Donnerstag, 27. Februar 2014

Spring

I just did some work around the garden and took a few pictures because it is way too early to see these guys at this time of the year...
Plum blossoms

 Fuki no tou - butterbur Pestasites japonicus

Japanese quince Chaenomeles

Crocus- running wild - Crocus tommasinianus. Each step you take in this part of the garden, will damage a few..

Common small snowdrops - lots this year 

Sonntag, 23. Februar 2014

Falafel - vegan chick pea fritters with couscous salad

Last weekend husband visited the netherlands. After his return I asked him what he had for lunch. He told me he bought a falafel bread in a small snack which tasted very nasty. He was really looking for it and was was very disappointed because he had no falafel since a long time. I promised I would soon make him some. This weekend I did it.


Falafel is a famous street snack from the lebanon. Easy to make, cheap and healthy.

I soaked 1 1/2 cup dried chick peas and 3/4 cup dried soy beans in lots of water over night. Removed the water and soaked the peas and beans until late afternoon (after soaking: all in all 1 liter peas and beans). I washed the peas and beans in water and removed the translucent skins. Afterwards I let them sit in a fine mashed strainer. Meanwhile I chopped an onion and 3 garlic gloves.
I pureed the beans and chick peas in smaller amounts with an blender together with the onion and garlic until coarsly smooth. I added 3 tablespoons chopped herbs (parsley, chives), a good amount salt, 1 tablespoon harissa, a good pinch ground cumin and mixed the paste.
 
For the couscous salad I soaked a cup instant couscous in a cup hot, slightly salted water, after 5 minutes the water was soaked up. I diced the vegetables (1 zucchini, 1 carrot, 2 red bellpeppers, 1 trimmed spring onion) into small cubes and stir-fried the vegetables in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 2 minutes.  Mixed the vegetables  and oil to the couscous, added lemon juice (1/2 lemon) and orange-cinnamon-balsamic vinegar, 1 handful chopped parsley, a sprinkle dried mint, a pinch cumin, sweet paprika.

For the tahini sauce I mixed 4 tablespoons sesame paste with the juice of 1/2 lemon and some vegetable broth (enough broth to make a thick sauce), added 1 teaspoon harissa, 1 mashed garlicglove and salt to taste and a few drops dark roasted sesame oil.

For falafel:
I formed walnut sized balls - there is no need to add some binding ingredients, they will keep together just fine. Some recipes call for baking powder or baking soda. I don't use any for falafel.

In a wok I heated up 500 ml oil. I deep-fried the falafel in batches (7 balls each batch) until golden brown, turning them once in a while. The falafel are very crunchy outside and firmly soft in the inside.

Samstag, 15. Februar 2014

Valentine's day moccacino chocolate cake

Today I baked a chocolate cake. I don't do this Valentine thing that often, it was just on a whim, but husband has a sweet tooth and therefor it is always good to give him a little surprise. It is a small 20 cm cake filled with love: Means triple-layered viennoise chocolate sponge, filled with peach jam and coffee-wiskey-chocolate-cream. Covered with chocolate, decorated with physalis fruits dipped into chocolate.
Don't asked for calory counts. This cake is not ment to be lean and healthy at all, but once in a while it is good to take a risk. The cake is not that incredible sweet as it may look. Maybe US-american / english bakers would add more sugar to the cake batter and cream but this is Germany.

cake decorated with physalis
Ingredients:
For sponge cake
  • 5 egg yolks (large eggs)
  • 5 egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks formed - beaten with a small pinch of salt added
  • 100 g butter, soft
  • 125 g flour
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 100 g dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1 pinch baking powder

For cream filling

200 ml cream (for whipping)
1 tablespoon roasted coffee beans
100 g dark chocolate (cuverture, chopped)
1 tablespoon corn starch (not heaped)
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1/4 cup wiskey
100 g butter, diced, soft

Additional:

  • 150 g peach jam - good quality  - the jam will add sweetness
  • 200 g dark cuverture, chopped
  • physalis fruits

How to:
Cake
Beat soft butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg yolks and melted chocolate (lukewarm), beat some more time until the cream is super glossy. Add the stiff egg whites and fold in. Sift flour and baking soda/powder over the top and gently fold in (don't stir). Fill batter into a small buttered and floured springform.
Bake 50 minutes at 175  degrees Celsius. Make a tooth pick probe before letting the cake rest (flipped over) in the springform until cooled down a little. Unmould and let rest until completely cooled down.
Cake can be made a day before.

Cream
Simmer whipping cream with coffee beans and vanilla sugar for 5 minutes on very low temperature. Sieve to get rid of the coffee beans. Add chopped chocolate to the cream and simmer on very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Stir starch and wiskey, add to the cream and heat up - still stirring, to the boiling point. Let cool down covered by cling film.
When cooled down, beat the cream with a balloon whisk until fluffy, add the soft butter in small amounts while the machine is still running. Let it whisk well until the butter is incorporated. Place bowl in the fridge to cool down. This will take some hours. Afterwards whisk the cream again until light and fluffy. This cream tastes very adult: bitter sweet moccacino with just enough alcohol...
Cream can be made a day before.



cake cut open - layers show cream on top of jam

Cut the cake into 3 equal layers. 
Cover two layers with peach jam. Cover those with the freshly whisked cream. Keep 1/3 of the cream for the crumb crust. Stack the layers, place the third layer on top. Cover the sides and the top with cream. Place cake into the fridge to give it some firmness. (I placed the cake outside, we had 5 degree Celsius)
After 1 hour cover the cake with melted cuverture (don't try to work too much on the surface or the cream will mix with the chocolate), but first dip some physalis into the chocolate and set them aside.