Sunday, 27 March 2016

"Paska" Russian Easter bread for our yearly Easter brunch...

There are many reasons to like Easter... I have some nice memories of this holidays myself. As kids we would get some small presents, delicious baked goods, tons of eggs which would be coloured by us the day before. Our parents would hide the presents along with the eggs and we would look for them collecting our findings in a small basket. They would tell us stories about Easter bunny and we would be super happy about our findings, having the biggest sugar rush ever.

Now being all grown up, we are doing the same for our kids. There are stories, there is colouring the eggs, sweets and finding games. The house is decorated for Easter and we all are looking forward for the long weekend from work and kindergarden. For me it is another perfect occasion to bake and spoil my boys with something nice. This year I decided to make "Paska" cake, a Russian Easter cake which I do know from my childhood. It was mostly my grandmother baking this cake for Easter, which it is actually not a traditional cake, but more a sweet bread pastry done out of yeast dough. The top of the bread was the most desirable part of the cake as it was topped with a meringue frosting and lot´s of colourful sugar sprinkles. It was sweet, delicious and gorgeous at once, a dish which shall always be there for Easter.

The recipe is easy and the ingredients quite simple, it only needs some raising time and some kneading. Both my boys loved it, I was happy to do it as it does remind me of my childhood, but still I need to admit the once from my grandmother were much better. I guess I need a bit more practise to get there... she was quite unbeatable when it came to baking, especially with yeast.

These days, now when I have a family on my own, the tradition in our family for Easter would be a brunch on Easter Friday or Sunday. Paska is just perfect for brunches, it can be always done in advance, it does decorate the table and it can be eaten in different ways... plain with a cup of coffee, with some butter and cheese for a more filling result, with jam or nutella for all the sweet tooth out there. On the top of the brunch we would always use the days off to go for a long walk in the nature. We are blessed to be in Spain, where the Spring comes bit earlier, hence we always get a change to spend soe time outside during the Easter break.

Paska cake - Russian Easter bread
  • 250 milk (warm)
  • 1 package dry yeast (7 g)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 30 g butter melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 0,5 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 500-600 g flour
Activate the yeast: In a small bowl add yeast, some warm milk and sugar, whisk briefly and cover the mixture with a clean kitchen towel, let it rest for 5-8 minutes, till foam starts to form and you will start to smell the yeast. In a big mixing bowl pour in the remaining milk, add sugar, butter, eggs and salt, mix quickly. Add the activated yeast, some flour and combine all the ingredients. Add remaining flour (leave 50 g aside) ground cardamon and knead all the ingredients. If you do the dough in the stand mixer, it will take between 3-5 minutes, if you do it with hands around 5-10 minutes. Add gradually the remaining flour if the dough appears to be too wet. It shall be still very soft, but not sticking to your hands. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 1-1,5 hours. 
The dough should be risen to double by now. Grease your baking dish (I used 10 and 15 cm baking tins and would recommend to use the smaller tins), take the dough out knead all the air out of it, divide the dough in 3 equal dough pieces and put them into the baking tins. Cover with the towel and let them rest for additional 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 180C. Beat an egg yolk with some milk and brush the top of the cake, put the tins into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Knock on the top of the bread, if it does make hollow sounds, then the bread is ready. Take it out and let it cool off for 5-10 minutes, then take it out of the form and let is cool completely on the cooling rack.
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • colourful sprinkle
Beat the egg white with the sugar, till the meringue starts to form stiff peaks and all sugar crystals are dissolved. Frost the top of the paska with the meringue frosting and spread a generous amount of the sugar sprinkles.
For the bunny cake I did use my favourite "sugar cake" recipe (makes 2 bunnies). The cake form can be purchased via amazon in Bunny and Easter Lamb form.
The recipe for the vanilla cookies can be find here, I just used melted white chocolate and sugar sprinkles, instead of royal icing, to have them decorated. 
If you would like to have some more inspiration for Easter check some other recipes here and here or here.

Happy Easter Holidays to all of you!!!


Monday, 21 March 2016

Blackberries my alltime favourites...special bundt cake to welcome the Spring

Time flies, it feels like it was just couple of weeks ago I was sharing my Christmas recipes with you and since yesterday Spring officially started. I love Spring, even so Autumn remains my favourite season, I do appreciate spring a lot too... I am looking forward to my market visits on Saturdays, which have been neglected in the winter. A short walk down to the city centre early in the morning, with the risen sun and fresh air, curios what the local farmers will offer this time...

Being all inspired and happy about the Spring, I accidentally came across of some gorgeous fresh blackberries. Berries are my weakness, I cannot resist to a basket of berries and any time I see one, I always take it with me. There were two reasons for a celebration now... the Spring and our first fresh blackberries this year. 

Bundt cakes are my darlings at the moment and so I decided to make a lime bundt cake with blackberry mascarpone filling. Limes and blackberries are going perfect together, the cake tastes fresh, fruity and creamy at the same time, a perfect choice to welcome the Spring...
Lime bundt cake with blackberries mascarpone filling
(this recipe calls for a small bundt cake form, if you are using a standard size bundt form please double)

  • 75 g butter (room temperature)
  • 75 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • 125 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 g mascarpone cheese
  • hand full of fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease your bundt baking form. In a bowl whisk together butter and sugar, till fluffy and light. Add the eggs, one at the time, combine all the ingredients. Add the zest and juice of the lime, mix well. Mix flour with the baking powder and add to the butter-egg mixture, mix well till all ingredients are well combined. Pour the batter into the form and bake for 30-40 minutes (if you are using a standard size baking form, it might take longer). Make the wooden stick test, take the cake out and let it cool for at least 15 minutes on the cooling rack. Take the cake out of the form and let it cool completely.

Puree the blackberries with one spoon of sugar. Add half of the berry puree to the mascarpone and combine, add the rest of the puree, make sure the frosting is not getting too runny. Add some powdered sugar if you would like to have it more sweeter.

Cut the cake in too layers. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe some cream roses on the top of the first layer. Put the second layer on top and decorate with some frosting and berries.


Monday, 7 March 2016

Superfood bowl for breakfast

Maybe not the new trend, but something I am hearing more and more around the food blogs. It´s all about "superfood" these days: Superfood is a marketing term, used to describe foods with supposed health benefits. You all know them and probably already included it in your daily diet: berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, eggs, vegetables etc... Having them included in your daily diet, you shall feel and see some health benefits in a very short time frame already. Each superfood holds different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are essential for our health. For sure they won´t heal serious sicknesses, we all shall be aware of this, but with a certain set of vitamins and minerals we will feel more energised, can keep our weight in balance and strenghten our immune system. With a spring coming soon, we shall check our diet behaviours and try to include some of the superfoods into our daily eating routine to prevent the famous "spring fatigue" and spring colds.

Enough said... let´s move to the recipes. Today two "superfood" bowl recipe for breakfast. Start your day with something super delicious, nutritious and super healthy. Fill your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to feel super energised for the rest of the day....

Banana raspberries smoothie bowl

  • ripe banana
  • hand full raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon real honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons of homemade granola (recipe here)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • some fresh raspberries
Put banana, raspberries, yogurt and honey in a blender and blitz for couple of seconds till all well combined. Pour the smoothie in a bowl and garnish with granola, chia seeds, flax seeds and fresh berries.

Banana blueberries smoothie bowl

  • ripe banana
  • hand full blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons homemade granola (recipe here)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • fresh pineapple
Put banana, blueberries, yogurt and honey in a blender and blitz for couple of seconds till all well combined. Pour the smoothie in a bowl and garnish with granola, chia seeds and fresh pineapple cubes.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Asian inspired "Cooking the chef" reto

Today I am going to share another comfy bowl food recipe, which I have been trying for the Cooking the chef  March challenge. This month chef is a British food writer and TV chef Ching He Huang, very well known for her food television program Chinese Food Made Easy. 

Eating your food out of bowl is for me the most comfy way to enjoy the food. Asian food has been invented to be eaten out of bowl, which might be the main reason why I love Asian kitchen so much. I found also that most of Asian recipes are simple and easy to do, the only condition is, your kitchen is equipped with some Chinese cooking essentials and spices.

Stir fried noodles with chicken is the recipe I choose to make, what I like about this dish is the fact that this dish is done within 15-20 minutes, including the cutting of the vegetables and cooking the noodles. The recipe can vary depending on your taste, the choice of the vegetables it completely up to you, making sure you will end up with a delicious and comfy dish... served in the bowl and enjoyed at the sofa.

Stir fried noodles with chicken

  • 2 chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon five Chinese spice
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 0.5 tablespoon hot chili sauce
  • Chinese egg noodles
  • bell pepper
  • fresh green beans
  • carrots
  • sesame oil
  • light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • fresh chives or coriander
Cook the noodles according to the pack description. Cut the chicken breast in thin slices. In a bowl put the cut chicken breast, five Chinese spice, dark soy sauce and hot chili sauce, mix well and set aside. Cut the vegetables in thin and equal slices. Add the cornstarch to the marinade chicken, mix well. Heat up your wok, add one tablespoon of vegetable oil, put in the chicken and fry for a minute or two...stir occasionally to make sure everything will get fried. Add the pre-cooked noodles and vegetables, bit of water and let it cook away for 2-3 minutes. Pour some of the light soy sauce to spice the dish and sprinkle some of the sesame oil over. Give it another stir, cut the chives and / or coriander and sprinkle over the dish. Serve in a bowl.

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