Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Kniddelen - Luxembourgish Creamy Mint and Pea Dumplings

Today I finally shot my summer Kniddel recipe. I've been planning this blog post for quite a while but never really took the time to cook it. Some of you may think that Kniddelen are only to enjoy during the cold months, but let me prove you wrong. I mean, many people eat pasta in summer and ice cream in winter. Why shouldn't we enjoy this delicious creamy mint and pea Kniddelen in summer then? Moreover, as hot summer days are pretty rare in Luxembourg anyways, the calendar season shouldn't keep you from cooking some doughy love. 

This recipe was inspired by a dinner I had a friend's last summer. After a long day at the beach volleyball court, he prepared us pasta with this hearty mint and pea sauce. After the first bite I thought, wow! this sauce would perfectly match with our traditional Kniddel recipe. Adding mint and peas to your dishes directly gives them a summery note. 

There exist many alternatives to the traditional Kniddel recipe, notably one with heavy cream and cheese. Developing this recipe I started from last summer's memories but obviously without measurements and proportions. It is a very flexible recipe so depending whether you prefer a strong mint note or not, you can easily change the proportions. 

For 4 servings you need: 
800g flour
5 eggs
450 ml milk
200g thinly slided bacon
200g peas
30g Parmesan 
250ml heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh mint

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

In a large pot bring water to the boil. Add some salt, then turn the temperature down to middle heat. With two tablespoons, 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.

To prepare the sauce, heat butter in a frying pan. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy. Chop the fresh mint leaves and add them to the bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the heavy cream and the egg yolk of the remaining egg. Add the liquid to the fried bacon and stir for a minute. Now throw in the peas and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Finally add the Parmesan and stir again for 30 seconds. 

Pour the sauce over the Kniddelen, stir until they are well coated. Now you can serve them.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cashew Coconut Amaranth Bars

Homemade snacks are always the best snacks. These cashew coconut amaranth bars are definitely a good choice to satisfy your sweet tooth. Over the last months, I was doing a lot of research to find ingredients that are healthy and boost you with loads of energy. One name that I came across over and over again was amaranth. Whether puffed or not, it was very often part of an energizing snack. I've never heard about amaranth before but I found out that the seeds are a good source of protein. Moreover, in comparison to many other grains, amaranth is rich in the essential amino acid lysine. Assuming that you had a varied healthy breakfast, packed among others with seeds, the amaranth portion is perfectly complementary. 

Last week, I was at a local market in Luxembourg City where I stumbled upon a young lady selling nut butters. As I love nuts, I immediately bought an almond butter and a cashew butter. The latter was mixed with coconut and it was really tasty. Well, when I tried my amaranth bars, I was determined to add a little grated coconut to the mixture in other to give my recipe a little extra.  I have never tried the coconut cashew combo before, but I must admit that by now I am a huge fan. It is somehow an exotic voyage, taking place in your plate. And while savoring this flavorful bar, every bite becomes a flavorful journey. In addition, what I also love about the recipe is that all the ingredients have their very own intense flavors so there is absolutely no need to add any sugar.

For around xx bars you need:

70g puffed amaranth
1 large ripe banana
175g cashew butter
3 tbsp grated coconut
4 tbsp maple syrup 
1 tbsp sunflower oil

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cashew butter, maple syrup and sunflower oil for three minutes until they form a runny liquid. Then pour the maple-nut butter mix to a blender and add the banana. Blend until you obtain a smooth and even paste. 

Place the puffed amaranth into a middle-sized bowl and pour the banana-nut butter mix over it. Now stir well until the amaranth is well-covered and sticky. 

In order to be able to easily remove the mixture afterwards, place cling film over a baking dish. Transfer the amaranth mix into the dish, spread with a spatula until the whole dish is covered. Now place it to the freezer for around 90 minutes. 

When taking it out, cut it into bars. If you don't want to serve them immediately, store them in the fridge.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Mini Pesto Muffins with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Summer is approaching and as every year, one should not neglect the preparations for a successful BBQ or picnic season. The days are getting longer and the nights shorter; in other words perfect conditions to spend endless evenings on the terrace with a good glass of wine. This is why I thought it was about time I share with you my lovely mini muffins. Their size is perfect for appetizers or little buffets. 
I love hearty cakes because in small bites you can experience wonderful savory combinations. When choosing the recipe for picnics I always prefer to bake them in my mini loaves or normal muffins molds. When opting for the picnic variation, I can only recommend having them with colorful salads.

When it comes to savory cakes one always has to be very careful. A lot of recipes are too dry or overloaded with too many ingredients. From experience I can say that there should never be more than three specific flavors in one savory cake in order to keep it simple yet rich in taste. This recipe is very moist, no matter what size you opt for. The only thing changing is the baking time, but no matter what the consistence of the cake remains the same. 
A good thing to know is definitely also that you can bake the cakes in advance and freeze them. If you are throwing larger parties and you don't have enough time to prepare all dishes the same day this is clearly a great option. The quality of the cake does not really change. Once defrosted, you should bake it for about two thirds of the initial baking time. 

For around 50 mini muffins you need:

160g flour
2 tsp baking powder
150ml milk
100 ml olive oil
3 eggs
110g parmesan 
120g pesto
110g sun-dried tomatoes
60g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 180°

Pour the flour into a large bowl and mound it like a volcano. Add the baking powder and the eggs and start beating. While beating continuously add the milk and oil, then the rest of the ingredients. 

Pour the dough into the little muffin molds and bake for 12 minutes.

Optional: If you choose to use usual muffin molds the baking time takes 15 minutes. When opting for a large loaf, double the time and bake for 30 minutes.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unfortunately there are days where you just don't have enough time to prepare a balanced and nutritious breakfast. I investigated a lot on what I can do to save time in the mornings without neglecting any component of a decent meal. When browsing through the recipes, I realized that over the last months I didn't eat enough fruits at all. This is something I really want, but also really need to change in the future. Having an office job where you are glued to your chair at least 10 hours a day, needs a lot of counterbalance to still live a healthy lifestyle. I am aware that this is something I need to really work on for the future because otherwise it will have serious consequences on my health.

Over the last month, I took the time to try out many combinations and find out what ingredients suit me best and keep me full during the whole morning.  I have become a huge fan of smoothie bowls because next to their extremely nice taste the berries have a lot of well-known health benefits, notably to help increase your antioxidant levels to aid in neutralizing damaging free radicals and to support the immune system. In other words, the creaminess of the berry-banana mix topped with nuts and super foods provides you with the vitamins you need and boosts you with loads of energy. I think of all the smoothies I tried, this is my very favorite. And to be honest, most of ingredients are in our fridge anyways. There is no need to buy tons of rare foods with complicated names and very exotic backgrounds. 

For one bowl you need:

2 bananas
100g blueberries
100g raspberries
1 tbsp blackberries
1 tbsp goji berries
1 tbsp almonds
1 tsp grated coconut flakes

Place 1 1/2 bananas with the blueberries and raspberries into a blender or food processor and mix until you get a thick smoothie. Pour into a bowl. Top the smoothie with 1/2 of a banana, blackberries, goji berries and almonds. Sprinkle with the grated coconut flakes.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Avocado Lime Toast topped with fried Egg

A lovely stay in London has inspired this blog post. End of November I flew over to visit one of my London-based friends. On Saturday around lunchtime we went to the Broadway market. As you may have read previously on this blog; I love food markets. It's my favorite place in every city. Every food market has its own atmosphere. Artisans sell their best products, which they put all their love and lifeblood in. Curious customers are strolling in the streets, most of them far from being stressed. And they are ready to enjoy what the stands have to offer. The smell of different foods, ranging from spices  through delicatessen to fruits, is just amazing. On our way through Broadway Market we stopped at a super nice play to have brunch. My friend opted for a savory dish, notably an avocado toast topped with a fried egg. I don't remember all the ingredients of her dish, but what stayed in my mind was the avocado and fried egg combination. So let me share with you my version of this.

If there is one kind of carbs I really cannot do without, it is bread. I love bread. For breakfast, lunch or dinner; never mind. I also love sandwiches. Not the boring kind of sandwiches that you can buy in supermarkets or the canteen of your company. But those that are packed with multiple flavors. I found the avocado lime combination topped with a fried egg really interesting. This is also the reason why I want to share it with you. I mean, you only need four ingredients and get a really tasty toast without big effort. In addition, the ingredients are super healthy. Most of the times, people who try to eat clean, are very reluctant to sandwiches. However, the body needs a certain amount of carbs, and why not top them with health foods to have a complete healthy yet comforting meal.  

For two toasts you'll need:

2 slices of sourdough bread
2 avocados
juice of one lime
2 eggs

Toast the two slices of bread. Core the avocados then peel them. Dice the vegetables then add put them in a bowl. Add the limejuice, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until the avocados are coated well coated. Spread the avocado lime mix on the toast. Fry the egg and lay it gently on the toast. Cut the chives and sprinkle the fried egg with them.



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