Sunday, November 16, 2014

Camembert Crostini with Pistachios and Mixed Berries

Cheese and wine - a good old treat one can have either on a lazy weekend night in front of a great movie, or for a dinner party with a bunch of friends. Either way, the Camembert is not to be omitted. This creamy and flavourful cheese is one of my favourites and combinable with plenty of different fruits. Whether you choose berries, figs or caramelised onions, the sweet and salty combination will always turn out as a great success. 

Last week, I had a first try on this recipe and I must say it convinced me at the very first bite. The nutty and fruity notes on Camembert take you to a roller coaster of tastes, which I personally find terribly exciting and I strongly consider having them as aperitivo bites for my next dinner party. I opted for natural pistachios, and not the salted ones to keep their original flavour. 

I am a big fan of crostini because you never need much to prepare them. The secret of a good crostini is well-thought-out combination of flavours. It is low budget and will nevertheless please a large crowd. All you need for these little wonders is good quality Camembert cheese, a jar of red berry jam, some pistachios and a baguette. I really insist on the good quality of the cheese, because the outcome will only be as good as the quality of your ingredients. 

Moreover, it does not take much time to prepare them, which is also a great bonus when you don't have much time for a large weeknight dinner. They fill you up and please with great taste. I would have them again tonight if I hadn't made plans already.

For around 15 crostini you need:

1 Camembert
1 baguette
1 jar of mixed berry jam 
50g pistachios

Preheat the oven to 200°

Cut the baguette into small slices; place them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until crisp and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes. 

Cut the Camembert into small slices and place on the baguette slices. Add a teaspoon of jam and sprinkle with crushed pistachios. They are now ready to be served.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Apple Walnut Teacakes

Yes I know, I have left you here for two months without posting a single recipe. I traveled a lot and took an artistic break to figure out what should come next on this blog and how I could take it further. On one hand, traveling to northern Africa allowed me to discover new recipes, new herbs and spices and a new cooking culture. On the other hand having that break also enabled me to figure out what other subjects apart from the monthly recipes I could share with you. So now I am back, with plenty of new ideas and full of motivation. If only the sun shined a little longer these days I could even share more of my collected recipes. 

Fall offers so many great flavors, so as to I will do my best to stick with the season and share with you my best recipes. Today we are going to start with the apples, because they are my favourite fall fruit. You can do so much with them and it's hard to disappoint those you cook or bake for. When I talk to my international friends about recipes and food, I always realize how much one actually can vary with a single ingredient. All over the world people bake with apples, but everyone adds their little note. And sometimes you even realize that people living hundreds or thousands kilometers away pass on recipes from one generation to the next that are just so similar to ours. 

Along with the flavours go the colours. This time of the year nature conjures the Indian summer transforming the usual greens into lovely reds and oranges. You can do the same in your kitchen. Leave the greens of summer behind and go for the season's greatest colors. And that is why in the upcoming weeks you will see more apples, plums and pumpkins. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Along with this cake come loads of childhood memories. Originally it was my grandfather who always baked apple cakes in fall. I had to search all of my grandparents' cupboards in order to find it back. 'He who seeks shall find', they say, and yes this is how it went. In my eyes this recipe should not be hidden in any cupboard but shared with the world of food lovers. It's such a moist yet crunchy cake. The nuts add this additional crunchiness to the very soft inside of the cake. As you may have understood from the beginning, I am in love with this cake.

Apart from the lovely memories, what makes this cake so special is its moistness and crunchiness at the same time. Dry on the outside, moist inside these little teacakes are soft and crunchy at the same time. Moreover the sweetness of the apples will add another contrast to the nuts. 

For 10 Teacakes you need:

125g butter
200g flour
80 ml honey
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2tsp cinnamon
100g walnuts
3 large apples

Preheat the oven to 180°

Peel the apples and cut them into small cubes.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat than add the honey and mix. Pour the liquid into a large bowl. Add the baking powder, the cinnamon and the flour. Mix until you get a fluffy batter while adding the eggs. Add the walnuts and the apples. 

Now pour the dough into the mini cake molds and bake for 20-25 minutes. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eggplant Rolls with Chili Avocado Filling

These little eggplant rolls have become my new favourite summer dish. 
They are incredibly light, refreshing and full of taste. Eggplant rolls, with or without the juicy tomato salsa, will definitely make your summer dinners an incredible feast. Whether you roast the eggplant slices in the oven or on the grill, serve them as appetizers or sides, I guarantee you, your guests will be delighted. Moreover, if you have vegetarians at home, or chose to have meatless days, these eggplant rolls will enable you to change from the ordinary ratatouille or vegetarian pasta. I love it because the flavors remind me of the Mediterranean. Fresh olive oil, dried tomatoes, roasted eggplants; make only a few yet tasty ingredients of the South. 

Over summer I have decided to put again more effort into cooking vegetarian dishes. To pay more attention to diverse flavours to vary just a little bit more. When I was living in the South of France I went with the seasons, as I generally did all the food shopping on the market next door. Back up north, things have changed again, which I regret a little. When I started cooking, I was not so much of a meat fan. Accordingly, I spent more experimenting in order to avoid eating the same thing over and over again.
Over the years, I have become a meat lover. I'm not the typical carnivore, but still, I do love meat now. And it seems that I pay more attention to the preparation of the meat, than to the choice of the sides. Willing to change this little yet important detail, I investigated on interesting recipes and just adapted or developed my own little combos. 

For around 8-10 rolls you need:

2 large eggplants
1 orange pepper
2 red chili peppers
3 avocados
4-5 tbsp olive oil
150g cherry tomatoes
50g dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 lemon
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin slices. Rub in olive oil on both sides and season with salt. 
Cover your baking tray with baking sheets and place the eggplant slices on it. Bake for 10 minutes until the eggplant slices are golden brown. Remove them from heat and set aside to cool slightly. 

Cut the avocados in half and scoop out the flesh into a blender with a spoon. Core the chili peppers and orange peppers, then dice. Squeeze the lemon until you obtain 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and the diced red peppers to the avocados. Add the zest of half a lemon and start mixing until you get an even mixture. Season with salt and paper. Pour the avocado chili mix into a bowl and add the peppers. Mix with a spoon.

Blend the fresh and dried tomatoes as well as the garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper.


To prepare your rolls, place them with the widest side of the eggplant slices facing you. Distribute evenly the avocado chili mixture onto each slice. Roll each piece starting from the widest end and please it on a plate, preferably seamed side down.

To arrange the place, pour the tomato salsa on the plate and add the eggplant rolls.


Monday, July 21, 2014

White Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes

You know that moment when you are looking for a really nice recipe to celebrate friendship? I was experimenting a bit these days and those little cupcakes are the fruit of my efforts. There is no such pleasure than welcoming friends with freshly baked cake. However, practically speaking, little cupcakes leave way more choice when to devour them. Whether it be with a great coffee at home, or on the go as a little companion during the country visit.

It is definitely no secret that white chocolate and berries make a lovely combo. To keep it seasonal, I opted for blueberries. Markets are full of blueberries, which launch a wave of recipe ideas in my head every time I do food shopping. 'Yet another blueberry recipe' I imagine some of you think. Well, that's part of the challenge, to take old recipes and give them a relook, or rather a retaste. 

I really cannot complain. I had them tasted by the German fan-block at the World Cup finals; I spoilt some of my colleagues as well. They have all agreed that they are delicious. Mission accomplished I would say… and the journey to blueberry heaven can continue. 

For 18 cupcakes you need:

125g plain yogurt
240g flour
180g sugar
4 medium eggs
120g butter
50g white chocolate
200g blueberries
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 165°

In a large bowl whisk together the ingredients in the following order: yogurt, flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar and butter. Mix until you obtain fluffy dough. 
Chop the chocolate, and then add it to the dough as well as the blueberries.  

Place the paper cups into the cupcake molds. Pour the dough into the molds and bake for 25 minutes.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Apple Hazelnut Cupcakes

Over the last months I stated a lot of negativity towards cupcakes among my friends and other food bloggers. The reason: they are too sweet, overloaded with many different flavours at once and too many artificial ingredients such as food coloring and glitter. I cannot blame them to have that opinion because when you look all over the internet or go to cupcake shops around Europe; it's all there is. Shiny little cakes with multiple layers of all you can imagine.

Is this really what the cupcake is all about? NO! A cupcake actually is the cup-sized version of a cake. The quantity of a whole cake's dough, divided into little bites. To give the little cake a little extra, toppings are added. Whether in the shape of little flowers or spirals, it does not matter at all. Over the last few years though, cupcakes have become what has just been described in the paragraph above. I honestly have the feeling that bakers try to outdo one another without realising that what really is to the cupcake is being completely lost. As a consequence, cupcakes have become little accessories whose taste no one really cares about anymore.

Thankfully we are numerous thinking the same way. Today's little cupcakes are my newest creation. I love the combo apple-cinnamon but it somehow always remains the same flavour whether you put them into cookies, pies, or cakes. To add a little something, I added hazelnuts. I do not exactly remember how the idea came to my mind, but I guess it was because I wanted to prepare apple cinnamon cupcakes on one hand and on the other hand I really wanted something nutty and fruity. Am I now being contradictory to the two previous paragraphs? Wanting too much and then putting it all into one cake? Am I hereby forcing too much out of these little treasures? Again, NO! The flavours are all natural and you will taste a smooth transition between all of them. 

For around 12 cupcakes you need:

120g butter
120g sugar
120g flour
125g applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
50g crushed hazelnuts
80 raisins
1 apple

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, flour and the eggs until you get a smooth cake batter. Now add the applesauce, cinnamon, the hazelnuts as well as the raisins. 

Pour the dough into the cupcake molds. Cut the apple into small slices and place them on top of each cupcake. 

Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes.



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