Monday, 22 July 2013

Blueberry Cake


Three years ago, while we spent our holidays at my mother’s in Austria, we all made a hiking trip: my mom, one of her friends, my sis, Séb and I. And on our way back to the car, we passed through a mountain forest. And there, right in the middle of fir trees and moss and fern, we stumbled upon a spot of fabulous blueberries. Of course, we immediately bent down to gather as many berries as we could, and my mom made us a fantastic blueberry cake afterwards. This weekend, I had that strange, almost nostalgic craving for mom’s blueberry cake. I was very lucky as they sold some very nice ones at the local supermarket, so I bought a bunch of them and baked my very first blueberry cake. A huge success! You can use huckleberries as well; they would be a bit more acid and soften the sugary impact for those who don’t like their desserts to be too sweet (which is not my case). 

What you need: 
  • 8 eggs 
  • 210 g of butter 
  • 240 g of sugar 
  • 1 pinch of salt 
  • 1 sachet of baking powder 
  • 240 g of flour 
  • Breadcrumbs 
  • 500 g of blueberries 
  • 300 g of dust sugar 
How to proceed: 
  • Make sure you have taken the butter out of the fridge in time; it has to be mellow. 
  • Set the egg whites aside. 
  • Mix the yolks, the butter and the 240 g of sugar until fluffy. 
  • Add a pinch of salt. 
  • Add the sifted flour and baking powder. 
  • Cover your baking plate with baking paper, or grease it with some butter. Spread the mixture on the plate. 
  • Bake it for ½ hour at 180°C. 
  • Wash the berries. 
  • Beat the egg whites with 300 g of dust sugar until stiff. 
  • Spread some breadcrumbs on the baked mixture, then place the berries. 
  • Spread the stiff egg whites on top. 
  • Bake for another 10 minutes at least, until the icing gets slightly brown. 
Let the cake cool down, cut yourself a nice, big slice and… enjoy! A pure feast for anyone who likes cakes and berries as much as I do! Bon appétit!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

A Malaysian friend came to visit us in Paris a few days ago (we miss you by the way, hun!), and she strongly suggested I try and prepare a Malaysian dish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the main ingredients for the particular recipe she gave me. But resourceful me did some internet research and found another one. Its blend of spices is, let me tell you, fabulous! In the original recipe, 20 dried chillies were used, though, which might be a tad too spicy-hot for our Western taste buds, so I tuned it down to 4. It’s still a spicy experience but not one that'll leave you gasping for air, water or simply merciful death. For the chicken, you can use any part of the beast, to your convenience. Personnally, I’m not too keen on chicken thighs so I only used chicken breasts. 

What you need: 
  • 4-6 chicken breasts, diced (you can use thighs as well) 
  • 4 dried chillies, soaked 
  • 2 red onions 
  • 5 cloves of garlic 
  • 40 g of ginger 
  • 25 g of galangal 
  • 5 lemongrass 
  • 2-3 star anise 
  • 4 cloves 
  • 1 cinnamon, whole 
  • 3 cardamom 
  • 1 can of tomato soup 
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Some peas and carrots, optional 
How to proceed: 
  • Rub the diced chicken with turmeric and salt, then set aside for 30 minutes. 
  • In the meantime, mix the roughly chopped red onions, the ginger, galangal and lemongrass in your food processor. Add the chillies and garlic and mix some more until you get a smooth paste. 
  • Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a wok or pan and deep-fry the chicken pieces until they're golden in colour. Set them aside. 
  • Sauté the spices in the hot oil (cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom) until fragrant. 
  • Add the paste and bring the heat up until the paste bubbles nicely, then lower the heat. 
  • Simmer till the paste is thoroughly cooked and fragrant. 
  • Add the tomato soup, coconut milk and chicken pieces. 
  • Bring up the heat for a quick boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. 
  • Add peas and carrots. 
  • Season with salt to taste. 
Serve with rice. YOu shall see—it's simply and truly De.Li.Cious! Open a bottle of rich red wine to accompany the dish—its taste will even be richer. Bon appétit!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Rotweingugelhupf (Austrian Red Wine Cake)

No wonder my belly has been growing out of proportion, slowly but surely, ever since I’ve passed my 40th birthday. It’s all my mom’s fault. Back when I left Austria, she gave me a little book with Austrian cake recipes. And they all just sound so delicious that I have to try them out, one by one. As Austrian sweets and cakes go, that means an explosion of calories as we tend to use quite a lot of sugar and quite a lot of butter. If you want to start a diet, pass your way—do not read, let alone try this recipe! Do not even look at the photo because that action alone will make you grow fat… 

What you need: 
  • 250 g of butter 
  • 300 g of sugar 
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar 
  • 1 sachet of baking powder 
  • 3 eggs 
  • ¼ l of red wine 
  • 380 g of flour 
  • 150 g of grated walnuts 
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • 150 g of chocolate 
How to proceed: 
  • Make sure the butter is not too hard by leaving it in a warm place overnight. 
  • Sift flour and baking powder. 
  • Melt the chocolate (I didn’t melt it entirely because I wanted to have some whole chocolate chunks in my cake). 
  • Beat the egg whites until very stiff. 
  • Beat butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and egg yolks until fluffy. 
  • Add half of the red wine, then the flour and baking powder as well as the grated walnuts. 
  • Add the teaspoon of cinnamon and the melted chocolate. 
  • Add the rest of the red wine. 
  • Mix thoroughly. 
  • Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. 
  • Butter a Bundt cake pan, dust it with flour. 
  • Pour the dough in. 
  • Bake at medium heat (200°C) for 80 minutes or until knife comes out clean. 
Serve the cake covered with icing sugar. It will be fluffy yet rich (thanks to the chocolate and butter), with a discreet taste of cinnamon (we add only a teaspoon so the taste is there but not overwhelmingly so) and a light aftertaste of red wine. Simply delicious, this cake will be eaten in no time by your guests or, if you’re as sweet-toothed as I am, by yourself! Bon appétit!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Oven-baked Stuffed Veggies


You can prepare stuffed food in a thousand ways, I guess, using as many ingredients as you can imagine. In the end, all depends on your skill and patience (I had marvellous stuffed courgette flowers once in Greece and, being the opposite of patient, would never DREAM of preparing those; and I’d rather not recommend stuffed peas either, not even to the secret Dalai Lamas amongst you out there). Most readers will probably read the recipe and think—or even say—that I’m a complete dunce for writing about stuffed vegetables when, in fact, all of the veggies I’m going to use are fruits. Yes, for those who ignore it, tomatoes, Bell peppers and zucchini are NOT veggies but fruits. If you don’t believe me, go check out the corresponding Wikipedia articles or ask your nearest botanist. Well, I do know that fact but let’s, for the convenience and brevity of this post, not quibble—it does get rather annoying to write “stuffed vegetables that are in fact fruits” all the time. Allow me two or three last side-remarks. First, I prefer to use green Bell peppers because the yellow and red ones are too sweet for my taste. They’re perfect for other recipes but not exactly for this one. Second thing, many recipes would use uncooked rice for the stuffing because it is supposed to cook in the veggies. I prefer to cook my rice, thank you very much, because mine never ever gets properly cooked in the process. Delish stuffed veggies with hard rice in them is not my idea of a perfect dinner. Oh, and last but not least, I have to warn you that these are not stuffed veggie veggies. I use meat. And now in media res… 

What you need: 
  • 4 big green Bell peppers 
  • 4 round zucchini (not the longish ones) 
  • 4 big tomatoes 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 500 g of minced pork 
  • Parsley, chopped 
  • A glass of rice, cooked 
  • Salt, Pepper 
  • Paprika 
  • Breadcrumbs 
  • Grated cheese 
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1 spoonful) 
  • 1 egg (optional) 
  • Olive oil 
How to proceed: 
  • Cook your rice as indicated on the package. 
  • Cut the upper part of your veggies (where the stem is). Don’t throw these parts, keep them. 
  • With a spoon, delicately scrape out the zucchini and tomatoes. 
  • Chop the cut out parts and put them in a huge bowl. 
  • Cut out the seeds of the Bell peppers (these you can throw away). 
  • Drizzle some olive oil in a big oven-proof dish. 
  • Place the empty veggies in that dish. 
  • Add the minced pork, chopped parsley and onion, the cooked rice, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, the grated cheese and the spoonful of Worcestershire Sauce to the cut veggie parts. 
  • Preheat your oven, 200°C, 10 minutes. 
  • Mix the stuffing with your hands or a spoon. 
  • You can add an egg if you want; I prefer to prepare my stuffing without. 
  • Stuff your veggies. 
  • Put the upper part that you’ve cut away earlier on top of each vegetable. 
  • Drizzle some more olive oil over the veggies. 
  • Now place the dish in the oven and bake for approx. 1 h at 180-200°C. 
This is a simply delicious, light dinner for 4-6 persons with a healthy appetite. Or you only eat so much and warm over the rest the next day (there’s only two of us at home, so we had three scrumptious dinners). Of course, I prepared much too much stuffing but I simple deep-froze the rest so next time I’ll only have to buy the veggies to treat myself to another fine meal. And don’t worry about there being no sauce: the veggies give off quite a lot of juices while baking so the resulting meal is absolutely not dry. 
Bon appétit.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hazelnut Cake




Last weekend, I had another go at baking with this delicious Austrian recipe. Now, baking is always a kitchen adventure if ever I’ve seen one! I think I told you that our oven has a quite hazardous way of expressing itself. It’s an old gas cooker with a funny graduation starting at 270°C, then there’s a line for 250°C followed by a last one indicating 150°C. Between these, it’s freestyle cooking at its best! Imagine how this situation makes it “easy” when you want to bake a cake! Cakes need precise temperatures and cooking times, as you all know. But each time I decide to venture into the dangerous territory of Cakes ‘n’ Sweets, I have to hold a wet thumb into the wind to gage whether my oven has the right temperature or not. What a surprise, thus, when I realized a perfectly cooked, fluffy and light cake this time. 


What you need: 
  • 120 g of butter 
  • 250 g of sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 250 g of flour 
  • ½ pack of baking powder 
  • 100 g of grated hazelnuts 
  • ¼ l of milk 
  • Some more butter and flour for the cake pan (a ring-shaped cake pan would be perfect)
How to proceed: 
  • Make sure you’ve taken the butter out of the fridge in time as you need it to be soft. 
  • Preheat your oven at 150°C. 
  • Sift the flour, stir in the baking powder. 
  • Mix the butter, sugar and eggs until they are foamy. 
  • Add the mixture flour-baking powder. 
  • Mix in the grated hazelnuts and the milk. 
  • Grease your cake pan with some butter and coat the buttered inside with some flour. 
  • Bake the cake at 150°C for about 50-60 minutes. 
Serve the cake with a coating of icing sugar. This is perfect as a dessert together with a glass of cold champagne, but also for a coffee break or for breakfast. I really loved this cake, and I’m sure so will you!
Bon appétit!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Pide (Turkish Pizza)


Hey, I’m back! And it’s about time, I’d say. I’ve been very busy lately and haven’t found time to blog a lot. But now I’ve simply taken the time and even did a complete blog make-over – tidied up its look and even changed its name! It’s simply “Dieter in the kitchen” from now on. 

Well, it’s Monday, and I have a day off, which explains I have enough time to work on this blog. It’s really shitty weather outside (pardon my French), rainy and windy and rather cold. But we didn’t have much of a spring up until now, anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. To get into a better, pre-summery mood, I will prepare a nice Mediterranean dish for you: the pide, a sort of traditional Turkish pizza. The fact to write about it already makes my mouth water. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe. 

What you need: 
To prepare the dough: 
  • 600 g of flour 
  • 1 pinch of salt 
  • 100 ml of warm milk 
  • 200 ml of warm water 
  • 1 small bag of yeast 
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar 
For the meat topping: 
  • 500 g of minced beef 
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 2 little bell peppers 
  • 2 little onions 
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato puree 
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 4 teaspoons of flat-leaved parsley 
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika 
  • 1 egg 
  • Some olive oil
How to proceed: 
  • Mix the warm milk, water, sugar and yeast (neither cold nor hot water and milk will do because both would kill the little fungus of which yeast basically consists – and you need these little devils to be well alive if you want your dough to rise). 
  • Let the dough rest for ten minutes until the yeast reacts (you should see bubbles on the surface). 
  • In a big bowl, pour the flour and salt, then add your “yeasty beast”. 
  • Knead until you have a nice, smooth dough (my tip: you know you’re getting there when the dough stops sticking to your fingers and to the bowl; if it doesn’t, simply add some more flour – or ask someone to help you as you’ll have, well, sticky fingers, lol). 
  • Cover the bowl and let the dough rise (approx. 40 minutes in a warm place). 
  • In the meantime, prepare the “topping”. Start by chopping the tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and parsley. 
  • Add the minced beef, the spices, the tomato puree, and mix everything nicely. 
  • After 40 minutes, the dough should be twice the size it was before. Cut it in 4 parts of the same size (for 4 pides). 
  • Preheat your oven for 10 minutes at 220°C. 
  • With a pastry roller, spread out each part in an oval shape (not too thick, not too thin – I’d say 1-2 cm). 
  • Place each pide on the baking tray on which you’ll have drizzled some oil before. 
  • Spread the meat topping on each pide
  • Scramble your egg. 
  • Fold up the brims of the pides and spread some egg on them (for a nice and golden crust). 
  • Put the pides in the oven and cook them for 20 minutes in its upper section. 
Serve the pides hot, with a side helping of green salad or even a bowl of Greek salad.
Glad to be back amongst you, my dear friends. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think of my new Food Blog – I’m always very excited to hear from you!
Bon appétit!

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