Thursday, 29 November 2012

Torta de Almendras for #BloggersAroundTheWorld

"Better days are coming for you ..." Those are the words coming from the speakers of my stereo right this moment where I start writing this together. I hope so!
On the other hand ... ('... four fingers and a thumb' - a friend used to say) ... if I would trust the weather forecast, all this needs to remain a dream for the distant future ...
Well, I don't even need a weather forecast to tell me things, I can already gather it from the calender that winter is just around the corner. It's just a matter of time before it happens ... (don't even like to think about it) ...
I already asked my doctor to prescribe me some sun, but it was to no avail, although I guess it would be cheaper than the other things he is prescribing me. Well, you can't argue with an expert ...
As to the sun for a few days now it's just elusive, but hope isn't ready to die yet. The same holds true for me, but I shall rather say that the situation isn't that bad altogether (... but enough already).

It's time to connect to our subject: Spain ... I would connect that directly with sun. Again memories come up of a distant warmth, memories of Barcelona, memories of Mallorca.
At least there is still the licor de almendra in the bar. We can work with that.
A word for caution though: alcohol is no solution, but then again, no alcohol isn't either.
Do not be worried, though, we are just using it for our Torta de Almendras - almond tart.
It seems to be very popular in Andalusia ... at least that is what my Spanish cook book Spanish Cooking from Cornelia Rosales de Molino claims.
I adapted the recipe a bit ... hm ... maybe a bit more and that not only to accomodate my licor de almendra.

Here we go ... If we cannot have the sun, we at least are having some pieces of Torta de Almendras ...

For the short crust pastry:
200 g flour
60 g sugar
100 g butter
1 egg
1 tbs milk
Pinch of salt
Few splashes of lemon juice

For the almond filling:
150 g ground almonds (if you ground your almonds yourself, you might get an even better aroma)
4 eggs
60 g sugar
4 tbs licor de almendra (or similar)
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt

Some sliced almonds for topping

What shall I say? Oh, yes, of course, how to prepare the cake.
We start with the short crust pastry by carefully kneading together all it's ingredients. Yes, that's all that is to it. Shape the ready dough to a ball and (don't play ball with it) place it into the fridge for about half an hour.
I went to the dentist during that time period, which sadly took me longer then that just mentioned half hour.
On with the almond filling. No, you don't get that one at a dentist! I didn't get any other filling either. Nevertheless, a visit to the dentist is in the lower section of my top 1000000.
Almond filling! Back on track!
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Then cream the egg yolks with the sugar and add the ground almonds and the licor afterwards. Don't forget the lemon zest.
We give our attention to the egg whites now. Add a pinch of salt. Now it's time to get them stiff. Either, you let out all you aggressions and beat them that way with a hand whisk or ... you use an electrical one and safe your energy.
As I didn't make it to my exercise at the gym this week (naughty boy) I had to go for the manual method ... oh, that feels so good. Really? Whatever!
Carefully (again) fold in the beaten egg whites into the almond mix.
Heat up your oven to 220°C. 
Then roll out your dough to fit it to an approximately 26 cm round cake tin. Don't forget to remove the dough from the fridge first for doing that.
Once the dough is in the tin, which you hopefully greased and papered before, make sure the dough goes a bit upwards towards the borders of the tin. Then pour over the almond mix, toss over some extra sliced almonds and then transfer your tin to the oven for 30 minutes.
Keep an eye on the cake after about half the time. If it gets too dark, it might not help to turn on the light ... Obviously I was referring to the cake. You can protect it with a piece of aluminium foil over it.
After the cake is finished at least leave it some time to cool before you go for it.
The sun might not be conjured up by this, but ... it is at least something.
Anyway, this month it's time for Bloggers Around the World with Spanish recipes or at least Spanish inspired ones.

Maybe a few more recipes will help. Just feel free to join. You are very welcome!
Well, I better have some cake then: Torta de Almendras, to be specific.
The chorizo has to wait until dinner.
Hmmm, maybe because I'm such a winter wimp I should consider changing location ...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ga xao dau phong - Stir-fried Chicken & Peanuts

In my last post I wrote you about a cheesecake with lemongrass and carrots and ginger and things. I have to tell you something ...
... I ate it all up and I enjoyed it. Might need to think about some exercise, though. I guess taking the rubbish outside will not suffice.
However, that was not my original intention. No, I'm not talking about taking out the rubbish, nor was I talking about eating the cake. Whatsoever, you can't know what's on my mind unless I tell you clearly. I on the other hand can't tell you clearly, if I didn't arrange things clearly in my mind.
Ahhhh, forget about the last few sentences. I try again!
Originally I bought ginger and lemongrass for some Asian cooking. I go myself a Vietnamese cookbook called Vietnamese Bible by Jacki Passmore. I thought I could try a few recipes. So when I was out shopping I brought home some lemongrass and ginger ... that might come in handy ... or not ... or whatever.
Here is what I tried from the book.

That's called 'Ga xao dau phong' or in English 'Stir-fried Chicken & Peanuts'.
I have a lovely rice cooker at home. So I don't have to worry so much about the rice. Just wash and rinse it and then put it on cooking. When it's finished, it switches automatically to 'keeping warm'.
The rest you could just call fresh fast food. Apart from cutting the chicken breast into pieces and the spring onions into rings, the rest goes faster then you could warm up an instant meal in the microwave.
Once your pan or wok is heated up to high heat, you add some peanut oil and then stir-fry your pieces of chicken for four minutes. Then you add some fish sauce, the spring onions, some roasted peanuts and a few red chillies (which you have cut in rings as well ... sorry, I forgot to mention). Maybe some salt and pepper and ...

... eat! Right, you could of course add also some fresh coriander leaves, which I obviously did, although it was not mentioned in the original recipe.
On top of it, if you make more rice, you still have some left to experiment a bit ... I did some sushi rolls afterwards to get the opportunity to let some wasabi climb up my nose. That is very ... nice.
I only remember still when I tried wasabi the first time. "You have to use a fair good portion on your Sushi!" ... I'm glad I survived. Since then I use it only in moderation. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake

I was thinking ... yes, for a change ... and it came to my mind ... right, I haven't lost it completely ... that there was this lovely blog hop I used to join in once in a while. It is called The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, in short SABH.
The SABH is presented by Delicieux, The Hungry Australian, Dining With a Stud, The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader, and 84th & 3rd. I had a look and ... the theme for this month is cake and three veg.
Here I am now, somehow I have to bake a cake with veg in it. The only things that come to my mind are carrots and beetroot in a cake ... that is, a sweet cake. If you have a look at the other blogs later (as would be recommended) you see how inventive others have been.
After some research through various books and taken the ingredients I have at home I came to this: Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake.

Well, lemongrass is used as a herb in the Asian cuisine and you for sure wouldn't call it a veg. What about the veg then? I used carrots. In fact you could call this cake also: Lemongrass-Lime-Ginger-Carrot-Chocolate-Cheesecake.
However, that would not sound as intriguing as the name I came up with friends from the net. I try this cake exclusively for this Blog Hop. I have no experiences with it, as I never did it before. We will see, how things end up. So, let's do Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake. 
Ready, set, bake ...

Ingredients, here they come:
Cake base:
300 g flour
14 g baking powder
Pinch of salt 
1 tbs cocoa powder
50 g brown sugar
100 g of carrots
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
150 g yogurt
2 tbs of vegetable oil
2 eggs or 4 egg whites

Cheese topping:
400 g cream cheese
100 g sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs milk
1 stalk of lemongrass
Zest of one lime

Chocolate topping:
100 g 25 g of chocolate (I thought I needed more, but I didn't)

How the experimenting went:
First of all we like to concentrate on the cake dough.
I mixed all dry ingredients together in one bowl, that is sifted the flour with the baking powder in, added the brown sugar and cocoa powder, and, not to forget, the pinch of salt.
Then I concentrated on the other ingredients with a different bowl. I put in the yogurt and the oil. Time for grating ...
The carrots and the ginger were grated to the yogurt. The oil and the eggs (or egg whites) joined. A little bit of mixing was due then.
It's time for the contents of both bowls to join forces together. Therefore I added the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and ... of course ... mixed everything together into a brown and sticky dough.
Already before all that, I had a spring tin form greased. This was ready now to receive the dough ... sometimes, though, I wish afterwards I had used baking paper, but ... I didn't.
With a rubber spatula I tried to level things out and once that was accomplished more or less, the cake went to the oven for 10 minutes at 200°C.

That 10 minutes is exactly the time I wanted to use to prepare the cheese topping.
No need to panic! Really?
We just have to mix all the ingredients for the cheese topping together. Well, not exactly. The lemongrass needs chopping up, as fine as possible. Of course, I didn't forget to grate in the zest of the lime.
10 minutes over. I made it!

I removed the cake from the oven and turned up the heat to 225°C.
Now the cheese topping goes onto the cake ... on top. Oh, oh, it seems quite liquidish. Will it set properly? No worries, we will see.
Back goes the cake into the oven for 15 minutes. Then the heat is reduced to 125°C and the cake stays in the oven for another 30 minutes.

After that the cake needs cooling down and somehow we have to figure out to remove it from the tin without destroying it again ... hard job.
Anyway, I couldn't even wait properly for the cake to cool down. It was getting late. I wanted to eat the cake at a proper cake time ... what nonsense am I talking ... cake time could be anytime.
Whatsoever, I grated some chocolate over the cake. Somehow it melted partways, but i wasn't bothered. After all I had to take some pictures and have cake.

What would you say? Will such a cake taste nice, delicious, wonderful, or whatever good?
It did! You will not be disappointed.
Although now, it was the first time I tried this cake, I can only say, it's worth a try ...

 Now back to the SABH ...

SABH November - Cake & three Veg

I hope you enjoyed the Hanoi Lemongrass Cheesecake!
For sure you will enjoy the other entries ...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Secrets of a French Baker and Random Recipe

Can you keep a secret? I can and that's why I'm not telling it to you. Therefore this very secret has to remain as it is ... hidden in some dark corners of the mind. Well, I don't know whether it is that dark back there.
After that being said and done ... done? We haven't done a thing!
Anyway, we can go into business now. Not that kind of business. Let's talk Random Recipes. Here a brief preview before we go into details ...

This month it was Dom's idea from Belleau Kitchen to connect the random recipe to the participants individual birthdays.
As in the case with Dom I was born on the 24th. The month has to remain a secret (again).
That fact would lead in my case to the book Confessions of a French Baker by Peter Mayle and Gerard Auzet.
I already did quite a deal from this book. Originally I planned to try every single recipe from it and post about it. Somehow, I didn't continue at one point.
However, time to open the book at a random page.
No, I think it's not right, if you have a bookmark in it. The book would open automatically at this page. Therefore I have to use the randomizer again for that.
So, try again!
No, I did that one already. Another go is necessary.
Had that one as well. But I know there are still some recipes in that book, which I didn't try.
The randomizer has to roll again and ... 
... and ...
... and ...
.... and what?
Oh, something I didn't try so far, although the methods of preparation are quite similar.
Here we go for it then: Onion-White-Wine-Bread.
We need about 450 g of different flours, half strong wheat flour and the other one spelt. Of course we need onions.
They are first browned in butter and then deglazed with the white wine ... set to the side.
Now we are ready for the 'lovely' part. Sifting the flour into a bowl ... pinch of salt ... dried yeast over it. Have some nice clean hands ready. Pour in a mixture of fat from the pan (without the onions), white wine and water (altogether 300 ml).
It's time to use those nice clean hands and knead everything to a lump of dough, which might well look like this ...

... rest for 10 minutes to get ready for the real action. In fact, it is just the dough that needs the rest, hopefully not the baker, or otherwise he won't make it till the end.
We have to activate the gluten in the dough now. That means some vigorous kneading for about 20 minutes. If that isn't exercise again. 
Somehow I so often end up with those kneading jobs for random recipes ...
After we made it through the kneading, we add the previously mentioned onions.

Then we leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes. In connection with yeast I found it always useful to put a damp kitchen cloth over the bowl, where the dough is rising. If need be, now would be good to rest ... but there are always things to do ...
... don't get too lazy. Carefully take the dough from the bowl and make two smaller lumps out of it. Set them on a kitchen cloth covered lightly with flour ...

... and cover with the damp cloth again for 25 minutes.
Once that time has passed again, take those lumps and flatten them. At the same time you get out the gas from the dough. Try to get the dough into a rectangular shape.

Then fold at the long side towards the middle as you hopefully can see in the following picture ...

... and finally you fold the other side towards the middle. With the folding edge facing down place the bread shaped dough back on the floured kitchen towel. Cover it once more.
Leave things for another 45 minutes.
What would you do with 45 minutes?
Having spent the time hopefully in a productive way again it's time to heat up the oven to 230°C. Get your bread onto a baking tray with the folding edge downwards as well.
Brush the bread with water. The water is a vital key to get a nice and crispy crust.

Slash the bread quickly with a knife in a candy kind of shape. Before you put your bread into the oven, spray some water into your oven to get some extra steam for the crust.
Then put your tray into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Let the bread cool down a bit before you devour it. Maybe you have a soup or stew ready for that.
That's it! I hope I didn't reveal any secrets here. Anyway, it has been nice again to have a part in random recipes this month ...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Breaking Kale - Part 3 - Bell Peppers Stuffed with Kale Risotto

'Why does rubbish always have to come in three parts?'
That quote is from a computer game series - long time ago - that brought us the following as well: 'I once owned a dog that was smarter then you.' - 'He must have taught you everything you know.'
No worries, when you never have heard of this. It doesn't matter, has no bearing on the following anyway. I'm not going to teach you how to be quick on the comeback.
Let's rather focus on the 'Part 3' part.
A few days ago I brought you kale with smoked pork sausages. It wasn't all eaten up.
Then I brought you risotto with kale and smoked pork sausages. It wasn't all eaten up either.
Now I bring you ...

... bell peppers stuffed with risotto al kale and smoked pork sausages. Was it all eaten up?
We will see.
Is it a recipe? Well, what do I have to say. It's too simple. You just take some bell peppers and execute them by cutting them in halves and removing all the seeds from the inside.
Now you simply throw in your risotto ... eh ... fill your halves of bell pepper with some of the risotto. If you haven't got leftover kale risotto, obviously you can't do it. He he! 
Of course you could attempt a different version with a different risotto, but that consequently would be ... different.
Nevertheless, as you have arranged the bell peppers with the risotto in an oven-proof dish, place some bacon on top of every bell pepper half.

You might want to pour over some olive oil and then place it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180°C. 
After waiting that much time for your food, you just take it out, place it on a plate, sprinkle some parsley over it and maybe add some more olive oil.
Was it all eaten up?
Yes, it was this time. So we are not going to see THAT kale again and we don't have to think about another recipe and there will not be a part 4, although it was no rubbish.
Oh, I could have cut it into small pieces and have it on puff pastry, but ... that doesn't have to be now.
Maybe we go further with another dish next time and have more then 3 parts. What experiences do you have with leftovers? How far did you get, that is how often did you have to re-arrange the leftovers of the leftover?

Now still something else in connection with the photograph at the outset.

This was the first shot.

Then I added olive oil.

Somehow my camera didn't seem to like that, so I had to set the white balancing to another mode.

Or which of the three pictures looks best according to you?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Kale again - Leftovers for Kale Risotto

One thing leads to another. We can apply this to leftovers. Since I wasn't in the mood to eat Kale the whole week in the way I prepared it lately, I intended to be creative with my leftovers.
Another contributing factor was this celery I still had on stock and needed using up. 
In that case 1 + 1 was not 2, but ... kale risotto.

Since the kale part is already eh ... ready, we primarily need to focus on the risotto.
The basic risotto always goes the same way.
Start with some olive oil in your pot and add some finely chopped celery or onions and stew them for a while until they get soft (yes, always the same).
Then pour in your risotto rice and turn everything around to get your rice coated.
After that pour in some white wine or vermouth. Let it cook away.
In another pot you already have some stock ready (I used about one litre).
Ladle by ladle add the stock to your risotto. You only add another ladle of stock when the previous one has been absorbed. Repeat this until all the stock is gone. That should be between 15 and 20 minutes.
Now we add the leftover kale and the sausage, which has been cut into small pieces. Mix everything thoroughly.
To finish we add a tablespoon of butter and about a handful of grated parmesan. Cover the risotto and let it simmer for about three minutes.
After that mix again and then you are ready to eat. Plate up as much of the risotto you want to eat and grate over some extra parmesan.
Well, I couldn't eat all the risotto. And since I want to be creative with my leftovers, one thing leads to another ...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Time for Chutney - Apple-Onion-Chilli-Chutney

Sometimes my mind is playing tricks on me. There was this blog challenge over at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate ... It dealt with chutneys, pickles, piccalillis, jams, curds and marmalades.
Somehow, I had in mind this challenge would end today, but in fact it was one week earlier. So, while I thought I still had plenty of time, I didn't. I blew it!
I love piccalilli and jams and things like that. I did a piccalilli once and I liked it very much. That's an internal reminder for me to do it again.
Now, I've never made a chutney and that was what I wanted to try now. Since I still had quite a few apples left, it had to be something with apple. After getting some more information on that subject I was ready to go ... to make an Apple-Onion-Chilli-Chutney.

What we need:
2 tbs butter
2 red onions, finely chopped
500 g apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
2 tsp ginger, in very tiny pieces
2 small fresh red chillies, finely chopped (I left the seeds in)
250 g brown sugar
250 ml apple vinegar

What I did:
After having done all the preparation with cutting things into bit's an pieces the butter went melting in the pot.
Then I added the onions and started softening them.
With that said and done, it was time for the apple pieces to join and to season everything with ginger and chillies.

I let that go for a while for the apples to go a bit softer as well. My apples though were not the fastest or easiest to turn soft. Not the right type for a fast one.
After I was tired of waiting any longer I added the brown sugar and the apple vinegar and left it going until it looked like this ...

This may take a while. About 50-60 minutes. In fact, I decided to let it go a bit further than shown in the picture. 
Once I was satisfied I put the apple-onion-chilli-chutney into sterilised jars. I sterilised them standing for a while in hot water. That should do.
The chutney just filled one and a half jar. The full jar I turned upside down, after closing, of course. Otherwise it would have been quite messy and ... stupid. That should create some kind of vacuum helping it to seal properly to keep longer.
I like to eat it on bread with cheese. The chilies just give a very subtle burn at the end. So it's not too strong. If you want it stronger, just add a few more chillies. 

Well, I didn't make it for the blog challenge, but anyway it was nice to finally try my own apple chutney. 
That would have been the challenge.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Kale-os in the Kitchen: Grünkohl mit Pinkel - Curly Kale the German Way

That is going to be a sunny day. The sun wasn't at full force yet, but could clearly be seen rising behind the houses in the neighbourhood with a clear sky around it.
Well, the thermometer revealed it's 2°C and the car was covered in that thin white thing I despise so much, when I have to use my car in the morning.
Gladly, I didn't need my car at that point of the day.
A breakfast would be good at that point. Said and done!
By the time I was finished all hopes of a sunny day were shattered. How could it be!
Outside now a fog like dampness prevailed and it was far from being nice, despite the fact that 2°C can't be nice either. At least in my case.
Anyway, I had to go to get an appointment for the dentist for later that year and used the opportunity to visit the farmers market as well.
Today it's really the time for some comfort food. As I was browsing the different stalls, I couldn't fail to notice that it's the time for kale at this very point of the year. So I got myself a batch of it and made the following later that day.

Well, I have eaten that already many times. In Germany in some regions it is called Grünkohl mit Pinkel. 'Pinkel' refers to a special sausage made from pork. 'Grünkohl' obviously then is kale.
However, I've never cooked it myself. How hard can it be? (I know, someone else from television is always saying this, but I like to use it as well.)
So I got some last minute advice from the lady who sold the kale to me and set off to give it a go.
I give you the list of ingredients now, but don't try it at home. Maybe not the same way I did, but in a bit more reasonable way ...

50 g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1 kg kale, in small pieces
4 Mettenden or Pinkel (slightly smoked pork sausages)
1 l vegetable stock (I used 2 l, I know now it was too much, but it helped)
Salt and pepper according to taste

Preparation (more or less ... adapt with common sense):
By the way the lady at the market said 1 kg of kale would do for two persons, because it will reduce very much in size.

Now this is how the amount of kale looked like on my kitchen table. Oh, maybe the picture isn't that good.
To be more precise, half of the table was covered and it hardly fitted into the kitchen sink to give it a wash. Right, I could have done that in batches ...
Talking about batches, let's start by melting the butter in a pan, the largest you have, maybe and then continue by sweating the onions.

The next step is, that we want to cook the kale. Just think about this for a while. All the kale, that is 1 kg, has to go into that pan. Hm ... it will shrink ... but not at once. If you have a vessel in your kitchen for cooking that can hold 1 kg of kale, you might think about using that.
So I went on adding the first batch of kale and getting 1 l of vegetable stock ready to pour over it and let it cook.

With the stock the kale reduces quite good and I can add more. In fact, though, all this is taking a while, but since the vegetable stock is doing such a good job I added another litre of it.
Nevertheless it took quite some time. I kept adding batch after batch of kale. Reducing and reducing again until ...
... oh the pan seems to start to get very crowded.
Even some of the stock wants to hop out again. I have to be a bit more careful.
Despite that and the danger that the pan might overflow even more I kept going. Adding more and more kale.
Finally all of the 1 kg of kale was in that pan.
Now we can go on for real. I decided to let it cook openly at medium temperature for about 10 minutes. Maybe we get rid of the now a bit too much liquid.

After that it was time for the sausages to enter into the picture. Just puncture the sausages with the tip of your knife, so that they can release some of their juice to go into the kale. A great deal of the taste depends on it and with that, of course, also on the quality of your sausages. You might as well try other meat according to what is available to you. I could also imagine using bacon.
Now you can cover your pan, reduce the heat and let it continue to simmer for about 30-40 minutes. I only did 20 and left after that only to continue a few hours later.
While the kale is simmering you can cook and fry some potatoes to eat together with the kale and the Pinkel.
My mother used to add the potatoes to the kale and cooked them together, but I prefer it now this way.
Oh, I nearly forgot. Even two very greedy persons will not manage to eat all that. It will do at least for four. Otherwise you have to add more sausages.

That is a very comforting dish, something you for sure appreciate at the colder times of the year ... I could cry when I still think about what is ahead in the coming months ... I'm rather a heat person and I would appreciate a warmer place. But - things are as they are and we go on like this. There might  even be a sunny day again in the coming weeks.
What comforts you at such times of the year?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Bloggers Around The World - France - Round-up

Already a month is gone again and in no time the year 2012 will be. That, however is a different story. One month ago we set out on our journey from Germany to France with Bloggers Around the World.

Now it's time to see what food awaits us in France. At times I wish it wouldn't just be a virtual food trip around the world. How lovely it would be to see the places, hear the sounds, smell the food ... and of course taste it.
For now, though, we are on the safe side with this being just a virtual food trip. There are so many lovely delectable - especially on the sweet side - in our round-up this month. Everyone did a really good job or better to say some exquisite cooking ... or baking.

The first to jump on our bus to France was Jacqueline from How to be a Gourmand.

Celebrating Chocolate week with Chocolat Fondant

Jacqueline brought us some very nice Chocolate Fondant with Balsamic Blueberries. Look at it! Does not simply looking at it make you want some? It did in my case! So, grab yourselves some blueberries and have a go.

Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes was next for our French theme.

A classic, that I can have again and again and again and again: Tarte Tatin. For this it is good, when you are able to manage the 'dubious task of turning out the tart' (as Jen puts it) without making a mess. Jen did! I mean, without a mess.

Phil from as strong as soup helps us to intensify our trip to France. Right now I wish I were at the sea as well.
Phil gave us some Rousquilles - some yummy biscuits with a touch of vanilla and aniseed. Can you resist.
If you read carefully Phil's post you may find a hint to our next stop for Bloggers Around the World. However, you will find the truth at the end of the round-up anyway.

Still more sweet food ahead with Choclette from her Chocolate Log Blog

What have we here? Blackcurrant and Rose Nonnettes. Do you notice anything suspicious at first sight? Where is the chocolate? 
It is there, just have a closer look or read. After reading this lovely post I know have another use for the bottle of rose water resting in my store cupboard.

Now Fiona from London Unattached gives us a little break from desserts and sweet indulgence.

 sole veronique 5-2 diet

We are in for some healthy fish with Diet Sole Veronique. This really comes in handy, since it is a diet version of a classic French dish. So you are either on a diet or you use this as your main course and have the previous mentioned ones as pudding ...

... or wait! Galina from Chez Maximka has some French cake for us. Somehow we have to fit this into our little sweet meal.

Don't be scared, it's just a French Yogurt Cake, the spider is not real. I would say, Galina has done a good job with her spider web. There must be a trick to it.
The cake, though did have a very short life. Only after 24 hours just a few crumbs were left. So you are in for a treat as well here. As far as I know, there is always room for a slice of cake.

Finally then, here is my own contribution. I fear, we have to start a different meal for that, because, it is already designed as a complete meal (maybe you just add one of the lovely desserts from above to it).

As a starter you get the one and after that the other: Aligot et Bœuf Bouguignon.

I only can say, it has been a lovely trip with you in France. I hope you enjoyed it just as much. Then it's time to travel on.
Shall we go to the one side to Italy or take a different route into Spain. What would you say? Oh, well, it's too late anyway. I made up my mind. Therefore the next stop is ...


What are we going to have this month? It's up to you. There are many lovely things. Maybe you do your own turron. You could make extensive use of chorizo as well (of course not in the turron), or iberico or manchego cheese.
Why not throw a few small things at us: tapas. What about some patatas bravas?
Do I have to talk so much?

I'm sure you have many delicious ideas. As we go, just keep a few things in mind (rules):

1. Leave a comment with a link to your post here in this very post.

2. Link to my blog and this challenge in your post.

3. Use the "Bloggers Around the World" badge (the one you find at the beginning and end of this post).

4. You can use a new or an old post, but it has to be adjusted accordingly (you know, all the linking).

5. Have fun and enjoy it!

Remember, the last rule, is the most important one!
To let everyone have a share in the joy I will post a round-up at the 13th of December (I need to do a bit of planning for that one). 

I'm glad you are here. Join us then on our food trip to Spain ... and beyond (later) ...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

TMC - Tipsy Mint Cookies

It's time to get some ideas again and get busy in the kitchen. Although things don't feel quite easy these days, I do my best to ... eh ... do things.
Hm, maybe we can do something that is not too complicated. Do you know TMC? 
For some it is 'Traffic Message Channel' for getting some information for your navigation system, for me today it is 'Tipsy Mint Cookies'.

Some time ago I did those cookies with Ouzo. Well, things can be quite easy in life ... just substitute the Ouzo with mint liqueur and here you go. Maybe a few more little adjustments, but basically, things don't have to be so, well ... eh ... complicated.
While doing this, it reminded me of holiday in France. There we had mint water and also some ice cream with mint. Once we even made mint tea with mint water ... so we had the double power.
For our cookies, though, we are not going full power. We try to go easy on it. I still remember the rum incident ... still, however, I have a feeling those cookies are once more, not for kids, either.
Let's do it then!

250 g butter
250 g icing sugar
500 g flour
100 ml mint liqueur
80 g dark chocolate

Get yourself a bowl for working the dough in. Add the sugar and the butter and give it a good mix through-beating-kind-of-thing.

Whilst you could use an electric device, you could do it perfectly well manually.
I don't want to go in any way political here, but ... if you do it without electricity you got some advantages. You burn some extra calories and in time you can save some money and don't go to the gym anymore (of course you need to do more then just a few cookies) and you save electricity (your hand mixer may not have such a great wattage, but still you save a bit). No wonder, we have to build so many power plants and so on. We don't have to worry so much about nuclear power, but rather about the fact that everyone wants to have so much electricity for so many things.
However, as I said, I don't want to get political, neither do I want to endorse any form of power generating or to speak against it. Just some food for thought. Do we really make things easy for us by always taking the easy way. You know it from food: fast food and convenience food seem to be easier and more convenient, but ... well, you know!
Where were we? Right, making cookies.
Once the sugar and butter got kind of creamy, we can go on and add some of the flour and some of the liqueur and start incorporating it. Bit by bit we go on until all is in and we have a nice dough.

The dough is a bit on the greenish side. That is good. We can work with that.
Hm, we might get about 16 cookies. So you can divide the dough into 16 bits, form them to small balls and then flatten them to place them on a baking tray.

Then they go into the oven at 220°C for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them (my oven is a bit less powerful than it pretends to be)!
After that you can take them out and leave them to cool down. Meanwhile melt the chocolate over boiling water. Then have a small spoon ready and try to get some kind of chocolaty pattern on your cookies.

I hope you enjoy them. They do not taste too strong of mint, but still they are quite nice.
Still there is a bit of greenish look on them. Those might be Tipsy Mint Cookies, but they are not that tipsy. If you have a few, you still can use your car (if you didn't have something else).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Basil and Garlic Chicken Thighs

Life is a roller coaster! This was something Ronan Keating sang, wasn't it?
Well, things are like that. Sometimes you're up and sometimes your down, but as long as things are still moving, it should be alright, I guess.
So far I haven't been able to motivate myself by cooking and baking. Anyway, I didn't have the time or energy for it. I hope, though, things will be improving in the next few days.
However, I want to write you a bit about something I had a few weeks ago. That is, if I still manage to get things right.

It wasn't quite a big deal. Hm! Quite simple. Just a matter of pouring things together. I even didn't bother much to hack the tomatoes from the tin to pieces.

The chicken thighs got some incisions into which I stuffed some slices of garlic and some basil leaves. Maybe a little olive oil over them will help as well.

Meanwhile, I took an oven-proof dish and poured a tin of tomatoes and a tin of white beans into it. A bit of extra water and seasoning with salt and pepper will not harm.
The whole thing goes into the oven. I arranged it, that the chicken thighs were on a grill above the tomato and bean dish, so that the fat from the chicken could drip into the tomato sauce.
Did it taste? I can say, that I was well fed by it. A baguette or a ciabatta on the side always works.
So far about food and eating for today, I have to get back to the roller coaster.