Friday, March 16, 2018

Three Shades of Shamrocks: 1 Cookie Dough, 3 Cookie Cutters, Four Designs

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, this space was solely a baking blog with a bit of travel thrown in. I used to spend most of my blog time presenting colorful, sugary, sparkly creations. 

And French macarons. A LOT of French Macarons. Remember Mararon Mondays?

As time went on (going into my 9th year here), I've added savory food and recipes. Consequently, it has been some time since I've dragged out the food coloring and the cutters to make something bright and fun.  St. Patrick's Day was the perfect excuse, only I couldn't decide what design cookie to make. So I made all the designs. 

Well maybe not all of them but here are four you can easily make yourself. Some are easier than others but none are impossibly intricate or difficult. 

Three shades of shamrocks may not be as sexy as 50 Shades of Grey but the fun factor is high. 

You will need your favorite rollout sugar cookie dough recipe or store-bought cookie dough, three different sizes of the same shamrock shaped cookie cutters and green food coloring. That's all. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Making Plum Poppy Seed Brown Butter Pirohy in Bratislava

While cruising the Danube last spring on the gorgeous Ama Waterways ship, the Ama Viola, we explored a fantastic itinerary while cruising this world famous river in luxury. 

During this jam-packed wonderful cruise, I had the opportunity to take a cooking class when the ship stopped in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Bratislava, Slovakia was the home of my maternal grandfather (when it was Czechoslovakia) and a place I had never been so I was doubly thrilled to step off the boat to explore the city. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Coffee & Cake Ice Cream

File this under "kitchen confessions":  

I am a cake scrap hoarder. 

Here's the deal, every time I make a cake and have to trim before frosting it, I hate throwing away the excess. It makes me sad to put those scraps in the garbage. So instead I put them in a ziplock bag and stash them in my fridge. This comes with the rationale I will make cake balls, cake pops or use them for another creative recipe down the road.

Well, I cleaned out my freezer recently and that day has come. How about coffee and cake all rolled into a delicious ice cream?

To start, I whipped up a creamy coffee flavored ice cream base then mixed in two cups of cake scraps after the churning phase. The result was a delicious cakey ice cream. 

I had both plain chocolate and vanilla cake scaps on hand but you can use any type. The fancier the cake, the more interesting and flavorful the resulting ice cream will be. I would even use pastry scraps. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Gruyére-Stuffed Crusty Loaves - King Arthur Flour's March Bakealong

How gorgeous are these? And yes, these Gruyére-Stuffed Crusty Loaves taste as good as they look. 

I lived in Germany full time for 10 years. Gruyére and Emmenthaler cheeses are common in supermarkets (an inexpensive) and also are often found as ingredients in restaurant dishes. If you don't have a cheese specialty shop near you, finding them here in the USA sometimes can take a few stops. Don't even get me started on searching for raclette cheese. 

Walmart, of all places, carries Gruyére. I might or might have or might have not done the chicken dance when I saw it there. If the Gruyére is too pricey for your budget, Sargento also makes a swiss- gruyére blend that is much more reasonable. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Kohlrabi Stuffed with Quinoa, Kale & Walnuts

Is kohlrabi weird? Is it hard to find in your area? It's so common in Germany in wintertime I assumed it would be easy to get here. Four supermarkets and two farmers markets later and I finally scored some.

Kohlrabi has been on my list to make into schnitzel for some time. That's a popular way to prepare it in Germany as well as turning it into soups and baking it into casseroles. Kohlrabi is German for "Cabbage Turnip" btw. 

Stuffing it was my first priority this winter. I used a vegetarian style stuffing. Adding meat like ground turkey or beef would also be delicious. However, I was looking to create something a bit lighter and packed with healthy ingredients. Kohlrabi itself is full of vitamins and minerals. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Brie Leek Soup

Hold on to your lettuce leaves because this is an exceptionally luscious and rich winter inspired soup. This dish is thick, hearty and a vegetarian meal in a bowl. 

Leeks and sweet onions are fried in butter, then simmered in a creamy vegetable broth. As a final step, pieces of mellow brie cheese are melted into the soup before serving. 

This soup is obviously not low calorie. You can cut the calorie and fat content a bit by substituting low-fat or nonfat versions for the whole milk. Swap out the triple cream version of the brie for regular brie to dampen down the fat content. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Prosecco Popcorn Cupcakes for Oscar Night

Does everyone have their Oscar ballots filled out? 

Which nominated movies are you rooting for this year? (Get OutStrong Island, Dunkirk)

Which movies did you feel were overlooked? (Patti Cake$, The Florida Project, In the Fade, The Disaster Artist, 120 Beats Per Minute) 

What about performances? So many great ones (Frances McDormand, Mary J. Blige, Daniel Day-Lewis, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Laurie MetcalfTimothée Chalamet, Gary Oldman)
Who was snubbed? (James Franco, Mudbound's Director Dee Rees, Phantom Thread's Vicky Krieps and Jane for Best Documentary)

Does anyone watch the documentary shorts? (Knife Skills) 

So many questions. All will be revealed on Sunday evening. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sauerkraut Bacon Yogurt Cake

I had no any idea why the world has declared war on the word "moist".  So many people shudder, squirm and gag at the mention of it. Finally, I found out there is a scientific explanation, which I will not get into here at this time. 

Consequently, it is with trepidation that I describe this cake as "moist". So let's just say it's "not dry". 

Leftover yogurt in the fridge and the rest of a pack of thick cut bacon pieces in the freezer were combined last weekend to make this savory sauerkraut cake.

I have seen several savory sauerkraut cakes in German cooking magazines but most involved a tart shell. I love my savory tarts but I was looking to create a simple, flavorful savory cake I could mix together in a matter of minutes. So here it is. 

The cake is sticky but not gluey. Mostly it's the M word or, not dry.  

The cake has lots of sour flavor from the kraut and the yogurt and the bacon pieces provide delightful salty nuggets studded throughout. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Smoky Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is what happens when you have two bottles of unopened liquid smoke sitting in your cabinet for what seems like forever.  I have no idea how theose two little bottles got there. I may or may not have bought them on a whim or perhaps I was gifted them at an event. 

All I know is, I was tired of looking at them and had to think up a way to get rid of them. At first thought, these muffins seemed a bit of a desperate effort to do so. Upon tasting them, I proclaimed myself a pantry cleaning genius.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Everything Fried Pickles with Horseradish Sauce

Ever since I tasted fried pickles at a restaurant in the Berkshires, thoughts have been dancing in my brain about how to create my own version.

One weekend I was creating recipes for this space and realized I didn't have all the ingredients on hand to make a planned recipe. Upon spying a jar of pickle coins in the pantry, I switched gears and made these.

These fried pickles are salty, crunchy and loaded with seasonings. I craved a little spice to go with them so I paired them with a homemade horseradish sauce. 

For the everything seasoning, I've included a homemade recipe below. I added celery, cumin and dill seeds to the mix to complement the dill pickles. Everything seasoning can be a combination of anything you want. 

Leave out the celery, cumin, and dill seeds and you have a more traditional everything mix. I realize dill, cumin, and celery seeds are scarce in most kitchens. These fried pickles will taste just as good without them. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

No Rise Nutty Fig Whole Wheat Bread

This sweet, crunchy, nutty figgy bread is extra delicious and you won't believe how easy it is to make. I would say the best part of this recipe is the no rise element but the bread tastes so good, I would be willing to wait hours for it to rise. Fortunately, that's not the case. 

In addition to the figs, this bread is packed with three different types of nuts and raisins. Everything is soaked in dark rum before adding to the batter. It's a flavorpalooza I tell ya. 

I ate my pieces(s) warm out of the oven. They were heavenly. If you want, you can smear a bit of cream cheese on a slice but the bread needs nothing to accentuate its flavor. 

Tip: Save the end pieces for yourself or your favorite person. They are the best.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Diving Raja Ampat on the Liveaboard Ilike

Today we are boarding a magical Indonesian boat for a liveaboard tour of different parts of Raja Ampat including Misool. I wish. 

Today I am just reliving the experience with you. 

After two weeks in Raja Ampat, we were sad to leave Kri Eco Resort. Reluctant but excited, six of us from our group boarded a speedboat to take us to Sorong where we would meet up with the Ilike for an 11-day voyage.

My husband likes to joke it is his job in life to buy me all things "i", iphones, ipads, etc. This was the best i-present ever, a trip on the I-like. What a gift it turned out to be. 

Our dives at Kri Eco Resort were mostly limited to the surrounding area as we were diving from day boats. A liveaboard covers a lot of ground, or ocean in this case. Often the boat will do the crossings overnight while guests are sleeping so divers wake up in a completely different area to explore. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Celery Root Pumpernickel Schnitzel with Creamy Blue Cheese Mustard Sauce

As I have previously proclaimed, I will schnitzel practically anything, as long as it isn't fish or an organ. Two food groups I avoid like the plagues. 

Vegetarian schnitzel is a much safer bet. Since it's winter here on the East Coast of the US of A, celery root can be found in most supermarkets so I thought I'd start with this root vegetable. 

I was patiently waiting in line for the cashier in a supermarket in Pennsylvania cradling two celery roots. When I placed them on the belt, several people behind me asked me what they were. I explained it was celery root but cultivated for its bulb, not it's stalk (thanks, Wikipedia.). They started asking me all kinds of questions, what was I going to do with it? How do you cook it? What does it look like when peeled? Does it taste like celery? 

I was sort of reveling on my newfound supermarket checkout popularity.

Answering all their questions, I was a regular celery root smartass. I told all my new best friends I was going to slice it and schnitzel it but the easiest way to prepare it is to peel, cut into pieces, boil and then follow a recipe for mashed potatoes for a much lower carb side dish.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rose Martinis For Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day party people! For this celebration of love, what's more romantic than a cocktail filled with roses? 

Tonight people in many places of the world are toasting to romance. I'll be making these at my house. 

This cocktail a vodka based martini. I added rose flavored syrup and a splash of rosewater. Yes. It tastes like roses. No, it does not taste like perfume, at least to me anyway. 

For an extra decorative touch, I embellished the martini glass rims with rose sugar.  The rose sugar can be made the day of but store it in a tightly sealed plastic container for future use. You can add it to decorate cookies or other baked goods.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Heart-Shaped Red Wine Currant Scones

These started out to be heart shaped dinner rolls. I switched gears when I realized it's been eons since I made and posted a scone recipe. Almost a year. Shame on me. 

I'll get to that heart-shaped red wine dinner rolls idea eventually. Probably next year. Right now, Valentine's Day inspired scones seemed like a good idea and I was right. 

The 1/4 cup of red wine in the dough does not tint them. So I glazed them with a red wine sugar glaze which provides a touch of pink.

The best part is these take under a half hour to make. A bit longer if you want to glaze them. They need to be completely cool before you do that. I stuck them outside for a few minutes. We have freezing temperatures here on the East Coast of the USA so they cooled rather quickly. 

The scones themselves are not too sweet but have great flavor. Tangy currants are a great addition. If you don't have dried currants on hand, substitute raisins or dried cranberries. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries - King Arthur Flour's February Bakealong

This month's King Arthur Flour Bakealong recipe, a Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries is, simply put a stunner. And the taste is 💕💕💕💕💕💕

I mean just look at it:

Generally, I approach making layer cakes with equal parts excitement and trepidation. I've created some precariously Leaning Tower of Pisa-like creations in my day. Over the years I've learned a fair amount tips and tricks to avoid problems I've had in the past. My cake confidence has improved a bit as a result. But this sucker has four layers. Four. Plus chocolate mousse filling and buttercream frosting. Yikes. 

I knew I couldn't usually do what I do when I am baking and cooking for my blog. Which is doing 700 other other things in between the steps of making three or four recipes at a time. Those things include engaging and posting on social media, sending texts, reorganizing my cabinets, pulling props to shoot, jotting down ideas for future recipes, and flipping through German cooking magazines for inspiration. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Heart Shaped Red Cabbage Pear Gouda Tart

Every year at this time the cooking and baking spaces on the interwebs are flooded with beautiful and colorful Valentine's Day inspired beautiful cookies, cakes, and candy. It's all about the desserts or treats. 

Valentine's recipes to make for Valentine's lunch or dinner usually take a backseat. Here's me showing savory Valentine's recipes some love. 

This beautiful heart shaped tart contains beautiful red cabbage, is heart shaped and perfect for any Valentine's Day meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This luscious tart also contains fresh pear, gouda cheese, and walnuts. The walnuts are optional. I added them for extra crunch and flavor. Usually, I toast nuts before adding them to a recipe to bring out their flavor. I left them raw and naked here, perfectly sexy for Valentine's recipe.