Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Visiting a vegetables farmer in our new home

While I am still having plenty of projects to make our new home cosy and nice, I am using each and every opportunity to get familiar with the area around us. My special target are the local farmers, some of which I know already, but there still some more to be discovered. Last week a new farmer made it to my list, one who does sell veggies and was missing so far. 

I was not sure what to expect and what I wanted to buy on the way there, but as soon as I entered the shop and saw this super gorgeous chard (not sure you can call chard gorgeous, but this was exactly what I thought when I saw it) and I knew I won´t leave the shop without it. This gorgeous chard got some more veggies friends which made it to my shopping bag - corn, kale, pumpkin, fresh salad and more. All delighted and super happy about my new discovery I went to the farmer to pay... smiling like a crazy person, really I could not control all my happy feelings at that moment. I wonder what he was thinking of me, a crazy tourist from god knows where, who found chard in different colors!!! He was so kind and humble, exactly the way you would imagine a farmer to be... it´s a whole different shopping experience and I am always having so much fun.

As for my interior design projects, my creativity is constantly challenged, which leads to knew ideas and furniture creations. Sometimes I wonder where this all is coming from and the only explanation I came up with so far is, it must be all the fresh air, the quietness and the country simplicity around us.

Today on the blog, more pictures of my ideas how to design our new home and a healthy and delicious autumn recipe - Pasta with chard and kale.



Pablo´s new room is quite big and I had plenty of space to create different "theme areas" in it. He has now his very own library, car-play, creative, sleeping and storage areas. To create more storage space for his toys and clothes, I painted our old "ikea" dresser in grey to fit it to the remaining colors I have chosen for his room, a mix of grey, white, black and natural wood. And to make the dresser shine even more and be something special I painted some pattern on it using different color.  I am pleased with the outcome, so is Pablo and my husband. Its kind of cool to re-purpose old furniture and create something really unique and funny. I definitely had a lot of fun and this would not be the last furniture piece I have changed for sure.
Chalk paint is the answer for any furniture upgrades, if you ask me. I am not a painter and did not had much experience at that area either, but I learned that you cannot make something wrong with chalk paint. There is also no need to sand the wood before the painting, which makes the whole changing process faster and easier. 


Pasta with chard and kale

  • bunch of kale
  • bunch of chard
  • 200 ml cooking cream
  • 100 ml milk
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic (crashed)
  • salt, pepper
  • dash of nutmeg
  • bay leaf
  • Parmesan cheese
  • roasted pine nuts (optional)
  • whole wheat pasta
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Pour cream and milk in a saucepan, add garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf and let it cook for 10-15 minutes on a low heat. Wash and chop the chard and kale (remove the hard stem from the kale and use only the leaves for cooking) and cook them for 5-7 minutes in a pan with some olive oil, make sure they are not getting burned. Remove the bay leaf from the cream sauce and pour it over the kale and chard and let it cook for additional 10-15 minutes, till the liquid starts to reduce. Add the cooked pasta and give a mix till all pasta will be coated in the cream sauce. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts over the pasta and serve.

Even so this dish does not contain any meat, you won´t be missing it. I really do appreciate kale and chard at this time of the year. The mix of parmesan and pine nuts makes this dish quite special too. As for the pasta, well we all love pasta and to make it a bit more healthy I used whole wheat pasta. The earthy taste of it fits perfectly with the earthy taste of kale and chard in my opinion. All in one a perfect dish with many health aspects to it, which will be appreciated by your family.







Enjoy!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Blackberry crumble cake & we actually moved

It has been a long long time since my last post and I am afraid some of you were thinking I was gone for good. Well the reason for this very long pause was our move to Sweden.... yes, yes you read right, we actually moved from Spain to Sweden and the last couple of months were pretty busy with all the millions things you have to do, when you are moving. 

I will spare you from all the "nice" stories about the last couple of months and all the "nice" feelings we went through till we finally arrived in Sweden,  as it will end up in a super long complaining post, and nobody wants that, right? Certainly there are also some positive sides to the moving too, such as you finally will get a bigger home, you have finally the change to say goodbye to all the unnecessary things you have been collecting over the years once and for all, you can get super creative decorating your new home and you are closer to your family. BUT (which really needs to be written in capitals) you first have to overcome all the stress and emotional moments before you arrive in your new home. And I am not talking about the funny moving company, which changed their previous statement the day our stuff was supposed to be picked up, neither about all the bureaucratic things you have to manage, but about over 10 years living in Spain we were leaving behind us... It is never easy to say goodbye to your friends!!!

We arrived in Sweden well and are still kept busy, which is OK as we are creating our new home and this is most of the times pretty funny. I discovered my interior design skills as well as handmade decoration skills, while my husband discovered his hand-building skills. We actually moved to a country side, which is a change and we are still in the processes to find our way around... mainly including discovering of all the different farmers around, which makes me personally super happy. We also will have a garden in the future... a real garden... so some of my future researches will also include a study on how to plant and grow vegies and fruits.

Now between all the moving and decorating, I hardly came to focus on baking and cooking, so in one point my husband and my son started complaining. Luckily we have a garden with a huge blackberries bush, which were just waiting for us to be picked. And so it was on time for me to lock myself in the kitchen and create something delicious for my boys.... The outcome was a blackberry crumble cake, which made both super happy. Pablo was mainly proud of the fact that he was picking the berries himself and super happy to see them ending up in the cake.

The picture of my post today will be a wild mix of everything, cake, interior decoration, some insights in Pablo´s new room and some of the relaxing moments at the beach.
Blackberry crumble cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 gr sugar
  • 100 gr butter (melted)
  • 150 gr yogurt
  • vanilla essence
  • 250 gr flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh blackberries
I managed to make two cakes out of this recipe (using standard sized cake forms). Preheat the oven to 180C. Whisk the eggs with the sugar with a hand whisk, add butter, yogurt and vanilla essence and give it another whisk. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk till all ingredients are combined. Grease and line the baking forms with a baking paper, divide the dough between the baking forms. Top it with blackberries, gently pressing them a bit into the dough. I covered the whole surface of the dough with the berries.
  • 30 gr butter (cold and cut in cubes)
  • 60 gr brown sugar
  • 100 g flour
  • 0,5 teaspoon of baking powder
  • vanilla sugar
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and combine them with your fingers till you will get big junks of dough crumble... if your crumbles appears too soft, add some more flour, in case the dough will resemble a sand texture add bit of cold water.
Sprinkle the dough crumbles all over the top and bake the cake for 35-45 minutes, till golden brown. Let it cool off on the cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving. It tastes heavenly warm with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Should you be so lucky and have some leftovers, you will be pleasantly surprised about this case 1-2 days later, as it does improve the taste over the time.

Handmade wooden stool done by me. I was checking pinterest for some ideas and found some handmade wooden projects there, so I decided to do something special for Pablo´s room too. It turned out great and he loves it big time. I had super fun myself and I got hooked up by this idea so much, so I think there will be even more furniture building projects in the future.









Enjoy!


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Blueberry muffins for Saturday breakfast

Some days you have to have a muffin for breakfast, right? Maybe not the most healthiest way to start the day you will say, but certainly a very special one. It is not often we do have muffins for breakfast in our home, but when we do, we kind of celebrate this fact a little. I always try to add some nutritious ingredients to them, still trying to stay rather on the cake side, as muffin is a small little cake treat after all.
We love blueberry hence most of the time I will end up with blueberry muffins. Vanilla is another ingredient, which will never be missed in my baked treats. I am a vanilla girl, what can I say. And as for the nutritious addition (and for the feeling guilty part) there will be oatmeal flakes and nuts.

It can all vary depending on what I am having home, blueberries can be easily changed by raspberries, cranberries, apples, apricots or red currant. Different kind of nuts will add different flavors, as well as different spices... cinnamon, dash of nutmeg or ground cardamom. There is also a seasonal aspect too... while in winter we do prefer them rather spiced up (cinnamon, cardamom etc.) in summer the main focus will be put on the berries or fruits. The dough always remains the same, which makes this muffin recipe so cool, it will be then just up too you to play around with additional ingredients and create a special muffin just to your taste.
Blueberry breakfast muffins
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 180 g sugar
  • vanilla essence
  • 100 g butter (softened)
  • 100 g yogurt (room temperature)
  • 1,5 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 180 g flour
  • 125 g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line your muffin thin with muffin paper cases (about 9 big ones or 12 small). In a bowl whisk together eggs and sugar (with a hand-whisk, give it couple of swings that all it takes). Add vanilla essence, butter and yogurt, give it another couple of swings (do not worry for the small butter clumps at this point, they all will disappear when you add flour to the dough). Sift in flour, salt and baking powder, whisk till all well combined. Fold in the berries, use a spatula or spoon and try not to break the berries. Fill the muffin paper cases up to 2/3 and set aside. Prepare the crunchy topping.

Crunchy topping
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal flakes
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • handful roughly chopped pecan nuts
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed them all with you hands till you will get the crumbles, some might be bigger then others. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the muffin dough (generously) and press it gently with your fingers, so they do stick to the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes till golden brown.

Enjoy!



Friday, 16 June 2017

Baklava-Cheesecake cake, a match made in heaven

This post is long long overdue, but I just now got some time to publish it. Today we are going to talk about "Baklava-Cheesecake". I guess most of you have heard about this cake already, I always wanted to try it, but always missed the right occasion to make it. Several weeks ago however I got even two of such special occasions. First cake was done for my family who visited us for some days. Second was made for a good friend birthday lunch invitation.

If you love baklava and cheesecake as I do, then this cake is a must. It looks stunning, special and festive.... perfect cake to be made for a special occasion. And the best part of it is that you would not need any special decoration or have any special decoration skills, as this case looks awesome by it own already.

I made the cheesecake not too sweet to balance the sweetness of the baklava filling. Nuts, honey and lemon are giving a special wow effect to the creamy cheesecake texture and if you would like it a bit more sweeter, you can always take another splash of the silky sugar syrup on top. The cake was a success and everybody was amazed by it looks!

Baklava-Cheesecake cake

Sugar Syrup
  • 120 g sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • lemon juice of half a lemon
Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan (take a deep one) and bring it to boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to medium-low and let it bubble away for 10-15 minutes. Put it aside to cool down.

Cheesecake
  • 350 g cream cheese
  • 250 ml yogurt (I took the light to balance the creaminess of the cream cheese)
  • 90 g sugar
  • vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 packages vanilla pudding powder
In a bowl whisk (hand whisk) together cream cheese, yogurt, sugar and vanilla essence, till you get a smooth and silky mixture. Add the eggs, one at the time, whisk till all well combined. Finally sift it vanilla pudding powder and fold it carefully in, avoiding too much beating. Set aside.

Baklava filling
  • 250 g nuts  (I made a mix of pistachios and pecan nuts)
  • 2/3 of sugar syrup
Chop the nuts roughly (I did not chop it too small, to have some bigger nuts bites). In a bowl mix together nuts and syrup. Set aside.

Assembling the cake
  • 4-5 filo dough sheets
  • 3-4 tablespoons of melted butter
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Take your baking form and grease it slightly with melted butter. Take the first filo dough sheet and brush it with butter, fold it in half and cover one part of the baking dish with it. Continue with remaining dough sheets the same way till whole baking form is covered. Depending on how big your baking form is you will need 4 or 5 of the dough sheets. Do not worry to be too neat, just make sure the form is all covered.
Pour in the cheesecake mixture. Take a generous amount of the baklava filling using a spoon, form a small ball and let is fall on top of the cheesecake mixture, letting it sink in. Spread some more of the baklava filling on top. Bake for ca. 40 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let the cake rest and cool of for at least 30 minutes. Serve the cake with a splash of the remaining sugar syrup on top.

Enjoy!


Monday, 17 April 2017

French Madeleines

I never know when french madeleines are supposed to be eaten... for breakfast, for afternoon tea or for dessert. But what I know for sure is, that those small little heavenly tasting cute looking sponge cakes are one of the favorites in our house. I love the original recipe, done with orange blossom water, but do experiment with different flavors and ingredients to add some variety. There are many reasons to fall in love with madeleines, mines are the delicate taste and cute shell-like form. They can be served to tea or coffee and been eaten, if you ask me, at any time of the day. They are perfect to wow your guests or bring along to a dinner party invitation. 

Today orange blossom madeleines recipe, half of which were dipped in chocolate, as I was not sure if we would like to have them for the afternoon tea or for breakfast. Finally we ended up to have them throughout the day, according to my son it was a perfect way to start and end the day. My mom and I enjoyed them with a big cup of green tea after a long walk through the woods and my husband had them with some coffee for dessert. 
I think they are relatively easy to make, you only need to invest in a madeleine baking form, some orange blossom water and some time to let the batter chill in the refrigerator. Actually you can do the batter a day before and let it over night... I never manage to do so, as we cannot wait to have them as soon as possible. Sometimes I bake them straightaway, but do admit that after some chilling time they do taste better.

French Madeleines
  • 120 g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • orange zest
  • some dark chocolate
  • chopped pistachio 
In a bowl beat together sugar, eggs and honey, till double in size. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt, mix till all well combined. Pour in the butter and incorporate it with a spatula. Add orange blossom water and orange zest and give it another whisk. Let the batter chill for some hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the madeleine baking form. Pour in the batter (3/4 full) and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Take the form out and let it cool for couple of minutes on the cooling rack, before taking the madeleines out.
Melt the chocolate,  dip one end of the madeleine into it and sprinkle with some chopped pistachios.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Happy Easter holidays

Spain is spoiling us with most beautiful weather for Easter holidays. It is so good to have some days off from work, doing nothing but spoiling ourselves with some nice treats for Easter, spending lots of time outside at the sun, sleeping in and having brunch instead of breakfast. 

We are going bit more casual for Easter this year... with some family favorites and plenty of boiled colored eggs. I tired a new technique to color the eggs (well at least new to me) leaving aside all the stuff you can buy in the shops to make the eggs look spectacular. Instead I used some food coloring and the result was as spectacular... The only things you would need is a plastic bag, handful of rice and liquid food coloring. Boil the eggs, put the rice into the bag, add some drops of food coloring and the egg. Then shake, shake and shake again... The longer you shake the more colorful your egg will turn out.


One of our family favorites is my lemon poppy seeds cake, to me a perfect cake for Easter holidays. It is fresh, delicate and special, very spring like. I usually do this cake in a bundt cake form and having it decorated with some colorful sugar sprinkles makes it a perfect fit for Easter brunch or picnic.

Lemon poppy-seeds cake
  • 3 eggs
  • 180 g sugar
  • 120 g melted butter
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 180 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the bundt cake form. Whisk the eggs and the sugar. Add the butter, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice, give it another whisk. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt, mix till all well combined. Fold in the poppy seeds. Pour the batter into the baking form and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Make the wooden stick test.
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • remaining lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients together, till all well combined and frost the cake. Sprinkle some sugar sprinkles over the top.

Check HERE for home made bread recipe.




I wish you all a Happy Easter!

Enjoy!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

40th Birthday and Lisbon

Birthdays are cool, but some might be a little bit scary.... My 40th made me a bit fuzzy for the last couple of month. I was not sure if I shall looking forward to it or be rather scared. Finally it turned out to be a wonderful birthday, not scary at all...

My husband took the three of us to Lisbon and we spend a wonderful long weekend enjoying ourselves in this beautiful city. It was the first time for us visiting Lisbon and we just loved it. The food was amazing, people very friendly and open and the old charm of the buildings has something special to it. Lisbon is bit different from what we have seen so far, some people would call Lisbon "old town" and I think I understand why, but to me it was one of the charming thing about it... the old tram, which is still driving through the city and all these magnificent tiles covered buildings.  

What really is very noticeable in Lisbon or probably in whole Portugal is that people love food, good food, which obviously made our small foodie family very happy. 

My husband planned the birthday dinner Bairro do Avillez, one of the restaurants from Jose Avillez, who is a famous Portuguese chef, with several restaurants in Lisbon and two Michelin stars. I am not able to describe in words the experience we had... the exceptional food was just one part of the whole "wow" effect. The ambiente, the service, the open kitchen where at least 13 chefs were doing their magic and then the bar tender... I never saw someone putting so much passion to create a cocktail. Every small details was covered and it was such a joy to see someone loving to do what he was doing. The cocktails by the way, were to die for. 

Today I am not going to share any recipes with you, only some nice memories of a great weekend in Lisbon and of course some inspiration...either for your next weekend getaway or birthday celebration, your next cocktails party or for a starter plate with some cheese, ham, olives and corn bread....which we have had in Bairro do Avillez with a glass of rose as a starter. So simple and yet so so delicious. F

















Enjoy!
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