Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts

Friday, September 20, 2013

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs

I have tried writing about coming home for the last four weeks, unsuccessful as you can see. But we are back, and I am cooking again. It is good to be back after such a long hiatus. I might write about the rest of our trip on a later date and maybe about coming home, but right now I don't find the words and prefer to enjoy the moment instead of looking back.

I was so happy not to have missed all of summer's vegetable bounty. When we returned, tomatoes were just getting really juicy and sweet and lovely sprinkled with a little salt and the olive oil we brought back from Italy back in spring. And since we've been back in our apartment, we've had a bowl full of San Marzano tomatoes on our kitchen table. Ready to be eaten. Ready to be cooked down into a simple, garlicky tomato sauce. We made a lasagne with fresh tomatoes (which actually turned out dry, sorry mum) and today I made this gratin I found in Vegetable Literacy, a cookbook I bought just before leaving for Bolivia and haven't actually used it much since then (for obvious reasons).
Like Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, Vegetable Literacy is divided into chapters according to vegetable family, which is very helpful when you find yourself with an abundace of summer squash, green beans or run out of inspiration in the middle of winter on how to use carrots or cabbage. And considering the fact that the gratin I made today turned out wonderfully, I think I am going to cook from this cookbook quite a few times in the future.

The recipe for the gratin can be divided into two parts, first you make a rataouille of sorts, cooking the eggplant and tomatoes into a thick stew while lightly steaming the zucchini slices that Deborah Madison makes you place on top of the sauce, keeping them from falling apart.
Then you scatter breadcrumbs over the ratatouille and after 25 minutes in the oven soft pieces of eggplant and tomato and zucchini with a herby crunchy topping emerge.

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs
Adapted from a recipe in Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison
Note: Deborah Madison has you top the ratatouille with slices of mozzarella, which in my opinion, does not much for the dish itsself, so next time I would omit the mozzarella and maybe stir in some parmesan with the breadcrumbs or keep this as is.

for the ratatouille
1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into slices
2 onions, cut into thin wedges
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 San Marzano tomatoes (or 5-6 of regular round tomatoes), cut into dice sized pieces
2 smallish zucchinis, cut into slices the same width as the eggplant
salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste

for the topping
1 clove of garlic
a bunch of parsley
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

Before preparing the other vegetables, slice the eggplant and lightly salt the slices. After prepping everything else, dab the excess moisture off of the slices.
Preheat the oven to 375°F/200°C.
In a skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent and fragrant, then add the dried herbs and garlic and let cook for another minute or so. Then stir in the eggplant and tomatoes and sauté a minute or two before turning down the heat. Place the zucchini slices on top of the eggplant and tomato stew, cover the skillet and let cook, on low heat, for 20 minutes or so.
While the ratatouille cooks, prepare the topping. Putthe garlic and parsley into the bowl of a small food processor and give it a whiz until cut into smallish pieces, then add the breadcrumbs and pulse until the breadcrumbs are mostly green. Stir in the olive oil and set aside.
With two spoons remove the stew from the skillet into a baking dish and mix in the tomato paste with the liquid that remains in the skillet. Add this liquid to the ratatouille. Top everything off with the green breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Enchiladas Verdes

As I am finally getting my acts together and actually write that short paper that I have been talking about for months, the one little thing left between me and my bachelor's degree, I thought it might be appropriate to tell you about my summer plans.
Between now and September, when I'll head back to university for another two years (for a Master's degree) Michael and I have planned a little adventure. Until now I have barely left the continent, Turkey almost still belongs to Europe in my opinion, but now, we have a plane ticket to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia that is going to take us from Frankfurt in Germany to Bolivia in 30 hours (crazy) with a stopover in Santo Domingo and a 6 hour stay in Panama.
From Santa Cruz we are going to make our way through Bolivia (and I think I am most excited to see the Salar de Uyuni, the salt lakes) and through Peru until we reach Lima sometime at the end of July.
And from there, we'll head to La Habana, to Travel Cuba for a few weeks (and unlike Beyonce and Jay-Z, we can easily enter Cuba. 42 Swiss Francs, a half an hour wait and a little paper that notes my name and passport number was all it took to get a tourist card that will allow us to enter Cuba and stay for a month)

I just one short month we'll already have rented out our apartment and be living at our parent's homes for a few days before we head out and start this adventure. And I am excited and super happy and super nervous about this all. (and I just bought crazy expensive merino leggings that I hope are going to warm my legs throughout Bolivia and Peru and cold busrides in Cuba).
Until I am off, I plan to continue blogging, but between June 6th and August 20th, I won't be around too much.
Right now, since we'll leave our apartment in the hands of a lovely lady who is going to live here while we are away, I am trying to clean out the kitchen a bit. I had this salsa verde around for a while now. I'd bought it on a whim, not quite knowing what I was going to do with it.
You see, Mexican food is not really something Swiss people know a lot about. One part of it is the Mexican restaurants we have here are quite bad, and once you don't eat meat, things get even worse. And then actually finding even Jalapenos is difficult, so it should not be a surprise to you that I have never ever seen a tomatillo in my life. And this salsa verde does not count, really, it being all mashed up in a sauce already. But for now, it has to suffice.

And with the store bought salsa verde, I made enchiladas verdes, something else I never had before. And you have to excuse me if I commited some cardinal sin with these, because I really don't know any better. But authentic or not, I really loved them. The lentils in the red velvet mole are one of the best things I made in quite a while. And since you use lentils instead of beans, they come together really quickly. I bet they would be great served over rice, too. (I actually feel I need to make them again, like tomorrow.)
Maybe our next long trip should be to Mexico, and maybe then I'll actually know my Mexican Food 101. And while I am at it, I probably should read up on Cinco de Mayo? Because other than seeing post all over the web for Cinco de Mayo themed recipes, I don't know a thing about it (And by now it is Nueve de Mayo which really does not has the same ring as Cinco de Mayo)

Enchiladas Verdes
Note: My salsa verde was relativly picante, so the filling itsself is mild, but if you do like it spicy or have a not so spicy salsa verde, feel free to add some heat to the lentils, or jalapeno slices in on top of the mushroom slices)

8 tortillas
1 1/2 cup salsa verde
lentils in red velvet mole (recipe below)
3 big mushrooms
salt and smoked paprika
1/2 cup cashew sour cream or real sour cream
1/4 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Prepare a baking dish that fits the tortillas you are using. Spread a cup of the salsa verde in the bottom of the baking dish.
Cut the mushrooms into thick slices, heat a little oil in a skillet and sear the mushroom slices for a minute or two on both sides. Sprinkle with a little salt and smoked paprika while in the skillet, then set aside.
On each tortilla, spread a little sour cream (off center, so you can roll them up better). Spoon some of the lentils over the sour cream, then lay two or three mushroom slices on top. Roll the tortillas up, nestle them close together on the salsa verde, then spread the rest of the salsa over the top, sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until heated through and the cheese is slightly browned and bubbling.

Lentils in Red Velvet Mole
adapted from the Black Beans in Red Velvet Mole from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskovitz

1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, slivered
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tomato paste
1,5 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lentils
1/4 cup raisins

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Saute the onion until translucent, a few minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in the spices, herbs and the garlic. Saute for another minute or two. Then add the lentils, the tomato paste and a cup of water (You probably need to add more water later, but the amount of water the lentils need until cooked through can vary greatly). Turn the heat up to medium, stir in the cocoa powder, the salt and the raisins and cook until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.
Serve the Lentils in the enchiladas above, or over rice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumbcake

It is Michael's birthday today, and this is the cake he always request for a birthday cake. Not this particular recipe, but this type of cake. A rather flat sheet cake, topped with fresh fruit and a crunchy crumb topping. They always do not look like much, a little unassuming for a birthday cake. And if he did not have an opinion himself, I would make him a fancier cake, like the Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake in Deb's cookbook. Or her recent cake, this Bienenstich cake. But who am I to argue with the birthday boy?
Truth is, I like those cakes, too. They are a lot easier to eat. All you need is a napkin. You could actually eat a slice of this cake standing in front of the fridge, in the middle of the night.
The recipe I used here is great. It makes a wonderful coconut pineapple crumbcake, or a great orange crumbcake with this orange marmalade between the cake layer and the crumb topping. Here I doubled the cake recipe, layered some rhubarb and strawberries on top and finished it off with a simple crumb topping. But you can take this anywhere you want.
And I am off, pizza and beer await me.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumbcake
Note: If you use darker sugar in the topping than I did, the cake will look less pale. Also working some agave into the topping would result in a crumb that turns more golden. If you don't care for the cake to be vegan, you can subsitute regular milk for the soy milk.
cake layer:
1 1/3 cup soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 cup canola oil (or another mild tasting oil)
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

~2 stalks rhubarb
~1/3 pound strawberries

crumb topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Slice the rhubarb and strawberries into 1/2 cm thick slices (~1/4 of an inch). Add a tablespoon of sugar to draw out some of the water before baking.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the cake layer. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until smooth.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the cake batter on top. Spread out a bit until it is between 1 and 2 cm thick. Top with rhubarb and strawberries.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the ingredients for the topping, until crumbs form. Sprinkle over the fruit layer and pat down a bit using your hands.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sourdough English Muffins

Currently I am sitting in my office/bedroom, and really don't want to look out of the window on my right because it is snowing, again. I feel like an old lady for talking about the weather, but when it just starts snowing again and again after I thought we were finally over it, I can't really think about anything else. But while this still goes on, I spend my free days inside, painting, reading, cooking and baking. A week or so ago I started a sourdough starter, following the instruction in Peter Reinhart's book, Crust and Crumb.

Experimenting with sourdough is fascinating, within 4 or 5 days you go from water and flour, plus a little honey and raisins, to a dough that can actually leaven a bread. I was sceptical at first, still unsure whether the sourdough would actually work, but then I made the firm starter for the San Francisco Sourdough bread in Crust and Crumb, and it rose beautifully. The recipe does make a lot of dough, though, and while I looked at all that dough, rising on the counter, I decided to use half of it and make English Muffins out of it. I had made English Muffins before, and I really liked them and thought it was great to be able to make bread without having to turn on the oven and heating up the kitchen that much (and to actually save some cash, apparently the gas bill for our apartment has doubled or tripled since I moved in [oops]). The resulting English Muffins are not that different from the standart English Muffins that I made before, they are not really sour, but they are so delicious and a great way to experiment with sourdough or use some of it up if you happen to have way too much starter after feeding it daily those first days.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Peter Reinhart's Yeasted Bagels

Bagels are not really big in Switzerland. Neither are doughnuts, but those are a project for another weekend. We have a little café in Berne that serves different sorts of bagels with different fillings and I actually love having lunch there, but other than that, I don't know of any place that serves bagels.
Which is actually just a way of saying that I loved these bagels but don't know if they actually are good compared to other bagels. If you do try these please let me know how they compare to your favorite bagels.

Working with the bagel dough was really different from other doughs I have made in the past. It was really stiff and hard to knead, and then really soft when I formed it. It is always so astonishing to see all the different things that can be made from flour and water and a few other things.

Yeasted Bagels
slightly adapted from Peter Reinhart's recipe in Crust and Crumb.
note: This will make more poolish than you need for the bagels, but it is really difficult to make less than required here since measuring out 1/16 of yeast is kind of difficult. If you are looking for another recipe to use the rest of the poolish in, this post describes the Sweet Rustic Bread from Reinhart's book that uses two cups of poolish.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the ingredients for the poolish in a mixing bowl, stir everything together and whisk for 1 minute or so. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours, then refrigerate the poolish overnight.

yeasted dough
1 cup poolish
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cup bread
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey

The next day, measure out the poolish and let it come to room temperature for an hour or so.
Stir the yeast into the water and let it sit for 3 minutes.
Combine the poolish, flour, salt and honey in a bowl, add the yeast-water. Stir the dough together with a spoon, then knead the dough for 15 minutes until fairly smooth. The dough will be dense and rather dry. Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces, and roll those pieces into balls. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
Poke a hole in the center of each piece of dough with your thumb. Depending on the size of hole in the bagel you want, continue to expand the hole using your thumbs. I only poked a hole in the bagel and left it at that because I intended to use the bagels for burgers.
Place the shaped bagels about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornmeal. Cover the sheet in plastic wrap or enclose it in a plastic bag and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours until the bagels have increaded in size (about 25%, says Reinhart).
Refrigerate the dough for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove the pan of shaped bagels from the fridge. Let them warm up for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Reduce the heat of the burner until the water simmers and does not boil vigorously. Gently drop three or four bagels into the simmering water, and poach them 1 minute on each side. There should be enough room for them in the pan so they don't touch each other. Remove the bagels using a slotted spoon, place them back on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a mixture of seeds, if you like. Repeat until all bagels are poached.
Bake the bagels for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 5 minutes if the bagels don't seem to brown evenly. Let the bagels cool down for at least 30 minutes fore eating.

Makes about 10 bagels.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


After getting over my fear of macarons and gougères, I decided to make croissants this weekend. And it really took me a weekend to make them, from making a starter on Friday, to cool the dough between folding and rolling it out on Saturday and then finally baking them today, and inviting a friend over to help me eat some/most of the freshly baked croissants. The croissants did turn out okay, I guess. After I did my best not to freak out over the little tears in the dough, or over the fact that I was too lazy to properly wrap my dough and having a little crust form on top (Going through the troubles of making the dough but not wrapping it? This seems just so typical for me), I am not quite sure that making croissants myself is worth the effort. The croissants were pretty good, mind you. Like a good croissant should be. But I still remember this croissant I had in France, almost two years ago. The croissant that was so unbelievably flaky and buttery all other croissants pale in comparison.
I am spoiled, and I don't think putting that kind of effort into making croissants is worth it if I don't get croissants out of it that resemble that perfect croissant of my memory.
Mind you, I still ate two croissants and a pain au chocolat, still warm, with a cup of coffee. But I am ready to move on and make something else from the list of things that kind of scare me.
Speaking of that list, I actually wrote the items that float through my head down and plan on tackling those things kind of soonish in the future. I think I'll share those things with you, but probably wont actually post recipes for those kind of things because I really don't know what I am doing with those things and just follow recipes I decide are trustworthy and hope for the best.

The list of things I want to make currently:
Plum Knödel (an Austrian recipe, I had them once or twice at a childhood friends' home and I always loved them)
sourdough starter/bread
Ginger Ale
Tonic Water
Ketchup and Mustard
my Grandmother's cake

And now I need go out to buy small bottles to bottle the vin d'orange I recently made so that I can share the recipe with you, before orange season is completely over.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Macaron Making

So I promised to serve you good food if you ever find yourself in my home, in my kitchen. And I stand by that. But I also need to mention the kind of obligation that comes with it. I need you to come over when I make gougères, or macarons, or the doughnuts I am currently dreaming about, to help me eat what I have made and keep me from eating half the batch of macarons in the course of one hour.

If you are a picky, only eating pasta with butter and a little cheese but not the lasagna I have made, or even worse, if you don't like to eat, I am not sure we could be friends.
Not that I could not like you, it is just that I dont understand. At all.
Which reminds me of the boyfriend I once had, who sometimes forgot to eat until dinner came around. (WHAT?) I should have known from the beginning on that this could not turn out well. (As my father likes to say: You cannot trust a person who does not eat breakfast).

I do not have a recipe to share today, I am not enough of an expert on macarons to give advice or modify a recipe. If you want to try making macarons yourself, I have found the collection of links David Lebovitz put together here quite helpful. But I am just happy that this batch of macarons did turn out quite lovely. I still had some crackling and only one half of the macarons did develop feet (the one I let sit on the counter for about an hour), but I can see an improvement from the first batch, which makes me so happy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gruyère Gougères

Let me reassure you that if you ever find yourself in my home, my kitchen, I will net let you go hungry. I'll make you tea and scones and tea sandwiches, or a big pot of soup, hummus and pita and stuffed grape leaves, or these gougères that I made yesterday in my parents home for a few friends that had helped them out earlier this year.

I'll make you these gougères, which makes me sound like such an accomplished cook. But you'll see, I am actually quite nervous whenever I try something new, unlocking my phone for the 50th time to check what the recipe mentiones I really should be doing now, worrying what I probably am doing wrong just right this minute. I'll be stirring until my arms fall off, because Heidi mentions in her recipe that you need to stir, stir, stir. I'll wait anxiously, hunched in front of the oven to watch the gougères puff and brown, mildly freak out when I take the baking sheet out to give it a turn and the gougères immediatly deflate and calm my heart as I and they regain composure.

So I may freak out just a little bit as I make them, but I'll be so happy to have you here in my kitchen and to have made you something special.

Gruyère Gougères
A few notes: If you have a fancy oven like my parents, and not an old one like me, turn off the convection for these. I had it on for the first batch and found that the gougères on the back browned more quickly. As I turned the baking sheet, the gougères deflated. They did recover but not quite to their former glory. A little thyme in these would be lovely, but I had none on hand. The next time I would make them even smaller, reducing the baking time another 5-10 minutes, and try to make them into little balls instead of the oval shapes you get with the spoons. And really, they can deflate, but they are actually kind of easy to make - you really should give them a try and worry a lot less than I did.
Adapted from these gougères from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks

2/3 cup/ 160 ml beer
1/3 cup/ 80 ml milk
1 stick/ 113 g butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup/ 130 g  all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup/ 90 g gruyere, grated, divided

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, heat the beer, milk, butter and salt over medium heat, until the mixture start to bubble lightly. Turn the heat to low. Stir in the flour and stir vigorously until the dough comes together smoothly. Remove from heat and let cool down for 5 minutes or so, until you can work in the eggs without cooking them. Stir in the eggs, one at a time with a wooden spoon. (Your arm will feel like it is going to fall off, but you'll be fine ;)) The dough will look like it is never going to come together, but it will if you keep at it. Once you have incorporated the 4 eggs, stir in 80g/1 cup of the gruyère.
At this point, you can set the dough aside in the fridge, if you want to prepare it in advance. Or continue right away.
Using two tablespoons, spoon 1/2 teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheet. The gougères will spread quite a bit, so leave at least 1inch between each. Sprinkle with the remaining gruyère.
Place in the oven, bake for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to 375°F/190°C. Bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the gougères are golden brown all around the edges.

Makes about 40 gougères.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mohnschnecken, with a simple quark dough

For someone who likes to cook, I know very little about the basics of cooking. I mean I do know how to cook, but when it comes to classic recipes, the foundation of many other recipes, I am rather ignorant. Until a few weeks ago I have never made a Bechamel sauce, even though it is not actually hard to make. But when I wanted to make a lasagna with the left over (vegetarian) sauce bolognese I had to face my fear, because that is what is really keeping myself from making those things, and dive right in. (And obviously, it did no fail and was really easy to make.)
Other things I just had never heard of until recently, like the German Quarkölteig I found when I googled recipes for Mohnschnecken to figure out what type of dough enrobed the poppy seed filling in the poppy seed snails Katie had in Berlin.

So I stumbled onto a very easy dough, called Quarkölteig in German. Quark is a very creamy cheese that is very common in Europe, at least in Switzerland, Germany and as far as I know in the Eastern countries, too. It is commonly called a cheese, but I always thought of it as a very thick and creamy yogurt. I suspect the quark could be substituted with sour cream, but since I just learned about the dough myself, I have tried it only once and cannot actually speak from experience.
Working with the Quarkölteig is pretty easy. It comes together really quickly, just a quick whisk then a little more stirring and a short knead. After resting in the fridge for 15 minutes, it is ready to be used.

The texture of the dough is really silky and soft, almost like a cookie dough that has not been refrigerated enough.
Rolled out, with the help of quite a bit of extra flour to keep the soft dough from sticking, this dough is the perfect vehicle for probably just about any filling. I guess it would be great for cinnamon rolls, too.

But today, I wanted to give the Mohnschnecken that Katie posted a try. Strangely enough, even though I was in Berlin only a few months before Katie I never saw/noticed these Mohnschnecken in any bakery. And up until today, I had never given poppy seeds a second thought, perhaps sprinkling them on some type of  baked good, for the looks, but actually savoring them? Not until now.
Turns out, I really love these poppy seed rolls. As I write this, I have actually eaten three four already, and am desperately looking for someone to come over to share them with or I might actually eat them all myself  before Michael comes back from work.
And now that I tried that Quark dough, the next thing I need to give a try is the laminated dough Katie made for her Mohnschnecken.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hazelnut Maple Cookies

It is almost two years ago that I started this blog and shared the first recipe with you. I started the blog because I needed somewhere to talk about food where I would not annoy the heck out of Michael. According to him, there are many things to talk about that are a lot more interesting than what to cook for dinner, and lunch the next day, and what cookies to make inbetween.
I can totally understand that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for thinking about cooking and talking about it, too.
What I did not anticipate back then was the joy I would get from playing with the design of this site. If you don't just read this in Google Reader, as I do with many blogs, you may have noticed that I have changed quite a few things over those two years, and you have my latest redesign before you right now. (That would be the time to come on over from Google Reader to check it out). If you visited the blog in the last few days, and on certain days during those two years that I worked on the design, you might have noticed a too large header sticking out into the blog posts, buttons in strange places or just generally parts of the blog missing.

Let's just say I haven't figured out how to do those things smoothly. I have long stopped worrying when that happens and learnt to use Photoshop quickly to fix things that went wrong.
I hope you like the new design, and I guess now that I made everything to my liking, it will actually stay this way for a long time. (no more misplaced headers in the future, yay!)
To celebrate, I made cookies for you and me. Nutty non-bake cookies that are really quickly mixed together in a food processor, rolled into balls, flattened, frozen and then enjoyed with a warm cup of tea. And I tell myself that since they are vegan and glutenfree, and only require a little maple syrup instead of sugar, they are healthy-ish.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pistachio Cantuccini

My father's 50th birthday is coming up, and organizing and preparing the food for his party is my pleasure/task. I did the same last year for my mother, and it was great fun, but lots of work, too. I did not go the easiest route, and ended up spending nearly two days in the kitchen, preparing all sorts of appetizers.
My parents and I decided early on to keep the food mainly Italian, although we are not really strict about it, though you wont find Middle Eastern mezze on the table this Sunday. We are going to buy all sorts of cheeses and cured meat, and then I plan on making a variety of crostini, and a few other things.

Where we run into a problem was dessert. The problem is my parents fridge, to be exact. I don't know how many bottles of Prosecco are going to be stored in there, plus theres beer and maybe white wine, too.
This leaves little room for other things, which kind of makes choosing desserts difficult.
One of the things I already prepared for Sunday are these Pistachio Cantuccini. They are Italian, can be kept at room temperature and are quite easy to prepare. And they should appeal to all those coffee drinking folks my father invited.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Strawberry Peach Scones

My little sister is on her way to visit me, to help me pack my life together and move and just spend the day together.
It's a funny thing, having brothers and sisters. I am the oldest of four, two boy and two girls, just as if my parents had perfectly planned it; each child three years after the one that came before.
As I grew up I had lots of fights with my brother, we hit each other hard and fought over toys, until we moved and we got rooms of our own, with enough space between us to live without fighting. Only recently have we become closer again, and only now have I found the unique quality that is in the friendship between brothers and sisters.
Seeing them grow from the kids they once were into the persons they are now is truly amazing, I can only imagine how this must feel for a mother, not just a sister.

So to get to spend time with my sister today is great, and in between packing and decluttering I found time to make these scones for us to eat while we paint my bed.
I have seen different recipes for scones with summer fruit in them recently, and took a few ideas I saw and combined them in this recipe.
Ever since I spent time in Ireland (Oh Galway I miss you) I have loved scones. Scones for me equate calm and fun times, reflecting the time I had in Galway. Mixing in summer fruit makes them even better, though. Scones can be a bit dry when not totally fresh, juicy fruit packed in the middle can fix this easily.
These scones were really easy to throw together, the only flaw of baked goods in summer is the heat the oven generates. They are worth it, though.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mississippi Chocolate Cake

I have no idea why this cake was named Mississippi cake, but it is a cake I often come back to. Back in school I used to make it whenever we had a cake sale to raise money for something.
Now that I cook more I often like to try new recipes, make fancier cakes than this chocolate cake. But today I came back to the recipe from my childhood because I needed a simple quick but chocolaty and delicious cake for a friend's birthday. You see, this is the ideal procrastination cake.
I should be working on a seminar paper right now. And I am. But I also want to make a birthday cake for this friend, because everyone should have a birthday cake on their birthday. This is where this cake comes in. As you will see in the directions, it is a add-and-stir cake. One bowl, add, then stir. Repeat. Simple like that. And then you leave it in the oven for quite some time, and end up with a great, portable chocolaty cake. And while the cake bakes you have more than an hour to work on your seminar paper.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Malted Coffee Cake Muffins

I'll be moving in a few weeks. Right now, the exact date is not yet clear, but I know it is approaching quickly. I feel the need to let go of a few things in this move. Right now, my room is too stuffed with things. I need some space to breath, to be able to work more focused and freely. It is the same with my kitchen. My pantry is full, and my boyfriend always jokes about me having enough food on hand to survive a war. I don't want to be this person, having bags over bags of grains and legumes and flours as if I awaited this "next war".
These muffins were created in an attempt to use up some things I have in my pantry. They use some of the stranger flours I have and the malt powder I bought a while ago. I grew up drinking Ovoltine, and really, these malted muffins taste a bit like it in muffin form. But better. They are only lightly sweet because you replace some of the sugar with malt powder and they have a crackly top.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Apple Rhubarb Crumble

 Last week I went out one evening, to drink some micro brew beer and meet some friends. At some point in the evening we talked about one guy we all know. He got married last fall and started working for a Swiss bank (in a low position, but with still a high wage compared to our student wages). Two guys in our group thought of him as being successful, while I silently disagreed.

To me, in my situation, this would mean failure (and I really don't want to step on any ones toes here, I am just speaking of myself. I love my independence.). And since this conversation I could not stop thinking about success, and what it means to different people.

I don't have a definite answer even for myself, as I see my definition of success change with my changing lifestyle, but these are a few ideas I came up with.

Doing work that has a purpose.
Earning enough money to be able to live comfortably.
Working not too much, so I can enjoy this comfortable life.
Putting thought and effort into the small things, because ultimately they are what makes us happy.
Having honest and open relationships with friends and family.
And right now, making a delicious crumble with things I have on hand.

But before I share this recipe with you, what do you consider success? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garlic and Herb Pull Apart Bread

I noticed a while ago that even though I called this blog Mrs. Garlic Head, I don't really have any recipes on here that reflect my love for garlic. What a shame! I have been toying with the idea of making a garlic pull apart bread after I saw the cinnamon pull apart bread on Joy the Baker. The idea is genius, and so much fun. This weeks recipe for the food matters project gave me just the motivation to give it a go that I needed.

And it turned out really well. It was fun to make and fun to eat, the only thing I would change next time was to make it for company, not just myself. And I think I want to share some garlicky recipes with you, in the near future. I really need to live up to my name.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Baked Grains with Apple

I always seem to be looking for an easy option for breakfast. During all my life until now I had about the same breakfast, every single day.
Two or three slices of  bread, butter, topped with jam or honey. That is what my family eats for breakfast, and it has been what I ate even when I moved out.
I have written before about how I find that this is not really a filling breakfast, an hour or two later I feel hungry again and so I am on the look for breakfast option that don't require lots of time in the morning. These baked grains can be made the day before and reheated in the morning or eaten cold. They make also a great portable breakfast or lunch. And they can help you use up all of these grains that I keep buying.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegetarian Sausage and Bean Flatbread

The inspiration for this weeks recipe took quite a while to come to me. It must have taken a long detour, because for the whole week, I just did not know what to do with the cassoulet. My mistake was to google pictures, and really, it looked like the last thing I would want to eat.
So I had zero inspiration to do something with these ingredients. I decided half-inspired to try to make vegetarian sausage to use later in the week for this weeks recipe.
It wasn't until Saturday that inspiration came by for a short visit before leaving again. Put it all in or on something, instead of cooking it all together as a stew. Well, that is how I ended up deconstructing the original recipe for cassoulet.
Maybe I'm taking the recipe a bit too far from the original,  somehow I usually end up with something completely different. But it is just how I cook. I am more inspired by the ingredients than by the recipe itself. I try working with the combination of flavors or the idea I see in the recipe. Only really rarely do I go out and buy just the right thing to make this recipe I read about. And really, this is how I would love you to read the recipes I post here. You certainly can follow the recipe, and it should hopefully turn out as well as when I made it, but more than that, I would love you to go from the idea you see in my recipes and turn it into your recipe. To me, this is what makes cooking fun, why I keep cooking, throwing together food to turn it into meals.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Best Bread I Ever Made (So Far)

I wanted to bake my own bread for quite some time now. I go through phases like that. I start making my own yogurt. I experiment with making my own skin care products. I get obsessed with some sort of plant or animal. Most of the time, our relation stays superficial. I can tell you a lot about how to set up a fitness routine, but after a few months of consistently running three times a week, I just got tired of it. I took best care of my orchid for quite some time, now it doesn't exactly thrive. I am known to order books in the libary to learn something new, and once they arrive, I'm already interested in something else.
But bread baking and I, we entered into a different phase in our relationship. At least that is what I hope. I feel too old for this short affairs, I need something longer lasting.
I can't remember our first date, but I can certainly recall that our relationship did not have a completely smooth start. There were some hard loaves, too much whole grains, but we've come to a place where it just feels right.
This loaf feels right. He's doesn't raise false expectations with a sparkly exterior (although I think it looks really appealing), isn't all dressed up in fancy seeds or perfumed with garlic, butter, or herbs, but I'd say he is the right loaf to share the rest of your life with.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Soft Pretzel Hamburger Buns

I'm a bit reluctant when it comes to talking about weight and calories etc on this blog. I rarely think about these things when I think about eating. And reading about little girls already being on a diet because they think that they are too fat makes my heart ache. Because losing weight should not be one of the things that matter most to anyone, life is way better than that.

I want to be healthy and moderately fit. This also means that I don't want to weigh a ton, or that I really should not be sitting in front of the computer all day. It also means that at some point I have to stop baking muffins and cookies and more muffins so often. Because, as you might have seen, I have been baking a lot. I still want to bake, to enjoy sweets as part of a balanced diet, but for a while I want to stop baking with flour and sugar. Because I know they do nothing for my body, and when I eat too much of them nothing for my soul. Because a treat is only a treat when it is occasional, but lately muffins were part of my daily diet.
Well, this means that I am back to posting about real meals more often now.

And I'm starting today with homemade hamburger buns. Soft pretzel hamburger buns. Because we can. And Michael Pollan says: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself. And because I made black bean burgers to go with them that I would not consider junk food. More on them later in the week, though.