Saturday, March 24, 2018

Inspiration for the Bookish Foodie: A Literary Tea Party

The tea party scene in Alice in Wonderland is one of the most inspiring literary descriptions of a food-related habit. The cuppa shared around the table is part of a cultural taste habit which where aromatic infusions are a pretext for conversations and sharing. 
The literary world has plenty of episodes where the food is elegantly inserted into the stories, more or less delivered with a recipe at the end. Actually, in my experience, this 'habit' of sharing recipes in a literary work is rather a very new occurrence, due probably to the highest interest that food is getting nowadays, representative for a part of the world where elaborated food doesn't represent a luxury any more.
A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh is a delight for both of the reader and the foodie. Picking up inspiration from classical literary works as diverse as Romeo and Juliet, White Fang, or the Wizard of Oz, it set up the table for a lengthy discussion about life, works, words and, obviously, taste buds. You can easily organise your themed tea party ideas regardless of the topic of your book club, just to follow the literary inspiration in the picture. There are many recipes to talk about and taste too, many introduced by cute - not too highly elaborated and edited - pictures, but for my hungry eyes, the following caught my eyes: the apple tart inspired by King Arthur's story, the cyclone cookies from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or the Lover's Tea that Romeo&Juliet inspired. The recipes are easy to replicate, with smart directions, doable by beginner and middle-level baker/cook too.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Easy Rosewater-Infused Cake

When one Sunday afternoon you feel like something sweet is missing from your life, you just have to look around your pantry and pick up those ingredients that may match well into a cake. As Sundays in Berlin also means that 99.9% of the shops are closed, I am left with no option but to be creative enough to experience with my available repertoire. Which is not that bad, as I was able to create a beautiful cake, within a short amount of time, and based on some very simple yet tasty ingredients.


Ingredients
450 gr. white flour
8 gr. baking powder
16 gr. vanilla sugar
150 gr. brown sugar
1/4 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup Rosewater
3 medium-sized eggs well beaten
2 tablespoon honey

Directions
Pre-heat the oven at 250C at least 15 minutes before starting the baking. Add the ingredients, one by one and mix well. Pour the content into an Aluminium pan - for me it was the easiest way as I didn't want to overload myself with too much cleaning work - and let it bake until done.



Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour or until ready
Serves: 16 medium-size pieces

You can have this easy light piece of cake with a cup of coffee, cappuccino or tea, or even a lemonade, in your garden or while reading a relaxing book in the afternoon. A good companion for the lunch boxes of your kids too, or to take them away while on a trip outdoors or a picnic. 

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Banana, Baby Spinach, Strawberries, Ginger and Matcha Smoothie

I love energy smoothies, where not only the healthy ingredients are melted together, but also covering a variety of delicious flavours. Without too much sugar as I love to taste the original fruit sweetness, colourful and cold, this is how my smoothies should be.
This recipe was made by using some fresh fruits, plus a spoon of matcha from a past collaboration with Dream Matcha and a lot of baby spinach. I experienced before with adding spinach to the smoothies, but I am far from being at the end of the possibilities. Served cold it is a perfect companion for ending the day with some energy boost. Enough for preparing you for just another busy day.

Ingredients
1 medium-sized banana, sliced
7 big strawberries, halved
50 gr. baby Bio spinach
1/4 teaspoon Matcha
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
600 ml. cold water

Directions
Add the ingredients into the blender, one by one, and mix them for 1 minutes at medium speed. Pour in glasses and let to rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Another Chocolate Cake Recipe - Always for the Win

Another chocolate cake recipe in less than one month? It seems so...Blame the cold weather of the last week and the early mornings, when I am looking for a companion for my strong Turkish coffee. As I also started to clean up the kitchen of the things that are usually forbidden during the Pesach holidays - coming up in less than one month in a chametz-clean kitchen near you, I decided to finally use some of the things that were in my pantry for a longer time. Add a pinch of creativity and this delicious chocolate cake was born, that even my big one, usually very critical towards everything I do - teenage years may last longer than expected - noticed that it is really something special.


Ingredients
2/3 cup grated almonds
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 1/3 cup white flour
7 gr. baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup brown cocoa dissolved in warm water
2 tablespoons honey
50 pistachio grated, for the decoration


Directions
Heat the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. Smear vegetable margarine on the oan before adding the ingredients.
In a bowl, add the ingredients, one by one, and mix well after each of it and bring it to bake in the oven.


Ten minutes into the oven, add the pistachio. Another idea would be to add the pistachio directly to the ingredients, which make it into a nice crunchy interior. 


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

To be served with a warm cuppa or a hot chocolate or coffee. Even after three days, the interior was moist, because I kept the cake outside, at the room temperature, instead of storing it in the fridge. It serves around 25 moderate sizes of delicious pieces of cake. 

Bon Appétit!




Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tracking down February

At the end of January, I was a bit disappointed that my foodie side of the blog was under-represented, but February, although the shortest month of the year, was full in tasty experiences. Practically, if you browse my blog entries for this month, you will mostly find a lot of recipe tasting and first and foremost, my first entries as part of the Brand Ambassador for Spice Kitchen UK, a lovely Birmingham-based company I previously worked with, many years back. 
Another foodie achievement was to explore the flavors of turmeric, in the already classical golden milk
But the blog also shared my thoughts on (local) dating or advice about how to practice yoga without leaving your office, strongly recommended to all busy business women out there, in search of some short muscle exercices. 
February was for me also a month when I had to keep thinking about how to further develop my business, especially from the technical-bureaucratic level, but also when some unexpected personal events made me think more about life, friendship and family ties. As a dear friend was took to the hospital with a mild stroke, I've spend a huge amount of time visiting, while trying to bring her a bit of sunshine and encouragement when things were starting to look way too gloomy. Fortunately, she is out of any danger right now, with a slow recovery process in the front of her, but all the events that unfolded in the last two weeks were eyes opening and made me reconsider a lot of thoughts and attitudes regarding friendship ties and how we can grow up our family ties and go beyond old misunderstandings and conflicts to nurture warm and heart-to-heart talk.
As the weather went completely crazy out here, in Berlin, Germany, with two-digit below 0 temperatures, I had to be an unpleasant amount of time indoors, cooking, but therefore without a way to explore other possibilities in terms of pitching and topics for my articles. Hopefully, this time is over now and I can go out more often and create more interesting content. For a long time, both me and the baby we fought with the strange flu that seemed to never end, so my original energy aimed at blogging, parenting and working was significantly diminished. But I did a lot of sleep which helped me at a great extent to keep somehow the battery fully charged. 
For the last three weeks, I tried also an experiment of limiting seriously my spendings, as trying to buy only what I really need, while combining wisely the available ingredients I already had at home. I am usually a minimalist, and I hate clutter but this time I tried to think at least twice before purchasing a specific food item, and focus my mind on what I can really do with that specific product. If not, what about not buying it at all? Thank G-d, I do not suffer of any shopping addiction, so it was easy to follow a simple line, but for me also meant that I can rather keep and save money for really valuable investments, such as a great bed for my son. Post detailing my experience coming up soon on the blog.
Last but not least, February meant to me a lot of freelance work, as the frozen and slow paced January was finally behind and people started to get interested in moving on with their business plans. My works involved a diverse range of activities, from proof-reading, the usual translations from and into 3+ languages, a bit of guest blogging, but also some business consulting. Overall, not bad at all, and I hope that this intense pace will continue. 
What March has in sight as for now? As Pesach holidays are just around the corner...there is a countdown I prefer to ignore sometimes, as there is a lot of stress associated with this part of the year usually, I will probably try to set up some recipes and stress-free suggestions. Unfortunatelly, I wanted so much to give some tips for both Purim and Tu B'Shvat, but my everyday life was overwhelming enough to challenge my plans. I would also have some fashion and style posts, probably a feature of a jewelery maker I've had the chance to meet in Berlin a couple of months ago, plus some interior design inspiration too. My posts about beauty tips will also continue, with some reviews of products I've tested and loved. I do have some parenting tips I am ready to share soon and maby some parenting books reviews too!
There's all for now! Let's hope in a meaningful and filled with good news month of March. Cheers to that!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Honey Mango Banana Smoothie

I have a very limited experience with mango. Except eating it sliced or in compote, I have no idea how to have it. I've heard about mango sticky rice, or cakes with a touch of mango, but I haven't tried any of them (yet). But this year is everything about new tasty experiences and going beyond limits so a couple of days ago I decided to stop dreaming about how to prepare a mango and proceeded to its very own preparation instead. 
For the beginning of my mango journey, I decided to start with the easiest taste reconaissance step: a smoothie. 
I used a very simple combination, which follow a precise, predictable flavor line: various degrees of sweetness melting into the cold water.

Ingredients
2 ripe bananas, cut into chunks
1 medium size ripe mango, sliced
1 tablespoon honey - the same amount of brown sugar can be also used
500 ml. cold water. If you want it less thicker, you can use 750 ml. cold water instead

Directions
Mix the ingredients in the blender at moderate speed for 1 minute. Pour the result into glasses and keep it in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Add a Bit of Spice to Your Potato Kugel

A staple food for the Shabbat table, the potato kugel can be also a good comfort food during the week, especially during the winter when you need a piece of hot fat rich everything. I am usually a big fan of a very classical recipe, that require a minimum of ingredients, usually the classical combination. What may differ from a recipe to another are the quantities and the quality of the ingredients (especially when it comes to the kind of potato used). I personally have nothing against a bit of more oil once in a while, as long as it is part of a tasty meal. For the first time on my blog, I am sharing my potato kugel recipe, which this time has a secret ingredient, replacing the usual black pepper I am regularly using.

Ingredients
12 medium-size potatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 tablespoon Urfa Biber black pepper that I previously learned how to use a couple of days ago, part of my assignment as Brand Ambassador for Spice Kitchen UK
3 medium-size eggs, beaten
125 ml. sunflower oil

Directions
Grate the potatoes. You can also use a blender, but I personally didn't mind as the potatoes were relatively small and I was able to deal with them easily and pain-less. I keep the watery starch from the potatoes as it does absorb well during the baking. Add the ingredients one by one and mix well after each of it. After done, pour the content into the Aluminium pan and let them rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat the oven at least 15 minutes before the baking. 

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 1h30 or until fully done


Cut into little cubes before serving. It serves around 16 cubes baked into a medium-size pan. In terms of the spice, I was careful not to use half of tablespoon but if you want a spicier kugel, you can dare. Urfa Biber brings a taste of sweetness while balancing the heavy taste of potatoes plus oil plus eggs. The texture is smooth and silky and the cover is so crunchy that I can hardly resist to not eat only the cover at once. You can have a bit of heavy cold sour cream on the side for an even better flavor balance. 

Bon Appétit!