December 19, 2012

Poppy seed meringue kisses

Somehow I have the feeling, that until Christmas I won't have time for the blog, but I hope to be back shortly after, if not on the blog, for sure you'll find me here. The reason is pretty simple: there are still a lot of things that need to be organised. The plan is to bake some cookies on Friday, then on Saturday I am going to get all the ingredients I need  for the menu, that is still haven't been planned... Not to mention that the traditional beigli is also have to be baked, but that is gonna be done on Sunday. Only snow is missing! So therefore I baked these tiny meringue kisses, that remind me in some way of snow. Altough, I am not big fan of meringue, but I know already now, that these are going to be great on one or the other dessert during the holidays. Merry Christmas to everyone!

60 g egg whites
60 g sugar
50 g icing sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 100°C. Beat egg white with a pinch of sugar until half stiff, then keep on beating and while that add sugar in small portions. Once the egg white is stiff fold in the icing sugar, cornstarch and poppy seeds. Pipe meringue in any shape you like onto a baking paper covered sheet and bake for 1-2 hours depending on the size you have choosen. Once ready, turn off the oven and leave the meringue kisses to cool down inside it.

December 14, 2012

Speculoos Cookies

A spicy and crunchy cookie that you can't resist! With a glass of cold milk is just perfect, as most of the cookies, but still there is something special about speculoos. These thin biscuits are made of brown sugar, butter, flour and that glorious spice mixture containing: cinnamon, clove, ginger, white pepper, cardamom, nutmeg. If you want it to be really heavy add some anise and coriander seeds as well, like it is common in the Netherlands and Germany. The Belgian version is a lot less spicy, sometimes even no spices at all. There is also a version with almond flour and thinly sliced almonds. Once the cookies start baking your whole house is going to smell like a gingerbread house!

for the spice mixture:
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon white peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon anise
1/2 teaspoon coriander
for the speculoos:
(based on a recipe by Alain Ducasse)
140 g butter, room temperature
250 g brown sugar
250 g flour
2 g baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon spice mixture
1-2 tablespoons water

To make the spice mixture ground coriander, anise seeds and white pepper. Once done blend it with the rest of the spices. For the pastry whisk butter with brown sugar until fluffy, then add the rest of the ingredients and knead a dough. Chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out pastry about 2 mm thick and cut it with any type of cookie cutter. Bake for about 10 minutes and store in an air-thight container.

December 12, 2012

Chocolate mousse entremets with mango cream on coconut joconde

There is still plenty of time to test some ideas before the holidays, so I decided to try the crème anglaise based chocolate mousse. I also found a mango in the fridge and prepared a crème pâtissière based mango cream that it is hidden in the middle of the entremets. I must say, that the pate a bombe based mousse is still my favourite chocolate mousse, this one is very very intense, almost like a truffle, but still very light and fluffy. Therefore I really suggest to serve these little cakes with a nice portion of mango coulis.


for 8 round moulds á 7,5x5,5 cm

for the coconut joconde:
3 egg whites
15 g sugar
100 g ground almond
100 g shredded coconut
125 g icing sugar
3 eggs
40 g flour
for the mango cream:
150 g mango
150 g cream
3 egg yolks
50 g sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 g powdered gelatin
for the chocolate mousse:
125 ml milk
125 ml cream
3 egg yolks
20 g sugar
350 g dark chocolate
400 g cream
2 gelatine sheets

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Beat egg whites to soft peaks, add sugar and beat until stiff. Ground almond together with the coconut. Beat eggs with icing sugar until fluffy, stir in the coconut-almond mixture and the flour. Finally fold in the beaten egg white and pour batter onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 7-10 minutes, then let it cool on a wrack. Cut 8 rounds out of it and place them into the bottom of the cake rings.
Puree mango. Mix powdered gelatin with 1-2 tablespoons of water and let it stand for 10 minutes. Bring cream with vanilla to the boil. Whisk sugar with egg yolks until pale and add hot cream while whisking. Put it back to the stove and stir once in a while until it reaches
85°C. Then whisk in the gelatine, remove from the stove and stir in the mango puree. Pour it into about 5 cm diameter hemisphere silicon forms and chill, then freeze for 20 minutes, unmold and put it onto the bottom of the coconut joconde. 
To make the mousse: whisk egg yolks with sugar until fluffy. Bring cream and milk to the boil, then add it to the beaten egg yolks while whisking. Put it back to the stove and when it reaches 85°C add chopped chocolate and the previously soaked gelatine and whisk until everything is molten. Finally fold in the beaten cream. The next day put it into the freezer for 2 hours and unmold cakes with a help of a hair drier, that way it is going to slip out of the ring smoothly.

November 30, 2012

Cranberry-Quince Jam

Only a few days and the first Advent Sunday is knocking on the door! It is a great way to get in mood for the upcoming season with a mug of hot chocolate, some freshly baked scones and a spicy cranberry-quince jam. Though it has stopped snowing already hours ago, it is still possible to get in mood with listening to xmas songs. It is time for me to start planning the menu!

200 g sugar
200 ml water
200 g quince
150 g cranberry
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Bring sugar and water to the boil, in the meantime peel quinces and cut into small cubes. As soon as the syrup is cooking add quince, spices and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Then add cranberry, orange juice and its freshly grated zest and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Then puree and pour into sterilized jars.

November 28, 2012

Fish sticks with avocado mayonnaise

Lately, I am totally crazy about avocados, though in the past I couldn't stand that gorgeous green fruit. Meanwhile I've learnt to appriciate it and have it often as a salad. My favourite way to serve it is simple: some lemon juice, spring onions, a good quality oil and lot of pepper. Yum! Yesterday I wanted to cook something simple using leftovers. I always freeze the thin part of a fish fillet, so that I can use that for making farce or any other type of stuffing. As I also found a pack of brick pastry, it was pretty obvious to make some fish sticks that went perfectly well with the avocado mayonnaise and a salad with chicorée and red pomelo.

for the fish sticks:
250 g white fish fillet
50 ml cream
1 egg white
4-5 basil leaves
brick pastry
1 egg yolk

oil for deep frying

for the avocado mayonnaise:
1 avocado
1-2 tablepoons lime juice
5 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Puree fish, cream together with the egg white and basil in a mixer. Season with salt and pepper. In case the brick pastry is round, cut it in quarters and pipe a line of the fish farce onto it. Smear sides with egg yolk and roll it up. Deep fry in hot oil. For the avocado mayonnaise puree avocado with oil, lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

November 12, 2012

Black Forest Cake

The recipe of the Black Forest cake was first written down in 1934, though that cake doesn't quite resemble the one that became world famous. In that variation there is no biscuit, instead the base is a hazelnut short crust pastry that was brushed with cherry jam followed by a layer of Kirsch flavoured walnut paste. The whole thing topped with buttercream and a layer of sour cherry with cream, then another layer of the walnut paste and the pastry closed the cake. The cherry-cream combination has already been popular in the 19th century in the south of the Black Forest. Though not in a form of a cake but a verrine: layer of cherry compote, cream and sometimes Kirsch.

(based on a recipe by Pierre Hermé)

for the biscuit:
35 g cocoa powder
35 g flour
35 g cornstarch
75 g butter
8 egg yolks
150 g sugar
6 egg whites

for the sour cherries:
300 g pitted sour cherries
150 ml port wine
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon
for the syrup:
180 ml water
100 g sugar
2 tablespoons Kirsch
for the cream:
750 ml cream
4 sheets gelatine
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the biscuit and the cherry compote the day before. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt butter and set aside. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and add half of the sugar in small portions while beating constantly until it forms hard peaks. In another bowl beat egg yolks with the leftover sugar until fluffy. Fold about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the egg yolk base, then sift flour, cornstarch and cocoa, then fold in the melted butter and finally the rest of the beaten egg whites. Butter a 24 cm cake form and bake the cake for 20-25 minutes and let it cool on a wrack.

For the compote put the ingredients into a pot together with some lemon peel and bring to the boil. Set aside and let it stand over night.
For the syrup bring sugar with water to the boil, and as soon as the sugar is molten set aside and add the Kirsch.
For the cream warm 120 ml cream and melt the previously soaked gelatine. Beat the rest of the cream with the vanilla extract until almost stiff. Then add the cream-gelatine mixture in a thin strain and beat for a few more minutes.
Slice the biscuit horizontally in 3 equal pieces and place one onto a bottom of a cake ring. Brush it with syrup, spread about one third of the cream, add drained sour cherries and cover with the next layer of biscuit. Brush with syrup, spread cream and finally top with the last layer of biscuit. Brush with syrup, spread the rest of the cream, but set about 2 tablespoons aside. Chill the cake for 2-3 hours, then remove the ring and spread cream all around the cake, decorate with chocolate.

November 8, 2012

My favourite salad dressing

Though this is my favourite dressing, I always prepare it in a different way, so it is time to write down the basic recipe. This is also the base for my hamburger sauce, but to that I always add some finely chopped onions and cornichons and spice it up with Worcestershire sauce and any herb I got growing on my window ledge. Sometimes I whisk in some yoghurt or crème fraîche. So as you see, the possibilities are endless and the best is that it is preapared so fast. No need to buy any ready made sauces, it really doesn't take more time to make your own, then opening a bottle of dressing full with chemicals and ingredients one doesn't even understand. Besides you can experiment with many different kind of oils and vinegars. Just imagine that bright green colour that the addition of pumpkin seed oil would bring!

1 egg
200-250 ml rapeseed oil
1 lemon
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 bunch fresh parsley
cayenne pepper

Drop the whole egg into a plastic container and whisk it up with an electric mixer. Add oil in a thin strain while whisking continously until it thickens. Now add the lemon zest, juice of a half lemon, mustard, parsley and mix until parsley has been chopped. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.

November 7, 2012

Chestnut flour - apple pancakes with caramelised chestnuts

What a cold, foggy and dampy autumn weather, actually just the way it should be in November! So after the morning walk with the dog I felt that I need a treat to boost a little my mood. I had some apple pancakes on mind sprinkled with loads of cinnamon sugar, the way it should be. But then I spotted the bag of chestnut flour on the counter and I decided to use it for the pancake batter. That gave me the impulse to serve it with some caramlised chestnuts and as I had no syrup in the pantry I made a quick caramel sauce.


for the pancakes:
150 g chestnut flour
50 g buckwheat flour
1 egg

1 apple
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250-300 ml milk

for the caramel sauce:
50 g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter

6-7 tablespoons cream
for the chestnuts:
20 roasted chestnuts
3 tablespoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons apple juice

For the pancake sift together the chestnut and the buckwheat flour, then whisk in the egg, the grated apple, melted butter and milk and whisk until it turns into a smooth batter. At the end stir in the cinnamon and the vanilla extract. I think there is no need to add any sugar, after all it is going to be served with caramel sauce. Bake the pancakes over medium heat. For the sauce melt sugar with water over low heat and as soon as it caramelise add butter and cream and cook for 4-5 minutes. For the chestnuts melt cane sugar and when it gets golden brown add the chestnuts, butter and the apple juice and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until reduced.

November 6, 2012

Loup de mer with chorizo sauce on sauted potatos, fava beans and funnel chanterelles with parsley oil

Seabass is the most irresistible fish to me. After the very first bite I fell in love and ever since then I am just not able to say no, when it comes to seabass. When I discovered this beautiful and huge fillet at my fish monger's store I had to have it. By the way this dish I had on mind already for about half a year, but never had the opportunity to make it. I didn't want to use too many spices, so I've put the accent to the sauce and made it using chorizo and fennel seeds. The potato, fava beans and funnel chanterelles saw only some salt, pepper and fresh thyme. The fish was made in olive oil in the oven, after all something so delicate must be handeled with care!

for the fish:
4x 200 g seabass
olive oil

for the broad bean funnel chanterelles ragu:
1 teaspoon butter
1 shallot
100 g funnel chanterelles
250 g broad beans
1 twig thyme
few drops of lemon juice

for the chorizo sauce:
100 g chorizo

1 shallot
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
150 ml white wine

250 ml fish stock
50 ml cream

for the potato:
4 medium potatoes
50 g butter

pepperfor the parsley oil:
1/2 bunch of parsley
50 ml olaj

For the ragu precook broad beans in water, then remove the outer, hard peel and set aside. Sautee chopped shallot in butter, add mushroom and sautee for a few minutes. Now add the broad beans and sautee for 2 more minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and few drops of lemon juice. Preheat the oven 150°C. Season fillets with salt and pepper and put them into the oil so that it is well covered. Put in the oven for 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness. Sautee potato in butter, season with salt and pepper.  Puree parsley with oil, sieve and set aside until serving. For the sauce sautee onion in butter, add sliced chorizo, fennel seeds, then add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Now add the stock and cook until there is about 3/4 left. Sieve, add cream and cook until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

November 5, 2012

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding is a typical Sunday afternoon sweet treat for us. When there is no leftover cake or I am not making ice cream, well then this pudding must be it. I have already cooked it in many different versions, with tonka bean, cocoa nibs and so on. Though my favourite is this pure chocolate version with loads of beaten cream on top and sprinkled with cocoa powder. I must say that is rather creamy, so if you are a real pudding fan, not like me, well then do not add any egg yolks and cream, but boost it with another tablespoon of cornstarch.

500 ml milk
100 ml cream

2 egg yolks
75 g sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons corn starch
200 g dark chocolate

Bring milk and cream to the boil. Whisk together the egg yolks with sugar, cocoa powder and corn starch. Pour the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Put it back to the stove and bring it to the boil again and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens. Now sieve the mixture and add the coarsly chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes and stir until the chocolate has molten. Pour it into glasses and put it to the fridge for about 5 hours or better over night.

November 4, 2012

Beetroot-goat's mlik cream cheese mousse, yellow beet "panna cotta" with beet jelly, orange blossom water scented crumble with white poppy seeds and beetroot chips

Some time ago I had some fun in the kitchen with beetroot. I know, I am pretty obsessed with beets, but for some mysterious reason I can not resist them. I could imagine this dish a starter or rather a intermediate course in a menu. Once again I combined beetroot with goat's milk cheese and added a light sort of oriental touch with cardamom and orange blossom water. The dish contains a beetroot-goat's milk cream cheese mousse, an almost "panna cotta" made with yellow beetroot, topped with beet jelly and white poppy seeds. For the crispy touch I prepared some crumble scented with orange blossom water, mixed with white poppy seeds and oven dried beetroot chips.

for the beet-goat's milk cream cheese mousse:
100 g
goat's milk cream cheese
40 ml beet juice
1 gelatine sheet
50 ml cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon acacia honey

for the jelly:
160 ml beet juice

1 g agar-agar
white poppy seed
for the yellow beet "panna cotta":
juice of 2 oranges + enough water so that the beet is just covered

200 g yellow beet (cleaned and diced)
300 ml crème fraîche

10 g fresh ginger
2,5 sheets gelatine

for the crumble:
50 g butter
75 g flour
g cane sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
4 tablespoons white poppy seeds
for the chips:
1 beetroot

For the mousse bring half of the juice together with the cardamom  and honey to the boil. Puree with the rest the goat's milk cream cheese. Stir in the previously soaked gelatine into the warm beet juice and mix until dissolved. Mix them together, season with salt and pepper and fold in the beaten cream. Chill for 2-3 hours.
For the beetroot jelly bring half of th juice to the boil and dissolve the previously soaked gelatine, then add to the rest of the juice. Pour it onto a silicon sheet and let it set. Sprinkle with white poppy seeds before serving.For the "panna cotta" cook yellow beet with ginger in orange juice with just enough water so that is covered. Puree with 2 tablespoons of the cooking water and dissolve the previously soaked gelatine in it. Stir in crème fraîche and pour it into a form, chill for 2-3 hours. Slice right before serving and cover with a piece of beet gelatine.
For the crumble mix all the ingredients, except the poppy and knead a dough. Roll out and cut in equal pieces, bake for 3-4 minutes over 200°C. Let it cool, then ground and mix with the poppy seeds and the coarsly ground beet chips. The beet chips was simply sliced thinly, then dried in a 100
°C oven.

October 30, 2012

Salted Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Always used to love eating something sweet and something salty at the same time. Like salt sticks and chocolate or vanilla ice cream with pommes frites, of course home made. In my childhood during the winter we often had a warm soup and something sweet served afterwards. Well, I always ate the sweet dish first and the soup at the end. This haven't changed. Though lately, I have only published sweet treats, I can assure you that I also cook savoury meals, yet nothing special. So until then please enjoy these sweet and salty cookies!

makes about 30 

125 g buckwheat flour

125 g flour
175 g butter
50 g sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg

70 g salted peanuts
100 g dark or milk chocolate chip

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream soft butter with sugar until fluffy, add vanilla extract and finally beat in the egg. Coarsly chop peanuts. Sift flour on top of the butter mixture, add chocolate chip and peanuts and knead everything together. Take the dough and form an about 3-4 cm diameter roll. Cut roll in about 0,5 cm slices and put them onto the baking paper covered sheet. Flatten them with the help of your fingers and bake about 10 minutes.

October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Monkey Bread

After a pretty long time, that I spent sick in bed and couldn't even think of food, finally I am back in the kitchen. Though only slowly yet, but I am cooking again! The pumpkin season is blooming! So many different kinds of winter squashes are available that probably I won't be able to try them all. Besides I already have my favourite type, the so called Bleu de Hongrie, which if you ask me, has the best consistency and taste. I usually just bake medium chunks in the oven and it as it is. It is unbeatable! However for this monkey bread I used some butternut squash pimped with loads of spices. A lovely autumn treat that makes a nice afternoon snack with a glass of cold milk.


for a 20 cm round cake form

for the dough:

350 g flour
150 g baked pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk

100 ml milk
10 g fresh yeast

30 g butter
30 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground anise

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

for sprinkling:
100 g cane sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

for the glaze:
100 g butter

100 g cane sugar

Sift flour and make a mould into the middle. Crumble yeast and sprinkle with sugar and pour the lukewarm milk over it. As soon as the yeast swims on top, add pumpkin puree, spices adn the egg yolk and start to knead together. When the dough has almost came together add the cold, molten butter and knead a smooth dough. Let it rise for an hour or until double its size. Butter a 20 cm round cake form. Mix together cane sugar with ground ginger and pour it into a plastic bag. Take the dough and snip more or less equal sized bites from it and pop them into the plastic bag and shake it until it is covered with sugar. Place a row of the sugared bread chunks into the form and either sprinkle each layer with the glaze or pour it on top. For the glaze melt butter, add sugar and cook it over medium heat until it turns brown. Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool in the form for 10-15 minutes then turn it over onto a plate.

October 4, 2012

Orange-cardamom scented mini bundt cakes with orange blossom syrup

Lately, I am really totally crazy for orange blossom water. I remember, when I bought the bottle, I was sure that it will last for a life time. Well, I was wrong, totally wrong. There is almost nothing left. No wonder! After all it is just irrisistble when served with something that contains orange, cardamom and pistachio!

makes about 12-14 mini bundt cakes
for the bundt cake:

300 g flour
200 g finely ground polenta
100 g butter
50 g sugar
4 eggs
200 ml orange juice
zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons orange liquer
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder

for the syrup:
200 g sugarr

100 g water
100 g orange blossom water

Bring orange juice to the boil over low heat and stir in the polenta. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Stir in the polenta, orange zest, orange liquer, cardamom and stir until well mixed. Finally fold in the flour and baking soda. Pour batter into mini bundt cake forms and bake for 15-20 minutes. For the syrup bring the ingredients to the boil and cook for 5-6 minutes. Pour syrup over the warm cakes and serve with chopped pistachio.

September 26, 2012

Chestnut cake with pear

Cooked or roasted: chestnuts have always been my most favourite treat during my childhood and so they are nowdays. I haven't had chestnut puree for years meanwhile, so I bought a pack last weekend. Instead of serving it as vermicelles I decided to bake something with it. It was also a great opportunity to use some of the treasured chestnut flour. I also added some pears, and if pears, well then chocolate is also not far, right? To make the whole thing a little more exciting, I flavoured the cake with anise and orange. By the way, don't forget to serve a nice portion of beaten heavy cream with it! It's a must!

for the cake:
100 g butter
100 g cane sugar 100 g chestnut puree
50 ml orange juice

zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
2 eggs
50 g ground hazelnut
50 g chestnut flour
50 g buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

2 pears
for the glaze: 
20 g butter
50 ml milk
75 g dark chocolate

Preaheat the oven to 180°C. Beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in the chestnut puree, orange juice and zest, vanilla extract, anise and the egg yolks. Peel pears and cut in about half a centimeter sized cubes. Sift chestnut and buckwheat flour among the baking powder on top of the batter and stir until it is mixed well. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold it into the batter. Finally stir in the pear and pour batter onto a 18 cm round baking form. Bake cake for 40-50 minutes. For the glaze melt all the ingredients over low heat and stir until it is well mixed. Pour it over the cold cake and decorate with coarsly chopped hazelnut.

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