Tuesday, 27 September 2016

One weekend, one batter, two cakes and two excursions

Weekends are great and we always make sure to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Now with autumn back into town, we can spend the whole day outside. The heat of the summer is gone and hiding from the sun during the day became unnecessary, instead people flock to the streets enjoying the sun, while having a snack, refreshing drink or an afternoon tea in one of the favorite bars or cafe

Saturday was booked with a zoo visit, something which was quite impossible during the summer months. There is a routine we are having when going to the zoo. We will walk there through the small streets of Barcelona, stopping in one of the hundred cafes or bars either on the way there or back, having something small or big for a bite, enjoying the hustle of the big city, building some memories. Every time we are out in the city, we would discover something new, another charming street, bar or restaurant, another small plaza or amazing building and of course I would stop at every corner to take a picture of our new discovery, while my husband would wonder how many of them I can make....

Sunday was filled with a walk through "Collserola" park, something we love to do on Sundays. Also here we are having a certain "tradition" we follow, our usual route through the woods with an magnificent view on Sant Cugat, with a little picnic in between, ending the route with a small football match at Pi de´n Xandri tree, before we head back home. Same as in Barcelona I always would discover something new which needs to be photograph and even so we went this route hundreds time already there is always a new bush to be discovered, a new flower which blooms or a different angle to make another picture of Sant Cugat....
My favorite cake for such occasions would be definitely my easy peasy sugar cake, which can be done with different flavors, fruits or berries.  The cake is moist fruity and just perfect to be eaten with hands, no need for fancy plates or cutlery. The best part of this cake recipe is of course the preparation and the variety. It takes literally 10 min to prepare the batter and 20-30 to have it baked. Today I am giving you two different flavors I made over the weekend. One for my friend, which I made while we were talking about our plans for weekend... she dropped quickly by to pickup some things she needed as she got visit from her family and I thought it would be a lovely surprise if she could bring a fresh homemade cake with her for them. This one was made with different kind of berries and vanilla. I like this version as it is fresh, fruity and somehow decadent of all the vanilla I put in...who does not like berries and vanilla... for me a perfect combination. For our excursion in Collserola I made a autumn version apples and cinnamon, also a combination which never fails and somehow super fitting into the autumn breathed forest...

Vanilla sugar cake with berries

  • 3 eggs (ca. 160 g)
  • 160 g white sugar
  • 160 g melted butter
  • 160 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • frozen or fresh berries
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a bowl whisk together (hand whisk will work perfectly) eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add butter mix briefly. Sift in flour and baking powder, whisk till all dry ingredients are incorporated, no need to whisk too much, just till everything comes together and you get a smooth, runny and shiny batter. Pour the batter into your baking dish and top it with frozen or fresh berries. Bake for 25-30 minutes (make the wooden stick test). Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve...

For the apple cake version 

  • white sugar with brown sugar
  • vanilla with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • berries with 1-2 apples (cut in small cubes and sprinkled with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon) 


Saturday, 24 September 2016

My favorite fig galette

I did it again... it is autumn, figs are available in all the shops and I needed to do something quick and delicious. My husband came home the other day from work and asked what are we going to have for dessert. I planned the dinner already, but was not really thinking about dessert. I saw the gorgeous figs at the counter and a peach and thought of a fig galette. The recipe I am sharing today is not new, I posted it last autumn already...the pictures are new however. I am trying some new tricks these days, playing with light, shadow, props and angels...

Fig galette
  • 50 g cold butter
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 1/5 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • figs and peach
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, cut in cubes and incorporate it with your fingers till you get a sand like mixture. Add the egg and mix a firm ball of dough. Roll the dough out, quarter the figs and cut the peaches and distribute them on the top of the galette. Fold the edges over and sprinkle the galette with some more brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Drizzle some honey over and serve hot with some vanilla ice cream.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Sunday... breakfast, city walk and other responsibilites as mom

Sunday suppose to be a relaxing day, but somehow this is not always the case in our house. Especially now, when we are back to our daily routine,there is always something, which needs to be done for Monday (vacation is over). 
This Sunday for instance I was busy with sewing a sports bag for school. There are some things which must be prepared by parents, making the kids ready for their big big adventure. For me all this is new land and I need to get into this routine ASAP, so I would not freak out about everything that easy. It has been a while I was at school and surely things are different these days. The school system in Spain is bit different as I would know it from Germany, another obstacle to overcome and get familiar with. My creativity and ability is getting challenged these days not only in the kitchen, but also behind a sawing machine. Of course all the things can be bought, but I like to make things myself and find it somehow cool. I am happy with the outcome, my son and my husband too, but it was not as easy and quick as I initially thought.  Guess I still need some practice....
Sunday morning however, started very relaxed and easy.... the way Sundays suppose to be. I tried a new recipe for baked waffles for breakfast, as I just purchased  a new silicon form in "waffle shape", which needed to be tested immediately. I decided to make them with whole grain flour, so we can get some vitamins and minerals. They turned out delicious.

Whole grain baked waffles
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon natural honey
  • 120 g whole grain/wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30 ml oatmeal milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease your waffle baking form. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and honey till double in size and pale in the color. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add milk and vegetable oil and mix till all well combined. Pour in the batter into the silicon form, make sure to spread it in all the corners. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve with fresh berries or fruits and honey...


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

New acquirements from the fleamarket and two easy recipes

I am a big fan of fleamarkets when it comes to kitchen staff... plates, glasses, jars, bowls and cutlery. I can go on for hours looking for a special piece. Those special pieces they do not really produce anymore and which will make my future dishes shine on the table. Some fleamarket visits can be a real success and you will find exactly the piece you were looking for and some rather not. Every time I do buy new plate or bowl I like to image what kind of dishes were served or prepared with this and then I would think about the dishes I would like to serve in them. I love this feeling, it makes the buy so different and on top you always will get something unique.

During our vacation in Sweden I have been visiting couple of fleamarket shops with my mother in law and I was more than lucky to acquire some special pieces for my kitchen, for a very very good price. Next challenges I was facing, were to convince my husband that all the pieces I bought are really needed in our kitchen in Spain, then make enough space in my luggage to fit them all in and transport them all in one piece to Spain. I overcame all those challenges successfully and now my kitchen is filled with some new treasures. The convincing part however still continues, to have my husband really believe, that those pieces were missed in our kitchen, I have been using them for the last couple of days, to prepare and serve our dinners. I think by now he does agree, confirming to me that it does look quite special (he might also just gave up arguing :-)). Today I am sharing some of the dish pictures I served in my new treasures since we return back to Spain. Let me know what you think about fleamarket shopping tours.... special or not?
I paid about 4 Euro for these two oval porcelain plates with a gold trim, which were produced by some famous German porcelain factory. Both in perfect condition and exactly what I have been looking for for some time now. The plates are quite versatile and can be used for any dishes and desserts. I used them to serve salad and I just love how lovely it looks.
These lovely cocotte dishes were rather a spontaneous buy. I was not really looking for them, but then there were there and they looked so gorgeous so I could not resist of not taking them with me. I paid about 4 Euro for four cocotte dishes and I think they are going to be well used in the future. Cocottes are perfect for small dishes you could serve as an aperitif, small individual starters or even individual desserts. A friend of my, who is also a patient cook (Gregous Food) told me once that having cocottes at home is a blessing, you can always put some easy ingredients, scallop them in the oven and serve something tasty and gorgeous for your guest. My first dish in my new cocottes were oven baked figs with goat cheese, honey and nuts. He was right, it does look spectacular in it...
Oven baked figs with goat cheese and nuts
  • figs
  • goat cheese
  • honey
  • nuts
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the goat cheese in the middle of the cocotte dish and surround it with fresh quartered figs. Drizzle some honey over the cheese and sprinkle some nuts on top. Bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes, when the cheese starts to melt. Serve it with some fresh baguette bread as starter.
And then there was this gorgeous brass skillet in oval shape. The moment I saw it, I knew it has to be mine. The price was simple ridiculous, I paid only 2 Euro for this. I don´t know what it is with this brass dishes, I just love them and always wanted to have some of those. Yesterday I used the skillet to prepare a fish dish for dinner. The skillet was perfect for this, as you can also put it into the oven. And then there is of course the serving part....you can simple put it as such on the table and it looks just amazing.
 Oven baked hake with spinach

  • 4 hake fillet (boneless and skinned)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • cold milk
  • 50 g parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • nutmeg
  • 3 handful fresh spinach
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil, butter
In a sauce pan melt the butter, add the flour and steer till all flour is incorporated.  Add some of the milk and whisk, you will end up with a dough clump at first. Add more milk without stopping to whisk. The mixture will thicken as you go... add more milk till you will get a smooth not too runny white sauce. Add the permesan cheese and steer till cheese is all melted and well combined. Season with nutmeg, pepper and salt.
Blanch the spinach in hot water for couple of seconds, squeeze out the water as much as you can and add the spinach to the sauce, mix briefly.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put some olive oil and butter into the frying pan and fry the hake fillet for a minute on each side. Take the hake out of the pan, pour in the sauce and top it with the fried hake fillet. Put the skillet for about 15 minutes into the oven V(till the sauce starts to bubble). Garnish it wit some fresh lemon slices and serve it with rice, fresh baguette bread or cooked potatoes.


Friday, 9 September 2016

My Autumn is back....

Last days in Sweden. We came to Sweden in Summer and leaving it in Autumn. This is my first Autumn post for this year and I cannot wait to share it with you. 

It just happened, from one day to the next we woke up and she was here, in all her beauty. I am beyond my happiness, as much as I love Summer, Autumn is (and always will be) my favorite season. There are many reasons why we are waiting for Autumn to come. There is this incredibly special feeling we do experience in Autumn, which is quite difficult to describe in words. To me Autumn is mystic and magic. Those fogy early mornings, presenting you a picture of a different world, you see the sun how it tries to come through the fog and you hold in for a moment, because the world seems to slow done too... the noises so far away, muffled and slow. You see the stubborn sun fighting against the fog. The more you look into the scenery, the more clearer it becomes, the sun is finally winning the battle, showing that summer is not over yet... the fog is gone, you feel the warmth of the sun and still you cuddle more into you cozy sweater and exactly in this moment you realize that Autumn is here. You feel a certain melancholy of Summer being gone and a certain joy of  Autumn to begin in the same time. Magic, would you not agree?

And then their is this changing wind, which starts to blow during the day. Initially rather shy and easy, but it gains on his power over the days. It is refreshing, not really cold, a wind you wished for so long during the hot summer days. You feel the change around you, you feel the change inside of you, you open your arms to welcome the wind . You close your eyes and let the wind take all your worries with him. You feel his power and the strengths, you feel strong and happy and ready for the change to come. You feel adventurous, I always do. I think Autumn is the season which brings out my creativity the most. Most likely because of all these colors, the special light (a mix of warm and cold at the same time) you can play with and it certainly plays with you.

I welcomed my Autumn with hot cup of green tea and homemade graham cookies. My new favorite for cozy days. Autumn is perfect for coziness, don´t you think? If you could call a cookie warm and cozy, you certainly would do it for these cookies. So much comfort they will provide. I love them for breakfast with a hot cup of tea. My husband loves them with a glass of milk and my son just like the are plain and humble.
Graham cookies
  • 120 g wholemeal flour (Vollkornmehl)
  • 60 g flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 30 g wheat bran (Weizenkleie)
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 100 g cold butter (cut in cubes)
  • 50 g honey
  • 30 ml milk
  • vanilla essence or cinnamon (whatever you prefer most)  
In a big bowl mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, wheat bran and sugar. Add the butter and crumble it with your fingers till all the butter is incorporated (you shall get a sand like mixture). Add honey, milk, vanilla or cinnamon. Mix everything till it all comes together. Roll out the dough as thin as possible, between two baking paper sheets, to an rectangle. Let it chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Take it out and cut out the cookies (squares or rectangles). Place them on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, till the edges starts to brown. Note that the cookies won´t go up much and will be rather flat and crispy.

I think you would agree that the change between the seasons is more noticeable at the country side, hence I am more then grateful of having this experienced while we are still here in Sweden. I used every morning standing outside looking into the distance, lost in my melancholy, holding a warm cup of tea, wearing my (way too big) knitted cardigan over my nightdress and knitted socks, simple enjoying the fact of being in luck having this all just for me.

I miss our summer vacation already, even so it just ended. I miss Sweden already now, despite the fact we are still here. But in the same time I do enjoy this feeling of missing it... this only means how much we loved and enjoyed it and how lucky we are of being able to call it home. I guess the autumn melancholy got to me... I welcome you my dear Autumn, I really do.....

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