Friday, February 17, 2017

Rutabaga Apple Paprika Spread

I had a large piece of leftover rutabaga in the fridge from making Rutabaga Apple Rösti with Hazelnuts & Emmenthaler. It wasn't quite enough to make another dinner recipe so I turned it into a creamy appetizer.

I used a spicy smoked paprika to amp up the flavor. The rutabaga already has a strong flavor so the smoked paprika might be too much of some people's palate. Feel free to substitute sweet instead. 

The apple and apple juice bring the sweetness. You can add a few pinches of sugar if you want more. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Traveling Germany's Mecklenburg Lakeland By Houseboat

My husband's nieces and nephew are all teenagers now and I suppose as everyone grows up and forms their own lives, the Easter vacations we can spend with them will become nonexistent in a few years. 

Two years ago we joined them and their parents at Easter time on a houseboat adventure for a week in the Northeast (former East- deep in the DDR) part of Germany to explore the Mecklenburg Seenplatten (Lake District). I'm finally getting around to posting about this unusual travel destination. Four adults, three teens and lots of Red Cap Prosecco. 

Former East/West German Border
The area, also known as "The Land of a Thousand Lakes", is the largest interconnected canal and lake region in Germany. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hibiscus Rose Caramels

I'm back in the kitchen playing with beautiful product sent to me by  The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company

I was saving this gorgeous Rose Hibiscus extract for something special. So here is my last Valentine's Day post with these luscious flowery and slightly tangy chewy heart caramels.

This Rose Hibiscus high concentration extract from premium hibiscus and Bulgarian rose flowers is divine. The extract would make a gorgeous addition to a cocktail. I added it to the caramel mixture.

After pouring the finished golden caramel into the pan, I sprinkled 100% pure dried flower Heart-Tee -Hibiscus Tea over the top and then pressed edible dried rose buds and petals into the warm caramel.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dark Chocolate Eclairs - February's King Arthur Flour Bakealong

This month's King Arthur Flour's Bakealong touts a luscious recipe for these delicious dark chocolate eclairs. Perfect for Valentine's Day, making these classic beauties takes a three step process but the result is so worth the effort.

The finished eclairs are beautiful on their own but of course, being a baking bling queen, I added these cute hearts and arrows shaped sprinkles to amp up their Valentine's appeal.

Admittedly, in the past, I was always intimidated by the idea of making choux pastry, but I learned years ago how uncomplicated and quick it is to make it. Do not let this first step intimidate you. You will find it's a breeze to master.

Of the three steps, the pastry cream filling takes the most time but, mostly because you have to chill it for a few hours. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Heart Shaped Red Beet Chips with Garlic Parsley Dip

How cute are these for a Valentine's Day snack? They are extremely tasty as well. Truth be told, I hate beets, but over the years I've discovered that caramelizing them or frying thinly sliced versions reduce the pungent earthy flavor that so repels me. 

I used some fancy Camargue sea salt on these but any course grain salt will do the trick. If you have flavored or smoked salt, feel free to bust it out for this recipe.

If you are concerned about the waste from cutting heart shapes out of the beets, I chopped up the excess beets, added a chopped onion, some fresh parsley and tossed everything with a homemade almond/ toasted sesame oil vinegarette.

I used a bunch of different shapes to create the beet chips. At first, it was to be more visually creative, then I realized if I used two different cutters on each beet slice, I could get more chips.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Raspberry Pink Ombre Heart Terraced Cookies

One of the ideas I regretfully did not get to explore this past holiday season was a terraced cookie. I'd seen different versions in German baking magazines and on the interwebs, including stacks of star shapes made to look like trees and also rectangles with pretty edges in gingerbread flavors. I simply ran out of time.

After pushing the concept to my December 2017 list, I reconsidered when I had the idea to carry the concept over to Valentine's Day with these pink ombre heart terrace cookies.

I love how they came how. So pretty and festive for the occasion. 

These cookies are flavored with raspberry extract but you can choose your own favorite. I also used straight edge cutters to form the heart shapes. Fluted edge versions would look much better. I just could find three fluted ones that fit together. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cherry Brandy (Kirschwasser) Valentine's Day Truffles

So I may have been a little too enthusiastic about the nonpareils coating on these truffles, I suppose I could have used a lot less, lightly sprinkling them over the tops but hey, they look dressed up and ready for Valentine's Day, no? 

Let's get to the taste. for the truffles, you can easily use pedestrian chocolate chips out of a bag from a grocery chain store. However,  I don't have to tell you the better quality chocolate you use for this recipe, the more scrumptious they will taste. 

For an extra Valentine's touch and flavor boost, I stirred a few tablespoons of German cherry Brandy (Kirschwasser) into the truffle mix.

The recipe itself is a cinch to make and takes very little time to throw together. Just be mindful of the three hour chill time. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chocolate Nut Heart Cookies with Pink Pepper Glaze

These Valentine's inspired cookies are gluten and almost dairy free. They contain a mix of hazelnut and almond flours. The melted chocolate added to the batter may contain a trace amount of milk.

This recipe is a riff on traditional German Zimtsterne, or cinnamon star cookies popular at Christmas time. 

What I like best from the practical side about this recipe is the fact you can roll out the cookies immediately. No chill time for the dough in the fridge. Yay to saving time and immediate gratification. 

What really makes them unique is the scattering of crushed pink peppercorns over the tops of the cookies. People who tasted them really seemed to love the peppercorn touch. Because, you know, love, bites, stings, hurts or whatever...

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hibiscus Glazed Buttermilk Heart Shaped Doughnuts

I'd like to formally introduce my first Valentine's post for 2017. Drumroll, please. Because these Valentine's inspired doughnuts are drumroll worthy. 

A rep for The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company was generous enough to send me an assortment of their cool, creative products made with exotic ingredients. At Christmas time I created Hazelnut Hibiscus Advent Linzer Cookies with the hibiscus flowers in syrup.  There were so many other gorgeous teas, extracts and salt to choose from, I decided to save them for this year's Valentine's posts.

These doughnuts use high concentration hibiscus flower extract, made from fresh cold-pressed hibiscus flowers, dried hibiscus and cane sugar and 100% pure dried flower Heart-Tee -Hibiscus Tea from the company. I added the extract to the dough and the glaze. I sprinkled the tea over the wet glaze as an added decorative and flavor boost. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chicken Breast with Ginger Orange Parsnips

I ripped this recipe out of a German cooking magazine a long time ago and recently discovered it in a pile. I wish I could say there was any evidence on the page of where it came from so I could give proper credit but there wasn't any on the page.

If anyone has a clue of where the credit should go, please let me know and I will immediately thank the source.

I left out some ingredients and tweaked the recipe a bit. The result was a perfect winter dish using seasonal parsnips, fresh ginger root and bright orange fillets.  Originally, I was going to change up the chicken for boneless pork. Although I am happy I stuck with chicken, I will definitely try the pork next time. 

The chicken has a marinade time of 3 hours but it's well worth it for the resulting flavor. The recipe takes a bit of work as the parsnips and the chicken are cooked separately, then combined. I hate that having to clean two pans instead of one but as soon as I tasted this dish, I forgot all about cleanup.