Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I did with my Leftovers: Salmon Fishcakes

I made some Salmon Fishcakes with the leftover salmon from the previous night.

Leftover Salmon Fishcakes

2 pieces cooked salmon (I removed most of the sauce but left a bit on)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Maldon sea salt, a pinch to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup breadcrumbs, approximately
2 Tbsp pine nuts, approximately
panko, for coating the fishcakes
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, for pan frying
herb salad
lemon wedges

I mashed up the remaining 2 strips of salmon in a bowl (I guess it came out to 1 1/2 -2 cups in volume) and added the mustard and a pinch of the salt and pepper. If I had had any fresh herbs ready and chopped, I would have added some chopped tarragon in well. Since there was enough cream sauce remaining on the salmon to bind it, I didn't need to add any eggs like I normally would. I sprinkled in some dried breadcrumbs and a small handful of pine nuts, then formed up 4 salmon patties, using wet hands to prevent sticking. I then coated each cake lightly in some panko. I fried them a few minutes on each side until they were golden in a pan greased with a touch of olive oil, over about medium heat.

I served the fishcakes on top of some herb salad with a bit of lemon and some mustard dressing as a dip.

Blog Hopping: Salmon, Sweet Potatoes and a Klutz in the Kitchen

Ah salmon.. I have already blogged before about my love for this gloriously meaty and gorgeous colored fish. Not only is this particular recipe an incredibly easy way to prepare it, but it was also rather impressive looking. I still think I may tweak it a bit more to my personal tastes, but overall, this one was a great find. I followed the recipe here and made almost no changes, other than only seasoning to taste (which meant less salt).

I was not without my share of mishaps while preparing this recipe, however. All in all, it is quite amazing and shows how truly easy this was to prepare. Things started out well... I gathered my ingredients out along with my utensils as I usually do before I begin cooking anything. But you see...I was slightly distracted. Perhaps a bit more than slightly. You see, I had been watching more of Francis' cute Japanese cooking videos and had been thinking about how delicious looking the Japanese Sweet Potato dessert recipe looked. I knew I had a bag of sweet potatoes in my fridge just crying to be turned into Japanese dessert. How could I resist their plea?

So, I started gathering the ingredients for that recipe as well. While the oven was preheating for the salmon, I got to work on the first part of the sweet potatoes, which involved wrapping them and microwaving. Easy enough, right? My potatoes were happily steaming and my oven was preheating and my seasoned salmon was waiting for its creamy sauce bath.

The first problem was that I had misread the recipe. I didn't have quite enough single cream, but what was I to do given my salmon staring at me on the counter and my potatoes whirling about in the microwave? Definitely not a good time to run to the corner store for more single cream. I had some whipping cream in the fridge anyway, if I really wanted to use some of that. Except that richer cream was going into my sweet potato recipe. Yes, I know... you see what spur of the moment recipe decisions do to a person?

I opened my single cream. Or tried to. There was a small problem. The container had a crack in the side, which I of course hadn't noticed when the Ocado delivery guy had brought it earlier that morning. When I grasped the container and applied pressure to open the lid, the crack split wider and all of the cream gushed out at me, onto the counter and sloshing onto the floor. Meanwhile my potatoes had dinged and my fish was still staring at me waiting for its cream sauce. I hastily dumped what was left in the container into the fish pan, and grabbed a cloth to get the mess cleaned up. Several minutes later my now creamless floor and counter were once again tidy and I was ready to proceed. I glanced at my recipe.. I was supposed to have mixed something into the cream first. Well, a bit late now.. so I poured the orange juice directly into the pan, and tried to swirl it around with the cream.

So now that I had my fish in the oven nearly 20 minutes later than originally planned, I was finally able to turn my attention back to the sweet potatoes. I carefully measured out the whipping cream I needed for the recipe. They had been sitting patiently encased in a double layer of plastic wrap and a paper towel, and at this point, the plastic wrap was not very willing to come off of the potatoes. I grabbed a knife and tried to cut the wrapping off... which went flying. Guess where? Yep.. splosh.. right into my cream. I hastily grabbed a strainer and a plastic bowl and poured the cream and wrapping through, in a desperate attempt to save it. And how was I to know, really, that the bowl I had chosen to grab happened to have a crack in the bottom of it. The cream proceeded to run through the strainer and right through the crack in the bowl and onto the same counter I had just cleaned cream off of! Sigh. I cleaned up my mess, the salmon at this point was done and I hadn't even gotten the filling for the sweet potatoes started yet.

Good little blogger that I am, I plated up the fish and quickly snapped a few photos before bothering to continue with the rest of the meal. I measured out some more cream, got on with the sweet potatoes, nibbling a bit of my salmon as I went along. Happily, both recipes turned out really well and I will make both again (although not together).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Toasted Coconut Blueberry Muffincakes

I made these over the weekend using a recipe that usually makes two round cakes. I decided to cut the recipe in half and then make muffins erm cupcakes...well whichever you choose to call these. I baked them for 20 minutes and I was just wishing I had made some thick white frosting to swirl on top and then sprinkle with a snowfall of dried coconut. They still tasted quite nice as is though. One tip... trying to pry them out of their paper cases was nearly impossible when they were still warm, but a breeze once fully cooled. But really.. when one is making blueberry muffins for breakfast on the weekend, who realistically would wait for something so tedious as cooling them down? Oh yes.. the recipe... I already have it posted here, in its full two cake form.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blog Hopping: Japanese Soba Noodles

I had been feeling sick last week and when I saw this recipe for Soba for When You are Sick on Tea & Cookie's blog, I quickly scribbled down the ingredients so that I could pick them up and try this as soon as possible. I made almost no changes to the recipe, other than using green tea soba noodles. This made the dish very pretty, but I actually would have preferred the nuttier taste of the usual buckwheat in regular soba. I also was a bit gentle on the ginger this time... afraid to overpower the dish. Next time I will go a bit stronger on the ginger.

Leftover Chicken Part 2

Ah more catch up blogging to do! This is what I did with the rest of my leftover chicken from the Chicken Divan recipe I made earlier in the week. I removed the rest of the sauce and broccoli from the leftover casserole, leaving behind just the plain cooked chicken breast meat. I then cut that up into small chunks and tossed into a bowl with a small amount of mayonnaise, mild curry powder, a couple of spoonfuls of mango chutney...making a simple Coronation Chicken Salad. I served some atop salad greens that I had tossed with pine nuts and dijon vinaigrette for a dinner salad and the rest the next day as sandwiches on whole wheat bread with some herb salad greens. It really turned out nicely.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blog Hopping: Spaghetti Carbonara

I actually made this recipe several nights ago and didn't get a chance to blog about it until tonight. I have actually made several versions of this classic Italian dish but many of them were overly complex and often too rich. I really was looking for a simpler version, something homey and not too laden with cheese. I was really quite pleased with how this version turned out and it may have taken over as my new go to Carbonara recipe. It was incredibly easy and tasted quite good. I followed the method in the recipe here, altering some of the ingredients, which I will detail below.

First of all, I used only half a package of spaghetti, so about 8 oz. I tend to eat smaller portions of pasta usually, so for me that worked out to 4 portions. I did not add oil to the cooking water, just a bit of sea salt. I also used lean back bacon medallions which are just wide meaty portions of bacon meat, instead of the skinny fattier rashers of streaky bacon. To compensate for the lack of fat, I did add a tiny bit of olive oil while cooking the onions and bacon, maybe 1-2 tsp. In previous attempts at making Carbonara, I have used lardons of bacon, chunks of pancetta, or prosciutto. I have to say it boils down to a matter of preference mainly, as each will provide a slightly different flavor to the finished product. I was very happy with the lean back bacon, and I would use it again without hesitation. This is how much I used, I think it was about 1 1/2 cups worth of meat once chopped:

The best tip in this particular recipe for me was the way the cheese is measured and mixed in. One thing I had been struggling with in previous recipes was the excessive richness from either added ingredients (like cream, which to me turned it into an Alfredo sauce taste) or far too much cheese. In this version, the eggs are beaten first into a small bowl, and then only enough cheese is added to the eggs to thicken them. (see the photo on the Podany's blog, which I linked above). I used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and 2 medium free range eggs. For me, this worked out to about 1 cup of cheese, but I didn't measure. I also used fresh flat leaf parsley. I also reserved some of the cooking liquid from the pasta and added a splash to the pan after stirring in the egg & cheese mixture.

So roughly, my ingredients for Easy Spaghetti Carbonara were:
8 ounces or half a package spaghetti, cooked in salted water and drained, reserving some liquid
1 pkg lean back bacon medallions (a 200g package), diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
~2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 small/medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
~1 cup Parmigiano-Regianno cheese, freshly grated, or more as needed, plus extra for garnishing
freshly grated black pepper, optional
(see link above for the instructions)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Credit Crunch Quesadillas or What I did with my Leftovers ...

Since I had lots of leftovers from my fiesta meal (see previous post), I decided to make quesadillas. I heated a large skillet and greased it with about 1 tsp of olive oil. I then cut up an avocado into thin strips, placed those on top of a whole wheat soft tortilla, then added some of the leftover chicken meat from the tacos, drizzled some of the fresh salsa on top, and placed a slice of cheese on top (I had Jalsberg lying around so I used that), then topped with another tortilla. I heated the quesadilla in the pan, pressing down with a spatula, just a few minutes until browned on each side. I then repeated the process and cut each quesadilla into 6 triangles. I served them with a dish of the yummy fiesta corn & bean salad I had made, topped with a bit of leftover avocado.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blog Hopping: A Fiesta Night with Smitten Kitchen and Tea & Cookies

Last night I decided to plan a Fiesta themed meal, with homemade salsa, guacamole, tacos, and a corn & bean salad. I had seen a recipe for the corn & bean fiesta salad over on Tea & Cookies and also decided to try out two recipes from Smitten Kitchen for the chicken filling for my tacos and also the fresh salsa, recipes for both here. I also made a guacamole recipe I have made before, one I had seen demonstrated sometime last year on Food Safari. Rather than making my own, I served store bought whole wheat soft tortillas, which I microwaved for a minute on high in a covered dish. I have never liked the idea of frying my taco shells and the crispy baked versions always seem to break apart, so for me, soft tortillas are nearly always the way to go. Microwaving them makes them so soft and flexible .. the trick is to keep them covered while cooking and afterwards, and to only do this in short intervals.

Everything turned out tasting pretty good, although I must admit to preferring my usual method for preparing the chicken filling. The salsa was very similar to what I normally make, just in different proportions. The fiesta salad was quite yummy and made a great lunch the next day as well. I think I will use red bell peppers as well next time, for some added crunch and possibly some garbanzo beans too. As for the canned black olives, I guess I have become a bit of an olive snob and will probably opt for a different type of olive next time. The salad overall was good though, I especially liked the cumin in the dressing.

Here is the recipe for the Guacamole:
(my adaptation of one shown on Food Safari)
1 Haas avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced (you can leave this out if you must, especially if they are not in season)
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1/2 chili pepper, seeded & minced
2-3 Tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juice of
Maldon sea salt, to taste

Place everything into a small bowl and mash together with a fork. Everything is really to taste, I don't measure this at all. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blog Hopping : Dessert with Happy Home Baking

I love mangoes and typically buy them on a regular basis. I eat them just plain or crushed up in a mango lassi (a sort of Indian style smoothie) or in fruit salads. Since mangoes are in season now, they are plentiful and really fresh and juicy.

One way I love to eat them is in Mango Pudding, a gelatin based dessert similar to an Italian Panna Cotta. It is a great way to use up extra mangoes and is pretty easy on the waistline too, for something really quite delicious. After looking through numerous recipes to try, I decided to use this recipe from Happy Home Baking as a guide.

Here is my adaptation of her very easy recipe:
Mango Pudding (inspired by Happy Home Baking's version)

1 pkg gelatin mix (4 serving size) (pineapple, lemon, mango, peach or apricot flavor)
200 ml boiling water
200 ml light evaporated milk (unsweetened) (this is about half of a large can)
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced

Mix boiling water and jello together until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Stir in the milk to combine. Divide the mango pieces among 4 individual jello molds or ramekins, then pour the gelatin mixture over the mango pieces. Chill well until set.

Note: If you wish to unmold them, simply slide a butter knife around the edges to loosen the puddings, then dip the mold briefly into some warm water (just the bottom, you don't want the water getting into your pudding). Set a plate on top of the mold, then carefully flip over - it should drop out of the mold and onto your plate. I was lazy and skipped this step, hence the somewhat messy edges in my photo.

I had to use orange flavor gelatin this time, as that was all I had left in the house and I have to say I don't recommend it as a flavor. The orange really overpowered the mango taste, so it became more of a creamsicle flavored jello.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And now for some American Food (Chicken Divan)

When I was in High School, one of my closest friends, Karin, used to make this casserole for her boyfriend (who later became her husband). She kindly shared her version of this popular recipe with me, which I have only slightly changed to suit my tastes. I have made this before with freshly blanched broccoli spears and also have tried it with frozen spears, either way it comes out really good. I only use as much cheese as I feel like, even though the original calls for using the entire stick of it. Karin never was all that fond of cheese, except on pizza, so for a recipe to call for an entire block of cheese seemed unusual. She was quite specific with the type of cheese - it had to be Cracker Barrel. I am sure you can use any type of shreddable cheese you prefer, but I have always stuck to the Cracker Barrel cheddar.

Karin's Chicken Divan (serves 5)
Ingredients: (the chicken didn't make it into the photo)

1 large bag of frozen broccoli florets or 2 (10 ounce) boxes frozen broccoli spears
5 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 can condensed Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup good quality real mayonnaise (do not use Miracle Whip)
1/2 tsp mild curry powder
1/2 tsp lemon juice
cornflakes cereal, crushed
1 small stick Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese (I use about half)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and lightly grease a 9x13" casserole.

Place frozen broccoli into a colander and briefly run hot water over to rinse; drain well and place into the casserole. Cut each chicken cutlet in half, lengthwise, and place all 10 chicken strips onto the broccoli.

Mix together the undiluted soup, mayo, lemon juice, and curry powder until blended, then pour over the casserole, trying to evenly cover the chicken and broccoli.

Sprinkle enough cornflake crumbs over the top to cover, then grate as much or as little cheese over the top to cover. Bake, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours, checking after the first hour to see if you need to pop a loose cover of foil on top if it is getting too brown.
Note: This time I used a Healthy Request reduced sodium version of the soup,as it was all I had, so I added a pinch of salt to the sauce mixture. I normally use the regular version.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strawberry Mochi experiment #1 (Daifuku)

I have a newfound respect for the creators of those tiny blobs of sweet gooey deliciousness available at pretty much any sushi take-away place in London. Mochi is a delicious Japanese red bean-filled sweet ...and really, how can anyone resist them when they come in such beautiful colors? I attempted to make some Daifuku recently, once again turning to Francis' video collection for guidance. They were a lot more difficult than they looked. The challenge for me was in the outer layer .. the dough was scalding hot when it came out of the steamer basket and by the time I could handle it without scalding my hands, it had already firmed up quite a bit. So my mochi balls looked a bit uneven, with bits of the red bean paste oozing through the sides. It tasted good the first night, but by the next morning the strawberries had begun to weep a bit and ruin the texture of the outer layer.

They still looked rather pretty on the inside (if a bit lopsided and lumpy on the outside) and the taste, although not nearly as soft and tender as the store bought versions, was still quite good when freshly made.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Japanese Curry with Panko Breaded Pork Chops (Tonkatsu)

I tried another recipe from Francis for Japanese style vegetable curry and panko breaded pork chops (Tonkatsu). This is absolutely delicious and I am sure something I will make again. The recipe makes a lot of curry sauce, some of which I ate another night with just some rice. It would also be great as a jacket potato filling. Katsu can also be made with skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs, which is most likely what I will use next time. I might even try baking the katsu rather than frying it, although it was delicious made the traditional way.

One tip: whichever type of meat you use, pound it a bit flatter before breading, for faster, more even cooking.

I followed the recipe in the video pretty much exactly as shown, although I only used 1 large eggplant rather than 2 smaller ones, which was definitely a good call as there was plenty of eggplant in the finished product. I also used red bell pepper rather than green, for the slightly sweeter taste and pretty color.

The curry blocks are basically like a bouillon cube and come in long rectangular boxes in mild medium or hot (I used medium), easily found at any Asian market and even in some regular grocery stores. When you open the package, it will at first seem like there is a huge curry block inside - simply flip it over and you will see it has cubes marked off like a chocolate bar. You only need only little block for this recipe. I had worried that the recipe might become too salty with both the curry block and the bouillon cube in there, but it was a perfect balance.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blog Hopping: Tea at Oak Cottage

This weekend I finally gave Marie's recipe for Fruity Banana Loaf a try from A Year from Oak Cottage. Such a pretty loaf of banana bread, with the jeweled bits of colorful fruits scattered about. It turned out very moist and just the right balance of sweetness. I followed the recipe nearly as written, except I had to leave out the nuts and the dried cherries became dried cranberries and currants, as I was unfortunately all out of both. I also left off the icing sugar drizzle. A really lovely tea loaf and one I will make again.

Fruity Banana Loaf (slightly adapted from Marie's blog A Year from Oak Cottage)
makes 1 tea loaf

8 ounces self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 ounces light brown sugar
2 bananas, peeled, mashed
1 3/4 ounces dried cranberries and currants
2 1/2 ounces dried cherries, chopped
5-6 Tbsp orange juice
2 large eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
150 ml sunflower oil (or any plain cooking oil)

Preheat oven to 350 F (or 180C). Grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, then stir in the nuts and fruit.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, orange juice, and oil. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir just enough to combine the ingredients without leaving any dry patches. Do not over mix!

Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick tests done. Allow to fully cool before slicing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My first attempt at a Japanese home cooking classic

Today marked my first attempt at a typical Japanese homestyle recipe, Omurice. This isn't something you find on the menu at the sushi places and the Benihana style Japanese stir fry places. This is what moms make for their families. It is easy to make, inexpensive, tasty, and can really be varied many ways to suit what is already in your fridge. It is basically a wafer thin omelette wrapped around a filling of rice mixed with stir fried vegetables, meat, and a simple sauce. My wok and skillet are both good quality nonstick, so next time I will use a bit less oil than most recipes call for. Today I basically followed the recipe and cooking technique demonstrated in this youtube video, which is narrated in English. The photos are mine.

Japanese Omurice (my adaptation of what was shown in the video)

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, diced (or any meat you prefer, shrimp is common as well)
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste
cooking oil, to taste
1/4 of an onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sake (or white wine)
1/2 can diced tomatoes, undrained (my can was the 15 ounce size)
1 Tbsp ketchup, plus extra for garnishing
1 bay leaf
1/2 chicken bouillon cube, crushed (or you could use half a seasoning pack from ramen)
1/2 cup frozen peas, blanched briefly in boiling water and drained
1 1/2-2 cups freshly cooked short grain rice
4 eggs
2 milk or cream (I used semi-skimmed milk)

Lightly season the diced chicken meat with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a wok, adding a small amount of oil, then stir fry the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the chicken to the wok and stir fry until it has begun to change color all over. Add a splash of sake, let it cook down for a minute, then add the tomatoes, ketchup, bouillon, bay leaf, and peas. Let this mixture bubble up a few minutes, stirring the entire time, then add in the rice and toss to coat well. Test for seasoning, then remove the bay leaf and set the rice mixture aside.

Take a slightly damp paper towel and wipe out the wok. Heat it over low heat, adding a tiny amount of oil. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 of the eggs, 1 Tbsp of the milk, and then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the egg to the pan and move it around the pan a bit, using chopsticks or a fork to break up the bottom a bit so it doesn't burn; then swirling the pan to coat the entire bottom and a bit of the sides with a very thin layer of egg (like a crepe). This all should take only a few seconds and it will still look wet.

Take half of the rice mixture and place it on top of the almost cooked egg, then fold over the top and bottom edges, then flip it out onto a serving plate, upside down, so you only see the egg on top and the filling is covered. (It is then typical to squirt a ribbon of ketchup garnish over the top, I did try this but other than for looks I didn't think it was necessary.) Repeat with the remaining eggs, milk, and rice filling for a second serving.

It was really, really good and really quite easy. I will be making a lot more Omurice in the future.

This is what the inside looks like once you dig in:

Beautiful Japanese Bread

I made a trek over to the Japan Centre in Piccadilly this week - a must stop at place for any foodie interested in Asian foods. (Their website, by the way, does not do their shop justice). First of all, it is an incredibly huge store and very, very well organized and incredibly clean and tidy. When you first walk inside, there is a deli counter with freshly made sushi, baked goods, and other take-away Japanese items. These are freshly made and are a huge step up from the typical fast-food style sushi places you can now find scattered all over London. For a non takeaway experience, their main restaurant, Toku is right beside the shop.

The shop itself is full of unique items and everything is so very clearly labeled (using English language stickers placed onto the Japanese packaging for clarity) and the variety is stunning. Everything from elegant tea powders and leaves to serving ware to riceball molds to imported Japanese language magazines, books, dishware, spices, sauces, and lots of specialty rice and noodles. I actually didn't mean for this to become a review of the shop, but I simply had to mention it as the place is quite simply amazing

One of the things I bought while there was this gorgeous, freshly baked half loaf of Japanese Matcha Marbled Shoku Pan. It is a delicious brioche-y textured loaf of bread, baked in a square shape with a very light texture and airy quality. Matcha is green tea, which was used to make the lovely ribbons of swirling deep forest green. It has only the slightest hint of tea flavor; the tea is there I think mainly for the lovely visual effect. I am now on a quest to find an accurate recipe to make this at home and will share my results once I have tracked down the correct version.

The photos show what was left after some of the bread had already been sliced and eaten, but you get the general idea. It is simply gorgeous! They also sold a pink version.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Check out my other blog....

I have created a sister site, Cooking the Books, where I will post photos of recipes I have tried from cookbooks.

This blog will continue to contain recipes and also food photos. The new blog is just another creative outlet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Banish the Mood Swing with these...

I could not help myself... one look at these marvelously massive cookies (and I really do mean massive) and I knew I had to try them immediately. So, despite being in an overly foul mood, I whipped these up. There is nothing like hand beating some butter, sugar, and chocolate together to get the happy hormones flowing again.

They were delicious and with every bite, molten dribbles of dark, rich chocolate oozed out. This recipe really made me want to try get my hands on Hannah's new cookbook, chock full of more cookie recipes.

The recipe for Chocolate Ginger Cookies is shared on Hannah's charming blog at Hannah's Country Kitchen. The photos here are my own, however.

Chocolate Ginger Cookies, adapted slightly from Hannah's Country Kitchen

250 g self-rising flour, sifted
100 g plain flour, sifted
1 pinch salt
200 g sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
125 g unsalted butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten slightly
200 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (good quality)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180°C/350°F. Grease and line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.

Mix together the flours, salt, sugar, baking soda and ground ginger in a mixing bowl. Heat the butter with the syrup until the butter has melted, cool and then stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Beat in the egg and chopped chocolate.

Divide the dough into 15 balls and place on the trays, leaving a large gap between each as the cookies will spread while baking. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Passionate Peaches (well.. Nectarines but peaches sound so much more alluring)

These were pretty tasty, especially for a recipe that was from a so-called healthy eating magazine. Only I didn't quite make them according to the actual recipe... the main straying points being I used real sugar and well, a tad bit more than they did. Also, having lived in many places, I can assure you that outside of Germany, quark can be a difficult ingredient to get your hands on. So although the quark was really quite good, my future attempts at this will contain mascarpone instead... which is far more decadent and I am quite sorry to say, not very healthy.

Passionate Peaches
(or Nectarines or Plums, whatever works for you)

4-6 peaches or other large stone fruits, cut into halves and de-stoned
about 1/2 cup quark (or mascarpone)
1-2 Tbsp vanilla sugar, to taste
1-2 Tbsp cookie crumbs (about 2 cookies - I used digestives)
a few drops of almond extract
blackberries or whatever berries you like
powdered sugar, optional, garnish

Preheat a broiler (grill) and have a small roasting pan ready to go.

Mix together some quark or mascarpone with a few drops of almond extract and enough vanilla sugar to make it taste sweet enough to you.

Fill each peach half with a loving dollop of the creamy mixture, mounding it a bit.

Sprinkle with some cookie crumbs.

Set into the roasting pan and heat under a broiler a few minutes (5-10ish), until the tops start to look a bit brown and the filling is getting melty and goopy and yummy.
Set a couple of peach halves onto a dessert plate and garnish with some berries, dusting with a bit of powdered sugar if you like.

Ok fine... so maybe my idea of "weekly" is longer than most of yours ...

Well, so much for my grand ideas of updating this blog weekly. That went out the window as soon as I fell into the swamp that is the holiday season... and well, it didn't exactly take much for me to forget once again to be a good little blogger and make some more posts. So here I am facing yet another holiday and wondering just how long it will be between this and my next blog posting.