The title of this post is misleading. To explain myself:
- 4 pears, peeled, cored, and halved
- 30 g butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- cooked oats
- Greek yogurt (Mine is about 10% fat, and this is the best part about it. When I’m feeling daring, I might upgrade to Crème fraîche.)
- Preheat the oven to 205 C.
- Put the butter in a large baking dish, and put this in the oven while it preheats. We want the butter to melt.
- Combine the sugar and vanilla extract.
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter once it’s melted.
- Place the pears face down on the sugar, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for 40-50 minutes. Poke a pear with a fork to test whether it’s soft enough – we want the fork to slide in and out easily.
- Uncover, and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Broil for 5 minutes.
- For each serving: place a halved pear on a bowl of cooked oats, and generously spoon some of the pan drippings over the bowl. Top with a dollop of yogurt.
What do you get when you cross carrot cake with zucchini bread? Well, well, well… look no further. I was looking for something sweet with carrots, but not overpoweringly cake-y, and certainly no frosting (as is the norm with most carrot cakes). Not that I have anything against frosting, rather I wanted to let the natural carrot sweetness come through (although I was told this carrot bread is suspiciously tasty and tastes nothing like carrots). I added a handful of dried sour cherries on a whim (thinking they were actually raisins), and what a serendipitous surprise it was! The chewy tartness from the cherries perfectly offset the sweetness from the carrots and played well with the crunchy nuttiness from the walnuts.
By the way, every time I think of zucchinis, one of two thoughts come to me:
- Zucchinis are a great starter vegetable for the beginner gardener. I have enjoyed so many great zucchinis in my brief foray in community gardens.
- The French word for zucchini is courgette. I learned this from watching My Life as a Zucchini.
Yield: one bread loaf, as pictured.
- 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (I think it’s sweeter than the Cassia variety, but honestly, I don’t think it makes much of a difference in this case)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- 100 g melted butter
To be folded into the batter
- a handful of dried sour cherries
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts
- 4 carrots, peeled and grated
- Preheat the oven to 160 C.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry bits well.
- In another vessel, mix the wet bits.
- Grease and flour the loaf pan.
- Gradually incorporate the dry mix into the wet mix in thirds, stirring well to prevent a lumpy batter.
- Fold the cherries, walnuts, and carrots in the batter.
- Pour the batter in the loaf pan and tamp it.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick/chopstick comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes before attempting to unmold.
I’m noticing a trend with myself, blueberries and cake (Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake, Lemon Blueberry Bread). Is the perfect blueberry cake my white whale? Or do I simply have an unconscious affinity for blueberries? Anyway. I got to try out a couple new techniques with this recipe, and so it was deemed blog-worthy. Two thoughts:
- What’s it like to whip egg whites into soft peaks without the aid of a kitchen appliance? (Answer: Surprisingly, it’s not that much work to do manually; Amy gives this method an A+ and continues to espouse the viewpoint that most kitchen gadgets are a scam.)
- What does yogurt cake taste like, and would it imply sour cream cake (Smeteneh Küchen) is delicious? (Answer: Yogurt cake is unbelievably moist and Smeteneh Küchen cannot get in my belly fast enough.)
Yield: a 20 cm cake
- 100 g rolled oats
- 100 g almond meal
- 80 g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100 g butter, cubed
- 160 ml honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- zest of 1 lemon
- 250 ml plain unsweetened yogurt (I used 3.8% fat yogurt, but next time I’m going to spring for the 10% fat Greek yogurt, or skip directly to the sour cream.)
- 300 g blueberries (I had a 50-50 split of fresh and frozen, separated)
- optional: whipped cream as a topping
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Grease the springform (either with butter or a bit of olive oil).
- Using a food processor or a blender, blend the oats until the texture resembles coarse flour.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Separately combine the butter, honey, and lemon zest in another vessel. Mix until creamy.
- Add the yogurt and the egg yolks, mix, and don’t over stir.
- Combine the dry bits into the wet bits in thirds, and stir this until the lumps are gone.
- In another clean and dry bowl, whip the egg whites by hand until you get soft peaks. Take the opportunity to develop your non-dominant arm’s beating muscles.
- Fold the egg whites and the frozen blueberries in the dough, careful not to over-mix as this will result in a flat and compact cake, completely wasting all the lift you just whipped into the egg whites.
- Pour the cake batter in the springform and scatter the remaining blueberries over the top.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before attempting to liberate it (into your mouth).
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if you wish.
Is it strange that I would wear a perfume if it smelled like caraway seeds? I have the same feeling about the way dill smells, too. (Note to self: What would soap with caraway seeds be like? Dill soap is probably not going to turn out good…) Something about this rye smell is so intoxicating to me; it’s all I can do to hold myself together when the scent wafts my way. My inner dialogue goes something like this, “Focus, woman! Keep yourself together! No! Stop it! Oh good god, this again…”
In my tremendously subjective opinion, the caraway seeds elevate the humble English muffin to near-divine status and complement both sweet and savory palates.
Yield: 16 muffins
- 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2/3 cup Dinkelmehl
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (next time, I will try Vollkornmehl for a more interesting texture)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp whole caraway seeds
Other Wet Bits
- 3/4 cup milk
- 30 g butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
Other Dry Bits
- cornmeal or rava/semolina for sprinkling
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Warm the Other Wet Bits and add it to the yeast mixture. Make sure it’s not too hot; we don’t want to cook the yeast to death.
- Mix the Dry Bits together well and add it in thirds to the Wet Bits. The dough will be quite shaggy. Knead it until stretchy and cohesive, about 5 minutes or so.
- Remove the dough from your bowl temporarily in order to grease the sides and bottom with some butter or oil. Then add the dough back to the bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 1 hour at room temperature.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper with some cornmeal/rava.
- Divide the dough into 16 balls, and place them on the baking sheet, flattening them slightly. Sprinkle some more cornmeal/rava over them.
- Cover loosely and let them rest for another 30 minutes at room temperature, or set them up in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them (for up to 3 days).
- Heat the oven to 120 C.
- Heat a skillet on the stove top with some oil.
- Fry each side of the muffin in the skillet, about 5 minutes per side.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Let them cool for about 10 minutes, and then tuck in.
My spirit vegetable is garlic.
I’ve been in a “back to basics” cooking mood as of late, and which cuisine is better for this than Italian food? Dead simple recipes with fresh ingredients prepared in less than 30 minutes. But after the 6th pasta night, a girl goes a little stir crazy. Here’s an American twist on the classic Italian knock out.
Yield: 6 open faced sandwiches
- 6 slices toast
- 1/2 kg broccoli florets (make them small)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesean cheese
- 6 slices of mild cheese (e.g. Provolone, Young Gouda, Swiss, etc)
- Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes.
- In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper in medium-low heat. The garlic should not brown, but rather become very fragrant. Do this for about 10 minutes, or until you can see the oil start to turn a bit red from the chili flakes.
- Add the broccoli, lemon juice, lemon zest, Parmesean cheese and salt to taste.
- Spoon the mixture over each slice of toast.
- Place one slice of cheese on top of each sandwich.
- Broil the sandwiches until the cheese gets bubbly and turns a little brown – maybe around 4 minutes.
There’s only a “before” picture because the finished fries were demolished before a picture could be taken.
My eyes have been opened. I once was blind, but now I see. The secret to homemade oven baked fries? Soak the starch out of the potatoes and make sure they’re properly dry before baking. If these fries come out limp, there’s either too much starch in them or they weren’t sufficiently dried before entering the oven. Put on your stretchy pants because this is a belly buster.
Yield: is it 1 serving if I can polish off the whole tray alone?
- 3 medium potatoes (mix it up! you can use purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, yukon, russet, whatever Speisekartoffeln your heart desires) – don’t bother skinning the potatoes, as most of the nutrients are in the skin anyhow
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- optional: ~1 tsp taco seasoning or curry powder
- optional: parmesean cheese, truffle oil, rosemary, or parsely as a topping
- salt to taste
- Julienne the potatoes. Take this opportunity to polish your knife skills and flex your pipes.
- Soak the fries in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes, I soak the really starchy potatoes for up to 45 minutes.
- Rinse the potatoes with fresh water and drain.
- Lay the fries out on a few paper towels to dry for 30-45 minutes.
- Toss with the olive oil, a dash of salt, and any seasoning (if using).
- Heat the oven to 205 C.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
- Turn up the heat to 220 C and shuffle the fries around.
- Bake for another 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle the toppings over the golden digits (if using).
I’m pleased – it’s a good sign you’re getting more comfortable with your city when you can mix up local ingredients (marzipan & müsli) with a classic recipe (cookie bars). Toss in some ghee and you’ve got yourself a funky, unexpected drool-inducer.
Yield: one 9×13 pan
- 200g marzipan
- 230g flour (1 3/4 cups)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 65g sugar (1/3 cup)
- 125g butter (keep it cold and slice into chunks) – I prefer Sauerrahmbutter, but I guess regular butter could do (in a pinch)
- 105g müsli (1 1/3 cup) – could sub rolled oats
- 125g butter – see the note on Sauerrahmbutter above (I said we were tossing in ghee right?)
- 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1-2 vanilla pods)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
- 200g chocolate chips
- a handful of chopped dried fruits, e.g. figs, dates, or apricots
- powdered sugar, to finish
- Preheat the oven to 175 C.
- Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and knead it well. The dough will be very crumbly at first, but keep at it, and it’ll come together promptly. You don’t have to make it extremely smooth – the butter chunks should not be too well incorporated in the dough (channel your pie crust making skills).
- Press the crust evenly into the pan with your fingers, and let it come up the sides by about 1/4 inch.
- Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes, or until it’s lightly golden.
- Meanwhile in a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over medium heat. Do not be tempted to turn this to high heat because it will burn quickly. Pay attention to the water escaping as it’s heated (bubbly noises). Once the bubbly noises taper off, some of the milk solids in the butter will start to brown. Only let it brown a little – take it off the heat.
- Stir in the sugar and salt. Let this cool for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla to the butter mix.
- Combine the gooey filling with the müsli, chocolate, coconut, and dried fruit (if using).
- Evenly spread the filling over the parbaked crust.
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- Once cool, you can cut the bars and dust with the powdered sugar.