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delicious culinary journey

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chocolate Baileys Cake


Do you know that feeling when you work on a chocolate cake recipe, taste the outcome and think: wow this is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. When it comes to chocolate cake I am really hard to please. Chocolate cake is my favorite cake, but it really has to have the right texture, the right amount of chocolate and also most importantly the right balance between chocolate and sugar. It should neither be too sweet nor to bitter. Only recently I've tasted one of the best chocolate cakes in my life, and if I am lucky enough, my colleague will hand the recipe over to me so I can try it for very special occasions. When I tasted his birthday cake, I was just amazed. With half of the cake in my belly, I was wondering what made this chocolate cake so special. It took quite a while until I found out. But I would say, as mentioned above it is the balance between chocolate and sugar; neither too sweet, nor too bitter.


I am not too much of a fan of boozy cakes, except for Rum and Baileys. I love rum truffles and all kind of baileys treats. When I was in high school, a friend of mine gave me this delicious chocolate cake recipe, which my grandpa then took as a base for his chocolate ganache cake. I inherited the recipe and added an extra note, notably the Baileys note. I was experimenting several times with the amount of Baileys until I finally came to the end result of this cake.

I took it too work, and within seconds it was fully approved. Three quarter of the cake were gone in only one afternoon. Fair enough, I saved the last quarter for my parents, to let them see what I transformed grandpa's cake into. I found it would be a perfect Christmas recipe, because of the booziness on one hand and the lovely Baileys taste on the other, which makes a great treat for the festive season.


For the cake you need:
160g butter
100g good quality dark chocolate
200g brown sugar
45g cocoa powder
180ml Baileys
180g flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
3 eggs

****

For the ganache you need: 
200g dark chocolate
120ml liquid cream
80ml Baileys


Preheat the oven to 175°

Chop the chocolate first, then take 100g for the cake. In a saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over medium heat until completely melted. Add the sugar, cocoa powder as well as the Baileys and whisk together until you get a silky and lump-free mixture. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until you get an even dough. Add the eggs and mix again. Now you can pour the dough into a buttered cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. 

****
In a saucepan, bring the liquid cream and Baileys to a simmer. Add the remaining chocolate and stir regularly until it has completely molten. 

Set the liquid ganache aside at room temperature. Stir every now and then, to avoid clumps, until thick enough to spread over the cake. 

Enjoy!!!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Triple Spice Baked Apple Oatmeal


A week of testing has come to an end. And yes I can confirm, I just can't get enough of this triple spice baked apple oatmeal. I am really delighted to share this breakfast recipe with you. I would even say it is the best breakfast treat that I have ever prepared. Next to being really delicious, it is also very convenient for all those who are no morning persons at all. I am not a morning person either, but I can ensure you that every single morning of this week I was looking forward to get ready in a heartbeat to finally savour a bowl of baked oatmeal. I added some little extra almond milk before heating it up. It would remain chunky without a problem and not resemble a usual porridge at all.

I am not sure how I could top my breakfast ever again, but I am really happy I discovered baked oatmeal. Apple-cinnamon is a great combination of which can result so many healthy comfort foods. In my quest to delivering some more delicious breakfast ideas, I will play around with these two ingredients a little more often I'd say. Many people don't like fall, but I really appreciate what the season has to offer. I am therefore also very happy that I can add yet another recipe to the apple collection. It's such a simple product, which reveals so many different flavors. I couldn't name many more with the same attribute.



For one large dish you need:

350g rolled oats
25g brown sugar
500ml almond milk
75g apple sauce
2 chopped apples
1 chopped pear
12 chopped walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground vanilla
4 tbsp maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 180°

In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients, notably the rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, ground vanilla, baking powder, ground ginger and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, mix well the almond milk, applesauce and maple syrup. Stir well until the liquids are well combined. 

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until you get an even mixture. Now add the chopped fruits, mix again until the fruits are well spread. Pour the oat mixture in a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the walnuts over the dish. Press them a little down into the oatmeal with your fingers.

Put the casserole dish into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Once well baked, let the oatmeal cool down for 10 minutes. 

As mentioned above, you may easily keep it 5 days in the fridge and heat it up in small portions. Drizzle a little almond milk over the oatmeal to keep moistness.  

Enjoy!!!





Monday, October 26, 2015

Maple-glazed Apple Oat Cookies


This is the very first post of my 'gifts from my kitchen' series. Cooking and baking are my passion, that's not a secret. But I also love tasting creative homemade recipes from my friends. I am surrounded by many passionate cooks or bakers and I am always happy when they bring along their treats. Many of my friends say that when I am eating, I am not simply eating, I am celebrating food. Well, that's right. Whereas many people just eat to survive, I really enjoy it. I love taking time to prepare my meals whether it be quick recipes or three course menues. I put all my love for food in it and that's why I was thinking about dedicating a whole page to this passion on my blog. 

There are so many occasions in life where you want to thank somebody for their help or support, where you want to comfort your beloved in difficult times or just want to bring along something delicious to have a cup of tea of coffee. Cooking or baking is love made edible and that's what will be spread in this section of the blog.



These apple oat cookies are a lovely treat for fall. I prepared some delicious homemade apple sauce with the apples I bought at the apple orchards in Steinsel two weeks ago. It was the first time I went there, but it was quite an adventure. There were so many different types of apples that it was difficult to choose one specific kind. Sure there are some that are better for baking or cooking, but the unique flavors of apples can transform a simple recipe into an amazing treat. For my applesauce I opted for Boskoop, because of its slightly acid note. The outcome was amazing. 

I am preparing so many things with oats these days. The nice little bag you see here above was a gift for my good friend Susanna, who recently, by simply sharing ink on Facebook contributed to an important change in my life. To thank her for this great move, I offered her a large bag of cookies.
This morning I took the half of the batch to work to collect feedback from my colleagues. My taste buds already approved them yesterday morning, but it's always good to collect a second opinion outside of my own kitchen. So far, no one complained and one even qualified them as the perfect fall cookies. 


For around 25 cookies you need:

180g brown sugar
80g caster sugar
50g butter
1 egg
160g rolled oats
200g flour
120g chunky apple sauce
1 tsp baking powder
110g sultanas

For the icing you need:
200g icing sugar
3tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp water


Preheat the oven to 175°

In a large bowl whisk together the butter, the caster sugar and brown sugar. Add the egg and the apple sauce. Mix until you get an even batter. Now add the oats, the flour and the baking powder. Mix again then add the sultanas. 

With two table spoons form little cookies and put them on the baking tray. Be careful to let a certain distance between each of them, because with the heat they might flatten a little bit.

Banke for 12-15 minutes.

Once taken out of the oven, let them cool down several minutes on the baking tray before you place them on the cooking tray.





Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chunky Red Lentil Soup


I have never been indifferent about what I was eating. Raised in a home where we always consumed fresh products, I was taught from the very beginning how important it is to wisely choose ingredients. Later on, when I moved to the south of France and had to cook for myself, I always went to the green markets to buy my fruits and veggies. And also nowadays, I get really annoyed when I have to eat plastic meals, which unfortunately, sometimes seems to be just inevitable.

Over summer I decided to take care again more consciously of my body and health. I was very active and went to the gym much more often. The more I moved the hungrier I became. At some point I decided to learn a little more about nutrition and what ingredients would really help me to build strength and fuel my body with energy. I have no intention to give up on meat, but still I found that there are many more foods that provide you with protein, iron etc..


The health benefits of lentils are numerous, nonetheless it seems they are highly underestimated. They include high protein content on one hand and contribute to a healthy heart, diabetes and cancer control on the other. During my research I found out that lentils are a rich source of essential amino acids such as isoleucine and lysine. They are also a god source of micronutrients like vitamins or minerals.

It seems that to date, lentils are considered to be the plant that provides the highest amount of protein. The amount of protein generated from lentils equals around up to 35%. This rate is comparable to red meat, poultry, fish or even dairy products. A positive side effect however is, that they are the ideal source of protein without adding any extra fat to the body.


For 4 large servings you need:

530g red lentils
1/2 yellow onion
1 fist-size baking potato
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground curry
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch of salt
1,6L vegetable broth
chopped coriander 
1 tbsp olive oil



In a medium-sized pot prepare the vegetable broth. 

Then start chopping the onion, peeling the potato and cut it into cubes. Chop the carrot as well, then mince the garlic. Now rinse the red lentils to have all the ingredients ready and start cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and let it sauté for around 3 minutes until golden brown. Now throw in the potato cubes and the chopped carrot. Sauté for another 2 and a half minutes, then add the garlic. 

Pour in the vegetable broth, then add the lentils and let them simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Straight after haven thrown the lentils in, add all the spices one at a time. Stir your soup every now and then in order to avoid it to burn. 

Once your lentils start falling apart and are beyond al dente you can turn off the heat. Depending on how chunky you want them to be let them simmer another 5 minutes if you prefer them softer. 

Serve with fresh chopped coriander.

Enjoy!!!




Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cake



Just by writing this blog post and looking at the picture here above I am already craving another marble cake loaf. I bet that just by looking at this picture, loads of memories are brought back to your mind. Am I right? We all remember marble cake from our childhood; it's a classic. I mostly had them at kids' birthday parties or at school, when someone brought cake. In my teenage years, we sold loads of cake to collect money for school excursions or just a good cause; or as my German teacher used to call it 'Getting fat for a good cause'. 

But besides making me dive into memories, the classic marble cake is to me a synonym to comfort food. We often refer to comfort food when talking about hearty and mostly greasy dishes, but for me, and yes this is definitely linked to my giant sweet tooth, comfort food is mostly composed of cookies and cake. This is probably mostly due to the fact that I feel like it takes only a small piece of cake or one or two cookies to comfort you. But who will ever have only a tiny portion of mac n cheese? Right.. nobody. 


For one loaf you need:

280g flour
180g butter
380g sugar
250ml milk
2 eggs
1tbsp baking powder
30g cocoa powder
1tbsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180°

Whisk together the butter and sugar on full speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, then the milk and the vanilla extract. Pour in the flour, then add the baking powder and the salt. Mix until you get homogenous batter. 

Separate the batter into two smaller bowls. Add the cocoa powder to one and mix again. 

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

Bake for 50 minutes. 

Enjoy!!!!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Mediterranean Zucchini Fritters



Last week, when I was visiting my parents my mom offered me a giant zucchini. It was the first time in my life that I saw such a big vegetable. It was at least 5 times the size of a normal zucchini. But well.., I thought, with more zucchini you can try out more new recipes. I was first hesitating whether I should experiment on a new version of zucchini fritters or give the zucchini crust pizza a try. As you can see, the fritters outpaced the pizza. 

The good thing about zucchini fritters is that you can play around with ingredients. The first time I prepared them I added a lemony note. This time I choose to get them all cheesy. At first I was not sure if I didn't exaggerate a bit with my double cheese creation, but in the end, the answer was clearly NO. Another positive aspect of these fritters is that you can easily prepare them ahead. They make a nice low carb dinner or a perfect side dish to co with salmon for instance. 


For 10 fritters you need:

400g zucchini
2 garlic cloves
60g grated Parmesan 
90g feta
1 egg
olive oil
pepper
1 pinch of nutmeg


Wash the zucchini and cut them lengthwise in two parts. Grate the veggies on the coarse patch. Then peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Now mix the zucchini with the garlic and the Parmesan cheese and finely crumble the feta cheese into the bowl.

In a large frying pan heat some olive oil. Form your fritters with two tablespoons. Carefully drop the mixture into the pan. 4 tablespoons form 4 fritters, which you can easily place into one frying pan. Cook the fritters until golden and then turn them.

Place the fritters on paper towels to absorb the fat.

Enjoy!!!



Monday, August 24, 2015

Pina Colada Smoothie


Summer, sun and loads of fruits, was definitely my motto of the last few months. I really really love fruits, but over the first half of the year, I have not eaten many of them. It might seem crazy what I am about to say, but sometimes I just don't have enough time to prepare myself a whole plate of different fruits. At some point I got a juicer and had all kind of different juices in the morning or after lunch. I really love my new juicer and I will definitely keep using it, but sometimes, all I do is crave a yummy smoothie. They are way more filling and you can easily play around with dairy products or plant-based alternatives. 

Only three weeks ago I discovered coconut milk. Not the one you'll find in the foreign products area of the supermarket. The one I found is placed next to the plant-based milks. After almond, oat and hazelnut I finally tried coconut. First, the coconut milk gave my daily muesli an exotic flair. Then, out of a sudden, two days ago over breakfast, the idea of this Pina Colada smoothie came to my mind. I really like the coconut-pinapple combo. And that's when yesterday morning I went to the supermarket to get all the ingredients for my new recipe. 


For 4 servings you need:

1 large fresh pineapple (around 850g)
300ml coconut milk or 170ml coconut cream
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 ice cubes
4 tbsp liquid sugar (optional)
grated coconut


Peel the pineapple and cut it into little cubes. Pour 2 tbsp of lemon juice, the ice cubes, pineapple, liquid sugar and coconut milk into your blender and mix until smooth. Pour the remaining lemon juice into a small bowl and the grated coconut on a small plate. Turn the glasses around and place them upside-down in the lemon juice, then in the grated coconut. Pour the Pina Colada smoothie into the glasses.

Enjoy!!!!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

White Chocolate Mango and Coconut Spread


Here it is, my white chocolate mango and coconut spread. The idea for this spread came when I was having brunch with friends at a local bar here in Luxembourg. Next to the main plate, they served a small selection of bowls filled with honey, jam and nutty spreads. We were able to identify most of them, but one was very special. After tasting over and over again, all I could tell was that it contained coconut. The waiter finally revealed the myth: white chocolate mango and coconut. Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was: I have to try this one too. No sooner said than done!

I really love the result. The only thing I knew before preparing the spread were the ingredients. I had no clue about proportions but in fine it's all about personal taste. You prefer the chocolaty flavors to the fruity ones, well; it's pretty easy, you don't put too much mango into it. You want to add a little extra nutty touch; you add more coconut. I personally think that the recipe hereunder presents a good balance of all of the ingredients. 


For one jar you need:

1 ripe mango
2 tbsp desiccated coconut 
250g white chocolate


Cut the mango into chunks and put it into a juicer or blender until completely fluid. Melt the chocolate over a hot water bath until entirely molten. Remove the chocolate from the heat and pour in the mango juice/smoothie. Mix the chocolate-mango mixture until you obtain an even spread. Add the desiccated coconut and mix again.

Let it cool down for an hour.

Enjoy!!!



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.

Enjoy!!! 


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.

Enjoy!!!!



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.

Enjoy!!!




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