niedziela, 30 maja 2010

Sponge Strawberry Cake and Strawberry Curd

            First strawberries on a local market always make me feel happy. So when few days ago I saw those little, sparkling, red gems I knew I must make something. With summer almost around corner I think about those slow days on a countryside. 
My family would gather around this old, wood table. Table which, even quite small, was big enough for us. Some of us were sitting, some were walking with a cup of coffee around a house, some were running and playing here and there. Bees flying, trying to get to a sweet piece. Dog barking, wanting to grab our attention. Light pink Peonies in full grace in a garden.
My dear grandma always bake with seasonal fruits. Sometimes it is a sponge cake, sometimes it is simple tart, sometimes more layered cake or torte. The key ingredient is always a freshness...and good, loving heart.

Sponge Cake (based on a recipe from lovely White Plate):
5 farm eggs
130 gram of flour
130-150 gram of sugar (I use less than Liska suggested since I add sweet fruits and syrup)
 4-5 tablespoon of tropical syrup (I had those canned fruits in syrup and use that)
Strawberries - how many you like

Strawberry Curd:
200 gram of strawberries
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoon of brown sugar
1-2 tablespoon of butter

For cake:
Preheat oven 160-180C.
Mix eggs with sugar until they light in color and will extend like twice. You could also use method with separate whisking egg white and egg yolks. In that case you whisk egg yolks with sugar until they pale and thick, and whites with a pinch of salt in stiff peaks. Anyway - now the flour and syrup. Add it -  if you use second method add it just to egg yolks and later whisk slowly white in a mixture. Put a cake mixture into bake pan and put cutted strawberries on it(you can also sprinkle cake with lefted canned fruits). Bake for 40 minutes, until it will be brown and almost dry. Try not to open an oven until it will be at room temperature.

For curd:
Take a pan with heavy bottom. Cut strawberries into small pieces and add sugar. Heat until they will be soft and juicy. If you like more smooth curd - blend them (i did not, i like chunky pieces in curd). Cool down.
Whisk Egg yolks and add to a pan. Heat slowly. Stir. It should thickens slowly - but be careful not to burn it or heat too quickly. Take off from a heat and add butter. Cool in a fringe. Serve with a cake or just on a French toast.

czwartek, 27 maja 2010

May Daring Bakers Challenge - Piece Montee

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

How lovely - they looks like little clouds

I made two versions - one was with strawberry mouse and second was filled with classic caramel and deeped with chocolate. With first one I tried to built more classic Piece Montee, decorated with pink flowers and spun sugar - very dangerous if you ask me, you could easly burn your fingers to death. Scary.
Spun sugar is really amazing if you're not afraid. You can made any shape you want and decorate your desserts.

Second is different - i tried to play with challenge and made more architecture shape. I filled the big one with caramel and deep in chocolate, I serve it with one piece in deconstruction.

Really, really enjoyed this one. Since I tried choux first time I was in love. Sweet, savory - it doesn't matter, i love them all. 

For all recipes please visit our this month host ^_^

wtorek, 18 maja 2010

Simplicity of dessert - Chocolate éclair

Lately I became really obsessed with choux pastry. But what is choux? Well it's wonderful recipe for kind of puff pastry used to make those amazing things like éclairs, profiteroles, choux swans, clurrels and of course infamous St. Honore cake.
The classic is to make it sweet, but since I love to twist recipes I already tried savory version, filled with blue cheese or kind of pate. 
But it's not about what I will be write today. Today is an éclair day on my blog. So since those lovely puffs speaks for themselves I am done with writing. Just want to say one thing - eating them for breakfast with strong espresso will definitely make your day, especially now in Poland - it's raining for almost 3 weeks or so. Depressing. Anyway - meet the lovelies.


Choux pastry (for 35-40 small one):

½ cup (125g) whole milk
½ cup (125g) water
100gram butter, cut into small pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
120gram flour
2-3 large eggs, at room temperature

Chocolate hard glaze:

100 gram of dark chocolate
1 tablespoon of thick heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar ( home made by adding vanilla beans to caster sugar, closed for some time to mix a flavor)

Preheat oven 320F/180C.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan pour the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to the boil.  If a mixture is boiling add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to mediumand start to stir the mixture quickly with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together almost at once. Now -  carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. The dough should be smooth, silky. Turn off the heat and transfer the dough into a bowl.  Using your handmixer add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg. Watch again - the dough will start to separate into small pieces, it's normal so do not worry. After a while of mixing the dough will be all together again. Ended effect should be thick and shiny, but also quite runny.The dough should be still warm.  Now the tricky part - you need a pastry bag or at least thick plastic bag with cutted corner. Make small hole. Put the dough into pastry bag and pipe onto parchment-lined bakingsheet. Make bigger free-spaces than you think you need - the pastry will raise, a lot. Bake them until golden brown and raised like twice. If they are browning to quickly turn down temperature to 150C and bake until they will dry. Cool down.
Glaze - melt chocolate with cream and sugar in a bowl placed on a high saucepan with shimmering water. Take from a heat and cool down just a little. Deep your lovelies and place to dry them. Serve on a breakfast with thick heavy cream and strong espresso.
I did not filled mine since I made them really small, but the chocolate is a must so I glazed them :)

piątek, 14 maja 2010

Crepes with creamy chicken filling

People are funny about their traditions. We can easily see ourselves as modern as you can imagine, but when it comes to traditions - we are very closed for changes. Of course we like (well, most of us)to explore, like to visit different places, meet new people, but just to some extend.
The same with the food. Home-connected food, to be exact. New tastes are amazing, but nothing can beat dishes from our homes.
Almost any stranger, asked randomly on a street, can name few, which could brings him some memories. But some dishes, not strong settled in past with one event or person, are more like a lifesaver. 
When we are in pain, we feel down and not want to do anything or see anybody. We can't remember when we taste them first time, who cook it for us, but we have special place in heart for those.

Since we just hit like 3rd or 4th week of non-stop raining I felt down today. So in that situation usually I had one solution - to cook something very tasty, very simple and very warm. Warming your body is first step to warming your heart - believe me.

Crepes with creamy chicken pate and barszcz( traditional polish beetroot clear soup)

For crepes:
2 eggs (I used farm ones)
3 tablespoon of melted butter
100 ml of sparkle water
150 ml of milk
200-220 gram of flour

For filling:
100 gram of cream cheese (could be one with herbs)
2 tablespoon of sour cream (if you can't find it in your country try thick Greek yogurt)
500-600 gram of cooked chicken (mine was leftover from making chicken broth)
one small onion
piece of bread, soaked in small amount of water (the best is not fresh one but 1-2 days old bread)
Spices - I use some sumac, salt, pepper and dry garlic flakes 

Start with making crepes. In high bowl mix (I whisk it with electric blender) eggs, flour, milk and water. Salt to taste and break taste with pinch of sugar. Now - do not be nervous about texture. Making crepes is very, very easy but it comes with a time. Try and see - add some milk or water if  batter is too thick. Add some flour if it's too runny. Don't panic.
Now take a nice 20-25 cm skillet and brush a little with butter and oil. You make your crapes on almost dry skillet. Again - don't panic. It is easy but you must be quick. Just pour batter ( I usually use 30-40 ml for one) and taking from a heat swirl your pan to cover its bottom. Put on a heat and cook until you can easily flip it on a second side. I use my hands - don't do it if you're sensitive or are freshman cook. I live in eastern Europe, I have asbestos hands.
After using all batter cover your crapes and set them aside.

Now - the filling. Chop onion and fry on 1-2 tablespoon of butter until it will be soft. Add chopped chicken, season it with spices and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Cool down. Using blender mix soaked bread, chicken, onion, cream cheese and sour cream. You want to get nice, smooth texture of unbaked pate, but do not over do it. It's not soup.
Put one, big tablespoon of filling over a crepe. Roll in favorite shape. Serve cold or fry on a butter and serve hot. Best with homemade barszcz

So what - doesn't you feel better know? I told you so.

środa, 12 maja 2010

Green peas filo cups

Green overload continue. After trying asparagus I attacked another veggie. This time green peas. Its sweet taste and smooth texture works very nice in almost any dish you would imagine. Think about classic risotto, cream soup, puree or savory tart. 
I am big baking addict so when I found, never used before, pastry - Filo - I knew I must buy it and try it.
Filo is ideal pastry for spring and summer baking. In winter we tend to eat more heavy and it's fine. But when spring hitting our doors we're searching for something lighter, something fresh and more delicate. This flaky pastry, on plate crunchy, melt in your mouth immediately.

Filo cups with ricotta-green peas filling

100-120 gram of frozen filo pastry (of course if you're so lucky to find fresh one USE IT!)
200-220 gram of green peas (could be canned or fresh, boiled before)
100 gram of cottage cheese
100 gram of ricotta cheese
some sea salt to taste, black pepper and favorite herbs (i use dry mint and some sesame seeds)
3-4 tablespoon of melted butter

Defrost filo using instruction from producer package. Preheat oven 180C/320F.
Blend until smooth green peas, both cheeses and season it with herbs. Now - tricky part : preparing filo cups. I use my muffin tins but any small, heatproof cups would works. Take one leaf of filo pastry - in size 5cm*5cm for 2,5cm bottom size muffin - grease lightly with butter one side, using brush (silicon are the best), and put into a muffing cup (buttered side up). Don't be too precise - messy edges will brown nicely in oven. Put one big teaspoon of filling into your filo cups and brush edges with butter (even easier with spray). Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges will be dark brown and your filling will be hard(but not until it will brown too much). Serve with sour cream.

poniedziałek, 10 maja 2010

Paddington's Sandwich

Like most people who cook I also love to read about cooking. Well, I love books in general so while reading interesting, moving book I can find here and there some culinary-interesting parts, I am in heaven. But...I must confess something. I also have secret love interest in children books - since I always wanted to be designer or illustrator I look at them from different perspective. That's why on my shelves are many children books. And one of the best is Paddington series. Those warm and little old-fashioned books are amazing. 
When people are thinking about recipes from books plot usually they came up with recipe for Proust's Magdalenes or other grown-up book's recipe.
But this time try something simpler, something what Paddington would love to try. 
Paddington's Marmalade Sandwich 

2 bread slices cut into triangles
2 tablespoon of Blood Orange Marmalade*

It couldn't be easier - take one triangle, put on tablespoon of marmalade and connect with second triangle. Or take two slices, pour marmalade on one on inside part, cut into triangles. 

Blood Orange Marmalade

1 kilogram of Blood Oranges
600 gram of sugar

Take big saucepan with thick bottom. Take of skin and white skin from your oranges, cut into small pieces, removing as much white skin as you can. Put into saucepan and add sugar. Mix well and turn on heat. Stir occasionally, just not to burn. It would take up to 60 minutes to turn oranges into wonderful marmalade. Serve on Elevenses.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

3 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
3 tablespoon of sugar
pinch of salt (which is very important, don't be surprised)
100 ml of hot water
350 ml of full fat milk

Start by mixing water, cocoa powder, pinch of salt  and both sugars in saucepan and bring to boil. Stir often and be careful not to burn. And milk and bring just to boil. Take off from heat. Pour into cups and add some chocolate pieces if you like.
Do not forget about salt - it add something special to cocoa and take sweetness of it to another level.

środa, 5 maja 2010

IN SEASON - May: Asparagus Tasting Plate

I decided to do every month post about what is in season
For me seasonal eating is ideal situation - environment friendly, taste friendly. Unfortunately polish situation in veggies and fruits area is not that friendly. We can easily buy oranges from Israel, but do not have choice to choose different kinds of potatoes. Around the world there are tens, hundreds kinds of veggies, fruits, meats, but it is like we almost forgot about that. 
So - may. May, although still rainy and wet, came and welcomed us with arms full of amazing asparagus.
Tasting plate of asparagus

Here on a plate - asparagus cream soup with goat cheese. Asparagus terrine with zatar (spice mix, you can read about it here), simple steamed asparagus with farm butter and whole wheat crumble. And my favorite - Asparagus Napoleon with tortilla-based pastry.
Those will be not recipe kind of posts. Those will be post rather for inspire and to think about what in season. To look around at your local market and cook with best things you will find there. I hope you will like it.