Monday, 5 February 2018

Casual winter weekend at the country side

When we were living in Spain there was always something to do on the weekends, I mean special activities outside... the weather would always play along and the fact that we were living next to one of the most exciting cities in Europe helped a lot too. The moment we decided to move to Swedish country side, I got my doubts whether this will be the same there too. I did not know what to expect and got bit worried we might get bored. I could not be more wrong here, I know it now. Country life suits us all very well and every weekend is as excited and special as they were in Spain. I do admit the activities are slightly different, but still as exciting and funny.

Now, there is another small but very significant fact, which makes us feel super happy here, and that would be our neighbours. We have got the best neighbours ever if you ask me, who welcomed us so dearly in the neighbourhood and do help us with different matters. It did not take long and we became friends, as well as our kids and dogs. We take every opportunity to spend time together and that can be anything... starting from a dog walking afternoons, over Christmas decoration crafting sessions to picnic in a forest in the middle of Swedish winter. There is always fun and lot of sharing, while kids are playing together the adults are having some grown up talks and there will be always delicious food. It was about time to have our neighbours over in our home for a special treat too, hence I decided to host a small brunch party for them on the weekend.

For me brunch is always the answer, when you expect more people to come. Many brunch dishes can be prepared in advance, so you do not stress up on the main day. You can vary between many easy to make dishes. It remains special but still casual, perfect for a country side weekend meet up in my point of view.

There are some must have dishes, which will always appear in my brunch menu... these are quiche, fritatta, salad and muffins. Olives, cheese, some nuts and cherry tomatoes come always handy. Buy the best you can get and your guests will be more than delighted. To make it even more special you can also bake some bread, but this is really optional and only when you have some time to spare,  otherwise pay a visit to your favourite bakery for some fresh baguette bread, instead. When it comes to the sweet treats, my personal rule is always to have something humble, such as coffee cake or bundtcake, something chocolaty and small cake with cream, to make sure everybody will get what they like most. This weekend my choices were Russian raspberry cream cake, Swedish punsch rolls and German coffeecake... 



Raspberry cake
  • 100 g flour
  • 100 g sugar
  • 50 g grounded hazelnuts (or almonds)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml double cream
  • vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 250 g fresh raspberries
  • raspberry jam
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line your baking form with baking paper. Beat the eggs and sugar till they will double in size and get a pale colour. Sift in flour and hazelnut flour, fold it carefully with a spatula till all well combined. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for about 20-25 minutes (make the wooden stick test). Let the cake cool of completely and cut it in two layers.

In a bowl whisk together the whipping cream, vanilla essence and powdered sugar, till stiff peaks starts to form. Put the cream in a piping bag with a big star pipping tip.

Put the first cake layer on the cake plate and spread 2-3 tablespoons of raspberry on it. Pipe some of the cream on top and spread 2/3 of the raspberries on it. Put the second layer on top and cover it with jam too. Decorate the top with the remaining cream and berries.
Frittata

  • 10 fresh eggs
  • good splash of milk
  • 2 hand full cherry tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes and smoked paprika (optional)
  • 2 hand full grated cheese
  • chopped spring onions
Preheat the oven. In a bowl whisk together eggs and milk, season with salt, pepper, some chili flakes and smoked paprika, add some of the spring onions. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them cut down into the pan (use a pan which you can put into the oven in a later step). Pour some olive oil over the tomatoes and let them cook for a minute in the pan. Pour the eggs over the tomatoes and spread the grated cheese on top. Put the pan into the oven for about 10-15 minutes till golden brown. Take it out of the oven, sprinkle with some more spring onions and serve.

Swedish punsch rolls

  • chocolate cake left overs 
  • cookies (any cookies you like)
  • arrag essence
  • cream cheese
  • marzipan 
  • chocolate
Crush the cookies and crumble the cake. Mix them together. Add some cream cheese (spoon wise) and mix it in, continue to add the cream cheese till you will get a smooth and sticky batter, which can be formed in a roll. The batter shall not be too dry or too wet, just about right to be work with. Form some roles and put them into the fridge for at least 30 min. Roll out the marzipan and cover the batter rolls with it. Put them back into the fridge. Melted the chocolate. Take the rolls out of the fridge cut them in pieces and dip them from both ends into the chocolate. Let them cool.





You can find the recipe for the pumpkin quiche HERE and for home made baguette bread HERE

Enjoy!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Apple cake for us and doggy cookies for Bella

Would you ask me some years ago how I feel about having a dog, the answer would be most likely rather negative. Not that I had something against them, I just could not picture me and a dog under the same roof. It all changed recently, with Bella our newest family member the cutest Jack Russel puppy ever. Today's post is dedicated to Bella, which you probably already guessed.


It all started with our decision to move to the Swedish country side, having a dog came as a natural fact, everybody has a dog living in a house on the country side, right? So once arrived here the idea grew on us and some weeks ago we finally got our Bella. It was love at first glance, not sure it always works like this but we saw her, she saw us and we kind of all knew it.
Now, even though we are speaking one week and a couple of days, since this cheeky lady moved in, it feels like she was always a solid member of our family and there is no way I can picture my future without her any longer. I heard from others that this can go quick, but I am still pretty much stunted how quick it actually was. So now having her with us I have another family member, which likes to get spoiled once in a while (or maybe a little bit more). I know I shall be all firm with her diet, timing, portion etc. but did you ever tried not to give anything to your doggy while you were having a snack and she was sitting next to you giving you this look (you know which one I mean)?!? Well I tell you it is a hardest things to do, to say no to them that very moment.
Being all firm (and I am really giving my best) I still feel like she does deserve some snacks between the meals. I was not all crazy about the doggy treats you can buy, as most of the ingredients are "Chinese" to me.... some even bit scary, not being an expert on doggy food here. So I started to look around what dogs can eat. There are many recipes out there, I checked couple of them looking for healthy and light version. I found plenty, but finally ended up with an adjusted version of healthy doogy cookies, which were done yesterday for Bella, next to an apple cake treat for us.


I was  a bit nervous at first... all for nothing as she loves these cookies so much. Now when she give me this look (please look at the pictures) and I am unable to say no to a treat, she gets one of these  cookies and I feel much better, knowing exactly what she is eating. The recipe could not be easier and the ingredients are actually always around.

Doggy treat cookies
  • 200 g oatmeal flakes
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 teaspoon oil - I used coconut oil
  • 0,5 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Blitz the oatmeal flakes in a food processor, till you will get a flour texture, set it aside. In a bowl smash the banana, add the egg, finely grated carrots, oil and turmeric, stir till all well combined. Add the flour, mix again. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes. Take a small piece of dough and roll it to a ball, place it on the baking sheet lined with baking paper, take a forge and flatten the dough ball with it. Alternatively you can form small bones out of it. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let them cool completely before giving it to your dog or putting them into a glass jar




As for us, it was something rather unplanned as I was not planning to bake anything, but my son, to whom by the way I also cannot say no that easily, wished for a cake. He was a bit sad and cold and I could not resist. Apple cake is always an option when something comfy should be done. Every time I feel bit down and need this special treatment apple cake will come up first in my mind. Not sure why but it always works his magic on me... actually on my husband, on my son and many of my friends too. I guess there has to be something to it then... maybe the cinnamon which warms us from inside, the sweetness of the apple which reminds us on sunny and warm days or this little dollop of vanilla cream or ice cream on a warm cake, running down the side. Either way it works to chear up my lovelies and this is all what matters.



Apple pie
  • 200 g flour
  • 60 g brown sugar
  • 80 g butter cold cut in cubes
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 apples
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • agave syrup
  • cinnamon
  • 4-5 small cubes of butter
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put flour, sugar, butter cubes, baking powder and salt in the food processor and give it couple of spins. Add egg and pulse another couple of times till dough starts to form. Should the dough be too dry, add some cold water (spoon wise) to reach a firm ball of dough (not too sticky). Take the dough out, half it in two and roll out two circles, big enough to cover your baking dish. Butter you baking dish and cover it with the first dough circle, covering the edges too. 
Skin, remove the seeds and cut the apples in cubes, add them in a bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, some agave syrup and mix till all apples are covered. Put the apples in the baking dish. Now add the butter cubes on top. Take the second dough circle and cover the pie. Press the dough edges with your finger to seal the pie. Springer some brown sugar on top, cut a small cross in the middle and bake for about 45-50 minutes. Serve the case with some cream or ice cream on top.


Enjoy!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Winter weekend with winter chocolate mini cakes

We all are looking forward for the weekend to come, thinking ahead what can be done... when it comes to us it always has to include some kind of activities outside. Living in Sweden now, does not change anything on that fact, we just need to get the right clothes (and by that I mean warm clothes) and off we go. This weekend was no exception either.
On Saturday we woke up just to discover that the sun decided not to make an appearance, so to cheer us up I spontaneously decided to make breakfast in bed. Breakfast in bed is always something super special and is actually quite easy to make. There are various versions but my will always include scrambled eggs and something in a bowl... yogurt with berries, smoothie with fruits and cereals or porridge with berries, honey and nuts. This weekend it was oatmeal-quinoa porridge with fresh blueberries and dried mulberries. Scrambled eggs and crispbread. Easy, delicious and super comfy.
Suddenly there was no issue to go outside and do some activities at the fresh (bit frosty) air... All packed and properly dressed we made our way to the beach. Beach in winter time can be very exciting too... I do admit it is a bit colder as in Spain, but it works and we still manage to do our small picnics. Next to the picnic I always manage to shoot hundreds of pictures, because I discover yet another fascinating big rock, which caught my or Bella's attention. Bella is our newest family member, a Jack Russel puppy who joined our house about a week ago. This little cheeky lady is very curious and obviously as crazy about being outside as us. Despite the fact that is has been only a week when we got her, it feels like she always been with us, she blends in perfect in our little and crazy family and I got an additional photo model on top.


And to make this weekend count even more, as the sun did not appear today either I made our newest favourite... gluten free chocolate mini cakes. They are heavenly chocolaty, deep and dark in taste, exactly what your soul needs, when winter shows herself not from her best side. They are easy to make and with some frosting and berries on top, they transform to a very delicious winter chocolate dessert.






Chocolate mini cake
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 120 g sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50 g almond flour (ground almonds) - optional!
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease or line your muffin form with muffin paper. Put chocolate and butter into a sauce pan and melt it on a low heat. Take it from heat and whisk in sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt. Add the eggs, one at the time, whisking them in. You shall get a smooth, shiny and runny chocolate mixture. At this point you can add the almond flour, but the cakes can be easily done without it. I like to add the almonds for additional flavor and texture. Pour the batter into the muffin forms and bake for about 12-15 minutes. The edges will be firm, while the centre still bit moist, this is when the cakes should be taken out of the oven. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes on the cooling rack before taking them out of the baking form. Sprinkle some powdered sugar and serve.

For the frosting I used 3 table spoons of cream cheese, 2 table spoons of powdered sugar and some vanilla extract. You can garnish them with some fresh berries, they will not only make the appearance exceptional, but also add additional taste and freshness to the mini cakes.




Enjoy!

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