Merry Christmas





Oatmeal Cake with berries and a coconut-pecan frosting


I made this oatmeal cake for our Christmas breakfast at work. I thought it fitting for breakfast as it contains oatmeal :) I never made one before, but it turned out pretty good. It is a heavy cake with the barley flour, flax seeds and oats, but I used a nice coconut-pecan frosting which gave it a good creamy balance.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup barley flour
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds (or chia seeds) 
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 package vanilla sugar)
  • 1-1/2 cups mixed berries, frozen

For a homemade coconut-pecan frosting (I used a store bought frosting):
  • 1-1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Alternatively: a Streusel Topping:
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:

Cake: 

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
  1. Add the white and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the butter, cut into small pieces. Mix with an electrical hand mixer for 2 minutes. Now, add the eggs and buttermilk and mix till creamy.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk together the rest of the dry ingredients - white and barley flour, flax seeds, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt, vanilla sugar and oats. Make a well in the middle and pour the liquid mix in. Stir till it becomes a thick batter.
  3. Use frozen berries. Do not thaw or rinse them, leave them in the reezer until right before stirring them into the batter. The more liquid they give up while thawing, the grayer will the batter turn. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the berries and mix. Now, carefully fold the berries under the batter. 
  4. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, untill a fork poked into the center comes out dry. Take out the cake and let cool dwon for a while. Spread the store bought frosting evenly over the cake.
Homemade Frosting:

I used a store bought coconut-pecan frosting, if you want to prepare your own coconut-pecan topping, combine all ingredients for the topping and spread over the warm cake. Return to the oven and broil for 2-4 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Take the cake out of the oven and let cool down before serving.

If you do not want to have such a sweet topping, you can alternatively use a Streusel topping. Therefore, mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the butter with your fingers or forks and mix until combined and crumbly. Mix in the pecans. Sprinkle the Streusel topping evenly over the unbaked cake batter and bake it with the cake in the oven.







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    Kiymet's Homemade Börek


    Börek is another traditional Turkish dish from my work colleague. A short while back I had posted her recipe to Poğaça, which is a filled Turkish pasty and a typical breakfast dish. Börek is a little bit bigger, it is a baked filled pastry (not a pasty - small distinction) made with thin flaky dough (e.g. special Börek dough that you can find in a Turkish store or substitute with phyllo dough) and also eaten as an appetizer or for breakfast.

    This week, my work colleague prepared Börek for our Christmas breakfast. She made a vegetarian filling at home and baked the Börek freshly in the morning. So delicious! She used a spinach-cheese filling, but you can also use a ground beef filling.

    Ingredients:

    • 600g store bought Börek dough (possible alternative: phyllo dough)
    Filling:
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 1 small onion - diced
    • 250g fresh spinach
    • 200g feta cheese
    • 1 tablespoon paprika paste
    • salt, pepper

    Sauce:
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup plain yoghurt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    •  1/2 cup club soda
    •  
       

    Preparation:

    1. Heat the oil and sauté the onions. In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients of the filling. Pour the onions with the oil over those ingredients and mix lightly with your hands. In another bowl, whisk all ingredients for the sauce together. Set both bowls aside. 
    2. Lay out half of the phyllo dough on a greased baking pan. Spread with the sauce to soften the dough. Add the filling and cover up with the other half of the dough. Spread the rest of the sauce on top over the dough. Let sit for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 250 degree Celsius (about 480 degree Fahrenheit).
    3. Bake the filled dough for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degree Celsius (about 390 degree Fahrenheit). Take the börek out of the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut into squares.






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    Almond-Marzipan Cookies - It's this time of year again...


    And again, I made some Almond-Marzipan Cookies for my father to Christmas. I have posted the recipe earlier, but here are some new pictures. It just looks too good to be true...



    Vegetarian Thai Curry


    This is a delicious recipe that my friend AM taught me during college time. The first time we cooked it together we had invited some friends from our hometown and we cooked in my dorm kitchen. A nice memory.

    We used lots of beans, potatoes and other veggies. I also added a small can of "Green Curry Sauce" from Exotic Food, which contains coconut milk and some veggies, but that is optional and we did not use it the first time we cooked it.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 tablespoon ginger - minced
    • 3-4 chilis - sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic - minced
    • 1 big onion - cut into chunks
    • 4-5 potatoes - cut in cubes
    • 1/2 tablesspoon salt
    • 3 carrots - sliced
    • 1 green bell pepper - cut into cubes
    • 3-5 tomatoes - cut into big chunks
    • 1 can chickpeas
    • 1 can kidney beans
    • 2 chicory - cored and sliced
    • 1-2 cans of coconut milk 
    • 1 lemon
    • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, curry
      optional: 
      • 1 can "Green Curry Sauce" 
      • 2 tablespoons cream 
      • rice


        Preparation:

        1. Heat the oil, add the ginger, chilis and garlic. Fry for 1-2 minutes and keep stirring. Add the onions and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and the salt. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes. Be careful that the garlic or onion do not turn black, add a little bit of water if needed. Add the carrots, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Then add enough water so that the potatoes are covered. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
        2. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Vegetables should still be a little crunchy, not too soft. Add the chickpeas, kidney beans and chicory and cook for 5-10 minutes till all vegetables are soft. 
        3. Now, add the coconut milk, slowly and bring to a boil. If you decide to add a can of Green Thai Curry Sauce, add it as well. Let cook for a minute, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Add the spices (salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and curry) to taste. You can also add a little bit of cream, but make sure that it doesn't boil anymore as the cream would seperate. 
        4. Serve as a soup or with rice.





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        My Brother's Homemade Cheese Pizza from scratch


        My brother's pizza tastes incredible. It is really made from scratch with all the important ingredients. As far as I know, he really did his research - the right flour, yeast and fermentation starters, the right equipment (pizza stone, etc.). He uses a variety of high quality cheeses which just tastes delicious when melted into a gooey pizza topping. And the sprinkle of some drops of tabasco sauce at the end is just the tip of the iceberg - everything comes together splendidly.

        Ingredients:

        For the dough:
        • 220g pizza flour Typ 0* (or bread flour)
        • 4-5g baking ferment (a fermentation starter)
        • 1 tablespoon barley malt (enzyme active)
        • 10g yeast (fresh)
        • 1/2 tablespoon salt
        • 1 tablespoon olive oil
        • 230ml water
        Toppings (variations possible):
        • 2 big tomatoes - cut into cubes and pureed
        • 50g of each, emmenthaler, gauda, and parmesan cheese - freshly grated
        • 50g gorgonzola - cut into little cubes
        • 50g mozzarella and or feta cheese - cut into little cubes
        • 1 tablespoon tabasco sauce
        • freshly grounded black pepper

        Preparation:

        Preheat oven at 270 degree Celsius (520 degree Fahrenheit).
          1.  Prepare the dough: In a big bowl, mix the flour, baking ferment and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix the barley malt with the water, yeast and olive oil to activate the yeast. Now, add the water mix to the flour mix and knead the dough for a few minutes. Form a dough ball and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towl. Let proof in a warm area for 1/2 - 1 hour till dough more than doubled in size. 
          2. Prepare the fresh tomato sauce: Puree the tomatoes. My brother used fresh tomotoes from the garden, so he also kept a couple of tomato slices as topping. (Important: If you do not immediately use the tomato sauce, you need to boil the sauce in order for it to be durable.)
          3.  Toppings: Roll the dough out, 1/2 inch thickness. Fold and press in the edges (Additional tip: I know some people that put additional mozzarella cheese in the edges which tastes delicious!). Spread the tomato sauce evenly on top of the dough. Now, sprinkle the grated cheeses (emmenthaler, gauda and parmesan) on top and add the cheese cubes (gorgonzola, mozzarella, feta). Add the tomato slices (otpional).
          4. Baking: Use a pizza stone for the oven. Bake the pizza for 4-6 minutes (depending on the oven). Keep an eye on it, so that it doesn't burn. Take it out of the oven and sprinkle with tabasco and freshly grounded black pepper.

          *Note: There are different types of flour that vary in texture due to the amount of gluten. In Europe, they use type 1, 0, or 00 and it refers to the texture of the flour with 1 being the roughest texture. Type 0 or 00 is the "Italian style flour", suitable for "Neapolitan style pizza" (thin in the middle and puffy at the edges).
             











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            Brussel Sprouts with Bacon for THANKSGIVING


            This is the last recipe from our Thanksgiving Dinner that I wanted to post - brussel sprouts with garlic and bacon. I chose this recipe because I barely eat brussel sprouts but I do like them.

            Here a little something I learned from cooking this recipe and reheating it the next day:

            As brussel sprouts are natrually bitter, be careful that you do not fry them until they turn black. Also, use a good amount of chicken broth, it will battle the bitterness. Other ways are a teaspoon of sugar, or someone told me that adding a bit of an apple cut into little pieces would help as well. Good luck :)

            Ingredients:

            • 6 slices bacon
            • 1 tablespoon butter
            • 1 onion - diced
            • 1 kg brussel sprouts - trimmed and halved
            • 3 garlic cloves - minced
            • 1 cup chicken broth
            • salt, pepper
            • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

            Preparation:

            1. Place the bacon in a frying pan. There is no need to add oil or butter, the bacon will give up its own grease. Fry the bacon till crsipy. Remove from pan and chop, keep the grease in the pan.
            2. Use the hot frying pan from the bacon with the grease. Add the brussel sprouts and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Don't stir, the brussel sprouts shall get some color on the side facing down. But be careful, do not let them turn black, that increases the bitterness. Stir in the garlic, fry for another 2-4 minutes. 
            3. Add the chicken broth. Don't be too stingy on it, this will help against the bitterness of the brussel sprouts. Bring to a boil. Cook till water is evaporated. Stir frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste. If brussel spouts are too bitter, add a teaspoon of sugar.





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              American Style Green Bean Casserole for THANKSGIVING



              In the States, it is pretty simply to prepare a traditional green bean casserole... You just take a cream of mushroom soup from Campbell ;) This time, I made it from scratch with a creamy flour roux and crispy onions (french onions) on top - for a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with my friends :)

              Ingredients:

              • 1 tablesspoon butter
              • 1 onion - finely diced
              • 250 g fresh cremini mushrooms - sliced
              • salt, pepper
              • 750 g princess beans (frozen)
              • 1 l salt water and 1 l ice water
              For the sauce (roux)
              • 4 tablespoons butter
              • 1 small onion - finely diced
              • 2 tablespoons flour
              • 400-500 ml milk
              • 20 g parmesan cheese
              • salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
              For the topping:
              • 30 g parmesan cheese (grated)
              • 25 g crispy onions (french onions)

              Preparation:

              1. Prepare the mushrooms: Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté till onions are translucent and mushroms don't water anymore. Add salt and pepper, remove from heat.
              2. Blanch the beans: Heat up salt water, add the frozen beans and cook for 7 minutes till almost done. Then, use a splotted spoon and plunge the beans into ice water for a minute. Remove the beans from the water and set aside.
              3. Prepare the roux: Melt the butter in a small pot, add the diced onion and sauté till translucent. Add the flour, stir frequently and cook for 1-2 min. Then gradually add the milk and keep stirring, add salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and the cheese and stir. Add the mushrooms and beans and mix everything together.
              4. Bake the casserole: Pour the mix into a greased casserole. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan cheese and crispy onions and cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, remove the tin foil and bake at 390 degree Fahrenheit for additional 15 minutes.





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