Friday, September 16, 2011

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

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Sooo, Monday was my one month mensiversary. Yes. That's a word. I looked it up.

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake 
Anyway, I was just minding my own business not really thinking about it, when I saw that Alyssa from Mom de Cuisine was awarded with a 'Versatile Blogger Award'. “Good for her!”, I thought. It's a great blog she has there with almost daily updates from sweet to savory. So she truly deserves it.

As I went through the list of bloggers she passed the award on to, I noticed something. There was one name I thought I misread. Could that be... MY name I saw there? WHOA! Yes? YES! How was that possible? I feel genuinely honoured, I do. As I said, I have only been a blogger for one month yet feel very passionate about it and hope to one day find my style and voice as one and develop my cooking and baking skills.

It's been a great month and hope for many more to come!

Thank you, Alyssa!

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

So, coming with this award are certain rules. I did a search about it and saw that there seem to be different ones. As I am so new to blogging, I chose the following:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Tell 7 random things about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers you've recently discovered and you think are fantastic!

Here we go:

Seven random things about me:

1. The only two Disney films that I like are the old Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. I just don't get me to like Disney because I always felt like they ripped off other films and ideas (most of it was based on books and fairy tales to begin with, anyway) and many of the old ones had obvious racist implications. I could do a whole post about this so I'll leave it to that for now.

2. I hate spiders. Alright, that's not very creative. Many people hate spiders. It went so far with me that when I was a child, even the tiniest of those eight-legged monsters made me freeze and stare at it, fearing it would disappear once I manage to get the vacuum cleaner. It got better, though. Last year (pretty much exactly one year ago from today), there was an incident with a HUGE spider sitting right next to my pillow the moment I wanted to go to bed. Let's just say it was the first and last panic attack I've ever had with cold sweat and everything. After that kind of 'shock therapy', I'm a little more relaxed but still could not sleep in a room where I KNOW there is one.

3. I did an internship in London and fell in love with that city. The people, the mentality, the variety, the culture, the vibe. It comes so far that when the desire to get back becomes too strong, I go to that kind of strange tiny shop in a completely different part of the city I live in just to buy me a Crunchie for like 1€. You don't get those here. Oh, and while I'm German, my accent is British when I speak English. Apparently, I sound like a “posh British schoolboy”, so I've been told. Go figure....

4. If I was a girl, my name would be Julia. True story. My mother got the idea of calling me Tobias because of a football (soccer) match my brother had when he was 13. One boy who played in THE OTHER team was called Tobias and his friends where cheering him on yelling “TO-BY! TO-BY!”. She liked that so much that she gave me that name. Bless her heart.

5. I love animals but decided for me that I can never have a pet (anymore). I used to have a cat until she died about 3,5 years ago and it crushed my soul so deeply I still can hardly look at pictures of her. It's better for my own sake.

6. My very most favourite leaf vegetable was arugula... until I developed an allergy from one day to another. If I eat it now, my whole mouth and throat turn sore for a couple of days. Not worth it.

7. About two months ago, I bought a Joan Baez vinyl record. I don't even have a player. I just saw it when I passed a music store that also sells old vinyls and felt like it. I like her, yes, but am not obsessing over her or anything. These facts are supposed to be random and that is one of the most random things I bought, I guess.

About the bloggers...that really is a difficult task for me. I mean, I have only been a blogger for a month and being an active part of the blogging community is very new to me. Many of the blogs I would consider have already received the award, some may not really care. Because of those factors coming together here, I chose to pick 10 blogs I have recently discovered and think are great as opposed to 15 blogs in general. The rules vary and I found these to suit me better.
To be honest, I am a bit overwhelmed and feel like I am not quite up to the task. ;)

So here we go (in no particular order):

I am going to contact all of them as soon as possible although I have never spoken to some of them before. Awkward.

Now, there is still a recipe to post! I actually meant to post something completely different today, but because there is always cake when there is something to celebrate, I decided to bake one right this morning, especially for this occasion!

Autumn is right around the corner. That also means that harvest time is here. Do you want to see a picture of our apple trees? No Tobias, why should we? I knew you do! So here it is:

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

That means that I am going to post quite few apple recipes in near future because that is basically what I'll be baking with. Apples Apples Apples. Good thing I like them.

I am in love with this cake. It has an old timey sentiment to it and not only because both my grandmother and mother used to bake it. I leafed through my grandmother's old folder of recipes she “passed on” to me and tracked down the original. It was in a promotional calendar by “Dr. Oetker” from 1954! For the month of March, strangely. Not really a month I'd associate with apples. Dr. Oetker is a well-established food processing company which also publishes cookbooks and has many other things in its portfolio. Their book “Schulkochbuch” had an impact on German cooking similar to Julia Child's in the US.

Anyway, I changed the recipe quite a bit to give it a more seasonal touch and because I simply adore the combination of apples and cinnamon. I prefer this version to the original. However, I leave it up to you to decide which one you like better.

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

  • 1 package vanilla pudding mix (not instant, the kind you need to cook. Can be substituted with 45g or 1.6 oz. starch flour and 1 ts vanilla essence)
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 150g (5.3 oz.) butter
  • 150g (5.3 oz.) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • 250g (8.8 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 9g (0.3 oz. or about 1 1/2 ts) baking powder
  • 500g (17.6 oz.) apples, peeled and sliced

My personal changes and additions:
  • I only used 150g all-purpose flour and substituted 100g (3.5 oz.) with ground hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 ts of cinnamon for the batter (because apples and cinnamon are HEAVEN)
  • 2 handfuls of slightly crushed hazelnuts (I did that in a mortar but a freezer bag or even just cloth and anything heavy works just as well)
  • Mixture of about 5 ts of demerara sugar and 1 ts of cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F)
  2. Stir pudding mix with milk.
  3. Beat butter until creamy, add sugar, eggs and salt little by little.
  4. Mix flour and baking powder (substitute 100g flour with ground hazelnuts and add cinnamon if you want to try my version), add to the batter alternately with pudding mix.
  5. Spread half the batter into a greased 24cm (about 9'') spring form pan. Lay out half of the sliced apples.
  6. Sprinkle with half of the demerara/cinnamon mix and a handful of slightly crushed hazelnuts (all optional)
  7. Spread remaining batter onto apples, lay out remaining apples. Add rest of demerara and hazelnuts (optional again).
  8. Bake on centre rack for about 55 minutes (my version took about 60 minutes).


Oh right. This is what the calendar looks like:
Hazelnut Apple Sheet Cake

Wow, this post took so long to write I had to push it back a day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Zucchini Pan Stew

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Ok, so it has not even been a month since I have started blogging but I have managed to post at least twice a week so there are 10 entries by now. Browsing through those 10 recipes coming with the posts, do you notice something? No? They are all terrific Four of them have zucchini. And you know why that is so? Because I LOVE them! Zucchini and tomatoes are two vegetables (well technically, they are both fruits) I pretty much live on during the warmer months of the year. There is just nothing not to love about them. Don't believe me? I give you 5 reasons why you should love them, too:

Zucchini Pan Stew

1. They are tremendously healthy.
With 15 teensy-weensy calories per 100g (that's 3.5 oz. for you jolly people over the pond) one does not even really have to think about calories. And them containing potassium, folate, vitamin A and manganese (does the term “free radicals” tell you something? Mangenese helps to detoxify them and already 100g is enough to cover 19% of what is recommended daily.) only adds up to their goodness! But enough with the boring health blabber.

2. They are versatile!
Alright, zucchini are a bit bland have a very mild flavour. I'll give you that, zucchini haters (and I KNOW you are out there, I just don't know WHY!). But that is not a bad thing at all. That just means that they soak in the flavours of the other ingredients well like in the recipe that is at the bottom of this post. Want a bit of a crunch? You can eat them raw or lightly blanched like here. Enjoy soups? Blended zucchini give them an almost starchy creaminess like potatoes would but low-carb and calorie (Oh suprise! There is this awesome summery soup I have posted a few weeks ago.). So, you don't feel like eating something savory, now. How about something to satisfy your sweet tooth? Grated zucchini makes cakes and muffins perfectly moist. However, not even them can make this recipe healthy...

You can even stuff, grill and bake and fry them!

3. They are not bound to one particular cuisine.
Ok, I am aware that this also applies to a plethora of other veggies but it was not that clear to me when it comes to zucchini. When I think about them, my first thought is Italian or maybe also just western.

Here is a(n totally incomplete) list of links to recipes from different countries that contain zucchini:

Italian: Pasta Con Zucchine & Menta from Apron and Sneakers

Japanese: Chicken Curry from Just one Cookbook
They also work great as Tempura!

Lebanese: Keshké Salad  from Taste of Beirut

Indian: Zucchini Curry  from Simple Indian Recipes

French: Ratatouille  from Burghilicious

Chinese: Mushroom Chicken from Rasa Malaysia

4. They freeze well.
Although they lose in texture, I find they generally freeze pretty well. I would recommend to already prepare them in the way you intend to use them later (chopping, slicing, grating) because that part could be tricky after thawing but apart from them: Put them in a freezer bag and they are good to go.

5. They are easy to grow in your garden (given you have one).
Alright, I am a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to this point because the last person who grew zucchini in our garden was my grandfather but still, it IS fuzz free! The soil does not need to be particularly good and as long as you keep it moist I cannot imagine anything that could go wrong. Oh, and did I mention that two plants are more than enough to get you and your loved ones well fed through summer? And as a plus, you get to enjoy their blossoms that are not only beautiful, but also edible.

Zucchini Pan Stew

Still not convinced? Here is my grandmother's quick-fix week-night low-carb super-tasty zucchini dish that does not require lots of ingredients and is low in price yet a real comfort food. I don't know exactly how to name it because it's not really a soup, nor a stew. Maybe a soupy stir-fry or a light summery pan stew at best. But what's in a name, anyway. All those juices come directly from the vegetables as there is no adding of water involved. 

Zucchini Pan Stew

 Zucchini Pan Stew
Serves 4

  • 300-500g (10.5–17.5 oz.) ground meat, half beef, half pork
  • 3 medium sized zucchini
  • 3-4 tomatoes, depending on size
  • 3 eggs
  • 4-5 splashes of soy sauce
  • pepper to taste

  1. Cut zucchini and tomatoes into slices of about 5mm (about 0.2''), set aside
  2. In a pan, roast meat without additional fat until it gets crumbly. You still want some bigger chunks, though.
  3. Spread zucchini slices evenly on meat, do the same with tomatoes afterwards.
  4. Add a few splashes of soy sauce and close with a lit letting it simmer on low heat until zucchini are tender (the tomatoes will pretty much dissolve).
  5. Remove lid, stir and add more soy sauce to taste. In a cup or a small bowl, crack open the eggs and stir them just slightly so that yolk and egg white are not completely combined. Pour evenly over pan. Turn heat up to medium.
  6. When eggs begin to set, stir for the last time and keep the heat on until they are completely done.
  7. Add some pepper and enjoy!

This really is a simple, down-home dish that my grandmother especially used to cook on particularly hot days in summer when she would rather do anything else but cooking. The soy sauce goes so well with the juices of the vegetables and if you still feel like you need your carb fix, serve with some bread to soak them up!

Still need some inspiration? Well, you know where get that!

Zucchini Pan Stew

Do you have a zucchini dish that you are particularly fond of? Feel free to post them in the comments. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Tart

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Sometimes, to create something beautiful, you have to do evil.

Mexican Chocolate Tart

There were five of them. I tore off all covers, leaving them bare-naked on the cold wooden surface. The first one was strategically placed right in the centre. I knew what was about to happen. Gazing at its shiny, smooth outer, my mouth could not be detained from smirking a little. Then I ran the knife through it for the first time. Easier than imagined. Chop chop chop it continued. Chop chop chop. Bits and pieces flew everywhere, covering the others that were silently sitting right next to it. Chop Chop Chop. First one done. Four to follow. Let's see if I can do three at once, I thought. The knife went down with three dull thuds each time. What a peculiar rhythm. Still one to go.

Mexican Chocolate Tart

As I said. Sometimes, to create something beautiful, you have to do evil.

Chopping chocolate really is not the most delicate activity in the kitchen. In fact, I thought it always creates a scenario reminding of the intro of Dexter. You know, where that whole procedure of preparing breakfast somehow has a murderous touch to it. Coming to the beautiful part, now.

This tart is insanely rich. The filling consists solely of a ganache made of chocolate and cream while the crust has a nice flaky crunch with hardly any sugar giving just the right level of sweetness. I would stick with the official version that I only had a small piece but the picture unfortunately outs me as a big old liar.

Mexican Chocolate Tart
Pants on fire.

Depending on what chocolate you use, it can be a bit pricey. However, you know what I did? I did a quick search online looking for reviews of chocolates and found a reliable source that told me how good they actually are. I have found one that was rather low in price, yet high in quality and it still tasted great (I tried it, of course).

As the recipe told me, I sifted a bit of cocoa over the tart which I actually would not do next time as the flavour overpowered the rest quite a bit. I kind of ate a thin layer off of the top first so I could indulge in the rest sans dutch-processed cocoa powder.

It's fairly easy to prepare yet decadent and just too good. I guess I have found myself another monster to munch on. ;)
The hardest part is to really keep it in the fridge for four hours before cutting it!

The magazine I found this in calls it 'Mexican Tarte', although I am not quite sure what is so Mexican about it.

Mexican Chocolate Tart

Mexican Chocolate Tart
Adapted from: Frau von Heute, 9th issue, 25.02.2011: Mexikanische Tarte

  • 160g (5.6 oz.) AP Flour
  • 100g (3.5 oz.) Butter
  • 50g (1.8 oz.) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk (size M)
  • 1 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 500g (17.6 oz.) dark milk chocolate (I was not too sure what exactly that was supposed to mean so I used 4 bars of 50% dark chocolate and 1 bar 30% so my ganache was generally rather on the milky side)
  • 400ml (13.5 fl. oz.) cream
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (this is lesser known in the US, I think you could either omit it or replace 1 ts cream with 1 ts vanilla extract)
  • Cocoa for dusting the cake (I recommend skipping this)

In addition:
  • Dry peas, beans or cherry stones for baking the crust blind.
  • Parchment paper for the same purpose.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, egg yolk, cocoa and butter and knead until smooth (I did that with my hands). Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Grease a 24cm (about 9'') spring form pan and and lay out dough, forming a crust. Prick it with a fork several times and lay out with parchment paper. Fill with dried peas.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, remove peas and parchment paper and bake for further 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Chop up chocolate and heat up cream in a small pot. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate along with vanilla sugar to the heated cream and stir until smooth. Let it cool off for 30 minutes. (I added the chocolate to the cold cream and heated everything on low heat just enough to let it melt. It worked fine for me and there was hardly any time needed to let it cool down.)
  6. Pour mass into crust and put in refrigerator for 4 hours. Dust with cocoa powder.

Forget about those damn calories and indulge!
Mexican Chocolate Tart

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Indian Sweet Potato Dessert

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It's warm outside. Soothingly warm. I have mentioned before that this year's summer did not mean well with us so every single day temperature rises above 20°C is precious. In fact, they appear so precious you kind of want keep them in your pocket so you can take them out again when you know exactly that you have got the time to make the most of it. Writing these words, I just realised how odd that thought is. Imagine people had the ability to save sunny days for later. The result? Clouds and rain all year.


Simple Indian Sweet Potato Dessert

This recipe is a bit on the odd side. It's simple. And apparently, it's Indian. It was the dessert we have had the day we enjoyed last time's recipe and comes from the same source. The original only asked for three ingredients: Milk, sugar, and sweet potatoes. This particular dish was chosen for two reasons: Not only were we actually supposed to work on a project so time for cooking was meant to be short (uhm...), it was also meant to be an experiment.

You can imagine that this concoction can only get as pretty as good ol' mashed potatoes and is maybe a bit one-dimensional flavour-wise. So foresighted, we added about 100g of almonds we caramelized with a bit of sugar. Some of it went directly into the puree, the rest was garnish. Almost pretty, right?

Simple Indian Sweet Potato Dessert

Indian Sweet Potato Dessert
Adapted from here. Serves 4.

  • 1 kg (35 oz.) sweet potatoes
  • 930 ml (4 cups) milk
  • 200g (7 oz.) sugar
  • 100g (3.5 oz.) caramelized almond slivers (optional)

  1. Peel and slice sweet potatoes.
  2. Put in a big pot along with 600ml of milk, let it cook on low heat until potatoes are soft.
  3. Remove from heat and puree completely. Add sugar and rest of milk, stir well.
  4. Put pot back on heat and let it simmer until consistency is creamy.
  5. Fold in caramelized almonds and garnish (optional).
  6. Serve warm.

So. How was it? Actually, it was alright and I can see myself preparing it again. It was sweet, creamy and, well, sweet potato-y. But probably only when there are any left-over sweet potatoes. I know it's really, REALLY simple but hey, there is worse.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mushroom & Pork Curry

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How can you make a whole day working on a group project for university fun?
By choosing a subject that really interests you so the joy comes by itself? Haha. No.

By not making the day about work but food, silly!

Mushroom-Pork Curry

That's exactly what happened when I met with two friends of mine for working on our project.
The only downside to this otherwise AWESOME method is that the working part might be getting a raw deal. I mean, we did manage to get the job done in the end. It just took a while. No regrets.

Caro, being just as much of a food enthusiast as my humble self (I detest the term 'Foodie' for so many reasons), has been very supportive since the moment I have mentioned that I am going to start food blogging. In fact, she is the one who provided us with this particular recipe from one of her cookbooks and suggested to write a post about it on the blog, even offering me to use her well superior camera for the photos. The only reason why I agreed on coo Who could say no to that, right? ;) So whenever a post offers pictures in a better quality than usually – you know at who's place I am.

Mushroom-Pork Curry
Chocolate-Mint Tea with mint from my garden

Cooking with anyone else but yourself gives it whole different feeling. It is not just you and the ingredients anymore. You (might) win time, but lose a bit of control. It was a different kitchen, different utensils, a different management of space. 
 I have found myself in situations where I was completely stressed out because the “cooking chemistry” just did not work out. People not really knowing what they are doing (not like that never happens to me), having the will but not the skill, people arguing over the right way of doing something and one person trying to keep the upper hand over that whole big mess.

There is a reason why people say that too many cooks spoil the broth and it is oh so true, even literally.

Been there, done that. However, you gain something even from those situations. You learn a bit about yourself and others, how you handle things and hopefully grow through the experience.

Mushroom-Pork Curry

Mushroom-Pork Curry

This time, it was different. There were us three, happily doing our tasks, chatting away about food and preferences, learning new skills and tips from one another and at the end, indulging in what we have just prepared together. Basically, we were getting inspired and having a good time.

Sometimes, it just works and sometimes it does not.

This time, it did. And the result was this mouthwatering, just slightly hot Indian curry.

Mushroom-Pork Curry

Mushroom & Pork Curry
adapted from here. Serves 4.

  • 750g (26.5 oz.) pork loin
  • 3 tbsp Oil
  • 2 onions, cut in rings (we chopped them into dices)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (we chopped them up, as well)
  • 2,5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh green chili peppers, chopped up and seeds removed (we only used one red chili pepper because Caro, while being a sucker for Indian food, cannot handle the heat. Yeah, I also found that amusing), or 1-2 TS of chili flakes.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp medium hot yellow curry paste
  • 1 ts ground coriander seeds
  • 200-250g mushrooms, cut into thick slices
  • 900ml (3 4/5 cups or 30.4 fl. oz.) chicken or vegetable-broth (we used the latter)
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2-1 ts salt
  • 50g (1.8 oz.) coconut cream (we used about 100g because, you know... the heat)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds (we used 100g simply because we did not want to let the rest of the package come to waste and because, you know... the heat)
  • Basmati rice to serve

We omitted the garnish and only used sliced chili peppers

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, cut in slices
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 ts cumin seeds 

  1. Cut pork in bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat up oil in a pan, sauté pork, stirring continuously. Set aside.
  3. Add onions, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, curry paste and coriander seeds to the pan, sauté slightly for 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, broth and tomatoes plus salt.
  4. Add meat again, cook on low heat for 75-90 minutes or until meat is tender.
  5. Stir in coconut cream and almonds and let it keep cooking on low heat covered for further 3 minutes.

For the garnish:
  1. Heat up oil in a pan.
  2. Add scallions and bell pepper, sweat before stirring in cumin. Cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Spread over curry and serve with rice.


Mushroom-Pork Curry
Om. Nom. Nom.

You know what else feels a bit different when doing with others around? Taking photos of the dish! You feel a bit ludicrous taking the pictures while the rest is watching, indulging in what you have just prepared.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baked Tomato Bruschetta

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Seasons are changing. There is no denying it. Just yesterday I was still sitting on my terrace in the early evening, enjoying the diffuse light of a sun that is not reaching as low anymore - blocked by trees and buildings - but yet able to beam down on the higher parts of the house, painting those sharp, bright orange lines on the walls. The air was warm and tight; you could feel it. This summer was not one of those that genuinely deserve that name. It was unsettled, more cool and cloudy than anything else with one day after another looking like it was just about to rain or raining.


So last week it felt like summer actually had to proof something. Like it still wanted everyone to know that it actually existed. Suddenly it was hot. Not that hot you could hardly motivate yourself to do anything, but hot. For one week and if I am being honest, not even a full one. Then it was yesterday evening, and hell broke loose. Within moments, the sky was tinted in a deep gray with wind starting to build up. First lightnings already went down in the distance before it reached us and hastily I put all the flower pots and herbs I could on the floor. Torrents fell from the sky in a moment's notice. Wind. A strong breeze. A storm. Pots I thought where heavy enough went rattling to the ground. The place I just sat – soaking wet. It went on until deep in the night and had its last flare-up early in the morning.

Some Food Porn - always a good idea, right?

Now I am sitting again in my chosen place on the terrace, a mild sun shining on my face in clear and cool air. Autumn.

Yet still I am not ready to bring myself completely in that season's mood, so with this little recipe, I am clinging on the little rest of summer that is left.

It contains what I would call the queen of summer, tomato (with zucchini being king), and my personal holy trinity of summery herbs: Basil, thyme and oregano. Depending on the size of the bread you choose, this can either be an appetizer or a light little meal.


Baked Tomato Bruschetta
Makes about 6-10 slices of bread, depending on the size
Serve on your bread of choice. I recommend a nice baguette or ciabatta.

  • 250g cherry/date/plum/any kind of small tomatoes (8.8 oz. but does not have to be exact)
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • 2 twigs of thyme
  • 1 big twig of oregano
  • a nice hand full of basil along with the stalk
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • Bread of choice, I used ciabatta but it is also great on a baguette or even plain white bread.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F).
  2. Depending on their size, half or quarter tomatoes, removing most of the seeds (important). Set aside.
  3. Finely chop up onion, add to tomatoes.
  4. Remove leaves from the twigs from both thyme and oregano. Chop them up along with the basil. No need to remove the stalk (as long as it is green) – you can chop it up like chives. Add to tomatoes.
  5. Pour in vinegar and olive oil, add salt to taste (a few dashes, probably), stir well.
  6. Let sit for about 15 minutes. The herbs, garlic and onion will get stuck in the hollow parts of the tomatoes.
  7. Lay out slices of bread on baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  8. Place tomatoes, mostly cut side up, on bread. To help them stay that way, lay some of the onion/herb mixture on bread beforehand. The whole procedure does not only look prettier, it also keeps most of the nice juices in the tomatoes, preventing the bread from getting soggy.
  9. Pour remaining mixture over tomatoes until there is nothing left.
  10. Tear mozzarella apart with your hands and evenly place on bruschetta. It should be enough for all of it. You do not want to cover it up completely with the cheese.
  11. Put in the oven for 15 minutes or until mozzarella is completely molten and slightly brown.
  12. Add pepper to taste and serve immediately.


My little storm is nothing compared to the hurricane that is barreling towards New York and the East Coast. Let's hope for the best!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caramel Fudge glazed Zucchini-Almond Loaf with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Roasted Almond Topping (aka "The Monster")

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Here. it. Comes.
Look at the thing that I have created. C'mon. Take a good look, long and ample. It can kill people. Poor, diabetic people. Seriously. It's basically a cake covered in caramel fudge, covered in roasted almonds, covered in caramelized sugar. It's snotty. It thinks it's better than you. It's dangerous.

 Sinful Caramel Fudge glazed Zucchini-Almond Loaf

It all started out nice and tame with a lovely little semi-HEALTHY loaf cake that even has ZUCCHINI in it. Do you hear me? Zucchini! How can this not be at least half good for you? I thought I was being extra considerate by using only half the amount of oil and replacing it with applesauce, creating something that could even be turned into breakfast muffins.
And then I must have fallen in a trance induced by the captivating fragrance of  roasting ground almonds and something took possession of my body and mind. Not something. Someone. I could swear that on the other side of the planet, Paula Deen was having an out of body experience. She controlled me and MADE ME do this. That must be it. I mean, I have to blame someone else but me, right?
The moment I gained control over myself again – with an inexplicable scent of fried cheesecake still lingering on me - I gazed at what I have done. It just sat there, taunting me with those roasted, sugar coated sliced almonds topping its glistening, buttery, fudgy glaze. “It – it's a MONSTER” were the first words that I managed to stutter. As if that wasn't enough, after cutting it, big chunks of dark chocolate came to light. How did they...?! Well, nevermind, y'all.

I don't have to tell you just how good this cake was, do I?

However, because of this...incident...I can never be sure of my own sanity again (like I ever could...).

Therefore, I have created a badge that, whenever something like this happens again, dares you to:


That's right. Whenever a recipe on this blog transcends into a different sphere of arteries clogging lusciousness, I am going to warn you with this. So look out for future monsters coming!

 Sinful Caramel Fudge glazed Zucchini-Almond Loaf

But now the recipe, y'all! :

Caramel Fudge glazed Zucchini-Almond Loaf with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Roasted Almond Topping (aka "The Monster")

I apologize for the measurements being in oz. but as the recipe this one is based on was written on an old note in grams, converting it into cups would only end up in an inaccurate mess.

  • 12.8 oz. sugar (360g)
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.5 fl. oz. applesauce (130ml)
  • 4.5 fl oz. oil (130ml)
  • 1 ts cinnamon
  • 13.8 oz. AP flour (390g)
  • 8.5 oz of finely grated zucchini, slightly squeezed out (about 240g)
  • 3.5 oz ground almonds (100g)
  • 1/2 ts baking powder
  • 3.5 oz. dark chocolate or a bit more to taste, coarsely chopped (100g)
  • Oil and breadcrumbs for the pan or if you are as lazy as I am, parchment paper to line it.

  1. Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C), prepare a 12'' (30cm) loaf pan/tin by greasing it and lighly covering the surface with breadcrumbs afterwards.
  2. In a small pot, carefully roast the ground almonds over medium heat until golden brown and the kitchen smells like heaven, set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil and applesauce along with cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  4. With a hand-mixer, add flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
  5. Either with a dough scraper or tablespoon, fold in grated zucchini and dark chocolate.
  6. Pour batter in loaf pan/tin and bake on centre rack for about an hour or a stick comes out clean.
  7. Put on cooling rack and remove from pan/tin when temperature allows.

Alright, if you stop here, you'll end up with a nice late-summery loaf and loads of discipline. Congratulations. I couldn't.

Sliced Almond Brittle


  • 3.5 oz. (100g) sliced almonds
  • 3 tbsp sugar (heaping)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. While loaf is baking, put a small pot on high heat. Add almonds and stir until light golden.
  2. Add sugar, keep stirring.
  3. When the sugar starts to dissolve, add add.
  4. Stir for another minute maybe, making sure that it won't become too dark.
  5. Spread flatly on baking try lined with parchment paper.

You should do this step before preparing the glaze as you need to be able to touch the brittle when topping the cake.

Caramel Fudge Glaze

  • 1 cup (225g) natural brown sugar (demerara/ turbinado, but what's in a name...)
  • 3.5 oz. (100g) butter
  • 1.7 fl. oz. (50ml) evaporated milk

  1. In a small pot or saucepan, stir together all ingredients over medium heat,
  2. Bring them to boil, stirring constantly
  3. Keep stirring for 3 minutes

Finishing Touches

  1. Place loaf on parchment paper
  2. Evenly pour glaze on top.
  3. With a spoon, spread dripped down glaze onto sides of the loaf until nothing is left.
  4. Top loaf with brittle, crumbling it between fingers if needed.

That's it, from mah kitchen to yerrrrs WHO SAID THAT???

Do you have any recipes like that, that make you feel guilty and cry in a corner after having a bite (or two, or three or...). I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple Thyme and Rosemary Potato-Wedges

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Alright, this is just a snippet that I don't really consider a recipe but because it's THAT simple and good I think everybody should add that to ones repertoire. Normally I just eyeball the whole ordeal so the measures of quantity are not exact but sure will work. You can already see these wedges making a cameo here but they are also great as a side to steak or pork tenderloin or even just all by themselves along with a dip.


Thyme and Rosemary Potato-Wedges
Serves 4 or 3 when served as a snack.

  • 2 pounds of evenly sized potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 twigs of thyme
  • 2 twigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • pepper to taste and maybe some extra salt

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F).
  2. Wash potatoes leaving the skin on and them into evenly sized wedges. Put them in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Remove needles/leaves from both thyme and rosemary, chop them up finely with a knife or scissors (I find the latter easier).
  4. Roughly crush garlic
  5. In a cup or small bowl, stir all ingredients but the potatoes and extra salt and pepper together.
  6. Pour mixture over wedges, tossing them well. Let it sit for 15 minutes, toss them in between.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper evenly spread the potato-wedges on it round side down, trying to make sure they don't touch each other.
  8. Pour remaining marinade on wedges and let them bake on the centre rack for about 40 minutes or until they are golden and done (time depends on oven and size of wedges, you may want to try one before taking them all out).
  9. Add nice amount of pepper and more salt if needed.


Serve immediately and enjoy!

I could pull off an Ina Garten impersonation by saying “How easy is that?” but that would be wrong because I actually mean it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup

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I'm no vegetarian. Hell and I am miles away from being a vegan.

I love meat. Meat Meat Meat. I love me some juicy beef in my mouth. Yes. You heard me right!
Innuendos aside, I also am a complete hypocrite.
When it comes to eating meat, I block out the fact that what I am stuffing into my face has once been alive and kickin'. Whole fish with head and all is also not the most comforting sight to see.
Hey there big fella! You enjoy my filet? Don't mind me, I'm just watching you devouring my body. SHIIIIVERRS.

Is that a good thing? No. But that's the way it is with me and I doubt I'm alone with that.

Most people, including my humble self, are used to dishing up good ol' steak and Co. almost on a daily basis or at least too often. While many may argue at this point that ANY number is too often, I'll leave that aspect out for now. However, sneaking in some days where the only things on the menue never had a pulse is not the worst thing you can do to yourself and probably to your wallet as well. I mean, it should not be too difficult to find other nice things to spend that extra money on, right? (Like uhhm, a better camera...? Although that would take some major

And then, there is the extra step again. Veganism. I know that to many, "vegan" is a term that equals "bland",  "boring" or, well, "thank you, but no thank you". Not. The. Case. Let that be told to you by an omnivore: Vegan cuisine DONE RIGHT can be down right delicious, comforting and filling - without leaving the feeling of anything missing.

A great resource for super healthy vegan cuisine is FatFree Vegan Kitchen. I love how Susan finds ways to veganize known and loved dishes and also reduces the fat to a minimum. You also find many recipes with Asian and Oriental twists. The only thing to critisize for me is that many recipes require spices and ingredients that I usually don't have myself and probably won't use completely before they expire. However, this is not the case with the following, which to me perfectly captures the way a mild evening in summer is supposed to be.

I served the soup with some nice oven-roasted herbed potato wedges, but some nice bread'll do just fine.

Directly adapted from her blog:

Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup
Servings: 6; my own comments are put in italics.

  • 2 pounds zucchini (about 5 small to medium)
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (I just use onions I have got on hand)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I simply use water and then add the needed amount of granulated vegetable broth directly to the pot)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3 tablespoons raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (I find the soup tastes just as good without the yeast. And a teaspoon of Marmite or Vegemite would do the trick just as good. Or simply another one of granulated broth)
  • additional salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Set aside one of the zucchini; trim and coarsely chop the rest.
  2. Cook onion in a large saucepan for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Stir in the chopped zucchini, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour into a blender (in 2 batches, if necessary) taking care to avoid burns by not filling the blender more than halfway. 
  6. Add the basil, cashews, and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth.
  7. Return soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm. 
  8. Shred the remaining zucchini with a spiral slicer, mandolin, or grater. Pour soup into bowls and sprinkle grated zucchini over top.  (I also garnished the soup with some cashews and crushed pepper)