making friends with mushrooms



I spent July making amends with lunch. That midday meal and I are finally on good terms. It took a few glass jars that transport well and a lunch break long enough to sit outside next to a fountain to really convince me of the potential of a midday meal.

Although mushrooms on toast - or mushroom bruschetta, if you wish to call it - does not pack very well for picnics or lunch breaks, I think that it makes an ideal lunch. The mushrooms are soft. With a single bite, they collapse in your mouth leaving hints of thyme and garlic. The toasted sourdough complements the mushrooms by being crisp. Eat it with a fork, or eat it with your hands and watch the mushrooms playfully fall onto the plate. Serve it with a mixed green salad and a glass of wine, or follow it with a decadent dessert. Any mushrooms will do (I used just ordinary button mushrooms), but chanterelle season is upon us. This recipe serve ones; however, if you find yourself mushroom picking with extra chanterelles to spare you will probably want to increase this recipe by a lot.

Can you believe I grew up not liking mushrooms? Sometimes a frying pan and a little oil is all one needs to change one's taste-buds.


Mushrooms on Toast

Ingredients

a handful or two of mushrooms (about 150 grams)
virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
2 small cloves of garlic, 1 clove cut in half and the rest of the garlic minced
sea salt
black pepper
fresh thyme
red chili flakes
a splash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 a lemon

1 slice of sourdough

Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan and add the mushrooms in one layer. Depending on the size of the mushrooms either leave them whole or chop them into large chunks. Sprinkle with sea salt and then let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, fresh thyme, chili flakes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook until colorful and fragrant. Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the lemon juice and a generous amount of black pepper. Rub the cut side of the garlic on the toast and then top with the mushrooms. Drizzle with more olive oil or balsamic vinegar if you wish and then serve.

Guten!


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the lunch diaries part III


As the summer weather swings up and down my food cravings change drastically and I find myself wanting everything from frozen bananas mashed up with some chocolate to duck ragu. I want cold and then hot and then cold again. Between all of these drops and rises in temperatures and cravings, I have been eating my fair share of radishes. As a kid I ate radishes right out of the garden, but then I forgot about this cheerful vegetable until I moved to France. Suddenly they were showing up at every dinner I attended, neatly presented in a small serving bowl. I find few things as classic to eat when the temperature rises as radishes. Pop them straight into your mouth as a snack, or make a sandwich for work, picnics, and long bike rides.


Radish Sandwich

Ingredients

radishes
butter
sea salt
good bread

Slice, spread, sprinkle and eat.

Guten!

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the dangers of cake baking


Sometimes baking a cake is a very dangerous undertaking. I am not talking about physical dangers like burning the roof of your mouth because you are too impatient to let the cake cool, or getting a tummy-ache from eating too much raw batter. I am talking about how baking a cake can sometimes endanger any manners or self-control that you may have.

An example of when baking a cake becomes dangerous is something that I first experienced a few months ago. I had a small class meeting and I thought that it would be kind to bake something for us to munch on while discussing important deadlines and font sizes. I baked a rhubarb and hazelnut loaf. It had a lemon and oat topping. It had buttermilk. I baked it and after nibbling on some of its crumbs I cut off a piece. Then I cut off another piece. Yet another piece founds its way to my mouth and soon it became clear that this cake was not going to make it to any class meeting (my apologies to any classmates who may be reading this, but I promise that you would have succumbed to the same fresh-out-of-the-oven-rhubarb-bliss that I did).

I had a similar reaction to a lemon and yogurt cake I baked this week. It was glazed with lemon icing and chopped pistachios. It tasted as good as it looked. Once it had cooled and was seductively dressed in icing, I started to eat it. It was the last thing I ate that night before I went to bed and eating what remained of it was the first thing I did the next morning. I forgot about taking a shower or making a cup of coffee; as soon as I woke up I went straight for the cake.

I would suggest you make this cake for a dinner party as a way of resisting the urge to eat the whole thing alone in a single sitting. But then again - just like that rhubarb and hazelnut loaf - it is rather unlikely that a cake this good would survive the time between coming out of the oven and arriving at the dinner party.

Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's 'A Homemade Life'

Ingredients


Cake:


1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
the zest of one organic lemon
1 cup yogurt
pinch of ground vanilla bean
1 cup unrefined sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil

Syrup:

juice of half a lemon
icing sugar to taste

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

a generous handful of shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a loaf pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper and then grease the parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla in one bowl. Add the lemon zest and mix well. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and yogurt. Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the olive oil and keep stirring until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and icing sugar for the glaze. Make the glaze as sweet or as sour as you wish.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully place the cake on a cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper below the rack. Spoon the glaze over the cake and then allow the cake to cool completely.

While the caking is cooling, roughly chop the pistachios. In a small bowl mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice. One the cake has cooled completely, ice the cake and top with the pistachios.

Guten!

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the lunch diaries part II




My attitude towards lunch is looking up. I am respecting lunch as a meal more and more which means that, as a result, my kitchen and I are giving my stomach something to look forward to by the time lunch break rolls around. And most of these lunch-time meals fit perfectly into a bike basket. Yes, lunch and I are doing much better.

My father does not eat lunch. Could it be that our eating habits are genetic? The advantage of not eating lunch is that instead of being huddled with a fork and tupperware in hand, my father spends his lunch breaks going on walks in summer and even ice skating in winter. The disadvantage is that as soon as he gets home from work he eats dinner. Seriously, dinner sometimes as early as 4:30? Considering that I rarely eat dinner before 8pm, I am sure that I have not inherited his eating habits. See, lunch is important. Without lunch, it is rather difficult to agree on a time to go out for dinner.

Itt is not so much that I don't eat lunch (I really can't go too many hours without eating and being one to constantly snack does not change that), it is more that I don't put much thought into it. Salads are ideal for lunches and they fit perfectly into a glass jar. Quinoa, some chickpeas, chopped vegetables and a simple salad dressing is my-go-to lunch. That said, I have eaten it so many times that I need to switch things up a bit and experiment. Sometimes it is nice to omit the grain and go just for the vegetables.

This salad is a classic with a twist. Nothing says summer quite like fresh basil, tomatoes that have been grown locally (and not shipped half-way across the world!) and some mozzarella. However, add a ripe nectarine or a peach and you have something that says summer in a more flirtatious way. Like most of my favourite things to eat, this is less of a recipe and more of a formula.

Nectarine and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

1 very ripe nectarine, or peach
1 medium sized tomato
a handful of fresh basil leaves
a few tears of mozzarella
a squeeze of lemon juice
a drizzle of good olive oil
sea salt
pepper

Cut the apricot and tomato into medium-sized cubes. Chop the basil roughly, or roll the leaves together and cut into ribbons. Toss everything together in a bowl and add a splash of balsamic vinegar if you wish. Serve at room temperature.

Guten!

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the lunch diaries part I


I don't respect lunch very much. I barely treat it as its own meal. I use it either as an excuse to eat leftovers or as an opportunity to have a second breakfast. Case in point: last week after having muesli and fruit for breakfast, when lunchtime rolled around I decided to make wheat berries with sauteed pears, maple syrup and yogurt. As much as I want to think that breakfast passes as lunch, I know that I am just fooling myself. It is about time that I start accepting that lunch is a meal in its own right.

Part of the problem, I think, is that I have never been one for sandwiches. Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they are easy, but I find most sandwiches to be boring or sad. A sandwich does not have to have over-the-top ingredients to be delicious, but it does have to have some half-decent bread, fresh vegetables and it should be made with a little love. By a little love I mean good mustard with a kick, good seasoning and a little imagination.

Part of my goal to better appreciate lunch is fueled by the fact that I won't be a student forever. I can't always come home mid-day and treat myself to something fresh and, most often, baked. I need to be more practical. Read: I need to start making lunches that fit into a tote bag and travel easily on a bike. I need to start liking sandwiches.

This sandwich has got me reconsidering sandwiches in general. Although sandwiches don't really count as recipes, think of this as a formula, a formula for a sandwich delicious enough for people who don't like sandwiches. I first made it when I was still studying in Gothenburg. I brought it to school and ate it during a class meeting. One of my classmates looked at my sandwich and said: "I am sorry, but I have to ask you for some. It smells too good." I don't know him too well, but my sandwich and I felt very complemented.

If I am making this sandwich to bring on-the-go with me, I roast the zucchini and soak the sun-dried tomatoes the night before. I leave both in the fridge and then assemble everything in the morning.

Roasted Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomato Sandwich
a.k.a. a Sandwich for People who don't like Sandwiches

Ingredients

1 zucchini
1 clove of garlic
3-4 sun-dried tomatoes
two pieces of good bread, preferably sourdough or wholewheat
a squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt and pepper
good olive oil
creme fraiche, or cream cheese
arugula, optional

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Cut the zucchini lengthwise and chop the garlic. Toss the zucchini with garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Place in a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes until tender and you can no longer stand that teasing smell coming from the oven. While the zucchini cooks, boil water in a kettle, place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Drain the tomatoes once the zucchini is cooked.

Spread the creme fraiche on one of the piece of bread. Pile on the arugula, garlic-roasted zucchini and the plump sun-dried tomatoes. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and the second piece of bread.


Guten!

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a cake made from chocolate


While summer plays hard to get in Munich, I find myself flipping through the recipes I made weeks ago. I want to be craving raw vegetables and fresh fruit, but the rain and dark clouds have got me thinking about roasted vegetables and freshly baked cakes.

I especially have this cake on my mind. I baked if for my Birthday a while ago and it tasted incredibly rich and full of nostalgia. Growing up there were three almost back-to-back Birthdays in our house. This means that May is a month that I always associate with cake, candles, and birthday wishes the whole table round.

Once the sunlight returns to Munich and our balcony is freed from construction work I hope to write about summer salads, fresh dips for crostini, and avocado popsicles. However, for now I am steeping in nostalgic recipes from a season past.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from What Katie Ate

Ingredients

Cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
1 tbsp berry jam (i used cloudberry)
3 organic eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk

Icing:

170g good dark chocolate, at least 70%
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a round cake tin (about 9" in diameter) and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, flour, vanilla, melted butter and jam. Add eggs and milk and then mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, let cool for ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack. Once completely cooled, cut the cake horizontally into two layers.

While the cake is cooling make the icing. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until creamy. Over a double broiler, melt the chocolate. Once melted, remove from heat and add the vanilla. Add the chocolate mixture to the butter and beat until smooth. Divide the icing into two.

Using a spatula, spread the icing between the two cake layers. Ice the rest of the cake with the remaining icing.


Guten!

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