Supreme Lemon Apricot Cake

Sometimes it’s good to mix things up. As a self-confessed chocoholic I tend to bake things with chocolate and even more chocolate (Chocolate Overkill might be a good example), but this time around I prepared a fruit cake with a sweet apricot jam filling. The sharp and punchy lemon frosting offers a welcome counterpoint, and the bitterness of the dark chocolate rounds things off. Get creative with the decoration pattern, and enjoy the results in good company with tea or coffee.

Supreme Lemon Apricot Cake

Ingredients:

200 gr/ 7 oz unsalted butter

1 dl/ 0.4 cup sugar

1 egg

4 dl/ 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1/4 lemon

250 gr/0.5 lb apricot jam

250 gr/0.5 lb powdered sugar

juice of 1 lemon

50 gr/ 1 2/3 cups dark chocolate

Supreme Lemon Apricot Cake

Instructions: 

Cream the softened butter and the sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients and add the lemon zest. Combine the smooth butter mix with the dry ingredients and lay the dough evenly on a baking paper set over a baking tray. Bake in the oven, preheated to 175C/350F, for 15 minutes until the surface gets some color. Let it cool down.

Frosting: Cut the cooled down cake in two. Spread apricot jam on one half and set the other half on top. Mix the frosting by combining the powdered sugar with lemon juice. Mix well and pour directly over the cake.

Decoration: Set a heatproof dish or a bowl over a pot that is filled with water heated near to its boiling point. You can for example set a spaghetti sieve over a pot, and place a bowl with the chocolate inside the sieve. Remove the melted chocolate immediately from the heat. With the help pf a tablespoon, decorate the cake with waves or other patterns.

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Mushroom and Tomato Pie

Mushroom and Tomato Pie

The very first pies were made around 9500 BC, and the early pies were round and prepared with oats, wheat, rye, or barley. It is believed that pie pastry was originated by the Greeks. Pies remained as a core food staple of traveling and working peoples in Northern Europe, and a large number of regional varieties were prepared with locally farmed cereal crop and available meats and vegetables. This creamy and light vegetable pie is made with mushrooms, onion, leek, and cherry tomatoes, but you can stay true to the tradition and use other available ingredients. The cream cheese adds its own unique flavor to the mix.

Ingredients:

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 dl/ 0.4 cup rolled oats

75 gr/ 2 2/3 oz unsalted butter

1 tsp baking powder

0,8 dl/ 1/3 cup water

(olive) oil for frying

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, sliced

400 gr/ 14 oz mushrooms, sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

200 gr cream cheese, eg. herbs or grilled pepper

2 eggs

240 gr/ 8.5 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

Instructions: 

Mushroom and Tomato PieMix the all-purpose flour and the rolled oats in a bowl. Add the unsalted butter and continue mixing with your hands. Add the baking powder and water. Mix thoroughly until smooth. Grease a baking dish and spread the dough evenly. While you prepare the filling, let the pie dough cool in the fridge.

Slice all the vegetables. Saute the onion, leek and the mushrooms in a pan for a few minutes until the onion is golden and the mushrooms have released their juices. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and add the cream cheese and the eggs. Pour the filling on the pie dough and add the halved cherry tomato slices on top. Bake in the oven, preheated to 200C/390F, for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Overkill

Chocolate Overkill

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and all the food blogs are full of recipes for this special day – I am no different. This is my suggestion how you could impress your loved one and show that you truly care. Even the hardened cynics, who view this day as a mere commercial Hallmark holiday, will enjoy the seductive chocolate taste. These mouthwatering muffins can be served with coffee, herbal tea, or even red wine. If you want to go for the total overkill experience, enjoy the muffins with a cup of Italian hot chocolate.
We celebrate several holidays with chocolate: Easter goes together with chocolate eggs and bunnies, and Christmas comes knocking with hollow chocolate Santas. There is even The International Chocolate Day, which is observed on September 13th.

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 dl/0.4 cup sugar

1 dl/0.4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp cacao powder

1 tsp baking powder

25 gr/0.9 oz unsalted butter

50 gr/1 2/3 oz chocolate chips

Frosting:

50 gr/1 2/3 oz chocolate

Chocolate Overkill

Instructions:

Cream the eggs and sugar until smooth and melt the butter. Sift the dry ingredients. Combine the smooth egg and sugar mix, the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Add the melted butter. With the help of an eating spoon, pour the dough into muffin forms to about 3/4 full. Bake on 200C/390F for 10 minutes.

Decoration: Set a heatproof dish or a bowl over a pot that is filled with water heated near to its boiling point. You can for example set a spaghetti sieve over a pot, and place a bowl with the chocolate inside the sieve. Remove the melted chocolate immediately from the heat and pour over the cooled down muffins. Yield: 8 muffins.

Chocolate Overkill

Schiacciata (Tuscan-style focaccia)

Schiacciata

Italians take bread very seriously – for them it represents a cornerstone in their food culture. There are over 300 different types of Italian bread and vast regional differences. Schiacciata is a Tuscan version of what is known as focaccia in the North. It is a little thinner, and perhaps a little closer to a pizza.  One of the best ways to enjoy a schiacciata is to slice it in two and fill it with Mortadella, the classic cured pork sausage from Bologna. You can also drizzle some olive oil on top and enjoy it pure and simple – absolutely divine!

Ingredients:

500 gr/1.1 lb wheat flour, of which 250 gr/0.5 lb very fine “00” type, and 250 gr/0.5 lb regular all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

1 bag of dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1 dl/0.4 cup olive oil

3 dl/1 1/3 water

Instructions:

SchiacciataMix the two different types of flour in a bowl. Dissolve the dry yeast and the sugar in a bit of warm water and pour this mixture into the flour mix. Combine the warm, not hot, water together with the oil and salt, and add them to the flour mix. Start kneading with your hands and keep kneading until the mixture is smooth. If your dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour. Set the dough aside. Let it rise, covered, in a warm place for about 2 hours.

SchiacciataGrease a pan with olive oil and lay the dough out. Continue kneading with your hands, drizzle some oil, and work the oil into the dough. Turn it over, and repeat the same all over again. Once the dough is firm, cover it with a clean cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

With your fingertips, poke the surface of the schiacciata sheet. Bake it in a hot oven, preheated to 250 C/480 F, for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle some olive oil, and your schicciata is ready to be served.

Banana Cake

AreBanana Cake you perhaps looking for something to replace the age-old habit of having a breakfast muffin or a bagel? If yes, then this banana cake might be a sweet option for you. It is more than a loaf of bread, but less than a full-blown dessert cake, but it is delicious nonetheless. And the combination of banana and chocolate is a match made in heaven! The ready cake can be decorated with banana slices.

Banana Cake

Bananas were first domesticated by Southeast Asian farmers, and recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence suggests that banana cultivation goes back to somewhere between 5000 and 8000 BCE. To the Americas they were introduced by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits from West Africa in the 16th century. The word banana comes from the Wolof language – nowadays spoken by 10 million people in Western Africa – Banana Cakeand it was passed into the English via Spanish or Portuguese. Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and soluble fiber, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C and potassium. In women, consumption of bananas may be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. The greener, less ripe bananas contain higher levels of starch. Due to the higher sugar concentration, yellow bananas taste sweeter.

Ingredients:

2.5 dl/1 cup all-purpose flour

1 dl/0.5 cup whole grain flour

1 dl/0.5 cup rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1.5 dl/2/3 cup sugar

2 bananas

125 gr/4.5 oz softened unsalted butter

2 tbsp milk

Decoration:

1 banana, cut into slices

100 gr/3.5 oz chocolate

Instructions:

Sift all the dry ingredients. Combine the all-purpose flour, whole grain flour and the rolled oats with the baking powder. Mash the bananas with a fork. Add the sugar, mashed bananas, the melted butter and the milk. Grease a baking dish, preferably a loaf tin, thoroughly and pour the mixture in. Bake in the oven, preheated to 175C/350F, for ca. 30 minutes. 

Decoration: Set a heatproof dish or a bowl over a pot that is filled with water heated near to its boiling point. You can for example set a spaghetti sieve over a pot, and place a bowl with the chocolate inside the sieve. Remove the melted chocolate immediately from the heat and pour over the cooled down cake. Decorate with banana slices.

Frittata al forno con pomodori e basilico

Frittata al forno con pomodori e basilicoFrittata al forno con pomodori e basilico

Frittata – an egg-based dish similar to an omelette – was actually born out of necessity, when poor Italian farmers had leftovers from the previous day, and they had to find a novel way to make use of them. Frittatas are therefore very versatile and can be made with different types of vegetables, meats and cheeses. This particular frittata with tomatoes and basil looks almost like a pizza, and it is also made in the oven. Somebody’s trash can truly be another’s treasure!

Ingredients:

200 gr (cherry) tomatoes

olive oil

1 garlic clove, halved

6 large eggs

a bunch of basil leaves, shredded by hand

1 tsp salt

Parmigiano (optional)

Instructions:

Depending on the size of the tomatoes, slice them in two or four. Saute the garlic clove in olive oil very lightly. Remove the garlic pieces from the frying pan, add the sliced tomatoes and saute them, turning occasionally, over high heat for 3-4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs vigorously, add the basil leaves and season with salt. Add the sauteed tomato slices into the mix. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and bake in a preheated oven on 190°/ 374 F for 12-15 minutes until the top of the frittata is firm and golden. Serve with bread and salad.

Christmas Dinner: Mousse au Chocolat

Mousse au ChocolatMousse au Chocolat

This is so good it will silence your dinner guests! This perennial party favorite is definitely worth the effort you might have to put into it before developing the Midas touch, but the results will be loved by chocoholics and everybody else alike. Introduced in 1894, the mousse was originally served with savoury dishes. The sweet and airy version was created by the famous French artist Toulouse Lautrec. With chocolate, you just can’t go wrong…

Ingredients:

130 gr dark chocolate, cut into pieces

1 egg

a couple of drops of rum or rum aroma

250 gr cream

Instructions:

Set a heatproof pot or a bowl over a pot that is filled with water heated near to its boiling point. The bowl shouldn’t touch or be in contact with the water. The ideal dish is a heatproof glass bowl giving you the chance to pay attention to the near boiling water.

Cut the chocolate into pieces and melt it in the pot or bowl on top.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl that is set above a second pot of near boiling water, beat the egg and 1 tablespoon of water with a whisk. Once the egg has a foamy consistency, remove it from the heat. Take the bowl with the melted chocolate and mix it carefully with the beaten egg. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes shiny and creamy. Add the rum or rum aroma.

Whip the cream. Combine the whipped cream and the chocolate mixture very carefully. Only mix until you get an even cream and no longer see any white traces of the cream. Divide into three cups. Let the mousse cool in the fridge for about 3 hours.