Sunday, December 15, 2013

Non-alcoholic “Gluehwein’ (mulled wine)

After a long day of snow shoveling and first winter storm I felt like gluehwein tonight, but I had no wine at home.  How could I capture the flavors of gluehwein without wine and rum? Tazo Passion tea to the rescue! Tazo Passion tea is a full-flavor, bright red hibiscus tea, and the iced tea version is particularly flavorful. – I brewed a pot of tea with a mulling spice, fresh orange slices, rum extract and sugar to sweeten it up. Perfect! (You can easily spike it by using real rum.)


How to make non-alcoholic gluehwein?
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 1 bag Taxo passion ice teabag (or 3-4 bag regular passion tea)
  • 1.5 oranges, sliced (discard the ends)
  • 1 TB mulling spices (e.g. Trader joes, or make your own with cinnamon, cloves and juniper berries)
  • 2-4 TB sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rum extract
In a pot, heat bring the water to a boil, and add all the ingredients (beside the rum extract). Boil for about 3 minutes, and then turn down the heat. Keep at a simmer to keep the ‘gluehwein’ hot for serving. Now, add the rum extract. Serve with a slice of the orange.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter berry cake

The winter holidays are the time for fruit cakes, often dried fruit cakes. But with the invention of ice boxes, there is an option of winter frozen  fruit cake. This is one came out really well, especially complimented by its sides of a tangy cinnamon cream cheese frosting with a hot berry compote.


Winter Berry Cake
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
  • 2 sticks  (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
Powder Sugar Frosting (on cake):
  • 1 cup powdered or confections’ sugar
  • 2 TB of milk
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting (as side): (ca 4-6 servings)
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 2 TB fresh pressed orange juice
Hot berry compote  (as side): (ca 4-6 servings)
  • 1 cup frozen fruit
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 TB red currant jelly (or orange marmelade)
  • 1 TB powdered sugar
  • 1 TB brandy or rum (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray. Set aside.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk or sift 2 1/2 cups flour (leaving 2 tablespoons back), baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then, with the mixer on a lower speed, add your eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla, too. Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until just combined, followed by half the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and remaining flour mixture.   Prepare the berries: if the berries are too big, shortly chop them in a food processor or cut them with a knife into smaller pieces. Also, chop the fresh cranberries in the food processor, rather finely. In the bowl where you’d mixed your dry ingredients, toss the fresh and frozen chopped berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. With a silicon spatula, gently fold the berries into the cake batter (I actually used the stand mixer, and the cake turned rather pink, which I did not mind).  Plop the cake batter in large spoonfuls into the pan, because it’s so thick — in the prepared baking pan and spread the top smooth. Bake for  60 to 65 minutes. The cake is done as soon as a tester comes out clean of batter.  Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool the rest of the way. Cool completely.  cake_collage_1  fruit_cake_9 Cake frosting: whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, until smooth. Drip over the cooled cake.  Sides to cake: With a hand mixer, whisk together the cream cheese and its frosting ingredients (powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice and powder sugar) until fluffy.  In a pan, heat the berries until hot, but not boiling. Add the sugar, jelly and rum (optional), mix to combine and keep warm until serving.  fruit_cake_7 fruit_cake_10

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keeping heart and soul warm

The winter wind is blistering cold. I wrap my thickest down coat tightly around me and still shiver. This is the time to up the ante in indoor holiday decor to at least kept the heart and soul warm. Here are a few inspirations for me this season.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Harvest muffins with kuri squash, Swiss chard and feta (GF)

It was time to make muffins again, savory muffins, to take to work when the hunger strikes. I tried a new combination of an old favorite, the spinach butternut squash and feta muffins. This time I used winter chard, roasted kuri squash, fire-roasted red bell pepper, kalamata olives and feta. The theme was ‘Greek muffin’. The baby spinach is best option for this muffin, it holds its texture and adds a nice subtle flavor, but if you are out of baby spinach, kale and and Swiss chard will do.


Swiss chard, squash and feta muffins (gluten-free)
  • cooking spray (or butter for the muffin pan) (makes ca 16-18 muffins)
  • 1 TM of olive oil
  • 255g cubed kuri/sunshine winter squash, cut 1/2-inch cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 large Swiss chard  leaves, chopped (stems discarded)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds kernels, roasted, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 roasted sweet red bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • 100g  cubed sheep milk feta (full-fat)
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 TB chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 TB dried)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 180 ml non-flavored almond milk
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free all purpose baking mix (or regular all-purpose flour)
  • 0.5 cup almond meal
  • 4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Grease 2 12-hole muffin pans and set aside.
  2. Arrange raw cubed kuri squash in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake for 15 - 25 minutes so that the squash is mostly cooked, but not mushy or dry. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs and almond milk together, and add the mustard. (Tip: instead of salt, I often add 1 TB of feta brine).
  4. In another bowl, mix the flour and baking powder, add in some salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper,
  5. Add flour to the egg liquid and mix until smooth.
  6. Gently fold in the Swiss chard, sunflower seeds, olives, red bell pepper, and  feta. At last, fold in the baked squash.
  1. Spoon the mixture into the muffin prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full.
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Individual Italian plum crumbles

The treasure’s at yesterday’s farmers market included a steal/deal on more Italian plums. I was thinking of making another plum cake but decided to stay light and just make a crumble. I found this wonderful recipe with the key ingredient of spiced candied ginger and cinnamon. Instead of a single large baking dish I used individual ramekins and just some rolled oats with sugar as topping. The soul is in the plums anyhow, right? Once it is all bubbly and hot it is ready to serve!

Plum Crumble
Serves 2-3 (probably just 1)

10 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger (chop by hand!)
3-4 tablespoons rolled oats + 1/2 TB brown sugar + pinch of cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, optional

1. Place plums in medium bowl, add brown sugar, candied sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and the flour. Mix well . Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center.

2. Distribute plums  in 3 ungreased, oven-safe small ramekins.

3. In a small bowl, combine rolled oats, cinnamon and the sugar. Mix well. Sprinkle over plums.

4. Bake for ca 35min. Cool (slightly) and serve.




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Swiss Plum Tart

Today I finally managed to bake an authentic Swiss “Waehe”, a plum tart with a very thin dough crust, fresh ground hazelnuts (filberts), Italian plums, and a custard made with eggs, cream, milk and some vanilla and sugar. – Delight!
Swiss Plum Tart (“Zwetschgenwaehe”)
Regular 9 inch size tart pan, or a smaller and 2 mini ones.
  • homemade or store-bought short pastry or puff pastry (I used a frozen store-bought pie dough)
  • 1 pound Italian plums (or apricots, apples, or cherries), pitted and cut in quarters
  • 3-4 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml whipping cream
  • 2 teapsoons of flour
  • 1-3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425F degrees (220C).
Layer a pie tin with thin short pastry or puff pastry, sprinkle the base slightly with ground hazelnuts or almonds. baked in the oven for 7 min to give the crust some stability.
Mix the prepared plums with 1 TB sugar. Once the pie crust is prebaked, remove it from the oven, and arrange the plum slices in a round pattern.  Add 1 TB sugar sprinkled over the fruit and bake in the oven on the lower part for 10 minutes
Meanwhile mix eggs with the milk, whipping cream and flour, add 2 more tablespoons of sugar. Season with vanilla extract. Pour the custard mix over the fruitcake and bake for another 20 minutes. Let it set for 10 min before serving taking it out of the pan. Serve with some whipped cream.
Italian plums, pie dough with hazelnuts, and sugared plums.
Arranged plums in pre-baked crust. Custard added to prebaked fruit.
Setting for 10 minutes.
Bon appetite!

Monday, June 17, 2013

To Paris or not to Paris

It is a busy week again, the weather cannot quite decide if it is sunny or whips up a sudden thunderstorm and I have to work myself through piles of papers. Kim K had her baby and due to a merger with a privacy-oriented other half there are no photos yet. Or is the 1 Mio deal for the first exclusive not signed off yet?  -- This is a tale of life, of opposites attract. Kim K, a genius on making a hefty income by being photographed, magically attracted to the opposite, all artistic and mumm on the rest. Now, what?  Maybe, they'll wrestle out a middle?

And while I am distracting myself from work by checking out the world and the life they have, I am utterly envious of this. Not the honeymoon per se, but this sandwich in a Parisian Bistro.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grandma’s marbled Bundt cake

It is rainy and unseasonably cold for May. But who am I to complain when big sections of Oklahoma are laying in shambles. Nevertheless, the day called for something cozy and warming, a fluffy, fresh baked Bundt cake, marbled, with the chocolate. This recipes was voted ‘world best Bundt cake” a few years back in Switzerland, and it makes for an absolute soft and fluffy texture. The trick? No cacao powder but melted chocolate, and… light cream.


Grandma’s Bundt Cake

recipe for a small loaf form or a small bundt cake

  • 150 gr sugar with a packet of Dr Oetker Vanille Sugar
  • 150 gr soft unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 90 g light cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 ts backing powder
  • 100 g dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
  • 20 g mini chocolate chips (separate)
  1. Spray Bundt cake form or loaf form with baking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. With a hand or stand mixer mix the butter and sugar and the vanille sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add one egg at a time, and mix well.
  4. Add light cream and salt, and mix well.
  5. Mix flour and backing powder, and carefully add to the dough. Now, separate the dough into 2 bowls.
  6. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish. To avoid burning the chocolate, microwave in 30 second intervals and mix the chocolate in-between. Should be melted in 2-3min. Mix the melted chocolate and the chocolate chips to one half of the dough.
  7. Place some of the white dough first in the cake form. Add the chocolate dough, and finish with a layer of white dough. Draw a fork through the dough layer to get the marbeling.
  8. Bake cake for 50 minutes at 350F. 
  9. Remove cake from oven, rest for 10min and then remove and cool.
  10. Add powdered sugar before serving.




Layering the chocolate and white dough.



Fluffy, light perfection!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saffron Cake

It has been months that I had plain time (and the energy) to bake a cake. Finally, work let up a little bit, and I used it for spring cleaning and baking a bright, sweet  cake  with tangy cranberries– saffron cake. A bag of frozen fresh cranberries was still in my freezer, and a pound cake with almond extract, saffron and cranberries promised the spring to come but not here yet. At least, something is bright and warm and sweet…..

Saffron Cake with Cranberries
  • 6 ounces butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar, to taste
  • 4 cups allpurpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a a 9-inch bundt cake pan with a cake spray.
Melt butter in the microwave for 20 second and pour in the bowl of a standmixer.
Crush saffron threads in a mortar and pestle; muddle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Steep 20 minutes in warm water.
Beat eggs and sugar, then add saffron mixture. In a separate bowl, mix flour with baking powder. Fold into the batter with a metal spoon. Bake near bottom of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
Let cake cool, then turn out on wire tray to sift powdered sugar over the top.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Coconut Chocolate Cake, Round 2

I found another coconut cake recipe, very similar to the flourless coconut cake but this time with flour and also with butter. With the flour the cake rises and is less dense, with still the great taste of coconut. This one is pretty fabulous for the traditionalists!


Coconut Chocolate Cake
(for a 9 inch spring form)
  • 100 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Lindt couverture, a bulk product for pastry chefs, often found at Lindt Stores)
  • 1 TB butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish in the microwave on high for 20 seconds.In a kitchen standmixer with a paddle attachment, beat the better and the sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, and then 1 egg at a time. Mix in the salt and the heavy cream until well-combined. Slowly add in the flour and the coconut. The dough texture at this point is firm (see photo below).


Spray a springform pan with baking spray (mix of butter and flour), pour in the batter, and bake at 350F for 55min. Let cool and remove from pan.


Pour the chocolate chips (or couverture) in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30sec on high. Stir, and microwave for 30sec, and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted (if you don’t do it in step, and stir, the chocolate will burn).
Pour the melted chocolate on the cake, distributed with the backside of a spoon evenly. Let cool until firm. Serve!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coconut chocolate tart

Sunday I had some time to bake again – a dense coconut cake with a thick dark chocolate glaze. The texture of the cake reminds me of a bounty bar, just less sweet. This tart is rich and decadent. And very easy to make. There is not even butter or flour in this cake. Note the time that the coconut flakes and the egg and sugar base mixture need to rest so that the coconut flakes can absorb the mixture. I did not wait long enough, just 10min instead of 30min. The cake is supposed to rise more.

Coconut Chocolate Cake
(for a 9-10 inch spring form)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 85ml unsweetened condensed milk (almost a small can)
  • 100ml heavy cream
  • 200g coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Lindt couverture, a bulk product for pastry chefs, often found at Lindt Stores)
  • 1 TB butter
In a kitchen standmixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract on medium-high for at least 5min (best 5-10min) until the mixture is really thick and creamy, and changes its color to a buttery white (from a initially more yellowish color). Mix in the salt, cream and the condensed milk until well-combined, and now gentle mix in the coconut flakes. Let the mixture rest for 30 min (don’t omit this step!). The cake dough changes from a more liquid texture (photo below) to a soaked up texture.


Preheat the oven to 360F and spray the springform with a baking spray.

Once the dough is ready, pour it into the springform and bake for 60min. If the top gets too dark, cover with alu foil for the remaining baking time. Remove from oven and cool.


Pour the chocolate chips (or couverture) in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30sec on high. Stir, and microwave for 30sec, and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted (if you don’t do it in step, and stir, the chocolate will burn).

Pour the melted chocolate on the cake, distributed with the backside of a spoon evenly. Let cool until firm. Serve!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Chocolate Amaretto Cake

This is one of the first cakes that I ever made when I taught myself cooking (by my wonderful teacher, Giada Di Laurentiis on food network TV), and it is still one of my go-to cakes when I need a cake for a potluck (or any other cake) fast. Giada originally discovered it in a cafe in Venice, and ‘reengineered’ it. I love the simplicity of crushed amaretti cookies, melted chocolate, grated orange peel and then just a bit of sugar, butter and eggs, and that’s it. I typically make the entire dough right in the food processor and it does not take more than 10 min to prepare. It has the texture of a dense brownie but with an exotic, surprising taste of amaretto. It is simply elegant – like made in Italy by an Italian…. Best eaten with some strong Italian coffee.


Chocolate Amaretto Cake:
  • Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray  
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips  
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 2 oz baby amaretti cookies
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated orange peel
  • 4 large eggs
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9-inch springform pan the nonstick spray. Refrigerate. Microwave the chocolate in 20 second intervals, and stir, repeat until melted (might take up to 5-6 repeats but if you don’t stir it it will burn).
Add the almonds to a large food processor. Pulse until the almonds are a fine meal, and add the amaretto cookies, pulse until they are finely ground, too. Place the butter stick from the fridge with the wrapping paper into the microwave and microwave for 20 sec. This will make it almost liquid and very good to add to the almond/cookie mix. Also add the sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl. Blend again.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.
Transfer the cake to a platter. Sift the cocoa powder over and serve.
amaretto_1 amaretto_2
amaretto_4 amaretto_5