Sunday, March 16, 2014

Apple Poppy Seed Coleslaw

We luckily have spring on our side right now. Temperatures are up again and some even started the BBQ season. My balcony is not yet ready for bbq-ing but my fridge definitely is. When planning my weekend lunches ahead I usually also check the weather forecast. Today I was in the mood for a savory tart. I went for a French classic; quiche lorraine and needed a more funky salad to go with. As the flavors of the quiche are rather neutral I wanted to bring in some daring combinations as a side dish. While browsing the other day I found a similar recipe, which I chose to adapt according to my preferences. In terms of vinegar I dared to put a little extra to it. But you'll find out later on. 

Coleslaw is one of my favorite salads. I remember that on summer nights my mom sometimes prepared savory tarts with coleslaw as a side. But it was always the classic coleslaw. So yet again I share with you another childhood classic; a savory one this time. Over the years I already tried several recipes, but let me give you one good advice. The secret of a good coleslaw lies in the mayonnaise you choose. A good quality mayonnaise, or even better a home made one, is the key to success. Apples give your salad a little extra and are a good counterweight to the cabbages' acidity. 

For 6 servings you'll need:

160g shredded white cabbage
120g shredded red cabbage
90g grated carrots
1 apple (Granny Smith style)
4 tbsp mayonnaise
3tbsp olive oil
1tbsp apple vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

Whisk together the shredded cabbages and the grated carrots. Cut the apple into small slices and add to the vegetables. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise until you get a homogenous vinaigrette. Add the poppy seed and the juice of one lemon and whisk again.

Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and stir with a spatula until salad and sauce are well combined. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour. 


Monday, March 3, 2014

Honey Cookies

Even though February was a rather productive month in terms of cooking, I didn't manage to transform the effort into blog posts. On one hand this is due to several family lunches where my folks were way too pressed to taste the meals, meaning no time for the usual photo shooting. On the other hand I went on holidays and worked long hours so that the cooking mainly took place in the evenings.  And we all know that natural light still remains the best for good food photography. 

I realized that I was talking about making cookies for quite a while now. I guess there are just too many recipes I want to try. But I can reassure you, I bought a beautiful cookie jar last week, so I will have to bake cookies way more often in order to keep it filled. I will have to keep up with the rhythm of the advent season. With some of my friends we usually organize a big baking session several days before Christmas to make at least 4-5 different types of cookies. I think I will have to organize another session to ensure a certain variety in this newly bought cookie jar. 

These pure honey cookies will please everyone who loves honey. The taste is intense yet not too heavy. I always dip my cookies into the milk and especially for these cookies the taste can be described like a honey explosion in your mouth. I took them to work today and the feedback was very good. I could save some for a meeting tomorrow morning but I am sure they won't survive any longer than that. 

For around 30 cookies you need:

100g butter
300g flour
100g honey
55g brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180°

Whisk all the dry ingredients together. Then add the egg and the honey. Mix until you get crumbly dough. Add the milk and knead until the dough is smooth. Roll the dough out on your work surface and cut the cookies out with a cookie cutter. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until they are golden brown. 

Let the cookies cool down for an hour.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chocolate - Pistachio Marble Cake

This cake is the more sophisticated version of a childhood classic. I am sure you do all remember the marble cake from the kids' birthday parties you were invited to in your childhood. When I think of kids' birthday parties, I think of the four classics you would always get for these occasions namely the hazelnut cake, the orange & lemon cakes as well as my favorite; the marble cake. Even though I don't remember the games of these parties anymore, I still remember the cakes.  I always like to share this kind of memories. What were your favorite cakes as a kid??? Maybe you can just comment this post and share what was your all-time favorite?

Every once in a while I still bake a marble cake as it's perfect for a Sunday brunch, a coffee break in the afternoon or just a sweet moment in between. However, I felt like it was time to go for something more sophisticated. As for pasta I always go for a trio, for desserts I prefer more tastes in one plate as well. I was not sure whether to put a cinnamon twist in the chocolate part or to add rum to the vanilla batter. As you notice, nothing of this ever happened. 

There exist as many variations of marble cake as there exist family recipe books. I am sure that every mother, grandmother, godmother, aunt or sister has one classic and a personalized version of this cake in their homes. The simple fact that you pass on a recipe let's it wander and develop. This is why I love to share my recipes so much. Some get back to you with their results and may inspire you back. This is also what I like so much about baking enthusiasts. They always go for more. While serving you a classic, they come with a 'you have to taste this, I added….'. 

For one loaf you need:

130g butter
6 eggs
420g sugar
200ml liquid cream
320g flour
40 cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
50g pistachios
2 tsp honey
2tbs water


Preheat the oven to 150°

First prepare the chocolate batter.

Whisk together 65g butter, 220g sugar and three eggs until you get a fluffy dough. Pour 100ml liquid cream to it and mix again. Now add a pinch of salt, the baking powder and the cocoa powder. Mix again until you get even dough.

For the pistachio batter, first start preparing the pistachio cream. 

In a saucepan, boil the water with 20g of sugar and the honey. Meanwhile, mix the pistachios in a blender until you obtain a fine powder. Pour the honey syrup on the nuts and mix again until it gets creamy. 

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining butter, eggs and sugar. Add the pistachio cream and mix again. Pour the remaining cream to it, mix, then add the flour, another pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix again until you get even dough

Fill the cake mold with the help of two ladles (or normal soup spoons, depending on the pattern you want to get) alternating the pistachio and chocolate batter. When both batters are gone, take a fork, put into the dough at one end of the mold and push it to the other end. Now you got the final swirl.

Bake for one hour. Check with the point of the knife if the cake is ready. If it comes out with some wet batter, crumbs or stickiness on it, the cake needs to bake a little bit more time. Depending on the material of the cake mold it might take some 10 minutes more.
If it comes out dry, take it out of the oven and remove it from the mold. Let it cool down until you serve it. 


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kniddelen - Luxembourgish Dumplings with Bacon

Kniddelen are one of Luxembourg's oldest dishes. Once upon a time they were considered the poor man's meal because all you need is flour, eggs, milk and bacon. Over the years, the traditional dish has almost transformed into a delicatessen because only a few still know how to prepare them. For a decade now, restaurants have put them back on the menu because people are again looking for more traditional restaurants in the jungle of international cuisine.

For me personally, Kniddelen is more than just a dish. Kniddelen is what I cook for my international friends if I want to share Luxembourgish culture with them or for myself when I just have to feel like home while living abroad. I prepared them in France, Serbia and Macedonia for a bunch of friends from different corners of the world.

My first Kniddel-sharing was in Aix-en-Provence; the city I studied in. As you may know, the local cuisine is rather light. My local friends shared loads of family recipes with me and invited me to their homes to try local food. One sunny day in spring, I decided to give some of it back and invite them to my place to share a piece of home with them. They really really liked them and are still talking about Kniddelen a few years later.

One and a half years ago, I turned back to Macedonia after having first discovered the country in summer 2011. My two local friends, Gorana and Darko made me try as many traditional dishes as possible during my several stays. Once again I decided to give something back and suggested that one night, I would prepare dinner; Kniddelen my favourite Luxembourgish dish. My friend's brother literally said that I am officially allowed to come back as I prepared a wonderful dinner. I guess these words speak for themselves.

Last but not least, during my stay in Serbia, I prepared Kniddelen as well. The first time was a co-production with another Luxembourgish volunteer for our international EVS friends. The second time was in the midst of summer, 42° and I wondered why not to prepare Kniddelen. I have to admit that with these temperatures savoring the hearty dumplings is a bit more difficult. Now I am back home but still returning regularly to Serbia and not later than on my last visit I gathered some friends around a glass of wine and prepared the dumplings again. 

Next to the Kniddel-adventures during student life, Kniddelen are also my all-time favourite comfort food. My grandmother used to prepare them quite often and I still remember the days when we went to hers to have family lunches or dinners. She used to cook a lot and very good and I wish I had been older when she was still fit to cook with her more often. But I think, part of my own passion for food was passed on from hers as well.

For 4 portions you need:
800g flour
4-5 eggs
450 ml milk
400g thinly sliced bacon

Pour all the flour into a large bowl at once and mound it like a volcano. Add the eggs into the hole and start beating. Add the milk little by little and keep mixing until you get a sticky dough.

In a large pot bring the water to the boil and add some salt. Now turn the temperature down to middle heat. With two table spoons, form little dumplings and throw them into the hot water. The Kniddelen are ready when floating on the surface. Depending on their size let them simmer for another 30 seconds if you think they're not yet ready.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alsatian Apple Pie

A bit more than three weeks ago I had a very challenging experience, notably to cook a whole menu for 29 people in one of my favourite bars here in Luxembourg.  This delicious Alsatian Apple Pie was what I chose as a dessert and it had a lot of success. Some of my friends who came to the cooking event told me that I am not allowed to show up at their places anymore without bringing this pie. Well... This should not be a problem. 

Over the last weeks I got several text messages and emails from friends asking if I could please share the recipe as soon as possible because they wanted to prepare the pie for their guests. Here it is, just go ahead and prepare the pie for your upcoming dinners. It is very moist inside and crunchy on the outside. The shortbread-like crust is sweet without being too sugary. 

This recipe is inspired from an old one I always baked with my granddad. I remember that sometimes when I stayed for the holidays we baked apple pies and cakes on weekend nights. The smell of caramelised apples is one of my favourite kitchen smells. I love these recipes that provoke the Proust-effect as I use to call it. 

All those different apple desserts are the main reason I like autumn. From beautiful Indian summer to the cold and rainy days it's always the wonderful apple desserts that make me like this season as well. I would say especially on Sunday afternoons, when I am not motivated to do much anyways, I choose to make a nice autumn dessert for my family. As for this pie, I can tell you, there's already nothing left. 

For a pie you need:

200g flour
140g sugar
120g butter
50g grated almonds
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla sugar
125ml cream
3-4 apples

Preheat the oven to 200°

First of all core the four apples, peel them and cut them in 4 parts. 

Whisk together the flour, 40g sugar, 100g butter and the one egg yolk. Add two tablespoons of cold water and mix until you get a typical shortcrust pastry. Roll out the dough and put it into a springform pan. 

Sprinkle the grated almonds on the dough, then put the apples on it. Cut carefully lengthwise into the apples. Melt the remaining 20g of butter and brush the apples with it. 

Put the springform pan into the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile beat the remaining 100g sugar, the vanilla sugar, the cream and three eggs together until you get an even cream. 

After the 35 minutes of baking take the pie out of the oven and pour the cream over the apples.

Bake for another 20 minutes.

Let the pie cool down for about an hour on a cooling tray.


Für eine Torte braucht man:

200g Mehl
140g Zucker
120g Butter
50g gemahlene Mandeln
4 Eier
2 tsp Vanillezucker
125ml Sahne
3-4 Äpfel

Ofen auf 200° vorheizen.

Äpfel schälen, in 4 Stücke schneiden und das Kerngehäuse entfernen.

Aus Mehl, 40g Zucker, Butter und Wasser einen ebenmäßigen Knetteig formen, ausrollen und in eine Springform geben.

Den Teigboden dann mit den gemahlenen Mandel bestreuen darauflegen. Dann die Äpfel vorsichtig längs einschneiden. Restliche Butter schmelzen und die Äpfel damit bestreichen. 

Die Springform in den Ofen geben und für 35 Minuten backen.

Währenddessen die 100g Zucker, den Vanillezucker, die Sahne und die restlichen 3 Eier schaumig schlagen bis eine ebene Creme entsteht. 

Nach 35 Minuten die Torte aus dem Ofen nehmen und die Torte mit der Creme übergießen und dann weitere 20 Minuten backen.

Die Torte auf einem Blech gut auskühlen lassen.



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