Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cucumber sandwiches, babyshower, cupcakes and more

Bake a cake, invite some girls, get some decoration, look for an excuse to make the future mommy to be to come to the party and your baby shower party is almost done... Well, almost...there some other steps you should consider to make the whole deal a success.

Last Saturday we organised a surprise baby shower party for a colleague of us and today I am going to share some tips and some recipes with you.
1. Decide on the location, it should be big enough and kids friendly: In our case we decided to have a brunch picnic in a park with a big playground and a picnic area
2. Prepare a list of food, drinks, tasks and share it with the rest of the guests so everybody get a chance to contribute. You will be amazed how many girls  would volunteer to prepare a cake, get the decoration, prepare sandwiches or drinks
3. Think about some games, to bring some fun and laughter to the party
4. Invite enough girls who does not have kids yet: This step is very critical and I would urge you to follow it. The reason is simple, most likely (we) mommies will show up with our kids (everybody who has kids knows already now, where I am going with this). Showing up at the party with kids, means being on guard most of the time (if not ALL of the time), to avoid this and to give your mommies the chance to enjoy the party too, invite enough not mommies yet and they will gladly take over the "guarding part" of the kids. Mommies can relax, enjoy and brag about their lovely kids, sharing nice and useful tips with the future mommy to be and gave the not mommies yet a small glance of a motherhood...a win win for everybody.

My contribution to the party was a cake, cupcakes, cucumber sandwiches, mini pizzas and pigs in a blanket.... Quick, easy done and great for a picnic.

Mini pizza
  • pre-made pizza dough (can be bought in a supermarket)
  • tomatoes sauce
  • fresh tomatoes
  • cheese
  • oregano
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Cut the pizza down in squares (as small or as big as you want), slice the tomatoes, add some spices to the tomatoes sauce (salt, pepper, garlic etc.) and grate the cheese. Place the dough squares on a baking sheet, spread some tomatoes sauce on each square, put 1-2 tomatoes slices on top, sprinkle with some grated cheese and dry oregano. Bake for 15-20 minutes, till golden brown. Let is cool completely on a cooking rack, before packing it for the picnic.

Cucumber sandwiches
(for 14 sandwiches)
  • 14 toast bread slices (crust less)
  • 100 g cream cheese
  • 2 table spoons mayonnaise
  • fresh dill
  • 1 big cucumber
  • salt, pepper
In a bowl mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, chopped dill, salt and pepper to a smooth and creamy texture. Take the skin from the cucumber and cut it thin round or square slices (as big as the toast bread slice). Spread some cream on all toast bread slices, put the cucumber slices and top it with another toast bread. Cut in squares or triangles.

Pigs in a blanket
  • pre-made pizza dough
  • mini sausages
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the dough in thin stripes and cover partly the sausages. Put the sausages on the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, till the dough is golden brown. Let is cool.

Vanilla cake with mascarpone frosting and berries
  • 4 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 120 flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C and line your baking form with baking paper (do not grease it!). In a bowl beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds for 3-4 minutes with an electrical mixer, till double in size. Sift flour and baking powder and add to the egg sugar mixture, combine everything careful with a spatula. Pour the batter into the baking form and bake for 25-35 minutes, till golden brown (make the stick test). Take it out on the cooling rack and let it cool completely. Depending how big your baking form was, cut the cake in 2or 3 layers (I used 20 cm round form and cut the cake in 2 layers)

Mascarpone cream frosting
  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 100-150 g powdered sugar
  • remaining vanilla pod
  • milk or cream
  • fresh berries (blue berries, raspberries, strawberries)
In a bowl combine the mascarpone cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla seeds. Start add milk or cream to the mixture to make is smooth and fluffy, spoon by spoon. It might take a bit of time, but it is important to add the milk in a small portion to avoid a runny filling. Add as much milk or cream as needed to get a creamy and easy to spread filling. Divide in 2 or 3 portions (depending how many layers you will use). Spread each portion on a cake layer and top it with berries, continue doing this step till all layers are build. Top it with a nice cake toper, fitting to a theme.

"How big is the belly" game, one of the favorite games on a baby shower. Each guests will get a paper tape and shall guess how big is the belly of the mommy to be...they can use their own waist to decide on the measurement. The quest who guess the closest is the winner....

"Change the diaper".. Take some dolls, teddies and diapers and make a "change the diapers" competition between the girls. Mix the groups with experience and none experience girls, to make it more funny. It´s funny to see what kind of mistake can be done (we all have been there), how people act under pressure and how chatty the mommies become sharing the tips on how to change the diaper correctly...

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream frosting
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 125 g butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the chocolate and the butter on a low heat in a pan. Take it from the heat and add the sugar, whisk together. Add the eggs (one at the time) and mix everything good together. Sift the flour and the baking powder, add to the chocolate butter mixture, combine till everything is mixed. Line your muffin thin with the paper cups and divide the butter in 12 equal portions (use an ice-cream scooper to ensure equal amount of the batter). Bake for 20 min, make the stick test. Let is cool completely.

Vanilla frosting
  • 100 g butter soft
  • 150 g powdered sugar
  • 200 g cream cheese
  • fresh vanilla pod
In a bowl whisk together the butter with the powdered sugar, till light and fluffy. Cut the vanilla pod open and scrape the seeds, add it to the butter and mix well. Add cream cheese and whisk for additional couple of minutes. Frost the cupcakes...

It was a great day and a great party. We did enjoy the occasion and the opportunity to spend some time together. Future mommy to be was pleasantly surprised and we all very happy to see the party being such a success....

Thank you girls...YOU ARE GREAT!!! I might consider your organizational skills for future events too :-) Silja this post is for you!!!!!


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mama&Son quality time, a bag full of love, testing new kitchen...

Today´s post is coming with some delays, as I am going to write about last weekend experience. Me and Pablo had that weekend for ourselves, as my husband was on his "yearly guys trip" meeting up with his guys, this time in Berlin.

My son is an early riser (I guess he has it from me), hence we both were awake at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, which could not be better as I was thinking to go to the local market and check for some nice things we could have over the weekend. We took a little snack to us, made ourselves ready and went out. The streets were still empty, there were some people sitting in the cafes sipping on their first cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Pablo was so happy to have the street all for himself, he could just slide down the street on his red bobby car without paying much attention their might be somebody on his way. He smiled, saluted and waved to the people sitting in the cafes and really enjoyed the attention he would get. It was the first time I took him with me to the market and seeing how much he was loving it, it would be definitely not the last time.
I on the other side enjoyed the fresh air, still a bit chilly and so clear, as I knew on the way back home it might be already getting hotter. You have to know that summer reached us already and for the last couple of weeks the temperature was climbing higher and higher, it gets quite hot during the day and early mornings became my favorite time of the day.

Our local market is very small, we have literally two local farmers who sell fresh vegetable and fruits, one girl selling cheese and yogurt, another one selling olive oil and than there is a guy selling bread and pastry. That´s it...but still you will find everything you need for sure. I always manage to get my bags full, well actually more than full as I am always find something on top, what was not on my shopping list. This time it was cherries and fresh peas. I love fresh peas and do actually eat them raw...I do not need to cook them, I just eat them like they are...sweet, crunchy, nutty in taste and so perfectly round and green. Pulling one pea after another, reminds me so much on my childhood. The best snack ever...not only delicious but also quite healthy. And the cherries...who does not like cherries?!? For me, cherries are a sign of a summer...if you can buy cherries already, the summer must be here.

Pablo enjoyed our shopping tour too...he would chat (in his own language) with the farmers, smiling at them while giving them money and waiting for the exchange, which he would always put back in my pocket (lets see how long this habit will last)... touching and checking the vegetable, as I was doing it, giving us the impression he knows exactly what he is doing. On the way home we did some small stops here and there enjoying the sun, the fresh air and the nice things we just bought. My son is definitely a son of his mother, we could not even move a meter away from the farmer´s stand and he already was checking the bag for a little snack. I was the same as kid, especially when it came to one point my mom stopped sending me to buy any bread, as she knew I will come home only with half of it, as I would start snacking on it on the way home already. Bread crust was my favorite part, hence something we would have crust less bread for dinner...

Pablo and I spend a lovely Saturday, with some delicious meals, which I did prepare from the rest of the things we bought at the market. Sunday was on the way, another day to look forward too. You remember that Sunday my friend and I have planed to have a shared baking-cooking event in his new brand kitchen.

If kitchen would be your favorite room in the house and you would like to spend every single free minute there, enjoying all the nice kitchen aids and tools, preparing something delicious for your family and can probably imagine how I felt, that Sunday.
Of course I wanted to have a new kitchen straight away too, preferably with a big house attached to it. I guess you can imagine what my husband is going through right now...I cannot stop speaking about new kitchen, new kitchen tools, new house etc. for days already! 
Just being in the new renovated flat was super exciting and so inspirational, not to mention the kitchen of my dreams. Somehow we just got lost in our talk about how and where and how much, that half of what we were planned to prepare was simple forgotten, which means (to MY delight) another baking event need to take place in that kitchen again...

For the house warming we brought some things representing different country habits I know:
  • Bread and salt, something typical you would bring with you in Russia for a new house: bread stands for food which shall always be available in this house and salt shall spice up and rich it. Since I was born in Tajikistan I got to know this tradition too. 
  • In Germany you would bring something green with you, typically a plant for the new flat or the house. I brought fresh herbs instead, as they would go so perfect with the rest of the present
  • My friend is from France, so I brought him a box of Kusmi Tea, mainly because I wanted to bring bit of France to the  whole package too and because I do love it a lot (my current favorite is "green tea with strawberry")
  • Small bottle of fine olive oil,  as we all live in Spain now and olive oil is Spain to me
  • And because it is me and I do love sweets things, I made some "honey butter" which shall bring warmth and sweetness to the house and would go perfect with the homemade banana bread

Along with some other delights we have had, my friend did prepare some scrambled eggs for us. He spend some days in Berlin couple of weeks before. One day he went to a lovely place for a breakfast, a place his friend recommended to him. He told me that there he would have the best scrambled eggs ever, so he wanted to prepare them for us. There is a small twist to it, which makes the whole dish indeed very delicious. He did not exaggerate, the scrambled eggs were a dream and will for sure be a fixed part on my future brunch parties.

Scrambled eggs a la Greg (Gousfood)
  • eggs
  • milk
  • spring onions
  • feta cheese
  • tomatoes
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
Crack the eggs in a bowl, add a bit of milk and whisk briefly. Wash the tomatoes and spring onions. Cut tomatoes and feta in small cubes, hack the spring onions. Put some olive oil into the pan, add tomatoes, spring onions, the eggs and feta cheese. Stir and cook till ready. Serve them with some dark bread and fried bacon...

Banana bread
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons honey
  • 100 g butter softened
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2-3 ripe bananas

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Grease and line your loaf tin with baking paper. In a big bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and honey, till foamy and light in the color. Add butter, mix till all combined. Mash the bananas with lemon juice and fold it into the egg-butter mixture. Sift flour and baking powder. Add almond flour, sifted flour and baking powder and salt, combine all the ingredients together. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes till golden brown (make the stick test).

Time past so quickly, we spend many hours talking, eating, having fun and searching for Denver...Denver is a cat, who could not really get all the excitement around him. Pablo was so amazed by him he would not leave from his side for a minute and then this chatty noisy women (me) with all her ahhhs and ohhhs around the kitchen. Finally he decided just to hide from us and have a nap under the bed, which made Pablo makes us to check regularly if he is awake already or not, by regular I mean every 10 minutes.... Denver was sleeping for more than 2 hours!


Saturday, 9 May 2015

We are hosting a small brunch event this sunday....

Something exciting is going to happen on Sunday....a shared cooking & baking event with GOUSFOOD in his brand new kitchen. I am not quite sure to which part I am looking forward the most..test the new kitchen, sharing the recipes, cooking together, host the´s all so exciting and I cannot wait for Sunday to come...

We are planning to host a small brunch event, with some of our favorite recipes to be shared and enjoyed. A little photo shooting was on the agenda too...definitely an area I can learn a lot. I love taking pictures, but do not really know the tricks...

As for today I am going to share my favorite vanilla-butter cookies recipe. They are rich in taste, but very fine in texture, a perfect cookie for the afternoon tea or coffee...

Vanilla butter cookies:

  • 200 g butter soft
  • 90 g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod
  • 300 g flour
Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together butter and icing sugar. Cut open the vanilla pod and take out the seeds. Add vanilla, egg yolks and flour to the butter mixture, combine everything together to a big dough ball, wrap it in a plastic wrap and let it chill in refrigerator for 30 min.
Take the dough out, form dough balls (walnut size), lie them on a baking sheet and press either with a cookie stamp, fork or meat tenderizer (I personally love to use it for making these cookies). Bake for 10-12 minutes, till golden brown on the edges.
You can store them for couple of weeks in a airtight container.

Enjoy...and get ready for the updates on the brunch event, new recipes and nice photos

Friday, 1 May 2015

Long weekend and what can be done with a pear

I love long weekends and lately we have had some of those. It is so nice to stay away from work a bit longer than over the weekend and you have a bit more time to do something funny. Usually we are using those weekends for little family getaways. This time we are going to spend couple of days at the beach, in another small town at Costa Brava.

We are going to spoil us with some nice food, long beach walks, hopefully late waking up (depending how nice Pablo will be to us) and made breakfast, something I personally appreciate the most.

And before we leave for the long, relaxing weekend, we all were looking for... I am going to share another recipe with you. A recipe, to spoil your loved once over the weekend.

Pear almond tarte. Baking with pears, might not be seen as familiar, as baking with apples. There are tons of recipes and ways to bake with apples. Pears however, are also just as lovely and very fitting for the baking, in my point of view. I do have two favourite recipes at my hand, which are used regularly as soon as the pears are available in the fruit-shops. I love pears firm, not quite ripe and not to sweet for eating, for baking however they should be very ripe (overripe if you will), soft and very sweet. I usually would buy couple of them, one part will be eaten fresh for a snack with cheese and nuts, in a salad as an additional wow factor to it or for a dessert with some other fruits. The rest will just be forgotten for a couple of days, till they will be ripe and super sweet and can be used for a pear almond tarte or pear chocolate cake, our family favourites.

Today I am going to share the pear almond tarte recipe with you and hope you will appreciate this rich, fruity, creamy and almondy tarte as we do. The tarte is quite humble, again the ingredients you are using are not that exotic but the tarte is quite special, I promise. The richness of the almonds goes so well with the lightness and sweetness of the pear, the cake taste like home, weekends at grandmas and comfort to me. A custard like texture of the almond filling captured in a sweet shortcrust pastry is unbeatable if you would like to spoil someone with comfort this weekend. I would suggest to have a cup of tea, instead of the coffee to it, as coffee might be to heavy and to overpowering on the taste.

Pear almond tarte:

  • 275 g flour
  • 125 g cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
Cut the butter in cubes, put flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz for couple of seconds. Add egg and blitz once more, till the dough forms a ball. If the dough appears to dry, add some milk to it....spoon wise.

Take the dough out on a floured surface. Roll it out, big enough to cover the baking dish. Put the baking dish into the freezer. Meanwhile prepare the almond filling:
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoon amaretto or bit of a almond extract
  • 1-2 very ripe pears
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a bowl mix together butter and sugar, till well combined and fluffy.Add almond flour and ground almonds, mix. Finally add the egg and amaretto, beat everything till well combined. 
Take out your baking form with the shortcrust from the refrigerator and spread the filling equally.  
Peal the pears, cut them in half and take away the seeds. Cut into the half's, halfway trough and arrange them on the tarte filling as desired. Bake for 35-45 minutes, till golden brown (make the stick test). Take the tarte out and put it on the cooling rack, let it cool. Decorate with some powdered sugar and serve with nice cup of tea.

I wish you all a long, very nice and relaxing weekend..


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