Monday, April 21, 2014

OLD FASHIONED CHOCOLATE CAKE

Is there anything more perfect than a Chocolate Cake to celebrate Easter? I'm not sure. And to be honest my birthday is usually  around Easter so it was my birthday cake, too. As I have a passion about chocolate (my huby doesn't) and my boys also inherited it, I decided to bake just a very simple, all time favorite  chocolate cake that was inspired by Nigella Lawson awesome recipe. As we are in the middle of strawberry season and all of us love it, I used some to decorate the top of that and sprinkled the sponge with a decent rose syrup to be moist and tender. I  cut sugar comparing to the original recipe to our taste. It's a foolproof recipe, so if You are a beginner just go ahead! It's gonna  be a showstopper!




Ingredients for a 20 cm diameter cake:

for the cake:
200 gr plain flour
150 gr cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40 gr good-quality cocoa powder
175 gr soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
150 ml sour cream or buttermilk




for the icing:
75 gr unsalted butter
175 gr good quality dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)
80-100 gr icing sugar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon golden syrup (optional)
125 ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the syrup:
2 tbsp rose syrup
1 tbsp hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line two 20 cm diameter cake tin with greaseproof paper. 
  2. Put the soft butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir on medium until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs each by each. Add vanilla paste and soured cream and mix on low speed. 
  3. In an other bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda. Stir well with a spoon. Add gradually to the butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon very carefully. 
  4. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  5. Meanwhile make the filling: melt the butter and chocolate on low heat. Keep an eye on that not to be burned! Leave to cool to room temperature and stir well for couple of times. Sift the sugar to soured cream. Mix well with a wire whisk until smooth then add gradually the chocolate mixture. 
  6. Place two-third of filling on the top of the first cake and spread over evenly with a rubber spatula.
  7. Place the second cake on that and cover with the rest of filling in a rustic way.
Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

Chicken tikka masala is well known everywhere. Most of us think that cooking process of that is more than a full-day-adventure and not worth as You can buy at every corner in a take-away under 3 minutes. I tried so many variations of this dish but hardly found more than 2 ones which were really outstanding in flavor and texture as well. So then I decided to make my own classic Chicken Tikka and the recipe is great. I'm pretty sure not to buy very often at the corner... I rather open my own take away!

The recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetit.




Ingredients:

6 garlic cloves
a thumbsized fresh ginger
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 red chili
2 bay leaves
150 gr natural yoghurt (I used greek yoghurt)
1 tbsp salt
1 kg chicken breast fillet
3 tbsp oil
1 small onion
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 cardamom pods
400 gr (1 tin) chopped peeled tomato
150 ml heavy cream
finely chopped coriander





  1. Peel ginger and grate finely. Mash garlic cloves. Mix ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin in a bowl. Pour the yoghurt into an other big plastic bowl, add salt and the half of spice mix previously You made. 
  2. Clean  the chicken breast and cut into strips. Add to the yoghurt mixture, stir well to coat the strips evenly then cover with lid. Chill at least for 2 hours better for a night.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the finely sliced onion and sautee on medium for a few minutes until soft. Add tomato paste, cardamom pods and the rest of spice mixture and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato from the tin and cook for 5-10 minutes until gets thick. Pour into a blender (remove cardamom pods before) and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. 
  4. Add the cream and pour back into the frying pan then bring to boil. Add the bay leaves. Simmer for 30-35 minutes until the sauce thickens. 
  5. Meanwhile preheat the grill. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Place the chicken strips on wire rack. Grill about 10 minutes. It won't be cooked through, so then add to the sauce and simmer for additional 5-8 minutes. 
  6. Serve with fresh, finely chopped cilantro and home baked Naan bread or steamed rice.  










Sunday, March 30, 2014

BAKED RICE PUDDING WITH POACHED RHUBARB


Baked rice pudding, also known Reiseauflauf in Germany- is a standard part of school menu not only in Austria, but also in Hungary. I ate it with chocolate sauce so many times in my childhood, that I was getting bored of that. And since the time that I cook myself for family the memory hasn't faded away yet I have therefore never baked for us. I just simply forgot that it can be a real treat, specially if you serve rather with something different than custard or chocolate sauce.  So it was the time to dig deep into recipes and my recollections and bake my own Reiseauflauf. My boys ate in the same way I ate many years ago, and we had the real luxury to enjoy with forced, Yorkshire rhubarb. I just simply love it. Not only the color, but the taste and texture, too. 




Ingredients:

250 gr rice (preferably arborio or any pudding rice)
750-800 ml whole milk
7 0 gr soft butter + 1 teaspoon butter
250 ml water
pinch of salt
150 gr cane sugar
3 eggs
1 vanilla pod
1 unvaxed lemon zest

some butter for greasing the tin and breadcrumbs

for the poached rhubarb:

400-500 gr rhubarb
3-4tbsp cane sugar (or to taste)
1 tbsp honey
1 vanilla pod or vanilla paste


  1. Heat the water in a pan. Bring to boil then add the rice (don't rinse the rice as its starch will be dissolved and rice remains intact instead sticky ). Stir occasionally until the water is absorbed.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon butter, salt, lemon zest, 2 tbsp sugar and the milk. Cover with a lid and cook until gets creamy and soft. Stir sometimes not to be burned. When the rice is tender set aside, cover with lid and leave to cool completely. The rest of the liquid will be absorbed meanwhile gets cool. 
  3. Preheat oven to 170 C. Put the soft butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the rest of sugar until gets pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix for a while, then add to the cool  rice. 
  4. Meanwhile beat the egg whites until keep form. Carefully fold into the rice mixture. Grease the baking tin with some butter, dust with 1-2 tbsp breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.  
  5. For the poached rhubarb preheat oven to 140-150 C. Wash and trimm rhubarb stalks, then cut into 2-3 cm long sticks. Place in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with sugar, add honey and the scattered vanilla bean, mix well and bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven when the stalks are slightly al dente, and bath in pink juice. Keep at warm place until served. 

Update:

  • the above listed amount of ingredients are enough for a big rectangular at least 25X 30 cm ovenproof dish or two circle shaped oveproof dishes. 
  • how much milk is adsorbed depends on what kind of rice you use. It can happen that more milk is necessary .  If the cool rice is too runny and less milk has been adsorbed you have to add 1-2 tbsp cornflour to be on the safe side and be sure the pudding gets set. 
  • You can add one handful of raisins, sultanas or any other dried fruits which are previously soaked in rum. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK







The spring has been just around the corner and I come with a winter flavored soup. The reason is quite simple: over the winter I haven't found any nice, and sweet butternut squashes not only on the markets but in supermarkets, either. I bought so many times and gave them a try but when I got home and baked  their taste were just so simple and plain, that I didn't cook any nice soup with them for months.
But this week I found a really interesting squash in the supermarket came from Senegal (?). It was rewarded a special, tasty butternut squash with big, capital letters. Ok, I gave it a chance.
When I returned and halved it, the smell, color and taste was more than impressive! It seemed so fresh and firm as it had been harvested just a couple of hours before. It was simply perfect to cook a lovely, heart warming soup on the day when the winter has returned for a while. A real comfort food not just for vegetarians and vegans but for all of us on a meat-free-Monday.




Ingredients:

Serves 3-4

1 butternut squash (middle sized)
half of leek
2 tbsp olive oil
1 apple (preferably Pink Lady)
half of orange zest and juice
1 can coconut milk
200-250 ml vegetable stock
salt
pepper

balsamic vinegar
toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish




  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Wash the squash, halve in length and discard the seeds. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil and place the squash halves cavity side up. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until soft and tender.
  2. Meanwhile slice finely the leek. Heat the oil in on low then add leek. Sautee for a few minutes. Peel the apple, core it and then dice it into 2 X2 cm cubes. Add to the leek and heat on low cover with a lid. Cook until gets tender. 
  3. Remove the baked squash from the oven. Leave to cool completely then scoop out the flesh and put into a blender. Add the sauteed onion with apple, and give a blitz for 30-50 seconds until looks like a smooth and silky puree. Pour into a pan, add the coconut milk, stock, orange zest and juice and whisk with a wire whisk. Heat on low until starts to boil then simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Serve warm with pumpkin seeds and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.






Thursday, March 20, 2014

ROASTED RED PEPPER AND SMOKED GARLIC SOUP WITH KING PRAWN


This recipe is a part of creativity challenge. One of my hungarian friends who also writes a food blog came out with the idea to create something without an exact recipe and cook just from our soul. She invited 4 of us and was curious what kind of  different recipes will come out of our mind under the same title. And the title was: Spicy Prawn Soup!

My first thought was what is very common if you hear prawn soup: a soup with prawn, coconut milk, ginger and lime. But as I usually don't like to be on the safe side I gave it a twist and cooked with roasted red bell pepper and smoked garlic. Oh, it was yummy I'm sure I'll repeat it soon. 



Ingredients :

Serves 2-3

4 red bell peppers
1 oak smoked garlic
500 ml vegetable stock
small bunch of flat leaf parsley
salt
olive oil
200 gr king prawn

some drops of balsamic vinegar for serving



  1. If You use frozen prawns, take out from freezer and put into the fridge for a couple of hours to be thawed. Preheat oven to 170 C. Wash the peppers, dry with kitchen towel. Lay a big piece of kitchen foil on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with some drops of olive oil. Lay the peppers on that.   Cut the upper third part of garlic bulb, sprinkle with some drops of olive oil and wrap into a piece of kitchen foil. Put the parcel next to the peppers on baking tray and bake them for about 20-25 minutes until gets the skin black, the flesh soft. 
  2. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Then take the skin off the peppers, and discard the seeds. Put the flesh of peppers into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves from the skin carefully and add into the food processor. Mix on medium speed until gets smooth and looks like puree.
  3. Add the stock, stir for a few seconds then pour into a pan. Heat on low, add the finely chopped parsley. When starts to boil add the prawns. Cook for 2 minutes (not longer!) and turn the heat off. Serve immediately with some drops of balsamic vinegar.




Friday, March 14, 2014

PEA SHOT, MANGO AND SMOKED DUCK BREAST SALAD


Even if we are at the beginning of Lent season I simply coludn't resist to a lovely piece of smoked duck breast at  the butcher in nearby. I knew immediately what to make with this: a salad with mango and a pinch of Chinese taste. Pea shot is quite a good choice and works pretty well, but if You have any other fresh green leaves just swap it. Duck breast is perfect if pink, so try to avoid to overbake. 


Ingredients:

Serves 2-3

1 smoked duck breast (appr. 200 gr)
salt
pepper
1 pack fresh pea shots or any other green leaves 
1 mango
1 shallot or red onion

for the vinaigrette:

0,5 dl olive oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2  teaspoon honey
half of lime juice
thumb sized fresh ginger, finely grated



  1. Preheat oven to 100 C. Take a frying pan and heat some olive oil. Score the skin, season with salt and pepper. Place into the pan skin side down and fry for 4 minutes on each side. 
  2. Put into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. As You bake a smoked breast instead of unsmoked usually the baking time is a bit shorter. If the duck breast is a bit larger baking time can be a bit longer. Place on warm place and give some rest. 
  3. Meanwhile mix the salad: wash the leaves, dry well. Peel and dice mango, slice finely shallot. Pour all the ingredients of vinaigrette into a jar. Cover with lid and shake well. 
  4. If the meat has rest slice finely. Its hould be really nice pink insde. Put the slices over the top of salad and pour over with vinaigrette.

Friday, March 7, 2014

HELLO SUNSHINE! IT'S A BLOOD ORANGE TART



Oh, I love the spring! I love to look through the window and see the flowers blooming early in the morning with a cup of tea in hand. I love the smell of our huge rosemary bush next to the door, and I really love that the number of sunny hours are rising day by day.....
I know that blood orange is not a typical springy fruit, but my fruits were waited for the perfect  time when the first sunshine gives a little bit of extra touch to my lovely orange slices. This year I found plenty of blood oranges on the market and in supermarkets as well. So I was really spoiled are them. I wondered for quite a long time what is worth to create with them.
As my husband likes lemon tart I decided to bake something similar with blood orange, but just not to be so simple I added some poppy seeds to the classic pastry. It worked pretty well.


Ingredients for a  rectangular bottom loose  tart:

for the pastry:
175 gr plain flour
100 gr unsalted butter
50 gr icing sugar
2 tbsp poppy seed
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsp cold water

1 egg white for brushing

for the filling:
3-4 blood orange juice (depends the size of them)
3 large eggs
100-150 gr icing sugar (or to taste)
100 ml full fat cream 

icing sugar for dusting




  1. To make the pastry, place the flour, poppy seed, butter and icing sugar into a food processor. Pulse briefly until the mixture comes to breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and water. 
  2. Mix again then gather it into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry just two or three times to make it smooth. Wrap into  cling  film and chill for 15 better for 30 minutes.
  3. Dust with some flour the work surface and roll out the pastry into thick of a 1 pound coin. Remove the pastry carefully and place into the tin. Press the edges with your fingers then chill in the fridge for an other30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 C. Take the tin out of fridge and cover the pastry with a big piece of greaseproof paper. Place ceramic baking beans on that (or normal beans or lentils) and bake for 12-15 minutes. 
  5. Remove the beans and bake for an other 5-8 minutes. Still it's hot  brush the pastry with the slightly beaten egg white. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 150- 160 C. 
  6. Meanwhile mix the filling: pour the juice and sugar into a bowl. Add the eggs, cream and mix well with a wire whisk. Pour the mixture into a jug then into the baked pastry case. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just sets. 
  7. Leave to cool completely or chill in the fridge for an hour. Dust with icing sugar and slice with a sharp knife.