between the cookies. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel. Bake each batch for about 15 minutes until the cookies begin to get brown around the edge. I say this each time, and I say it now: Don't overbake. They are still slightly soft when you take them out of the oven. If you take them out too late, they will be too hard after they have cooled. Let them cool on the tray for a few minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight box.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cookies & Cream Chocolates

I came home from work last Friday, opened my postbox and there it was: Sweets, Nicole Stich's new cookbook. I'd pre-ordered it quite some time ago. I love Nicole's beautiful food photography and her approach to cooking. Her recipes are simple, she gives clear instructions. No fuss, and still, the result is always extraordinary. Oh guys, what a lovely book this is! 150 pages full of sweet treats... Seriously, I can't stop myself from browsing through it again and again...

...well, the book is full of post-its already. I decided for a simple recipe to begin with: these cute little chocolates. I'm not usually a big fan of plain white chocolate, but together with crunchy Oreo pieces, now that's something else! These chocolates would be a perfect little present for Valentine's day. And, believe me, it doesn't get any easier than this! So why don't you surprise your sweetheart with a sweet treat :-)

(from: Sweets by Nicole Stich)

3 Oreo-Cookies
200g white chocolate

(for about 18-20 chocolates)
First, take apart the Oreo cookies and scrape away the filling with a knife - and eat :-) chop the cookie halves finely, there should be no pieces larger than a pea.

Chop the white chocolate and put in a little metal bowl. Slowly melt over a hot water bath. Stir from time to time. When the chocolate has melted, add the cookie pieces and mix well. With a little spoon, fill the batter into the molds (I have a silicone mold for making chocolates. It's available at MIGROS, for instance). The molds should be full to the brim. 

Bump the mold carefully onto the surface a few times so that air bubbles are released. Put the silicone mold into the refrigerator for two hours until the chocolates are firm. Silicone molds have the advantage that you can press the chocolates out of the molds really easily. Stored in an airtight box in the fridge, these chocolates keep for weeks.  

Friday, February 01, 2013

Lentil Salad with Carrot and Zucchini

Last Friday, Miriam and I spontaneously went to have dinner at Tibits after work. That made me remember that I have this lovely book on my shelf which I have not used one single time so far. I flipped through it last weekend and decided to cook my own version of this salad. Good possibility to use up some of the lentils I got in stock. This salad would make a nice addition to a summer picnic... maybe the unexpectedly mild temperatures we got in Zurich right now are making me think about summer already...

(slightly adapted from: Tibits at Home)

200g green lentils
2 carrots
2 zucchini

for the dressing:
60g dried tomatoes
20g ginger, freshly grated
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
(the original recipe also suggests 2 tablespoons tikka currypaste and 1 tablespoon chili oil)

I added some roughly chopped coriander for serving

Cook your lentils according to the instructions on the packing. I had to soak mine in cold water for 1-2 hours and let them cook for about 30 minutes in enough salted water. While the lentils are cooking, chop the carrots into dices of about 1cm and add when the lentils are almost done so that the carrots cook for about 2-5 minutes. Then, drain and rinse with cold water. The recipe suggests to also cut the zucchini into 1cm dices and to add them to the salad uncooked. I, however, roasted them gently in olive oil in a large frying pan for about 10 minutes until slightly soft because I like that better.

For the dressing, chop the dried tomatoes and mix with all the other ingredients. Mix the lentils and the veggies with the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Add some herbs if you like. You can eat this salad warm or at room temperature.

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