Wednesday, 31 October 2018

STICKY APPLE & PUMPKIN BUNDT CAKE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE RUM ICING


     Waking up today I only had one memory in mind. My first trip to France. The very first moment everything about my younger self changed. I was only 6 years old, when my parents took me and my brother to Paris to enjoy the city and have fun in the Disneyland park. Little did I know what this trip and the following ones that came would do to my priorities in life. I know everyone talks about quitting their corporate jobs and start travelling the world. I'm not going to say I encourage this, since I don't believe it's even close to reality. But I will say that one may keep their hard earned money to travel the word and let your mind make all the nice memories you will remember during the old times.
    Of course, I can't stop thinking about where to go next. There are so many places I haven't been to, especially outside of Europe and I want to visit them all (if I can). This Christmas, we will enjoy our time with some friends in Copenhagen, the happiest city in the world...or so they say. I can't wait to go there, back to the Scandinavian lands. Back in 2011 I lived in Stockholm for 3 months and I still remember how beautiful the city was and how magnificent the scenery appeared. I believe the same about Copenhagen and I can't wait for the time to come to explore it. Food wise I have some things on my mind I would like to eat and share with you on the blog. So be prepared!



     It's about time I shared with you a recipe I made last week. During fall and winter I tend to make a lot of different cake recipes and if there is one that I love is a classic bundt cake. This recipe, apart from delicious, it was also very exciting because I used two cake forms that I got from a special antique shop here in Zurich. Brockenhaus is a secret paradise if you love antique plates or furniture. On my last trip there I found some English porcelain, the two cake forms from porcelain and ceramic, two ceramic coffee cups and much more. These items probably came from someone who passed away or didn't need them anymore and I'm sure they have some great story to tell. Whatever it is, now it's part of my collection of items that I love!
     Apples and pumpkins are both in season right now, so making the best of these two ingredients should be your goal until the end of autumn. And who doesn't enjoy a slice of cake with their afternoon coffee or with their Sunday morning brunch? With simple ingredients and keeping up my mojo of using olive oil in my cake batters, this one experiment turned out to be so damn good!



     You can serve it without the icing of course, with just a dash of icing sugar or completely plain. That's how delicious it is and moist. But I do urge you to try this simple white chocolate and rum frosting on top. It will take your taste buds completely by surprise.

Apple & Pumpkin Bundt Cake with a White Chocolate & Rum Icing

ingredients

for the cake
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 medium sized apples chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the icing
100gr white chocolate
1/2 cup full fat milk
2 to 3 drops of rum essence
zest of one lemon

How do I make it?
1. Prepare your cake pan, preferably one for bundt cakes, by laying some butter at the bottom. In a bowl, whisk your eggs and olive oil well and then add the pumpkin puree. Whisk again until you have a nice mixture. Pour inside the vanilla, mix one more time and leave aside. 
2. Get a bigger bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer and pour inside the flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir well all the ingredients and start adding in small doses the liquid mixture. Mix well until everything is smooth. 3. Stop the mixer, if you're using an electric mixer to mix and add inside the apples and raisins. Start stirring with a wooden spatula. Turn your oven to 180C and while you wait, pour the cake batter into the prepared cake form. Bake your cake for 45 to 50 minutes. You will need to check by using a toothpick. If the toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, then your cake is ready.
4. Take your cake out of the oven and let it cool off completely. When you want to make the icing, simply put the chocolate and milk in a bowl and use a microwave to heat up the chocolate. You will get a sort of watery mixture, but don't be scared, we don't want a very thick icing. Add inside the drops of rum and lemon zest and mix well. While the icing is still hot, pour it on top of the cake.





Monday, 15 October 2018

PUMPKIN AND DARK CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE

     The first thing that comes to mind when I think about growing up is that I get to have friends that teach me new experiences every day and become a valuable part of my life. Those friends are far more different than the friends I had a decade ago in the sense that now I can see a deeper and more meaningful connection to those individuals I chose to call friends. So, it is not a surprise that yesterday was spent again with lots of friends in top of the Swiss mountains. We hiked for about 3 hours and then enjoyed a very Swiss meal. What a wonderful and full Sunday we had!
    Of course, my mind today was still on yesterday's adventures and memories. But also, I wanted to come home from work so that I can start writing a delicious recipe I created on Saturday. It's been a long time since I baked a loaf cake that can be enjoyed with a warm cup of coffee. I guess there is no better time than autumn to start getting back onto baking treats to be enjoyed with the cold weather. This period there is a pumpkin overload everywhere and recipes with this tasty vegetable must have probably overcrowded your feed. I suggest you add this recipe to your list of things to bake and eat this autumn, cause I promise you will love this cake recipe.




     Overall I find cakes to be interesting when they combine taste with appearance as well. A marble cake is always something that fascinates the eye and gives you a combination of different flavours. Chocolate pairs well with almost everything (even salty food) and I knew that it would be a good match with a pumpkin cake. Once again for this recipe, I used olive oil instead of butter and it's actually the tip I give to everyone when they ask me how to make their cakes soft and last longer. Use olive oil! It's a miracle maker with guarantee. 
     This cake recipe is quite simple depending how much of the ingredients you already have in hand. For some of you perhaps in USA, UK or Australia, you might have pumpkin puree ready in cans. The rest of us have to make the extra effort to actually bake the pumpkin and then puree the flesh. But I advise you not to be disheartened by this. Fresh pumpkin puree will give incredible flavour to your cake and if you have leftover puree you can always make some pumpkin soup.




Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate Marble Cake

ingredients (for 1 medium loaf pan)

1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
85gr dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
icing sugar for decorating

How do I make it?

1. Prepare a loaf pan with baking sheet or coat with butter and flour. Put in large bowl and mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda. If you have powdered vanilla extract mix that in. Otherwise, leave it for the liquid ingredients in the next step.
2. In another bowl, mix together the eggs and the sugar until the eggs have a fluffy and airy texture (for about a 30 seconds). Then, add the olive oil and milk (add the vanilla if you didn't add it in the previous step) and whisk again. Finally, fold inside the pumpkin puree. 
3. Gradually add the flour mixture into your liquid mixture and mix very well so that you don't have any lumps left. Divide the mixture into half by pouring half of the cake batter in a clean bowl and set aside. 
4. Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave and then pour it inside one of the bowls from the previous step. Add inside the cacao powder and mix again. 
5. Take your pan and pour one layer of pumpkin batter. Then on top add a layer of chocolate. Repeat the pumpkin and chocolate layers until you have no more batter left. Use a knife and make swirling motions in the batter. Bake the cake at 180C for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.



Saturday, 6 October 2018

SKILLET APPLIE PIE WITH HAZELNUT BUTTERY DOUGH (PATE BRISE)


   The last three months of the year might be somewhat intimidating (if you haven't been good with your year's resolution) or a chance to push hard until the end of the year in order to achieve more things in the new year. I am the person who likes to look at life with a positive vibe and try to learn for experiences, people and obstacles that come across. If this year has taught me anything is to be open to new opportunities, communicate with people in a deeper level and accept individuals for who they are.
    Last Sunday we went on an amazing hiking that challenged us physically, but rewarded us with the best view and food afterwards. We truly cherished those moments with special friends and incredible Swiss food. I always find that if your weekends include friends and experiences, then your working week that follows will be much more enjoyable and less of a struggle. And let's not forget, prepare something yummy for the week. Whenever I cook or bake something in the weekends, I take my time to choose the recipe, the ingredients and the time to savour it. During the week we rush to get to our work or responsibilities and don't always get the time to appreciate food as it deserves. Well, last weekend we really appreciated it.



     Apples are a regular staple in our house during fall and winter. I love to crunch on every kind and variety of apples, from shiny red to almost sour green ones. There is not a single kind of apple I won't eat or try to use in recipes. An apple pie sets the mood and lets us know it's autumn season. It's a dessert pie loved by almost everyone, but it's also found in different shapes and styles. The French like to do an open apple tart, while the Americans like to cover the top of their apple pie with more dough and use a much bigger filling compared to a tart. There are also apple pies made like cakes, which in my opinion aren't considered a pie, because they fit more into apple cake.
     Any way you prefer to bake it or eat is delicious. However, there is something intriguing and exciting about the skillet pie. The skillet pan is such a wonderful equipment to own and if you don't already have it in your kitchen I suggest you go get one. It gives all of the recipes a richness you won't be able to get with other pans. And it gets better with age! How much better can you get than this? It feels more like an investment for your future self and all the cooking or baking you will do with it.




     For this recipe, I made the pie dough from scratch. It's like the normal pâte brisée you would normally do, but I added some ground hazelnut inside to make it more nutty and surprising. When my boyfriend had a taste of the pie he was taken aback with the hazelnut taste that the pie left in his taste buds. It takes some extra time and dedication to make it, but be sure that it will make your pie extraordinary. However, if you don't have the time to make it from scratch you can always buy premade dough from a grocery store and it will work just as well. Ideally you can make the dough the night before, because it needs some time in the fridge and then the whole process won't take your whole day.

Skillet Apple Pie with Hazelnut Pâte Brisée

ingredients (for a medium skillet)

for the hazelnut dough

200gr flour
50gr  ground hazelnuts
125gr butter cold and cut into cubes
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

for the pie 

110gr butter
50gr brown sugar + extra 50gr
4-5 medium sized apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

extra: caramel sauce or dulce de leche

How do I make it?

the dough
1. In a bowl mix together the flour, ground hazelnuts, salt and sugar with a spoon. Then add the cold butter. Put on gloves or wash your hands before continuing. Then, using your hands try to mix together the cold butter with the flour mixture by pinching the flour with the butter or rubbing the flour with the butter together. The goal is to slightly melt and incorporate the butter with the flour until you get a very course  (rough) texture of flour. 
2. When there are no more butter pieces left in your flour it's time to put it all together with the water. Add three tablespoons of cold water and start mixing with your hands. Once the water is absorbed add another tablespoon and see how your dough feels like. It should be a little moist but not sticky. If it's still dry, add another tablespoon. Remember to not put all the tablespoons in the beginning and then try to save it in the end. You will end up being frustrated. 
3. Form a ball of your dough and wrap it in plastic wrapping and put it in the fridge for at least one hour or better overnight. When you are ready to make your pie, take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before using it.

for the pie

1. Cut and core all your apples into vertical pieces and put them in a big bowl. Mix inside the lemon juice and make sure all the apples are coated with the juice. Then, pour inside 50gr brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove and mix again. Leave on the side.
2. Take your dough in a clean and floured surface and cut it in two pieces. Roll out each piece, trying to keep it in a round shape. The dough is quite gentle, so don't put a lot of pressure when you're rolling it out. You just need it to take a rounder shape. Leave them on the side until we use them.
3. Preheat your oven to 170 C. Then, take your skillet and put it on medium heat. Melt inside the butter and the other 50gr of brown sugar, just until they all melt together. Leave the mixture to cool a bit for 5 minutes and then carefully place the bottom rolled dough piece on the skillet. Try to make it stick to the sides of the skillet, but again don't apply too much pressure on it and allow it to take the shape of the pan. 
4. Pour inside the apple pieces and spread them evenly around the pan. If you're using a caramel or other sauce, then spread it on top of the apples as well. Cover the top of the pie with the top dough. I cut it into thin lines of dough and created the typical lattice striped decoration. I could tell you or show you photos of how I did it, but I feel that videos are always better. If you would like to do this decoration to your cake, here is a video that shows perfectly how to do it.
5. Once you are done with the top of your pie, put the skillet in the oven and bake the pie for about 1h and 25 minutes or until caramel bubbles start coming out of the pie or the dough is getting golden brown.
6. Let the pie cool for 10 minutes and then serve while it's still hot. You can enjoy as it is or put some skyr on top (like I did). I also put some pumpkin jam we made on top and it was so delicious together!



Sunday, 23 September 2018

ZUCCHINI AND WHIPPED FETA TART


     That time of the year is here again. When the weather gets colder and during the weekends all you want to do is stay in bed or cozy up to some hot chocolate and your Netflix subscription. I'm talking about Fall, obviously, and while it's not cold everywhere right now, it sure starts becoming colder here in Zurich. Some people don't like giving up the warmer temperatures of summer for the moody and cloudy mornings of autumn. Personally and as a food photographer, I really like cloudy days for photo sessions and then sunny days when I'm not photoshooting. But also I love all the amazing recipes that we get to do during autumn or winter, like stews, soups, pies and tons of desserts.
     Talking about autumn recipes, today we're going to a pumpkin festival, where more than 150 types of pumpkins will be there for us to choose. I'm so excited about it and can't wait to be surrounded by amazing and fresh pumpkins. Pumpkin is such a versatile vegetable that can be incorporated in both savoury and sweet recipes. My all time favourite dish with pumpkin has to be a pumpkin and coconut milk soup. I could eat it all autumn and winter long with some freshly baked bread.



     Yesterday was a very fun, relaxing and creative day. I managed to do a lot of things and prepare a savoury recipe for the blog. The inspiration came while I was in the grocery store, looking at what vegetables and fruit I could buy for the week. While I was searching for some eggplants to make our traditional dish (mousaka), I saw some zucchini standing next to them and it was at that moment that the idea for a simple and flavourful tart came. I had some feta cheese at home, waiting to be loved and this idea for a recipe was perfect.
     The recipe is very simple, you only need fresh ingredients and some love for your zucchini. I tried to take some photos showing you how I prepared the dough, because I find that photos are sometimes better than words. If you want of course, you can make your own dough. I used a store bought one that I find is not too buttery, because I find if it contains too much butter it's not so good for my digestion later. So, without further chatting (or typing) let's move on to the recipe.

Zucchini and Whipped Feta Tart

ingredients (for 4 to 6 servings)

1 store bought dough (1 sheet)
1 large zucchini
100gr feta cheese
100gr full fat greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove
fresh parsley (chopped)
pepper
sweet paprika (optional)

How do I make it?

1. Take out your dough and lay it on a clean surface. Using a roller, try to roll it out a bit, but not too much as you want it to be thick in order to be able to hold the whipped feta and the zucchini. Turn your oven to 160C and carefully place the dough on a pan with baking paper.
2. Using a knife, try to shape a rectangular on the dough leaving about 5cm of space from the sides. Then, take a fork and start   making fork shapes on the dough with light pressure (pictured below). You do that so when the dough is baked you let the air come through and your dough doesn't puff. Bake the dough for 5 minutes and then let it cool a little bit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (I didn't prebake my dough as I forgot about it, but I advise you to bake it on its own before adding the ingredients on top).


3. Cut the zucchini in thin slices. Then, use a food processor to mix together the feta cheese, greek yoghurt and garlic glove. Pulse the processor well until you get a creamy texture, but there are a few pieces of feta cheese inside. Mix inside some pepper and sweet paprika if you want to. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add some freshly chopped parley and stir with a spoon.
4. When your dough is cooled, start adding some of the whipped feta on top, staying inside the rectangular shape you created in step 2. Cover the whole rectangular area and then start placing the zucchini. For lack of words, I provide you a photo on how to place the zucchini (but to be honest, it doesn't matter, we do it like these for appearance reasons).



5. Before putting the tart in the oven for the final baking, try folding the sides of the dough as pictured below. 

Bake the tart for 20 to 25 minutes on 160C until the dough turns golden brown. Take out of the oven and let it cool slightly for 10 minutes. 



Sunday, 16 September 2018

COFFEE CHEESECAKE WITH RUM CHOCOLATE GANACHE


     Happiness doubles when is shared with loved ones. That's how I felt yesterday, when I got to celebrate the wedding of some very dear friends of ours. Everything was simple, magical and so effortless. From the ceremony to the reception you could tell these two persons really loved each other. And their happiness vibrated throughout the room. It made me so happy for them and I felt such an honour when a few months ago I was asked to make their wedding cake. The cake was a big success, which made me proud, but also relieved that it completed the whole event.
     So, after a busy and joyful day yesterday, right now I'm sitting on my couch, drinking warm coffee and enjoying some light jazz. Well, I'm also writing this blog post. I wanted to share this recipe with you a little earlier in the week, but unfortunately life matters got in the way of things and I didn't make it on time. But, here it is now, online for you to try it out. And trust me, you need to try this recipe for sure!




     Cheesecakes are on the top of my list of favourite desserts that take a little effort for big, big results. Of course, I'm a fan of the baked, traditional New York cheesecake, that each bite leaves you with a creaminess in the beginning and then the crunchy taste of the cookie base. What is there not to love about a good cheesecake? The next best thing to it might be to make a cup of cappuccino and drink it while you eat a piece of this cheesecake.
     The chocolate rum ganache on top really elevates your taste buds even more. I'm all up for fruit jams or caramel sauce on top of cheesecake, but I'm an eternal lover of dark chocolate, so of course a little chocolate ganache on my cheesecake makes my tummy happy. It will make yours too. Combined with the coffee cream in the middle it will make a great success and everyone who will try it will ask you for the recipe! Just guide them here I guess...



Coffee Cheesecake with Rum Chocolate Ganache

ingredients

for the crust
100gr butter
75gr petite beurres + 75gr petites galettes Bretonnes (150gr petites beurres is also fine if you don't find the galettes bretonnes)
50gr ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon espresso powder
pinch of salt

for the creamy middle
500gr cream cheese (Philadelphia style)
250gr white sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
230gr heavy cream or crème fraîche
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 tablespoon Baileys or other coffee liquer

for the chocolate ganache
150gr dark chocolate (at least 70%)
150gr heavy cream or crème fraîche
a few drops of rum essence
1 teaspoon honey

How do I make it?

1. Place a baking paper at the bottom of a round pan with detachable sides. On the sides, carefully cover the surface with aluminium foil and press it on the sides so it fits well. Crush well the petites beurres and galettes Bretonnes in a food processor until you get a nice ground and place them in a bowl. Melt the butter and mix it in with the grounded cookies. Pour the mixture into the pan you've prepared, pressing it lightly with a spatula so you get a nice, almost smooth surface. Bake the base for 7 minutes on 180C. After it's baked take it out of the oven and let it cool, until you make the cream. Decrease the temperature of the oven to 120C.
2. In a bowl of a standing electric mixer or a large bowl if you're using a hand mixer, place the cream cheese and beat it in medium speed until it's really creamy, for about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides, add the sugar and keep beating for another 3 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk into the mix one at a time and making sure you mix everything well before each addition. Then, add the vanilla, espresso powder and liquer and beat a little more until everything is mixed.
3. Add the heavy cream gradually and increase the speed of the mixed once all the heavy cream is added. Beat well for about 4 to 5 minutes, until you get a really smooth texture. Pour the creamy mixture on top of the base you baked and cooled. 
4. Time of the baking! Make sure the temperature is 120C and baked the cheesecake for at least 2 hours. Depending on your oven, you might need half an hour to 45 minutes more of baking. The end result should be a cheesecake with firm sides and top, but with a jiggly center when you slightly shake the pan. 
5. When it's baked, let it cool in room temperature first and then place it on the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight ideally. 
6. The chocolate ganache should be made and poured on top after the cheesecake have been in the fridge to sit well. In a bowl place the chocolate in small pieces. Warm the heavy cream in a small pan until it starts bubbling and then pour it immediately in the bowl with the chocolate. Take a wooden spatula and start mixing to melt the chocolate. It should turn into a velvety and creamy melted chocolate. Add a few drops of rum (2 to 3) and the honey and mix again very well. Let the ganache cool down completely in room temperature. 
7. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge and carefully try to detach the sides with the foil. Using a large spatula try to lift the cheesecake from the bottom and place it on a large plate. Pour on top the chocolate ganache and place the cheesecake in the fridge again for another hour or so. When you want to serve, use a sharp knife to cut until the crust. Enjoy with an espresso or cappuccino or on its own!