Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hasselback potatoes and Ofenschlupfer...

Today we are touching a bit of a "food history" from Sweden and Germany. History because these classical dishes accompanied us for many years, made us happy and are still giving us a certain comfort every time I am preparing them. Both dishes are humble and simple, exactly how the old fashioned homemade food should be. 

Starting with the hasselback potatoes "Swedish roasted potatoes", something my husband already loved as a kid. I have to say, my husband is not much of a potato eater, similar to me, however if potatoes are prepared this ways, we both cannot resist. Usually it would be his mom preparing this dish for us and I remember the first time I have tried them, I surprisingly discovered that I actually do like potatoes and that potatoes are not as boring as I thought before...this silky buttery taste makes you eat one piece after another and you will see that all of sudden the meat is not the star on the plate anymore....

Hasselback potatoes
  • 4-5 middle size potatoes (make sure they are more or less all the same size)
  • 1-2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease your baking dish with olive oil. Peel the potatoes and cut in slices stopping right before you are cutting through, so the slices stay connected on the bottom of the potato. Brush the potatoes with melted butter (be generous) season with salt and pepper. Finally sprinkle the bread crumbs all over the potatoes and bake for 40 minutes (or golden brown and the fork goes easy through)..This side dish can be served to meat, chicken or fish or even with some other vegetable if you like.

What I personally like about this dish most are the nice memories of my husband, he would always mentioned eating the potatoes. Our son Pablo like them too, I am not quite sure he understand already that this dish is quite dear to us, but maybe one day he will remember the stories his daddy was telling, having his special memories connected to this dish too.

Now coming to my favorite "old fashioned" dish, which is meanwhile our family favorite dessert. Ofenschlupfer "Swabian bread pudding". It was not in my childhood I tried it the first, more in my younger years when I moved from North Germany to South of Germany, to be more specific to Stuttgart area in Swabia, where Ofenschlupfer is coming from. There are many different ways to prepare a bread pudding all over Germany, but this dish is a bit different in the preparation and definitely my favorite when in comes to bread pudding. I fell in love with Swabia pretty quick, I love the modest way people are living there, they have their certain ways of doing things for sure and sometimes you would not understand what they are saying, but exactly these special characteristic are so charming and irresistible. Most of the swabian people don´t like waste...wste of money, food, time etc. and to me Ofenschlupfer represents all the characteristics of swabian people..humble, simple, homey and still somehow special....

  • white bread / baguette from the day before (about 2/3 of a baguette)
  • 350 ml milk hot
  • 50 g butter room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 g sugar
  • 2 apples
  • cinnamon / or vanilla sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease your baking dish with butter. Cut the baguette in big chunks, put it in a bigger bowl and pour over the hot milk, put it aside. Meanwhile in a smaller bowl, crag the eggs, add sugar and cinnamon (or vanilla) mix till combined. Peel the apples and cut them in small pieces. Add the apples, egg mixture and the butter to the bread soaked in milk and mix everything together....with your hands! Don´t over mix it, you should still see some chunk of bread in your dough muxture. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or till golden brown.
Serve hot with vanilla sauce (they way it is done in Swabia) or vanilla ice cream.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Carrots, nuts and flour = delicious carrot bread

Another Sunday, another bread recipe. This time I am going to share my carrot bread recipe with you, which is also very easy to make, does not require much raising time and will be definitely one of your favorite breads to make.

This bread is done with quite simple ingredients, but the result is phenomenal. I can guarantee you your family, friends, neighbors will be amazed if you will serve them this bread. Amazed and grateful. And since not many people know bread with carrots, this is my unbeatable recipe to be used when we are having our friends over for dinner or a small present to bring with when we are invited somewhere.

I know usually you would bring wine or chocolate, when you are invited somewhere for dinner and this great, but think about it...how cool is it to bring something people would not really expect as a standard present for dinner invitation and believe me, people do appreciate home made bread, more than you can imagine. By saying that, I would just encourage you to try this recipe and bring a small loaf of this gorgeous bread to your friends next time you will be invited. You will be the star of the evening, I promise!

Carrot bread

  • 5-6 carrots
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 10 g dry east (1,5 package)
  • 150 g sunflower seeds or walnuts
  • 1,5 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 350 ml warm water
Wash the carrots and grate coarsely. In a big bowl mix together flour, east, sugar, salt, grated carrots and nuts (if you are using walnuts, chop them roughly). Add water and mix well, till all dry ingredients are wet. Line your bread baking form with baking paper, fill in the dough (the dough will be rather wet and sticky) and let it rest for 15-20 minutes in a warm area. At this point I usually would put on my oven (180C), cover the bread dough with plastic wrap and clean kitchen towel and put it in front of the oven, by the time your oven is hot enough the dough will have enough time to rest. Bake for 60-70 minutes, till golden brown (tap on the top of the bread with your fingers, if you hear a hollow sound, the bread is ready).
Let is cool for couple of minutes in the form, then get it out of the form and let it cool completely on a cooling rack, before cutting.

This bread can be eaten any time of the day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It goes well with ham and cheese, with soups or as a starter just with a bit of butter...


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Another bunch of lemons and lemon cupcakes

Friends are great and friends who has lemon threes even more. I already wrote in one of my previous post (here), how much I love lemons. I am very lucky having couple of friends who supplies me with them. This time the lemons came from Cubelles, a small charming village at the sea side. The timing could not be better, as I just run out of lemons from the first bunch I got some weeks ago.

I love lemons and we always having them home. They are just gorgeous on their own and are so diverse in being used. Anytime I am having my creative baking or cooking phase, lemons would always be an important part of it. No matter what you are doing, if you want to lift up your dish, just add some lemon zest and you will be very pleased with the outcome.

So having the lemons home, it was clear I would make a lemon cake or cupcakes. And there was already a great opportunity around the corner to put on my oven and bake some lemon cupcakes... a 5 years anniversary at work for a colleague and friend.

Here is my favorite recipe of a lemon cake, which tastes 100 time better if you are using lemons freshly picked from a three. You can use the same batter for the cupcakes too, just change the sugar glaze (powdered sugar and lemon juice) on top of the cupcakes, with some cream cheese frosting. 

Lemon cupcakes
  • 150 g butter (room temperature)
  • 150 g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powdered
  • 200 g flour
Preheat the oven to 180C and line your muffin pan with paper liners . In a bowl mix together sugar and butter, till fluffy and pale in a color. Add the eggs, one at the time, mix well. then add the lemon zest and juice, combine everything together. Sift baking powder and flour, add to the butter-egg mixture. Divide the batter between the muffin tins (I am always using ice cream scoop, to quarantine the same amount of batter in each tin) and bake for 20 min (do the toothpick test, if it will come out clean, your muffins are ready).
Frost it with a cream cheese frosting and fondant decoration or sugar sprinkles.

Cream cheese frosting

  • 150 g powdered sugar
  • 120 g butter (at room temperature)
  • 250 g cream cheese
  • zest of a lemon
Sift powdered sugar in a medium bowl add the butter, beat everything together till fluffy and pale in the color (about 3-5 minutes). Add cream cheese, in two parts, then add lemon zest, mix well.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Pancake for breakfast and the most easiest cake in the world

Usually we are having pancakes on Sunday, however today I wanted to make an exception as a small surprise for Valentine´s Day. There is no special tradition for Valentine´s Day in our house, we would have a nice breakfast, having either a nice picknick outside or having a dinner in one of our favorite restaurants. There will be chocolate and flowers, the usual things, but still we like to celebrate this day, spending time together and be delighted about the small gifts we will get.

Today´s morning started with pancakes and salmon avocado sandwiches (you can find the recipe in one of my previous posts here). The weather is not very promising, so there probably won´t be a picknick outside....for now we will just take it easy, enjoying the chocolate and see what the day will bring.


  • 130 g flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add eggs and milk, start whisk from the middle til everything is well combined (no clumps), add melted butter and mix again.
Preheat the pan, add a bit of vegetable oil and distribute evenly over the whole pan (I am usually using a paper towel to do this). Pour small amounts of the batter in the pan, turn the pancake as soon as bubbles start to form on the top, cook it for another half a minute..
Serve the pancakes still warm with honey, fruits of your choice or powdered sugar.

Now coming back to Valentine´s Day. Wanna to surprise your better half with something nice and self made, but you are not really a baker or not having much time to spend in the kitchen?!? If so, then you would love this cake recipe. Chocolaty, very easy to make, requires just 3 ingredients and is actually quite special. I assure you, the surprise will be a success and your better half will be delighted....

World easiest chocolate cake (gluten free)
  • 75 g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • fresh berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry) 
Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the chocolate and put it aside to cool down. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Add egg yolks to the cooled chocolate and mix everything together till well combined. Beat the egg whites till stiff pick are start to form. Combine the egg whites with the chocolate mixture, use a spatula to do this.
Pour the batter in a baking form (I am using a small cake form for this batter amount) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Decorate with berries and powdered sugar


Thursday, 12 February 2015

We love birthdays and red cars....

Birthdays are great and we kind of love to celebrate them. It was the second birthday from Pablo yesterday. We all took one day off from our work responsibilities and spend a lovely day together.

The beauty of having your birthday in the middle of the week and having the possibility to take the day off, is that you can spend the day in the city and have a complete different experience as you usually would do. Barcelona in the middle of the working week is magical...you see everything else, but people! You can actually hold still for a second look around and discover so much beautiful things. The walk through the well-known streets feels different, as you are not running as fast as you can through the crowd to make sure you are not losing your partner out of your sign. Your pulse is not beating like crazy, because you are racing with the people around you....everybody is on rush and somehow you feel you need to do the same.

All this is gone, when you visit the city in the middle of the week. And the experience of being almost alone and having the city all to yourself continues...in the cafes, in the shops and even in the Zoo. Usually we would go to the Zoo in the weekends, finding it overcrowded, noisy and with lots of queues. Yesterday however the whole Zoo was just for us alone and we used the possibility to have a relaxed day at the Zoo, with some nice photo shots and a small birthday picknick.

Pablo´s favorite toys these days are cars, cars in every color, size and material. So I decided to make a birthday cake for him in a car shape. He got this one little wooden red car, which I used as a prop to make his cake. It turned out great I think as Pablo could not see any differences between the cake car and the real one, he wanted directly to start playing with this as he saw it. I tried to explain to him that this is a cake to be eaten, but he would not believe me till we cut it open.

As a cake I choose our favorite chocolate cake, which is very moist and chocolaty. It goes very well with a cream cheese frosting and is quite easy to make. For the decoration I used fondant (sugar paste), which is always a good choice if you want to make something special. It is very easy to use, once you know some tricks and can be bought in many stores.

Chocolate cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1,5 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plain hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl combine sugar and oil. Mix in the eggs and buttermilk, then coffee and white vinegar. Mix with a hand whisk. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry once. Whisk till all combine, do not over beat as it will make you cake dense.
Separate the batter between 2 round cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let the cake to cool completely and frost as you wish.

Cream cheese frosting
  • 150 g powdered sugar
  • 120 g butter at room temperature
  • 250 g cream cheese
Mix butter and powdered sugar with an electrical mixer, till the mixture will get fluffy and pale in the color. Add cream cheese in 2 parts, continue beating. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting becomes a bit runny.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Cosy evening on Friday and early morning walk on Saturday

Friday evenings are usually lazy evenings in our family. By lazy I mean, very very relaxed, with no much activities. After all the running around over the week, we are looking forward to a cosy evening with some comfy food and dessert which we usually would have at the sofa, while watching a movie. This is our interpretation of being relaxed and coming down from the busy week, preparing our self for a weekend.

So the dinner we would have on Friday needs to be comfy, easy to make and to eat...preferable with hands. What is more cosy as eating your dinner with hands, wouldn´t you agree? There are many variations of what you can eat, one of my specialties is Pita with chicken, which is always a hit as it is bit exotic, because of the special spices and herbs I am using. The preparation does not take longer than 30 minutes and the fact that you can prepare your pita the way you like it the most,  makes the whole dinner experience very special. The vegetable can vary from what your refrigerator offers, you can use sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, avocado, rough grated carrots, sliced radishes and much more....

Pita with chicken and two kinds of salsa

  • pita bread
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 tomatoes
  • iceberg lettuce salad
  • 8 tablespoons yogurt 
  • 1-2 teaspoons harissa paste
  • garlic powder
  • some mint leaves
  • some coriander leaves
  • salt and pepper
Cut the chicken breast in small stripes, season it with salt and pepper and fry in the pan with some table spoons of olive oil. Wash the tomatoes and the iceberg lettuce, cut the tomatoes in slices and iceberg lettuce in stripes. 
Divide the yogurt between 2 small bowls. Chop coriander and mint leaves. Put garlic powder, salt, pepper and chopped coriander and mint in one of the yogurt bowl, mix well. Add 1-2 teaspoons harissa (depending on how hot you like it)  to the other yogurt bowl and mix it together. Prepare the pita bread as described on the package. 

The dessert could not be easier either...the ingredients are as simple as the whole preparation, they taste delicious and look gorgeous, are good with cup of tea in the evening and perfect for a quick breakfast with cup of coffee. 

Cinnamon sugar doughnut muffins:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100 g) - I take a bit less
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (60 g)
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk (120 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour (130 g)
Sugar coating:
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or vanilla sugar)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together sugar, butter, nutmeg and milk in a bowl. Sift flour and baking powder, add to the butter-milk mixture and whisk till all well combined. Butter your muffin form (I am using the form to make french caneles), fill the molds to the half with the batter and bake for 20 min or until golden brown.
Mix sugar with cinnamon (or vanilla sugar, if you do not like cinnamon) in a small bowl. Brush the top of the muffin with melted butter and dip it in the cinnamon sugar.

It was an early morning for all of us today, it happens to be that all three of us were awake before 9 o´clock already...something like this is very seldom, so I asked my boys if they would like to join me for a small morning walk to the city center to buy some fresh vegetable and fruits. After short pre-breakfast with a cup of tea and a cinnamon doughnut, the three of us were walking towards the city center...well Pablo was actually driving his bobby car, which is our constant companion these days....

The morning was cold but sunny. On the way to the city center, we passed the shops we needed and also one of the flower shop, which was selling tulips already. A sign of a spring, and so I decided to take a bunch of them to have a little bit spring in our appartment too...


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Asparagus pie and chocolaty dream cookies

Busy week with some additional challenges, deadlines and coming home late. Not having much time in the evenings to prepare the dinner. In times like this, I am always bouncing back to quick and easy recipes. One of our family favorites is the asparagus pie. Easy in preparation but still very special ...lack of time shall not really impact the quality of our dinner.

Light some candles, take a chilled glass of white wine, create cosy and relaxing atmosphere and enjoy the dinner with your family....

Asparagus pie:
  • puff pastry dough (premade)
  • green asparagus
  • cup of creme fraiche (sour cream)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • salt, pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the pastry in two squares. Create a dough boarder, by rolling the edges couple of time to the middle. Mix creme fraiche with the mustard, season with salt and pepper. Blanch the asparagus (cook it for couple of minutes in a boiling water). Spread creme fraiche mixture over the pastry dough and arrange the blanched asparagus. Grate parmesan cheese over the pie and bake for ca 20 minutes (till golden brown).

What is more comforting as a cookie? A chocolate cookie with a cup of tea, if you would ask me. My chocolate crinkle cookies were the selection this week for a dessert. The cookies, done with very simple ingredients, are perfect to make in advance as you can store them in an airtight container for couple of weeks. They are actually done for Christmas holidays, we however enjoy them all year long. The texture is more cake like but still you are eating a cookie. I must warn you, as you might get addicted to those little gorgeous chocolaty dream cookies.

Chocolate crinkle cookies:
makes about 20-25 cookies
  • 60 g unsweetened cacao powder
  • 150 g sugar
  • 60 ml oil (vegetable)
  • 2 eggs
  • 130 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar
Mix all ingredients together, except the icing sugar. Put the dough into the refrigerator for couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift the icing sugar in a small bowl. Take small bunches of chilled dough (walnut size) and roll into a balls. Put the dough balls into the bowl with the icing sugar, cover completely and put on the baking sheet. Bake for ca. 15 minutes. 

By the way the cookies are very good to be shared, as our neighbors would also confirm.


Monday, 2 February 2015

Healthy fennel salad and olive oil cake topped with grapes

Fish...definitely something you shall include in your diet, preferably on a regular basis. This is something, what seems to be practically impossible in our house...as my husband, who comes from Sweden (as we remember), does not like fish!!! I know how it sounds, but I guess he just had too much fish as a kid, so he rebels against it as a grown up.
I, on the other hand love fish, probably because I did not had too much of it. So what to do if you have this kind of dilemma?!? The answer is easy...BE CREATIVE and never ask your husband if you shall have fish for lunch or dinner!!!  Any time I would raise this question, the answer from my husband would always be a very strict "NO", so over the time I stopped asking him and started to surprised him with creative fish dishes and I can say so far I was quite successful. I also have to admit that I would never get a compliment like "This is the best dish I have had since years, this week, this month etc" (you got where I am heading to) however he will tell me that he actually liked it and would eat everything, which is the biggest compliment I can get.

I am not an expert on fish either, I like to have it as simple as possible...fried or grilled with some simple spices and fresh herbs. And to make it a bit more special I would get crazy on the salad. Something special, something we would not eat everyday, something  so extraordinary what will highlight the fish even more and convince my husband to try it....

One of these special salads is my fennel salad. Fennel is not really something you are thinking about, when it comes to a salad, but to me this would be exactly the vegetable, I would chose to prepare a salad to fish. The crunchy texture, mild anise taste and the freshness it provides in the salad, is unbeatable and very very special. I am going to spare you all the healthy features this vegetable has, as the list might get too long....Fact is this salad is tasty, healthy and rich on vitamins, exactly what we needed as we are still suffering from the cold....

Hake fillet with fennel salad:

  • Hake fillet 
  • 1 big fresh fennel bulb
  • 2 oranges (or 1 small grapefruit and 2 mandarins)
  • 5 radishes (or more if desired)
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • salt, pepper
  • zest of an orange or mandarins
  • 1 pear (optional)
In a bowl mix together olive oil, grapefruit or lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper and marinade the hake fillets for couple of hours in the refrigerator. 
Slice the fennel, radishes and pear (if using) as thinly as possible, arrange it on the plate. Take of the zest of the orange, peel and fillet it, so you will get nice small orange fillets, spread it over the fennel, radishes and pear. For the dressing: squeeze the juice from the remaining rests of the oranges, mix in olive oil, orange zest, honey, salt and pepper and pour it over the salad...let it rest.
Fry the fish in a pan with some olive oil, ca.3-5 min each side. Add a small piece of butter shortly before taking it out of the pan.

Another specialty of our house is the fact, that we never have dinner without having a dessert afterwards....no matter how filled up we would be, there is always space for a small little sweet treat. As I wanted to stay a bit "healthy" at the dessert too, I went for the olive oil cake topped with grapes..

Olive oil cake topped with grapes

  • 8 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 115 g sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 60 g almond flour (grounded almonds)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • grapes seedless (or half the grapes and take out the seeds)
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a big bowl whisk together yogurt, olive oil, eggs, lemon zest and juice, till everything will come together (can be done with an electrical or stand mixer). Add sugar, flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt, mix well. Grease you baking form and pour in the batter. Put the grapes on top and bake for 15-20 minutes.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Saturday "market day" and salmon for breakfast

Saturday is the day where you should go to your town market to get fresh vegetables and fruits from the local farmers. I love doing it, but have to admit that those treats became rather rare, as here in Spain you will find fruits and vegetable shops at every corner with good quality of fruits and vegetables too. However once in a while I am still doing it, as visiting the market remains something special.

As we all got sick last week a special treat was on order, so I decided to visit our local market on Saturday. My boys were still sleeping when I grabbed my camera, bag, money and left home. It was still early in the morning, the air so fresh, no people on the street, the whole town seemed still to sleep. I love those moments and do enjoy a quite walk through the town discovering new nice things our town has to offer and no people who is getting annoyed by my slow walking and looking around. By the time I arrived at the market, I was able to make some nice pictures and decided what we will have for breakfast.

At the market itself all the people seem to be so relaxed and friendly, time seems to stay still, no rush, no stress and there is always time for a small chat. Most of them do know each other, they would greet each other with a smile and "kiss kiss on the cheek", will ask for the well being of the family and share their plans for the weekend. I could spend hours standing there, enjoying the nice atmosphere, even so my Catalan is very bad and I can only understand a part of what has been said.

I asked the farmer of this stand if I could make a picture of his vegetables, he looked a bit dazzled at me, but agreed with a smile. Some people out of the line were smiling too, saying that indeed the vegetables look so amazing and need to be photographed.

The guy at the bread stand, was also surprised when I asked him if I could make a picture...he looked at me and asked "Where am I from". I answered "from Germany", he nodded his head and said "Ahhh" and laughed even more...not really sure what it meant, but we both were laughing.

Back home, I found my boys still sleeping, so I had enough time to make some pictures of my newly bought food and prepare the breakfast. I left the arrangement at the kitchen table, as I wanted Pablo to see these gorgeous carrots and bread and the pears.....

As for the breakfast I decided to make salmon sandwiches. The gorgeous cereal bread I bought at the market would go perfect with this..

Salmon sandwich

  • bread (cereal or dark)
  • avocado
  • salmon
  • olive oil
  • black sesame seeds (toasted)
  • zest of a lemon + some lemon juice
Cut bread in slices (not too thin), peel and cut the avocado in slices too. Roast black sesame seeds without any oil in the pan, till the smell of the seeds starts to come, put it aside to cool. Wash the lemon, take the zest and squeeze out some lemon juice.
Put the avocado on bread and salmon on top. Garnish with black sesame seeds and lemon zest. Arrange on the plate and drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice over the sandwiches.

My boys enjoyed the surprises and my husband said that he will always support my "visits to the market"...he promised to stay in bed with Pablo till I return and wake them up for a really gorgeous breakfast :-)


P.S. These sandwiches can be enjoyed any time of the day...for late breakfast, as small snack during the day or even as nice starter for the dinner served with a glass of cava.....
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