Tummy Thursday: You Gotta Eat it All

Yes, I know, that’s similar to the post in October about the little one’s cake, but we are in for another Pokémon themed cake. It was #1’s birthday on Sunday and she wanted a Zorua cake. Well, actually she wanted a Reshiram cake, but I balked at the idea of trying to make one. There’s being ambitious and there’s being stupid. I think it was my most complicated motive cake so far as it does not have a simple geometric form as a basis but the cut out of the Pokémon and the decoration took me almost three hours.

The cake is vanilla and cherries, the filing is German mango buttercream and roasted almonds. I then covered everything with Italian buttercream and added several layers of fondant. It was delicious and pretty.

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Tummy Thursday: About that Allspice…

As I mentioned, I needed allspice to make Jamaican jerk, only of course that’s just a vague description of what I actually made. For one thing, jerk is more like a marinade. We don’t eat much meat, but have ample use for all kinds of sauces and condiments, so I made something more like a steak sauce.

I started out with the Jamaican jerk recipe CD gave me some years back: allspice, garlic, soy sauce, only no soy sauce because I’m allergic to soy, molasses, only no molasses because you cannot get it here but boiled down sugar beet syrup, cinnamon, spring onions, only I skipped them because I later added onions, nutmeg, dried fruit like cranberries, only that I used fresh nectarines and chillis, thyme, all blended together.

Yep, that’s me. If the survival of planet earth hinged on my ability to follow a recipe you’d better start packing. For the chillis I bought some Habaneros and I wanted to throw one into the blender, but then thought that it was prudent to start with half a Habanero because you can always add more. Good decision. It instantly went to the level of hot I like (which is probably too much for the rest of the family) and it’s got such am agreeable hotness. I don’t know if I’m explaining this well, but sometimes chillis have this hotness that lingers for ages. Your mouth keeps burning even if it wasn’t that hot in the first place until you have some milk and this detracts from the actual taste of the food. These are hot, but 10 seconds later it’s gone. I actually kept spooning it into my mouth to see if the taste needed refinement without actually adding anything in between…

To turn it into a sauce I peeled and deseeded a pound of tomatoes, lightly fried onions in olive oil, added the tomatoes and let it stir for a while. Then I partly strained the jerk so there wouldn’t be too many coarse particles and let everything simmer for about half an hour. Interesting things happened. For one, the jerk turned very dark. That happened almost instantly, probably because the air boiled out. After about 10 minutes my disappointing nectarines picked up and gave some real fruity aromas to the whole thing. After 20 minutes the tomatoes vanished completely. I’m sure they’re adding taste and structure, but you would never guess it has tomatoes in it. Finally, the hotness was greatly reduced. Maybe Mr could eat some now. All in all I have two glasses of sauce now and I tried it on some vegan burgers yesterday and it’s just all I ever wanted.

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And because the light and the bubbles in the pot were just too pretty, here#s a video:

Tummy Thursday: Zucchini Cake

When we went to the wholesale supermarket I bought a whole crate of zucchini, which means we’ve been using them in a whole lot of dishes, and since they are true neutral, I also decided to make zucchini cake. It turned out really, really nice and it would be a shame not to share.

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Uhm, yeah. our easter brunch…

For the cake you need:

  • 500g zucchini
  • 250 ml oil. I used butter, though, because I only have olive oil at home
  • 5 eggs
  • 350g flour
  • 1 packet of baking powder
  • 250g sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200g grounded hazelnuts (I used almonds)
  • spices (I used a bit of cinnamon and allspice and vanilla extract)

Grate the zucchini, mix wet ingredients (including the zucchini), mix dry ingredients, combine, bake a 160° with ventilation.

One thing that made me wonder about the recipe was that they told you to bake it in a 26cm (10″) round tin. Every experienced baker can see from the amount of ingredients that this is way too much and I’m sorry for the inexperienced bakers who flooded their ovens with cake batter. I baked it in a tray for about 30 minutes.

Another thing is that there’s really little sugar in the recipe. This means that it’s perfect for a sweet topping. The original recipe had a chocolate ganache, but I went for lime and cream cheese with fresh strawberries on top and it was just perfect. If you don’t want to add a topping I’d recommend adding something like another 100g of brown sugar for extra flavour and sweetness. Or you leave out the sugar completely, add more salt and grated parmesan, which should work as well.

Tummy Thursday: Go Frothy and Multiply

Yes, I know, but what are days of the week anyway…

One of the things people have been hoarding/panic buying is yeast. I speculate that lots of it is rotting in fridges, since bakeries and supermarkets are indeed still open, though others will use the time for baking, as does yours truly. Part of it stems from my inability to plan for bread. Usually we eat pretty little bread so i buy like a pound of bread that lasts for the week. Now we need bread every single day, so different forms of frybread have been our new best friend. And who doesn’t love fresh frybread? Some days I use baking powder, but i also like yeast bread, and I was running low on yeast.

 

Thankfully, as long as you have some yeast and a freezer, you can be helped. Simply mix your fresh yeast, lukewarm water, a tablespoon of sugar and a cup of flour and let it rest for 15 minutes. Fill into ice cube trays (or mini muffin trays or whatever, I used my French canéles silicone tray) and quickly freeze. Put something frozen on top and don’t overfill the tray.

Freeze solid and ta-daa: lots of readily frozen yeast.

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Working with this yeast means means you need more time, but that makes a yeast dough all the better anyway.

And to prove the concept that “you can multiply yeast indefinitely”, I washed down the sides of the mixing bowl and started a sweet yeast dough. I let it rest in the cool hall over night and let it catch up speed again this morning.

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He is risen.

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Nobody in my family ever said no to cinnamon rolls.

And did I mention that I’m bad with “how  much bread do we need” and the days of the week? Well, I’d forgotten that today is a holiday and no bakery van will come, so I took some of my frozen yeast and made naan. You could cook it in a hot pan, but I prefer the pizza stone in the oven. I also need to increase the amount we pay for electricity or there will be lots of crying come January (we pay an estimated amount for water and electricity each months and then get the detailed bill in January. Usually it’s “we ow you 20 bucks / you owe us 20 bucks, but we’re home a lot more, won’t go on holiday and keep baking)

Look at this:

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That’s what the kids left us. Because fresh naan, who doesn’t like it? BTW, if you ever try to make frybread, regardless of what your raising agent, put away that rolling pin. Just gently stretch it over your hands or you’ll press out all that nice air your raising agent worked so hard to put into your dough.

Tummy Thursday: Tamales

I promised a more in depth thread on the tamales we had for New Year’s Eve. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, since they a re one of my favourite Latin American street food, and just in time I found an online shop specialised in Mexican food where I could get the most unusual (for Western Europeans) ingredient: dried corn husks. I also go some quality corn flour and frijoles negros (which are from Canada…) so I could also make refritos (fried mushed beans).

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I chose a recipe with chicken filling, so I started by cooking the chicken. Well, actually it was the second step if you count soaking the corn husks. I thought it was daring from the people who wrote the recipe to tell folks to cook the chicken in liquid and later mention chicken stock but not to mention that of course you just made the world’s best chicken stock. Once I had that it was time to cream the butter for the batter. The original recipe called for lard, but the local Aldi doesn’t stock any lard any I won’t set food into the megamarkets before/during the holidays. You are supposed to add some of the stock and I swear this was the first time I made chicken buttercream. I then added the flour, more stock, salt and seasoning and let it rest for a while. The batter is quite fluffy at this point.

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I used the resting time to prepare the filling. I deboned my chicken and minced it a little. I then prepared salsa with onions, garlic, tomatoes and seasoning and added the chicken. The filling needs to be well flavoured or it will be lost in the batter.

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Yes, I’m a messy cook, why do you ask?

Then it’s time for preparing the tamales. You use your soaked corn husks and spread some batter onto them. You add a spoonful of filling, close the batter around it and then wrap the corn husk like it’s a burrito.

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You then put them into a pot with a steamer and steam. The recipe calls for two hours, but my pot and steamer don’t actually fit one another so I cannot close them properly. The test run was therefore a bit soggy and for the New Year’s Eve dinner I probably steamed them for 4-5 hours. Looks like another piece of kitchen equipment that I need to upgrade.

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They were yummy with that particular flavour of actual corn flour and so savoury that the dog begged for the leftovers.

Tummy Thursday: Around the World in 5 Courses

This year we had our traditional (a tradition means “at least twice”) New Years Eve dinner of five continents in five courses. The way we do it is that we draw continents and courses and then nobody knows who’s got which or what the others are bringing. This year we had the second main course and the Americas, so while I knew what I#d be serving, the guests brought their own. courses.

Let’s begin with the first starter: Asia, a salad

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Ruccola, persimmon, avocado and sesame. While I’m pretty sure that nobody in Asia ever created that dish it was delicious and a good light starter.

Second starter: Africa: Tunnesian pea meatballs and pastry filled with goat cheese and lime and two dips.

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The friend who made these is a professional cook and everything was delicious. The lime added freshness and it was a bit spicy, but not enough.

 

First main course: Oceania: Australian meat pies with peas

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Well, the concept was good. Unfortunately the friend who made them is a really bad cook. How bad you ask? well, she brought a bag of frozen peas and then asked me if I had any ideas what to do with them…

Second main course: Americas: Mexican tamales

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Once with their protective corn husks, once without. No, you don’t eat the corn husks. Served with guacamole and refritos. They’ll get their own post in the future explaining how they’re done. They’re quite filling, which meant that we had some leftovers for the brunch next day.

Dessert: Europe: Scottish Cranachan 

Well, there are no pictures because we ate it all before we remembered. Although it’s dead simple: raspberries, cream, roasted oats, it is also extremely delicious.

Somehow in my thirties the focus of New Years Eve definitely shifted from alcohol to food…

 

Sweet Dreams: A Tummy Sunday

At our house we divided the Christmas days up between the families. In Germany “the big day” is Christmas Eve. That’s when the kids get their presents and the tree is lit (at least back in the days when you still used real candles) and the first years as a family we tried to do right by everybody. Back then my grandparents were still alive and I wanted to spend time with them, but “of course” you couldn’t say “we’ll visit Giliell’s family on Christmas Eve but not you”. The result was lots of unhappiness. My in laws would make very sad eyes at us for leaving early* and my family would complain about us being late. The kids would get so many presents in a short amount of time that they ended up exhausted and crying and unhappy. And then of course they wanted to negotiate about the two other days (in Germany you have two Christmas Days) as well…

At some point we decided to tell them all to gently fuck themselves and set down some rules and if you are ever in such a situation, especially with young kids. On Christmas Eve NOBODY leaves the house or enters the house. We spend the evening together, just the four of us. We have hot stone/raclette for dinner, which is really quick and easy to prepare and then the kids get their presents (and us as well).

The 25th is the day when Mr’s family meets. Out of the 5 siblings 3 of them take turns to host the whole party, although we have taken over from my  in laws since they’ re not getting younger and we have more space (and it is less exhausting and more rewarding to do it myself than to listen to my mum in law’s complaints. Sorry if I’m sounding uncharitable towards her. I really love her, there’s just some areas where she’s as exhausting as a toddler). Since that family is already in charge of cooking for about 20 people, the guests bring cake and dessert, which is actually the point of this post.

The 26th we visit my parents and since it’s the time of miracles, for the last few years my sister’s husband has been showing up as well.

But back to dessert. I made a Pavlova. I’ve been wanting to make one since forever and thought that this was the perfect occasion:

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Uhm, sorry for the crap image. I’ll do better. But the Pavlova was amazing: I sprinkled roasted pine nuts on the meringue before baking and prepared butter caramel baked apples with raisins and spices a few days in advance. On the 25th I prepared pomegranate seeds only transported the dry meringue “cakes” as well as the fruit and unwhipped cream to my uncle and aunt in law’s place where I whipped the cream and assembled everything there. I even added edible gold leaves.

I looked like a Christmas Dessert is supposed to look: lavish and opulent. It tasted like heaven. The sharpness of the Pomegranate balanced the sweetness of the meringue and the whipped cream was just right. If you’re ever asked to bring a spectacular dessert i can only recommend a Pavlova as you can adapt it to the occasion and don’t need to worry about transporting a fully assembled cake.

 

*My mum in law is one of those people whose only way to get what she wants is by making others feel bad. Sad comments along the lines of “I would really love if somebody …., but nobody cares enough…”

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.

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©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:

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©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):

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©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.