Tummy Thursday: You gotta celebrate them all!

As promised: cake. Or at least pictures of cake. The kids get to ask for a special cake each year, a chimaera born of my love to bake and the working mun’s eternal bad conscience. As a result, my cakes are legendary, at least among people under 15.

This year the little one asked for a Pokemon party and so she go a Pokeball cake.

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It’s a tad egg shaped. I underestimated the volume of the metal bowls I used as baking tins and as a result I was short on cake and since I didn’t weigh the batter, one was bigger than the other. To fill in the middle I baked another cake and cut out circles. As things weren’t 100% even, the bottom is a bit larger than the top, though I must say that on the inside the two cakes together really worked out well:

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Chocolate and vanilla cake with Italian meringue chocolate buttercream.

And, what’s inside a Pokeball?

Pokemon!

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I had ordered small Pokemon toys and hid them inside the Pokeball to the surprise and amazement of the kids.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Some of the cut off cake tops were turned into Pokeball cake pops

And to have something a bit lighter:

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Powder Puffs. With lemon curd buttercream. You may notice a few repeating themes: the leftover lemon curd got combined with some of the Italian meringue that I didn’t need for the cake.

I actually had to bake them twice because the first time i fucked up the sponge, which is why you should never laugh at people failing at baking shows.

Tummy Thursday: Happy Halloween

It probably still is Thursday somewhere.

For the last few years we have been celebrating Halloween with our friends and yesterday we went to my BFFs city where the local shop owners and the city and the different clubs and associations organised a Halloween event where the shops would give out candy. The town centre was packed and it was a lovely evening, followed by lots of spooky food.

©Giliell, all rights reserved A haunted “Haus”. Probably to scare English teachers.

 

©Giliell, all rights reserved The little one, dressed up as Wonder Woman

©Giliell, all rights reserved #1, dressed up as Harley Quinn.

While I could simply buy a generic Wonder Woman costume for the Little One, #1’s was more complicated. She#s too tall for the kids versions and the adult versions rely more on the DC movies than the animated Super Hero Girls show she likes to watch. While we found a nice pair of red and blue leggings, we agreed that a jacket with “property of Joker” on the back was highly inappropriate. “I’m no fucking property of anyone!” Mum to the rescue, I ordered two hoodies with a ziper, cut them in half and sewed them together again. Well, I still have to do the second one…

Same money, 1 hour of time, two jackets she can actually wear outside of costume events as well. And I’m damn proud of her. You know she’s on the spectrum and one of her great difficulties is interacting with strangers. She often preferred no ice cream to telling a stranger what she wants, but yesterday she went around all evening and asked for candy. It’s those things that make you proud.

Now for the food:

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From left to right we have:

©Giliell, all rights reserved Pumpkin bread skulls

©Giliell, all rights reserved A cemetery: Pizza dip with bread tombstones

©Giliell, all rights reserved Mozzarella and olive eyes. Or as we say in German: Zahnstocher im Au’ brennt wie’n Sau (a toothpick in the eye hurts as fuck, just with a rhyme)

©Giliell, all rights reserved Bloody pumpkin and tomato soup

©Giliell, all rights reserved Spider meatballs

I made the dessert, because I’ve been baking non stop anyway…

©Giliell, all rights reserved Pumpkin almond cake with blood orange buttercream and dark chocolate ganache.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved Halloween petit fours with strawberry jam and pumpkin spice lemon curd.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

So, I hope you all had a reasonably happy Halloween (thinking of you, voyager). Now I’m baking for the little one’s birthday party tomorrow.

Tummy Thursday: I’m Bored

And boredom leads to cake.

For the Pokémon Go Community Day last Saturday I made a black forest style cake. See if you can guess the theme of the decoration:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And then I decided to try Petit Fours for the first time, practising the flavours for Halloween (but not the design):

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Thin sponge with strawberry jam and pumpkin pie lemon curd (though it could use some additional lemon juice and a tad less cloves). Home made fondant glaze and teeny tiny fondant horn and ears.

 

 

Tummy Thursday: Me gusta la cocina mexicana

Earlier this week I told you about our trip to the Sagrada Familia and that we wanted to see it at night time. This meant that after we left the cathedral we went for dinner. Of course a tourist city like Barcelona has restaurants galore, many of them trying to push the menu into your hand while you’re walking past them and for me that’s the most failproof way to make me avoid a place. Yet still you find lots of small places that offer good food, especially if you love international cooking. For this meal we found a nice Mexican place where we ate while it got dark.

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Starters: Frijoles refritos (mushed baked beans) and nachos with cheese.

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My main course: marinated grilled beef, cactus, pumpkin flower and sweetcorn, guacamole and stuffed habanero, served with tortillas.

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Dessert: Guayaba marguerita. I love guavas and they’re so rare here that I consume them whenever I can find them or their derivates. It was delicious.

 

Tummy Thursday: Senegalese Food

There’s a saying in German that states that “the farmer won’t eat what the farmer doesn’t know”. It’s again this intersection of class and culture, where the educated classes take pride in “discovering” new tastes, while certain parts of the working class take pride in never trying anything new, especially no “furrin food”. Of course, both positions come with their racism, where the latter is more obvious than the former. I was lucky to be raised in a family that loved food. My grandparents could never travel the world in person, so they tried to travel it with their tummy, even though some of grandma’s creations would probably not have been recognised by the people who actually invented them. Mr, on the other hand was raised in a family that sees lasagna as exotic and his parents have never eaten a single Döner. Mr has tried to shed that attitude, but mostly ended up in a position where he will eat foreign cuisines, but only after they have been thoroughly approved by white people. Italian is standard, Chinese is ok, Greek is high end. So when we came upon a tiny Senegalese restaurant in Mataró, he was not happy when I proposed to eat there and the kids enthusiastically agreed.

Guess who enjoyed his meal the most?

The restaurant was tiny (less than 2m from side to side and probably 8-9 m long). The cook prepared three different dishes, as Senegale food is stews that take time to prepare, and starters, so we simply ordered one of each and shared among us.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Fish cakes. they were absolutely delicious and already hinted at an enormous amount of onions to come.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Yassa: chicken in an onion and veggies sauce with rice.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Thiéboudienne, the national dish. Seasoned rice with veggies and fish. Sorry for the blurry pic, I was hungry.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Mafé, a beef stew with peanut sauce.

I’ll definitely try to cook some of these, hopefully with better results than grandma…

Tummy Thursday: Churros con Chocolate

One of the kids’ favourite places in the city of Mataró is the Xurrería, which absolutely does not offer tourists an authentical churros experience. It’s simply the real thing, as evidenced by the fact that is was closed for holidays during the second half of our stay, something no tourist oriented business would do at the height of the season. That’s something to say about the city in general: tourism is a factor, and a welcome factor, but it’s not a big enough factor for businesses, especially bars and restaurants to rely on it exclusively. This means they need to provide a service that makes regular customers come back. I understand that I’m the worlds biggest hypocrite here when I want to go for a holiday but not where there are too many tourists, but I can live with that. It means good food.

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Here you see “porras”, a thicker variety of churros with my “cortado”, an espresso with a bit of milk. Traditionally you eat them with “chocolate” as in the next picture:

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These are the more commonly known churros with their typical shape. The chocolate is thick and dark and not overly sweet, so you can dip your churros in and enjoy the whole thing. It’s more like custard in that respect, only that it’s delicious.

Tummy Thursday: Cumpleaños feliz

Before we left for our holiday, we celebrated #1’s 12th birthday. From my short experience with having a 12 years old at home I can confirm that all the “what are you? 12?” remarks you throw at people with a dirty twist of mind are completely accurate. But you’re here for the cake, aren’t you?

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Lamas are currently very much en vogue, so she asked for a lama cake. The cake is the ultimate banana-chocolate-coconut-combination: Banana bread with chocolate chips and grated coconut. Vanilla buttercream and sliced bananas as filling, popcorn curls and since I forgot to make ears, laminated paper ears.

To go with the lama cake there were cactus cupcakes:

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These have a butternut squash-almond-raisin base (I simply love that recipe) with lemon curd frosting. I never made lemon curd before, but I so love it. The cacti are rice crispies with lemon curd buttercream.

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Jack’s Walk

Yum, Yum ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a hot one here today and Jack and I didn’t get out as early as I hoped – a bit of extra gravity from the humidity slowed me down. Instead it was about noon and Jack was obviously anxious to go out so I decided the shade of the woods was our best option. Jack wanted to go swimming in the river, but there isn’t enough shade there for me so I pulled rank and we went to the forest. For once we didn’t run into any strange happenings, but we did find a patch of ripe wild black raspberries. YES! I picked and ate until my fingers were black and Jack was making the “Come on Mom” noises. I offered him a berry, but he looked at me like I was offering him poison and then he made the sad little whimper again. Sheesh! I’d pretty much denuded the patch by this point, but there are oodles more berries still to ripen so I think next time we come (very, very soon!) I’ll bring a bowl and maybe come home with enough wild, “organic” black raspberries for a pie. I know just how to make it good.

I’ll be back (with a bowl) ©voyager, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: The Epicurean

Today’s book comes to us from Marcus’ collection (stderr) and it’s a classic. Published in 1920, the book is a complete culinary encyclopedia written by a master chef. Its art deco binding is beautiful and being a first edition, the book is quite rare. It’s in excellent condition, too, with its colours still bright and its tactile cover still inviting. It looks delicious.

Charles Ranhofer. The Epicurean: A Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies on the Culinary Art. Including… a Selection of Interesting Bills of Fare of Delmonico’s, from 1862 to 1894. Chicago, Hotel Monthly Press, (1920).

The book  has been republished countless times since 1920 and remains a comprehensive guide to cooking and entertaining, The book contains 800 illustrations, including some that are full-page. I’ve included a sampling below the fold.

The book is available to read at The Internet Archive.

[Read more…]

Tummy Thursday: a Sweet Surprise

Well, do you remember this?

©voyager, all rights reserved

Which got turned into this:

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And sent off to Germany, where it got turned into this:

©Giliell, all rights reserved.

Again, thank you very much, voyager. It is most delicious and no comparison with what you can buy here as maple syrup, no matter how often they say “Canadian grade A”.

And I swear that one day you WILL have the opportunity to share it with me in person.

Tummy Thursday: Omas Faasekiechelcher

That translates into grandma’s little carnival cakes. It’s that time of the year, and while I have tired of the whole carnival culture (alcohol and sexual assault), I still love Faasekiechelcher. pastries fried in oil are a traditional treat at carnival and they come in many varieties all over Germany. The best known is the “Berliner”, which is very similar to our recipe, now available all year round (you never hear people complain about that, but heavens forbid you publicly enjoy a Lebkuchen in September).

Since I now have a deep fryer and carnival break (you may have noticed the increased amounts of posting), I decided to make grandma’s faasekiechelcher myself, and I’m willing to share, at least the recipe. You need:

1kg flour

120g sugar

150g butter

8g salt

450ml milk

75g yeast

The secret here is that the yeast dough needs a lot of rest. I first gave the starter 15 min, then kneaded the dough, let it rest for an hour, knead it again and the let it rise for three more hours. The yeast’s got to be very happy.

Commerical bakeries and many people will fry their Berliner and then fill them with jam a pipe bag. Grandma had a different secret. You roll out half of the dough, about 0.5cm thick and mark your circles with a glass.

I used Nutella in some of them.

Then you roll out the second half, same size as the first and place it on top. You push the dough down between the little heaps of filling and then you take your glass and cut through both layers. Since the dough is very soft it now sticks together. Let them rest again for about 30 minutes. Since this was my first try I wasn’t sure on the amount of filling and erred on the “too little” side.

Fry in hot oil (about 170-180°C). I learned that you need to turn them over after about 1 minute or there will be large air bubbles on the top side and you won’t be able to turn them around anymore.

This recipe yields two big bowls fuul of delicious Faasekiechelcher, but this is all that was left today:

You need to roll them in cinnamon and sugar.

Enjoy!