Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rhubarb-Date Ginger Chutney

I've been back in the States less than a week after a month in Europe and I am still grumbling about the rhubarb. Or the lack of it. It's most frustrating being back with all these wonderful rhubarb recipe ideas with no place here on the East Coast to find rhubarb. It's everywhere in Germany along with fresh ramps and kohlrabi.

So after three-plus supermarkets, I was finally able to score two measly already trimmed and cut rhubarb stalks. The last two or the only two they had. Regardless, I forged ahead. 

On my list was to make a rhubarb chutney to have on hand to serve to guests with cheese and crackers. 

This flavorful, versatile chutney with dates, golden raisins and fresh ginger is also perfect on toasted bread, bagels or rolls paired with cream cheese. The chutney can be stirred into greek yogurt or spooned on top of meat or poultry.

This post is short because I have to leave and go find more rhubarb.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Macaron Monday: Funfetti French Macarons with Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

So we've gone from Tutti Frutti to Funfetti in the span of a week. Say both those words five times fast. One right after the other. In the future, I probably need to get more serious about my macaron flavors.

Full disclosure: These are a repost from several years ago. I made them as a guest post and that website is no longer up. Since no one would be able to find them anymore, I didn't think it would be a problem to repost them.

If you've ever attempted to make French macarons, you  know they are extremely temperamental. Perfecting them can drive even seasoned bakers nuts. After I made these, I stepped back and laughed, gloating that I managed to post them after Last week's trip to France. I am sure I won't be allowed back into the country after dousing this elusive French treat in pedestrian colorful sprinkles.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rhubarb Meringue Cake

In Germany access to rhubarb is so much easier than in the states. Forget the fact for years it has grown in the garden here. Every supermarket and roadside vendor has rhubarb on offer in early spring.

It's inspiring. This early spring harvest of rhubarb in Germany brings many delicious and creative recipes to the table. This German style rhubarb meringue cake is no exception.

The recipe contains a lot less sugar than an American style equivalent. Adding fresh cut rhubarb pieces to the dough bakes in a slightly sour flavor which pairs well with the sweet baked meringue topping.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Baked Treats

It's the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day. And where are we with this whole save the environment thing? Precariously perched on destruction. It scares me as an international consciousness level, we have not learned to tread more lightly on this planet. 

The global water crisis is coming in for a landing in California. The gargantuan garbage in the ocean has now seeped into our food supply. The last male Northern White rhino needs 24 hours guards just to survive. The only creature that needs a rhino horn is a rhino. The only creature that needs an elephant tusk is an elephant. Really.

Only humans can stop this. It's hard to get people's attention about doing the right thing for the environment. Less plastic in the oceans and landfills. More planting every spring. 

Much easier to get people's attention with baked goods. 

Sad truth.

So here are some creations I've made for past Earth Day posts. Click the caption for the link to the post with the recipe.

Chocolate Tree Bark Candy with Royal Icing Flowers 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Macaron Monday: Tutti Frutti French Macarons

So I'm feeling a little crazy flavored with the onset (finally!) of spring. I want to make macarons in bright fun flavors and colors. Which brings me to these. Like last week's Apricot French Macarons, the shells and the filling are the same flavor. 

What the heck is Tutti Frutti anyway?  According to Wikipedia:

Tutti frutti (from Italian "all fruits", also hyphenated tutti-frutti) is a colorful confection containing various chopped and usually candied fruits, or an artificially created flavouring simulating the combined flavour of many different fruits. It is often used for making a tutti frutti ice cream flavor.

So there you have it. I used tutti frutti flavor oil. Easy Peasy. I am positively crazy about these. The color, everything. Or as Little Richard would say, they taste like A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam bam.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mushroom Walnut Potato Cake with Thyme

I called this a cake because that's what it would be called in Germany, ein kuchen. However, it is more like a savory flat quick bread, almost the consistency of the Italian focaccia but not as fluffy.

The great part about this recipe is the flavor combinations are endless. you can change up the nuts to almonds or cashews, use a combination of nuts or leave them out entirely. Same with the herbs, the fresh thyme can be switched out for rosemary, fresh basil ribbons or you can also use a combination.
The finished cake is very tasty served with some herbed crème fraîche or greek yogurt on the side.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Eating the Berkshires Round 2: A Local Extract Factory, A Doughnut Shoppe and a Crazy Russian Girls Bakery

Last Wednesday's  Eating the Berkshires Round 1 post covered Cricket Creek Farm, Baba Louie's Pizza, Soco Creamery and a brief stop at The Cook's Shop to pick up some incredible balsamic vinegar flavors from Oliva di Vita.

When I was at the Socco Creamery I mentioned the ice cream I ate containing an unusual locally made extract. Let's start with my visit to the factory that makes that extract.

Baldwin Extract Company located in West Stockbridge, MA since 1912 is a family owned company founded in 1888 and currently operated by the great great grandson of the owner. The staid exterior belies all sorts of crazy, delicious and fun surprises awaiting customers inside. 

Upon entering the place, it resembles a kooky cross between an old apothecary and a penny candy store. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Macaron Monday: Lemon Lime French Macarons

Let me just say right off the bat here, I know these are overfilled. I got carried away with the beautiful color of the lemon filling.

In the spirit of spring, I am trying to move away from spicy, deep winter flavors and create lighter and brighter versions of French macarons. Well, maybe not with such big fat fillings.

Lemon lime not only sport fresh colors, they reminds me of cleansing and renewal. These French macarons  have lime flavored shells wrapped around bright lemon yellow homemade buttercream.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Grape Wine Pudding

This dessert is called Saarländer Becher in German which literally translates to "Saarland Cup". Saarland, located on the French-Luxembourg border, is one of the 16 German states. The capital of Saarland is Saarbrücken.

I love the flexibility of this recipe. Green Grape Wine Custard can be served warm, just after making it or it can be chilled to be enjoyed cold later.

You can serve this dessert in any vessel you choose. However, it's always fun to use different shaped clear dessert glasses for a more decorative presentation. I recommend arranging the white grape halves inside the glasses so that alternately both sides of the halves are showing through the glass. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Eating the Berkshires Round 1: Dairy Farm, Pizza and Ice Cream, Oh My.

Please note: None of the reviews below were sponsored, nor was I given any product or meal gratis. I was a paying customer at every place mentioned in this post.

Recently, my mother and I spent a few days in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts visiting my brother. It was a family reunion of sorts. More like a nostalgic tour. In the 70's my mother bought us a second home in Lenox MA. Since she was a schoolteacher, we all had the same vacation schedule so we spent every summer, Christmas, Easter and many long weekends year round there.

My brother bought a house in the area a few years ago. I love that. Somehow it keeps us all still rooted there. So all three of us reconvened in this area we loved so much for so long. It's a place that carries so many wonderful memories for each of us.

Since we sold the house in the 90's, the Berkshires has become an even hotter destination, not only for second home owners but for foodies. Lots of folks raising livestock and making cheese and whatnot. So when my brother asked me if I had anywhere special in mind to explore. I said what any food blogger would say, "Let's eat!"

And eat we did. Based on a very quick internet search and suggestions from my brother, we ended up randomly exploring. As we went along and the more I read and learned, the list got longer and longer. Needless to say, we did not get to everything on the list. I also wanted to revisit some old favorites we grew up with like The Red Lion Inn and Joe's Diner. We didn't get to those either. I am saving the rest for a return trip. However, some absolute gems were discovered along the way and I am recounting them here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Macaron Monday: Apricot French Macarons

Just before any of you can recover from this past Easter weekend's pastel cuteness overload, here is some more pastel porn in the form of an Apricot French Macaron.

Bear with me. These are so apricotty good I reconsidered waiting a few weeks to post them. Apricot flavor oil went into both the shells and the buttercream for double the apricot pleasure. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Last Minute Cute Easter Cookie Ideas

There is no Easter meal in the plan for us this year. Starting this Friday, we will be living on a houseboat for a week touring Germany's Mecklenburg Lake District of Germany in the company of my husband's family.

However, for those of you who are plotting an Easter feast, here are some last minute (relatively) easy Easter cookie ideas to throw together to make your holiday table more festive. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Bunny Bread

I have a sad history of making demented looking creations at Easter time. For instance, take these bunny shaped eclairs with lime curd filling I made a few years ago.

Or these lamb cookies. Lambs were the intention but they ended up looking like demented goats.