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cherry-cake

Tray-baked Cherry Cake

In my opinion, cherries are the epitome of summer. In spring, cherry trees – and fruit trees in general – play a major role with their blossoms, and in summer everybody loves their fruit. I still remember when my parents and I spent our holidays in Tuscany when I was a kid. We rented a small apartment on a farm for a couple of days, and even though my memories are not that comprehensive anymore because of my young age, I still remember the cherry harvest that took place at that time.
Huge fruit meadows with cherry trees, the crowns full with dark, juicy fruits. Sights like these stuck in my head and cause an emerging of the summer feelings, even if it has been a long time since then.

cherry-cake

Cherries are versatile deployable fruits. They are great used in cakes and desserts, it is possible to preserve them, and combined with duck breast, for example, they make a perfect sweet component in savory dishes.

Today’s recipe is an easy tray-baked cherry cake. I made it this weekend because of a friend’s birthday. Tray-baked cakes are just perfect for this kind of occasion as they provide a cake for a lot of people. I like cakes best when they are prepared in a classic way, without any frills. Just like you know cakes from your grandmother. And this cherry cake is exactly like that, it concentrates on the essentials, but without being boring. Just try it out!

cherry-cake

Tray-baked Cherry Cake
Source: www.gutekueche.at
Yield: 1 baking tray

Ingredients
250 g butter (room temperature)
6 eggs
700 g tinned sour cherries
300 g flour
1 package of vanilla sugar
2 tsp baking powder
130 g sugar
100 ml milk
1 dash of rum

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Give the tinned cherries into a sieve drain them.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Divide the eggs into egg yolks and egg whites.
Beat the egg whites into a stiff and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, butter, sugar vanilla sugar, and rum and whisk until foamy. Add the flour and milk little by little.
Stir in the stiff egg whites, then spread the dough evenly on the baking tray.
Distribute the cherries evenly on the dough.
Bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

cherry-cake

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bulgur-salad

Bulgur Salad with Bell Paprika

A friend of mine organized a barbecue party this weekend, and I wanted to bring a salad that I have never made yet: a salad with bulgur. I very often read about bulgur in the past and was always a bit curious about its taste, but somehow I have never tried it yet. Luckily, I could change that this weekend.

bulgur-salad

The bulgur salad was a welcome change at the buffet and didn’t have to hide.
The tomato paste, combined with grape molasses and lemon juice, gives the salad a very special sweet-sour aroma. I restricted myself to onions, spring onions, and bell pepper, but of course, you can try other vegetables, too.

bulgur-salad

Bulgur Salad with Bell Paprika
Source: own creation
Yield: 1 salad bowl

Ingredients
500 g bulgur
2 bell pepper
5 spring onions
1 red onion (medium size)
150 g double-concentrated tomato paste
50 ml lemon juice
30 ml grape molasses
120 ml oil
40 finely chopped parsley
salt
pepper

bulgur-salad

Instructions

Chop the onion, cut the bell peppers into small cubes and slice the spring onions thinly.

Heat up the oil and add the red onion. Fry until glassy. Add the tomato paste and stir for a couple of minutes until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare the bulgur according to the package instructions.

Mix the lemon juice and grape molasses with the tomato-oil-mixture and mix well. Add the fluid ingredients to the bulgur and make sure that everything is well combined.

In the end, season with salt and pepper and add the spring onions, bell pepper, and parsley.

bulgur-salad

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quiche-lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche lorraine for me is one of THE typical dishes of the French kitchen. Everybody knows croissants, tarts, madeleines, quiches and everything else where only the sound of the word is enough to bring up thoughts and feelings of the French cuisine and pastry art.
I didn’t try many French recipes yet. Quiche lorraine is one of these few, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I have made it a couple of times yet, and every time it just turned out to be perfect. For me, the most difficult part is the preparation of the shortcrust, which I do not like to make at all. But as soon as this phase is passed, this recipe is not difficult at all. The dough needs to rest in the fridge for about 2 hours, which assures that it is possible to roll out the dough properly afterward.

quiche-lorraine

Admittedly this dish is completely unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans. The topping of the quiche lorraine consists of cheese, cream, and ham. I also recommend not to count any calories, but I promise: quiche lorraine is just something you have to try! Its flavor is great, it tastes good as well fresh and reheated and it is also possible to freeze leftovers. Quiche lorraine is savory, satisfies and is best combined with a salad of your choice.

Quiche Lorraine
Source: Backvergnügen wie noch nie
Yield: 1 quiche form / springform pan (diameter 26 cm)

Ingredients
200 g flour
100 g cold butter, cubed
½ tsp salt
5 tbsp cold water
200 g cooked ham, cubed
3 eggs
250 ml cream
1 pinch of pepper
125 g freshly grated Emmentaler cheese
some butter and flour to prepare the pan

Intructions
Sift the flour on the working surface, distribute the cubed butter on top and add the salt.
Make a hollow in the center, pour in the water and quickly work all of the ingredients into a batter. Wrap in plastic or aluminium foil and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.

quiche-lorraine

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Grease the quiche form/springform pan with butter and dust with flour.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a 4 mm thin layer. Line the pan with the dough. Groove several times into the dough with a fork.

Place the cubed ham on top of the dough.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs, the cream, and the pepper, and mix well. Stir in the grated cheese carefully. Power the mixture over the dough and ham and smooth it down.

quiche-lorraine

Bake the quiche on the second bottom rack for about 30 minutes.

After taking it out of the oven leave the quiche aside for a couple of minutes. If you are using a quiche form, the quiche can be served without taking it out. If you are using a springform pan, take the quiche out after a couple of minutes and serve on a cake plate. Eat while still warm.

quiche-lorraine

quiche-lorraine

quiche-lorraine

Have you made any experiences with quiches yet? Is there any topping you would recommend?

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pasta-with-fennel

Sicilian Pasta with Fennel

The recipe for this pasta with fennel I found in one of my cookbooks some time ago. It caught my attention immediately because of the used ingredients, which seem to not mesh at all. Nevertheless, I immediately wanted to try it. The combination of fennel, currants, and anchovies sounded so weird that I was sure I would either love this dish or hate it.
After finally trying it I just loved the result. Especially the sweet nuance of the raisins, combined with the very salty aspect of the anchovies, makes this pasta dish quite unique. The fennel with its freshness adds another important aroma, and all three together are just perfect.

pasta-with-fennel

Complementary flavors are something I like very much. Everybody knows how the strong, aromatic flavor of some cheese gets supported by some grapes. Very often fig mustard or sweet and sour chutneys are used in this context, too. I love to sprinkle some honey on top of my cheese, provided that it is a cheese with strong flavors, like mountain cheese.
The concept of today’s dish is quite similar. Not the several ingredients, their combination is the most important part to achieve the desired result.

pasta-with-fennel

Sicilian Pasta with Fennel
Source: Gemüse & Gemüse by Dauphine Montalier
Yield: 2

Ingredients
230 g pasta (I used whole-grain spaghetti)
2 small/ 1 big fennel bulb
6 tbsp olive oil
pepper
1 small handful of currants
10 anchovies
1 garlic clove, cut into very thin slices
breadcrumbs (for garnishing)

pasta-with-fennel

Method

Give the olive oil, anchovies, and garlic into a small bowl and set aside.

Wash and slit the fennel bulbs. Give some oil into a pan and add the sliced fennel. Season with some pepper, then cover the fennel with some aluminium foil or baking paper and fry for about 20 minutes at low temperature. Stir from time to time to prevent the fennel from burning.

Add the currants after 10 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. As soon as the noodles are cooked, combine the fennel and currants with the anchovy mixture. After that mix everything with the pasta. Be careful, because we do not want to mash the anchovies.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

What are your favorite flavor combinations? Do you have any recommendations for unusual combinations of ingredients?

pasta-with-fennel

pasta-with-fennel

pasta-with-fennel

beet_salad

Beet Salad with Chickpeas

Today’s beet salad is a typical result of using leftovers and vegetable scraps from the fridge. I made the experience, that these kind of dishes are either great or inedible, so, fortunately, in this case, I loved the result.
The combination of the sweet apple and slightly austere beets is just great, and the feta and tuna add two more completely different flavors to that salad. Beside that, thanks to the tuna, cheese, and chickpeas, you will not end up being hungry.
Concerning preparing salad dressing, I am probably the laziest person on earth. This is why there are only four ingredients necessary to get the salad dressing done. If you are more of a dressing-making-person than I am, feel free to make your own experiments, but for me, this combination worked well. There are already so many different flavors in the salad that it is completely fine for the dressing to play a minor role.

beet_salad

Beet Salad with Chickpeas
Source: own creation
Yield: 1

Ingredients
For the salad
2 small/ 1 big beets, peeled and cubed
100 g feta (cow milk), cubed
1 apple (such as Elstar), peeled (optional) and cubed
90 g tinned tuna
2 vine tomatoes, cubed
For the dressing
apple cider vinegar
safflower oil
honey
Provencal herbs

beet_salad

Instructions
Give all salad ingredients into a bowl and mix.
In a second bowl, mix apple cider vinegar with safflower oil. The amount can vary depending on your taste.
Add some honey to prevent the dressing to be too sour, then add about 1 short tsp of Provencal herbs.
Give the dressing to the salad and mix well.

beet_salad

beet_salad

In case you have more food scraps in your fridge, there are really no creative boundaries! Just add whatever you like. I’d love to hear about your experiments! What is your preferred method to process leftovers? For tips and suggestions feel free to use the comment section below!

chocolate-chip-muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

There are so many recipes for chocolate chip muffins available right now on the internet that it is almost oversaturation and unmanageable. Everywhere you can read „the best recipe of the universe“, which is promising the easiest and tastiest chocolate chip muffins, that – on top of that – is exceptionally inventive. Apparently, there isn’t any reason to publish more recipes for chocolate chip muffins, right?
I am asking this question because despite the huge range of available recipes, I tried a lot of them and the result didn’t fulfill my expectations at all.
The great characteristics of muffins are, that it is possible to prepare them super fast, usually, the dough is very easy to make and there are hundreds of variations possible. Concerning all these things muffins are just unbeatable.
Today’s recipe was developed after one of the attempts where I didn’t like the result. It was developed by trial and error, and all experiences I made with the recipes mentioned above were used to get the result I wanted. I will not make any comparisons, and all the more I will not use any superlatives. Taste is different, and for me, this recipe is the version I will use from now on.

chocolate-chip-muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins
Source: own creation
Yield: 12 Muffins


Ingredients
300 g flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 large egg
100 g sugar
50 g soft butter
1 package of vanilla sugar
8 ml vanilla flavor
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
chocolate chips, to taste
chocolate chips for garnishing

chocolate-chip-muffins

chocolate-chip-muffins

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Give all the dry ingredients besides the chocolate chips into a bowl and mix.

In a second bowl, stir the butter until creamy, then add the egg and vanilla flavor and whisk until the mixture gets a foamy texture. After that add the buttermilk and mix shortly.

Add the fluid ingredients to the dry ingredients while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.

In the end, stir in the chocolate chips carefully until they are evenly distributed.
Give paper baking cups into the muffin mold and fill in the dough. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on top of the muffins.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

chocolate-chip-muffins

chocolate-chip-muffins

chocolate-chip-muffins

chocolate-chip-muffins

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Pita Bread

The first memory I have of pita bread I made when I was still a child. At this time there was this great Greek snack stand in our town, where you could get gyros served in pita bread. This snack stand doesn’t exist anymore, but I never forgot the delicious gyros, not least because of the pita bread it was served in.
Honestly, the concept of bread which can be filled with whatever you like, without loosing half of the filling is just ingenious, isn’t it? I always thought that there has to be some secret in the baking process to ensure that the bread evolves that hollow space in the middle. It turned out that I was wrong, there is nothing special you have to do to achieve this result. I was completely surprised that even my first attempt to make pita bread on my own turned out to be that good.

pita-bread

Pita Bread
Source: The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage
Yield: 6 pita bread


Ingredients

150 ml lukewarm water
½ cube fresh yeast
1 tbsp honey
450 g flour
1 ½ tsp salt
100 ml lukewarm milk

pita-bread

Instructions
Dissolve the yeast in 3 tbsp of the warm water, then stir in the honey.

Give the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl, add the yeast mixture, the milk and the rest of the water and mix well until everything is combined. Use a dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball using your hands, place it in a bowl, cover it and leave it to rise for about 1 hour at a warm place until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230°C.

Tilt the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 6 ball-shaped parts.

Roll out each of these balls into a circle with a diameter of approximately 20cm.

Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Place the dough circles on the tray, brush them with water and bake for about 7-9 minutes. Serve while still warm.

pita-bread

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Lebanese Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Hand on heart: Cooking together is so much more fun than cooking alone, isn’t it? Unfortunately I do not have many occasions to cook with somebody else. This is why I’m always very looking forward to visiting my parents. My Mom is a very passionate cook, and although I am not one of those persons who started to love cooking at a very young age, she somehow passed on that passion to me. Concerning the cooking together thing, she shares my opinion, so we try to prepare something preferably neither she nor I have cooked yet. This time we decided to make a Lebanese butternut stew.
The Middle Eastern Kitchen is just one of my favorites. This love slowly evolved over the last couple of years, but now it is a fixed component of my regular kitchen routine.

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Lebanese Chickpea Stew
Source: The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage
Yield: 4

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 carrot, sliced
1 small butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
500 ml vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 stick of cinnamon
200 g brown mushrooms, quartered
1 tin chickpeas (400 g)
salt
pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro leaves

basmati rice

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Instructions
Give the oil, the onions, and the garlic into a pan and fry for a couple of minutes at low temperature. Add the curry and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the pumpkin and the carrots and mix well at medium heat.
After that, give the chopped tomatoes, broth, tomato puree and cinnamon into the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook with the pan covered for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is almost done.

Prepare the rice according to the package instructions.

Add the mushrooms and chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves and serve with basmati rice.

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Lebanese-pumpkin-stew

Porridge with Pomegranade, Grapes and Walnuts

By now breakfast is almost my favorite meal. Especially at the weekend, there is enough time to celebrate the beginning of the day with an extensive breakfast. In my case, I love to eat my breakfast in bed, accompanied by a good book.
Some time ago I detected something new: porridge. „Something new“ in this context means that I had heard of it before, but somehow never concentrated on making my own porridge. The classic variation is – as far as I know – only made with a few ingredients and is refined with some butter and/or honey. I prefer porridge with some fruit and nuts. As porridge is eaten warm, the aroma of the fruit distributes very well in the porridge and gives it a perfect flavor.
Concerning the porridge itself I prefer using oats, but probably other grains (or pseudo grain) work as well.
The possibilities to refine your porridge are just endless. My favorite version is the one I’m presenting today, but I also tried apple and cinnamon. Hazelnuts and almonds also taste great. You can add some jam, too. You see, just choose your favorites and then enjoy!

porridge

Porridge with Pomegranate, Grapes, and Walnuts
Source: own creation
Yield: 1

Ingredients
4 heaped tbsp oats
250 ml milk (I use organic whole fat milk)
1 pinch of salt
grapes, pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts to taste
1 tsp honey

porridge

Instructions
Give the oats into a small pan, add the salt and milk and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture is boiling, stir a couple of times, then remove the pan from the oven and set aside to swell for 3-4 minutes.

In the meanwhile, prepare the fruit and the nuts. I usually half or even quarter the grapes to make sure a bit of the juice can distribute in the porridge.

Fill the swelled porridge into a bowl, place the fruit and nuts on top and sprinkle with honey.
Eat while still warm.

porridge

porridge

pesto-bread

Flower-Shaped Pesto Bread

I’m sure everybody of you knows these occasions when you are planning a nice party or dinner with your friends and everybody is asked to bring something to eat. One of these occasions was the annual Christmas dinner of my pottery class. If there is no official list to prevent that the same food is made by more than one person, choosing what to prepare can be really challenging. Nobody wants a buffet which is not varied.
I decided to make flower shaped pesto bread this year. I had seen stuff like that on the internet before and was always thrilled with the look of this kind of bread. It is suitable to every kind of food, no matter if it is salad, soup, or grilled meat. In the beginning, I was a bit scared by the beautiful shape of these bread, but as it turned out it is not difficult at all.

pesto-bread

Flower Bread with Pesto
Source: http://www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/2576581403793589/Pestobrot.html
Yield: 1 flower bread

Ingredients
600 g flour
300 ml lukewarm water
1 cube fresh yeast
½ tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
50 ml sunflower oil
1 glass of pesto (store-bought), you can use different pestos for the several layers to get pesto bread with two colors! *

pesto-bread

Instructions
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Give the flour, the sugar, and the salt into a bowl and mix. Add the water-yeast-mixture and the oil until there is a well-combined dough. Set aside and leave covered for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.

Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 3 parts. Roll out every part to an even circle. I use the bottom of a springform pan to get three circles with the same size.
Cover a baking pan with baking paper and place the first dough layer on the paper. Spread with pesto. The dough will absorb some of the pesto during the baking process, so make sure that you add enough pesto. Cover the pesto with the second layer of dough and repeat, then finish with the third layer of dough. Do not spread any pesto on the third layer, the pesto is only used as filling between the dough layers.

Now cut the whole thing into 16 parts, like you would do with a cake, but don’t cut through the middle (imagine a sun with its sun rays). Take one of these parts in each hand and twist in opposite directions twice. Repeat until all parts are twisted.

Set aside for another 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 190°C.

Bake the bread for about 20 minutes.

* Of course, you are not restricted to using pesto. There are multiple possibilities – like garlic butter -that can be used instead of pesto. Just use whatever you like!

pesto-bread

pesto-bread

pesto-bread