Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Apple Cake

I copied this recipe out of the book of a dearest friend of mine: Sue. Sue is in Heaven, but I remember her daily. She's alive in my heart. Ten years ago, a lapse of concentration at the wheel deprived us of her company. Some mistakes you pay with your life...

The other day I was having a look at my recipes, I found this one. This cake has the season's taste: apples, walnuts and cinnamon. Its appearance is a little bit terrible, that happens when you don't grease enough your bake form: it sticks. Fortunately this doesn't affect the flavor and my family loves me so much they don't shove it in my face...The original recipe culminates the cake with a glaze, either brown sugar or coffee. I've tried it already with the coffee glaze. It suits the cake perfectly, but when I finished it, it was late and Ugly Betty (one of my favorite series) was just about to start...

Apple Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 apples, grated (I only cut them in pieces but greated is better)
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanille extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
Brown sugar Glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 60 gr. butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
Mocha Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strong coffee (espresso)
Method:
  1. Generously grease your cake form (if you don't want to end up like me).
  2. Beat eggs, oil, sugar, walnuts and vanille. Add apples.
  3. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl.
  4. Combine everything and let rest for tirty minutes.
  5. Turn oven on at 180º C.
  6. Bake for one hour in preheated oven or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool down about 10 minutes before you take it out of the tin.
  8. If you're glazing it, poke some holes in the cake so that gazes can well seep through it.
Brown sugar glaze:
  1. Cut the ingredients in a pot until the thicken. Pour over hot cake.
Mocha glaze:
  1. Mix powdered sugar and coffee until you have a smooth batter. Pour it over hot cake.
Keep reading...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oatmeal Cookies

Mi middle child (dwarf #2 from now on) is studying the reproduction. Not for the first time. In ground school they insist on several themes: pollution, reproduction, ecosystems, etc. The difference this year is that he's enthusiastic about it. They've seen a movie about how fetilization takes place and he's deeply impressed. The hard journey spermatozoids preform fascinates him. He's told me everything about it, from beginning to end. The other day we were coming back from the gym and this was our conversation:

Dwarf #2: - I came in first once, if not I woundn't be here.
me
: - So did I
Dwarf : - but I'm Y and you are X
me: -yes, but I won also, If not I woudn't be here. We've all been champions, at least once.

In other words, he identifies himself totally with an spermatozoid. He's still just a child but you can already see the man he's wearing inside. This idea woudn't have crossed my mind in a million years. In his small head, he's an spermatozoid since he is XY, while me (woman and XX) I'm the ovule. I mean if it was carneval I know what his desguise was going to be... I have to explain to him that we're all an ovule plus an spermatozoid and that these are X or Y.

The object of this entry isn't the reproductive disgressions of an 11 years old child but these wonderful cookies. Now it's so cold (thanks to global warming...) and it's so dark outside, these littles bites come very handy. They warm the stomach and the heart. The original recipe is here to be found. I did them exactly like explained.
Keep reading...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cashew and Yogurt Cake

Since the moment she tried it, this came to be my mom's favorite cake. It's delicious. It consist of two parts, different and complementary: an incredible spongy and light cake on its right point of moisture (thanks to yoghurt) that melts in your mounth and a crunchy layer of cashew, cookies, coffee and brown sugar which makes the perfect constrast and gives it the special and original touch. This two texture combination is unbeatable. It leaves you wanting more.

I found the original recipe here . I've increased the crunchy layer quantities, because I just can't get enough of it and I've also adjusted the baking time, sure that depends on each oven... I felt it was better to use a rectangular cake tin instead of a round one, it's the cook's choice really...
Delicious Cake
From Happy Home Baking

Ingredients:

Crunchy layer
  • 115 gr. digestive cookies (smashed)
  • 65 gr. cashews toasted and salted (crushed)
  • 50 gr. brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 50 gr. butter, cold in pieces
Cake
  • 150 gr. butter, soft
  • 100 gr. caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanille extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 200 gr. flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150 gr. yoghurt
Method:
  1. To make crunchy layer, mix all ingredients with your fingers until they resemble bread crumbs. Reserve.
  2. Lets make the cake now. Mix flour and baking powder.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add salt and vanille extract.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. If it curdles it doesn't matter. Once you've added the flour the dough would turn normal.
  5. Add flour and yoghurt, alternating between both.
  6. Grease and flour a rectangular cake tin.
  7. Pour 1/3 of crocanty on the bottom. Then, pour half the cake batter. Another third of crunchy layer and the remaning batter half. Lastly, spread another third of crocanty on top on the cake.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 170º C for 35-40 min. (It took me 45 min.)
  9. Let cake cool completely before taking out of the tin, if not you'll take the risk of braking it in half.
Keep reading...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Decoration

I believe I've already mentioned it. Christmas atmosphere is taking over me, deeper and deeper. I'm not alone. My kids are contaminated as well. It all started when toys catalogs began to arrive. They've been carefully revised every night. Good-bye to "this year I'm only asking for a digital watch". Dwarf #2, who is almost 1,60 m. tall, wants not one but two costumes. One of them should be Dark Vader. I don't think they make them in his size. We've dug up forgotten toys. We are in a good mood. It's wonderful.

These cookies can be hang on the Christmas tree. I don't think this batch is going to make it, but I just couldn't resist. You can cut them out in different shapes, circles, diamonds, squares or christmas motives with special cutters.... it depends on your patience. I lost it right away and ended up making beautiful circles... As for decoration, the only limit is your creativity: you can play with colors, adding food coloring to the glaze, you can use pearls in different sizes, colors and shapes. Your choice.

Christmas cookies

Adapted from Comer Bien

Ingredients

Dough:
  • 225 gr. flour
  • 75 gr. almonds toasted and ground
  • 120 gr. cold butter
  • 130 gr. sugar
  • 1 egg
Glaze:
  • 1 egg white
  • 150 gr. powdered sugar
  • food coloring
  • decoration pearls
Method
  1. Mix ground almonds, flour and sugar. Add butter in pieces and mix quickly with your fingers. Add egg and shape the dough into a ball.
  2. Wrap dough in kitchen foil and refrigerate for half an hour.
  3. Flour the kitchen counter and roll out the dough until it's 1/2 cm thick. Cut out cookies with your favorite shape.
  4. If you want to hang them on the tree, make a hole in each cookie with a wooden toothpick. Dough expands while baking, so the hole should be big. You can also leave a piece of the toothpick inside to ensure the hole doesn't disapear.
  5. Bake them for 10 min. at 180ºC. Let them cool on a rack.
  6. For the glaze, beat eggwhite with powdered sugar. If you want your cookies to be colorful, divide your glaze in little bowls and add some coloring food drops in each one. Add your decoration pearls while the glaze is still wet. Once is dry, it doesn't stick anymore.
Keep reading...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chestnut Flan

I love chestnuts. Seved in all forms: roasted, as stuffing, in jelly, marron glacée... even raw! I have a magazine with a whole section dedicated to this fruit. I coudn't resist the tentation to try this dessert. It was worth it.
Chestnut Flan
From Comer Bien

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 can chesnut cream
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 tablespoon rhum
  • 1 teaspoon vanille extract
  • 1/4 milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 gr. sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
Method:
  1. Make a caramel sauce with sugar and water and spread on a flan pan. Let cool down.
  2. Mix chestnut cream with milk. Add cream, rhum and vanille.
  3. Beat the eggs and add them to the cream.
  4. Pour this mixture in the flan pan and cook at 180º C in a water bath for 40-45 min.
  5. Let cool in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
Keep reading...

Stuffed chickens with pears and apples

To be honest, this recipe was ment to be for a capon, but I couldn't find no three kilos bird, so I took two nice free range chickens. They turned out very nice. The sweet, fruity stuffing equilibrates the greasy birds, a good combination. On top of everything, the stuffing was very easy to make and the roasting was no sweat.

Stuffed chickens
From Vie Practique, for 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:
  • 2 big chickens (or a medium capon, about 3 kilos)
  • 8 apples (I used small golden delicious)
  • 2 pears (conference, also small)
  • 1/2 half a bunch fresh sage (I didn't have fresh so I took a tablespoon dried sage)
  • 20 cl. chicken stock
  • 150 gr. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Peel pears and two apples and cut them in pieces, discgarging the cores. Sautée them in a skillet with 30 gr. butter. Salt and pepper to taste. At the end of the cooking, add sage.
  2. Stuff the chickens with these fruits and close them.
  3. Put the chickens in an oven casserole and spread 50 gr. butter over them. Pour the chicken stock in the casserole over the chickens.
  4. Cook them in a preheated oven at 210º C for two hours. Sprinkel chickens with the cooking juices from time to time.
  5. Meanwhile, peel and cut in quarts the rest of the apples. Sautée them in a skillet with the rest of the butter. Reserve warm.
  6. Serve chickens surrounded with buttered golden apples and the cooking sauce.
Keep reading...

Red cabbage and smashed potatoes

This is the way I usually cook my vegetables on a daily basis. It's rather simple, nothing extravagant. As it turns out, I like perceiving the real taste of the vegetables. If we start throwing all kinds of spices and finish up the work with some spicy stuff, we anesthetize our taste buds and it doesn't matter anymore what we eat...

It goes very well with for example this.

Red Cabbage my way

Ingredients:
  • 1 Cabbage(red, chinese, coliflower, brussel sprouts...)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Rise the cabbage well and cut it in squares or stripes, whatever you like best.
  2. Cover the bottom of your prssure cooker with water. Put the cabbage in and close.
  3. Cook it. When it reaches the pressure point, turn the stove off and let the pressure cooker cool down.
  4. Open it and strain the cabagge. Put the oil in the cooker (without water and dry) over medium heat.
  5. Add two teaspoons salt (and if you like other herbes, now is the moment).
  6. Chop the garlic and cook it in the oil over low heat. Garlic has to be cooked over low heat, if not it burns and becomes bitter. When it's nice and golden, and the strained cabbage Cuando esté doradito, añade la col escurrida nad stir gently.
  7. Serve hot with mashed potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes

Making one's own mashed potatoes it's a little bit more work than buying it precooked and following the instructions on the packet. It's worth it. Homemade mashed potatoes is much, much better and tastier. When I don't have time, I serve the industrial one but the whole family notices. They complain.

Ingredients:
  • 1.000 gr. potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 glass semismilked milk
  • Spices to taste (I sometimes use nutmeg)
Method:
  1. Peel the potatoes and cook them in water until they are tender (about 20 min. Cut very big ones in pieces).
  2. In a big bowl, put milk, butter, salt and spices.
  3. Mash potatoes with the potato masher or pass them through the food mill, over the bowl with milk mixture.
  4. Mix everything well until butter is melted.
  5. Serve hot.
Keep reading...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saint Martin

In Germany Christmas time begins today, Saint Martin's day. But, who was he? He was born in 316 and died in 398. Since he was a child, his biggest dream was to be a soldier. During a cold winter day, when he was a young man and streets were empty and covered with snow, he went out for a ride on his horse. Suddenly, he saw a poor man on the floor, freezing. Without a doubt, he cut his cape in half with his sword and gave it to the poor man. That night he dreamed about Jesus. The following day he left the army and dedicated the rest of his life to serve the poor and church.

On this day german children make paper lantern and march out on the streets with them singing songs. Then they eat this sweet breads shaped like little men or like gooses.

My girl had to present a topic for her english class last week. She chose "Celebrating Christmas in Germany". Of course, we had to make some little Saint Martin's men to ilustrate the topic. So that everybody can enjoy them, here is the recipe. They are made with dry yeast, so they don't keep fresh for very long, you have to eat them right away.

Kloskerle
From Backen macht Freude

Ingredients:
  • 200 ml milk plus 2 tablesoons separated
  • 100 gr. butter
  • 500 gr. flour
  • 1 sachet dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 sachet vanille sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg, separated
  • raisins
Method:
  1. Warm the milk and melt the butter in it. Reserve at 36º C.
  2. In a bowl, sieve flour and mix it well with the dry yeast. Add sugars, milk, salt, egg and the egg white. Beat vigorously until you have an smooth dough. Let rest covered in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
  3. Knead dough and divede in six pieces.
  4. Make your little men and put them on a lined baking sheet.
  5. Beat egg yolk with the reserved two milk tablespoons and bush the men with it.
  6. Use the raisin to make the eyes and buttons.
  7. Let rest for about 20 min. more in a warm place.
  8. Turn oven on at 200º C .
  9. Bake them for about 15 to 20 min. until they are golden.
Keep reading...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vanillekipferl

Shops are beginning to decorate their windows with christmas motifs, supermarkets have cleared their shelves to fill them with turrón and polvorones (spanish christmas sweets), toy stores have published their catalogs... Christmas is in the air.

Last week, child #3 had to make a speech in english class. Her topic: Christmas in Germany. This gave me cause to bake some traditional german christmas cookies to ilustrate her presentation.

As usual, they are quick to make and to consume. I strongly recommend them.


Vanillekipferl
Backen macht Freude

Ingredients:
  • 250 gr. flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 125 gr. caster sugar
  • 8 gr. vanille sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200 gr. cold butter
  • 125 gr. almonds, raw
  • 50 gr. powdered sugar and some vanille sugar mixed for dusting
Method:
  1. In a bowl, sift flour and baking powder..
  2. Ground your almonds. You can also buy almond meal, but they quickly turn rancy, because of the high grease content, so I find it better to buy the almonds and ground them at home. Put a tablespoon sugar so it becomes a loose almond meal. Mix all the ingredients to make a dough.
  3. Line a baking sheet.
  4. Cut the dough in little pieces and roll each one like a 3/4 cm diameter snake.Cut each snake in 5 cm long pieces and bend them a little bit and put them on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the at 180ºC in a normal oven or at 160º C if it has hot air, about 10 minutes.They shouldn't brown.
  6. Dust generously with the powdered sugar mixture when they're still hot.
Keep reading...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Favorite Cake


We've got something to celebrate: after countless requests to different professionals, a plumber has agreeded to visit our humble home and has proceeded to fixing the bathroom that's been useless quite a  long time now. Halleluja! I have to thank our piano teacher, P. Thank you, P., I don't know if we'll ever be able to pay you back someday...

Astonishing how difficult it is that a handyman should come to your home to fix something. If ever a plug should go bad, a blind brake down or the cistern would stop working (all these I have experience with) you're lost...It's so difficult to have it fixed as to find a good dentist: no hope without a recomendation. I don't really know why, if there're too much demand or too few handymen, but it's a fact: pumblers, electricians, they are endangered species.

To celebrate, I've made the family's favorite cake. I don't usually bake it because they only need a couple of days to finish it off (so enthusiastic are they) and because I like to vary (although children always want the same). Many years ago my mother visited french conversation classes somewhat peculiar, they were given by Madame Cugnac, director of the Aliance Française, while she cooked. At the end of the "lesson", there was a tasting. I used to assit when I came to visit, since I lived abroad then, and my mother kept all recipes to give them to me. I have them all compiled in a book that I've named La Cuisine de Madame Cugnac  and I will be sharing some of these wonders with the world.

This cake suits the moment perfectly since one of the ingredients is ground hazelnuts. It's very moist if you consider it has no glaze and it's doesn't feel heavy at all while you're eating it...but be ware of the dosis, it's a bomb.

Hazelnut Cake
De Madame Cugnac

Ingredients:
  • Eggs (It depends how big you want your cake to be, I took three large)
  • Its weight in flour
  • Its weight in butter (room temperature)
  • Its weight in sugar
  • Its weight in roasted hazelnuts
  • Baking powder (for three large eggs, one teaspoon, add more or less in proportion)
  • A pinch of salt
Method:
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, one after the other, until they are well blended.
  3. In a bowl, mix flour with salt and baking powder.
  4. Ground hazelnuts.You can also buy them already grounded, but nuts contain a lot of oil and turn rancid very quickly, so it's better to buy them whole and ground then when you need them. To do this, put a tablespoon sugar, so the grease don't glue the hazelnut flour.
  5. Add flour and hazelnut meal.
  6. Add butter cream to flours. Stir just enough to make a smooth batter.
  7. Grease a ectangular cake pan, pour the batter and bake in a preheated oven at 180º for about an hour . If it browns to quickly, cover the cake with some aluminium foil in the oven.


    Keep reading...

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    For a dear friend: Peanut Butter Cookies

    It was P.'s birhday and I know for sure she loves these cookies. So I baked them to gave them to her as a birthday present.

    I don't remember where I got the recipe from, if here , or out of he clasic cookbook The Joy of Cooking my parents bought in the USA, or maybe from another of my favorite websites like this one. Anyhow, one ingredient you can't skip on is peanut butter. We have two options: buy it or make it. I didn't feel like going to the place where you can almost find anything, that is, Corte Inglés, I made it myself. It's very easy. You just take the amount of peanuts you need, toasted and salted, and you ground them with a couple of tablespoons peanut oil in your blender et voilà: peanut butter, without any preservatives or coloring...

    Without any more ado, that was certainly enough, there it goes:

    Peanut Butter Cookies
    You'll get plenty of cookies

    Ingredients:
    • 225 gr. butter, room temperature
    • 260 gr. peanut butter, room temperature
    • 200 gr. caster sugar
    • 220 gr. brown sugar (I forgot to add it, this time, they turned all right though...)
    • 2 eggs, large
    • 310 gr. flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (also forgot this one, oops)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (since my peanuts were very salty I deriberately omit this step)
    Method:
    1. Cream butters and sugars.
    2. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir to combine.
    3. In a separeted bowl, mix flour, baking powder and baking soda (salt if you want to).
    4. Combine with butter cream.
    5. Cover bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate at least one hour.
    6. Preheat your oven at 190º C.
    7. Distribute little balls of dough on your baking sheets. You can frize them at this point, if you wish.
    8. Squash them with a fork to make the pattern.
    9. Bake them for 10 minutes if you like them light or 3 more minutes if you like them golden and crunchy.
    Keep reading...