Sunday, 22 November 2015

How to create a 3 course vegetarian dinner....

On Friday we had a friend over to our place, who is a vegetarian. I have to admit even so I am quite a cook, vegetarian cooking is not my speciality. I do love vegetables and cook a lot with them, but if you need to cook a whole dinner with vegetables only, as none vegeterian you will face some limitations.....well at least I did. 

When I invited our friend over to us and he asked me if we can have a vegetarian dinner I fell bit like aunt Voula in my "Big Fat Greek Wedding" movie in the scene where Tuola told her aunt that Ian is a vegetarian, first she did not get what it means and than she answered " Oh that´s OK, that´s OK then I will make lamb", since I do not know how to cook lamb either our friend was lucky as I decide to stick to vegetables only...

Finally we ended up having a three course vegetarian dinner, an international mix of all the dishes I like....vegetable creme soup for starters served with homemade tortilla chips, Mexican veggie wraps for main dish and lazy mini princess torta for desert. All done in under 1,5 hours. I learned that vegetarian cooking does not have to be so complex or bland as I always was thinking before....

Spicy veggie creme-soup with homemade tortilla chips
  • quarter of butternut pumpkin
  • 1 big sweet potato
  • 2-3 small potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 chili
  • 1 garlic glove
  • 2 cubes vegetable broth
  • 1-1,5 l water
  • 100 ml double cream for cooking
Peel and cut all vegetables in cubes, take the seeds out of the chili and cut it in stripes. Chop the garlic roughly. Put all vegetables, chili and garlic in the pot with some olive oil and braise it for minute or so. Add broth cubes and water (just that all vegetables are covered). Once water starts to boil put the heat down to medium high, close the pot with the lead and let is cook for about 20 minutes. Check if veggies are cooked through, then add double cream and bring it to boil once again. Use your blender to puree the soup...
  • tortilla flat bread
  • olive oil
  • pink Himalayan salt
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Take a tortilla and brush it with some olive oil, sprinkle some of the salt. Cut the tortilla with a pizza cuter in 8 triangles and place them on the baking tray. Bake for 5-7 minutes, till the edges starts to brown. Take the tray out of the oven and let the chips cool down (at the tray).

Mexican veggie wraps
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 package fajita spice
  • 200 ml tomato sauce
  • tortillas flat bread
Peel the sweet potato and cut it in long strips (try to have them in the same size). Do the same with the remaining vegetables (bell pepper, carrots, courgette). add some olive oil into the pan, add sweet potatoes chunks and fry for 2-3 minutes on medium/high (make sure it does not get burned). Then add the carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes, finally add bell pepper stripes and courgette chunks. Sprinkle fajitas spice over the vegetables, steer till all veggies are covered. Pour tomato sauce over and steer again...add some water if needed, as you would need some liquid to cook the veggies through. Put on the lead and cook for about 10 minutes....steer occasionally. Serve with warmed up tortillas flat bread, creme fraiche and fresh leave salad....

I served just fresh salad leaves sprinkled with some olive oil, lime zest and lime juice over it...

Lazy mini princess torta
  • 3 eggs
  • 90 g sugar
  • 90 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 fresh vanilla pod
  • marmalade
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 30 g powdered sugar
  • rolled marzipan 
Preheat the oven to 180 C. With an electrical mixer whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds from a half of the vanilla pod till doubled in size and pale in the colour. Sift in flour and baking powder and fold it into the egg sugar mixture with a spatula. Pour the batter on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let the biscuit cool of and cut 6 circles with a round cookie cutter.
Spread some marmalade on top of each biscuit cicle, set aside. Whip double cream, remaining vanilla seeds and powered sugar till firm peaks start to form. Put about 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream on the top of the biscuit creating a dome shape. With a bigger cookie cutter, cut 6 circles of rolled mazipan and put it on the top of the cream dome, covering the cream dome of the mini cake (no need to do it neat). Decorate with remaining whipped cream and sprinkles....


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Don´t be afraid of making quiche from scratch + mini linzer pie for dessert

Today some tips and tricks of making a quiche. I wrote already some time ago how much I do love quiches, sharing my absolute favourite quiche recipe (PUMPKIN QUICHE) and I do not know anyone who does not love them either....BUT I do know quite some people who are a bit afraid of preparing them from scratch...especially when it comes to the base (crust).

I know there are many ways how the crust can be done and some of them are quite complicated or time consuming indeed, sometimes when I do not have that much time to prepare a quiche, but still have some cravings for it, I quickly jump to the following tricks to save time but still delivering a tasty dinner for my family. Not sure how many quiches / pies I have been preparing so far (too many for sure) and every time I would try another trick...of course not all of them are working out, so I did reduce the list to the following tips, which still will guarantee a perfect result and for sure save some of your time....
  • Use your food processor to prepare the dough - put flour, salt and butter cut in cubes into the food processor, pulse couple of times, till butter is incorporated into the flour. Add the liquid (spoon wise) till you will reach desired consistency
  • Always use ice cold butter, as this will make your crust light and flaky. You will achieve even more lightness in your dough, if you will add a teaspoon of baking powder
  • Line your baking form with the rolled loosely as possible trying to avoid the tearing. Dough is always shrinking while it is baking, it will shrink even more if you are tearing it apart.
  • Put the baking form into the freezer while you are preparing the filling, by doing this you can avoid the pre-baking of the crust

Moving on to the easy dessert which can be done within couple of minutes and does not require special ingredients as such.

Linzer mini pie

  • 200 g flour
  • 60 g brown sugar
  • 80 g butter cold
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • your favourite marmalade
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put flour, sugar, butter cut in 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).
Roll the dough out, using a cookie cuter cut some circles and flowers (hearts, stars etc.). Grease your muffin thin and put one dough circle in a muffin mold, gently pushing it in. Fill it with your favourite marmalade, about one teaspoon, and top it with a flower, star or heart. Bake for ca. 15-20 minutes, till golden brown. Take the muffin form out of the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack for couple of minutes. Take the pies out, dust with some powdered sugar and serve.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

A bowl filled with vitamines and comfort

I do believe that food served in a bowl is the food which gives us the most comfort. For starters there is a bowl of soup you might remember from your childhood, brought by your mom when you are not feeling well, which will provide you warmth and strenghts. Or a bowl of curry filled with exotic spices, colourful and delicious, you tried one day in an exotic restaurant. There is also a bowl filled with ice cream, we need the most when we are feeling down...I love to serve food in bowls, which  is why I have like a millions of them home (and I cannot stop buying new once!!!). I also love to eat my food out of a bowl...especially when I grieve for some comfort....

Today something really really simple and easy to do, but still kind of special, a well known vegetable soup. Special because this delicious cream soup can be done with all your favourite vegetables, it is healthy but still very decide what goes in, you spice it up with your favourite spices, blend it and serve it with some fresh baguette and your cosy time, on the sofa under a blanket with a nice movie on TV, can begin....

Vegetable cream soup

Wash, peel and cut all the vegetables in cubes. Put some olive oil in your casserole pot and add all the vegetables.Let is cook for couple of minutes. Add water and broth cubes, put the lead on your casserole and cook for about 20 minutes. Check if all the vegetables are cooked through. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper if still needed, cook for one minute. Blend everything till all creamy and serve with a fresh baguette...

This soup taste even better the day after and is perfect to be frozen, in case you will have some left overs....


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

With some delays...a humble apple cake for afternoon coffee...

This post is coming with some delays, as I made this dish last week, while visiting my mom in Germany. Spontaneous trip to grandma, something Pablo and I needed. It is always quite a delight to take some days off from work just in the middle of the season when nobody else takes vacation. 

Obviously autumn reached Germany too and if you would go there now you will find it most beautiful, if you would ask me. Living at the country side gives you additional opportunities to enjoy this golden season. There are many things I do love about the country side in Germany, many of them are obviously connected to food...You shall know that at the time of harvest, this time it is apples, walnuts, grapes etc., you will find small selling stands all over the villages, where local farmers will offer their goods. They will put the packages out there next to a small can where the money should be put in and everybody can just take what ever they want and as much they want. The fruits and vegetables are all bio quality, but  do not cost as much as you will pay in the shop... I love that idea and would usually take something with me home....

Apples are having their debut and I did a humble apple cake for us for the afternoon coffee. Coming from Germany or being there, you would know that afternoon coffee is something really important there and a home made cake is a must...It does not have to be a fancy cake to serve the purposes, something humble and simple is what the most people are looking for...

Easy peasy apple cake
(the  recipe calls for a baking tray)
  • 250 g butter (softened)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 50 ml milk
  • 250 g flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • apples
Preheat the oven to 180C and line your baking tray with baking paper. In a big bowl mix butter and sugar, till pale in colour and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at the time. In an extra bowl, sift together baking powder and flour. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture mix well. Add milk and whisk again. Add the remaining flour and mix till all well combined. Spread the batter evenly over the baking tray. Peel the apples and cut them in wedges, spread all over the batter, will everything is covered. Bake for 20-30 minutes, till golden brown. Serve warm with some powdered sugar on top. This cake can be also served with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce...

If you want your cake to be a bit more shiny, just brush it with some marmalade glaze while still hot (couple of tablespoons of any yellow marmalade, cooked for couple of minutes with some water in  saucepan) 


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