Focaccia

As I told you in a recent post the minute my partner had left for Ireland I started to think about foods for one. And one of the first things that popped into my mind was the lovely focaccia!

This is just bread you may think, and not really a meal. True, but I can make a sandwich with it or simply have a salad and the focaccia on the side. Or I could lean over to my bench neighbor in the canteen and soak up their lovely (hopefully) homemade sauce with my focaccia. The list is long. Very long. I decided to have the first bit with dinner (which is usually cold meats and cheese, lots of cheese. This is Switzerland after all) and the rest for lunch. Magically transformed into a sandwich.

If I like one thing then it is the texture of the focaccia. If you knead it long enough (but not too long) you’ll get these wonderful holes in the dough which make it so fluffy. I usually sprinkle the olive oil and salt on top of the bake (just before putting it into the oven) to do the rest.

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Focaccia

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Time: 1h40mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

250g flour
2/3 tsp salt
10g fresh yeast, crumbled
1,6 dl lukewarm water
1,5 tbsp olive oil

Olive oil to taste
Rosemary to taste
Salt to taste

1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl.
2. Add the water and the olive oil and work into a soft, smooth dough.
3. Leave at room temperature to rise for about an hour.
4. Spread the dough gently onto a baking tray and push down until its about 2cm thick.
5. Cut some crosses with a knife into the dough.
6. Sprinkle salt, rosemary and the olive oil on top if desired.

Bake for 25 minutes at 220° in the preheated oven.

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Apple Pie 2.0

Autumn has kicked off to a wonderful start over here. Although cold in the mornings (as it should be in a proper autumn) the days amaze with warm sunshine on our faces, while we sit outside and sip a big cup of tea. Lovely. This has to be my favourite season.

In this spirit, nothing says more “autumn” to me than apples. They even look like autumn with their bright and varied colours. So I am bringing another apple pie to you. I know what you’re thinking. She’s done that before and not even that long ago… Boooored. Well, true. But this one is version 2.0. Smaller (since I am cooking for one now), better and much tastier. So I just couldn’t keep that version from you, could I?

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Apple Pie 2.0

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients for the dough:

200g flour
½ tsp salt
100g butter, cold cut into pieces
½ dl water

1. Mix the flour and salt.
2. Add the butter and work the ingredients into a crumbly paste.
3. Add the water into the middle and form a dough (don’t knead).
4. Freeze half of it for another time and use the other half for this pie.
5. Roll out and line the tin with it.
6. Leave for 30 minutes in a cool place, then pierce with a fork.

Ingredients for the filling (for a tin of Ø 19cm):
3 medium sized apples
2 tbsp grounded hazelnut
2 eggs
1/2 – 1dl milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp apricot jam

1. Peel and seed the apples, then cut into slices.
2. Scatter the hazelnuts on the dough.
3. Distribute the apples on the hazelnut lined dough.
4. Then mix the eggs, milk, vanilla sugar and cinnamon and beat well.
5. Pour the liquid over the pie.

Bake for approx. 40 minutes at 200°. Once baked brush the apricot jam onto the pie for a nice shine and taste.

Did you like it? I hope so, this pie was gone within minutes of taking it out of the oven.
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I have also been travelling a little bit recently. Since my partner in crime has moved back to Dublin for a year, the need to visit is very big. But that means I got to spend some lovely days walking down the lovely pier in Dun Laoghaire, soak up the autumn sun in a wonderful cafe in Dalky (do visit the Tramyard if you’re in that area) and to run around town for the Culture Night. Oh and let’s not forget the most amazing muffin I had in years (see my twitter account). When I was leaving the city I tried a chocolate and orange muffin at the Harvest Market at Dublin Airport (Terminal 2). Oh… My… God! Yum! I will have to work on copying that recipe in the near future and hope to bring it to you soon. Although I highly doubt I can dublicate the exact same delicousness I had that day. Be sure to visit that cafe as well when you’re leaving Dublin. A must!

So this post turned a bit into a travel advice post. But I find it important to share lovely places as well as lovely food. We’re not all great cooks (like me, hello!) but certainly all food lovers and sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and enjoy a nice meal and wonderful location.

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So I will bring this over to Angie’s place to day. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Fiesta Friday time again. Oh yes. A big thanks to Angie and the two co-hosts Prudy and Naina for throwing a wonderful party, week after week.

Spaetzle with Mushrooms

It’s that time of the year, when the leaves start to colour and slowly find their way down to the earth to nurture their trees back into more years of gorgeousness. When we still enjoy a sunny day outside but with a light jacket on and never sweating. When the first sweet chestnut sellers start to get ready to enrich our busy lives with their produce. When we can smell the year coming slowly to an end and when we need to start putting on some more layers of fat in order to be cozy and warm in winter. Yes, I am quite serious about that. What is autumn without indulging in hearty and seasonal food?

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Last week I had a girls night out and since we usually don’t behave like over 30 year olds, we thought it was high time we tried it. So we went out for a fancy dinner with wine and all that very grown up stuff. Because, in case you don’t know this, the season for game has started. Have you ever tried it? It’s quite popular here in Switzerland and there is a good reason why. It’s delicious. From all the choice venison is my absolute favourite. Clearly the meat of the female is much softer and the best cut is definately the saddle of venison. Something you only get when the hunting season has started (about 10 days ago today) and you usually have to preorder. Clearly it’s not cheap, but sooo good. I uploaded a picture of one of our plates on Twitter of one of our plates (you get served twice because there is so much meat) last weekend.

For some people the side dishes are even more important. Homemade spaetzle, sweet red cabbage, sweet chestnuts (usually caramelized), a pear or apple with red berry sauce and sometimes, just sometimes, brussel sprouts. This to me is autumn on a plate. I usually look forward to be eating this and saving for eat for months in advance.

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So anyway, because I am only a great eater and a rubbish cook, I won’t share a recipe of how to prepare a saddle of venision (I wouldn’t have a clue anyway). But insead I used some spaetzle and mushrooms to create another autumny meal. It’s a great leftover dish that is conveniently and quickly put together after a long day in work, tastes great and is filling to the brim.

Spaetzle with Mushrooms

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
125g Spaetzle
8 mushrooms, washed and cut
1/2 pepper, washed and cut
1 small onion, diced
3 cherry tomatoes, halfed
1/2dl red wine
1/2dl vegetable stock
A few slices of soft cheese (like brie or camembert)

1. Cook the spaetzli in a some boiling water for 2 minutes, then set aside.
2. Fry the mushrooms, onion and pepper.
3. Add the wine and let let it simmer until the wine is absorbed.
4. Add the tomatoes and the stock and let it simmer a little while longer.
5. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, add the spaetzle and the soft cheese and stir a little bit.

Ready to serve!

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Only because I was to lazy to make some homemade spaetzle, that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a go yourselves. It’s just that the ready made version is really tasty here (for a change) and sometimes I just need to have some food in my belly quick. But BBC has a very simple recipe on their homepage. Have a look.

 

European Bake – A Student Cake!

It’s European Week at the Great British Bake Off and what did I bake 2 hours before I even knew about that? A Student Cake? Do you even know what that is? Well it’s a Swiss bake as far as I know (or could be German), usually made with leftovers (hence the name student) and cut into thick slices. It is one of my favourite cakes and I always buy it as an after-dinner snack. So I just had to try and make it myself for a change.

It’s actually not the easiest cake to make and I just realise how simple my cakes usually are. The Great British Bake Off really is an inspiration to me to go beyond my comfort zone and try something new. But Mary and Paul would probably tell me that it looks a mess. Which to be fair, is true. But it’s a first time bake so I let it slide (I am usually quite forgiving to myself).

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But let’s talk about the Bake Off. I have never been that excited and worried at the same time. Two of my favourites up for elimination and phew, none of them had to go. Although at this stage and in this series I just like everybody. They all bring such character to the show. I just love it. Oo and the Swedish Princess Torte. Here in continental Europe this is a very popular dessert. I couldn’t believe the British bakers didn’t know it. What a delicious dessert. Do try it if you get a chance.

Student Cake

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 2h20mins
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients short crust:
100g flour
40g sugar
1 pinch of salt
60g butter, cold and in cubes
1 tbsp. water

Ingredients for the sponge mixture:
4 egg yolks
50g sugar
1 tbsp. hot water

4 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
250g shortbread or butter biscuit, finely grounded
100g grounded hazelnut
4 tbsp. chocolate powder
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. apricot jam

125g melted chocolate frosting

Short crust pastry:
1. Combine flour, sugar and salt for the short crust pastry in a bowl.
2. Add the butter and crumble the mixture into an even mixture.
3. Add the water and combine into a soft dough without kneading.
4. Place the dough into the with baking paper lined baking tin and push it down onto the bottom.
5. Place in a cool area for 30 minutes.
6. Stab the dough densely with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes in the lower part of the oven at 200°. Cool a bit and brush with the apricot jam.

Sponge mixture:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and water in a bowl with an electric mixture for about 5 minutes until the mixture is frothy.
2. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff.
3. Mix the biscuits, hazelnuts, chocolate and cocoa powder and the cinnamon in another bowl.
4. Alternate mixing the egg whites and the biscuit mixture with the egg yolks and carefully mix together.
5. Distribute onto the baked short crusty pastry.

Bake for about 35 minutes and let it cool a little bit. Then pour the melted chocolate frosting on top and let it cool. Then remove from the tin.

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I was a bit horrified when I saw my pictures. It was quite late at night, as I needed to let the chocolate set and then the next day, the cake was gone. I should take the quick dissappearance as a compliment really, but I am a bit dissapointet when I look at the visual result (in the cake and the pictures). But it tasted nice. I think I would even suggest to put another layer of jam on top of the cake, underneath the chocolate glazing as the middle bit is a little bit dry.

So I am bringing this tasty but messy cake to Angies Fiesta Friday. As usual I am a day late (apologies) but nevertheless that means you’ll have digested yesterdays food and some room for my little leftover cake! :-) I hope you like it.

Almond Cantucci

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I have been very slow and lazy recently. My partner has packed his bags and left for his homeland for a year. Some more education is calling. So I’ve been feeling a bit lonely and down but even more I lost my appetite in the kitchen. Whenever I want to start baking or cooking I just go ‘why bother, cooking for one is lame’. Yup, so I’ve been kicking and turning in my little cave but slowly, ever so slowly I am crawling back out.

So here I am presenting you some Cantucci I made a few weeks back. They are one of my favourite cookies ever. Slightly behind my all time favourites, the Florentines. But ever so slightly.

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Almond Cantucci

  • Servings: 25 cookies
  • Time: 1h 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
50g almonds
2 eggs
100g sugar
1/2 orange (only the peeled skin)
1 pinch of salt
150g flour
25g grounded almonds
1/8 tsp baking powder

1. Distribute the almonds on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 200° until golden brown.
2. Let the almonds cool and cut into pieces.
3. Mix the eggs, sugar, the orange peel and the salt and whisk for about 3 minutes until the mixture is brighter.
4. Mix the flour and grounded almonds and combine with the other ingredients including the baked almonds.
5. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll on plenty of flour to two 3cm thick rolls.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200°.
7. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven heat to 180°.
8. Cut into pieces of about 1cm and place in the oven again for about 8 minutes.
9. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar.
10. Dry for another 15 minutes.

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This was my first attempt in making them. And I was so surprised how well they turned out. Cantucci have a way of being quite hard to bite, and these certainly were as well. But then not quite as hard as I am used to, and I really enjoyed that. I mean who wants to lose some teeth over cookies? Although these might just be worth it.

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So I hope you enjoy them and I do promise to be back more often now. Promise! :-)